Monday, July 25, 2016

The Party Of Lincoln

H/t Toronto Star

A series of letters excoriating the deplorable state of American politics and society, epitomized by Donald Trump's presidential nomination, is well-worth the read. Here are but three of them:
The unthinkable has happened. The party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan has nominated Donald Trump for president.

A storm is coming for Republicans in November. They richly deserve the pounding they will get at the polls from the millions of Americans who are repulsed by this egocentric, racist, misogynistic bloviating bag of gas. They will lose the White House in a landslide, control of the Senate, possibly the House and countless governorships and state legislatures across the country.

The good news in all of this is that the Grand Old Party will be forced – finally -- to re-think everything it has done, condoned and stood for the in the last 20 years that allowed Trump to go from a joke to presidential nominee. And that is long overdue.

John Bruce, Niagara Falls

In 1967, H. Rap Brown said: “Violence is as American as cherry pie.” It’s still true.

In 1791, when the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was written, muzzle-loading muskets were high tech. At that time, there was an excuse for guns: wild meat was essential food, bears roamed streets, and the British menaced.

Second Amendment authors couldn’t have foreseen modern assault rifles. Since then, however, no government has had the courage to limit sales of these weapons. Rather than legislating to reduce mass murders of their constituents, or acting to limit corporate power now sucking all oxygen out of the world, politicians welcome gun-lobby donations to fund elections.

The United States was founded on a violent revolution. Their Civil War killed over a million people, more deaths than all other U.S. wars together. They have witnessed the assassination of four presidents and attempts on the lives of sixteen others. Mayhem in America is a daily occurrence, but is mostly unacknowledged in prosperous, white enclaves; few people make connections between tragic events. While some grieve and pray, many are filled with fear and anger, and divisive media fan the flames.

And now, the U.S. has an overtly racist and incompetent presidential candidate. It’s hard not to imagine more riots and more deaths,

regardless of who wins in November. Is the U.S. unraveling before our eyes? Who will, who can, step forward?

Douglas Buck, Toronto

Having just watched the roll call of states at the Republican National Convention, I am reminded of pre World War II Germany, when Hitler gained the support of the country by terrorizing them and uniting them to be the supreme nation and the supreme Aryan race. I see little difference (except that as yet he has not proposed “the final solution”); make the U.S. secure by barring immigrants, let white Americans keep and carry their guns, build walls, etc. He uses any tactic to frighten Americans into voting for him. The governor of New Mexico, of Mexican descent, has disavowed her own parents by supporting Trump!

I used to go to the U.S. for holidays – never again.

Cynthia Stark, Toronto


  1. Americans as a whole have never had a problem electing "egocentric, racist, misogynistic bloviating bag(s) of gas." That's pretty much what's on offer in every election.

    But if you're an American fed up with the raw deal you've been getting over the last couple of decades, are you going to vote for Clinton who's offering more of the same, or Trump who's promising to shake things up? You only have to look at the last Canadian federal election and the Brexit vote to know the answer to that one. The Dems are in big trouble in this election and they know it, hence the fearmongering about Trump.

    1. Your comments reflect the sad state of American politics today, Anon; indeed, they can be applied to far too many so-called contemporary healthy' democracies.

  2. Like Ms. Stark, above, I recall when I crossed Mexico off my motorcycle adventure list because it had become much too perilous. Now I may have to do the same with the U.S. save, perhaps for the west coast states. There's no way in hell I'd take my chances in the mid-west or the Bible Belt. I think Hedges may be right. America may be in a pre-revolutionary state, a pot on the cusp of a rolling boil. Populists in the political and media sectors have left the people deeply divided, angry and suspicious. Could it spill over into something nastier, possibly violent?

    1. I'm with you on this, Mound. I rarely visit the U.S., and the only state I am now considering visiting, perhaps in the fall, is California, as I still want to drive the Pacific Coast Highway. Other than that, increasingly it looks like a country to avoid.

  3. I listened to a JFK speech the other day Lorne.If you're interested , you can find it at #NoWar2016 and what Kennedy said, people consider it his greatest speech and some even think it's what contributed to his assassination. The speech was about PEACE. Why do I bring this up? Strictly for contrasts. Compare this speech with Trumps, nomination speech. Implicitly, both speeches are a reflection of American culture.Kennedy's speech reflects a culture that was serious about ideas, where an intelligent President could articulate how a viable option of peace over the cold war could be achieved.Trumps speech reflects a culture that is intellectually and morally bankrupt.It contains no serious ideas and in fact sounds more like something that would be said at a marketing or business meeting.More importantly it reveals a culture not only in decline, but a culture, intellectually having reached rock bottom where all that dominates is faith and force. American culture has gone from the political sophistication and the pursuit of progressive ideals of a JFK to the anti-intellectual rhetoric and sleaze of a Donald Trump.

    The GOP with its Evangelical and neoliberal beliefs reflects a culture of power and entitlement. They do not bring anything beneficial to the table for the average American. They are political zombies. Having no political ideas they need a leader who reflects that lack. Anyone with political substance and intelligence, or even common sense, would completely avoid the GOP. They would feel embarrassed to be associated with this mindless group called the GOP. Donald Trump feels no such embarrassment.

    Do Americans ever wonder why they once had an intellectually sophisticated president such as JFK and now have a presidential candidate whose character is that of a P.T. Barnhum barker?

    Who is responsible for the American cultural and political destruction? Why have Americans stood by and watched their governments both democrats and republicans turn their country into an ignorant war monger, that wants to dominate the world?

    Going from a political culture under JFK to a political culture under Trump is like going from super sonic jet travel back to the horse and buggy.

    An empire in decline and with its nuclear weapons could take the rest of the world with it.

    Americans don't seem to know it, but they are looking into a cultural abyss.

    1. The other night on Netflix we watched a documentary on the 1968 Republican and Democratic Conventions as framed by the debates between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley. It amazed me that in those days, these two commanded such respect that the debates set ABC News well on its way to leaving its third-place status behind.

      I was young at the time, but I used to watch Buckley on Firing Line and such. I asked my wife how many young people today would sit still to watch such television.

      Your comments are well-taken, Pamela, and I am taking the liberty of featuring them as a guest post tomorrow.

    2. Thank you Lorne for wanting to feature my comments as a guest post. Being able to listen to an intellectual of Gore Vidal's stature discuss politics benefited those in our generation who were trying to understand their political culture. If a Gore Vidal came today he would be completely ignored and not given any exposure, television or otherwise.When we were younger many of the shows and even the news networks discussed serious ideas with their articulate interesting guests. Canadian shows also had substance. I watched Front Page Challenge the other day on youtube. They were interviewing Malcolm X. Even film peronalities like Orson Wells being interviewed made for really interesting television. I think we were the last generation to experience a progressive, vibrant, sophisticated culture. The acquisition of knowledge was still valued and respected. Today, the intelligent discussion of serious political ideas is pretty well none existent and the culture is a wasteland bereft of any critical thinking.

    3. I, of course, remember those times, Pamela. it does seem a lifetime ago in so many ways. Perhaps one of the ironies of the Vidal-Buckley debates is that they ultimately proved to be the template for the talking heads of contemporary TV, the difference being that outside of media like NPR and PBS, they have become shoutfests and ad hominem opportunities more than anything else. That is not to say that there was no acrimonious exchanges between Buckley and Gore which, at times, became quite nasty.