Thursday, July 28, 2016

Debbie Wasserman Schultz under fire, rightly or wrongly

Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Debbie Wasserman Schultz,
former head of the Democratic
National Committee (DNC)
Apparently the hubbub about Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, now the former head of the Democratic National Committee, has passed. The news died down in short order once the first night of the Democratic Convention commenced.

Unity may never truly occur between the Sen. Bernie Sanders' supporters, which Wasserman Schultz is accused of slighting over support for the party's ultimate nominee, Hillary Clinton. Aside from the voters that flat out dislike Clinton, many of the Sanders' voters are young. They are feisty and want to dig in their heels. It appears that most of the Bernie or Bust folks are prepared to follow the lead of their mentor who suggested they switch their support to Hillary Clinton. The alternative, a Donald Trump administration is undesirable to most and a third party vote could dangerously result in a Trump victory.

None of the imperfections in the political system happened overnight. None of them will be solved overnight either.

What really ails the Democratic Party is years of apathy and inattention to politics. This lack of interest is partly responsible for the chaos that guides political parties today. The idea that new voters have awakened is a good thing, but political experience and/or knowledge of history is helpful when guiding decision making. It is helpful to fully understanding how things have been done and how they need to be done. There is never a need to reinvent the wheel.

Many of the young people excited by the notion of a political revolution, led by Sanders, are also members of the instant gratification generation. That kind of comfort just doesn’t bode well in the political arena where long, measured actions and reactions are the norm. Politics is about getting all the ducks in a row; it is about dealing with people, a difficult task because the Democratic Party consists of so many people from different backgrounds and cultures, with differing ideas, and independent thoughts. A political party deals not with just the candidates, but everyone else associated with elections, from the staff, volunteers, and voters. It takes finesse to get everyone on the same page.

There is little to indicate that Democratic Party Chairman Debbie
Wasserman Schultz did anything to require more than an apology to Bernie Sanders and his supporters. Granted, her actions were an embarrassment, but that is only because Sanders was so once-in-a-lifetime successful. Had he been just another candidate, nothing would have come of this.

Wasserman Schultz was already ruffling feathers when just before the convention her emails were released by Wikileaks. They provided embarrassing evidence.

Who expects a personal email to fall into the wrong hands? Who expects their words to be read beyond the intended recipient? Anyone would be embarrassed. Who is to say how, and more importantly why, and by whom this information was leaked. That is another story for another time.

The DNC is being accused of slighting Sanders’ campaign. That may be, but they why is also important.

Consider the fact that Sanders has been an Independent candidate and only chose to run as a Democrat for this Presidential election. That proves a stark contrast with Clinton, who has been a staunch Democrat for most of her political career, spanning decades.

When she lost the Primary to Barack Obama in 2008, it was evident that she would seek the Presidency again. It was almost inevitable that she would run and win this time. Following the first black President, Hillary Clinton could become the first female President. It would be historic. The Democratic Party wanted that to happen, long before convention planning had commenced.

By contrast, Sanders campaign began when he announced his intentions. It was almost out of the blue. Few took him seriously at first.

It seemed early on that the primary would be just going through the motions. By the time Bernie and Martin O’Malley entered the race, Wasserman Schultz and the DNC were already geared up for a Clinton Presidency. In hindsight, a Clinton win was premature, but by then, the ducks were already lined up. There is probably not a single person, including Bernie himself that could have predicted the dynamics of this primary battle. Everyone was surprised at the country’s apparent distaste for politics as usual.

So, if Wasserman Schultz and the DNC are guilty of anything, it is bad timing, premature judgement, and the inability to stop a runaway train. They were ill-equipped to predict the success of the Sanders campaign. Once it was finally realized that Sanders was a real threat to Clinton's candidacy, the train was already barreling down the track and it was too late to flip the switch.

Politics is not a spontaneous sport. An election is a huge undertaking that requires cooperation, understanding, and generally being on top of every little detail. And there are lots and lots of details. It also requires people skills since there are so many individuals involved in races, staff, and volunteers all across the country.

As the DNC Chairman, Wasserman Schultz was charged with doing what was best for the Democratic Party, not just the presidential race, but the entire party, which includes a whole host of governors, state officials, as well as U.S. Congressional candidates. How could she have known early on that Bernie Sanders was going to “knock it out of the park” in terms of fundraising, support, and visual turn-out for rallies? Such a phenomenon is unprecedented!

Much of Sanders’ support came from young and enthusiastic first-time voters. Others are from the far left, progressive fringe of the Democratic party. Then there are the natural Hillary haters that have bought into the quarter-century of lies and innuendos told by Republicans in hope that something will stick.

Together, all those voices made up a pretty strong force.

Admittedly, Wasserman Schultz and the DNC should not have been biased against Sanders in favoring Clinton. But then when Trump became the GOP nominee, it became urgent to boost the candidacy of whomever Democratic Party presumed to be their best candidate. They had been burned before.

The DNC experienced a heated primary in 2000 when Ralph Nader took votes that could have boosted Al Gore's candidacy. Instead George W. Bush invariably won the tight race through the back-door with help from brother Jeb and his political cronies in Florida coupled with a GOP-laden Supreme Court. The justices took control of the election and handed it to Bush. In the back of their minds—the DNC—burnt badly in 2000, would guard against that ever happening again.

So on the eve of the convention of what might be the most important Presidential Election after all she has put into it, Debbie Wasserman Schultz has announced her resignation

Hillary Clinton has offered Wasserman Schultz an honorary position in her campaign, as chair of Clinton's 50-state strategy. This is not, as some are charging, a Quid-Pro-Quo. Instead it is an opportunity for Clinton to utilize the best and brightest talent for a job that needs doing. Wasserman Schultz has experience in politics and her help will likely be invaluable.

Like many, I’m personally disappointed in how this entire Bernie Sanders campaign issue has been handled. But it is time to learn from mistakes, get stronger, and move forward. I would like to see Sanders continue his efforts to coalesce like-minded folks, who one day can continue a real political revolution. That will take very hard work and long hours however, since nothing in politics or for that matter, anything of substance, happens overnight. I’m enthused to see this political movement grow. I’m excited to see Hillary Clinton prove to her adversaries that they have been wrong about her. I believe she can be a great President. And, I’m excited to finally see a woman occupy the White House.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Politics as I see it

This has been the most exasperating election season I can ever remember.
Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton,
Democratic Nominee
for President 2016

That wasn’t the way it started out for me. Early on I was excited to see such a great field of Democrats vying for President.

Republican politics has just never appealed to me. 
It would take a pretty great person for me to vote for a Republican. It has happened in the past, but not very often. I just do not share the same philosophy with the party of ‘bigger is always better.’  This year’s candidates almost seemed like jokesters to me. I could hardly relate to any one of them. One seemed worse then the other, and there were a whole host of them. To me, the worst of the bunch were Carly Fiorina and Ted Cruz. Not only did none of them impress me, but they aggravated and annoyed me.

I admit I was partial to Hillary Clinton at the start. In simple terms, I was excited about the prospect of the first female President, but I also felt that Hillary has worked hard for the opportunity to serve as President. I felt she was deserving and completely prepared for the job. These are tough times, so I am not sure there is ample time to break-in a new President. It really would be advantageous to have a candidate hit the ground running, so to speak.

Despite support for Hillary, I related completely to the words of Bernie Sanders. He echoes my own feelings about what is wrong with government. I know I’m not alone there. I have plenty of friends and family members that have also been taken with the notion of a Sanders presidency. Lots of people out there “feel the Bern.”

I was also pretty impressed with Martin O’Malley, who I felt could have easily succeeded Barack Obama. I’d like to see him advance his political career. He seems to share the kind of common sense that is necessary to deal with today’s problems. And, he is a good speaker, something the American people need in a leader.

A very important primary election
I admit that due to some personal problems that have kept me very busy, the inability to connect with the clerk’s office to obtain an absentee ballot, and being in a quandary about who to support, I admit, for the first time, publicly, that I did not vote in this state’s primary election.

The primary is over now and Hillary Clinton is the Democratic presumptive nominee, though who knows how secure that position will be, with every effort on the Republican side and even some on her own team, trying to destroy her. As I write this, I see increasing animosity toward Clinton by the Republicans, but also by the folks that support Sanders. Have they just finally been swayed by the relentless attacks by the GOP?

It is time to think hard about the future
With the national convention where a nominee will be officially named, this primary season is now at a crossroads. It is impossible for anyone to make a prediction, based on the news, lack of news, lies and innuendo, too many political pundits—both professional and amateur—as well way too many opinions on social media, television, and elsewhere. The information available is as varied as it can possibly be.

Bernie Sanders has finally endorsed Clinton for President, but that may not be enough since his supporters are so vehemently opposed to a Hillary Clinton Presidency. They still hold out hope that she will fail and he can be whisked in at the last minute to become the nominee.

But there is another spoiler entering the fray—Jill Stein—the Green Party Candidate for President. I have nothing against her, and in fact like what she espouses, but feel she is nothing more than a stick for which to stir the political soup pot. A vote for Jill Stein is a vote for Donald Trump. This is still a country with two parties. Any third party candidate is a spoiler. Stein will take votes from Clinton, not from Trump. The result could be disastrous, if enough people vote for her. That is what the GOP is hoping for. Siphon enough votes away from Clinton, so they can get Trump to win the contest.

Haven’t we learned this lesson in the past? 
There is a dangerous game being played in Democratic politics and it may serve to blow up in everyone’s face. If Hillary Clinton is not elected, there is only one alternative—Donald Trump as President. No thinking person wants that to happen.

No candidate is perfect 
While I do not agree with Hillary Clinton 100% of the time, she still will have my vote. I refuse to pick her apart by policies—policies that are continuing to evolve—when there is a big picture to look at. We must look at the total package, and not be dazzled by the pretty ribbon tying it together on the outside.

Some people don’t seem to understand that. Often times, folks are just one-issue voters. Some voters are completely inexperienced about how the political system works. Many of these are students and young people that have never seen how long it takes to fight for a cause. Others are complete idealists, refusing to see beyond their own beliefs. There is no compromise for them. They see the world through black and white with no gray area. If there are enough of these kinds of voters, we will certainly face a Donald Trump administration in our future. In my view, that would be a disaster of epic proportion, not just for our country, but for other countries of the world.
While I understand the Bernie Sanders movement, and the enthusiasm he brought to the table, there is no reason to believe the movement is done. It certainly can continue from a seat in the United States Senate. Government and politics are slow-moving. A political revolution, which was promised, is not something that happens overnight. These things take time, nurturing, and planning before they are carried out.

My problem with Bernie Sanders has always been that he has never been tested. We’ve seen plenty of Bernie amid like-minded people, but what would happen to him in a general election with the likes of a Donald Trump, where insults and manufactured information was recklessly revealed on every television station multiple times per day. Anyone can buy an ad. It doesn’t matter if it is truthful. Most times, it completely isn’t. There is no truth in advertising, especially in political advertising. We do know that Hillary can handle it. She has withstood it for decades.

Bernie has painted himself into a corner, by claiming to be a socialist without enough explanation. So many dismissed him as a crackpot, because of their own ignorance and not by anything he did. He did little to educate them.

Let’s give the woman a chance
So much has been said about Hillary and her shifting positions. I’m a woman, so I understand that nothing is ever set in stone. As new information comes to light, even our long held positions can be tweaked, tempered, or even shifted. Everything is a work in progress. Nothing is so perfect that it doesn’t need to be re-thought and re-thought again. We live in an ever-changing world. Things change. I caution against judging Hillary Clinton by the good ole boys of the past. We’ve never had a woman in the White House and it could make all the difference.

I don’t believe all the ugly things I’ve heard about Hillary Clinton, because frankly, there is never any proof—just a bunch of hot air—by people with an axe to grind. People generally don’t like strong, independent women. I do. I want to see Hillary succeed. I want to see what she can do. I think that like Barack Obama surprised some of his adversaries, Hillary Clinton will too.