Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Et Tu, John Miller!

     You got to hand it to the Trump Administration, even though they've had more turnover than your neighborhood Walmart, it's managed to keep a razor-focus on job number one, screwing over the American people. While the nation was riveted by the Kavanaugh free-for-all, the administration proposed weakening mercury regulations (mercury is especially dangerous to children and fetuses) and effectively eliminating the EPA office in charge of children's health. (And they call themselves the pro-life party? Hmmm.)
      With all the distractions and uproar, it would have been easy for the Trump Administration to lose focus, maybe, even cave in to common sense and decency. So how does the Trump Administration do it? According to Ihor Binko, former chief lobbyist for The Big Belching Energy Corporation and now head EPA Administrator for Polluters, a new office created by the Trump Administration, it's all been one hard, long climb.
      “Washington's all aghast,” Ihor said, while sitting at a park bench on the National Mall, munching his favorite hot dog with extra red dye #3. “Cabinet members and twitter storms come and go. A new scandal pops up every other day. But in our office, I make sure we keep our eyes peeled on getting the job done: helping polluters navigate and avoid the administrative state.”
      After I coughed up a good chunk of my tofu wrap, I asked Mr. Binko, wasn't it the EPA's purpose to stop polluters?
      He chuckled. “Lots of people have that mistaken impression. Go figure.”
On deep background, Trump Administration official, John Miller, agreed to talk to me on the phone, “Ihor, fine man, one of our top people. Really! Believe me!”
      “But you don't think weakening mercury rules and eliminating the office for children sends a bad message?”
     “No, that's fake news! And what's your name again? Wheatcroft-Pardue, what is that, a hyphenated name? Sad. Little Kenny, we all know who wears the pants in your family.   You sound like a loser to me, an enemy of the people. I got a good friend in Montana who can body slam you.”
      “Excuse me.”
      “Listen, I'm close to the President. Very, very close, if you know what I mean. You play ball, maybe, I can get you an ambassadorship. Bound to be some shithole country without one now.”
      “I'm not interested in an ambassadorship. I just want to know how the party that claims to be pro-life can back policies that are obviously hazardous to young children?”
      “Pro-life is better. It helped me – uh, the President, in his great, amazing victory. That night was so, so amazing. Nobody thought we could do it. But, interestingly, I was pro-abortion in my younger days. Lot of guys went to Vietnam, but my Vietnam was 5th Avenue. After all that sex with 10's, (I only do it with 10's, I'm not a loser, like you) no STD's. Nothing, and me, without a condom. Always. Now people say I have small hands. I can tell you I never heard any complaints in bed before. Believe me.”
      So there you have it, despite having a “spokesman“ who way over-shares, you truly have to hand it to the Trump Administration. It has done exactly as promised. Help rich polluters ruin the environment and our children's lives, too. The real question now is, what are we going to do about it?
  

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Trump to Refugees: Drop Dead!

     Over my two decades as a high school ESL teacher, my refugee students were my heroes. They'd left their countries in the midst of conflicts and came here to learn a new language and culture, while at the same time navigating the minefields of adolescence. Many were victims of our country's foreign policy. In the nineties, that included my students from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Vietnam. By the time I retired in 2013, Palestine and Iraq were added to that list.
      I'll never forget one Salvadoran student, I had in the early 90's. This young man was quite the charmer, always sporting a big grin, yet it's clear to me now that part of this was show in order to hide what we would call today PTSD. Once, he confessed to me that at night when he heard police helicopters hover over his neighborhood, he always dove under his bed and shook like a leaf because that sound of chopper blades reminded him of los escuadrones de la muerte he and his family had fled in El Salvador. Death squads our country backed with weapons, money, and training.
      In the 20-teens, my Iraqi students recounted to me tales of growing up in a war zone. Immediately after we stupidly invaded their country, they were forced to stay inside their homes because our troops, expecting throngs “with sweets and flowers,” couldn't secure Baghdad. So for months these children at very important ages for their development couldn't go to school. And, of course, when they were finally able to go out, they would often come upon the brutal aftermath of firefights, IEDs, and suicide bombings, not something we'd want any child to experience.
      Today with the Syrian Civil War dragging into its seventh year, and an unstable Middle East, which we are partially responsible for, the world has more refugees than at any time since World War II. In 2016 the UN Refugee Agency estimated that there were 22.5 million refugees in the world. So, in the Age of Trump, what has been our response to this crisis? In one word, obscene.
      The Trump Administration had promised to take in 45,000 refugees during fiscal 2018, a paltry number considering our population of over 325 million, being the largest economy in the world, and, as compared to 2016, when we accepted nearly 85,000 refugees. Even so, at the halfway mark, we've only admitted a little more than 10,000. So in this very important respect, the Trump Administration has gone all in for globalization – or, as Pope Francis called it “the globalization of indifference” to refugees.
      Look no further than recent news for proof of the world's hard-heartedness. Netanyahu just changed his mind about resettling African migrants. Anti-immigrant parties are ascendant in many Poland, Hungary, and now, Italy, while Trump demagogues about “caravans” of “illegals."
      Yet the fact is most refugees are not in Western countries, but in Lebanon, Uganda, Kenya, and Jordan, countries much smaller geographically and economically than we are, so much less able to handle influxes of refugees. If these relatively poorer countries can step up, why can't we?
      We have a moral responsibility to do more, as we have in the past, yet today even mainstream Republicans seemingly equate refugees, who have already gone through a rigorous vetting process, with terrorists. That's not just a lie. It's the big lie on steroids.
But, worst of all, it's self-defeating. Under Trump, the world's opinion of the U.S. has plummeted. A Gallup survey earlier this year documented an almost 20-point drop in global confidence in American leadership.
      But if we accept more refugees, we might be able to change the world's opinion. Our intransigence is especially galling to me because, from my experience, we are good at assimilating refugee students. After the shortest time imaginable, my students, no matter where they came from, would be acting like typical American teenagers. Typical American teens who later would be a credit to their adopted country.
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Correction: An earlier version of this piece stated that the U.N. Refugee Agency had estimated there to be 65.6 million refugees. That is in error. The U.N. Refugee Agency estimated that there were 65.6 million "forcibly displaced people worldwide." There are an estimated 22.5 million refugees. That error is now corrected.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Believe it or Not, Trump is Not Our Main Problem

      Donald J. Trump, America's fevered dream, a lonely grifter who expertly used fear of the other to ascend to our nation's highest office . . . He strode fully-formed, from New York tabloids and reality TV, with the huckster's gift of gab and the uncanny ability to hone in on other's weaknesses. But from that fateful day he rode down on his golden escalator in Trump Tower, he's been our slow-motion national train wreck from which we cannot for even a day avert our eyes.
      Just try, for I have, and every time I do, I still can't quite ignore him. Just think of all the myriad of ways, he has sullied his office – the constant lying, the shameful bullying of others, his blatant disrespect of our courts and media, his cartoonish threats in the U.N. to destroy another sovereign nation, and, most shameful of all, the defending of Nazis and white supremacists. Interestingly, what would have dominated the news for any other President, the paying off of a porno star, doesn't even make the cut. Chew on that awhile.
      By the dizzying number of unforced errors, Trump has proven his worst detractors correct. He is spectacularly unsuited to be President. So it is with some sadness I have to admit that Trump is not our main problem – even though saying that I know I might well lose my glow-in-the-dark Trump Hater decoder ring that George Soros uses to communicate with we minions of the Deep State.
      A number of factors made Trump's election possible a strong right-wing news media impervious to facts and the manipulation of voters through largely unregulated social media sites, to cite only a few. But whenever I hear the usual political blah-blah-blah about Trump speaking for the forgotten man, Democrats being condescending toward the working class, or Hillary Clinton being such a flawed candidate, I can't shake the notion that something very important is being ignored.
      Namely, that Hillary Clinton, for all her many weaknesses, real and imagined, managed to win by nearly 3 million votes. So the proximate cause of Trump being in the White House is not Russian bots, the mendacious Fox News, or, even, the unpropitious James Comey, but because of the out-dated, convoluted way we pick our Presidents.
      It is richly ironic that the Electoral College, which was supposed to be our bulwark against populist demagogues, made it possible for the most demagogic President ever to win. In Federalist No. 68, Hamilton contends that the Electors would be “most likely to have the information and discernment” to choose wisely so as to avoid selecting someone “not . . . endowed with the requisite qualifications.” To belabor the obvious, in December 2016 when the Electors met last that didn't happen. Instead, they voted for the obviously unqualified Donald J. Trump.
      So far this century, we've had two candidates who lost the popular vote and won the Electoral College, Trump and George W. Bush. And, if you're of my political persuasion, that's more than enough to convince you the Electoral College needs to go.
     But if you still need more reasons, here goes. Part of the Electoral College's original purpose was to keep southern states relevant despite their built-in disadvantage of a disproportionate number of 3/5's of human beings (slaves, in other words) in their populations.
      So it helped slave states, and now it benefits lightly populated, largely rural states that are predominately white. Think, Wyoming. So as the nation becomes ever more diverse and urban, we will continue to elect Presidents by a method that strengthens the vote of the minority at the expense of the majority. This is not one person/one vote. It's not majority rule.
      If your city privileged a mostly white conservative neighborhood by giving their votes more weight, regardless of our political persuasion, we'd all be outraged, but that is exactly what happens with the Electoral College. Wyomingites have 3.6 times the voting power of Californians. The Electoral College is a radically undemocratic anachronism that virtually guarantees we'll have more Presidents who represent the minority of voters, not the majority. It needs to be abolished. Period.
      That can either be done by a constitutional amendment or by the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC), which is an agreement among states that the popular vote winner will be elected President. Over the years, upwards of 700 amendments have been introduced in Congress to reform or abolish the Electoral College. It's time we finally got the job done.
      In 2012, Enrique Peña Nieto won by two-and-a-half million votes to become President of Mexico. In 2017, Emmanuel Macron won by 10 million votes in France. In neither country, in fact, in no other country does the second-place vote-getter win. Our presidential elections should be no different. Just as Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida should be the last school to face a mass shooting, Donald J. Trump should be the last second-place voter-getter to become President.

Monday, September 11, 2017

A Houston Park, a Naked Angel, and Pure Evil: My Southern Heritage

      I admit it. I love grits with lots of butter, hot cornbread, and fried anything. At 60, I still say “yes, sir, no sir, yes, ma'am, and no, ma'am,” the way it was drilled into me as a boy. And, no matter which side of the Mason-Dixon I land, I use the plural of you every chance I get. In fact, I'm such a son of the south that my great grandfather, a Tennessee farmer, was named after not only one Confederate “hero” but two, Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee.
      Yes, I love my southern heritage, a phrase that's only besmirched, when you package it as an excuse to keep symbols of white supremacy, which in 2017 we should be long past defending. Our southern heritage, you see, is not only all that bad stuff. It's our food, our friendliness, our beautiful accents. But, most of all, it's our culture.
      Imagine American music without the three Southern cities of Memphis, New Orleans, and Nashville. It can't be done. American music does not exist without the south. And our culture doesn't stop there. Southern writers, like Robert Penn Warren, Flannery O'Connor, and William Faulkner taught me the pure joy of words and gave me, a teenage misfit in suburban Houston, a way to make sense of the craziness that has always been the south. To me, this is my southern heritage. But, obviously, others see things differently.
      When I was a teenager, after a morning doctor's appointment in downtown Houston where my dad worked, I was allowed to play glorious hooky the rest of the day. That afternoon I wandered through underground Houston, long hallways under streets that connected downtown buildings back in the seventies, and, for all I know, still. Later, I found myself in the old downtown library, a multi-story red-brick affair, now long torn down. But I didn't stop there. I wandered all the way to Sam Houston Park, a little west of City Hall. If you've ever driven on 45 through downtown Houston you've seen it, an oasis of green with old buildings, and yes, a statue.
      Picture me there, a 70's high school punk happily AWOL from the internecine conflicts of high school, sunning himself on a bench, just enjoying a little teenage R&R. After breathing in all that youthful freedom, I noticed an especially ugly statue looming behind me. It was a male angel with wings and a sword and not much else on. Curious, I got up and spotted its name: the Spirit of the Confederacy. I then read its dedication: “to all the heroes of the south who fought for the principles of states rights.”
      Gob-smacked, I reread the inscription again and again. Here we were in the seventies, and there was an actual statue honoring those who'd taken up arms against our nation, who, in other words, were traitors. And, even though, I was white and privileged, I remember being bowled over that in downtown Houston, where many African-Americans lived and worked, there'd be a statue to people who thought enslaving other human beings was not just par for the course, but worth fighting an especially brutal war over. How the hell must that make them feel?
      One argument I've seen on Facebook is that this struggle over statues is overblown. It's just not important. One meme blared as Harvey was pummeling my hometown with trillions of gallons of water that nobody in Houston now cared about Confederate statues. A statement, I suspect, even then was false.  This urge in 2017, some commentators believe, to get rid of these statues is just so much misplaced angst. Why now? they opine.
      But this specious argument can be turned around. If the existence of these statues is as unimportant as some conservatives claim, then one could plausibly argue, why not take them down if some members of the community are offended by them. Yet the truth is these statues, like most symbols – our flag, for instance – are important. Yes, the removal of these offensive monuments will not magically heal the very deep and real wounds caused by America's original sin of slavery. But it is still very much a fight worth having and having now.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Dating in Your Sixties or Beware of Crazy Greek Psychotherapists!

     Remember how awful junior high was? Well, dating in your sixties is worse. Women complain of hoped-for princes turning out to be frogs, mansplainers, or pervs, but, let me tell you, it's not so easy for men either. After my wife of 30 years died almost 2 years ago, I thought having a long successful marriage, plus still having my hair and being in relatively good shape, would bode well for me in the dating world. After all, I'm a nice guy, hard-wired for a long-term relationship. Surely, some woman would see that, and the rest would be history.
      Boy, was I ever wrong! Think something on the scale of Columbus believing that bumping into a few islands in the Caribbean meant he was on his way to China and mega-riches or working-class voters buying any of Trump's flim-flam, faux-populist rhetoric. World-class wrong!
      For example, none of the dozen or so women I've dated have been my ideal exactly, but I've always tried to see the good in each one. Some had nice smiles, while others were good conversationalists. But women, I've found, are not quite so broad-minded. They're like shoppers who know exactly what they want, and it hasn't been me. I don't seem to display quite the self-confidence of the narcissistic sociopaths they divorced and are used to. For example, I've been dumped for rather exacting reasons: not being able to salsa dance, not traveling to the “right” places, and, my personal favorite so far, being too intelligent.
      A while back, I exchanged emails with an attractive woman from Match.com. I learned she was Greek and a psychotherapist. Of course, I didn't know then that she was crazy. But when we talked on the phone, I ought to have figured it out. Enough red flags were raised that for a moment there I felt like I was in the middle of a Mao-era Chinese ballet.
      After she wondered how she would know me when we met, I told her I could wear my baseball cap. “That's a deal breaker!” she exclaimed. Taken aback, I explained I'd only wear it till she saw me, then discreetly put it away. That seemed to calm her, for a while. Then when she found out where I live, in a working-class, urban neighborhood, you would've thought mi barrio was a slum known for druggies and drive-byes, instead of great taco trucks and pho.
      Despite all the red flags, we met for lunch, and it went pretty well. Afterwards, we exchanged hugs and agreed to a second date. Or so I thought. But that night I got the “adios” email from her, which happens. I've rejected women and been rejected, but you try to do it nicely, not like a certain crazy, Greek psychotherapist.
      She wrote: I want to “enjoy the rest of my life with a romantic partner who wants and is ready to focus on his last love. You are not him. BTW, You are not the only one who watches 'Friends' and borrowing their 'sometime' line. Not very unique for a writer. LOL . . . I feel great to have said the Truth.”
      I had to ask my daughter about that “Friends” line. Who knew that show had a copyright on the phrase, “Let's go out sometime?” I sure didn't. But in the end, the crazy, Greek psychotherapist, who seems like she might need a little work upstairs herself, did me a big favor. Honestly, would I have really wanted to go on a second date with that nut job, even if she was quite attractive?
      Undeterred I've gone on to date two other women. A Brazilian who sent me tons of cute texts, until she broke our third date. And I haven't heard back from her since. Then I had 2 dates with a gorgeous 54-year old with a personal trainer, until she regained her sense of sight.
      Sure, I think about giving up sometimes, but then I realize all of it – the crazy Greek psychotherapist, the Brazilian addicted to cutsie texts, and la belle dame sans merci – are just fodder for my memoir, tentatively entitled, Worse than Junior High: the Ken Wheatcroft-Pardue Story.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The G(OP)rinch that Stole Democracy

      This morning, in front of my foggy bathroom mirror, I try once again to enunciate the phrase I've had trouble saying without a shudder now for more than a month, “President-elect T-tr-tr-um . . .”
      Don't worry. I'll get it right some day. But, I still wonder, why did just enough Americans in the right states pick a former-reality TV star with no experience in government to be the 45th President of the United States?
      Is it FBI Director Comey's fault? Or, perhaps, the blame lies with Russian hackers? Or fake news? Or uneducated whites? Or, maybe, it's the fault of our anachronistic and undemocratic Electoral College?
      Take your pick. They've all been written about extensively, but one reason hasn't received nearly enough attention. That the winning party, the Republicans, has been involved in a long-term, well-funded project, not to steal Christmas like the Grinch – that would be small potatoes – but American democracy, itself.
      This project can be traced back to corporate lawyer and future Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell's infamous 1971 memo, a reveille, not for radicals, but for big business to organize against – well, us, the people. Powell laid it all out, calling for “careful long-range planning and implementation,” backed by a “scale of financing available only through joint effort.”
      As chronicled in Jane Mayer's essential Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, a handful of right-wing billionaires, the Kochs, the Scaifes, the Olins, the DeVoses, and a few others took up Lewis Powell's clarion call and have worked tirelessly over many years to turn our country rightward. To install a government to do their biding, to allow their companies the liberty to rook the suckers with impunity and pollute our air and water without the interference of pointy-headed bureaucrats.
      They have poured billions of dollars into a dizzying array of think tanks, foundations, and action committees. They've bought off media and universities. In fact, they've even founded their own media, with their own set of “facts.”
      Meanwhile, with gobs of ready cash, the right-wing funded the Federalist Society and bought their way into America's law schools to turn the courts and the country rightward. And their hard work has paid off handsomely.
      In 2010, the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling made our politicians even more reliant on the top 1%, whose interests are diametrically opposed to most Americans. But not stopping there, in 2013, Republican-appointed judges on the Supreme Court defanged the Voting Rights Act.
      Since then, Republican state legislatures have passed voter ID laws and purged voter rolls in order to deny their fellow citizens, mostly Democrats, their precious right to vote.
      As Mehdi Hasan explained inThe Washington Post, in North Carolina, “[on] the eve of the election, a federal judge said she was 'horrified' by the 'insane' process by which people were 'being purged' from the voter rolls. In July, a three-judge panel ruled that the state’s 2013 voting law could only be explained by 'discriminatory intent'” because it was obviously aimed at keeping African Americans from voting.
      This “systematic disenfranchisement,” according to political reporters Alice Ollstein and Kira Lerner, “was intentional and politically motivated. In the years leading up to 2016, Republican governors and state legislatures implemented new laws restricting when, where, and how people could vote — laws that disproportionately harmed students, the poor, and people of color. In several instances, lawmakers pushing such policies said explicitly that their goal was suppression of voters who favor the Democratic Party.”
      As Zachary Roth succinctly put it inThe Great Suppression: Voting Rights, Corporate Cash, and the Conservative Assault on Democracy, “At its core, this bold campaign has amounted to nothing less than an effort to undermine democracy.”
      It's worth noting that Republicans originally got into the driver's seat in battleground states because in 2010 they used every trick in the book and then some to win majorities in order to gerrymander their way to more and more power during the decennial redistricting, regardless of their minority status.
      In 2010, they blanketed districts with libelous mailers, shamelessly sliming their Democratic opponents. Then having won, they redrew districts with laser-like precision by using a computer program called Maptitude. In Ohio, Republicans were able to win 75% of U.S. House seats with just 51% of the vote. In Pennsylvania, according to Dave Daley's accurately-named Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy, Pennsylvania Republicans won 72% of the House seats with only 49% of the vote.
      So by hijacking the courts; using computer programs to ruthlessly redistrict and thus, to effectively disenfranchise so many voters; and by then passing voter ID laws while purging voter rolls, all to keep Democratic constituencies from exercising their right to vote, the Republicans have blatantly stolen American democracy in order to seize power.
      Republicans now control both the executive and legislative branches of the federal government. And very soon, after a new right-wing justice is appointed, they will control all 3 branches of the federal government.
      This naked thievery of our democracy has been in reality a slow-motion coup that has led directly to the election of a rich vulgarian unfit by both temperament and experience to be the 45th President of the United States and, also, to me, still sadly standing in front of my foggy bathroom mirror, trying not to choke on my own words.

Friday, September 16, 2016

2020: Welcome to Dystopian America: Like Us, But Only Worse

      It's 2020, and even the most jejune commentators are bored to death of the constant belaboring of the utter irony of 20/20 vision in the American dystopia of 2020. The very idea that anybody in the government, ensnared as it is in a gridlock so crippling that it can best be described as more akin to rigor mortis, has vision is ludicrous on the face of it. Polls show that amazingly Congress is even more unpopular than ever, scoring far below tech help, used car and insurance salesmen, and even below vegans.
      A small but dedicated cadre of the most-conservative of Republican House members, who because of gerrymandering have safe districts as long as they act like bombthrowers instead of reasonable legislators, have managed to stall almost every bill since January of 2019, even shutting down the federal government multiple times, using the always reliable debt ceiling as a cudgel.
      Adding to the general chaos has been Democratic representatives staging sit-ins whenever there is a mass shooting, which has averaged about once a month of late. And, if that's not enough, Black Lives Matter demonstrators have staged raucous protests and shut down major thoroughfares in Washington, D.C. out of frustration with the continuing inaction of the federal government. Throw the Democratic governors of California, New York, and a handful of other states threatening to declare their entire states Sanctuary States unless comprehensive immigration reform is immediately implemented into the mix, and you get the general idea that the Obama-era dysfunction is now on steroids.
      And all because of a computer program called Maptitude. After the 2010 elections, Republican operatives were able to use it to draw districts that resembled Rorschach blots that with computerized precision were able to combine different African-American  communities for a Democratic district, and then with the African-Americans safely ensconced in one Democratic-safe district draw several districts that would be Republicans-insured districts for years to come, regardless of the outcome of presidential elections.
      Before the midterms, Democrats were able to work with a handful of Republicans in order to pass a modest raise in the federal minimum wage, a substantial but inadequate infrastructure bill, and some tinkering at the edges of what was once called Obamacare. In 2018, almost all those Republicans who committed the deadly sin of cooperating with Democrats were soundly defeated by opponents so conservative they'd make Ronald Reagan look like the head of Politburo.
      In 2020, President Hillary Clinton has her hands full. Like her husband, she has been impeached by the House, and now, faces trial in the Senate. After her electoral college landslide victory in 2016, Republicans knew not to despair. They bided their time, until the midterm elections, when the electorate favors them by being whiter and older than the general population. And it paid off because of America's unique mid-term elections when a small percentage of voters can essentially overturn what the larger, more representative electorate in a presidential election year voted for.
      So the umpteenth rumor of the death of the Republican Party proved to be wrong yet again. In 2018, the House increased its Republican majority, while the Senate reverted back to Republican control. Facing a do-nothing Congress in the midst of out-right revolt, President Clinton decided to do the only thing she could – issue executive orders on a variety of issues, including immigration and the environment. Taking none of that lying down, Republicans played their trump card, so to speak, and got a special prosecutor with an open-ended mandate. After months of testimony, Republican researchers announced they found the smoking gun, what they believed to be perjured testimony given by the President, ironically not on Benghazi or emails, but on some inconsequential documents that one of the many congressional committees investigating her had subpoenaed.
      Besides impeachment, the Republican-led House hasn't done much, except busy itself with largely symbolic votes to overturn completely or partially what was once called Obamacare, but is now derisively labeled Hillarycare. The running tally now is 75 votes against and counting.
      Of course, 2020 is also an election year, and what a race it's been. Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, former TV-star Scott Baio, and Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame lead another “yuge” pack of Republican presidential (and Fox News) hopefuls.
      Amazingly after their last electoral drubbing, the Republican field has even outdone the Trump of 2016 in their xenophobic, anti-immigrant rants. They promise not only to build a wall but to send troops to the border to stop disease-infested, gang-banging, criminal Mexican and Central American immigrants or, depending on the day or audience, to stop ISIS-inspired terrorists who are, they claim, sneaking in the US by the truckload.
      And yet, multiple polls have shown that the American electorate has moved even further to the left, fewer and fewer identifying as conservative or Republican. Hefty majorities now favor a single-payer system of national health insurance and giving the undocumented a path to citizenship. And, it's widely agreed that President Clinton, if she survives her impeachment trial, will be reelected easily.
      If she does, the Republican drought in winning the popular vote for the presidency will then stretch to twice in 32 years, a truly horrendous record, almost unparalleled in American history. But with the inspired scheming of the Republicans, each Democratic victory has proven diaphanous, almost-Pyrrhic-like. They can win the presidency, but can't do anything once they're elected.
      The net effect is that we have a center-right government of a center-left country with your average citizen left with no way to effectively change government policies – all because of a well-financed and well-organized political minority interested more in fundraising and doing the bidding of the billionaire class than in governance. In 2020, I promise you, you won't need 20/20 vision to see the system is utterly broken.