#FeelTheBern & #NeverTrump have a shared interest: they both demand the American people be given something better than a choice between two unfit candidates for the most important job… in the world.
Like millions of Americans, I watched the Tony Awards on Sunday night. And also like millions of them, I was watching because of Hamilton. (I do usually try to catch the Tonys, but made it a point to watch AND record this year. Hamilton is the reason).
I had seen the opening number they performed at the Grammy’s earlier this year, and had felt such soaring joy and delight at the ingenuity, the talent, the pride on display. If emotion can be contagious through a screen, then Hamilton is the utmost example of that transitive property.
The cast performed a different number for the Tony’s. It’s a triumphant bit, beginning with George Washington giving some advice to Hamilton, before the battle of Yorktown, wherein the Revolutionaries defeat the British, once and for all.
To call it uplifting is an understatement. Again, if there is a way to capture the elation of that moment – the boundless joy of Americans upon ending the Revolutionary War and embarking on this new republican experiment – then Hamilton has done so.
You would be hard-pressed to watch without a soaring patriotism kind of rocketing through your whole being. My heart really was pounding.
This is my country. A group of brilliant thinkers and risk-takers choosing to put their lives in jeopardy, all hoping at just the chance of democratic government. A chance for people to be free. This is how it began.
What could be more inspiring?
During the 2012 election, the negative scoop on Mitt Romney consisted of:
- A disputed instance of bullying in high school
- The revelation that the Romneys had strapped their dog’s crate to the roof of their car on a road trip.
- The accusation that Romney’s business ventures had sometimes been “predatory.”
- The infamous “47%” quote, in which Romney suggested a large minority of Americans were benefitting from government checks, and would never vote Republican.
The opposition research on then incumbent Barack Obama included:
- Studying under a radical during college.
- A still weak economic recovery.
- The death of Ambassador Chris Stevens, and three other Americans, at the Benghazi, Libya consulate.
Just keep that in mind. Keep it in mind.
Over the past four years, you may have gotten lost in all the Benghazi coverage, as both Democrats and Republicans sank to politicizing the killing of four Americans, including our ambassador, in a terrorist attack on the Libyan consulate.
I know I did.
There was this committee, and that investigation, and this hearing, and that finding. Did the terrorists act spontaneously? Was it planned?
Did then Secretary of State Clinton give a stand down order to military personnel who wanted to help? Did she answer the proverbial 3:00 AM phone call?
Endless questions, interviews, accusations, defenses.
It’s a blur, to be honest, and the obfuscation and posturing has been lately rendered irrelevant by the freak show circus of Donald Trump’s campaign.
But I thought then that Republicans were missing the point, trying to locate a “smoking gun” stand down order. And I thought Democrats were displaying a terrible lack of integrity, by hunching down into the usual partisan loyalty pose.
Because what was known as solid fact remains so today: hundreds of requests from the Libyan Embassy for extra security were denied by the State Department.
I’m not sure how your job works, but during my teaching days, we were required to respond to any parental contact within twenty-four hours. If Johnny’s mom emailed me to ask about his missing homework grade, then I had to reply.
I had to.
If I didn’t, then the sequence of events would have unfolded in one of three ways: 1) Johnny’s mom would give up and/or forget about her ignored request, 2) Johnny’s mom would email me again to ensure I’d received the first message, or 3) Johnny’s mom would contact my immediate superior, either the Department Head or the Vice Principal.
There’s your process analogy. It is possible that in this system, the department head and/or the vice principal would also be incompetent or actively negligent, and so Johnny’s mom would find herself with not one, but two or even three adversaries to overcome in getting help with Johnny’s homework.
In which case, a call to the Principal or even Superintendent may be forthcoming.
You see, then, why it was in everyone’s best interest to just follow the rules and get back to parents in a timely fashion.
But our government, apparently, is less capable or less inclined to do its job.
Because hundreds of requests for heightened security in Benghazi went unheeded, or were denied, by the State Department under Secretary Clinton.
Who is to blame? Ultimately, Clinton. That’s what taking a mighty role like Secretary of State (or the Presidency) entails. You’re responsible for the people in your department, overseas and at home. If they are incompetent, that’s on you.
Rather more important, though, is the ethical analogy. Because as Johnny’s teacher, I took my job first and foremost to be about ensuring that he learned all he needed to know, and that he enjoyed my class as much as possible. My job was to teach him; I took that seriously.
To ignore a parental request for help would be to ignore the most fundamental, meaningful part of my profession.
And so I wouldn’t. I would not ignore involved parents who were seeking to join with me in helping a student succeed.
Which leads me to the separate ethical case against Secretary Clinton, because one of her most important tasks as Secretary of State was to ensure her personnel were protected and provided with everything they needed to effectively represent the United States as ambassadors overseas.
She did not do that. If budgetary concerns were really that pressing, as Secretary Clinton has claimed, then she could have simply closed that post down. Immediately brought those Americans home, or re-stationed them elsewhere.
And consider these fun facts, on where State Dept. spending was going:
Most Sanders fans don’t bring up Benghazi, I recognize that. It has become synonymous with typical Republican overreach, and the #FeelTheBern crowd is much more concerned with Secretary Clinton’s paid speeches to Goldman Sachs and her long history of “evolving” on a host of issues. General mendacity is also listed as a key problem.
We haven’t yet even mentioned the email scandal, or the multifold conflicts of interests inherent at the Clinton Foundation. The presumptive Democratic nominee is under FBI investigation for the former, and explanatory peril in the latter, as any attempt to justify taking millions in donations from foreign regimes with despicable records of human rights violations will be one inimitable pretzel of logic-defying word sludge. Especially as said dollars came rolling in while she was…Secretary of State.
But the failure of her department to prevent Benghazi, if we can momentarily set aside the woefully incompetent response to the tragedy, is a startling example of the human cost of Clinton’s ineptitude and arrogance.
We can’t have it at the presidential level. We just can’t.
I begin with Secretary Clinton because, as any regular reader knows, I reserve most of my political space to enumerating the multifold and ongoing reasons of Donald Trump’s unfitness for the presidency.
He makes my job too easy.
Just yesterday, at a rally, Trump said this:
“Everntually, it’s not going to survive, just so you understand,” Trump says of the United States.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) June 15, 2016
Read: Trump would very much like to begin his dictator orgy with Russian President, Vladimir Putin. Democracy, you know… it’s so 18th century.
Donald Trump is being sued for fraud. He’s refused to pay many hired small companies, putting several of them out of business. This includes lawyers he put on staff to defend him in original cases, later stiffing same said legal teams.
Trump is a proudly out-of-the-closet racist, and a well-documented misogynist to boot. I no longer allow people to tell me this is not true. If a judge cannot be fair to you because he’s “Mexican,” even when he isn’t actually “Mexican,” but only born to parents who immigrated from Mexico, then that is textbook racism.
If you refer to a black man at your rally as “my African-American,” that is laying claim of possession to another person. With the rather well-known history of evil concerning white and black relations in this country, to say such a thing is either gross ignorance or calculated dog whistle.
To endlessly refer reporters and viewers first and foremost to the physical traits of women is misogyny. To claim a debate host is being unfair because she’s on her period is misogyny. To believe, never mind say out loud, that all the women who work with you flirt with you, and want you sexually, is a particularly nauseating blend of narcissism and misogyny.
Donald Trump has repeatedly insisted he will indeed force military men and women to break the law and defy their consciences by committing war crimes.
The list of his unfitness for the presidency is actually too long for any one article to contain, but I’d refer you to an excellent “time capsule” of daily Trump incidents being curated by James Fallows at The Atlantic.
I’d also reference you to an awesome tweetstorm sent out today by Republican strategist Rick Wilson. My personal favorite:
8/ This weekend, people were lined up hundreds deep to give blood to the victims of Orlando. Your Cheeto Jesus was praising himself.
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) June 16, 2016
I think a lot of Americans are left wondering: what will I do?
Because both presumptive nominees are failing, miserably, two crucial tests of presidential fitness.
- Neither is remotely trustworthy. If they have a position on an issue today, odds are they’ve said something different in the past.
And even if they haven’t, there is an aura of dissembling that hovers as a constant about each one’s pronouncements. Clinton has “tried to tell the truth,” whatever the hell that means. Trump flatly claims things that are false with such regularity that CNN has taken to “fact-checking” him in their subheadings… in real time.
2. They’re both involved in criminal proceedings. Trump is on trial now, sure. But he’s been on trial before, and settled out of court to avoid conviction. To the tune of a million bucks. Paid to illegal immigrants. Because he did not pay them their originally agreed-upon compensation.
And Clinton is under current FBI investigation. For putting national security at risk by building and hosting her own server, so she could use her own private email address, so that she could make sure and delete over 30,000 emails before turning over her correspondence back to the government.
News flash: those emails already belonged to the US government, or they would have, had she not broken protocol and built her own system, for the sheer purpose of avoiding… what, exactly? What is she hiding?
Now think about this, from a zoomed-out, aerial view.
For the first time in history, Americans will be forced to choose an untrustworthy law-bender as their president.
We have got to say no.
So here’s one idea: the #FeelTheBern folks and the #NeverTrump folks get together for joint protests outside the Democratic and Republican conventions. Combined forces would form a powerful crowd, an unstoppable visual, that despite serious policy difference, the majority of people from the left and the right agree on one thing:
We do not want to elect a corrupt and dishonest president. And as of now, you’ve given us no choice but to do just that.
Additionally, the #FeelTheBern and #NeverTrump activists could organize a march on Washington, or their state capitols, or something similar to show the powers that be: we will not stand for this.
Call your senators and your representative. Send them an email. Tell them they must:
Give us different nominees. Give us a real choice.
We will not choose between law-abusers. We will not be forced to elect a criminal.
#BernTheTrump…? #FeelTheNeverHillary…? I don’t know. Hashtags are not my forte.
But Americans, I’m calling on you now, to stand up and say no.
To end on a positive note: you will not be alone.
- Representative Tulsi Gabbard, former vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, stepped down earlier this year in order to endorse Bernie Sanders. She said she wanted more debates, to no avail. She said we need a Commander-In-Chief with foresight and good judgment.
She took a huge political risk to speak honestly. Take heart. Be inspired.
- Senator Ben Sasse, who is arguably the first Republican founder of the #NeverTrump movement, and whose refusal to endorse or support Donald Trump has also cost him with the Nebraska Republican party.
Take heart. Be inspired.