Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Sometimes There Just Really Is No Lesser Evil-- The Down With Tyranny Final Endorsements For 2016


This morning weather is conducive to voting... just about everywhere except Ohio. And there was a big earthquake in Fracklahoma that may keep people in Pawnee and Payne counties, near Tulsa, from voting. (In 2012 Romney won both-- Pawnee with 70% and Payne with 64%-- but Trump will win Fracklahoma by a wide margin. It's his kind of state.)

If you're a regular reader of this blog-- or even an occasional reader-- you know this is Bernie Sanders territory. There's no sense of enthusiasm, beyond the important symbolic nature of a woman finally breaking through the ultimate glass ceiling, for a corrupt Establishment candidate like Clinton around here. If she were merely the lesser of two evils, I'd suggest not voting because a vote for a lesser evil is still a vote for evil. And, living in safely blue California-- where Trump will be lucky to break 30% today-- I'm voting for a different kind of symbol: Jill Stein. I don't consider Stein any more than a vehicle for a message to the Democratic Party: namely that they'll have my vote when they nominate progressives and reformers. But, if I lived in a swing state-- say New Hampshire, Iowa, Ohio, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Colorado, even Utah-- I'd take the clothespin to the polls today and vote for her. That's because Trump is an existential threat to America, to democracy, to mankind. It's beyond a lesser or greater evil. As flawed as Hillary is-- and we spent the entire primary season emphasizing these flaws-- she's a godsend compared to Trump, a modern day Hitler type character and unfit for any kind of public office. Vote for her gladly if you're in a state that can make a difference in saving the country. That said, this doesn't sound sincere to me. Does it to you?

Greg Sargent's final plea against Trumpism yesterday is worth reading if can can get through The Post's pay-wall. It's one of many well-crafted pieces these last few days warning on the serious danger Trump poses to America. I chose this one as an example because I love the chart Greg made (below):
At the heart of Trump’s case for the presidency lies two components. The first is a hyper-exaggerated narrative of national decay and decline-- skyrocketing crime, rotting inner cities, decaying factories, a festering terror threat from within, a border that is being breached by dark hordes of invaders. The second is the notion that our elites are both fecklessly responsible for that perilous state of national decline and too corrupted to fix it-- they’ve rigged the system against you, undermining American sovereignty to enrich themselves, while allowing American identity to be degraded by immigrants who are at best parasitic and at worst a lethal threat.

But Trump’s diagnosis runs deeper than that. His argument is not simply that elites are ripping you off from above while enabling those subgroups to rip you off and threaten you from below. Rather, the truly pernicious component of Trump’s argument is that our institutions and our democracy have themselves grown so hopelessly corrupted and compromised that they are no longer even capable of arresting and turning around that decline via conventional democratic processes. The only outcome that can change this state of affairs is electing him president. Any other outcome would confirm that our system has been so corrupted that it is fundamentally no longer capable of producing legitimate political outcomes.

Trump sometimes expresses this idea explicitly, and sometimes implicitly. But it is the thread that runs through everything he has been saying and promising for months:

... Trump’s narrative of national decline is rank propaganda. Trump’s regular claims about skyrocketing crime and soaring murder rates are distortions and lies. His relentless claim that the border is being overrun is a Big Lie, too-- immigration rates have leveled off and experts have said the border is being managed.

Trump speaks to legitimate economic grievances. But his trade bluster suggests he would likely start destructive trade wars, and his promise to bring back coal mining jobs to suffering communities is a cruel hoax. He is both selling an agenda that is pure fraudulence and exploiting legit grievances with xenophobia, nativism, and white nationalism, all of which rest upon a narrative of national decline that is a fever dream of invention. Which leads to the fact that…

Trump has repeatedly and explicitly said that if he is elected, he will have no choice but to resort to measures well outside our political norms and democratic processes. The vow of mass deportations promises unthinkably cruel disruptions that even many Republicans who oppose legalization have rejected. He’s banned media organizations from his rallies, egged on supporters against reporters just doing their jobs, and promised to somehow open up libel law to restrict criticism. His proposed ban on Muslims would impose a religious test for entry. He’s flirted with closing mosques and a Muslim registry.

In a quote that never got the attention it deserved, Trump even explicitly said this of the terror threat: “We’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.” Why should we not believe he means what he says? And who wants to find out what “unthinkable” things Trump has in mind?

Trump’s narrative charges that elites are complicit in enabling outgroups to fleece you and weaken our American (and white) identity. Trump says the media is covering up the truth about the thousands of American Muslims who celebrated 9/11. That our elections officials are allowing rampant voter fraud in “certain areas” (wink, wink), in order to throw the “rigged” presidential election to the candidate not legitimately chosen by the American people. And that our political leaders are letting in illegal immigrants so they too can nefariously influence the election’s outcome, a story that the media is also suppressing.

The sheer volume and truly destructive nature of his demagoguery and lies about our institutions is alone-- or should be-- disqualifying.

All roads lead to “I alone can fix it.” That was probably Trump’s single most telling declaration of the campaign. But it must be understood in the broader context of Trump’s ongoing claims that our democratic institutions are so corrupted and corroded that they are no longer capable of solving our problems.

Thus, “I alone can fix it” has two interrelated meanings. It means that, if elected, he would likely shred political and constitutional norms and resort to extreme measures to deal with terrorism and immigration (which our institutions can no longer cope with) and our treasonous media. It also means that, if he is not elected, it will prove that our system is no longer capable of not just addressing our problems, but of producing political outcomes that are legitimate.

This is intimately bound up with Trump’s shifting reactions to the FBI’s treatment of Clinton. Back when the FBI originally declined to recommend charges, Trump went on a tear about how the “corrupt” FBI is participating in rigging the election. Then, when the FBI announced its new discovery, Trump said the FBI was heroically trying to correct its original wrong. And now that the FBI has not found anything to derail her candidacy, Trump is back to claiming that she is being “protected.” Trump regularly says Clinton is a criminal who never should have allowed to run for office at all. But his argument goes farther still. He is claiming that our institutions cannot legitimately clear his political opponent of criminality. That is an objective description of his argument.

All of this is plainly designed to badly undermine faith in our institutions-- no matter who wins the election. Trump has explicitly said that he may not accept the outcome if he loses, which raises the prospect of further disruptions. But should he win, he has already made his intentions-- to act in full accordance with his contempt for those institutions-- absolutely clear. Maybe Trump is just putting on a big show. But why should we not entertain the possibility that he might mean what he says?

There has been a great deal of debate over whether our institutions are strong enough to withstand a Trump presidency. We can only hope that a majority of voters are horrified by the prospect of ever discovering the answer to that question, and make their choice accordingly.
Now, let's move on to Congress. The closest DWT has ever come to endorsing a Republican was in 2012 when we pointed out that the bigoted, right-wing idiot the Democrats had nominated to run against Justin Amash, Steve Pestka, was a worse choice. Pestka was endorsed by the local anti-choice groups in Michigan because they viewed Amash as a moderate on Choice and Pestka as a true believer. During the primary, Pestka had referred to his gay primary opponent as "a fudge-packer." Amash is a smart guy interested in solving real problems for the American people. Pestka is a worthless and very mediocre careerist looking for an angle. Amash was certainly the lesser of two evils in that race. He and Walter Jones (R-NC) are the only two Republicans running for seats in either House of Congress even worth looking at. Here's the brief reason why:

There are many races that are not forcing voters to pick between relative evils. First the Senate. Where Schumer has manipulated the process and imposed his Wall Street-friendly nominees-- Patrick Murphy (FL), Patty Judge (IA), Ted Strickland (OH), Evan Bayh (IN), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ), Katie McGinty (PA)-- it looks bad for Democrats. This candidates have one thing to offer: "my opponent is even worse than I am." And in Murphy's case... well, that's too tough a call. There's nothing that would ever get me to vote for garbage like Patrick Murphy, not even the threat of another 6 putrid years of Marco Rubio. No, the Senate races where Democratic wins would enhance the public good are far and in between: Russ Feingold in Wisconsin, Misty K Snow in Utah and Alaska's Ray Metcalfe. I suppose there's a chance Kamala Harris and Deborah Ross could turn out OK. Schumer destroyed the cycle, all for the sake of his Wall Street paymasters.

Over in the House, there are a number of inspiring races to watch tonight. Here are the dozen I think most important in terms of either producing the next generation of Democratic House leadership or ending the careers of especially heinous right-wing Republicans:
NY19- Zephyr Teachout
WA-07- Pramila Jayapal
NV-04- Ruben Kihuen
MD-08- Jamie Raskin
MI-06- Paul Clements
PA-07- Mary Ellen Balchunis
TX-21- Tom Wakely
CA-49- Doug Applegate
NY-02- DuWayne Gregory
NY-03- Tom Suozzi
CA-44- Nanette Barragan
NH-01- Carol Shea Porter

House Democrats and House Democratic candidates who progressives should just not vote for-- the dozen worst incumbents, followed by the dozen worst non-incumbents:
AZ-09- Kyrsten Sinema
NE-02- Brad Ashford
TX-28- Henry Cuellar
CA-07- Ami Bera
CA-16- Jim Costa
CA-31- Pete Aguilar
NY-18- Sean Patrick Maloney
MN-07- Collin Peterson
IL-03- Dan Lipinski
OR-05- Kurt Schrader
TX-34- Filemon Vela
IL-17- Cheri Bustos
And now the newbies, hoping to be as vile and destructive as the ones above, all careerists, all reeking of corruption, all part of the descent of the Democratic Party into the bowels of corporate hell. This is the future of the Republican wing of the Democratic Party if they win tomorrow, as many of them will:
TX-23- Pete Gallego
FL-26- Joe Garcia
FL-18- Randall Perkins
NJ-05- Josh Gottheimer
MI-01- Lon Johnson
TX-15- Vicente Gonzalez
CA-46- Lou Correa
CA-44- Isadore Hall
AZ-01- Tom O'Halleran
IA-01- Monica Vernon
IL-10- Brad Schneider
NY-22- Kim Myers
There than that, just vote blue-- and hope you luck out with more like Mary Hoeft (D-WI) and Janet Garrett (D-OH) and fewer like John Delaney (D-MD) and Scott Peters (D-CA).

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At 7:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem is, at the end of the day your progressive views (and mine) mean nothing to the leaders of the Democratic party. They will continue to move further and further right and destroy everything you and I believe in. And progressives will not be able to stop them. TPP and all its ilk will pass. Corporate taxes will be slashed. Social Security will be gutted. Wars will be started everywhere. Tens of millions, maybe even more, will fall into poverty and worse. This is what lesser evilism has led to.

And the only thing you will have done is given cover to their process since they absolutely will claim they 'feel your pain' based on your work, but not theirs. Count on it.

At 8:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bring back million person protest marches in Washington. That would make a big statement that could not be ignored. Why haven't students marched about their loan predicaments and costs of college? Too busy working their iPhones.

And forget that Jill Stein protest vote to give a message! The Dems could not care less and it will only help Trump.

At 9:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm voting Jill stein not to deliver a message but to vote for the best possible candidate. Too bad most liberals/progressives like you have completely forgotten this.

At 7:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jill stein - best for what?


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