LIBERAL FRUSTRATIONS IN AN ILLIBERAL AMERICA
ARE LIBERALS ACTING LIKE THE ENEMY?
"Now is the perfect moment for a reboot. My hope is that Mr. Trump will finally lay off his Twitter feed and start acting presidential. But even if he does not, we must all bear in mind that the best way to oppose politicians and policies with which we may vehemently disagree is through the constitutional and electoral freedoms that remain very much alive and well, even in Mr. Trump’s America."
STUART GOTTLIEB, NEW YORK
The writer, a former senior adviser in the Senate, teaches public policy at Columbia and this was his response following the recent shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise by a "liberal" attacker.
Well here’s the problem with Mr. Gottlieb’s letter to the NY Times editor. You can preach all you want about the appropriate response to Republican malfeasance when it comes to gerrymandered voting districts, Voter ID disenfranchisement laws and promoting egregious and deadly legislative proposals that will crush millions of Americans (the Trump/Ryan Deathcare Act) but when you reach the point – and this “point” is exactly where we are as a nation – that all your normal efforts, petitions, phone calls, letters, protests and demonstrations – are met with scorn, derision and dismissed out of hand as some anti-American, unpatriotic, traitorous action according to the right wing and you are stymied at every “legal” turn, what’s left? It's where we liberals are today in 2017, the first and hopefully last year of the Trump Administration. If you are serious about fomenting change, ousting the cruel, radical Republican, fake patriots from Congress, tired of seeing the scientific view of evolution replaced with a “Christian Biblical” textbook view, frustrated at witnessing the defunding of Planned Parenthood and the shutting down of clinics based on the fake, doctored videos from the Center for Medical Progress (the “fake videos” are not a “theory,” it is a proven fact in a CA court of law), sick to death of hearing that climate change is a “hoax” from the right wing as we continue to experience more severe floods and hurricanes and record temperatures year after year, sick to death of legislation that allows companies to poison our rivers lakes and streams, sick and tired of three decades of economic policy that has made the wealthy even richer beyond measure while ripping the American Dream to shreds for ordinary Americans, then you might have some sympathy for James Hodgkinson, the guy who shot Congressman Steve Scalise and five others at a practice baseball game here in the Washington, D.C. suburbs.
Now I’m not asking you to sympathize with or forgive Hodgkinson. No. I neither forgive nor pardon his targeting a bunch of Republicans for extinction but I do ask you to think for a moment about what we liberals have had to face now for three decades. The Red Tide of conservatism has been sweeping the country and we liberals have been powerless to stop it. Yes, right wingers will point to “same sex marriage” as the victory of the left over the right yet the truth of the matter is that America’s LGBT community numbers about 8 million or 3 percent of the U.S. population. Compare this to the number of unions jobs lost (33% of the workforce in 1980 to today’s 11%), the continued intrusion of religions into everyday life (Hobby Lobby), and the Republican Establishment’s unending dirty tactics to win elections at any cost (Voter ID Laws, gerrymandering and perhaps cooperating with Russia). What liberals have been facing for thirty years is a well organized army of right wing think tanks, “charitable” organizations, state and local legislatures, and an undeniable lead over Democrats when it comes to whipping followers into line when needed. Whipping Democrats into line is pretty much akin to herding cats who are high on catnip to walk the plank on Captain Ahab's whaling ship, the Pequod. It ain’t easy.
So while I do not support nor do I condone or forgive James Hodgkinson taking the law into his own hands that Thursday and shooting bullets into six folks on a local neighborhood baseball field in suburban Virginia, there is no way that I do not understand him. I do. Fully and absolutely.
It's not us liberals who've been under attack, per se. Although we have. Just listen to Rush Limbaugh for five minutes any day of the week. But more importantly, it's what we used to think of as not "liberal" ideals and values, but "American" ideals and values including some very core values like equal treatment, compassion for the less fortunate, and tolerance that have taken it in the chin. Used to be that many more Americans held such core values than do today. Or do it seems. Maybe I'm just naive or old fashioned but I still believe in them. But apparently a whole boatload of Americans no longer do. Winning is more important than anything else. Take one of my pet peeves: Voter ID Laws. You don’t need court cases to determine that the recent flood of state Voter ID Laws isn’t about unlawful voting in our voting booths. Study after study has proven that Voter ID Laws, as adopted by North Caroling, Georgia, Wisconsin, and a dozen other Red states, would have virtually no effect on someone entering a voting booth who wasn’t properly registered or for some other reason was not entitled to vote, and successfully casting a bogus vote. It simply does not happen. Dozens of studies have shown that Voter ID Laws are a solution in search of a problem. This kind of voter illegality simply doesn’t exist. So, tell me then, why have so many Republican ruled state legislatures passed laws that disenfranchise the elderly, the handicapped and minorities? What, you might ask, gives? Well what gives is purely and simply, the elderly (irrespective of color), the disabled, the recipients of Medicare and Medicaid, are far more likely to vote Democratic than they are Republican. This is the only reason for the Voter ID Laws that have swept across Red State America over the past couple of decades: to suppress Democratic voters. There is something extremely perverse and un-American about this whole effort. (Of course now we're faced with the Russians rigging our elections in addition to Republicans.)
We must wait until the ACLU cases wend their way through the court system – as they have – and await the Supreme Court’s decision. This takes years. So far, so good, however. When it comes to voting rights, it appears that both conservative and liberal judges believe that this issue rises above party affiliation. Meanwhile, all the folks targeted by Voter ID Laws and all the convicted criminals who have served their time and ought to regain their voting rights, are still discouraged and/or barred from voting; from voting Democratic. In our system of government, one party is not supposed to engage in illegal means in order to secure a permanent, unbeatable governmental rule in our society. But this is precisely what Republicans have done. Through illegal, illicit and unconstitutional means, the Republican Party has been able to control all three branches of government today even though they could not win a plurality of votes if they were put to a test in a head to head contest. (Clinton received nearly 3 million more popular votes than did Trump.) Yet they rule. They rule all three branches of government today and have ruled in over 30 states for decades now.
Sure, the reality is that they are demonstrating that controlling all three branches of government is apparently waaaaay too much for them to chew and they are well on their way to pissing off a much greater slice of voters among those who previously supported them. But one only needs to look at the “Obamacare Replacement” legislation that was adopted by the Republican controlled House and just recently the Republican controlled Senate. The so-called American Health Care Act is an insult to every single American who cares about who we are as Americans. Fair? If you call cutting 20+ million Americans from their health insurance fair, then yes, the AHCA is fair. Compassionate? Well, now that states will have the option to “opt out” of covering pre-existing conditions, I don’t see how this is compassionate. Fair? Sure, if throwing millions of the elderly off Medicare and out of nursing homes is fair then I guess the Act is. Equitable? Is giving the wealthy a huge tax refund by stripping people from health care equitable? And this is the bill that Trump claimed would be better, cheaper and cover more people than Obamacare. It is, of course, a massive fraud and will cause untold damage on so many Americans yet Republicans are getting away with it due to the powerlessness of liberals. We are simply powerless.
But this is where we liberals are today. Stuck with this shit. Stuck from top to bottom and from inside to outside. It’s wrong. You know it and I know it. It is simply not right. I mean doesn’t all of this dumbness make you want to hike yourself up to Capitol Hill with some Second Amendment type offensive weapon and take some action on your own just like the NRA suggests we all have a right to? In “self-defense,” just like James Hodgkinson apparently did? The frustration and the anger and the rage is real because there is no question that we have been and are under attack from Republicans, conservatives and the right wing for a long, long time. We've been told that the danger of armed insurrection lies with the far right Nazi groups but maybe James Hodgkinson has shown a different way.
Have The Very Best Day You Can Even Though Trump Occupies Our White House!
Have The Very Best Day You Can Even Though Trump Occupies Our White House!