Issues, Policy, and Politics – Parts 11 & 12

The following was originally posted on Facebook.

Since some of you don’t follow FB, I thought I would repeat this series here.

Part 11
Actions vs Consequences

To be brutally honest with ourselves, we must admit that the election of Barrack Obama to the presidency divided the country in a way we had not seen before and that we did not expect. It galvanized a portion of the country into blind opposition from the day he took office. They were livid that we could elect that N*****. They questioned his legitimacy, they called his wife names, and they refused to cooperate with anything he proposed. This is all hard to hear; it is hard to say. It is, however, true.

Prior to the election there had been warnings that this might happen. Some openly questioned whether the nation was ready for a black president. And yet, he was elected. He was elected because the majority thought it was the right thing to do; that he was the best man for the job. Some ignored the entire race issue because they saw it as racist. Others recognized it but saw it as being outweighed by other issues.

But race was a huge issue, and the consequences of Obama’s election are what we live with now. Should we not have elected him because we suspected that these consequences would arise?

The Obama presidency will be seen by history as one of the best we have had, despite the efforts of the Republican and Evangelical right to thwart him at every turn. Should we have considered more fully before electing him that this act might take us to Donald Trump in 2016? If we had elected John and Sarah, would that have spared us Trump?

We know that actions have consequences. If we foresee consequences we do not like, does that mean we should not act? Or act differently?

This is the key issue the democrats face as they read the Mueller report and consider whether they should open impeachment proceedings against Trump.

Some democrats are arguing that impeachment would be a waste of time because the senate would never convict, and Trump would be exonerated. They believe that as a consequence of that failure to convict, Trump’s chances of re-election would be enhanced. That would mean the statute of limitations on the obstruction charges would run out before the end of Trump’s second term.

It does seem clear that the senate would not convict. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said recently, “Well, look, I think it’s time to move on,” Mr. McConnell told reporters after an event in Owensboro, Ky. “This investigation was about collusion — there’s no collusion, no charges brought against the president on anything else. And I think the American people have had quite enough of it.”

The Mueller report makes it clear that they did not investigate “collusion,” and spells out the reasons no charges were brought while specifically stating that the president was not exonerated. Whether or not the American people have “had quite enough of it” or not, you would be hard pressed to prove that.

Mitch IS up for re-election, however.

This is the official method of the right. Lie, misdirect, and spin.

Other democrats feel that it is the duty of the congress to begin impeachment proceedings because that is their charge under the rule of law, their duty under the constitution. They point out that we are either a nation of laws or we are not. We cannot consider possible consequences we may not like. They contend that no man is above the law, not even a president and that the Mueller report is a map for congress to use in order to exercise its oversight duties.

If the congress were to remove Trump before from the presidency before the statute of limitations is up, criminal indictments could be filed. Others argue that a consequence of removing Trump would be that Pence would take over and that he is no better and in some respect, worse.

So what to do?

Let’s look at a hypothetical. Assume Trump will be the republican candidate. Assume that the democrats decide to nominate a woman candidate. There are those who will tell you that a woman would have a very hard time winning against Trump in 2020. The experience of Hillary Clinton is raised. The current poor showing of the women candidates in the polls so far is also cited.

Does that mean we cannot nominate a woman? Does that mean there will be the same sort of reaction to a woman president that there was to a black president, and even if there might be, should we not do it based on those possible consequences? Do the practical, political concerns override our desire to elect the best possible candidate, the one who could do the most for the country? The one who can contribute positively toward solving our problems?

Today, most everyone left of center will claim they believe that men and women should be treated equally. The place of women in our society may not bear that out, but it is generally accepted ideology on the left. The far right still believes that a woman is a helpmate. Her place is in the home, raising babies. She has no place in business, let alone the White House.

Do we have to take polls to see if enough people would vote for a woman before we nominate one? Those who say that democrats lose because they are too much on the side of the moral high ground and ignore practicality will not want a woman candidate. The right will not want a woman candidate.

Another hypothetical: If it is going to be hard for a woman to win in 2020, how much harder will it be for an openly gay candidate. Must we pass over a highly qualified gay candidate? There are polls that say a majority of people would support a gay candidate. I have no idea where these polls were taken. Texas? Alabama? Florida? Anywhere the Evangelical right holds sway? You know, the guys who say electing a gay candidate would create a “homocracy” in this country.

If a woman would have a hard time winning against Trump, how do you think a gay would fare? How about a gay woman? How about a Muslim gay woman?

We have to decide what is right and what isn’t. We all say we have done that, but most of us have not.

If bringing impeachment proceedings against the president could bring bad consequences, but bringing those proceedings is the right thing to do under the constitution and the law, cannot we address the consequences early enough to help mitigate them?

If the president HAS committed obstruction, and the Mueller report lays out at least 4 counts where that is true, and if we are a nation of laws and a constitutional government, how can congress NOT bring impeachment proceedings?

While acting rashly or out of hatred or frustration is not called for, if the investigations into Trump’s wrong-doings convince the house of representatives that he is guilty of “high crimes or misdemeanors,” are they not obligated to act? Isn’t that an entirely separate issue from whether the senate would convict?

These issues must be faced shortly. Time waits for no one, not even congress.

Issues, Policy, and Politics – Part 12
E Pluribus Unum

 I started with the idea that we had serious problems to be solved and that we did not have a government capable of solving them. That’s actually the Alpha problem.

One of the greatest impediments to solving the Alpha problem is our political structure itself. It has evolved to make itself resistant to change, like a rogue bacteria is resistant to antibiotics. The interests of personal gain form a sort of shield, protecting the system itself from change.

But there is another, more insidious problem. It is difficult to explain and it has more to do with human nature than politics, per se. Simplifications will have to suffice. Simply put, the problem is people. Call it the Alpha Prime problem.

There are two types of people in the electorate: those who believe what they are told and do what they are told by those in power, and those who try, to different degrees of success, to think for themselves and draw valid conclusions, regardless of what those in power tell them.

Those in power, let’s say party leadership, need only to decide on what they want their electorate to do, present a unified message, and the votes materialize within the first group.

It doesn’t work that way for that other group. Since so many people feel free to decide for themselves what is true and what is not; what is important and what is not, even to the point of deciding what problems deserve to be considered and what problems aren’t worth bothering with, arriving at any sort of unity is difficult if not impossible. This group talks about freedom of choice and their “right to be heard” as if these were basic tenets in some political religion. These people will NOT be dictated to. Some of them have trouble telling the difference between being dictated to and being presented with a logical argument. This has been said over and over, but it is crucial to understanding our future.

The democratic presidential field now has 20 candidates and it continues to grow. Each of these candidates has their favorite issues, their ideas about what problems are important and deserve priority and which do not. And each of these candidates is seeking followers, believers.

Many are lightweights and will fall by the wayside early in the election process. Some are seasoned political pros who will not. There will be speeches and there will be debates. The media will dig into the lives of each candidate (because that’s what they can and should do) and we are bound to learn some juicy stuff here and there.

Unless all the candidates choose to take the “high road,” you may see some mud slinging.

And then we will have a primary and someone will win and the others will lose in each state. And then there will be a convention and the party nominee will emerge. That’s the process.

It wouldn’t be bad process if the party came together and really backed the chosen nominee. But unity is hard to come by among those who see themselves as entitled to their own views.

If the party nominee is someone who campaigned on campaign finance reform as the number one issue facing the country and a potential voter feels very strongly that immigration reform is where we should be focusing our attention the potential voter may NOT want to vote for someone they see as foolish and wrong-headed. So what do they do? Stay home? Vote for the republican candidate? Throw their vote away by voting third party: take that you stupid democrats!

And even if the democrats could all come together as one to back their candidate, there are not enough of them. In order to win the election, they will have to field a candidate that appeals to independent voters who may never have had a chance to participate in the choosing of that candidate. (There are still closed primaries in 14 states.) In 2017 42% of the electorate identified themselves as independents.

Over and over we have seen the left fractured by the election process itself. Bernie supporters hated Hillary. They thought she and the DNC stole the primary from him. Some of them bought into the right’s constant campaign to discredit her. It was a bitter pill for those people to have to vote for her as the “lesser of two evils.” They are still angry over it. Some just refused to do it. They lodged a “protest vote” by voting for Jill Stein. They said they were “voting their conscience.” Take that you democrat scum! I fart in your general direction! Some Hillary supporters blamed Bernie for her loss.

We will spend nearly two years getting to a nominee. Candidates will travel across the country speaking to the people. They will hold formal debates and speak on countless TV shows.

We will all argue on social media over which is the best qualified. No doubt hackers from other countries will weigh in to the benefit of one or the detriment of another.

The candidates will spend millions of dollars. With the changed democratic rules for the convention (no more super delegates, for example) it is possible that going into the convention, no one may have enough votes to win on the first ballot.

And then, after the convention, they will at least give lip service to endorsing the party’s nominee before returning to wherever they came from. One or two may speak at a campaign event.

Whatever divisions were created in the primary will remain. Women will be disappointed if a man gets the nomination. Men will be angry if a woman gets the nomination and they perceive that the main reason was that she was a women. Everyone will grouse that their favorite didn’t win. Trump will tweet joyously about the inability of the left to agree on anything.

The left’s chances for taking back the White House (and the senate) are based, more than on anything else, on democratic unity.

The way to create unity in the people is to show unity in the leadership. It’s hard. It’s work. It takes time.

It’s also crucial. We cannot allow ourselves to be further divided by false information, foreign interests, and internal, post-primary strife. But that is exactly what the conservative, republican, evangelical right will work to achieve, and they will have help from foreign governments using social media to do it.

The Trump administration wants no talk of foreign election interference because the president sees it as undermining the legitimacy of his election. Congress (at his urging) has refused money to counter foreign election interference in the 2020 election. Last month Trump eliminated the national cybersecurity coordinator position in a reorganization of the NSC, placing authority of all things cyber on John Bolton and his NSC staffers.

Kirstjen Nielsen, the Director of Homeland Security, was asked to resign and all of the attention was focused on her stance on immigration policy. Less publicized was her commitment to stopping cyber interference in the upcoming election. She was told by Mick Mulvaney that she should not bring this subject up with the president. Apparently it’s a sore point with the man.

At the same time, the “Worldwide Threat Assessment” presented to congress by the NSA and Dan Coats has this to say:

“Our adversaries and strategic competitors will increasingly use cyber capabilities—including cyber espionage, attack, and influence—to seek political, economic, and military advantage over the United States and its allies and partners. China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea increasingly use cyber operations to threaten both minds and machines in an expanding number of ways—to steal information, to influence our citizens, or to disrupt critical infrastructure.”

The Mueller report makes it crystal clear that the Russians used social media to bolster Trump and diminish Clinton. They broke into secure US servers and stole material. Kushner recently referred to it as “a couple of FaceBook ads.”

It is clear that there is no unity on the right over how to solve problems or even what the problems actually are.

This makes it even more imperative that the left find a way to unite and take back this government that cannot deal with our problems and replace it with one that at least tries.

To be continued…

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