February 23, 2020
Once upon a time, sometimes seeming like a long, long time ago, the political contests of our relatively young Republic called the ‘United States of America’ seemed reasonably straight forward. In our earliest days, the only political divide of our electorate was between the new ‘Constitutionalists’ who were proud of their new Republic and the ‘Revisionists’ who wanted to go back to the early days of colonial America under British rule. I would guess that the almost 8 decades that followed were spent developing the rift between the North and South over the issue of slavery that resulted in the Civil War. In an earlier Blog, I traced the history of our continuing evolution from a Republic toward a Constitutional Democracy and I don’t want to go over that ground again. However, the essence of that transition is basically traceable to the expansion of voting rights, from adult white-male property owners only in 1777, to include adult male ex-slaves in 1870, adult women in 1920, and adult Native-Americans in 1924 and then LBJ”s lowering the voting age for all to 18 in 1965.
I doubt that there is a more convoluted element in American history than the names and ideological bent(s) of America’s major political parties. And, when you throw in the element of geography, the confusion gets worse, not better. When I reached voting age (21) in 1954, the difference between a Minnesota Democrat and a Louisiana Democrat was as diverse as day and night. I’ll let you readers figure out which state was ‘day’ and which was ‘night’ but, if you happened to be a member of the Negro race and were living in Louisiana at that time, there would be no doubt in your mind that you were living in very ’dark’ times. The KKK wasn’t exactly a social service organization. And, believe it or not, that sour note is a fair and reasonable segue to introduce the difficulty in easily defining the present day difference between the Republican and Democrat parties, members of which usually comprise over 95% of the voting electorate. I listed the Republican name first because that name implies allegiance to the original values of our Republic and the Constitution on which it was based. The idea that the US of A could someday become a Democracy didn’t happen on Day 1, July 4, 1776. In fact, the Democrat party was founded in 1792 and the Democratic National Committee wasn’t in place to start screwing everything up—and continue to do to this day—until 1848, about 4 years before the start of the Civil War. Question: does today’s Republican Party, led by Donald J. Trump, project the same values as our Founding Fathers? OK, sorry, bad joke. Either Donald cannot read or he has never had the Constitution of the United States of America read to him. Donald doesn’t even realize that he is mentally, and constitutionally impaired! Donald now thinks he is the ‘King’ of the not-so-United States, totally ignoring the Constitutional restrictions on the President’s power. The Republican members of our Senate are following the Pied Piper of Mar-a-Lago straight down the rat-hole of ego-exuberance to their eventual destruction. This is about as close to America becoming a Fascist Country as I’ve ever seen happen. Let’s hope the ‘Donald’ and his ultra-right wing, white supremacist, Republican Senators are in for a very rude awakening, perhaps on November 6, 2020. However—
The Democrat Party is now an un-welcoming composite of blue-sky Socialists, the few unionized laborers left standing, the really old fashioned believers in our Constitution who probably go to church on Sundays, an enormous bunch of irresponsible believers that ‘government’ can and should solve all of their problems, and a few idealists who truly believe that if they were ‘our government’ they could and would solve all of our problems. Unfortunately, the only factor missing in that mix is the element of ‘Responsibility’. We have had an ‘Irresponsible Democracy’ for a very long time and it hasn’t worked. If you don’t believe me, just look at the amount of our national debt, corporate debt and personal debt. Really scary! I’m still waiting for a leader who will espouse a path to a Responsible Democracy for our country.
Of course, that last line brings me to Wednesday’s debate and the Democratic Primary. I had high hopes that the entry of Michael Bloomberg into the debate forum would provide a leader strong enough to unite the factious, diverse, and un-qualified-to-be-President, bunch of candidates still standing. Unfortunately, Michael’s performance not only didn’t meet that standard, it was bad enough that, I think, he should not be allowed to participate in any more than one future debate-slugfest. I couldn’t believe how un-prepared he was for the criticism he or his staff should have realized he would receive as his ‘welcome to the reality’ of American politics. If he can’t ‘stand up’ to a Bernie Sanders or an Elizabeth Warren, how in the hell could he go toe-to-toe with a Donald Trump or a Vladimir Putin? I’d give him one more chance to fight in the political circus cage, and then, as a little guy from Missouri once said, “If he can’t take the heat, he should get out of the kitchen.” (How’s that for a mixed-metaphor? And, I had thought—before that debate—that writing this blog would be a lot of fun!)
I explained my ‘hope for leadership’ dilemma to Hubris but all he could say was, “Have you got any more carrots?” I ‘got’ the message. Our electorate probably doesn’t care about the state of our government as much as a smart horse cares about carrots. With the help of a couple of shots of Uncle Jack’s finest, I cleared my mind of all the political garbage clogging it, saddled up, and with a hearty shout of Hi Ho Hubris, Aawaay! we were headed for the ditch banks of the Rio Grande. It looks—to me—like we are going to have an ‘interesting’ next nine months! As Aunt Babe used to say, “Hope for the best, expect the worse, —and take what comes.” Until next weekend—
Copyright, February 23, 2020, Louis J. Christen