Shall We Live What We Learn?

Today, it is time to take a step back, time to take a broader view.  The election cycle demands of us that we continually focus our attention on the nitty gritty of campaigns, sorting through the rhetoric, filtering out the lies and half truths.  But today, today it is time to look more broadly at what we have learned and ask how we shall choose to live in light of it.

We have learned that while there are quite a few bad apples out there, there are a hell of a lot of good and decent people, who want to be involved and want to make a difference.  This time, it seems as though the demarcation line between the two sides is somehow clearer; we have been encouraged to define it as establishment against outsider, but in the end, it has nothing to do with our politics.  This is about our priorities. 

One the one hand, we have the institutions that value money and power.  On the other, people and the planet.  It could not be more clear.  This is not about Democrats and Republicans; each side has its good and its bad people.  Equally, this is not just about the candidates; this is about the people whom they attract as supporters and the actions taken by those supporters to advance the cause.

On one hand, we could express this as the year that pitted hope against hate.  It troubles me, as it troubles so many that the level of vitriol expressed against immigrants, muslims and people of different political persuasions, owes nothing to reality and everything to fear.  It is sorrowful for the country to acknowledge that some candidates made the conscious decision to garner support by catering to that hate and fear.  The good news is that they are losing ground.  In the end, it is much harder to hold onto your hate than it is to hold onto your hope.  Hate burns you up and burns you out.  Hope is sustaining.  I believe that in November, the country will choose hope.

We have also witnessed a pitting of two dimensional vs. three dimensional characters.  A novelist could not create a work of fiction with Donald Trump as the main character and hope to win the Booker Prize.  He has no depth.  There is no there there. 

And it is those same characters, the ones drawn expressly for the six second sound bite on the main stream media, that have allowed the rest of us to see just how much the media has become complicit in the problem.  Calling elections with 1% of the vote in is just the most recent and egregious example.  Not giving equal time to all candidates, creating pundits out of campaign flunkies, and above all else, refusing to report on the real issues facing the country, have shown us the degradation of the Fifth Estate.  The news media was supposed to stand up for us, to speak truth to power, to use our freedom of speech to represent us against the wrongdoings of our own government.  Instead, they have become self-appointed kingmakers.

When the real story is one of voter suppression and election fraud on not just a grand, but growing scale, they choose to present tabloid reports regarding candidates’ wives, purportedly insurmountable delegate leads and Super Delegates who have pledged votes but not actually voted.  Similarly, it is somehow not newsworthy that voters arrive to polling stations after standing in line for five and six hours, only to be handed a provisional ballot which will likely not be counted, because their party affiliation has mysteriously changed since they last voted.  We also seem to not need to know that the votes have actually come in from two caucus states, because the media chooses not to announce the winner until it is late enough that most folks have gone to bed.  But, we have to thank them, because now we see them for what they are.  In showing their true colors, they have done all of us a favor.  We can now consign them to their rightful place as background chatter, the white noise of society.

We have learned that to many, the governance of our country is just a game.  Winner take all, to be sure, but just a game.  For the Mitch McConnell’s of the world, doing the job they have been elected and sworn in to perform takes a back seat to the gamesmanship of obstructing the process, grinding everything to a halt lest it be perceived that the other side has actually achieved something.  And Mr. Mitch is not the only one.  The gamesmanship extends to the campaign trail, where Bill Clinton defined the Obama presidency as “the awful legacy of the last eight years,” but only after the African American vote was secured in the primaries of the southern states.  We have witnessed the efforts of Debbie Wasserman Schultz to rig the election process, from denying Bernie Sanders access to the voting lists, to scheduling debates for times when no one is watching, and making sure that there are never enough ballots for the voters who show up to exercise their civic duty. 

But I find something interesting here, too.  All of these people are looking mighty old.  There is a Picture of Dorian Gray component to this.  The corruption, degeneracy and wickedness of these thieves who would steal the country from its own people, has crept upon their faces like lines on Gray’s portrait.  And all of the spray tan in China can not varnish it away.

Largely, that distinction is now visible because we have learned that there are so many good people, standing up and standing together in opposition to the establishment, the forces of darkness, the forces of same as it ever was.  From Elizabeth Warren to Nina Turner, Bill Moyers to Cornel West, Robert Reich to Spike Lee, Asher Edelman to Danny Glover, there is a vitality among the forces of change and hope that grows stronger by the day. 

The pairing though, that shines most clearly is that of Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard.  Two distinctly different generations, two distinctly different experiences of life.  But between them, fire and focus, wisdom and compassion, and most of all, continuity.  What we have learned is that there is a movement, a revolution, that has been going on in this country since the early 1960’s.  It comes back to that mindset of hope.  It hinges on the priority of doing what is right for the planet and for our fellow human beings. 

It has been suppressed, to be sure, for many years.  So much so, that many of us thought we were alone.  We are not.  When the enthusiasm in one county’s voter turnout from 2012 to 2016 rises by half a million voters, we are not alone.  When those people stand in line for five and six hours because they will not be denied their right to participate in the process, we are not alone.  When a candidate takes in over five million separate donations averaging less than thirty dollars a piece, from real working men and women, not the $27,000 a plate crowd, we are not alone.

The single most exciting piece of news during this cycle has to do with the involvement in the process of so many people, young and old, who thought previously that they did not have a voice.  It was not that they had no voice; it’s just that no one was listening.  Now, we have learned that those combined voices can change the world.  The same as it ever was crowd is frightened, as well they should be.  They are circling the wagons and sending out volleys through their super pacs and media cronies, in a last ditch effort to stem the tide of change, to convince us that we need to be pragmatic, that we need not expect too much, that we can not win against that which is inevitable. 

They are trying to negotiate a truce for fear that hope will sweep them from the field. 

In the end, we have learned that you will fail to galvanize a nation around hatred, but succeed when you do so around hope.  You can send out dinner invites with a $27,000 a plate RSVP or you can throw open the doors to the entire neighborhood.  You can deny people their voices in the process with rigged elections, or you can trust the goodness in their hearts to make the right call.  You can believe what you hear or you can shine light on the lie.  As we used to say, you can be part of the problem, or part of the solution.  It is for each of us to choose how we shall live from what we have learned.

Increasingly, we are learning that it is the solution that is becoming inevitable.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Time to Choose Your Revolution

peaceful revolution - JFK

In the wake of the most recent “Super Tuesday,” it is time to consider that a revolution may yet be coming to America.  The races are not over, by any stretch, but one thing that we have clearly seen is that among all of the candidates who have thrown hats into the ring this election cycle, two have garnered more attention and enthusiasm than any other, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.  And, while the two are vastly different as men, as political figures, and as representatives of particular economic classes in our society, there is one constant between them.  Each is calling for a revolution.

In Sanders’ case, he is calling for a political revolution which involves more and more people becoming involved in the political process, such that the leaders we elect better reflect the desires of the broader base of the population and will work together to point our country in a new direction.  His is a revolution based on leveling the playing field for all of us, so that no one economic strata of our society foots the bill for everyone else.  Instead, his desire is for the wealthiest members of our society to pay their fair share, for our country to guarantee as a right, decent health care to all Americans, for the greed that has taken over corporate America and Wall Street to be tempered so that working people have a chance to own a decent standard of living, for us to look to the future and provide all of our children the opportunity to become the best and brightest that they can be, because we will be relying on them to take over for us.  And he is calling for a nation that has given its young men and women to two decades of purposeless war to finally, give peace a chance.

Trump is calling for a very different kind of revolution.  His is based on the idea that our enemies are already in the process of taking over our country from within and without, with the solution that we need to send our immigrant populations home, deny aid to refugees who might be coming instead to attack us, force our economic will upon the world in the form of “great deals” which would strengthen our economy against those of China and third world nations, and secure our borders with a wall which would be visible from space.  He points to outsiders and says, “They hate us.”  He wants to “bomb the shit out of” our enemies abroad and enter into a database all of the ones at home who might be conspiring against us. 

One revolution is about including people in the process and one is about excluding anyone who does not think like him and his.  These two candidates have consistently drawn larger crowds than all of the others. That alone speaks to an understanding among our people that some manner of change must come.

What merits this revolution?  What is different this cycle or has mysteriously managed to focus all of our attention on something we previously had ignored?

Bernie Sanders points to the rigged system and there has been ample evidence of it.  Since the passage of Citizen’s United and the legislated understanding that “corporations are people,” the rise and overt nature of the Super Pacs has become abundantly clear.  Aside from Sanders and Trump, all of the other candidates receive their funding in large part from Super Pacs, organizations of wealthy individuals and corporations who choose candidates to support based on their willingness to endorse the agendas of those individuals and corporations.  There is an old story about Henry Ford, who once said that people could “have a Model T in any color they wanted, as long as it was black.”  As voters, we have come to see that we can vote for any candidate we choose, we just weren’t the ones choosing who ran in the first place.

We have also seen that the mainstream media has attempted to shut out Sanders and his campaign in favor of Hillary the Inevitable and the ever entertaining media darling, Donald Trump.  Understanding that 90% of the main stream media in America is owned by six enormous corporations, which lobby and own their own candidates, makes it easy to understand why they want nothing to do with a candidate who can not be bought.  And, even the DNC itself, has shown that it is part of that same rigged system, organizing debates to run at times when the fewest number of people would be watching, shutting out voters from the process by arriving without sufficient number of ballots, and disregarding President Obama’s own expressed desire to keep Wall Street money from buying Democratic candidates.  When the DNC looks us in the eye and tells us that their Super Delegates exist to make sure that the party is not subject to the will of voters choosing a grass roots candidate, we know the fix is in.

For his part, Trump has asserted time and again that he is self-funding and cannot be bought.  Instead, he exemplifies the section of our society doing the buying.  He is a classic, self-styled “power broker,” able to cite the law and rationalize why he is not to be bound by it.  Rather than come to a fuller understanding of the principles at the heart of our system of government, he deals in expedient and entirely whimsical reasons to thumb our collective noses at those values.  His ignorance shall be our strength.  His defiant scowl, reason enough.  As the world bows to Donald Trump, so shall it bow to America.  I am reminded of a line from an old episode of the Firesign Theater, “All for one and all for one.  Let’s hear it for me!”

But the foundations of this revolution run far deeper.

What we have come to understand about America since the start of this election cycle is deeply troubling.  Where we once thought of our government as sitting at the top of our society, perched like Olympus atop the mountain, we have now come to see that the government is not at the summit of our nation.  That is the playground of the wealthiest people and institutions in the country, the same ones who buy the candidates and the elections themselves.  Instead, the government serves as a buffer between them and us.  The laws are passed to benefit them, to benefit big corporations and big money, to insure that they become bigger still.  And in just the same way that a corporation shields, in a legal sense, the owners from the threat of loss due to lawsuit, the government shields them from us.  We can replace the government, but we can not replace them or their influence on our nation.

Karl Marx once called religion, “the opiate of the masses,” and John Lennon sang that “they’ll keep you doped on religion and sex and TV.”  What we have come to see is that on certain fundamental levels, nothing in our country ever changes.  Bones are thrown our way, to be sure.  The Affordable Care Act promises that we will all be able to purchase health insurance.  But just like something called a Smart phone, it is neither smart nor affordable. 

More often than not, those who own and run the country find ways to pit us against each other.  The rise for example, of evangelical christianity to a point where some 25% of the country’s population identifies itself as evangelical, directly corresponds to the time frame over which this country has become so polarized that Republicans and Democrats have become the Hatfields and the McCoys.  Through a calculated fear mongering aimed at an element of the religious right, evangelicals have been taught to believe that they are under attack from all sides.  Their understandable response has been to rise up in opposition of this perceived threat.  And that keeps everyone’s attention focused like Don Quixote on dragons that are not really there at all.

The endless battle over issues like abortion rights, gay marriage, gun control, corporate taxation, the role of the bible in our government and judicial system, even the birthplace and citizenship of the president, are all issues designed to divide us.  Like a magician’s sleight of hand, they serve the purpose of distracting our eyes from the real issues.  Today, our magicians are all in politics.  And what is politics but the art of convincing people that you are saying one thing, when in reality you are saying something completely different?

The still recent and lingering (despite what Washington tells us)  recession has illustrated what the real issue is; in America, the very wealthy are becoming more and more so, while the rest of us slip a little further down the slope with each year.  When the wealthiest fifteen individuals in the country have seen their earnings grow by $170 billion dollars in two years, and the wealthiest 1% of the country controls more wealth than the bottom 90%, all while they pay a lower percentage of their income in taxes than your average secretary, one must see that there is something fundamentally unjust in our system.  When the richest nation on the planet sees 40% of its population with no savings, living hand to mouth on the edge of poverty, worried that the next rise in health insurance or the cost of energy, might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, something is fundamentally unjust in our system.  And when our politicians stare stone-faced at us and say that providing health care as a right to our people or free college tuition to our students, is impossible, despite the fact that much of the industrialized world does exactly that, something is fundamentally unjust in our system.

After all, is ours not a system of justice?  For so long, we have been taught that ours is not a democracy (where the mob can rule), ours is a republic, where there are laws which bind everyone, high and low.  Prove it.  The truth has become all to obvious; there is a class of people in this country who are above the law.  As Bernie Sanders pointed out, of the people on Wall Street who destroyed our economy, stole the retirement savings of countless Americans, and bankrupted cities to the point where they could not pay their retired workers the pensions they had bought and paid for, not a one went to jail.  Not a one was even indicted. 

And well we remember that even on the off chance that a scum bag like Marc Rich could be charged or convicted, the system, in the form of then President Bill Clinton, would pardon him and absolve him of his crime.  When Hillary Clinton laughs at the camera and tells you that she will never be indicted, you can believe her.  It matters not that there is or is not evidence against her that would merit an indictment.  What matters is that like Achilles, she has been dipped in the River Styx by the ruling class, and is nearly impervious.

But Sanders and Trump each know her Achilles’ heel.

And so a revolution may yet be coming to America.

Where establishment candidates like Clinton and Cruz are content to blame each other’s party, whilst wrapped in the flag or clutching their bibles, Sanders and Trump, like the majority of the voting public, know that the apple doesn’t rot far from the tree.  The system is broken, perhaps hopelessly so, and the engine of government needs to be completely overhauled or even replaced.

It is then up to us to decide.  Which revolution shall we choose?

Bernie Sanders has been careful to say, “I can’t do this alone.”  He needs the help of all of us, joining in the political process.  He understands the gridlock that is Washington and just how easy it would be for the Republicans to block his efforts as they have blocked President Obama’s.  But there is a difference this time around.  It just so happens that 88% of the House of Representatives is up for re-election this year.  If the grass roots movement is really paying attention, the chance is there for us to throw the bastards out, and make a real change, from within.  It will be hard, for certain, but if it is truly the will of the people, and the people choose to stand together, it can be done.  Unless, of course, the DNC does not print enough ballots, or the Super Pacs run enough smear campaigns.

Then, we might be left with Trump.  Why it has taken so long for him to terrify the Republican party, I do not know.  But terrify them, he has.  Today, there is even talk of running an independent candidate against Trump in the general election.  It would not be because that candidate might win; it is simply because that candidate might split the ticket and cause both to lose.  Many Republicans would rather see Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in office, than to endure a Trump revolution.

It has been very interesting to me to see all of the comparisons of Trump to Adolph Hitler.  It is easy to make them, based on his attacks on minorities, outsiders and a particular religious group.  His posturing and scowl may owe more to Mussolini, but the comparison to Hitler is certainly warranted.  What worries me more is the style of his revolution.  In some ways, it has a greater resemblance to that of the Bolsheviks.

When the Bolsheviks overthrew the Czar and took control of Imperial Russia, they had before them the task of bringing the revolution to all corners of the empire.  So, while they could easily have exiled the Czar and his family to any one of a number of european countries (the royal families were all inter-related by birth or marriage), they chose instead to line them up against a wall and have them shot.  Years later, they acknowledged that this was done for one simple reason.  After the execution, there would be no turning back.

Trump’s rhetoric is increasingly backing him and his adherents into a corner.  The cult of Donald Trump allows for no errors of judgement, no statements of remorse, no admission of fallibility.  Any such event could topple him like a house of cards.  Instead, his revolution is targeted specifically at those who can not defend themselves.  His followers have been groomed for a generation to believe that they are already under attack and they have armed themselves to the teeth to defend their god, their freedom and their guns. 

Would Trump do something to advance the agenda of his revolution from which there could be no return?  If it was good for business, he just might.  He just might start a third world war with the Islamic world, because our country would then be mobilized into full industrial productivity, full employment for the war effort, and a booming economic forecast.  Think not?  Remember that World War II brought this country out of the Great Depression.

If this election is bringing revolution to America, our saving grace may be that it appears we will at least have a choice.  We can overhaul the engine from within or we an drive off the lot in a shiny new convertible, paid for in the misery of generations to come.  If we make the peaceful revolution impossible, we might make the violent revolution inevitable.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Best Not Be the Last Rat Off the Ship

The continuing saga that is the Republican primary process goes from cliffhanger to cliffhanger.  Last week, Mitt Romney stepped up and took a few pokes at the Donald, but failed to connect.  I’m sure that the RNC was praying for Romney to at least take a punch while landing a few of his own.  Ever the good soldier for the party, Mitt could not even rope-a-dope the guy in the clown mask.

Today, still more Republican Senators and Congressmen have stepped up, and taken great pains to show themselves backing as far away from Trump as possible.  And it is not that they believe that Trump will lose to Hillary or Bernie.  Quite the contrary, they are terrified that he will win.

Well they should be. 

Those Republicans know that in Trump, they would boast a President with zero experience of government, no knowledge of how the system that is Washington, works.  Trump insists that he is a leader and that people will follow his orders.  He does not seem to realize just how constrained the scope of the President’s power really is.  When he claimed in a recent debate that the military would obey his orders to torture prisoners or to murder the families of terrorists, he was completely oblivious to the fact that our military personnel swear allegiance not to the President, but to the Constitution.  They will not torture anyone on Trump’s say-so.  It stands to reason that Trump would experience a whole new level of frustration as a businessman in the White House, as he would have to wait on the Congress, not usher them a memo with a to-do list for the afternoon.

Realistically, unless the far right manages to seize the bulk of the open seats in the House and Senate within the next couple of years, Trump will enjoy less support than any President since Jimmy Carter, and many of us remember how poorly the country faired under his administration.  And I’m not knocking Carter; I believe that unlike Trump, Carter is a very fine human being.

As a nation, we would be faced with absolute grid-lock in the House and Senate, blustering, Mussolini like postures from our President, the gilding of the White House, photo spreads of the First Lady in Maxxim, chaos in foreign policy, the loss of faith of our most trusted allies, and a President played for a fool by our nation’s enemies.  The Supreme Court could be in line to receive three and maybe four new justices.  Whose interests or prejudices would they represent?   This is a train wreck, just waiting to happen.  And so it is from that impending train wreck that we can not avert our eyes.

And, after four years (and maybe less, couldn’t that be interesting?), Trump’s supporters would scurry back under their porches, and he’d be roundly voted out of office – taking the rest of the Republican party with him. The Senators and Congressmen flinging themselves from the halyards of the ship of state and into the ocean are doing so in the desperate hope that it will save their political lives.  It may not.

That is not the kind of future for which any of us should hope.  A shattered Republican party is not healthy for our country.  We need two good parties, different ideas from which to choose what is best, a far left and a far right, and a very strong, moderate base in each party. 

The rats are fleeing Trump’s ship, whether it be sinking or not.  The question now is whether or not they can swim to shore, regroup and take back the control of this election before November.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Why Do You Keep Voting For These Guys?

In the clip from Rachel Maddow’s show below, Bernie asks and answers this all important question, one which we all have to ask of ourselves.  Why do we keep voting for people who drive our country further into the hole?  Our political process, much like society itself, has devolved into a stream of vacuous soundbites, personality cults, fear mongering and knee-jerk responses to what are more often than not, the wrong questions.  And from that, we somehow are expected to find our leaders?

While Bernie’s response in the clip below is focused primarily on the phenomenon that has become Donald Trump, it really is a plain spoken assessment of what we as receptors have allowed the senders to accomplish as a means to their own ends.  We are afraid of the now and even more so of the future.  We have become powerless against the demons under the bed, monsters which most likely would vanish in the light of day.  But the curtains are held closed, the light extinguished, and those who profess to hold the answers keep pulling the covers over our heads.

The American people, the real people of this country, are indeed in trouble.  This has become the first generation who will undoubtedly be providing their children with a lower quality of life than they had, themselves.  It is hard to be all you can be when you are just barely hanging on.  We are working harder, and for increasingly less, but never quite for nothing.  And that is significant.  For, as the old song goes, if we had nothing, we’d have nothing to lose.  Instead, the power brokers and institutions who benefit from the rest of us following blindly like sheep are sure to leave us with just enough that we fear that someone will come and take it.  Why do we keep voting for these guys?  We have been conditioned to respond to that fear by electing, time and again, the man with the plan, the candidate with the answer to the very fear he or she has been spreading across the countryside.  It is as though the knight in shining armor has arrived in our town, bringing his own dragon, just in case we don’t have one of our own.

It is easy to blame the far right for their calculated use of fear as motivator for their brand of conservatism.  They taught us to be afraid of women taking men’s jobs, blacks  moving into white neighborhoods, gays becoming teachers in our schools, the government coming to take our guns and drive our religious beliefs out of our culture, Mexican rapists crossing our borders with drugs, and Muslim terror cells waltzing into the country on refugee visas.  But the Democrats are as much to blame in the dispensation of fear, teaching us to be afraid of conservative Supreme Court justices taking away women’s rights to control their own bodies, the imposition of an Evangelical belief system upon our laws, and a government of the corporation, by the corporation and for the corporation.  In short, both sides have taught us to fear the other.

These architects of fear have become the builders of our modern political system.  I’ve said this part before, but I believe it bears repeating.  We need to understand that in America, our politics have come to function as a form of religion.  And it is an Old Testament style of religion, built on fear from a house of cards.  Our politics are like a religion in that increasingly, they are built upon assumptions that are unproven or unprovable.  Candidates from each party rail against perceived injustices and Machiavellian designs of the other party, but seldom, if ever, is any injustice really probed, does any design really come to fruition. 

Without the pudding, we never experience the proof.  But there is reason for that, as well.  Just like a religion, if any of our unprovable assumptions were to become provable and demonstrated to be unfounded, that part of the house of cards collapses and possibly takes the rest of the structure with it.  Here we have two churches, Republican and Democrat, and each holds their congregants in large part through fear of the other.  But each instructs those congregants not to look too closely at those fears, not to test the waters of their fear to judge the depth.  As a result, Washington is more devoted to posturing than a Vogue runway.  Very little of substance is attempted or accomplished for fear that if it works, the party that suggested it is validated and the party that feared and opposed it has another wall removed from its own house of cards.  Similarly, if a bill is passed and the results of it merit a failing grade, we pull a card from the stack of the party that suggested it in the first place.  Thus we have replaced bustle with monolith.

An interesting manifestation of this development of the “immovable object” as government can be found  in the candidates running for President.  If you dare not risk validating the ideology of the other church, you do not want to run a candidate who has had much experience mingling with its congregation.  And so we see many candidates for office who have very little real experience of government, very little experience of real political compromise, very little experience of getting legislation passed into law.  The one thing they know is that the fault lies somewhere in the other party.

By way of example, here are the political tenures, at a national level, of the major candidates we have seen thus far (with a couple of ringers thrown in for good measure):

Marco Rubio – one term in the Senate

Ted Cruz – one term in the Senate

Donald Trump – zero political experience

Ben Carson – zero political experience

Carly Fiorina – zero political experience

Rand Paul – one term in the Senate

Interestingly enough, we used to elect former governors to the Presidency, in large part because we found them to have had a great deal of relevant administrative experience and of having worked across the aisles in their own states to get things done.  Aside from John Kasich, who is still trying to get a leg up in the Republican party, three others have run during this election cycle.  All three washed out fairly early on:

Jeb Bush – two terms as governor

Chris Christie – two terms as governor

Martin O’Malley – two terms as governor

Beyond Martin O’Malley, the Democrats present a somewhat different resumé:

Hillary Clinton – one and a half terms in the Senate, four years as Secretary of State

Bernie Sanders – sixteen years in the House, two terms in the Senate

Jim Webb – one term in the Senate

Barack Obama (remember him?) – one term in the senate

John F. Kennedy (remember him??) – one term in the House, one term in the Senate

Why would either political party want to run candidates with little to no demonstrable experience of government?  Perhaps they fear that experience makes agnostics of us all.

Now we are down to five candidates.  On the Republican side, the front-runner has no experience of government, though he does have numerous bankruptcies and a track record of failed business schemes to his credit.  The two candidates chasing him each have one term in the Senate to their credit.  What did they actually manage to accomplish?  Not a whole lot.  Ted Cruz sponsored fifty-seven pieces of legislation and Marco Rubio one hundred and six.  Each has had only one piece of legislation passed into law. 

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton proposed seven hundred and thirteen pieces of legislation, but only three were passed into law.  And those three were fairly nondescript, the Kate Mullany National Historic Site (Troy, NY), the renaming of a post office in New York City (Major George Quamo Post Office Building) and the renaming of a section of State Route 20A as the Timothy J. Russert Highway.  Her tenure as Secretary of State has been the ongoing focus for much of the political discourse in both parties this cycle, and we may have to wait for numerous shoes to drop before we make a final assessment of it.  That being said, she did preside over the mess that has become Libya, Syria and the rise of ISIS.

The lone outlier in this election cycle and the only independent who also possesses a proven track record in government of working across the aisles and passing legislation is Bernie Sanders, whose accomplishments in some twenty-five years on Capitol Hill are too numerous to mention (so they are attached via a link below).

Perhaps it becomes a little easier to understand the level of enthusiasm people have felt for Sanders (due to his accomplishments) and Trump (due to his lack of political failures), the resignation to practicality which has greeted much of the Clinton campaign,  and the vitriol from both Cruz and Rubio, who really do not have much of a record on which to run. 

Each of the candidates has introduced a level of fear into their respective campaigns, often directed at the candidates of the other party.  The Republicans would have us fear immigrants, Muslim extremists, Socialist governmental programs, and the chance that the balance of power in the Supreme Court might switch, meaning the end of gun ownership and Christianity itself.  The Democrats are less unified in their expression of fear (aren’t they always).  Bernie Sanders fears the continued erosion of the middle and working classes and widening economic inequality in the country, while Hillary Clinton seems to fear that the nation will not settle for incremental progress toward hazy aspirations.

What should we fear?  From my vantage point, we should fear exactly what we now have, a society and a government so polarized that we cannot come together, compromise, and seek mutually beneficial solutions to stop the downward slide of the American Dream.  We may choose to imagine it differently, but in the end, we all have the same monster under the bed.  Fear, itself.

Rachel Maddow’s interview with Bernie Sanders:

https://www.facebook.com/aamir.pvz/videos/980505895331895/

Bernie’s record of accomplishment as member of the House and Senator:

https://pplswar.wordpress.com/2015/11/11/what-bernie-sanders-got-done-in-washington-a-legislative-inventory/

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Did the RNC just blink?

It was a very interesting speech from Mitt Romney this afternoon.  At long last, the Republican National Committee has come to the conclusion that Trump is for real, and they are just as frightened by him as much of the rest of the country.  So, in the absence of a more respected statesman, Romney was dispatched to talk some “sense” to the electorate and steer them away from Trump before it is too late to derail this runaway train.  The gloves came off but I’m not convinced that he landed a knockout punch.

My hunch instead, is that this was a fool’s errand.  If anything, this is even more likely to strengthen Trump’s position with his base, who are genuinely angry people, disgusted with politics as usual in Washington and all too happy to point to Romney (as they have pointed to Cruz and Rubio) as “part of the establishment” and part of the problem.

So, what is the likely outcome?  This is going to get very interesting.  If the plan was to chase Trump out of the game, he may just take his ball and go home.  If the RNC thinks that Trump will fall on his sword for the party, I believe they are sadly mistaken.  After all, and as many of them have pointed out, he’s not even a Republican!  To date, Trump is routinely capturing somewhere between thirty and forty percent of the primary voters.  If this holds true through the next couple of primaries, I suspect that Trump will feel comfortable enough to announce that he will happily run as a third party candidate. 

At that point, the crystal ball becomes even murkier.  With Trump running on a third party ticket and taking say, 35% of the Republican vote, Cruz and Rubio will battle it out until there is just one left standing.  Though that person would stand to get 65% of the Republican vote in the general election, in reality, there is likely to be a lot of bad blood and a lot of voters staying home.  Maybe only 50% turn out to vote.  Meanwhile, as we look at the Democratic side of the aisle, we have to note that in the Super Tuesday primaries, turnout was lackluster in many states.  The insistence by the Clintons and the DNC that Bernie Sanders can not win has been balanced by the fact that a lot of Democrats genuinely dislike and distrust Hillary.  Voters are already staying away in droves, and that feeling of despair is likely to carry over to the general election. 

We could wind up with a general election marred by poor voter turnout and divided among three candidates, and that could result in the failure of any candidate to secure the required majority (270) of votes in the electoral college.  At that point, our next President would be chosen by the House of Representatives from among the three candidates running (the Senate would choose the Vice President).

Of course, the longer Trump stays in the primaries as a Republican, and the longer he keeps winning, the less likely it is that the RNC could get rid of him or deny that he is the presumptive nominee.  Then, and perhaps I say this with a degree of well earned cynicism, it might come down to a back room “deal” with the man who wrote the book on “The Art of the Deal.”  The RNC might have to ask Trump, “How much do you want to drop out of the race?”  And Trump could wind up cutting the sweetest deal ever, all the while holding half of the US government hostage. 

It will be most illuminating to see how this plays out.  If the RNC gets it wrong, we could be witness to the demise of the entire party.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Super Tuesday Blues

Watching the Super Tuesday election coverage and thinking of reaching for a brown paper bag to breathe into.  It beggars belief that we have two candidates, one on each side, whom the majority of Americans would not piss on if they were on fire.  On the one hand, we have a candidate whom most Americans see as dishonest, prone to politically expedient decision making, and a verifiable liar.  On the other hand, we have a racist fascist who has traded his brown shirt for a custom made suit, and can not manage to distance himself from the KKK as long as votes in the south are pending.  Who on earth is voting for these two?  I fear that once again, we will only get the government we deserve.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

“The Cause is Right and the Time is Now”

We can go back and forth indefinitely as we try to decide who should be the next President of the United States and we are each entitled to our opinions and our favorites. In the end, Bernie Sanders may or may not become the next President. We may or we may not need Bernie Sanders, the person. But undoubtedly, we need what Bernie Sanders stands for and has stood for and acted upon his entire life. Our politics ARE a reflection of our humanity and sadly, in the last thirty some years those politics have been anything but humane (from either party). If not now, when? As Nina Turner says in the clip below, “the cause is right and the time is now.” Those of us who lived through the tail end of the 1960’s and saw the promise for America that was embodied by Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. know too well of the opportunity that was missed.

https://www.facebook.com/berniesanders/videos/989856674402670/

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Not a Ringing Endorsement for Hillary

What interests me here starts with the apologist tone of the article. It is as if the author is saying, “Surrender all hope, ye who enter here, and just vote for Hillary so we can get this over with.” I don’t sense much enthusiasm for Ms. Clinton and, I think, with good reason. She is an establishment candidate, just like Cruz and Rubio on the other side of the fence. And a vote for an establishment candidate remains a vote to give the establishment carte blanche to keep doing what they have been doing to us since the late 1950’s.

If there is one thing on which we all (both sides of the political hedge) seem to be able to agree, it is that there are still a lot of problems in this country, be they the sorry state of the economy as regards the poor, working and middle classes, the spiraling costs of health care and college education, the extrication from and payment for two decades of pointless war in the middle east, our staggering national debt, the penury in which many Americans are held by the banking and lending practices of Wall Street, and a political gulf between the parties that has rendered Washington all but useless. At this point, an establishment candidate, an establishment solution, is just not going to cut it.

My mantra comes from Albert Einstein, who once said that “problems could not be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” But here, the author is asking us to solve the problems by electing one of the key individuals who influenced their very creation. Is Dr. Frankenstein the one to kill the monster? Or do the townspeople rise up, grab their torches and set things right?

If Donald Trump gains the nomination of the Republican party, as it seems now he must, he will defeat Hillary Clinton handily in a general election. Look at how he wages his clownish campaign. His attacks on Rubio and Cruz will be turned on Hillary with claims that she is a liar, that she is dishonest, that she used the State Department to feather her own nest, and that her voting record and policies in government speak to her poor judgement and level of failure as an administrator. He will go on the offensive, day one, and will not let up. And, right or wrong, Hillary does have a problem in that a majority of Americans believe that she is a liar, that she is dishonest, and that she is a part of creating the problems that have escalated the mess that is the middle east. Trump will only play to that underlying sensibility and, with the help of the Koch brothers and Republican Super Pacs, he will slam dunk poor Hillary.

From my perspective, only Bernie Sanders can demonstrate that he has been a long time success as an outsider in government. His record in the House and Senate is one which will galvanize the left and appeal to the moderate voters of both parties. His track record of true accomplishment, human decency and the fidelity with which he has expressed and acted upon his beliefs over the entirety of his political career show Trump for just what he is, a loudmouth buffoon and ignoramus (Trump still wins the loudmouth buffoon and ignoramus vote).

And all of the paid for pundits, perhaps including the author of this article, who claim that Bernie’s proposals are not workable, are doing so because they understand that those proposals are workable if we make some fundamental changes to how our country does business. If we would stop being the world’s policeman, make large corporations and the wealthy elite pay their fair share of taxes, break the stranglehold of Wall Street and big Pharma / big Healthcare, more money would be in circulation among more people with better paying jobs, also then paying more taxes. An economic equilibrium would be reached (and yes, the rich would still be rich) and most worrying to the far right and the establishment in general, the voting American would see that we could have had this all along. Bernie is the FDR of his generation, willing and able to jump start the economy, put people back to work, and spread the wealth around in a manner that allows all of us to make our contribution. That approach pulled us out of the Great Depression and will do the same now. And the entrenched “powers that be” on both sides of the aisle will be out looking for work.

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/01/bernie-sanders-hillary-clinton-2016-213560

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail