Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The New Snopeses

Author: Gary Hart

Many years ago I wrote a graduate school term paper on the several levels of humor discussed by Aristotle and used William Faulkner’s trilogy The Hamlet, The Town, and The Mansion to show how Faulkner had qualified in every Aristotelean category.

Faulkner was using his great literary gifts to pillory the rise of a new class of ambitious, lower class, not well-educated clans then breaking into Southern politics and trades.  The family in the trilogy was called Snopes and they often gave themselves colorful names in a misbegotten effort to self-create status if not also nobility.

There was an Admiral Dewey Snopes, for example, a Montgomery Ward Snopes, and the patriarch was Flem Snopes who invented names for others who came along.  But the stories trace their lineage back to Flem.

The Snopes family appeared overnight in the hamlet and, after taking it over, moved onto the town, and then ended up in the mansion, the residence of the Governor of the State.  They were ambitious beyond capability but most of all conniving, calculating, persistent, resilient, intrusive, and eventually engulfing anything in their way.

Faulkner found many occasions to use animalistic qualities to describe their cancerous reach.  And, needless to say, they were endlessly greedy.

All this to speculate, had Faulkner lived into the second decade of the 21st century, whether he would not have almost been forced to make the trilogy a quartet by adding The White House.

Having achieved the mansion, would not a Snopes heir have inevitably created a national “base”, more correctly a cult, and gone after the ultimate American political prize.  The Snopeses were by character and definition populist.  They were canny at representing grievance, resentment, and social division.  Their enemies were always the educated, wealthy, achievers, those we now call “elites.”

Literary critics concluded Faulkner, a Mississippian, was satirizing the Long family in neighboring Louisiana, particularly after the vivid Hughie Long leapfrogged more established old families into the Governor’s mansion and then elected himself Senator (and attempted to hold both jobs at once, until told he couldn’t do that, and so put his brother Earl in the Governor’s mansion) and it was Hughie’s son Russell with whom I served in the Senate.

Unlike the Snopeses, the Longs proved generations can improve themselves.  Like his populist father Hughie, Russell Long was canny, witty, and clever and, as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, was thought to quote passages from the federal tax code in his sleep.

Whether Faulkner would have, given the occasion, created a White House Snopes in recent days we will never know.  There certainly would have been more than enough material for it.

Recent evidence proves that it is possible to be President without being presidential, to manage Constitutional government without knowing the Constitution, to claim to govern using the rule of law while breaking the law right and left.  The Snopeses created the pattern.

What fun Faulkner would have had in inventing colorful names for the outgoing governing family.  All the while he would have shaken his head in disbelief at the catastrophic circus created by those who had no idea what they were supposed to be doing and didn’t care in any case.

Anyone seeking an explanation for how the great United States got here could do much worse than reading the Snopes trilogy.  But the question remains: someone voted for them.


Hope Versus Fear

Author: Gary Hart

To say that America is divided is to echo dozens if not hundreds of similar observations.  But this division isn’t just ideological or partisan.  It is between those who see the election as restoring hope and those locked in fear.

On the hopeful side are those who believe President-elect Joe Biden will now lead a great restoration project to return the nation to its principled roots and standards, repair our badly damaged relations with our allies, conquer the demon virus, and put us back on the path of reason, science, and facts.

On the fearful side is pretty much the entire Republican Party.  And this is a mystery.  What are all these senior elected officials, donors, interest groups, and ambitious candidates afraid of?  The answer is both simple and bewildering.  They are all afraid of Donald Trump.

But he is headed, willingly or not, to Mar-a-Lago.  What is the fear?

For the elected Republicans, and especially the ambitious ones, the fear is of the 70 plus million people who voted for him.  And for a Republican Senator or Member of the House, those voters in his or her State or district can be summoned to form a primary opposition.

For example, in Colorado’s Third Congressional District, a very conservative veteran Republican Congressman was unseated by a newcomer whose principal qualification were her saloon where she and her waitresses pack pistols and her friendship with QAnon.  She had Trump’s endorsement.

Get a spine, you might say to these fearful Republican politicians.  Shaming will not work.  They know they don’t have a spine.  Their respective spines were removed by a disease called careerism.

There are layers of irony here because to a man or woman each of these politicians campaigned initially and thereafter on the repeatedly tested theme of straightening out Washington, cleaning up the mess, and, yes, draining the swamp.  But here they are, several terms later, still claiming to straighten, clean, and drain with no evidence to prove a result.

Why cling to an office in the middle of a swamp?  Because the dreadful Washington, the capitol of our nation, is still a better place to live than East Oshkosh back home.  That is why so many politicians want to go there and never want to leave.

But even faced with defeat or retirement, there is always the revolving door…with ready access to the real swamp.  So, even if you tire of voting with the zombie hoard, you still need acceptable credentials to take that taxi from the Capitol to that lucrative lobbying firm on K Street specializing in access to Republican Members of Congress.

And if you have summoned enough courage to overcome your fears of the Trump cult you probably will have trouble finding that taxi.

History will undoubtedly show that Mr. Trump learned enough about creating fear in the New York property market to take that talent to our nation’s Capitol.  In New York he only needed lawyers and bankers.  In Washington he needed a cult and he created it by appealing to grievance, anger, and resentment, by demonizing immigrants and minorities, and by turning over the reigns of government to powerful special interest groups.

But he is not finished.  To keep the cult, he must intimidate Republican elected officials and he must crush the hope for change and renewal.  If your mind, uncluttered by principles and values as his is, seeks continued power…and, who knows, probably also planning recapture of the powers of the White House, there is no concession, no mature conveyance of authority, no surrender.

The enemy of hope for restoration and renewal is fear.  And as long as an entire political party fears loss of access to power on both sides of the revolving door, a very long struggle is just beginning, a struggle for the preservation of American democracy and the Republic whose flag we salute.

The Cure at Troy

Author: Gary Hart

Seamus Heaney, Nobel Prize poet laureate, and late-in-life classicist, translated a play by Sophocles entitled Philoctetes.  He called it The Cure at Troy.

It is the story of a Greek warrior en route to Troy to join his countrymen in their epic siege at Troy.  Their ship stopped at a small island on the way to offer sacrifices to the goddess and Philoctetes was bitten by a venomous snake.  His malodorous wound so offended his shipmates that he was put ashore alone on the remote island of Lemnos.

There, alone and exiled, Philoctetes spent years suffering without companionship or news about the progress of the Trojan war.

Because of the war’s stalemate, the future wanderer of  the ages, Odysseus, and a companion, Neoptolemus, the son of the legendary Achilles,  backtracked to Lemnos to rescue Philoctetes and to convince him to return with them to Troy with his lone possession, a magical  bow fated to overthrow the Trojans.

After much debate and discussion, in which Philoctetes berates Odysseus, guilty of his original exile, he is persuaded to accompany Odysseus and Neoptolemus back to Troy and help the Greeks win the war.

This is a classic redemption story in every sense of the word.  Which of us, wrongly wounded and judged, has not sought exile in our loneliness.  Who among us has not turned his back on an unfair society.  Who has not turned away from involvement in politics at its cruelest.

But almost everyone has a magic bow of one kind or another, a talent that can help our community or our nation triumph over bitter adversity.  And it is that talent, that contribution, that can redeem us from the injustices of our age and put our lives to productive uses.

America today is in need of cure.  Our frustrations at inept leadership, selfishness, greed,  and racial division  require a cure and a healing.

In a matter of hours, it will be for our nation to summon justice to redeem ourselves for four years of monumental rejection of our heritage and our history.

In a matter of hours, we will not only select a national leader, we will conduct a national referendum on our character as a people, a society, and a nation.

Like the Biblical prodigal son, we will come home from squandering our inheritance and seek redemption in the eyes of history and the world.

This election is about history, justice, and hope.  It is about who we Americans truly are.

Mr. Heaney’s translation of this story of redemption is best known today for the passage beloved of many candidates, including this one, and now Joe Biden on the eve of the 2020 presidential election:

History says, Don’t hope
on this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime                                                                                                 

the longed for tidal wave
of justice can rise up,
and hope and history rhyme.

This is where we find ourselves, longing for the tidal wave of justice, and praying that hope and history will rhyme again.                                                                                                                                                                  

Government: Problem or Door

Author: Gary Hart

One of the mysteries of modern times is how the United States went from “ask what you can do for your country” to “government is the problem” in the space of only 20 years.

John Kennedy did not necessarily urge young people to seek public office or even enter government service.  But he did offer the Peace Corps as an example of how, for a year or two, young idealists could make their country better while helping others.

Ronald Reagan, on the other hand, offered a sweeping condemnation of the government he had just been elected to manage.  What he did not do was specify exactly what parts of the government represented “the problem”.  In fact, when he left office eight years later there were still roughly the same number of people working in the national government, state and local governments had increased substantially, and budgets were much larger.

The “government” he saw as “the problem” surely did not include the Department of Defense, which he made larger and much more expensive.  It did not include Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which the vast majority of Americans had come to depend on, especially in old age, it did not include public lands and resources, it did not include highways and public transportation, it did not include support for education, and on and on.

What conservative critics of government, translating for Mr. Reagan, seemed to indicate as the “problem” were regulations.  Shrinking government, then and now, amounted to deregulation.

Let’s examine that.  Regulations are written by government agencies responsible for carrying out the statutory mandate established and maintained by Congress.  The more Congress is required to spell out the operational details of enacted legislation, the longer the statute.  It is now common for legislation to be a thousand pages or more.  This is Congress providing a mandate to do things and then telling the agencies how to do them.

But the regulatory function of the government deplored by conservatives and denounced by Mr. Trump as a “deep state” is operated by career civil servants, people who develop expertise in the science, operational details, and functions of their responsibilities after years of experience.  As a veteran of two federal agencies, I did not see one instance of a civil servant inventing authority where none existed.  I did see some very bright and dedicated public officials trying to carry out the functions mandated by Congressional action.

And the last time anyone checked, all Members of Congress were elected by a majority of the voters in their States and districts.  And as a Member of Congress, I had little if any experience of my colleagues sitting around, smoking cigars, and saying “Why don’t we invent some laws today.”  Rather, Congress is under constant pressure, including from conservative venues, to “do something” about this problem or that.

This brief essay is not an argument for Big Government.  It is an effort to encourage people to force themselves and their candidates to be specific about exactly which parts of the government they wish to get rid of.  Too often that exercise gets down to “those parts that don’t help me”.

Our government operates according to the will of the majority.  Too many liberals want to drastically shrink the Department of Defense.  Too many conservatives want to shrink the social safety net, at least that part of it that only helps poor people.

Where there is common ground is in the tax structure.  But even there, there is no consensus on taxation of wealth.

This matters because nothing erodes confidence in government, left or right, than a sense that one group or another is getting an unfair break, and any break that I don’t share in is ipso facto unfair.  Fairness is at the heart of Americanism.

And that is the essence of the argument about government, less its size and more whether it deserves our confidence.  It would help if liberals would return to asking what they could do for their country and conservatives would forego blanket attacks on “government” and specify which parts they want to get rid of.

The answer to the rhetorical question…enemy or friend…may lie in those twenty years between “ask what you can do” and “government is the problem.”  Assassination of a president, then two more assassinations, African-Americans beginning to shake off their chains, an untruthful war in Vietnam, women seeking full citizenship, the lengthy bill for the industrial age coming due, then something called Watergate, and so it goes.


Instability in the Castle

Author: Gary Hart

What to do when the King is, shall we say, not himself.  In the age of kings this question was as often as not a serious one.  He (or in the case of Queens, she) is after all king for life.  And dementia is not a new thing.  An addled ruler is still ruler.

The advent of the Enlightenment and then the evolution of democracy and the consent of the governed helped deal with the problem more directly with elections if nothing else.  And we are days away from this demonstration of democracy on a mass scale.

But increasingly bizarre behavior by the incumbent president on a daily basis causes concern about which might come first, the election or full-scale derangement.  For many of us, the doomsday scenario is re-election and full-scale derangement.

Woes pile up on woes.  Today, through his Fox megaphone the president is attacking senior members of his own cabinet for not indicting his opponent, President Obama, and his former opponent Hilary Clinton.  He is demanding rallies while still exhibiting virus symptoms and while under powerful steroids.  He blames the families of fallen warriors for his condition, because…he has to blame someone other than himself.

The incumbent president called off Congressional (!) negotiations for emergency economic relief, even though this should have been a decision for Congressional leaders of his own Party, then abruptly changed his mind when markets, predictably, plunged.  Of course, Republican Senators long ago surrendered their authority, and their manhood, to the president…a president who does not understand the Constitution does not give him legislative and judicial in addition to executive authority.

It continues to be unclear whether anyone is managing ongoing international relations.  The Secretary of State, like most others, is hiding himself from the irrational wrath of the King in the Castle.  Stories continue to circulate of senior military commanders agonizing over their course if called upon to put down “unrest” in key polling places in swing States.

Though the virus is, once again predictably, loose in the bare-faced ranks of Republican Senators, the Majority Leader pushes dementedly for swift confirmation of yet another very conservative Justice of the Supreme Court in the long planned court-packing scheme on the right.

Meanwhile, the chief’s deep concern for the well-being of his infected wife somehow got passed us.  Or, perhaps, it didn’t.

But there are so many distractions, some of the president’s own making.  Though he has done everything but applaud the dangerous behavior of white nationalist militias, he has not been heard to condemn the plot to kidnap the Governor of Michigan most recently disclosed thanks to the efforts of the FBI.  Could such condemnation cost him some votes?

Giving him the benefit of the doubt, as his “base” does consistently, we can conclude that his erratic behavior is caused by declining political polls. But then we remind ourselves that Harry Truman in 1948 was well behind his opponent throughout the campaign but remained a smiling, up-beat happy warrior throughout and won the election.  Difficult to imagine Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, or Barack Obama pouting about bad polls or doing an Il Duce imitation on the White House balcony.

Even The General In His Labyrinth, as portrayed by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, did not reach the level of derangement of the most recent incumbent’s display.

Reports today suggest the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is convening a House task force to consider the scope and reach of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution having to do with the disability of a president.  The Speaker is sober, thoughtful, deeply patriotic, and not given to extraordinary actions…except when they are called for.  The question to be explored is the ability of the commander in chief to discharge the duties of his office.

Once again, fasten your seatbelts.  We are in for a rough and rocky ride.  But do not expect a more sane opposition to say anything like: Lock Him Up!


A consensus seems to have formed that the national election November 3rd will be unprecedented in almost every respect, possibly including a defeated incumbent who refuses to turn over keys to the White House.

Numerous unlikely scenarios are complicated by a factor seldom discussed: presidential emergency action documents (PEADS).

Thanks largely to research conducted by scholars at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School, we know there are somewhere between a hundred and a hundred and forty such documents, almost all of which are executive orders, presidential proclamations, and vote-ready legislation.  All are to be used in a national emergency declared by the president and all concentrate emergency powers in a single individual, often overriding even the U.S. Constitution itself, the president.

The origin of these documents date to the Eisenhower era shortly after the dawn of the Cold War.  The first wave of emergency powers accumulated under the rubric of Continuity of Government and might be characterized as deciding which cabinet officer or senior official went to which secret unidentified location.  The purpose was to sustain at least a semblance of government if the worst possible event, a nuclear exchange, happened.

Some of the Continuity of Government powers included military deployments, nationalizing the National Guard, and sweeping deployment of military and law enforcement units.

These powers were used by President George W. Bush in the aftermath of 9/11, particularly deploying National Guard units to airports and other vital locations, under national emergency conditions.  Following the creation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, as strongly recommended by the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century (Hart-Rudman) as early as 1999, we were better prepared to thwart external terrorist attacks on America.

But secret presidential powers continued to multiply, under administrations of both parties, thereafter.  No Cold War, and limited terrorist threats.  More than 50 years’ national security experience spanning the U.S. Department of Justice and the Church Committee in 1975-76 and its successor Senate Intelligence Oversight Committee, have led me to speculate whether these latest secret powers might have been called upon to circumvent Church Committee reforms requiring administrations and intelligence services to circumvent notification of Congressional oversight committees by secret presidential authorizations of covert operations.

If so, Congressional hearings are demanded to find out what these secret powers are and why know one who knows will admit knowing or will talk about them.

In the meantime, we are six weeks away from a national election involving a president who has claimed unidentified powers that no one knows about and who has declared himself the sole arbiter of the authenticity of the outcome of the election in which he is a participant.

There is evidence that these secret powers include suspension of habeas corpus, suspension of Fourth Amendment requirements for judicial warrants for searches and seizures, and mass arrests and incarcerations.

Remember Portland a short time ago.  Unidentified units patrolled the streets during lawful protests fully armed, in military garb, driving unmarked vehicles, and making arbitrary arrests.  To this day it remains unclear whether they were units from an estimated 60,000 law enforcement and quasi-military units under the control of the Department of Homeland Security.  If so, why not be identified as such.

As one of the original creators of that new Department, this is not what we had in mind.  The purpose of that Department was to protect the United States from external threats such as 9/11, not to create a Department of secret police and intimidation of American citizens undertaking Constitutionally sanctioned activities.

All this to say, when thinking about the possible manipulation of national election complexities, also think about false-flag, right wing nationalists posing as left wing extremists creating disturbances at or near election stations in major cities, especially in minority precincts, to intimidate voters from voting and undertaking property destruction sufficient to justify a president calling upon secret emergency powers to multiply Portland style chaos on election day and night.

It is not too late for the House of Representatives to hold hearings to find out what these secret presidential powers are, how they might be used, and to alert the American people to this threat.  And it is certainly not too late for the national media to put a harsh public spotlight on exactly the president was referring to when he claimed, on several occasions, powers that no one knew about.

What exactly was he talking about?


Gary Hart

United States Senator (Ret.)

Member, Senate Select Committee to Study                                                                                      the Activities of U.S. Intelligence Agencies

Co-chair, U. S. Commission on National                                                                                           Security/21st Century

The Man Without a Soul

Author: Gary Hart

It cannot be seen, touched, or operated on.  Yet many religions and spiritual people believe there is such a thing as a soul.  Though ideas about this may differ widely, there does seem to be a consensus of sorts that the soul encompasses the attributes of enlightened humanity, such as kindness, respect, decency, integrity, empathy, warm-heartedness, and much else.

We are drawn to people with qualities such as these.  We want to form friendships with them and to exhibit those same attributes.

(Throughout, “he” is used for both genders.)

Yet, history shows that many of the political leaders across the ages have had few if any of the qualities we associate with soulfulness.  The Hitlers, Stalins, and Mao tse-tungs of the previous century were among them and rose to power with the admiring support of throngs who seemed to care little for the human qualities of the soul.

A person without a soul lacks empathy.  He has no ability to share the plight of those in need who look to a humane society for help.  He may appear to do so, if nothing else to appease his followers that he is indeed human.  But overall, he really doesn’t care.

The soulless man cares only about himself.  This self-focus is usually called narcissism or egotism.  Everything in life is seen by a person without a soul in light of how it relates to him.  The first-person singular pronoun is used relentlessly.

The vacuum where a soul should be must be filled by adoration by the multitudes.  Believing himself to be far superior to all others, the man without a soul requires periodic reinforcement by the masses who confirm his inflated self-image.  The political rally replaces reflection and introspection.

Because reality refuses to bend to his will and his self-image, the soulless man simply denies reality and creates his own world in which he is central.  Those who do not participate in his self-adoration are dismissed as fake or phony or ignorant.

The man without a soul must surround himself with servants and sycophants.  They must carry out his wishes unquestioningly and religiously.  Deviations are not permitted.  Those not mindlessly loyal are dismissed forthwith.  No one is permitted, even in a democracy, to question the great figure.

The soulless person is seldom surrounded by individuals of high quality and achievement.  High achievers with large souls cannot relate to the narcissist who is the center of his own universe.

The soulless person often seeks political power to demonstrate to himself, if no one else, that he is all the things he thinks himself to be.  If he were not a super genius, how could he have achieved so much power.  The ego and the power complement each other.

The greatest political threat of the man without a soul is the constant need to override existing systems and methods and the achievements of others who have gone before.  Upset all existing patterns of conduct and norms of conduct to demonstrate your own superiority.

The man without a soul has no concern for those he alienates, including members of his own family, if the adoring cult is there to confirm his self-centered conduct.

The man without a soul seeks the company of others like him and often emulates them to demonstrate his own power.  This behavior is antithetical to democracy, the rule of law, and popular sovereignty.

The man without a soul is a natural authoritarian and the contradiction of democratic patterns of behavior.

Those of us who believe in the ideals of democracy and the principles of the republic must stand watch against the soulless man and prevent him from undermining our centuries of governance.

When we do so by our votes, if nothing else, we prevent the destruction of our national government and principles of behavior.

But, of course, in America we would never elect a man without a soul to lead us.

Or have we?


…if you can keep it

Author: Gary Hart

A small group of patriots, myself included, has been working for weeks under the banner “Keep Our Republic” to combat treachery in its many tentacled forms leading up to and after the looming election.

More and more Americans are being reminded, including those who possibly never knew, that this phrase is attributed to Benjamin Franklin toward the close of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in response to a question from a citizen outside the Convention who asked what kind of structure and government was being formed.  He said: “A republic, if you can keep it.”

There has possibly never been a time in our nation’s complex 240-year history where that phrase has become more significant.  The American Republic and its ideal of democracy have never been more threatened from within.

Thus, Franklin’s epic challenge has never been more important.

At the expense of repeating several past essays, it is still worthwhile to state the elements of republics throughout history.  They are: civic virtue, the obligation to participate; popular sovereignty, political power belongs to the people; a sense of the common wealth, what we all hold in common for ourselves and our posterity; and resistance to corruption, maintaining the public interest against the tide of special and narrow interests.

So, for Franklin and his citizen heirs, “keeping” the Republic meant participating, paying attention to government activities and the public interest, voting above all else, attending public forums at all levels of government, discussing, even debating, the issues of the day civilly and knowledgably, engagement, gathering knowledge, resisting demagoguery, questioning authority, paying taxes, educating young people, and practicing citizenship every day.

For all our country provides us, this is not too heavy a burden.

The autocratic tendency among the incumbent president and those around him does not want us to do these things.  Undemocratic power is hoarded in secret.  The meaning of language is twisted and perverted.  There is little regard for the truth.  Spokespersons are economical with facts.  The pattern is crystal clear because it has been repeated for so long.

Republican thinkers since Rome have feared corruption.  Now we see it all around us.  The representatives of special interests now run our government.  The public’s interest is disregarded.  Corruption on every level is rampant.

Corruption of this kind is a fatal cancer on any republic, including ours.

With close to half our country complicit in this corruption, the American Republic is in great danger.  It is left to all the rest of us to keep our Republic.

Vote and urge all others to vote.  From this day forward, remember that the president of this country does not want you to vote.  Demand that election officials at State and local levels be prepared for long lines, for “poll watchers” illegally demanding identification from those waiting to vote, for officials from the president on down insisting that mail in ballots not be counted, for massive voting challenges, for voter intimidation, especially in minority precincts.

Be prepared for extended vote counting for days and possibly weeks.  Also be prepared for intricate Constitutional processes if the popular vote and the electoral vote are close.  The variations of possible outcomes are bewildering even for election scholars.

We Americans are going to be tested both by the watching world and by future generations for how we go about keeping our Republic.

History will be our ultimate judge.  In two months and for weeks to follow, will we lose our Republic…or will we keep it.



The Trial

Author: Gary Hart

The forthcoming national election will be like no other in our history.  Those already focused on this, despite the pandemic and economic collapse, are coming to agreement on that.  In traditional terms, this would be a contest between the Republican Trump and the Democratic Biden.  But in the past four years, America has left tradition behind.

During the Trump years, he has stood by while a deadly virus has killed more than 175,000 Americans and destroyed or badly injured more than half the nation’s economic base.  He has converted an 80-year bipartisan foreign policy based on international democratic alliances to an isolationist-nationalist retreat.  He has replaced conservation minded national leaders with lobbyists for oil and gas, mining, and timber industries who are selling off, for pennies on the dollar, the national resources that represent our sacred heritage for future generations.  He has abandoned decades of arms control agreements that made the world safer and instead has ignited a dangerous nuclear arms race.

This is not an election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.  It is a choice between Donald Trump and America.  Joe Biden has the burden and the honor to represent the interests of America against a man whose only concern is for himself.

Donald Trump has systematically rejected the institutions, the history, the laws, and the Constitution of the United States.  He has but one principle.  And that principle is himself.  He cannot tell the truth, because he does not know the truth. He stands outside American history admiring himself in his own mirror.

Donald Trump cannot manage the national government, with all its concerns for the people and the nation’s well-being, because those who can manage are in one door and out another for refusing to worship him.

His term is characterized by massive fraud, chaos, and confusion.  He wants dictatorship, like those he has admired the most.  But the Constitution will not let him have it.  Instead, he surrounds himself with those who tell him the Constitution gives him the power to do whatever he wants.

Joe Biden now stands before the court of public opinion, the court of justice, and the Court of Democracy itself to defend the principles and the honor of the United States.  The court of history awaits.

We must hope he reads daily the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln’s Second Inaugural address, and Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms.  He might also remember to remind all of us to “ask what you can do for you country.”

This will not be an ordinary election.  The soul of the nation is in the balances.  This is the United States of America vs. Donald J. Trump.


Author: Gary Hart

At the dawn of the space age, the brilliant writer Norman Mailer wrote a great book entitled Of a Fire On the Moon.  In it he compared rocket designers to plumbers because, he wrote, “the job of both is to prevent treachery in closed systems.”

American politics and government are hardly closed systems.  But their rules are subject to treachery.

Our national election is now coming out of the far turn and headed for home.  Prepare for anything and everything.

We have already seen unidentified para-military units deployed on major city streets in unmarked vehicles.  These may be private contract militia outside the military chain of command. The cities involved have Democratic party leaders and are in key swing States.

The Trump loyalist appointed to manage the U.S. Postal Service is cutting back personnel and shortening hours to inhibit delivery of ballots to voters and filed ballots to official counting stations.

The top management of the Department of Defense is now led by Trump loyalists prepared to respond to commands for domestic deployment of official military personnel prepared to put down demonstrations that can be manufactured by right wing militia or that merely involve voters waiting in long lines to vote.

Trump has repeatedly threatened to challenge any mail-in ballots not counted by midnight of election night.  There is no Constitutional or legal authority for this.

His campaign promises to deploy 50,000 voting “observers” who will be sent to minority precincts in Democratic cities in key swing States whose purpose is clearly to intimidate those voting in person.  They will demand voter documentation not required by law.

Attorney General William Barr has now converted the U.S. Department of Justice (of which I am an alumnus) to Trump’s public law firm instead of the law firm of the American people.  It will be the subject of amazement if Justice intervenes in the election to protect fairness and the law rather than the interests of the Trump campaign.

Expect ballot, machine, and poll worker shortages in seven or eight key swing States that will determine the election and that have Republican governors, mayors, or legislators responsible for conducting the election.

Courts across the land, high and low, will be deluged by suits filed from all sides on and beyond election day.  Do not expect swift decisions, except for those cases clearly dilatory.

Treachery knows no bounds.  American democracy, so vaunted to the world, will be tested, with the possible exception of our tragic Civil War, as never before in our history.

This is primarily because we have a president who knows no bounds, who lives in a fabricated world far removed from reality, and for whom the worst condemnation is “loser”.

When I still insist that Trump must have a conscience, must think of the poor, must regret privatization of our sacred national trust, must occasionally question piling billions after billions on his fabulously wealthy friends, must feel some secret guilt about literally embracing autocrats and dictators, to all of this and more, my son John simply says, “he does not care.”

That is the only response that makes any sense.  But even that must cause everyday Americans who family, religion, education, and decency have taught to have a conscience to respond, “how can that be?  How can a president of the United States be so hollow?”

The best solution to a systematic effort from the highest office to steal a national election must be a landslide of rejection.

Pray that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris win Florida election night by an indisputable margin.  Pray that other determinative States then follow, one after another.  Pray that the outcome is so decisive that even the Master Manipulator is left with nothing to manipulate.

If Donald Trump wants a pardon for these disastrous four years, he will have to look beyond mere temporal powers to forgiveness from a higher power.

There should be no pardon for the treachery of attempting to destroy American democracy.