Elections Reflections Gerry OShea
Despite the positive results for democracy that emanated from the recent midterms I am still completely perplexed by the happenings in American politics since the last presidential election. Saying that we live in extraordinary times does not begin to capture the extent of the moral and political confusion that has engulfed the country.
It is mind blowing that more than half of the candidates representing one of our two main parties ran for office on the outrageous assertion that Donald Trump was cheated out of victory in the last election. They assert - without blushing - that he should still be at the helm in the White House. Sixty judges reviewed the results and not one could find the slightest evidence of any chicanery.
We hardly need to explain that in a democracy the one who gets the most votes in an election (in America in the electoral college) wins the contest. All these Republican candidates and leaders in the various states engaged in and continue with delusional talk about Joe Biden as a usurper of the presidency.
Let me articulate their logic: if the vote count shows that we won, no problem. We proceed following all protocols and we extol the importance of constitutional legitimacy. However, if the count goes against us, we reserve the right to reject it – as we did when Donald Trump was defeated.
The results of the November 2020 presidential election indicate with 100% clarity that Joseph Biden was elected by the people as their president. All the constitutional and legal requirements were met – end of story! However, without a scintilla of verifiable evidence, Mr. Trump made the preposterous claim that he was cheated in a few states and thus the election was stolen.
In pursuit of this nebulous claim, he called for a wild demonstration on January 6th, the day that the new president was due to be formally confirmed by a congressional vote under the chairmanship of Vice President Pence. The shocking mayhem on that winter day reveals clearly that his effort to overturn the result is correctly characterized as an attempted coup, resulting during the ensuing days in the deaths of five of the policemen defending the Capitol.
Since that presidential election Americans have been living through a political nightmare that has sprouted stories of Democrats participating in a global Satanic child sex-trafficking ring. Hard to imagine but these tales have millions of avid believers and they have not been repudiated by MAGA leaders who openly court QAnon support.
In response to Mr. Trump’s announcement that he is running again for the Republican nomination for the presidency, one top QAnon devotee speculated that “perhaps he (Trump) couldn’t stomach the thought of mass murders happening to satisfy Moloch!”- a kind of demigod associated with child sacrifice in ancient times.
The response by the Trumps – Jr. and Sr.– to the savage attack on Paul Pelosi revealed a sad level of crass behavior that defines the characters of these men. Don Jr. mockingly shared a hammer and a pair of men’s underwear with the caption: “Got my Paul Pelosi Halloween costume ready.”
His father’s response to the assault was even more deplorable. His answer to the 82-year-old who was slugged on the head with a hammer was to call his wife, Speaker Pelosi, an animal. No sympathy, no connection to what Shakespeare calls “the milk of human kindness.”
Elon Musk, a man with more money than sense, joined in the lurid speculation about the awful hammer assault by giving credibility to far-right assertions about the dastardly attack.
A friend from my teaching days called me in total disgust. “Who,” he raged, “raised those three degenerates? Kicking a woman and family when they are down! No class whatsoever.”
Compare this to June 2017 when James Hodgkinson, a far-left ideologue, shot Congressman Steve Scalise, the Republican Chief Whip at that time, during a baseball training session. He survived but was badly injured. Democratic leaders immediately expressed their condemnation of what happened and offered their sympathy for Mr. Scalise and his family.
It emerged that the shooter had spoken highly of Senator Bernie Sanders and considered himself a follower of the socialist from Vermont. When the Senator heard this, he used the floor of the Senate to make clear publicly his utter condemnation of violence and, of course, to convey his best wishes to the Congressman for a full recovery.
After Mr. Scalise heard about Paul Pelosi’s plight, he sent his prayers and good wishes to the Pelosi family. Some other Republicans did likewise.
Unfortunately, the atmosphere in the House remains poisonous. The pusillanimous Kevin McCarthy refused to show up for Nancy Pelosi’s final speech as House Leader, and the first priority of the new House is not to debate a new Republican plan to combat inflation or to lessen the crime rate, their main topics in the election. Instead, their number one priority is to investigate Hunter Biden and Alejandro Mayorkas.
Kari Lake, a dynamic and charismatic candidate, is still is not conceding the governor’s election in Arizona to Katie Hobbs who has been named the victor. The numbers are close so her call for a review is not unreasonable.
I listened with disbelief to her a week before the election disparaging the late John McCain, a war hero and easily the most respected political leader from that state in the last fifty years. He was a Republican, so she knew that she would be depending on the support of many voters who loved and respected the former senator.
It seems Ms. Lake was so confident that the governorship was hers that she felt she could concur publicly with her mentor Donald Trump’s disdain for Senator McCain. This thoughtless behavior probably cost her the election.
While Kathy Hochul won the contest for governor of New York and Chuck Schumer walked away with keeping his job in the senate, the Democrats performed poorly in congressional races in the state, possibly costing them control of the House.
Republicans successfully tied their opponents to the increase in crime. Surely Democrats should have highlighted the Republican opposition to almost every effort to enact strong gun control measures. Where was the demand that a person purchasing a gun should be required to have a police permit and proven training in firearm use? Failure to legislate in this area to limit gun ownership to responsible people is the main cause of serious crime in New York and beyond.
The focus now is on the senate race in Georgia on December 6th. As part of the recent announcement for his presidential run Donald Trump endorsed Herschel Walker in the most ebullient terms, giving him the full MAGA benediction. Senator Raphael Warnock responded by running the full Walker endorsement by the former president as a promotional ad for himself. Meanwhile Mr. Walker is describing the election as a contest between a werewolf (himself) and a vampire. You can’t make this up!
Gerry OShea blogs at wemustbetalking.com