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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 05:39 PM
Number of posts: 22,218

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Trump loses some leverage the second the polls close in Georgia

The only question is how much. While control of the Senate remains up in the air there are a number of Republican officials, elected and otherwise, who have been walking around on eggshells trying to keep Trump sedated enough that he doesn't throw an even larger grenade into Tuesday's Georgia election campaign than he already has, which might increase the chances that Republican candidates there could lose. That means them avoiding saying anything that might set Trump off, like acknowledging that Biden won the presidency without benefit of fraud, and at least seemingly going along with his radical schemes to steal the presidency for another term. As soon as the polls close Tuesday night, Trump's erratic explosive tantrums no will no longer have any effect on which party controls the Senate in 2021. Even if the winners of the two Senate contests are not known for days, the minute the polls close the consequences of Trump continuing to claim that the elections were rigged, will finally stop effecting the behavior of actual 2020 election voters.

I will be curious to see if any Republicans will then be willing to stop completely grovelling at Trump's feat. I don't have high hopes, but it might lead to some minor shifts in some of their behavior.

If GOP "Patriots" "honor the founding fathers", why do so many presume they must have been idiots?

If nothing else is clear from American history, it is that the men who signed the Declaration of Independence and ratified the U.S. Constitution feared the emergence of a monarchy and/or tyranny in America. They obsessed over the types of constraints that needed to be placed on excessive executive power, and they littered the constitution with all kinds of checks and balances over the concentration of power in any governmental institution. So...

Why on earth can anyone pretend now that it was the "original intent" of the founders to allow an American President to pardon himself from all crimes that he may have committed while in office?

And in whose feverish dream would the founders have given the constitutional authority for a sitting Vice President of the United States to decide on his own authority, acting as President of the U.S. Senate, which State Electoral College votes would be opened, counted, and thus potentially certified by Congress, and which State Electoral College votes would be set aside uncounted, thereby effectively determining which candidate for President would win the most Electoral College votes based on his or her say only?

And yet supposedly rational legal minds on the Right bend over backwards to pretend that both of the above scenarios are fully Constitutional based on their reading of the U.S. Constitution, based on their their idea of "original intent." These so called legal minds couldn't tie Benjamin Franklin's shoe laces.

Trump's plan openly disregards presidential elections for determining who holds the presidency

Only members of Congress, and the Vice President, literally count. The Vice President, of course, serves as President of the U.S. Senate and presides over the official congressional counting of electoral college votes after a presidential election. The majority party in each house of Congress ultimately casts one vote per chamber for the presidency, when it either accepts or rejects slates of State presidential electors. Truth, facts, precedents, norms; none of that matters under the rules Trump plays by, just the ability to exercise raw partisan power.

The Constitution of the United States implicitly presumes that fundamental logic, informed by truth, facts, and precedents, will prevail when it comes time for Congress to certify a presidential election. Congress is expected to accept the votes cast by State certified slates of electors from each state, but that level of procedural specificity is lacking in the written Constitution. Which means, to Trump and the Republicans under his control, that Congress can vote to do whatever the hell it wants, under whatever pretense they choose, when it comes to seating a President.

Under Trump's concept of "democracy" there are 535 people in America (536 if you include the VP) whose vote determines who is elected President of the United States of America. November's presidential election, in which over 150 million Americans participated, was nothing more than "a straw poll" for members of Congress to consider (or not) however they wish. And if they decide to decide on strictly partisan grounds, according to Donald Trump, that is their prerogative.

It's ironic that the least democratic aspect of our democracy may be what saves it.

Federal judges get lifetime appointments to the bench. That puts them in the rarefied company of Royals and full blown Autocrats as government leaders who never must face an electorate to hold onto their jobs. This presents am intrinsic problem for democracy, since Federal Judges, by design, are insulated from any accountability to the changing will of the people, throughout their potential decades spent in office. And that makes them less susceptible to all out political bullying than are many of our elected representatives. Donald Trump can't threaten to have conservative justices primaried if they don't bend to his will, the way that Republican State legislators, Republican State Attorney Generals, and Republican members of congress can be. Federal Judges can't be stampeded out of office by rabid members of Trump's cult, turning against them en masse when ordered to by his tweets.

America's founders got some key issues wrong, and it has been a struggle over the centuries to make the needed mid-course corrections where justice initially fell short. But they had a deeply ingrained fear of despots, and how one could manipulate political passions of the day to subvert our democracy to their will, if not adequately checked against their executive authority to do so.

I say this with some mixed emotions, but score one for our founders. They were able to envision the circumstances that befall us now.

I now support essentially forming a coalition with reputable center right Republicans

That's not a statement I make lightly, nor is it an opinion that comes easily to me. When I scan the political spectrum I'm most naturally drawn toward include the likes of AOC and Bishop William J. Barber. I supported Bernie Sanders for President in 2016, and alternated between supporting him and Elizabeth Warren in 2020 (though in both years I fell in strongly behind our actual nominee for the general election.) I strongly believe that America needs to enact an unabashedly progressive policy agenda in order for the vast majority of Americans to prosper in coming decades. I support "Defund the Police" (though not that literal slogan) and know that there can't be a Green New Deal that is too large in scope given the crisis our planet now faces.

When it comes to policies I have very little in common with even the most moderate of Republicans, such as the Governors of Massachusetts and Maryland, let alone with Georgia's Secretary of State, but I stand ready to seek common ground with even the likes of him now in aneffort to preserve our Democracy. That is how serious I think it has become. When I use the term "reputable center right Republicans" I do not limit that to obvious Never Trumpers. I am open to having real dialog with even some recent Trump supporters if they recognize and openly oppose the threat that Donald Trump now poses to our democracy with his frontal assault on the legitimacy of our electoral system and his calls to have the courts, and/or state legislatures overturn the will of the people expressed through their free votes in an election for which he presents no evidence of any wide spread fraud.

If we retain our Democracy, we retain the ability to organize for and promote a progressive agenda for America, both now and in the future. If, however, our Democracy is subverted even our most fundamental liberties, let alone our ability to openly organize, will be seriously endangered. To be honest, even if Democrats don't form a common front with reputable Republicans, I think we can win the battle to preserve the America we had come to take for granted, one with warts aplenty, but one that at least loosely adhered to basic democratic principles, distorted as they often were. I think we could win, but that's not the same as being fully confident of that. Maybe I think the odds would be two to one in our favor, but those aren't bet your life on it odds. Too many generations, from Thomas Paine through Harriot Tubman through the Parkland High School students and Black Lives Matter activists, have fought too hard for too long to establish both liberty AND justice in this nation to have this epic experiment in self rule unravel on us now during our watch.

So if President Biden wants some "reputable Republicans" inside his government, then so be it. If that means negotiating some compromises on policies with "reputable Republicans" in the short term, in order to preserve our democracy in the long term, then so be it. The struggle against nativistic authoritarian forces in America is coming to a head now. We can defeat them within three years, if our resolve and alliances stay strong. I strongly believe that the future of a (small d) democratic America is destined to follow a progressive path. That is what the demographics indicate. But we have to reach that future first, with our democracy intact, before we can venture down that road.

The Republican Party is evolving into the junta ruling Nazi America in "The Man in the High Castle"

The same imposition of supposedly "wholesome" family values extolled by "leaders" who must be obeyed, for the good of the nation, that was the hallmark of "The Great Nazi Reich". That political State covered the eastern and central portions of the USA in the Amazon TV series based on the novel by Philip K. Dick. The TV series fascinated me, in no small part due to my life long love of Philip K. Dick's SciFi writing. All of the predictable excesses of Fascist rule were of course terrifying to witness portrayed in a TV drama, But what was most chilling for me was the banality of authoritarian rule, the quiet adjustments that civil society makes to accommodate it on a day to day basis: all of the rationalizations and seamless coordinated efforts to normalize a tyranny that insinuates itself into the very psyche of a people.

"The Man in The High Castle" captured all of that masterfully, and in so doing made it far too plausible for comfort,that fascism of that sort could take hold in America. I at first viewed it as a teaching prophecy for what could befall America within a decade, if we became insufficiently vigilant. Now I realize that I had it wrong. Watching our political system being assaulted by wave after wave of The Big Lie" crashing against it, I know I was off by at least half. The nightmare could become real within five years if we do not adequately resist it now. Elected Republican leaders all across our nation are rallying to subvert and overturn the electoral process that literally installed them into office in the first place. They have fallen all over themselves to fall into line behind whatever perverted narrative the "Dear Leader" wants them to peddle on their behalf. They join him in railing against supposed forces of moral decay "on the Left" that purportedly will destroy everything that good Americans hold sacred if they are not defeated now.

For those who are familiar with the Amazon series, while it might take a man like Donald Trump to breech the defenses of our democracy, I fear the emergence of a future John Smith, who can place the velvet glove over the fist that would ultimately smash it.
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