I’ve chosen to launch this site with an honest essay that is going to anger many, regardless of political alignment, as they read it. If you are one of them, hopefully you’ll stay with it to the end, and join us in an honest discussion of how we address the issues presented that have angered you.
I’ve recently said “We deserve better,” but do we? Really?
I am going to use our two primary current Presidential candidates’ campaigns to evaluate a problem within our political discourse, society, media reporting, news presentation, and governmental process that we ourselves have allowed to be created.
We may not deserve better, we may be reaping what we’ve sowed, and it may be exactly what we deserve.
But our future generations deserve better, and we owe it to them to correct our mistakes before they inherit an even bigger mess as a result.
Recently on my social media discussion page (Tim’s Timely Topics), I pointed out that a recent statement by one of the candidates was an indication of poor campaigning because regardless of the underlying intent of the commentary, the wording offered a self-destructive sound bite opportunity for the opposition to run with in attack advertisements. And both these candidates are building their campaigns on attacking each other at lower and lower levels with their own words instead of campaigning upon their own merits. They are both running fear mongering campaigns in which, despite their own failings, they are our only hope of defeating the evil other.
By pointing out this flaw in campaign strategy, I was condemned in the commentary for propagating support for the evil other. So before we go further, let me be clear.
Despite my desire for third party candidates to be seriously involved in the selection process for the voters, it isn’t going to happen during this election cycle. Barring some catastrophic mythical “October Surprise” that is so devastating it puts one or both of them in jail (not on trial, but actually convicted) prior to Tuesday, November 8, one of these two people will be our next President – for better or worse.
While many consider Donald Trump to be an anomaly in modern politics — is he? Really?
In his recent essay for Truthdig, former Clinton cabinet member and longtime family friend and supporter, Robert Reich explained:
“The reality is that Trump’s proposals aren’t far removed from what the Republican Party has been trying to achieve for years – cutting taxes on the rich and on corporations; gutting health, safety, and environmental regulations; repealing Obamacare; spending more on defense; blocking immigration and sending more undocumented workers packing; imposing “law and order” in black communities; and preventing an increase in the minimum wage.
Focusing on Trump’s character flaws instead of the flawed Republican agenda is appropriate – up to a point. Donald Trump is dangerous. And, yes, the first priority must be to stop him.”
While both candidates are focusing so much on smear campaigns of the other to distract from the need to honestly address their own flaws and actual platform policy initiatives and plans, they are doing considerable damage to their down ballot candidates in the struggle for both State and Federal legislature.
So what did we do? How did we get here?
We have created, enabled, and supported a society in which negative attack advertisements instead of focus on individual personal merit have become the norm.
We have created, enabled, and supported an always-on opinion presentation infotainment industry disguised as “News reporting and analysis” which is so driven by ratings and internet link click counts that the headline has become more important than the information, and being first with the story has become more important than being first with the facts. In reality, facts have become mostly irrelevant in our political process. Scientific data and research is ignored, and in some cases even prevented from being collected and compiled. As a result, we have a system where even obviously disproven theories can be repeatedly presented as worthy counterpoint in an attempt to appear “fair and balanced.”
We have created, enabled, and supported a two party political structure, and we have given it so much power it has created laws, rules, and regulations that very effectively prevent any third party from challenging their stranglehold on our government. And then we let them make it worse.
Over the last few generations we have let these two parties, present us with consistently worse and worse options from both sides, with the argument that it is imperative that we must stop one of these two from obtaining power at all cost. The cost, invariably is further erosion of personal Constitutional and Human rights in favor of greater rights of “personhood” for large corporations and an ever widening income opportunity gap. With each election we stop the immediate threat and drift one step closer to the re-establishment of a modern Robber Baron society, or worse, the eventual serf/Lord society of old.
Which brings us to where we are right now, a point where the optics of the campaign are more important than the content of the campaign message. With two candidates who have spent the last 30 years developing both their message and their optics, one in the political arena and one in the entertainment arena. Both should be masters of the craft now, which makes the obvious gaffes even that much more inexcusable.
Let us look at couple very good examples from the last few days.
A recording from a February fund raiser has been leaked which opponents of Hillary Clinton are attempting to spin in a manner that claims Clinton has called all of the Millennial generation Sanders supporters losers who live in their parent’s basements and who are too naïve and ignorant to understand how politics work.
The Clinton campaign is claiming that in full context the message is really “Educated millennial voters have been disenfranchised by our governmental representation to the extent that in our current economy even the hope of the ‘American Dream’ is being denied them, and that we must understand that in order to win over their support.” Taken in full context, the latter is absolutely how the message should be interpreted.
However, if we take that correct context and apply it to everything the campaign has said and done in reference to that understanding and millennial reach out since the statement, it is clear that she hasn’t taken her own advice. The campaign and its surrogates have been nothing but condescending and derisive towards those millennial voters since. Even those asking remarkably good, important, and valid questions that disprove the theory that they are naïve and inexperienced.
We have to keep in mind, all of us, that for those voters under the age of 35, we have been at war in the Middle Eastern region of the world for roughly half of their life, and all but the last four years of their lives have been lived with either a member of the Bush or Clinton family in the office of the President, Vice President, or Secretary of State. These people represent to those voters the very heart of the established and deeply entrenched problems that we face today and hold specific responsibility for getting us to the point we are at now.
No attempt to reach out to them and secure their support will be a success without considering those things.
At roughly the same time as the Clinton recording being released, Trump made a statement at a presentation to veterans that is being spun by his opponents as “Trump claims veterans in need of mental or emotional support and assistance as a result of their service are weak or ‘not strong.’”
The campaign is claiming that the intent of the message, delivered as part of a call for improved veteran support was that the trials and tribulations of war can create mental and emotional stress and problems that even the strongest of our veterans can have a hard time handling it.
However, if we put it in context with all the things he has said during this campaign cycle about preferring soldiers who weren’t captured, mocking the physically disabled, and the repeated issues with his promises of charitable donations and funds from fundraisers for veterans’ organizations not being delivered, it is clear that he not only does view it as weakness, but a weakness to be exploited and used to his personal advantage.
With the advent of personal recording devices available to everyone, every politician should assume they are being recorded every time they are speaking. At this point, in today’s political environment they should assume even their chosen aides and supporters are recording for the opportunity to further their own personal political agendas. For people who have made careers out of controlling the optics of their images and personas, these gaffes are troublesome, as they appear to be a slip in the mask more than a true accident of phrasing.
All of this brings us back to the fear mongering approach of both campaigns as they attempt to convince us how bad a vote for the other would be, instead of campaigning on how good they would be.
If we set aside the divisive social commentary, there is little difference between the candidates and their “disconnect” from the average voter.
Trump has bankrupted many companies while profiting from the failure. Clinton claimed in her own biography that she and her husband were absolutely broke when they left the White House despite being much more well off than most of the upper middle class of our nation and in possession of multiple homes.
So instead let us look at those other issues of substantive policy.
Clinton has done considerable work for both women and children throughout her life. She also has a history of making mistakes she would later regret and have to spend a great deal of time apologizing for having made. She is deeply entrenched with both the Wall Street elite and the industrial war machine economy. She was aggressively responsible for pushing the expansion of Fracking on a global scale as Secretary of State. There are some serious issues with the economic status she is personally directly responsible for helping create in Puerto Rico. She advocates for a higher minimum wage, but has frequently advocating against the establishment of a living wage minimum. She claims to advocate pragmatism, while appearing to give up negotiating ground before even agreeing to sit down to discuss terms.
Trump has proven to be successful in terms of maintaining and possibly even increasing his own personal fortune, and building a bit of an entertainment empire, but has a record of doing so by destroying businesses (and the lives of the employees of those businesses) through poor management and then using the available laws to shelter his personal fortune from the aftermath. He has a proven track record of refusing to pay money he owes other companies, until they either give up completely or settle for a smaller payment and loss to themselves just to receive something at all. He has been proven to use his own charity to funnel money to himself and launder it from one business to another to avoid taxation. The actual charitable work meant so little to him that he’s just been ordered to cease and desist fund raising because he never properly established the charity, something completely inexcusable for a man who employs a battery of lawyers to maintain his businesses and their legitimacy. If the 1995, tax returns were accurate, he lost roughly a billion dollars in a single year, and has been recouping that money over two decades by claiming the loss as a tax deduction. This means that the government has been paying back his laws from the tax dollars of those of us that do pay during that time, instead of using those funds for support of things like education and veterans’ care.
And while, Clinton has claimed that she made the wrong choice when making some of the ‘tough choices,’ at least she has had the capability to learn from many of them and adjust. Trump isn’t just incapable of learning from his mistakes, he appears to be incapable of admitting or acknowledging them. That inability to recognize and learn from mistakes is a remarkably dangerous quality in a world leader.
Now, if we add back in the social reform issues, Trump is campaigning on a return to “law and order” by allowing police to violate our constitutional rights on a selective and arbitrary basis. Clinton is on record for having been in great support of establishment of the laws by the former President Clinton which have helped lay the foundation of our school to prison pipelines and the over-incarceration of our citizens for non-violent offenses, and the privatized corporate prisons that profit by it.
Over all, Clinton has done better work. She is beyond a doubt the less bad option of the two to lead our country for the next four years.
All hyperbole aside is absolutely imperative that we not allow Donald Trump to become the President of the United States. His inability to learn from mistakes, or admit that others may be more knowledgeable on any subject, will lead to an international incident that could easily spark another world war. His embrace of White Nationalism (whether he believes it or not) and willingness to propagate it could easily lead us into another civil war. His economic policies could very easily result in a full scale economic class revolt. In all aspects, domestic and foreign, a Trump presidency would be disastrous.
Many of the blindly devoted Clinton supporters have made the claim that if you don’t vote for her, you must be anti-woman.
Not voting for Clinton doesn’t make you anti-woman.
Advocating support for someone who is as clearly anti-woman as Trump certainly might. By supporting him, even if you are not anti-woman you are condoning and enabling a person who is and attempting to place them in a position of power.
You can substitute many things for “woman” in that statement and it will still hold true.
Trump is against them all, and if you support him, you are pushing those agendas as legitimate and enabling their continuation.
He must not only be defeated, but he must be defeated in a devastating fashion. We must send the message that his misogynistic, racist, xenophobic hate and fear filled rhetoric has no credibility and no further place in our political discourse. If he is not crushed, the next candidate put forth may very well be worse, because Trump’s efforts, and the media’s morbid ratings-driven embrace of it, will have given it credence and legitimacy. We cannot, must not, allow that.
In order to create that defeat, with the necessary margins, we’ll have to vote for Hillary Clinton.
We must also make it clear, that that margin of victory is not a mandated endorsement of her own political agenda so much as a condemnation of her opponents.
We must make it clear that it is not a vote of blind acceptance. She will be held accountable for the people to continue forward progress on health care reform, social reform, economic reform, educational reform, student loan restructuring, bringing our military personal and their support staff home and taking care of them after they return, rebuilding our infrastructure and then making the commitment to maintain it, addressing climate change issues (man-made or not, we must begin making plans for the national and international issues it is going to create, we are too far behind already). We must make it clear that if instead of addressing these things, she continues to drive to the Democratic party further to the political right and erode our individual rights in favor of corporate rights she will not be returning for a second term.
As long as we continue to embrace the “lesser evil” without holding it accountable, our efforts to prevent the immediate disaster are doing nothing more than delaying the inevitable.
We can’t consider it a win to take a few small steps in the wrong direction over and over again to prevent bigger steps in the wrong direction.
A death by a thousand cuts, is still a painful, unpleasant death.
In addition to all of that, neither candidate will be able to accomplish anything beyond what is available to our President through the use of Executive Orders and Executive Actions with a divided, partisan, obstructionist congress.
So vote for Clinton, but don’t stop protesting, don’t stop campaigning, don’t stop researching and discussing the important issues.
Vote the down ballot races accordingly, to provide the candidate who must win the congressional support necessary to accomplish what we need them to accomplish.
We must vote on the ballot initiatives for establishing or repealing laws especially state constitutional amendments. We must vote for the local candidates in our city, county and state government races, as the people in these offices that are successful will be the ones to rise to higher positions in a few years.
We must stop supporting news agencies that propagate lies and false information as factual data, and hold them accountable for the truth.
We must drive reform that breaks the two party control of our government apart and allows for the rise of other options.
We must break the cycle.
If not us? Who?
If not now? When?