The Democrats’ Moveable Feast

Photo by Michelle Henderson at Unsplash

The peregrinations of silly season are upon us and it looks like half of the Democratic Party is out there racking up frequent flyer miles. After all, it’s only a year until the election in November of 2020….oops, I guess it’s a little over a year but our government is in a place that encourages a hurry-up. So, perhaps, we could have an election before we close the Canadian border and declare war on Mexico….or was that close the Mexican border and declare war on Canada? I forget. Somebody call Putin and let me know what the orders are.

The Republican side is pretty quiet. The party that teamed up with the establishment Democrats to break the Dixiecrat filibuster and pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the party that created the Environmental Protection Agency and passed the Indian Civil Rights Act, the party that presided over the demise of the Soviet Union and left a KGB agent named Vladimir Putin so butt hurt he seeks revenge to this day — that party is gone with the windbags. In its place, there is only Donald John Trump. His close friends call him The Donald. Both of them.

The Democrats are scampering to every boondock in Iowa, scarfing up pork dishes of such peculiarity as to tempt some people to convert to Islam so they would not have to partake…but the pols eat it and smile. My Republican cousin Ray Sixkiller said there’s no truth to the rumor that a political event in New Hampshire served up lobster ice cream with a maple syrup topping just to see if the Democratic candidates would eat it. No baby is safe from being Joe Bidened in Nevada as the pols try to make nice with the unions that have the casinos organized without being photographed at the craps table.

There are so many of them and they keep moving around so fast. Decisions, decisions.

I felt the Bern last election and I still have the coffee cup to prove it. Bernie Sanders had a monthly contribution from my credit union account, which is something I don’t do lightly since I’ve been a retired geezer on a fixed income. But as long as Bernie had a fighting chance, it seemed the patriotic thing to do and I am remembering the days before Donald Trump rendered “patriot” a synonym for “schmuck.”

A primary election as a coronation never seemed to me a good idea and it became obvious long before the race was over that the fix was in for Hillary Clinton. The emails the Russians so thoughtfully provided had no impact on me because they contained no surprises.

Actually, Bernie was my second choice. My first choice was Larry Lessig. It would take a long time to explain in detail why I was willing to forgive Lessig for being a Harvard law professor and support his run for president, so I’ll refer you to his book, Republic, Lost.

The Peace of Westphalia in 1648 dates the rise of the modern nation-state as the primary form of human social organization, which might be why Pope Innocent X wrote that it was “null, void, invalid, iniquitous, unjust, damnable, reprobate, inane, empty of meaning and effect for all time.” Did I mention that the Westphalian agreements, by recognizing the authority of secular governments, substantially undercut religious authorities as king makers?

While it is clear to me that nation-states are no longer the dominant social organization— transnational corporations are — I have no idea what date the historians will pick for the beginning of the end for nation-states. I just know that Lessig had an idea for getting back our bought government and he was derailed by the Democratic National Committee, which changed the rules to keep him off the debate stage after he complied with the rules as they stood when he launched his campaign.

Whether the DNC acted to protect corporate hegemony or Clintonian hegemony does not matter. For my purposes here, I simply want to observe that the fix was in for Hillary Clinton and Lessig was a casualty before Sen. Sanders.

The extent to which the skullduggery of the Democratic Primary set up the defeat of one of the best qualified candidates for president in recent history by the small hands down least qualified candidate is open for debate. I don’t care to debate it.

Trump was not qualified by education or experience to be president, so the only hope for the country was that he would, if elected, keep stealing to a minimum and hire competent people. He has done neither.

The results of that election constrain me to admit that not everyone knew that the real estate development and major construction businesses in New York and New Jersey have been mobbed up for generations, or that the Italian mob has been losing ground to the Russian mob since the demise of the Soviet Union.

At first, I held out some hope that enough light would be shined on Trump’s business dealings by reporters doing normal digging in public records. I had not reckoned with the status of The Trump Organization — private and closely held. The disclosures required of publicly traded corporations did not exist.

Still, when Trump released the customary ten years of tax returns, there should be enough clues for investigative reporters to go to town. Mitt Romney had put a serious dent in the custom, but the resulting public outcry tore loose some tax data, so perhaps Trump would not want to deal with the grief that fell on Romney over tax returns.

No such luck. Trump may have refused to release his tax returns because they would show The Trump Organization is mobbed up. Or because they would show that he was not, as he claimed, a billionaire. Or because they would show that he is stingy, if the fact that the foundation bearing his name has never given away a dime of Trump’s money were not enough proof that he’s stingy. Or that he does not pay taxes as a percentage of his income at a rate equal to the rates ordinary middle class Americans are accustomed to paying.

His reason may have been one of those things or a combination of several, but I am confident his reason was not that ten years of his tax returns are “under audit.” Because the reason he gives is such a transparent lie, all of these speculations are perfectly fair. Trump can end the speculations whenever he wishes by making the same disclosure we demand of other candidates for president.

Except Bernie Sanders.

The last time Bernie ran, he withstood the pressure for a good long time…or, not exactly. He just kept saying he was going to do it and then didn’t until finally coming up with his 2014 return, still available on line.

This time, he says the problem is that his wife has to do all the work of digging up the forms since their $200,000 plus income leaves them too penurious to hire it done. And they haven’t been able to put together their own tax files since the last election why? He might as well have said the last ten years of his taxes, except 2014, are under audit.

Having speculated on Trump’s evasion, let me try Bernie’s.

There is something Bernie does not want to confront just yet. He still needs time to get his story straight, and he wants to get past the Iowa caucuses, where he’s put in enough work he’d better be leading, and the New Hampshire primary, which is in his back yard. That should make him the delegate leader when he drops the bad news.

One possibility is that just like Trump does not have enough money to match his public persona, Bernie has too much. Perhaps Bernie’s schedule A would show him to be a skinflint, although it’s hard to picture being more so than Trump. Maybe his schedule D would show him trading in some stock that he’d as soon not acknowledge.

As you can see from my speculations, I expect embarrassing rather than disqualifying. Not releasing his tax returns at all would be disqualifying.

So, do I still feel the Bern? You bet I do. I don’t regret my contributions to Sanders and I doubt there will be anything in his tax returns that will make me regret them. However, he has a lot more competition this time, including two other candidates to whom I’ve contributed in the past.

In spite of my geezerdom, I hesitate to elect another geezer when that’s not necessary to get a combination of good intentions and competence. There are several candidates that represent generational change, and I do hope if one of the geezers is nominated, he or she has sense enough to put a young pup on the ticket and shovel plenty of work to the VP if elected.

I note that if we have a birth certificate controversy this time, it won’t be over place of birth — the issue will be age. I’ve got potato salad in my fridge older than some of these candidates.

After the first flurry of delegate selection — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, and the Superest of Tuesdays with ten states picking — including big dogs California and Texas — the herd should be considerably thinned. Maybe enough to have a debate in only one night.

By then, we will have seen Bernie’s tax returns and he ought to have stopped blushing over whatever it is he’d rather we not see. I don’t know if I will vote in the Texas primary. On one hand, I’m an independent now and have been since 2008. On the other, it’s an open primary and that’s where the action is.

Even if I have yet to pick a dog in this fight, I do care. I care so much I miss my Newsweek job and find myself wishing I could get paid to traipse around Iowa. I expect by Super Tuesday I’ll care even more. The Donald has that effect on me.

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