Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.
Niemöller is remembered for the quotation:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
The November, 2016 elections are the most significant in generations – on one side the far Republican Right Wing poised to drive the nation’s economic, social and political agendas versus a divided and dispirited Democratic Party. The decision of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) to get in early, select a candidate and spend the next sixteen months building support for that candidate is smart and essential.
The next president may appoint a number of Supreme Court justices who write decisions that will impact for decades, the current court – four liberals, four conservatives and Justice Kennedy, a swing vote.
The Republicans control the House of Representatives and are within reach of a 60-vote super majority in the Senate.
We once thought that public employee pensions were guaranteed by state constitutions, until the courts ruled that federal bankruptcy rules trump state constitutions. Republican House leader Paul Ryan supports converting Medicare to a voucher program, and, of course, ending the Affordable Care Act.
The Scott Walker playbook, sharply limiting negotiating rights of public employee unions, would be imbedded into federal legislation.
Education policy would continue to move towards vouchers – encouraging parents to choose public, private, parochial and charters schools with tax-dollar driven vouchers.
The list is endless, and with a Republican president and Republican super majorities in Congress what once appeared to be crackpot ideas would become the law of the land.
On November 8th, 2016 a president will be selected, the president will either be a Republican or a Democrat, and, neither Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders will be elected.
Sanders reminds me of a Senator from South Dakota. George McGovern.
Sanders and McGovern have a lot in common,
I really liked George McGovern, the three-term Senator from South Dakota, who challenged Hubert Humphrey and defeated him in the Democratic primaries in 1972. McGovern, a World War 2 veteran, a Phd history professor, a leader of the anti-Vietnam War movement, a long resume of sponsoring liberal legislation, was trounced in the general election – Nixon won 49 states. (Read a description of the 1972 primary battle here). The liberal wing of the Democratic Party – the New Democratic Coalition (NDC) was derisively referred to “NDC – November Doesn’t Count.”
Winning a presidential election means creating a broad coalition, the traditional core of your party, in the case of Democrats unions, women, the “issue” voters (gay rights, immigration, environment, seniors, etc.), Afro-American and new Latino voters and appealing to the expanding pool of independent voters.
Winning a presidential election means raising a billion dollars, that’s right, a billion dollars, as well as mobilizing an army of foot soldiers. Coalitions aren’t always comfortable, the very same hedge fund folks who support charter schools may be the very same folks willing to provide the millions necessary to run a campaign for a Democratic candidate – depending on the candidate. Yes, the world of politics is complex.
Donald Trump is eating up all the air as the Republican Party moans, rather than building support by debating the narrow differences among the Republican candidates the media is concentrating on Trump, who almost daily breaks the Ronald Reagan 11th commandment, “Thou Shall Not Trash Another Republican,” In a few months Trump will fall by the wayside, remember Herman Cain, “In May 2011, Cain announced his presidential candidacy. His proposed 9–9–9 tax plan, along with his debate performances, made him the Republican front-runner in fall of 2011, during which he briefly led President Obama in the polls; by December he had withdrawn,” never-proven allegations of sexual misconduct.
On the Democratic side the Republicans are overjoyed as the Sander’s campaign pushes Hillary to the left, and you will hear nary a Republican word criticizing Sanders, the Republicans want him in the campaign as long as possible and even dream of a repeat of 1972.
A 73-year old Jewish Socialist from Vermont by way of Brooklyn, no matter how nice a guy, is not going to get elected president. Just as McGovern chased away the mainstream of the Democratic Party, the traditional coalition, Sanders would face the same fate.
The attacks would accuse him of weakness, of being too old, not willing to defend America, destroying our economy, Socialist equals godless Communist, and, of course, whatever whispering campaign they create – politics is a nasty, blood sport. Hillary has faced the attacks ever since Bill was elected.
The mantra of most newspapers and most e-news sites is “If it bleed it leads.” A reporter for a leading print newspaper tells me her editor reminds her, sex and violence bring “hits,” and hits drive advertising revenue.
The days of my falling love with a candidate are long gone, I want a candidate who will win and I want to get on board the campaign early enough to play a role setting the policy direction of the campaign.
Hillary bears the scars of attack after attack, she has the ability to raise the mega-bucks necessary to fund a campaign, and, I believe, she can win.
There are no moral victories, staying on the sidelines is a vote for the “other guys,” and there are no “do-overs,” you get one-shot at electing the next president.
The AFT jumped in early, endorsed the Democratic candidate with the best change of winning and we should all jump on board and get involved.