Hillary Clinton: Also a Revolutionary

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In some ways Hillary Clinton is more of a revolutionary than Bernie Sanders. At least she is if you are a woman and/or you have children. Many women spend their lives helping women make ends meet financially, or helping women find ways to feed their children, or helping families get health care, or day care, or care for a disabled child or a child in trouble. These women (and, of course, some men) are social workers. They work hard, they see many sad things, they often have at least a master’s degree, and they are not very well paid for all they do hooking up people in need with the services that offer assistance. Sometimes they must face the fact that there are situations for which there is no assistance and they must live with a sense of failure, sorrow, and guilt. I’m sure there are times when they help people who are demanding and not particularly nice or cooperative and that is also frustrating and stressful.

Hillary Clinton has lived a life of social service despite the fact that she had a law degree and could have had a high-powered law career. But she came of age in a time of activism, a time when wrongs were being righted and that spirit of activism which she found on her college campus has continued to animate her throughout her career, even during her years as first lady. Like other “social workers” she often made considerably less money in order to work on behalf of women and children (even teenagers). Of course, once she married, money was not likely an issue for her as it has been for many of us, but she did not stop and become a lady of leisure, or an empty-headed social butterfly. She always has worked to make life better for all Americans. And even when she became Secretary of State and her world was the whole planet she just simply widened her sphere of activism to include women and children around the globe.

I don’t believe that most of us held on to our activist natures as we aged. Many of us had to work to live and our work place employers did not necessary love activism, although charity was quite acceptable. It became difficult in our adult years to be crusaders because we were either keeping our heads above water and focused on having some independence in our old age or we were sometimes close to or falling over the edge and needed some of the very services that social work provided.

But Hillary Clinton was wealthy enough and stayed independent enough to continue to be an activist almost all of her life. Are female revolutionaries different from men who tend to be more like disrupters? Are their activities perhaps more subtle and not as expansive and cult-like? Perhaps gender helps explain why Hillary’s activism may just be dismissed as women’s work. I don’t know if the same sexism operates here as in other parts of our culture. At least attend for a minute to this list of her accomplishments and although this list is from a left wing media source, the Daily Kos, you will find that it is merely a factual list in which every item has been and can be fact-checked.

  • First ever student commencement speaker at Wellesley College.
    •President of the Wellesley Young Republicans
    •Intern at the House Republican Conference
    •Distinguished graduate of Yale Law School
    •Editorial board of the Yale Review of Law and Social Action
    •Appointed to Senator Walter Mondale’s Subcommittee on Migratory Labor.
    •Co-founded Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families
    •Staff attorney for Children’s Defense Fund
    •Faculty member in the School of Law at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
    •Former Director of the Arkansas Legal Aid Clinic.
    •First female chair of the Legal Services Corporation
    •First female partner at Rose Law Firm.
    •Former civil litigation attorney.
    •Former Law Professor at the University of Arkansas School of Law.
    •twice listed by The National Law Journal as one of the hundred most influential lawyers in America
    •Former First Lady of Arkansas.
    •Arkansas Woman of the Year in 1983
    •Chair of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession
    •twice named by the National Law Journal as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America
    •created Arkansas’s Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youth
    •led a task force that reformed Arkansas’s education system
    •Board of directors of Wal-Mart and several other corporations
    •Instrumental in passage of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program
    •Promoted nationwide immunization against childhood illnesses
    •Successfully sought to increase research funding for prostate cancer and childhood asthma at the National Institutes of Health
    •Worked to investigate reports of an illness that affected veterans of the Gulf War (now recognized as Gulf War Syndrome)
    •Helped create the Office on Violence Against Women at the Department of Justice
    •Initiated and shepherded the Adoption and Safe Families Act
    •First FLOTUS in US History to hold a postgraduate degree
    •Traveled to 79 countries during time as FLOTUS
    •Helped create Vital Voices, an international initiative to promote the participation of women in the political processes of their countries.
    •Served on five Senate committees:
    -Committee on Budget (2001–2002)
    -Committee on Armed Services (2003–2009)
    -Committee on Environment and Public Works (2001–2009)
    -Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (2001–2009)
    -Special Committee on Aging.
    •Member of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
    •Instrumental in securing $21 billion in funding for the World Trade Center site’s redevelopment
    •Leading role in investigating the health issues faced by 9/11 first responders.
    •In the aftermath of September 11th, she worked closely with her senior Senate counterpart from New York, Sen. Charles Schumer, on securing $21.4 billion in funding for the World Trade Center redevelopment.
    • Middle East ceasefire. In November 2012, Secretary of State Clinton brokered a ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas.
    •Introduced the Family Entertainment Protection Act, intended to protect children from inappropriate content found in video games.
    •First ex-FLOTUS in US History to be elected to the United States Senate (and re-elected)
    •Two-term New York Senator
    -(senate stats here: https://www.govtrack.us/…)
    -(voting record here: http://votesmart.org/…)
    •Former US Secretary of State
    •GRAMMY Award Winner
    •Author

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/9/17/1422403/-Hillary-Clinton-s-Record-of-Accomplishments

This comparison of Hillary vs Bernie  is perhaps a bit unfair because I don’t have at hand a list of Bernie’s accomplishments, although I will eventually do a search for this. But I will say, that although Bernie’s “revolution” is not only directed at women and children, although he would like to make the economy of America work differently and be fairer in the way money is distributed, I don’t have the sense that Bernie has gotten his hands right into the dough, so to speak, and helped make the pizza. Until recently Bernie served in peaceful anonymity in the ranks of the US Congress and, although he had a consistent point of view, he was not able to impose much of it on the dialogue or make many laws that brought any significant changes for the American people.

Bernie Sanders seems to be in a carpe diem (seize the day) moment and now suddenly at the age of 74 he is grabbing for that powerful seat that he hopes will let him put a new stamp on America. He will turn America from the oligarchy it is becoming back into the democracy it is supposed to be. He will put his hands into the pockets of those who have made themselves wealthy at the people’s expense and he will take some of the filthy lucre back and put it to work giving all of us better lives.

I admit that this sounds pretty good. Yay for revolution. But there are so many questions. Will he have to disband Congress to make this happen, Congress which is at least half full of millionaires? What will the “new” economy be like? Will it be like the “old” economy only fairer? Will Wall Street be gone or will it just be less cutthroat and greedy? If the financiers on Wall Street lose their edge will the American economy still be competitive in the wide world? How much chaos will it take to replace the “Capitalists” in Congress with people who will be determined to keep money out of politics? What will happen if he wins the Presidency and he loses the revolution?

Hillary is a revolutionary who stays within the system, tries to change it from within, fights for fairness through social programs and human services and the education and empowerment of women. Bernie is a revolutionary who wants to blow up the system, to change it to something perhaps unrecognizable. It might be much better than what we have; it might be worse. We are not clear about exactly what he wants to do, what steps he wants to take, what the end product will look like and feel like.

With Hillary we get a passion for people, with Bernie we get a passion for “real” democracy. I may be choosing Hillary because I am a chicken, too chicken to want systemic change. Or I may be choosing Hillary because she will work within the system and try to bring everyone along with her and the system will remain the America we recognize. Perhaps Hillary will not be able to accomplish any of her goals to make life better for average Americans. Perhaps blowing up government or as the Republicans want to do shutting down government are the only choices we are left with. Perhaps we should give one more try to the old way where our elected representatives knuckle down and hammer out laws that truly reflect the needs of the people they serve. But to not elect Hillary Clinton because she is not authentic and not a true activist is to be uninformed about her life and her career.

By Nancy Brisson

 

Bernie Flaws

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I am always talking about what imperfect beings people are. If you’re a believer then it goes right back to those two original forebears of ours, Adam and Eve. They could have left us full of blissful ignorance and innocence but they were weak and so we have dual natures. Each one of us holds the paradoxes within us, in differing proportions, because of so many variables like our nurture in childhood, the social circumstances into which we are born, the cultural context that surrounds us during our relatively short lives.

We hold strengths and at the same time weaknesses, we are good and we are bad, we have talents and things that we seem to have little skill for, we are both stable and unstable at times, happy and depressed, healthy and unhealthy, brilliant and dumb all mixed in an infinite array that makes each one of us unique in spite of our similarities. If you are not a believer it is almost enough to make you believe that the Christian origin story holds more than a kernel of truth. Or we are just made this way?

What we also know to be true is that all of our actions, our inventions, our discoveries, and our endeavors hold the same human paradoxes within them; that they can be used for good or for evil; that they can make our lives worse or better. We know that a flawed human can twist anything to evil purposes or a human with better motives or character can act from strength and get positive results from the same event, invention, idea or strategy. Nuclear energy is probably our clearest example of this – used benignly it can provide power to run the devices that make our lives more comfortable – used as a weapon it can wipe out cities.

We get this stuff on a cosmic level, but we also understand that these same paradoxes operate in our daily lives. So I accept and perhaps you do also that Hillary Clinton is both experienced and flawed. I accept that she made a mistake choosing a private server if only because it gave her many enemies an opening to argue that she was either planning to have a way to hide information or that she is capable of making bad choices, both things we don’t really look for in a person running for President of the United States. However, all Presidents make mistakes given the complex issues they deal with minute to minute. Sometimes we get a leader who seems to make brilliant decisions but we usually don’t know that until we get some historical perspective on their legacy. And from the distance offered by time we are able to see that mistakes were also made.

However it seems that people have difficulty seeing the flaws that Bernie Sanders might have. His message is so consistent and has been for so many years that he seems steady and dedicated. Recent events reveal that Bernie Sanders is starting to show the ways in which his very strengths might also be his weaknesses. Bernie is showing himself to be a bit compulsive these days. He does not seem to be terribly flexible.

He cannot seem to show us the practical details that will allow him to effectively change things in Washington and in America. How does he plan to win new rights for workers? How does he plan to rein in Wall Street without tanking our already hobbled economy? How will he find the money for strengthening benefits? Can he raise the taxes on the wealthy? In almost every area we see the need to change the way wealth moves in America and the need for fairness to equalize privilege. It makes sense to us but Bernie Sanders has not really spelled out how he intends to get us there. So his message may be all to the good, but his vagueness and the way his specifics are sort of stored in the “cloud” and inaccessible may not be all to the good.

And again I suggest that Bernie Sanders is almost coming off a bit obsessive-compulsive lately. He said he would have a fifty state strategy, which is fine, but he doesn’t seem inclined or able to make adjustments for the good of the Democratic Party. I suppose if you are staging a Revolution you need to be a revolutionary, not someone who compromises. But is Bernie’s defensiveness and his meanness actually resulting from an inability to be flexible, to have a certain degree of political nimbleness? He has remained true to socialist principles for so many decades while America wanted nothing to do with socialism.

Personally, I do not believe that socialism is necessary in a democracy because government is already of the people, by the people, and for the people. Where I do agree with Bernie is when he recounts how far away we are from a true democracy. It is not socialism I fight for, it is democracy. In a democracy we don’t need socialism because we are the people and we take care of all the people. But if our democracy is becoming or has already become an oligarchy then Mr. Sanders is right in arguing that the people (all the people) need to take back their government and that this will probably mean making money talk less and every vote count more. However we must accept that if rich folks take their money out of government, which they have shown a willingness to do, there may be fewer things our government can do for ‘we the people’.

But what really bothers me is how Bernie Sanders has seemed more and more like a curmudgeon lately, so intent on his own business that he barely notices what is going on around him. He does not admonish Donald Trump in any sustained way for his outrageous pronouncements and astonishingly unevolved policies. He does not raise money for down-party candidates (except that he did find three worthy souls). He fights with Democratic Party leaders and threatens to bring revolution to the Democratic Convention. He has a right to do these things but they are not done in a manner that suggests strength and composure. They are done with old man bitterness and complaints about bad rules and stacked decks. Instead of sounding like an eventual winner, he just sounds like a sore loser. Bernie Sanders does have flaws and lately he is showing them to us almost every day. If you’re planning to vote for him because you think he is Mr. Wonderful, then I guess you won’t have noticed that he is just looking like Mr. Ticked Off.

Purity

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Purity is probably the word of the day, or the summer, or the year. Panera promises us food that is clean and pure. (I keep picturing a raccoon at a stream washing its food.) I recently read Jonathan Franzen’s book Purity (you can see my review on Goodreads). Bernie Sanders is idolized for his political purity. Conservatives have been testing candidates for purity for ages. In fact Conservatives punish Republicans who don’t toe the Conservative line closely enough by putting up opponents against them in primaries and funding these bought candidates with millionaires’ money, thereby stripping the impure ones of power. It is sort of like being cashiered from the French Foreign Legion and having those buttons cut from your uniform with a sword. Eric Cantor knows all about this.

But Jonathan Franzen and I both have doubts about claims of purity by anyone, given our flawed natures. Our philosophical selves tell us that purity is something that is an ideal worth striving for as long as we realize that it is a goal that probably can only be attained in small matters for limited amounts of time. You may argue that Panera really is removing artificial (manmade) ingredients from its dishes. You may argue that they are trying to choose only the healthiest items from the most organic and natural sources for their offerings and I do not doubt that they giving diners some really trendy choices that attempt to taste good without resorting to the usual American options that are deep fried and generously salted or sugared. Does their ad make me want to eat at Panera? I’m sorry to say it does not but it may be motivating others. Cynically it may just be an advertising ploy to point out the recent difficulties that Chipotle has experienced and to try to tempt their customers to come eat at a place that has not had these kinds of problems.

I recall when my good friend had a young daughter that she wanted to protect from a germy world. We could never be sanitary enough to satisfy her in her campaign to rid her daughter’s world of all bacteria (except the ones in yogurt). We called her The Germinator. She grew up in a country family with 10 children. I’m sure that her family was just like my family with 8 children. My mom never knew that we made mud pies we actually tried to eat. We examined every bug we could find up close and personally. We played for hours on end in the sand pile which could well have been used as a toilet by any number of animals. We waded in ponds full of algae to catch tadpoles. Our exposure to germs actually may have made us healthier. It seems that purity is not always advantageous.

People learn to be compassionate and aware of the shortcomings and the needs of the other people around them by living lives that entail both good times and bad times, both easy times and hard times. Panera cannot protect us from all the impurities that might be in food in these times of corporate crops and too many people and food that travels from distant places and is grown in ways that cannot be completely controlled. Purity seems a bit too “precious” a thing to worry about; a thing that only a society that is a too affluent and too comfortable has time to think about. There are children who survive every day by picking through rubbish on dumps.

I am not saying that we should not applaud people who strive for purity, but I am saying we should be skeptical of people who claim to have captured that elusive thing called purity. I do not believe those Bernie Bros and millennials who worship the purity of Bernie Sanders. Bernie has too much compassion for the less fortunate to have lived a life without painful decisions and hard times. That he is basically a good guy, I believe. That he is pure, I do not. This is the kind of argument that makes Bernie’s followers sound like they are in danger of becoming a cult. Bernie cannot give us a “pure” America. If he did it would not be a society that lived and evolved. It would have to be static. I think I would be as adverse to a “clean and pure” America as I am to that ad that keeps saying how “clean and pure” the food is at Panera’s. Sorry Panera. Sorry Bernie Bros. My apologies millennials.

 

Desert Dwellers and Polar Ice Caps

How do we get desert dwellers to care that the polar ice caps are melting. We can’t even get Republicans who can see what is happening in Norfolk and Miami to pay attention. When you live in a dry, hot part of the world and you are bent on conquest or survival it is difficult to remember that everything is interconnected, even if some of your best oil wells are located near coastlines. How do we get a terrorist caught up in bringing back the 14th century to look over his shoulder and see the tsunami in his future?
Republicans, if they entertain the notion of climate change at all, refuse to accept that it is caused by human activities. We know why they do this; investments and power structures. If we find alternatives to fossil fuels they fear that their bank accounts will dwindle. They cannot accept that the age of fossil fuels, and, in fact, the Industrial Age is ending. They are starving poorer Americans, hoarding all the money on purpose. Of course they enjoy being rich, but you can only buy so many homes and yachts. Their real aim is to recreate 1890’s America when there were no worker’s rights, no unions, no minimum wage requirements, and no regulations on businesses.
You cannot get factories back to America if workers expect to get paid thirty or forty dollars an hour. You have to get them down around two dollars an hour. No wonder the GOP hates the movement for a $15 minimum wage. If you add addiction into the no-minimum-wage mix, we get to the bottom even faster. Furthermore if you think that humans have played no role in climate change then you can claim that, ergo, there is nothing humans can do to stop such changes and you can carry on blithely with your plan for a fossil-fuel-based master/serf economy. Take all the people’s toys away and make them climb that ladder of opportunity all over again – an Industrial Age do-over.
I know there are those who will say that we have to still have factories, we have to still produce things and, of course, we always will, but it does not take hundreds of workers to run a modern factory. The application of robotics is setting people free of work and creating new problems because then we have no alternative productive role to offer them.
Some may decide to be academics, but not everyone can or will choose that route. We really need to work on the roles societies will provide for people who are not needed to do work, or we need to find work they will feel good about doing. The American work ethic works against this. Rich folks get all huffy about people who don’t have a reason to or skill set for work. In America those who work labor for longer hours with shorter vacations than almost any other developed nation. There has to be a better goal for Americans who are not wealthy than working for the Future Taskmasters of America. I have heard people trying to start a back to the farm movement but farming was not as romantic a lifestyle in reality as it is in memory. Just read One Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley.
How do we get rich people – Capitalist “pigs” as we used to call them – on board to prepare Earth for the 9 billion people who will live on it by 2050? Without their help, with their very active opposition, it is a push-pull operation and basically a wash. Progress is in baby steps when we need giant ones. How do we get megalomaniacs intent on power to tune into anything except their own selfish drive for fame, or historical relevance, or whatever when they may just be, at base, mad men. Without China, without Russia, without the Middle East or Africa who is left to work on this truly existential threat – in the sense of a threat to human survival?
Are humans worth fighting to save or should we just let extinction happen to a species that has proven to be a bit too rapacious to coexist peacefully anywhere. And as for the idea that freedom alone should be attractive to people in every nation, I do not think that we are setting a very good example for the ways in which freedom makes life wonderful. In fact sometimes our notion of freedom makes it impossible to impose an organizational global design that might help us meet future needs.
There are no walls in the ocean (well, except by the Netherlands) so one body of water hits every nation with a coast line. Bodies of water within nations such as rivers and lakes will eventually rise also. We don’t need more salt water. The world will need a lot of fresh water for those 9 billion people. Water levels are just one outcome of polar melting. It is easy to foresee fear and anger growing as changes occur to geography and crowded coastal cities. It is easy to foresee tempers on edge and fights breaking out. Unless we are proactive and devise strategies to deal with negative human interactions, apocalyptic scenes may be as common in the near future as natural disasters are becoming in the present.
Getting people, made ever suspicious of conspiracy by those who oppose change, worried about losing freedom or losing comfort, to create any sort of “matrix” of leadership that can ameliorate chaos seems almost impossible to imagine. Our war/peace dynamic may be so hard-wired into us that we will continue to fight our way right through climate change and beyond (if there is a beyond). We surely need some heroes and heroines who disregard the worst in humanity to save the best in humanity if we are to survive the population explosion and simultaneous climate change. If thinking about these things does not convince people that war is an obsolete and primitive construct then I don’t know what will.

However the militants will not stop their crusades for some probably unreachable ideal in order to give space to find a solution to issues of climate crisis. It is the human condition to strive for a cultural equality or religious purity or manifest destiny that will, most likely, never exist. So actually the question becomes one of finding a way to keep the weaponized bickering at bay while also creating a new schema for a crowded planet that is at an environmental tipping point. I am afraid that I doubt that this will ever happen.Here’s Jimmy Kimmel on the subject.

By Nancy Brisson

Donald Trump’s Way Back Foreign Policy Machine

It is dangerous to listen to someone like Donald
Trump whose nostalgia date (his way-back machine) is set to the 60’s and 70’s.
No problem if you’re just telling stories to your grandchildren but a “huge”
problem if you are the President of the United States. Donald’s idea of winning
– he said in this foreign policy speech – is our victory in WWII and he also
gives America credit for winning the Cold War. Donald is another worshipper of
the only “perfect” American President, Ronald Reagan. He likes an America that
is pugilistic and muscular.
Trump believes we haven’t won a war since World War
Two or the Cold War because we have been weak. He, perhaps, would have liked
Ronald Reagan to be made President for Life. Alzheimer’s, sadly, would have put
the kibosh on that. However, except for Saint Ronald (who if you studied real
history was way less than perfect) no one else has measured up. According to
Trump the weakest leader of all has been President Obama (who is never given
the honorific) and Hillary Clinton will be just as bad.
But what Donald Trump, stuck in the old days, cannot
see is that the very philosophy concerning the ways we participate in the world
has evolved.
We have learned not to go to war lightly – well no we haven’t but we, at least,
are not turning every skirmish into a world war, or every power hungry man into
an existential threat (OK, we’re not perfect at that either but we’re trying).
We have learned that nation building in far-flung corners of the globe is
expensive and not often appreciated or even successful, which doesn’t mean we
will actually refrain. We surely have had plenty of examples of the totally
unforeseen consequences of regime change, although from time to time we still
can’t seem to resist.  We especially can’t
help injecting ourselves into the chaos in the nations of our nearest neighbors,
often with horrifying results.
Donald wants to bring this all back along with
torture and secrecy and threats (even nukes). So while evidence suggests that
tactics that we and others have used in the past will not actually make America
great again, that the only thing resorting to these old military chestnuts can
do is enhance our reputation as “ugly Americans”, Donald Trump, still stuck in
that post-World War II glow, seems unaware of such evidence.
Trump blames Obama and Clinton for “the confusion,
chaos, and disarray” in the world but many of us believe that the Bush
administration opened the Pandora’s Box that has turned into the seething,
painfully transitioning Middle East we see and deal with today. Whether the
region tried to shake off their authoritarian leaders, or whether the Iraq war
had a domino effect, or whether Americas had our hands in their fall from power,
it is clear that the Middle East does not have a tradition of democratic rule
and that is not the setting it reboots to. Perhaps we need to flood the area
with reasons to join the developed world that make sense in relation to Muslim
beliefs.
However, I contend, that we are actually at the
point where war and the environment meet, because if we cannot work across
nations, and stay somewhat peaceful and stable as the inhabitants of this planet
we may be doomed. If we can’t work efficiently as caretakers and help create a
sustainable lifestyle for the exploding population, then confusion, chaos and
disarray will be the order of the day, every day. Old imperialistic and
militaristic strategies may have once made America feel large and in charge,
but these outdated attitudes towards our global neighbors, however
un-neighborly, are not what we need now.

 

We could go with America First and decide, as we see
our planet become a less hospitable place to live, to build those walls and
annihilate our enemies (or be annihilated, because people will fight back).
That’s one way to be sustainable, wipe out anyone who won’t accept our
leadership. But where is the challenge in that. It is far more interesting to
try to design global strategies that will give everyone a livable spot in a
world exhibiting rapid climate change. It is far more intelligent to keep
striving to colonize other planets than to turn this one into a radioactive
nuclear wasteland.
Earth probably doesn’t care if we take care of it;
it will live on without us. But if we want the Earth to support human life we
may need to start cooperating pretty soon now. We can’t just take a boilerplate
set of old war policies and rely on them to keep the flaws in human nature from
sucking us under. The nations who understand the risks to our planet need to be
strong, yes, but also cooperative, creative and nuanced; and we need a global design
for where we would like things to go here on Earth – and for that we need peace,
not war-mongering. The reason Donald Trump’s foreign policies, and in fact the
foreign policy stances of the Republican Party are dangerous is because they
will not meet the current and future needs of Americans or anyone else on Earth.
By Nancy Brisson

I Blame Donald Trump

Donald Trump has changed the 2016 primaries in so
many ways. He has been like a deus ex
machina
who popped up in an enormous list of GOP characters with little to
differentiate one from the next. He did not fit the mold but he was no more
acceptable to me than any other Republican.
I didn’t think I could be shocked after six years of
disrupters in Congress making ignorant suggestions to women that would set the
culture back 50 years if heeded. I was afraid when the Supreme Court did not
uphold the most essential section of the voting rights act, the requirement
that certain states get clearance before changing their voting laws, but still
I did not foresee how quickly the states would “celebrate” their “freedom” by
repressing votes. Watching states break the law in respect to Roe v Wade by
imposing bogus rules to close clinic after clinic seemed quite shocking enough,
especially when courts backed them up. I had expected the courts to say “whoa
Nellie” (because that’s the way these guys talk – remember the one who
recommended that women practice birth control by putting an aspirin between
their knees and keeping their knees closed around it). The courts did nothing. That’s
when I realized how many Conservative judges had been appointed to courts in
many of our states.
I could go on but my point is actually that Donald
Trump managed to drive my “no they didn’t” reaction up several more notches.
His remarks about Mexicans, about the “wall”, about China, deporting
undocumented immigrants, Megan Fox, about women in general, about Muslims –
well, you were there – you heard it. Then there was his apparent comfort with a
physicality that we usually avoid in American politics. We usually use our
words. His behavior made the shock waves of the Republican heresies over the past six
years pale by comparison.
As we know the other Republican candidates did not
seem any happier with Donald’s injection of himself into an already crowded
race. He had been a Democrat. Conservatives who had been making a big point
about GOP purity tests had to move over and include this famous person who had
certainly not been tested for purity. And he was winning, pulling large crowds,
taking up all the space on a 24/7 media that usually could be captured only
temporarily by a particularly audacious act. Ted Cruz had attempted frequent
newsworthy nonsense, but Donald did it practically nonstop.
However, Trump has also served as sort of a buffer
between the Democratic primary race and the rest of the Republican slate,
getting picked off one by one before our incredulous eyes. We expected to worry
about Scott Walker and Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush, but instead every eye and ear was
on Donald. For the most part, Hillary and Bernie were left alone to run their
own race.
Trump’s presence in the race has also allowed Ted
Cruz to take up the second position on the GOP side. He expects an open
convention and he expects the coveted Republican nomination to eventually fall
to him. I have watched Ted Cruz throughout the Obama administration and he made
me very worried right from the first time I set eyes on him. In fact I wrote an
article called Ted Cruz: Sinister or Cartoonish about my initial observations.
I have predicted to myself that somehow he would “worm” his way into the White
House and I have tried to speak out against this whenever possible. He is
closer to the White House than he has ever been. He is intelligent, if
inflexible, and he is strategic. He believes he is a genius. As geniuses go I can think of several I would prefer over him.
If Donald had not inserted himself into the primary
would Cruz have made it this far? I don’t know, of course, no one does. But if
I end up with Ted Cruz as my President in 2017, I will blame Donald. Who will I
blame if we end up with Donald Trump in the White House? I will blame the
Democrats. Hillary, there is a lot resting on your shoulders because if you win
the nomination we are counting on you to beat the chosen one of these two guys
and Donald has sort of fogged up everyone’s view. Ted Cruz is advancing almost
under the radar, a stealth campaign. 
By Nancy Brisson

“Go Big” or Regret It?

Lots of people seem to think that this is the moment to “go
big”, to finally:

  • Get big money out of politics
  • Close the loopholes that have insured that the 1% is too well
    taken care of while the middle class is losing ground
  • Break up the big banks who have done wrong and deserve to be
    punished
  • Regulate Wall Street
  • Make sure American workers have certain protections like paid
    leave and a living wage and equal pay.

The “go big” people, the “feel the Bern” people, feel that the
folks who advocate incremental change are killing the buzz. There is rarely a
mass movement to address the way our supposedly democratic society has been set
up to favor the wealthy and to widen the gap between social classes, they
reason, and there should be because this is not the way we expect our democracy
to operate.
Why would anyone back an incremental approach when there is
all this momentum pushing the moment in the direction of “we the people”? It
seems like the times are ripe for big change, revolutionary (peaceful of
course) change. It looks as if this is the moment when “we the people” could
force a fairer economic distribution, could take back some power that has been
awarded, piece by piece, more and more to the elites in America (the wealthy).
The elitism in our election process, which has been recognized
and bemoaned for decades, is suddenly being discussed and critiqued as if it
was slipped by us secretly just last week. (How could Bernie Sanders, in Congress
for 3o years, although not a member of the Democratic Party, not have known
about super delegates?) It is good, however, for a new generation of voters to
be aware of the true depth of actual disenfranchisement of voters who do not
serve in government, to see how the government has set things up so that those
who govern are chosen by the wealthy and by those who govern. This is actually
true to the designs of our forefathers who did not trust the masses to govern
well. Perhaps we will persevere and actually fix this this time, or perhaps we
will get distracted by shinier objects and be surprised all over again in the
next election cycle.
Trying to predict whether “go big” is the way to go, the way
to get the best results from the next 4-8 years, or whether we will gain more
ground from patiently working bill by bill, issue by issue is as fraught as any
attempt to predict the future ever is. Arguments favor incrementalism. If we
look at the makeup of Congress, if we look at years of tantrums that
Republicans say will not end until we get “small government”, six long years of
“go small”, will we end up with just two dug-in sides yelling conflicting
messages at each other. Bernie feels that Americans will rise up, demonstrate,
protest and tip the balance his way. This is not patience; this is passion. It
is good to see such passion, although the fire has not spread to all of “we the
people”.
Plodding through Robert’s Rules or whatever regular order
governs Congress, watching the bargaining, vote counting, seemingly cynical
compromising certainly does not sound as sexy as an impassioned storming of the
elitist gates of governance, but it is the process, it is the way the system is
designed. Can we make the system less elitist gradually (but not too gradually)
and stay within the system as it exists? I think people will be so disappointed
it Bernie loses that they may be even more likely to push his goals, which
would help so many non-wealthy Americans. The objectives that make education
affordable or even free are particularly appealing. Money is being extorted
from young people at expensive trade schools and internet “colleges” taking
advantage of high unemployment and fears of economic failure for the
underprepared.
Bernie’s “go big” list of objectives tends to be a bit
narrower than the vast pool of issues that we have been unable to address for
the past six years. He does talk about infrastructure but rarely has a wider approach
to the economy and he almost never talks about climate and environmental
matters except to advocate banning fracking, although some people feel climate
concerns should be the most pressing issues on our agenda (salt water is
flooding Miami.)
It looks like a pragmatic, incremental attack on the wish list
of “we the people” is going to win out. The problem is that once a path is
chosen, you can’t, at least for a period of time, go back and choose the other
path, so there will always be those who feel cheated. Hillary Clinton, so
determined to win, had better be prepared to serve the people well if elected. “A
word to the wise should be sufficient,” isn’t that what we say? 
By Nancy Brisson