Point of View Columns

When Evil is Less Than Evil

Like Ryan Newman, the Daytona 500 driver whose car crashed over the finish line upside down, almost killing Newman in the process, the Democratic Party is careening down some unmarked highway leading to Milwaukee in July. And perhaps, like Newman, the Democrats will emerge from this crash of a presidential selection process without burning and dying.

Which brings us to this seemingly novel and unknowable dilemma about whether, in selecting a president or any other office holder, voters should ever “settle” for the lesser of two evils. Seemingly, there is a presumption that somehow, somewhere, there is a gaggle of perfect candidates that obviate the need for choosing between evils.

And it is that angst that seems to be accompanying the discussion regarding a possible match up between Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg in November of this year. The flaws, errors, faults and multiple disgraces that are Trump are so numerous that they would exhaust the storage space on most commercially available flash drives.

Michael Bloomberg, on the other hand, has allotted close to $10 billion dollars of his personal fortune to a vast multitude of good works ranging from global environmental protection to motorcycle helmets in Vietnam to gun control in the United States (it should be noted that in his lifetime Trump may have given away $10 of his personal fortune for some cause, but because he won’t release his tax records we may never know the truth). But, as is the case with Trump there are flaws, errors, faults and multiple disgraces that are part of the Bloomberg narrative.

And while these negatives could never approach the magnitude of the hot mess that is Trump, one cannot easily overlook the human wreckage occasioned by Bloomberg’s Stop and Frisk policy in New York City. The Bloomberg’s company has sealed up stories of sexual discrimination and gender abuse with ironclad nondisclosure agreements – but clearly there is something that Bloomberg would rather not disclose and it can’t be very good. One point should be kept in mind however – Bloomberg is not Trump.

Bloomberg’s misguided and stunningly ignorant explanation of the cause of the Great Recession being connected to the elimination of race-based redlining practices by banks is at the very least unbecoming an otherwise intelligent and well-informed man. At worst he is giving voice to racist tendencies which would give him something in common with many Americans. But, one point should be kept in mind – Bloomberg is not Trump.

The fact that Bloomberg is clearly prepared to spend a billion dollars in order to get elected and/or defeat Trump (he has committed resources to the eventual nominee, even if it is not him – which is something the other leading candidates should say – and soon). This colossal and brazen attempt to literally buy an election will transform this country’s electoral process – either paving the way for the eventual repeal of Citizens United or turning the White House into an Airbnb for billionaires. But, one point should be kept in mind – Bloomberg is not Trump.

There seems to be a growing tendency for there to be some kind of purity test in the Democratic Party in choosing the eventual presidential candidate. And so we are witness to all kinds of revelations which should derail the candidacy of:

  • Sanders – After all he isn’t even a Democrat and he voted against gun control measures and he has a barely discernible record when it comes to the issues and challenges facing Black America. But Sanders isn’t Trump.
  • Buttigieg – Every one of the five borough presidents in New York City presides over a larger government than Buttigieg in South Bend, Indiana. And Buttigieg wouldn’t know anything about issues facing Latinos or Black Americans unless someone hit in the head with a “Black Lives Matter” placard. But Buttigieg isn’t Trump.
  • Klobuchar – While Minneapolis-St. Paul is a major American city, it is difficult to conjure up an argument that would convince anyone that she is ready to tackle the issues facing a rapidly urbanizing America. And her record as a prosecutor certainly indicates some complicity in the race-based problems that are characteristic of the United States of Jail. But Klobuchar isn’t Trump.
  • Biden – His conduct of the Clarence Thomas hearings, his sponsorship of the Omnibus Crime Bill which established the foundation for the New Jim Crow are hardly shining stars on his record. But Biden isn’t Trump.
  • Warren – The idea that her record as a law school professor and a U.S. Senator with a plan for everything qualifies her to be President of the United States might be a stretch for many voters. But Warren isn’t Trump.
  • Bloomberg – Bloomberg isn’t Trump

Without belaboring the point any further, it is amazing that given the very clear and present danger that another four years of Trump as president represents, there are too many Democrats and independents concerning themselves with choosing the perfect candidate – when the only criteria worth considering is who is the best man or woman to beat Trump on November 3, 2020.

It is a dangerous myth that there are, or ever will be, perfect candidates. Those who bemoan having to make a choice between “the lesser of two evils” seem to forget that true evil occupies the White House right now and cleaning out the White House should be the only priority right now.

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Point of View Columns

Break Up the Democratic Circular Firing Squad

The Trump presidency is like a Grade Z horror movie where the monster never dies. Incredibly, while virtually cloaked in corruption and impeachment and creeping instability that resembles mental disability, Trump had the best week of his presidency last week. And somehow, the Democrats continue to act as if this is just another presidential election in yet another election cycle. Even though that is clearly not the case.

Consider that last week Trump was acquitted – not exonerated by the Kangaroo Senate that is in thrall to their Great God Trump. That faux exoneration should have done nothing to boost Trump’s standing. His State of the Union – game show – tantrum should have confirmed for all who care that this man is unfit for the office of President of the United States. And of course, his Friday Massacre, firing and demoting members of his administration who testified as to the truth regarding his outrageous misconduct, allowed Trump to channel his inner Caligula.

Yet, incredibly, by the end of last week Trump had the highest approval ratings since he became president. And just as incredibly, the Democrats managed to mangle the Iowa Caucus and move on to the New Hampshire primary sniping and heaving body shots at each other until it would seem that it doesn’t matter who gets the Democratic nomination in Milwaukee in July as the “winner” will just get to play a role in the remake of “Trump v. Hillary”.

The worst part of all this is that the various candidates seem to think that normal partisan warfare is alright since the worst thing that might happen is that a Democrat might not win – after all there’s always another election only four years away. After all, how bad could things get if the Democrats lose.

And it is that kind of oblivious mindless thinking that just might get Trump reelected. We already know that 47% of the supporters of Bernie Sanders are not committed to voting for any other Democrat for president. And we know that in 2016, with Sanders supporting Hillary Clinton with what amount to a wilted bouquet of fake enthusiasm, his supporters actually voted for Trump in such numbers that they were able move Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin into the Trump column. In other words, Sanders supporters helped elect Trump in 2016 and Sanders has never been held accountable for this outrageous betrayal.

Yet Sanders is the leading candidate, Buttigieg is right behind him, Warren is lagging, Biden seems to be waiting either for Godot or South Carolina which also seems to be Patrick’s, and Bloomberg has already launched a New Jack campaign strategy that might yet propel him to a nomination that will be a hollow victory at best if the circular firing squad can’t stop firing.

The damage that Trump has already done to international alliances, the environment, to probity in the White House, consumer affairs, education, immigration policy and the economy is not irreparable. But another four years of this man in the White House will transform this country for a generation. The new normal under Trump will look a lot like this country’s morals and policies and values of 100 years ago.

That the Democratic presidential candidates cannot seem to put aside their personal ambitions and aspirations is a damning commentary on all of them. There may not be a clear solution to limit the damage that is characteristic of clashing political campaigns, but if they would at least publicly agree, and reiterate at every possible opportunity, that the urgency of defeating Trump requires every single candidate to take a solemn oath that they will support the eventual nominee no matter who he or she might be.

And further – these candidates must urge their supporters to also take that oath, a pledge of allegiance to the cause of defeating Trump, if you will, so that November 3, 2020 will be a day of exultation and optimism and not what historians in the future will term the saddest day in American history.

At least let the Democratic Circular Firing Squad should start firing blanks and save all that ammunition for Trump and all of his enablers.

The American people deserve no less.

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Point of View Columns

Celebrating Black History Month with Truth

Black History Month began as a way to counter the awful lies, misconceptions and derogatory characterizations of Black Americans that has been part of the American tradition since 1619. There is no way that horrors of slavery, racism, discrimination, Jim Crow, Klan domestic terrorism, mass incarceration and lynching could be rationalized without America being able to characterize Black people as “less than” and “the other”.

When Carter G. Woodson wrote “The Miseducation of the Negro” in 1933 he intended to provide a basis for Black Americans to understand the true history of Black Americans as opposed to the mythic characterizations that served to justify the mistreatment and abuse suffered by so many. That knowledge, especially self-knowledge, is an essential aspect to liberation, and the study of the truth about Black history in America has always served to provide a foundation for rights movements from abolition to the ongoing struggle for civil rights to the Black Power movement to Black Lives Matter.

But there is still more educating that needs to be done. That is due to the fact that while the “miseducation” of Black people is an ongoing concern, the “miseducation” of all Americans has been, and continues to be, a matter of grave concern as well.

Too many Americans refuse to believe that absolute and unspeakable horrors of the institution of slavery and the complicity of most white Americans of that era in some aspect of this “peculiar institution”. Efforts to sanitize slavery tend to minimize the ongoing impact of two and half centuries of legal and absolute bondage followed by almost two centuries of residual oppression, racism and discrimination. The New York Time “1619” project is certainly a step in the right direction, but certainly not enough Americans have read it, and even fewer have absorbed its awful importance.

The “miseducation” of all Americans has resulted in the continued celebration of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and the other famed slave masters who were part of the group known as the Founding Fathers – as eight of the first ten Presidents were. The idea that for the first decades of its existence the elected leadership of this nation were slave masters is a stain on this country’s legacy that has yet to be acknowledged.

The “miseducation” of Americans has transformed the Civil War into a conflict that “ended slavery” when in fact abolition did not prevent the continuation of abuse, oppression and inhumane treatment of Black Americans. And that “miseducation” has perpetuated the obscene myth that the Confederate military leaders and it’s soldiers were “heroes” when in fact they were traitors and defenders of an evil institution – making them unworthy of praise much less being commemorated with statues and the memorializing of their names on universities, streets, towns and cities throughout this country.

Certainly this “miseducation” has persuaded too many people that the race-based disparities in these United States – income inequality, mass incarceration, higher infant mortality rates, lower life expectancy rates, higher incidents of police brutality, unequal access to education, housing and a range of professions and occupations – are not related to racism and race-based behavior in the public and private sectors.

Perhaps it is time for Black History Month to be about more than celebrating the accomplishment of Black Americans, past and present. Perhaps it is time for the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth to be recounted and taught – not only to Black Americans but to all Americans – so that there is a true understanding as to why we are where we are when it comes to matters of race and so that a reality-based path to a better day for all can finally be seen and understood.

That might be the best way to celebrate Black History Month this year and in the years to come.

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