Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Cautious optimism, tempered by dread

Will The Donald be the GOP nominee?
I don't know.
Lots of "establishment" GOPers seem to hope not, but I can't help feeling this is more "hope" than anything else.
(Snarky aside: HEY - establishment GOPers are now Obama fans... that "hope" thing, dontcha know...)

If not Trump, who?
David Brooks's "blue rug"?
Who might that be? Cruz? Rubio?
... is either of these guys any better??

The "cautious optimism" expressed in title of this post reflects that last question: Is either of these guys any better?
Is Jeb better? Is Kasich better?... Huckabee?... Fiorina?... Carson?
All of these folks are HORRIBLE - xenophobic and CRUEL!
Back when I was running for the Democratic nomination (if you blinked, you missed it), I said this:
I don’t know who will be my Republican opponent, but I believe it safe to draw some contrasts between us, anyway. Both of us, I would like to stress at the outset, believe that America is the best and strongest country on Earth, and we are both extremely proud to be Americans. From this basic point of agreement, however, we have very different visions for America’s future.

When he – or she – imagines America’s future, he – or she – harks back to a mythical “Golden Age”:
A “Golden Age” in which labor had no voice.
A “Golden Age” in which “people of color” had no voice.
A “Golden Age” in which industrial “accidents” were both commonplace and acceptable.
In this “Golden Age”, women had no political voice and few property rights.
For me, America’s Golden Age still lies in the future.
I believe that, great as America is, it can still be better.
As that hackneyed bumper-sticker says, “In a perfect world schools would have enough money and the military would have to hold bake-sales”.
Public education is the foundation of an “equal opportunity” society – without it, the privileged few will continue to dominate, while the slaving masses can only hope to put food on the table, with no hope of escaping poverty and degradation.

My Republican opponent – whoever he or she might be – believes that public education is an anachronism, with no place in our society.

My esteemed Republican opponent will need to be reminded that America has ALWAYS been a land of immigrants!... and there has ALWAYS been a fear of immigrants. Benjamin Franklin deplored the presence of lazy, indolent, non-English-speaking Germans in 18th-century Philadelphia. Germans, Irish, Chinese, Poles, Italians, Japanese – all have been the targets of anti-immigrant hysteria. All were at one time viewed as “The Other” who threatened the American Way of Life.

Today, these “Others” are “Us”! – they are our fellow citizens, competing for – and winning – public office.
Running Fortune 500 companies.
Teaching our children.
We are today all Americans.

My Republican opponent, whoever he or she might be, will almost certainly be the descendant of immigrants.
But when he or she goes to the grocery store, the mall, the ballpark, he is frightened by what he sees: LOTS of folks who look DIFFERENT! Many of them speak English with a FOREIGN accent… some of them don’t speak English at all.
This frightens him … or her.
He sees his world crumbling before his eyes, and again yearns for a mythical “Golden Age” in the past – a “Golden Age” that has NEVER existed.

I am the descendant of Welsh coal miners, German craftsmen, and Polish farmers.
When I go to the grocery store, or the mall, or the ballpark and see folks who don’t look like me, who speak English with a foreign accent, or who perhaps don’t speak English at all – what I see is the source of America’s greatness.
After more than 200 years, WE are still seen as the “Land of the free and the home of the brave”.
We – America - … this is still THE country to which people aspire – to build for themselves a better future, to become Americans.

Finally, my Republican opponent will seize on “FEAR” as the basis for his or her campaign.
Fear of “illegal immigrants”.
Fear of Iran, or of North Korea.
Fear of “The Other”.
My Republican opponent will cast “The Other” as Existential Threats to America.

I believe America is stronger than that!... and by building his campaign on Fear of “The Other” my esteemed Republican opponent will demonstrate just what he REALLY thinks about America: he - or she - believes the United States is a weak, vulnerable, beleaguered country, on the brink of failure, defeat and collapse.

We – my Republican opponent and I – have very DIFFERENT visions for America.
That speech was delivered in July, 2012.
At the time I had no idea just how accurate my characterization of my nameless "Republican opponent" would be!!!

Okay - back to that "cautious optimism" bit...
"Some of my best friends are Republicans!"
(Well, no - that's not true. But I do know some Republicans, and they all seem like more-or-less decent people.)
I'm cautiously optimistic that if Trump, or Cruz, or Rubio... or Jeb, or Kasich, or... well, or ANY of 'em, end up the GOP nominee, these more-or-less decent folks will just figure, "To hell with it!"
No, I don't expect they'll run out and vote for Hillary or Bernie or Martin - but I do HOPE that they'll just STAY HOME!
Could anyone that I know vote with a clear conscience for ANY of these folks?

An aside: Hmmm... I seem to be basing my "cautious optimism" on something akin to Anne Frank's profession of faith:
"In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart."
This sentiment doesn't appear to be particularly well-founded!

Now for that "tempered by dread" bit.
What if I'm wrong?
What if my fellow Americans in fact ELECT Trump... or Cruz... or Rubio... or, well, or ANY of 'em?
What would that say about MY country?

It's scary.


  1. What scares me most about Trump is that he has no respect for law, including Constitutional law. With him, there are no rights and no rules. Everything is a negotiation. If he were president he would do whatever he wants to do without respect to rights or laws until a power greater than himself could stop him.

    I want a president who will uphold and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America.