How To Mend A Broken Nation

There are two distinct socio-political ideologies in the United States:  liberals & conservatives.  Now, most of us are not completely one or the other but lean toward one more strongly than the other.  Of late, however, it seems sometimes as if the two sides are so divided that they live in two separate universes.  There simply is no connection, no common ground, no set of values that binds us together.

Robert Reich’s weekly column/newsletter this morning rather supports this notion … I’m glad I’m not the only one who wonders what alternate universe we’ve been dropped into!  Reich also has some common-sense ideas for how to help the two sides come closer together before we destroy ourselves and how to break the Trump-trance.


Trump left behind a monstrous predicament. Here’s how to tackle it

Robert Reich-4Robert Reich

One of the nation’s two major political parties has abandoned democracy and reality. We must now move a vast swath of America back into a fact-based pro-democracy society

Next week’s Senate trial is unlikely to convict Donald Trump of inciting sedition against the United States. At least 17 Republican Senators are needed for conviction, but only five have signaled they’ll go along.

Why won’t Republican Senators convict him? After all, it’s an open and shut case. As summarized in the brief submitted by House impeachment managers, Trump spent months before the election telling his followers that the only way he could lose was through “a dangerous, wide-ranging conspiracy against them that threatened America itself.”

Immediately after the election, he lied that he had won by a “landslide”, and later urged his followers to stop the counting of electoral ballots by making plans to “fight like hell” and “fight to the death” against this “act of war” perpetrated by “Radical Left Democrats” and the “weak and ineffective RINO section of the Republican Party”.

If this isn’t an impeachable offense, it’s hard to imagine what is. But Republican Senators won’t convict him because they’re answerable to Republican voters, and Republican voters continue to believe Trump’s Big Lie.

A shocking three out of four Republican voters don’t think Joe Biden won legitimately. About 45% even support the storming of the Capitol.

The crux of the problem is Americans now occupy two separate worlds – a fact-based pro-democracy world and a Trump-based authoritarian one.

Trump spent the last four years seducing voters into his world, turning the GOP from a political party into a grotesque projection of his pathological narcissism.

Regardless of whether he is convicted, America must now deal with the monstrous predicament he left behind: one of the nation’s two major political parties has abandoned reality and democracy.

What to do? Four things.

First, prevent Trump from running for President in 2024. The mere possibility energizes his followers.

An impeachment conviction is not the only way to prevent him. Under Section Three of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, anyone who has taken an oath to protect the Constitution is barred from holding public office if they “have engaged in insurrection” against the United States. As Constitutional expert and former Yale Law professor Bruce Ackerman has noted, a majority vote that Trump engaged in insurrection against the United States is sufficient to trigger this clause.

Second, give Republicans and independents every incentive to abandon the Trump cult.

White working-class voters without college degrees who now comprise a large portion of its base need good jobs and better futures. Many are understandably angry after being left behind in vast enclaves of unemployment and despair. They should not have to depend on Trump’s fact-free fanaticism in order to feel visible and respected.

A jobs program on the scale necessary to bring many of them around will be expensive but worth the cost, especially when democracy hangs in the balance.

Big business, which used to have a home in the GOP, will need a third party. Democrats should not try to court them; the Democratic Party should aim to represent the interests of the bottom 90%.

Third, disempower the giant media empires that amplified Trump’s lies for four years – Facebook, Twitter and Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News and its imitators.

The goal is not to “cancel” the political right, but to refocus public deliberation on facts, truth, and logic. Democracy cannot thrive where big lies are systematically and repeatedly exploited for commercial gain.

The solution is antitrust enforcement and stricter regulation of social media, accompanied by countervailing financial pressure. Consumers should boycott products advertised on these lie factories and advertisers should shun them. Large tech platforms should lose legal immunity for violence-inciting content. Broadcasters such as Fox News and Newsmax should be liable for knowingly spreading lies (they are now being sued by producers of voting machinery and software which they accused of having been rigged for Biden).

Fourth, safeguard the democratic form of government.

This requires barring corporations and the very wealthy from buying off politicians, ending so-called “dark money” political groups that don’t disclose their donors, defending the right to vote, and ensuring more citizens are heard, not fewer.

Let’s be clear about the challenge ahead. The major goal is not to convict Trump for inciting insurrection. It is to move a vast swath of America back into a fact-based pro-democracy society and away from the Trump-based authoritarian one.

Regardless of whether he is convicted, the end of Trump’s presidency has given the nation a reprieve. But unless America uses it to end Trumpism’s hold over tens of millions of Americans, that reprieve may be temporary.

Thankfully, Joe Biden appears to understand this.

Prove Me Wrong — PLEASE!

Joe Biden has promised to do everything in his power to heal the wounds that divide the people of this nation, to bring unity where there is only separation and hate.  I fully believe he will try, but we all have to do our part … he cannot do it alone.  And today, it seems to me that nearly half the nation does not want unity, though they claim they do.  Perhaps they are defining ‘unity’ as everyone bending to their own views.

In an early morning text from a friend, there was this …

“… the “new” President call 74 MILLION Americans…. white suprematists. He’s off to a great start. Unity? I think not a chance in hell now.”

And that was only the beginning.  Senator Rand Paul said in a morning interview with Fox News …

“If you read his speech and listen to it carefully, much of it is thinly veiled innuendo. Calling us white supremacists, calling us racists, calling us every name in the book. Calling us people who don’t tell the truth.  ‘And going forward we’re not going to have manufactured or manipulated truth.’ That’s another way of saying ‘All of my opponents manufacture or manipulate the truth and are liars.’”

And speaking of Fox, ol’ Tucker Carlson just had to throw a bucket of fuel on the fire, saying …

“Now that we’re waging war on white supremacists. Can somebody tell us in very clear language what a white supremacist is? Biden has now declared war. So, we should know specifically and precisely who exactly he has declared war on. We have a right to know that innocent people could be hurt in this war. They usually are.”

Joe Biden offered an olive branch, and some republicans are determined to destroy it rather than accept it.  It’s almost as if they take great pleasure from the current atmosphere of hate and divisiveness.  Biden wasn’t looping Republicans generally in with white supremacists and extremists. Carlson is doing that. Paul is doing that.

I’m sure there is a large contingent of republicans who are hopeful that Biden can, in fact, lessen the tensions, find common ground on the issues that divide us, and helps us find the path to mutual respect, but they aren’t speaking loudly enough, if at all.  The only republican voices I’m hearing are those who aren’t even willing to give peace a chance.

From an OpEd by Philip Bump writing for The Washington Post …

It’s important to note that this is clearly not what Biden was talking about. He was talking about the rise of white nationalist extremism and violence of the sort that has been manifested occasionally in recent years and which the Department of Homeland Security (under Trump) identified as the most significant terrorism threat in the country. He was talking about the sort of extremism that contributed to what happened at the Capitol.

There is some undercurrent of sympathy among Republicans generally for what happened there. Most Americans reject the mob’s actions in storming the Capitol, though, as a Washington Post-ABC News poll found, 15 percent of Republicans at least somewhat support the storming of the Capitol itself. A HuffPost-YouGov poll taken shortly after the attack found that most Republicans viewed the mob’s actions as being mostly right or simply having gone too far in pursuit of a valid point.

I remember a time when being a republican or a democrat was not a divisive feature.  Sure, there have always been ideological differences – hence the reason for two distinct political parties.  But it wasn’t the thing that defined us, as it appears to be today.  This nation is split in half, though not by any physical boundaries, but rather by prejudice and intolerance.  President Joe Biden wants to start to put us back together, but it can only work if people on both sides of the issues are willing to make it work.  Taking his words, twisting them to mean something entirely different, then spewing hateful remarks is not the answer, people!

I call on every person, whether democrat, republican, or independent, to give Joe a chance, for Pete’s sake!  Within twelve hours of him taking his Oath of Office, people were already denigrating and swearing that they would not even listen to his actual words, would not be open to trying to help make his attempts at healing the Great Divide work.  Do these people actually crave violence, want a damn civil war?  I’ve said many times in the last four years that this is no longer a country I recognize.  I was hoping that would change under a President Biden, but it can only change if we all want it to.  Do we still have any shared values in this country?  Today, I have my doubts.  PLEASE prove me wrong!

Republican Hatred Is The New Party Line

Even some republicans, conservatives, have questioned what values, if any, the Republican Party retains today.  Ever since 2008 when Barack Obama was elected to the highest office in the land and the racists came out in droves to object to one of “those people” being elected, I have questioned what the GOP actually stands for today. From where I sit, it appears they stand largely for hate, for bigotry, for cruelty.  And money.  Let us not forget that profit is their ultimate goal, at the expense of all else, even our lives.  An article I came across yesterday seems to confirm much of what I’ve thought.  Paul Waldman is an op-ed columnist and senior writer for The American Prospect, as well as a contributor to The Week and a blogger for The Washington Post‘s Plum Line blog.  Take a look at his view of today’s GOP …


Hatred of liberals is all that’s left of conservatism

Paul-WaldemanOpinion by

Paul Waldman

Columnist

Dec. 11, 2020 at 12:45 p.m. EST

If you were dropped in from another country without knowing anything about the United States and surveyed our current political moment, what would you conclude about the Republican Party and the broader conservative movement it represents? As 2020 comes to an end, what is conservatism about?

After nearly four years of Donald Trump’s presidency in which no misdeed was too vulgar or corrupt for conservatives to defend, now culminating in an outright war against democracy itself, you might be tempted to answer, “Nothing.” Though that’s not quite true, the real answer is not much more encouraging.

Some years ago, I wrote a book arguing that Democrats should learn from the things Republicans did well. One of these was that the GOP had a simple foundation of shared beliefs that could be easily communicated to voters. Ask a Republican running for any office from dogcatcher all the way up to president what it meant to be a conservative, and they’d tick off some version of the same four pillars: small government, low taxes, a strong military and traditional social values.

Conservatives still believe in those things. But no one could seriously argue that they are any longer the animating purpose of the Republican Party. Instead, the one thing that unites the right and drives the GOP is hatred of liberals. That hatred has consumed every policy goal, every ideological principle and even every ounce of commitment to country.

haters

“But Democrats hate conservatives, too!” you might say. Indeed they do. Negative partisanship — being more motivated by your dislike of the other party than by affection for your own — is a key feature of contemporary politics. But when 18 Republican state attorneys general, more than half of House Republicans and multiple conservative organizations all demand that the results of a presidential election where no fraud was found be simply tossed aside so that Trump can be declared winner, something more profound has been revealed.

The Republican Party has proved that its hatred of liberals is so foundational that it will abandon any pretense of commitment to democracy, if democracy allows for the possibility that liberals might win an election. They have come to regard Democratic voters as essentially undeserving of having their will translated into power, no matter how large their numbers.

They might have believed it before, but now they’re willing to proclaim it even after they just lost a presidential election by 7 million votes and a 306-232 electoral college margin. Forget all that inspiring talk about the genius of the Framers and their vision for democracy; if having an election means that the people we hate might win, then the election must simply be nullified.

You might say that the Republican officials signing on to this deeply anti-American crusade are doing so out of fear as much as conviction, but the two are not mutually exclusive. All elected officials worry about contradicting their base, but in today’s Republican Party, that worry is almost completely divorced from policy. Yes, you’d get flak if you voted to raise taxes, but the greatest danger comes from failing to fight the left with sufficient vigor.

That danger, furthermore, is not only electoral but physical; the Republican leader in the Pennsylvania state Senate said this week that if she refused to sign a letter demanding that Congress toss out her state’s votes in the presidential race, “I’d get my house bombed tonight.” It might not actually happen, but the point is that Republican officeholders understand well what their party values above all else and what kinds of transgressions will not be tolerated.

Trump has often cited the extraordinary loyalty he has received from his party’s voters; it’s one of the few things he says that’s true. But it isn’t because Trump signed a corporate tax cut and slashed environmental regulations.

When you ask the typical Trump supporter what they love about him, they don’t mention some substantive policy position; what they say is that he is a fighter. The petty squabbles, the insulting tweets, the deranged conspiracy theories — the things that the Never Trumpers and most other Americans find off-putting are exactly what endears him to the Republican base.

Trump fights and fights, angrily, bitterly, endlessly driven forward by his hatred of the people his supporters hate. That’s what the base loves, and every other Republican knows it.

Everything about the election that just ended reinforced for conservatives that nothing is more important than hating liberals. The rhetoric of the 2020 campaign, starting with Trump but going all the way down the ballot, was that if Democrats were elected, then it would not be suboptimal or bad or even terrible, but the end of everything you care about. Towns and cities would burn, religion would be outlawed, America as we know it would cease to exist. These horrors were not presented as metaphors, but as the literal truth.

In the face of that potential apocalypse, who could possibly care about mundane policy goals? So no Republican argued that if we didn’t cut the capital gains tax then it would be the end of life as we know it. They want to cut the capital gains tax, sure — but its importance pales next to the urgency of stopping the cataclysm that would engulf us all if Democrats were to hold power.

To be clear, there are still thoughtful conservatives out there trying to advance a coherent ideological project. But seldom have they mattered less to their movement and their party. They may produce white papers on free-market health-care solutions or innovative tax plans, but no one really cares.

If it doesn’t Own the Libs, it doesn’t matter on the right. That’s what the Republican Party and the conservative movement are about today, and it might take a long time for them to change.

America’s Wake-Up Call-Can Joe Biden Unify the Country?

In our next-to-final week of our project, Jeff writes about Joe Biden’s plan to unify the people of this nation, to heal the Great Divide, to bring hope and peace to replace the desperation and chaos. Thanks Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

I come to you today with a high dose of anxiety and reality. We’re now ten days away from the most consequential election in modern times, and I cannot say how this thing will turn out in any uncertain terms.

Over the past several months, Jill and I have tried to give you facts and opinions about why this election is so important – first, with Discord & Dissension, and now with America’s Wakeup Call. We’ve talked about the critical issues facing us, as well as the differences between the two candidates.

Whether it’s climate change, the federal judiciary, problems with voting, or how we’re viewed in the world, to name a few, we think we’ve made a compelling case that Joe Biden is the right choice – the only option – on November 3, 2020.

But as this will be my last post for our project before the election…

View original post 1,422 more words

In Praise Of Conservative Columnist George Will

I have always rather liked George Will, a columnist for The Washington Post.  At one time, he was a regular on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, and since I was a regular viewer, I saw and heard him frequently.  I used to read his column occasionally, and though I disagreed with his ideology much of the time, I respected his style as a writer and the fact that he was never brash, always thoughtful and respectful — more centered than far right extremist.  But, for the past year-and-a-half, I have been so inundated with news about first, the train-wreck that we called the 2016 election, and then the transition and ultimately the presidency of Trump, that I have neglected some of the columnists I used to read, including Will.  And so it was that I did not know George Will had left the Republican party!  In June 2016 – eight months ago!  So much for me being right on top of the news, huh?

Will, a committed conservative, did not go so far as to join the Democratic party, but announced he was switching from the Republican party to ‘unaffiliated’.  Will, apparently, is not a fan of Donald Trump, saying, “This is not my party”.  He also urged fellow conservatives not to vote for Trump, but to “Make sure he loses. Grit their teeth for four years and win the White House.”  This may be the biggest surprise I have had since Trump actually won the election!

Part of the reason for his departure, says Will, was Paul Ryan’s endorsement of Trump.  He stated that a Trump presidency unchecked by a Republican-led Congress would be worse than a Hillary Clinton presidency with a Republican-led Congress.  Trump, naturally, had something to tweet about this:

“George Will, one of the most overrated political pundits (who lost his way long ago), has left the Republican Party.He’s made many bad calls”

As I said, I have always respected and rather liked Will, but now I like him even more!  And the latest news is that Will is also leaving Fox News, though apparently not voluntarily.  Will left ABC News in 2013 and joined Fox News, primarily as a commentator on Chris Wallace’s Sunday show as well as on Bret Baier’s “Special Report” on weekday nights. His reason for leaving ABC News after a 32-year stint was not ideological differences, but rather logistical.  Since Stephanopoulos was hosting Good Morning America in New York during the week, the Sunday show, long based in Washington, D.C., began taping mostly in New York, and in the capital only about once every four weeks. Will, who lives in the D.C. area, informed ABC News that traveling several weekends a month was becoming tougher for him, according to a spokesman. At the time, he was 72 years old, so I certainly understand.

His reason for leaving Fox is simply that they informed him they would not be renewing his contract. Will does not seem too upset over it, saying only, “They just said that they weren’t going to renew. They didn’t say, and I didn’t ask … it’s their toy.” Now almost 76 years of age, perhaps he is ready to slow down a bit at any rate.

Will has not been kind to Trump in his recent columns.  In a column about Trump’s inaugural address, Will begins:

“Twenty minutes into his presidency, Donald Trump, who is always claiming to have made, or to be about to make, astonishing history, had done so. Living down to expectations, he had delivered the most dreadful inaugural address in history.

Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s White House counselor, had promised that the speech would be “elegant.” This is not the adjective that came to mind as he described “American carnage.” That was a phrase the likes of which has never hitherto been spoken at an inauguration.” 

And he ends by saying

[James] Madison anticipated and as the nation was reminded on Friday, “Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.”

Truer words were never spoken.

While remaining a conservative ideologist and thinker, Will is, nonetheless, a man of good sense and intelligence and he, like David Brooks, Elliot Cohen and David Frum, understand that there is a difference between true conservative thinking and the radical no-holds-barred policies of Trump and his administration.  If we are ever to begin to heal the divisiveness of the present, we need more voices like these to bring both sides back to the table, more toward the center where they can at least speak to one another in a civil manner. Voices like Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, and the Breitbart team can only push the two sides further into the great divide that will lead us all over the chasm.

In a recent column in The Atlantic, writer Peter Beinart sums up the difference between what I refer to as the sensible conservatives like Will, Brooks, et al, vs. the radical elitists:   

“For them, conservatism is about prudence, inherited wisdom, and a government that first does no harm; they see none of those virtues in Trump. They see themselves as the inheritors of a rich conservative intellectual tradition; Trump’s ignorance embarrasses them. And they believe America should stand for ideals that transcend race, religion and geography; they fear white Christian identity politics in their bones. They are, to my mind, highly admirable.”

great-divide

Ever since the ‘tea party’ movement began in 2009, the divide between conservative and liberal political ideology has widened.  As conservatives moved further to the right of center, the center shifted and liberals maintained the balance by moving further to the left, leaving an almost insurmountable chasm in the middle.  As writers, journalists and politicians finally begin to understand, and respond to, what is happening, there is hope that some, like Will, will refuse to become entrenched in party ideologies and move back toward the center line.

We The People must rely on the media for our news, and to a large extent we form our opinions based on the news and what those we respect in the media say. Though George Will and I will always be ideologically opposed in many areas of policy, I respect him for being a thinker, for not allowing the rhetoric spewing from his former party to sway him, and for standing for his beliefs.  We need more writers and journalists to take a stand for what is right, rather than merely feeding the hysteria of the masses.