After a campaign built on hatred, hostility, and humiliation, the losing candidate, let's call him Tweet, parlayed complicity by the head of the secret police with intervention from a foreign government to declare victory and seize the presidency. Sound oddly familiar?
Tweet's supporters were jubilant. They bought into his claims that he could make the nation great again and restore their lives and jobs to the way they were in a fictional past that they deeply believed in. Even before taking office, Tweet moved to silence opposition by marginalizing a free and critical press claiming stories that raised questions about him or his coming to power were fake-news. While his supporters cheered alternative facts, the rest of the country was stunned.
Despite hope that Tweet would be reasonable and responsible as President, he nominated officials pledged to dismantle the health, education, and environmental programs put into effect by his predecessors claiming this would unleash the economic power of the country and restore its greatness. But he never said how. His supporters who are going to be hurt by these "reforms" had faith in his promises and continued to cheer his style.
To get elected, Tweet had to take over one of the country's two major political parties, let's call them the Republicans, and with support from wealthy backers and voters who felt alienated, he won a multi-candidate primary race. Many of the party leaders said he would take the party and the nation down the path to destruction. They said they would never support his candidacy, but in the general election they did. Once he won the election, they lined up to kiss his ring and pledge fealty.
The majority of the electorate who voted against the "winning" candidate organized to fight back against his excesses and abusive behavior. But in the short-term, as long as wealthy backers and members of his political party held onto power and control over the government remained loyal to him, there was little they could do but protest and try to block the implementation of his proposals in friendly states and localities and through the courts.
It will be two years before the opposition, the majority, can challenge for control of state legislatures, governorships, the House of Representatives, and the Senate. It will be four years before they can try to turn Tweet out of office. In the meantime he can tear apart the economy, social services, civil rights, and democratic government, severely and perhaps permanently damage the environment, and bring the world to war.
I do not expect Tweet to change or grow in the job. The Republican Party and its leadership have to decide if loyalty to Tweet and their desire for power is more important than the health of the nation and the world. So far they are poised to approve all of his incompetent executive branch nominees. If they decide wrong, the consequences will be disastrous.
Diane Ravitch wrote an open letter to Lamar Alexander (Rep-TN), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, who she worked with in the elder Bush's administration. Ravitch asked him how a person of integrity could vote to approve someone as unqualified and hostile as Betsy "Amway" DeVos as United States Secretary of Education. Instead of responding to Ravitch, Alexander charged Democrats were "desperately searching" for reasons to reject DeVos and he refused to reopen the Senate hearings on DeVos' qualifications. A vote for committee approval is scheduled for January 31.
Democrats must decide what they stand for. Will they be the party of managing the status quo or the party that fights for the Constitutional mandate that government "promote the General Welfare" and the Pledge of Allegiance's promise of "liberty and justice for all"? Promoting the general welfare and liberty and justice for all offer a positive vision of the role of government in people's lives and include all the rights people marched for on January 21st.
A start is a group of former Congressional staffers proposing a strategy for rebuilding and reshaping the party with grassroots local initiatives, but their focus is on tactics rather than ideas and program. Bernie Sanders activists who remain in politics have also formed their own group, Our Revolution. Their goal is to "revitalize American democracy by unifying the millions of people who got involved over the course of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign in support of progressive causes." Proposals by both groups are worth exploring, but if they end up as vehicles to elect traditional Democrats like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senator Charles Schumer the party and the American people will continue to lose.
Note: Only one United States Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand (Dem-NY), voted against Trump's nominee for Secretary of Defense, retired Marine Corps General James Mattis. Gillibrand argued for the importance of civilian control over the military. She has also pledged to vote against Betsy "Amway" DeVos' appointment as Education Secretary. Bravo Kirsten!
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