The Media’s Gift to Trump: Low Expectations

When a candidate starts in the cellar in terms of behavior and temperament, there’s nowhere to go but up.

Source: AlterNet

Author: Neal Gabler / Moyers and Company


Republican Party’s Nightmare Coming True as Trump Gets Closer to the 2016 Nomination

Trump is positioned to win big on Super Tuesday.

Source: AlterNet

Author:Steven Rosenfeld

Emphasis Mine

The Republican Party is running out of time and options to stop Donald Trump after winning as expected in Nevada’s Tuesday night caucuses, although party insiders are increasingly desperate about what to do.

Trump, who was leading in Nevada polls—where he has a big Las Vegas hotel-casino—won his largest percentage yet in any of 2016’s caucuses and primaries, with 46 percent of the vote, which was almost twice as much as both Marco Rubio (24 percent) and Ted Cruz (21 percent) received.

So far, 1.2 million Republicans in four states—Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada—have participated in caucuses or voted, in contests where 133 delegates have been at stake under party rules where 1,237 are needed for the presidential nomination. Cruz won Iowa. Trump has won everything since. And next week is when 12 states, with 632 delegates, will vote on March 1, so-called Super Tuesday.

Right now, the latest polls in those states listed on show Trump ahead in nine of those states—Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, Arkansas and Vermont. Cruz is ahead in Texas and Arkansas. And Ben Carson is ahead in Colorado, but that survey was taken in November, rendering it meaningless. If Trump wins all these states, he stands to gain upward of 400 delegates, where as the prior states only had 133 delegates in play and awarded some to non-winners.

Beyond the math, the Republican Party establishment is in a real tizzy over what to do. An array of scenarios have been floated—such as pundits like Larry Sabato suggesting Rubio and John Kasich team up, creating a way to likely win Florida and Ohio in the fall. Others have pushed a Cruz-Rubio ticket. Still others have said true conservatives may need to back a third-party candidate. And other GOP strategists have suggested that maybe New York City’s former mayor Michael Bloomberg might be more acceptable than another Clinton presidency. Or they are saying principled Republicans might just have to sit this one out, while others respond that’s impossible, they cannot surrender the party’s brand.

No matter the fanciful fantasy embraced, the reality is the clock is running out on the GOP to stop Trump’s hostile takeover of the party. This is not a conclusion based on the particulars of Trump’s showing in Nevada—as he is very well-known there—but more on the weaknesses of Rubio and Cruz as seen in that state. As Nate Silver at noted, Rubio still hasn’t won a single state, and Cruz lost badly in Nevada and before that in South Carolina among constituencies thought to be his best supporters.

He carried only 27 percent of the white born-again and evangelical Christian vote, behind Trump’s 41 percent. Cruz also lost this group in New Hampshire and South Carolina,” Silver and Harry Enten co-wrote. “Cruz also trailed among ‘very conservative’ voters in Nevada, 34 percent to Trump’s 38 percent.” In short, even if Cruz wins his home state of Texas and nearby Arkansas next Tuesday, as RealClearPolitics’ latest polls have him 4 to 5 points ahead of Trump in both states, it is looking like the beginning of the end of the Cruz campaign.

Of course, the only thing certain about the 2016 campaign trail is nothing is certain. But next Tuesday’s dozen GOP contests with half of the delegates needed to secure the nomination in play is going to be a milestone that can’t be ignored. It is likely that the most virulent voters in the party’s base, who have embraced Trump’s boasts, bullying, bigotry and brashness will be on their way to vanquishing their party’s pro-corporate elites.

Where this goes next is unclear, but it’s surely not toward scenarios where cooler heads will prevail—even if Trump will surprise everyone by trying to sound more moderate after fanning the flames. Anybody who has been on the receiving end of GOP tirades (pro-choice women, LBGT individuals, voters in communities of color, climate change scientists, undocumented migrants, labor unions, etc.) or suffered from their obstructionism—as epitomized by Senate Republicans refusing to consider a Supreme Court nomination—knows the modern GOP has been extremist for years.

The difference now is Trump’s ascent seems to have brought an old and ugly form of mob rule into mainstream view, whereas pledges years ago by now-Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to impede President Obama at every turn and create a failed presidency were cloaked in more “acceptable” partisan gamesmanship under Washington’s political rules.

As many people have noted, Republicans have sown the seeds of Trump’s increasing electoral successes for years. But now they have to live with the consequences, which may mean the end of their party as many know it. The time appears to be running out to stop Trump from gaining the nomination, making the immediate future a belwether for where one of the country’s major parties is going—over the edge and toward a darkening unknown.

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America’s retirement crisis, democracy and voting rights, and campaigns and elections. He is the author of “Count My Vote: A Citizen’s Guide to Voting” (AlterNet Books, 2008).


When Bullies Win: How Do Weary Americans Face the Post-Election Trauma?

Lessons from the past can help us confront a daunting future.

Source: AlterNet

Author: Lynn  Stuart Paramore

Emphasis Mine

 Most of us did not escape that moment on the playground when the bully came over and demanded our candy. What could we do? The bruising boy and the mean girl used fear and intimidation to get their way. If that didn’t work, there were other methods. Sometimes the bully had powerful friends and came on gangster-style. Other times the mean girl shoved and hit us and left us flailing in the dirt. However it happened, it left wounds.

As a native North Carolinian, I felt some memory of those early wounds creeping into my body as I watched the election returns come in. After an ugly, protracted fight sucking up more money than any senate race in the country, Republican Thom Tillis, the speaker of the rabid North Carolina House of Representatives, beat incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan by a slim margin. He will now take his bare-knuckles brand of politics to Washington.

A consummate bully, Tillis is the kind of man who allegedly shot paintballs at his neighbor’s barn. He bullies teachers, accusing them of choosing their profession in order to get rich, despite the fact that NC ranks close to the bottom of the country in teacher pay.  He bullies people struggling to get by, backing a mean-spirited proposal to force those on public assistance to submit to drug testing. “What we have to do is find a way to divide and conquer the people who are on assistance,he once told a crowd at a NC college. He bullies women who try to terminate their pregnancies safely and has promoted measures to force them to undergo unnecessary ultrasounds. He bullies African Americans, suggesting that public assistance is “de facto reparations” for slavery. He bullies people away from the polls, trying to ensure that they have no redress for their grievances. Schoolchildren, immigrants, gay people, sick people, and the elderly have all been victims of his relentless aggression. Tillis is a bully, and he knows how to get his way.

He was just one of a whole gang of bullies who won yesterday. In Rhode Island, Democrat Gina Raimondo, who has manipulated pensions in order to funnel money away from working people to her hedge-fund friends, won the governorship. In New York, Democrat Andrew Cuomo, who stooped to creating a fake women’s party in order to siphon support from the Working Families Party, keeps his place in the governor’s mansion. In Michigan, Republican governor Rick Snyder, the bully-extraordinaire who has devoted himself to union-crushing, was re-elected. And Scott Walker in Wisconsin. And so on, across the country.

Bullies on the playground are bad enough, spreading fear and a painful sense of helplessness. When we’re kids, we’re taught to follow the golden rule, to set clear boundaries with the bully, to be confident, and to find the right adult to confront our oppressor. But what do we do about grownup bullies who have the power to take away our jobs, our healthcare, and our most fundamental rights? What happens when no one will stand up to them?

When bullies like Thom Tillis grow up, they use the vast resources of their rich bully friends to amplify their fear-mongering and send it reverberating daily into every corner of our lives. When the dust settles, you can bet that the Big Oil Koch brothers will be found to have channeled rivers of their ill-gotten gains into buying the senate seat for Tillis. Tillis says the Kochs are “like family.A family of thugs who stick together.

When we feel traumatized by bullies, we have a natural instinct to retreat, to isolate ourselves, to numb our emotions, to pretend that nothing happened, to lash out. But there are other paths our trauma can take.

In a message to the weary voters in North Carolina, the Reverend William Barber, who launched the Moral Monday movement to challenge the bully brigade, reminds us that for grownups, the only way to deal with bullies is to stick together and commit ourselves to unrelenting tenacity:

“Let me remind our friends and those would try to push us backward: the Moral Movement does not live and die by elections. It is unfortunate that we, as a state, have promoted an employee who has repeatedly failed his constituents by undermining public education, healthcare, labor rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, immigrants’ rights, voting rights, and the environment. But our movement does not hinge — and never has hinged — on one election, one candidate, or one party. We will continue the struggle, in the courts, in the streets, in the legislature, and in building new friendships and alliances. We will continue to teach and build new coalitions of the excluded and oppressed. There is much needless suffering that can be addressed, if we all work together.”

As an African American minister, Barber carries forward the legacy of sticking together and tenacity in the face of some of the ugliest oppression in our country’s history, that force of virulent aggression that enslaved millions of people and denied them the ability to live their lives in peace long after they were ostensibly set free. The bullies burned and maimed and killed to get their way. There were no lengths to which they would not go, no ugliness they would not embrace.

A cultural trauma we feel together can create a new and binding sense of our responsibility to each other. Through their experience of oppression, African Americans were able to forge a strong collective identity and a powerful sense of community. There are lessons to be learned there as we struggle with our anger and our fear.

Since the financial crisis, in particular, I do believe that there is an emerging sense of collective oppression happening the U.S. and indeed around the world. People who are not wealthy, whether they be poor or just getting by or middle class, recognize that they have something in common. The 99 percent slogan, which has penetrated our consciousness, speaks to this emerging sense of shared identity.

The powerful react to this development and the force that potentially comes with it by terrorizing and dividing us. But every time we go to the polls, every time we attend a community gathering, every time we organize, and every time we just talk to each other about what we are experiencing and learning, we offer an affront to that strategy.

My mother, a retired educator, is 82 years old. She was arrested in one of the Moral Monday protests, and worked at the polls on Tuesday in Raleigh, NC. When I spoke to her this morning, I thought I would hear depression, but instead, I heard tenacity in her voice, as well as a feeling of shared responsibility. “If I were 20 years younger,” she said passionately, “I would be joiningReverend Barber’s every march going forward.”

While upset by the election results, she was cheered by the strong voter turnout in the state and some of the local victories that have turned stone-age conservatives out of positions of power, like what happened on Tuesday to the Wake County Board of Commissioners — a body that wields tremendous power through its control of spending of the Wake County Public School System. Conservatives on the board have committed themselves to crippling public education and to resegregating one of the most progressive school systems in the South. The GOP recently ran an attack ad warning that a Democratic majority on the board would “rubber stamp Rev. Barber’s Moral Monday demands all over our county.”

On Tuesday, in a stunning sweep, four incumbent conservatives were turned out of office. They lost their majority and a more progressive group of Democrats now have control. How did it happen? As the News and Observer put it, “the opposition woke up and found good candidates.”

That seems a small victory, but not to the more than 155,000 students in the Wake County school system. For the rest of us —and, frankly, for them, too — the future promises a great deal of bullying, pushing and shoving. Can we keep on, bruised and bloodied? We must.

Lynn Parramore is an AlterNet senior editor. She is cofounder of Recessionwire, founding editor of New Deal 2.0, and author of “Reading the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt in Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture.” She received her Ph.D. in English and cultural theory from NYU. She is the director of AlterNet’s New Economic Dialogue Project. Follow her on Twitter @LynnParramore.