Posts Tagged ‘Democracy’

What’s Plan B? Well, There is a VP

Friday, July 5th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

Vice President Kamala Harris.

Vice President Kamala Harris.

Why do we  elect vice presidents?

     That’s not a rhetorical question. In fact, it’s the answer to a question many Democrats have been asking themselves for more than a week.

      In a virtual meltdown since Joe Biden’s shutdown performance in his first debate with Donald Trump, and under a constant New York Times-led media barrage about Biden‘s age and his capability to handle the job of president, many wealthy Democratic Party supporters and plenty of everyday Democrats have been asking, “What is Plan B?”

     As in, “If we don’t think Joe can win, who should the party’s candidate be? Quick!”

     Funny thing is, all the names quickly mentioned as possible presidential candidates quickly said they’re still backing Biden. Now, that may be because it would be unseemly to challenge the leader of the party or simply because none of them wants to face Trump now when they might have an easier race four years from now.

    The other funny thing is, even though presidents run with vice presidential candidates, who, theoretically at least, can step in immediately and take over the duties of president if necessary, whether because of incapacitation or resignation, hardly anyone mentioned Vice President Kamala Harris as a potential substitute for Biden.

       But isn’t that her job?

       This is in no way an argument for Biden to decline to run again “for the good of the party and the country” or for him to dramatically resign the office of president. I have no way of knowing, any more than do any of those big media pundits, whether Biden is capable of fulfilling the duties of president while also conducting an aggressive reelection campaign against Trump and his Republican cult followers. If Biden’s running, he’s got my vote.

       All I am saying is that if he feels he is not up to it, his vice president would seem to be the person most qualified and capable of doing so. Harris has been with Biden through all the successes of nearly four years in office, been part of the planning and prodding and preaching necessary to get things done. She has dealt with leaders on the world stage. If people like what the Biden White House has done, well, then Harris has been part and parcel of all that.

    Plus, she is Donald Trump‘s greatest nemesis: An educated, articulate, outspoken, politically astute black woman. She has been district attorney of San Francisco, Attorney General of the state of California and served as a United States senator from California. She knows how government works. She can take on the issue of abortion head-on. She can talk frankly about voter suppression tactics. In fact, she can talk about any issue Trump or Republicans throw out there with more clarity and knowledge than can Trump.

       In fact, so can Biden. But if by Plan B Democrats want someone to more aggressively get up in Trump’s face, call out his constant lies, which much of the media now seems to accept as, well, acceptable, then Kamala Harris is their woman.

     Plus, you’d have the whole first woman president angle going again, the one stolen from Hillary. And if Biden did take the dramatic step of resigning (which he has given no indication of doing, nor am I suggesting), she would have access to the Biden campaign’s considerable funds.

        All of this, of course, would be dependent on Democrats doing something they always have trouble doing — getting behind one candidate and sticking to the script.

       Republicans have mastered the art of uniting behind even the most despicable of candidates imaginable, with Trump the felon exhibit A. They are a political party without a soul. Democrats, however, usually spend an inordinate amount of time challenging each other over who is the most noble of candidates. It often produces confusion, not votes.

       Joe Biden has been a good president. He has served this country well his entire adult life and grown old in the process. Few are granted the opportunity. In an election which is in sum a contest between democracy and despotism, he is the symbol of what our forefathers had in mind when they said farewell to the king.

       When the script hit the fan, their Plan B was to have a vice president.      

rjgaydos@gmail.com

       

Gambling and Sports — a Bad Bet

Monday, June 17th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

     Clearing my note pad of news that bugs me before it gets buried by other news that bugs me. With a deep bow to the late, great Jimmy Cannon …

Sports betting.

Sports betting.

  • Maybe it’s just me, but: The major sports leagues made a bad bet when they allowed themselves to be partnered with legalized gambling. For many “fans,” the legal gambling books have taken over much of the reason for watching the games and the lure of money that can be made by betting on someone winning or losing, or striking out, or missing a field goal or a foul shot will always prove too be too much for some involved in the games to follow the rules. The rule, actually, is simple in all majors sports leagues: anyone connected officially with the league in any manner — player, coach, official, employee — is free to legally gamble on any other  sport, but not the one in which they are engaged. To protect the integrity of the sport, you know. So that fans know games they are gambling on aren’t fixed or no one is trying to make things happen in a game to cover a bet or a gambling debt. Well, in recent weeks, a Major League Baseball player and a player in the National Basketball League have both been banned from their sport for life for gambling on it. The basketball player is even said to have tried to make his team, the Toronto Raptors, lose so he could win his bets. The 24-year-old San Diego baseball player is the first active player in a century to be banned for life for gambling. (Look up the Chicago Black Sox scandal.) And now a Major League Baseball umpire (talk about controlling the outcome of a game) has been suspended while he is investigated for gambling. He denies the allegations and says he only bet on other sports. But there’s the rub. If you’re bad  at betting on other sports and lose a lot of money, it can be tempting to try to make up the losses by fixing a game you know very well. It has happened before. Baseball has thus far managed to escape the major scare of its marquee player, Shohei Ohtani, being involved in gambling, when  Ohtani’s interpreter pleaded guilty to gambling with an illegal bookie with a lot of money which the interpreter stole from the Los Angeles star. The National Football League so far seems to have escaped trouble, although the game is virtually built around legal sports betting in many places, including TV. It may be too late for the sports leagues to change their minds, with too much money already involved in all the business deals, but this oldtimer who used to help his father check the bookie’s college football/basketball weekly betting sheets back in the day thinks this has all the earmarks of a bad marriage waiting to break up over gambling and money.
  • Maybe it’s just me, but: If Chief Justice John Roberts doesn’t want history to remember the Roberts Court as the one that destroyed American democracy, he needs to get Justices Thomas and Alito in his chambers, knock their heads together and tell them to recuse themselves from any cases involving Donald Trump, clue their wives in to the meaning of conflict of interest for judges and their families and stop accepting lavish gifts from people who have cases coming before the court. Pretty basic stuff. He can also write a meaningful conflict of interest policy for the court. And he can have some guts and honor a request from Congress to talk about what’s going on under his watch and his nose. Or, he can stop pretending to be the moderate voice of reason on the court.
  • Maybe it’s just me, but: Even an addle-brained Donald Trump should have known better than to go to the Libertarian Party’s convention looking for a warm reception. Not only didn’t he get the party’s presidential nomination, he got laughed at and booed, suggesting there is some hope for these defenders of their liberty. Heck, they even rejected Bobby Kennedy Jr. Of course, they did select someone to run as a third party candidate, meaning some voters who might have gone for Joe Biden instead of Trump will waste their important votes on someone who can’t win, while ignoring the best choice to actually protect their liberty. But of course that never concerns the billionaire Libertarian Koch Brothers, who feel free to try to buy their freedom and anything else.

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What Did You Do on D-Day?

Saturday, June 8th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

President Joe Biden reaches out to touch a U.S. soldier's tombstone as he and first lady Jill Biden tour the Normandy American Cemetery on the 80th anniversary of D-Day on June 6, 2024 in Colleville-sur-Mer, France.

President Joe Biden reaches out to touch a U.S. soldier’s tombstone as he and first lady Jill Biden tour the Normandy American Cemetery on the 80th anniversary of D-Day on June 6, 2024 in Colleville-sur-Mer, France.

   “Where were you on D-Day this year, Daddy?”

     “Well, honey, I was at work, as usual, but I did take the time to see how the leaders of our two political parties remembered that fateful day 80 years ago that led to the defeat of the German army in Europe. After all, without the bravery of those Allied soldiers on that day, the Nazis might have prevailed and you and I might not even be having this conversation.

     “Anyhow, I read that President Joe Biden was in France, at Pointe du Hoc, a point on Normandy beaches where Army Rangers scaled 100-foot cliffs to capture machine guns and ammunition from the Germans that was to be used against Allied forces on Omaha and Utah beaches.

   “The president said in his speech, ‘As we gather here today, it’s not just to honor those who showed such remarkable bravery that day June 6, 1944. It’s to listen to the echo of their voices. To hear them. Because they are summoning us and they’re summoning us now. They’re asking us what will we do? They’re not asking us to scale these cliffs. They’re asking us to stay true to what America stands for. They’re not asking us to do their job. They’re asking us to do our job. Protect freedom in our time, defend democracy, stand up to aggression abroad and at home, be part of something bigger than ourselves.’ ”

    “And where was Donald Trump, daddy?”

     “Well, honey, being out on bond after just being convicted in New York of 34 felony charges for trying to illegally influence the 2016 election in a case involving an extramarital affair with a porn star, Trump, the leader of the Republican Party and its probable presidential nominee, was at a campaign event in Arizona, speaking to a group of young MAGAs in training. 

    “He blamed all our country’s troubles on Biden and immigrants unlawfully entering the U.S. from Mexico, encouraged Republicans to oppose the president’s plan to put a temporary moratorium on border crossings, which Trump has also proposed, because it would help Biden’s reelection campaign.

   “Trump also commented on the happenings ‘here in Texas’ regarding banning abortion and said the state’s Republican governor, Greg Abbott had ‘done a very good job.’

     But, of course, Trump was in Arizona, where he did not mention Normandy or Nazis or D-Day or veterans, although six years ago he did refer to veterans buried in France as ‘losers’ and ‘suckers.’ Also in Arizona this year, he did vow to use his power to get revenge on those he calls his enemies if he is elected president. He did not speak about doing our job to protect freedom and democracy.

   “Oh, President Biden also met and thanked a group of veterans for ‘saving the world.’

   “And that’s what the men running for president of the United States of America did on D-Day, honey.”


rjgaydos@gmail.com


The Death of The Fourth Estate?

Friday, May 10th, 2024

… Or, when I realized that my suspicion that The New York Times was not going to do anything to help save democracy in America was correct.

E9BBCF23-9A7D-4C7A-8ABC-D679F44D1FE4                         

                                ***

“To say that the threats of democracy are so great that the media is going to abandon its central role as a source of impartial information to help people vote — that’s essentially saying that the news media should become a propaganda arm for a single candidate, because we prefer that candidate’s agenda.”

Joe Kahn, editor NY Times,

May 5 in an interview with Semafor

                         ***

  “On this particular day, I looked to see what the great gray lady, The New York Times, had to say about the Trump trial. Its editorial went into great detail, carefully explaining all the nuances of the justice system and why everything was being done the way it was being done, etc. It was not until the end of what the paper itself described as “a seven-minute read,” that the editorial referred to Trump’s “disregard for the rule of law and his willingness to demean American justice when it suits his interests.”

   It continued, “Those actions render him manifestly unfit for office and would pose unique dangers to the United States during a second term. The greatest of those dangers, and the one that Americans should be most attuned to, is the damage that a second Trump presidency would inflict on the rule of law.”

      Well, no you-know-what Sherlock. Did no one at the Times ever explain to the editorial writer that “don’t bury the lead“ applies to editorials as well as news stories. Seven minutes to tell people don’t ever put this lunatic in office again? He’s too dangerous?! “Manifestly unfit!”

    Give me a break! Tell them at the top, tell them why and tell them again at the bottom. Tell them every damn day while you’ve still got a press! Geez, people, this is no time to be gentle.”

Me, April 18, in a column on Substack and zestoforange.com

                         ***

— The time, spring, 2034. The scene: A New York Times editor is watching the news on Government Channel 1 with his 10 year-old daughter.

Daughter: “Daddy, what were you doing when our great Orange Leader, who sadly just died, was saying he had to be made president for life, so that he could save the country from all the evil people trying to sneak into it and send them all back where they came from, and that he had to release all of those people who were wrongly put in jail for trying to kill the vice president, who was actually a traitor, and free the Capitol from a Congress that wasn’t following the Constitution and that he needed to punish all those people who were telling all those lies about him and stop Congress from sending money to Ukraine for weapons to fight Russia because Czar Putin was a good man and that we really needed instead to focus on saving the world from windmills? And he did! Do you remember what you were doing when he was saying all that?”

Daddy: “Well, yes, honey, I was a reporter at The Times and my job was writing about whether Marjorie Taylor Greene, an influential member of Congress at the time and now Secretary of State, thought the plans of our aging president, Joe Biden, for example to make life more affordable for everyone and to let people actually make their own decisions about their own lives, made any sense.

Daughter. Oh. Cool.

— Bob Gaydos




You’ve Got Mail, Please Read It

Wednesday, February 21st, 2024

By BOB GAYDOS

The mail. RJ Photography

The mail. RJ Photography

You can tell a lot about people by the contents of their mailboxes. In fact, if you pay attention, you can even learn a bit about yourself.

      For example, a recent day’s delivery to my box included ACLU Magazine, a letter from Planned Parenthood, one from the Southern Poverty Law Center and a note from Marlo Thomas for St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital.

     Now, anyone who is familiar with my columns would hardly be surprised by this mix. Since my days of reading David Bernstein’s daily editorials in The Sun-Bulletin in Binghamton, N.Y. (1965-1973), I’ve been a dyed-in-the-wool liberal. Before that I was just a kid out of college who liked JFK. Since then, I’m lefty and proud and public.

     And I guess that’s the point here. Public and proud. I’ve been writing and commenting on the news and life in general for more than 50 years, but it has never seemed more important to me to be clear and forceful and consistent in expressing my opinions, however repetitive some may find them. Especially about politics and the state of the nation today.

     One of the two major political parties has, for all intents and purposes, abandoned the principle of compromise in governing for the good of the country. The Republican Party, as a willing and aggressive tool of Donald Trump, is a clear and present danger to our democracy. The past eight years testify to that.

     That’s my opinion and the opinion of many others. But still, there are millions of Americans who are buying the snake oil and gold sneakers to keep the Trump lies alive.

      And so, when I get my mail these days, I notice a certain urgency and consistency to it. These are people who feel the same as I do and are doing all they can to preserve and protect what was established in Philadelphia 248 years ago. Our democracy is at stake. This is our reality.

       I try to spread their messages so that those who have not yet recognized the true threat of the MAGA Party might one day hear it and realize what it means to them, to their freedom.

     This may sound a bit high-minded and exaggerated to some. But, again, I go back to my mailbox.

     The SPLC tells me about the spread of hate groups and its efforts to fight the threat of violent white nationalism and racism that has “gone mainstream’’ and is spreading  through our politics, media and schools and the constant racist rhetoric of Trump and a segment of the Republican Party. 

    The ACLU tells me about its legal efforts to protect voting rights from efforts, again, by Republicans, to restrict them for certain groups of people rather than promote ideas and programs those people might approve of and vote accordingly.

    The ACLU also tells me about its efforts to protect pregnant workers and  abortion rights and free speech.

    And Planned Parenthood tells me about its ongoing and increased efforts to educate the public about the threats to abortion access and to advocate for policies that protect sexual and reproductive health care for all.

     Freedom. It’s all about freedom. Many of you probably have similar messages in your mailboxes. 

   Again, that’s the point. Read them. They are there for a reason and I noticed them on this particular day for a reason.

    Our much-celebrated way of life is under attack and too many people still don’t recognize it. I would much rather write about the great work of the St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital that also comes in my mail, but if the MAGAs prevail, that will surely suffer also. Bigotry and hatred become pervasive.

      So I pay attention to my mail. I read it and I write about it. Because I still can. Because defense of freedom is not junk mail.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

The (not so) Sweet Mysteries of Life

Friday, February 16th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

Life is full of mysteries. Too many to solve and some (Why did Mario Cuomo not get on the plane to New Hampshire?*) never to be fully resolved. Lately, there are too many to keep up with.

Me and Mario Cuomo, circa late 1980’s, at a budget dinner presentation at the Governor’s Mansion in Albany, where he was apparently more comfortable than he would have been in the White House.

Me and Mario Cuomo, circa late 1980’s, at a budget dinner presentation at the Governor’s Mansion in Albany, where he was apparently more comfortable than he would have been in the White House.

 

     At such times, I lean on a tactic made famous by a favorite sports writer of mine from a half century ago or more, Jimmy Cannon. With a deep bow of respect:

  • Maybe it’s just me, but:  When the leading vocal critic of Vladimir Putin dies unexpectedly during a stroll at a prison in the Arctic and that critic, Alexei Navolny, is only 47 years old, is there any doubt that the Russian president, a well-known fan of poisoning his detractors, is behind it? The only mystery is what story the Kremlin will come up with to “explain” the death since there were no  10th-story windows for Navolny to fall out of.
  • Maybe it’s just me, but: If I am the governor of the state that just witnessed its crowning glory celebration of another Super Bowl win turn into a bloody mass shooting with one dead and more than 20 injured, including many children, I might want to rethink my state’s gun laws. In fact, I might think about actually having some. No sign yet that Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a rock-ribbed, pro-gun Republican if there ever was one, has had such a moment of clarity. Parson, who was at the Kansas City celebration of the Chiefs’ championship, along with his wife and thousands of other happy fans, revealed that his security detail had quickly moved him and his wife to safety. Others had no such protection. In fact, Parson as governor has squelched efforts by Kansas City and St. Louis officials to pass stronger laws because of an increase in shooting deaths in both cities. He also supported a state law that forbad local police from enforcing stricter federal gun laws. The courts overturned that. Missouri has no state licensing requirement for possession of a rifle, shotgun or handgun, nor is any state permit required for purchase of those firearms, as per the NRA’s official site. It’s an open carry state. The shooting was reportedly the result of an argument among teenagers. The mystery: How do you live with yourself and your bloodied celebration just to get campaign donations from a corrupt organization?
  • Maybe it’s just me, but: When a former president, who has bankrupted several businesses, run a fraud university and phony charity, lied to banks and others about the value of his properties, been ordered by the court to pay $364 million in fines because of it, has routinely failed to pay lawyers and contractors and also showed a remarkable indifference to and ignorance of history and world affairs says he would be OK if Putin sent Russian troops against NATO countries who are behind on paying their dues, I don’t understand the so-called thinking of Americans who profess  patriotism, yet support such a man to be president of this country.
  • Maybe it’s just me, but: The decision by West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin not to launch an independent campaign for president under the No Labels Party — a rare wise decision by the retiring Democrat — should be enough to convince the phony baloney independent group to drop its efforts to field a spoiler in the 2024 presidential election. Manchin even said he didn’t want to play that role. The mystery here is, when the choice in November will be between democracy (Joe Biden) and fascism (Trump or another Republican wannabe Trump), why anyone would want to play that role.

*Mario Cuomo, the so-called “Hamlet on the Hudson,” was widely considered to be a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992. He kept a plane on the runway with its motor running on the day to register for the New Hampshire primary, but never got on the plane. A lingering mystery.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Resolved: Work to Preserve Democracy

Monday, January 1st, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

 F6C3ED4D-2822-4ACE-865A-78176390446D   A friend of mine was talking recently about making  New Year’s resolutions and how it can be a futile or even delusional exercise (my words, probably misrembering his) since we rarely live up to them.

     I agreed. But … there are resolutions and then there are Resolutions. So, this year I resolve to continue to try to (1.) maintain a healthful diet, avoiding food and drink that will harm, not help, this aging body to keep on aging in a healthy way, (2.) get more sleep, (3.) pay more attention to the garden, (4.) pick up a book, (5.) take all my vitamins, (6.) keep in touch with family and friends, (7.) walk more, (8.) argue less, (9.) be more patient with the dogs and (10.) learn a new language.

    Ten ought to be enough and the key word was the first: “try.” (That language thing was a rounding throw-in.)

      Those are the first kind of resolutions. The ones we usually forget about around February. I will give them a good shot, but can’t promise anything.

      This year, though, I have another Resolution, one which I pledge to keep alive every single day: To do everything within my abilities to comment on the news and spread the truth as I see it, without fear or favor, until Joe Biden is re-elected president, Donald Trump is convicted and imprisoned and American democracy is saved from being tossed on the ash heap of history.

     That’s the story of 2024. That’s how important I think the coming election and the four Trump trials are. In my opinion, the future of this country as I have known it is in peril and far too many of my fellow citizens apparently don’t know or, worse, don’t care.

       I’ve given up on the “don’t care” crowd. I presume they like where Trump, the Republican Party and the MAGAS are headed. Maybe they’ll March off a cliff. Not caring is out of my reach.

       Instead, I’m going to focus on the “don’t knows,” starting with, “Where the hell have you been the past eight years?”

       Democracy requires participation, which means being involved in community, knowing who’s running for office and voting for those whose views coincide with yours. Just blindly pulling levers by party or not voting at all got us where we are today,

    “They” are not all the same.

   There is a world of difference between Joe Biden, a decent, intelligent, caring, experienced public servant and Donald Trump, who is none of the above.  And many Republican officeholders know this full well. They don’t care. They simply want the votes of his followers. If you don’t agree with him, don’t give them yours. Let them march off that cliff.

     It’s that simple. We are a majority. If we all do our part to preserve our democracy, we will prevail. I resolve to keep reminding you. This year, it’s that important.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

GOP’s make believe presidential debates

Friday, November 10th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

The Republican presidential debaters.

The Republican presidential debaters.

    Let me state at the outset that I have not watched any of the Republican Party “presidential” debates, nor do I anticipate watching any in the near future. I see no reason to subject myself to hours of meaningless posturing.

    I say meaningless because the Republican Party apparently is and will remain hostage to Donald Trump’s MAGA minions until and unless he is removed from the equation by a judge, jury or some higher power. 

      Thus far, no Republican has been capable of challenging him for leadership of the once-proud party, or even saying why he or she would be a better president than Trump. Even with years of evidence to make the case.

       Let me also note here that, while I haven’t watched any of the Republican debates, I have read many and varied accounts of them and am aware of the fact that no one on stage — not even Chris Christie, the most vocal Trump critic — could simply point to Trump’s reckless, self-serving, ineffectual approach to running the country, including promises unkept, and articulate what he or she would do or would have done differently. You know, maybe send in the National Guard right away on Jan. 6. Something concrete.

    The so-called presidential hopefuls appear to be campaigning to be the “best” one remaining should Trump — who leads all of them by a wide margin in polling among Republicans and who has ignored all the debates in favor of court appearances and campaign rallies, which he sometimes confuses — somehow turn out not to be the party’s nominee.

      But even then, with Republicans suffering losses in each election since Trump was elected president, the party presidential candidate would face the issue of how to gain more votes — appeal to a wider base of Americans  — without losing the MAGA base that is all Trump all the time.

        Democrats don’t have the same problem. While Republicans were debating, polls were “revealing” that Trump has a lead over President Biden in a hypothetical 2024 rematch. It happens all the time to incumbents.

     Age is supposedly one of the issues, even though Biden is 80 and Trump 77. I’m betting on Biden’s lifestyle and health care over Trump’s.

     But Biden also has an impressive presidential record of accomplishment to run on (employment is up, roads and bridges are being rebuilt, Medicare can negotiate drug prices, inflation is being wrestled down), a lifelong resume of leadership and — do not ignore this — a demonstrated respect for American democracy, the rule of law and the Constitution.

    Trump has none of that. And none of his so-called challengers seems willing to simply make that case. It’s as if we are supposed to simply trust that under another Trump administration America would not be further divided politically, more threatened by world leaders playing to Trump’s ego and ignorance and even more prone to believe the lies of charlatans.

    Polls notwithstanding,  Biden a year from now will have a strong record to run on while Trump may be in jail or in court or both. Answering to 91 felony counts can be time consuming. Even some of his allies are bailing on him in court cases and in books that also expose their complicity.

     Trump is simply a menace to democracy and doesn’t belong anywhere near the White House again. The facts and his daily statements make that abundantly clear to a majority of Americans. 

   In any campaign for president against Donald Trump, Joe Biden, as he did in 2020, can proudly, unequivocally and truthfully say that he represents America’s best choice to protect and preserve democracy.

     Apparently, other Republican “candidates” for president can’t find the courage to make the same case for themselves.

     Meaningless posturing.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

Want My Vote? Who Won in 2020?

Friday, October 20th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

408D0046-5CB4-4AC5-A1AD-C3B82315CD7D     It may be a little early, what with Election Day still more than two weeks away, but I’m ready to announce my vote in any local, state or national office up for grabs: The Democrat.

      Any Democrat. Well, any unindicted Democrat, let’s say. Straight ticket. No Republicans. No contest. No need to drop off anymore campaign literature, local candidates. Save your pens for the undecided or uninformed potential voters out there. My mind’s made up.

     The decision was simple. After six decades of considering candidates’ positions on a variety of issues and trying to decide which one (of any political party) I preferred, my litmus test has come down to one, basic question: Has the candidate publicly declared Joe Biden as the legitimate winner of the 2020 presidential election?

     Since every Democrat has done this, this is only a trick question for Republicans. Basically, it means going on the record and saying Donald Trump is a lying sore loser, a threat to democracy and should never hold public office of any kind again

     I know that might be a little difficult for some local Republicans to tell their constituents, even though they believe it, but you know what Harry Truman said about the heat and the kitchen. (Google it if you don’t.)

    Local Republican candidates everywhere, not just in my little corner of slightly upstate New York, have been coasting on the Trump question for seven years now. Either they’re with him or they’re agin’ him. Keeping quiet just to get elected or reelected won’t cut it. That’s how Trump got where he is today and that’s how the Republican Party got where it is today: Unable to even pick a Speaker of the House of Representatives in which it is the majority party because too many Republicans were afraid to stand up to a small group of ignorant Trump acolytes, who know nothing and care not a whit about bipartisan governing. 

     Silence is consent. And who wants to vote for a candidate who is afraid to speak his or her own mind?

      If the Republican Party has any hope of ever again being considered a legitimate, pro-democracy organization, it must rid itself of Trump and Trumpers. Sitting and waiting for the courts to possibly do it is the cowards’ way out.

     Otherwise, it can just continue on the path to Fascism, depriving certain groups of people of the vote, operating through fear and retribution, lying, cheating and threatening those who stand in its way. Vladimir Putin couldn’t ask for a better ally in his worldwide campaign against democracies.

      What has this got to do with my local county legislator or town councilman? Everything. That’s where it starts. Quiet coverups. Special favors. Refusal to compromise. And, in this case, failure to uphold long-standing Republican Party principles because the party needed bigger numbers. Failure to say, “We don’t do that.”

     The once unacceptable becomes accepted, commonplace, routine, expected. It works its way up the chain. It sells its soul to ignorance and avarice in exchange for perceived power and glory. Democracy be damned.

      It says a serial liar, twice-impeached, four times indicted narcissist facing 91 felony counts is the best person to carry the beacon of democracy for America

      I say, if you’re a local Republican candidate and you don’t believe in all that, I’ll look at your record and views and consider voting for you. Not until then. You don’t have to knock on my door to do it. Just post it on your Facebook page.

      And keep your Trump buttons.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Still Fighting Attacks on Democracy

Sunday, September 10th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

What TV showed on Sept. 11, 2001.

What TV showed on Sept. 11, 2001.

     Twenty-two years ago today, like millions of other Americans, I was preparing to go to work. The boys were off to school. It was a sky-blue September day. The news was on the TV, a practice of mine, in case there was something I needed to know about before I got to the paper.

   There was.

   The image on the TV screen froze me and shook the sleep out of my head. Oh, my God!

     What was I seeing? They replayed it.

     I quickly got myself together and headed off to work. But I stopped for a few moments in a nearby park to gather my thoughts and process what I had just witnessed. The radio news informed me that, in addition to the two planes flying into the Twin Towers in New York City, a plane had crashed in a field in Pennsylvania and another had hit the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

     September 11.

     After about an hour of processing reports on what had happened, a meeting was held and it was decided that The Times Herald-Record would publish a special edition that afternoon, the first one, I believe, in the morning newspaper’s history.  My job was to write an editorial explaining what had happened. Or at least trying to explain it. About 500 words. “We need it in an hour.”

     I don’t have a copy of that editorial and I’m sure it was mostly emotion. I do remember writing, “America was at war.” 

       The world changed that day. America changed. We the people had been attacked. We were one nation, under the spell of the dynamic leadership of New York’s mayor, Rudy Giuliani. America’s mayor. We grieved together, healed together and called for retribution together, against whoever it was who had attacked us.

          So we started a war against, not the country where the terrorists responsible for the attacks came from (Saudi Arabia): but against a country (Iraq) that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. We justified it by claiming Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” that it could use against someone, maybe us. That was a lie our government told us. We found out later.

           Then we went after the actual attackers in the mountains of Afghanistan. We actually found and killed their leader, then decided to stay in Afghanistan for some 20 years, trying to save it from itself.

            In those ensuing years, Giuliani went from “America’s Mayor” to embarrassingly ridiculous mouthpiece for every lie put forth by Donald Trump, including the lie that he lost his re-election bid to President Joe Biden because the election was rife with vote fraud.

             Also in the ensuing 22 years, the Republican Party has steadily turned itself from a party that espoused defense of all Americans into a party of an aggrieved white minority whose leaders in Congress legislate only in the interests of wealthy donors who contribute to their campaigns. Into a cult that believes and repeats Trump’s lies or, worse, repeats them for political gain or out of fear.

           Whatever galvanized us into one people 22 years ago (a common enemy I suppose) started disintegrating as soon as we started demonizing any group of people, different from us (Muslims) as the enemy. “Us” became more vague.

            The World Trade Center was rebuilt, Trump exposed the fear and bigotry at the center of the Republican Party and gave free rein to the fissures hiding within American society.

             The FBI now says the greatest threat to America is from domestic terrorism. Not Iraq. Or Afghanistan. The threat comes from the white supremacists groups who organized the assault in Washington and still threaten any who reject their cause.

       In 1870, cartoonist Walt Kelly coined a phrase in his Pogo comic strip: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

       Indeed.

       Not so long ago, on Jan. 6, 2021, I once again stared transfixed at a scene on television. Am I really seeing this? Thousands of virtually all white Trump supporters storming the U.S. Capitol to prevent the certification of Joe Biden as president. Some were ready to hang Vice President Mike Pence to prevent him from fulfiling his duties. People died. Republicans refused to accept the election result and many even claimed there was no riot that sent them running for their lives.

          Today, the war to preserve American freedom and democracy is being fought right here at home. Fortunately, millions of Americans stand on the side of what’s right. Many still remember how we felt as a unified nation in the wake of the attacks 22 years ago. Trump and others who supported him in his attempted coup are being called to account in the courts. Many have already been sent to prison for the attack on the Capitol. Many more must follow.

           I’m not sure I”ll be here to mark the 20th anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection, but whether I am or not, I pray the U.S. Capitol is still proudly standing.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zest-of-orange.com. He was editorial page editor of The Times Herald-Record in Middletown, N.Y., for 23 years.