Tag Archives: Richard Nixon

On Settling

Something I tweeted recently has stuck in my mind, and it relates directly to the choice we face in the presidential election.

I’ve been following politics since 1968, when I was 14 years old and already worried about the prospect of being drafted to serve in Vietnam, and it remains the worst political year of my life. The assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, the Democratic nomination falling to Vice President Hubert Humphrey*, the uncontrolled police brutality outside the DNC, the reanimation of Richard Nixon’s corpse and his ultimate election to the presidency — the moment when”The Sixties” ended as a touchstone for social progress and became a lifestyle brand.

*Humphrey was a great liberal politician, but he tied himself firmly to LBJ’s Vietnam policy out of a sense of duty to the administration he served. His legacy was forever tainted by the association.

That was bad enough. But since then, almost every presidential election has been a choice between bad and not-quite-so-bad. There have been only three candidates I felt good about, and two of them had no chance whatsoever of winning. The three: George McGovern in 1972, Fritz Mondale in 1984, and Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

Otherwise, it’s been a matter of settling for something less than I wanted. Jimmy Carter, Mike Dukakis, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry. I voted for all those guys, but didn’t feel great about doing so.

But here’s the thing. Is there any doubt at all that we’d be in a better place if we’d elected Carter instead of Reagan? Dukakis instead of Bush I? Gore or Kerry instead of Bush?

No doubt. Absolutely none.

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Bernie’s Progressive Daycare

So, Bernie Sanders has launched his post-candidacy organization. “Our Revolution” is having a troubled birth, what with half the staff quitting over the weekend after Sanders parachuted his campaign manager Jeff Weaver into the top spot. Apparently some people don’t like Weaver and, more importantly, question his older-school approach to organizing (and the group’s dark-money approach to fundraising).

This storm will quickly pass. But if the history of progressive politics is anything to judge by, it’s an example of the kind ot stuff Bernie will have to deal with, and it won’t be easy.

Because nobody’s more capable of generating destructive internal strife than the American left. Sooner or later, the Purity Wars break out. Everyone’s got a pet cause or bug in the bonnet. Axes abound, and they all seem to require grinding.

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Well, that didn’t take long

In recent weeks, I’ve tried my damnedest not to comment on the Democratic presidential race. After shooting my keyboard off a few times earlier on, I began to realize that I was overreacting to the latest development instead of focusing on the bigger picture.

Political coverage encourages this kind of short-term thinking. The media have an interest in hyping up the news, to keep you tuned in or reading or clicking or However You Are Accessing Our Content. But in the long run, most of this stuff washes out.

If you needed any proof, just look at a roughly 48-hour period in the middle of this week. On Tuesday, there was a good chance of continuing deep division sparking a battle-marred convention that could have paved the way for a Trump presidency.

And then, not necessarily in this order, we got:

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Resilience, but no revolution

Bernie Sanders won’t be the Democratic nominee for president. And it’s not because of superdelegate shenanigans or imaginary Clinton conspiracies* or the media’s reluctance to validate his candidacy. It’s not even because I endorsed Hillary and voted for her in the primary.

*Honestly, I don’t get the Clinton hate. To hear some of my leftish acquaintances tell it, the Clintons are somewhere between Richard Nixon and Attila the Hun on the universal scale of evil. 

But give the guy credit. He did better than expected on Super Tuesday. Not well enough to give him a shot at the nomination, but more than well enough to keep his candidacy going all the way to the Democratic convention.

Which is an absolutely worthwhile goal: get all the publicity you can for progressive ideas, and compel the Democratic Party to honor the left wing for the first time since, oh, 1972. Bernie has proven that the left wing is as strong a potential source of energy (and even money) that the party can’t afford to ignore. That is his enduring gift to our political discourse.

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Welcome to Vermont. Please step out of the car.

Ah, leaf peeping season. Prime time for tourists, who come from far and wide to enjoy the autumnal beauty of our state.

Most tourists, anyway. If I were a person of color, I think I’d give it a skip. Especially if my car had New York or Massachusetts plates.

A few things conspire to put me in this frame of mind. First was a revealing, and disturbing, front-page spread in last Sunday’s Times Argus:

Racial profiling spurs state to action

And the sidebar:

“Invislble” racism in a mostly white state

The T-A is paywalled. If you’re not a subscriber, I recommend you find the paper in your local library. The stories are kind of eye-popping.

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