I watched the Clinton and the Trump speeches on Friday, June 11. Clinton at Planned Parenthood, Trump at the Faith and Freedom conference. Both in DC. So many points to fact check. But one thing that Trump said that got my immediate attention was his reference to "Christian-Americans. " Once again, Mr. Trump demonstrated his core conviction that Americans can be easily, carelessly, hyphenated...this time according to our religious beliefs.
In a speech given before an audience of men and women with deep and firm religious foundations, foundations upon which I'm sure are built rich lives of charity and fellowship, why would Trump carefully, pointedly, put political parentheses around just one category of Americans of faith? Are not Jewish-Americans, and Muslim-Americans, and Buddhist-Americans also trying to live lives of freedom and faith? Don't Americans who embrace Shinto, Tao, or Sikh ideals as spiritual foundations also aspire to lives of freedom and faith?
Here is my disclaimer: I am a Christian. I am an American. I do not believe in conflating the two. My faith and my nationality cannot be defined by a hyphen. Americans cannot be defined by hyphens. In America, we do not say, "I am a farmer-American, or a banker-American, or a nurse-American, or a mother-American, or a soldier-American." I am not a writer-American. Even when a hyphen seems imperative, we need to resist its application to our conditions; a disabled veteran does not need to be further defined, or possibly stigmatized, by a piece of ambiguous punctuation.
Trump's use of the hyphen in Christian-American inserts just such an ambiguity into the national conversation about the role of religion in politics. His goal at the Faith and Freedom conference was crystal clear: to lift up Christians as a special, preferred, subset of all Americans of faith. In doing so, he purposefully swept the rest of the nation's religions into pile of remnants...leftover material he has decided is not necessary to the fabric of his version of the American quilt, a quilt that is overwhelmingly white and featureless. A quilt that serves only to cover Trump's gilded bed.
I certainly don't believe that my Christian faith deserves elevation above others, or has somehow earned the right to be viewed as politically exclusive of all other faiths. What brand of arrogant would that be? Trump's brand, I guess.
Mr. Trump cannot seem to articulate a personal value system that accepts or, at the very least, acknowledges, the value systems of others. He demonstrates over and over again a reluctance to accept the possibility--no, the reality-- that Americans, in the main, reject classification; that we abhor being pigeonholed by race, creed, origin, social and economic standing, and religion.
Even when I factor in the history of the audience to whom he was speaking -- devoutly Christian, deeply conservative -- it was clear to me that Mr. Trump, in those simple two-words, Christian-American, does not get who we are, what we stand for, and more importantly, what we will not stand for. He had an opportunity, in a speech keyed to Freedom and Faith, to show the bigness of his spirituality. Instead, he once again illustrated the smallness of his mind.
Why is the media so surprised and perplexed that Bernie refuses to give up? His agenda is as clear as day: he is refusing to let the Clintons triangulate their way to the Oval Office, and dumping progressive issues along the way.
For those who don't remember, or were too young to know, the term "triangulation" was coined by Bill Clinton's political Svengali Dick Morris. Basically it's a fancy word for compromise. Sometimes referred to as the "Third Way," it was the brainchild of Bill Clinton and it dominated a new brand of Democratic thinking championed by the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC).
Clinton, Morris and the DLC believed that to win, Democrats needed to shift away from left-leaning policies. Morris, especially, believe that the best way for Clinton to get re-elected in 1996 was to move to the center of the political spectrum for political expediency and tactical advantage, rather than for ideological reasons. Clinton adopted many Republican ideas to neutralize their criticism. Sometimes this meant jettisoning cherished liberal policies.
Morris told the PBS program Frontline, in 2000, that:
"I didn't care at all [that the Republicans held Congress]. In fact, I feel that it was in many ways better for Bill Clinton if the Republicans did, because it permitted him to get rid of the craziness of the liberals in the Democratic Party and go with the centrist achievements that I think have worked so well for the country."
And Morris thought that Bill Clinton would get more from working with Republicans than with Democrats -- that Democrats would make him a "hostage:"
"I said [to Bill Clinton in 1994], 'They [the Democrats] will become your jailers. You won't be their candidate; you'll be their hostage. And you'll be spending every waking moment going around the liberal, Black, Hispanic caucuses, handing out goodies to try to round up the last Democratic vote, because you need them all to defeat the Republicans. Whereas, if you play it in the center, you'll get a good many Republican votes, and you'll be able to pass your bills.'"
What Triangulation Wrought
It's easy to imagine Bernie Sanders' reaction to the idea of getting "rid of the craziness of the Liberals."
What we got for it was NAFTA, which he has railed against incessantly. It got us welfare reform, likewise criticized by progressives. It got us the Commodities Futures Modernization Act, which gutted Glass-Steagall and set the stage for the financial excesses that caused Great Recession. And let's not forget the smirking face of Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn as he emerged from the White House after negotiating the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy that slammed the closet door on gay military service members.
Those are the kinds of triangulation strategies that Sanders wants to block. And given that Hillary has waffled on Keystone and TPP and many other progressive priorities, his fear does not seem misplaced. Whether you agree with Sanders or not, Hillary is prone to centrist compromise almost more than her husband.
Way back in 2012, a conservative blogger foretold the return of triangulation, this time in the person of Hillary Clinton.
This blogger argued that a 2012 speech to the DNC by Bill Clinton "will eventually go down in political history as the most perfect triangulation strategy ever designed and implemented." He believed that Bill was setting up Hillary to run against a "failed" Obama presidency in 2016, in addition to running against the GOP nominee. There is plenty of evidence to refute the notion of a "failed" Obama presidency, but the idea of running against Obama by tacking rightward is harder to refute.
Back in March 2015, a Tufts University professor and blogger for the Washington Post, Daniel Drezner, saw just such a strategy taking shape. He said:
"The more centrist she seems compared to Obama, the better for her campaign. And because for one reason or another there's no serious primary challenger in the Democratic camp, Clinton does not need to engage in the conservative policy outbidding that's currently taking place on the GOP side of the ledger. Will it work? It worked for Bill Clinton, but it's a different political time, and Hillary Clinton -- along with every other mortal -- is a less-skilled political candidate."
Bernie, the Socialist Firewall
Of course, that was before the Bernie juggernaut.
Now, Sanders is no fool. He knows he's no longer running for the nomination. But what he also know, with absolute certainty, is that he is the only thing standing between Hillary and a full-bore strategy of triangulation, in which she would jettison just as many cherished liberal policies (and accomplishments) as her husband - on foreign policy, economic policy, environmental policy and regulating the economic and political power of big corporations.
Sanders is a wily old guy who has been round the block many times. He saw the Clintonian writing on the wall and said, "Hell no."
And now his aim is to drag Hillary leftward: as far as possible, for as long as possible. He will give her not one inch of room to backpedal on the current progressive agenda. His message is: "Sorry lady you're not gonna triangulate your way out of this one."
He will be a force at the convention, and throughout the general, dogging her, nipping at her heels, goading her, and reminding her that she takes progressive support for granted at her own peril. It didn't cost her husband the White House, but he will do his best to ensure that it costs her dearly if she tries it this time around.
So don't expect Bernie to go away and time soon. He will be with us to November and beyond... Probably remaining a thorn in Hillary's side as long as her presidency may last.
Newly released State Department emails help reveal how a major Clinton Foundation donor was placed on a sensitive government intelligence advisory board even though he had no obvious experience in the field, a decision that appeared to baffle the department’s professional staff.
In the past, political divide surrounded how both sides proposed to solve a problem. Today the divide is more about whether a particular problem is a problem at all. As a result, a person's political leanings are determined by whether or not they deem a hot-button issue as worthy of addressing or not. It's not about solving the Syrian refugee crisis, it's about those who say there's a crisis and those who say there's no crisis at all.
That's why Trump is a blessing. Some people are what the times need. Right now we need a voice like Trump's because it forces us to confront the taboo issues we all secretly harbor in our hearts and minds. We shouldn't hate Trump. We should feel sympathy for him as we cast a ballot against him. He's been sheltered from reality his entire life. Handed a small empire by his father at an early age, and never technically having to exert himself beyond phone calls and giving orders, he's never tasted what if feels like to be othered or to know those who've been othered.
Naturally, when this kind of person is faced with new and unique challenges they default to 'make it disappear' as opposed to dissect and understand it. He is either very afraid, or just deceitful enough to recognize fear in the masses and exploit it. For a man or woman to carry either trait would make them unfit for the honorable presidency of the United States.
Bravado is not strength and strength is not enough to lead a nation. Terror, immigration, classism, safety; are complicated, nuanced challenges. We do in fact need a strong leader to address them. But if we stop at strength we get Assad, we get Putin. We may even get Hitler. I'm no cheerleader for Reagan, but I remember watching a video clip of him surrounded by a crowd of irate African Americans who were shouting at him as he shouted back in equal irritation, "If you would be quiet I will tell you my plan!" On the surface it looked confrontational, but this is what democracy looks like sometimes; a leader willing to give an explanation to the dissatisfied among his constituency. That type of fortitude requires more than strength.
We need a strong and thoughtful leadership; one that is able to look at the past in order to inform the future. We need a president that is able to use history as an adviser and the present as a forewarner. Because if history has taught us anything, it's that discretion is the better part of valor. If a nation-state has the capacity to annihilate entire populations with the launch of a drone; eavesdrop on every conversation and build monolithic embargo walls, they ought to be able to pause and figure out alternative paths before resorting to those extremes.
In that vein, the person of Trump represents our collective fears as a citizenry under fire. Likewise, Sanders represents our collective outrage over social injustices perpetrated against marginalized groups over the past 60 years. Both are extremes of our natural emotions.
But Clinton represents our collective forbearance; a temperament that weighs fear and outrage with pragmatism and equity. That's why it makes sense for Obama to endorse her as he's done. She's certainly not perfect. She never claimed to be. But she's the choice we must make right now.
Regardless of what Trump makes funny faces about; we need not panic. We have the privilege of the secret ballot. The secret ballot is the cornerstone of democracy, not yelling, fighting, sabotaging and name-calling. Because of it we're not intimidated by any threat internally or from outside forces because our system is greater than any threat. It's a system based on people; their fears, their outrage, their hopes and their dreams, but perhaps more importantly, their prudence. Prudence is the ability to combine all those feelings of fragility with good sense, and good sense makes the world go-round. Good sense gave us America. With all its flaws and blemishes it is still a beautiful experiment.
Sure, the system has faltered. Prudence has sometimes been buried in the fray... but it's never been lost.
While democracy has sometimes used fists, cannons, missiles, bombs, rifles, and even loud voices; the secret ballot is its greatest weapon yet, and the loudest voice of all.
I voted for Bernie Sanders in the California primary not because I thought he would or could win the California primary, let alone the Democratic presidential nomination, but because he deserved support. He deserved it because he did what few politicians were willing to do
That is thunder against wealth and income inequality, corral Wall Street abuses, back a top dollar minimum wage, a massive job creation program, universal health care, and the end to mass incarceration. He injected a much needed gale of fresh air into American politics. But that's past. Hillary Clinton is the Democratic presidential nominee, and no amount of talk from Bernie about fighting on, trying to arm twist a few more super-delegates for support, or citing ridiculous, meaningless polls that show him beating Trump in a general election facedown are relevant to anything.
The only thing relevant now is not simply beating Trump, but the Democrats taking back the senate to insure that Clinton has a fighting chance of getting her initiatives, legislation and judicial and administration appointments through, and to oust as many Republicans from state and local offices as possible. This is going to take votes, lots of votes, and lots of voters going to the polls to back Clinton and every Democrat who's in a tough race with a Republican in the swing states.
It's going to take Bernie saying to the roughly one out of five of his fervent backers who have railed against Clinton, and vowed that they wouldn't back her no matter what, you must. He doesn't have to try to put the fear of God in them with the nightmarish scene of a "President" Trump putting two or three more Clarence Thomas's on the Supreme Court, gutting everything from education to the Affordable Care Act, and holding an itchy finger on the nuclear trigger. He can talk about Hillary, or more importantly, why he agrees more with Hillary on the crucial issues than disagrees. That's not hard to do because it's true. Clinton will give a hard nod to the interests of minorities, gays and women. She will continue and expand Obama's policies that extend government programs and initiatives, hike spending on education, health care, and jobs and markedly increase taxes on corporations and the wealthy while enforcing, tightening regulations on the banks and Wall Street, and she has actually spelled out a progressive plan for real criminal justice system reform.
I had the luxury of giving Sanders a vote in California. It's a no-fly zone for GOP presidential candidates. No Republican presidential candidate has won the state since George Bush, Sr. in 1988. Jesus Christ could run on the GOP presidential ticket in California and probably lose. However, it's a far different story in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Colorado where either GOP governors or GOP controlled or heavily influenced legislatures are major political shot callers.
Bush won the White House in 2000 by the much disputed 537 vote margin in Florida over Al Gore, and won it again in 2004 with the several thousand vote margin in Ohio over John Kerry. Both elections stand as the ultimate proof that an individual's vote really can count. This election is no different. The notion that Trump will implode, shoot himself in the foot, or turn off so many Republicans and independents that all Hillary has to do is concentrate her time and energy planning for her inaugural ball is not just nonsense, but dangerous.
Elections are almost always won by candidates with a solid and impassioned core of bloc voters. In Trump's case, white males, older voters, middle-income, college educated voters vote consistently and faithfully. They vote in a far greater percentage than Hispanics and blacks, and especially young voters. And many of them based on his showing in the primaries do back him. The big exception was 2008. Obama's run turned that year's campaign into a crusade to make racial history. That powered the massive sea change in traditional voting patterns. In 2012, it didn't hold up. Obama won the popular vote by just slightly more than 5 million votes over Romney. In 2014, it totally fell apart with the GOP's steady voting base again back at the polls and the party used it to seize the Senate.
There's no guarantee that the enthusiasm, passion, energy, and sense of making history that was there for Obama, or the enthusiasm that was there for Sanders, will be there for Clinton. The red flag on this are the negatives. Trump has them in spades, but so does Clinton. Trump and the GOP will pull out all stops to shove them down the voter's throats. It will take a united Democratic party, to overcome that assault. It won't be easy but given the colossal stakes, and the absolute importance of having a Clinton in the White House, Sanders must say and keep saying to his supporters, back Clinton.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His latest book is How "President" Trump will Govern (Amazon Kindle) He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.
The Hillary story I have yet to see is the one that explains how any woman could have possibly gained the political clout she has, without being the person she is.
Anything less would have made the glass ceiling impenetrable.
Men of power are not stepping out of the way to make space for women of power. White people of power are not stepping aside to make space for black people of power.
This is true with every level of oppression.
Power is not given away. It has to be taken. It requires the unrelenting, fearless willingness to do what it takes, for however long it takes.
I am not unaware of the dynamics of who Hillary Clinton is. I am also not unaware of the monumental doors that are only just beginning to open for women because of who she is.
To think that we would be at this historical moment, that any woman could ascend to the threshold of the United States Presidency, by being anything other than who she is, is detached from the realities of the world we live in.
I loathe the corporate media and the party establishment. I have deep concerns. I love Bernie Sanders - for many of the same reasons I love Hillary Clinton. They are both revolutionaries.
But I hope we can realize that it's not Hillary who made the system. It's the system that made Hillary. And it's the system that required someone with her courage and fortitude, for a woman to achieve what she is achieving.
As these doors open, not because of the system, in spite of the system, the same system is made vulnerable. It is no longer impenetrable. Neither is the glass ceiling.
As they try to come to terms with the outrageous, bigoted, xenophobic, misogynistic, unconstitutional ravings of their presumptive presidential candidate, Republican Party leaders would do well to read the children's animal fable "The Scorpion and the Frog." (For those not familiar with the parable, the tale goes thusly: a scorpion implores a frog to carry it across a river. At first the frog rejects the idea, fearing it would be fatally stung. After the scorpion explains it wouldn't do such a thing as it would then drown, the frog agrees. Halfway across, the frog is indeed stung. Before it dies it asks the scorpion why would it doom both of them. Because, replies the scorpion, it is in its nature to sting, regardless of the consequences.)
Donald Trump's strained, symbiotic relationship with his current party's establishment--which hopes to control him--is the embodiment of the fable. Despite their often stated distaste for him, the party elite is willing to carry Trump on its back as they navigate the election waters. But, just as the scorpion stung the frog and drowned both of them because it was in its nature, there is little doubt Trump will continue to make flagrantly divisive statements that may well sink GOP efforts to appeal to a base broader than angry white men and women.
Trump has promised a major rip-roaring speech early next week to expose both Hillary and Bill Clinton's warts. For sure the speech will be colorful and entertaining. He is, after all, a master showman. But as two of the most heavily vetted public figures of the last quarter century, the Clintons have survived years of congressional and special prosecutor scrutiny. It would indeed be news if Trump revealed any new scandals beyond the rumor and innuendo that are his stock in trade.
On the other hand, can a man currently defending himself in court for allegedly fraudulently bilking desperate, needy consumers into paying thousands of dollars to Trump University accuse the Clintons of engaging in get rich quick schemes? Bernie Sanders, a socialist, might legitimately question Hillary's fees for Wall Street speeches, but Trump is a capitalist. You would think he would applaud her ability to squeeze as much lucre from the fat cats.
Can a man who cheated on two wives chastise another for infidelity? Let's keep in mind two points: Hillary never committed adultery, and many of the holier-than-thou crowd who tried to remove Bill from office wound up admitting they strayed from their marriage vows.
Can a man who four times had to seek bankruptcy protection for his companies be expected to lecture on business acumen and vitality? Bill, after all, wiped out the deficit he inherited from his Republican predecessors and left a surplus. The stock market enjoyed boom times during his term of office, the budget was balanced, the economy was robust.
Can a man who lauded Putin and Kim Jong-Un, who suggested nuclear proliferation is acceptable, who would undermine longstanding bi-partisan international alliances, opine on foreign affairs? Beyond what is written for him, does he know the difference between Sunni and Shia Muslims? Does he understand the complex world of Eastern Europe and its relationship with Russia, or the rising threat of nationalist parties throughout Europe? Does he have a plan for the Southern American hemisphere beyond building a wall?
Can a man who makes racist statements, who claims not to know who David Duke is and who does not disavow the Ku Klux Klan, who evaluates women by their physical appearance, who makes fun of the handicapped, credibly claim to be a unifier?
Regrettably, to the rank and file Republican voters who chose him in the primaries, Trump's inadequate resume will make no difference. Nor will it make any difference to the Hillary haters.
The sadness in all this is that it won't make any difference to almost all of the leaders and elected officials of the Republican Party. Few if any will listen to South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham's lonely voice of reason.
"This is the most un-American thing from a politician since Joe McCarthy," Graham said of Trump's attack on Federal Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel. "If anybody was looking for an off-ramp, this is probably it. There'll come a time when the love of country will trump hatred of Hillary."
If Hillary had made comments as explosive as Trump's Republicans would be falling over each other as they rushed to microphones to declare her unfit for office. But, as Thomas L. Friedman pointed out in his Wednesday New York Times column, they have abandoned any principles they might have had:
"It (the Republican Party) is just an empty shell, selling pieces of itself to the highest bidders, -- policy by policy -- a little to the Tea Party over here, a little to Big Oil over there, a little to the gun lobby, to antitax zealots, to climate-change deniers. And before you know it, the party stands for an incoherent mess of ideas unrelated to any theory of where the world is going or how America actually becomes great again in the 21st century."
I grew up in Indiana dead set in thinking there was really no way I could ever try to compete for public office as a Hindu and as a first generation American. I can specifically remember going to the Beech Grove Public Library one night with my Dad when three older kids kept yelling "Haajis" at us thanks to The Simpsons. To this day, I still hate that show because it subjected me to that stereotype and made me live through the immensely embarrassing moment when I wouldn't even let my Dad say anything back.
I realize now, that I had and still have deep-seated insecurities arising from moments like that. We all do. For me, every perceived slight or evidence that I somehow wasn't fully "American" just reinforced the belief that there was always going to be that ceiling on what I could accomplish.
Now I know, the insecurities of my background are not limited to me. What did my parents or Judge Curiel's parents do? They traveled across oceans to a foreign land with an alien language and no connections. They built businesses, raised kids, and became contributors to their community all the while working hard to make their kids extra "American," embracing things like football and Budweiser to feel more a part of this great experiment. There's nothing wrong with that, but I know first hand how much we overcompensated to be more "American" so that bullies like Trump could not question our allegiance.
Of course, it's not just immigrants whose insecurities make them overcompensate; women feel compelled to suppress emotions to look tough, gay friends felt the pressure to be extra macho in their youth, black friends of mine had parents who told them to be extra subservient to police to protect themselves. I remember working for the 2008 Obama campaign -- one week, he was "too black" and another, he was "not black enough" because, oh wow, he eats arugula! And while so many people knock Hillary Clinton for being too robotic, too calculated, too career-focused, too cautious, I can empathize with the insecurity of feeling like you have to do a little more, or be a little better to be good enough to be compared with everyone else on an even field. It would be easy for people turn into drones to fit a narrative -- but if there's one thing Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have taught us it is that you can't live your life for a narrative, there's nothing to that.
Bill Clinton once said there's nothing wrong with America that can't be fixed by what's right with America. Well, what's right with America rapidly proved to me that nothing is impossible or foreclosed because of the gender, religion or race with which I was born. The best parts of America proved my insecurities wrong -- so much earlier in my life than I could have ever imagined. A woman will follow a black man named Barack Hussein Obama for the nomination from a party where she defeated a "Brooklyn Jew" as her chief rival in a contest where those immutable characteristics were never brought up as a negative issue.
What an amazing time to be alive! Just 15 years later, the country and everything that is right with it proved how wrong I was growing up -- the ceiling on all of our potential has been blown right off the top thanks to what we have already accomplished as a generation.
Which is why it is so important that we continue fixing what is wrong with America -- right now, that is a group of folks led by a demagogue who uses his insecurities to lash out at others. Mr. Trump's questioning of whether a judge born in my own state of Indiana with Mexican background can ever be impartial relegates me to the exact second-class citizenship about which I was insecure growing up. His election, would not just put me back 15 years to my youth to a world where I'd always be limited by the circumstances of my birth. Trump's election would make everyone that does not agree with him somehow less American and by extension. That's the definition of a demagogue, we've seen what happens when someone stands above men and tells them their problems are based on "others."
So, for all my Bernie friends, be proud of what you've accomplished. But the stakes are too high to stay home this fall. And for my Republican friends, now is the time to make amends for the past. Your party has admitted that it exploited racial politics in the South as a wedge issue to rise to national power but this is your opportunity to let that element go its own way, it is not ours.
It's time to roll up our sleeves and get to work, to shatter the highest glass ceiling in the world and make permanent how far we've come as a Nation.
Hillary Clinton has laid out a detailed policy agenda in the energy and environment space. Her positions reflect traditional Democratic initiatives including increased renewable power and improved energy efficiency.
If elected, she would continue the environmental regulatory agenda of the Obama Administration. For example, she would continue efforts to regulate emissions of greenhouse gases like CO2 and methane.
In some cases, she would go farther than the current Administration, and may impose stricter limits on fossil fuel production off-shore and on federal lands.
She has also proposed a $60 billion Clean Energy Challenge to fund new innovations to reduce carbon emissions, and has put forward a $30 billion plan to revitalize coal communities.
Some of her agenda would need a change in law or would be subject to funding provided by Congress. These policy items may be difficult to achieve - particularly if she faces a Republican Congress.
But many of her proposals can be implemented through the regulatory process. The rule making process can be time consuming and litigious, but a determined executive branch can achieve significant policy changes using this avenue. If elected, Clinton is likely to use that power to promote her agenda on energy and the environment.
Last week I sent out a message to the GVP community basically saying that: a) Trump was a menace to Gun Violence Prevention (GVP); and b) that I felt that the entire GVP community needed to sit down and come up with an organized plan to defeat him that would involve everyone who wants to see an end to violence caused by guns. I also said I would donate $1,000 to the favorite charity of the person who came up with the best campaign slogan that GVP could use to dump the Trump on November 8th.
I just sent the donation to Everytown, and I did so because I believe that the hashtag campaign Everytown started when Trump was speaking at the NRA -- #makeamericasafeagain -- really does hit the veritable nail right on the veritable head, at least when it comes to making it perfectly clear what this election is all about from a GVP point of view.
Because here's the bottom line: either you believe that a gun in your pocket or on your night table makes you safer or you don't. And if you believe you are safer, you are buying an argument the gun industry has been making for the last 30 years without a shred of evidence to back it up. Yea, there's an anecdote here and there about how this person or that person defended themselves with a gun; I'm not saying it can't be done. But what about the anecdotes about the 300 people who get shot every day -- intentionally and unintentionally -- with guns? And these aren't just anecdotes, this is a fact.
This is the problem with how Gun Nation and its putative presidential candidate deal with the issue of gun violence -- long on stories, short on facts. And his stories have become nastier and increasingly rely on calls for violence from what is often a very receptive crowd. People don't come to Trump rallies because they agree with his stand on the issues -- he hasn't made even the slightest attempt to define his position on the issues except to lead his audience in a chant: Build The Wall. And now that the PGA has announced they are moving Trump's Doral tournament to Mexico, let's see if he will make good on his blustering, stupid demand that would force every PGA golf pro pay a 20% tax on what they win in that tournament when they go to re-enter the United States.
On the other hand, to Hillary's credit, she has not only made GVP a centerpiece of her campaign, she's willing to stake her success on an issue that has been, more than any, symbolic of Washington's inability to get things done. And let's not forget what the other side is saying, namely, that the country is in such bad shape because government doesn't work.
I don't really care whether Hillary has grabbed the GVP issue because it's smart politics or not; how it positions her against Bernie is of no concern of mine. Let's get selfish for a minute and ask what her stance on gun violence does for GVP, namely, it gives the GVP community a presence and a platform that it otherwise wouldn't have. Was Hillary wearing orange last week?
But in challenging Trump over the gun issue Hillary is also challenging the GVP community. Because guess what folks? There are exactly 148 days until November 8th. And either the entire GVP community is going to come together, get it together, work together, vote together, or it's not. And this isn't something, I hate to admit it, that the GVP community hasn't done so well in the past. We tend to move in our own little circles, we usually talk only to our own little group of friends.
So let's just put all that aside and agree that from now until November 8th there's one thing that needs to be done. And we all know what that is -- defeat Donald Trump.
If not Donald, someone else would be Trump. America has been waiting for him.
Trump is a racist, who feeds back to an angry America what it wants to believe -- that its problems are the cause of Blacks, Latinos, women, and immigrants. Trump's supporters want to think those groups rose up to take their jobs, but instead do not realize they themselves were just pushed down into the same ranks America's traditional oppressed occupy. Trump tells his supporters they are victims of an unfair world, ironically true in a way that must make him snigger off stage.
Trump is a fascist, who promotes an America at war with anyone who challenges its self-image. For the past 15 years, politicians and media have fed the raw meat of revenge to Americans, so it should be no surprise that Trump's shouts to invade and bomb and torture are so enthusiastically received.
Trump is an opportunist, knowing that social issues such as gun control bring in the crowds (no one is going to repeal the Second Amendment) while mattering not a whit to the world he and the other power brokers care about. What is really important is maintaining the military industrial complex and being able to manipulate the tax/economic/investment systems. In their minds, only stupid poor people worry about transgender toilets and the like. We don't need bread and circuses, we have Fox.
Welcome to Weimar: America is Now Ready
Others have tried to be Trump and failed. Nixon had most of the pieces in place but fell victim to a media that still cared back then to do its job. That's no longer a problem.
Reagan came very close, but had America's reliable Russian enemy pulled out from under him. The various evangelistic candidates of the '80s and '90s also tried, but most fell victim to sex and money scandals.
In 2016, America was ready for its little Hitler.
The Bush years weakened the institutions of America (the press in particular.)
The Republican party, by pushing forward Caligula's horse in the form of Sarah Palin, laid bare its contempt for the electorate. The electorate ate it up as great TV.
Obama, full of pretty words, cynically picked up his office and that Nobel while twisting the knife with drones.
The Congress threw away its Constitutional role and empowered a strong man executive because it could not agree on anything else.
The one percent nailed things after the 2008 economic crisis (Throw them in jail? They got the government to pay off their financial malfeasance for them), pretty much ensuring their hold forever on power, even as we down here argue over what level of poverty a minimum wage should allow us.
A Man of His Time
Trump sensed all this perhaps without even understanding it, like a predator catches a scent. He added in his own amazing media skills. He realized he could say anything, and contradict himself from speech to speech. The media and public certainly wouldn't care, they'd encourage it as entertainment.
All that said, no one should count Hillary out; she is armed with her own skills. She indeed may end up as president. But that only means the next iteration of Trump, whoever he or she is, waits a bit longer. The broader processes of history can be delayed but not denied.
While the forty fourth president Barack Hussein Obama weaves his historical legacy to the tune of reconciliation with enemies, celebrating the end of America's wars to appease public opinion, US public resentment and even wrath is growing against government policies and political influence, with growing racism, vindictiveness, and arrogance in the American arena. The forty fifth president, be it a man or a woman, will therefore not inherit the US that Barack Obama thinks he has moulded with his policy of appeasement and non-aggression. The new president will inherit an America divided about its options, gloomy about its conditions, paranoid about the world, and reluctant to exercise its superpower role and unique position in the unipolar era that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. The next US president, be it the Democrat Hillary Clinton or the Republican Donald Trump, whose candidacy will come against the will of the Republican party, or be it a "distinguished" Republican personality that could come as a deadly surprise to Donald Trump, will not be an appeasing president. Most likely, it will be a confrontation president who will seek to restore America's prestige and firmness, breaking away with dithering and prevarication. Perhaps the US needed the eight years of appeasement and de-escalation that the Barack Obama era represented, keeping America out of others' wars though at the cost of the erosion of principles and values the US long boasted of having. This was the choice of a majority of Americans whose demands Obama fulfilled. But today, political populism is angry and begrudged. A segment identifies with Donald Trump, who has adopted anger, hatred, and racism as a political platform reflecting part of the American mood as he saw it. Another segment of the popular pro-Trump base supports him because he represents their aspirations and promises to revive them, including their aspirations for a return to the original capitalism: the capitalism that gives citizens opportunities not the capitalism that has been hijacked by major corporations. For their part, young Democratic voters are leading an important revolution calling for socialism in the United States. It is an incomplete revolution, however, because America is angry against the exploitation by the government and the corporations of capitalism, but is not ready for socialism, even if it is indeed a panacea. For this reason, Bernie Sanders will not be the next president or even vice president. America is not ready despite its absolute dissatisfaction with its political and financial leaders, as the polls show, where both Hillary Clinton and Trump seem to have popularity and trust problems with the electorate.
Republicans have voted down the Bush dynasty, not only because of the unpopularity of George W. Bush and anger against his aggressive policies, pre-emptive doctrine, and his wars, but also because Jeb Bush's personality as seen on TV during the debates was obnoxious. The Bushes were voted down because Americans are averse to dynasties that might come to believe they are entitled to own the US presidency.
Democrats, meanwhile, have not been won over by the Clintons, especially as reports emerged Bill and Hillary were grooming their daughter Chelsea for senior political positions. Bill Clinton became president thanks to his competence, personality, and charisma, but he would not have never become president without his ambitious political partner and wife Hillary. Then Bill stood behind Hill - as they are nicknamed - the day she fought the election for the New York Senate seat and then the presidential primaries that she lost to Barack Obama. Today, Hillary Clinton is vying for the Democratic nomination for the presidency against an older, socialist competitor who has proven to be a tough nut to crack. She had grown complacent thinking the nomination was guaranteed, but accusations against her and her husband of having a cosy relationship with major banks through the Clinton Foundation (which they deny) have left her battered. She remains relatively unpopular, while lacking the charisma of her husband and his talent for winning over people.
But Hillary Clinton will still reach the Democratic convention next month carrying a number of delegates enough to secure the nomination. So far, it appears that Clinton will be the one to face off with the Republican nominee. Some don't believe this, however. They believe it's not possible for America to topple the Bushes but keep the Clintons. They point to the investigations into her use of unsecured e-mails during her tenure as secretary of state, and say the outcome will hurt her. Others have cited her health issues, including an episode during which she fainted and fell almost two years ago. However, the majority think Clinton will be the Democratic candidate, and that her battle, which she believed would be easy, will be very difficult against the presumed Republican nominee, who snatched the needed delegates this week but who remains under threat until the Republican convention is held in mid-July, days before the Democratic convention.
Donald Trump, once known as The Donald, has taking a liking to now being called Mr. Trump. He is a phenomenon that most Americans and most in the world belittled, thinking it was temporary, until it snowballed and became a firm reality.
The Donald was a figure known for his acumen, talent for negotiations, and deal-making abilities, a successful businessman. Ordinary Americans are impressed by him because he is a rich, successful man who marries supermodels. Many ordinary Americans wish they were like the Donald, smiling, boastful, and happy about his success.
When Trump entered the election battle, some were astonished, others dismissed him. He said he would fund his own campaign, something that deeply impressed those who were already fans of the Donald. Trump then shed his smile and laugh, and adopted anger and condescension, either as a temporary mask for the elections or as an official trait for his Mr. Trump character or as President Donald Trump.
The tactic he has chosen is challenging and tackling just about anyone. He made his ego a successful marketing ploy. He used his startling stances against Muslims, Mexicans, women, and African Americans as a shock publicity tactic. He injected hope among the frustrated, in a way that left no room for logic, as his followers in their enthusiasm forgot to ask about the difference between fantastic promises and empty rhetoric.
One Trump supporter showed off his collection of mugs, t-shirts, and similar items all branded with the word Trump. He said he bought them all to support Trump. To be sure, since Trump is funding his own campaign, he cannot receive donations, but he found another way to raise money: selling Trump paraphernalia for profit. Many supporters are convinced Trump would be a president for small businesses and will not be the Establishment's man, having challenged it all the way to the White House.
In truth, Donald Trump has started reaching out to the poles of the ruling establishment in the United States, which comprises top companies, intellectuals, capitalists, defense industries, banks, oil companies, and technology companies. Trump's current tactic is to challenge the establishment to appease ordinary Americans angry at their dismal economic conditions in the country of the super-rich. But Trump, preparing for the near future, is seeking reconciliation and partnership with the same establishment, beyond his current tactics. Like Clinton, he understands the structure of power in America.
It is Bernie Sanders who has brought about a significant change in the American landscape, by declaring with confidence and unequivocally that he adopts European socialism, along the lines with socialism in a country like Sweden. Barack Obama had paved the way for this, but he did so subtly without admitting to any socialist tendencies. America's youths have supported both men, and Hillary Clinton has been struggling to catch up in both instances.
The Trump and Sanders phenomena have demonstrated that average Americans have lost trust in Washington, and want to send out a clear message that they are angry and want to rebel against the status quo and against the performance of the politicians and the government in the US capital. The two phenomena also suggest average Americans have had enough of the major corporations' sway over the economy and decision-making.
The difference is that Sanders might leave his mark on the Democratic party without snatching an official post, while Trump has caused a radical shakeup of the Republican Party, and now he seems determined to fight the election to its bitter end.
If Republicans choose another candidate, Trump fears this could cost him greatly in a tripartite battle. He believes he can fight and win against Hillary Clinton today.
What will happen come January? Undoubtedly, despite all the global coverage of the US election, it is early to predict which way the election will go, and who will it favour, Hillary or Trump. From now until October, there may be many surprises. Pressures will increase on the candidates, each will be tested in various ways. But from now until mid-July, it is also a mistake to discount any event that could hurt Clinton and Trump, because everything is possible in US elections.
Regarding the foreign policy of both Clinton and Trump, the general reading of their attitudes suggest the book will be closed on Barack Obama's appeasement, and that the US will enter a phase that Americans and their establishment want to be more assertive and aggressive against foes and opponents.
Translated from Arabic by Karim Traboulsi