Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Political Tuesdays - The Year We Became Tribal

Trigger warning: I will be talking about 2016 politics in this post. I will not use foul language myself but I link to videos where Democratic operatives do. And I'm distressed enough about the election that I'm rambling a bit, so this is long and snarky. 

This past week I was finally driven to Twitter. I must admit, it's perky on the dark side, like a vast amphitheater classroom of ADHD students lobbing one-liners to celebrate the downfall of civilization. I felt quite at home, especially after adding RogueClassicist, MobyDick and Shakespeare to my feed. It's a better way of keeping up with the multiplex of October surprises than CNN or Facebook, and probably more accurate. For example, I found the epic Tweetstorm of Marybeth Glenn within my first day on Twitter, and found myself wishing I had written it.

Free the Delegates is actively pursuing parliamentarian efforts to remove Trump as nominee:

I know and respect Thomas Balch, and signed the petition without hesitation.

And today, links to the undercover videos of Democratic operatives engaging in dirty politics and of course, dirty language.  and video 2

All of this is fascinating but not exactly relaxing. I think the whole nation is suffering from election fatigue, and both parties have such execrable candidates that we are looking at both of them, deciding that they do not "spark joy," and trying to figure out what third world country we can donate them to. (Strange analogy? You try organizing your wardrobe this year without thinking wistfully of using the same techniques to dispose of unwanted politicians!) Failing that, I'm afraid we're stuck with Hillary. Trump was never going to win. I am more and more convinced he was the ultimate sock puppet candidate, either manipulated into running or intentionally running as a spoiler to ensure Hillary's election. Hillary has always had deep ties to special interests, especially fronts for the corrupt Chinese government. Trump seems to have a similar relationship with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. If either one is elected, American independence suffers.

I've worked on losing campaigns before, but never when there was the added element of shaming via social media. It adds a bit of tribal warfare to dirty-politics-as-usual, and I can't help feeling that the American people are the losers. I don't see anyone emerging as a strong leader in this election cycle. Maybe that's a good thing, and maybe we need to be able to mock our Presidents rather than worship them. But I'm genuinely fearful that the next President will face challenges of a WWIII kind, and I don't see Clinton as wise and decent enough to handle them. And certainly, the American people are so fragmented over whatever slogan the most recent mob has whipped up that we have lost the ability to unite when unity is needed.

Also in the never-before category: I have a fairly simple, ethical rubric for choosing candidates, although up until this year it was pretty rudimentary. I voted for the pro-life candidate, which was almost always the Republican. (Pro-life Democrats went extinct at the national level in approximately 1988). If the candidate was, as I occasionally suspected, not terribly pro-life, I still voted Republican as the best way of bundling my vote's power with a larger group. I may not have supported the eventual nominee of my party in the primaries, but by the convention I was always convinced that this was a man who at least loved America and was committed to doing his best to govern in a wise way. But this year, I can't trust the nominee of my own party to be decent and sane... let alone keep his word about appointing pro-life judges. It's never happened before, but I have a very bad feeling about this... as if Trump is the Death Star of the Republican party... and there has never been a moment when I've felt the least bit that I could overcome that to vote for him. Sure, I sympathize with my fellow party members who feel differently, and I respect their right to vote their conscience, as all of us must do. I think it's a little as described in this essay. I do not blame anyone for following his or her conscience. But if it's truly a choice between two evils, say Tiberius or Nero, which is worse? In this election, I honestly can't tell... competent but utterly corrupt and cruel, or insanely narcissistic, given to bullying and sexual harassment and uninterested in anything but self? I choose neither, with the slim and vanishing hope that the GOP might replace Trump and lose with  honor rather than dishonor, or that Evan McMullin might force the election to the House. It's sad... like this parable.

So here's my analogy. I'm boiling mad at the inept leadership of the RNC that Reince Priebus has given. There were any number of chances to stop Trump: best would have been at the very beginning: "Sorry, Mr. Trump, but you haven't agreed to release your tax forms and agree to an investigation into your past to see if there are any scandals lurking there. You also don't agree with the Republican platform on a minimum of 75% of the published platform. You can't run as a Republican." Or at the convention: "Yes, grassroots Republicans DO have a say in the process, and we would never dream of shutting them out in the hopes of presenting a false front of lockstep unity behind this candidate that two thirds of the party can't stand." Now that those who have been #neverTrump all along have many occasions to say "I told you so" (but Priebus is still not listening), I feel like a door-to-door salesman (Trump oil?) has barged into my house and is now insisting he owns the place. Would you not be willing to fight tooth and nail against such an incursion? I've imagined it with other institutions I care about and helped to build up... the school I taught at for 16 years... say Kim Kardashian barged in and declared herself headmistress? Or my small OPC church... say the Hari Krishnas from down the street moved in and declared themselves the legal residents and owners. I can't imagine anyone involved in leadership at any institution just rolling over and playing dead in similar circumstances. If the GOP goes down in disgrace, Trump just goes back to living in a tower with his name on it, and the alt-right, which I'd never even heard of before this spring, becomes the dominant faction in what's left of the party. I want Priebus to own his failure to protect us all from the Trump Trainwreck.

No bellyaching about dirty tricks and rigged elections. You gave them the advantage by not protecting your grassroots. They would have steered you better. Indeed, they tried and you ignored them.

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