Tag Archives: Republican

The Republican Party in Plain Sight

[Apologies for the length of this post, but I did not invent these people, and, with the midterm election just around the corner, it is important that these Republicans get as much exposure among rational people as possible. Then, you’ll know what to do.]

Over the past few months I have been collecting stories about some of the candidates the Republican Party has nominated for various positions in local, state and federal elections. I am going to share some of those stories with you now. Taking a quote from the humorist Dave Barry, I am not making this up.

Let’s start with South Carolina. An article published August 31, 2018 in The Hill.com [https://bit.ly/2wARLRs] reports,

One candidate in the Hilton Head, S.C., mayoral race is a self-described “Holocaust revisionist” who has denied facts of the mass genocide of Jews at the hands of the Nazis. Another praised the leadership style of Adolf Hitler.

Michael Santomauro, a libertarian-leaning Republican, has made his career out of publishing and distributing Holocaust denial literature, The Post and Courier reported Thursday. The Island Packet noted earlier this month that he runs a website called RePortersNoteBook.com – offering rewards to people who can disprove the validity of Holocaust events like the number of those killed or the existence of Nazi gas chambers at extermination camps.

Santomauro told the Post and Courier that political correctness “has gotten out of hand” and that he voted for President Trump in the 2016 presidential election. “He has never run for public office before but said he felt that “with Trump being in the air, that maybe this is my moment.”

Trump “in the air.” I knew something smelled like rotten fish lately.

Santomauro is facing six competitors for mayor on the coastal island and has been denounced by some observers. But,

One of [Santomauro’s] competitors … Rochelle Williams said she admired Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s leadership. “He did what he had to do,” Williams said while being interviewed for her job at a free summer lunch program for children in need. “He got that many people to follow him. He must have been doing something right.” Williams said she liked Hitler’s ability to control his constituents. “I like the power part, I guess, the control part,” she said.

I told you I was not making this up. Not in my wildest imagination could I conceive of a person being that confused and still seeking public office. How do people like this get through a day? The paper reported that Williams’ political party is unknown, but it’s safe to believe she’s not a Democrat, soooo….

But that’s not all. Oh no, not even close to all. The same article reports that,

Arthur Jones, the former head of the American Nazi Party, was the only Republican candidate in Illinois’s 3rd congressional district outside of Chicago. [emphasis added]

Makes you wonder, doesn’t it, how you get to be the Republican nominee for anything? Just walk in and give the right salute?

But, wait, there is more.

In California, one John Fitzgerald finished second in a top-two primary with nearly 25 percent of the vote (more than 20,000 votes) and will challenge incumbent Democrat Mark DeSaulnier in November. https://bit.ly/2PsjdbU  After Fitzgerald was nominated, the California Republican Party stated they “do not support the Holocaust-denier” despite his running as a Republican. [emphasis added]

According to Newsweek,

the California Republican Party’s Board of Directors took swift and decisive action to eliminate any support for John Fitzgerald due to anti-Semitic comments he made recently—those views have no home in the Republican Party,” a statement said in May.

In response, Fitzgerald posted on his website: “I am not an anti-Semite by any means. I am strictly an honest and ethical person who has the temerity to state fact.” [emphasis added]

And there is more; according to Forward.com,

The California GOP also condemned white supremacist Senate candidate Patrick Little and banned him from their state convention. In Illinois, former American Nazi Party leader Arthur Jones won the Republican nomination for a House of Representatives race after no other candidates ran in a heavily-Democratic district. The state party later said it would back another candidate as a write-in. And in Wisconsin, businessman Paul Nehlen, who was banned from Twitter for anti-Semitism and racism, is the most prominent Republican candidate to replace retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan.

While local Republican Party organizations appear to be trying to avoid overtly supporting racist, Nazi-sympathizing anti-Semite holocaust deniers, they have failed to explain why these types of people are attracted to the Republican Party in the first place.

One explanation is that these people see the Republican Party as already populated by sympathizers to their rewriting of history. For a prominent example, Rep. Steve King of Iowa retweeted a British neo-Nazi in June. The original author of the tweet is reportedly “one of Britain’s most high-profile white supremacists. He has expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler and has called himself a “Nazi sympathizer.” https://bit.ly/2PpH5N8  Curiously, or maybe not,

King’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment … as to whether he condones the views of neo-Nazis, whether he’s concerned his views align with those of neo-Nazis or whether a U.S. congressman should be amplifying a neo-Nazi on Twitter. King’s office also did not respond when asked if the congressman considers himself a white nationalist. The tweet, posted early Tuesday morning, hasn’t been deleted [six days after posting].

….

HuffPost first asked King whether he considers himself a white nationalist back in December, after he tweeted “Diversity is not our strength,” a phrase used for years by prominent racists and anti-Semites like David Duke. He didn’t respond then either. [emphasis added]

According to the cited article, “King has said America should not apologize for slavery, has suggested that the country’s first black president was born in Kenya and has argued that most undocumented immigrants are “drug mules.””

He has also repeatedly expressed admiration for Geert Wilders, the far-right and virulently Islamophobic Dutch politician who has called for banning all mosques and Islamic symbols from the Netherlands. And in March 2017, King tweeted, “Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.

So, maybe it’s as simple as Nazi sympathizers and racists see people like King in Congress and conclude “I can be there as a Republican too.” And, while some local Republican Party groups have refused to actively support such candidates, the national Republican Party has remained almost entirely silent while its leader, Donald Trump, continues to pursue policies that tend to normalize the extreme views of people like King, Little, Nehlen, Fitzgerald, Jones and Santomauro.

The end result may be that for many Republicans of the more traditional, non-Trumpist kind, the continued acceptance of such people reinforces the tendency to accept even more of them. See What If the Trump Era Represents the New Normal? by Cass Sunstein in https://bloom.bg/2wAGv7z

Evidence for that idea also comes from the two-time refusal of the Republican-dominated Tennessee legislature to move resolutions condemning neo-Nazi activities. https://bit.ly/2PsNdEA The Republicans would not even second a motion so that debate could occur. The story authors wrote:

Condemning Nazis seems like it should be easy to do. But Republicans at the state level seem to be marching in lockstep with Trump, the national leader of the party. When he refuses to directly repudiate or condemn Nazis, despite their support of ethnic cleansing and mass murder, that message trickles down to the state level. The Republican embrace results in legislative impotence, where even a lopsided body cannot find a way to act against obvious hate.

When Tennessee Republicans give neo-Nazis a pass, they have learned it by watching Trump.

More evidence for the moral bankruptcy of the Republican Party across the country comes from Kansas, often referred to as the American heartland. The Kansas City Star Editorial Board observed that “it was no fluke that Steve “Hitler was right” West trounced his three rivals in his GOP Missouri House primary, receiving more than twice as many votes as his closest competitor.” https://bit.ly/2CcOf5S Noting that voters might somehow have missed West’s “race-baiting, anti-Semitic radio show” or his “extremist website or his alter egos, which include “Jack Justice” and “Hollywood Hymee,” as well as his “chronic failure to pay child support,” the paper noted that they couldn’t have missed his platform that was “unapologetically anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT.”

a year after the deadly white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, GOP primary voters in his Kansas City and Gladstone district had to have known who and what they were choosing. To believe otherwise is to believe that they randomly went overwhelmingly for the only one in the race who was campaigning on hate.

Then, there is the endorsement by the Miami Herald of a Republican candidate for the House seat being vacated by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, which candidate, Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera, says,

she was taken aboard a spaceship as a young girl by blond extraterrestrials who resembled the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. She says they told her that the “center of the world’s energy is Africa” and that thousands of non-human skulls were once discovered in a cave on the Mediterranean island of Malta. She has said she witnessed paranormal activity since then and saw a UFO at age 17. She also said she has been in touch with the aliens telepathically long after the abduction.

https://bit.ly/2oGmXLm Rodriguez Aguilera maintains that her story of kidnapping when she was 7 years old “does not define her.” I beg to differ but what do I know. I was never, to my knowledge, kidnapped by aliens. And, if I were running for public office, would I admit it?

The Herald explained its decision to endorse by noting that two of the candidates had not participated in the paper’s endorsement process and that the others were “unprepared or unqualified.” This, of course, raises the important question of what one must do to be “unqualified” for Congress in Florida? Only the Miami Herald knows.

Some clarity may be gained from another story that a candidate for the Florida House of Representatives admitted that she faked her education. https://bit.ly/2NOPj0O She insisted that in faking her diploma

It was not my intent to deceive or mislead anyone. I made a mistake in saying that I completed my degree. What I did was wrong and set a bad example for someone seeking public service. I am staying in the race and intend to win and lead by example from now on[emphasis added]

The next day, however, reason, or something, prevailed and she dropped out of the race. https://nyti.ms/2KSedKW

If she did not intend to “deceive or mislead,” one can only wonder what she did “intend” to do. By and large, everyone knows whether they graduated from college or not. The degree she claimed to have earned was not even offered by the school whose diploma she purported to display. The Republican concept of “intent” remains a complete mystery. Intent is, of course, also at the center of the obstruction of justice case against Donald Trump. The legal question is whether he had “corrupt intent.” According to the Republican understanding of language, it seems one can lie like a banshee but not “intend” to lie.

Final Reminder: I am not making this stuff up.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania a county GOP secretary, Carla Maloney, called black NFL players “baboons” in Facebook posts in 2017, in protest of black NFL players kneeling or staying the locker room during the playing of the National Anthem. https://bit.ly/2PoiKaH

Tired of these over paid ignorant blacks telling me what I should believe in. I will tell you what I believe in and that is our Flag the National Anthem and America period end of story.” …. “You don’t like it here go to Africa see how you like it there. We are all Americans not African American not Hispanic American. WE ARE ALL AMERICAN.

Missing the irony completely,

Maloney complained about “reverse racism” in America and said she was “sick of the name calling, rioting, shooting, and looting.” She predicted a civil war “soon than later.”

Further in the thread, Maloney turned her anger toward the Steelers and her racist language grew even harsher.

“Steelers are now just as bad as the rest of the over paid baboons. You respect your flag, country and our national anthem. How many men and women have lost limbs or died to protect this country and you baboons want respect,” she wrote. “If you want respect you need to earn it and so far you haven’t. Stop watching, or going to a game and paying for over priced food, water and tickets. Let’s see how the baboons get paid when white people stop paying their salaries.”

In a another curious phrasing, the head of the Republican Committee of Beaver County reportedly said, “Those comments do not reflect the opinions of the Republican Party as a whole.” [emphasis added] This phrasing certainly implies that the comments do reflect a portion of the opinions of the local Republican Party.

He also reportedly said Maloney “is certainly apologetic that she put that persona out there about herself.” That “apology,” not delivered by Maloney herself, appears to be merely a regret that she published a racist attitude, not that she regrets holding such views. In her resignation letter, she did say her comments were “distasteful, inappropriate and insensitive.” https://cbsn.ws/2Cg0pL4 One wonders why she did not recognize that before she posted. It wasn’t a close question. In any case, she’s out of office for now.

Moving from the theater of the absurd to the truly out-of-this-world, we have the case of a

Texas minister, Gloria Copeland, who sat on the Trump campaign’s evangelical executive advisory board, [and] denied the country is in the midst of a severe flu outbreak in a Facebook video that went viral because, “Jesus himself is our flu shot. He redeemed us from the curse of the flu.

We have a duck season, a deer season, but we don’t have a flu season and don’t receive it when someone threatens you with ‘everybody is getting the flu,'” Copeland added. “We’ve already had our shot: He bore our sicknesses and carried our diseases. That’s what we stand on. And by his stripes we are healed.”

https://politi.co/2Q5bGRe You may be reassured to know that

Public health experts immediately panned the remarks while some other members of the evangelical board distanced themselves from the comments. “We don’t agree with that statement,” said Johnnie Moore, the unofficial spokesman for the panel during the campaign who frequently meets with White House officials on policy and engagement with the evangelical community. “I don’t know a single person in the White House who would agree with that.”

I think I know one. But I’m not telling.

According to Politico, the White House declined to comment and referred the questions to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, which then failed to respond.

Every time I see something like this, I am reminded of the Republican article of faith that the states and localities are the true heart of the republic and that power should rest largely there rather than in the big, bad federal government.

The evangelical approach to preventing flu is perhaps not altogether surprising, given that a U.S. Senator who happens to be a doctor (Rand Paul) is on record saying that vaccines can lead to “mental disorders” and therefore there is an “issue of freedom” involved. https://nbcnews.to/2M0qUnq Aligning himself with that paragon of Republican virtue and deep thinking, Chris Christie, Sen. Paul’s position is that parents should be able to decide in an undefined set of circumstances whether their children are vaccinated. Public health authorities do not agree with these approaches, of course, because dangerous infectious diseases are easily spread if children are not vaccinated with potentially disastrous consequences for everyone. But, hey, what’s more local than letting parents decide not to protect their child and thereby expose everyone else’s child to preventable, dangerous illnesses?

 

More Republican Legislating in Secrecy

The Republican “tax reform” plan is now public. The details, such as they are, appear throughout the media, so I won’t repeat them here.

My point isn’t so much about the terrible concepts underlying the plan as it is about the way, yet again, that the Republicans have chosen to go about the business of legislating. They created this “plan” on their own and intend, it seems, to mark it up and force it through the Congress without hearings or other meaningful opportunities for input, except, or course by the lobbyists for the large corporations and the very rich.

That is not to say that reductions in the corporate tax rate are a bad idea; frankly, I am not sure about that, except to say that the claims of massive economic growth and production of new jobs are ludicrously overstated.

No, the point I struggle to make is that this is a really bad way to legislate on any matter of great public importance, of which the country’s revenue-raising system surely is a classic example. It seems that the Republican leadership is more concerned with delivering a “victory” to their failing president than they are about anything else. In doing so, they are turning their backs on Republican fiscal responsibility doctrine, thereby making complete their surrender to the chaos politics of their chosen leader.

Here is a relevant portion of the 2016 Republican Platform on which Donald Trump was ostensibly elected:

Our Tax Principles

To ensure that past abuses will not be repeated, we assert these fundamental principles. We oppose retroactive taxation. We condemn attempts by activist judges at any level of government to seize the power of the purse from the people’s elected representatives by ordering higher taxes. [???]

We oppose tax policies that deliberately divide Americans or promote class warfare. Because of the vital role of religious organizations, charities, and fraternal benevolent societies in fostering generosity and patriotism, they should not be subject to taxation and donations to them should remain deductible. To guard against hypertaxation of the American people in any restructuring of the federal tax system, any value added tax or national sales tax must be tied to the simultaneous repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment, which established the federal income tax….

The huge increase in the national debt demanded by and incurred during the current Administration has placed a significant burden on future generations. We must impose firm caps on future debt, accelerate the repayment of the trillions we now owe in order to reaffirm our principles of responsible and limited government, and remove the burdens we are placing on future generations.

You don’t need a PhD in the dismal science [economics, for the blessedly unacquainted] to see that those principles are going to be sacrificed by a tax regime that increases the deficit by something in the neighborhood of $1.5 trillion.

Someone once said that desperate times require desperate measures. However, the economy is growing robustly and there is no known rationale for a massive deficit-based stimulus.

In any case, I digress. All these arguments can be debated but not without actually having a debate. The Republicans are set upon a course that replicates their multiple failed attempts to eviscerate the health care insurance marketplace. No hearings, no public input, just an ideologically driven attempt to remake the country in the image of Donald Trump. The Republican tax plan is not going to do much, if anything, for the vast majority of Trump’s acolytes, but they seem unaware and uncaring. The cult of personality trumps (sorry) everything for them.

There is, however, an opportunity coming up in 2018 for the country to save itself from the demagoguery of this administration and its congressional enablers by returning control of the House of Representatives to the Democrats. That chance depends upon, among other things, whether the Democrats can stop bickering long enough to vote. And, of course, there is the slow burning fuse of investigations by Special Prosecutor Mueller, drawing ever closer to the center. The only question is whether it will be in time. Tick tick tick ….

What Is the Democratic Alternative to the American Health Care Act?

We are about an hour and a half from the House vote on the ludicrously named American Health Care Act, which brings to mind the famous phrase from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness: “The horror! The horror!” In typical fashion, Not-My-President Trump is threatening recalcitrant Republicans in the House that he will “come after you” if they don’t support the AHCA. Changes are being made to make the legislation more palatable to extreme right-wing Congressmen in the so-called Freedom Caucus. It’s hard to tell what is going on because most of the action is behind closed doors, but it seems clear that major reductions in benefits for low-income people have been incorporated into the legislation to buy votes of the ultra-conservative far right wing of the Republican Party. Those Republicans coldly and calmly stand before media cameras and boast about removing health care benefits from the AHCA package.

Given the inhumane indifference with which the AHCA treats most health-challenged people and given that it includes a large tax break for the wealthiest Americans, there is nothing good to say about the legislation. Most Democrats have railed against it since its details were released after much secret negotiating among its Republican sponsors.

What has begun to stand out to me is that while Democrats have rightly and righteously opposed the AHCA, they, including former President Obama himself, have acknowledged that there are issues with the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) that need to be addressed. Instead of producing an alternative to the AHCA that would make repairs where needed, however, the Democratic leadership has focused entirely on the multitude of negative features of the “repeal and replace” legislation.

This may be a political attempt to make the Republicans “own” the AHCA and its inevitably horrific consequences, but it strikes me, late in the game (I admit), that this is not the best strategy. Rather than simply counting on a handful of Republican legislators to block the legislation in the House or Senate, it would have been better, I think, to offer a realistic alternative to the current Obamacare.

Perhaps most interesting are the observations of Jennifer Rubin, described by the Washington Post as a person who “writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective. She covers a range of domestic and foreign policy issues and provides insight into the conservative movement and the Republican Party.” http://wapo.st/2nSfAyQ. Rubin said this:

“… the legislation is a dog’s breakfast. It’s a bill that does not repeal Obamacare and does not address the most acute issue, namely rising premiums. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) keeps promising that will be addressed in the third prong of legislation, but as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) points out that is never happening (since there are not eight Democratic votes). If the GOP passes this, it will be stuck with the worst of all worlds — a highly regulated insurance market with skimpier tax credits than were available under Obamacare. That, plus the roll back on Medicaid expansion, explains why so many conservatives and moderates oppose it.

The bill was so unworkable Ryan had to come up with a last minute “manager’s amendment” to, for example, try to improve support for rural, older voters who are badly hurt. But there is no legislative language laying that out. Those who vote for this literally won’t know what is in the bill. In short, it’s bad legislation that will hurt people, many of whom voted for President Trump. If it passes, the problems with the bill and the hard luck cases will be on the heads of Republicans.

As for the politics, it has already split the party and pitted Republicans against one another. It gets a pitiful level of support. Voters, as opposed to politicians and political insiders, rank health care relatively low on their priority list. Voters really are not clamoring for this. Rather than get mired down in an endless negotiation back and forth with the Senate and be responsible for a lousy outcome, Republicans would be wise to move on to jobs, just as the president said he wanted to do.”

Further:

“Obamacare’s faults don’t make the case for this particular bill. Significant numbers of Freedom Caucus members are saying the bill does not do what it is supposed to. Perhaps they have internalized the real lesson of Obamacare: Don’t pass a bad bill, take responsibility for people’s health care and hope it gets fixed later. Right now, Sen. Cruz won’t vote for the bill. And he’s right. It should die in the House.”

http://wapo.st/2nnIh93.

It is not the case that some of the fixes to Obamacare have not been identified. For example, Nalini Pande, Sappho Health Strategies, LLC’s Managing Director, who has significant health care policy credentials and experience, has identified three “repairs” worth consideration:

“(1) Increasing subsidies for the poor so that the Exchange plans are more affordable; (2) Encouraging state insurance commissioners to conduct stronger rate reviews/rate regulation to prevent unreasonably high rate increases … and … to ensure that for-profit insurers are not increasing rates at a dramatically high rate to ensure more profits for shareholders at the expense of their customers – this goes for employer plans, not just plans on the Exchange under ACA; (3) stronger evaluations on plan performance, premium increases and surplus and reserves, especially for-profit insurers/health plans.”

As I stated in my previous post, I claim no expertise in health care or insurance policy, but Pande’s prescriptions make sense. There are likely many others. Hopefully for the country, the Democratic strategy will work out in the end and the AHCA will be defeated. If not, the failure to offer an effective alternative may be seen as a very serious error.

Notes From The Field

My wife and I arrived in Cleveland, Ohio on October 26, to join with other union staff and members from California, Texas, Chicago, Washington DC area and locally in the “ground game” to elect pro-labor candidates. The mission is to visit hundreds of thousands of homes personally to urge prospective voters to adopt a plan to vote on Election Day and to identify supporters of Hillary Clinton and Senate candidate Ted Strickland. My role has been to provide transportation for two-man teams who do the actual walking in neighborhoods in and around Cleveland.

The teams are armed with some data about the voters they are trying to contact face-to-face. Data has shown that these types of contacts result in a significant increase in actual voting. Since early voting is legal in Ohio, the teams also urged prospective voters to take advantage of that opportunity and avoid the likely crowds on Election Day.

Ohio is considered a “swing state, having produced Democratic majorities for President in 2008 and 2012 (Obama) and Republican wins in 2000 and 2004 (Bush), preceded by victories for Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996. It is generally believed to be “in play” in the current election. Stimulating maximum turnout is thus the key to assuring victory for either side. Tomorrow the issue will be decided.

It is likely too late to influence how individuals will vote, but not to late to motivate them to go to the polls. Thus, the “walker” campaign” has been out every day, rain (plenty of it) or shine, working until sunset today and starting again tomorrow, continuing until it is too late for anyone to get to the polls.

The reactions among the population have been varied and interesting. I write now to simply share some of the stories that have emerged from this effort of 15 committed walkers knocking on door after door. One or two people greeted the walkers with “get the f_____ off my lawn” or “don’t come around here with that stuff.” But the vast majority was at least polite and most said they were going to vote, or had already voted, for Hillary Clinton. One young Muslim couple was approached as they mowed their lawn. They said, somewhat timidly, that this was the first time they were voting in the United States. Their reticence to talk was understandable since in their former homeland speaking about voting to the wrong person could get you hurt. Not here.

A couple of people in cars stopped to ask what we were doing and, upon hearing the explanation, responded with “thank you, thank you for what you are doing.” One even made the sign of the cross. One young man came out onto his porch to listen, then said “I’m voting for Clinton, man. I’m Mexican.” At another house an elderly man, who seemed puzzled at first, proclaimed proudly “I’m a union man. I’m for Hillary!” Numerous talks ended with “good luck with what you’re doing.”

Some people, especially in the poorer neighborhoods, were suspicious at first, perhaps because strangers at their doors usually mean trouble. Some had limited English but would call someone, usually younger, to the door to translate. One inquired about me, following slowly along behind my walkers. “Is that guy with you? There are drug dealers in this neighborhood.”

Very few houses visited responded with “I’m not going to vote,” but one who did say that added, “I will vote for Jesus; he’s going to take care of everything. He’s going to eliminate all the evil people.”

There were a few instances of hostile men answering the doorbell when the walker was actually looking for the lady of the house and refusing to call the woman to the door. Hopefully those women will enjoy the privacy of the polling station to cast their ballot the way they want.

Tomorrow it’s over. There is much anxiety about the Ohio vote and overall outcome of the election. But the walkers will not give up until it is too late to get anyone out to the polls, which close here at 7:30. Many other groups are also working the multitude of neighborhoods that comprise Cleveland and its suburbs. Our team of 15 will then gather at a local restaurant to watch the election returns together. All told, in just the Cleveland area, hundreds of thousands of homes will have been visited. For the walkers there have been moments of rejection and moments of joy that will likely never be forgotten. Stories were shared during daily meetings and occasional group meals. There is nothing left to do but wrap up, clean out the staffing headquarters and await the outcome. On November 9, the volunteers will return to their homes. They will hold their heads high because they did everything they could do.

I conclude with a request that, if you are undecided about who should be the next president, look at these two stories before you vote: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2016/11/07/a-disabled-boy-was-booted-from-a-trump-rally-the-next-day-he-got-to-meet-president-obama/ and https://youtu.be/cgkgMtVv1g4.

A TRIPLE THREAT TO DEMOCRACY

The Washington Post ran three editorials today that should have the rapt attention of all thinking Americans.

The first editorial observes that Donald Trump represents an existential threat to American democracy by his raising the specter that his victory will lead to criminal prosecution of his opponent, Hillary Clinton, because, as President, Trump will be able to order the government to prosecute and jail any enemies of his choosing. I am confident that Ms. Clinton is not intimidated by these threats. She is well-schooled in the tripartite legal system that divides power among three branches of government and thereby restrains the unlimited use of power by any one branch, including the Executive.

These threats should nevertheless give pause to anyone who remains undecided at this late stage of the campaign. As the Post notes, this type of threat conflicts with the peaceful transition of power in a democratic society governed by a Constitution and not by a dictator. I suspect that Trump made these extreme statements mainly to pander to his core constituency who seem to be obsessed with thoroughly examined but unproven claims of email malfeasance while Clinton was Secretary of State, enhanced now by Trump’s repeated claims that the only way he can lose the election is if the voting is rigged. There are, of course, many other reasons that Trump could, and should, lose the election but from his “rat in the corner” position, striking out at the “rigged system” is probably the only strategy left to him.

I suspect that his defeat, which seems more likely every day, will lead to the vast majority of his core supporters just going home unhappy but equipped with new “evil forces” and conspiracies to complain about. They can take some solace in their moral certainty, removed from any connection to reality, that the “system” was against them and they never had a chance.

On the other hand, if Trump loses, will he, as the Post editorial implies, call on his “movement” to rise up against the United States in rejection of the outcome? This group of Americans appears to be impervious to facts, motivated by anger and fear and heavily armed. Mr. Trump should be very careful how he proceeds, lest he trigger events that will escalate beyond his control. ­­­By his own admission, he is not much interested in book learning, but he should at least scan Title 18, section 2381, wherein the definition of Treason is set out. Then he can start a new “reality” TV show, as some have speculated is his real objective.

The second editorial addresses the issues that the Post thinks should be covered in the final debate Wednesday night. It’s a really good list that includes many of the hugely important issues that will face the next president. It includes the nuclear threat from North Korea, Pacific Rim expansion by China, the failure of democratic movements around the world, cyber warfare, the endless dispute between India and Pakistan and others of similar gravity. It would be refreshing, though perhaps too much to expect even from a veteran like moderator Chris Wallace, that the debate will stay on track on the issues. For once, just once, the moderator should, I suggest, act aggressively to stop the personal attacks, evasions and mis-directions that have characterized the prior “debates.” Wallace should absolutely demand that the candidates not talk over each other, not interrupt and respond to the questions asked. Unless he does that, we likely will get just another harangue by Trump of his campaign talking points, which to date have precious little to do with substantive issues.

Finally, and equally disturbing, the Post editorial board has called out Sen. John McCain for his recent statement that “I promise you that we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up.” This promise, from a man who claims his word is his bond, is essentially a reprise of the Republican congressional leadership’s oath that during Barack Obama’s first term in office, the main Republican goal was to defeat his agenda and to prevent him from gaining a second term. The Republican Party thus became the “party of no” and resisted almost all efforts to achieve bipartisan compromises on anything of substance, thereby, among other things, shutting down the federal government for a period of time.

­­­It appears that for the Republican Party, ideology trumps (forgive me) all other considerations. Sen. McCain is sending the message that more congressional deadlock lies ahead if a majority of the American people elect a president not of that Party’s choosing. This is a different form of political blackmail than Donald Trump’s normal fare, but it is blackmail nonetheless and Sen. McCain’s legendary deeds on behalf of his country cannot excuse it.

Time grows short. The army of Trump supporters has consistently shown that it not only has no objection to Trump’s constant lies, misogyny and other crimes against human dignity, but they in fact approve of them. They don’t care what the facts are – they just want to bring the house down. If we are not careful, they may succeed. This is the most important national election in modern times. If you agree with me, urge everyone you know to vote for Hillary Clinton. If some of them have to hold their noses, so be it. That will be the least of their worries if Trump succeeds.