Thursday, May 19, 2016

Danger Time

I’m concerned about recent developments in this election campaign, developments that endanger the possibility of defeating Donald Trump, the GOP’s “presumptive nominee.”

The ruckus that occurred at the Nevada Democratic Party’s convention was scary. And Bernie Sanders’ reaction to it made it scarier. Yes, he condemned whatever violence may have been triggered by his supporters, as well as subsequent threats against the party’s chairwoman and her family, but that was overshadowed by his emphatic criticism of the Nevada Democratic Party.

What did or did not occur at that convention may be arguable, but as we draw closer to the last primaries and the two national conventions, it’s time for reality to subdue animosity. Bernie should continue his vital campaign, stressing his relatively revolutionary program. But he should not do it at the risk of undermining the critical need of defeating Trump. In short, Sanders should tone down, not ramp up, his criticism of Hillary Clinton — who, according to the math, will be the Democratic nominee. He has already served the positive role of pushing her leftward in her pronouncements. And he should fight for his program at the Democratic Convention.

Bernie constantly reminds his audience that polls show that he would have a better chance of defeating Trump than Hillary would. Perhaps he would, perhaps he wouldn’t. At this stage of the campaign that can’t be assured. Nevertheless, it’s all the more reason for him to lend to her campaign all the political heft he has earned. I disagree completely with the attitude expressed by Sanders supporter Mayor Bao Nguyen of Garden Grove, California, who was quoted in The New York Times (5/19) as saying: “Senator Sanders isn’t obliged to help Secretary Clinton if she wins.”

A powerful column against Trump’s candidacy appeared in the Washington Post (5/19), written by Robert Kagan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. The headline read: “This is how fascism comes to America.” No more quotation is needed.

In any struggle — electoral, generally political or labor — the imperative aims must dominate all other considerations and actions. In this case, it’s making sure that Donald Trump doesn’t occupy the Oval Office. We should not be complacent about the danger he represents. He has stirred up deep dissatisfaction among large sections of the population — some of it warranted by economic inequality (Bernie’s major thrust), but much of it xenophobic and racist. (Didn’t they laugh at Hitler during his early rise?)

It’s time for Bernie to direct his main fire on the main enemy, and to do all he can to encourage his supporters to do likewise.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

No Laughing Matter

One thing is clear about this election campaign: Donald Trump does not have the qualities of a decent human being, much less those required to be president of the United States, and today’s Republican Party is more concerned about taking over the government than about the country’s welfare.

While some voices within the GOP and among conservative pundits have been raised against a Trump candidacy, the party has begun to fall into line behind the man with the funny hair and neo-fascist bluster. Even Ted Cruz, who called Trump a “pathological liar,” refused to say he would not support Trump if he became the GOP standard bearer in the presidential race. The GOP uber alles!

The first step on the path to Trump was taken well before this campaign. It began by Mitch McConnell in 2010 when he declared that the GOP’s top priority was to limit Obama’s presidency to one term. Not to legislate for the good of the nation, mind you, but to prevent a second term for Obama when his first term had barely gotten off the ground!
That “priority” sowed the seeds for the obstructionism by Congressional Republicans, which in turn led to popular discontent with “Washington” — or, its synonym, “the establishment.”

And so along comes “The Donald,” a bull in the China shop of politics. No candidate has ever appeared to be more “anti-establishment” than this heir to a real estate fortune. Do we care that he’s one of the one-percent? That he’s all slogans and no substance? Nah. He hates “the establishment;” that’s good enough for us. In an interview with a Trump supporter after he had delivered one of his trademark tirades, she was reminded that much of what he said was not true. Her response? “Yes… but he’ll get things done.”

In the Democratic corner, the same nationwide discontent that underpins Trump’s rise has also given the Sanders campaign a heft to the left, which surprised everyone — probably even the senator himself. But while the two campaigns have been built on discontent, there’s a big difference between them. Trump’s campaign is one of xenophobia, isolationism, racism, sexism, and even anti-intellectualism. Sanders, on the other hand, in his role in Congress and in his campaign for the Democratic nomination, stands firmly on the side of middle- and workingclass Americans.

So here we are, in a campaign that is giving the GOP fits, causing sharp splits among the American people, and frightening foreign leaders who fear the damage a Trump presidency would do internationally.

It is imperative that unity against Trump must be swift and strong — and that includes independents as well as Republicans who care more about their country than they do about their party.