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A disturbing look at some ugly trends in the GOP

REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Donald Trump

This has been an ugly, demoralizing, horrifying campaign year. Democracy, among other things, relies on certain amorphous beliefs about what it is and why it is, as Churchill famously said, the worst possible system except for all others that have been tried. Those beliefs are badly damaged.

Most of the blame for this, according to me at least, lies on one side, the side of Trump and Trumpism. But other elements of the party that nominated Mr. Trump, the party that also nominated Abraham Lincoln, are engaging in some of the kinds of tactics that undermine the norms of democracy that have enabled the United States to function as a proper democracy, at least since a number of states decided to break up the country rather than endure the presidency of the afore-mentioned Mr. Lincoln.

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Please read this piece by Paul Waldman of the Washington Post. He enumerates some of the trends and possibilities that may be undermining the American experiment in peaceful self-government: that elements of the FBI are trying to affect the election; that elements of the party that currently controls the House of Representatives are studying efforts to immediately take steps to impeach Hillary Clinton from the presidency, should she win — to mention just two of the most disturbing trends Waldman discusses.

There isn’t much there that you haven’t heard before, but he puts them together, disturbingly but responsibly. Waldman is a strong liberal, so some may not be willing to consider the case he makes.

I generally try to stay calm when people make claims such as those that Waldman makes, basically that elements of the Grand Old Party are organizing for sedition. I’m calm now. I’m doing my breathing. But I’m pretty worried.

Comments (11)

  1. Submitted by Brian Stalboerger on 11/04/2016 - 12:37 pm.


    He treats Hillary like a saint, which totally undercuts everything else he has to say. If the Democrats had any sense of decency and would have nominated Jim Webb or even Bernie, I guarantee either one would be winning in a landslide, the FBI wouldn’t be leaking, etc.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/05/2016 - 09:53 am.


      I don’t see any canonizing of Clinton, unless you mean all the cannons aimed at her.
      Waldman simply points out the obvious: Clinton may be guilty of indiscretion and poor judgement, but these are not (as Comey pointed out) prosecutable offenses.
      Some of Trump’s business finagles were.

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 11/04/2016 - 01:04 pm.

    If we’re going to play hardball

    …and it certainly seems that Republican leaders, if not all of their candidates, are inclined to do so, it’s worth noting that, phrased the way Mr. Waldman has phrased it in putting together his piece, a case could be made (by a better lawyer than I) that Donald Trump is a traitor, and specific members of the Republican Party his accomplices, in a plot to provide “aid and comfort” to the enemies of the United States. Title 18, section 115 of the U.S. Code phrases it thusly in defining treason:

    “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”

    That last phrase is one that seems especially relevant, and I don’t bring this up lightly. I’ve been a political moderate all my life, and am more accustomed to being criticized for being too tolerant than for adhering to some sort of radicalism. Nonetheless, allegations of Trump campaign cooperation with Russia, the apparent revolt within the FBI, using a hack job by the Trump campaign’s CEO as a basis for fact-free, innuendo-laden leaks about what may or may not be in emails that are neither to, nor from, Ms. Clinton, the explicit request of Mr. Trump that a foreign power hack into the computers of the Clinton campaign (we have that on video), blatantly-stated intentions on the part of erstwhile Republican leaders to wreck the administration of the Democratic candidate should she be elected, systematic efforts on the part of local and state Republican officials in some states to suppress the vote, despite orders from federal courts to stop doing so – they all add up to something considerably more than a couple of overzealous advocates for fiscal responsibility.

    Hillary Clinton’s inept handling of email on a private server pales to insignificance in comparison. I, too, am usually reluctant to play the “turn it around and apply those things to the other candidate” game, but it seems not only apt in this instance, it seems almost a requirement. Doing so reveals a GOP that has somehow passed from the role of “loyal opposition” into an intransigent and significant fifth column primarily devoted to acquiring power, rather than governance, and a Republican nominee determined to bring the work of the Founding Fathers to an end. They’d rather rule than govern, and to the degree that that characterization is true, they are corrosive and dangerous – a genuine threat to the American experiment.

  3. Submitted by Jim Million on 11/04/2016 - 03:33 pm.

    Ya, sure…

    And Congress may simply revoke the Louisianna Purchase, restoring the Mississippi Valley and some points east to France. Maybe we might then enjoy French healthcare benefits, as well.

  4. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 11/04/2016 - 08:36 pm.

    Another reason

    Oh, and it is also people like Waldman who treats Clinton like a saint. At least many Republicans see Trump in real light…

  5. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 11/04/2016 - 09:33 pm.

    Trends and possibilities

    These are the operative words. My limited imagination and memory prevents me from recalling whether and how the elections of 1972, 1976, 1908, . . . 2000, 2004, 2008 etc. were any different in hanging the fate of our Nation and civilization in the balance.

    I’m not prepared to agree that anything we’ve faced has not been encountered in one form or another before and dealt with appropriately, other than the Civil War. But that’s the outlier.
    I’ve always tended to assume that any Civil War in this country would proceed as it did in 1861, where states would secede and militias organized along state lines would appear to challenge the authority of the federal government. It strikes me now that such a scenario ignores the possibility of a Civil War along the lines of what we see in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan or Guatemala. Are people so fearful or angry as to be prepared to take up arms against an elected government? I rather doubt it. People in the USA are more complainers than doers when it comes to political matters, even when it affects their lives in basic ways.

    • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 11/05/2016 - 02:55 pm.

      Yes, my worst-case scenario is Bosnia

      In a developed European society that had recently hosted a Winter Olympics, ethnic groups that had been living alongside one another peaceably for generations started slaughtering one another, egged on by their respective media and politicians. They were of different religions–the Serbs Orthodox, the Croats Roman Catholic, and the Bosnian Muslims, well, Muslim–but they spoke the same language, lived in the same neighborhoods, ate most of the same foods, weren’t all that religious in their daily lives, and even inter-married, but once the war broke out, you would have thought that the ethnic groups considered one another invaders from a hostile planet.

      My church in Portland sponsored a Bosnian refugee family back in those days. The father was Croatian and the mother was Serbian, and because they had married and had two children two decades previously, they were marked for death. They felt that they could no longer trust any of their friends or neighbors.

      A couple of years later, we sponsored a Kosovar family. One of the members of my church was with them when they learned that their entire town had been razed to the ground.

      Despite the handy designation of red states and blue states, there is no such thing as a state that is solidly red or solidly blue, only reddish purple and bluish purple. A civil war in the U.S. would not be opposing armies lined up on the battlefield in blue and gray uniforms. It would be neighbors slaughtering neighbors.

      • Submitted by Jim Million on 11/06/2016 - 09:59 am.

        Don’t Believe We’ll Get to That

        History does show the Balkans have been a long-standing source of ethnic friction. Sometimes that has been used as leverage to create political turmoil, as well. All that pre-dates the death of the Arch Duke, the event most of us were taught precipitated WW I (not quite the reality, but convenient textbook stuff).

        It’s most interesting we hear virtually nothing here now about the Balkans, as if they have quietly returned to some irrelevant history footnote. The last time I checked, Muslims were still being targeted and killed, albeit in smaller numbers than previously……….and, we still have troops stationed there. Given Europe’s current refugee issues, they certainly should not ignore the Balkans now. Even small pocket matches can ignite large explosions.

  6. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 11/04/2016 - 11:52 pm.

    President Clinton

    Clinton 45, will have enough problems of her own making without the GOP being involved. True journalists, once having ensured that she is elected, will then turn to the stories that they have neglected for years. And The Donald, well, he won’t have to release his tax returns, ever.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/05/2016 - 12:07 pm.

      Oh, Please

      Hillary Clinton has been under constant media scrutiny for the past quarter century. The only stories about her that “true journalists” have neglected are the ones that run only on NewsMax or WorldNet Daily.

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