Wednesday, June 01, 2016

#NeverTrump Flopped For The GOP-- Will It Help The Democrats Save America From Trump And The Trumpists?


Conventional wisdom, which isn't always wrong-- says that Hillary will win the nomination and that most of Bernie's supporters will coalesce around her to stop Trump. As the #NeverTrump movement dies off among conservatives, it's strengthening not just among partisan Democrats but among progressives. Over the Memorial weekend, Berniecrat Robert Reich wrote that if Hillary wins the nomination, Bernie supporters must get behind her "for the good of the nation."
Some of you say that refusing to fight for or even vote for Hillary will show the Democratic political establishment why it must change its ways.

But the “Democratic political establishment” is nothing but a bunch of people, many of them big donors and fundraisers occupying comfortable and privileged positions, who won’t even be aware that you’ve decided to sit it out-- unless Hillary loses to Donald Trump.

Which brings me to those of you who say there’s no real difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

That’s just plain wrong. Trump has revealed himself to be a narcissistic, xenophobic, hatemonger who, if elected, would legitimize bigotry, appoint Supreme Court justices with terrible values, and have direct access to the button that could set off a nuclear war.

Hillary may not possess Bernie Sanders’s indignation about the rigging of our economy and democracy, or be willing to go as far in remedying it, but she’s shown herself a capable and responsible leader.

Goal Thermometer Some of you agree a Trump presidency would be a disaster but claim it would galvanize a forceful progressive movement in response.

That’s unlikely. Rarely if ever in history has a sharp swing to the right moved the political pendulum further back in the opposite direction. Instead, it tends to move the “center” rightward, as did Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

Besides, Trump could do huge and unalterable damage to America and the world in the meantime.

Finally, some of you say even if Hillary is better than Trump, you’re tired of choosing the “lesser of two evils,” and you’re going to vote your conscience by either writing Bernie’s name in, or voting for the Green Party candidate, or not voting at all.

I can’t criticize anyone for voting their conscience, of course. But your conscience should know that a decision not to vote for Hillary, should she become the Democratic nominee, is a de facto decision to help Donald Trump.
Democrats and progressives will be hearing a lot of that-- and intensely-- for the next few months if Hillary is the nominee. #NeverTrump Republicans have a different perspective, a prospective that was shared by the Washington Post Monday by evangelical opinion-writer, former chief speechwriter for George W. Bush, Michael Gerson. It's the flip-side of Robert Reich's argument: "Republicans have not been given the option of choosing the lesser of two evils. The GOP has selected someone who is unfit to be president, lacking the temperament, stability, judgment and compassion to occupy the office. This is a terrible error, which has probably cost conservatives a majority on the Supreme Court. But the mistake was made by Republican primary voters in choosing Trump-- not by those who can’t, in good conscience, support him."

Keep in mind this is coming from someone who actually believes Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio, posing as public thinkers, are "the intellectually serious reformicons." He's sad they're "bending their knee to the worst nominee in their party’s history" and writes their decision "will be one of the worst mistakes of their careers."
Trump attacked the Republican governor of New Mexico, Susana Martinez, for allowing Syrian refugees to be “relocated in large numbers” to her state. “If I was governor,” he said, “that wouldn’t be happening.”

The attack on Martinez demonstrated another less-than-desirable leadership quality. Trump’s charge against her had nothing to do with refugee policy. During her time as governor, just 10 Syrian refugees have been relocated to New Mexico. Trump was attempting to punish Martinez because she has been noncommittal about endorsing him. In making judgments about people, Trump’s primary measure is not ideological or even political. He likes people who support him and disdains people who don’t. So Martinez and liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) are lumped in the same category of lèse-majesté. It doesn’t matter that Martinez is known as an effective Republican governor. Trump demands the unity of adulation. He is incapable of magnanimity.

And this meanness of spirit is also applied to some of the most vulnerable people in the world. Trump’s mention of refugees was a subterfuge, but still a damaging one. To score his political point, Trump chose to heap disdain on a few people-- vetted for years before arrival-- who seek the protection of the United States after a terrible ordeal. Can you imagine, say, Ronald Reagan attacking women and children fleeing violence and oppression? They would more likely be used as an inspiring speech illustration. For Trump, the bully, a trickle of refugees is another chance to kick the weak.

Republicans are testing out a theory. “What Trump is doing,” argues Peter Wehner of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, “is exactly what Rush Limbaugh and others have been begging Republican presidential candidates to do-- to run a brutal, scorched-earth, anything-goes campaign. They now have their man.” So, is the nation longing for more invective, more viciousness, more accusations of scandal and conspiracy? A strong plurality of voters in Republican primaries seemed to agree. We will now see how the national electorate responds. As a starting move, Trump has accused Bill Clinton of rape and intimated that the Clintons are guilty of murder. It is hard to imagine going lower from here, but Trump will surely manage.

Some Republicans keep expecting Trump to finally remove the mask of misogyny, prejudice and cruelty and act in a more presidential manner. But it is not a mask. It is his true face. Good Republican leaders making the decision to support Trump will end up either humiliated by the association, or betrayed and attacked for criticizing the great leader. Trump leaves no other options.
Yesterday another conservative #NeverTrumpist, David Frum, was plotzing because the Wall Street Journal is drifting in a Trump direction. "Here’s the part of the 2016 story," he wrote, "that will be hardest to explain after it’s all over: Trump did not deceive anyone. Unlike, say, Sarah Palin in 2008, Trump appeared before the electorate in his own clothes, speaking his own words. When he issued a promise, he instantly contradicted it. If you chose to accept the promise anyway, you did so with abundant notice of its worthlessness. For all the times Trump said believe me and trust me in his salesman patter, he communicated constantly and in every medium that there was only thing you could believe and trust: If you voted for Donald Trump, you’d get Donald Trump, in all his Trumpery and Trumpiness... Whatever happens in November, conservatives and Republicans will have brought a catastrophe upon themselves, in violation of their own stated principles and best judgment. It’s often said that a good con is based upon the victim’s weaknesses. Why were conservatives and Republicans so vulnerable?"
The television networks that promoted Trump; the primary voters who elevated him; the politicians who eventually surrendered to him; the intellectuals who argued for him, and the donors who, however grudgingly, wrote checks to him-- all of them knew, by the time they made their decisions, that Trump lied all the time, about everything. They knew that Trump was ignorant, and coarse, and boastful, and cruel. They knew he habitually sympathized with dictators and kleptocrats-- and that his instinct when confronted with criticism of himself was to attack, vilify, and suppress. They knew his disrespect for women, the disabled, and ethnic and religious minorities. They knew that he wished to unravel NATO and other U.S.-led alliances, and that he speculated aloud about partial default on American financial obligations. None of that dissuaded or deterred them.
Frum goes on to explain 7 broken guardrails that left his beloved party open to a takeover by Trump at the head of the loutish mob"

The first guardrail to go missing was the old set of expectations about how a candidate for president of the United States should speak and act. He points out that Herr Trumpf "exemplifies what millions of parents would fear in their sons: the bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third-grade theatrics."

The second broken guardrail is the expectation of some measure of trustworthiness in politicians. He says "outright lying" is rarer in politics than most of us assume. But, as no one paying attention can deny, "Trump’s dishonesty, however, is qualitatively different than anything before seen from a major-party nominee." And he cites Senator Cruz, less than a month ago, to prove his point: "Whatever lie he’s telling, in that minute he believes it. But the man is utterly amoral. Morality does not exist for him."

A third broken guardrail is the expectation that a potential president should possess deep-- or at least adequate-- knowledge of public affairs. "Trump is surely the most policy-ignorant major party nominee of modern times, or perhaps of any time. As with the lies, it’s almost impossible to keep track of the revelations of gaps in his knowledge... What’s different now is the massive Republican and conservative rejection of the idea that a candidate for president should know anything substantive about governing at all... Over the past three cycles, Republicans have elevated a succession of manifestly unqualified people to high places in their national politics. Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann shot to stardom in the Tea Party era. For a brief period in late 2015, Ben Carson led the Republican polls-- Carson being the only candidate who made even Donald Trump look knowledgeable by comparison. Government is a complex science and a sophisticated art. Its details matter, its trade-offs reverberate into four and five dimensions."

The fourth broken guardrail was conservative ideology and Frum says that one snapped "because so much of the ideology itself had long since ceased to be relevant to the lives of so many Republican primary voters. Instead of a political program, conservatism had become an individual identity... Trump may not be much of a conservative by conviction. But he functions as a conservative in silhouette, defined by the animosity of all the groups that revile him.

Numero cinco: GOP belief that the party stands for "the primacy of national security concerns. Trump has no relevant experience, no military record, scant interest in the topic-- and a long history of casual expressions of sympathy for authoritarian rulers. He famously explained that he gets his military advice from TV talk shows. The most recent Republican secretary of defense, Bob Gates, told Yahoo’s Katie Couric that he would not, at present, feel comfortable with Donald Trump’s finger on the nuclear button... Trump’s ramshackle statements do present a coherent point of view. His instinct is always to abandon friends and allies, to smash up alliances that have kept the peace, to leave the world to fend for itself against aggressors and predators."

#6 is Frum's own delusion that Republicans actually have "a deep belief in tolerance and non-discrimination for Americans of all faiths, creeds, and origin." Like Trump, most actual Republicans don't. That's why they're Republicans. It's hard to face up to but... well, David, man up... that's your political party. "Disrespect for targeted groups-- including the very biggest of them all, women-- has been the recurring theme of the Trump candidacy. Even many Republicans who have accepted Trump are left uneasy by the candidate’s tone and associations. Trump himself is trying to retrace some ground, tweeting an image of himself eating a taco bowl and explaining to Fox’s Greta van Sustern that he’d wish to 'back off' a ban on Muslim entry into the United States 'as soon as possible.' Trump has appealed to white identity more explicitly than any national political figure since George Wallace... Trump is running not to be president of all Americans, but to be the clan leader of white Americans. Those white Americans who respond to his message hear his abusive comments, not as evidence of his unfitness for office, but as proof of his commitment to their tribe.

Frum wrote that his 7th broken guardrail is the "most ominous" and it really comes down to the off-the-rails hyper-partisanship the GOP has been fostering for decades. The Republicans created it and it created Trump-- enjoy! "Many conservatives and Republicans," he wrote, "recognize Trump as a disaster for their institutions and their ideals. Yet they have found it impossible to protect things they hold dear-- in large part because they have continue to fix all blame outward and elsewhere... Policy, however, is not the first or second or third impetus of the Trump campaign. It’s driven by something else-- and the source of that something is found inside the conservative and Republican world, not outside. The Trump phenomenon is the effect of many causes. Yet overhanging all the causes is the central question: Why did Republicans and conservatives react to those causes as they did? There were alternatives. Of all the alternatives for their post-Obama future, Republicans and conservatives selected the most self-destructive of the options before them. Why? What went wrong? That will be the excruciating mystery to ponder during the long and difficult work of reconstruction ahead."

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At 1:34 AM, Blogger Jan said...

This is the closest Democrats have ever come to selecting an honest presidential candidate in my seven decades. More than half of us chose Bernie when we got to know him. The timing was a little off. We're almost there. Don't give up now. 2020 is our year.


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