If you will
What if Jimmy Carter had been reelected in 1980; Walter Mondale had been elected in 1984 and reelected in 1988; and, Al Gore elected in 2000 and reelected in 2004?
We would be at least twenty years ahead of where we are now in re Climate Change. Central America would not be as bad off as it is. We would not have invaded Iraq the first time. Nine-eleven probably would not have happened. We would not have invaded Afghanistan. We would not have invaded Iraq the second time. The Great Recession of 2008 would not have happened. Our world stature would be better than it is; China’s less. Wealth disparity would be less than it is. Race relations would be better. Our national debt would be less. We would not have five or more regressives on the Supreme Court. Donald J. Trump would have been left to lusting after porn stars. Instead of going backward, we would have made great progress; be many years ahead of where we are in so many ways. If Jimmy Carter had been reelected in 1980; neither Shelby, Citizens United, nor Rucho would be law of the land. The whole world would be better off.
How is it that our much vaunted democracy could have so often been wrong? Aren’t democracies, like markets, — like gods, — supposed to be omniscient?
More likely, democracies can only work if everyone plays fair. Democracy didn’t work in NYC and KC back in the days when the bosses ran everything. Didn’t work in the Jim Crow South. When Nixon went south for the white vote; the big lie, the personal attacks, the character assassinations, the denigration of one’s opponent, the cheating, …, all the baggage of white southern politics came right along with those votes. For Nixon, winning was everything. You do what you have to do to win. And, besides, the other-side cheats; you know damned well they do.
In 1980, but for the character assassination, the denigration, the big lies, . . . the deals made with the Ayatollah’s people, — for the cheating, Jimmy Carter would have been reelected.
In 2000, the Bush-Cheney campaign employed all these tactics in spades. Even so, they lost the popular vote.
In 2016, there was nothing the Trump-Pence campaign wouldn’t do, didn’t do; their campaign took anything goes to a whole new level whilst screaming that the opposition was cheating.
Even when it appeared that democracy worked when one party cheated; it didn’t. It requires a lot of majority, a lot of hard work, and some good bit of luck to offset cheating. For democracy to work every time, most of the time, the game must be played fairly. Cheating, lying, character assassination, denigration of your opponent are not First Amendment rights.
Much of the dirty work in these campaigns was farmed out. There’s no way to have a fair election if a presidential ticket can farm out the dirty work. Candidates need to be held personally accountable for any and all cheating done in their interests.
Having crossed the Rubicon, knowing that they can’t win the nationwide popular vote, the Republicans know that the only way they can win the presidency is to cheat. Now there is nothing the Republican Party won’t do to win. Now they shamelessly drag up Jim Crow laws to suppress the vote. Now they cheat in order to stack state houses so that they will be able to overturn the will of the people in the Electoral College. For them, democracy would preclude their getting their way. For them, tyranny by a Republican minority is good. Cheat like hell is the consensus in today’s Republican Party.
Cheating, even if is legal, is still cheating. One of the Republicans’ favorite way of cheating is to take advantage of weaknesses in the Constitution; weaknesses like the Electoral College, gerrymandering, and the undemocratic Senate. For democracy to work, the cheating needs to stop; do so before it is too late.
Whatever is fair, is fair. When the Constitution is wrong, it is wrong. When the Supreme Court is wrong, it is wrong.
Deliberately spreading lies about an opponent, denigrating an opponent, and propagating big lies are cheating. Exploiting the weaknesses in the Constitution to subvert democracy is cheating.
The Nation shouldn’t be so at the hazard of the die. The Constitution should have delineated standards of fitness for the office of President; dealt better with fairness and democracy.
What is done can’t be undone. But, unless we soon figure out a way to stop the cheating, we will lose our democracy; lose America. Of all things American, democracy is the most important of all. Without democracy, America doesn’t exist.
Politics in this country has always been dirty. Do you think Reagan cheated? I do not. Carter was a decent guy but he left a country in stagflation, hostages in Iran and was spraying marijuana fields in Mexico with paraquet. I voted for Anderson and gave him money. I really trace the change to Newt Gingerich but the real point is that large groups of Americans vote for these assholes and that is what democracy says happens. I mean so they cheat but a substantial portion of Americans are apparently okay with that. That is democracy in action
Let’s give some credit to George Wallace,
Ross Perot and Ralph Nader for offering voters
some ‘interesting’ & disruptive presidential options.
Also John Anderson, moderate GOP congressman who
did much to spoil the 1980 election for Carter, with Reagan
winning his first term that year. Reagan even won MA, but
Carter would have won MA’s 14 electoral votes had Anderson
not been on the ballot. (Alas, I supported Anderson that year.)
Across the US, Carter would have done better if Anderson had not run.
I learned a lesson about third-party candidates that year.
What could have happened if we had listened to Rachel Carson? So much of what we see today can be traced, is a repetition of the response to Silent Spring.
It didn’t have to be this way, the 1916 Rauch & Lang Electric car had an 50-mile range at 20 mph on a single charge and cost $2,800. Adjusted for inflation, ~ $65,000, a Tesla, today.
Ken, a lot to ponder here; most of which I agree with, but filled with a lot of “what ifs” and “should haves” that we can do nothing about.
Here’s a counter to ponder…
Like you, I think, I have been trying to preserve my sanity by attempting to gain some kind of perspective on the current state of politics, politicians, the electorate and the state of the democracy in this nonsensical reality that we are currently living.
I’ve been reading a biography of John Quincy Adams by Fred Kaplan. An interesting president who I had heretofore overlooked. He was a one-term president because he wouldn’t kowtow to the Federalist party and was a principled man who said, “My sense of duty shall never yield to the pleasure of a party.” A rare quality then and now.
But JQ Adams and Kaplan’s biography brought into focus and helped me realize that today’s quagmire of politics and democracy is really not because politics and politicians have changed. . . Kaplan writes about the early political years saying:
So the politics, politicians and electorate haven’t really changed that much and although we tend to think the issues today are more critical than 220+ years ago, back then they were dealing with a situation where any false step could have blown apart the newly formed country and democracy.
So what can we do to make it better? I would suggest that in an attempt to stop the “cheating” you speak of, we focus on the way we distribute information. Now, instead of pamphlets, newsprint and horseback messengers, we have Fox News, Facebook and social media that allow for unregulated, mass distribution of algorithm-enhanced lies and misinformation at lightning speeds.
I totally understand all of the first amendment issues, but free speech is not absolute. Here is a good article describing the limits and legal morass. https://tinyurl.com/77cfp6r3. We can’t continue to have a democracy where truth and facts are simply irrelevant. We can do better.
You also speak of the Republican efforts to lay the groundwork to overturn the will of the people in the Electoral College. With all of the discussion of voting rights and election reforms, I am continually dismayed at the lack of active efforts to radically amend and update the Electoral Count Act of 1887. This is the Act that calls for the January 6th meeting and the supposed perfunctory Congressional approval which precipitated the insurrection. The Act is a literal joke and a nightmare of legal mumbo-jumbo. If there is to be a filibuster carveout to allow for voting rights reform, amendments to this Act must be included. An article in The Bulwark has exposed the many faults of this archaic 1887 law. https://tinyurl.com/8k96e6k2.
Very thoughtful. Thanks, J.P.
What of this affliction where the afflicted is immune to any and all evidence to the contrary?
Exceptionally well done. THX
like everyone i can agree with most of what’s here. but everyone has a tendency to look at the latest most popular reason why their team lost. superficial thinking has been the fatal flaw of democracy since the beginning of elected government. can we get rid of superficial thinking? well, we could impose literacy requirements for voting… oh, we did that, or “they” did that. worked. for them.
i, too, have a suggestion. those of us who care, need to actually DO something. hopefully not something stupid. we probably won’t do any better than anybody else, but at least at the end of the day we won’t have to say we watched it coming and did nothing about it.
Since 1980 I have worked on more than a dozen congressional campaigns. Every single presidential campaigns and personally knocked on thousands and thousands of doors. We need more Dems to do this, and also to stop with the circular firing squads because good is the enemy of perfect.
After Reagan nearly tripled the national debt ($789.4 bn 1981 → $2,190.7 bn 1989), GHW Bush added 50% (to $3,248.4 bn in 1993).
Clinton held it steady ($3,319.6 bn 2001), but GW Bush doubled it, to $7,544.7 bn in 2009. Obama’s national rescue and recapitalization doubled it again, to $14,665.4 bn in 2017, and He Who Shall Not Be Named added another 50%, to $22,400.7 bn (2021 est.).
On average, Reagan took in 55.2% more each year than Carter, and spent 69.2% more p.a., much of which is inflation so let’s focus on the gap between those to figures.
Reagan blew out the national debt by raising spending an average of 14.1 percentage points faster than revenues. GHW Bush did it by inheriting Reagan’s debt; the difference between the two rates of increase was only about 1%.
Clinton then increased revenues by 30 points faster than spending, which GW Bush reversed: 27.6 points faster spending that income. Obama reverted to the Democratic norm, keeping spending to within 10 points of revenue, but The Unnamed One reverted to a Bushism: +24.3 points.
GOPers, it seems, are bad for your wealth.
For some reason you were in spam. Did you anger me somehow?
Rational, morally based candidates with no party affiliation need to be prominent, but they aren’t.
I am all for term limits and bicameral legislative branch appointments from the general public much in the same way as jury duty, with lifetime term limits. The executive branch should still be an elected official but they are not allowed to spend $1 personal dollar or anything from anyone else. The congress shall institute a free press analysis of the candidates and circulated in the media, paid for by the government. The Judicial branch should have term limits of no more than 20 years, and must be in active good standing with a bar and should also have no political affiliations and must be at a minimum age of 45. Justices will be selected by the president and confirmed by both houses by way of a majority vote.
Everyone would be really interested in “our best interests” then, instead of this burn it down mentality.