There is very little chance for a return any time soon to good government in the national interest such as we have experienced during the nation’s best days.  Once again, it must be restated that two events have historically brought Americans together: depressions and world wars.

Right now, Republicans have a strong economic tailwind.  And, thank Providence, no epic war looms on the horizon.  So, there is little incentive for a Party in the White House and the Senate to moderate or seek Democratic cooperation.

In fact, Republicans reward office holders and candidates who promise not to cooperate with Democrats.  Given gross gerrymandering and polarization of the nation into red and blue enclaves, the worst fear of those Republicans with even a thought of moderation and bipartisan cooperation is a right-wing challenge within their own State or district.  Witness the march out the door of the handful of Republicans with this instinct.

The struggle within the Democratic Party is over whether a center-left strategy or a more dramatic shift toward a form of socialism, so far defined primarily by taxes on wealth, Medicare for all, and a Green New Deal, is preferable.

The default leader of the Democrats, Speaker Pelosi, is struggling mightily to keep the Democratic agenda from alienating moderate centrist voters without whom national elections cannot be won.

National elections overwhelmingly favor the Party in power when the economy seems to be strong.  Don’t rock the boat, is the underlying theme.

So, the Party controlling the Executive and half the Legislative branches is totally controlled by the Trump/Tea Party legions and riding, at least for the moment, an economic tide.

Which leaves the busload of Democratic Presidential candidates to propose new approaches to health care, affordable education, conservation of natural resources, and prevention of further climate erosion.  All important for the nation’s future.

But what may sway the 2020 election is the bizarre behavior of the chief executive.  Even as 56 percent of polled Americans were pleased with the economy, only 43 percent thought the president was doing a good job.  If swing voters uncouple the economy from overall presidential performance, then the unhinged twitterer-in-chief may become the issue.

But any thought by ardent Democrats that anyone can defeat Mr. Trump should be overwhelmingly discarded.  Righting the ship of state will take experience, statesmanship, gravitas, stature, and trustworthiness.  Not all the many candidates possess this combination of attributes.  The Democratic nominee must be presidential.

That is the standard, not gender, race, ethnicity, geography, finance, or photogenicity.

The nomination prize will be awarded to that candidate who proposes a steady, thoughtful, affordable progress toward universal health care, increased investment in public education and assistance with higher education loans, protection of public lands and resources, and realistic paths toward job opportunities.  Combine those themes with open leadership doors to Congressional Republicans willing to approach half way, restoration of international cooperation on trade, mass migrations, and security, and return of maturity to the White House.

A presidential Democratic candidate will place hard-shell, intransigent Republicans under a harsh spot light.  Resistance for resistance sake to constructive ideas in the national interest will demonstrate once and for all that those who put rigid ideology and power ahead of the common good are the ones who deserve to go home and stay there.

4 Responses to “Long Odds on a Bipartisan Restoration”

  1. Michael Says:

    Is there any light the Republicans can be put under that is harsher than their total and unyielding support for a president so contemptuous of the rule of law? Before we even get to a Democratic nominee, the House must start impeachment proceedings in order to expose, clearly and methodically, the many crimes committed by this president that most Americans sense are there but have no clear picture of. Even with acquittal in the Senate a certainty, Republicans like Susan Collins, Cory Gardner, Martha McSally, Tom Tillis and others should be forced to choose, with the entire nation watching, whether they will stand for the rule of law or the sewer of corruption that is this administration; whether they side with our democratic institutions, or will be cowed by Trump’s cult of personality. That could determine control of the Senate, which is the biggest obstacle to Democrats controlling the government. The Democrats will eventually come together behind a nominee. But if the era of bipartisanship is indeed gone and won’t return any time soon, Democrats have to show themselves as the Party who support the rule of law and stand up for the nation’s democratic institutions against a Republican Party that seems bent of undermining it all for the sake of holding onto power.

  2. Eric C. Jacobson Says:

    Jerry Colker, my childhood school-mate one year my junior, when pushing age 30 wrote the lyrics to the moving song linked above titled “I Don’t Believe in Heroes Anymore.”

    I saw and enjoyed the (alas bizarrely-titled) 1985 off-Broadway musical in which the song is featured in New York City that year following a trip I coincidentally took there in late March to attend Hofstra University’s retrospective Conference on the JFK presidency subtitled “The Promise Revisted”: .

    The event’s panels included several surviving JFK aides such as McGeorge Bundy, Pierre Salinger and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.. Sen. Ted Kennedy gave the well-attended keynote address in an outdoor venue. I remember encountering Ted Sorensen briefly as he toured a photo exhibit at about the same time I did. That trip was part of my preparatory work to serve in what I (over-optimistically and/or naively) presumed would be a Gary Hart Administration beginning in Jan. 1989.

    Many (possibly including the host himself) think they know what the first line of Sen. Hart’s obituary will be, but I beg to differ. Even if he does nothing more politically except wait in vain “for my phone to ring” (Gary recently remarked to Lawrence Summers during a Harvard University forum interview available on YouTube that today’s Democratic pols simply don’t seek his counsel), if there is any fairness left in our Not-Great society, Sen. Hart will be most remembered for trying (albeit in vain) to revive the very national spirit of idealism that was dashed by the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. These were the 3 main heroes of my-, Jerry Colker’s and most all of our fellow post-WW2 baby-boom generation’s youth. In support of that contention I need only cite this stirring concluding passage of the host’s July 18, 1984 Democratic National Convention speech in San Francisco: .

    As my comment to Sen. Hart’s April 10th main blog essay alludes, I have long believed that the Kennedys and King were killed-by-conspiracies in the 1960s and that Sen. Hart was similarly character-assassinated in the 1980s, for a REASON: The most conservative, powerful, affluent and reactionary elements within America’s so-called WASP Anglo-American establishment were threatened by their pluralist communitarian ideas and agenda.

    According to historian Donald Gibson (who I first quoted in my just-mentioned comment), perhaps the most reviled idea of all was President Kennedy’s rather dirigistic (now quaint-SEEMING) belief that part of the job of the elected leaders of our nation’s government was to guide and police the economy in the PUBLIC interest. This amounted to a total repudiation of Republican laissez-faire policy which lets the free market’s “animal spirits” run wild and its foreign policy equivalent: Might makes right (AKA “war is a racket” in Smedley Butler’s phrase).

    At the very beginning of Donald Gibson’s seminal 1999 book titled The Kennedy Assassination Cover-Up (Progressive Press 2014 reprinted paperback ed,) the author restates JFK’s substantive politics as follows:
    President Kennedy was what his most powerful critics claimed — “the enforcer of progress.” In the interest of promoting the general welfare, President Kennedy proposed a multitude of changes. All of the changes were intended to increase the productive powers of the United States as a nation and of people around the world. He undertook this Promethean task aware that there would be opposition; he probably underestimated the depth and intensity of that opposition.”
    After reprising throughout the text the deep-seated differences in objectives for America and the world JFK had with blue-blood establishment notables – and expertly tracing the origins, conduct and control of the Warren Commission and its patently rigged fabulistic findings by these same notables, towards the end of the book Gibson concludes:
    The facts indicate that elements within and at the highest levels of the Establishment killed Kennedy because he was the popularly elected and increasingly successful enforcer of progress. JFK was elected power, the Establishment hereditary. He was public authority, they private power. He spoke for the nation, they for the empires of private wealth and property. He looked forward to continued use of governmental institutions to advance the interests of the people within and outside the United States. They looked to a world in which diminished state power would leave them to dominate a global corporate system free only in the sense of lacking interference from democratic authority. Kennedy sought peace through progress, the Establishment sought peace born of the submission of their opponents. Kennedy encouraged people to think of the United States as a Democratic Republic that needed alert and active citizens. The Establishment promotes a cynical withdrawal into self-oriented passivity and indifference. Kennedy was the Establishment’s nightmare. He was the “one,” the President or Monarch whose first commitment was to the many, not the few. He was winning, democracy was working. They killed him.
    That needn’t have been the end of the story however, even after a single murder of a stellar non-conservative leader by underground rightists became (within 4.5 years) a triple murder (or quadruple murder if you count Malcolm X or a higher number if you count the serial killings of other black radicals).

    Our sin as non-conservatives, for which we have been paying ever since election night in 1972, is that but for the presidential campaigns of Ted Kennedy in 1980 and Sen. Hart and Jesse Jackson in 1984 and 1988, we stopped TRYING to replace the Kennedys and King. After 1988 (even more culpably) non-conservatives as a whole renounced the entire sensibility that public authority embodied by democratically chosen governmental officials must forever vigilantly maintain DOMINION over private power—no matter how gargantuan—in our new American republic.

    On the contrary we non-conservatives ever-increasingly condoned the conservative movement’s audacious assertion of the very opposite—defenestration of government itself under Ronald Reagan’s barbaric inaugural address slogan: “…government isn’t the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” (Not even the infamous August 1971 Lewis Powell Memorandum had dared to emit such a malodorous brain-fart.)

    In the first presidential election of the post-Reagan apocalypse only Sen. Hart took dead-aim at this heresy against (small d) democratic and (small r) republican theory, telling his fellow citizens to reject those who assert it’s possible to both “love your country and hate its government.”

    This core idea (that to love our country one must at least respect its government), along with Sen. Hart’s self-description as a JFK acolyte who favored US-USSR detente, nuclear arms control agreements and military reform, I believe marked Hart’s 1988 team for infiltration and his presidential campaign for sabotage (between 1985 and 1987). Establishment elements thereupon authored an elaborate set-up and ensuing purge of the host from American political life.

    Ironically, judging from Sen. Hart’s voting record and issue-positions he would have been unlikely to face-down “the titans of industry” (old or new) with quite the vigor President Kennedy had e.g. Big Steel at the outset of JFK’s term when their corporate elites deliberately flouted the president’s public authority.

    On the other hand it is very hard to imagine a President Hart letting private sector forces run amok as they have under every president since Reagan, destroying every last vestige of the middle class American dream for the majority of the American people.

    If critiqued by a CREDIBLE Democratic nominee (a very big “if” at this juncture) President Trump’s forthcoming (performance art) re-election theme of “peace and prosperity” will be received as a bad joke by the vast majority of wage-earning Americans who lack $1,000 in savings to cope with an unexpected financial emergency such as a major car repair or medical expense. The president was CORRECT during the 2016 campaign to deride governmental statistics showing rosy economic news and consumer confidence (which Trump now revels in) as essentially cooked data, AKA “fake news”.

    Dick Cheney, when asked why he didn’t enlist and serve in Vietnam, famously said: “I had other priorities in the ’60s than military service.” For essentially the same reason, once “we made our peace out in the east” in 1975 (as Jerry Colker’s affecting lyrics put it) US non-conservatives in the Silent and Boomer generations deliberately gave up on the noble affirmative governmental cause and agenda of the Kennedys and King and caused the Democrats to morph into a Republican-lite party.

    Very long further story short: A furious public finally noticed and in 2016 politically empowered liberal-minded citizens’ worst, most ugly-American detractors: The demagogic Trump-GOP.

    For we non-conservatives, as Cassius says to Brutus in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar:

    “The fault dear Brutus is not in our stars,
    But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

    Calling ALL heroes, including semi-retired ones: We need to believe in the organized “power of the people” you and Bernie alone can successfully summon in 2020.

  3. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    >>>>>Calling ALL heroes, including semi-retired ones: We need to believe in the organized “power of the people” you and Bernie alone can successfully summon in 2020.

    Okay, I have to ask, Eric … you don’t think Joe Biden has anything to offer with regard to galvanizing the power of the people?


    I come back to my favourite man in international political discourse after being preoccupied with domestic personal and political matters, matters of principle also, to discover the great man is as busy talking common sense and uncommon sensitivity with it, as ever!

    My party in the UK scene, the Liberal Democrats, having gone from written off after coalition with the now awful Conservatives, loss of three quarters of the eats in the Commons, to gain the most local council seats in a recent election nationally, plus the best result it has had in the elections for the European Parliament, and now tops the opinion polls!!!!

    My party is the exact replica , of the Hart, FDR, JFK, type of Democrat. Social liberal, in the main, classical liberal a little, social democrat somewhat, on different issues. I describe myself as a classical liberal on liberty, a social liberal on community, a social democrat on equality, related matters.

    The Democratic party needs to do likewise.

    Socialism is redundant, Bernie is no Corbyn, the former is decent, the latter is dreadful, for politics.

    Michael Bennet, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden. These according to preference are presidential, only the first is in his prime, but any are my choices.

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