Democrats, Stop the Madness that Lost Us the 2016 Election
There’s far more at play in Election 2020 than removing Donald Trump.
Let me say from the outset that I do not support Mike Bloomberg’s bid for president. If I had not been sufficiently convinced, the lurid details exposed about him in the Democratic debate on Wednesday night — both as a man and as New York City’s mayor — were enough for me.
Through several cringe-worthy exchanges, Bloomberg was unmasked as an arrogant billionaire with deeply held racist and sexist beliefs. To him, the presidency is seemingly his entitlement. If Democratic nominee Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) is to be believed, Bloomberg’s staff delivered a pre-debate memo seeking to suppress centrist Democratic nominees such as herself, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, urging them to drop out of the race. From Bloomberg’s vantage point, it is a two-man race for the Democratic presidential nomination — himself alongside Bernie Sanders — these others are merely in his way.
Elizabeth Warren reminded the world about Bloomberg’s misogynistic proclivities.
“I’d like to talk about who we’re running against,” Warren declared in her opening jab. “A billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse-faced lesbians, and no I’m not talking about Donald Trump, I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.”
There were audible gasps in the debate hall — and across America, I am sure. It was downhill from there.
In what became more like an indecorous dogfight than a debate, the Democratic nominees aspiring to become President of the United States abandoned dignity and propriety and showed the world that they are just as capable as Donald Trump of starring in their own scurrilous reality TV show. Trump now has all the soundbites he needs, from these candidates themselves, to burn the entire Democratic house down. His mocking tweets will undoubtedly be forthcoming.
Adding to the spectacle of last night’s debate are Democratic “influencers” like Shaun King — a staunch Bernie Sanders supporter — who are making their stance on Bloomberg irrevocably clear.
“In spite of serious political differences,” King writes in an op-ed, “I voted and campaigned for Hillary Clinton in 2016. I wrote op-eds in the Daily News encouraging everybody who followed me to do the same thing. But Mike Bloomberg is the line I simply will not cross. I can’t.”
“Donald Trump is our mortal enemy,” King concludes. “I work directly with the people and communities his evil has impacted the most. He must be defeated. And he can be. But I will not support one oppressor to oust another one.”
King’s well-articulated views on Bloomberg are rational. However, King is pontificating about Bloomberg as both candidate and Democratic nominee, if chosen. This is how Democrats lose elections. Democrats who act upon such reasoning are part of the reason we’re now stuck with Trump. While we are in-fighting and encouraging others to stay away from the polls out of principle, older, white, evangelical Republicans are showing up to vote. Every time. If there is Party conflict, it must largely be behind closed doors. Their public stance is cult-like with allegiance to Dear Leader.
Democrats seemingly have convenient amnesia regarding how the #NeverHillary movement evolved; it was a response to the #NeverTrump movement. Scoffing, demonizing sentiments expressed in Democratic quarters about Hillary after she became the nominee — about her experience, her qualifications, her character, her marriage, her morals — were self-defeating. Literally. Republicans, ultimately, agreed with Democrats — Hillary was “evil” — and, before long, fake news stories had Hillary and husband Bill running a child pornography operation out of a pizza parlor in New York City.
The national vitriol surrounding the 2016 election was so corrosive — and the schisms created by the DNC’s treatment of Bernie Sanders so toxic — that 123.1 million eligible voters migrated to “no man’s land.” Indeed, 115.3 million didn’t show up at all. The remaining 7.8 million voted “Other” — just could not bring themselves to vote for either party. This, in one of the most consequential elections of the millennium, an election in which Hillary’s 3 million votes more than Trump proved insufficient to win the Electoral College and, therefore, the presidency. Russian interference and former FBI Director Comey’s actions in the days prior to the election merely sealed Hillary’s fate.
Can we afford the same mistakes again? More specifically, can Democrats really afford to lose the November election, grumbling from the sidelines, and watch a duplicitous two-bit hustler reinstalled as POTUS for four more years? Can we survive Trump 2.0?
What’s at stake in 2020?
We have witnessed Trump’s corruption and treachery, treason even, at home and abroad. He has decimated the separation of powers in the Republican controlled Senate. He has pronounced himself the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, which only confirms his strongman takeover of the U.S. Justice Department and AG Bill Barr as his caricature “Deputy Dawg.” Arguably, in his most outrageous Machiavellian move yet, on Thursday, Trump appointed Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell as acting director of national intelligence.
Contrary to the 2004 law requiring the head of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to have “extensive national security expertise,” Grenell possesses none — whatsoever. Therefore, his appointment in an “acting” capacity is a power play — likely, Trump’s clear machination to gain control over America’s intelligence agencies and render them impotent. It is not sheer happenstance that Grenell’s appointment coincides with recent briefings by intelligence officials to the House Intelligence Committee regarding Russia’s ongoing interference to re-elect Trump and obstruct Democratic primaries. Grenell is strategic cover for Trump.
This unprecedented consolidation of power within the Executive Branch portends one development: a fascist takeover by an authoritarian regime. Dispel other rationalizations. Otherwise, American Democracy will not survive.
Election 2020 could conceivably be the most consequential in our history.
King may have the conviction to leave only his ballot selection for president unmarked. Others under his influence may simply not show up again — tantamount to a subversive abdication of civic responsibility. Election 2020 is a referendum on Donald Trump. But there’s more at stake on the ballot.
Since the 2018 mid-terms, Democrats have held 45 seats in the Senate. Independents caucusing with the Democratic Party hold two seats — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Angus King (I-ME). Those were the 47 votes to convict Trump at his Senate impeachment trial. Including special elections in Arizona and Georgia, Republicans will defend 23 Senate seats in November, while Democrats defend 12 seats. Those 23 Republican seats were among the 53 whose partisan-fueled actions elevated Trump above the Rule of Law at his impeachment trial. Those 23 seats colluded to destroy Constitutional separation of powers, and voted to acquit Trump. They must be held accountable.
What about the empowering majority that Democrats hold in the House of Representatives, which facilitated the impeachment of Donald Trump? All 435 voting seats are up for grabs again in November. Every single one. Should we surrender the only remaining legislative check and balance on unbridled executive branch power?
What about those 11 states with upcoming elections for governor? Seven of those state governors on the ballot are Republican; four are Democratic. Indeed, Republicans now control 27 gubernatorial seats vis-à-vis the Democrats’ 23.
Should I continue?
Should I reiterate that state governors are often the last line of defense on legislative policy issues like Medicaid expansion? The veto power of a Democratic governor over a Republican-controlled state legislature perpetuating injustice is not to be underestimated. “Deconstruction of the administrative state” — in education, healthcare, housing, climate change mitigation, and social safety nets — is the Republican agenda. If you’re not among wealthy Wall Street investors and oligarchs, you’re screwed.
In a recent article, I expounded why Republican cover for Trump’s crimes disguises the real story. The new Republican Party tolerates Trump because he mobilizes their conservative base. Trump dangles before them continued ability to complete their masterful coup over our Judicial branch, including the United States Supreme Court. The evangelical GOP wet dream is to overturn abortion laws and LGBTQ rights. Therefore, a vote against the Republican Party is our last-line defense against legislative and executive branch abuses that trample basic civic and human rights. But most important, the GOP already has 28 of the 34 authorizations needed to call the first ever Article 5 constitutional convention since our Constitution was crafted. Koch-money has already paid for Republican policies to be enshrined at the federal level, ultimately to restrict social Democratic state governments.
For Democrats to sit out this election would be political suicide. The stakes are higher than in 2016. And here’s what I know for sure: Democrats win elections when they show up to vote. Period.
Barack Obama won the 2008 election with 69.5 million votes, 10 million more votes than his rival, the late Sen. John McCain. Third-party candidates Ralph Nader (Independent) and Bob Barr (Libertarian) drew 1.2 million votes combined — insufficient to make a dent in Obama’s clear lead. Not so Hillary. She got 65.9 million votes vis-à-vis Trump’s 63 million, not enough to be declared winner in the Electoral College.
We can advocate change regarding our outdated Electoral College system which, in recent times, has yielded two Republican presidents who lost the popular vote. Indeed, before Trump, Al Gore won 0.5% more of the popular vote in the 2000 election than did George W. Bush. However, we will not have a constitutional amendment by November. Therefore, move on to strategies that matter — now.
Super Tuesday is March 3 — Vote!
If Bloomberg isn’t your choice, then vote for whomever you think stands a fighting chance of defeating Donald Trump. Do not encourage others — or allow others to encourage you — toward an abstention “protest” vote. A president by “default” gives us Trump.
This election is not about “policy” — who has the best healthcare plan, etc. It is about putting a check on emerging fascism under a mafia don who envisions himself as king. It is about regaining control of our institutions. It is about disallowing another “Trump” — even with a more sophisticated veneer — to seize power. As grownups, we make tough choices. And we show up.
Prior to Wednesday night’s debate, I had been staring at my Democratic nominee ballot for several days, feeling paralyzed. But my selection has now been made — and mailed. My ultimate decision involved the kind of informed consideration one should undertake before signing a “Do Not Resuscitate (DNR)” consent form. Because make no mistake, American Democracy is on life support.
“We the People” are all that stand between the aggressive political cancer ravaging this nation and “the plug” supporting life as we know it.
© 2020 Donna Kassin. All rights reserved.
PHOTO CREDIT: MikeBloomberg.com