Ryan Endorses Trump; Trump Endorses Clinton
Since word went out through the media that Donald Trump had effectively exceeded the committed delegate total needed to win the GOP Presidential nomination, some weird stuff has been happening involving his campaign. The vast bulk of Republican office holders fell in line supporting Trump. True, the Bushes and Mitt Romney did not, and House Speaker Paul Ryan held out for a bit. But even Ryan broke down and endorsed Trump…right before the shit started hitting the fan (hence the title of this essay).
On Tuesday morning, I was sitting in the waiting room of a doctor’s office when I noticed a TV showing Trumps glorious press conference being carried live on CNN. He was basically castigating all of American mass media in the course of explaining the sordid tale of the distribution of funds raised for and distributed to various Veterans’ charities during the media circus he created to glorify himself after having refused to participate in a debate. Never mind his story and the facts in the case smelled as fishy as a sushi bar, he seemed to be of the opinion that, rather than seeking specifics as to the details of the sources and amounts of money raised or their ultimate distribution, the media should be thanking him for his selfless sacrifice in helping out The Veterans.
If the media in this country hadn’t been catering to Trump’s every word at every conceivable moment from even before his announcement of his candidacy, his offense at their behavior of treating him like anyone else by seeking confirmation of his claims might be forgivable. But Donald should be thanking them for making his rise to the rank of inevitable party nominee possible just as much as they have been bending over backwards for him for the ratings bonanza he has provided.
Then something even more unthinkable happened. A federal judge had the temerity to rule that documents pertaining to some lawsuits being brought against Trump University (a private, for profit educational entity which was a part of the HUUGE Trump business empire) should be made public. That the publicity stemming from the release of these documents has had a negative spin on it for the Trump campaign is an understatement, only exceeded by the brutish, arrogant and racist rant he made against the presiding judge in the case. If this is the way he reacts to bad news making some of what he thought were protected secrets public in this instance, I shudder to think how he’ll react if somehow his income tax returns get leaked (the chance he’ll volunteer that information is, I think it’s safe to say, about on a par with the Yankees winning the next Super Bowl).
The media made Donald Trump and he should know better than to bite the hand that feeds him. He seems to honestly think that he needs answer to no one – not the media, not other candidates, but most of all not the people he seems to think it’s his exclusive right to rule over. In particular, his stubborn assertion that the media is predominantly populated by sleazy wordsmiths twisting everything out of context to make him look bad, and that future press conferences would consist of more of the same name-calling and belittling he had previously reserved for political rivals and select individuals who had dared to stand up to his bullying publicly (Megyn Kelly, for instance). He implies that doing their job correctly involves reporting only things he wants reported in ways he approves of. He needs to learn there are people he can’t fire – not in this country.
Now, lots of Republican leaders, many of whom had to bite their tongues and backtrack on previous public statements derogatory to Donald Trump in order to publicly endorse him ( like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell) needed to swiftly dissociate themselves from the comments Trump made about the inability of the “Mexican” judge who needed to be removed from his lawsuit because of his Mexican heritage (despite the fact that he’s an American-born citizen from Indiana). Any thought that gaining the status of Presumed GOP Presidential Nominee would temper the volatile nature of his rants quickly evaporated within the space of a couple of days. He has certainly received far more respect from his competitors, the RNC and elected GOP officeholders than he has shown them or has any right to receive in return.
Trump’s nomination is not set in stone yet. Surely some of those who resigned themselves to its inevitability are redoubling their efforts to altering the outcome before the end of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. That his misogynistic, racist and anti-Moslem rhetoric have neither been apologized for nor tempered in the least by subsequent statements certainly hasn’t gained him support from the groups he has intentionally offended. His constant fear-mongering and catering to the disaffected voters who feel abandoned by most of the other leaders in his party, thinking they can deliver him the election in much the way they have the party nomination, seems to almost make his campaign a mockery of the whole process. His words and actions almost seem to indicate he WANTS to lose, and lose badly, in the general election (hence the second part of the title to this essay).
The fact that these incidents led directly to a very impressive Clinton speech on foreign policy where she very effectively brought into question how Trump would react on the international stage in times of crisis, didn’t help his chances of prevailing in November. If anything, his reaction to her speech made him appear an even weaker opponent than he had previously. His overly-exaggerated call for her jailing spoke of desperation at the inefficacy of his half-truths and outright lies to defeat her in a real policy debate. Turning his own words against him, and providing proof that he did in fact say them when he called her a liar for pointing them out, should certainly have some effect on opinion polls in the near future.
What seems to be getting lost in the shuffle is the fact that all this Trump nonsense is being used as an excuse to restrict discussion of other pressing policy issues being raised by Bernie Sanders, lesser-known third party candidates and many disaffected voters who are tiring of the farcical spectacle that this entire campaign is rapidly degenerating into. It certainly is not in the interest of the American people to have a 24/7 news cycle spending a majority of the time fact-checking fabrications spouted by the two least favorably viewed presumed major party nominees in the history of US politics.
Becoming President of the United States of America should be an honor bestowed on the person best able and most willing to do that which is necessary to best serve the interests of its inhabitants as a whole. What we seem to be dealing with right now is a race to the bottom to see what it takes to get enough votes to win a room with a view at the White House and all the power that comes with it. Clinton may well go over the top with a majority of delegates after the final primaries on Tuesday (though Bernie is right that Super Delegates will have to be included in that total). Nothing will be certain until the conventions make the nominations. Something in the way of another scandal or criminal prosecution could possibly intervene before November, but that seems unlikely.
What I hope does occur, however, is the development of clearly articulated party platforms that will spell out concrete plans for how the winner will proceed once in office next year. The time for trading insults and making vague promises with no substance or plans of action is over. Our lives are not meant to be wasted as pawns in the power schemes of a few hundred or thousand oligarchs to do with as they please. How will the candidates deal with issues like education, health care, jobs, the economy, poverty, homelessness, war and militarism, crime and punishment, equal rights for all and economic inequality? What will be done concerning the environment and climate change? We need to focus on dealing with concrete issues and solving real problems, not coming up with new derogatory nicknames for people and spewing hatred towards everyone we don’t like for exceedingly superficial reasons.
Make sure you find out the answers to your questions. Make sure you will be permitted to vote, then do it, based on the information available. Vote for every position on the ballot. We’ve seen what happens when we elect a president from one party and a legislature from another, especially when there is no willingness to cooperate whatsoever. The Republican agenda has been clear for decades. We need people elected at all levels of our government who will represent US, not the wealthy and their corporations. We need to reverse the non-democratic trends prevalent in recent years such as voter suppression, mass incarceration, reduced worker rights in the workplace, lower and stagnant wages for those already living in poverty, restrictions of civil rights for certain groups, inequality of opportunity to advance, unequal access to health care, education, housing, food and many other things that money can buy but shouldn’t be withheld from anyone due merely to a lack of it.
Take Ryan and Trump’s endorsements for what they are worth. I never base my voting decisions on who other politicians endorse. Their stances on important issues, trustworthiness and previous performance count for more than mere speeches, but well articulated positions on these issues usually do a good job of separating candidates from each other. The manner in which they treat and refer to others is another. Electing a continuation of the status quo in Congress would be a big mistake. Electing to give that party the White House (and SCOTUS) as well would be a bigger one.
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