Trump Is Only A Symptom Of A More Serious Condition.

The success of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign should come as no surprise to anyone. It has been in the making since the Fairness Doctrine was repealed during the George H.W. Bush administration. That seemingly innocuous decision meant that US broadcast media no longer had to operate in the public interest. No longer held accountable to broadcast the truth, the radio airwaves were quickly dominated by rightwing conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck. Within a few years, more than 90 percent of talk radio was devoted to angry, hateful radio hosts telling the public that the government was too big, taxes were too high and liberals were wasting your money. These people treated politics as entertainment – the more hateful and bombastic they became, the higher their ratings.

Seizing on the opportunity that hate radio created, Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes created a cable TV version called Fox News Channel. Scarcely trying to disguise its partisanship, Fox became a vocal and very angry arm of the Republican National Committee. Ailes handed out Republican talking points at the beginning of each day, and the on-air hosts repeated them verbatim. Most of the network guests were Republicans, and if Democrats dared to appear on the network in order to correct the record, they were angrily shouted down…a tactic epitomized by a program host who lost custody of his children after grabbing his wife by the throat and dragging her down the stairs.

Fox News helped to create and promote the Tea Party, inflating the numbers of demonstrators while, at the same time, dismissing the racist rhetoric. The network took the side of those who brought guns to the demonstrations and threatened to “exercise their 2nd Amendment rights.” The network ramped up racist remarks surrounding the police killings of unarmed blacks – even that of a 12-year-old boy whose “crime” was playing with a toy gun. It supported virulent anti-government groups, such as those surrounding Cliven Bundy. And for more than 7 years, its program hosts have verbally attacked our president and celebrated the obstruction of his policies and court nominees.

Is it any wonder, then, that the same sort of hateful discourse has now permeated the Republican debates?

Donald Trump and his supporters have simply repeated what the rightwing media have been saying all along. They are immune to facts and the truth. They don’t care about policy discussions. Trump’s political movement is all about emotion – the emotions of anger and hate.

For its part, the Republican Party has reveled in the obstruction and destruction aimed at Democrats. Only now that it has become a very real possibility that Donald Trump could win the Republican nomination and potentially destroy the “Grand Old Party;” only now that the polls have shown that either Democratic candidate could defeat Trump, has the Party establishment become concerned.

But Trump is not the only potential problem. The rhetoric and actions of the other Republican candidates are just as ugly and just as hateful. They all portray an America few people recognize. They all feed off of the anger created and promoted by the media. They all act as if the political campaign is little more than a made-for-TV reality show with all of the substance and thoughtfulness of Honey Boo-Boo. And though such candidates are good for network ratings, any of them would be disastrous for the future of our nation and the world, if for no other reason than the fact that none of them recognize the impending disaster otherwise known as climate change.

We can only hope that voters repudiate the hate. We should hope that the Republican nominee is defeated in a landslide. Elections should be about policies and leadership. Not about ratings.

Time To Rethink The Language Of Hate.

Following the murder of two Las Vegas cops and a “good guy with a gun,” it’s time to take a long look at those who are fomenting anti-government hate. The shooters, Jerad and Amanda Miller, had apparently been inspired by Cliven Bundy, as well as various militias and “patriot” groups. They believed the police officers to be Nazis and talked of a revolution against our government.

Far from being alone, the Millers are part of a growing segment of our population who have a perverse understanding of our Constitution, and who consider our government illegitimate. Since the election of President Obama, the non-partisan Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has noted a significant rise in such hate groups. A spokesman said that the SPLC’s Hatewatch had listed 139 hate groups in 2008, but over the last 5 years, the number has grown to more than a thousand.

Interestingly, these groups only seem to thrive during Democratic administrations.

The growth of hate groups is almost certainly the result of the constant anti-government, anti-Democrat hatred being spewed by Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and many others. It’s even worse these days with the impact of social media and the Tea Party. Even so-called “traditional” Republicans and “Christian” churches must be held responsible for their words. These people have questioned the legitimacy of a president twice elected with large majorities. Instead of respecting the results of the elections, they have implied that there was widespread voter fraud. They have demonized gays, lesbians, Latinos, African-Americans, the unemployed and the poor.

They have called Obama the “Imperial President” simply for acting on his campaign promises. They called him a Nazi, a Socialist and a Communist (it’s clear they don’t understand the definitions of any of those terms) for signing into law a version of Romneycare. They have celebrated mockumentaries created by James O’Keefe that purported to show progressive groups participating in illicit activities. They have invented conspiracies and scandals over events similar to those they supported or ignored during Republican administrations. They rant about the growth of government even though cutbacks at every level of government have acted as an anchor on our economy since the start of the Great Recession.

The hatemongers have generated such a large following that it now threatens to explode in a new wave of violence.

Rather than being outliers such as Timothy McVeigh, the hate-spewing extremists have taken over one of our two dominant political parties. The haters have members of Congress, presidential candidates, militias led by retired peace officers, Tea Party groups calling for Second Amendment remedies, a cable “news” network making up lies and supporting seditionists, churches screaming hate-filled tirades at minorities, and bullies openly carrying AK-47s, AR-15s and shotguns into restaurants and large retail stores.

Thankfully, the SPLC has finally convinced the Justice Department to reinstate its domestic terrorism unit that was disbanded following 9/11. After all, terrorism is no less lethal if it comes from within. In many ways, domestic terrorism is more destructive than that imposed on us by foreign groups. It makes us distrust and fear each other. Our political system was founded on the debate of ideas; of the party in power being challenged by the loyal opposition. But if we don’t de-escalate the rhetoric that inspires people like the Millers, this isn’t going to end well.

Why Do Democrats Apologize When Teapublicans Won’t?

Every day, Teapublican leaders and their spokesmouths say something offensive to our president, to women, to minorities, to the poor, to non-Christians, and to Democrats. For example, Texas Senatorial candidate Chris Mapp recently said ranchers should be allowed to shoot “wetbacks.”Virginia State Sen. Steve Martin wrote that a pregnant woman is “just a host” and shouldn’t have the right to end a pregnancy. Ted Nugent called President Obama a “subhuman mongrel.” Republican lobbyist Jack Burkman said he is preparing legislation to ban gay players in the NFL. Rush Limbaugh called Georgetown student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” for supporting contraceptives.

If you’re looking for an apology, good luck. You won’t find one.

While demonstrating stupidity, anger and hatefulness is part of the Teapublican belief system, apologizing and admitting mistakes is not. Perhaps the most extreme example is President George W. Bush. Having ignored more than 40 warnings of impending attacks prior to 9/11, having led the US into two costly and unnecessary wars, and having overseen the economic crash that led to the Great Recession, he said he couldn’t think of a single regret or mistake during his 8 years in office.

But when Democratic leaders make mistakes or say something offensive, even if it’s true, they tend to backtrack and apologize as quick as you can say Martin Bashir. (If you don’t watch MSNBC, you should know that Bashir attempted to do the impossible – educate Sarah Palin about the awful, disgusting truth of slavery. For that, he ultimately apologized and resigned.) This happens at every level of the party. For example, when Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack saw a video clip taken out of context from a speech by Shirley Sherrod, he fired her without even waiting for an explanation. Then, when the truth came out, he apologized to Sherrod. In another case, Congressional Democrats slashed funding for ACORN based on misleading and highly-edited videos produced by right-wing zealots.

The list of Democratic apologies and over-reactions is both lengthy and embarrassing.

It might seem like the right thing to do, but it leaves the impression that Democrats make more mistakes than Teapublicans. Worse, it makes voters believe that Democrats are gutless and lack the courage of their convictions. I think it’s great that most Democrats are willing to do three things that no Teapublican will…admit mistakes, apologize and compromise. But not at the expense of appearing spineless and lost.

So if you’re a Democrat running for office, let me give you a bit of advice. If you aren’t sure you’re doing the right thing, then you shouldn’t be doing it. And if you’re sure you’re doing the right thing, you should never apologize and only compromise when you get something equally important in exchange. Otherwise, voters will rightfully believe that the only thing you really care about is getting re-elected. And, if you’re not fighting for what you really believe, voters won’t, and shouldn’t, care if you lose.

Mourning Mandela.

It has been said that one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. No statement more accurately describes Nelson Mandela.

Mandela began his career as an activist by non-violently demonstrating against South African apartheid. When the white South African government responded with exceptional brutality, Mandela and his followers reluctantly turned to terrorism. But rather than kill people, their intent was to blow up buildings in order to make a statement and disrupt the government.That led to Mandela being tried for conspiracy to overthrow the government and being sentenced to life in jail. With most of the world supporting sanctions against South Africa and, with Mandela as a symbol for freedom, the government was eventually forced to release Mandela and apartheid finally came to an end.

Yet Mandela’s political career was just beginning.

Having won freedom for himself and his people, Mandela directed his energies toward healing the wounds of apartheid. He was elected president of South Africa and, rather than seeking retribution for the crimes of the previous government, Mandela promoted national unity. Is it any wonder, then, that Nelson Mandela is now celebrated by most of the world?

That was not always the case.

Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Richard “The Dick” Cheney and other conservatives considered Mandela a terrorist and placed him on the terrorist watch list. Although Reagan publicly spoke against apartheid, he vetoed the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986. His veto was over-ridden by Congress. But Reagan defiantly refused to implement many of the sanctions against the South African apartheid government, and Mandela was kept on the US terrorist list until July of 2008.

None of this should come as a surprise to anyone who follows today’s GOP.

Since implementation of the Southern Strategy beginning in the late 1960’s, the GOP has almost completely rejected its glorious past as the party of emancipation, consistently coming down on the wrong side of history. The GOP refuses to vote for comprehensive immigration reform. It has fought against gay rights and gay marriage. It has relentlessly attacked a woman’s right to make medical choices regarding her own body. Republican legislatures have pushed through unnecessary voter ID laws in order to restrict the voting rights of minorities.

Despite Mandela’s victory over discrimination, despite his Nobel Peace Prize, despite worldwide acclaim and despite the sorrow so eloquently expressed by people the world over, even now, some in the GOP refuse to acknowledge his greatness simply because Mandela believed in economic equality as well as racial equality. That made Mandela a communist and a danger to the wealthy and the powerful, a claim that defacto GOP leader, Rush Limbaugh, recently leveled against Pope Francis.

The fact is, Nelson Mandela fought the good fight. He helped to liberate tens of thousands of people. He inspired millions more. We should all strive to do even half as much. Most especially those in the GOP.

“Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for the eternity.” – Nelson Mandela