What follows is an unflattering critique of America’s Democratic Party from one of its own. The party’s primary problems (no pun intended) sabotage its wannabe image as the Party of Change. What change? It appears to be run by well meaning if impotent, insulated and financially settled yuppies who freeze up in the clutch. If the party can’t adequately resolve its relatively simple Michigan-Florida representation problem, how can it possibly deal with the disaster-level crises now likely headed our way?
by Donald Croft Brickner
First off, let’s get this out of the way: while I’m right on the threshold of reclaiming my formal Independent voting status (I became a Democrat in 1999 when I saw George W. Bush coming), I will never, ever turn Republican.
The same might be said, by the way, for any prospective future involvement with America’s white conservative protestant Christian churches, whose transparent goal, even when dangling loaves of bread in the faces of the world’s poor (though rarely here in America), is to reel in converts. It’s been my experience that there isn’t an altruistic bone in a far-too-unwieldy number of such Christians-in-name-only who, at their core (like far too many Republican insiders), are closet bigots.
Even their favorite radio talk show hosts are bigots. A correlation is unavoidable.
Oh, me. Was that stated too strongly?
Conservative-influenced Republicans have too often devolved in this Millennium into promoting a political party of cold, calculating, self-serving opportunists who could care less about the well being of their fellow human beings. These are the bedfellows and chieftains of Wall Street and the military industrial complex. That anyone votes for such fools at all here in America is an endless source of wonder (maybe even of shock and awe) to those living-free residents of other countries.
Entrenched corporation influence in American politics is criminal. Does anyone really think the oil companies care at all if they finally drive a death spike through the heart of the U.S. economy? No — they’ll just cackle and exchange high fives. A wake-up call is needed here for Americans afraid of taking these bums on. If one doubts the bonafide misanthropy behind such anti-American corporate greed, check out PBS’ Frontline installment, The Smartest Guys in the Room — and listen to Enron reps laugh as they viciously shut down California power grids.
Both a solid world view and healthy psychological makeup are crucial to correctly naming and claiming the world and universe we live in. Corporate criminals have neither. Were there a mass diagnosis to apply to this cabal, they’d be sociopaths.
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I had a visitor from Australia stop by over the New Year’s holiday this winter who was very pleased with himself for finding a bumper sticker he was sure would be both appreciated by me, and immediately affixed to my car’s rear fender. It read:
“IMPEACH. DUH. Call Congress Now (202) 225-0100.”
Listen, the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld axis is sure to be taken to task one day for its genuinely suspect motives in starting the War in Iraq. But, frankly, right now, we here in America have bigger fish to fry — a lot bigger. Many of us are simply scared to death about what the future no longer appears to hold for us.
We believe this once great country is now hopelessly blind, misguided, and about to implode.
Our would-be news media, caught up in landing ratings at the expense of insight, fill our airwaves with picture-pretty irrelevance, and regularly very little else. In my lifetime, I’ve never seen so many high visibility news people (and I have 14 years of experience on the editorial side of newspapers) with so many blind biases, or such jaw-droppingly low IQs. It’s not everybody, but it is too many. What a deadly combination.
It gets worse. Journalists rarely “report” any longer. They editorialize, they pundit. They also pursue a profits-friendly newscast, even if it means stoking the fires of prejudice to lure in viewers. And that’s how we’ve come to lose our once deeply-cherished-by-our-forefathers’ free press. A judiciously enforced assertive and yet humble objectivity is critical to accurately reporting the news — any news.
Ah, but to be a fly on the wall in some 2020 university journalism class, whose participants will surely look back on these times and sullenly shake their heads.
Having said that: God help me – for I detest feeling this angry, and this outraged.
* * * * *
Ironically, I think very highly of all three presidential candidates: Hillary Clinton (who I continue to support as our first, best choice to lead us through the years ahead); the once-in-a-generation talented healer, clearheaded policy-editor and inspirational motivator, Barack Obama; and the rugged, determined and deeply caring John McCain. I’ll explain the reasons for my support of Clinton shortly.
If it’s not already obvious, the issues voiced here aren’t with specific individuals. Our institutions — just about all of them — have been perverted. That includes both of our political parties. The perversions are philosophical and dysfunctional.
The problems with the Democrats, at least as of this writing, mostly relate to the party’s unending capacity to logjam in theoretical Areas of Gray, let’s call them.
Areas of Gray, as they apply to politics, have to do with issues whose arguments, pro or con, do not adequately satisfy all criteria preferred for a just, fair resolution. So rather than stepping forward and simply doing what needs to be done — this is one arena where the damn-the-torpedoes-full-speed-ahead Republicans don’t blink, much less recoil — national Democratic Party electees have demonstrated a penchant (and due reputation) for sitting on their thumbs, unwilling to offend.
Well, it’s time to offend, folks — at least as justly and fairly as possible. Forget about the (often thoughtless) news media. Let them promote their glib voters’ poll interpretations, let them cease reporting the nation’s news in favor of taking, say, barely concealed potshots at the relentlessly targeted Hillary Clinton — let them do whatever they’re going to do. I know lots of people who refuse to even watch the news any longer because it’s “performed” so badly — but avoidance is no alternative solution. Only by observing all of this ineptitude and “badness” can one more accurately gauge the true tenor of these times, and thus better react to the difficulties characterizing them that are far-too-rapidly overwhelming all of us.
“The best news team on television?” Why doesn’t CNN just make Wolf Blitzer, Rick Sanchez and (the atypically top-drawer) Anderson Cooper wear goofy lie-filled sandwich boards? Demeaning its talent apparently isn’t an issue at CNN.
Every cable news network in America lost its credibility years ago, when they all turned full-bore corporate. No one raised a whimper the entire time it occurred.
Here’s an example of such limited and stilted thinking: early April polls showed Clinton, Obama and McCain running pretty closely as individual candidates, with McCain making inroads on Clinton in particular, who national polls also insisted remained well behind Obama in the popular vote — and so on. The problem with this reporting conceptually (never mind the poll-taking) is that there aren’t three different political parties (or candidates) in the 2008 presidential race: merely two.
No matter who ultimately wins the Democratic nomination, the brunt of the losing candidate’s supporters will switch over to the winning nominee — all threatened theoretical improbabilities (like party-switching in retaliation) notwithstanding.
Translated, then, that means that McCain (even “back here” in April), is getting clobbered (!!) by the two-headed Clinton-Obama monster, 2-1 … who might just end up on the same party ticket, anyway. Is the first-ever nominated woman or black vice president likely to turn down what’s a very realistic opportunity to make American political history as the first one of his or her ilk (women, or minorities)?
I kind of think not. Don’t you?
According to a recent HBO miniseries, John Adams was less than thrilled when he was nominated to be president George Washington’s vice president. Adams (with his wife’s teasing support) got over it. So, too, will either Clinton or Obama.
* * * * *
When one encounters a logjam, one bumps or removes the obstacles creating it.
So, when the Democratic Party leaders decide the voters of Florida and Michigan don’t matter to the electoral process — after all, it’s only about the Dem primaries, and the final outcome’s unlikely to be influential, regardless — they’re delivering a uniquely self-destructive message: namely, let’s avoid offending some people by, oh, talking one of our candidates into inappropriately dropping out of the election.
That way, re-running Dem primaries in Florida and Michigan will no longer be an issue for anybody — correct? We didn’t break the logjam: we simply ignored it!
What? You don’t think that that had been part of the Democratic Party’s thinking this Spring?
The Internet not only runs (election-like) polls all of the time, its web sites often tally the totals as they go, sometimes up-to-date (not that that matters so much). The sites also police who has and hasn’t voted, to keep it fair. You want to break the Michigan-Florida logjam? This is an easy and inexpensive way to accomplish it: you set up a website to vote on, establish a closing date … and, ba-dump-bump: that’s that.
In no way should the candidates be expected to finance new elections, no matter how one evaluates it. First of all, it’s a party “rules” problem — not the candidates’ (and how far down anyone’s list of real-world priorities is that?; the party hadn’t even planned for, or expected, a close race). Secondly, the financial donations made to the Obama and Clinton campaigns were intended to go to their chosen candidate — not to a new election, that probably won’t affect the donor (or, in fact, probably anybody else leading up to a still-unsettled fall Democratic Convention).
As things stand, none of this has to do with successfully electing a candidate prior to the convention — as cable news pundits promote, ad nauseum. It’s about granting two major chunks of our constituency their constitutional right to vote.
It’s no more complex an issue than that. No matter who wins Florida and Michigan, neither candidate is apt to be able to claim a confirmable victory prior to the convention. Add these new voters, and the finish line pushes further away.
Arguably, an Internet-based election would cost the national Democratic Party almost nothing, except time on the clock. There are lots of teenagers who know how to build websites, never mind Democratic staffers. So how difficult can that be? I hate to go all Adidas in this instance — but, you know, just do it.
As for grandma Harriet living in Michigan’s rural Upper Peninsula, or grandfather George living in Florida’s isolated lower Keys — neither of whom may know a computer mouse from a garage door opener — allow them to find a way to vote, on their own. They’ll be successful, if they’re motivated (most Dem voters are, at this writing), even if it means picking up the phone to get a grandchild to help out.
Meanwhile, nearly every substantial community library in America offers Internet access to the general public, free of charge.
Safeguards protecting Internet voters’ integrity are easier to put into place than most folks might imagine. And today’s voters certainly don’t need their hands held by party supporters. They’ve been watching or reading the news all along.
Invite them online. Let them vote. The entire process could begin and end in a month, easily. What really matters most is that Michigan and Florida voters are represented at the party convention. Shouldn’t Florida and Michigan delegates be included in what’s almost sure to be a convention-based selection process?
Oh, m’God! It’s another bleeping logjam! Can’t everybody just … come together?
As an brief aside: I’ve regularly attended my county’s Democratic Party meetings here in southwestern New Mexico, and I’ve enjoyed them — and in particular, I’m highly disposed to its sincere and caring membership, many of whom have been kind, thoughtful and supportive in my regard, particularly during difficult personal times recently. Stated once again — my criticisms of the party have very little to do with its constituency or higher ideals, but with party politics as a meaningful and functional concept — most particularly on the national level. It’s there where both truth and passion, so eagerly embraced in America’s counties, wither away.
Personally, I’ve finally had it with national Democratic Party wimpiness. Which leads me to my justifiable support for Mrs. Clinton — even if she is One Of Them.
Yes, yes — admittedly in my case, less than a month ago: formerly One Of Us.
* * * * *
Independent or third party candidates, no matter how promising (as yet, few of them actually are), cannot get elected this time around. So, you vote for the best of those running from among the two parties. To do otherwise is an empty act of rebellion — at least for the time being.
I’m on record in previous essays for expressing my concerns over the short-term future (during the next four to, say, six years) here in America.
Increasingly, I’m coming to believe more and more that bankruptcy of our federal government is going to be declared. An unavoidably mandated balanced budget on the federal level sometime over the next 12-18 months will make that a reality.
Dramatically destructive weather events like deadly tornadoes, for a while longer, are apt to be overlooked as the serious anomalies that they are — combining atypically widespread damage, unlikely locations, and unusual times of the year — thus assuring that increased cautions will be left on governmental back burners for a while longer. But, again, within a year and a half or so, that should change.
Global warming naysayers demanding a bloody nose for proof will inevitably get one — and a really splintered and broken one, at that. Denial is a backbreaker.
Once we discover, too, that Wall Street activities and The American Economy are not synonymous, a long withheld recognition will surface here that our true economy is a shambles — apart from federal bankruptcy issues, however they ultimately manifest and play out. Wall Street will remain intact. It’ll just downsize.
It’s time we identified Wall Street as the meaningless gigantic gambling casino that it is, by the way. It sucked in our middle class’ pension retirements by turning them into 401(k) “investments,” which have partially propped up Wall Street and helped protect it from another Great Depression. Further, make no mistake: your 401(k) retirement plan has been fully calculated and designed by them, for them.
At this writing, too, job losses around the country are making giant spikes that are unlikely to abate — never mind our unresolved messes in credit, foreclosures and interstate trucking. (If you want Maine lobsters, you may have to go there to get them … although the ransacked spindly sea critter’s availability has been steadily declining for years, starting in the late 1980s when pound-and-a-quarter size trap limitations were ignored, and then all related laws rescinded — thanks to greed).
More outrageous problems are sure to surface. You may not be able to bank on that statement — many smaller banks themselves may soon go under (is any of this beginning to form knots in your stomach?; it is in mine) – but, it’s a good bet.
Senator Obama is likely to be elected president in our not-too-distant future (if he’s not [mistakenly] elected this Fall), and we, all of us, will be lucky to have him at that time as our president. A lot of us are all-but-assured of needing Obama’s words of optimism and encouragement by then, coupled with his remarkable talent for clearheaded overview. He may not be the actual visionary, per se, that so many presently perceive — but he otherwise appears to be the real deal. He’s maybe the most impressive prospective presidential candidate I’ve observed in my lifetime.
Yet what’s staring us in the face now as a country does not yet play to his strong suits, I don’t believe. Rather, what we’re about to go through as a nation and as a citizenry will break the spirits of countless good, strong individuals — and I fear the next four years similarly could erode the vitality of Obama’s first best gifts, as well, if he’s elected prematurely. His leadership may best serve during rebuilding.
“Prematurely” is the operative word here. Still, Obama might be ideally situated as our vice president over this same period, however, because while he still has a few as yet undefined learning curves to go through — which is a normal part of the maturing process leading to those wisdoms won from simply having lived life longer than others — he will find less pressing (yet more hands-on) ways to serve in office as VP, and so serve more effectively. And the office’s on-the-job training will serve him well when it finally comes time for him to run again for the top slot. Next time around, he’d have all the tools, wherewithal and support necessary at his fingertips, and little of the controversy likely to haunt Senator Clinton in 2012.
Senator Clinton, meanwhile, backed by both her family and long-time political power allies from both parties, will best deal with all of the issues about to befall us — and she’ll likely do so by re-emphasizing the rights and value of our innate humanity, all the while executing what are sure to be some very tough, gray decisions. You wouldn’t want to be her in these times — and, by all rights, she might not want to be her throughout a lot of this. Her gutsy decision making will sometimes come under heavy fire, as well — a lot of that unjustly.
But she’ll stand strong, regardless, and very likely come through — with support.
Those are my best instincts — and at this stage, actually, my conviction.
Don’t get me wrong: if any of the three candidates are elected our next president, we will, at worst, muddle through the years to come. All are good, quality people.
If you have any doubts about that, just think back to the presidential candidates proffered to America’s electorate only four years ago.
* * * * *
By surrendering my Democratic Party affiliation, I will re-affirm my individuality in all future voting processes, free from the pressures of parrot talk, wrist-tweakings and sub-surface manipulations — never mind all of the docile do’s and don’t’s.
That’s certainly one big upside to Independency.
Still, there may be sound arguments to be pitched about leaving existing voting mechanisms and parties in place, as they are — and I’d welcome hearing them.
But my gut’s already telling me that during The Great Leveling, this time of many changes and forced “equalizations” about to unfold before us, America’s two-party political system is likely to be challenged right down to its bare, raw roots.
It wouldn’t be far-fetched to me if both parties ended up being discarded. But that would all fall under the context of a nearly unimaginable future that isn’t here yet.
Frankly, I’d love to live in a country and a planet where one is no longer defined by labels stamped on his or her forehead, to be embraced (or mocked) by others.
Such a positive impact would be surprisingly far-reaching in scope, one suspects.
Never mind being welcome in the manifested future of a true hope-filled society.