President Donald Trump, the Twitter-bug in the White House who has made America a laughing stock, laughably attributed Democrat Conor Lamb’s come-from-behind win in the special election for Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District last Tuesday to his “good looks”.
Trump specializes in juvenile name-calling, the sort of thing no respectable adult – much less the Commander in Chief of the world’s biggest, richest and most powerful military establishment – would ever stoop to. The bullying tactic even extends to foreign leaders. Remember “Rocket Man”?
True to form, the Draft Dodger in Chief called the 33-year-old ex-Marine “Lamb the Sham”. At a minimum, Trump owes our veterans a decent respect, including veterans who choose to run against candidates he endorses.
But in Donald Trump we have a Commander in Chief who respects no one and nothing, including the Constitution he has sworn to preserve and protect.
As a presidential candidate, Trump made “fake news” a household word while exemplifying the very same and raising it to a political art form. As president, he has treated the truth with total contempt while praising dictators who regularly target journalists for telling the truth.
It’s clear that Trump does not respect our institutions, courts, traditions, values, allies, immigrants, or even members of his own handpicked White House Staff and Cabinet. Nor does he respect ordinary people. Especially people in need. If he did, he would not seek to deprive millions of families of health care or put schoolchildren in jeopardy in order to please the NRA. And he would not seek deep tax cuts for the wealthy.
We all know respect is important in personal relationships. It’s no less important in politics at all levels. In international politics, it is a matter of life and death. Nothing is more crucial to maintaining this nation’s leadership role in the world than respect; by the same token, nothing poses a greater threat to our national security than the loss of respect.
This is a message that all Americans irrespective of age, income, or party affiliation need to understand and act upon in 2018. The nation desperately needs new blood and new thinking on Capitol Hill. We need a Congress that will restore ethical standards in Washington and respectability on the world stage.
The good news is that there is no shortage of new and impressive candidates running against incumbent Trump-enablers, individuals who deserve a chance to prove that politics and politicians can be better than this lot. One promising newcomer to the political scene is Amy McGrath who is running for Congress in Kentucky’s 6th District.
McGrath joined the Marines after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, rising to the rank of colonel over the course of a twenty-year career during which she served three tours in Afghanistan and Iraq as a fighter pilot, flying 89 combat missions and landing on aircraft carriers.
She is running against incumbent Republican Andy Barr, a man who is closely identified with Mitch McConnell and who has said he would vote “enthusiastically” to repeal the Affordable Care Act. According to FiveThirtyEight, the White House can count on Congressman Barr to vote in support of Trump’s position no less than 95.7% of the time.
Amid the political doom-and-gloom surrounding politics in America since November 2016, Roy Moore’s defeat in Alabama and Conor Lamb’s win in Pennsylvania are hopeful signs, as is the fact that strong candidates like Amy McGrath are stepping forward to challenge NRA-backed, pro-Trump incumbents.
Normally, the “Dump Trump” majority could take heart knowing that the president’s party typically loses seats in midterm elections. But there is nothing normal or typical about the current state of American politics.
Nobody thought Donald Trump would beat Hillary Clinton in 2016. Indeed, nobody thought Trump would even win the Republican nomination. As late as June that year, The New Yorker featured a cover with amusing caricatures of all the Republican candidates—except Donald Trump! That’s right, the biggest buffoon of all was not even in the picture!!
In this year’s midterm, Democrats need to win 24 seats to flip the House and two to take the Senate. Given the history of midterm elections in the U.S., Trump’s low approval ratings, the chaotic state of the executive branch exemplified most recently by the firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told to the world on Twitter (!), and the like, turning the tables on the Trump enablers looks like a realistic possibility.
Unfortunately, the odds are still against that happening this year because of a peculiar feature of our electoral system in which only one-third of the Senate faces re-election in each cycle. Democrats hold all but eight of the 34 Senate seats being contested in 2018. Keeping those seats and winning two more in Senate is a tall order.
How tall? According to NBC News, “Democrats have to defend 10 Senate seats in states Trump won, including in five where he won by double digits and where he remains popular.” Only Nevada and Arizona were considered “pickup opportunities” as recently as December 2017.
That was before the Florida school shooting, the Tillerson firing, the naming of a woman who played a key role in the CIA extraordinary rendition and “black site” torturing of two terrorist suspects, the steady trickle of information from the ongoing Mueller investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and the possible collusion of corrupt individuals close to Trump, most notably his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort.
And then there’s Trump, the ultimate wild card.
Who knows what tricks Donald Trump has up his sleeve? Who knows what Trump will do if he is cornered or feels threatened with a humiliating loss of face, a popular vote of no-confidence, and, quite possibly, impeachment?
What is clear is that the ballot box continues to be the best hope for restoring American democracy and with it America’s lost respectability in the world.
If the past half-century of our history has taught us anything as a nation it is that military power without moral purpose is a losing proposition. In the final analysis, there is no better way to promote American interests and values than through soft power.
We have lost untold measures of soft power since Donald Trump gained the White House.
Let’s work together to elect candidates with a conscience this year, candidates who will not kowtow to the NRA or enable Donald Trump to use the White House to enrich himself and his friends while doing untold damage to the country.
Let’s pledge to do everything we can to make America respectable again! #MARA