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Posts published in “Day: August 4, 2015”

Bombast vs knowledge

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As the national media herd runs from one embarrassing Trump affront to our national dignity to another, there’s an interesting story all are missing. In they rush to pick up another specious, ego-filled, churlish sound bite, a smarter, far more effective race is being run showing positive campaigning on just the issues is far more effective.

Though the foot-in-mouth New Yorker is drawing some civilian attendees to his traveling road show of put-downs, gaffes, insults and ego-massaging, it appears many are there because they want to see a “celebrity” rather than be swayed by his “statements” about anything. I doubt significant numbers of them go home with the thought “You know, there’s a guy who ought to be our next President.”

Now - leave the fawning media behind and walk over to the campaign of one Bernie Sanders. You won’t have problems finding him. Just look for the larger crowds - much larger gatherings than Trumps. Crowds Trump and his Cretin campaign team would kill for. Crowds they couldn’t get even if they paid people to turn out. Crowds listening intently to Sander’s views on national debt, immigration reform, Social Security, health care, voting rights, infrastructure repair and other important issues going begging for Republican - not to mention Trump’s - attention. Sanders speaks to those issues because - unlike a majority of other “candidates” - he know the issues.

Note also, at these Sanders sessions, people are respectful, attentive, boisterous when responding to statements they agree with but - above all - listening. They want to hear his message - they want to know more about this New England independent who speaks with a New York accent.

And, here’s the kicker - what the national media is just plain missing. Sanders is campaigning with entirely positive messages on the important issues that need to be dealt with. He castigates no one. He speaks without name-calling. He sticks to the subject. He’s enthusiastic but not bombastic. He knows what he’s talking about. He can communicate it! I’d guess many who hear Sanders in those large crowds - even in those red states - go home with the thought, “That guy could be our next President.”

Both national parties are losing registered membership because they’re anachronistic, money-grubbing ghosts of “politics past.” Neither stands for much of anything. Dem’s are so far from the middle nationally that many former members no longer relate. The GOP has dived into a hole with positions so narrow and irrelevant only a few diehards remember the “glory days.” For both, billionaires have replaced wide-spread voter appeal and money - lots and lots of money - has become the party purpose for existing.

To me, Trump’s “candidacy” is the most dangerous threat to our political system since the Kochs built themselves a “Tea party.” Look how far to the right - to near national irrelevance - the Republican party has gone in the last 15-20 years. Look at the absolute stalemate the elections of Ted Cruze, Mike Lee, Ron Johnson, Raul Labrador and about 50 others have caused. None of them - not one - has been effective with new legislation, problem-solving, healing our national political wounds, standing for anything while doing nothing but cashing a paycheck. They’ve made a eunuch out of Congress, extended misery for the poor and homeless, played almost exclusively to the rich and ignored finding solutions to national ills that are the exclusive province of Congress.

Now, Trump is attracting audiences of the same disaffected, unthinking, scared and mostly white, elderly people. In poll after poll after poll, results show far too many people don’t have any idea how their government operates, how legislation becomes law, what our system of checks and balances is. And they have no idea what the role of government is as defined by the Constitution many of them swear by but are ignorant of both content and meaning.

People like Trump - and to some extent nearly all the Republican presidential candidates - are offering simple answers to complex problems they can’t solve. Trump - with his trashy name-calling, jingoistic, belittling statements - is capitalizing on the ignorance of those people looking for someone who talks like they do - feels like they do - about whatever’s bothering them at the moment. He’s dispensing verbal snake oil.

If some of these people who look to Trump for political salvation would set aside their fears and their loathing of a government they don’t understand - and in too many cases fear - and spend some time at a Sanders’ rally, they might be both enlightened and educated by a far different experience.

Please don’t take this as an endorsement of Sen. Sanders. It is NOT. But it IS an endorsement of the politics of any candidate of any party who understands the issues and who speaks to them with educated, informed ideas and temperate words while appealing to the best in us.

Take your choice. In a field of some 20 candidates of both parties, fill in your own choice of someone else who’s doing that. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

First take

Bert Marley seems to be on the surface a rational choice for chair of the Idaho Democratic Party, and a good choice for some less obvious reasons. He has plenty of personal political experience, going back to when his dad (also named Bert) was in the legislature. This Bert was in the legislature too, serving from an area where Democrats could win but could not take a win for granted. He also has run statewide, last year for lieutenant governor. Like his father he was an educator by profession, and he worked for the Idaho Education Association, and his experience there may have provided a useful lesson for the Democratic Party in Idaho. While Marley certainly should focus a good deal of attention on pure party-building (filling those precinct spots, strengthening the county organizations), it could also start to use ballot issues as a way to organize and draw distinctions with the Republicans. That happened in 2012 when educators, in three ballot issues, turned back a series of major education changes proposed by then-Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna. There hasn't been much ballot issue followup since, but Marley's experience with the IEA just might bring a few ideas to mind. - rs