We are living in a political landscape that is currently dissolving, and as it does every day presents new questions, fundamental and human in their nature, some completely new. As they do, we need to separate, observe, and classify them. Dissolution in chemistry means the breaking down of complex compounds into their basic particles. Scientists use this technique as a way to collect feedback and data based on the contents of the issue, and that’s exactly what we have got to do. All of us, not just this or that candidate’s supporters. We have to sort out what kind of a position we are dealing with before we can chart a good strategy, and that is going to take us all.
Sometimes you run up against a situation that is very complicated, in this world of ours. There are many grey areas, many ambiguities, many matters that require clarification. By the time you get done explaining them all, you’ve practically written a book.
But there are also times when you run into something that is simple enough to explain with a single word, or perhaps two- like these words.
That could be the end of the article. It genuinely could. I strongly considered publishing then and there, so that no one misses our meaning, but at least a few words of explanation might be helpful. So let’s try this one again.
NEVER BERNIE. Not ever. No matter what, it’s too obvious a setup to plug into. Did you see how Trump’s eyes twinkled the other day? I like Bernie, he said, smiling as big and genuinely as I’ve ever seen. He looked like a man who sees a foregone conclusion looming above him. He looked like Richard Nixon, facing George McGovern.
Later Wednesday, Trump made his own fund-raising pitch. He sent around a text message to all of his supporters, telling them about the $6 million that “Socialist Bernie” had raised.
“Now I’m calling on you to CRUSH that number,” the message said. For the average political strategist, this may all be rather confusing, but to a pro wrestling fan like Donald Trump, it’s simple as can be. A simple game of Heel vs. Hero.
In professional wrestling, a heel is a wrestler who portrays a villain or a “bad guy” and acts as an antagonist to the heroes- the protagonists, or “good guy” characters. They get in each other’s faces, scream and point and gesticulate wildly, and make a big production out of being each other’s enemies. The adoring audience loves the show, even as their hearts tell them the truth.
It’s all fake.
Hero, heel, and audience. On television, those people look like they’re having fun. It is our opinion that Trump and Bernie supporters are loving this. It’s all about the attention they’re getting. This is all a big game, to them.
You know who it’s not a game to?
Him, and real Democrats.
While this whole zoo spins a tale that grows more ridiculous by the very hour, the professionals in the locker room of the center are stubbornly holding on to the idea of eventually restoring sanity to our country and stopping the wrestling match short of a full-on civil war, which like a World Championship, you can’t lose by way of disqualification.
You’ve got to get pinned.
My personal trouble with Bernie, from the very start, has been the sheer unrealisticness surrounding him. His supporters were a shrieking mob; they rioted in the streets when they lost. No way was the zombie apocalypse the Bernie Or Bust crew paid out in Philadelphia that night in July 2016 what the majority of America looks like. His socialist policies were a disaster; Medicare for All alone, as he conceived it, would have had the country $32 trillion dollars. Margaret Thatcher asked this question long ago about socialism- How do you pay for it?
He himself wore that blue clown suit around, like a shambling disaster, and was nearly eighty years old besides. Jesus God.
These were the things I noticed when it all first began. I had no feelings about the guy other than that in the beginning, he was just some random name, like Martin O’ Malley, the other also-ran from that year’s terrible primary. I had serious concerns about his ability to win in a general election, and I didn’t think he had a prayer against Hillary Clinton. But I had no reason to form a particular about him one way or the other until I saw how ugly his supporters were going to get in attacking our candidate, and how little he would do to put that in check.
What I have found out since then has been enough to disgust me one hundred percent. On every level. His record on women, his total fear of even mentioning racial issues, the absolute infestation of Russians in his campaign- his campaign manager, Tad Devine, was the first witness called at Paul Manafort’s trial- and the Macedonians in his digital activist groups, his refusal to vote to sanction Russia on numerous occasions, and so many others. So many others.
Conservatives were overjoyed when Bernie entered the race. He gave them just what they’ve been wanting all this time- a just cause to say Democrats are socialists and cast all this as our brand. It was just like how overjoyed they were at this Green New Deal, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to allow a vote on!
He told Jeff Flake last year that he wouldn’t allow a vote on legislation being passed to protect Robert Mueller’s investigation last year on the grounds that it was a waste of time, even though it probably would have actually passed, because it wouldn’t pass the House. He knew for a fact there’s not going to be a Green New Deal getting out of a Republican Senate- and yet, the same guy who was so concerned about minutes on the clock last year allows a vote on it!
Why? Because he wants to see who might actually be dumb enough to sign on.
Whoever does has no political future, especially if Bernie does get his chance to pull a Walter Mondale. He might win Vermont. His movement resembles a bowel. People will never forget the beating he takes.
We at Millennial Democrats would like to say to all of you: Fear not, you guys. The worst that can happen to us politically short of Dachau USA already has. It happened when HRC was robbed. The worst thing now would only be for the neoprogs to get their chance to play McGovern. They’ll get whipped, Russiagate will either spare us part of Donald’s second term or it won’t, and we will go on doing the most good we can for the most people we can until the day when better times finally come.
Besides which, that will never happen anyway. Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, even Elizabeth Warren. Someone will beat him in the primary, even though we don’t know who yet. Our chance will come along, the right leader will arise, and we will have a candidate able to beat Donald Trump. The Blue Wave 2018 was only the prelude for 2020, especially in the Congress.
The most important thing in a good philosophy is the strength it gives you to hold fast to your principles regardless of the temporal situation. It’s like how clouds can’t cover stars for long. I believe we will find a way. We just have to remain determined and United. When it all goes to the dogs for them, they’ll be able to come to us, and we’ll take them back in without a single word of recrimination, save these two alone.
The process by which we look through the past records of our candidates is called vetting, and when it comes to Bernie Sanders the mainstream media has not been doing it. Please give us a hand! Write in to the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, and anyone else you can think of, and tell them you want to see Bernie Sanders vetted. They will know what you mean. Just earlier today it came out that he has picked Nina Turner to run his campaign. She went with Stein after him and urged her supporters to do either that or vote for Trump outright. Picking Turner is as clear a sign as you could ever want or ask for that he’s going to run the same old ugly race as he always has. NEVER BERNIE. No matter what.
From the day of its inception, the War on Cannabis has been a disaster for America. It has played a fundamental role in the architecture for the larger War on Drugs. Considered as a whole, this war can fairly be described as a generationally evolving series of wasteful and ineffective policies. In attempting to regulate the legislative needs and desires of mankind, the United States government has caused great harm to be done, in terms both of the law and of medical recourse to help for pain. It is a classic case of the old cliché, a treatment worse than its “disease”. Crimes have been committed in the name of fighting crime. Resources have been massively wasted. The futures of millions have been ruined in the eyes of the law. The question of why remains sobering in its implications. Anti-cannabis legislation was ostensibly created to safeguard the public and keep cannabis from menacing its health, but its effects have done more damage than the act their purpose was to prevent.
The question of whether the herb’s use constitutes a peril to public safety is a real concern. It is only logical for people to pay attention to alerts regarding something that might affect their health. As alerts on the matter have been so often raised, it is only natural for people to have health concerns about drugs, including cannabis. In a Health, Risk, and Safety article titled Cannabis, risk, and normalization: Evidence from a Canadian study of socially integrated, adult cannabis users, we are told that evidence pointing to the harmfulness of cannabis use has never been more abundant (213). Public concern is still highly prevalent, and many experts remain unconvinced that cannabis should be considered safe.
Whether that is true is not the issue here, however. We note only that widespread panic about cannabis was not scientifically based. The issue was never raised by the medical community of the United States. The Medical Science Monitor informs us that cannabis was routinely prescribed by American physicians. It enjoyed legal status in the United States until 1937. This is when U.S. legislature passed the first federal law against cannabis – the Marihuana Tax Act. Empirical approaches to solving the problem of cannabis addiction kept proving it was not a problem. The American Medical Association did not support the new law, and their advice was belittled and ignored. Science was not on the side of the anti-cannabis crusaders. Other rationales were needed and were manufactured where they could not be found.
The approach of the new Threat or Menace campaign was exemplified in Reefer Madness, the famous anti-cannabis public alert movie released in 1936. Self-described cannabis journalist Matthew Green paints a wild yet perfectly accurate picture of its contents in his article “Reefer Madness! The Twisted History of America’s Marijuana Laws.”. The movie exhibits an insane “reefer addict” portrayed in maniacal relief, smoking his way to murder as he enjoys the frenetic tunes of a piano-playing hostage. This law was based on artificially manufactured moral panic, as opposed to sound law or science. It was eventually discarded as being unconstitutional (Leary v. United States, 1969), but not before it set the foundation for the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which was far more comprehensive than the old law, although it continued to rely on selective or pseudoscience and public disinformation.
The tone of the new policy was set from the start by the prejudices of Anslinger, which was to prove disastrous for the cannabis community. Laura Smith, the managing editor at Timeline, paints an unforgiving picture of Anslinger in her piece “How A Racist Hatemonger Masterminded America’s War on Drugs”. He is shown there to be a xenophobic, culturally intolerant, and deeply racist man, one who used his power arbitrarily and in the worst ways. His power over his bureau, and over the anti-cannabis campaign, was completely unilateral. Historian John C. McWilliams stated in his book aboutAnslinger, The Protectors,“ Anslinger was the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (2).” His ideas about the existing social order laid the foundation for the policies he would set. He had a simple goal, but one that was far-reaching in its implications; a one-man crusade to protect American values as he saw them. His worldview held that change was coming too fast, and the anti-cannabis crusade provided him with a high-powered excuse to slow it down. The next step was to use this bitter project to hamstring progressive causes and people by making crimes out of acts that were not criminal. In this way, Anslinger laid the groundwork in place for an endemic legal injustice.
Racism was inherent in the new legislature. The approach was displayed by the confusion caused by a new word for cannabis, “Marihuana” (The more common spelling now is Marijuana) The Tax Act was named after this incorrect term, used as an associative trick based on racism and phonetics. It worked because the word sounded Mexican. Mexicans were unpopular and mistrusted, so tying public perceptions of the plant to Mexican immigrants was an easy way to scare white America. The FBN also targeted jazz musicians and lied about them without remorse. They created images of insane, weed-stinking black men on an unending quest for mayhem and white women; these also did nothing to set Caucasian minds at ease. Racial fear has always been a historically effective way to goad America’s ethnic majority off the path of common sense and decency. The War on Cannabis stands out as a noteworthy example of this tendency.
Shortly before the MTA was passed, a new governmental organization, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, was created to deal with the growing problem of drug addiction in America (Deitsch). Its first commissioner Harry J. Anslinger discarded science and medicine with glee. “Doctors,” he said, “cannot treat addicts, even if they want to.” He chose instead to call for “tough judges not afraid to take killer-pushers and throw away the key.” FBN techniques developed to disseminate the new way proved effective, allowing Anslinger’s perspective to set the tone for subsequent anti-cannabis legislation. Anslinger was a skillful administrator, and he had resources. His ideas caught on and manifested physically in the dehumanizing propaganda used by the FBN to scare anti-cannabis legislature past Congress. The aftershocks of FBN anti-cannabis disinformation are ubiquitous even today, living proof of the program’s success. Celebrating openly a pro-cannabis lifestyle is still enough to get you targeted. It’s easy to get busted, it’s hard to get a job. The way society perceives the users of cannabis today still comes largely from stereotypes based on exaggerated caricatures created during this era. These unfair and cartoonish notions have evolved and generalized over the years, becoming institutionalized as more people became invested in them. They have been used to degrade and delegitimize progressive causes and their advocates.
The propaganda employed by the FBN had been successful, so much so that it started a genuine public panic, and people were demanding that something be done. This gave Anslinger both the lawful right, and the means to pound his enemies into the ground. He was not long in finding his first sacrificial lamb. The first victim of the new policy was selected in 1937, just after the new law took effect. A draconian sentence of four years in prison for an ounce of weed was handed down to Samuel L. Caldwell of Boulder, Colorado. A precedent of insane harshness was set that endured in American courtrooms to this very day. It added greatly to the foundation of the original architecture of the greater War on Drugs, as conceived of and created by President Richard Nixon’s administration.
The Nixon era vigorously continued the judicial legacy of brutality applied to the cannabis community. Like Harry Anslinger had forty years prior, the administration targeted cannabis because its occupants knew liberals could be legally hamstrung as a consequence for using it. The concept was strategic, and its straightforward goal was the same as in the past-to keep conservatives in power at any cost. Neither fair play nor the health of democracy was considered, freedom was injured, and the resultant degradation of our system worked to the detriment of all Americans, whether they smoke pot or not. Chief Nixon White House adviser John Ehrlichman came to some of the same conclusions later in life. He spoke out frankly on the subject to Dan Baum of Harper’s Magazine years after the impeachment of Nixon. He laid out flatly their motives for taking aim at cannabis.
“Look, back in ’68, we had two enemies, you get me? The antiwar left, and the blacks. We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be against the war, and we couldn’t make it illegal to be black. But by heavily penalizing the use of marijuana and heroin, we were able to disrupt
those communities. We were able to bust up their meetings, raid their offices, vilify them night after night on the evening news… Did we know we were lying about the drugs themselves? Of course we did.”.
Nixon’s work was built upon famously by the next Republican administration, that of Ronald Reagan. First Lady Nancy Reagan’s iconic “Just Say No” commercial typified the new approach, which was just like the old approach, but newly equipped with a spiffy slogan. In pursuing the anti-cannabis campaign, the Reagan administration was zealous in their willingness to apply suppression through the courts to the cannabis community. A TIME Magazine article from 1988 gives us a look at how it was. “The Reagan Administration calls its new drug policy ‘zero tolerance,’ meaning that planes, vehicles, and vessels may be confiscated for carrying even the tiniest amount of a controlled substance.” It goes on to tell the story of a captain whose boat was seized for a tenth of an ounce of cannabis. Things were so bad during that time for users of the herb that the case can hardly be overstated. Ardor for the arts of slander and libel grew in the government to an extent that left little room for conspiracy theories. Every possible medium was employed to spread Just Say No. Commercials, posters, the sides of buses. School programs like DARE, which stood for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, ensured that no young mind in America could miss the point. The net effects of all the anti-drug campaigning proved to be the same as in the past-untouched and rising rates of use, and black and poor people receiving disproportionately long sentences for small amounts of weed.
Subsequent presidents such as Bill Clinton were left with little choice but to compete with Reagan’s paternalistic style of law and order, and so the status quo remained intact. It was not until the election of Barack Obama that the prerequisite conditions for the monumental decision of 2012 legalizing recreational cannabis in the first two American states, Oregon and Washington, were met at long last. There is no doubt that it was a monumental decision. It represented the reversal of a hundred years worth of American legal policy and a tremendous amount of human struggling. The change, by that point, had been nearly a century in coming. Cannabis laws have been hamstringing the left for that entire time and they still are. Improvements have come, but they are highly incomplete. The threat of things reverting to their former miserable state overshadows all the progress that has been made in this area. Realization of the harm caused in the cannabis prohibition era has been highlighted in the nation’s modern consciousness. More and more people are coming to see how important it is to prevent the reassertion of the destructive and unfair status quo.
The history of the War on Cannabis is representative of a great many other social ills inside American life. The racist, reactionary, right-wing attitudes that created the original campaign are still alive and well in modern American jurisprudence. In the name of punishment and the spirit of human sacrifice, medical science has been stymied and suppressed, people have been ruined and jailed, and our prison system has been afflicted to the point where it has poisoned our political system. It is, simply stated, a historical and ongoing eyesore. Change has come but is far from secure, and a great deal of harm remains unaddressed.
ACLU ProCon.org, 2009. Leary v. United States https://aclu.procon.org/view.background-resource.php?resourceID=003427 Bonnie, Richard J., Whitebread, Charles H., 1974. “The Marijuana Conviction: A History of Marijuana Prohibition in the United States.” https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=185042 Dagen, Chelsea, 2017. The Distortion of Drugs: War, Discrimination, and Profit. https://vc.bridgew.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi Deitsch, Robert, 2003. “Hemp: American History Revisited- The Plant With A Divided History.” Vdocuments.mx, vdocuments.mx/documents/hemp-american-history-revisited-the-plant-with-a-divided-history.html. Dickinson, Tim, 2016. “Why America Can't Quit The Drug War.” https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/why-america-cant-quit-the- drug-war- 47203/ Downs, David, 2016. “The Science behind the DEA's Long War on Marijuana.” www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-science-behind-the-dea-s-long-war-on- marijuana/. Duff, Cameron, Erickson, Patricia G., 2014. “Cannabis, risk, and normalization: Evidence from a Canadian study of socially integrated, adult cannabis users.” Glick, Daniel, 2016. “80 Years Ago This Week, Marijuana Prohibition Began With These Arrests.” https://www.leafly.com/news/politics/drug-war-prisoners-1-2-true-story-moses- sam-two- denver Green, Matthew, 2008. “Reefer Madness! The Twisted History of America’s Marijuana Laws.” https://www.kqed.org/lowdown/24153/reefer-madness-the-twisted-history-of- americas-weed- laws- King, Ryan, Mauer, Mark, 2006. "The war on marijuana: The transformation of the war on drugs in the 1990s." Komp, Ellen, 2011. “Mark Twain's Hasheesh Experience in San Francisco.” https://www.sfgate.com/opinion/article/Mark-Twain-s-hasheesh-experience-in-S- F- 2328992.php Jennifer Robeson, 2002. “Who Smoked Pot? You May Be Surprised.” https://news.gallup.com/poll/6394/who-smoked-pot-may-surprised.aspx Smith, Laura, 2018. “How A Racist Hatemonger Masterminded America’s War on Drugs.”
The 2018 midterm elections were among the most anticipated races in history, and they did not fail to deliver dramatic results. Throughout the election cycle, word of a Democratic Blue Wave gained momentum, and a watershed voter turnout was the satisfying result. It was the highest for any election held in the United States since Watergate, which seemed suitable for such a high stakes contest. In many cases, the primary considerations of the voters seemed to counterbalance one another. These were the strong economy and the personal repugnance of Trump himself. The president has managed to snatch credit for the strength of the economy, but his low approval ratings pointed to Democratic gains (Washington Post). History has favored the minority party at the time of the president’s first midterm. This tendency, combined with American disgust for Trump himself as a man, to give Democrats control of the half of the Congress known as the House of Representatives by a wide margin.
The achievement of the Democrats can hardly be overstated. Reporter Dan Balz of the Washington Post gave us a few statistics with which to illustrate this point. Democrats flipped about two-thirds of the competitive districts won by both Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Barack Obama in 2012 or by Clinton in 2016 and Mitt Romney in 2012. They also picked up one-third of districts won by Trump in 2016 and Obama in 2012. In districts where both Trump and Romney had won in the previous two elections, Democrats gained about a quarter of the competitive seats (Washington Post). Democrats even managed to break even in net seats in the Senate, though they had faced crushing electoral odds in that chamber. Twenty-five Democratic senators were up for reelection as opposed to only eight Republicans, and many were in states that went solidly red in 2016. Managing to hold the line places Democrats in a fantastic position to retake the Senate in 2020, when the shoe will be on the other foot. While immediate domestic concerns are likely to be given precedence, the effects of the Blue Wave in 2018 are sure to reverberate worldwide.
This tremendous level of electoral enthusiasm was all the more remarkable in that midterm elections in general are not captivating to most voters. In a normal year, only the most ideologically driven and committed members of the electorate tend to turn out for them, and certainly overseas interest is not typically overwhelming. But in recent years, a radical polarization has gripped the global society’s political atmosphere. The specter of World War Two has risen and people are getting scared. A great acrimony and division has spread through America and the rest of the world. Some are calling it a civil cold war, and its battlefields can be found on many fronts. Trenches are being dug under national borders, in some cases, and along gerrymandered district lines in others. People in all corners of the globe had good reason to pay attention, as the struggles highlighted the dramatic and worldwide trouble the human race is having in getting along with itself.
The quality of the candidates selected by the two parties speaks in volumes to the quality of those who did the selecting. Democrats elected eight new scientists. Republicans elected three felons and a dead pimp (Post-Tribune). Something has got to give here. Somebody is going to hold power in America, the world’s sole superpower. We have to look closely at whom. The moderate wing of the Republican Party used to have some allies in it. There were men like John McCain, who in spite of their party affiliation was sound and unselfish Americans. Some of them could be counted on for bipartisan dialogue concerning issues of paramount importance. McCain is now gone, however, and with him the moderate wing of the Republican Party. This type of candidate took serious damage in the midterm primaries. They were discarded in favor of candidates more in line with the views of Donald Trump. Many of these came from the ranks of the alt-right, though the elections also played an important role in illustrating a trend of worsening extremity taking root in the far left. Only center Democrats have reliably proven they can put themselves to the side enough to do what is best for the country.
The 2018 election was in many ways a referendum on the 2016 election, and the events immediately surrounding it. The victory of Donald Trump combined with Brexit constituted significant blows to the American-led, liberal world order, and empowered the radical right. It also empowered Russian president Vladimir Putin, who had spent millions of dollars to defeat Hillary Clinton and get a guy in office he found more pliable. “Putin likes Trump because he supports this view of the world, that the big guys can carve it up,” explained former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov in an interview for Gentlemen’s Quarterly. After Trump won, Kasparov, who is Putin’s former opponent in a Russian presidential election, wrote some predictions down in his new book on the future of the Western world order, Winter is Coming. He believed we had eighteen months in which to turn around the sequence of events that had been started, two years at the most. If we didn’t find a way by then, he felt, it would probably be too late. I thought of those words many times on the way to the voting booths this year. They perfectly summarized the reason it was so important for the Democrats to win the midterms in 2018. Only the full force of American conviction can activate its might enough to keep the world safe for democracy.
Today’s world, like today’s Republican Party, is busy coping with an uptick in reactionary far-right movements, movements that in many cases and nations border on fascism. Alt-right candidates were present in greater number than ever before in the 2018 midterms, and this too is part of a worldwide trend. From Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil to Norbert Hofer in Austria, adherents of racist nationalism have been growing increasingly violent and brazen. A man screams “Hail Trump!” in a movie theater; another during a performance of the Fiddler on the Roof. “Middle America is rallying to the flag of the alt-right,” said Kyle Bristow, a self-described member of the “alt-right” and the attorney of infamous white nationalist Richard Spencer. These candidates mostly lost, but their sheer proliferation is a terrible sign. It goes without saying that all of them were Republicans. The race was representative of the political atmosphere worldwide in that it was ideologically polarized. It saw its fair share of triumphs for liberals and progressives, but it also saw a rise of far-right, white nationalist candidates. Some of these were victorious. The low quality of the Republican candidates has negative consequences for every level of government.
A Democratic retaking of the House of Representatives was a critical first step in containing and reversing this virulent problem. It is why the Resistance showed up in such numbers at the polls. For two years, liberals and progressives have been helpless to do anything but sit idle, as one travesty after another has rocked the global community. We have not had the power to protect our people, or even to get many others to listen or to understand our plight. But with the power to form committees of Congressional inquiry, we can finally start to put the bad guys under a microscope. The power of the House is, in this case, the power of defense.
The elections were not completely without problems for the Democrats. It showed us that ideological faultline is still existent not only in the Republican Party but in the Democratic as well. The rift between the supporters of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton has healed to an extent, and there have been improvements made in this area. Our shared victory in the midterms demonstrated that the progressive wing of the party is beginning to learn from the tremendous mistakes they made in 2016, where undercurrents of far left hard feelings allowed the Russians an easy way to turn the 2016 Democratic primaries into a zoo. The radical left’s extreme love for the Bern reached the levels of a cult by the end of the primary. From the day the Bernie or Bust petition began circulating, it was obvious we were in for trouble. If they couldn’t have Bernie, they said, they would rather have Trump. This attitude was allowed to get highly pervasive, and it killed us in the end.
This time around, Democrats did a far better job of managing conflicts between the two wings of the party. They simmered at a low boil all the way through the midterm primaries but managed to keep from becoming a fight instead of a contest and ruining the Blue Wave. This is a positive sign, suggesting the far left might have learned from 2016, which is good. Most mainstream Democrats have been pushed to the left as far as we will go, and are starting to get ready to push back. Centrist groups like Third Way have been pushing candidates to read up on history and polling. “The party is not going to go in the direction of Sanders-style socialism, because it’s not winning on the issues and it doesn’t win politically except in a very, very limited number of places,” Third Way president Jonathan Cowan tells TIME. “It’s going to go in the direction that won it two presidencies” (Elliott). The last two two-term Democratic Presidents were mainstream Democrats. [That’s] what’s going to get the House back.” It’s important to emphasize here that mainstream Democrats do not seek reorientation of the party. We’ve been doing an excellent job under the worst possible conditions.
Progressive Democrats from the Sanders wing were not without a few reasons to cheer in November’s elections. The upset primary victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over twenty year veteran Joe Crowley for New York’s 14th District stood out on a number of levels. Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest Representative ever elected, and her zealot’s love for socialism has given the Sanders wing a new face and voice to cheer for. My thoughts are that this is not the worst thing in the world, because we need them, and it appears that some healing has taken place. Clinton supporters and Sanders supporters used to very nearly hate each other, and that no longer feels as acutely so. It appears that the left has achieved a degree of unity for now, but it remains to be seen whether this newly placid status quo can survive another presidential primary.
The immediate battles to be faced come January in the House of Representatives are only one part of a much larger problem. Democracy is under attack worldwide. It is being replaced one plank at a time like the proverbial Ship of Theseus. At what point in all this replacing does it become a different ship? Only one thing is certain, at least in the gut level instinct of this writer. Since Trump got elected, this country does not feel the same at all. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, America has been rated as being less than a full democracy for the last two years. The EIU produces an annual review ranking countries on their adherence to 60 distinct democratic values, including electoral processes and press freedom (“America Has Been Classified as a Flawed Democracy”). According to their standards, we’re not a free country anymore. America is now more like Viktor Orban’s Hungary, or Vladimir Putin’s Russia. The rich want to get into power and stay there, and quote the ideals of freedom as the reason they ought to be able to use any means to do so. The only way we can hope to turn this all around is to get the Democrats back into power and keep them there.
The biggest net effect of the midterms is the Democratic retaking of the House because it gives the sane center of the country back the power of defense. Democrats can now protect our country from anymore disastrous Trump ideas. This also sets back Putin’s plan of attaching more of his tendrils and creepers to the grand old castle walls that hold up our country. Proactive measures are more limited. Democrats can form investigative committees, and hold hearings for the purposes of questioning and gathering information. Resources are certain to focus on raising awareness about the Russiagate scandal and other serious challenges facing our democracy. The conduct of Trump and his allies can be highlighted and brought to the forefront of public consciousness everywhere. It should be understood that even with a legislative chamber in blue hands, Republicans still hold the White House and the Senate, and the cooperation of all three is needed to pass a law. Nothing in recent history suggests hope for bipartisan cooperation on any issue, regardless of the issue’s importance. People will see once again how obstructionist and unfair the opposition is, and afterward, it will be easier to help people understand the truth- everything we hold sacred is in danger. If things keep on as they are, the days of American supremacy will be numbered.
A close look at the playing field this election has left us with will prove useful as we step into the future. Blue Wave 2018 hit home for the midterms, and it gave us a great start. But the world remains beneath the dark shadow of a large-scale hatefulness and mayhem. The potential for danger and disorder is so great that it seems almost redundant to say so. As someone who has lived through all this, and read not just eight articles about it but hundreds, I feel that this narrative is being neglected and understated. This is due to responsible journalists not wanting to sound alarmist, in some cases, and it’s comforting to tell ourselves we’re in less trouble than we are. But the country’s divisions have been highlighted and exacerbated by hostile foreign powers such as Russia, who also targeted the 2018 midterms. This has added urgency to the issue and made them even more difficult to ignore. Going forward, it will be incumbent on the Democratic leadership, under the new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, to use their regained power dexterously. To show the people of the country that there is a reasonable alternative to the bedlam created by the current administration, resources must be channeled wisely and well. Good thing we’ve got a professional headed for the Speaker’s Chair. We’re really going to need her.
In studying the political history of America, the scholar will note along with Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., who wrote in his Age of Roosevelt that foreign radicalism has never taken deep root here. From the visceral horror felt by the Founding Fathers toward the bloodbath going on in France to the resolute pursuance of seeing an end to the Nazis, America has always managed to resist being taken in by extremism from left or right. The source of our strength as a nation’s people has always lain in our ability to value compromise and moderation, which are necessary if we wish in times of crisis to be able to pull together with the full force of American conviction behind us, like when we fought World War Two. When these values are abandoned, democratic nations start to fall. If we lose our ability to communicate, we clearly can’t coordinate strategy. Only the full force of America’s people can activate its might enough to keep the world safe for democracy. Our ability to hold the center is why we have become and remained so strong.
After looking at all this, a simple question remains. Has America ever faced a midterm election like 2018? In considering its potential impact of it on the country and its global standing, many would argue that the answer lies in the negative. The Trump administration has been a disaster of colossal proportion. Every day that America is represented in its highest office by a man who many would argue is both corrupt and deeply incompetent is a day in which we are vulnerable in the eyes of the world. Resisting his demented policies has taken everything we have, but we managed it even though we held so little power. After two years of that, holding the House of Representatives feels like a tremendous luxury of strength. We can assure the Trump presidency will be a lame duck from this point on. We can’t start setting things to rights just yet, but we can stop the current Oval Office occupant when he tries to do further damage. We can block his cruel new policies, and removing his ability to hamstring our future with corrupt appointees like the Supreme Court’s Brett Kavanaugh. This is why it was so crucial for the Democratic “Blue Wave” to sweep America.
Agerholm, Harriet, 2018. “America falls short of being a full democracy for second year running, report finds.”
/www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/america-democracy-rated-donald- trump-not-fully-democratic-us- president-report-the-economist- a8195121.html
Balz, Dan, and Scherer, Michael, 2018. Washington Post, Washington Post. “For Democrats, A Midterm Election That Keeps On Giving.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/for-democrats-a-midterm-election-that-keeps-on- giving/2018/11/09/b4075ef2-e456-11e8-ab2c-b31dcd53ca6b_story.html? utm_term=.754bc43973ad
Beauchamp, Zack, 2018. “The midterm elections revealed that America is in a cold civil war.”
https://www.vox.com/midterm-elections/2018/11/7/18068486/midterm-election- 2018-results-race-surburb Campbell, Alaistair, 2018. “Garry Kasparov on Putin, Trump, and their deal to carve up Europe.” https://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/article/garry-kasparov-alastair-campbell-interview
Elliott, Philip. Time, Time, 2018. “The Middle Road.”
Frier, Nancy, 2018. Time, Time, 2018. Facebook Discovers an Ongoing Effort to Influence the 2018 Midterm Elections.
Grand Magazine, 2018. “Urgent: The United States Has Been Classed As A Flawed Democracy.”
The Blue Wave hit the nation hard last week, and it was beautiful. The number of seats we recaptured continues to grow and numbers in the hundreds, and that means we have made it. America is going to be all right so long as we are careful to properly utilize the resources of the House of Representatives.
In order to do that, we need our strongest master sitting behind the chessboard as the Speaker of the House. That master is Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, current Minority Speaker of the House, who with Chuck Schumer has led Democratic resistance to Donald Trump since the day he won the election.
Pelosi is one of the toughest, smartest Americans to have ever drawn breath, and we need her. No way are we going to let radicals shout her off the board, and in talking for a minute about why it is so critical that she get her old job back as Speaker, the chess analogy continues to be useful.
The concept of the Fortress, in chess, refers to a situation in which the two sides competing are not materially equal, and one is much stronger than the other. However, even so, the weaker side can hold, having just enough material to keep from being checkmated. In this way, a drawn position can be achieved.
The Fortress is the position that Democrats have been playing for, and all that we have suffered and endured through since two Novembers ago has been for the sake of achieving it.
The point is that the Republicans are still stronger in terms of the power they hold. They have the higher house of the legislature, they have the White House, they have a Supreme Court majority.
But it doesn’t matter.
So long as Democrats hold the House, the Trump administration can do nothing. We can obstruct them every time they try and do something awful, like murdering tens of millions of people by depriving them of their basic right to health care. Republicans used to do this to Obama as a routine. They were routinely and accurately described as obstructionists.
Any law that gets passed in America must necessarily pass through both houses of the Congress. That is what a bicameral legislature means. The purpose of having one has been illustrated so vividly these past two years that it’s almost redundant to say so, but there it is.
They can’t get a law through without the House, which we control. We’ve got the power to save our country because of it.
Having said all this, it ought to be abundantly clear how important it is to use this power wisely.
The question of who ought to be the Speaker of the House is therefore not a question at all. And no one is asking it, save a few extremist agitators among the far left who are never satisfied with anything. The answer is Nancy Pelosi, just as it has been for the last two decades.
The praises of Pelosi are easy to sing. In the first two years of Obama’s presidency, she brought to the table the $840 billion stimulus package, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), the Dodd-Frank banking reform bill, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and the Waxman-Markey climate bill. All four of them passed, and we didn’t have a full Congressional majority for nearly half of that time.
Mistreatment of Pelosi by the far left, in particular, is despicable. To Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez– Biting the hand that feeds is the behavior of a spoiled child, whether or not that child happens to be a Representative. This person has been one of our most dedicated and historical leaders. Please stop and think about what you are doing. You really are getting in your own way with this kind of thing.
Pelosi is one of the most skillful political tacticians in America. She got her degree in political science back in 1961. She and Chuck Schumer even had good luck for a while, talking sense into Trump on the DACA deal, until Sean Hannity was allowed to overrule them.
Whosoever wants to throw away that kind of skill and professionalism at the exact time when the country needs it most is, to put it mildly, lacking a thorough knowledge of the subject.
She has a talent for organizing a caucus that is without equal. “You build your consensus in your caucus, and when you’re ready, you set the date to bring it to the floor,” she has explained, drawing a contrast between Democrats and Republicans. “This isn’t something where we ever go in and say: here’s the bill, now we need you to vote for it the day after tomorrow. That isn’t the Democratic Party. Some people criticize us for being such a Democratic Party, but that’s who we are.”
Building up that consensus is the part of the handiwork that the public doesn’t see. Only a few can manage it, and none without decades of experience. So one last time, we’re going to the chessboard for a hint of understanding, in talking about the need for cohesion of force.
Your army cannot communicate if a strong king is not present; and, in this case, that king happens to be a queen. Get behind her! It is what the country needs. That is the only thing that matters. As Alexander the Great said on his deathbed in referring to the inheritance of his empire, “To the strongest”!
We are Democrats. We stick up for our friends, and we stick up for those who have helped us! Attacking your own side is good for no one but your opponents.
We need Nancy Pelosi. We are very proud of her. And we will never give her up.