Tuesday, November 15, 2016

OPEN LETTER TO MY FELLOW DEMOCRATS



Dear Democrats,

Having moved to France a couple of years ago, I have had the benefit of following the recent Presidential election at arm’s length – no television news, no mailings, no robocalls. Just internet sites like Flipboard that allowed me to pick and choose between such sources as NPR, Fox, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, AP, CNN, and such. I’m invested, though. I voted.

Here’s what I think, free of charge and worth every penny.

Progressives are now on the march. Trump is not their President. Well, I beg to differ. Trump is indeed their President, and mine too, just as Obama was the President of the Trump voters who so despised him. It is our job now to hold Trump’s feet to the fire with the same intensity that has led to Obama being criticized relentlessly from both ends of the political spectrum.

Never in my political life spanning over 60 years have I witnessed a torrent of obvious lies spoken by Presidential candidates and accepted by their devotees equivalent to the lies spoken almost daily by all four of the major party candidates. I include the Bobbsey Twins because there were those, as few as they were, who actually voted Green or Libertarian as though either of those clueless twerps represented an alternative. I don’t know if those votes affected the outcome of the election. As we all now understand, polls only have value to the elegantly coifed men and women who read the news or opine about the horse race without any connection to electoral reality. But the idea that voting for either Stein or Johnson was acceptable, either as a protest or because they deserved serious consideration for the Presidency, is ludicrous. I have in the past, when confronted with unacceptable choices, written in Sandy Koufax, a man of unquestioned character, unquestioned talent, and an aversion to the limelight. Can anyone say the same for Stein or Johnson?

Progressives in the Democratic Party are now complaining that Bernie was the better candidate and would have won the Presidency had not the DNC favored Hillary. To that argument, one never to be resolved, I would offer three points.

First, suppose that you are a lifelong member of a club. You work hard, invest time and money. Then one day, a man who for decades had every opportunity to join the club, but who refused to do so, suddenly enrolls for the sole purpose of becoming the leader of the club. His opposition for leadership is a long-time, committed member. How could anyone expect the membership of that club not to have an obvious preference between the two? It’s simply childish to suppose otherwise. We are talking politics here. And politics ain’t beanbag.

Secondly, having spent the entire primary season trashing Hillary and the DNC mercilessly, Progressives have argued that Hillary was a flawed candidate. Their vitriol lasted throughout the primaries and general election campaign. Could their constant, vicious attacks have had a bearing on the manner in which Hillary was viewed by those observing the carnage from the outside? I would certainly think so. For those on the fence, the rancor demonstrated by people purporting to be members of her own party even after the primaries were over had to have been a consideration.

Finally, marching is bullshite. Petitioning is bullshite. Only voting in an election counts. Man up. And if that phrase is too sexist for you, tough patooties. Man up.

Moving forward, we need to be asking several questions, with one voice, loudly and with conviction.

Has a wall been built along our southern border? Has Mexico paid for it? Have 11,000,000 illegals been deported? Has Trump deported even as many people as Obama has? How many Muslims are on the new national registry? (These aren’t my priorities at all but they were campaign centerpieces.)

On November 8, 2008, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index closed at 930.99. On November 8, 2016, it closed at 2,139.56, worth 130% more. That’s Obama’s record. How do the markets compare under a Trump administration?

In January, 2009, when Obama took office, the unemployment rate was 7.8%. In October, 2016, (most recent available numbers) the rate is 4.9%, a decrease of about 60%. That’s Obama’s record. How does unemployment compare under a Trump administration? (It’s true that the workforce participation rate declined from 65.7% to 62.8% during the same period. We’ll track that too.)

Of interest to an expat like me is the strength of the dollar, the exchange rate against the euro. On January 1, 2009, it cost $1.40 to buy a euro. On election day, I could buy a euro for $1.09, meaning that the dollar is 30% stronger against the euro since Obama took office. That’s Obama’s record. Let’s see if Trump’s dollar fares as well.

There are other indicators that we could use – decline in the deficit, inflation near zero, exports up. But let’s focus on just a few, easily determined, generally accepted statistics.

Let’s hold Trump and the Republicans in Congress accountable. If we have lost because the electorate has been pulled to the right, let’s start pulling back from the left. Let’s demonstrate why the better educated electorate votes Democratic. Let’s learn.

Affectionately,
Ira

4 comments:

  1. If anyone is to "blame" for the result, surely it is the 100 million Americans who couldn't be arsed to vote ? Democracy is under threat.Not from the extreme right or the looney left but the apathetic centre.

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    1. As I point out, the only way to get the result that you seek is to vote. But I also think that voter apathy is fueled by disgust with the tone of campaigns in recent years. And that tone is the responsibility of those who think that they can say anything to further their cause without regard to collateral damage.

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  2. Colin Kaepernick is a good example of what's wrong with this country. No, I don't mean his refusal to stand during the national anthem. He has every right to peacefully protest. What's wrong with him is that he chose not to vote. He explained:

    "I think it would be hypocritical of me to vote. I'd said from the beginning I was against oppression, I was against a system of oppression. I'm not going to show support for that system. And, to me, the oppressor isn't going to allow you to vote your way out of your oppression."

    It is precisely the vote that has the power to force the change he so desires. Kneeling during the anthem isn't enough. To me, he's the hypocrite. His protest was to not cast a protest vote at all. Granted, I don't think either candidate would ever change the system under which we live, but I have no idea exactly what he means by "system of oppression" because oppression means different things to different people. What, exactly, is he looking for? What is his manifesto? Did a system of oppression stop him from voting?

    Thanks, Ira. This is a great article. I appreciate everything you write.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, David. My initial reaction is to agree with you but there's a part of me that understands the idea that if you consider that the system is structurally and intentionally racist, participation to some extent validates it. I don't agree with that attitude, but I get a glimmer of its genesis.

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