American Divine Right: Fallacy of a Presumptive Nominee

The latest headline of the trend-driven media proclaims Clinton as the presumptive nominee. Her delegate totals, if one includes super delegates, puts her over the threshold for the nomination.

But if there is one truth in politics, it is that when someone says they are committed to a certain course of action it means for the moment.  Between now and the Democratic convention on July 25th (coincidentally my birthday and only good things can happen on that date) there are many moments for new commitments to arise.

One cannot ignore the rising tide of popular votes sustaining Bernie Sanders. One cannot ignore the increasingly dangerous prospect of the anti-Clinton movement propelling Trump into the Presidency (and, I fear, America into an abyss.) One cannot ignore the clamoring for a stop to this American version of Divine Right determined by party insiders and political supplicants.

Those of us outside the inner sanctum of party politics want our voices heard. Those on the inside, while pantomiming statements that say they support this new paradigm, are more interested in protecting what they see as their moment.

As I said in the beginning, moments change. Clinton does not have the number of delegates to secure the election. She has 300 more delegates than Sanders. Super delegates do not count until their vote is cast.

Much can happen between now and then. We can hope that enough super delegates will listen to the voices of millions of Americans, weigh the chances of their two candidates against Trump, and vote their conscience not their self-interests.

An open letter to Rhode Island’s Super Delegates

Whatever happened to the will of the people? The results of the Rhode Island primary are pretty clear. Rhode Islanders prefer Sanders to Clinton 55% to 43%.

That seems a pretty clear message.

But that’s not the way the system is designed to work. It’s designed to insure continuity of control. It’s designed to insulate the party from the rabble that do not understand government and those who manipulate it for their own gain.

Fair play at the least would say apportion the super delegates the same as the vote. 6 for Sanders and 3 for Clinton.

That seems fair. But that’s not what is happening. All 9 super delegates have pledged to support Clinton.

The results of other primaries throughout the country should mean something. There is a great deal of dissatisfaction with Clinton.

Not that Sanders is perfect but it seems the will of the people supporting him is growing.

So why do you unilaterally support her?

Is it out of party loyalty? You committed to this support long before the primary as a matter of party solidarity.

Is it out of a practical consideration? You see her as the clear winner in the numbers game and want to be part of that.

Is it because she’s a woman? The goal of seeking equality is to eliminate such considerations, not endorse them.

Is it out of fear of retaliation from a Clinton White house if you vote your conscience and support someone else?

If so, the fact that you believe a candidate capable of retaliation against a delegate voting with the will of the people is reason enough not to vote for her.

Politics are an ugly thing. It seems to strip away all the good intentions in pursuit of victory, or a job in the administration.

The growing dissatisfaction is this country is underscored by two things:

The rising tide of support for Sanders and the Trump phenomenon.

One has the potential to fundamentally alter politics for the good, one raises the specter of a national calamity.

It is time for someone in this state to do what is right because it is right and not continue down the path of ignoring the very people you represent.

Just in case you don’t know who they are:

Gov. Gina Raimondo

U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse

Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline.

R.I. Democratic Party Chair Joseph McNamara

Democratic Party Vice-Chair Grace Diaz

National Committeeman Frank Montanaro

National Committeewoman Edna O’Neill Mattson

Why not drop them a line and let them know who they are supposed to represent.

Trumping America

I think I have figured out the Trump phenomenon. His success in the primaries comes from supporters who behave at the maturity level of 15-year-old boys and 13-year-old girls. They are not quite children, not quite adults, and driven by raging emotional responses to anything they cannot or choose not to understand.

They are willing to sacrifice civil liberties and constitutional protections in the pursuit of fighting terrorists. They are willing to employ torture as a means justified by their mistaken belief it will protect America.

They support a candidate who said targeting families, including children, is a worthwhile military strategy. One he is prepared to order our military to carry out. Trump, with all his pride in his Ivy League education, must have skipped history and ethics. His was a poison ivy education.

Here is a quote Trump and his supporters could adopt in support of effective genocide.

Raymond D’Aguilers, a witness to the victorious end of the Crusade of 1096-1099 in Jerusalem, wrote

‘Men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins. Indeed, it was a just and splendid judgment of God that this place should be filled with the blood of unbelievers.’

Men, women, and children not of the Christian faith dead at the hands of the faithful. Unbelievers meaning those who believe differently than the one holding the sword or the launch codes for nuclear weapons.

Trump must believe My Lai was the most successful operation during the Viet Nam war. Unless he missed the story on TV.

Trump’s idea is not even original. Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheik Mohammed thought it a good idea. If we follow Trump’s logic, flying planes into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon was brilliant.

This country is in a lot of trouble if anyone, let alone a candidate for the Presidency, takes such policies seriously.

They risk destroying the very freedom and moral character that built this country.

Trump screams he will lead us to Making America Great Again. By what measure? By what means? He wraps himself in the flag, portraying himself as the ultimate patriot.

To quote Samuel Johnson, “Patriotism is the refuge of the scoundrel.”

Trump’s idea of patriotism encompasses all the evil of nationalism that no rational American should condone.

Out of this fire of ignorance, Trump emerged as the poster boy of xenophobia.

This pseudo-tough, swaggering, ne’er do well spouting invectives and threatening anyone not in lockstep with him. An American version of ‘das Herrenvolk.’

A schoolyard bully picking on the weak while his “fans” stand around with their cell phones recording and posting their childish voyeuristic nonsense, afraid to stand up for what’s right.

We face the real specter of a President whose policy platform consists of acting like a junkyard dog.

During the last debate, where supporters considered jokes about the size of appendages high humor, there was only one adult on the stage. Trump was not it. Yet his supporters are okay with that.

The reality that people are fooled into believing Trump represents the best of America is frightening.

Nevertheless, he is winning the primaries. True, he is winning Republican primaries under a system rigged to favor the lead candidate; designed to minimize the chance of a brokered convention. They never imagined the rise of the Donald and his living, but brain dead, hordes.

Keep this in mind; he is winning with at best 35% of the vote. Which means 65% of the vote went against him. Many of these are winner take all contests.

Staunch conservatives, like the Tea Party and others, deserve some of the blame here. As Stephen King so aptly wrote. “Conservatives who for 8 years sowed the dragon’s teeth of partisan politics are horrified to discover they have grown an actual dragon.”

We can only hope a St. George will arrive on the scene to slay the dragon before he incinerates us all.

If Trump wins, he will have at least given us one thing of value. We will need that slogan, Making America Great Again, once his Presidency ends. I fear, if there is a Trump presidency, we’ll be singing the line from the Paul Simon song, America.”We’ve all come to look for America…”

 

Neither a Democrat nor a Republican Be…

Not all that long ago, there was a time in this country when people defined themselves, politically at least, as either Republican or Democrat.

Voters took pride in entering a voting booth and pulling the master handle to vote for a candidate not for their positions on issues, not for their record of achievement, not for their ideas or proposals, but for their party affiliation.

Party affiliation.

Sounds eerily similar to the politics of the Soviet Union or Mao’s China instead of the promise of the Constitution and the brilliance of the Founding Fathers.

Which brings us to the politics of 2016. While in many places the master lever is a fading memory, the propaganda (there is that similarity again) of the parties is the same.

Depending on your political leanings, either the Republicans, representing a conservative approach, or the Democrats, representing a progressive approach, are the ONLY choice.

There is NO room for compromise, no room for a blending of ideas, no chance that anything proposed by one party will gain support by the other.

I have a friend who had an opportunity to have a private discussion, in a setting far removed from the media or public eye, with a former Speaker of the House. My friend lamented the lack of cooperation across the aisle and the seemingly endless process of erecting roadblocks to cooperation.

The Congressman assured her it was not as bad as it seems. This is good news, at first blush.

But upon reflection, it is one more indication of the dishonesty, disingenuousness, and outright lying that goes on for the sake of getting elected and, more importantly, staying there.

Either the politicians think so little of voters’ ability to recognize the necessity of cooperation and compromise in Congress and play to that ignorance or they have come to understand if you give the voter what they want to hear, they vote for you.

Then, you do what you want.

All parties have their heroes, their bright shining beacons that represent the best the party has to offer.

The Republicans had Reagan. Held up as the standard-bearer of less government. His famous quote during his first inaugural address, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem” touted as the best example of wise policy.

Reagan then went on to lead the biggest increase in government spending in decades. His Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), which ultimately failed, led to enormous increases in technology research. This policy almost single-handedly built Silicon Valley and the technology corridor outside of Boston, Ma.

Reagan expressed his despise of big government. His legend used as the example of getting government out of the way. The reality is his SDI program, a holy crusade against the evil empire of the Soviet Union, was a huge government funded program.

Moreover, it worked. Contrary to all his vaunted statements, government programs worked.

Do I even have to mention Richard Nixon?

We ignore the truth for the sake of a slogan or false premise.

The Democrats have had similar icons. John F. Kennedy, whose short time in office created such hope and promise, also set the stage for our entering into the war in Vietnam. His promise of “we shall go to the moon…” stimulated a generation of optimism that we could do anything we choose to do.

President Clinton, his presidency marked with much success, supported and signed the ridiculous Defense of Marriage Act. His boldface lying to the American people corroded the many good things he accomplished.

Yet each of these Presidents, none of them perfect, succeeded by compromise. They sought cooperation to blend a solution.

Which leads us to today. The same, perhaps wider, chasm divides this country. Sanders is a socialist. Hillary is a liar. Cruz is a religious nut. Rubio cannot balance a checkbook. Trump is… I am not sure there is a word for it.

Each of these candidates has something to offer. Yet it seems the politics of this era compels us to pick one path, one philosophy, one political policy.

We deserve more.

If the reality of compromise and cooperation does exists away from the cameras and 24/7 media storm, the American people deserve to be trusted with that knowledge.

In our everyday lives, we make choices; we balance the things we want against the things we need. That is being an adult.

Those that scream the most about the evils and dangers of those they disagree with are like schoolyard bullies, trying to shout down and intimidate.

Standing up to a bully is the right thing to do.

A politician who claims to have all the answers, offers nothing but disdain and criticism of opposing views, and insists his (or her) policies are the only choice is not what we need. It is what we have been afflicted with for the past few years and it is time to seek a better solution.