As mentioned last week, due to the death of my father, I have been out of town and unable to write a new blog posting. I promise I will "get back at it" next Sunday. I promise. Until then, have a great week and be well.
Due to the death of my father, there will be no blog posting today or perhaps even next Sunday. I will keep you all posted if there is a change.
As we approach our primary here in Florida, many are seriously considering who they will support for their respective party's nomination for President. I say many, because many more (like myself) are registered Independents and are therefore, ineligible to vote. Florida is a Closed Primary state, wherein only registered members of the Democratic or Republican Parties may participate.
Despite this reality, we all are beginning to formulate positions as it relates to possible candidates for this Fall's General Election. Throughout this past couple of weeks, I have had quite a few former students contact me to discuss the candidates. In replying, I give my summary run-down on the current candidates' positions on matters ranging from domestic to foreign affairs. I also remind many of those asking that voters like me, have no reason to conclude on whom to support because those like me, must wait to even find out who wins their respective Party's nomination. To think otherwise is a huge waste of time (unless speculation is seen as some sort of sport).
But, what if members of your social circle begin to question your political beliefs? What if they begin to pressure others to openly declare whom they support for political office? What if those surrounding you push so hard to learn your thoughts on the election that you actually begin to feel threatened if you do not agree with them? Kind of like the hyenas surrounding another animal. A "Pack Mentality" seems to take over and the individual facing them becomes the victim of pressure - as if you are surrounded by bullies. And this is exactly why the United States went to the secret "Australian Ballot" during the Progressive Era - to halt the corrosive and corrupted system that allowed others to wield undue pressure onto those voting - to influence others not with persuasion, but through collective humiliation and mental stress. Nothing speaks more "American" than understanding that each citizen has a right to freely vote without coercion from others. Except this is not what happened yesterday to my wife. Yesterday, "Ugly Americans" literally surrounded her with their views and attempted to force her to explain how she is voting. Not only that, but they also demanded to know why she would be supporting a candidate and how I would be voting - verbalizing an assumption that as her husband, I have already determined how I was voting (even though I cannot vote in the Florida primary).
And this is how we have advanced in our political discourse - by going backwards in time so that others can use peer pressure to humiliate or coerce another's political positions? And these folks think their positions are so absolutely correct that they eliminate any chance for opposition. But where would our great nation be without compromise? The Framers of the Constitution believed in pitting "factions" against each other in an effort to reach a compromise to benefit all. It's called pluralism because it recognizes that there are multiple views, life experiences, biases and attitudes. The FRAMERS believed in this concept. Unfortunately, those pressuring others DO NOT. And in not doing so, they are hardly acting "American." Anyone who pressures another in an effort to unduly influence their votes is not a Patriot. They are nothing different than a member of an authoritative regime that demands compliance with their "Company Line." Anyone that engages in such actions, bullying others - owes their victims an apology. Political discourse is healthy, political harassment is not.
As Founder and Framer Alexander Hamilton once wrote; "There are seasons in every country when noise and impudence pass current for worth; and in popular commotions especially, the clamors of interested and factious men are often mistaken for patriotism." Can we please quiet the noise so democracy can thrive? Can we please quiet the clamorous, impudent and factious bullies? Have a great week!
Is it any surprise that this week's GOP debate devolved into what most parents would call a "hissy fit" between elementary school age children? The personal attacks and counter attacks on full display for the Nation have clearly illustrated the current sad state of affairs of our campaigns for the presidency. This week alone, the GOP Establishment rolled out former nominee, Mitt Romney in an attempt to convince "established" Republicans not to vote for "The Donald." On the surface this would look to be a potentially effective strategy, except for the fact, as pointed out by Trump himself - Romney solicited Trump's support in the form of a public endorsement and financial boost. So what gives when someone previously holds you up as a valuable supporter in one campaign and then trashes you in another?
Also during the week, it was revealed that over 100,000 Bernie Sanders supporters signed on-line petitions to have former President Bill Clinton arrested for campaigning too closely to polling stations in Vermont. Huh? You read that right. (See http://www.thefederalistpapers.org/us/sanders-supporters-team-up-to-demand-bill-clinton-be-arrested). While the Republicans childishly throw mud at each other, Sanders supporters want the Clintons to "feel the bern" without regard to its potential use by those supporting Republican candidates. So what gives? Have so many on both sides of the political aisle lost touch with reality that they only care to hurt candidate's in such a way that no one can be looked upon as having a legitimate presidency? We know the Republicans are in "self-destruct" mode by angry Republican voters, but Democrats slamming other Democrats? Perhaps neither of these groups are actually members of their respective parties and are instead, members of a "movement" within each party, gearing themselves to be taken seriously. Except, to be considered seriously, they have to be serious. And tossing childish accusations and making ridiculous demands hardly gives reasonable adults any reason to consider them for anything other than their own childish wants. Does it make any real difference in the respective candidates' drive to the nomination? I guess we shall see soon enough as we near March 15th's 'Winner Take All Primaries'.
As of this date, Donald Trump leads with 382 GOP delegates to Ted Cruz's 300 delegates (see https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=latest%20primaries%20and%20caususes&eob=m.09c7w0/R/3/full/m.09c7w0/). This rise of Cruz as a head-on opponent of Trump does not make the GOP Establishment feel any better, as Cruz is just as much a disruptive force in the GOP (see his repeated attempts to shut down legislation and the government itself). As most recognize though, winning Florida and Michigan (with 99 and 59 delegates) will be crucial in determining who will win the GOP nomination. Yet, is it possible the obvious attempts to derail Mr. Trump may in fact backfire amongst the Republican base, frustrated with their own political "Establishment?" I guess we shall see soon enough.
On the Democrat's side, despite gains by Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton continues to rack-up delegates and perhaps may "seal the deal" for the Party's nomination with victories in Florida and Michigan (see https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=latest%20primaries%20and%20caususes&eob=m.09c7w0/R/3/full/m.09c7w0/). But isn't Hillary "disqualified" from being President as the Republicans have been claiming now for over a year? Ironically, Fox News yesterday published a review of all the emails released - yes those 22,000 emails that were to prove, through an FBI investigation that Clinton is a "traitor" and should be imprisoned. What did the Fox folks determine from their own extensive review of those emails? (See http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/03/05/things-learned-from-50000-plus-pages-clinton-emails.html). Describing their review in their own language, Fox states "The correspondence between Clinton and her advisers, friends and political acquaintances offers no shocking revelations..." Moreover, Fox declares from their independent review that there is no evidence of wrongdoing by Clinton. So why the fuss over the past three years coming from Fox? Because they knew all along the only way to damage Clinton was to repeat talking points and narratives designed to damage Clinton in her run for the White House - and it has worked. So many Americans are convinced she is a "liar and cannot be trusted" that they can never vote for her. Except there is no evidence to prove any of these sentiments. When it comes to modern Media, the truth though never seems to matter. I have heard from many of my Conservative friends: "Killary should be in jail!". Worse yet, "She is privileged and will never be indicted by the FBI because the system is rigged!". Despite the fact a Grand Jury indicts (not the FBI) and the fact that there is no evidence to support any of the damaging claims, folks seem to enjoy jumping to their own conclusions (lawyers all). Unfortunately, IF Clinton secures the presidency, many of these same folks will hamstring any of her efforts to serve - all based upon unsubstantiated claims of her political opponents. No wonder the atmosphere today when it comes to presidential politics is so polluted.
Which gets me to my last point - and I make it often. Americans have become convinced by the Media that all of our problems are either created by the President or can be resolved by the President. In reality, ALL of our problems have actually been caused by our Congress and cannot be resolved without Congress - yet no one seems willing to send our representatives packing. No one seems willing to step in and call out the actual reality we all face. Our Congress is dysfunctional and clearly not representing the people of this great nation. Instead, they routinely seek financial support while promising favors in return via Super PACS and their related lobbyists. Until Congress changes campaign finance and lobbying rules, we can expect nothing to change, even though someone new will be occupying the White House.
As President Theodore Roosevelt once wrote; "Big jobs usually go to the men who prove their ability to outgrow small ones." So let's stop the small minded nonsense from our political candidates and begin instead on focusing on what truly matters to Americans - handling the "big problems" we actually face instead of the small petty ones created by the Media and our political parties. Have a great week!
Daniel R. Rubin is an Attorney, Educator, Lecturer and National Award Winning Author. He is a retired adjunct professor of American History who also taught Advanced Placement United States Government and American Politics in Venice, Florida.