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“Fear And Racism Taking The Place Of Policy”: Donald Trump; The Epitome Of Post-Policy Nihilism

Fair warning: over the next six months you’re not likely to find me writing much about Donald Trump’s proposed “policies.” Over the last few days there has been a lot of talk about whether or not the presumptive Republican nominee does/doesn’t support raising the minimum wage and lower taxes on the uber-wealthy. Remember that time when he said that women who get abortions should be punished? In less than 24 hours he had reversed course. Now he’s saying that his proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States was just a “suggestion.” And one of his advisors said that he will consider changes to Medicare and Social Security. Next thing you know, that whole border wall that Mexico is going to pay for will be nothing more than a distant memory.

All of this was pretty well explained by something an anonymous source told Politico.

“He doesn’t want to waste time on policy and thinks it would make him less effective on the stump,” the Trump source said. “It won’t be until after he is elected but before he’s inaugurated that he will figure out exactly what he is going to do and who he is going to try to hire.”

None of this has anything to do with Trump pivoting towards the center for the general election. Way back in January he told Bill O’Reilly, “The voters want unpredictability.”

There are two things that Donald Trump knows really well: (1) how to play the media in order to get maximum exposure (these flip-flops generate tons of coverage), and (2) what his base of supporters want to hear. I’ll give you a clue…it’s not about policies.

Back in 2013, Steve Benen came up with the perfect way to describe the current iteration of Republicanism: post-policy nihilism. After the disastrous Bush administration, it was demonstrated that Republican policies – both foreign and domestic – were complete and utter failures. In response, rather than re-think those policies, conservative leaders drafted a plan of total obstruction to anything President Obama and the Democrats attempted to do. In order to get their base on board with that plan, they fanned the flames of fear and racism…that is what took the place of actual policies.

It should therefore come as no surprise to anyone that the current presumptive Republican presidential nominee is running a post-policy campaign based on fear and racism. It is why none of the other contenders for the Republican nomination could ever lay a hand on him. Their choice was to either defend the failed policies of the Bush administration or challenge the fear and racism that animated his supporters – either option was doomed to fail.

What we’ll be witnessing in this election is someone running to be the leader of the free world who is the epitome of post-policy nihilism. That’s why I wrote yesterday that his response to a question about whether or not he regretted saying that John McCain wasn’t a war hero was so revealing. At first he flip-flopped on what he’d said previously. Then came this:

You do things and you say things. And what I said, frankly, is what I said. And some people like what I said, if you want to know the truth. There are many people that like what I said. You know after I said that, my poll numbers went up seven points.

Over the next six months Donald Trump will ensure that journalists who attempt to take what he says about policy seriously are sent running around in circles. Proposing actual policies is not the game he is playing – and neither are his supporters.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 12, 2016

May 13, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Fearmongering, GOP, Racism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Republicans Are Architects Of Their Present Misfortune”: What’s Coming In November Is A Reckoning, Long Overdue

So it has come to this: Trump 2016.

What first seemed a joke, then an unsettling possibility and then a troubling likelihood, became a grim certainty last week as Donald Trump, real estate developer turned reality show ringmaster turned would-be president, won an emphatic victory in Indiana’s Republican primary. His last remaining rivals, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, both dropped out within 24 hours, leaving Trump the de facto nominee of what used to be called, with some pride, the Party of Lincoln.

In response, a remarkable constellation of Republican officials and enablers have pronounced themselves unalterably opposed to the duly selected leader of their party.

“Never, ever, ever Trump” tweeted Tim Miller, a former spokesperson for Jeb Bush.

“With God as my witness,” wrote GOP strategist Rick Wilson, “I will never vote for Donald Trump.”

A Washington, D.C., blogger tweeted an image of his voter registration card burning. The governor of Massachusetts and the former head of the state GOP both said they will not vote for Trump. “I have no plans of supporting either of the presumptive nominees,” said Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

And, the unkindest cut of all: A number of Republicans say Trump’s candidacy will drive them into the arms of someone the party has long regarded as the very embodiment of evil. “I’m with her,” tweeted GOP speechwriter Mark Salter, invoking the campaign slogan of the dreaded Hillary Clinton.

One is tempted to draw an analogy to rats deserting the Titanic, but that would unfairly malign the rats. After all, they didn’t drive the ship into that iceberg. The Republicans, though, are very much the architects of their present misfortune.

When you spend decades stoking people’s insecurities, resentment and outrage, when you devote thousands of radio and television hours to scapegoating the marginalized and demonizing the vulnerable, when you campaign on coded appeals to xenophobia, racism and misogyny, when you make facts optional and lies routine, when you prioritize expedience above integrity and embrace ignorance as somehow more authentically American, you may not credibly profess surprise when you produce a candidate who embodies all those traits.

The damage the party has done itself is manifest and may be irreversible. But the bigger concern, by far, is how much damage the party has done to this country. It’s a question that has loomed for a very long time.

In pondering Election Day, then, one is reminded of the person who finally makes a doctor’s appointment six months after discovering a mysterious lump. Sometimes, people behave as if avoiding knowing about the bad thing avoids the bad thing itself.

But of course, it does not. You either have cancer or you don’t. Visiting the doctor does not affect that one way or another. It simply tells you what you’re dealing with.

Similarly, this country has either lost itself down a rabbit hole of ignorance and lies, fear and fury, or it has not. Certainly, the symptoms have long been obvious. From faith-based foreign policy to cynical obstructionism to economic hostage-taking to birther nonsense, right up to Donald Trump’s neo-fascism, it has long been clear that something was wrong with the GOP, that it had become a fundamentally unserious haven of cranks and kooks.

Now, the party offers us its kookiest crank as president. Make no mistake: Any country that would elect Donald Trump as president deserves Donald Trump as president. But the question is: Are we that country? Are we that far gone? Whether we are or are not, it’s past time we knew. So fine, let’s do this.

What’s coming in November is not an election. No, it’s a reckoning, long overdue.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, May 8, 2016

May 8, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP, GOP Presidential Nominee, Republicans | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“What Was Susan Sarandon Thinking?”: We Can Blame Her Ideology For The Dysfunction Of Our Politics

In an interview Monday with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Susan Sarandon said that it was a “legitimate concern” that Bernie Sanders’s most passionate supporters wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton, should she be the Democratic Party’s nominee. Then, she said she could see the logic in voting for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, because “some people feel Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately.”

Hayes clarified — did Sarandon mean “the Leninist model” of voting for Donald Trump? Picking the worst possible candidate in recent history in order to “heighten the contradictions” between Trump’s decisions in office and the newly heightened potential for a real “revolution”?

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Sarandon responded. “Some people feel that.”

This campaign cycle has seen the Democratic Party maintain some level of stability, even though it’s been thoroughly shaken up by a successful insurgent candidate and the huge viral movement behind him. Compared to our Republican friends, Democrats — even new, energized Democrats — have kept a level head and our eyes on the ball: winning in November. And not only the presidency. If Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for president, which looks likely, we could take the Senate and even, maybe, the House of Representatives.

But if Sanders supporters, including myself, take our cues from Susan Sarandon, we can blame her ideology for the upcoming Trump presidency. And more than that, we can blame her ideology for the dysfunction of our politics.

Though Sarandon took to Twitter after her remarks to clarify that she would “never support Trump for any reason,” her ideology remains the same: that Bernie Sanders represents a “political revolution” against “establishment” politics, and that this establishment itself is a greater threat to American democracy than even the Republicans’ most extremist views.

If you believe this, so be it. But I would hope you consider a few things before doing so.

Do you know your options for your local congressional race? Who most closely aligns with your views? What about among candidates for the Senate? For governor?

These are the real “establishment.” These are what Bernie Sanders would need, as president, in order to ensure his über ambitious legislative agenda has a snowball’s chance in New York’s unusually warm winter.

When Bernie Sanders talks about a “revolution,” it is this: a revolution in political pressure on all levels of government. He wants to do more than he was ever able to do as an independent senator from Vermont.

Winning the presidency would be a huge mandate, but what if Sanders loses? Susan Sarandon, to take her word for it, wouldn’t mind if Sanders supporters “brought on the revolution” by electing Donald Trump.

These are two completely different revolutions.

One requires democratic engagement, vigorous debate, political organization, and systematic, long-term effort.

The other is a vain hope that the people most at risk of a Trump presidency — immigrants, refugees, Muslims, the poor, women — would be so at risk as to prompt some larger push back. To be honest, I really don’t know what kind of “revolution” this is. Protests in the streets? Tea Party obstructionism?

Surely, something will happen if Donald Trump becomes president and makes good on his promise to find and deport upwards of 11 million people, ban Muslims from entering the United States, and start trade wars with China and Mexico. It’s simply unavoidable.

But I would hope whatever happens, should Bernie Sanders lose the nomination — or win it and lose the presidency — fits his definition of revolution. We need a political revolution. Americans are traditionally very bad voters. We’re typically disengaged from politics. Our political media doesn’t hold our political leaders accountable, and neither do their constituents.

If we accept Sarandon’s definition of revolution, which requires installing what would be the worst president in a century, surely, none of that will change.

If we accept Bernie’s definition, we can have it all, even if he loses: a Democrat in office, and millions upon millions of politically engaged Americans holding her feet to the fire.

 

By: Matt Shuham, The National Memo, March 30, 2016

March 31, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Susan Sarandon | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“This Election’s Biggest Jokes”: ‘Republicans Are The Saviors Of Social Security And Medicare!’ And ‘Republicans Will End Gridlock’

The whole point of Republican rhetoric these days is to try to switch labels: that Democrats were responsible for the Great Depression, and that Republicans are responsible for all economic and social progress under the New Deal.

Now, imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but in this case it is most common or garden variety of fraud. You have all been to the circus, but even the best performing elephants could not do a handspring without falling flat on their backs.

[FDR- 1940 campaign]

If it were not so tragic, it would indeed be funny.

The greatest purveyor of gridlock, obstruction, hurting the American people so that they would feel bad enough to blame the president… i.e., Mitch McConnell (R-KY)… he says that he will end gridlock!

Republicans, and only Republicans, have tried to privatize Social Security. Republicans have been against Social Security from the day it was conceived.

Ronald Reagan, Republicans’ saint, made his political debut explaining how Medicare would destroy all freedom and liberty in the country.

Republicans in 2011 and 2013 voted to transform Medicare into a voucher program. No more guaranteed benefits. Good luck shopping around for insurance if you can find an insurer to take you on if you are elderly and have several chronic illnesses. Oh, and good luck to younger people whose premiums would skyrocket if the elderly were included in their insurance pools.

And, yet these same Republicans are attacking Democrats who fought for these popular programs, who sometimes lost their seats due to lies and innuendo about their votes for these programs, for the “sin” of (wrongly, in my opinion) signaling a willingness to compromise to reduce long-term outlays from the program as Republicans were polluting the media with cries of “Greece, Greece, Greece.”

They lie about the president “taking” $500B from Medicare, when all he did was reduce payments to providers. Not a single person, nor a single procedure or illness, has lost coverage. Indeed, President Obama extended Medicare’s solvency from 2016, when it was due to go bankrupt, to at least 2030.

That is, thanks to President Obama, there is no pending financial crisis in Medicare. Thanks to President Obama, no one has lost a drop of coverage. Thanks to President Obama the amount of money seniors have to shell out for their prescription drugs is falling, with full closure of the “doughnut hole” in Part D of Medicare occurring in the following years. Thanks to President Obama, preventative care is covered.

That is, thanks to President Obama, seniors are getting much better coverage for a lower cost. By contrast, Republicans continue to try to destroy the entire program that they always opposed.

And, yet, Republicans attack Democrats, pretending to be Medicare’s defenders.

It should be the campaign’s biggest joke. But, with millions of Koch-dollars behind the ads, lying about the programs, lying about their impact, it is no joke.

It is a tragedy.

As if Republicans are really interested in protecting these programs. They wish they never existed, and want to get rid of them. They have voted for measures to destroy Medicare, and sprung privatization on the American people in 2004 when they were elected without breathing a word of it during the campaign.

Because, if the Republicans do take power, they will destroy the programs they claim to champion.

And, no one will know what killed them.

 

By: Paul Abrams, The Huffington Post Blog, November 2, 2014

November 4, 2014 Posted by | Midterm Elections, Mitch Mc Connell, Republicans | , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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