Tag Archives: midterms

About That Swamp…And Your Vote

Early voting is now underway in most states; here in Indianapolis–thanks to Common Cause and the pro bono efforts of local attorney and all-around good guy Bill Groth–we have nearly as many satellite voting sites as our rural, Republican neighbors. Preliminary reports are that those sites have been flooded with early voters.

This is one of those years where most voters have made up their minds weeks, if not months, ahead. But just in case anyone reading this is tempted to send a less-than-emphatic message to the current iteration of the once Grand Old Party, let me remind you of the “quality” of the people in the Trump Administration, and the fact that electing any Republican to any position in any level of government is an endorsement of the “best people” that constitute Trump’s Swamp.

Who did they get to vet these people? Rod Blagojevich?

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is plagued by scandals — facing about a dozen different investigations of his conduct — but he may have found a solution to his oversight woes: replacing the person investigating him with a political stooge.

Subsequent reports suggest this particular appointment was reversed, but the fact that Zinke tried this stunt simply confirms his sleaziness. Of course, he has lots of company. CNN recently published a compendium of cabinet scandals and embarrassments.

The term “embattled” has now been thrown around so often in news coverage of Trump Cabinet secretaries’ assorted foibles, it’s practically been fused to the front of some of their titles. The President himself, perhaps for variety’s sake, referred to Jeff Sessions in a tweet last year as his “beleaguered” attorney general.

 

Some of the alleged (and confirmed) transgressions have been more damaging than others. The White House’s handling of the Rob Porter scandal might have been its darkest episode, an ethical failure leavened by bureaucratic incompetence. Mostly though, the administration’s scandals and embarrassments have been characterized less by furtive malfeasance than some kind of open disdain for (or ignorance of) basic ethical standards (or a lack of due diligence).

That lede was followed by a rundown of some of the most glaring “embarrassments,” from the nomination of White House doctor Ronny Jackson to head the Department of Veterans Affairs (he withdrew after reports emerged of his excessive drinking, creating a “toxic” work environment, handing out prescription pain medications without proper documentation, wrecking a government vehicle after a going-away party, and drunkenly banging on the door of a female colleague during an overseas trip) to the multiple transgressions that led to Scott Pruitt’s resignation from his position destroying the EPA, to Ben Carson’s $31,000 dining set, to White House Secretary Rob Porter’s penchant for domestic violence, to Tom Price’s pricey flying habits. And much, much more.

It’s a long list–an inclusive one would make a much too-long post– and the ethical problems continue to mount. Vox suggests that the administration is unable to clean house because the President himself is too “soaked in scandal.” As the story says,

But inside the Donald Trump White House, grifters, abusers, racists, and harassers still get hired; they lurk around the Oval Office after they’ve been found out; and even in the rare instance where they’re forced out, it’s only grudgingly.

We have an administration that is setting a new (low) level for corruption; a racist President who proudly proclaims his Nationalism; and a GOP controlled Congress that is at best feckless and at worst in active collaboration with the criminals and thugs in the administration.

A vote for any Republican–no matter how unconnected that person might be to the Trumpists’ constant affronts to democracy and the Constitution–will be seen as an endorsement of the GOP’s corruption and White Nationalism.

Is that unfair to local candidates who may be nice people? Yes. But it’s necessary. We can go back to being fair when we get our country back.

Crazytown

It’s unlikely that Bob Woodward’s new book will move public opinion. The country is so polarized between people who are appalled by Donald Trump and dispirited by the unwillingness of the Congressional GOP to meaningfully confront him, on the one hand, and his white supremcist “base” on the other, that it is hard to see the added documentation doing much to change the political dynamic.

For me, the most difficult aspect of the last few years has been the need to accept an ugly reality: approximately 35% of my fellow Americans enthusiastically support a racist, and are willing to ignore every other distasteful and disgraceful thing about him, in return for his constant reassurance that– despite all the evidence to the contrary–their pigment makes them superior.

Woodward’s book won’t penetrate that. At best, assuming America survives this descent into tribal hatefulness, it will join the growing mountain of evidence available to future historians and psychiatrists.

As CNN describes the book,

Woodward’s 448-page book, “Fear: Trump in the White House,” provides an unprecedented inside-the-room look through the eyes of the President’s inner circle. From the Oval Office to the Situation Room to the White House residence, Woodward uses confidential background interviews to illustrate how some of the President’s top advisers view him as a danger to national security and have sought to circumvent the commander in chief.

Many of the feuds and daily clashes have been well documented, but the picture painted by Trump’s confidants, senior staff and Cabinet officials reveal that many of them see an even more alarming situation — worse than previously known or understood.

Actually, those of us who have been glued to news sources since November of 2016 do understand how alarming this Presidency is, and how utterly pathetic a man-child Trump is. It really isn’t necessary to get confirmation from anonymous sources–every day, Trump tweets his lack of even the most superficial understanding of the government he heads or the Constitution and laws that constrain it.

Let’s be honest. Trump owes his (very slim) electoral success to Barack Obama. Trump’s votes came largely from the white people (mostly men, but plenty of women) who couldn’t abide the presence of a black family in the White House. For eight years, they seethed, exchanging racist emails and sharing racist posts, looking for anything they could criticize publicly, and inventing things when the pickings were slim.

When Trump proved willing to say publicly the things they’d been thinking and saying privately–when he was willing to re-label civility as “political correctness,” and to “tell it like (they believe) it is,” they were his. Woodward’s book won’t change that; it is doubtful that many of them will read it.

 

I know that many good people, good citizens, good Americans will cringe at what I’ve just written. It’s too close to name-calling, too uncivil, paints with too broad a brush. President Obama himself, in his recent speech, took the higher road.

We won’t win people over by calling them names or dismissing entire chunks of the country as racist or sexist or homophobic. When I say bring people together, I mean all of our people. This whole notion that has sprung up recently about Democrats needing to choose between trying to appeal to white working-class voters or voters of color and women and LGBT Americans, that’s nonsense. I don’t buy that. I got votes from every demographic. We won by reaching out to everybody and competing everywhere and by fighting for every vote.

I understand what he is saying, and I absolutely understand that candidates cannot be as accusatory as I have been. But as Zach Beauchamp wrote after sharing that paragraph  in a perceptive article for  Vox 

There’s a part of this that feels like it’s ignoring reality. Political science research on the 2016 election suggests that Trump won because a huge chunk of voters responded positively to his racism and sexism. Voters who scored high on tests of racial resentment were unusually likely to support Trump, as were voters who scored high on measures of hostile sexism. These voters did not tend to be particularly stressed economically; this wasn’t displaced economic resentment. Rather, they seem to genuinely share the current president’s values, agreeing that the way to “Make America Great Again” is to slow or even roll back social change.

My hopes are pinned on the midterm elections. I do believe that most Americans are better than the base for whom “Crazytown” is just fine so long as they see it vindicating their white privilege. This is one election where every blue vote will count–whether it elects someone or not–because it will be, and will be seen as, a vote against tribalism, racism, sexism and the pervasive corruption of Crazytown.