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The Dangers of Political Violence: The Lesson of the Reichstag Fire


Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Yesterday a man named James T. Hodgkinson opened fire on members of the Congressional Republican baseball team as they practiced for their annual game against the Congressional Democrats which is a charitable event that helps a number of local agencies that help children. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was critically wounded and several police officers were wounded during the exchange of fire in which Hodgkinson was killed. I was shocked and infuriated by his actions. Political violence and the attempted assassination of any elected official in a democracy where we still have the ability to remove people or parties from office at the ballot box is never justified. I would call his act an act of terrorism just as I have other acts by so many others. 

But unlike other times when a white shooter killed or wounded multiple people based on their race, religion, or politics I was joined by many GOP leaders. Sadly, some like Newt Gingrich, Repreantive Steve King and a host of Right Wing pundits blamed it on “typical left wing violence” while ignoring the constant attacks and threats from Right Wing extremists including members of the militia movement, the KKK, and various new-Nazi and Alt Right groups and individuals. 

At least President Trump, for the first time in his presidency urged unity and extolled the best part of Americans working together. I was pleased to here his words which I think were genuine, and I hope that this will be a moment that defines his presidency in a positive way for all Americans. That being said I have reasons to doubt, not that I want to but because of his past actions which I will mention later in the article. 

From was we know Hodgkinson was very active politically and quite angry at the GOP and President Trump but until today no one, even friends who knew him well would have expected him to cross the line to commit political violence. The congressman from his district from Illinois said that Hodgkinson was angry in his communications about issues but never crossed a line for the office to think that he was potentially dangerous. However, he had a history of domestic violence, destruction of property and a number of other issues. One of Hodgkinson’s Facebook posts from 2015 was a editorial cartoon criticizing Scalise. Hodkinson had been in the D.C. area a couple of weeks and had been spending time at the YMCA near the ball field where the shooting occurred. The former Mayor of Alexandria saw him a number of times and reported that he appeared to be living out of a gym bag and had offered to help Hodgkinson get a job.

I’m sure that there will be more information about Hodgkinson coming out so I will not go into any more detail or speculate why he committed this act, but I will discuss the very real dangers to civil liberty and legitimate peaceful political dissent that his act could lead.

Despite my initial optimism about how the President Trump responded today and many of his advisors have shown spoken in very authoritarian language about political dissent, demonizing their opponents, first during their GOP opponents in the primaries, then all who opposed them during the general election and afterwards. The president even blessed violent acts committed by his supporters during the campaign. Any time a protester physically responded to bullying or intimidation at Trump rallies they were set upon and then were blamed for the resulting violence even if they were the victims.

But what I am afraid is that acts such as Hodgkinson’s will result in draconian measures to limit dissent. People forget that it was the action of a single Dutch Communist acting on his own to burn down the Reichstag that gave Hitler the ability to pass the Enabling Act in March of 1933. That act gave his government unprecedented authority to arrest and detail opponents without due process rights, as well as to shut down opposition newspapers. It was followed up by other laws during the course of the Third Reich which further restricted political opposition. Often people arrested in the round ups would be acquitted of any crime but then upon release would be taken by the SA or SS to concentration camps.

Another incident was the assassination of a junior German diplomat at the German embassy in Paris in November 1938. When he died Hitler gave Josef Goebbels permission to launch a pogrom against the Jews now known as Kristallnacht. Hundreds of synagogues were burned, thousands of Jewish businesses looted, and hundreds of Jews killed, with thousands rounded up and sent to concentration camps.

The problem is that individual acts of violence against leaders who are predisposed to authoritarian responses give those leaders license to suspend laws and civil liberties on what are called exceptional circumstances. The attack by Hodgkinson could easily be construed as an act of political terrorism. As Timothy Snyder noted in his book On Tyranny:

“Modern tyranny is terror management. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that authoritarians exploit such events in order to consolidate power. The sudden disaster that requires the end of checks and balances, the dissolution of opposition parties, the suspension of freedom of expression, the right to a fair trial, and so on, is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book. Do not fall for it.”

That is a warning to all who think that individual acts of political violence can be excused or tolerated, they end up threatening the liberties of all. While I do not think this particular attack is a Reichstag Fire moment, the next one might be and anyone who thinks that their act of violence will help the country is sadly mistaken. For that matter it is also possible that a group or individual sympathetic to Trump could create a false flag incident in order to prompt him to suppress legitimate dissent. 

Like I said we will find out more as the days go by about the shooter, the attack, and the possible executive or legislative responses to it, not to mention possible violence against protestors or politicians committed by armed Trump supporters who have often threatened to respond violently to any attack against Trump or the GOP.

This is a very dangerous moment. I do pray that Representative Scalise will recover from his wounds and hope that I will not see progressives rejoice regarding the crime committed by Hodgkinson. Likewise as I mentioned earlier in the article I am heartened by President Trump’s response yesterday and I pray that it will be something that defines the rest of his presidency. I may oppose many, if not most of his policies and actions, as well as hoping that the investigation of his advisers interactions with the Russians goes forward; but I will never continue to hope and pray for the best for our country and yes even for him. That being said I am very wary based on his past words and actions and will never give up my right as an American to speak openly and honestly. I learned that lesson from many great American military men including General Smedley Butler and Colonel David Hackworth. Dissent is still an act of patriotism no matter what some people claim. 

Until tomorrow,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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A Realist in Wonderland 


Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

It looks like that the primary season is finally about over with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as the presumptive nominees of the Republican and the Democratic parties. It is what it is, but in listening to some of Trump’s and Bernie Sanders supporters I feel as if I am in some sort of logic free zone. The German philosopher Arthur Schopenauer called it Wolkenenkuckkuckscheim or “cloud cuckoo land.” It was a term to describe people who think that things completely impossible might happen, rather than understanding how things really are. 


In early 1861, William Tecumseh Sherman was serving as the first superintendent of the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning  and Military Academy, the present LSU. As Southern States began to secede from the Union, Sherman, who was well liked in Louisiana never hesitated to state his belief in the Union. He tried to warn his Southern friends of the folly of secession and war. Though he loved his position and the people he worked with in Louisiana, Sherman resigned and went North. There he found that the politicians and people were completely unprepared for war, and just as unrealistic of what the war would cost as their now estranged Southern brothers. 

Sherman was a realist. He was one of the few people in his day to actually understand the link between military strategy, political policy, economic necessity, and geographic reality. But his counsel was completely ignored in the South as well as in the North. It was only in late 1862 that Sherman and his superior, Ulysses S. Grant began to be listened to by Union leaders. His biographer, the British military theorist, B.H. Liddell-Hart referred to Sherman in 1861 as “a realist in Wonderland.” 

I always seek to be a realist. Yes I have strong views, and I subscribe to a more liberal or progressive ideology, but at the same time that is tempered by my experience as a military officer and education as a historian. I am not an ideologue or revolutionary. Nor am I someone who ignores history, especially history of countries going through great times of national stress, such as the United States in the late 1850s and Weimar Germany. 

When I listen to some of Sanders’s most devoted and self-identified “revolutionary” followers, I am reminded of the leaders of the Communist Party of Germany between 1928 and January 1933, men who worked with the young Nazi Party to tear down the Majority Socialists to destroy the Weimar Republic. The Communists called the Majority Socialists traitors, and Facists equating them with the German Right wing hoping that they would collapse the Socialists and the Republic. 

When I listen to some of Trump’s supporters in the leadership of the Republican Party, I am reminded of the mainline old German conservatives who latched on to Hitler to destroy the Republic thinking that they could control him or that he would moderate in time. Both the German Communists and German conservatives badly misplayed their hand. Both the Communists and the German conservatives hated the Republic, albeit for different reasons, but they underestimated the forces seething in Germany, as well as the psychological and political brilliance of Adolf Hitler during that critical time frame. They remind me of the Sanders supporters 

I am also reminded of the Southern fire breathers of 1860 and 1861 who brought about secession and civil war, who continued the war holding onto slavery until the bitter end in 1865.  Likewise there were Northerners who thought more conciliation and compromise would bring the seceding states back into the Union early in the war, while many of them came to their senses, one group, the Union Copperheads were in favor of a negotiated settlement as late as 1864 and 1865 that would have dissolved the Union, and allowed for the continuance of slavery. All of these groups and their leaders lived in their own make believe wonderland where reality need not bother to knock. 

The fact is that no matter how you spin the results that Sanders lost the a democratic primaries by over 3.7 million votes, close to 400 pledged delegates and over 900 total delegates.  Yet there are still some people, including to some reports, even Sanders himself, who refuse to believe that the campaign is over. Somehow, they believe that trying to get some 400 plus Super delegates to switch from Clinton to him; thereby undercutting the results of the vote is a good idea. Of course if they continue down this path the result will be as it is, Clinton will still win. Worse for them, the if Sanders and his supporters continue down this path, they will end up marginalizing themselves and preventing the Democratic Party from embracing a more progressive platform.  If they don’t recognize this reality and deal with it they will not be in a position to help bring the Democratic Party to more progressive positions on issues that they so deeply care about. That would be a tragedy. Personally I think that had Sanders and his supporters backed off of their fratricidal war on the Democratic Party a few weeks ago, even if Sanders remained active in the race, that they would be better off today. They would not have forfeited the good will of their real political allies. I think that fighting things out to the bitter end in order to eke out a few more delegates was counterproductive to them and their movement. 

Likewise, after months of underestimating Donald Trump and having their asses handed to them, some Republicans are finally beginning to realize that Trump is indeed really is th narcissistic, racist, unstable bully that he is, and now they are stuck with him. Too late some are suggesting that the GOP party leadership try to find a way to dump Trump before the GOP convention, or even try to change the convention rules to keep Trump from becoming the nominee. Of course neither Trump nor his passionate supporters will allow that to happen without blowing up the GOP in the process. As far as the GOP leadership goes, I am sorry to say that they created the environment that allowed the Trump Frankenstein to emerge, and now,they have to deal with it. If they keep him they will lose and maybe destroy the party in the process,  if they try to keep him from getting the nomination they will certainly destroy the GOP. 

I hate to say this because I have dear friends, friends who will remain my friends no matter what, who are passionate supporters of Trump or Sanders. But there are times when I feel very much like William Tecumseh Sherman in 1861, who was scorned in the North and South because he indeed was a realist in wonderland. It was only in 1864 and 1865 that people in the a north and the South understood just how correct that Sherman was. I can only hope that my friends on all sides of this debate will try to be realists and not live in the cloud cuckoo land that will harm all of us. 

But, nobody likes a realist. Oh well, such is life.

Peace

Padre Steve+ 

Update: it appears after his meeting with President Obama that Bernie is going to unite with Hillary to defeat Trump. I know that will upset some of his supporters who seem to hate her as much as the GOP, but this is where change starts. Good on him for stating this now. 

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Post New York Thoughts

trumphillarynewyork_032516getty2

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

I have just a few short thoughts about the New York primaries and the massive victories recorded by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

My gut feeling, looking at the results, as well as polling data available for most of next week’s primaries in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut and Rhode Island is that this marks the end of any real chance for Bernie Sanders to win the Democratic nomination, and the same for either Ted Cruz or John Kasich to come back and have an outright win against Trump.

On the Republican side the best Trump’s opponents can hope for is that he falls short of the needed number to win on the first ballot and that uncommitted delegates do not support him. If it goes to a contested convention, turn out the lights on the GOP. I still expect the GOP establishment will throw in everything to try to stop Trump, and they may yet succeed, but New York was a massive blow against their hope to stop him.

As for the Democrats, the New York results showed how formidable that Hillary is, she not only trounced Sanders by close to 300,000 votes, but collected about 200,000 than all the Republicans combined. The primary wasn’t close and the complaints of Sanders and his supporters that the primary was rigged against them make them sound like sore losers. The next series of primaries play to Hillary’s strengths and I expect her to add to her delegate lead, and after New York I don’t expect any upsets.

Honestly, I think that Sanders made a huge mistake by going so negative against Hillary, and that is actually going to turn people away from him. He is at his best when he is positive and talks about his ideas, and looks like a crotchety old man when he goes negative, and his attacks on Clinton are not likely to win him the support of the Super-Delegates. The fact that he hasn’t been able to go into details about his plans, and the fact that he appears unprepared and defensive when interviewed about them, does not help his cause with voters that want specifics. As I have said many times before many of his ideas resonate with me, but just having ideas with no plan of how you will get them through a potentially hostile Congress is a non-starter.

I am pragmatic, and I think that Bernie needs to figure out what his campaign can do realistically and decide on a realistic course of action. If he continues to go negative and tolerate his supporters making asses out of themselves by doing the same he not only risks his campaign, but damages the one person who might get at least some of those good ideas through Congress. If he plays that game he only helps the Republicans.

A historical analogy is how the Independent Socialists, who joined with the Communist Party after the German Revolution at the end of the First World War, torpedoed the Majority Socialist’s attempts to promote a progressive agenda during the Weimar Republic. They accused the Social Democrats of being worse than the Nazis and during the Republic’s crisis of 1928-1933, they cooperated with the Nazis to collapse support for the Social Democrats and bring down the government, with disastrous results for Germany.

Anyway, that’s all for now,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Protesting Failure

  
Campaign Scene in the 1930 German Election

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

I am returning home today after a refreshing denominational chaplain conference in Houston. During the time I received some spiritual care, spent time with friends and colleagues, and participated in a number of very informative training sessions. It was a good time, and for the most part with a few forays to check on friends on Facebook, look at a few news headlines, and read my favorite comics, I pretty much disconnected from social media and the Internet. Instead I spent time with others and did a lot of reading. 

The latest book that I am reading is The Coming of the Third Reich by British historian Richard J. Evans. I read the book when it came out years ago but amid all the political chaos going on in the Unites States, I decided to pick it up again. 

One thing that Evans noted about the Nazi Party in the 1930 elections, was how it took advantage of people’s frustration and discontent as the Great Depression overwhelmed the Weimar Republic. In those elections the Nazis went from being a fringe party to being a major player in German politics at the local, state, and national levels, and Adolf Hitler becoming a truly national political player. Evans wrote:

“Voters were not really looking for anything very concrete from the Nazi Party in 1930. They were, instead, protesting against the failure of the Weimar Republic. Many of them, too, particularly in rural areas, small towns, small workshops, culturally conservative families, older age groups, or the middle-class nationalist political milieu, may have been registering their alienation from the cultural and political modernity for which the Republic stood, despite the modern image which the Nazis projected in many respects. The vagueness of the Nazi programme, its symbolic mixture of old and new, its eclectic, often inconsistent character, to a large extent allowed people to read into it what they wanted to and edit out anything they might have found disturbing.” 

I think that is a very similar phenomena to what we are seeing today in the United States, whether it be from the frustrated supporters of Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders, as well as the members of the Christian Right that are supporting Ted Cruz.  In many cases they are frustrated and angry at what they see as the failure of both parties, and refuse to see the inherent dangers in people who promise much but at the same time show little in the way of developed programs and means to achieve what they are promising. In the case of Trump it often shown in xenophobic fearmongering, for Cruz an honest belief that he his God’s anointed one to lead the a United States in the “Last Days,” protect what he calls “Christian values,” even if that means depriving non-believers of their rights; and Sanders, who really gives honest commentary, (with which I happen to agree on on many points) regarding many of the enconomic and social ills afflicting the nation, but has no demonstrated program of how he will get Congress to fulfill his agenda, or the second, third, and fourth order effects of some of his economic ideas. And all of these men, in a sense are outsiders, even in the parties that they are trying to become the presidential standard bearers. They all appeal to the anger and frustration of different constituencies at the failed policies and broken promises of the establishments of both parties. In such an environment outsiders play well, while establishment candidates die on the vine, just ask President Jeb Bush.

Such was the case at the end of the Weimar Republic, and such could be here if we are not careful.

Evans noted, ”What the Nazis did not offer, however, were concrete solutions to Germany’s problems, least of all in the area where they were most needed, in economy and society. More strikingly still, the public disorder which loomed so large in the minds of the respectable middle classes in 1930, and which the Nazis promised to end through the creation of a tough, authoritarian state, was to a considerable extent of their own making. Many people evidently failed to realize this, blaming the Communists instead…” 

All this is said not to demean any of the candidates, to imply that any are Nazis, or to deny any of their supporters often legitimate complaints about the system and the often moribund party apperatuses of both parties. It is only to serve as a warning of what can happen when the system breaks down and the most cherished ideals and institutions of democracy are cast aside out of political expediency and perceived, or manufactured, national crisis which is intensified by the frenetic campaigning, simple slogans and vivid images offered by the media savvy campaigns of the different candidates; all of whom in one way or another play to the real,or imagined fears of their supporters, often with no regard for truth. 

Admittedly what I say here can be decidedly uncomfortable, but what I say is something that we still have time to think about and keep from happening here. Our system may be terribly flawed, and maybe even broken, but we can still make it work. Too many people have given their lives in war and peace; sometimes as soldiers, sometimes as advocates and activists, sometimes as legislaters or jurists, or simply hard working people who pulled together in the most difficult times to make things work, to throw it away. Likewise, it is what billions of people in hundreds of nations have looked to for inspiration and guidance; that sacred proposition “that all men are created equal.” 

But the task before us is not to destroy what we have, but as the Constitution notes “to form a more perfect Union” and as Abraham Lincoln stated in his Gettysburg Address, “to dedicate ourselves to the unfinished work…that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the face of the earth.” 

Forgive me for sounding a note of hope and belief in the face of raging anger and cynicism, but this is important for all of us, and it does not matter if you are liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, or who you support in the current political campaign. The problem is right now, is that there are many people on both sides of the political chasm who are so frustrated and angry that they cannot see the contradictions in their candidate’s positions and edit out the positions of their candidates that they find disturbing. 

So anyway, have a great day. 

Peace,

Padre Steve+


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The Promise of Riots 

 

  
Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

A short comment on the results of Super Duper Tuesday and the dangers that the day brings for both the Democratic and Reupublican parties. My words are certain to offend the sensibilities of partisans of every candidate in both parties currently fighting to win their party nomination for President, and I really don’t care, because I care more for the country than any candidate, and for the peaceful preservation of the Union and Liberty more than the short term political gain of any party, faction, or individual candidate. 

The Super Duper Tuesday primaries are over. On the Democratic side Hillary Clinton swept states in play. While the results in Missouri and Illinois were close she won each primary and in the popular vote outpolled Bernie Sanders by around 900,000 votes in the four states at play. She also increased here Delaware count in both pledged delegates and Super Delegates. Let it be known that I am not a big fan of the Super Delagate system, but that is the system that the Democratic Party has used for decades, but all the candidates know that going in, even Bernie Sanders. 

But compared to the Republican race the Democratic primaries are positively civil, boring, and mundane. Sanders has made things interesting, and probably made Hillary a better candidate, and Hillary should do her damnedest to reach out to Sanders and his supporters if she wants their support in the general election. Truthfully I like Bernie Sanders a lot, and agree with most of his positions on the issues. His Democratic Socialism is little different that Franlkin Roosevelt’s New Deal. But the fact is Sanders owes his success to the Democrat who did not run, Senator Elizabeth Warren. It was her true populist voice in economic issues and her refusal to run that gave Sanders his opening. At the same time like Hillary, but I am not blind to her faults and some of the things in her past that give people reason not to fully trust her. What does that make me? I guess an unpopular realist who because I am serving in a Federal office cannot publicly endorse any candidate, but I can comment on policy, history, and what I believe. 

Likewise, Sanders supporters who say they are progressive but would vote for Trump to spite Clinton if she wins the nomination are fools, and not at all progressive if they believe what they actually say and then do that. True progressives understand the value of realism and pragmatism and getting what you can get; for sometimes progress is slow, but it if you keep working you achieve it, ithout handing victory to people who hate you. Those Sanders supporters who call themselves “progressives” but would be willing to vote for Trump to spite Clinton are like the German Communist Party members in Weimar Germany who worked against the Social Democrats and gave Germany to Hitler. A pox on them if they do that. The same would go for Clinton supporters who if she lost the nomination to Sanders did something similar. Since I don’t see any way for Sanders to win the nomination short of a total Clinton meltdown or scandal so big that would turn the Super Delagates against her, I don’t see the latter happening, and if there was such an event the Democratic Party would rapidly coalesce around Sanders, or maybe rally to nominate Warren. 

But I digress…

No matter what happens with the Democrats, the really interesting thing is what s going on in the GOP. Trump won a crushing victory in Florida as well as convincing victories in North Carolina and Illinois. He won a very narrow victory in Missouri over Ted “nobody likes me” Cruz, and lost in Ohio to John Kasich because the Repulicans allow “winner take all” primaries means that Kasich won every delegate in his home state, without even winning a majority of the vote. And that is how the GOP hopes to defeat Trump? Give me a break. That is cloud-cuckoo-land thinking. 

That has set up an interesting scenario. The GOP “establishment” has been doing everything that they can to try to stop Trump from winning the nomination outright. Many have actually gone on record with that stirring the ire or Trump and his most vocal supporters on conservative talk radio, media, and the Internet. Prominent leaders of the right wing media including Rush Limbaugh, and Coulter, and Breitbart News are all in for Trump, and they are hammering the GOP establishment, and people still listen to them. It doesn’t matter what Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Reince Prebus, Mitt Romney, or even George W. Bush has to say; they are all weak or even traitors if you ask Trump and his most ardent supporters. In response you have Glenn Beck and many other conservative pundits and politicians  doing all that they can to fight Trump. This is a civil war and existential struggle for the GOP, and truthfully I don’t see it surviving in any form that we once knew, and as a former Republican who spent 32 years as a party loyalist, in my opinion, as much as I hate what the GOP has become, that is not a good thing, and Republicans have only themselves to blame just as the Democrats were for what happened to them in 1860 and 1968, the Republicans in 1964, and German conservatives in 1932 and January of 1933. They all destroyed themselves with little help from their opponents. Thant my friends is history, that is reality. 

What portends is an absolute disaster for the GOP. If they fail to stop Trump from winning a majority, he wins. If they stop him, and keep him from an outright majority, even though he will likely have 400-500 more delagates at the convention than eith Cruz or Kasich, they will have achieved a Pyrrhic victory. Trump is not your run of the mill boring Republican. It is his money and brains in stoking the anger of Republicans, not only against the Democrats and Obama, but the GOP establishment that has brought him thus far, and he is not done. 

He has tacitly endorsed violence against opponents, and journalists, even conservative journalists who get in his way. On Wednesday he said that there “would be riots”  if the GOP tried to deny him the nomination, even if he was short of the majority needed to win the nomination at the GOP convention in Cleveland outright. He is not joking. His supporters have almost as little love for the GOP as they do the Democrats. He and they will not accept what they see as being cheated out of the nomination, and frankly, while I am not a Trump supporter by any means I would have to agree with them if I was in their shoes. The current GOP is Republican in Name Only. It is not the party or Lincoln, not the party of Ulysses Grant or Teddy Roosevelt, not that of Dwight Eisenhower, or even Barry Goldwater or Ronald Reagan. It has become a proto-fascist party run for the most part by Christian radicals bent on establishing a theocracy, embodied by Ted Cruz, that is now collapsing on the weight of unfulfilled promises to people that they have made for decades. Frankly, Trump’s supporters are declaring war against the GOP establishment, and if they don’t win that war they will leave the GOP as a smoldering ruin of hubris as they destroy it in their way out. 

Maybe my analysis of both parties is wrong. As a historian I don’t think it is, but I could be wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time and certainly won’t be the last. But as Mark Twain is reported to have said, “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”  

But then maybe I’m just too much of a realist and have too much understanding of people and history for any ideologue or radical of any persuasion to take what I have to say seriously. But then as bad is this all is maybe it is what we all need to cause us to wake up and re-embrace the promise of of the words spoken by Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not shall not perish from the earth. ” 

Until tomorrow, 

Peace

Padre Steve+ 

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Trumped 

  
Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Yesterday I posted an article about how over the weekend that Ted Cruz seems to have blunted Donald Trump’s relentless drive to the Republican nomination. I mentioned in that article that I believed that Cruz’s highly trumpeted victories on Saturday were not as big as many in the media gave them credit for being. Tonight’s results in Mississippi and Michigan bore me out. 

Trump went on to crushing victories in both states as well as Hawaii. Ted Cruz won in Idaho due to the heavy percentage of Evangelical Christians and Mormons who make up the bulk of the GOP in that state. Cruz’s Idaho victory was a win for the Glenn Beck wing of the GOP and Cruz was certainly helped in Idaho by the efforts of pastors and pundits of the Christian Right. Unfortunately for Cruz there are few states left where he sports that kind of advantage and Trump still got a lot of votes in Idaho. 

Though he finished third in three of four states John Kasich ran strong for a candidate with little money or organization.  Late last night I heard his name being floated as a potential running mate for Trump. While that might mollify some in the GOP establishment it will not play well with Cruz and other supporters in the Christian Right who see him as weak on Gay Rights and Obama Care. 

The biggest loser on the Reuplican side appears to be Marco Rubio, who continues to perform poorly. He is a shallow empty suit incapable of running a winning campaign in his own party, much less the country. 

I’ll do some more detail analysis of this and the Democratic Party races in Mississippi where Hillary Clinton crushed Sanders, and Michigan where Sanders stunned Clinton who had a double digit lead in the polls the day before the primary. I don’t know if I’ll write that before or after next Tuesday, but bottom line, Hillary is in trouble if she cannot will big states in the north like Michigan. 

So until tomorrow.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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The Kitchen Sink


Friends of Padre Steve’s World

Ted Cruz appears to have blunted, for the moment Donald Trump’s drive for the Republican presidential nomination. I don’t think it will be much in the long term, but it shows how desperate the GOP is to find a way to keep the real estate mogul from getting enough delegates from securing the nomination outright. we will see more of that play out tonight and a week from now in some very big, delegate rich states.

The GOP is cleaving itself into two parties. One is that of the leaders who for the last thirty plus years has promised stoked the anger of various parts of the party base but election after election done little than to humor the people that it relies upon to retain power. Large parts of the GOP base have been left out of the economic recovery, which has primarily benefits corporations, and feel like they have been abandoned by the party. The party has gone out of its way to channel this anger at minorities, immigrants, women, gays, and Muslims and away from themselves. For years the strategy worked, but like all strategies that simply deflect anger towards others rather than solve the underlying problems their followers have to deal with is collapsing on itself.

Trumps supporters are not a monolithic group, while the majority are white and at least nominally Christian there are others. While some blatantly White Supremacist leaders and groups are supporting Trump, there are many, people who are frustrated and angry about other issues. A lot are older people, retirees who feel that they have lost “their country” while others are people who lost businesses or high paying jobs in the last economic downturn, or have seen their jobs sent overseas. I know a number of former small business owners who had well established and profitable businesses lose them and see major corporations get tax breaks and government bailouts while they were left behind.

The GOP establishment assumed that 2016 would be more of the same. However, they did not could on Donald Trump and his ability to capitalize on the rage that they have stoked for decades. Some compare Trump to the GOP’s version of Frankenstein, and to some extent that is a good analogy. In some ways it is like how German conservatives in the 1920s paved the way to Hitler by demonizing their opponents and paralyzing the government. Like the current GOP power elites they fed the anger and frustration of people who finally rejected them and turned to an outsider. Like the GOP did Trump they thought that they could control Hitler. Mind you I am not comparing Trump to Hitler, despite the similarities in style, stated policy as well as the behavior of people toward non-Trump attendees at his rallies which a so similar to Hitler’s Brwonshirt things that it makes my head swim; but I am directly addressing the dynamics at play in the party.

From 1930 to January 1933 German conservative elites hoped to channel support away from Hitler by supporting the elderly conservative Field Marshal Paul Von Himdenberg for President against Hitler, and by having Hindenberg appoint a succession of “anyone but Hitler” as Chancellor. They failed and in a desperate attempt to control they appointed Hitler as Chancellor and once in power he used legal means to outmaneuver his opponents and within six months elimited all opposition political parties.

With Trump gaining more and more of the frustrated and angry vote the GOP establishment is attempting to find a way to stop Trump, even to the point of rallying around Ted Cruz, a man that they loath. But the Trump supporters are not going to tolerate it, and neither will Trump. In fact if you look at the comments of Trump supporters they despise the party establishment and the media, including some of Fox News who have come out against Trump. They feel that the attack on Trump are unfair and unwarranted, and the crocodile tears of the GOP leadership aside, Trump is only saying what many of them have railed about for years, just in much cruder terms.


In next few weeks the GOP establishment will do everything in their power to try to subvert, derail, and undermine the Trump campaign. Former GOP standard bearer Mitt Romney launched a furious assault on Trump only to be jumped on by Trump and his supporters. The more the GOP leadership does this, the more that Trump and his supporters will fight back. By some chance if they screed in keeping Trump from getting and outright majority of delegates at best it will be a Pyrrhic victory and only the charred remains of the Grand Old Party will remain.

We are watching a political party self-destruct and when it completes its self-immolation it will signal the end of an era. We are in an era of seismic political change, and what is happening to the Republicans cannot be dismissed as something that cannot happen to the Democrats as well.

None of us can know what will follow this and Democrats, especially the  Democratic Party leadership and elites should learn from what is happening to the Republicans. Right now there are many frustrated and angry Democrats and progressives who are as tired of their elites and power brokers as are angry Republicans and they are turning out in large numbers to support an outsider, Bernie Sanders. Democrats need to make sure that they do not dismiss his supporters and assume that they will voter for Hillary Clinton in November.

All that being said, the GOP fight is on and the opposing sides will throw in everything that they can to win, even the kitchen sink.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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