CAMPAIGN POLITICS - Who wants another Republican extremist would-be dictator as president? We had one who tried to overthrow the government and could try that again if reelected. Want to take a chance?
It’s a nightmare, these days in the fragile, split “United” States of America: Rampant inflation, increasing homelessness, not enough affordable housing, unsettled financial woes with a too-volatile stock market, uncertainty and legitimate concerns about AI, failures among corner banks and there’s a serious war on in Europe that threatens to go nuclear.
Like the Spanish civil war in the 1930s, is the Russo-Ukraine war another prelude to something wickedly bigger?
To top it off, we’re facing an election in which one of the two major political parties has given us a choice of two jokers as president, one of whom may face prison. The other party gives us a decent older dude who seems to get a lot done for the people, despite his age. Who says you can’t trust anyone over 30?
We need a leader who will get us out of the quicksand we’re sinking into, not a black-hatted gang of right-wing gun slingers who, if they win control again, will do what they did in 2017: a tax cut for the wealthy and their corporate buddies.
Now that the Republicans have seized control of the absurd debt ceiling, they have forced the Democrats to cut forthcoming budget expenses proposed for the people to pay for their expected largesse.
I’m very woke, so I don’t want to go to Florida because Gov. Ron DeSantis told the people his reddened state is where “woke goes to die.” He’s anti-woke, but the announcement of his presidential campaign left him red-faced because it died in a Twitter explosion. Bad omen.
His competitor is Donald Trump, a former very bad president, a champion of chaos and an indicted, twice-impeached loser accused of some serious crimes. He whines and gets angry a lot.
And DeSantis, whose 22.6 million people in Florida, about 20 percent of whom are over 65 — highest in the nation — are his experiment in tyranny by squashing many of their freedoms. He’s practicing to be a tyrant on a bigger scale.
Both are appealing to their right-wing base of newly consecrated warriors fighting for the conservative holier-than-thou way of life, the definition of freedom by evangelicals, nationalists and white supremacists. Both say they will pardon some of the jailed Jan. 6 rioters, their definition of freedom.
And so goes the bedrock of democracy – respect for the law.
You think these two pretend paragons of democracy and “freedom” will support a Ukraine sacrificing tens of thousands of its people, civilians and soldiers alike, to remain a free, democratic country unleashed from Russia’s brutal Vladimir Putin? Do they care?
The vindictive Trump’s long memory never will let him help Ukraine because he was impeached once for trying to extort its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, by threatening to withhold $400 million in military aid unless he looked into Biden & son.
After nearly eight years, we know what Trump is capable of, like allegedly instigating a coup d’etat against the Biden government because the sad sack couldn’t swallow his loss of the 2020 election to the former vice president.
Author Mark Danner went to the Capitol riot and wrote about his experience for The New York Review of Books, its Oct. 6, 2022 edition:
“Was it all a grotesque mirage? Is this what revolution really looks like? (His emphasis.) And yet we know now that from this phantasmagoric tableau a vital piece was missing: he was meant to be there.
“Donald J. Trump’s essential advantage is to be always underestimated: treated as a narcissistic fop, a deranged bull in the china shop of American governance. True, he knows little and refuses to learn more because he is certain he knows all.”
But he doesn’t. And that’s an unwritten crime if you’re responsible for running a country, especially one that’s a world leader. If you doubt that, look at the coalition Biden pulled together to save not only Ukraine but the democracy it stands for in fealty to real freedom for all, not just whites.
The world’s democracies don’t want the emergence of another totalitarian state.
America and its coalition helping Ukraine with billions of dollars of major weapons blocks a Russian conquest of the beleaguered country. A Russian capture of Ukraine would open the gates to Russia invading the adjacent Belarus and Moldova to achieve Putin’s goal of rebuilding the Soviet empire.
And DeSantis? A petty tyrant, a Trump imitator without Trump’s charisma.
Example: Commenting on the Florida governor’s disastrous Twitter announcement, The New Republic’s TNR wrote May 25, “There’s a satisfaction in watching the instantaneous collapse of someone as obscenely evil and dramatically uninterested in unity as DeSantis — even if it is prompted by his role model.”
He has a habit of censoring freedoms, everything from banning books at public school libraries, which has caught on among right-wingers nationwide, to forbidding discussions of sex and gender identity in many classrooms, to his war on trans folks and, most recently, to outlawing abortions beyond six weeks, when many women don’t know they’re pregnant. He must carry a lot of hate.
And then there’s his stupid war with Disney because the much-loved company disagreed with his “don’t say gay” law, which forbids teachers from discussing sex. Mickey is winning because he canceled a $1 billion affordable housing project near his Magic Kingdom. It means a loss of crucial new housing and construction jobs.
Worse, he’s pledged to get just as mean, just as cruel, just as draconian nationally if he gets to the White House. How will that win in a general election countrywide?
The Trump-DeSantis campaign battle won’t be pretty, if the man leftist America loves to hate survives the courts. At this point, DeSantis is running far behind Trump in the polls. The crowded primary field may again give Trump an advantage, a lá 2016. Say it ain’t so.
(Richard C. Gross, who covered war and peace in the Middle East and was foreign editor of United Press International, served as the opinion page editor of The Baltimore Sun. This article was first published in CounterPunch.org.)