By Linda Curtis, just my independent opinion
“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.” George Washington, Farewell Address, 1797
A funny thing happened on the way to the 2016 presidential election. Populism in America had George Washington turning in his grave.
Populism, the rising up of we commoners, is arguably the most powerful political tool on the planet. It’s also a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re gonna get. Millions sent in their small donations hoping and praying for the presidential candidate most in keeping with the history of American populism, Bernie Sanders. What we got was a big surprise — the European-style populist Donald Trump.
I understand fully why Donald Trump has angered millions of Americans. As a Texan, I had a “Twilight Zone” moment when he nominated Rick Perry as Energy Secretary. In 2006, rural Texans led an urban-rural electoral revolt behind Carole Strayhorn’s independent run for Governor defeating Perry’s legendary pay-to-play scheme — the $200 billion Trans-Texas Corridor. Now that Perry is Energy Secretary, would anyone like to wager a $1.1 million bet that he pushes another toxic special interest deal on rural Texas with nuclear waste in West Texas?
That said, I am urging that we all take a careful look into the box of chocolates being served up by populism, including Trump’s. That box is also full of real possibilities for positive change. Just this week, Trump refreshingly hit a nerve on the pathetic hypocrisy of Fox News pundit, Bill O’Reilly, goading him on how he could respect Putin — “a killer”. Trump’s response was, “What, you think our country is so innocent?” Personally, I love it. Politically, we have to understand the true value of having a President willing to spill the beans on people operating behind the curtains all these years and offing people in the name of the American people.
That is big stuff because after a 50-year decline in electoral competition, American voters are more than ready to get out of both parties. In this way, Trumpism has huge (to steal a word) benefits. He is doing more to bust up both parties and the two-party arrangement than anyone in my lifetime. I didn’t vote for him, I don’t like many of his policies and I don’t even like him as a person, but I must give him this credit as a self-respecting independent.
If anything is killing American democracy it is partisanship — the allegiance to party over the power of the citizenry to self-goverment. We, the American people, must seize the moment brought to us by Donald Trump himself and unite despite our disagreements for this one purpose — to dismantle two-partyism to bring about truly competitive elections.
Trump the Independent
Donald Trump is the first president that I recall to challenge members of the “military-industrial complex” that President Dwight Eisenhower warned about:
Read the famous excerpt below – or watch this 3-minute video:
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” Dwight D. Eisenhower, Farewell Address, 1961
Independent writer, Charles Hughes Smith, wrote about the differences that have emerged between the “Neo-con” security elites (he calls the “deep state”) in the CIA, NSA, FBI and the DNI and the more “progressive state” – the working men and women of the U.S. military. These security elites together with the partisans in both parties are the “cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men” that the father of our country warned about. Together they have created the mess in the Middle East.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t worry – a lot — about Trump and Steve Bannon’s foreign policy intentions. However, I do agree with AntiWar.com’s Justin Raimondo who called out progressives for failing to sufficiently challenge how President Barack Obama carried “our bipartisan foreign policy of perpetual war”.
I am no foreign policy expert, which is why I recommend these excellent news blogs. Caution: Please take off your ideological and party blinders. I find the differences of opinions in these sites most useful in developing the critical thinking so necessary in the Trump era.
A Win-Win for the American People…put this to Congress
What we, ordinary Americans, must do now is a united call on both parties in Congress to check the executive’s power to take the country to war. This would force the hand of the “limited government” Republicans and the “anti-war” Democrats who, have put party before country and made America – the world’s model democracy — into the world’s interventionist deadly police.
What is more likely to happen: Factions within the two parties in Congress will move for impeachment and keep rearranging between them the deckchairs on the Titanic. In fact, the narrative for this started long before the Trump inauguration and is now in play.
Our country’s democratic process has been in decline for over 50 years as we have seen fewer and fewer people running for office and increased coronations of incumbents because of only ONE choice on the ballot.
I highly recommend this paper, “Death by a Thousand Signatures” by attorney Oliver Hall, Executive Director of the Center for Competitive Democracy who explains how we got here today.
Democracy is unraveling, folks. I believe there is simply no way out but independent. The 43% plurality of American voters and 50% of Millennial voters who identify as independents must self-organize an independent electoral revolt!