Monday, June 20, 2016

Don't Screw This Up

Two women made news in politics this weekend. Both women have in common a willingness to speak candidly what is on their mind. The difference is one has more on her mind than the other even as she had less to say.  

Sen. Elizabeth Warren met with Hillary Clinton's campaign staff Friday afternoon and delivered this message: "Don't screw this up." 

Warren has been an outspoken critic of Donald Trump and she has a base of support that matches Sen. Bernie Sanders. Warren, who has endorsed Clinton for President, is considered to be on a short list of prospective nominees to run as Vice President on the Clinton ticket. Warren's progressive views give her a strong inside track with pulling a big number of Sanders' supporters who are still recalcitrant about supporting Clinton and accepting Sanders not getting the Democratic Party nomination for President.  

Warren's "Don't screw this up" quote is described as "half-joking" but is also considered a serious call to arms. Right now, Clinton's poll numbers are trending higher than Trump's as the Republican presidential nominee keeps digging himself into a hole with ever more outlandish and offensive comments. But no one expected Trump to ever, ever make it this far and his hold on voters' imaginations should not be underestimated. Essentially, Warren's remark is a reminder not to assume anything is a given matter of fact. 

Meanwhile the right wing's favorite air head beauty queen Obama basher since 2008 was at it again. Sarah Palin posted on Facebook Friday afternoon that “Obama is a special kind of stupid”. Palin, who endorsed Donald Trump in January, said there is no “due respect” for the president, accusing him of “exploiting a sick, evil, ideological-driven attack on Americans to further your twisted anti-Second Amendment mission is disgusting. Today you're demanding an ‘explanation’ from law abiding gun owners, but not demanding the same from followers of Islam, the religion behind this terror? If the demented Orlando terrorist doesn't represent all Islamic followers, then why do you insinuate he represents all gun owners? And why, after any shooting, do you always want to take away firearms from the innocent people who didn't do it?”

Palin hits all the usual cliches of the easily offended extreme right wing with statements that are not supported by the facts of the President's actual words or actions or even the known details of the Orlando massacre that saw 49 people killed a week ago.  While this tragedy is still under investigation, it seems that the shooter Omar Mateen was a single individual driven more by his own homophobia and less by ISIS doctrine and who was able to arm himself to carry out his murderous acts of rage by procuring weapons despite having a background littered with red flags. 

As much as Sarah Palin and others of her ilk want to shove this particular horror into the "radical Islamic terrorist" box, the key points of the case so far suggest a different scenario. 

But it's comments like these that riles the right wing base. It is a base that despite the best efforts of Republican Party leaders has coalesced behind Donald Trump. And Trump is more than willing to echo these inflammatory comments and add to them. 

It's stuff like that which prompted Sen. Warren to caution the Clinton campaign, "Don't screw this up." Because whatever facts and reasonable assertions Hillary Clinton thinks she has on her side, her opponent on the other side has no need of such things. No, what matters to people like Trump and Palin is pushing emotional buttons and sadly this is not a phenomenon isolated to American politics.

Across the Atlantic Ocean, the United Kingdom is voting on whether or not remain in the European Union or get out. The arguments for staying in the EU are based on factual assessments of economic impact. The arguments for leaving the EU are founded on the premise that Great Britain is awesome and can be even more awesomer without the EU and the stream of immigrants coming in to the UK from the Middle East via Europe. 

As of right now, the polls predict those in favor of the UK remaining in the EU having only a slight edge over getting out of the EU. Up until recently, that edge belonged to those in favor of Britain exiting the European Union, an argument predicated on high levels of fear and nationalistic pride but little by way of factual support. 

Recently, the debate over staying in or leaving the EU took a nasty and deadly turn when Jo Cox, mother of two and recently elected member of Parliament who was favor of remaining in the EU, was murdered. The killer was a pro-exit person who identified himself as "Death to Traitors, Freedom for Britain". This is what the heated, emotionally charged rhetoric of those in favor of leaving the EU has wrought.   

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we're facing over here in America, a base of the electorate riled up with half truths and outright lies appealing not to our better, more rational natures but to our worst tendencies, driven by fear and ignorance. 

Hillary Clinton and her campaign for President are facing in Donald Trump someone who is very much a despicable, hateful person. But there are a lot of people who are listening to him, growing in anger and frustration, believing the line he has to sell. And he has surrogates like Sarah Palin who are more than willing to stoke those fires of rage on his behalf. 

Make no assumptions about what Donald Trump can or will do in his grasp for Presidential power. For those who do not want to see this great country of ours lead by Trump and the likes of his cohorts in fear and ignorance, lets revisit one more time the words of Sen. Elizabeth Warren. 

"Don't screw this up." 

Everyone, be good to one another. I'll be back with another post tomorrow.


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