Written By: - Date published: 1:24 pm, September 8th, 2018 - 30 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, Deep stuff, democratic participation, discrimination, Donald Trump, elections, Ethics, International, Politics, racism, uk politics - Tags: barack obama, donald trump
Barack Obama has given a blistering speech at the University of Illinois, setting the scene for his intervention in the November mid term elections. The former President has remained remarkably restrained in his comments about the Trump administration until now, so it’s safe to assume that he has made a conscious decision to enter the fray because his party needs him.
At stake is control of the House of Representatives (almost a given on current polling) and the tantalising prospect of picking up the two seats in the Senate they need to end Republican control in that chamber.
Getting that Senate majority is important for a couple of reasons. Primarily because it relegates Trump to lame duck status. Without the House and Senate promoting the legislation he wants, Trump is reduced to only having the power to veto proposals. It would be a political quagmire – a swamp, if you will – where no progress is made and all participants end up covered in mud.
The second reason for pushing for outright control of the Senate is that it makes the prospect of impeachment more likely. Still not a sure thing, as two thirds of the 100 person Senate need to agree to the motion, but it allows the Democrats the ability to at least put impeachment to the vote.
If there were such a vote, it would require 13 or 14 Republican Senators to cross the floor to succeed. Even the threat of that possibility could or should be enough to end Trump’s reign. In effect, it was that scenario that faced Nixon, and he walked.
Trump ain’t no Nixon, though.
One thing Trump does have in common with Tricky Dicky, and also Ronald Reagan, is that his hand picked staff are now apparently routinely removing his ability to make decisions. We all hope it’s Pence, right?
The allegations of papers being quietly removed from the Oval Office desk before Trump could sign them has historic parallels.
In the last days of the Nixon administration, White House staff diverted critical matters that would normally require Presidential approval. It’s rumoured that his access to the nuclear ‘button’ was also cut off. These steps were taken out of fear that a raging, impotent Nixon would choose to literally go down in flames rather than resign.
With Reagan, his mental deterioration in the last two years of the second term required similar intervention.
The difference with Trump is that he is being sidelined at the start of his term, not the end.
As Barack Obama persuasively argues, that’s not normal.
In the end, the threat to our democracy doesn’t just come from Donald Trump or the current batch of Republicans in Congress or the Koch brothers and their lobbyists, or too much compromise from Democrats, or Russian hacking. The biggest threat to our democracy is indifference. The biggest threat to our democracy is cynicism – a cynicism that’s led too many people to turn away from politics and stay home on election day.
The antidote to a government controlled by a powerful fear, a government that divides, is a government by the organized, energized, inclusive many. That’s what this moment’s about. That has to be the answer. You cannot sit back and wait for a savior. You can’t opt out because you don’t feel sufficiently inspired by this or that particular candidate. This is not a rock concert, this is not Coachella. You don’t need a messiah. All we need are decent, honest, hardworking people who are accountable and who have America’s best interests at heart.
It shouldn’t be Democratic or Republican to say we don’t target certain groups of people based on what they look like or how they pray. We are Americans. We’re supposed to stand up to bullies. Not follow them. We’re supposed to stand up to discrimination. And we’re sure as heck supposed to stand up, clearly and unequivocally, to Nazi sympathizers. How hard can that be? Saying that Nazis are bad.
It shouldn’t be Democratic or Republican to say that we don’t threaten the freedom of the press because they say things or publish stories we don’t like. I complained plenty about Fox News but you never heard me threaten to shut them down, or call them enemies of the people.
This Congress has championed the unwinding of campaign finance laws to give billionaires outsized influence over our politics, systemically attacked voting rights to make it harder for the young people, the minorities, and the poor to vote.
Handed out tax cuts without regard to deficits. Slashed the safety net wherever it could. Cast dozens of votes to take away health insurance from ordinary Americans. Embraced wild conspiracy theories, like those surrounding Benghazi, or my birth certificate. Rejected science, rejected facts on things like climate change.
We won’t win people over by calling them names, or dismissing entire chunks of the country as racist, or sexist, or homophobic. When I say bring people together, I mean all of our people. You know, this whole notion that has sprung up recently – about Democrats need to choose between trying to appeal to the white working class voters, or voters of color, and women and LGBT Americans – that’s nonsense. I got votes from every demographic. We won by reaching out to everybody and competing everywhere and by fighting for every vote.
We need more women in charge. But we’ve got first-time candidates, we’ve got veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, record numbers of women – Americans who previously maybe didn’t have an interest in politics as a career, but laced up their shoes and rolled up their sleeves and grabbed a clipboard because they too believe this time’s different; this moment’s too important to sit out.
The biggest threat to our democracy is indifference. The biggest threat to our democracy is cynicism. To all the young people who are here today, there are now more eligible voters in your generation than in any other, which means your generation now has more power than anybody to change things. If you want it, you can make sure America gets out of its current funk.
You’ve got to vote. If you support the MeToo movement, you’re outraged by stories of sexual harassment and assault inspired by the women who shared them, you’ve got to do more than retweet a hashtag. You’ve got to vote.