Monday, August 1, 2016

The Politics of Petulance and the Plot Against America

Peter Knobler writes inThe Daily Beast about regretting Humphrey Hatred and fearing Bernie or Bust.


Richard Nixon was clearly not a man to be trusted. “The New Nixon” he was touting himself, but anyone who was paying attention could tell he was the same old Dick. The Vietnam War wasn’t going well—was, in fact, squandering tens of thousands of my generation’s lives—and I blamed President Lyndon Johnson for prosecuting it. Hubert Humphrey, his vice president, an old-line liberal, should have known better but was LBJ’s apologist. Humphrey was running against Nixon.

In my youth and absolutism, new to the real world of incremental gains and accommodation, I was among many who said, “The lesser of two evils is still an evil” and refused to vote for either of them. (In my wisdom I voted the Peace and Freedom Party line for Eldridge Cleaver.) The phrase popular at the time was “to make the contradictions manifest.” As if, when a man so obviously corrupt as Nixon was elected, the American people would immediately become aware of their terrible mistake and rise up en masse to replace one class of rulers with another. I wanted all of what I wanted and would be satisfied with nothing less.

Our numbers were significant. Never mind that as a senator from Minnesota, Humphrey was the lead author of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, was intimately involved in creating the Peace Corps and had chaired the Senate Select Committee on Disarmament—we simply could not in good conscience put into power a man who was so compromised.

And so we got two terms of Nixon—or actually a term and a half.

And Watergate. And Cambodia.


I learned my lesson. In 2000 I told everyone who would listen that the major issue in the Bush-Gore race was the Supreme Court. There would be no surprises; if elected, George W. Bush would nominate Justices consistent in their conservatism who would determine the retrograde direction of the court for a generation. More than his right-wing policies, this wrong-headed judicial upheaval would be his legacy—if we allowed it. We had to vote for Gore. And yet there was a determined contingent of ideologues, particularly those in Florida, who voted for Ralph Nader.

And so we got two terms of Bush.

And the Iraq war. And a conservative SCOTUS.


Donald Trump is not a man to be trusted. His bigotry is undeniable; his instability paraded for all to see; he has displayed his disqualifications for office so often the eyes glaze over at their recitation. And yet we have “Bernie or Bust,” the folks threatening to sit out the election rather than vote for the candidate closest to their ideals—a petulant response to a political defeat. I am familiar with the politics of petulance, but I am resisting. While I find Senator Sanders’s concepts attractive and am personally pleased that many are being included in the Democratic Party’s platform, I am not the ideological purist I once was. Passion in pursuit of a political vision is vital, but I do not demand that all of my ideas be fully absorbed into the party’s DNA before I confer my vote. That hasn’t worked. Twice. The cost has been dear.

Veterans are losers. Deport Muslims. What tax returns? Tax breaks for the rich. And on and on.


The Supreme Court rejected an appeal from the ACLU. Only Trump's name will appear on the ballot. In another case, Trump supporters were cleared of wrong-doing in beating of Bernie Sanders supporters.

Timothy Egan in the NY Times provides a bit of vision about the next four years under Trump in The Real Plot Against America.

So there was the Republican Party nominee for president inviting an American adversary to wage cyberwar against the country he wants to lead. If that wasn’t Trump’s shoot-somebody-on-Fifth-Avenue moment, nothing will be. What’s more, he was way too obvious about the role of the other pawns in the scheme. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press,” he said to Mother Russia.

Trump misses the old days, back when you could “knock the crap out of” a demonstrator. Yeah, the old days. Back when it was disqualifying for an American politician to flirt with treason.

This all seems too preposterous to be planned. Where are the conspiracy nut jobs when you really need them? Even fiction, Philip Roth’s “The Plot Against America,” about a fascist-lite president during World War II, does not have this level of absurdity.

But it unfolds, still, if not according to Russia’s design, then according to Russia’s will. Trump is now a national security risk, actively rooting for a foreign adversary to tamper with an American election. And very soon, he will start receiving classified briefings on that adversary. Ehhhhhcellent!

Please. If you know Bernie folks who still think that Hillary should be defeated, share this. A win for Trump would be a huge loss for the nation.

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