Saturday, April 16, 2016

On the Dark Arts of Political Pandering

You know, I don't have a problem when people change their minds about things. When they realize that they were wrong and maybe there's a better way. In fact, I think that's a sign of a nimble mind, one which is open and can let in new bits of information, can ponder, can contemplate, can see things from a totally new perspective. It's because of that kind of thinking that they can come to better places. I think that's good. I don't think that makes someone inconsistent, necessarily. I don't think that means they are unsubstantial. It's a testament to the ability to evolve. And who doesn't love that? Do we want to remain in the dark ages?
What I do find troublesome is when it seems that their change in thinking is disingenuous. When they switched their line of thinking to only be in line with what seems more expedient to their own ends. When it panders. When it is full of pretty words to sway another's opinion. When it is to gain an increase in their esteem, but it's acquired through a veil of lies. Lies, because that new thinking does not represent their true convictions. When it is just so much bullshit.
We're seeing a lot of that in this campaign, aren't we? On many sides.
I think this is how Hillary operates.
I am not a complete naif. I know politics is a rough and tumble sport. Things get said in ways to convince, and that may sometimes mean candidates push the edges. That might mean they heavily shade the truth, but hopefully it's still there, to gain traction in an argument. They carefully (or don't: TRUMP!!) choose their words to the greatest effect. There's a theatricality about it all, and must be to catch the eyes of an increasingly distracted electorate.
However, in this time of great metaphorical starvation, when people's lives are difficult and we're all facing such dire problems, there needs to be a lot of bread with those circuses. It can't just be so much gussied up pretty looks with nothing true under the surface. How can there be any trust there, if that's the case? How can we measure the possible behavior of the future, if there's no there there right now? It's transient. It's wispy. It's a circus side show with carnival barkers calling out full of bluster. It's not real.
Which brings us back to Hillary. She is pandering hard. Bernie is gaining momentum and people are hearing his words, which are pretty, I will give him that, but they're backed up by years of consistency. He is not saying anything new now, nothing that he hasn't said all along, but now people are listening, and listening in ever greater numbers. He is speaking to real needs in people's lives in real ways. He is substantial. Hillary is jumping on.
Her beginning to parrot Bernie's language and highlighting his lifelong issues, is nothing short of cynical political posturing. She's posing, all gussied up to catch our eyes.
I don't think it's working well, and I think people are seeing through it. Thank God for the internet and the long memory of the digital repository. It's all there for the taking. It's all there for us to see.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Is Trump the New Hitler?

So, is he?

Does Donald Trump really represent the same kind of threat for certain groups of people that Hitler did in his rise during the 1920s?

No. No, he doesn't.

Hitler actually spoke of wiping out the Jews in Mein Kampf. He blamed them for Germany's defeat in WWI, and felt that they must be removed from German society. He actually wrote that the "sacrifice of millions at the front" would have been prevented if "twelve or fifteen thousand of these Hebrew corrupters of the people had been held under poison gas."  He wrote those words. He outlined his intention. He telegraphed to the world the horrors that could come.

Donald Trump is no Hitler, but it may be a matter of degree, rather than actually saying what you intend. That is the concern.

Would Trump be willing to corral Muslims, badge them, register them? Yes, and he has said as much. The most supremely unAmerican thinking demonstrated there in Trump's language. Is it similar to Hitler's? Yes, absolutely, in the "othering" of a group of people that are already woven into the fabric of our culture and daily life. They are not the other, they are us. As American as you or I.

It's easy, especially in this particular election cycle, to become alarmist as the hairs stand on the back of all of our necks hearing these outrageous words, these horrific ideas. However, I feel it's important to be discerning and thoughtful and realize where there are differences and where there are similarities.

Hitler was voted in. Trump could also be voted in. Hitler's policies were encoded by the the Reichstag, rubber stamping all that he decided. The bigotry was made law and then chipped away, bit by bit, at the civil rights of German citizens who happened to be Jewish. Or, gay. Or, Romani. Or, handicapped. Or married to any of the previously mentioned. For Trump to become in any way equivalent, the whole of our Congress would have to follow suit and proceed to erode our rights here, through law.

Yes, I know. Agreed, it's not like they're not trying. Mississippi just passed some of the most limiting anti gay legislation and it is making its way to the governor's desk to be signed into law. It would allow discrimination based on religiously held beliefs. So, try getting an apartment if you're a gay couple, or renting a car, or even eating in a restaurant. If it offends the religious owner of the establishment that you and your honey are of the same sex, you might not get served.

So, clearly there are all sorts of evil shenanigans afoot in our states at the local levels. But is Congress trying to do any of that nonsense? I would say not quite yet.

So, as I shudder daily at the things spewing out of Trump's mouth, I recognize that his is mostly of the bullshitting variety. Which is its own evil. There's no truth there, is there? There's no actual conviction, I don't think. He's pandering, getting the hate vote that I had no idea was as large as it is here. Really, I am constantly amazed when there is such bald hatred and ignorance and disdain for the tolerance that living in a pluralist society demands. We have always been a melting pot, or at least a salad bowl, and we have always had "others" amongst us, working, living, dreaming as we all do.

Trump is not Hitler. But, he is most definitely a threat. People should push back in all the ways that they can think of. When you see such disregard for the truly American notion of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, for whole groups of people, you need to speak up. We all do. Everyone is supposed to get a shot at those things. That's what this country is about. Period. It doesn't matter that you don't like someone's lifestyle. It is their own and they have a protected right to it.

Trump is no Hitler. Yet.

Let's keep our eyes and ears open, and hope it never comes to that. Further, let's make sure it doesn't.

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