Saturday, May 21, 2016

I do NOT want an ‘outsider’ as president

We’ve been hearing for decades that the political system in Washington is “broken” due to élites and other special interests not beholden to the electorate and that only folks outside the system can bring it back to what it used to — and should — be.

That’s not only wrong; it’s naïve. Dangerously so.

When it comes to running a country, you should want someone who has some understanding of budgets, foreign policy (the president is also head of state) and the politics of getting bills passed.

Remember that we don’t live in a direct democracy; we live in a republic where we elect people to make decisions for us. Trouble is, doing the right thing for all doesn’t always mean popularity, which is why politicians, understandably, are often categorized as unprincipled.

Too many people thus believe that their parochial interests mirror those of the nation’s.

(So what would result from things like term limits for legislators, so that more people can run? Gridlock and perhaps even more career-oriented politicians. Yes, more, because those lobbyists, the real problem, aren’t going anywhere.)

The real reason a Donald Trump, who has never held elective office of any kind, would be a disaster as president is that he has demonstrated no concept of how to work out those differences; he appeals to those who want, really, a dictator — or, perhaps more accurately, as conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks said, “a superhero.” If he plays the political game he loses his base and becomes “just another politician,” but if he goes in like a bull in a china shop he loses the country — and the world. For those who believe that government can and should be run like a business, you simply can’t set goals and get rid of people who don’t meet them or who won’t follow along.

“Outsiders”? I won’t vote for that kind. Ever.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Trump — the true heir to Reagan

Since the 1980s and especially since the Bill Clinton years, the Republican Party had desperately tried to find the next Ronald Reagan. But it actually has him today — and doesn’t want him. Of course I’m talking about presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Now, I know this might sound crazy and even offensive to some, because they were temperamentally quite different. But they had two major things in common that are often overlooked: 1) They each possessed a supreme confidence that they could ride in on the proverbial white horse and save the day; and 2) They scapegoated an “out” group to do it.

In Reagan’s case, it was African-Americans. As governor of California, he criticized Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolent resistance upon his death. When he ran for president in 1976 he made comments about “welfare queens driving Cadillacs,” and he kicked off his 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, Miss. — where three civil-rights workers were murdered 16 years earlier — and declared that he supported “states’ rights.”

Trump, of course, has made immigration an issue, claiming that he would force Mexico to build a wall to keep Mexicans out (though in fact more Mexicans are leaving than coming in) and suggesting that Muslims from the Middle East shouldn’t be allowed in due to fears of terrorism.

That demagoguery is part of Trump’s appeal.

Part of it, however, is also that Trump is a political outsider with zero experience in elected office, and that will prove to be his undoing should he get elected (which I don’t anticipate). Reagan, however, wasn’t — he’d been on the scene for a while, knew how to make deals with the opposition and used diplomacy in dealing with other nations, something that hasn’t occurred to those who demand a neophyte.

Which I don’t understand. Truly. A number of conservatives have said that a Trump victory will undo the Reagan Revolution — and they’re probably right. But Reagan did provide a blueprint for Trump to follow, and he’s doing it.