Authoritarianism in America

January 31, 2017 Leave a comment

‘Alarmists’ and ‘Realists’

Trump doesn’t do pivots. He doesn’t do nuance. He never did and he never will. Yet there seems to have been genuine surprise and shock felt by many well-meaning but ultimately misguided individuals who cautioned and patronised the ‘Alarmists’ who warned of what was to come. However it’s looking like the Alarmists have a better take on what’s happening, and the potential of what could happen, and that those who shouted that if Trump was elected, the American Republic was in mortal danger, have turned out to be correct. The scale has tipped to him being more like a Putin than a Berlusconi. The ‘Realists’ have got it wrong.

The Realists have the following arguments, each of which have either fallen by the wayside or come under extreme stress since the Presidential Election. In the run up to November and before the Inauguration, there was the ‘He’s a politician; he’s just playing politics’ line. Then there was the ‘He’s not really racist, he’s just being Populist’ thread. And lastly, we have the claim that ‘there’s too many checks and balances to allow him to implement his programme’. A cursory look at each of these talking points will show us why the Realists were wrong.

A stunted personality with a totalitarian mindset has so far done a lot of what he promised to do. He told us he was going to introduce ‘extreme vetting’, he bragged that he wanted to build a wall, his surrogates vowed to fire anyone in Washington who got in their way. All these things are on record and have been since at least June 2016. Remember what you’re dealing with.

The second point, about him ‘just’ being a populist is a simple so what? The effect of discriminatory legislation and executive orders are the same whether he believes in them or not. Although he’s an exceptionally dim man, he has enough cunning to sell stuff he doesn’t really believe in. Yet, he is in thrall to the Extreme Right. Judge a man by the company he keeps? Damn straight.

The point that the Republic is resilient enough to survive what’s happening is addressed in more detail below. But it is the complacency with which the Realists used this line in the run up and aftermath of November that is breathtaking. They dismissed the move by the Hamilton Electors to deny a would-be dictator the Electoral College vote, ignored the evidence of Russian hacking and corruption, and underplayed Trump’s grotesque character defects. They still have faith in a system that named an Extreme Right-Wing Lunatic as President. What happens if and when he changes the shape of the Supreme Court in his favour?

Call it as it is. Authoritarianism has arrived in America. The coup was in full view, except, apparently, to a cadre of blind-sided commentators who thought that there was a way through this, that although he would be Right Wing, he could be checked and balanced from within. As argued below, the he can be stopped, but it will take a colossal effort.

Stopping a Tyrant

The Resistance will come from four main groups: the Democrats, Protestors, the Courts, Internationally. There must be a consistent application of all four to have the desired effect,

Nothing will come from Congressional Republicans. They’re gone, sold out to the dark-side, evident since the Senate refused to confirm Merrick Garland. So it’s up to elected Democrats. Oppose everything. No co-operation. That includes you, Bernie. You don’t take any pork or crumbs from Trump’s table. You refuse to ratify any of his proposals. You filibuster. You block. You do everything you can to explain to that mythical beast, the White Working Class, that they’ve been conned but you don’t pander to their racism. You are the new Tea Party.

The Women’s Marchers will keep going. The airport protests will continue. Anytime there’s a threat to civil rights, it needs to be protested. That goes hand in hand with Congressional, State Legislature and Local Political activity. Protest does not have to just mean marching; it can be organising, phoning your representative, engaging in debate with your friends and neighbours.

The Courts have been and will have to be used for emergency stays, habeas corpus, you know, the basics of the Constitution. The ICLU is going to be stretched but there is capacity there. Support them, if you can. In relation to the first two points, Sessions and Trump’s Supreme Court nominee must be opposed as far as is possible. The Courts can be a bulwark to tyranny.

Yes, internationally, America’s friends need to step up. That means co-ordinated EU statements and action against this rogue administration. It means calling out Bannon interference in the French and German elections. It means working with democrats (small ‘D’) to uphold human and civil rights.

Trump is a bully. Once his power is challenged, he is vulnerable. He can be stopped. It won’t be easy. But then, fighting authoritarianism never was.

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When Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

December 30, 2016 Leave a comment

It has been the strangest of years and ends with the closing of one presidency and the dawning of a frightening New Age. When Trump takes over as President in less than three weeks, there is growing concern that he does not have the mental stability to function at this level without causing potentially cataclysmic damage nationally and internationally. The question to be asked  is why President Obama didn’t act sooner on the now confirmed allegations of Russian hacking?

Obama’s on-record statement on why he delayed action can be taken at face value. Simply put, as he said at his final, strangely disjointed, White House Press Corp conference, he judged it the greater risk to be accused of interfering in the election process as a partisan, than ramping up the investigatory process. But, we also have to accept the administration’s off-record briefing that they did not expect a Trump win. There has been some significant pushback in the past few days, notably on the US upholding a Two State solution for Palestine/Israel, and Obama’s expulsion of Russian diplomats over espionage and hacking. It may well be too little, too late.

Barack Obama believes in the strength and integrity of the US political system. That while it may be sorely tested in the coming months and years, it is resilient enough to survive a mercurial and dangerous demagogue. So in the dying days of his second term, he thinks if he embeds an incoming Trump administration with enough sanctions and pro-democracy actions, he can make it very difficult for his successor to steer an authoritarian, pro-Russian course. It is the idea of the poison pill that aims to prevent a disaster after January. Trump, the theory holds, will spend much of his term – whether truncated or not – fighting off impeachment. Or, that Donald Trump will come to his senses. POTUS more or less said this when he said that the weight of the Office imposes its own responsibilities.

This may not amount to more than wishful thinking. When Trump gets sworn in, he will have every arm of federal government within reach of his tiny hands. Why should a Republican Congress perform a volte-face when they’ll be more than happy to score policy wins for an Ayn Rand agenda? Why wouldn’t Trump seek to place arch-Conservatives on the Judiciary, including the Supreme Court? Why would a White Nationalist like Steve Bannon suddenly change his spots? Putin is right to hold his fire on retaliation. Whether it be on Twitter or through surrogates, Trump simply doesn’t care how his critics see him. Why should he? He’s the top dog and all others can bow down before him.

But sanctions against Russia and the publishing of a compelling, bullet-proof intelligence report on Russian interference in a US election to favour one particular side – Trump’s – will also help to de-legitimize the incoming regime. This is important in itself. The mantra ‘This is not normal. None of this is normal’ needs to be chanted daily by all democrats of a small and big ‘d’ variety. There’s nothing that was normal about how Trump won. The Russian involvement is more than enough to invalidate his legitimacy. Add up all his other failings, hatreds and gargantuan conflicts of interest and you have a man who shouldn’t be within spitting distance of the Office.

Yet he will be installed as the next President of the United States. His Lowest Common Denominator campaign could not have succeeded without the craven support or failure to speak up of so-called moderate Republicans. They should hang their heads in shame, if they are still capable of feeling that emotion. The Barbarian is at the Gates now and good luck to his enablers who think they can ride this tiger. He shows no inclination other than to eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is ingrained in his nature. He is a cruel, humourless, stupid man, incapable of the empathy required for democratic politics.

Trump was able to capitalise on a line of racism that’s run through the US since the Civil War. There been peaks and troughs, but you take Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the backlash against Affirmative Action, and finally the apotheosis of a Black Man making it to the White House, and you see how there’s been a hard-core of racism at the root of much conservatism since slavery. He has been the evil Shaman, digging up spirits that have their roots before the 1860s. Those demons will not be easily exorcised. Van Jones was right; this was Whitelash. Or, as pointed out; not all Trump voters were racist, but all racists voted for Trump. The Republicans are not a party of Neo-Nazis, but all Neo-Nazis were supporters of that party’s candidate in November. We – Citizens of the World as well as Americans – are right to be terrified of what could be coming down the road.

Yet there is hope. There is hope not from the Paul Ryans of this firmament – although the capacity to change is a strong one in humankind. There is hope though, from the nearly three million voting plurality that Hillary Clinton got over her opponent. There is hope that if people stay strong and trust civic arms of protest and resistance, that the oncoming fire can be resisted. There is hope that younger voters will carry on with their optimism and rejection of hate. There is hope that the bully can be brought down because once stood up to, they tend to buckle. There is, for us all, in America, and outside, the guiding light of the audacity of hope.

 

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American Tragedy

November 25, 2016 Leave a comment

It was a bad night for democracy and a good one for demagoguery, racism, misogyny, ignorance and fear. Trump’s win in the Electoral College has seen a flood of analysis and opinions trying to explain, understand and normalise such a result. This was not a normal Left/Right contest. The US and the world are significantly less safe now and the next few years will test the limits of democratic politics in the US and elsewhere. There is hope but it will take all the resources of those committed to liberal democracy to fight back.

Economics did play a role. But not a simple one. Many rich people voted for Trump knowing he’d probably make them wealthier. There was, though, a significant ‘Blue Collar’ vote for the Republican candidate. Despite good economic numbers during the Obama years, there remains a part of the heartland who missed out on the recovery. No point in trying to say that Trickle Down Economics has made their lives miserable over the last 30 years;  they were angry and didn’t want to listen. They lashed out. They heard the voice of a ‘saviour’ and they were prepared to put their trust in a uniquely unqualified individual.

Trump’s  racism throughout the campaign was gross. Calling Mexicans ‘rapists’, pandering to the worst elements in a divided society, refusing to take his responsibilities seriously, and offering religious discrimination as security policy, all made him a grotesquely unworthy Presidential candidate, let alone President.  There’s a ‘John Birch’ core in America that never accepted a black man as their Commander in Chief. The election was payback time for these racists. Let the aphorism be repeated that was said after that fateful Tuesday night; not all Trump voters were racist, but all racists voted for Trump. The party of Lincoln has never fallen so far. American politics is broken.

Sexism was a cause of Secretary Clinton’s defeat. For many Trump voters, they just didn’t care that their candidate seemed to admit to serious sexual assault. Hillary Clinton was subject to some vile abuse. Too often, the facile pseudo-machismo of her opponent was contrasted to trivialities of her demeanour or tone of voice. Trumpers loved this. They’d believed the years of online scuttlebutt and anti-Clinton hysteria. No matter that their own hero said some of the vilest things, even if he believed them or not.

False equivalence in the media was flagged throughout the campaign and really hurt Hillary Clinton. So for every Trump outrage, every mocking of a disabled reporter, every foreign policy statement inextricably linked with the Kremlin’s point of view, what did we get? We got Hillary Clinton’s wretched email server  – for which the FBI Director should hang his head in shame for distorting the race  – and more innuendo about the Clinton Foundation. So, an opponent who refuses to disavow the KKK is treated as just as reprehensible to one who has no legal stain to her name. And he threatens to jail her. It would have been unbelievable if it hadn’t actually happened. Heads up, some of Trumps supporters were deplorables.

Oh, how cool you millennial non-voters are. Yeah, Trump and Clinton, they’re just the same. Try fooling yourself on that one as the most right-wing and brutish government in modern American history prepares to take the reins of power. Watch how the courts are stacked and rights you took for granted are taken away from you and  your friends. That’s reality. If you couldn’t be bothered voting, or voted for a third party in a swing state, don’t expect a special hearing from those that saw this coming down the line and repeatedly warned you.

Ignorance is sweeping the body politic. Whether it be the rise of fake news, or the lamentable return to gullibility in populist easy fixes, it has never been easier to use lies to attain high political office. It’s not just a vast swathe of Americana that would believe anything. Look at how the Brexiteers are suddenly discovering that there is a price to be paid for populism. Encouraged by a diet of propaganda for years, it has become de rigueur to line up with the loudest guy in the room.

There are huge fears for domestic and foreign policy. It is impossible to give Trump the benefit of the doubt until he proves otherwise. If the US is lucky, lucky!, he will turn out to be a Berlusconi, lining his and his cronies pockets in a kleptocracy the likes of which you’ve never seen in a democratic country. Then there’s a worse case scenario. Egged on by White Supremacist, he begins to dismantle democratic norms. He becomes a Putin. Russsia takes notes and slices & dices the Baltic Republics, full EU and NATO members.  He aids and abets the National Front in France and they take power. It is a nightmare scenario; but it is more than plausible.

The United States is an imperfect democracy but one that has a residue of institutional strength.  The risk is just too great that this will not endure the next four to eight years.  The Electoral College should come into play. It should recognise that Secretary Clinton got two million more votes than Trump. It should perform its constitutional duty and elect a suitable President. If this doesn’t happen, and there’s no swift resignation or impeachment of Trump, let’s just hope, for all our sakes, the US gets a Berlusconi, and not a Putin.

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Or to go into the Dark

October 31, 2016 1 comment

FBI Director James Comey made one of the, depending on your perspective, most ham-fisted, or biased, calls ever in a Presidential race to terrify all decent Americans and most global citizens. Hillary Clinton is still the overwhelming favourite to be the next President. But Friday’s events, when America’s top cop broke all precedent by saying the Democratic Party front-runner still – as far as he’s concerned – has questions to answer indirectly related to the investigation into her email server, sent a shiver down the spine of supporters of democracy. The Department of Justice is reportedly furious. The FBI comes out of this really badly. Comey seemed prepared to run the risk of a fascist entering the White House on the back of for what at worst will turn out to be a misdemeanor by Mrs Clinton.

That’s the core of the issue. This false equivalence, believed by millions of Know-Nothings, that Trump’s singular unsuitability for the top job, his panoply of disgraces, displays of arrogance and ignorance and the genuinely serious criminal allegations against him, are somehow balanced by a so far non-story about former Secretary of State Clinton. As observed by other commentators regarding this forced weighing scales approach, you can not compare the apples of political maladministration and unfounded accusations of influence peddling with the oranges of everything this monstrous creature running for the Republicans has ever said and done.

Let’s consider just two of the big headline issues against Trump. Firstly, nuclear weapons. This bloviating thug, this slimy id-driven moron, wants to be in charge of the nuclear trigger. Talk all you like about the US balance of powers, if he wins, he’s the man. Sitting in the Oval Office or Situation Room as an international crisis explodes in some corner of the world. How do you feel with Trump in charge? Terrified?

Or secondly, the end of the US as we know it. It’s the day after the election, and it’s a narrow Trump win. The racial attacks have started. It is the country of the White Nationalist Alt-Right now. They’ve won. Their guy is now running the show. The violence comes thick and fast. Trump opponents, such as his ‘Art of the Deal’ ghost-writer Tony Schwartz will have fled the country. Breitbart goons with keyboards will now be directing operations as America becomes a police state. This won’t happen overnight. But it will happen. Think this is an exaggeration? Nixon was a ‘cuck’ effete liberal compared to The Donald. Calling some of Trump’s mouth-breathing supporters ‘a basket of deplorables’ was unfair on both baskets and deplorables.

These two scenarios are – thankfully – unlikely to happen. It’s likely that Hillary Clinton will win on Tuesday 8th and become the first female President of the United States of America. This is to be welcomed not only for her saving democracy – only! – but also for her own qualities and policies which have been overlooked because of the madness of this campaign.

President Obama has said on several occasions that there’s never been a candidate more qualified for the position of POTUS than Hillary Clinton. To have been both Senator and Secretary of State and to have served in both roles with distinction is an accomplishment light years beyond the self-aggrandising her opponent has spent all his life doing. She has the intelligence and stamina for the role and has shown a commitment to political service that will stand her well as President.

Clinton will put gun control at the centre of her administration. Donald Trump doesn’t care if there are more Sandy Hooks, she does. She will increase taxes on the super-rich, her opponent won’t even publish his taxes. She will maintain an economic stimulus approach, while Trump promises everything and nothing. And Hillary Clinton believes in man-made Climate Change, Donald Trump says that’s a hoax. You can go through the list. She is the national and right choice for Progressives.

Next week, after Tuesday, the FBI should go on record as to how far down the road they are on investigating Trump for treason. They should throw the book at him. He should face the full rigour of the law. But he – in a true test of liberal values – is entitled to due process. FBI Head Comey did not treat candidate Clinton fairly last week. Senator Harry Reid has gone as far as to say that Comey did this on Trump’s behalf. This may or may not be so. Whatever the motivation, it was shockingly bad wrong move by the Feds.

This won’t sway the election. But it will remind people of the choice. Any remaining fence-sitters, who must be few and far between, must heed President Johnson’s words from 1964:

“These are the stakes. To make a world in which all of God’s children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die.”

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Corbyn’s Triumph & Debate Win for Clinton

September 28, 2016 Leave a comment

Corbyn’s Pyrrhic Victory? 

He hasn’t gone away you know! And, with a predictable outcome that few didn’t predict, Jeremy Corbyn has been returned as Labour Party leader after a seemingly interminable electoral process. His margin of victory is roughly the same as last year, but he has benefitted from the upsurge in membership since the 2015 vote. Owen Smith fought a brave fight, but it rarely looked like being enough to mount a credible challenge to Corbyn’s grip on the leadership. What happens next for both Jeremy loyalists, and the rebel MPs who make up most of the parliamentary representation?

The rebels haven’t been routed. Owen Smith made a decent effort. There were no big beasts of the Soft Left running for the job. They will feel it is no longer their party. The membership is no longer representative of the country at large. Despite Corbyn’s assurances, many MPs fear being the target of compulsory re-selection, a mainstay preference of the Hard Left since the 1970s. There is disillusion and despair where once there was hope; the Tories can carve up a massive overall majority at the next election if polls, media, and political analysts are anything to go by. They will have to wait in the very long grass.

The Corbynites will be unstoppable now. How many will stay the course is a valid question; party loyalty can be measured more by door knocking in winter rather than by clicktivism and retro posturing. Some will be in for a rude awakening. The answer to Ed Miliband’s defeat was not to go more to the Left, but to try to understand and represent the needs and aspirations of Labour and swing voters. This will not be achieved through street demonstrations but via parliamentary relevance and principled, but non-doctrinaire, core Labour values.

The impasse is there again. While MPs and leadership differ, the Tories, despite the farce of Brexit, continue to govern unopposed. The old Militant Tendency tactics and strategies of infiltration, mass intimidation and a belief in neo-Marxism are so removed from the beliefs of the ordinary voter, that the Labour Party, as per the Corbyn leadership, can no longer claim to represent ordinary working people, or indeed, the liberal (small ‘L’) strain in British politics. The best and the brightest may be either driven out of the party by the new puritans, or just decide to walk away from the fray. Politics will be the poorer for that; Labour may be finished.

Trump Lies, Clinton Wins

The first debate is over and what have we learned? We saw a bloviating Donald Trump unable to handle the concept of a basic argument. We observed a Hillary Clinton unbound, someone who barely broke sweat while her opponent came out with his usual nonsense. For many, they’ll never have seen Clinton seem so relaxed. Most of the viewers will have made up their mind. There is no contest. The Election is between a competent woman with tons of political experience and an Oswald Mosley figure, both ridiculous and frightening, one who is totally unsuited to any political office.

Hillary Clinton was offered a plethora of contradictory advice. Thankfully, she ignored most of it and instead tackled Trump on all his inadequacies in her own calm, methodical and, at times, humorous manner. She got one of the best sound-bites for the Democrats in a response from the Stupid One, when she pressed him on why he hadn’t published his tax returns. Trump’s remark that it was ‘smart’ not to pay his fair share. She did way more than she had to do. Her debate game was as good as she’s ever been in public, in any forum.

Trump was appalling, even by his own unbelievably low standards. He lied habitually, dozens of times over ninety minutes. He lapsed into incoherence and bluster, at one point slagging off Rosie O’Donnell. He demonstrated that he wasn’t fit to be the local dog catcher, let alone President of the United States. He admitted not preparing for the debate, and it showed. The Republican Party must be looking at this guy and wondering how the hell it even got to this. The Trump campaign has not only been hugely damaging for America, but also for the GOP.

Hillary Clinton barely had time to scratch the surface on all of Trump’s calumnies but she did score enough to steady Democrat nerves that had been in a bad way since her pneumonia bout. Trump is an unapologetic representative of White Nationalism. We can dress it up and call it all we like. A Clinton presidency can be a force for good; were Trump to ascend to the highest calling, it would be a truly nightmarish result. Hillary’s got this; if we see a continuation of what we saw on Monday night, then the US is heading for its first woman to take the chair in the Oval Office. November can’t come quickly enough.

 

 

 

 

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Same Trump, Different Day & Corbyn’s Train Hits Buffers

August 30, 2016 Leave a comment

Same Trump, Different Day

There is, in Donald Trump Watch, an attempt at a pivot going on. So unpopular is the Hair right now in terms of winning the race, so mocked is he by anyone with half a brain and so toxic is his brand, that his favourite trick, the double-down, just isn’t working anymore. Instead, he has tried to massage his message. This is coming hot on the heels of his new campaign appointments, including Steve Bannon, probably the first time since the 19th Century that the Democrats or Republicans have had an out-and-out White Nationalist as their campaign chief. But with every twist and turn Trump makes to lose some of the inflammatory and fascistic rhetoric, the more uncomfortable he becomes. He’s no sheep in wolf’s clothes, he’s the real deal. But when the Republican candidate says that he won’t deport every illegal immigrant, is he telling the truth now, or was he when he said he would? It’s become evident since way before the nomination that this is a dangerous man with limited capacity for verbal and mental acuity. He is a mess. One that deserves to be thrown out with the thrash into the garbage of US political history. November can’t come soon enough.

If Trump debates, and there are big doubts as to whether he will or not, it won’t necessarily be a cakewalk for Hillary Clinton. So cataclysmically low are the expectations of Trump in the debates, so discounted has his prospective performance been and so mocked his inability to construct even a basic argument, it is presumed that Clinton will annihilate him. She may well do so, such is the chasm in intelligence and basic civility between the two. But it could well come down to Trump just holding steady after doing no better, or worse, than his campaign has already defined him as. If there are floating voters who don’t know what a fascistic, Kremlin- steered, obnoxious, racist he is, then you have to ask: where have they been living for the last six months? He is so far behind right now in what he needs to do to win the White House that Hillary can theoretically afford some off moments. She will have a laser-like focus between now and election day, something that’s never been a problem for her in the past. Trump is going down and the debates won’t be enough to stop that.

Corbyn Slow-Motion Train Crash

It must have seen like such a simple wheeze. Have Jeremy Corbyn board a Virgin train, sit down on the floor and make him seem like Jesus, or a Franciscan Friar, there amongst us common folk stuck sitting at the toilet door. For a few, brief hours, it seemed as though he was finally catching a break. Here was something that would fire up the base even more in the run up to the leadership contest. What could possibly go wrong? For a start, if you’re going to engage in such a PR stunt, make sure that there are no seats available. The footage is unclear, but it appears that there were plenty of seats to go round. The problem through a public relations prism is that it appears that Jeremy Corbyn and his handlers couldn’t organise a knees up in a brewery. It is that lack of any nous, that makes the operation look completely amateurish. There’s no way this man has a prayer against the Tories. But try convincing his followers of that.

Many of Jeremy’s disciples, his Jeremiads, see him as a holy man standing up to the iniquities of the less righteous, the unrighteous being those who oppose his leadership of the Labour Party. Try asking them would you not rather a leader who can get you half a loaf rather than no loaf at all and you’re liable to be howled down, condescended, intimidated and perhaps common to all three such actions, be called a traitor. Such is the bad blood in Labour now that it is difficult to see a split not occurring whoever is elected. Most of the bile, the vast majority of it, has been coming from Corbyn supporters, a lot of whom seem to have a long list of former Left People they call traitors. So the Hard Left now sees every living Labour Leader as a sell-out. Anyone who remembers Militant’s carry on during the 1980s will feel its déjà vu all over again. The extreme Left want the purity of never having to compromise. It is the political adherence of a cultist; Jeremy can do no wrong, he is the way and the light, do not be distracted by the devils that seek to tempt you from the path of true righteousness. Labour, as Her Majesty’s Opposition and as a potential party of Government, looks finished.

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Hope Challenges Fear as 2016 Race Moves Up a Notch

July 29, 2016 Leave a comment

The Conventions are over and it’s full steam ahead for the Presidential Election in November. The seemingly endless campaign has moved up a gear as Republican and Democrat campaign themes became clarified. While there is a natural concern among all right-thinking human beings that Donald Trump may sneak a win, the Presidency is still Hillary Clinton’s to lose. The stakes have rarely been higher. At time of writing, the FBI are investigating Russian hacking of the DNC emails; the more the links between Trump and Putin are exposed, the less likely the former is to become President. Rarely has there been such a strong contrast between take away messages from each convention.

Fear. No matter how hard some of Trump’s enablers try to sell him, he’s a dud. All he has is the pedalling of fear. Fear of the other, of immigrants, of Muslims, of Mexicans, of the federal government taking your guns, of Hillary Clinton, of reason, of hope, of compassion. You know what you get with Trump. A fascist, racist, idiot man-child. A man who is still polling in the 40s, and a brute (yet cowardly, always the way) who sees himself in the role of Bully-In-Chief. His convention was a dark carnival of snarling idiocy. There was nothing of positive note on offer. He is the Sith Lord Candidate.

Hope. Yes, Hilary Clinton is not universally popular. But, as President Obama opined in a magisterial address to the hall, she is uniquely qualified for the role. The election will be fought championing social gains and her platform has also incorporated some of the key Sanders economic themes, particularly around the minimum wage. The historic nature of her nomination must be attested to. This is a break-through for women; the vote of 51% of the electorate, particularly Republican women, will be crucial to the outcome.

U.S. politics, like no other, appeals both to identities and the collective. So, Trump’s main target audience is the angry white male, or the white poor. The former, while vocal, won’t be enough to see him over the line. There may be some traction with the latter, particularly in the rust belt. The other target segment is the top 10%, who go Republican anyway, although he’s losing the traditional advantage among college graduates. Whereas Clinton will seek to keep the Obama coalition (Soccer Moms, Blue Collar Swing State, Millennials, African-Americans, Latinos, LGBT) and add ‘women’ to that constituency. This coalition speaks more to the collective, or, as Andrew Sullivan put it, the America he recognises. An Obama style vote, where the’ Bernie or Busters’ are marginalised, will be enough to see a second President Clinton elected.

Hillary Clinton will be remorseless in her emphasis on competence and temperament. The contrast is just too glaring for it not to be the main issue to differentiate the personalities. The ‘Brexit’ result scared the hell out of liberals; the Electoral College system, however, does not favour a protest vote scenario. Those who don’t know better or should know better may take a chance on Trump. The odds don’t favour him being able to terrify his way to the White House though.

Yes, Clinton and Trump have big negatives. This is where the Democrat strategy becomes interesting. At the margins, it is sufficient for swing-voters to find Hillary likeable enough. As long as they respect her judgment. The old beer-test no longer applies; if anything, you’d rather have a beer with Mrs Clinton than with Donald Trump. The huuuge (sic) Trump problem is that he isn’t even likeable enough. No amount of spin can make this crass buffoon respectable. He is as odious as he is dim. Michael Bloomberg was right when he said he knows a con when he sees it.

Hillary Clinton’s Convention was agenda setting. It was a shout out to the spirit of Eisenhower Republicanism and, as highlighted by President Obama, a continuation of Obama’s gradualist progressivism. The Left needs to realise the old adage that half a loaf is better than no loaf at all. The run-in will be a big test for Bernie. If he can move as many of the Hold-Out Sandernistas as he can to vote for Hillary in November, he will have done the Republic a great service. To paraphrase from the LBJ ‘Daisy’ commercial, the stakes are that high.

There will be twists and turns between now and polling day. There will be some wobbly times for the Democrats. But careful messaging, with, overall, surrogates going negative and Hillary staying positive will be enough to counter the Nasty Natterings of Nativism (thank you Spiro Agnew for something, at last). The Democrats will aim high while their opponents aim low. They’ll also be adopting the ‘Untouchables’ dictum; put one of us in the hospital, and we put one of you in the morgue. No more will Swift-Boating be allowed. Time to fight for democracy itself. It’s time to save the Republic.

 

 

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