Or, will the 2018 and 2020 Elections return to order and decency? Make your choice
Since November last, the world has been reeling from facing existential issues, buffeted by a series of incidents that threaten the very fiber of rationality and reason, with many of us left retreating into worlds we feel better able to control and limited by boundaries that are sure and comfortable, something close and familiar and exclusive. Within the period of time encompassing that date and today, some have tried to look for any sign of the better angels of our nature surfacing and all of us hope that on the other end there are positive signs in society as our collective authority touches the mystic chords of memory to allow the swelling of good works, of kind words, of a positive and inclusive outlook. It has been a mean time in the meantime.
Yet, in all of this, at shortly before 2 AM this morning, the NYTimes reported later on this early hour’s incident in the Senate and produced one of the most welcome paragraphs its paper has written in some time, on that historians will surely mark as a turning point, I believe: “As the clock ticked toward the final vote, which took place around 1:30 a.m., suspense built on the Senate floor. Mr. McCain was engaged in a lengthy, animated conversation with Vice President Mike Pence, who had come to the Capitol expecting to cast the tiebreaking vote for the bill. A few minutes later, when Mr. McCain ambled over to the Democratic side of the chamber, he was embraced by Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California. A little later Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, put her arm around Mr. McCain.” This was the sign most of us were waiting for and he delivered. I think we have more such signs to come.
It is not my main focus to be dwelling on this recent past. Though I find this era to be one that has been divisive, derisive and destructive, where those who command in their loud and confused voice often use it so poorly as to evoke feelings of sadness, anger, incredulity or vitriol. Yet, unfathomably, a significant portion of our neighbors claim satisfaction, shout with glee, thumb their noses, desire even more of the same from these leaders or actually say not enough destruction of the Washington animal has yet been accomplished. What started with the advent of Cable News, with the relaxation of the Fairness Act and with the rise of News For Profit anger and accusations is now claiming the field.
The descent of politics in this current swamp is one that was calculated. But, the initial architects of this political circus are not the ones celebrating. The establishment wing in the Republican Party, who are presently either acquiescing and/or enabling the circus to have its audience, do not, at this point, know what to do with the Hydra that has taken over from them. Some, like George Will and David Brooks, have left the party or are speaking more like liberals at this point. Others like Charlie Sykes or Glenn Beck, once so comfortable with the benefits of the absence of the Fairness Act as to have gained great wealth from selling fear and shares in Gold Futures from their pulpits, have taken the Never Trump position and hope that perhaps their views can supplant the “Delighted Deplorables” and regain control of the Congress and White House in a way other than the one they have now. It is probably too late and I doubt they should be forgiven for their failings. Cerberus has full control over the Republican Party and it is not letting anyone of them out of their own personal Hell. Smile Emoji inserted here.
It seems and the next move is on those in the country who recognize the obstructionism, the selfishness and the deviousness of the likes of Mitch McConnell and his inner circle. The likes of John McCain, Lindsay Graham and those who wish to maintain the Classic Republican Conservatism that supports small government, bipartisan decision-making, rule of law, individual rights that also expect community responsibilities and wish to decide issues with equal apportionment of fiscal oversight, ethical jurisprudence and environmental sustainability. Teddy Roosevelt, Ike and Everrett Dirksen would not recognize today’s party and would abhor its decisions, like the rest of us.
Now I think we can sit back and watch John McCain. His storied life has most likely been given its second bookend. He has served this country through the public sphere for most of it. His record and accomplishments have been most severely damaged, demeaned and impugned by #45. He just began, I believe, receiving his just desserts with McCain starting the scooping and probably is going to be the one who puts the cherry on top at the end. I hope history treats him well and looks back at his final months as ones that brought the country back to greatness. I would where a baseball cap that said: “McCain, He Made America Great Again” should that happen.
There have been many serious divisions in history that have rendered politics ineffective in the short term and caused worry among the electorate. We have always recovered and moved into a more prosperous standing, all the while inching towards greater tolerance, more inclusion, acceptance of diversity and thinking of how decisions make in Washington, D.C. could be useful to supporting those who are disadvantaged. Womens’ Rights, Title IX, Gay Marriage, Transgender Acceptance, recognition of the danger to the Environment and talk of sustainable alternatives, and celebrating ethnic qualities while embracing the blending of the same into our improving cultural fiber. Then, the Tea Party grew.
If we look at the path forward from July of 2017, it is a short time to the 2018 midterm elections. Much has to be decided by then. Many issues face us, most paramount and calling for sure hands at the wheel of government recently is the health care reform that is still needed. A fix to the start of Obamacare in that direction is required and last night’s vote may be a harbinger of positive signs that may actually happen.
We have not been witnessing such a circumstance up to this point. It seems the Republican Party is in danger of exploding, much as its leadership wishes it wouldn’t. Up to now, they simply want to maintain the control they enjoy and set up a system that will give them authority to decide for a long time to come. But, they face, I believe, insurmountable headwinds with the six months of disaster establishing a platform for the Democrats to run on. Still, the Dems need to offer more than anti-Trump and come up with a message that defines who they are for the future and what are their major desires for the country. I think that will now need to include moderate Republicans in their desires for governance. The George Wills and David Brooks will be loud and sure voices in support of much of what they want to do. Damn those on the Right who don’t listen now.
The divisions within their party cannot withstand the ineptitude exhibited by the current leadership: Trump and his inside clan, Preibus, McConnell and Ryan (he may lose in 2018). There are no replacements available who can harness the diversity of opinion within their ranks, so they must decide now who they really are. They have little choice if they continue to support the above characters but to watch as they continue their infighting while President Trump chips from the side, tweets his threats, campaigns for self-praise accolades endlessly and garbles along spitting out incoherent speeches about something-going-where-oh-what-about-I’m great. Then, there’s the Mooch, whose ability to inflame public opinion has quickly been demonstrated by his use of colorful expletives recently made public. This is what passes for presidential today? Or Trump’s disaster of a speech in front of Boy Scouts? By 2021 it seems there will be three or four distinct sections of the party, though without a majority even with all of them sitting in a single caucus in Congress.
Because Trump is who he is there will be a movement to remove him. I believe McCain just started it. His will be the voice that starts the roll call based on one of the following options. Either because of the overwhelming evidence leading to that inevitable conclusion, or unbearable fatigue from what constitutes leadership in the GOP and the sanity returns from the defectors, led by McCain or because he brings the bar to the point lowest in the measurement of ethical scandal, diminishing support and overwhelming messaging from the public that he must go and it becomes so obvious to nearly all in the Congress that Trump is an impediment to simple governance and needs to be part of history. At present, the hardline base scares the GOP and, even though the majority of the GOP disagree with them, they think they need the Hard Right. It is close to the point when the simple message of hate, ineptitude and bigotry will cost them in the elections regardless. Most know that, too.
There are four scenarios for 2020:
- The GOP is now dissolved. Those left pick up the pieces and describe a litmus test of membership that looks that the time when American GOP was at its greatest in the 20th century during Ike’s terms (I know this is an arguable claim on my part and I realize he unleashed the Dulles Brothers on us at that time). The party is only strong in Western and Midwestern states that support environmental issues, limited government, limited foreign policy and strong Constitutional values in their members and Supreme Court Justices. The Tea Partyers now are out in the wilderness, yet have strong voices in all the Southern states and significant power in the Western states. They have some representation in Congress, but they caucus with no one and are still pushing for draining the swamp, exclusion of anyone not them and hoping to return to an era that is gladly dead. Trump, on his cable show, whips them up nightly. He holds campaign rallies in all the hot spots. Those disaffected followers continue to harm the democratic process, thinking it is worthless. Disruption is their method and antagonism of anything not them is spread on the cable program. The Southern Social Conservatives pull the evangelicals from throughout the country to their banner and found a party that meets at the ARK Museum in Kentucky for their convention. The Democrats control the government in Washington, but the states are split evenly among the three parties. The Democrats have won by default, but have divisions between the old and new guards. They risk losing in 2022 and the Congress splitting into a more parliamentary system with four parties vying for control. Moderates in all four actually vote through limited policy changes.
- 2018 leaves the GOP with a bare majority in the House and losing the Senate. Obstruction is the game for the next two years. Trump and the House hardliners do what they can, which is very little. Disrupted politics gets worse. Trump has six GOPers go after him in the primaries for 2020. The winner is the most moderate Republican, though he is not expected to win in the general election. The country remains in limbo.
- The Democrats figure out they are on the crest of a wave of change. The country wants taxation of the richest, huge infrastructure spending, environmental choices and sustainable policy decisions, a single-payer health system and is open to major shifts in the education system that is inclusive and works to heal the racial divide. There are strong females in positions of leadership. The media attacks shoddy politicking and offers issues up to the public in a clear voice that allows for discerning options based on economic, environmental, ethical and security options laid out.
- The country returns to when America was Great: The moderates in the middle run the show. There is only one way to get elected in the Midwest, The Two Coasts and the Mountain States; you need to offer programs that expect debate, consideration of all factors within an issue, discussion that accepts causal relationships and logic and that supports humanism and history and airing divisions in public through the media and through reasoned disagreement that clearly offers choice without rancor. McCain has used his final moments on earth to champion his better angel and leaves us all with a hopeful future.