Posts Tagged ‘Democrat’

A Kennedy in Name Only

Wednesday, April 24th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

    Once upon a time, in an America in which politicians discussed, debated, argued and compromised in order to pass laws for the betterment of the nation, a man named Robert F. Kennedy ran for president.

       He had previously served as attorney general of the country and was a key adviser to the president, who happened to be his brother, John F. Kennedy.

       President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 and his brother, commonly called Bobby, eventually moved from Massachusetts (where his younger brother, Ted, would serve as senator for 47 years) to New York, where he was elected senator. Bobby served New York from 1965 to 1968, when he, too, ran for president.

       Life being sometimes cruelly unpredictable, Bobby Kennedy was also assassinated, being shot to death in a hotel kitchen while campaigning in California in 1968.

       Today, in an America in which one of the two major political parties has abandoned negotiation for fear, threats, lies and violence, Kennedy’s son, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., trading on the family name and legacy, is running for president. 

     Not as a Democrat, like his father and uncles, but as an independent candidate. Unfortunately, this apple has fallen far from the family tree. So far, in fact, that every member of his family has endorsed Democrat Joe Biden for president and encouraged Americans not to vote for RFK Jr. 

      When I decided to write about Kennedy’s third-party candidacy, it was mostly because I was angry that he would likely take votes away from Biden, since many Americans, while pridefully long on opinions, are woefully short on actual information. I thought, they’ll see the Kennedy name, think progressive Democrat, and figure, what the heck, he’s a lot younger than Joe.

      Yeah, but he’s more like Donald Trump and the Republican Party, which has abandoned all traditional American political principles. A lot more like Trump, in fact.

     Kennedy is a conspiracy theorist. An anti-vaccine activist. He says he’ll put the country on Blockchain currency if elected president. He threw the environmental group largely responsible for reclaiming the Hudson River, not far from me, into turmoil when he decided he wanted to take it over.

   And he’s definitely anti-Democrat. In fact, Kennedy’s New York campaign manager specifically said Junior was running as an independent, knowing full well he has no chance of winning, in order to take votes away from Biden.

    But guess what? Life being, as I said, unpredictable, those annoying polls, which keep popping up with dubious information, have apparently started showing Kennedy taking more votes away from Trump than from Biden.

     Maybe it’s the same theory: What the heck, he’s just as nutty and he’s a lot younger than Trump.

     For what it’s worth, Trump never got more votes than his opponent and he truly cannot afford to lose votes to a third-party candidate. Much more so than Biden, So Republicans are worried about Bobby Junior, too.

      I don’t know and I really don’t think the pollsters know. I do know that no third-party candidate is going to get elected president and that Americans who are familiar with history and cherish democracy have a duty to educate others who are familiar only with the name, Robert F. Kennedy. Names can be deceiving.

      I saw and heard Bobby Kennedy campaign for the presidency in person. This is not that Bobby Kennedy.

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

Save democracy, vote Democratic

Thursday, November 3rd, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

   62395128-094D-465D-A455-BC0B61B1AABD  I voted early. Easy. No lines at the Government Center in Monticello at 2:30 on Tuesday a week before Election Day. Helpful, pleasant volunteers. I voted for every Democrat across Row A. Also easy. There was really no other choice.

    The hamlet where I live is tucked in to the southeastern tip of Sullivan County in upstate New York, about an hour’s drive to New York City. It’s between the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River Valley. Pretty country. A lot of it is Republican country, but not as much as it used to be. Our area’s congressman and state legislators are all Democrats. A recent development.

       When I say there was no other choice on the ballot aside from Democrats, I don’t mean there were no Republicans running for federal, local or state offices. I mean, in my opinion, no Republican candidate for office even deserved consideration for my vote if he or she had failed to publicly voice any kind of criticism of the Trump disaster despite having six years and countless opportunities to do so. Two impeachments. The election conspiracy/lie. Thousands of other lies. The January 6 Insurrection incitement. Classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. Threats of violence. And, of course, total incompetence. Nothing.

       Republican silence on Trump goes well beyond party loyalty to the realm of blind allegiance to their leader and/or sheer cowardice, neither of which I want in an elected official at any level. As far as I can tell, it is a pandemic of its own within the Republican Party in every state at every level. Silence, obedience … or unhinged vocal support.

          I cannot think of one local Republican official in the three-county area (Orange, Sullivan, Ulster) which I call home who has publicly said a negative word about Trump. Not one. Six years. To do so, many apparently fear, would cost them votes and maybe end their political careers. The thought that it might gain them respect and new votes apparently hasn’t occurred to them.

         Of course, there are those Republicans who support Trump vocally, if not vigorously, yet deny that this defines them as racist, bigoted, fascistic, phony, cruel, anti-science, anti-free press, ignorant of the law, misogynistic, double-dealing, anti-education, anti-veteran, hypocritical, self-absorbed, lazy liars. There’s more, but you know it all. If the Republican Party, individually and as a whole, supports Trump, it is Trump. The whole ugly package.

  Full disclosure: Most of what you’ve read so far is repeated from a column I wrote two years ago, prior to the presidential election.  Fortunately, Democrats prevailed. Yet, today, many of the leading voices in the Republican Party still parrot Trump’s lie that the election was stolen from him. Indeed, Republican candidates for all sorts of state and local offices also repeat the lie. For many it’s their only campaign issue. Truthfully, the only issue Republicans seem to have is to gain power and maintain it in any way possible, legal or otherwise. Violence is apparently not ruled out.

     That’s a pretty harsh statement, but I repeat, I see no evidence that it is offbase. The only Republicans who have criticized Trump have been ostracized from the party. The silent ones are complicit in what I believe is the greatest threat to our democracy in my lifetime.

    I am 81 years old and after more than a quarter century of writing editorials for daily newspapers I never imagined I would write these words. But then I never imagined one of the two major political parties would abdicate all responsibility to govern in favor of creating an authoritarian system of government designed primarily to protect conservative white Christians. 

      This column is directed primarily at those who say their vote doesn’t matter. Or that both parties are the same. Wrong. Every vote for every office matters this year. Joe Biden’s two years as president with a Democratic Congress produced meaningful legislation for all Americans. If Republicans control Congress, there will be two years of stalemate and phony hearings, but no meaningful legislation. If they control state governments, no Democratic victory will be accepted. Constant turmoil.

     Vote like democracy depends on it, America,  because it does. And vote for every Democrat on the ballot. Please.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

Liz Cheney for President? Yes, but How?

Sunday, August 7th, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

Liz Cheney

Liz Cheney

  Liz Cheney for president.

      What?

      Too soon?

      You got a better candidate?

       Republicans don’t.

       Neither do Democrats.

       Really, it’s a no-brainer.

       All she needs is a party.

       … All she needs is a party.

        Americans claim to like leaders with the courage of their convictions and the guts to speak honestly, regardless of the personal political consequences. Occasionally, such a person actually appears. 

        Liz Cheney. In today’s Republican Party, populated by cowards, racists, liars and hypocrites, Cheney is an outcast. A pariah. As vice chair of the House Jan. 6 Committee, she has been the most eloquent, plain-spoken, messenger of the truth about Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and to attempt a coup. On live television.

        Cheney’s outspokenness has led to her ouster from the House Republican leadership, a censure by the Republican National Committee and a decision by her home state Wyoming Republican Party to no longer recognize her as a member. It has also earned her millions of fans among Democrats, independent voters and even a few quiet Republicans.

      So, Liz Cheney for president. Why not? She has the political bloodline, for starters. In fact, one doesn’t have to work hard to note the straightforward, assured and occasionally wry manner of her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, in her political speech. She’s grown up in politics and has learned a lot along the way, most notably, about the need to preserve democracy and defend it against those, like Trump and his allies, who would pervert it to their own benefit, or simply destroy it.

       Cheney’s opening remarks for the committee’s hearings should be required reading for every American who claims to be a patriot:

       “We cannot leave the violence of January 6th – and its causes – uninvestigated. The American people deserve the full and open testimony of every person with knowledge of the planning and preparation for January 6th. We must know what happened here at the Capitol. We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House – every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during, and after the attack. Honorable men and women have an obligation to step forward. If those responsible are not held accountable, and if Congress does not act responsibly, this will remain a cancer on our Constitutional Republic, undermining the peaceful transfer of power at the heart of our democratic system. We will face the threat of more violence in the months to come, and another January 6th every four years.”

          She gets it. In fact, so do thousands of other Republican officials. But she is one of the few who has had the guts to state it publicly, repeatedly, and, in the process, put her political career in jeopardy.

          At least in Wyoming.

          It’s doubtful that she will be re-elected as the state’s lone member of Congress, given the exorcism of her by the state’s Republican Party. Most political analysts doubt that even a hard-hitting campaign ad by her father will help her win the party’s primary next week. Wyoming is solid red Republican, which means do or die with Trump. Dick Cheney’s campaign ad said, in part, “In our nation’s 246-year history, there has never been an individual who is a greater threat to our republic than Donald Trump.” He called Trump “a coward.”

     You have to admire the Cheneys’ loyalty to each other and to their country. But it’s their political party that has betrayed them and others who once espoused a conservative but genuine loyalty to America’s stated ideals, including that no man or woman is above the law.

      To that point, Cheney has been consistently clear during the hearings. “As our investigation has shown, Donald Trump had access to more detailed and specific information showing that the election was not actually stolen than almost any other American,” Cheney said. “Just like everyone else in our country, he is responsible for his own actions and his own choices …”

      As to those proclaiming he simply didn’t know any better, she said, “President Trump is a 76-year-old man. He is not an impressionable child. Donald Trump cannot escape responsibility by being willfully blind.”

     Even Cheney’s congressional  re-election committee, while no doubt frustrated by the actions of Wyoming Republican leaders, is aware of the profoundly positive reaction to her courageous stand among millions of Americans who have not swallowed the Trump Kool-Aid.

    As one of her state campaign team members said, “The fringe right and the fringe left all hate her. But you’ve got this overwhelming, massive majority of people in the center who believe that what she’s doing is the right thing. Frankly, it’s the type of person that we need in the White House.”

   Yes it is. 

    So, how does she get there? Cheney hasn’t talked publicly about a possible presidential run, but she has already raised a sizable war chest, much of which is not being spent on her primary campaign. She reportedly doesn’t spend much time with her Republican colleagues in Washington anymore, some of whom have expressed admiration for her courage, but apparently lack any of their own.

     It’s hard to imagine a Republican Party cleansed of any Trump influence by 2024. Even if Trump is not the candidate, Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott and other Trump wannabes are already looking to take his place. That makes it harder even to imagine a Cheney presidential campaign as a Republican. Third party candidates historically have been successful only as vote stealers from one of the two major party candidates.

     So that leaves the Democrats. 

     Joe Biden was needed in 2020 to save America from Trump, and deserves thanks for that, but a much more dynamic, younger leader is needed in 2024. Vice President Kamala Harris has made no impact as a leader and there is no obvious top candidate waiting in the wings. Democrats desperately want to win in 2024. America needs them to win to help erase the Trump stain on the republic.

       It seems to me that a Cheney switch to the Democratic Party, despite significant policy differences, is more likely to happen than a sudden change in Republican philosophy. There are conservative Democrats and Cheney did recently support a Democratic gun control bill in the House.

      Does any of this seem politically possible or even realistic? Well, consider that we as a nation have never been in this situation before. History is being written. History also tells us that Americans admire and vote for those seen as decisive in difficult situations. Of the 46 presidents, 12 were generals. They were: George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Franklin Pierce, Andrew Johnson, William H. Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, Chester A. Arthur, Benjamin Harrison and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Col. Teddy Roosevelt famously led the Rough Riders in the Spanish American War. Navy Lt. John F. Kennedy was admired and decorated for his heroic actions as commander of PT109 in World War II. Men hardened and shaped as patriots by their leadership in battle.

      If Liz Cheney can succeed in her battle to make Trump accountable for attempting to overthrow a legitimate president, to preserve democracy, she will have written her name into history books. She will also have gained the thanks and votes of millions of Americans, political party registration notwithstanding. It will be one hell of a campaign message.

       Let’s hear from Cheney one more time:

       “I have been a conservative Republican since 1984 when I first voted for Ronald Reagan. I have disagreed sharply on policy and politics with almost every Democratic member of this committee. But, in the end, we are one nation under God. The Framers of our Constitution recognized the danger of the vicious factionalism of partisan politics – and they knew that our daily arguments could become so fierce that we might lose track of our most important obligation – to defend the rule of law and the freedom of all Americans. That is why our Framers compelled each of us to swear a solemn oath to preserve and protect the Constitution. When a threat to our constitutional order arises, as it has here, we are obligated to rise above politics.”

      Liz Cheney for president.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

America Finally Has a President Again

Wednesday, May 5th, 2021

 

 By Bob Gaydos

President Biden delivering his first speech to Congress.

President Biden delivering his first speech to Congress.

    I tuned in a week ago for the first time in four years to listen to a president’s speech. I got more than I bargained for. The president’s speech was, in fact, a presidential speech. Thank you, President Biden.

     Why presidential? Because it was honest. Because it addressed seemingly every need and problem facing the nation, detailing what he wanted to do, challenging Congress to get busy with him doing it, and proposing to pay for the sweeping programs in a way with which the great majority of Americans could not possibly disagree. Help America win the 21st-century, Biden said. Restore it to its position of global leadership. Repair its tattered reputation.

      Only the congressional Republicans in attendance, sitting on their hands, dour-faced, had a problem with the speech. That’s because they knew Biden was speaking truth and hope to Americans and all Republicans had to offer — still — was lies.

      They couldn’t even claim that Biden was weak or stumbling or unsure of himself In delivering his speech, because he wasn’t. Because he was clear and direct as he laid out a detailed program of what needs to be done to bring America back from four years of incompetence and treachery in the White House. That’s presidential. It was long overdue and much-needed.

      Over and over, Biden referred to the economy, to making and buying American goods (“There is simply no reason why the blades for wind turbines can’t be built in Pittsburgh instead of Beijing.”) To helping families with young children. To paying fair (livable) wages and providing broader educational opportunities. To repairing roads, replacing ancient water systems. To building a network of charging stations for electric vehicles. To negotiating lower prices for prescription drugs. To getting everyone vaccinated so the country can open up and get back to work. And to jobs, jobs, jobs. As I listened, I thought of the old Democratic campaign motto, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

      And, he said we could pay for it by taxing only the wealthiest of Americans. Make corporations pay their fair share, he said. It was a message aimed right at middle America and, as polls have demonstrated in the following days, middle America heard and liked it.

       Republicans responded by having their only black senator declare that America is not a racist nation. Fine, but Biden never said it was. He said there was institutional racism, which there is. He said he would attack the threat of white supremacist terrorists within our borders, which the FBI has described as our greatest internal threat. He called for sensible gun reform in the aftermath of a string of mass shootings. And again, polls show that the large majority of Americans support this. And he said he was bringing our troops home from Afghanistan where they have been fighting since accomplishing their mission of killing Osama bin Laden 10 years ago. Again, most Americans are not in favor of endless wars with no clear mission.

        There was a lot more in Biden speech, but all of it was aimed at one goal: restoring America’s dignity. Let us work together, care for each other and show the world that our actions match our words, the president, a Democrat, said. The other party pouted. He stole the election, they lied, insulting state election officials of their own party in the process. He’s not uniting us, as he promised, they said, after years of ignoring all Democratic proposals. They voted against his programs and then took credit for the ones that benefitted them politically. They passed state laws making it harder for people to vote. And they lied constantly.

        America has a president who knows how government works, who knows about international diplomacy, who cares about more than his own selfish interests and who actually does his job. Joe Biden wants to heal America and he asked the “loyal” opposition to help. They sat on their hands. They have nothing, but we, at last, have a president again.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

         

America Has a Narrow Escape

Friday, November 13th, 2020

By Bob Gaydos

 

Celebrations, like this one in Philadelphia, irrupt it across the country at the news of Joe Biden’s victory.

Celebrations, like this one in Philadelphia, erupted across the country at the news of Joe Biden’s victory.

We got off lucky. Four more years of Trump might have killed the Great American Experiment.

     It has taken me a few days to sort through the feelings I’ve had since Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election. There was relief, of course. But more. When I read that Biden had finally been projected as the winner, four days after the election, it felt as if a huge weight I didn’t know I was carrying had been lifted off my shoulders. That’s apparently how worried I was about the future of this country.

     I do not state this lightly: No president in my lifetime, not even Richard Nixon, has done more to damage the basic foundations of this nation than Donald Trump. For point of reference, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president when I was born.

     Trump has not done it alone, of course. He has had the willing, cowering support of most of the Republican Party, top to bottom, in his assault on decency, democracy.and the rule of law. He has had the fawning, self-serving support of white Evangelical grifters, who convinced their followers to pray for Trump and donate to their always needy churches, to forget the hypocrisy and immorality of it all. He has had the angry, armed support of rejuvenated, suddenly hopeful, groups of white supremacists. The KKK credo (“America First”) and Nazi flags had a rebirth, thanks to Trump. And he had the unwavering support of millions of seemingly ordinary Americans who I’m sure would deny vigorously that they had any racist, bigoted, misogynistic bones in their body or that they were too lazy or too embarrassed to find out if those conspiracy theories, like much of what Trump said, were lies that fed their pre-conditioned biases.

       Harsh? I think not. Just look around. It’s still going on. But the thing is, this time the rest of America isn’t buying it. The rest of America voted overwhelmingly for a return to sanity, competence, compassion, truthfulness, and respect for the law in the Oval Office. And state election officials have performed their duties in a professional manner, making Trump’s claims of fraud sound ridiculous and desperate. To be sure, many of his followers still claim “it’s not over,” but thousands of Americans danced in the streets when Trump lost, because they knew they were free of the menace of the man who broke bread with dictators, insulted allies and called American veterans “losers.”

         We got off lucky. Yes, we endured four years of arrogance and paralyzing incompetence in the White House, culminating with Trump’s criminally negligent response to the Covid-19 virus, but we also learned some valuable lessons:

         — Racism is not only alive, but widespread in America. It came out of hiding in full force with the permission and encouragement of Trump. Its presence was announced daily on social media, in police actions and in people’s routine daily activities. The videos are there as evidence. Racism is a tear in the fabric of our society that Trump has widened. To continue to blindly support him is to endorse racism. Period. There is no “nice” way to ignore this. But now we at least know that there is much work to be done. Kamala Harris as vice president is an excellent start.

         — The Republican Party has abandoned any pretense at bipartisan governing. In handing control of the party to government-hating Tea Party members and power-at-any-price opportunists, Republicans have become worse than the Know-Nothings of the 1850s. In their blind obeisance to Trump, they have demonstrated that, not only do they not know, they don’t care. America now knows this. Democrats now know this. Disaffected Republicans now know this. A two-party system should be about cooperative governing, not constant pursuit of absolute power. Can the Republican Party be reclaimed by those who know and care?

           — The Electoral College is obsolete. Whoever gets the most votes should win. Trump played on the fears and resentments of a largely ill-informed minority. He gave them a feeling of power. He lied to them, used them to, mostly, feather his branded nest. The country paid the price.

           — A lot of Americans don’t know a lot about a lot of things. I’ve tried to say that as delicately as possible. Willful ignorance has been a hallmark of the Tea Party from the outset. (Where is Sarah Palin, today?) Somehow, being educated, knowing about history, science, literature, economics, the law, health, the arts, philosophy, math, geography … is seen as a bad thing. Higher education is something to be ridiculed, not admired. (Except of course for wealthy conservatives.) The level of gullibility for much of the nation has been raised over the years by daily radio feedings of bigotry and bull from the likes of conservative commentators such as Rush Limbaugh. But Fox News on TV has been the primary purveyor of the “fake news” Trump likes to talk about. An entertainment enterprise masquerading as a news outlet, it has fed on people’s fears and justified their feelings of resentment, all in order to make lots of money for Rupert Murdoch. It has been particularly damaging to the concept of a free press. It has lied shamelessly, with no significant repercussions, and today millions of Americans have no clue about how to verify if something is true or not. If a statement reinforces their bias, that’s good enough for them. However, closed minds are unable to compromise and we need to be able to do this to live together. The challenge to remedy this demonizing of learning falls primarily to our educators. I’m not even sure where to begin. Well, maybe Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Texas. Also, getting rid of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary.

          We got off lucky, America. It could have been far worse, as Germans well know. Authoritarianism and blind allegiance to a power-driven, truth-hating leader lead to fascism. But Trump’s incompetence ultimately undid him, as it has always done before. Whatever happens to him and his many enablers, there is much healing to do for America and there will be resistance. But now at least we know what we didn’t know about ourselves and our 244-year-old system of government, though it bent, eventually held up. With some adjustments, beginning with the Biden Administration, hopefully we won’t have to rely on luck to survive in the future.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

A Vote Against the GOP, Top to Bottom

Saturday, October 31st, 2020

By Bob Gaydos

   9B18EF52-9B62-47A7-8AB6-22A41F774E44 I voted by mail three weeks ago. Easy. I voted Biden/Harris and every Democrat across Row A. Also easy. There was really no other choice.

    The hamlet where I live is tucked in to the southeastern tip of Sullivan County in upstate New York, about an hour’s drive to New York City. It’s between the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River Valley. Pretty country. A lot of it is Republican country, but not as much as it used to be. Our area’s congressman and state legislators are all Democrats. A recent change.

       When I say there was no other choice on the ballot aside from Democrats, I don’t mean there were no Republicans running for local or state offices. I mean, in my opinion, no Republican candidate for office even deserved consideration for my vote if he or she had failed to publicly voice any kind of  criticism of the Trump disaster despite having four years and countless opportunities to do so. None had.

       Republican silence on Trump goes well beyond party loyalty to the realm of blind allegiance to their leader and/or sheer cowardice, neither of which I want in an elected official at any level. As far as I can tell, it is a pandemic of its own within the Republican Party in every state at every level. Silence, obedience … or unhinged vocal support.

          I cannot think of one local Republican official in the three-county area (Orange, Sullivan, Ulster) which I call home who has publicly said a negative word about Trump. Not one. Four years. To do so, many apparently fear, would cost them votes and maybe end their political careers. The thought that it might gain them respect and new votes apparently hasn’t occurred to them. A flaw to examine.

         Of course, there are those Republicans who support Trump vocally, if not vigorously, yet deny that this defines them as racist, bigoted, fascistic, phony, cruel, anti-science, anti-free press, ignorant of the law, misogynistic, double-dealing, anti-education, anti-veteran, hypocritical, self-absorbed, lazy liars. There’s more, but you know it all. If the Republican Party, individually and as a whole, supports Trump, it is Trump. The whole ugly package,

     Most of the attention to the Republican Party’s enabling and self-serving reaction to Trump Has been focused, rightly so, on Congress. Not only did the Republican-controlled Senate fail to convict Trump when he was impeached by the Democrat-controlled House for trying to bribe/extort Ukraine into concocting a scandal involving Biden, Senate Republicans refused to even allow any witnesses at the trial. So much for checks and balances.

      Indeed, there has been barely a murmur of anti-Trump protest out of the Senate Republicans, save for an occasional comment from Mitt Romney, who voted guilty at the impeachment “trial,” but managed to look the other way most of the rest of the ttime. House Republicans, for their part, have become a classic case of devolution, marching backwards intellectually and morally since the Tea Party took over the GOP.

      It’s as if the party’s last glimmering morsel of self-respect, honor and sense of duty to country died with John McCain. Personally, I like politicians who honor their oaths of office.

      So, after four years of incompetence and embarrassment in the Oval Office, my fervent hope is that: (1.) Joe Biden, a decent man with a lifetime of service to country, wins a resounding victory and begins the essential task of restoring dignity and respect to the presidency from the first day of his term and (2.) The Republican Party suffers a sweeping, top-to-bottom death by ballot equal to the pain it has, by action or inaction, inflicted on this nation. It should not rest in peace.

      Decency says there is no other choice.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos, a lifetime independent voter, is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

In America, the Rich are Never Wrong

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

By Bob Gaydos

Donald Trump ... I was great, but my mic was lousy

Donald Trump … I was great, but my mic was lousy

Here’s a delayed look at the week that was. (I couldn’t let that televised national embarrassment Monday night go by without somehow acknowledging it. Besides, it ties in neatly with the rest of the menu.)

Monday night, 86 million people turned on their TVs to watch a rich, white man who inherited a fortune bragging about rooting for the collapse of the home mortgage market in 2008 and how “smart” he is to avoid paying taxes. The man also happens to be running for president of the United States as the Republican Party nominee.

During the debate, the nominee also body-shamed a former beauty queen and displayed a shocking lack of knowledge about such things as economics and world affairs. He did sniffle and interrupt his female opponent a lot.

This was white privilege on display in all its arrogance. Donald Trump has got his – well, his daddy gave him a lot to start with – and now he wants to get more of ours. When the debate was over, Trump said if people thought he did lousy it was because somebody turned his microphone sound down too low. Because, in Donald Trump’s world, the rich are never wrong.

Speaking of the rich never being wrong, last week also marked the fifth anniversary of the Occupy Movement in America. It arose seemingly out of nowhere with thousands of Americans of all ages, colors, genders, creeds, etc., setting up camp or just sitting down — and staying — in large numbers in places where people don’t usually set up camp or squat, if you will, for more than a couple of hours at most. Bank doorways. Parks. The middle of Wall Street.

Five years later, the Occupy Movement is, at least physically speaking, a mere memory, a blip in the history of protest movements in the United States. To some, it is a might-have-been movement that missed its moment. To others, it was merely a forbearer of things to come. It was often criticized (by me included) as having no central theme. What was its point?

Today, it’s clear what the point was and remains: America is divided into two groups of people — the haves (like Trump) and the rest.

The haves are the one percent — the individuals and corporations — who control enormous amounts of wealth and want more. The rest, the 99 percent, is us, trying to figure out how things got so out of whack. Wall Street was and still is the symbol of this unfair, obscene distribution of wealth, hence the occupation of the financial district. But as the remaining Occupiers marked their fifth anniversary, it was obvious to anyone who has paid attention to the presidential campaign for the past year that the movement’s message did not disappear in the fog of tear gas, Mace and flash-bang grenades that dispersed many Occupiers in cities across America.

Sen. Bernie Sanders made income disparity the central part of his vigorous campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. It resonated so strongly that, even in defeating Sanders, Hillary Clinton (who is also very wealthy, but not Trump-like) agreed to include it in the party’s platform as she accepted the nomination. Her challenge as president will be to live up to her words and stand up to Wall Street.

If anyone doubted that this is necessary and that the culture of greed still prevails among the one percent, two recent hearings in Congress, of all places, should have put that to rest.

One involved a bank, Wells Fargo, whose employees, under pressure to meet aggressive demands to increase profits, created 2 million phony accounts in customers’ names to collect $2.4 million in unauthorized fees on them.

The other hearing involved a pharmaceutical company, Mylan Inc., which holds 90 percent of the market share on EpiPen, an epinephrine auto-injector, which reverses deadly allergic reactions. Since 2007, the company has raised the price 15 times. EpiPens went from roughly $50 each for a pack of two to $608. Millions of children rely on EpiPens’ life-saving qualities. Many parents are having trouble affording them.

Banks and pharmaceutical companies have been among the chief miscreants in the “get it any way you can” philosophy that dominates corporate America and Wall Street. Even when corporations are found guilty of egregious, illegal, unethical behavior, the persons responsible for creating the atmosphere of unyielding greed seem to never face any repercussions. The rich are never wrong.

Thousands of Wells Fargo employees were fired, either for setting up the phony accounts or for refusing to set up the accounts.The company was fined $185 million by federal authorities and agreed to pay restitution to its customers, but that won’t break the bank. CEO John Stumpf apologized to Congress, sort of, while ignoring many strong suggestions that he resign and that he should be arrested. But this time, the company’s directors went against common practice by making Stumpf give up $41 million in benefits and forgo salary while an investigation proceeds. They also made the executive responsible for running the scam retire without any severance pay. So maybe the Occupy message is starting to get through.

Meanwhile, the Mylan CEO, Heather Bresch, tried to convince Congress that she was doing the world a favor with her blackmail pricing. Showing no apparent understanding of the fears faced by those who rely on her product, she told Congress her company was compassionate and had worked hard to educate the public about the dangers of allergic reactions. Bresch said the company only makes $50 in profit per pen, which is probably a low estimate, but still sounds pretty good, considering it costs only a few bucks to produce.

Bresch was paid $2.4 million in 2007 and $18,931,068 in 2015. She rounded it off to $18 million when asked at a congressional hearing, prompting one congressman to note that it must be easy to ignore $931,068 in annual salary when one reaches a certain level of pay.

And isn’t that the point? It has all been too easy for corporations to boost their bottom lines and top executives’ astronomical pay because no one at the top has been made to pay the price for the pain inflicted upon millions of Americans by illegal, unethical, money-grabbing tactics. Bankers don’t go to jail in this country. Drug company executives don’t go to jail in this country. Insurance executives don’t go to jail in this country. Wall Street brokers don’t go to jail in this country.

In this country, a billionaire who doesn’t pay his employees, stiffs his creditors, brags about not paying taxes, routinely degrades women, espouses racist policies, sets up a phony university, gives voice to hatred and violence, promulgates a fiction that his president wasn’t born in this country, insults military heroes, is ignorant of the Constitution, and lies as naturally as he breathes gets to run for president as the candidate for what is now a sorry excuse for a major political party.

And apparently, to a sizable portion of the 99 percent, this is OK, because he’s rich. And not black. Or a woman. Which may explain why Trump and the rest of his ilk continue to act as if the rich are never wrong.

… and so it went.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

It’s Only Fair to Say: It Has to be Hillary

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

By Bob Gaydos

Hillary Clinton ... the only rational choice

Hillary Clinton … the only rational choice

Among the many unpleasant things this presidential campaign has unearthed (festering racism, arrogant ignorance, ugly nativism, cowardly politics …) is the phony fairness theory. Or, the false equivalence doctrine.

It’s the belief that: 1) the news media has an obligation to present information about both major presidential candidates fairly and equitably, without value judgments and 2) anytime anyone writes a critical piece about one candidate, it’s a “hit job” if the opposition is not also criticized in some way.

Obvious caveat: The fairness theory does not apply to Fox News. although its viewers are the loudest in demanding it of others.

Second obvious caveat: The fairness theory does not apply to the hundreds of social media propaganda sites posing as news outlets.

The misguided notion that the press has to be “fair” by being non-judgmental and showing appropriate respect for both candidates is what led to the rise of Donald Trump as the Republican nominee. While Fox News was skewering Hillary Clinton daily with unproven charges and innuendo, the mainstream media were reporting on those innuendos while treating her opponent as if he were someone who had any clue about how to be president — despite his own statements to the contrary every day.

On and on and on it went, with only a rare few having the guts to say, “That’s racist,” or “That’s stupid,” or “That’s offensive,” or “That’s sexist,” or “That’s a lie.” And so here we are, with Trump still doing the same things day after day and the mainstream media desperately playing catch-up on calling Trump a dangerous bigot and a possible threat to national security.

All except Matt Lauer, of course, who froze up in that NBC-TV debate the other night, letting Trump ramble and lie without calling him out, while grilling Clinton about her e-mails that have dominated Fox News but — to be fair — have resulted in no official charges against her for anything.

I don’t know Lauer, but it sure seemed that he was more comfortable being aggressive with a well-spoken, accomplished, educated woman than with a schoolyard bully. Just saying.

At any rate, back to fairness. The Fairness Doctrine was instituted by the Federal Communications Commission in 1949. It required the holders of broadcast licenses (radio and TV stations) to present controversial issues of public importance in an honest, equitable, and balanced manner. The idea was that, since they held licenses to use the airwaves, they had an obligation to fairly inform the public.

It was killed in 1987 In Ronald Reagan’s administration. It never applied to print media. It no longer exists. And it never meant that reporters or editors or columnists were supposed to ignore the truth in the interest of “fairness.” You don’t just get to say anything — true or not — just because we have to be fair. That would not be in the public interest. Challenging candidates to prove their statements is in the public interest.

Interestingly, the notion of fairness keeps coming up with regards to press coverage of Clinton, both ways. She has been called the favorite candidate of the mainstream media, who are supposedly doing all they can to ignore her shortcomings while repeatedly excoriating Trump, so as to get her elected. She has also been called the favorite target of the media, who are said to carry a longstanding resentment against her for treating them as a necessary evil at best. In a way, this could be considered fair and balanced treatment.

I’ve had readers comment on my articles saying that it’s not fair to just criticize Republicans for giving us Trump, when the Democrats gave us Clinton, who allegedly stole the nomination. I must be a Clinton-lover, they say. Be fair.

First off, it’s dangerous to make assumptions off one article, whoever the author. Second, we are way beyond that point, people. It’s two months to Election Day. Just as Republicans will have to figure out what they stand for after this election, Democrats will have their day of reckoning with the Bernie Sanders supporters and others who are not fans of Clinton (including me). That’s all to the good and grist for future columns.

But right now, we need to focus on the issue at hand: Donald Trump, is the most dangerously ill-prepared candidate to ever run for president representing a major party. (Please don’t distract me with third party arguments at this point. Aleppo.) Hillary Clinton is one of the most-qualified persons to ever run for president and she is a woman. I submit those as pertinent facts. I don’t have to like Hillary to vote for her; I just have to accept that she is by far the better choice. In fact, the only rational choice.

rjgaydos@gmail.com