After The Fall

Robert Reich recalls a phone conversation he had with a friend who predicts a Clinton victory in November — and a majority of Democrats in the Senate (though not the House). The conversation then picks up as follows:

And what about all the people who’ll be voting for Trump?”

“What about them?” he asked, cautiously.

“After Trump loses, they’ll still be out there, right?”

“Of course.”

“And they’ll be madder than hell, poisoned with Trump’s venom. They’ll be a ready-made constituency for the next demagogue.”

“Bob?” he asked.

“What?”

“Remind me never to phone you again.”

“Sorry,” I said.

Indeed. There’s the rub. What about those crawly things Trump has enticed out from under the rocks he has been kicking over for the past few months, “poisoned with Trump’s venom”? That’s something we all need to ponder. Given that many of them are the “second amendment people” that the Trumpet encouraged to “do something” about Hillary Clinton and given the fact that they are armed, angry, and reside very far to the political right — well past Genghis Khan over there in the distance behind that rock — we need to worry about more than discontent among his mindless minions, a “ready-made constituency for the next demagogue.” There’s that, but there is also the very real possibility that a Clinton victory will engender a violent protest that will have alarming consequences — and not only for Hillary Clinton.

I refuse to make dire predictions and it is quite possible that nothing will happen beyond some really stupid complaints from those who will be convinced that this political race has been rigged and the only way their man could possibly have lost is because the Democrats cheated. We have already heard this excuse and it is virtually certain we will hear it again.

Given the conviction that a bigot and narcissistic megalomaniac is perceived by these people as the man to rescue this country from the grasp of those damned liberals, and “make America great again,” we can be sure there will be some very unhappy, not to say stupid, people. Just what they will do is the million dollar question.

At the very least, the political landscape will never be the same and the reputation of this country in the eyes of the rest of the world will have been deeply tarnished. It will take years and the efforts of a stellar leader to restore it. We ourselves will all have been exposed to the ugly underbelly of this country, which most of us had never imagined in our worst nightmares.

Not that this will keep me from voting for Hillary Clinton in November. Not in the least. As has been said, it really is a choice between sanity and insanity. The alternative of this man winning suggests even greater horrors and for a more prolonged period of time. The Sierra Club predicts that his election would lead invariably to an “environmental catastrophe.” Indeed. And that’s just the beginning. It’s just that I feel as though I am being pinned between a rock and a hard place. Perhaps you feel the same way?

 

 

 

Buying A Government

The wealthy Republicans who recently attempted to buy the government of the United States for millions of dollars are sitting and licking their wounds. If you look quickly you can see them over there sulking behind the trees. There’s no doubt their attempt to buy the Presidency and the majority of the Senate didn’t work out as they had planned — this time. But they will be back and next time they are determined to spend more money and win. A recent article by Robert Reich gives the details of the last political campaign and the plans the Republicans have for the next go-round, but there are a few things I might add.

As Reich notes, Sheldon Adelson, who owns the Las Vegas Sands Corporation and has a net worth reported to be $21.5 billion spent around $100 million of his pocket change  mostly on lost causes this time around. But he knows about gambling, he has bottomless pockets, and he has pledged to win the pot next time. He has already started interviewing Republican candidates for the next run at the Presidency. Hold on to your hats.

Adelson (like the Koch brothers who spent $400 million of their own money in the last election) is determined to get a government in place that will make sure people like him are permitted to increase their already obscene wealth even more — to rid themselves (and the rest of us) of those pesky Federal agencies like the E.P.A. and regulations that are, from their point of view, an expensive nuisance — and from our point of view necessary for our  health and well-being. The Koch brothers reportedly support an organization called the “American Legislative Exchange Council” that funds politicians around the country to make sure they get into key positions in state governments and then in return push the items on the Koch agenda. The end justifies any means.

Money is power and it always has been. And there have always been wealthy men and women (mostly men) who push their own agendas and do whatever they can to get weak people they can control into positions of power. But the game has changed in this country after the “Citizens United” decision by the Supreme Court that eliminated spending limits on political candidates by individuals and corporations in the name of “free speech.” This has raised the stakes considerably.

It does appear we are playing with a stacked deck. Not only that, but the game that is now being played follows house rules and the house is owned by people like Adelson and the Koch brothers. It really isn’t fair, but our cries of outrage and anger will almost certainly fall on deaf ears. As Reich says in concluding his article, there really are only two viable alternatives to help us avoid the coming purchase of our government by the very wealthy:

As income and wealth become ever more concentrated in America, the nation’s billionaire political investors will invest even more.

A record $6 billion was spent on the 2012 campaign, and outside groups poured $1.3 billion into political races, according to data from the Federal Election Commission and the Center for Responsive Politics.

That’s why Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission has to be reversed – either by a Supreme Court that becomes aware of the poison it’s unleashed into our democracy, or by a constitutional amendment.

It’s also why we need full disclosure of who contributes what to whom.

In a word, if we want to stay in the game, “Citizens United” must either be overturned by the Supreme Court (unlikely) or we must hope that a Constitutional amendment can be passed to throw out the ridiculous decision that ruled corporations to be persons. And, clearly, there should be spending limits in all political elections. I guess the ball’s in our court.

Disenchanted Republicans?

A recent story in the HuffPost by Robert Reich caught my eye. He was attempting to figure out why Mitt Romney is slipping in the polls and speculated that two reasons count heavily in the analysis. The first is that Romney is a lousy campaigner. Mitt certainly does seem ill-suited for the huge stage he is now performing on, flubbing his lines and terribly uncomfortable with the role he is being asked to play. But the second reason Reich gave is most interesting. I quote at length:

. . . the second explanation strikes me as more compelling. The Republican primaries, and then the Republican convention, have shown America a party far removed from the “compassionate conservatism” the GOP tried to sell in 2000. Instead, we have a party that’s been taken over by Tea Partiers, nativists, social Darwinists, homophobes, [birthers], right-wing evangelicals, and a few rich people whose only interest is to become even wealthier.

These regressives were there in 2000, to be sure. They lurked in the GOP in the 1990s, when Newt Gingrich took over the House. They were there in the 1980s, too, although Ronald Reagan’s sunny disposition gave them cover. In truth, they’ve been part of the GOP for more than half a century — but never before have they held so much sway in the party, never before have they called the shots.

The second view about Romney’s decline also explains the “negative coat-tail” effect — why so many Republicans around the country in Senate and House races are falling behind. Scott Brown, for example, is well-liked in Massachusetts. But his polls have been dropping in recent weeks because he’s had to carry the burden of the public’s increasing dislike of the Republican Party. The same is true with regard to Republican senate races in Florida, Virginia, and every other battleground state.

One thing about this campaign that has struck me is the amount of time Romney spends explaining what he meant to say. My memory of past elections is that the Republicans were always on the attack and the Democrats were on the ropes, explaining and apologizing. But the shoe does seem to be on the other foot this time around (though thanks to Romney’s gaffes the Democrats don’t need to attack) and if Romney doesn’t shine in the debates — his own people suspect he will not — Obama should retain the White House. The Senate race is a whole different ball game, as they say.

But Reich’s analysis gives rise to this interesting question: if enough Republicans get sick and tired of the nasties and crazies who have taken over their party, could a third party with both money and political clout be aborning? Interesting.