Monday, July 25, 2016

Brexit and the United States Republican Convention fiasco


A demagogue /ˈdɛməɡɒɡ/ (from Greek dēmagōgos, dēmos ‘the people’ + agōgos ‘leading’) or rabble-rouser is a political leader in a democracy who gains power by appealing to the passions, prejudices, and ignorance of the common people, tending to undermine democratic procedures and the rule of law. 

With the Brexit vote, we see the ugliest aspect of populism and fear grip the country that has given the world and especially the United States, its dearest character of democracy, freedom and language.
The world is in turmoil--uneducated people beginning to understand that their futures lie in great jeopardy because they no longer can compete or succeed in a global market, driven by cheap labor, interconnected information, with hucksters who believe they can empower themselves to even more riches and position preying on the circumstances of the 21st Century unskilled.

Donald Trump is one of these malefactors, determined to undermine the fabric of our tolerant and democratic society through insult, demagoguery and fear, promising to bring back jobs that no longer exist and which are becoming increasingly scarce without the requisite training to succeed. Notable is his disingenuous pledge to bring back jobs to unemployed coal miners, of all things.  This is an unforgiveable exercise in bait and switch.    Coal is as dead as the 20th century, yet Trump exacerbates hopes and dreams of West Virginian coal miners, whose interests would best be served by retraining financed by the government for 21st century skills.

David Cameron, the British prime minister addressed parliament, saying that the will of the people should be respected and implemented.  He clearly miscalculated, ceding his wishes for advantage in the next election. Backfiring on his political ambitions, the vote has insured his demise and the end of his career in politics.   But wait, maybe not.  Maybe this entire fiasco, costing trillions of dollars in market value to American 401ks may not happen.  Maybe there will be a second vote, the people realizing that they have shot themselves in the foot.   This move does not insure the perpetuation of the British hegemonic entity.   Churchill, the greatest devotee of the empire is spinning in his grave.
The 307-year-old union may devolve into tiny England, the Scots and the Irish going their separate ways, considering that remaining in the EU being a more viable alternative than remaining in the UK.
The EU, however may not want them, saying that membership only would be offered to sovereign nations.

Whether the majority was in fear of immigrants, a loss of national sovereignty, meeting requirements of Brussels bureaucrats, or trade issues, the British are in a pickle, mostly of their own making, with the demagoguery of the politicians playing upon it.  Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, among others.  Thoughtless people who only had their own interests in mind.  Remind you of someone here at home?

Let that be a lesson to us every time we listen to Donald Trump, a danger to the Presidency and to American democracy.

The Donald, bolstered by cowardly or self-interested sycophants, think that Trump will make our country great again (not that it was ever not great) by returning to the 1950s.   But even in the 50s, the public was moving toward an internationalist view of American power.  President Eisenhower warned of the military-industrial complex, but we rested on the brink of a nuclear holocaust, were it not for the prudence of John F. Kennedy, a voice of reason and restraint.  And what ever was so great about the 50s, a Madmen world of cigarettes, cancer, subordination of women, segregation, racism, lynching, a cold war, fear of communism and nuclear winter, Strangelovian politicians, Communist witch hunts, anti-Semitism, blacklists, and, I remember, schoolchildren hiding under wooden desks during air raid drills to protect us from being vaporized by an H Bomb.  And don't forget, the nation had just emerged from World War II, and the Korean War.   The good old days?   Not so good.

Believe it or not, things have gotten much better.  Nations do not war against each other, only amorphous thugs and Islamic fundamentalists. North Korea?  Not  mighty Nazi Germany, but bears watching.   Methinks China will rein them in.

The dystopian picture painted by Trump is not the America, as most of our countrymen know it.  Unemployment is below 5%, the stock market has never been higher and the markets exhibit optimism about our future as a nation.  Productivity has never been higher.  There is a greater concentration of wealth at the very top, but that can be cured with a new tax policy and better training to grow the once bigger middle class which is the underpinning of our democracy.  Free college education?  Why not?
Europeans do it.  And spend less than we do.   And they spend less per capita on health care.  And they have more vacations and paid family leave.  Sure they pay higher taxes--but they get something in return, including modern infrastructure, better schools, better food for their children in school, free tuition and no crushing student debt.

Yes, there is lingering racism, conflict between African-Americans and an overly aggressive segment of police, but still, most realize that the police are there to protect us as citizens.  Increased training and empathy needs more work and many good intentioned chiefs of police are working on programs so that cops do not use hair triggers in situations when heightened fear for their own lives is unjustified.

I have never seen a political convention the likes of the RNC last week.   Our country was on the brink of defeat in all areas in which it is engaged, NATO, ISIS, health care, the economy, the absence of a strong leader at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and only Donald can come in, fire everyone and make it better in his first 100 days, including a huge wall on the Rio Grande.  What he does not say is that the wall will keep people from leaving, not coming in, since the net flow is the other way.  But Trump's speech sounded like Batman, the Dark Knight Rising, as one conservative commentator on CNN stated.  We are all doomed unless we elect Trump because as he said, "I am the only one who can fix everything on day one."    Even the wall will be built with Mexican dollars.   So Trump has a bridge to sell you, for sure.

But Donald has no specifics on how he is gong to complete his plans, nothing the voter can understand, anyway,   He is a classic demagogue, resembling Mussolini both in ideas and in facial expression and demeanor.  That upward curling of his lips and upraised head, that inability to change or to apologize.  Fascist is a strong word, so forgive me.

We do not need a strongman president.  We need a president who is able to work with both sides of the gridlocked aisle, run in the senate by the odious Mitch McConnell, and in the house, by trickle down advocate Paul Ryan, offering the same bromides as McConnell, in a more appealing manner.  The problem is that they are the same non-workable solutions as ever.

On the other hand, Hillary has her own problems.  A reputation for untrustworthiness, secrecy, and not releasing her speeches made to Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms, undoubtedly for big bucks, not to mention the email "scandal," blown out of proportion by Republican Hillary haters.   She should release them at the same time Donald releases his tax returns.

Many Republican stalwarts I know, detesting the Donald, and hating Hillary refuse to vote for either.
Some conservative columnists such as Bret Stevens of the Wall Street Journal, resentful of the hijacking of his party is probably voting for Hillary.

Republican former Presidents, both Bushes,  John McCain and Ohio Governor John Kasich have refused to show up at the Trump three ring circus, where his Stepford kids and ding bat wife, sat as though in a prisoner dock at a Stalinist show trial.   It was cringe worthy, if not downright ludicrous.