We’ve Danced This Dance Before?

Don’t worry, ‘we have danced this dance before,’ contends Zachary Karabel, writer for the Washington Post in an article that drew my attention in the Sunday, November 20, 2016 Columbus [Ohio] Dispatch. Karabel denigrates the liberal hue and cry that this election portends the ‘end of our republic.’ (The Columbus Dispatch, Section H, Sunday, November 20, 2016)

He reminds us that the same liberal wail was heard following the elections of Nixon and Reagan. “And yet here we are, decades later, still enamored with the republic they were sure was doomed.” “If the past is at all prologue, we will find that the sum of all our fears amounts to far less than many of us now believe.”

Yes, we are still a republic after Nixon and Reagan. After Nixon, we are a republic profoundly changed by the ‘Southern Strategy’ of the Richard Nixon-Kevin Phillips campaign that reinforced the political South in its indelible racially biased stain. Apparently the normalization of racism is OK? I do not find such racism a norm by which I want my republic measured.

Yes, we are still a republic following Ronald Reagan’s role, playing a statesman and leader of the Free World. It was not however, an Oscar-worthy performance, and it left our republic a lesser institution. Are we a stronger republic for Reagan, as President-elect, actively undermining the foreign policy of his predecessor? Are we a better republic for Reagan’s having cooperated/approved supplying arms to Contras in the Nicaraguan war? Well, that is the normalization of our republic left in Reagan’s wake.

The Reagan Legacy is a republic with a norm that applauds/approves the invasion and destruction of a country and culture based upon lies and fabrications regarding weapons of mass destruction. That is not the normal that assures me that I have less to fear from a diminished republic.

Karabe says that Trump has ‘tapped into a dark anger to an exceptional degree,’ but doubts this will lead down the “ugly road’ of earlier times and other countries. As an assurance that such is a mere possibility but not a probability, Karabe ends on the cheery note that ‘we have danced this dance before.”

A danse macabre  is hardly a reassuring image. It is a rite to drive home our fragile mortality, as individuals and republics.

 

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Whence Bends the Arc of Justice

Populism is a political construct in which it is asserted that ordinary people, regular people, have the right to order and control their own lives. Such an idea is not a bad one, with a provision or two, i.e., that regular people are committed to the common good and that this commitment is expressed by a homogeneous populace.

Ours is not such a populace. We are an amalgam of nativist, racist, self-interested, uneducated, educated, non-nativist, non-racist, other-regarding cultures, enclaves and geopolitical groupings. There is no such thing as American exceptionalism. We are like every other human population, a motley collection of diverse morals, abilities and interests struggling for 240 years to become a nation the ideal of which always looms beyond our reach. We do, from time to time, make progress in moving closer to that ideal but we also easily achieve a retrograde motion. That such inching backward is possible is now the threshold on which we stand.

The campaign rhetoric of our president-elect gave permission to nativist, racist and sexist elements among us regular people to voice fear, anger and bias and in doing so revealed the ugly truth about us that we’d prefer lay hidden. When we awakened Wednesday, November 9th, the only thing that had changed was that we could no longer deny America’s embarrassing identity. But no one familiar with Howard Zinn’s “People’s History of the United States” should have been all that surprised or shocked. Ours has always been an uphill effort to find the moral high ground. The arc bends toward justice only when we pull the bow in that direction. To suppose otherwise is magical thinking.

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Winnie-The-Pooh and the Election

The eve of the first day it started and has continued. Protest gatherings and marches across the country proclaim ‘Not My President.’ This is not simply sour grapes, it is some of the other half of the electorate giving voice to our deep resentment and revulsion that such a moral/ethical degenerate could become the President of the United States.

Yes, Bill Clinton was a moral/ethical embarrassment, but Bill’s sexual escapades  behind closed doors (and beneath desks) were mere adolescent sexual games compared to the bigotry, sexism, racism and xenophobia of D. J. Trump.

Progress in Feminism LGBT freedoms and race relations have been set back to the early 60s by Trump’s election, which is precisely what his supporters elected him to do. To pass off the motives of his supporters as the anguish of neglected and disillusioned white working-class males is to miss the point. Yes, there are a very large number of such working class deprived, but deprivation is not the reason for the weight of his win. It is depravity not deprivation, as was co-joined in the lyric of ‘West Side Story.’ A vast number of D. J. Trump supporters were in no way deprived. They are among the morally depraved who cannot abide the newer society evolving in which the liberation of women, Latinos, Blacks and anyone who differs from their notions of real traditional Americans.

I began to see this more clearly when an acquaintance complained that she, a college educated, white, female Trump supporter, was sick and tired of hearing the newscasters attribute Trump’s victory to less-educated white males. She seems obviously proud to be in the company of the depraved majority of Trump supporters. Heavens! We wouldn’t want her pigeon-holed with those deprived masses! She is much above that class!

Hillary was ‘right on’ with her description , with some modification. Some Trump supporters weren’t deplorable, no, they were among the great number of working class folk whose needs have been ignored. But those who do not live under that sign in the Thousand-Acre Wood cannot escape having their address labelled ‘Deplorable and Depraved.’

With news reports that ‘White Power’ signs appearing in Junior High Schools and people with brown skins being pulled from cars and being assaulted, pundits are beginning to speak of Trump’s election encouraging such morally retrograde behavior.

For both of President Obama’s terms, we have had to stand by and  watch a recalcitrant Republican Party attempt, most often successfully, thwart the President’s every effort. Now we are being asked by appeasers to recognize that yesterday is gone, to forgive and forget, to smile in a conciliatory mood and carry on as though the wound inflicted to our body politic is but a soon-healed knee-scrape.

The wound inflicted has been no accidental tumble. It has been inflicted by the deliberate actions of a very powerful bully. To let him and his ilk spread such attitudes and behavior without protest and intervention is moral cowardice.

 

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Trumpism

One of the really good bloggers, Toritto, has once again put it all in perspective. Read this and, by all means, play the ‘Horst Wessel Song’ at its conclusion, reading the English translation. If you do not see Trump-in-song, you simply cannot listen or read!

On May 14th last I put up a post which I entitled “The Authoritarian Personality.” In it I explored possible reasons why some voters consistently cast their ballots against their own se…

Source: Trumpism

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Gale Force Winds Forecast

‘Tricky Dick’ Nixon often gets credit for the Republican ‘Southern Strategy.’ His strategist, Kevin Phillips, gave clearest public voice to the strategy but trying to turn the conservative Southern Democrats to the Party of Lincoln had been going on , at least, since 1948. The Civil Rights Movement ignited southern animosity and those embers were fanned aflame with the Civil Right Act of 1964 and the Voting Right Act of 1965. President Johnson knew that the South had been lost with his signing the latter. In 1964 Goldwater took the deep South, then in 1968 Nixon and his advisors knew that those two Acts of Congress would drive more whites their way. The Confederate States of America had captured Lincoln’s Party just a bit more than a century following the Emancipation Proclamation.

At least since the Nixon campaign, the Republican Party has learned to tune-up the racial dog-whistles that have been readily heard by ears that resonate to bigotry. That now a candidate, Donald Trump, takes days and repeated confrontation from journalists before he repudiates the Klu Klux Klan should surprise no one.

And there is US Senator and Majority Leader McConnell in jowly-jawed protest insisting that support of the KKK has no place in the Republican Party. It is decades too late to attempt to change the face and stature of the Party, Mitch. The Hebrew Prophet, Hosea, warned a very long time ago: “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.” Hosea 8:7

Neither should it surprise the pundits and newscasters that Trump cleans the table. Had they been talking to my neighbors, out here in the Colonial Frontier, this land of out-of-workers, bill-capped-farmers-dependent-upon-Federal-largess-but-hating-welfarequeens and the armed-fearful-camo-clad with their Mossy-Oak values, way out here west of Philadelphia, they would have known that The Donald is their man.

Our Nation has survived severe storms in the past and we can again; let us hope.

 

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The Lust for Power

Fellow blogger ‘Toritto’ is an insightful and excellent writer. Take a look here at what he’s saying about The Donald. Could not say it better than he does!

Well folks, Donald Trump rolls on toward obtaining the nomination of the party of Lincoln while his two main rivals Cruz and Rubio continue to split the Trump opposition between them. Now I conside…

Source: The Lust for Power

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When to Disobey the Law

[The President] shall nominate, and, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

So reads Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the Constitution of the United States.

The late Justice Scalia, as an originalist, would insist that the plain meaning of the original words in that document are and shall always be the meaning of those words. The word ‘President’ means and shall always mean ‘President.’ The plain meaning of that word cannot be construed to mean ‘President-elect’ any more than it can be construed to mean ‘former-President.’ It plainly meant and means the President in office at the time of a vacancy for which an appointment is called. Justice Scalia was very clear that the Constitution is not a living document to be changed by textual whim.

The current whining insistence by Senator McConnell and others, that the President in office ought not make an appointment to fill Scalia’s vacancy is plainly either a blatant statement of disrespect for originalist theory or a blatant disregard for law, the fundamental law of our nation.

The Senate Majority Leader apparently thinks disobedience of the law is a matter of political convenience. While I do think the Constitution is a living document (the document defines itself as such by anticipating amendments), it is not so animated a document that it can be given a leave of absence by legislators for their party’s convenience.

Do your job, Senator McConnel, or leave it undone, but do not think for a moment that by not fulfilling your elected Constitutional responsibility you are innocent of breaking the law!

Oh, but I forgot, politicians are exempt from obeying laws; shame on me.

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Compromised Convention or Scary Socialism

Well, it is looking like we will have two choices in left-of-center candidates.

Hillary Clinton invites us to trust the status quo, to settle into stasis.

Bernie Sanders incites us to revolution, to radical change.

Hillary suggests we settle for working in partnership with The System for what is probable.

Bernie foments an uprising against a rigged system for what is possible.

Hillary affirms we participate in practical incremental reform.

Bernie asserts we join a rebellion against the patient progress that has left us in this mess .

‘Delegate equivalents,’ whatever-the-hell ever those are, give Hillary the lead out of Iowa but actual votes in New Hampshire will probably give the lead to Bernie.

So, it appears that we can choose a future that is yet to unfold or a future that has already happened. Back to the future is not an option for me.

Of course, to even think of the other Party is to long for a nostalgic past that looks like Reaganomics, sounds like Jim Crow and resembles the ‘Mission Accomplished’ of ‘W,’ ‘shock and awe’ and all.

I find it almost incomprehensible to imagine that anyone would consider anything that even resembles what we’ve had in the Bush-Obama continuum.

OK, Hillary has served well as Senator and as Secretary of State, and I do really want a woman as our Chief Executive, but the former First Lady is not the female who portends any change in our national identity. I’ll take an ageing, male, liberal Jew who sounds like he dozed off when FDR was President and awakened only recently to discover that nothing has changed in half a century.

 

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Several Days Late and Dollars Short

Today I received an email from ‘Faithful America’ lamenting the fact that Ted Cruz has claimed that Christians gave him the victory in Iowa. ‘Michael,’ of Faithful America, begs me to ‘chip in’ some small contribution to reclaim the faith for the real followers of Jesus.

Did it ever occur to ‘Michael’ that ‘Faithful America’ is very much several days late and several dollars short? The South and ‘Bible Belt Christianity’ was lost to ‘Faithful America’ in the late 19th Century. I’d say it was about the time of the election of an Ohioan, James Garfield, to the Presidency. Only States above the Mason-Dixon line elected him. The South was left to the Jim Crow suppression, humiliation and subjugation of the newly freed slaves. With Nixon’s southern strategy, the Republican Party became equal to and coincident with the Jim Crow South, thus finally, in the 20th Century, abandoning the proud heritage of the Party of Lincoln.

My own denomination, Methodists, split over the issue of slavery in 1844 (a bishop was a slaveholder!), into the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church South. The reunion of that denomination did not happen until 1939 when the two ‘Methodist’ (Wesley turned over several time in his grave) denominations formed ‘The Methodist Church.’ That glorious reunion was accomplished by the apartheid separation of ALL black congregations into a ‘separate but equal’ ‘jurisdiction.’ This moral blasphemy was not amended until 1964 when the ‘Central Jurisdiction’ (the apartheid jurisdiction) was eliminated (on paper).

The fault, dear ‘Michael’ (the name identified as representing Faithful America) lies not in our stars but in ourselves (to coin a phrase). It is the fault solely of Christianity at-large. Christianity at-large has abandoned the poor, the LBGT among us, Blacks, Latinos and the working class in favor of helping the Christian Institution survive. Too bad, but too late with any appeal to save the Church. The Church is gone. Good riddance!

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A Serving of Humble Pie

Every once in a while, I hear or read something that makes me pause and realize I’m not as damned smart as I think I am.

If Wikipedia is correct that that idiomatic phrase comes from the medieval usage of ‘umble pie,’ a dish of offals suitable only for the lower classes, I’m even more deserving of a large serving.

This has to do with my disdainful regard for those who flock to Trump rallies. Instead of taking seriously the reasons for so many feeling that The Donald is ‘one of  us,’ I’ve lumped the whole crowd into a category I can easily dismiss. They are all Duck-Dynasty Bubbas, the unwashed, possum-eatin’, gun-crazies. OK, evidently Senator Cruz is of the same opinion, since he’s been seen, shot-gun raised in a duck blind, dressed in his camo outfit.

I was somewhat jarred out of my liberal dismissal of those idiots when I read this

http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2016/01/donald-trump-and-politics-of-resentment.html

It is not that I hadn’t supposed that there is some raging undercurrent to which political demagoguery appeals, rather, in my retired, comfortable, almost-affluence, I’ve failed to see the plight of those so enraged. There are tens of thousands of working-class people in our towns and cities who would be thrilled to have a job that paid a steady income equivalent to my modest pension and Social Security check.

Yes, they wear Mossy Oak vests and caps instead of Dockers and Ralph Lauren, but they are nonetheless worthy of regard and respect. They may shop at Wal*Mart and ALDI but that does not make them some kind of Neanderthal subspecies, not fully homo sapiens. They may simply want their families to enjoy the comforts you and I take for granted.

We may well have come to a tipping point. When the molten cauldron of their resentment and rage erupts into a revolution, we may wish we had not been so dismissive of their culture and their plight.

If ALDI has humble pie in the frozen food section, I’ll get one on my next shopping trip.

 

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