[Note from Annie: I feel the post below, written by my fellow blogger Infidel753, is so thoughtful and persuasive that I’m featuring it here.Infidel’s highly informative, provocative, and often entertaining blog may be accessed at infidel753.blogspot.com.]
This November, one of two things will happen. Either Biden will be elected president, or Trump will be re-elected. Many people fervently believe there should be some third option. There isn’t. It’s going to be one of those two.
This post is addressed to those who, for whatever reason, don’t like Biden. Maybe you consider him too centrist or too old or too old-fashioned or “Republican-lite” or whatever. Maybe you think the Tara Reade accusation has credibility (though there are good reasons to believe otherwise). Maybe you think the process by which millions of rank-and-file Democrats chose the nominee (from among a remarkably large and varied group of candidates) was tainted in some way. Maybe you hold that your vote has to be earned and Biden hasn’t done this or that thing that qualifies him as having done so.
None of that is a good enough reason to let Trump be re-elected.
None of that is a good enough reason to let him saddle the whole country with a 7-2 majority of reactionaries and theocrats on the Supreme Court for decades to come.
None of that is a good enough reason to risk four more years of migrant family separation and kids in cages, or of rhetoric which blatantly scapegoats Latinos, Muslims, and whatever other minority makes a convenient target.
None of that is a good enough reason to leave this vicious and hateful man in a position where he could block laws to help the unemployed and the uninsured, laws to end gerrymandering and vote suppression, laws to protect gay equality and the right to abortion nationally, that a Democratic House and Senate might pass.
None of that is a good enough reason to tolerate four more years of the massive and flagrant banana-republic corruption we’ve seen.
None of that is a good enough reason to risk four more years of budget-wrecking giant tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, and efforts to sabotage Social Security, the Postal Service, and the Devil knows what else.
None of that is a good enough reason to facilitate four more years of bungling the response to covid-19 (yes, it will still be around long after January 2021).
None of that is a good enough reason to accept four more years of posturing brats like Kushner, malignancies like Barr, and the rest of Trump’s crew of grifting toadies, keeping their hands on various levers of power.
None of that is a good enough reason to submit to four more years of undermining the separation of church and state.
None of that is a good enough reason to allow four more years of trashing our country’s relationships with other democracies, and enabling and legitimizing murderous gangster regimes around the planet.
None of that is a good enough reason to risk four more years of the federal government actively sabotaging all efforts to fight climate change.
Perhaps you want to vote third party to “send a message” of some sort. But look at history. Nobody knows or cares what “message” Nader voters in 2000 or Stein voters in 2016 thought they were sending. What mattered was who became president. Do you think you’ll be punishing Biden or the DNC by withholding your vote? They won’t suffer if Trump is re-elected. It’s the kids in cages, the unemployed and uninsured, the gay people and minorities, the countless additional people who will lose their lives or health to covid-19 — they’re the ones who will suffer.
Or maybe you think your vote isn’t needed because Biden’s victory is inevitable or you don’t live in a swing state. Yes, Hillary’s victory was also “inevitable” in 2016, and look how that worked out. And even if you live in a safe state for one candidate or the other, the popular vote matters, psychologically even if not legally. If Trump loses, the wingnut noise machine will immediately go into overdrive attacking the legitimacy of the result. The bigger the popular-vote margin, the less effective their sabotage will be upon the mass public mind. The bigger the popular-vote margin, the more clearly our country will be seen by the rest of the world to repudiate the contemptible cruelty and madness of the last four years.
And it’s not only the presidency. We need to win it, yes, but we need to hold the House and win the Senate as well. Leaving any one of those three under the Republicans’ control would enable them to block almost all progress on expanding health coverage, protecting the right to vote, restoring abortion rights, saving the climate, or anything else. And again, in the real world, the only way to end Republican control of those institutions is to achieve Democratic control. There’s no third option.
It’s not only about Biden or the Democratic party. It’s about saving the country.
My Oh My! So much drama—even attacks on No Drama Obama!
Let me state at the outset that I had never intended to become so overtly partisan in this blog. I even wrote a post a while back explaining why I wouldn’t discuss the elephant in the room (President Trump) because so much stuff was appearing elsewhere, and I wanted to focus on finding our common ground.
My overarching goal remains, and in my own way, I’m still trying to do that.
When the President is an incumbent, it’s assumed the election is a referendum on him. But now that this President has made blatantly racist attacks on people of color a feature of his daily rants, I believe the 2020 election is a referendum on us.
Who are we as Americans? What kind of country do we look forward to, and how devoted are we to working toward a more perfect union?
Will we give our seal of approval to this man for another four years? I know some of you reading this post are Republicans with varying degrees of support for Trump. I’m not attacking you personally or trying to change your minds.
Rather, I’m assuming that most American voters—Democrats, Independents, and growing numbers of “Never Trump” Republicans—are seeking a reasonable alternative to Trump and want to see Washington functioning again to pass common-sense legislation in their behalf.
I believe/hope that people are eager to denounce him at the ballot box, proving that he doesn’t represent the vast majority, and that we are seeking leadership that unites us in hope and common purpose, rather than divides us in hatred and fear.
In that spirit, I offer you my thoughts after viewing the second round of debates—and I’ll explain why I found them sorely lacking.
It’s still early, but I saw little inspiration among the 20 candidates on the stage in Detroit. Part of the problem, I believe, was CNN’s approach.
It was clear that CNN wanted a food fight: the questions were designed to encourage candidates to attack one another. I didn’t think that was good TV. I also thought it was poor broadcast journalism and unhelpful for educating the public.
Admittedly, it’s tough to stage interesting debates among 10 candidates, and I felt bad about how little time each person had to make her/his points.
But the questions were also unrevealing in eliciting what kind of Presidents they would be.
Healthcare is a critical issue; it was largely responsible for the Democrats’ winning the House in 2018. Americans want to know they will have decent health care that covers preexisting conditions, is within their means, and is dependable, regardless of their circumstances.
The discussions were sometimes too wonky and confusing for viewers and at the same time often inadequate, leaving out important issues, such as cost to taxpayers.
I wish each candidate had given this answer: “We’ll bring the best minds together to come up with the most realistic affordable plan that covers the most people possible.”
In other words, we’ll progress beyond Obamacare without gutting it, adding the public option that was originally intended, and regulating both the insurance companies and Big Pharma.
Many other countries have private insurance companies as part of their healthcare mix; they simply regulate them more aggressively than we do.
Medicare for all vs “Anything less lets insurance companies ruin America” is to me an unnecessarily divisive issue.
I think improving Obamacare would satisfy most Americans—without frightening them.
And how quickly people have forgotten how hard that battle was—that passing the legislation was a “big f—–g deal,” in former VP Joe Biden’s memorable words. More about all-important processes appears below.
If the public option works as intended, we’ll get to Medicare for all but won’t immediately send our economy into a tailspin.
Healthcare is now about 18% of our GDP. We need a smooth transition to the next stage. I haven’t heard any Medicare for all candidate discuss this point.
But most importantly, the emphasis should be on the fact that every Democratic candidate believes that healthcare is a right and supports expanded coverage, while Trump and the Republicans have been decimating Obamacare and, in all the years they claimed to find an alternative, have not done so.
It is simply not an article of faith in the Republican Party as it is among Democrats. Quite the contrary.
As the terrible mass shootings mount up, I can’t write this post today without including sensible gun legislation. This is another issue where the majority of the public agrees, and so do all the Democratic candidates.
Not so the Republicans in Congress and the President. And despite his palliative words after the most recent shootings, since Trump took office, we’ve had a substantial uptick in domestic terrorism. We know white nationalists claim him as one of their own. If he cared to change that image (and possibly reduce the carnage), he would change his rhetoric.
With gun safety legislation, again, process is critical, as we’ll discuss below.
Foreign policy, which is probably the most important aspect of a President’s efforts, and is currently fraught with dangers that Trump both inherited and has created, took up a mere five minutes of the 2-1/2 hour debate.
I am puzzled why, just shortly after the Mueller testimony, CNN felt that discussing the role of Russia was barely worth mentioning. And there were no discussions of Iran, North Korea, Syria, and other potential hot spots.
Since a number of the candidates have had little or no direct involvement in this essential component of being President, it behooves the next debate organizers to build in adequate time and questions that reveal the candidates’ world views and thought processes.
I was impressed, for example, with Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s stating that he voted against entering the war in Iraq when he was a member of Congress. (He took Vice President Biden to task for voting for it.)
Inslee said the arguments for war were unconvincing. In an interview after the debate, when he was asked why so many Democrats voted to go to war, he explained that in the post-9/11 environment, the drumbeats for war were very difficult to withstand. But he did withstand them—a fact that to me says a lot about the man.
Speaking of Inslee brings us to climate change, which he has made the focus of his campaign —though not as a single issue: he has tied it to economics, undue burdens on poor and minority communities, and other important topics.
He has thought and studied the issue extensively and is clearly the candidate most deeply committed to quick concrete actions to confront climate change.
And while it’s good that every Democratic candidate accepts the scientists’ warnings and promises to act, I find his commitment especially comforting.
One extremely critical issue hasn’t come up in either debate: the judiciary.
I am quoting extensively here from two articles. One, by Dahlia Lithwick, is titled “Democrats Still Haven’t Learned Their Lesson About the Courts.”
The other, which she cites, written by Ezra Klein, is “Pete Buttigieg had the most important answer at the Democratic debate.”
I find them both important in terms of those critical process matters I referred to earlier, and I hope you’ll read them in their entirety.
Let’s start with Klein’s article in Vox. Here’s where reality lies—beyond fine policy ideas and whether they’re progressive enough.
“South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg gave the single most important answer at Tuesday’s Democratic debate.
“It came after a lengthy section in which the assembled candidates debated different health care plans that have no chance of passing given the composition of the US Senate and then debated decriminalizing unauthorized border crossings, which they also don’t have the votes to do, and then debated a series of gun control ideas that would swiftly fall to a filibuster and, even if they didn’t, would plausibly be overturned by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority.
“That’s when Buttigieg spoke up:
‘[This is] the conversation that we have been having for the last 20 years. Of course, we need to get money out of politics, but when I propose the actual structural democratic reforms that might make a difference — end the Electoral College, amend the Constitution if necessary to clear up Citizens United, have DC actually be a state, and depoliticize the Supreme Court with structural reform — people look at me funny, as if this country was incapable of structural reform.
‘This is a country that once changed its Constitution so you couldn’t drink and changed it back because we changed our minds, and you’re telling me we can’t reform our democracy in our time. We have to or we will be having the same argument 20 years from now.’”
“So far, I’ve found Buttigieg’s campaign underwhelming on policy. But where he’s clearly leading the field is his emphasis on structural reform. Buttigieg isn’t the only candidate with good ideas on this score — Elizabeth Warren and Jay Inslee have been strong on this too — but he’s the only candidate who consistently prioritizes the issue.
“The reality is Democrats are debating ever more ambitious policy in a political system ever less capable of passing ambitious policy — and ever more stacked against their policies, in particular.
Their geographic disadvantage in Congress is only getting worse, Republicans control the White House and the Senate despite receiving fewer votes for either, and an activist conservative Supreme Court just gutted public sector unions and green-lit partisan gerrymandering.
“Policy isn’t Democrats’ problem. They’ve got plenty of plans. Some of them are even popular. What they don’t have is a political system in which they can pass and implement those plans.
“Buttigieg, to his credit, has a clear theory on this. When I interviewed him in April, he argued that ‘any decisions that are based on an assumption of good faith by Republicans in the Senate will be defeated.’
“The hope that you can pass laws through bipartisan compromise is dead. And that means governance is consistently, reliably failing to solve people’s problems, which is in turn radicalizing them against government itself.”
“We now know that a single Trump judge can gut the Affordable Care Act, or permit a wall to be built on the Southern border, or try to end Roe v. Wade.
This isn’t a thing to contemplate after a Democrat wins the presidential election. It is, with every passing day, the reason to doubt whether any Democrat can win the presidential election ever again. And the same is true for the Senate, and for the House. Which is why it has to be a first-order discussion, not last.
“As Klein wrote: ‘This is what Buttigieg gets: To make policy, you have to fix the policymaking process. Some of the other candidates pay that idea lip service, when they get pushed on it. But he’s the one who places that project at the center of his candidacy.’
“The Democrats on the debate stage are embarrassed to be caught out without answers to questions about battles that their constituents cannot afford for them to continue to lose. Democratic voters showed up in 2018 in part because of their horror at losing the Supreme Court.
Sure, it’s embarrassing that Democrats have been badly outplayed by Mitch McConnell, who follows no norm or judicial ideal beyond ruthless pursuit of power.
“But it should be more embarrassing that reforming the courts has been deemed too hard to warrant a single debate question. By all means let’s talk about Trump and impeachment and ‘kitchen table issues’ and the environment; they all matter.
But the fact that the machinery of justice has been captured by a monied minority means that democracy itself is on the ballot. That should matter enough to warrant a question.”
All this is why I found the debates so disappointing. While the candidates were attacking each other—and President Obama, through Joe Biden—and discussing their plans for what they’ll accomplish once they become the President, for the most part they didn’t talk about these huge, powerful forces at all.
And this is where their energy—and ours—is essential.
I intend to vote for whoever wins the Democratic nomination, hoping that person is sufficiently inspiring to energize a broad swath of diverse constituents.
I think the divisions between moderates and progressives figure less in most voters’ minds than does their sense of the decency, competence, integrity, and leadership skills of the individual they’d like to see in the White House—especially now.
Thus, I believe it is essential that we try to defeat Trump with the largest possible mandate, demonstrating total rejection of his racism—as well as his corruption, incompetence, divisiveness, and unwillingness to protect the US from those who have directly threatened our elections and are continuing to do so.
But clearly that’s not enough. It is so important that we educate ourselves and make our voices heard about these structural issues that are making it difficult, if not impossible, to get anything substantive done in Washington.
Democrats need to take the Presidency, House, and Senate, and then focus on the critical changes needed—before a minority party eliminates any chance of the majority’s will being enacted.
These are large challenges,but while some of the candidates talk about the need for “Big Ideas,” we need to let them all know what those big ideas must include.We made it to the moon 50 years ago, you’ll recall. We can do this.
It was a gorgeous sunny day, and we were visiting friends. But all four of us spent last Wednesday indoors, in front of the TV. We were watching Special Counselor Robert Mueller testify, first before the House Judiciary Committee, and then before the House Intelligence Committee.
We knew our vigil wasn’t accomplishing anything in the larger scheme of things, but we are all political junkies with deep concerns about the fate of American democracy, so we felt compelled to watch and listen.
And while many have faulted Mueller for his halting, weary performance and his insistence on sticking to the “four corners of his report,” much emerged from those hearings.
Most important, Mueller was quite emphatic that our democracy is under attack. When asked by Republican Congressman Will Hurd if he thought the Russian involvement was a single episode, he did not equivocate.
“No. It wasn’t a single attempt. They’re doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it during the next campaign.”
What’s more, Mueller said:
“Many more countries have developed the capabilities the Russians have done.”
We’ll get back to the implications of that statement shortly.
Here are what I felt were the most significant of Mueller’s responses:
*His report DID NOT exonerate the President.
*The finding of lack of complicity with the Russians by the President and his associates was based on insufficient evidence to reach that conclusion (and not the absence of evidence)
*The investigation into that matter was impeded—not only by those who were convicted of lying, but also by others who told “outright lies” or were “not telling the full truth.”
*Those individuals included President Trump.
When Florida Rep. Val Demings asked if the President’s written responses to Mueller’s questions about, among other matters, the Trump Tower Moscow plans, given under oath, were “inadequate and incomplete and weren’t always being truthful,” Mueller responded: “Generally.”
Many questions Trump did not answer, and when Demings asked if some of his other responses conflicted with other information the investigation had revealed, Mueller said, “Yes.”
*Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois read public comments that Trump had made about WikiLeaks— including “I love WikiLeaks” and “This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove”—and asked Mueller if any of these quotes disturbed him.
Mueller answered: “Problematic is an understatement in terms of what it displays, giving some hope or some boost to what is and should be illegal activity.”
*In a significant exchange that seemed to go beyond the “four corners of the report,” House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff questioned the Special Prosecutor:
Schiff: You believe knowingly accepting foreign assistance in a campaign to be unethical?
Mueller: And a crime…under certain circumstances.
Schiff: And it undermines our democratic institutions and is unpatriotic?
Schiff: And wrong?
Schiff: And we should hold our elected officials to a higher standard than the mere avoidance of criminality? Mueller: Absolutely.
Schiff then asked if the need to act in an ethical manner is not only a moral one but also necessary so that it doesn’t expose the individual to compromise—which can be of a foreign nature.
Mueller: Also true.
Then Schiff noted the President’s denials. He’d said he hadn’t done business with the Russians. He also said if he had been doing business with Russia, “That’s not a crime. Why should I miss out on all those opportunities?”
“We are all left to wonder whether the President is representing us or his own interests.”
I won’t go through the morning session with the House Judiciary Committee concerning potential obstruction of justice, other than to note that it yielded Mueller’s important statement that Trump could, indeed, be indicted after leaving office.
(As I mentioned in my previous post, more than 1000 former prosecutors, who worked for both Democratic and Republican presidents, signed a statement that anyone other than the President [who couldn’t be charged due to a Justice Department precedent] would certainly have been indicted based on the findings in the Mueller Report.)
Somehow, all that possible criminality—and it seems fairly evident there was a good deal of it—does not get to me on the same visceral level as the President’s apparent indifference to/encouragement of the Russians’ disruptions of our elections.
Further evidence of the Russians’ impact came the next day, when the Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan report, the first of several, stating that the Russians targeted the election systems in all 50 states in 2016 and actually probed the election systems of 21 states.
The report noted the Russians’ “unprecedented level of activity against state election infrastructure.” Though they found no evidence that any votes were changed, they observed that “Russian cyber actors were in a position to delete or change voter data” in Illinois’ voter registration database.
The report recommends that US intelligence agencies place a high priority in quickly identifying cyberattacks, and the Department of Homeland Security should develop clear channels of communication between the federal government and the states. Old outdated machines must be replaced, and paper ballots are important for backup of every vote cast.
In a statement, Committee Chair Richard Burr of North Carolina spoke of improvements that have been made “to bridge gaps in information sharing and shore up vulnerabilities” but said “There is still much work that remains to be done, however.”
Vice Chair Mark Warner of Virginia said,
“I hope the bipartisan findings and recommendations outlined in this report will underscore to the White House and all of our colleagues, regardless of political party, that the threat remains urgent, and we have a responsibility to defend our democracy against it.”
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell continues to refuse to bring bipartisan legislation that has already passed the House to the Senate floor for a vote.
I’d like to return for a moment to Mueller’s comment that many other countries are now also pursuing ways to disrupt our elections.
One commenter noted that McConnell’s plans to keep the Republicans in control of the White House and Senate by stonewalling election system improvement funding may backfire. Iran and China, he suggested, may have other ideas about the best ways to disrupt our elections.
And I am deeply concerned that Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, who emphatically warned about the Russian involvement in testimony before Congress, and has been a target of Trump’s wrath for some time, has now “resigned.”
Trump has appointed John Ratcliffe, a Republican Congressman who strongly supports him, to replace Coats. (Senator Burr, the Intelligence Committee Chair and a Republican, has already said this nominee is unqualified.)
We know the President recently jokingly castigated Putin for his interference when they met. There is no reason to believe he will change his attitude and acknowledge and act upon this threat to our national security.
We Americans all have many important issues on our minds—pocketbook and healthcare matters, climate change and a host of others. We each have our priorities. But this is a huge issue for our democracy that I believe we must find time to act upon.
Our involvement in these matters—contacting our elected officials to urge them to fund cybersecurity measures on the state and county levels—is critically important.
Tomorrow begins the next round of debates among the Democratic candidates for President in 2020. I will be looking for those who are concerned and knowledgeable about these issues and are thinking about ways to protect our elections.
These candidates have a difficult balancing act—to show they’re tough enough to take on Trump in the general election—while not destroying one another in the primaries.
But true leadership requires strength, knowledge, character, and the ability to effectively communicate one’s vision for America.
Surely thoughtful approaches to preserving our democracy in the election in which each of them seeks to be the Democrats’ standard bearer should be a major aspect of the leadership they demonstrate to us now–when we sorely need it.
Do you agree with me about the importance of protecting our elections from cyberattacks? Polls generally say that most Americans don’t really care about this issue that much. I hope those polls are wrong.
“Two nights, four hours, so, so many candidates: the first Democratic presidential debates will be like nothing we’ve ever seen. A former vice president on stage with a self-help author. Three female candidates on one night, three female candidates the next — more than have ever been on the debate stage at once. A 37-year-old squaring off against two septuagenarians.”
Now listen, friends, as I unveil the chorus Of those I’m calling 23&WE. We’re not discussing folks who came before us;
It’s those who say what this country should be
And how they’ll make enough of us agree. They’re poised to set out from the starting gate, And one of them may well decide our fate.
How do they call attention to their vision And talents that will make them best to lead? So many voters now voice skepticism
Re: turning those fine words to solid deeds
To build a worthwhile new American creed That knits together vastly different types Of folks who harbor vastly different gripes.
The polls agree the leader’s now Joe Biden,
A man well known who was a fine VP.
Experienced in world affairs, he’s ridin’
On hopes he’ll bring us back to normalcy
And thus is safe to take down Covfeve.
But some say Uncle Joe is just too dated,
And can’t forget Anita Hill deflated.
There’s Bernie S., who never seems to waver;
In 40 years he hasn’t turned the page.
He’s moved the Dems on issues gaining favor:
Medicare for all; a $15 wage.
But others now are acting on that stage.
A Democratic Socialist with pride,
If he falters, would he just step aside?
Someone to watch, the pundits say, is Warren,
On each issue she has a plan, for sure.
An ultra-millionaire’s tax could be transformin’
With free child care for all and so much more. For inequality she has a cure. But will pro-banker, moneyed folks resist,
Despite her self-description: “capitalist”?
One candidate whose fame has come quite quickly
Is South Bend, Indiana’s Mayor Pete
(Trying to rhyme his last name is quite tricky)
His scholar/military resume is neat,
But politically he fits into a tweet.
Still, he has generational appeal
And messaging that sounds both wise and real.
Kamala Harris, tough in prosecuting
Won plaudits for her querying Bill Barr.
She says in office she’d be executing
Punishments for employers who’re sub-par
In the male/female equity pay bar.
A woman of color, bona fides deep,
She’s on a lot of short lists for the Veep.
Amid the current tones of acrimony,
Cory Booker’s words sound so very nice.
He talks of love, civic grace, and harmony
And exhorts men to protect women’s rights.
And cares a lot to end our urban blights.
This Rhodes Scholar who’s certainly no fool
Has Wall Street ties and supports charter schools.
Amy Klobuchar is praised quite highly
Across the aisles in a once true blue state
She’s also known to view events quite wryly,
And humor’s in too short supply of late.
Some feel her plans don’t carry enough weight.
But one’s important, not just symbolically: Her push for statehood for Washington, DC.
Beto leapt to fame by losing narrowly;
In Texas that was seen as quite a feat.
His campaign started off quite powerfully
And then began to lose a bit of heat,
Though he engages each voter he’ll meet.
His message is important as can be:
Immigration: with “respect and dignity.”
I’ve long thought that the job of governor
Makes President a ready move to make.
There’s Hickenlooper, Inslee, and another:
Steve Bullock, who will miss next week’s debate.
Each has records touted as first-rate.
And each has worked to combat climate change
With Inslee’s speech most often in this range.
It’s time, say many Dems, to crack that ceiling
Re: healthcare, equity, diversity,
To all these goals the party is appealing
And I believe that voters sensibly
Will weigh their thoughts while seeking to agree
And try to find which candidate’s around
Who’s most likely to find that common ground.
I see I’m in trouble here numerically,
And fear my rhyme is starting to grow weak.
I’ve gone through less than half the twenty-three.
There’s still a dozen more of whom to speak,
And showtime’s coming middle of next week.
But since to verses’ end you’ve still held tight,
You’ll find all contenders’ pitches through this site.
I clearly gave only the briefest attention to the candidates I covered, and none at all to the rest. Here is how they present themselves to voters:
I know it’s early, but if you’re committed to the idea that we need new leadership in 2020, these debates are important in winnowing the field, and you may find yourself wanting to support someone who hasn’t yet gained much public attention.
So I hope you’ll watch the debates, review the candidates’ positions as they state them on their web sites, and support the candidate(s) of your choice. Small donations will be vital for qualifying for subsequent debates, so please consider even minimal financial support of candidates as well.
FIRST DEBATES: JUNE 26, JUNE 27 ON NBC, MSNBC, AND TELEMUNDO
For now, at least, 35 days after it was foisted upon us, what’s been called “the Seinfeld shutdown—it’s about nothing”—is over. That would be amusing if it hadn’t wreaked such terrible damage on so many people. It will take a while to understand the larger impacts on our economy, national security, and more, but we may never know the devastation it caused some of the most vulnerable government workers and private contractors.
Both Republican Senator Rob Portman and Democratic Senator Mark Warner have introduced bills to ensure that there are no more government shutdowns. Warner’s bill is being called the “Stop Shutdowns Inflicting Damage in the Coming Years, otherwise known as the Stop Stupidity Act,“ reports The New York Times. I’m for that.
I want to reiterate what I’ve said previously: I would not be taking such a clearly partisan stance if I didn’t feel our democracy demands it now. We do not have a functioning two-party system. We have a chaotic President who has captured the GOP with little obvious opposition from its leaders and most of its elected officials, and has forced many of the more thoughtful people in that party either to leave it quietly or to denounce it and him—loudly and often.
(If you disagree, please feel free to express your views. I would love to hear from Republicans–those who continue to support the President and those who don’t but have other thoughts about how the party can revitalize itself.)
February 15 is the next deadline. The Democrats appear united in viewing the wall (as I do), as an attempt to demonize immigrants of color, a huge waste of money, a clear disruption to the people and businesses on both sides of the border, and a woefully ineffective response to a problem that has actually lessened, and is remediable by other, less expensive methods.
(Remember the Caravan? We were all supposedly threatened by that poor bedraggled group of people fleeing for their lives and hoping for a better future. And don’t get me started on the families torn apart—a national disgrace that is continuing, and may well rank with the internment of Japanese-Americans in our history books.)
If the Democrats introduce a bill that is widely viewed as a rational method for strengthening border security, but doesn’t include any money for the wall (as they have previously), will the President withstand the drumbeat of the rightwing media? He’s hinted at another shutdown or other ways to get what he wants. Call a national emergency? Send the army to the border?
The key will be Senate Majority Leader McConnell, and whether the public’s distaste for this shutdown has impressed enough Republican Senators to override a potential veto.
If you feel as I do, here’s where we must all do our jobs as citizens: to persuade our legislators to vote for immigration reform that, while providing some funds for realistic border security, also addresses the crisis the President has created and the need for orderly, humane treatment for those seeking asylum or simply a better life.
And that must set the stage for true, lasting immigration reform that upholds the values of our nation, which is—after all—a Nation of Immigrants.
I invite you to don your citizen-pundit hats and tell me what you think. Feel free to name names: those you either like or don’t like at this point, but please tell me why. (A couple of people offered Mitch Landrieu and John Hickenlooper in that earlier post—two thoughtful potential candidates who don’t get much publicity.)
But I’m equally interested in the issues you think are paramount and the qualities you’re looking for in a President—and whether you think that type of person/persons would be viable in the general election.
In these hyper-partisan times, are you looking for someone who expresses commitment to reach across the aisle? How do you think such a person would fare in the primaries?
I’d also like to refer you back to my post “OK; The Dems Won the House, Now What?,” in which I quote the very astute Michael Tomasky, who emphasizes that the Democrats need “to construct a story about how the economy works and grows and spreads prosperity, a story that competes with—and defeats—the Republicans’ own narrative.” He stresses that this story must unite the various factions of the party. (That’s always a concern. Remember Will Rogers’ quotation? “I am not a member of any organized political party. I’m a Democrat.”)
Another important question is which voters may decide this election. Many say we need a candidate who appeals to the “Rust Belt”—a term that Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown finds demeaning, as it connotes deterioration. (He is seriously considering a run, and he has some compelling qualities, including his longheld emphasis on “the dignity of work.”)
Based on the 2018 election results, there’s reason to pay careful attention to the views that former Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards expressed in a Washington Post Op-Ed: “The 2020 election will be decided in my hair salon. Here’s why.”
“For Democrats, the quest to win the 2020 primary and general election flows through the vibrant conversations of black women on a Saturday morning—a time and place of unvarnished truth among women of all classes and life experiences.”
“Since the 2016defeat, it has been the strength of the black women’s vote that has driven victories in statewide and down-ballot races for Democrats—including the much-celebrated record number of diverse women in the new Congress.”
“Why are these facts so important for a crowded 2020 Democratic presidential primary field? Simple—the numbers clearly show the real juice for Democrats rests with women of color. No candidate can ignore black women in the primary season and still hope to engage them after winning the party nomination—that won’t fly. Black women are the most reliable base of the Democratic Party. To win this base in the primary, and then fully mobilize it in a general election, the candidates will need to listen to the women in the hair salons.”
Noting that “some may write off identity politics,” Edwards writes: “but for many women/women of color/black women, identity is politics.” She cites the wage gap, health care disparities, far greater college debt, etc. “Those are the politics of a black woman’s identity.”
Does Senator Kamala Harris have a formidable advantage? Harris wowed the Iowa Democrats attending CNN’s recent Town Hall. Here’s an interesting video of her conversation with a man who asked how he could “mansplain” to other men who tell him a man would be a better candidate than a woman in 2020. (There’s a brief ad first.) And conservative columnist David Brooks practically endorsed Harris in this New York Times Op-Ed.
Edwards is quick to state that it would be a mistake to think that Harris has already sewn up the votes of black women. “These voters are listening,” Edwards writes. And “Women/women of color/black women are not a monolith—they are individuals, and they want to be fought for. Every candidate must wage that battle.”
I think Edwards is right, but clearly the rest of us, as the saying goes, are not chopped liver. If we learned anything from 2016, it was that every vote, in every precinct, matters. Young people will also be a crucial factor in the outcome. We’ve seen their power in those remarkable, brave Parkland shooting survivors.
Speaking of the young, how important are fresh faces? If Joe Biden decided to run, would he have a chance? Or Bernie?
On the other extreme, does the charismatic but inexperienced and not yet obviously knowledgeable Beto O’Rourke have viability—assuming he softens his propensity to pepper his speech with sturdy Anglo-Saxon verbiage—which some voters might find a needless distraction?
Then there’s Amy Klobuchar, who speaks quietly but was known as a tough prosecutor. (And, according to some reports, is even funnier than her former Minnesota Senate colleague Al Franken;a good sense of humor could be a valuable asset in today’s environment.) Conservative columnist and former Republican George Will believes Klobuchar “is perhaps the person best equipped to send the current President packing,” as he discusses here.
Can great ideas introduced by flawed candidates catch on? Did Elizabeth Warren (who has some creative and valuable ideas) ruin her chances when she took Trump’s bait and released her DNA test results, thereby feeding into the white supremacists’ touting of the false importance of blood lines?
Actually, there probably isn’t a candidate without flaws, and I think we all have to get better at figuring out which ones matter and which ones don’t—and not let the media decide for us.
Now that Cory Booker has announced his candidacy, we’ll see how his emphasis on love plays out in today’s environment. And his performance as Mayor of Newark will justifiably receive scrutiny.
I can’t see Michael Bloomberg getting traction at this time, but I’m glad he’s in the race because he’s been emphatic that anyone running for President must have, and express, well-thought-out ideas. Let him give his (he’s especially strong on gun safety legislation and climate change), and let’s make sure that all the other candidates give theirs: solid, workable goals for what they’d bring to the office—not just platitudes or attacks on Trump.
Foremost in my mind: we need someone who’s thinking and talking about how to unite a divided country, restore faith in our institutions, pursue economic equality, and try to heal the wounds after all the deliberate divisiveness that will be Donald Trump’s sorry legacy.
Please let me know your thoughts in the “Leave a reply” box below. We’re all in this together, and it’s not too soon to be thinking about how we should approach this important decision.
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