Posts Tagged With: 2016 presidential election

Deplorable And Proud Of It — Now’s There’s A Feather In Your Cap!

preble-county-gop

When Kramer, of Seinfeld fame, announces to his friends that he wants to ‘die with dignity,’ Elaine quips, ‘now there’s a feather in your cap,’ because achieving some things, well, just isn’t all that glorious. Neither is embracing slogans that are harmful to the country  — like ‘deplorable and proud of it.’

Deplorable and Proud of It

In my hometown, the GOP rents empty downtown storefronts each election cycle (there is never a shortage of options) for its victory center. This year the signage in the window includes the slogan “Deplorable and Proud of It” — an obvious reference to a quote from Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The entire quote goes like this:

You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic – you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people, now have 11 million. He tweets and retweets offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric.

Now some of those folks, they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.

It is a quote that resonates with some Trump supporters — and smaller versions of the sign are sprinkled throughout Preble County. When individuals embrace the slogan, some may dismiss it as the opinion of the unenlightened in a country built upon Enlightenment principles, but when a political organization embraces it, it is problematic. It gives credence to undesirable mores and values.

Deplorable Traits 101

When I see the sign inside the GOP Headquarters on Main Street in Eaton, Ohio I wonder which of the five attributes named by Clinton they are most proud of:

  • Sexism
  • Homophobia
  • Racism
  • Xenophobia
  • Islamophobia

These are traits that, by and large, we teach our children to eschew — usually in Sunday School when we teach them the Golden Rule — or maybe later in life by reading books like Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. We have dealt with the negative aspects of these beliefs since our country’s inception — and, it goes without saying, a society built on these concepts is a disgrace to democracy.

Autopsy Report

gopIn 2013, the GOP released a 97-page report, the Growth and Opportunity Project (pdf) trying to decipher how the Party lost the 2012 presidential election to Barack Obama. The report, which became known as the autopsy report, spelled out specific changes the Party should embrace to maintain a relevant presence on the national stage. A few of the points it listed were:

  • Move left on the Gay issue
  • Listen to Minorities
  • Stop Blocking Out All Dissenting Voices

But Trump happened and the new play book was thrown out.

Sexism and Homophobia

Although his rise to prominence was due to his carefully orchestrated exploitation of the inherent weaknesses of the primary system, Trump’s presidential campaign is currently in a freefall after tapes of him bragging about sexual assault to a giggling Billy Bush were leaked to the press. GOP leaders, women more quickly than men, are unendorsing the candidate, much to the chagrin of Bill O’Reilly wannabe Tomi Lahren who, like many, is trying to reduce the scandal down to some bawdy language. It’s not about language, as countless commentators, comedians and moms have pointed out. It’s about the abuse of power and the willful disregard of another person’s rights.

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Republican Rob Portman

Not everyone in the GOP is embracing this 5-star deplorable movement. Ohio Senator Rob Portman, who distanced himself from Trump over the weekend, supports same-sex marriage because, as is often the case, when a political position becomes personal it is reevaluated. Several years ago Portman’s son, Will, announced he was gay, and Portman reconsider  — and reversed — his view on same-sex marriage. Preble County’s (and Ohio’s 8th) former Congressman John Boehner, a Catholic — possibly taking his cue from the 2013 GOP report — abandoned the long held GOP anti-gay agenda and campaigned in 2014 for an openly gay GOP Congressman.

Xenophobia and Islamophobia

Xenophobia is a blight on America’s collective consciousness. It’s why we turned away Jewish refugees in WWII. It is why a Minnesota farmer in the early 1900s was abused and beaten — first physically then by the legal system — for being a German-American when anti-Germany sentiment ran high in the country.

Fear of non-Protestant religion is another unsolved problem. Although Hillary correctly stated in Sunday’s debate that Muslims have been in this country as far back as George Washington, she did gloss over the persecution they endured. In the beginning, the preferred religion was white Protestant — as Jews, Catholics, Muslims and even various sects of white Protestant churches were persecuted — with a handful of Quakers and Baptists being imprisoned or executed during the colonial era.

As late as the 1850s a gang of thugs associated with the Know-Nothing political group (a political forefather of Trump’s movement) bombed a missionary school run by Father John Bapst, and when damp weather prevented their scheme to burn the missionary alive, they tarred and feathered him. His real crime was being Catholic — and none of the Know-Nothing fear mongers, convinced Bapst was trying to ban the Bible from the United States, were ever charged in the crime.

George-W-Bush

President George W. Bush

Despite Muslims living peacefully and productively in the United States in the years leading up to and after 9/11, once the terror attacks occurred president George W. Bush was quick to halt Islamophobia from wreaking havoc on our society. Addressing the nation on Sept. 20, just nine days after the attacks, Bush reached out to Muslims saying,

I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It’s practiced freely by many millions of Americans and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah. The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends. It is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists and every government that supports them.

Racism

Countless books have been written on this subject, but Christian author Robert P. Jones may have best summed up, in our modern era, what proponents of All Lives Matters have failed to understand in their rush to put Black Lives Matter behind them. In his 2015 book The End of White Christian America Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute notes,

Given White Christian America’s long history of complicity in slavery, segregation, and racism we are at the beginning, not the end, of the journey across the racial divide.

Stickin’ It To Them

In the slow simmering of Trump’s implosion, one may expect local GOP leaders to do as the national leaders and distance themselves from Trump. Instead they have hunkered down on their dark horse candidate — placing an additional ‘deplorable and proud of it’ sign on the sidewalk Tuesday, Oct. 11, the last day of voter registration in Ohio — and by posting this video on their Facebook page.

In the video, Lance Wallnau uses the phrase “anointed vessel of God,” when describing Trump, who Wallnau claims has been undergoing a metamorphosis since about 2004/2005  — when Trump, apparently was chosen by God (despite the grabbing women’s genitalia thing) to rise up and lead this nation.

My HometownWallnau goes on to compare Trump to Samson. Of course, missing in the comparison is Samson’s heroics. Samson took one for the team by pulling down the temple upon himself to save the Israelites. Trump isn’t that heroic, choosing instead to put it to the team — boasting he was thankful to be unshackled from an organization that constrained him.

If you look at Wallnau’s About Me page, though, you may find a more plausible reason why Wallnau has so much faith in an anointed Trump. One of Wallnau’s students was a winner on Trump’s Reality TV show, The Apprentice. So, in keeping with the biblical focus of his Facebook video rant maybe mammon is what’s driving Wallnau’s position with God’s chosen, albeit seriously flawed, vessel.

Accountability and Morality

There are plenty of valid reasons why responsible church leaders, school officials, civic leaders, politicians and parents teach children not to embrace the five deplorable principles. They’re uncivil. They’re not democratic. They do not bring out the best in a person or in a society. They are not something to ‘hang your hat on.’ They foster hate, encourage divisiveness and partisanship. They prevent compromise and progress.

Simply put they are deplorable — and nothing to be proud of.

Although they spelled the lesser used word deplorable correctly, the local GOP struggled with the word they spell every election cycle -- Headquarters.

Although the local GOP spelled the lesser used word deplorable correctly, they struggled with the word they spell every election cycle — Headquarters. If they would have dropped the U as well as the R, it could have been a play off of the old standard ‘What is missing from ch__ch — UR.’

Categories: 8th congressional district, Broken Promises, My America, Politics, Preble County | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Does Your Vote Count — Or Are You Being ‘Played’?

playedThe Sunday edition of Parade has an excellent short article about the Electoral College (Does Your Vote Count) that sheds some light on one of the more confusing aspects of the American political system. It details the pros and cons of the system and even explains what happens if there is a electoral tie.

If there’s a tie on Jan. 6 (the day electoral votes are counted), the newly elected Congress immediately holds a “contingent election” in which the House of Representatives elects the president and the Senate elects the vice president.

The twist: Every state gets the same number of votes, regardless of population.

The possibility of a tie, however remote, is part of the Season 4 story line of Veep — a HBO comedy that highlights the inefficiencies of our political system. A political insider ranked the comedy as the number one political TV show.

Veep captures the asinine essence of the mad scramble for power; the regular, utter, and complete disregard for higher purpose; and the pettiness in which most politicians and their staffs engage for so much of the time.

Veep was indirectly responsible for my interest in American politics.

Two Parties, One Mindset

I stumbled upon a YouTube video featuring the main character, Selena Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), hanging out with vice president Joe Biden. Since Biden is a Democrat, I was not surprised to see him in the sketch, nor was I surprised to see Nancy Pelosi another Democrat, but when I saw my former Congressman Republican John Boehner in his 5-10 second cameo I was taken back. I was quite certain his constituents would not approve of the show if, for no other reason, than its bawdy language.

It made me wonder if Ron Paul’s assertion of ‘two Parties, one mindset,’ was accurate. Was it possible that a political class was running the show and that all the screaming and positioning by us ‘commoners’ was simply rearranging chairs on a sinking ship?

Short-Term Political Junkie

I headed down a two-year long quest to better understand the system — and to move beyond the ‘liberal vs. conservative’ argument. The more I read, the more that argument felt like another one from my childhood — Which truck is better, Ford or Chevy?

After reading and researching I compiled my thoughts in Played: How The U.S. Political System Controls & Steals Your Vote. In the eBook I look at everything from the way gerrymandering is upsetting the national balance of power to social media’s role in dumbing down the political conversation. I conclude we’ve all been played and have little say in who our leaders are.

In the end, even in a tumultuous election season like the 2016 presidential campaign, less than six people were ever serious contenders – and you had no say in who they were. A small, powerful group of insiders decide your presidential options and their interest rarely line up with yours.

I also discovered that one of our greatest weaknesses as voters is our predictability. Despite convincing ourselves that we vote as we see fit, marketers and politicians see us as reliable subgroups. They deliver messages that we gobble up. We react and respond to the messages — and then vote as predicted.

A Change Of Position

During this quest, I stumbled across books like What’s The Matter With Kansas and The Mass Marketing of Politics: Democracy in an Age of Manufactured Images – and these books impacted my thinking. I became astounded at how people really do vote against their own interest. I also came to understand that images and keywords can sway people. It also became apparent that politicians want to keep voters yelling — and not talking. The divide and conquer technique keeps them in power.

Through the process, I became more politically liberal (but my position would have been conservative in the era of Dwight D. Eisenhower or Theodore Roosevelt) — and a little more jaded.

But, I still believe a Two-Party system can work, if people are willing to compromise and work toward a common cause. The current approach is costing average Americans money — through ineffective government policies, low or lost wages and a decrepit infrastructure. When we degrade an opposing Party by engaging in grade-school tactics like name-calling, refusing to compromise or lumping everyone in one pile (well they are conservative or they are liberal) the approach is counterproductive. But mostly, it prolongs the dysfunction that exists in all levels of government.

America’s greatness has always been in her ability to solve major problems through the backs and brains of the many.

Political Dsyfunction

I’ll admit, though, that my disgust has grown toward those politicians who intentionally whip people up into a frenzy over perceived moral dilemmas, cleverly diverting attention from their own sins. Just this week, I was reminded at how far removed politicians are from the average American when I read a letter written by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

DeLay felt the need to come to the defense of his former boss, Dennis Hastert. Hastert, who was Speaker of the House from 1999-2007, is embroiled in a legal case for illegally staging money withdrawals in violation of federal law. But, the real story is the money was allegedly ‘hush money’ being paid to a former student. The student alleges he was sexually molested by Hastert when Hastert was a teacher and coach, Although Hastert has never admitted guilt, he did issue a statement through his attorney saying,

“Mr. Hastert acknowledges that as a young man, he committed transgressions for which he is profoundly sorry,” Mr. Green said in the statement. “He earnestly apologizes to his former students, family, friends, previous constituents and all others affected by the harm his actions have caused.”

It seems to me, that if in fact, any of the allegations are true, then instead of DeLay writing a letter defending the character of Hastert, he would let the chips fall wherever they fell. Instead, though, DeLay wrote,

“We all have our flaws, but Dennis Hastert has very few. He is a good man that loves the lord. He gets his integrity and values from Him. He doesn’t deserve what he is going through. I ask that you consider the man that is before you and give him leniency where you can.”

It’s almost as if DeLay believes Hastert’s Christian beliefs are a get out of jail free card. In my experience, few average Americans express such leniency toward anyone who may have committed transgressions against a former student. But the letter is indicative of the dysfunction that exists inside the minds of our national politicians and leaders.

What I Believe

Anyway, I don’t really put a lot of faith in political leaders. I believe in America’s citizens and I believe the only way to upend our political dysfunction is for all of us to become well informed at how the political game is played. Because of the way Political Parties manipulate the system, we no longer live in a ‘one man, one vote,’ world.

I do still believe in one Americanism. I believe in the age-old dualism that defines our national character: a strong belief in self coupled with a strong sense of community.

And I know, when both elements are vibrant, we, the people, are sensible and indivisible.

Categories: American History, Politics | Tags: , , , ,