I was a political science major at the State University of New York at New Paltz in the 1970s, a fairly yeasty time of Vietnam, Watergate (I watched the hearings voraciously), and the first President (Gerald Ford) selected through the 25th Amendment, after Vice President Spiro Agnew, and later President Richard Nixon, left office.
I remember the sharp partisan divide. Yet I recall a strong sense of duty to the country, being greater than a duty to party, taking place, as the Republican members of the Senate committee investigating the break-in, and the House committee that was considering the impeachment of a Republican President, resolutely, though not without anguish.
The political climate in the United States in 2016 is awful. I understand why people hate politics and decide to ignore politics altogether.
These are things I believe about the current season:
The Hillary Clinton supporters who have been nagging the Bernie Sanders supporters to “get in line,” to give up the quest, were wrong. I’ve been saying for MONTHS to leave them alone, respect their views. Bernie has been signaling, for WEEKS, that he would eventually back Hillary Clinton.
But he was waiting. Waiting to get concessions on the Democratic party platform. He had what is called LEVERAGE. You do not give away leverage for “the sake of party unity,” but rather exploit it. What Bernie did was, frankly, brilliant.
Sarah Silverman telling Bernie supporters Monday night that they were “ridiculous” for continuing to support the Vermont senator was demeaning and unhelpful.
Likewise, those Bernie folks who screamed “WE trusted you” repeatedly at Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA) during her address Monday night, as though they were demanding some sort of ideological purity, were extremely rude.
I appreciate the debate about Who Should Bernie Voters Support Now? Robert Reich vs. Chris Hedges on Tackling the Neoliberal Order. One can disagree without being disagreeable, as my mother used to say.
I stole this from Elaine Lee on Facebook: “A primary campaign season is like a nasty divorce negotiation. Each side builds its case against the other, in an effort to paint the other as evil, in hopes of winning the house. Also like a divorce negotiation? It’s most important to think about the future of the kids.”
The Democrats were right to get rid of the party head Debbie Wasserman Schultz over bias toward Hillary. No, she’s not getting a cushy job with the Clinton campaign, but the optics, with novice supporters unfamiliar with the nomenclature, could have been a LOT better.
She’s referred to as Hillary because there was a previous President Clinton. I’m not feeling the sexism here. Her signs have a big H, not a big C.
The Democratic convention, for me, was easier to watch than the Republican one last week. The GOP version was a dystopian version of America that was, frankly, exhausting. I avoided watching the Hunger Games movies for a reason.
Voting for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, or Jill Stein, the Green Party standard-bearer, or writing in Bernie, or voting for no one, is NOT voting for Donald Trump. I so wish my Clinton friends would STOP SAYING THIS. It convinces no one, because it’s bad math. If there are 100 people, and 50 of them voted for Trump, and 50 of them voted for Clinton, if the 101st person votes for Stein, Trump and Clinton still each have 50 votes. The ASSUMPTION is that vote would otherwise go to Clinton, when there is no evidence of that.
After supporting Bernie Sanders in the primary, I am voting for Hillary Clinton in the general election, for several reasons, some having to do with my deep fear of a Donald Trump Presidency, but others having to do with the positive attributes laid out by Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, among others. Plus this cartoon. It helps – a lot – that Bernie requested that his supporters do so.
That said, I strongly favor people voting. Even for Trump, Lord help us. Or vote for Johnson or Stein. As I’ve noted, I fear a write-in vote would be less effective because state laws vary in how much they are counted.
But I VIGOROUSLY oppose people not voting at all. If you know the history of this country, and how difficult it has been for black people, and women, to exercise the franchise, you bring shame to America by staying home. (I could have soft-pedaled that a little… nah.)
I freely admit I don’t “get” Donald Trump’s appeal. At all. He appears, to me, singularly unfit for office, as historians such as David McCullough have indicated.
And he invited the Russians to hack into a former secretary of state’s email to help him win an election?
However, I do not believe that anyone who supports Donald Trump is necessarily a racist, or stupid, or whatever. I was, accidentally, the conduit, of such an attack, on my Facebook feed, with someone I know personally bashing the husband of a friend of mine. There were 17 or so comments back and forth, and frankly, I stopped looking.
Ad hominem attacks win over no one except those already inclined to believe that point of view. Fighting on FB about politics is the logical equivalent of eating glass. Maybe a little won’t tear your insides out, but I’m not looking to discover the threshold.
This is especially an issue because social media is the place most likely to view calumny, an offense against the truth, in the political discourse. “We become guilty of this offense against the truth when by remarks contrary to the truth, we harm the reputation of others and give occasion for false judgments concerning them.”
Anyway, there it is. I expect a lot of, “Well, I agree with some of what you say, except…”
P.S. Here is a 1992 cartoon by Paul Mavrides, which initially appeared in Heavy Metal magazine. It’s annoyingly accurate, still. Used with permission.