Democrats Women and the 2020 Election

In 1969 Golda Meir became the leader of Israel. This photo is captioned The Lioness Roars Again – From a Google Image Search – Moment Magazine

As we get ready for a weighty election in 2020 to decide whether the incumbent candidate, Republican Donald Trump will have four more years in office, or whether we will let a Democrat or even a Democrat woman lead, it is clear that Trump and the Republicans are doing everything they can to make sure the playing field is not level and favors them. These tactics are in addition to the attacks on voting rights in America, especially Democrat voting rights.

The Democrats won a majority of seats in the House of Representatives but they have been sidelined, effectively stripped of real power by some pretty unprecedented and perhaps unconstitutional strategies, that this President, Trump, not a by-the-rules kind of guy, likes to use. These tactics are ridiculously transparent and should not work but his peeps have placed him in a fortified tower where he seems untouchable (word choice, deliberate).

The Democrats are trying to ignore the fact that, to almost 40% of Americans, they have been sold as annoying gnats, a ghost party, an object of trolling and derision. Democrats are hoping for two long-shot outcomes in 2020 (at least 2). 1) They want to elect a Democrat to the Presidency, and 2) They want to elect a woman to the Presidency. The Dems test of a good candidate right now is ‘can that candidate beat Donald Trump’. So far, among 25+ candidates no one seems to be a real stand-out, but if you watch any news program, women are certainly not making the cut.

Donald Trump has a truly underhanded quiver of election arrows which seem quite crude. Each and every day Americans are informed of the sins of Democrats. They actually, supposedly, did every single thing we all suspect that Trump and the Republicans did. Isn’t that quite a coincidence? And that’s not all, Dems ruined the economy, and ruined health care, broke trade, almost dismantled the fossil fuel industry. Therefore all things lib are awful and must be quashed. Trump has followers who constantly troll Democrats and Liberals, women, and now Progressives, on the internet with insults fed to them by the Fox channel. It is almost like getting strafed every time a head appears above the ditch Dems are supposedly standing in.

According to Trump, lefties have spied on the Trump campaign (no proof). They rigged the vote (again, evidence?). They conspired with Russia (the Steele report, the FISA warrant requests re Carter Paige – what?) Of course Hillary did not win the Presidency, but according to Trump that’s because she is so inept. It is actually the Dems who conspired (colluded) with the Russians (?) So the Russians must be quite inept too, because Trump won. (Hint-Trump cheats). 

So this has to be about I’m rubber, you’re glue, “everything you say bounces off me and sticks to you”. It isthe equivalent of shooting someone on Fifth Avenue and getting away with it, which has metaphorically happened more than once in this presidency. 

Again according to Trump, Hillary is a demon, in fact, all women are pretty demonic. The Democrats are traitors and the party is on life support. The FBI is subverted and is actively undermining the Trump presidency (shame on you Peter Strzok and Lisa Paige, really shame on you for giving this person ammunition), and Mueller wrote 400 pages to tell the DOJ that Trump was totally exonerated, which only took four pages in Barr-speak. Barr withholds the full report from we the people which is not so unusual but he also withholds it from Congress which is very unusual. (Barr’s actions are somewhat equivalent to watching a pregnant elephant carrying a baby for about two years and then having that baby elephant placed in solitary confinement as soon as it is born by someone who says to the mom and all of us, “it is mine and you can’t see it”.)

Furthermore Trump contends the entire thing is a huge conspiracy by the “deep state” (a descriptor that refers to different actors depending on who employs it). Add it on to all the old “Benghazi” and “child abuse” threads in the conspiracy theory that the right wing likes to keep spinning out and the Dems are destined not only for political oblivion but will be left out of the Rapture and sent straight to h-e-double hockey sticks. (Isn’t this a fairly complex narrative? Whatever happened to Occam’s razor?)

So, as Democrats have clearly, according to Trump and his minions, been checkmated, only some stunning circumstances will give Dems the victory in 2020. No one seems to believe, possibly including me, that a woman can win the race in 2020.

It certainly is time for a woman to be President and I know a woman could do the job very well, but the patriarchy is obviously not done hogging this privilege and responsibility and the public is not done letting them. If women in the race were not so outnumbered by men (and by men who conveniently have the letter B in their name making it easy for the press to focus on this group) I would suggest that candidates pair off, a woman and a man, running for President and Vice President as a team, with the man agreeing that the female candidate would assume the higher office.

OK, I know I am asking for mountains of criticism. But does anyone see a woman being elected President in this particular election? Will the men we elect just keep getting older and older? I know age is supposed to bring wisdom, but sometimes it just brings arthritis. Still the old men are the ones we know, the ones with experience, the ones who don’t seem hopelessly invisible. And, we remind ourselves, they have paid their dues.

I remember when Golda Meir was Prime Minister of Israel. She seemed so wise and motherly, although if you read about her time in office she certainly did not get perfect grades. I wonder if Elizabeth Warren might turn out to be a trimmer but equally comforting Golda-style leader, who also gets things done. Or maybe Kamala Harris, or Amy Klobuchar or Kirstin Gillibrand could offer us a very America version of the wise woman as a nurturing, but fiercely protective leader, providing effective governance both at home and abroad. America does not seem to be feeling it yet. Is there any way we can get both things we want in the 2020 election? Could each man invite a woman to the dance? Let her lead. Women could be wooed by more than one man.

Our Constitution has no Teeth

Upper portion of U.S. Constitution on wooden desk

It is entirely possible that our Constitution is no longer up to the task of keeping American governance on the track our forefathers set it on. There do not seem to be any teeth in our documents. As I listened to our “ersatz” President stand next to Putin in Russia and say to our competitor, a man who manipulates and controls everyone and everything in his own country, a man who we were just told tried to interfere in an American election, that he, Trump, is sorry that we have treated this absolute dictator so badly.

As these events unfolded I had to listen to commentators use adjectives that were not nearly powerful enough to describe the calumny that had just occurred – and as these events unfolded I had to admit that I was astounded that Trump is allowed to fly back to Washington, that he could blithely take his seat in the oval office as if he just made a great speech full of wisdom, a speech that proves he deserves to share a seat in the place where FDR once sat (or any other of the best Presidents we have put in that seat.) Even I who have no faith in this man, was shocked by the content of Trump’s address.

I have been a staunch fan of our founding documents since my first American History class. The Declaration of Independence was drawn up by brave men on a new continent, far from their homes, who made a new home in America and decided to go it alone without England. England was an overbearing parent, stealing the fruits of American labors in taxes and fees and tariffs. They brazenly asserted their ownership over the colonies by forcing families to give rooms to British soldiers in their own homes. The King of England did not expect our American forefathers to have the boldness to declare their independence, fight a war to back up their declaration, and then to win the right to make their own nation

When the American Constitution was revealed and read in Europe it was so powerful and such a great blueprint for governing that it spelled the end of the most powerful monarchies. I was deeply impressed by what our forefathers had done and the architecture of our democracy. I realize that we are admonished these days to call our government a republic. I realize that it is actually a republic because it is based on a constitution. But at the heart of our Constitution is a plan for a democracy, with checks and balances to forestall power grabs by people whose egos can lead them astray.

Until recently our Constitution has been respected enough by both politicians and citizens that any loopholes that were apparent were either passed by, or others curtailed their use by those without scruples. Our checks and balances seemed up to anything the very flawed human animal could dish up. That our Constitution made it through the Civil War intact is a plain miracle. Hatreds ran so high, opinions were so divided, that only the killing fields would stop the fever. That the entire controversy happened to be over whether it was legal or not to make some humans slaves, to make them less than other people, is something modern minds have difficulty grappling with. And humanitarian values won, although bitterness has remained all these years later. Our Constitution, our documents, held up,

Lately, though, I despair that there are American people who have decided to use the flaws and loopholes that always existed in our documents to hold onto power, to block the system of checks and balances that keeps our democratic practices on a somewhat even keel. America is obviously still bifurcated, and bitterness still abides in many American hearts. America has new challenges to deal with also, given that the chaos around the world is making old hostilities seem far less frightening than some of the terrorism that is arising from rapid political and cultural change around the globe.

Chaos causes migrations which threaten to change lives on a planet that once had far fewer boundaries and was far less crowded (although mass migrations have never been easily accommodated). And our country is being ravished by people who have decided to use what they consider their superior intellect to exploit the vagaries and loopholes in our documents. This time I think our Constitution might not be up to the task. Our republic/democracy, our grand experiment in equality, in the rights of man, may be dismantled by money of all things. And power and hubris.

It is difficult to believe that the bar for the rules that protect our government has been placed so high that those very protections are neutralized, cannot be used against anyone and especially against a President. When did we write the laws that put our President above the law? When did impeachment become a safeguard we can never use except frivolously? When were the rules for calling treason made so narrow that someone could commit treason and the definitions in the law would not allow us to name it.

If we keep letting our President slide when he tramples American mores our Constitution will be destroyed in the process and so will our republic/democracy. What will we be left with? I have seen many options in dystopian literature, but I still cannot imagine how we might be governed. We are far more likely to lose freedoms than to gain them. Since our lives go along pretty smoothly right now day to day comments like this are seen as the overreactions of someone drowning in negativity. If that turns out to be true I will be happy to be wrong.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Washington Monthly

Republican Coup, Where Were the Democrats

I am typing this after hearing news of the shooting of Republican Steve Scilise at a practice for a Congressional baseball game. I wrote this article last night and then, in light of this morning’s events, felt that I could not post the article without expressing the sadness I feel and my sorrow about how frightening this must have been. I may rail against the activities of Republicans in Congress but I would never wish to incite anyone to violence or to see violence as a way to turn the political tide around. I will be listening intently all day to hear about the condition of those who were shot. I also hope we are able to hear the shooters reasons for his attack.

In fact, I was awake at 5 am this morning remembering that I forgot to mention the pitched battle over gun control that raged throughout the Obama administration between Republicans and Democrats. Even when young children were targeted, even when it was clear that people with varying degrees of mental instability owned guns, gun control talk was met with hysterical claims that Democrats wanted to take people’s guns away. Republicans repeated this over and over again and whipped some Americans into a frenzy over the inculcated fear that their 2nd Amendment rights were at risk. At many points it seemed the Civil War would break out once again, especially around the activities to get Cliven Bundy to pay for grazing his cattle on federal land. I will remember forever that photo of an American citizen lying prone on the pavement sighting through a gap in two concrete barriers ready to shoot an official representing the US government.

In those Obama years certain members of the 112th-114th Congress acted like a band of Mad Marauders especially Ted Cruz, Michelle Bachmann, Marsha Blackburn, and Sarah Palin (not even a member of Congress). They threatened to shut down the government and did shut it down for a brief period. Many of us felt that bigotry was at the heart of all of these activities. There were members of Congress who were not happy to see an American of African Descent in the oval office as the President of the United States of America.

Even so, taken separately it would be difficult to say that Republican strategies always broke laws. After all they were operating in a window in time when the Supreme Court was leaning right (it still is). The Court legitimized many of the moves Republicans made. The Court made money speech, the court made corporations people. Republicans used the court to pass legislation in a sense. Although most of us were disgusted that the Court did this we saw that it was done legally (although the Constitution did not design the Supreme Court to be a partisan body). Even the huge wins in the states could not really be pinned to anything illegal except for a few examples of outrageously skewed gerrymandering and a few blatant voter suppression laws which were sometimes overturned by lower courts. And although most of the strategies pursued by the Republicans under Obama, were not truly illegal they seemed to walk the line of what is legal.

However, to really see how outside the norm Republican strategies were you have to think about the overall goal of the Koch’s and the Republicans. The one outcome to which all of these actions seemed to lead was not only illegal, it is at least seditious and at most the Republicans were committing treason. Clearly the Republicans were staging a coup, a bloodless coup, to take over the US government. And guess what? That coup was successful, although they ended up having to bring Donald Trump along on their ride and have not, therefore, been able to revel in their victory as they might have wished. They also have not completely destroyed the Democrats, although they are seriously wounded and side-lined, except for the rise of a grass roots Resistance movement. And even this movement is not a Democratic Party wave, it trends perhaps even further left than the Democratic Party. I will always recall that one of the first things Paul Ryan did the morning after the election was to proclaim “Welcome to the US Republican Government.” Coup accomplished.

Obviously the Democrats were aware of the things the Republicans were up to. Were they unwilling to raise a fuss? Were they too aware that the mood of much of the nation was not on their side? Did they downplay the Republican takeover aspect of this to try to preserve the Constitution and as much of regular order as they could? If you staged a coup and the other side refused to recognize it, was it actually a coup? Democrats tried to fight back but their battles were small. They relied on the lower courts or on email campaigns and Facebook comments. Democrats won small victories in terms of stemming the worst abuses of gerrymandering and voter suppression. Their emails were so focused on collecting money that, perhaps, they lost their effectiveness as fight mechanisms. People were riled up but not enough people. We are not really a nation of activists, although perhaps we are learning. The resistance group I have been attending is made up mostly of seniors with a few young people scattered in, and has little diversity.

Democrats, for these, or other reasons I have not thought of or have forgotten, were not able to stop this Republican coup. Did these Republicans break the law? Did they commit treason? Are their actions seditious? Regardless of how we answer these questions it is unlikely that any court will go after them and their wealthy ring leaders.

We can be thankful that so far some internal squabbles and re-election worries have kept this all Republican government that we are presented with from passing in quick order all the cruel pieces of the Republican agenda. Perhaps our resistance has helped the 115th Congress see that getting or pretending to have a conscience re your constituents might be politically expedient.

As for the Democrats – better late than never. They have been excellent partners in the Resistance as we attempt to find our way back to bipartisan government. Of course the joke could be on all of us. We could all end up as subjects of the new American monarchy led by the Golden Plumbing King, trailed by his less-than-royal family.

Here’s an article that Google News sent to my tablet this morning. It explains why the Koch Brothers are “collecting” states. (Yikes!)

http://www.ibtimes.com/political-capital/koch-brothers-want-new-constitution-theyre-closer-you-think-2552039

If This Isn’t Treason, What Is?

The news that comes out of this White House is so unlike anything that I might have ever imagined that it seems as if America will just fall apart, disintegrate, and cease to exist as a democracy and as a nation. I have said this same thing at least once a year for the past seven years and it has always been true. The events of post 9/11 America have been contentious, shocking, unsettling, and indicative of a sort of spiral of chaos, held in check for a while by the charm and grace of the Obama administration and perhaps an unspoken anathema to going down in history as the person/s who impeached, discredited, or assassinated America’s first American President of African Descent, a man who was voted into office almost by acclamation.

Grace and charm are now gone. The GOP, which flirted with insurrection, (and still will, given half a chance) is overshadowed for the moment. What we seem to have moved on to at this moment in time is a President who has flirted (or is still flirting) with treason. And it seems that there is nothing we can do about it but stand gape-mouthed in our kitchens staring at our TV’s.

The people have not heard any actual proof that DT himself spoke with the Russians but we know he telegraphed his invitation to collusion because he did it right out loud in numerous rallies. The statement I heard on the news last night is that “Trump campaign aides were in constant touch with Russian intelligence.” The people who surround DT do not seem to be people who act on their own. He seems to require absolute loyalty and he hands down assignments to his underlings which they will then complete. They have been with DT for some time and they know how to complete tasks to his satisfaction. He seems to use a mainly top-down management style.

The media is trying to make it clear that if anyone knows of a way to actually connect DT with Russia they should come sit by them. I don’t blame them. This would be an amazing scoop. But it sounds as if even a direct connection between DT and Putin to dump propaganda and private conversations into the media before an election will not be enough to prove either election tampering or treason. DT seems completely unconcerned and his only reaction so far is to try to make folks feel guilty for doubting Flynn, to repeat his electoral college vote like an incantation, and to try to get us to prosecute the leakers rather than the perpetrators.

We appear to be back to the question of whether leakers are traitors or whistle blowers. Leakers in this case are giving the press and the people information they need to know so we like them. When we like what is happening that seems to qualify as whistle blowing. The decision about leak v blow of whistle cannot be resolved at this time, but in this case, I hope the leaks keep coming.

The Republicans have their majority in Congress but it has not proven to be productive for them yet because DT does not seem to have the least inclination to go through Congress to pass laws. In fact the whole of Congress appears to be just an aside or an afterthought in this administration. Mr. T seems to have the hang of the executive decision apparatus which includes consulting with all his loyal cronies and family, a sort of rule by committee, and is sticking to that for now.

Republicans wanted to be in power so badly and are so ecstatic to have succeeded that they seem to have no desire to rein in the overweening ego and authoritarian bent of our fearless leader. It is practically impossible to believe that the Republicans will act on even this stunning information. Collusion with Russia, the exact nation we have spent years trying to avoid sharing information with, seems so close to treason that it cannot be ignored. We blacklisted Hollywood actors and politicians for joining the American Communist Party which had no connection with the USSR. Apparently we may have reached a point in American governance where a President actually cannot be unseated.

This is where the people come in. I had almost forgotten the people. They were so silent most of the time while Obama was president unless they were parroting Fox News. They did not get riled up during the election about anything but Bernie Sanders. They did not shout down the demeaning of Hillary Clinton. There were no demonstrations, or objections that were loud enough to outshout the true loudmouth in the campaign.

But the people are the fourth branch of government that is addressed in the Preamble of our Constitution when our forefathers say “WE the People”.
We are powerful because we have numbers on our side. We outnumber those folks we send to Congress to represent us. We conduct their business for them even in the halls of government. We are the referees. We police the game. When the game goes foul we call it, we point it out and hopefully the press backs us up, because the people in the press are also “we the people”. If the people do not make government straighten out when it is going off the rails then we are doomed to be just another democracy that used to be great but now simply proves the point of famous thinkers who said democracies can’t last for very long.

Susan Sarandon was on the Chris Hayes news hour on MSNBC last night while I was washing dishes and I got so angry listening to her that I almost threw a dish. She seemed to be arguing that demolishing our government and starting over is the only pathway that will get us out of the hole of corruption that we are in. Is that the only way open to us, to trash it all and start over? Isn’t history and continuity worth anything? She and her friend were still upset about Bernie Sanders losing the election, but did he ever really have a chance to win?

The only issue that holds any importance for them is the damage that has been done to the environment during the Obama administration and which will escalate under DT. Many of us worry about whether we can keep putting off doing the things that need to be done to take care of the planet. Even so she would not say that she regretted deserting the Democrats and that she was sorry about DT now that she could see the chaos. I was actually shouting at my TV when all she would say is that the chaos would be good in the end. But I wish we had done all we needed to do before the election so we did not have to go such a long way out of our way and we would never have to wonder if we could find our way back. And treason would still be a reason to kick someone off the team, even a President.