Democratic Jitters

As always, our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters is spot-on in his assessment of the current Democratic candidates and their campaigns. He has also drawn a scenario about Michael Bloomberg that, while it doesn’t please me, I certainly cannot argue otherwise. The goal that we must not lose sight of is to topple the bully-in-chief, for another four years under Trump, who has been handed the keys to the kingdom, is unthinkable. Good work, Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

It’s time to state the obvious: Beating Donald Trump must be the main objective in the 2020 election. While we all may have our personal favorites, and should proudly vote for that person in the primary, when it comes to November 3, whoever is the Democratic nominee deserves all of our support.

No matter who it is.

I know this upsets a lot of people. Ideological purity tests are running rampant all over social media. “But wait, he’s too far to the left.” “Hold on. We need to excite the base and increase the turnout. Only a real progressive can do that.” I’ve heard and seen them all. Everyone’s nerves are frayed. We know what the King is doing to our democracy, and none of us want to see what another four years of Trump will do to our beloved country.

Right now, the bane of all of the hand-wringing…

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Sanity Amidst Turmoil

michelle-obama-speech

Michelle Obama is a lady of grace, character and dignity like no other, and in her speech at the Democratic National Convention last night, she demonstrated all of those traits and more.  No matter who wins the election in November, I know that I will miss the dignity and intellect that both Barack and Michele Obama have brought to the White House.

First, for any who did not see Ms. Obama last night, here is a link to both the video and full transcript of the speech:  Michelle Obama’s DNC speech

This speech, above all, exemplifies what the convention should be about, as opposed to the ranting and name-calling that seems to have become the hallmark of political speeches in the modern day.  It was by far the most positive speech I have heard or read during this election season. Ms. Obama did not mention Donald Trump’s name a single time, nor did she make nasty remarks directed at him.  Instead, she said:

“I want someone with the proven strength to persevere, someone who knows this job and takes it seriously, someone who understands that the issues a president faces are not black-and-white and cannot be boiled down to 140 characters.”

“Because when you have the nuclear codes at your fingertips and the military in your command, you can’t make snap decisions. You can’t have a thin skin or a tendency to lash out. You need to be steady and measured and well-informed.”

“I want a president with a record of public service, someone whose life’s work shows our children that we don’t chase fame and fortune for ourselves, we fight to give everyone a chance to succeed.”

“So, look, so don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great, that somehow we need to make it great again. Because this right now is the greatest country on earth!”

Perhaps the most important message of the night was this:

“So in this election, we cannot sit back and hope that everything works out for the best. We cannot afford to be tired or frustrated or cynical.”

I concur with Washington Post reporter Janell Ross when she says “This address is how political spouse speechmaking can and should be done.”

No, we certainly cannot sit and hope for the best. With the conflict and divisiveness that has defined this election, it is all too easy to become tired, frustrated and cynical, but we need to inject enthusiasm into our support of Ms. Clinton. We can no longer afford to have the “ho hum, well at least she’s better than Trump” attitude we have exhibited thus far.  I, too, am guilty of that, but in the last several days I have come to see that this lack of enthusiasm is not the way to inspire others to actually want to vote for Clinton.  It is rather like putting a meal on the table, saying “it isn’t much, but at least you won’t starve.”  Doesn’t exactly make your mouth water, does it?

One humorous side note:  the funniest political cartoon I saw this morning showed Donnie and Melania in front of the television, watching Michelle Obama’s speech, Melania with a notepad, scribbling furiously, and Donnie saying “Quit taking notes”!

 


bernie-sanders-speec

Bernie Sanders also spoke eloquently and passionately last night, and rose far above the voices of those who booed and attempted to disrupt him.  For a full transcript of his speech:  Bernie Sanders DNC speech

 

Where Ms. Obama’s speech focused mainly on values and family, rather than platform specifics, Sanders dealt more with specifics, while at the same time calling for party unity and declaring his support for Clinton.

“Let me be as clear as I can be. This election is not about, and has never been about, Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump, or Bernie Sanders or any of the other candidates who sought the presidency. This election is not about political gossip. It’s not about polls. It’s not about campaign strategy. It’s not about fundraising. It’s not about all the things the media spends so much time discussing. This election is about – and must be about – the needs of the American people and the kind of future we create for our children and grandchildren.” 

“We have come a long way in the last 7 1/2 years, and I thank President Obama and Vice President Biden for their leadership in pulling us out of that terrible recession. Yes, we have made progress, but I think we can all agree that much, much more needs to be done.”

“This election is about which candidate understands the real problems facing this country and has offered real solutions – not just bombast, fear-mongering, name-calling and divisiveness.”

“We need leadership in this country which will improve the lives of working families, the children, the elderly, the sick and the poor. We need leadership which brings our people together and makes us stronger – not leadership which insults Latinos, Muslims, women, African-Americans and veterans – and divides us up. By these measures, any objective observer will conclude that – based on her ideas and her leadership – Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States. The choice is not even close. “

Like Ms. Obama, he reminds us that we cannot sit quietly on the sidelines and expect the outcome to be for the best, but we must become involved and engaged in the battle ahead.

“If you don’t believe this election is important, if you think you can sit it out, take a moment to think about the Supreme Court justices that Donald Trump would nominate and what that would mean to civil liberties, equal rights and the future of our country.”

“Our job now is to see that platform implemented by a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House and a Hillary Clinton presidency – and I am going to do everything I can to make that happen.”

As I hoped, the speeches and general tone of the Democratic convention are much calmer, much saner than those we saw in the Republican convention.  However, the convention is not completely united, not entirely without discord and disharmony.  Unfortunately, just days ahead of the convention, Wikileaks released documents allegedly about Clinton, the campaign and internal discussions.  I will not comment at this time about the content,  source or validity of the documents, as I have not had time to review them closely and I think there are still many unanswered questions. However, the incident led to the ouster of Democratic National Committee Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and invited Sanders’ supporters and others to protest both outside and inside the convention center at a very bad time (no doubt intentional). It is to be hoped that the speeches of Ms. Obama and Mr. Sanders have begun to do the job of reversing at least part of the damage that was done by Wikileaks.  In the coming days, the party simply must find a way to overcome any remaining divide and bring unity and harmony within the party, as they must present a united front to conquer the madness that is on the other side.

At Long Last — Hillary Decides!

FINALLY!!!  Hillary Clinton has chosen her running mate and hopefully the next Vice-President of the United States:  Tim Kaine!  Wait … who?

Tim Kaine is a U.S. Senator from Virginia since 2013.  He has a long, progressive political history within the Democratic Party:

  • Mayor of Richmond, Virginia (1998 – 2002)
  • Lieutenant Governor of Virginia under Governor Mark Warner (2002 – 2006)
  • Governor of Virginia (2006 – 2010)
  • Chairman, Democratic National Committee (2009 – 2011)
  • U.S. Senator (2013 – Present)

Kaine graduated from Harvard Law School with a law degree in 1983, and was admitted to the Virginia Bar in 1984.  Prior to entering the political arena, he was a Civil Rights Lawyer for 17 years, specializing in fair housing law.  He also served as adjunct professor for University of Richmond Law School for six years.

Okay, so now you have the pertinent facts that you could have found on any of a few thousand websites yourself, but I culled the important parts and saved you the trouble.  Mr. Kaine obviously has a pretty impressive history, but what made Hillary choose him, specifically?  In the immediate aftermath of the announcement Friday evening, I saw several headlines stating that he “could not really do much to help Hillary”.  I strongly disagree with that.  I think he brings a lot to the table.  He is, first of all, from a swing state, and well-liked within his state.  Politically he is a liberal, although fiscally somewhat more conservative.  He has a proven track record as being a skilled, detail-oriented politician, and also at winning elections.  I could go on, but since there is no point in re-inventing the wheel, I point you to an excellent article in Politico that will explain much better than I could.

Based on what little research I have done thus far, I think he was a very sensible choice, perhaps the best she could have made.  He has ties to President Obama and, in fact, was at one point considered to be Obama’s running mate back in 2008.  Thus far, I can find no scandals surrounding his political life.  As noted above, he has a proven track record.  And on the issues, I was pleased with most of what I found. However, you cannot please everyone, and some within the Democratic Party appear to be unhappy with Clinton’s choice.

On the issues, just briefly, here are some of his positions I like:

  • Supports ACA (alias Obamacare)
  • Opposes death penalty
  • Favours a pathway to citizenship for immigrants
  • Strong advocate of addressing environmental issues
  • Supports at least some measures of gun control
  • Opposes Keystone XL Pipeline
  • Although personally opposed, he supports women’s right to choose abortion with some restrictions (partial-birth abortion)
  • Supports same-sex marriage
  • Opposes employment discrimination

Progressive Change Campaign Committee took only a matter of minutes to release their statement:  “Unfortunately, since Tim Kaine voted to fast track the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Republicans now have a new opening to attack Democrats on this economic populist issue.”  Democracy for America denounced him for his support of loosening banking regulations.  On the flip side, however, a number of progressive groups rank him highly, including NAACP, Brady Campaign, Human Rights Campaign, Planned Parenthood, and AFL-CIO.  Interestingly, Wall Street also seemed pleased with her pick, not for any particular policy stance, but simply because she did not choose Elizabeth Warren.

I will, obviously, need to study his policies and ideology more before I can make a definite call, but my initial reaction is that he is a good, solid choice.  So much conflict surrounds Clinton that I think she really needs a running mate who doesn’t, at least as far as I know at this point, have much of an Achilles heel.  The opposition has already announced their intent to run the dirtiest, most mud-slinging campaign imaginable for the next three-and-a-half months, so it was wise to choose a candidate to whom, hopefully, the mud will not stick.  One lobbyist mirrored my own thoughts when he said Kaine is “certainly more level headed and substantive than others considered.”

I imagine I will have more to say in coming days/weeks.  The Democratic National Convention begins Monday in Philadelphia.  My prediction?  Expect a much calmer, saner atmosphere than was seen this week in Cleveland.  I do not think we will see masses of stupidity chanting hate as we did this week. Unlike the Cleveland convention, the Democrats had no trouble getting notable speakers, including Michelle Obama, President Obama, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and former President Bill Clinton (surprised, aren’t you?)

Some 30 groups have planned protests in Philadelphia.  Among them are Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, and Bernie-or-Bust.  I was pleased that there were no serious incidents in Cleveland this week, so let us hope the same will hold true in Philadelphia.  Interestingly, although Pennsylvania, like Ohio, has an open-carry law for guns, Pennsylvania state law prohibits carrying a firearm within Philadelphia city limits without a license to carry firearms, which is only issued by city police. This gives law enforcement personnel one less problem to worry about at the Philadelphia convention.  As with the Cleveland convention, the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are in charge of security inside the convention hall, where guns are banned except in the hands of law enforcement.

It is my hope that the convention next week will be peaceful and will showcase both Clinton’s and Kaine’s experience and ideology, rather than turn into a mud-slinging fest as the RNC did.  Clinton and Kaine both have more experience and are far more qualified than the Trump/Pence team, and they must prove that to the world, starting now.