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Tag Archives: Donald Trump

One Person’s Extremist is Another’s Moderate

I’d like to take a moment to talk about the political divide that exists in America today. It is a topic I have thought about a lot over the years. It is a thing that keeps getting worse. It is a thing that I see every single day because I read a couple of liberal blogs and a couple of conservative blogs every single day. What I see are two sides of the same coin of clueless, mind-numbing hypocrisy and closed-mindedness.

The latest evidence of this … An op-ed from Leonard Pitts. I don’t necessarily disagree with Pitts’ primary thesis which is that the Republican Party has achieved maximum meltdown. The thing is that it really started when Bill Clinton was elected President. The accusations that the Clintons participated in drug smuggling, killed Vince Foster and Ron Brown among others, and so many other ridiculous conspiracies. All of which still make regular appearances in the right-wing blogosphere. The meltdown continued with the Swift Boaters and other similar conspiracies that failed the basic test of reality and honesty.

Obama’s election sent the Republican Party even deeper into what appears to be a brain freeze like the kind you get when you eat something cold too fast. And Trump’s election has only accelerated the thing.

Do any of you remember this?

This was from the White House Correspondent’s Dinner a few years back. Obama took no small pleasure in poking fun at Trump and watch the video for Trump’s reaction. I’m convinced that we are seeing the most successful act of petty revenge the world has ever seen. Trump ran to destroy the Obama legacy. You see it in his petty tweets attacking anybody who attacks him. He does not let any slight go. He holds a grudge and he seeks to destroy. You see it in all of the things he has done to take whatever action he can to reverse any and every success Obama achieved as President.

And the Republicans are ignoring all of his immaturity, damaging actions and words, and evidence of his incompetence to further their extremist objective of rolling this country backwards about 70 or 80 years.

So, yes Mr. Pitts, the Republican Party has descended into a realm of unimaginable extremism, but for a portion of this country, the Democrats aren’t far behind.

In your op-ed you state the following:

We are not, after all, divided because Americans pulled back from the center and retreated into extremism.

No, we are divided because one party did. And it wasn’t the Democrats.

I say this as a lifelong Democrat, a liberal, somewhat of a progressive. I say this as somebody who hasn’t voted for a Republican since the 1980s. Your center-based policies, isolated by your liberal ivory tower views, are viewed as extremist by millions of Americans. Having the federal government force states and local governments to allow transgender or gender-confused individuals to use the bathroom of their choice is an act of extremism. No matter how much you may believe that is a necessary policy. Providing a free public college education for all may just be viewed as an act of extremism by many Americans. No matter how much you may believe it is a wise idea.

The problem in America these days is that both sides have descended into their own echo chambers and are incapable of seeing their ideas and policies through the eyes of others. They are unwilling to consider that anybody but their chambermates have legitimate ideas. The right believes every liberal lies and hates America. The left believes the right is racist and prone to violence. Each side believes that the other is the extremist.

Mr. Pitts’ op-ed is a perfect example of the problem from the left. Look at all the horrible things the Republican Party is now engaged in! They are juvenile and unhinged and horrible!! Whew, it’s a good thing us Democrats are so reasonable and level-headed.

It’s really just kind of ridiculous as far as I’m concerned. Neither side is entirely right, but they both think they are. Neither side is entirely wrong, but they both think the other is.

Barry Goldwater once famously said that “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” He’s right, I think. What the right-wing and left-wing have become, however, are extremists in the battle for every little thing. The result is a frozen democracy incapable of moving forward as any common ground disappears in the endless war they fight with each other.

 

 

 

 

 

So Much To Say

I wrote a little bit ago about how both sides of the political divide live in their own echo chambers.  Let me add to that.  They also live in their own bubbles and liberals have just experienced the consequence of forgetting that there is a whole different world outside their bubble.

Many of us were lulled into a false sense that America had changed over the last eight years.  That somehow the election of Barack Obama and his promised hope and change heralded the dawn of a new and better America.  A post-racial America.  An America where finally people of color and of different religions and different genders and different orientations would no longer experience the horrors of hate and discrimination.

We believed that our liberal views had finally reached that point where there was no turning back.  This was America and the forces of conservatism were on the run.

If only …

What far too many of us forgot was the fundamental nature of our country and our history.  We are a divided nation and there are many, many Republicans and others out there who believe and think fundamentally differently from us.  You don’t think so?  Well, let’s go back in the way-back machine and look at our political history.  Since FDR’s death, with the exception of Carter’s four year term and the combined twelve years of Reagan/Bush I, the party that holds the Presidency has changed every eight years.  Like clockwork.  Like a perfectly tuned Swiss time machine.

It is, to repeat myself, the fundamental nature of modern day America’s politics.  The vast middle can’t decide what it wants to be and it is the vast mushy middle that holds the cards in national elections.  Give ’em eight years of a Democrat and they’re ready for a Republican.  Give ’em eight years of that and they’re ready for a Democrat again.

Which leads to thought number two …

This is what I blame the Democrat Party apparatus and the Clintons for.  A failure to recognize that Hillary Clinton was simply the wrong candidate for this year.  Much like Mitt Romney, who in so many ways represented the very thing that inspired America’s anger at the Great Recession, was the wrong candidate for the Republicans in 2012, Hillary represented just about everything the vast mushy middle didn’t want this year.  She personifies Democratic establishment politics and has been in that mold for decades.  She represented no change, no difference, nothing other than the same old, same old.

See above, rightly or wrongly, every eight years American voters want change.

The Democrats had to offer somebody who could promise the American people an evolution from Obama and they didn’t do it.  Or if it had to be Hillary she had to come up with a message, a theme, anything that could reach American voters who are fatigued by the last eight years. Instead, Hillary and her advisors basically ran on the idea that she would offer another four years of Obama.  (I don’t object to that notion, but I’m not representative of the vast mushy middle you need to win a Presidential election.)

All the while, the Clintons and their team completely refused to recognize the role her weaknesses and her fundamental flaws would play in turning the mushy middle against her.  How decisions she has made and conduct she has engaged in would turn the electorate against her.  Or at least enough of the electorate would turn to any other option that she would lose the election.

It has been suggested that the point of yesterday is how many Americans voted for hate and misogyny, intolerance and ignorance.  I agree that this is a point worth discussing and examining.  However, suggesting that is the only point while ignoring the role the Democrat Party and the Clintons played in making such a vote not only possible but also seem to be reasonable to more than 60,000,000 Americans means that we will never learn the lesson, learn from the mistake that was made this year, and ignores the responsibility the party and the Clintons have for foisting this horrible choice on the American people.

Which leads to my third point …

It has been suggested in a number of places over the course of this election that Hillary will lose, or actually lost, because she is a woman.  Again, this is an effort to avoid responsibility.  To blame this loss on the same old tired identity politics of gender, race, religion, or orientation.  And it is completely wrong.  The very same people who voted for Trump voted for Nikki Haley, the female governor of South Carolina, Jan Brewer, the female former governor of Arizona, Sarah Palin, the female former governor of Alaska and VP candidate with McCain in 2008, Judy Martz, the female former governor of Montana, Mary Fallin, the current female governor of Oklahoma, Susana Martinez, the current female governor of New Mexico.  There are also currently a handful of Republican female U.S. Senators.  To suggest that the people who voted for Trump, or the people who opposed Hillary Clinton, did so because she is a woman is simply to ignore the evidence before us.

Anyway …

Last night I was very unsettled about the election results.  Although I didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton, I did want her to win given the only other alternative.  I agree that having over 60 million Americans vote for the man says something very ugly about our country.  But that ugliness isn’t new.  It never actually went away.  Barack Obama never snapped his fingers and made it disappear.  It is as basic to our Americanism as it is, unfortunately, basic to the human existence.  There are those who hate.  There will always be.  The way to combat that is to continue to love and to spread our message and to nominate our best.  We didn’t do that this year — we nominated the one person who couldn’t beat an orange clown — and we will suffer the consequences for the next four years.

 

 

Echo Chambers

In which I may just piss off all of my readers … but why have a blog if I can’t say what I think.

According to Wikipedia, the modern day equivalent of Encyclopedia Brittanica, an echo chamber is “a metaphorical description of a situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by transmission and repetition inside an ‘enclosed’ system, where different or competing views are censored, disallowed, or otherwise underrepresented.”

I always wonder if I might be guilty of romanticizing the past when I think about today, but it seems to me that years ago, there was a generally accepted and common narrative that people around which people formed their opinions and political views.  While cities had competing newspapers which may have been written from the “right” and the “left,” the reality is that people still had somewhat of a common set of “facts” and information upon which they relied.  Similarly, with the nightly news there was generally a common narrative.

While there were occasional breaks from that common narrative — Father Coughlin, for instance — the commonality generally dominated how information and news was presented to the masses.  I think the reason is that the old ways of communicating things were difficult to maintain, difficult to reach large masses of people regularly and consistently.  And because the of the time involved in communicating information, people were patient in their opinions.

I don’t want to make this sound like the olden days (don’t you just love that phrase) were something akin to paradise.  People like Father Coughlin were occasionally able to break through the common narrative.  The Red Scare and McCarthyism.  There were times when the common narrative broke down and forces of intolerance and ignorance threatened order and stability.  And most importantly, the constitutional principles this country was founded on.

The internet of all things has changed the dynamic.  We now live in a world where there isn’t a common narrative.  Instead, we have become a world, a nation, of echo chambers.  The internet, which could have been such a powerful force for education and advancement, has instead become a tool for the propagandists among us.  On both sides.  The political discussion has become a dueling battle from silos walled off from each other.

The only variable in that definition of echo chamber that doesn’t exist on the internet is “enclosed.”  Nothing on the internet is enclosed.  It is a free for all.  And everybody has a voice.

The problem is that everybody is gravitating towards the echo chamber that fits what they already think they think.  The right has theirs — National Review, PowerLine, RedState.com, Weekly Standard, Newsmaxx, Fox, and many others.  The left has theirs — Huffington Post, Talking Points Memo, Mother Jones, and many others.  The right would suggest that CNN and the rest of the “mainstream media” are a part of the echo chamber on the left.  I’ll leave that particular issue for others to decide.

If you read these websites, in particular the comments, you will see that there is no common narrative.  Instead, there are two different narratives, two different sets of facts that are driving people’s perspectives these days.  And what bothers me about the dynamic is that neither side is willing to give the other any credit, any consideration, any opening to begin a dialogue that can bridge the vast chasm that exists between the echo chambers.  Neither side has any willingness to consider the validity of the other side.  Neither side.

Which brings us to this year’s Presidential election, now just ten days away.  I’m in a somewhat unusual situation.  A lifelong Democrat.  I won’t be voting for my party’s nominee.  I did this once before in 2000.  I couldn’t stand Al Gore.  During the primary he engaged in what I thought was nasty campaigning against Bill Bradley, a man who seemed to be a rare breed — a good and honorable politician.  I’ll never forgive Gore for his actions during that primary season.  I didn’t vote for him.  I didn’t vote for anybody that year.

Once George W. Bush was elected and he did what he did, I swore I would never make that mistake again.  And here I am.  I will not be voting for Donald Trump and I will not be voting for Hillary Clinton.

Here’s what I would like to say to both sides of this discussion.  On the right, I see that you simply cannot understand how anybody could vote for Hillary Clinton.  I get it.  You think she and her husband are part of a criminal syndicate designed to do nothing other than fill their bank accounts.  I get that you think she has late stage Parkinson’s (although you apparently have never bothered to explore the symptoms of late stage Parkinson’s).  I get that you believe Bill is a serial rapist/misogynist, and that Hillary has not only turned a blind eye to that aspect of her husband’s character but also may have helped damage some of his victims.  I get that you believe that the Clintons represent the truest form of political corruption in this country.

To my friends on the left, I hear you.  Donald Trump is the most unqualified candidate in the history of this country.  He assaults women.  He denigrates pretty much everybody.  His business successes are far from it.  He is a charlatan.  A fascist.  A no-nothing blowhard.  Electing Trump would be a catastrophe of epic proportions.  I am right there with you.

But here’s the deal.

The people who occupy the right-wing echo chamber have some valid points.  Not that Trump is the better candidate, and not that Hillary and her husband are the root of all that is evil in the world.  I don’t buy into most of the allegations made about the Clintons over the years, but there is some truth to the overall sense that they are trying to have their cake and eat it too.  No matter the quality of Hillary’s resume, there are other things that matter when electing a President.  Honesty, integrity, character.  I’ve never been convinced since Bill left office that Hillary passes those tests.  The $150 million they personally made giving speeches to special interest, along with the interplay between their Foundation and foreign countries and others that wanted their influence … well, it just stinks, as far as I’m concerned.

My point is this … the idea that Hillary Clinton should not be elected President, just as you believe Trump should not be elected, is actually a real and valid concern.  The complete disregard for the right-wing perspective … is … essentially comparable to their complete disregard for your views on Trump and his unelectability.  Where does this all end?  In complete division and a never-ending cycle of crap thrown by each side at the other.

Get out of your damn echo chamber and listen to the other side.  Consider that the other side may have some valid points.  Find a way to get back to a common narrative, a common set of facts.  Hillary doesn’t have late stage Parkinson’s.  Donald Trump is not the devil incarnate.

 

Donald Trump’s First Priority

I saw a short clip of Trump’s speech yesterday.  The one in which he outlined what he would do in his first 100 days as President.  If I heard it correctly, he indicated that the first thing he would to is seek a constitutional amendment that would provide for term limits for members of Congress.

I know this is a popular idea, with wide appeal among not only the conservatives among us, but also plenty of liberals.  I get it.  There’s a certain amount of “throw the bums out” mentality that makes sense.  The system is dysfunctional, politicians don’t seem responsive to the American people.  They don’t fix the problems our country faces.  Therefore, we must do something different.  Term limits.  Throw the damn bums out.

Sure.

But what if that actually makes the system worse?

California has had term limits for all statewide officials and for all members of the Legislature for 20 years.  It is a system that has failed to make things any better than they were and as far as I’m concerned have harmed our political system.

Without term limits, many politicians get elected to a body (city council, board of supervisors, state Assembly, state Senate, etc.) and can remain there — developing expertise and a sense of loyalty to the institution of which they are a part.  They do not need to concern themselves with what will be the next office they run for.  They can establish themselves in that body and use their developing expertise in one place with consistency and stability.  Because of the power and influence they obtain by remaining in that body over the years, they can compete with the power of special interests and lobbyists.

With term limits, those politicians are always looking to the next office they need to aspire to if they want to continue their career in politics.  They don’t develop loyalty to the institution because they will only be there for a few years — instead, they develop an interest in what the institution can do for them for the next office they aspire to.  They don’t develop an expertise that they can then use in that body for years to come … because they won’t be there for years to come.  Instead, they end up relying more and more and more on the unaccountable special interests and lobbyists to feed them information and tell them what they should do.

In a world of term limits, it is the special interests, lobbyists, and consultants who hold the power.

If you think the point of all of this is that we don’t want professional politicians, than you’re ignoring that that is a battle that has been lost.  There have always been and will always be a group of people who desire to make their mark in the political arena — and I’m not sure why that is viewed with such negativity.  And ultimately, with the role of money and special interests in our political system, something I’m not sure is a desirable objective.  Politicians who are ultimately answerable to the voters every two, four, or six years, or special interests and their consultants and lobbyists who owe the voters nothing.

If, like Trump, you support term limits, you stand for the latter instead of the former.  I really wish we could get rid of this idea of term limits once and for all.  They have made things worse in California, as they would in Congress.

 

 

It’s Not Just Talk

I’ll spare you the details of Trump’s latest.  What I see this morning in the Trump apologists corner is that it’s just talk and a lot of men (most men? all men?) talk like this in the gym and in the quiet of those guy-to-guy conversations.  And that while Trump just talked about this stuff,  Bill Clinton was actually doing bad things to women.

(I’m going to generally ignore the suggestion that a lot of men talk like this except to say that I’m pretty sure that I have never said anything to anybody about grabbing a woman’s pussy and have never heard those words come out of any male friend’s mouth.)

So, go watch the video or read the transcript of his comments.  Pay attention.  It isn’t just talk.  It’s not just him fantasizing about what he’d like to do to attractive women.  It is him describing what he actually does when he sees attractive women.  Because he just can’t help himself.  And because he’s famous he gets away with it all of the time.

And why else do we know it’s not just talk.  Because there are a number of women who have described interactions with Trump that are eerily similar to what he said in that video.  Here’s one.  The story related in the linked piece is about an incident that happened in 2010 — five years after the “vulgar” video and five years into the Donald’s current marriage.  There are others and they aren’t hard to find.  And all of their descriptions of his behavior came out before this video ever appeared.  So, you can’t say they’re just jumping on the bandwagon created by the video.

And here is what he is describing.  Here is what he says he does.  He sexually assaults women.

If you vote for Trump, I will never understand how you can look your wife, mother, daughter, sister, or any other woman in the face again.

I’ve written about the fact that I do not want to vote for Hillary Clinton.  The more I read and hear about Trump, the more I reconsider that choice — the man must be defeated in the most resounding fashion possible.

But I still hesitate.  Now I’m thinking of writing somebody’s name in.  Anybody out there want my vote for President?

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