A Better Alternative: Urge the Electoral College To Elect Sanders President

As strange as it may seem, the Electoral College does not have to elect Donald Trump president on December 19 when the electors cast their ballots. The U.S. Constitution does not actually require them to vote for the candidate who won the popular vote in their respective states.

In fact, when the Constitution was being drafted, Alexander Hamilton explained that the provision giving the Electoral College discretion in its selection of the president was an important precaution guarding against an ill-informed public making an unwise choice. A very good argument can be made that the people’s election of Donald Trump meets this test for the electors to substitute their judgment for that of the voters. Here’s why:

1. Experts believe that Trump is a sociopath. (See goo.gl/FXNJNF.) He is a person who lacks regard for the moral or legal standards of our culture and exhibits the following traits: a disregard for the feelings of others, a lack of remorse or shame, manipulative behavior, unchecked egocentricity, an inability to take criticism, and a tendency to lie in order to achieve his goals. Trump has displayed all of these characteristics on numerous occasions during the election campaign. Is such a man a wise choice to lead our country?

2. Trump’s candidacy was supported by a foreign government, Russia, our adversary. This was confirmed by American intelligence services. In fact, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov admitted communicating with many of Trump’s closest associates during the campaign. (See goo.gl/Axm8Wx.) At the same time, Trump has refused many American intelligence briefings. Is someone who would allow a foreign adversary to meddle in our elections while rejecting American intelligence trustworthy to be president?

3. Trump still refuses to release his tax returns. The American people have no way of knowing what financial relationships Trump has with Russia, other foreign adversaries, or anyone that might create a conflict of interest. Do we want a president who will not be open and honest with the American people about his relations with our adversaries?

4. Trump has shown a number of signs that he intends to use the presidency for his personal gain. Among them is his refusal to put his private holdings in a blind trust controlled by an independent executor. When he met with Indian executives recently, Trump discussed potential private business deals with them. And, his infrastructure proposal is a boondoggle that will put the control of our roads and bridges in the hands of his billionaire friends.

Even more troubling is the fact that Trump’s foreign holdings have the potential for placing him in a dangerous conflict of interest between his financial concerns and the safety of American property and lives. For instance, what is to stop an authoritarian country like Iran or Turkey from threatening Trump’s business interests unless he complies with its wishes, or, on the other hand, offering him special deals, on the condition Trump agrees to certain demands inimical to America’s interests?

This may just be the tip of a very risky iceberg if Trump becomes our president. The electors must think long and hard before casting their votes for him. But, what is their alternative? While Hillary Clinton would make a much better president than Trump for a large majority of Americans, the truth is many Republican electors despise Clinton and would never change their vote and support her. Plus, the voters who sent them to the Electoral College would be outraged if their electors chose Clinton over Trump. That just would probably result in tremendous civil unrest.

Fortunately, there is another choice, Bernie Sanders. In their combined wisdom, the electors could turn to Sen. Sanders. There is nothing in the Constitution that forbids them from doing this. A good number of the people who voted for Trump have a favorable opinion of Sanders. In fact, Sanders was the only one of the three major candidates who had an overall positive rating with the general public. Electing Sanders could save the country from an egocentric sociopath, on the one hand, and very disruptive civil disorder, on the other.

You can help our country move in a more positive direction. Contact your state’s electors and urge them to elect Bernie Sanders for president. And, tell everyone you know to do the same.

 

 

 

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Is There A Silver Lining?

The 2016 presidential election was an excruciating experience for millions of Americans. Many are in a state of despair and disbelief. Like me, they wonder how we could possibly have elected Donald Trump as our president.

            This election pitted the Establishment against the Anti-Establishment. A great number of Americans, including many who worked for Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries, were fed up with a self-serving Establishment. After decades of being left on the sidelines, millions of voters enthusiastically backed Donald Trump, the political outsider who shrewdly crafted a message that addressed their frustrations. Finally, someone understood their anger and resentment.

            On the other hand, Hillary Clinton represented the epitome of the Washington insider. Most Democratic, and even some Republican, officials supported her. She had been around D.C. for almost 25 years. She knew how to play the game well and accomplished a good deal for our country over the years. But, in the end, Clinton had too much baggage to carry the day and win the big prize.

            Nevertheless, despite the looming darkness of a Trump presidency, there just may be a silver lining to this election. I have long thought that things may have to get worse before they could get better. Many of us have been willing to go along with the status quo because our own lives have not seemed to been affected very much by the corruption and gross inequality in our country. While we might donate to various social causes and/or write a letter to our state or federal representatives, the vast majority of good Americans have had little time for organizing and volunteering to build a fairer, more just political system.

            The election of Donald Trump very possibly changes all that. We have received a wake up call signaling that we are losing our democracy and becoming an oligarchy. With the implementation of Trump’s programs, I believe many more Americans will grasp how much politics and government policy can personally impact us in a negative way. Consequently, Trump’s election can be a great organizing tool for Democrats and progressives.

            Moreover, if Hillary had squeaked out a victory, Trump and the Republicans would have constantly been attacking her. It would have been as bad, if not worse than how they obstructed Obama. She would have had a hostile Republican House and Senate on her back all the time. We would have had more Washington gridlock, another government nightmare with little chance of Clinton successfully pursuing much of her agenda. And, what she was able to achieve would, most likely, have been watered down to meet Republican and, quite possibly, her own donors’ objections. While progressives would have been lobbying for stronger social programs and climate change legislation, it’s really hard to imagine how they could have achieved very much under such conditions.

            Now, instead, Trump and the Republicans control the whole government, ready to advance a right-wing agenda that favors big business, non-regulation and large tax breaks for the wealthy. Additionally, many of the hard-won, social justice advances of the last fifty years are in serious jeopardy. The lines between Trump’s course and one that would truly serve most Americans and our planet are now clearly drawn. That should make the need for building a broad-based, non-partisan national movement to revive our democracy even more urgent and, hopefully, our goal of a just society more obtainable. So let’s come together and get to work!

            Go to www.breakingbigmoneysgrip.com to learn how to get started. And, if you are in Santa Fe, come to the next meeting of the Democracy Organizing Committee on Monday, November 14, at 6:15 in the LaFarge Library Community Room.

 

Time for a Progressive Third Party

Millions of Americans are unhappy with their choices for president in this year’s election. According to Real Clear Politics’ average of all the latest polls, Donald Trump has an unfavorable rating of just over 60%, with 33.8% favorable. Hillary Clinton doesn’t fair that much better with an unfavorable rating of 53.1% and 43% favorable.

While those numbers will likely change before November, the fact that the country’s election process could result in such unpopular candidates receiving the nominations of our two major parties is a sad statement on the health of our democracy. Meanwhile, the candidate with the highest favorable ratings, Bernie Sanders (50% positive and only 36.8% unfavorable), has been eliminated from the race. One could reasonably expect that in a democracy with an open and fair electoral process the candidate with the highest favorable rating would still be running with a good chance of winning. Then again, many have questioned the fairness of the Democratic primary process which awarded the nomination to Sec. Clinton.

Nevertheless, despite being the most popular candidate, Sanders has endorsed Clinton rather than run on a third party ticket. His primary reason is his belief that we must do everything we can to defeat the very dangerous Trump candidacy. A third-party run by Sanders could result in a Trump presidency. Understandably, Sanders is not willing to take that chance.

But what if there were an already viable third party with an established structure in every state? Would a Sanders run make more sense then? Aren’t there more than two major political viewpoints in this country that deserve the voters’ consideration on election day?

After all, who do Trump and Clinton really represent? Trump’s supporters are the base of the Republican Party, mostly male, white working class, social conservatives. Some of the Establishment Republican businesspeople, on the other hand, have deserted Trump for Clinton or Libertarian Gary Johnson.

Clinton’s support comes mainly from the Establishment wing of the Democratic Party along with minority voters and some aforementioned professional Republicans who cannot stomach Trump. Meanwhile, progressives and many younger voters believe they have been robbed of any real choice since their candidate, Sanders, has left the race.

At the same time, many Independents, a great number of whom supported Sanders in the primaries, also feel they have no viable choice. When Independents could vote in this year’s Democratic primaries and caucuses, Sanders beat Clinton, often by large margins. Therefore, it is a reasonable possibility that Sanders could beat Clinton and Trump in a three-way race. The combination of progressives, the youth, new voters, a sizable portion of the Democratic base and many Independents could put Sanders over the top, assuming the elections were run fairly.

As Clinton solicits Big Money donations and disaffected Republicans’ votes, it seems highly unlikely that her policies, assuming she wins the presidency, will meet the progressive standards set forth by the Sanders campaign. Consequently, Sanders is preparing to launch Our Revolution to advance his proposals for a better future for all Americans. To create that future, a broad-based movement to establish a viable third party must begin now.

Bruce Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America: Working Together To Revive Our Democracy. For more information, go to breakingbigmoneysgrip.com.

 

 

 

The Trust Issue: Hillary and the TPP

First she was for it as Sec. of State. In fact, Sec. Clinton was a strong proponent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. But then, candidate Clinton came out against the TPP. She reversed her position when she observed how her primary campaign rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders, had generated a great deal of support due to his opposition to the TPP and other free trade pacts that harmed American workers.

While Clinton still maintains she is against the TPP, her surrogates on the Democratic Party platform committee just blocked an amendment to the platform that would have stated formal opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. These are people Clinton appointed to the committee. It appears that either Clinton cannot control her own appointees, which does not seem likely; or, she is not willing to fight for own position on the TPP, which indicates her opposition is weak in contrast to her public statements. In either case, is this the kind of leadership we want in our president?

To be blunt about it: Can we trust Hillary Clinton when she takes a stand on issues important to America’s workforce?

Clinton knows that the majority of Democrats, in Congress and around the country, oppose the TPP. Moreover, she understands that her party’s failure to strongly reject it will hand the presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, who opposes the deal, a political advantage with working Americans who the Democrats claim to represent. As Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) argued recently, “If Clinton’s representatives on the full, 187-member platform committee in Orlando once again keep the Democratic Party from opposing the TPP, her responsibility for that outcome will be clear….”

 

Democratic Party Not Worthy of its Name

The Democratic Party is a disgrace and not worthy of its name. It is not democratic and has used its great influence to assist Hillary Clinton’s campaign and produce a very biased primary election process. The Party needs to be rebuilt by honest Americans, or we should create a new progressive party in 2017. See http://observer.com/2016/03/the-countless-failings-of-the-dnc/.

Where has the incrementalism that Establishment Democrats support gotten most Americans?

Before I try to answer this question, I apologize for my absence from this blog for the last few weeks. My father was in the hospital which required that my attention be directed first and foremost toward him. Now that he is back home and improving, I can deal with other issues like the one in the title of this piece.

The short answer to the question in the title is that the Democratic establishment’s support of incremental change has maintained the status quo and done very little for most Americans over the last 30 or more years. According to Slate.com, income for the top 20 percent of Americans has increased since the 1970s while income for the bottom 80 percent declined. In the 1970s the top 1 percent received 8 percent of total income while by 2007 they were receiving 18 percent. Now it’s an even greater amount. During the same period income for the bottom 20 percent had decreased 30 percent.

As I point out in my book, Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America, “between 2009 and 2012 the incomes of top 1 percent of citizens climbed 31.4 percent — or 95 percent of the total gain –while incomes of the other 99 percent grew only .4 percent.”

Since members of the Democratic establishment, for the most part, are in the top 20 percent which have seen their incomes increase over these last 30 years, they don’t feel an urgency for bold initiatives like Sen. Sanders proposes to reorder a system that has served them well. Like Secretary Clinton, they are fine with incrementalism. While many of them recognize various degrees of unfairness in the status quo, they don’t want to rock the boat too much for fear it might spring a leak or even capsize, causing significant harm to their relatively safe positions.

As Brent Budowsky writes for The Hill, it is Sanders’ growing popularity that seems to have ignited the establishment’s backlash against him: “Virtually the entire Washington and Wall Street establishments are now in a state of panic about the possibility of a [Sanders] victory in the Iowa Democratic caucus next Monday,” Budowsky writes. “What the insider Washington Democratic establishment fails to understand is that the issues Sanders raises have great appeal to the broad nation.” Moreover, the establishment’s pushback exposes their lack of conviction for a truly fair and just society.

The great majority of Americans who represent “the broad nation” and are on the lower decks of our economic ship feel they are in danger of drowning as their financial boat takes on more water. Incrementalism will not save them or their children. Sen. Sanders’s calls for strong measures to redirect America’s economic and social policies gives them hope that they can yet land on solid ground.

 

 

 

 

A Big Boost for Sanders and a Huge Blow to Clinton

In case you missed it, a few days ago 170 of America’s leading economists endorsed Sen. Sanders’ plan to reform Wall Street. Here’s some of what they said:

In our view, Sanders’ plan for comprehensive financial reform is critical for avoiding another ‘too-big-to-fail’ financial crisis. The Senator is correct that the biggest banks must be broken up and that a new 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act, separating investment from commercial banking, must be enacted….The only way to contain Wall Street’s excesses is with reforms sufficiently bold and public they can’t be watered down. That’s why we support Senator Sanders’s plans for busting up the biggest banks and resurrecting a modernized version of Glass-Steagall.

In addition, these leading economists noted: Secretary Hillary Clinton’s more modest proposals do not go far enough. They call for a bit more oversight and a few new charges on shadow banking activity, but they leave intact the titanic financial conglomerates that practice most shadow banking. As a result, her plan does not adequately reduce the serious risks our financial system poses to the American economy and to individual Americans. Given the size and political power of Wall Street, her proposals would only invite more dilution and finagle. (See http://www.politicususa.com/2016/01/14/170-economists-bernie-sanders-plan-reform-wall-st-rein-greed.html)

These economists couldn’t be more clear. If Americans do not want to risk another financial crisis like the 2008 meltdown, the candidate that will provide the best protection against such a calamity is Sen. Sanders. And the reason is quite obvious. Unlike Secretary Clinton, Sen. Sanders is not tied to Wall Street. Many of Hillary Clinton’s biggest donors are investment bankers. She cannot both satisfy their interests and safeguard the American people at the same time. When a future President Clinton is dealing with critical financial issues facing our nation, can we trust her to make decisions that are in the public’s best interests over those that favor the Big Money that helped her get elected, and she will need for her re-election?

We all know the answer to that question. Hillary Clinton is part of the Establishment that uses its money and influence to get what it wants from Washington at the expense of the American people. Her Wall Street reform proposals don’t go far enough because she cannot afford to bite the hand that feeds her. But, we, the people, cannot afford more establishment politics that serve Big Money and provide little benefit for the rest of us. We need the strong leadership that Sen. Sanders offers on this and many other issues. And, we will only get that leadership if we all go out and work to ensure his election.

For more on the problem of Big Money in politics, visit http://www.breakingbigmoneysgrip.com and read Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What if Hillary came clean?

This story about Hillary and Bill Clinton’s Foundation taking money from foreign governments while Hillary was Sec. of State is gaining steam.  Did she make decisions at the State Dept. that assisted those governments?  If so, what was the connection between the donations and the decisions?   And, why did all those emails get deleted?  Is there a connection?

Of course, Hillary is denying everything.  But, if she really wanted to serve her country, she could come clean (if there was a connection, and I’m guessing there just may have been.) and explain that this is just the way our government works.  Then, she could start calling out all the examples of Democratic and Republican Senators and Representatives, and Obama and George Bush and Bill Clinton, who have done favors or voted a certain way, to assist Wall Street bankers, the healthcare industry, military contractors, and on and on, and gotten big campaign contributions in return.

Maybe I’m dreaming, but Hillary served in the Senate, lived in the White House and wants to be President.  She would be very credible on all this.  She could really be an American hero and help clean up our corrupt government.  But, then, she wouldn’t become president, would she?  Guess I am dreaming.