Right now I’m all in for Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and I am glad to see she picked up the pace and came out among the top three in New Hampshire, at no. 3. And I am not at all unhappy that former vice president and king of gaffes Joe Biden took a drubbing and that Massachusetts Sen. and American native wannabe Elizabeth Warren is faltering — which is not to say that I would not eagerly vote for either one — anyone to beat Trump.
President Donald Trump, with the help of his senate lackeys, is destroying our democracy and even the notion that there is something called “truth”. He seems to think it is in his power to choose whether to follow the law and the constitution. More than his policies, it is his attitude and his boorishness that concerns me. There really is a place and need for manners and decorum in a civilized society. And the truth thing. While making a false or misleading statement here and there or exaggerating is the stuff of politics, Trump has shown a willingness just to lie and stick with that lie as long as it serves him or to even change his story in midstream if that seems to serve him. He has conditioned followers to simply believe that he is somehow their only protection and that truth really has no relevance anyway.
But what really concerns me is Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders being considered the front runner in the Democratic Party. I have a hard time getting my head around the concept that an avowed socialist can win the presidency in the United States of America.
(A November matchup between Sanders and Trump might resemble McGovern vs. Nixon in 1972 — people sympathized with McGovern’s anti-Vietnam War message but in the end they just could not vote for him — he of course lost in a landslide, only winning one state, and not even his own).
There is a difference between social programs, which can do good, and socialism. I think Sanders considers himself something like a European socialist and that he would love to see a Scandinavian-style social democracy. But I think our constitutional format and our history does not fit into that.
There are different types of socialism models. There is European social democracy at one end and communism at the other. They are not the same of course. However they do have something in common. The good of the people is supposedly at the center. Well that sounds fair — but the people are represented by the “state”. And there you go, it is you the individual against the state or visa versa.
To the extent that the United States leads the world, it is because of individualism and the freedom that allows individuals to move ahead with new ideas and ways of doing things that make life better for all.
It may well be that in some places, Europe for instance, and in third-world nations, it is necessary for the state to take a more active role in protecting people because there is little room for individuals to advance, especially if they are not from wealth or the landed aristocracy.
To an extent we have that problem in the United States, so, yes, we do have social programs to address that. But our nation developed with the spirit, if not always the reality, that you could move west young man and strike out on your own. Yes, the frontier is settled, but we still have that frame of mind.
What do I know about it? Not more than you the reader, perhaps. But I do have an undergranduate degree in political science. But it so happens I am an over-the-road truck driver. So using that experience here is my take on socialism vs. capitalism:
Socialism –A driver goes to a warehouse where the employees are union members to unload his trailer. It’s 15 minutes before lunch. The forklift driver decides, too close to lunch to start now and just sits idle for that time. And he might have even had a recent 10- or 15-minute rest break, maybe not more than an hour previous.
Capitalism: On the other hand, a driver goes to a non-union warehouse. The forklift driver with only 15 minutes to lunch at least gets 15 minutes of work done, because, well that’s his (or her) job, and besides he might want to impress the boss, and beyond that he knows somewhere in his mind that if it were not for the business of the trucks coming in and out he would not have a job, that’s our non-socialist capitalist system. And maybe, get this, in a non-union warehouse they might even split lunch breaks so not everyone is at lunch at the same time (although I don’t see that much in real life).
But back to Sanders and socialism: free health care for all. Pay everyone’s student debt and free college for all. Except in reality nothing in this world is free. Someone will pay. Usually it is those who are diligent in their work and prudent with their money.
One thing that bothers me about free college for all is that we have already dumbed down our colleges and universities with students taking remedial English and math courses (not sure what happened in grade school and high school). Back in the day those students were not considered college material or they were offered community college to catch up. And, yes, I would support free (to the student) or almost free community college. They are great. They serve as both trade schools and prep for higher education and a combination of the two. Oh, and I realize free is not free, but they are a good investment for taxpayers.
But on the other hand, we can hardly afford to pay for everyone’s degree for a four-year college or more, nor should we. Not everyone is up to going the route of higher education or at least what higher education ought to be. And a good thing that is true. How would anything get built or repaired or moved or cleaned? And that is not put down. Skilled work, needed work, can command good pay. And although I a paragraph or so previous put unions in a bad light — they have their purpose for looking out for the interests of workers (although some just look after the interests of crooked union leadership).
One problem may be that the upper echelon of education has become a kind of trade school. It’s mostly about how much money one can make (not that making money is not important) and a lot less about understanding and appreciating the world and its history and various cultures and having an appreciation for all of those who make up our society.
We now have a president in office who on paper I guess is college educated but who seems to be lacking an educated world view beyond his desire to be seen as the most powerful man on the planet. The worst part of it is that he seems to have no notion of the rule of law — something he might have learned in college. It is something that separates true western democracies from other forms of government.
The president of the United States by virtue of his office and the reality of America’s position in the world power structure is the most powerful man in the world and, really, even with our constitution, there is not much to stop him from becoming a dictator but the rule of law. But the rule of law only really has its power as long as all in the government believe in it. We do not have a system with military coups.
People within the government (and elsewhere), the president included, have to agree with each other on one thing, the rule of law. President Richard Nixon refused to hand over his what turned out to be incriminating tapes, at first, but the Supreme Court ordered him to do so. And he did, with still some resistance. But what if he said no? There would have been no mechanism or practical way to make him. In the end it was that unwritten agreement to follow the rule of law.
I’m not at all sure that Trump in the same situation would break down and follow that rule. He would more likely just declare unilaterally that any court order was unfair or illegal and refuse. He of course did refuse to work with congress in the recent impeachment proceedings and ordered his administration officials not to as well.
He was advised not to on his own order the assassination of another nation’s (which we were not at war with) general, but he did so. Even if most agree, despite the questionable legality, it was probably a good thing because of the man’s role in terror and supplying weaponry that ended up killing Americans, still it is a president acting seemingly outside the rule of law.
A better example is that Trump has managed via tweet to overrule the Justice Department and get a lighter proposed sentence than originally suggested by prosecutors for a former associate convicted on federal charges. If all involved believed in the rule of law, that would not happen. But what is the remedy here? It’s that people follow the rule of law. But if they choose not to, all is lost.
Trump has also called for military discipline against an impeachment witness who testified against him. That’s almost like witness tampering after the fact.
Trump probably would not get away with anything if he did not have the protection of his enablers in the Republican senate majority.
Then there is second-place currently in the just beginning Democratic presidential primary race Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana. Finally some commentators are acknowledging that rightly or wrongly his problem is that he is gay, gay not as in happy as it meant when I was younger, but gay as in, he is homosexual, and he is married to a man. This will be mentioned a lot by his Republican opposition (and Democratic too?) throughout the campaign, directly or indirectly. I’d likely vote for him against Trump, even so. How many others would? Not enough, I imagine.
And finally, lots of glowing things said about Klobuchar, even a highly laudatory opinion piece on her in the Wall Street Journal. But why does everyone say how great she is and proclaim that surely she will be on the Democratic ticket — as the “vice president”? Why not president? I mean isn’t that the office she is running for?
As the legendary FDR vice president John Nance “Cactus Jack” Garner once said: the vice presidency is “not worth a warm bucket of piss”. Hell, just ask Mike Pence. It has to be tough when your only real job is to look glowingly at the president and act as his unthinking puppet as if you are made out of wood. Yes, he can break a tie in the senate too. And that is not to be scoffed at, I admit.
(I know Pence has a mind of his own, though. I’ve heard him. That is what scares me.)
Well, sometimes by accident or tragedy of course the VP becomes president and in recent years vice presidents have been given more duties and stature — but still. I mean what an insult to say you are qualified to be vice president (not president?).
Another reason I like Klobuchar is age. I’m 70, she is 59. I’m holding my own, but I am not president with the weight and fate of the whole world on my shoulders — we need younger blood folks. But not too young (Buttigieg is only 38).