Saturday, March 26, 2016

This Year's Partisan Landscape-- Shaken, Not Stirred


Much-admired Philadelphia writer and political independent, Will Bunch, changed his party registration on Tuesday so he could vote in Pennsylvania's April 26 closed primary. He's a freshly-minted Democrat, at least for now. Wednesday he told his readers why. Will's always been a progressive but he didn't feel comfortable with either corrupt political party. "In the 1990s," he wrote, "I covered the sleazeball political fundraising tactics of Bill Clinton (whom I couldn't even bring myself to vote for in 1996) and his Democratic National Committee cronies like Ed Rendell. I came to see that-- while the reactionary policies of the GOP would surely bring America back to the 19th Century-- the establishment of the Democratic Party had become obsessed with a) pulling in big donations and b) catering to those big-business donors, even if it screwed over the now-shrinking middle class that was supposed to be its backbone. Even the destructive presidency of George W. Bush and his immoral Iraq War did not drive me into the arms of a Democratic Party whose leadership had sold its mortal soul for a few large PAC donations."
2016 is the most important presidential election of my lifetime... and yours. America has come to a triple fork in the highway of democracy: The choices are dangerous demagoguery and steep moral decline, or a corrupt status quo, or, finally, a real way forward for the middle class. Hanging in the balance is whether the United States can again become a beacon of hope for the rest of the world...or an international punchline. I put an enormous value on my independence, especially as a journalist. But I place an even higher value on my American citizenship, and my right to vote. This is not a time for intellectual detachment. The stakes-- for my children and their children-- are too high. I cannot sit on the sidelines.

...In 34 days, I plan to cast a ballot for the only candidate in the 2016 race with more-than 50-year record of saying what he actually believes and then fighting like hell to make those beliefs happen, the only candidate who understands that health care and advanced education aren't just a necessity in the 21st Century but a basic human right, and the only candidate who's made it this far without kowtowing to the billionaire donor class and the hedge-fund interests on Wall Street.

On April 26, I am going to vote for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders as if my life depended on it. It's just that important.

Goal Thermometer The two viable Republican candidates for the presidency, Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, would send the United States not just hurtling backward, but toward dangerous uncharted waters in which the very notion of American democracy would be thrashing about, gasping for air. The indictment against both candidates-- especially the buffoonishly under-qualified Trump-- has been laid out here and on countless other sites for months. Stated simply, Trump's blatant appeals to rank racism and xenophobia, his embrace of brownshirt-style violence, and his stunning lack of knowledge on a range of issues makes him the made-in-America brand of neo-fascism that pundits so naively thought could never happen here. Cruz is more polished but every bit as dangerous; his most recent proposal to have special police patrols of U.S. Muslim neighborhoods smacks of the "Jewish Ghetto Patrols" instituted by the Nazis. It is my prayer that the Trumpism and Cruzism will be remembered as short-lived nightmares, temporary spasms of American insanity.

The Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, would move America...sideways, at best. The former secretary of state is flying the flag of the status quo at a moment when the vast majority of Americans want nothing to do with things as usual. In 2016, she has run as a total cipher; she steals Sanders' best progressive ideas when the race is close, then runs back to the political center-right whenever she can, raising money from fossil-fuel-drenched hedge-fund billionaires and giving militaristic Trump-lite speeches to the pro-Israel lobby. I honestly don't know where Hillary Clinton would go as president. But I know where she's been along with her husband, the ex-president these last couple of years-- gobbling up obscene fees from Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs and other moneyed special interests in return for giving them short, canned speeches. I'm old, but I'm not so old that I don't remember what motivated me to go into journalism after the Watergate scandals. It was to expose the kind of unethical behavior that Hillary and Bill Clinton engage in on a regular basis.

The contrast between how Clinton is running her campaign and the political revolution of Bernie Sanders is stunning. In addition to the billionaire supporters of pro-Clinton Super-PACs, I saw today that 51 percent of Clinton's donations have been at the wealthier individual max of $2,700, compared to just 3 percent of Sanders contributors. This may be Sanders' most revolutionary achievement of all-- raising money from more than 2 million individuals, some giving more than once, at an average of $27 a pop, because his donors believe so strongly in his crusade to take America back from the oligarchs. Although a close second would be the staggering crowds of people, young and old, that he has turned out for his rallies from Maine to Seattle to New Orleans.

These things have happened because he hasn't just given voters the best ideas of the 2016 campaign. For the first time in decades, he has given millions of people-- from the young and idealistic to the old and formerly disillusioned-- the one thing that's even more important, a reason to believe.

Bunch isn't the only one concerned enough about Trump (or Cruz) to consider changing their voting habits. Thursday The Hill reported that many from the GOP foreign policy establishment would support Clinton over Trump. Bryan McGrath, a Hudson Institute national security consultant, and Eliot Cohen, a former Bush adviser and Rubio backer, penned an open letter signed by more than 120 members of the Republican foreign policy establishment opposing Trump, declaring that he's unfit to be president because his views of American power are "wildly inconsistent and unmoored in principle."
Several admit that if absolutely forced to choose between Trump and Clinton, they would pick the former secretary of State.  “I’ll never support Trump, period. If the only choices I’m offered is between Hillary and Trump, I’ll go for Hillary,” said Cohen, who said he’s hoping for a third possibility or a write-in.  One pointed to Clinton’s speech earlier this week at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, saying it was relatively well received and could have been delivered by Rubio.  McGrath said he would vote for Clinton if he “got a gun held to my head” and was forced to choose only between her and Trump. He added that in reality, however, he would write in a name.  But, he added, “on foreign and defense policy, I at least trust Hillary’s judgment.”  McGrath isn’t alone. “If it’s between Trump and Clinton, I will vote for Clinton,” [Rubio backer and Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy Professor Daniel] Drezner said.
Has Don Trump figured out how to dispose of Lyin' Ted Cruz?

Meanwhile the Rove operation, the Chamber of Commerce, the Koch network and other big GOP moneybags are planning to spend heavily to help insulate vulnerable congressional GOP incumbents from what they think will be Trump's reverse coattails. Writng for the Washington Post, Matea Gold and Paul Kane reported on fears that the Republicans could lose control of Congress with Trump at the top of the ticket. "The anxiet," they wrote, "about Trump’s potential spillover effect on down-ballot races was underscored Wednesday when House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin lamented the 'disheartened' state of the campaign and criticized the “identity politics” on display in the increasingly toxic race for the GOP presidential nomination."
A key element of the strategy will be a springtime wave of television ads that slam Democratic contenders and tout Republican incumbents as attuned to hometown concerns. Strategists hope the efforts will help inoculate congressional candidates against association with Trump’s incendiary remarks.

“If there are crosscurrents that are potentially harmful, the most important thing you can do is aggressively localize the race — the things that matter back home, the problems you’re solving,” said Steven Law, a former top aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who leads the American Crossroads super PAC and a suite of related groups.

...The party can afford to lose only three seats to stay in the majority, and at least two incumbents are already facing difficulties: Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), whose state is seen as a prime pickup opportunity for Democrats, and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who is struggling in the polls. Five more GOP seats are up for grabs in states that President Obama won twice, including some, like Pennsylvania, by comfortable margins.

“Loud foot­steps up­stairs in the pres­id­en­tial race could eas­ily shake the Sen­ate races be­low,” veteran analyst Charlie Cook wrote this week, adding that if the GOP loses the White House by a larger margin than it did in 2008 or 2012, “hanging onto the Sen­ate would be a long shot at best.”

If Trump is the nominee, Democrats have already signaled that they plan to try to link him to every Republican running this fall. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has rolled out a “Party of Trump” campaign dubbing GOP candidates as “Retrumplicans.”
It's raining Retrumplicans

If Trump is the nominee, some Republicans are already whispering among themselves that they'd rather vote for Bernie-- or even Hillary. Thursday, Carlos Curbelo, a hyper-partisan, garden variety conservative from Miami, admitted he's considering voting for Hillary-- pretty garden variety conservative herself, at least on economic issues-- instead of Trump. Curbelo: "Both Donald Trump and Mrs. Clinton are flawed candidates. If you looks at the polls, the majority of Americans have negative views on both of them. So I am going to wait and see what happens on our side, but I have already said I will not support Mr. Trump. That is not a political decision; that is a moral decision." Maryland's conservative Republican governor, Larry Hogan, also says he might vote for Bernie or Hillary and won't even go to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home