…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 […] Continue Reading…

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 […] Continue Reading…

Treachery

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 […] Continue Reading…

Even the strongest political and moral convictions, it turns out, are negotiable.

Take, for example, the Republican Party’s policy toward Russia.  Starting with WW II negotiations in Potsdam and Yalta, conservatives have been ardently anti-Soviet continuing into and beyond the Gorbachev era.

Democratic leaders were routinely derided as “soft on communism” and insufficiently concerned with the Red Menace.

But, of course, during those same decades Republicans were for a balanced budget, cuts in social safety net programs, smaller government with fewer regulations, and so on.  All this and more has changed with the Trump take-over of the traditional Republican Party.

Now we have heard very little about federal deficits even before the virus-inspired economic disaster and the deficit boom brought on by tax cuts for the rich that were supposed to, but did not, pay for themselves.  Just money taken from future generations for today’s billionaires.

Deregulation is going forward with demented insistence endangering […] Continue Reading…

Reports confirm that law abiding American citizens are being plucked off the streets of Portland, Oregon, by otherwise unidentified groups of men wearing camouflage clothing, carrying weapons, and cruising in unmarked combat vehicles.

The same reports identify these vigilantes as troops from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and security services under the control of the Department of Homeland Security.  The acting deputy secretary of DHS, Ken Cuccinelli, stated what many immediately believed, that this was a trial run at a national undertaking:

“With as much lawbreaking is going on, we’re seeking to prosecute as many people as are breaking the law as it relates to federal jurisdiction. That’s not always happening with respect to local jurisdiction and local offenses. But, you know, this is a posture we intend to continue not just in Portland but in any of the facilities that we’re responsible for around the country.”

We cannot say we have […] Continue Reading…

When It Is Over

Author: Gary Hart

Friends of this site may recall an invitation from its moderator to speculate what our nation would be like after the pandemic receded.  That was in late April.  And here we are, in an expanding pandemic with no end in sight.

Nevertheless, that kind of speculation is claiming participants.  Most recently, David Leonhardt of the New York Times (“It’s 2022.  What Does Life Look Like?”, July 10, 2020”, with the help of a variety of predictors, sees some fairly dramatic outcomes ahead.

He begins by writing that near-term success in taming the virus by this year’s end will result in few major, long-term changes in life as we used to know it.  However, as is more likely the case, if the virus continues into next year, vaccines are slow to arrive and even slower to massively distribute, “the long-term changes could be truly profound.”

Under the latter scenario, whole industries could disappear.  […] Continue Reading…

Reflections on the Fourth

Author: Gary Hart

Our Civil War, the Great Depression, and World War II are notable exceptions.  Otherwise, history will show the nation’s birthday celebration in 2020 to be one of the most fraught in our history.

We are beset by a pandemic that seems to have a life of its own, thanks mostly to the almost demented insistence on too many people taking their own lives and those of others into their own hands in a growing death spiral.

Our economy is characterized by almost Great Depression levels of unemployment, business failures, increasing poverty, homelessness, and hunger, and family tales of tragedy.

Then, we are hurtling toward a national election possibly unique in U.S. history with an incumbent alleging fraud four months before a vote is cast and arming himself with hitherto secret powers that represent a blueprint for dictatorship.

The American people are treated to a daily Svengali-like performance of denial and magical thinking.  The […] Continue Reading…

The Meaning of the Fourth

Author: Gary Hart

This is to wish all of you a memorable Fourth of July in this problematic year.

Stay safe and remember good friends.  And of course we always remember our good friends in Canada and Great Britain.

More to follow on reflections on the day.

Gary Hart

Post-Rational Politics

Author: Gary Hart

It seems very possible, if not probable, that Trumpism will not disappear with Trump.  He did not create the “base” that supports him.  With the help of some clever advisors, he discovered it and captured it…right out from under the nose of the Republican Party.

Too many smart commentators and would be pundits are assuming a Trump loss will magically disappear the “base”.  I don’t think so.

Consider whether what Trump discovered (but did not create) was a new politics that may, or may not, be peculiar to America.

Let’s call this new politics “post-rational”.

America’s Founders were products of the largely Scottish and English Enlightenment that put science and facts before mediation by monarchy and church.  They presumed that, with access to education and information, including contested information, men and women were rational creatures who would reach proper conclusions in both self-interest and societal interest.

With several notable exceptions, largely detailed in the […] Continue Reading…

Make America America Again

Author: Gary Hart

Donald Trump has but one idea, and it is wrong.  He started from the assumption that America was faltering and had lost its way.  Somehow, the eight-year Obama presidency was at fault.  Because he could not fault previous Republican presidents, the loss of America’s greatness occurred on Obama’s watch.  But Obama inherited a serious recession and managed to claw his way out of it.  He also inherited two flawed wars and struggled to reduce their clutches on the nation.

Based on his destruction of a 75-year-old U.S. bipartisan international policy, by retreating from virtually every foreign policy engagement with democratic allies, he also implicitly blames all presidents of both parties going all the way back to Franklin Roosevelt.

There never has been, and never will be, a Trump date when America lost its “greatness”.

When Trump leaves Washington, sooner rather than later, he will leave behind no blueprint for making America great […] Continue Reading…