Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney’s ouster from her high-ranking House Republican leadership post was foreshadowed by Donald Trump’s getting away with what his onetime pen pal, former president Richard M. Nixon, could not. During his ill-fated presidency, Trump learned that he could cross lines, abuse power, punish enemies, lie his head off and still stick around to brag about it.
Nixon lived in a different time and was part of a Republican Party not of his own making, as I observed in an earlier column.
Finding his back pressed against the wall by special prosecutor Archibald Cox’s pursuit of the White House Watergate tapes, Nixon accepted the resignation of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus when each refused to discharge Cox. Frustrated by this principled stance, Nixon directed Solicitor General Robert Bork, newly installed as acting attorney general, to carry out the order to obstruct the Cox probe, which Bork did. Nixon went on to abolish the special prosecutor’s office and instructed the FBI to seal the Justice Department offices of Richardson and Ruckelshaus, as well as Cox’s.
That political nightmare, which unfolded on Oct. 20, 1973, is recorded in U.S. history as the “Saturday Night Massacre.” Nixon was oblivious to the firestorm he had ignited. But the American electorate didn’t miss a thing.
People might not have been able to cite laws that Nixon might have violated. But they knew by the offensive odor coming out of Washington that Nixon had gone too far. Congress got an earful from voters, and the press corps went into overdrive.
Nixon’s resignation was just over the horizon.
Trump said a year ago in a phone call to “Fox & Friends” that one of the things he supposedly learned from Nixon was “don’t fire people,” suggesting that Nixon made a mistake in firing aides who wound up providing evidence against him.
But Trump, in fact, followed suit. He, too, ousted people, and with fanfare. Exhibit one: His loud-mouthed firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who managed to come across as both venal and hapless during his Justice Department tenure.
Trump’s motive for firing James B. Comey as FBI director was also a Nixon copycat. Both embattled GOP presidents sought to quash federal investigations into activities associated with their presidential campaigns.
So how was it Nixon had to skip town, while Trump was allowed to stick around and gleefully watch the Jan. 6 bloody function at the junction of the U.S. Capitol?
Trump was on hand for the great insurrection because he had — still has — what Nixon lacked: the backing of a Republican Party controlled by weak-kneed leaders whose notion of duty is limited to what they perceive Trump expects of them.
Thus enter Cheney, who believed that the truth about Trump’s presidential defeat should trump his lies, and that integrity deserves a place in her party. Proving her wrong on both counts, the Republican Party showed her the door this week.
Again, Nixon couldn’t have gotten away with something like that. The U.S. senator for whom I worked for four years, Charles McC. Mathias Jr. (R-Md.), was about as popular with Nixon as Cheney is with Trump. Mathias, a vocal opponent of two of Nixon’s Supreme Court nominees — G. Harrold Carswell and Clement F. Haynsworth Jr. — was also a Vietnam War opponent, a key sponsor of civil rights and campaign finance laws, an early and outspoken critic of Watergate, and an earner of a place on Nixon’s ”enemies list.”
But unlike Cheney, Mathias could not be taken down from within his party.
A number of Senate and House Republicans in the 1970s, while generally more conservative than many Democrats on fiscal issues, were united among themselves and more closely aligned with non-Southern Democrats on civil and voting rights and domestic social policies.
Mathias remained popular in his state, and his outreach and partnership with Democrats at home and in Congress were bulwarks against the Nixon terrors.
That is not Cheney’s world. She holds membership in a party that has devolved into a self-segregating, ideologically rigid cult that views outsiders as a threat to Trump and, by extension, themselves.
Trump is — in their hearts — owed the Republican Party’s devotion.
The only room for a Liz Cheney is in the house out back. A small but plucky bunch of GOP outsiders — whose leaders include former congressman Charlie Dent, former party chairman Michael Steele and former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman (names from a long-gone era) — are weeping and wailing over Cheney’s ouster and huffing and puffing about blowing down the House that Trump built. Every good wish.
Today’s Republican Party is to Donald Trump what the Workers’ Party of Korea is to Kim Jong Un, the Chinese Communist Party is to Xi Jinping and the United Russia Party is to Vladimir Putin.
The party of Mathias, Cheney, Dent, Steele and Whitman is dead. The death blow was landed by Trump. And he’s getting away with the murder.
This essay as taken from my course in International Relations and a talented student writer:
Professor Frederick Shiels
28 February 2021
Prior to taking this class, I was not all that familiar with International Relations. I had: visited the United Nations three times, taken European and Global History in high school and regularly watched CNN, however, my primary interest and focus has always been American History, particularly the American Presidents and elections. While I knew that as a super power, America was a major actor on the world stage, I concentrated on its domestic, rather than foreign policy legislation, hence, much of the material and terms that we are covering in this course are entirely new to me.
Of all of the topics and concepts that we have covered so far, the one that has most fascinated me the most is that of ‘world citizen.’ Most of us tend to consider ourselves citizens of the nation in which we have either been born or have chosen, through immigration. We may feel a sense of connection to the countries that our ancestors descended from, however, for most of us, considering ourselves world citizens, rather than as: Americans, Italians, Albanians, Japanese, Brazilians, etc. is a foreign concept. When one simply views themselves as a member of the society in which they live, they tend to view the world and the interactions between nations in both a nationalistic and realistic manner, whereby power is used to advance a state’s interests. Each treaty, trade deal and piece of legislation is viewed in the context of ‘is it good for America’ (or whatever country the individual is from) or ‘how does it benefit us,’ (self-interest), rather than what is its impact on the world and its people, (all of them), both in the short and long terms.
As I continue to think more and more about what being a world citizen truly means, I have come to the realization that if we truly saw ourselves as citizens of the world, rather than simply defining ourselves by what is stamped on our passports, we would begin to desire for all people, what we presently desire for: ourselves, families and nation. We would begin to see issues such as: poverty, disease, healthcare, hunger, terrorism gender and racial equality and environmental concerns, just to name a few, not simply in the context of how they affect us (personally), but rather how they affect the entire global family. We would begin to view actions that we presently take for granted such as buying or selling products that are made through the exploitation of women and children, (Apple’s Manufacturing in China: Key Issues), treating the planet as our personal dumping ground, or supporting legislation and policies that benefit us, at the expense of others as unconscionable. We would stop seeing the world in terms of us and them, but rather, we would all become uses. If each of us began to see ourselves as global citizens, we would become more willing to create alliances with other nations and to explore solutions that transcend national borders. As our economy becomes increasingly more global with every passing year and information gets disseminated faster and faster across the globe via the internet, the logical next step would be the strengthening of international agencies to help cope with the myriad of problems, (mentioned above), that no single nation can eradicate on their own.
Through our discussions on nationalism, I have come to realize that while it can give a nation’s people a sense of pride in their country or unite them together in a common cause, it can also divide them (both domestically and in their relationships with other states). Many of the most heinous crimes against humanity, have happened in the name of nationalism (ie. Nazi Germany or America’s treatment of the Vietnamese people as was depicted in Hearts and Minds). While nationalism is meant to bring people together, by its very nature, it unites one group together (us) against another group (them) which is what is presently happening in India against Muslims.
Through our class discussions, I have begun to wonder, if each state is considered sovereign, in that it can theoretically do whatever it wants within its own borders, what is the role of the international community when states choose to commit acts that violate human rights or are unable for whatever reason to meet the needs of all of their citizens? Do other states step in or is this the role of the United Nations?
THE BOSTON UNIVERSITY HISTORIAN ON A MEMORABLE DAY IN WASHINGTON; TRAGEDY FOLLOWED BY CAUTIOUS HOPE
Today the United States passed the heartbreaking marker of 500,000 official deaths from COVID-19. President Biden held a ceremony tonight to remember those lost, saying “On this solemn occasion, we reflect on their loss and on their loved ones left behind. We, as a Nation, must remember them so we can begin to heal, to unite, and find purpose as one Nation to defeat this pandemic.” The South Portico of the White House was illuminated with 500 candles—one for every thousand lives lost—and the president will order flags on federal property lowered to half staff for five days in their memory.
And yet, there is good news on the horizon: By the end of March, Pfizer plans to ship more than 13 million vaccine doses per week to the United States; Moderna plans to deliver 100 million doses; and Johnson & Johnson expects to ship at least 20 million doses. This means that by the end of March, the United States is on track to receive 240 million doses. By mid-year, we should receive about 700 million doses, which is enough to vaccinate our entire population. By the end of the year there should be 2 billion doses for the whole world.
Sixty-seven percent of Americans, including 34% of Republicans, approve of Biden’s response to the coronavirus.
Aside from the pandemic news, there were two important developments today on the national level: a series of Supreme Court decisions and Merrick Garland’s confirmation hearings for the position of attorney general. Together, these showed quite strikingly that Trump supporters are retreating into a politics of grievance while Democrats are embracing policy and governance.
The Supreme Court (often abbreviated SCOTUS, for Supreme Court of the United States), today denied former president Trump’s request to block a grand jury subpoena for his financial records. In its investigation into hush money allegedly paid by the Trump Organization to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential race, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office subpoenaed eight years of financial information from Trump’s accountant, Mazars USA. Trump has fought the subpoena all the way to SCOTUS, but today the court upheld the decision of the lower court that his accountant must produce the information. Mazars USA should turn over the documents, which run to millions of pages, this week.
The former president issued a statement rehashing his usual litany of complaints about how he is treated, saying this was “a continuation of the greatest political Witch Hunt in the history of our Country.” He said the decision, made by a court on which three of his own appointees sit, was “all Democrat-inspired.” It is, he said, “political persecution.”
SCOTUS also refused to hear eight cases Trump or his allies had brought over the 2020 presidential election. It appears SCOTUS is done with the former president.
But Trump is not done with politics. He will be speaking this Sunday at the annual conference of the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC), which has turned into a pro-Trump gathering. Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) are all scheduled to speak at the convention, on topics like “Why the Left Hate the Bill of Rights… and We Love It,” and “Fighting for Freedom of Speech at Home and Across the World.”
Mike Allen of Axios heard from a longtime Trump advisor that, in his speech on Sunday, Trump will indicate that he is the Republicans’ “presumptive 2024 nominee” and is in control of the party. He is eager to take revenge on those who have not supported him, and plans to encourage primary challengers to them in 2022. He is expected to lay into President Biden as a failure of the Washington, D.C., swamp, and to promise to take on that swamp again from the outside.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) reported today that Trump reported his earnings from his businesses during his four years as president at $1.6 billion.
Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings for the confirmation of Judge Merrick Garland as attorney general. Garland is famously a moderate, and his confirmation is expected to sail through. The senators questioning him could use their time as they wished, and the results were revealing.
Pro-Trump Republican Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) seemed to be creating sound bites for right-wing media. They complained that the Democrats under the “Obama-Biden” administration had politicized the Department of Justice, including the Russia investigation, and demanded that the abuses they alleged had occurred under Obama be addressed. They made no mention of Attorney General William Barr and his use of the office as an arm of Trump’s White House.
It was striking to hear long-debunked complaints about 2016 reappear in 2021. Honestly, it felt like they were just rehashing an old script. They are clearly pitching for 2024 voters, but will their politics of grievance resonate in three more years?
Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Ben Sasse (R-NE) tried to carve out their own space in the presidential pack, as well. Cotton tried to get Garland to admit that Biden’s call for racial equity, rather than racial equality—by which Biden means that some historically marginalized groups may need more than equal treatment—was itself racist. It was an obscure point that didn’t land. Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE), who voted to convict Trump in his impeachment trial, pressed Garland somewhat interestingly on the president’s power, then nodded to QAnon with a statement against the notorious sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.
In contrast to them was the performance of the new Democratic senator from Georgia, Jon Ossoff, who asked Garland first about protecting voting rights, then about funding public defenders, then about civil rights investigations, using the specific example of Ahmaud Arbery, murdered in 2020 in Georgia while jogging. Ossoff’s focus on policy and governance illustrated the difference between Senate Republicans and Democrats.
For his part, Garland hammered home his conviction that the Department of Justice should represent the people of the United States and should enforce the rule of law for all. When Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) asked him to explain why he wanted to give up a lifetime appointment as a judge to take the job of attorney general to fight “hate and discrimination in American history,” Garland answered:
“I come from a family where my grandparents fled anti-Semitism and persecution. The country took us in and protected us. And I feel an obligation to the country to pay back. And this is the highest, best use of my own set of skills to pay back. And so, I want very much to be the kind of attorney general that you’re saying I could become. I’ll do my best to try to be that kind of attorney general.”
Sad and dangerous, They just can’t pull the trigger.
In this Jan. 21, 2021, photo, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Just two weeks ago, McCarthy declared then-President Donald Trump culpable in the attack on the nation’s Capitol as Washington leaders recoiled from the violence. But on Jan. 28, McCarthy was meeting with Trump at Mar-a-Lago to kiss the ring of a man who remains the undisputed leader of the Republican Party. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
A private meeting between the two men at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort signaled a remarkable turnaround in the former president’s stature among elected Republicans. In the immediate aftermath of the insurrection Trump inspired, the idea that he would enjoy any sort of kingmaker role in his post-presidency seemed highly unlikely.ADVERTISEMENT
But following an initial wave of condemnation, Republicans appear to be warming toward Trump, fully aware that his supporters are poised to punish anyone who displays disloyalty. With that in mind, party leaders are working to keep Trump in the fold as they focus on retaking the House and Senate in 2022.MORE STORIES:
“United and ready to win in ’22,” McCarthy tweeted after their meeting. Both he and Trump issued statements outlining their pledge to work together to help Republicans win back control of the House and Senate in 2022.
The realignment with Trump comes as those who have crossed him continue to feel the burn. Trump ally Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, spent the day in Wyoming trying to take down Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, who voted for Trump’s impeachment. Amid the backlash, Senate Republicans largely made clear this week that they have no intention of convicting Trump.
While Trump tries to exert influence, he’s undeniably diminished.
Before he incited his supporters to storm the Capitol, Trump was expected to spend his post-presidency gleefully settling scores with Republicans rivals, launching a Twitter-fueled takedown of his successor and mulling over running again for a second term. Now, he is largely isolated and silenced by social media platforms as President Joe Biden attempts to dismantle his agenda executive order by executive order.
He has not been seen in public since he disappeared behind the well-manicured hedges at Mar-a-Lago last Wednesday, a half-hour before his presidency ended. He has spent his days consulting with aides and defense lawyers as he prepares for his historic second impeachment trial.
Things are very different now. Last time, Trump had an army of defenders that included a team of Washington lawyers, a presidential communications shop, a taxpayer-funded White House counsel’s office and the steadfast backing of top Republicans, including the Republican National Committee.Full Coverage: Politics
This time, Trump is still scrambling to pull together a legal team, with the trial less than two weeks out.
“I think he’s at a significant disadvantage,” said criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, who was part of Trump’s legal team in 2020 but is among the long list of lawyers sitting this one out.
Yet even the impeachment trial, once seen as an opportunity for Senate Republicans to purge Trump from the party by barring him from ever running for office again, is now being used as a rallying cry to reunite the party against Democrats. Instead of debating whether he is guilty of “willfully inciting violence against the government of the United States,” Republicans have instead attacked the process, arguing that it is unconstitutional to try a president who has already left the White House.
“At a time when our country needs to come together, Democrats in Congress are rehashing the same strategy that they employed for the last four years: politically motivated overreach that will only divide us further,” Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel said in a statement that came after heated internal divisions over whether the group should publicly criticize Trump for inciting the riot.
In an interview, McDaniel declined to criticize the five Republicans senators who voted this week to move forward with the trial. But she said “it’s more important to look at the 45 that said this is ridiculous.”
Aside from the trial, Trump has gradually begun to return to the public conversation, firing off press releases from the political committee he created before leaving the White House.
“He’s decompressing. He’s got a legal team he’s trying to organize, and he just needs to keep doing what he’s doing,” said Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close congressional ally who has been helping Trump stand up a legal team after numerous firms punted.
“I think there’s an adjustment,” said Matt Schlapp, chair of the American Conservative Union and another Trump ally.
Jason Miller, an adviser to Trump, insisted that it was “too early” to discuss the president’s impeachment strategy and the post-presidential political operation that is expected to include former White House political director Brian Jack and Trump’s former campaign manager Bill Stepien.
“We’ve had discussions about where we want to get active with regard to the 2022 midterms and how we help Republicans win back the Senate and the House,” Miller said, but Trump has yet to decide whether he will get involved in primary races to challenge Republicans who voted to impeach him.
After those members faced intense backlash from Trump supporters, Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly Tuesday for an attempt to dismiss his second impeachment trial.
“I think that’s pretty clear that Republican voters are adamantly opposed to impeachment and Republicans who vote for impeachment do so at their own peril,” Miller said.
Despite the Capitol riot, polls show Trump remains deeply popular among Republican voters — many of whom now consider themselves more closely aligned with him than the party.
“It’s not Trump so much they’re trying to hug. It’s Trump’s base they’re trying to hug,” said Alex Conant, a Republican strategist. “I think Trump’s departure left a huge vacuum. He was the one thing that united Republicans more than anything. I mean, the Republican Party became the Trump Party for four years. And without him leading it, there’s an obvious power vacuum, and I think you’re seeing that play out now in Congress.”
The question is whether Trump’s influence will endure. The internal divisions his team is fomenting could ultimately undermine the party’s quest to retake Congress. And it’s unclear whether he can transfer his personal popularity to other candidates when he’s not on the ballot. Republicans lost control of the House in 2018 and gave up the Senate this month despite a last-minute appeal from Trump.
Graham, who declared just this month that he’s done with Trump — “All I can say is count me out. Enough is enough.” — has since stressed the importance of keeping the party together.
“I want to make sure that the Republican Party can grow and come back, and we’re going to need Trump and Trump needs us,” he told reporters.
As for Republicans who vote to convict Trump, “I guess it depends on what state you’re in and what phase in your career you are,” he quipped.
“We need to acknowledge he let us down,” Haley, who served in her ambassador role under Trump, said. “He went down a path he shouldn’t have, and we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him. And we can’t let that ever happen again.”
Haley’s remarks are her strongest yet against the former president in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and come as Trump’s legal team is set to present its defense of Trump on Friday in his second Senate impeachment trial.
The House impeached the former president for a second time shortly after the insurrection, saying his unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud following his election loss to President Biden and his comments earlier that day incited the mob that stormed the Capitol.
The former South Carolina governor told Politico that she has not spoken with Trump since the mob attack, further expressing her disappointment with remarks he gave at a rally ahead of the assault condemning his own vice president, Mike Pence.
“When I tell you I’m angry, it’s an understatement,” Haley said. “I am so disappointed in the fact that [despite] the loyalty and friendship he had with Mike Pence, that he would do that to him. Like, I’m disgusted by it.”
Haley said that the president “believes he is following” his oath of office by challenging the election results, adding, “There’s nothing that you’re ever going to do that’s going to make him feel like he legitimately lost the election.”
“He’s got a big bully pulpit. He should be responsible with it,” she said.
Haley in the days immediately following the attack said in a speech to Republican National Committee (RNC) members that Trump was “badly wrong with his words” at his Jan. 6 rally.
“And it wasn’t just his words,” she added at the time. “His actions since Election Day will be judged harshly by history.”
Haley said in Friday’s Politico interview that when she gave the RNC address, she “was not expecting a whole bunch of love from that speech.”
“I know how much people love Donald Trump. I know it. I feel it,” she continued. “Whether it’s an RNC room or social media or talking to donors, I can tell you that the love they have for him is still very strong. That’s not going to just fall to the wayside.”
She went on to say, “Nor do I think the Republican Party is going to go back to the way it was before Donald Trump. I don’t think it should.”
Instead, Haley argues, “what we need to do is take the good that he built, leave the bad that he did, and get back to a place where we can be a good, valuable, effective party. But at the same time, it’s bigger than the party.”
“I hope our country can come together and figure out how we pull this back,” she added.
Haley, who many speculate is a possible 2024 presidential contender, announced a new political action committee last month named after her Stand for America advocacy group. Her spokeswoman Chaney Denton said at the time that the PAC would be focused on helping get conservatives back in control in the House and Senate in 2022.
Bradley Crate, the treasurer for Haley’s PAC, was the treasurer for Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 and Sen. Mitt Romney’s (R-Utah) top financial adviser for both his presidential runs.
My student in INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS/ Poltical Science 370, February, 2021….GENDER IN WORLD POLITICAL LEADERSHIP
While there are many differences between difference feminism and liberal feminism, they share one thing in common: Having more women in leadership positions is beneficial. With difference feminism, according to Pevehouse and Goldstein, they state “A strand of feminism that believes gender differences are not just socially constructed and that views women as inherently less warlike than men (on average)” (99).
Essentially, difference feminism focuses on the belief that women and men do have major differences while liberal feminism, as stated by our authors, emphasizes “Gender equality and views the ‘essential’ differences in men’s and women’s abilities or perspectives as trivial or nonexistent” (99). Again, while both strands of feminism do have their differences, the similar foundational belief that having more female leaders is beneficial overall.
Under difference feminism, the concept of women collaborating to promote peace and social reform is emphasized. In essence, according to difference feminism, having more women leaders would lead to more peaceful solutions and total social reform.
Similarly, according to Joseph Nye’s “Yes, the World Would Be More Peaceful with Women in Charge,” he famously references Steven Pinker’s “The Better Angels of Our Nature,” by explaining “Pinker presents data showing that human violence, while still very much with us today, has been gradually declining. Moreover, he says, ‘over the long sweep of history, women have been and will be a pacifying force. Traditional war is a man’s game: Tribal women never band together to raid neighboring villages.’
As mothers, women have evolutionary incentives to maintain peaceful conditions in which to nurture their offspring and ensure that their genes survive into the next generation” (para 2). Overall, from the difference feminist’s perspective, having more female leaders would lead us to mediation, social reform, and more peaceful resolutions.
Unlike difference feminism, our authors discuss “Liberal feminists think that women have the same capabilities as men, so the inclusion of women in traditionally male occupations (from state leader to foot soldier) would bring additional capable individuals into those areas. Gender equality would thus increase national capabilities by giving the state a better overall pool of diplomats, generals, soldiers, and politicians” (103).
Through this statement, it is emphasized how having more women in leadership positions would add further value in different perspectives and general capabilities. By having fewer women in these positions, many organizations miss out on the opportunity to have more diverse perspectives and capabilities.
Again, with all things considered, both strands of feminism differ in many ways, however, they ultimately agree on one thing: Having a handful of female leaders can enhance all worldly operations.
Goldstein, Jon C. Pevehouse; Joshua S. International Relations (Subscription). Pearson Education (US), 2019. [VitalSource Bookshelf].
Professor Arthur Lerman, a contributor to this blog, offers some thoughts written to colleague and associates, shortly after the ominous events of January 6, 2021 in Washington DC.
It’s hard to know where to begin, but I thought I’d share some things I already sent to some of you on my email list.
Shaking from yesterday’s (January 6th) events. Yes.
One headline I saw was “America’s Darkest Day.”
a. This will go down as one of the worst days in American democratic history–in world democratic history. Or maybe a close “save.”
Anti-democrats could be proud that they brought the U.S. so close to their goal. And they’ll keep using Trump’s playbook to continue undermining democracy–in the U.S. and in other countries. (See below podcast on “strongmen” and article on white supremacists.)
b. But maybe it’ll be a wake-up call to those who value democracy—to work to make sure conditions that created this crisis are remedied.
Some, on NPR, speculated that House and Senate Republicans, objecting to the certification of the electoral votes as the Trump protesters broke into their chamber, will now realize how vulnerable they are to being burned by playing so cavalierly with the Trump fire. (Late comment: only some did.)
Thing is that they may have been risking it because they fear their Trump voters–if they don’t keep stoking the Trump fire.
As leaders with Trump followers, they should be aware that a real leader does not simply follow the prejudices of their followers. A real leader will tell followers when they are wrong—that they must reverse course.
c. For those of us who were anti-Trump all along, we have to figure out how to reach out to the Trumpers—somehow get a dialogue going on how to ameliorate that which has turned them so anti-democracy.
There have been dialogue groups–bringing together individuals on the two sides of the divide. Hope these continue and grow. (Mercy College was thinking about such a program.)
It is argued that Biden’s (and Hillary’s) policies better spoke to their needs than Republican policies, but that they were convinced by clever propaganda that this was not so, or simply to not listen. (I recognize the criticism that Biden and Hillary are too close to Wall Street, but even so, their policies are much better than Republican ones.)
(Poly Sci textbooks state that most people pay little attention to politics. And those who pay more attention are the ones who already have strong opinions—not open to persuasion.)
Also, if the issue is more about psychological identity (I’m part of a great white America) but Democrats are saying that America is now multicolored, how can I feel proud to be part of an America of “those people”?
d. An important part of this is to bring everyone to a common understanding of reality—in the immediate case, the integrity of the fall elections.
The media talk about tribal groups, each in its own information silo. If we can’t agree on what is happening/already happened in the world, how can we move forward. But how can such agreement be attained?
Hmm. I just wrote a lot. Probably nothing new to you.
Here are some links for back-up ideas. (Again, you probably know it all anyway.)
The first is my own rough essay on the danger of leaving any group behind. Most others are recent podcasts from WBUR that impressed me.
And so, we are at the end of a year that has brought a presidential impeachment trial, a deadly pandemic that has killed more than 338,000 of us, a huge social movement for racial justice, a presidential election, and a president who has refused to accept the results of that election and is now trying to split his own political party.It’s been quite a year.
But I had a chance to talk with history podcaster Bob Crawford of the Avett Brothers yesterday, and he asked a more interesting question. He pointed out that we are now twenty years into this century, and asked what I thought were the key changes of those twenty years. I chewed on this question for awhile and also asked readers what they thought. Pulling everything together, here is where I’ve come out.In America, the twenty years since 2000 have seen the end game of the Reagan Revolution, begun in 1980. In that era, political leaders on the right turned against the principles that had guided the country since the 1930s, when Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt guided the nation out of the Great Depression by using the government to stabilize the economy. During the Depression and World War Two, Americans of all parties had come to believe the government had a role to play in regulating the economy, providing a basic social safety net and promoting infrastructure. But reactionary businessmen hated regulations and the taxes that leveled the playing field between employers and workers. They called for a return to the pro-business government of the 1920s, but got no traction until the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, when the Supreme Court, under the former Republican governor of California, Earl Warren, unanimously declared racial segregation unconstitutional. That decision, and others that promoted civil rights, enabled opponents of the New Deal government to attract supporters by insisting that the country’s postwar government was simply redistributing tax dollars from hardworking white men to people of color. That argument echoed the political language of the Reconstruction years, when white southerners insisted that federal efforts to enable formerly enslaved men to participate in the economy on terms equal to white men were simply a redistribution of wealth, because the agents and policies required to achieve equality would cost tax dollars and, after the Civil War, most people with property were white. This, they insisted, was “socialism.” To oppose the socialism they insisted was taking over the East, opponents of black rights looked to the American West. They called themselves Movement Conservatives, and they celebrated the cowboy who, in their inaccurate vision, was a hardworking white man who wanted nothing of the government but to be left alone to work out his own future. In this myth, the cowboys lived in a male-dominated world, where women were either wives and mothers or sexual playthings, and people of color were savage or subordinate. With his cowboy hat and western ranch, Reagan deliberately tapped into this mythology, as well as the racism and sexism in it, when he promised to slash taxes and regulations to free individuals from a grasping government.
He promised that cutting taxes and regulations would expand the economy. As wealthy people—the “supply side” of the economy– regained control of their capital, they would invest in their businesses and provide more jobs. Everyone would make more money. From the start, though, his economic system didn’t work. Money moved upward, dramatically, and voters began to think the cutting was going too far. To keep control of the government, Movement Conservatives at the end of the twentieth century ramped up their celebration of the individualist white American man, insisting that America was sliding into socialism even as they cut more and more domestic programs, insisting that the people of color and women who wanted the government to address inequities in the country simply wanted “free stuff.” They courted social conservatives and evangelicals, promising to stop the “secularization” they saw as a partner to communism.After the end of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, talk radio spread the message that Black and Brown Americans and “feminazis” were trying to usher in socialism. In 1996, that narrative got a television channel that personified the idea of the strong man with subordinate women. The Fox News Channel told a story that reinforced the Movement Conservative narrative daily until it took over the Republican Party entirely.The idea that people of color and women were trying to undermine society was enough of a rationale to justify keeping them from the vote, especially after Democrats passed the Motor Voter law in 1993, making it easier for poor people to register to vote.
In 1997, Florida began the process of purging voter rolls of Black voters. And so, 2000 came.In that year, the presidential election came down to the electoral votes in Florida. Democratic candidate Al Gore won the popular vote by more than 540,000 votes over Republican candidate George W. Bush, but Florida would decide the election. During the required recount, Republican political operatives led by Roger Stone descended on the election canvassers in Miami-Dade County to stop the process. It worked, and the Supreme Court upheld the end of the recount. Bush won Florida by 537 votes and, thanks to its electoral votes, became president. Voter suppression was a success, and Republicans would use it, and after 2010, gerrymandering, to keep control of the government even as they lost popular support.Bush had promised to unite the country, but his installation in the White House gave new power to the ideology of the Movement Conservative leaders of the Reagan Revolution. He inherited a budget surplus from his predecessor Democrat Bill Clinton, but immediately set out to get rid of it by cutting taxes.
A balanced budget meant money for regulation and social programs, so it had to go. From his term onward, Republicans would continue to cut taxes even as budgets operated in the red, the debt climbed, and money moved upward.The themes of Republican dominance and tax cuts were the backdrop of the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. That attack gave the country’s leaders a sense of mission after the end of the Cold War and, after launching a war in Afghanistan to stop al-Qaeda, they set out to export democracy to Iraq. This had been a goal for Republican leaders since the Clinton administration, in the belief that the United States needed to spread capitalism and democracy in its role as a world leader. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq strengthened the president and the federal government, creating the powerful Department of Homeland Security, for example, and leading Bush to assert the power of the presidency to interpret laws through signing statements. The association of the Republican Party with patriotism enabled Republicans in this era to call for increased spending for the military and continued tax cuts, while attacking Democratic calls for domestic programs as wasteful. Increasingly, Republican media personalities derided those who called for such programs as dangerous, or anti-American. But while Republicans increasingly looked inward to their party as the only real Americans and asserted power internationally, changes in technology were making the world larger. The Internet put the world at our fingertips and enabled researchers to decode the human genome, revolutionizing medical science. Smartphones both made communication easy. Online gaming created communities and empathy. And as many Americans were increasingly embracing rap music and tattoos and LGBTQ rights, as well as recognizing increasing inequality, books were pointing to the dangers of the power concentrating at the top of societies. In 1997, J.K. Rowling began her exploration of the rise of authoritarianism in her wildly popular Harry Potter books, but her series was only the most famous of a number of books in which young people conquered a dystopia created by adults.In Bush’s second term, his ideology created a perfect storm. His administration’s disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina, which killed more than 1,800 people and caused $125 billion in damage in and around New Orleans in 2005, revealed how badly the new economy had treated Black and Brown people, and how badly the destruction of domestic programs had affected our ability to respond to disasters. Computers permitted the overuse of credit default swaps that precipitated the 2008 crash, which then precipitated the housing crisis, as people who had bet on the individualist American dream lost their homes. Meanwhile, the ongoing wars, plagued with financial and moral scandals, made it clear that the Republicans optimistic vision of spreading democracy through military conflict was unrealistic. In 2008, voters put Black American Barack Obama, a Democrat, into the White House. To Republicans, primed by now to believe that Democrats and Black people were socialists, this was an undermining of the nation itself, and they set out to hamper him. While many Americans saw Obama as the symbol of a new, fairer government with America embracing a multilateral world, reactionaries built a backlash based in racism and sexism.
They vocally opposed a federal government they insisted was pushing socialism on hardworking white men, and insisted that America must show its strength by exerting its power unilaterally in the world. Increasingly, the Internet and cell phones enabled people to have their news cater to their worldview, moving Republicans into a world characterized by what a Republican spokesperson would later call “alternative facts.” And so, in 2016, we faced a clash between a relentlessly changing nation and the individualist ideology of the Movement Conservatives who had taken over the Republican Party. By then, that ideology had become openly radical extremism in the hands of Donald Trump, who referred to immigrants as criminals, boasted of sexually assaulting women, and promised to destroy the New Deal government once and for all. In the 2016 election, the themes of the past 36 years came together. Embracing Movement Conservative individualist ideology taken to an extreme, Trump was eager enough to make sure a Democrat didn’t win that, according to American intelligence services, he was willing to accept the help of Russian operatives.
They, in turn, influenced the election through the manipulation of new social media, amplified by what had become by then a Republican echo chamber in which Democrats were dangerous socialists and the Democratic candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was a criminal. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision which permitted corporate money to flow into election campaigns, Trump also had the help of a wave of money from big business; financial institutions spent $2 billion to influence the election. He also had the support of evangelicals, who believed he would finally give them the anti-abortion laws they wanted. Trump lost the popular vote by almost 3 million votes but, as George W. Bush before him, won in the Electoral College.
Once in office, this president set out to destroy the New Deal state, as Movement Conservatives had called for, returning the country to the control of a small group of elite businessmen who, theoretically, would know how to move the country forward best by leveraging private sector networks and innovation. He also set out to put minorities and women back into subordinate positions, recreating a leadership structure that was almost entirely white and male. As Trump tried to destroy an activist government once and for all, Americans woke up to how close we have come to turning our democracy over to a small group of oligarchs. In the past four years, the Women’s March on Washington and the MeToo Movement has enabled women to articulate their demand for equality.
The travel ban, child separation policy for Latin American refugees, and Trump’s attacks on Muslims, Latin American immigrants, and Chinese immigrants, has sparked a defense of America’s history of immigration. The Black Lives Matter Movement, begun in July 2013 after George Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering teenager Trayvon Martin, has gained power as Black Americans have been murdered at the hands of law enforcement officers and white vigilantes, and as Black Americans have borne witness to those murders with cellphone videos. The increasing voice of democracy clashed most dramatically with Trump’s ideology in summer 2020 when, with the support of his Attorney General William Barr, Trump used the law enforcement officers of the Executive Branch to attack peaceful protesters in Washington, D.C. and in Portland, Oregon. In June, on the heels of the assault on the protesters at Lafayette Square, military officers from all branches made it clear that they would not support any effort to use them against civilians.
they reiterated that they would support the Constitution. The refusal of the military to support a further extension of Trump’s power was no small thing.And now, here we are. Trump lost the 2020 election to Democrat Joe Biden by more than 7 million votes and by an Electoral College split of 306 to 232. Although the result was not close, Trump refuses to acknowledge the loss and is doing all he can to hamper Biden’s assumption of office.
Many members of the Republican Party are joining him in his attempt to overturn the election, taking the final, logical step of Movement Conservatism: denying the legitimacy of anyone who does not share their ideology. This is unprecedented. It is a profound attack on our democracy. But it will not succeed. And in this moment, we have, disastrously, discovered the final answer to whether or not it is a good idea to destroy the activist government that has protected us since 1933.
In their zeal for reducing government, the Trump team undercut our ability to respond to a pandemic, and tried to deal with the deadly coronavirus through private enterprise or by ignoring it and calling for people to go back to work in service to the economy, willing to accept huge numbers of dead. They have carried individualism to an extreme, insisting that simple public health measures designed to save lives infringe on their liberty.The result has been what is on track to be the greatest catastrophe in American history, with more than 338,000 of us dead and the disease continuing to spread like wildfire. It is for this that the Trump administration will be remembered, but it is more than that. It is a fitting end to the attempt to destroy our government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
I’d love to believe they can do it, but with 2 horrendous Republican opponents with narrow leads, am hopeful but not optimistic. Georgia is just not that purple. They almost voted a rehire of Trump, and that tells you something. (15,000 more Biden votes). — F Shiels, editor
To win two hotly contested Senate runoff races, Democrats in Georgia need a lot of things to go right.
Georgia voters haven’t sent a Democrat to the Senate in 20 years, and Democrats handily lost the Senate runoff in 2008. But ask Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock, and they insist things are different now. For one thing, the two Georgia races will determine which party controls the Senate — and by extension — political power in Washington, DC. For another, their party’s presidential candidate just won the state for the first time in almost 30 years.
“Folks didn’t allow themselves to hope,” said Nsé Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project, an organization that registered an estimated 500,000 Georgian voters of color and young people ahead of November 3. “Ultimately, you have to conceive of it first before we can build it; folks have to believe that it’s possible. I think that’s why there’s a lot of energy and enthusiasm frankly on both sides as we head to the runoff.”
The two Senate runoffs — featuring Sen. David Perdue (R) versus Ossoff in one race and Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) versus Warnock in the other — will still be very hard for Democrats to win. Not as many low-interest voters will participateas in the November presidential election, so these runoffs are more about motivating the respective party bases than attempting to persuade swing voters.
“Turnout is what matters,” Cook Political Report Senate editor Jessica Taylor said. Democrats and Republicans alike need to find their voters, and get them back out to the polls.
While the Republican Party’s base in Georgia is fairly homogeneous, Democrats must turn out a more diverse swath of voters to have a shot at winning the Senate. Black voters undoubtedly make up the majority of Georgia’s Democratic base, but the 2020 election showed a successful coalition is also built on Asian and Pacific Islander American (AAPI) voters, Latino voters, and white suburban women.
“It’s not just one group you’re trying to get out,” said Georgia state Sen. Jen Jordan, a Democrat. “If any of those components really fall off, you lose — and that’s why it’s hard. It’s a much more difficult task for Democrats, but that doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t happen.”
Another important factor to motivate the Democratic base could be that President Donald Trump himself is not going away quietly. Some Democrats feared their voters would fall into complacency after ousting Trump in November, but the president is continuing to refuse to concede to President-elect Joe Biden. Tensions between Trump and Republican state officials in Georgia are high, so much so that Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said he and his family have received death threats for certifying the state’s results for Biden.
With record-setting turnout in the 2020 election nationwide and in Georgia, Trump proved that he could motivate Republicans and Democrats alike to go to the polls. Butwill that carry over to January 5?
“Trump is not on the ballot, but are we in a post-Trump era where our people are motivated to show up?” a Democratic pollster told Vox. “That is the big question.”
Black voters make up the core of the Democratic Party’s base in Georgia. But the suburbs in Atlanta that are becoming a source of political strength for Democrats are even more diverse, with AAPI and Latino voters proving to be key parts of the Democratic coalition.
Data from Washington Post exit polls shows that voters of color and women were key to Biden winning the state in November. About 54 percent of women voted for Biden, compared to 55 percent of men who voted for Trump. The majority of white voters voted for Trump — 69 percent compared to 30 percent who voted for Biden. About 88 percent of Black voters cast their ballots for Biden, and about 81 percent of voters who identify as non-white also voted for the former vice president.
Still, a New York Times analysis of voting data suggested that white suburban voters in the metro Atlanta area were the ones who put Biden over the top in 2020. The analysis found that the relative share of Black turnout actually fell slightly in the 2020 presidential election compared to 2016. Raw Black voting numbers were up, but so were the numbers of white voters.
That’s no guarantee Ossoff and Warnock can replicate Biden’s success.
Even though Biden narrowly won Georgia in the presidential election, it won’t automatically translate to Democratic strength in the Senate races. Perdue ran slightly ahead of Trump by about 780 votes. Ossoff, on the other hand, ran close to 100,000 votes short of Biden. (It’s tough to make the same comparison with Loeffler and Warnock because they were running in a field of 20 candidates.)
These numbers mean that while Biden’s strength helped Democrats force a runoff, there were a number of voters who either just voted at the top of the ticket, or split their tickets between Biden for president and Republican candidates down the ballot.
“I don’t think voters appreciate the amount of ticket-splitting that went on,” Buzz Brockway, a Republican and former Georgia state House member, recently told Vox. “There was a section of voters who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Trump but voted for Republicans the rest of the ticket.”
With the religious right’s otherworldly loyalty to Trump and outright endorsement of his coup attempt, it was only a matter of time before a Trumpvangelical crossed the line into calling for outright violence. Well, last week Rick Wiles of TruNews did exactly that. On the day before Thanksgiving, he called for Trump to have Democrats and journalists lined up and shot.
The Christian pastor made the remarks during an episode of his TruNews program last Wednesday as he discussed Trump’s baseless claims of widespread voter fraud. Wiles also pointed out that the Justice Department has created a new rule allowing for firing squads to be used in federal executions.
“I’m not trying to be funny but [it’s been fast-tracked] because they plan to shoot some people,” Wiles said. “They’re gonna have a bunch of traitors. They’re gonna line ’em up against the wall and start shooting them. Because that’s what they deserve.”
Wiles went on to say that a bunch of Democrats, reporters and academics are secretly in bed with Beijing—and they deserve to be shot.
We already knew that Wiles is nothing more than a Nazi masquerading as a pastor. As we all know, he is virulently anti-Semitic—close your eyes, and he sounds like Richard Spencer at his worst.
This is domestic terrorism, straight up. And we cannot allow this to stand. It’s time for Wiles to get the Alex Jones treatment. Past time, actually. He has apps on the iTunes App Store (for both the iPhone and Apple TV), Google Play and Roku. Pester those platforms and get his channel nuked. Additionally, a whois revealed his domain is hosted by GoDaddy.
This is the sort of thing that resulted in Heather Heyer being murdered. We cannot chance some lone nut taking matters into his own hands and deciding to murder someone ostensibly in Trump’s name. TruNews must have its mic shut off—permanently.