“Have You No Sense Of Decency?”

My grandfather fought in WWI, my father fought in WWII … both would be absolutely horrified to see what has happened in this nation in the past decade. People whose ancestors sacrificed time, money, and self for a greater good, have now become whining, petulant adults who cannot see past the tip of their nose, and don’t bother to try.

It was 1954 when attorney Joseph Nye Welch faced then-Senator Joseph McCarthy and uttered the words that would live forever in the annals of history …

“Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness…. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

I pose the same words today to the likes of Representatives Kevin McCarthy, Marge Greene, Lauren Boebert, Andy Biggs, Louis Gohmert, Matt Gaetz … to candidates Herschel Walker, Kari Lake, Blake Masters, Mehmet Oz, Doug Mastriano and J.D. Vance and others … HAVE YOU NO SENSE OF DECENCY???

I’ve done some thinking over the past few days, and perhaps the best thing would be for all the aforementioned people, people without a clue how to govern “for, of, and by the people”, to actually get elected next week.  Let them show their followers, their rabid base, just how inept they are, how unqualified and inexperienced they are.  Let them make a bloody shambles of this country, and then perhaps in 2024, the ignorant will have been enlightened, the proverbial light bulbs will have come on over the heads of those who fell for the lies and rhetoric.  Perhaps then … people will have learned and will elect qualified people, whether Republican or Democrat, to office to repair the damage and clean up the mess left by McCarthy and his band of merry thugs.

Meanwhile, though, how many of us will lose our life’s savings?  How badly damaged will our relations with those we now call allies have become?  How much worse will the ravages of climate change be in two years if the Republicans have their way in rolling back all environmental regulations?  How many of us will be dead … because we couldn’t afford the insulin and other medications we require to stay alive?  How many children will have died of starvation, or seniors because their Social Security was cut, or women because they died of an ectopic pregnancy because removing the non-viable fetus would be rendered ‘murder’ in her state?  And how many asylum seekers … human beings … will have died because the U.S. refused to consider them as … human beings?

Sometimes lessons can only be learned the hard way.  Sometimes the child will only believe that the stove burner is dangerously hot after he places his hand on it and lands in the emergency room for 2nd degree burn treatments.  And sometimes, maybe you have to destroy something, burn it to the ground, before you can rebuild it from the ground up.

So, pull up a chair, bring popcorn, and watch the destruction of a nation that our ancestors once fought for.

Democracy Can’t Afford a Governor Kari Lake

There are so many truly horrible candidates on the ballot this November that I’ve lost count. However, a few stand out in my mind … Oz, Vance, Walker, Mastriano, and Lake for starters. Kari Lake is the most unconscionable woman I can imagine … she has none. My writing partner Jeff over at On the Fence Voters has done a good job of showing us just what Ms. Lake is and I hope Arizona voters are wise enough to keep her OUT of the governor’s mansion! Thanks, Jeff!!!

On The Fence Voters

Kari Lake has a charismatic personality that reflects her years as an Arizona media personality. She talks rapidly, much like carnival barkers Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz in the House of Representatives. And much like the Congressmen above, she lies with impunity. And she does it with self-confidence that ranks right up there with her hero, the disgraced 45th President of the United States.

And, if things do not change fast, Kari Lake will be the new governor of Arizona.

If you care about democracy, and I’m not sure how many Americans do at this point, Kari Lake must be defeated in the November election. If Arizona falls for this demagogue, the rest of us will have to pick up the pieces of what might be left of a democracy in tatters.

Kari Lake is an election denier and blind sycophant to Donald Trump. He’s proudly campaigned for…

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Where Democracy Goes To Die

Jim Marchant is running in the midterms as the Republican candidate for secretary of state in Nevada.  Now, most people don’t pay a lot of attention to state and local candidates or elections – it is the ones at the federal level that grab the bulk of our attention.  But secretary of state is, perhaps, the most important position of all, for it has oversight responsibilities for elections in the state.  Secretaries of state act as the top election officials, and as such can shape how federal elections, including presidential ones, are conducted. Remember how Trump called Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, telling him he wanted him to find 11,780 more votes for Trump?  Fortunately, Raffensperger is an honest man and refused. But back to candidate Marchant …

Marchant said he had investigated what he described as the “rigged election” and had discovered “horrifying” irregularities. He provided no details – an official review of the 2020 count in Nevada, which Joe Biden won by 34,000 votes, found no evidence of mass fraud.  Okay, no surprise there, for we’ve heard that song played over and over again by Republican candidates and we’re frankly a bit tired of hearing it.  But Marchant took it a few steps further …

“When I’m secretary of state of Nevada, we are going to fix it, and when my coalition of secretary of state candidates around the country get elected we’re going to fix the whole country, and President Trump is going to be president again in 2024.”

I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds like a direct threat to rig the election, to do whatever it takes to ensure that Donald Trump wins in two years.  THAT, my friends, is as illegal as anything else I can imagine.  It is … he is basically telling the people of Nevada that their votes will not count after this election, that he and he alone will decide who wins the state of Nevada, or in his words, the “whole country.”

Marchant pushed for fake Trump electors to be sent from Nevada to Congress to try and subvert the 2020 results. In January, he was asked whether he might try to do the same in 2024, and replied: “That is very possible, yes.”

WHY are these election deniers, and especially Marchant, who has already said he will break the law, even on the ballot???  Are there truly no values, no rules, that would demand a bit of integrity from those running for offices that could affect the lives of every person in this nation?  I don’t know about you guys, but I am furious!  This is a slap in the face to We the People, to the taxpayers who give their hard-earned money to pay the salaries of these criminals!  I wonder how Marchant will manage to take his oath of office, to pledge to uphold the Constitution, when he is already plotting to destroy it?  Perhaps it’s easier for these people who have no conscience to begin with.  We can only hope that the people of Nevada are as appalled as I am by his words and that they care enough for the democratic foundations of this country that they send Mr. Marchant packing.

But he is not alone.  At a rally held Saturday before last, October 8th, Marchant named several other candidates for secretaries of state, such as Mark Finchem (Arizona), Kristina Karamo (Michigan), and Audrey Trujillo (New Mexico).  He said, “If we get all of our secretaries of state elected around the country like this, we take our country back.”

Finchem, by the way, participated in the insurrection on the Capitol on January 6th, 2021, as did several candidates running for congressional seats.  In my book, THAT should be absolutely against the law!  Anyone who participated in an attempted coup against the United States government, against We the People, should NEVER have the privilege of sitting in Congress.  Period.  Though we cannot rely heavily on polls, the latest polls show both Marchant and Finchem on a path to win their bids.

I don’t know if the quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin was actually uttered by him, but it’s an apt quote, either way:

“It’s a democracy.  If you can keep it.”

Can we?  Will we?  It’s up to us, my friends.  Up to us.

Post-democracy politics

I had not planned another post today … I typically like to stick to my schedule of two posts plus a music post … but then I came across this post from Brosephus and … every word struck a chord. He is 100% spot on with all he says here and I hope everyone realizes it. Many thanks, Bro!

The Mind of Brosephus

Creator: Ben@bengray.com | Credit: Ben Gray Copyright: Ben Gray

Today starts the early voting period here in Georgia. We’ll hear the usual, “this is the most important election in our lifetime” speech over and over until November. While it gets old, this election is truly important and not just for the residents of Georgia.

Across the country, there are many candidates for office who are election deniers. The majority of GOP candidates on the ballot for November espouse the belief that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. Think of the cognitive dissonance required to believe that Trump lost on the same election where hundreds of Republicans won.

Yet, here we are in 2022 staring at the ballot and there’s a chance that many elections in 2024 will be run by people who believe that very thing. Democracy itself is officially on the ballot and maybe even on life support. Welcome to the world…

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The Facts, Ma’am — Just The Facts

I happened across an article in this morning’s news saying that Kellyanne Conway (remember her, the head bootlicker for a time and inventor of the phrase “alternative facts”) says Trump isn’t lying as much these days.  Yeah, right Kelly … go peddle your own lies somewhere else, for I’m immune to them.  Robert Reich’s column today, however, deals with the lies the Republican Party is relying on to rile the masses and give their candidates a boost on November 8th.  And these are in addition to the Big Lie!!!  Seems to me that if they need so many lies in order to win, their candidates must not be of very high quality.  (Yeah, I know, the understatement of the century 🙄)

The 3 biggest GOP lies of the midterms (in addition to the Big Lie)

Know the truth and spread it.

Robert Reich

17 October 2022

It’s not just the Big Lie. Republicans are telling three other lies they hope will swing the midterms.

They involve crime, inflation, and taxes. 

Here are the GOP’s claims, followed by the facts.

  1. They claim crime is rising because Democrats have been “soft” on crime.

Rubbish. Rising crime rates are due to the proliferation of guns, which Republicans refuse to control.

While violent crime rose 28 percent from 2019 to 2020, gun homicides rose 35 percentStates that have weakened gun laws have seen gun crime surge. Clearly, a major driver of the national increase in violence is the easy availability of guns.

The violence can’t be explained by any of the Republican talking points about “soft on crime” Democrats.

Lack of police funding? No. On average, all cities — whether run by Democrats or Republicans — saw an increase in police funding in 2022.

Criminal justice reforms? No. Wherever bail reforms have been implemented, re-arrest rates remain stable. Data shows no connection between the policies of progressive prosecutors and changes in crime rates.

In fact, crime is rising faster in Republican, Trump-supporting states. In 2020, per capita murder rates were 40 percent higher in states won by Trump than in those won by Joe Biden.

Republican policies have made it easier for people to get and carry guns. Republicans are lying about the real cause of rising crime to protect some of their biggest supporters, big gun manufacturers and the NRA.

  1. Republicans claim that inflation is due to Biden’s spending, and wage increases.

Baloney. Biden’s spending can’t be causing our current inflation because inflation has broken out everywhere around the world, often at much higher rates than in the US. 

Besides, heavy spending by the US government began in 2020, before the Biden administration, in order to protect Americans and the economy from the ravages of COVID-19 — and it was necessary.

Wages can’t be pushing inflation because wages have been increasing at a slower pace than prices — leaving most workers worse off.  

The major cause of the current inflation is the global post-pandemic shortage of all sorts of things, coupled with Putin’s war in Ukraine and China’s lockdowns.

The biggest domestic culprit for America’s current inflation is big corporations that are using inflation as an excuse for raising prices above their own cost increases, resulting in the highest profit margins since 1950 — while consumers are paying through the nose.

The biggest domestic cause of inflation is corporate power. Republicans are lying about this to protect their big corporate patrons.

  1. Republicans say Democrats voted to hire an army of IRS agents who will audit and harass the middle class.

Wrong. The IRS won’t be going after the middle class. It will be going after ultra-wealthy tax cheats.

The Inflation Reduction Act, passed in July, provides funding to begin to get IRS staffing back to what it was before 2010, after which Republicans cut staff by roughly 30 percent, despite increases since then in the number of Americans filing tax returns.

The extra staff are needed to prevent high-end tax evasion, which is more difficult to root out (the ultra-wealthy hire squads of accountants and tax attorneys to hide their taxable incomes). It’s estimated that the richest 1 percent are hiding more than 20 percent of their earnings from the IRS.

The Treasury Department and the IRS have made it clear that audit rates for households earning $400,000 or under will remain same.

Republicans are lying about what the IRS will do with the new funding to protect their ultra-wealthy patrons.

None of these three lies is as brazen and damaging as Trump’s Big Lie. But they’re all being used by Republican candidates in these last weeks before the midterms. 

Know the truth and share it. 

Something To Think About

Yesterday I came across this OpEd in The Hill by William S. Becker, a U.S. Army combat correspondent in the Vietnam War who is currently executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project, a nonpartisan think tank that develops recommendations on federal energy and climate policies.  Talk of a new civil war breaking out is the ‘in’ thing these days, and I find it a) disgusting, and b) irresponsible.  Mr. Becker examines the threat and what feeds it.

When civil war becomes all the rage

BY William S. Becker, Opinion Contributor – 10/07/22

There was a time when Americans had values. It seems those values have disappeared, and many things that used to be unacceptable, even unthinkable, became common.

When did it become acceptable to lie? Or to spread fake conspiracies? Or to govern with fear rather than ideas? When did it become okay to deny and reject what the majority of Americans decide? Is it now socially acceptable to send death threats to people with whom we disagree? Is it responsible for a sitting United States congresswoman to make outrageously false statements like “Democrats want Republicans dead, and they have already started the killings,” as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) recently did. However, all the automatic weapons and body armor that are now de rigueur under the GOP tent indicate the shoe is likely on the other foot.

When did we decide a president, current or former, is above the law — actually, above many laws in the case of Donald Trump — and law enforcement agents should be targeted for investigating? Where does free speech stop, and domestic terrorism begin? Don’t vile threats against individual Americans and their families cross the line?

When did it become acceptable for militants to lock, load and try to incite civil war in America? The New York Times, quoting data from media-tracking services, reports that mentions of civil war are no longer confined to radical groups. The threats have become common on social media. They jumped 3,000 percent in the hours after the FBI confiscated documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Largo home.

With no apparent regret about the 2021 insurrection, Trump predicts that if he’s indicted, “you’d have problems in this country the likes of which perhaps we’ve never seen.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) was more explicit, predicting “riots in the street.” These high-level provocateurs hide behind the First Amendment, but social media traffic shows that militant groups and individuals have received the actual message. Others get the message, too. As the New York Times notes, a survey in August found that 54 percent of “strong Republicans” believe a civil war of some kind is at least somewhat likely in the next decade.

As one of the millions of Americans who have experienced combat, I have few observations:

First, fantasies of violence against the government come too easily for the armchair soldiers who have never experienced war. The scenes from Ukraine are a hint. War not only destroys buildings; it also destroys emotional health, livelihoods, families and souls. Unless men in combat are exceptionally good at compartmentalizing the experience and dehumanizing the enemy, wars remake the soldiers who fight them. Many become addicted to the camaraderie, clarity of mission, adrenaline rush, as well as the gift and guilt of survival. Many learn the limits of their compassion, caring and resilience. Some discover an inner monster that is licensed in war but has no place in civilized society unless it finds or starts another war. I suspect that describes some of my brothers in today’s militant groups.

Second, Trump is a cult leader, not a national leader. He is not a patriot. He is not and never will be a savior. It makes no difference how immense his fortune is, how many lawyers he stiffs, or that he was president for a time. If we believe rich and powerful Americans should be held to the same standards of justice and social responsibility as we in the 99 percent, then we should not object to holding him accountable for his conduct as a businessman and politician.

Third, if militants want to take over the government, they should tell us what they plan to do with it. What is their agenda? Do they have a vision? Do they share one beyond killing democracy? Do most Americans agree with them, or do these groups plan to impose and enforce their version of America with a police state?

Trump, too, never really defined what he meant by “great” in the slogan he stole from Ronald Reagan to “make American great again.” If it meant draining the swamp, he didn’t. If it meant fanning the flames of racism, hate and domestic terrorism,he obviously succeeded. His ongoing legacy — a nation at war with itself — is the opposite of great. A county whose people don’t trust their democracy is not great, either. And a nation so vulnerable to blatant falsehoods and crazy conspiracy theories is ripe for totalitarianism.

After the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection, the violent groups that participated reportedly went home and decided on a different type of uprising. They began running for public office, presumably to carry out their objectives by working within the system. That’s more difficult than pulling a trigger or scribbling a death threat but testing their ideas in the public square is the right way to do it. The Washington Post reports that 299 Republican candidates for Congress and important state offices deny that the 2020 election was valid.

The upcoming November elections are a test of whether voters will choose the candidates dedicated to the values that built and sustained our country, or to the minions Trump has chosen. As we approach the midterms, we must ask ourselves: Who should rule America? Will it be the majority of Americans and the president they chose two years ago? Or will it be the trolls who spread hate and the homegrown terrorists who vote with bullets and bombs?

A Powerful Question

Yesterday, our friend Nan posted a question asked by Robert Reich and this may well be one of his best pieces ever! I was impressed enough to want to share it. Thank you, Nan … and Robert! (I actually thought I had re-blogged this yesterday afternoon, and didn’t find out until late last night that I had it all set up but forgot to hit the “Reblog Post” button! Senility is setting in!)

Nan's Notebook


OK … I’m doing it again. But this is something that NEEDS to be shared. It was written by Robert Reich (via Substack):

A personal question to powerful people who continue to deny the results of the 2020 election

What do you tell yourself in private?

I have a serious question for people who have power in America and who continue to deny the outcome of the 2020 election and enable Trump’s Big Lie: What are you saying to yourself in private? How are you justifying yourself in your own mind?

I don’t mean to be snide or snarky. I’m genuinely curious.

I’m not interested in Trump’s answer to this question. He is too far gone — lost in the depths of his own pathological ego. I’m also not asking the millions of Trump followers, Fox News viewers, and rightwing social media fans who have been fed the Big…

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The Battle For The Soul Of The Nation

I often find Robert Reich to be one of the most intelligent voices out there, and his offering yesterday was no exception …

The most important battle of our lifetimes

There can be no middle ground in the fight between democracy and authoritarian fascism

By Robert Reich

01 September 2022

One week after a team of F.B.I. agents descended on his private club and residence in Florida, Trump warned that things could get out of hand if the Justice Department kept the heat on him. “People are so angry at what is taking place,” Trump told Fox News, predicting that if the “temperature” isn’t brought down, “terrible things are going to happen.”

But Trump and his allies are doing all they can to increase the temperature. Last Sunday, one of Trump’s closest allies, Senator Lindsey Graham, warned of “riots in the streets” if Trump is prosecuted.

On Tuesday, Trump spent much of the morning reposting messages from known purveyors of the QAnon conspiracy theory and from 4chan, an anonymous message platform where threats of violence often bloom. Some of Trump’s reposts were direct provocations, such as a photograph of President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker Nancy Pelosi with their faces obscured by the words, “Your enemy is not in Russia.”

Online threats are escalating against public servants. Bruce E. Reinhart, the federal magistrate judge who approved the warrant to search Mar-a-Lago, has been targeted with messages threatening him and his family.

How to respond to this lawlessness? With bold and unwavering law enforcement.

If Trump has broken the law – by attempting a coup, by instigating an assault on the U.S. Capitol, by making off with troves of top-secret documents — he must be prosecuted, and if found guilty he must be imprisoned.

Yes, such prosecutions might increase tensions and divisions in the short term. They might provoke additional violence.

But a failure to uphold the laws of the United States would be far more damaging in the longer term. It would undermine our system of government and the credibility of that system — more directly and irreparably than Trump has done.

Not holding a former president accountable for gross acts of criminality will invite ever more criminality from future presidents and lawmakers.

It is also important for all those in public life who believe in democracy to call out what the Republican Party is doing and what it has become: not just its embrace of Trump’s Big Lie but its moves toward voter suppression, takeovers of the machinery of elections, ending of reproductive rights, book bans, restrictions on what can be taught in classrooms, racism, and assaults on LGBTQ people.

Last week, Biden condemned “ultra-MAGA Republicans” for a philosophy he described as “semi-fascism.” Today he will deliver a rare prime-time speech outside the old Independence Hall where the Framers of the Constitution met 235 years ago to establish the basic rules of our democratic form of government. The speech will focus on what the White House describes as the “battle for the soul of the nation” – the fight to protect that democracy.

President Biden’s earlier conciliatory tone and talk of uniting Americans and “healing” the nation from the ravages of Trump has obviously not worked on most of the Republican Party. With the notable and noble exceptions of Liz Cheney and a few other courageous Republicans — most of whom have been or are being purged from the GOP — the Republican Party is rapidly morphing into an anti-democracy movement. With each passing week, it becomes more rabid in its opposition to the rule of law. Republican lawmakers who took an oath of allegiance to the Constitution are repudiating it in word and deed. Republican candidates are lying about the 2020 election and whipping up our fellow countrymen into angry mobs. And as Republican lawmakers and candidates exchange their political integrity for power, Fox News and other rightwing outlets continue to exchange their journalistic integrity for money.

The essential political choice in America, therefore, is no longer Republican or Democrat, right or left, conservative or liberal. It is democracy or authoritarian fascism. There can be no compromise between these two — no halfway point, no “moderate middle,” no “balance.” To come down squarely on the side of democracy is not to be “partisan.” It is to be patriotic.

As Adam Wilkins suggested on this page yesterday, while today’s Republican party does not have its own paramilitary, such as the Nazi’s Brownshirts, the GOP is effectively outsourcing these activities to violent fringe groups such as the “Proud Boys,” “Oathkeepers,” and others who descended on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and who continue to threaten violence.

Yet Democrats cannot and must not take on this battle alone. They must seek common ground with Independents and whatever reasonable Republicans remain. As Eric T noted on this page, we must continue to appeal to truth, facts, logic, and common sense. We must be unwavering in our commitment to the Constitution and the rule of law. We must be clear and courageous in exposing the authoritarian fascist direction the Republican Party has now chosen, and the dangers this poses to America and the world.

It is also important for Democrats to recognize — and to take bold action against — the threat to democracy posed by big money from large corporations and the super-wealthy: record amounts of campaign funding inundating and distorting our politics, serving the moneyed interests rather than the common good.

Indeed, the two threats – one, from an increasingly authoritarian-fascist Republican Party; the second, from ever-larger amounts of corporate and billionaire money in our campaigns and elections – are two sides of the same coin. Americans who know the system is rigged against them and in favor of the moneyed interests, are more likely to give up on democracy and embrace an authoritarian fascist demagogue who pretends to be on “their side.”

The battle to preserve and protect American democracy is the most important battle of our lifetimes. If we win, there is nothing we cannot achieve. If we lose, there is nothing we can achieve.

Al Gore Was So Much More …

Dan Rather’s newsletter on Tuesday strikes a chord in many, many ways.  First, what he says about the physical environment is spot on, but then he turns his thoughts to the political/social environment where he is again spot on.  But the highlight of his piece is Al Gore’s acceptance speech at the end of a long and contentious presidential election in 2000.  If you do nothing else, please listen to this speech and consider it in context to today’s politics.  Quite honestly, I never paid a lot of attention to Al Gore back in the day, but this man had it all:  intelligence, charisma, and class of a sort we do not see today.  We need more politicians like Al Gore today!

Remember Al Gore?

2000 vs. 2020 (and 2022)

Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner

30 August 2022

A few trendlines have collided recently that got me thinking of a former vice president, Al Gore. Remember him?

For one, there is the existential threat of our climate crisis. It’s been 16 years since Gore’s Academy Award-winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” debuted. During that time, the truth he warned about — our planet’s spiral toward a new climate reality, fueled by human activity and significantly less hospitable to human existence — has become only more inconvenient, urgent, and dire.

Drought in the western U.S. Severe heat waves across Europe. Unusually heavy flooding in Kentucky and elsewhere. Scientists say these kinds of dramatic weather patterns will become more frequent as climate change progresses. We hear about 100-year storms or even 1,000-year floods, terms that are meant to indicate rarity. But it is increasingly clear such events are no longer anomalous. A horrific tragedy is currently playing out in Pakistan, where immense flooding is causing widespread destruction and mass death.

The warming climate, as Gore warned us, will result in greater hardship and instability. It is a cruel injustice that the countries that contributed the least to greenhouse gas proliferation tend to be the poorest and will suffer the most.

On a more optimistic note, the recent climate bill passed by Congress represents exactly the kind of concrete action for which Gore has long advocated. Start somewhere. In the case of this legislation, that “somewhere” is quite significant, according to climate experts. Once you’ve started, keep going. Change the direction. Chart a new path forward toward carbon neutrality.

The climate is a grave and unending concern. It should dictate our policy choices and define our national security. Gore saw this clearly. His warnings will cry out from the history books to future generations. “Why were they not heeded?” they will ask in disbelief.

But it wasn’t only the climate that has had me thinking of Gore. There is also the matter of the clear and present dangers our institutions and democratic order are facing.

Donald Trump is still at it about the 2020 election (here in August 2022). He just issued a statement saying he was the “rightful winner” and at a minimum, someone (not exactly sure who) should “declare the 2020 Election irreparably compromised and have a new Election, immediately!”

Of course the former president is now under a serious investigation into his retention of highly classified documents (and what he might have done with them). One would have hoped that this grave matter would have Republican elected officials waiting at least to hear about findings before escalating divisive partisanship. But there was Trump’s one-time critic and current sycophant Senator Lindsay Graham, alluding to violence. “If there is a prosecution of Donald Trump for mishandling classified information after the Clinton debacle, there will be riots in the streets,” he said. This is completely irresponsible and dangerous.

Against this backdrop, let us remember Al Gore and the 2000 presidential election. Gore won the popular vote, but of course that’s not how we choose our presidents. As for the Electoral College, it all came down to Florida, as anyone of memory age at the time certainly recalls. There was a lot of weirdness in that state — “butterfly ballots” and “hanging chads.” To make a long and sordid story short, ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court intervened. A majority of justices, all appointed by Republicans, stopped the vote count and effectively handed the election to George W. Bush.

It is hard to overstate how big an inflection point that was in American history. Unlike in 2020, when Trump lost decisively, Gore had legitimate claims. And also unlike 2020 (through today) when Trump is eager to blow up American democracy and even spark violence with his lies and refusal to act responsibly, Gore chose a path of reconciliation. His concession speech is one that should be studied for its graciousness and straightforward eloquence.

I have pulled some excerpts to provide examples of Gore’s words. Recognize how difficult they must have been for a man who had long harbored dreams of the presidency — and knew he might very well have earned it.

Gore addressed the finality of the rule of law:

    “Now the U.S. Supreme Court has spoken. Let there be no doubt, while I strongly disagree with the court’s decision, I accept it. I accept the finality of this outcome, which will be ratified next Monday in the Electoral College. And tonight, for the sake of our unity of the people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession.”

He called for common ground:

    “This has been an extraordinary election. But in one of God’s unforeseen paths, this belatedly broken impasse can point us all to a new common ground, for its very closeness can serve to remind us that we are one people with a shared history and a shared destiny.”

He argued for country over party:

    “I know that many of my supporters are disappointed. I am, too. But our disappointment must be overcome by our love of country…While we yet hold and do not yield our opposing beliefs, there is a higher duty than the one we owe to political party. This is America, and we put country before party. We will stand together behind our new president.”

He ended with a recognition that our country must be bigger than our politics and any single individual:

    “Now the political struggle is over and we turn again to the unending struggle for the common good of all Americans and for those multitudes around the world who look to us for leadership in the cause of freedom.

    In the words of our great hymn, ‘America, America’: ‘Let us crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.’

    And now, my friends, in a phrase I once addressed to others, it’s time for me to go.”

Contrast this humility with the last president, who will never relinquish the spotlight. Contrast the passionate pleas for unity with January 6. Contrast Gore’s appeal to the sanctity of our institutions with the election lies sweeping Republican politics. Contrast how he led in a moment of potential crisis with the enablers and toadies who appease Trump’s destructive behavior. Contrast the appeal to reason with Sen. Graham’s wink at violence. Contrast how he tried to tamp down passion with those who use their perches in right-wing media to spew divisive hatred.

The Republicans rail against their political rivals for being out of control, violent, subverters of democracy. It is, in poker terms, the ultimate tell. What they complain the loudest about is often what they themselves are pushing. I have said it before: There are so many projectionists among the GOP that they might as well open a chain of movie theaters.

Looking back at what lawyers call the “fact pattern” of the 2000 election, we can see one that had all the hallmarks of bringing American democracy to its brink. But at that moment, Al Gore made the determination that to wreck our constitutional order by undermining the results of a very flawed process was not what leadership demanded.

He stood there, surely believing in his mind that he should have been president. He knew that a majority of American voters had agreed. Imagining “what could have been” must have been intensely difficult. Looking back at what happened in the presidency of George W. Bush, we can see how fateful that election was. But Al Gore knew that to preserve our constitutional system, there really was no other option. He accepted his fate, and so did his party.

As Trump still rages after an election that was not nearly as close, after he lost in the courts, after he spurred a violent insurrection, Gore’s example is all the more striking. The Republican officials who are playing along with this attack on American democracy are old enough to remember 2000. And they’re old enough to know better.

How The World Sees Us …

We’ve all heard people say that the United States is “the leader of the free world”, right?  We grew up being told that we were that shining example of democracy that other nations hoped to emulate.  Looking back, I don’t know if that was ever quite true, but I strongly suspect that at one point we were respected more than we are today.  Until last night, I don’t recall ever reading anything by Christine Emba, but her editorial hit my inbox and, intrigued, I read it.  I was glad I did, for it was enlightning.  Ms. Emba is an opinion columnist and editor for The Washington Post and a published author. Before joining the editorial staff at The Post in 2015, Christine was the Hilton Kramer Fellow in Criticism at the New Criterion and a deputy editor at the Economist Intelligence Unit.  She recently attended a global conference where she learned some of the international views of the U.S. today, and I think what she learned is worthy of consideration, for it matters how our allies, how other nations, view us …

The world is taking America’s decline seriously. We should too.

By Christine Emba

29 August 2022

HAMBURG — “It’s frightening, what’s happened to you,” a Bavarian civil society organizer shared with me over a stein of German pils. “America has become smaller.”

The theme of this year’s Bucerius Summer School on Global Governance, a Hamburg-based international conference consisting of dozens of young leaders from around the world, was “Facing New Realities: Global Governance Under Strain.” The reality this American observer had to face? That in the eyes of much of the world, the United States’ light has dimmed.

We are still watched intently and remain a major power. But it was clear that to many of the conference’s attendees — hailing from Germany to Mongolia, Ghana to Ukraine — the United States has become shorthand for democratic decline and disinformation, home to citizens who react to dissatisfaction by rejecting reality, and to institutions that are increasingly hollowed out.

“We don’t want the people who lose jobs during the climate transformation to end up as Trump voters or the equivalent,” a European foreign minister said during a discussion of economic retooling amid climate change. My fellow conference-goers looked my way apologetically, pity on their faces.

“I thought about settling in the U.S.,” one attendee, an Ivy League- and Oxbridge-educated internationalist now working for the United Nations, told me. “But I couldn’t imagine living in a place where my children would have to practice” — here, she made mocking quotation marks with her fingers — “active shooter drills.”

The United States’ most famous exports used to be Coca-Cola, Levi’s and jazz — not to mention such ideals as freedom, civil rights and the rule of law. Now, we’re best known for rampant gun violence and gruesome school shootings.

Yet glimmers of respect for what we used to (and sometimes still) stand for do exist.

Sen. Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential run was brought up again and again as an example of the American political system’s openness to outsiders and capacity to surprise. The George Floyd protests of 2020 and the successes of the Black Lives Matter movement were commended as rare examples of truly free expression.

A Kenyan participant reminisced fondly about a year studying in the United States, including a summer spent interning in the local offices of a Republican congressman. He remembered his incredulity at realizing that a government official could campaign door to door without a driver or a bodyguard and would personally return his constituents’ phone calls; direct democracy, not as common in his home region, still seemed possible in the United States.

(Incidentally, that congressman, Fred Upton of Michigan, was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump after the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection. Upton announced his retirement this spring in the face of redistricting and a MAGA-backed primary challenge.)

The United States’ reputation has been deteriorating for at least two decades. During the Iraq War, as Bush-doctrine foreign policy was derided across the globe, the trope of American backpackers abroad pretending to be Canadian to avoid shame by association became something of a cliche.

Yet, the past six years have seen an unprecedented acceleration. Our geopolitical rivals have always had ammunition, but the old embarrassments pale in comparison to the new. The idea that credence is still given to arguments about whether the 2020 election was “stolen” — the settled view of the rest of the world is that this is obvious nonsense — is a source of alarm.

After the 2016 election, European leaders warned that the United States could no longer be relied on as a partner in defense and security. More recently, statements such as those from Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance — “I got to be honest with you, I don’t really care what happens to Ukraine one way or the other” — have made their way around the world, reconfirming the United States’ continued unseriousness and withdrawal from international engagement and moral leadership.

Our country is famously self-centered. It’s possible, or perhaps probable, that most Americans, only 20 percent of whom speak a second language — compared with 65 percent of the European Union’s population — don’t care what people in Europe or the rest of the world think.

But they should. As the United States fades, our competitors — a seemingly inexorable China, an unpredictable and aggressive Russia — wait hungrily in the wings.

In 2008, Fareed Zakaria wrote: “At the politico-military level, we remain in a single-superpower world. But in every other dimension — industrial, financial, educational, social, cultural — the distribution of power is shifting, moving away from American dominance.” In 2022, that vision of a “post-American world” has gone from theory to truth.

It might not be too late to effect a reversal. But if we want to preserve our stature, we should begin to act — holding our former president accountable to the rule of law would be a start — and realize that as we do so, the next generation of leaders is watching.

The world is taking our decline seriously. It’s time we did the same.