Holding Trump and Cronies Accountable

Martin Westerman 2/13/20

Democratic President Candidates 5: How to hold Trump-Repub accountable

On Feb. 6, 2020, House & Senate Republicans decided America doesn’t need co-equal branches of government anymore.  They’ve been working to marry the administrative, judicial and legislative branches since the 1971 Powell Memorandum urged them to fight radical & liberal ideas.  The U.S. Constitution, radical in 1789, looks conservative to them today.  So they happily regressed with their hypocritical acquittal of DJT.

Dumping Trump in 2020 isn’t just about (a) voting him and his swamp people out (thanks here to Kristen Gillibrand:  “My first act as President will be to Clorox the Oval Office”).  It’s also about (b) holding the Trumpsters and his ilk accountable, and (c) reclaiming America’s radical, Constitutional form of government.

Evangelicals won’t hold non-Christian, anti-love/Jesus DJT accountable: his administration is delivering for right-to-lifers.  Republican legislators won’t; he’s helping them pack conservative (“strict Constituionalist”) judges on benches.  Also, they’re scared of his vengeance and MAGA trolls.  And MAGAs won’t, because, well, they’re MAGAs.  These folk could have followed Romney’s lead and made this a short game, but they’re self-serving, sociopathic, and/or cowardly.  So we must play the long game.


Some rules going forward:

            1.  Politics is about keeping your cronies in power, period.  That thread runs from slaveholders getting the U.S. Constitution to count slaves as 3/5 human, to 1812 Boston Gerrymandering, to the Mason-Dixon Line/Missouri Compromise between free & slave states and antebellum voter suppression, to the Senate’s vote to kill DJT’s impeachment.

            2.  Politics attracts unrepentant actors.  Politicians are more likely than people in the general population to be sociopaths.  Psychologist Dr. Martha Stout says this small minority of leaders without conscience “has always been a bitter pill for society to swallow,” but it explains “shamelessly deceitful political behavior.”

            A minority may be sociopaths or psychopaths, but a juggernaut of them now controls the Republican Administration and Party.  To define terms:

                        . Psychopaths tend to be calm, even thrive in highly stressful situations (“resilience to chaos”).  They also lack empathy, tend to be callous, dishonest, glib, grandiose, manipulative, promiscuous, impulsive, and/or unable to recognize social cues.  They also think their behaviors will always be rewarded, and any punishments are undeserved, so they find targets to blame for their failures.

                        .  Sociopaths share most psychopathic qualities: but unlike psychopaths, they crack under stress, with angry outbursts and abusive language.  They switch between extreme charm and threats, prioritize power above all else, seek to dominate people and situations, enjoy the suffering of others, and look for weak spots and vulnerabilities to exploit in others.  Does this look like familiar behavior?

            3.   All politics is about getting your way – it’s all visceral.

            In the age of “wars” on women, people of color, and immigrants; foreign election meddling, white supremacists and mass shootings; threats to the social safety net, unaffordable housing, dysfunctional government, post-truth/fake news, and no leadership accountability, people have lost patience with and faith in the system. 

            The Pew Research Center (Partisanship and Political Animosity in 2016) found views of opposing political party members are the most negative in 25 years.  Sizable shares of Democrats and Republicans say the other party stirs feelings of not just frustration, but of fear and anger:

                                                Ds view of  Rs             Rs views of Ds

            Afraid                          55-70%                       49-62%

            Angry                          47-58%                       46-58%

            Frustrated                    58-60%                       57-58%

            Emotional rating         31 our of 100              29 out of 100

            The visceral reactions are resistance to change – from Ds’ “don’t cut my Social Security and Medicare,” to Rs’ “don’t impose your will on me.”

            Will holding psychopathic and sociopathic politicians accountable actually help heal these divisions, and restore trust in our system?

            A study in Lancet Psychiatry shows that psychopaths are not impervious to any sort of punishment.  Rather, they process rewards and punishments differently from most people, and their decision-making skills are markedly atypical.  Since  they’re able to interact within society, understand aspects of social situations, and know how to behave when they want rewards, they can clearly choose whether to play by rules, or break them for personal gain.  And that’s a person who can and should be held accountable.

            In Why We Elect Narcissists and Sociopaths, and How We Can Stop, Bill Eddy introduces the dangerous, deceptive, high-conflict politician (HCP). These narcissistic, sociopathic people use a Fantasy Crisis Triad (“there’s a terrible crisis caused by an evil villain that requires a super hero to solve – me!”) to incite “emotional warfare,” and seduce, attack, divide and dominate communities and nations.  Helping the HCP rise are:

                 (a) voters who tend to split into four warring groups – Loving Loyalists, Riled-Up Resisters, Mild Moderates and Disenchanted Dropouts, and

                 (b) high-emotion media that attracts HCPs from the fringes of society, “and multiplies their emotional warfare thousands of times to reach millions of people.”  

            To stop HCPs, Eddy advises:

                 (a) building relationships among groups that have been divided,

                 (b) educating political parties on HCPs’ patterns, so their leadership, campaigners and voters can reject choosing them,

                 (c) exposing the Fantasy Crisis Triad,

                 (d) countering HCPs with aggressively assertive messages, presented factually and repetitively, with positive emotions, and

                 (e) pressing news outlets to analyze fake HCP news, and counter emotional warfare-fantasy crises with useful information about real problems and real solutions.

            In Think Progress, Zack Beauchamp advocates for using political democracy – the media – to hold politicians and their staffs accountable for their actions.  Psychopaths “very much do care about being able to hold on to their positions of power.  A system that actually holds people accountable to the broader conscience of society may be one of the best ways to keep conscienceless people in check.”

Constitutional lawyer John Whitehead, writing in Huffpost, warns that if the ballot box “becomes our only means of pushing back against the police state, the battle is already lost.  Resistance will require a citizenry willing to be active at the local level… “The Founders understood that our freedoms do not flow from the government,” he wries.  “They are inherently ours. In the same way, the government’s appointed purpose is not to threaten or undermine our freedoms, but to safeguard them.”

Here we must take the lesson from the Powell Memo ideologues, who created think tanks, put candidates up for appointment and election to everything from school boards to courts, state and federal government.

We energize the “sane” electorate — Democrats, Independents, moderate Republicans & everyone in the middle.  We:

  • support the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and every such organization at the state level. 
  • support efforts of Indivisible, Brand New Congress, Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight, Cecile Richards’ Supermajority, Planned Parenthood, and more. 
  • encourage our state attorneys general to file lawsuits against gerrymandering; hammer those at state levels who resist one person, one vote, and move to protect that vote from election tampering
  • regain control of the media messages — from television to all forms of social media, including flooding conservative and right wing databases with progressive messages
  • control social media security — in partnership with Google, Facebook, Amazon and others, so elections can’t be hacked, fake news can be debunked and erased,

If we use every resource at our disposal now to hold our leaders accountable – local actions, the vote, muscular media – we can win in 2020

——- ———- ——— ——- ——– ——-

SOURCES

(Daily Beast, 04-14-17, “Why You Can’t Punish a Psychopath, According to Science,” by Elizabeth Picciuto; study in The Lancet Psychiatry, Feb. 2015).  // CUNY cognitive science professor Jesse Prinz & Sheilagh Hodgins, Professor of Psychiatry at Université de Montréal

Bill Eddy, LCSW JD, Psyhology Today blog, Mar 15, 2018,  “How to Spot a Sociopath in 3 Steps”

John W. Whitehead, Huffpost, “From Democracy to Pathocracy: The Rise of the Political Psychopath” 04-01-2017

Writing for ThinkProgress, Zack Beauchamp

Lindsay Dodgson  Nov 26, 2018, Insider,” The one trait that separates psychopaths from sociopaths”

Message to Dem Candidates

Democratic President Candidates 6: Hammer Trump Failures, Create the Ideal USA – Martin Westerman, 2/13/20

In her Feb. 1, 2020, NY Times column, Maureen Dowd bemoaned two decades of watching Democrats try to play fair as Republicans ruthlessly played to win – from the misogynist Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings, 2000 Bush vs. Gore recount and Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld lies to Iraq war, to the Merrick Garland Senate pantomime and Feb. 6, 2020, DJT impeachment hypocrisy.  Democrats may warn Republicans that history will judge them harshly, but “history is written by the winners,” wrote Dowd.

My first question is, Where are the ruthless Democrats and Independents?

We must paint the Whiner In Chief (“The (fake) news media-women-immigrants-Democrats-people of color treat me terribly”) into the Loser In Chief.  President DJT may think he’s the Winner In Chief, but winners don’t whine – unless they’re sore losers.  Hey – there are two new slogans for our presidential candidates!

Let’s compare promises DJT made in his 2017 inauguration speech with results in 2020:

                        .  I take an oath of allegiance to all Americans – no, loyalty oath only to DJT and his family and cronies, or no place for you in federal government; and invitations to Russia, China, Ukraine, etc. to hack U.S. elections and spy on DJT rivals, and use of federal agencies to attack political rivals,

                        .  At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice – no (Hitler-style salute) allegiance to the U.S.A., no loyalty to each other discovery, and plenty of room for prejudice,

                        .  eradicate ISIS – no (cue snorting laughter)

                        .  stop the “American carnage” – no, if increased mass shootings and U.S. border violence against families are any indication… otherwise, a meaningless phrase

                        .  give struggling families much to celebrate – unaffordable housing prices, losses of living wage jobs, closures of factories, choking of new U.S. industries, removal of environmental protections, etc.

                        .  make every decision on trade, taxes, immigration and foreign affairs benefit American workers and American families – no, trade war that has left agriculture in depression, industry, trucking & shipping in mild recession, deficit at $1.1 trillion

                        .  stop enriching foreign industry at the expense of American industry – no, foreign industry is doing just fine, at the expense of American

                        .  repair America’s decaying infrastructure – no

                        .  protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs – no.

Every 2020 presidential candidate needs to:

  (a)  hammer DJT’s failures,

  (b)  repeat:  winners don’t whine, losers do,

  (c) hang a name — “Mister empty promises” or “Donald Danger” around his neck,

  (d)  keep a running tally of lies Trump has told to excuse his failures – 16,361 as of Feb.

12, 2020.  (CNN reports that the rate of DJT’s dishonesty increases with his time in office.  In 2017, he made 1,999 false or misleading claims; in 2017 – 5,689; in 2018 – 7,688; and in 2019 – 8,155)

  (e)  remind voters of what promises he has kept, and the dangers they pose for the U.S.A.:

            i.   to make U.S. money laundering easier for oligarchs, dictators and criminals,

            ii.  to give Russia free rein in Middle East, central and western Europe affairs, and carte blanche in the Oval Office

            iii. to invite Russia, China and other countries, with blessings of Moscow Mitch & Leningrad Lindsey (& Lamar), to meddle in U.S. elections for DJT’s and Republicans’ benefits

            iv. to encourage white supremacist thugs, domestic terrorists and Nazi-wanna be’s

            v.  to favor Christianity over other religions for theocrats like Minister Mike (Pence) and his Evangelicals, violating the U.S. Constitution

            vi.  to approve paying protection money and bribes for favors, and to punish those who resist, testify to the truth, and/or blow the whistle anywhere in the DJT administration – military, intelligence and diplomatic communities, justice department, etc.

            vii.  to encourage enemies of truth (freedom of the press), justice (Bill Barr vs. accountability), and the American Way (governing norms).  All are welcome in DJT’s house,

            viii.  to approve white patriarchy, that abhors independent women, and people of color,

            ix.   to benefit American oligarchs, treating corporations as people, money as speech, and monopolies as preferable to business competition.

There’s more, but you get the picture.  And any 2020 candidate who doesn’t repeatedly remind constituents of these facts and dangers is either out of touch, forgetful or incompetent.

Humans and political dynamics haven’t much changed since 400 B.C.E., when Plato said the best leaders were those who do not want to lead.  They would understand that they don’t know everything.  They would seek to know the truth of what is fine and good, just and unjust.  Through education, they’d develop virtue, be humble, noble, honest, sincere, gentle, dignified, live with integrity, and not desire honors.  That kind of person “would be elected or selected (drafted or compelled, if need be) by the people themselves to be their leader.” 

In 1884, General William Tecumseh Sherman refused the Republicans’ draft to run for U.S. President (Rs were that period’s Ds), saying, “I will not accept if nominated, and will not serve if elected.”  But Plato said one incentive would force the virtuous man to serve as leader:  to avoid being governed by someone worse in office.  He could help create an ideal city, governed by “people who are awake rather than dreaming,” not by “people who fight over shadows and struggle against one another in order to rule.”  The virtuous man would only lead if compelled, and avoid the shame of taking office willingly. 

Sure, it’s important to talk bread and butter issues.  But 2020 is about beating the DJT Republicans.  From Plato’s perspective, they don’t qualify for leadership on the Plato Scale.  And we cannot create the ideal country if they remain.

Democratic Presidential Candidates 5 – How to hold Trump-Republicans accountable

2/12/20 Martin Westerman

On Feb. 6, 2020, House & Senate Republicans decided America doesn’t need co-equal branches of government anymore.  They’ve been working to marry the administrative, judicial and legislative branches since the 1971 Powell Memorandum urged them to fight radical & liberal ideas.  The U.S. Constitution, radical in 1789, looks conservative to them today.  So they happily regressed with their hypocritical acquittal of DJT.

Dumping Trump in 2020 isn’t just about (a) voting him and his swamp people out (thanks here to Kristen Gillibrand:  “My first act as President will be to Clorox the Oval Office”).  It’s also about (b) holding the Trumpsters and his ilk accountable, and (c) reclaiming America’s radical, Constitutional form of government.

Evangelicals won’t hold non-Christian, anti-love/Jesus DJT accountable: his administration is delivering for right-to-lifers.  Republican legislators won’t; he’s helping them pack conservative (“strict Constituionalist”) judges on benches.  Also, they’re scared of his vengeance and MAGA trolls.  And MAGAs won’t, because, well, they’re MAGAs.  These folk could have followed Romney’s lead and made this a short game, but they’re self-serving, sociopathic, and/or cowardly.  So we must play the long game.


Some rules going forward:

            1.  Politics is about keeping your cronies in power, period.  That thread runs from slaveholders getting the U.S. Constitution to count slaves as 3/5 human, to 1812 Boston Gerrymandering, to the Mason-Dixon Line/Missouri Compromise between free & slave states and antebellum voter suppression, to the Senate’s vote to kill DJT’s impeachment.

            2.  Politics attracts unrepentant actors.  Politicians are more likely than people in the general population to be sociopaths.  Psychologist Dr. Martha Stout says this small minority of leaders without conscience “has always been a bitter pill for society to swallow,” but it explains “shamelessly deceitful political behavior.”

            A minority may be sociopaths or psychopaths, but a juggernaut of them now controls the Republican Administration and Party.  To define terms:

                        . Psychopaths tend to be calm, even thrive in highly stressful situations (“resilience to chaos”).  They also lack empathy, tend to be callous, dishonest, glib, grandiose, manipulative, promiscuous, impulsive, and/or unable to recognize social cues.  They also think their behaviors will always be rewarded, and any punishments are undeserved, so they find targets to blame for their failures.

                        .  Sociopaths share most psychopathic qualities: but unlike psychopaths, they crack under stress, with angry outbursts and abusive language.  They switch between extreme charm and threats, prioritize power above all else, seek to dominate people and situations, enjoy the suffering of others, and look for weak spots and vulnerabilities to exploit in others.  Does this look like familiar behavior?

            3.   All politics is about getting your way – it’s all visceral.

            In the age of “wars” on women, people of color, and immigrants; foreign election meddling, white supremacists and mass shootings; threats to the social safety net, unaffordable housing, dysfunctional government, post-truth/fake news, and no leadership accountability, people have lost patience with and faith in the system. 

            The Pew Research Center (Partisanship and Political Animosity in 2016) found views of opposing political party members are the most negative in 25 years.  Sizable shares of Democrats and Republicans say the other party stirs feelings of not just frustration, but of fear and anger:

                                                Ds view of  Rs             Rs views of Ds

            Afraid                          55-70%                       49-62%

            Angry                          47-58%                       46-58%

            Frustrated                    58-60%                       57-58%

            Emotional rating         31 our of 100              29 out of 100

            The visceral reactions are resistance to change – from Ds’ “don’t cut my Social Security and Medicare,” to Rs’ “don’t impose your will on me.”

            Will holding psychopathic and sociopathic politicians accountable actually help heal these divisions, and restore trust in our system?

            A study in Lancet Psychiatry shows that psychopaths are not impervious to any sort of punishment.  Rather, they process rewards and punishments differently from most people, and their decision-making skills are markedly atypical.  Since  they’re able to interact within society, understand aspects of social situations, and know how to behave when they want rewards, they can clearly choose whether to play by rules, or break them for personal gain.  And that’s a person who can and should be held accountable.

            In Why We Elect Narcissists and Sociopaths, and How We Can Stop, Bill Eddy introduces the dangerous, deceptive, high-conflict politician (HCP). These narcissistic, sociopathic people use a Fantasy Crisis Triad (“there’s a terrible crisis caused by an evil villain that requires a super hero to solve – me!”) to incite “emotional warfare,” and seduce, attack, divide and dominate communities and nations.  Helping the HCP rise are:

                 (a) voters who tend to split into four warring groups – Loving Loyalists, Riled-Up Resisters, Mild Moderates and Disenchanted Dropouts, and

                 (b) high-emotion media that attracts HCPs from the fringes of society, “and multiplies their emotional warfare thousands of times to reach millions of people.”  

            To stop HCPs, Eddy advises:

                 (a) building relationships among groups that have been divided,

                 (b) educating political parties on HCPs’ patterns, so their leadership, campaigners and voters can reject choosing them,

                 (c) exposing the Fantasy Crisis Triad,

                 (d) countering HCPs with aggressively assertive messages, presented factually and repetitively, with positive emotions, and

                 (e) pressing news outlets to analyze fake HCP news, and counter emotional warfare-fantasy crises with useful information about real problems and real solutions.

            In Think Progress, Zack Beauchamp advocates for using political democracy – the media – to hold politicians and their staffs accountable for their actions.  Psychopaths “very much do care about being able to hold on to their positions of power.  A system that actually holds people accountable to the broader conscience of society may be one of the best ways to keep conscienceless people in check.”

Constitutional lawyer John Whitehead, writing in Huffpost, warns that if the ballot box “becomes our only means of pushing back against the police state, the battle is already lost.  Resistance will require a citizenry willing to be active at the local level… “The Founders understood that our freedoms do not flow from the government,” he wries.  “They are inherently ours. In the same way, the government’s appointed purpose is not to threaten or undermine our freedoms, but to safeguard them.”

If we use every resource at our disposal now to hold our leaders accountable – local actions, the vote, muscular media – we can win in 2020

——- ———- ——— ——- ——– ——-

SOURCES

(Daily Beast, 04-14-17, “Why You Can’t Punish a Psychopath, According to Science,” by Elizabeth Picciuto; study in The Lancet Psychiatry, Feb. 2015).  // CUNY cognitive science professor Jesse Prinz & Sheilagh Hodgins, Professor of Psychiatry at Université de Montréal

Bill Eddy, LCSW JD, Psyhology Today blog, Mar 15, 2018,  “How to Spot a Sociopath in 3 Steps”

John W. Whitehead, Huffpost, “From Democracy to Pathocracy: The Rise of the Political Psychopath” 04-01-2017

Writing for ThinkProgress, Zack Beauchamp

Lindsay Dodgson  Nov 26, 2018, Insider,” The one trait that separates psychopaths from sociopaths”

Democrats Need To Reinvent America

Martin Westerman 2/5/20

So, Republican leaders have chosen a fascist monarchy government over what the Founding Fathers designed – an anti-monarchial government of, by and for the people –To clarify:  in fascism, a business elite married to religion runs the government.  In monarchy (or feudalism) a religiously anointed elite runs commerce and government.  Both feature a unitary executive – a dictator or king. 

Now what can the Democrat do?  How about something counter-intuitive?  Make friends with business.

Arguably since the U.S. was founded, a wealthy elite (landowners) has run America as a benevolent monarchy.  It has been more benevolent towards most whites, more malevolent toward people of color (PoC) and women.  (After Trump’s election, a Native American commented, “You think this is bad?  Try being Indian.”  But I digress).

In 1790, when 3.89 million people lived in the 13 colonies, our Founders occupied the top 10%, and controlled more than 38% of the country’s income.  The top 20% of Americans controlled 56.2% of it.  The next 40% controlled 34.3%; and the bottom 40% – 9.4%.  Nearly 18% of the residents (694,280) were slaves.  (Lindert & Williamson, American Incomes 1774-1860). 

If that looks familiar, it’s because it’s so similar to today’s America – minus the slaves.  Those at the top today still set policy and run things; those in the middle and bottom only influence policies through focused force of numbers.  So the Founders’ dream to build a nation of, by and for the people is still mostly a dream.

America has made great progress:  it has embraced immigrants, ended slavery, enshrined labor rights, enfranchised women and PoC, created national parks, generated legendary wealth, created a vast middle class, and produced inventions and leadership that changed and improved life throughout the world.

But as Joe Biden says, “Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.”  Since 1790, U.S. budgets have also valued genocide, slavery, land theft, environmental destruction and endless war.  Our economy has boomed and busted nearly 60 times, through investment bubbles, panics, recessions and depressions.   And Ralph Nader, alleged spoiler of the Bush-Gore election, supports putting corporate executives in prison for defrauding the consumer with shoddy merchandise and unsafe products that will maim or kill the buyer, destroying the economy, and poisoning our food, air, land and water.

Those at the top have turned more malevolent since the 1970s, and set about tearing up America’s social contract.  BTW, Democrats helped do that.

To clarify “social contract”: Elizabeth Warrens, August 2011: “There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own…”  Every business moved goods to market on roads the public paid for, hired workers the public paid to educate, were safe in in their businesses because of police-forces and fire-forces the public paid for.  Part of the underlying social contract is, after businesses take their profit, “pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

Roots of that malevolence appeared in the Vietnam War era (1954-74), when a U.S. anti-Communist government used the military-industrial complex to prosecute a losing war.  Frustrated anti-war activists finally called to  “smash the state,” and fearful corporatists acted on the 1971 Lewis Powell Memorandum, which said, the time is long overdue “for the wisdom, ingenuity and resources of American business to be marshalled (sic) against those who would destroy it.”  From this sprang right-wing think tanks, monitoring of news media and textbooks, placements of college faculty, “corporations are people” and “money is speech” lawsuits, and erosion of labor rights.

Since Democrats helped create this mess, can they help get us out of it?  That is their 2020 challenge:  present a clear picture of America’s future that’s forward-looking, and consistent with the Founders’ vision.  They must call for renewing the private-public social contract, but not be branded as socialists or communists.

Today’s Americans think life is so unfair, they elected a “Whiner In Chief” president who constantly complains that life is unfair to him? (NYT, Frank Bruni, 01/21/2020)   And Democratic presidential candidates are parroting him, each complaining that the economy is skewed for the rich, it polarizes incomes; it hollows out the middle class; people of color are disenfranchised, women are victims; America is racist, homophobic & xenophobic; infrastructure is crumbling; climate change will destroy us; and immigrants and/or automation and/or artificial intelligence are taking our jobs.  What is American politics now – a giant game of “Beat My Bummer”?

Democrats must inspire us to stop complaining, and start getting up and doing again.

First task:  create partnerships with business.  The authors of WEconomy, Holly Branson, Marc & Craig Kielburger assert that the greatest engine ever invented for change is business.  By marrying purpose to profit, WEconomy programs are helping business partner with volunteer and public sector organizations to improve lives around the world. 

Knowing the history of abuse by railroads, mining and timber companies, and federal contractors in public-private partnerships, sadder and wiser Democrats must step into these with open eyes.  Because they know they’ve got the potential to create innovations and policies that produce great social, research and technological advances.

Second task:  find inspiration.  Democrats can look to the Rocky Mountain Institute’s economic models for sustainability (e.g., Winning The Oil Endgame):  feebates where lower gas mileage cars help subsidize sales of higher m.p.g. ones; retrofits for buildings (such as the Empire State Building) whose energy savings pay for the work in years less than expected; and fossil fuel taxes paying for transition to renewable energy.

On the design side, William McDonnough and Michael Braungart outline in Cradle To Cradle, how we have already mostly withdrawn from the Earth’s crust nearly all the minerals we’ll ever need to build, recycle and rebuild everything we have ever made.  But we are dumping most of it in landfills, never to be recovered.  Likewise, the U.N. has found we produce enough foodstuffs to feed 10 billion people, but globally, 30–40% of it all is wasted.  Inefficiency, say McDonnough & Braungart, just shows a human failure of design.  They propose re-designing everything to fit into either a technical cycle (for inorganic materials), or an organic cycle to replenish agriculture.

Third task:  don’t just ask big donors for contributions.  Ask for partnerships – to build U.S. infrastructure, address climate change, expand voting rights, improve social and economic equity.  Democrats must constantly hammer the partnership angle.  Republican donors answer to money, and want to privatize all government functions, even when they work better than private ones (e.g., Medicare, Social Security the V.A.).

Fourth task:  Highlight partnerships across the country that are already building a new American future.  As James Fallows reported in The Atlantic (May 2018), what really makes America great are our inclusiveness, expansiveness, opportunity, mobility, and the “open-ended struggle to make the nation a better version of itself.”  Polls (Aspen Institute & others) show that, despite our bad national mood, Americans have rising faith in local governance.

Democrats can capitalize on these examples:

  • The Welcoming Tennessee group founded in 2006 to celebrate how important immigrants and refugees were to Nashville’s economy has expanded into Welcoming America, that supports immigrant and refugee settlement in more than 50 cities.
  • Technology start-ups and businesses are dispersing across the country, to small and medium-sized towns that are working with entrepreneurs and centers of learning, and improving manufacturing, agriculture, medicine and more.
  • Libraries are becoming learning and gathering hubs, as new centers of civic life.
  • The federal government’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a modern counterpart to agricultural-extension programs, has now worked with more than 1,000 successful manufacturing start-ups around the country.
  • Downtowns are being reinvented and revitalized.
  • Conservation is alive – states, localities, and private donors are setting aside land for conservation at an impressive pace.
  • Governors of 16 states, Puerto Rico, and nearly 400 mayors have committed to achieving Paris Climate Agreement goals.  They represent more than half of U.S. economic output, and nearly 2/3 of U.S. population

Culminating task:  Democrats!  Tell the inspiring story of America.  And OK – a benevolent monarchy isn’t that bad (Monaco; a parliamentary-style democracy is better (England – as AOC says, in one of those, she and Biden would be in different parties – but in this on, they aren’t).  So the task is to find the overarching visions that inspire us all to work together.

Then ask for the sale!

Democratic President Candidates 3 – Where’s Democrats’ Optimism

Martin Westerman 1/30/20

When did Democrats lose their optimism?  The “New Deal,” “Happy Days Are Here Again,” “Great Society,” “Can-Do” slogans for the Great Depression, World War II, Vietnam &‘60s upheavals.  Sure, times are grim.  The government seems to be run by clowns directed by monkeys (to paraphrase that Boeing 737 MAX e-mail).  Especially now, we need encouraging messages; visions of a future we can look forward to once we win the victory.  And it’s got to be better than “Democrats:  We Can Fix This.”

In 2015, I watched a young African American man explain he’d joined the Republican Party because :  Democrats always harped on what’s wrong; Republicans on what’s right.  He chose the optimists.  (Since 2016, he’s probably moved back to the pessimists, or to the Bernie Independents).

What can Democrats emphasize that unites us in optimism?  The NY Times reported from Iowa (01/25/2020) that the Democratic tent is becoming so unwieldy, voters can’t agree on a candidate (Too lefty!  Too progressive! Too moderate!) to run for President.

I suggest starting with the U.S. Congress’ words from 1782:  E pluribus unum, Latin for “Out of many, one.”  It’s on the banner in the eagle’s beak on the Great Seal of the United States.  Sure, the anti-Communist 1956 Congress added “In God We Trust,” but that motto of fraught:  whose God do we trust?  Mike Pence & The Evangelicals (how’s that for a rock group name?) say the Christian god – which contradicts e plurubus unum.  The Democrats could make a deal with DC Comics to use the ever-so-timely “Truth, Justice and The American Way.”  But that’s fraught, too.

Most slogans call for what is missing.  The “Quality Is Job 1” motto was designed to restore faith in low-quality Ford vehicles.  “You Don’t Have To Be Jewish To Love Levy’s” helped shift perception that Levy’s rye and other breads were solely for the Jewish-ethnic market.  “This Is Wells Fargo” reintroduces the criminally convicted and heavily fined bank as a place you can trust with your money.  “Make America Great Again” speaks to failures by U.S. businesses and governments to tout American successes, and provide the foundations we need to achieve the American Dream. 

And what’s missing today?  Unity (as of January 25, 2020).  And common purpose.  We all complain about Republicans being in lockstep.  But lack of unity among Democrats will lose them the 2020 presidential election.  A basic step toward conflict resolution is to hold the goal above the controversy.  In the War Room of the Democratic presidential candidate, the writing on the wall should say, “It’s The Unity, Stupid.”  How do we get the unity?  Common purpose.

We all contribute to American greatness and exceptionalism.  The Democrats need to know that beyond money, most Americans want purpose in their lives.  This election cycle, the Democrats must become the party that channels that longing into results. 

In the Sapiens trilogy Yuval Noah Harari observes that the world is changing fast:

            (a) artificial intelligence algorithms and bioengineering, created by businesses, are creeping into our minds and bodies, through everything from voice texting, robot customer service and industrial technologies, to Facebook and Google Maps, to election interference and government surveillance, to Amazon choosing your products and Netflix your movies, to medicine drug-altering your moods and replacing your body parts,

            (b) the governmental tortoise cannot keep up with the technological hare.  For example, by the time cumbersome governments have begun to address cyber regulation, the Internet has morphed ten times,

            (c) our slow-moving institutions can be poisoned by bad actors who get embedded in them, and harm everyone inside and outside the institutions,

            (d) malevolent social media and cyber hackers, and religious and nationalistic zealots are attacking the very concepts of neoliberal democracy – individual autonomy, informed decision-making and free & open information and commerce.  They peddle nostalgia and fantasies from previous centuries, that

            (e) choke our institutions, impede our free flows of information and commerce, and keep us from focusing on the urgent challenges of the 21st Century (a, b, c, & d).

Harari adds the pace of technological development and the speed and volume of the data flow are overwhelming democratic and authoritarian regimes alike.  Never in history have governments been able to gain so much knowledge about the world, and yet be so unable to act wisely on it.

It’s urgent that Democrats wake up to these realities, this election.  They must figure out how to solidify partnerships with labor, whom they’ve sorely and ignorantly neglected.  They must forge new, transparently accountable partnerships with businesses, dump what doesn’t work (e.g., privatized prisons and corporate giveaways), enlist business support for government, which will serve as an engine of research for progress, a leader and partner for change, and a partner in national and global development.

So what’s the slogan?  E plurubus unum too retro for you?  Annuit cœptis (“He approves the things undertaken”) could appear in the Democrats’ War Room, too.  But Novus ordo seclorum (“New order of the ages”) could be a slogan.  Or borrowing from “Hamilton” and playing on E plurubus unum, “Democrats:  We Get Things Done.”  Or “The Right Way Forward,” which could co-opt the Republican message, but surely offend lefties).   America is great because from many, it has the capacity to melt all together into one strong nation.  That’s America’s promise.  And that’s as optimistic as it gets.

Democratic Candidates-The Backbone Party: Martin Westerman.

1/15/20: Every Democratic presidential candidate should stop trying to explain anything, unless he/she can do it in two sentences and a Tweet.  Take Mary Poppins’ retort at Mr. Banks:  “I would like to make one thing quite clear.  I never explain anything.”

Trump groupies, acolytes, sycophants, MAGA cult members, religious fanatics always feel insecure.  They follow the leader.  He (these leaders are always male) is strong, speaks to their insecurities, helps them feel safe, protected, and “in” with the group (there’s strength in numbers).  They say what he says, re-Tweet what he Tweets, chant for him, defend him from perceived danger, or attack.  They see (Democrat) explainers and negotiators and compromisers and apologizers as weak.

So rule #1 for the  Democrat:  Don’t explain anything.  Attack with strength to keep the bully at bay, or on the defensive.  And/or Divert attention (Hey Mr. President, you’re shoe’s untied!).  Then explain if warranted.  If only the Democrats would react first with fire (and humor) to fight Trump & Republican fire, America would probably view them more positively.

Rule #2:  POTUS 45 has taught us that theatrics sell.  The best way to counter the bluster, the stonewall, the answering of a question with a question (e.g., Kavanaugh’s “Doesn’t everyone like beer?”), is to call it out and hammer it.

Rule #3:  Go for the kill.  Congressional Democrats in committee hearings offer the best lesson in how not to do that.  They must instead become a party of stark statements, clear choices, and few apologies.  Not a Republican “You’re either for us or against us” party, but an if this-then that party:  Truman’s “If you want to live like a Republican, vote for the Democrats.” FDR’s “I welcome their (Republicans’) hatred.”  Many consultants have addressed this difference between how Republicans vs. Democrats speak; heed them!

In committee hearings, on media or in public, that means a start with, “You are not answering the question,” and a move to, “When you say this, it means this” statements.  Examples:

  • We’re not hear to listen to you bluster and stonewall, (judge, Mme. Secretary, etc.).  You are under oath here, and you’re just telling us that you’re hiding the truth.   Let the record show the (judge, nominee, etc.) refuses to tell the truth,
  • All of us here are under pressure, Judge Kavanagh.  And we’ve all got sad family stories.  But your daughter is not the nominee, you are.  And you’re being interviewed for a job as Supreme Court Justice, not Father Of The Year.”

Lindsey Graham’s outburst should have won him these comments from Democrats:

  • Well Senator, that was an Academy Award performance.  Except we’re not in Hollywood.  We’re in Washington, D.C., in the United States Senate.
  • Let’s set this record straight.  Senator McConnell made this a sham three years ago.  For the first time in American history, he kept the Senate from holding hearings on a judicial nominee.  Now he’s blocking the Senate from doing its job – to advise consent on nominees.  So enough with this phony offense.
  • In the hearing confrontation between former DHS Secretary Nielsen and committee Democrats, Rep. Gutierrez should have stayed put, and called Nielsen out:  “Is this the best you can do — reduce this to a schoolyard fight?  You are under oath.  Your department is failing to do its job.  You are the head of that department.  You are lying to cover up your department’s failures.  And we are holding you accountable.”

The Democrats have a sorry recent history of playing offense.  During the 2016 presidential debates, Hillary didn’t turn on lurking-over-her-shoulder DJ Trump and snap, “Back off!” We lost trust she could stand up to any bully, domestic or foreign.  When Obama wouldn’t stand up for collective bargaining and unions, honor his Syria “red line,” or defend Merritt Garland vs. Mitch McConnell, he lost national trust.  When war hero John Kerry couldn’t defend himself against the 2004 Swiftboaters, people lost trust that Kerry could defend America.

The Democrats need to reverse that trend:

            . They need to keep a running tally of Trump lies (now nearing 16,000).  If Trump ever shows up for a Presidential debate, his Democratic opponent must keep track of the lie count: “Oh, that’s lie number 15,876, Mr. President,  And that’s 877.”  Twitter snap:  “Will Prez 45 EVER tell the truth?”

            . When Trump calls Warren “Pocahontas,” snap, “So what?  You come from German immigrants, your wife’s a Slovenian immigrant, you used chain immigration to get her family here.  When did you start hating immigrants?  And you hate American Indianss, too?”  The Tweet back at DJT:  “Hates immigrants.  Hates himself.  So sad.”

            .  When Trump denies climate change, Democrats snap, “You’ve got a cellphone.  That’s science – physics, math, chemistry, engineering, biology.  If you don’t believe in science, don’t use your cellphone.  Or your car.  Or your TV.”  The Tweet:  “Trump says Earth is flat, wants to live in horse and wagon days.  Trump For President, 1492.”

            . When Trump talks great economy, Democrats must snap,  “Great for rich people like you.  Not for anybody else.  But how would Trump know?  He spends more time golfing than working.”  The Twitter snap:  “So rich, so clueless, and so bad at golf.”

Answer this question:  Which is the party of backbone that stands up to bullies, makes clear statements about its visions and intentions, and follows through on them?  Don’t you wish you could answer, “The Democrats!”?

Democratic President Candidates 1- Charisma??

Submitted by Martin Westerman (1/15/2020)

Who is the Democrats’ “It” candidate for 2020? – the one who can beat the R’s “It,” DJ Trump?  “It” is charisma, and if you’ve got “It,” said author Elinor Glyn in 1927, “you win all men if you are a woman and all women if you are a man.”  “It” combines physical, mental, and personal attraction, and something more, and they say you’ve either you’ve got itor you don’t.

But wait:  research says you can learn It.  Humans unconsciously gravitate toward a leader they can trust to represent their hopes and dreams, where membership in his or her group helps them feel safe and protected.  Author David Aberbach lays it out in Charisma in Politics, Religion and the Media.  Once in the group, people tend to hold back their emotions, to show deference and acknowledge the leader’s superior status.  Cambridge University’s Jochen Menges calls this the “awestruck effect.”  It’s tribal.  It’s safe as long as you pledge allegiance to the group; dangerous if you don’t, or if you’re outside of It.  In TrumpWorld, outsiders include minority groups, immigrants, opposing politicians, the news media, and “liberals.”

But a candidate can learn and use the elements of charisma, says Univ. of Lausanne professor John Antonakis. (“The Anatomy of Charisma,” Nautilus, Feb. 16, 2017).  He calls them Charismatic Leadership Tactics (CLTs), and says they’ve helped decide eight of the last 10 presidential elections.  Charisma isn’t a divine, supernatural, superhuman, or exceptional power.  “The more individuals use charismatic leadership tactics – metaphors, storytelling, open posture, animated gestures – the more others see them as leader-like.”

Appearance is important.  Princeton psychologist Alexander Todorov showed side by side photos of competing congressional candidates to individuals, and asked them to rate candidate competence based on their appearance.  Based on their snap judgments, the interviewees predicted the winning candidate almost 70% of the time.  (“Inferences of Competence from Faces Predict Election Outcomes,” Science, June 10, 2005)

Our snap judgments are emotional, connected to fight-or-flight responses in the brain’s amygdala.. Even without meeting a person, we appear hard-wired to quickly decide if a person has likeability and competence traits that we feel are important, Todorov said.

But Nobel Prize psychologist Daniel Kahneman found the brain has two parallel decision circuits – the fast intuitive (in the amygdala), and the slower rational (in the prefrontal cortex).  The rational system can override the intuitive, when we analyze our snap judgments. 

So looks are important, charisma grabs us emotionally, we need to trust our leaders will speak and act for us, and protect and keep us safe.  We can rationally overcome our snap judgments and subconscious fears.  And we can learn from our mistakes. 

There’s the roadmap for every political campaign.  Now, who is the D’s “It” candidate?

Marty’s Trump-prolonging nightmare scenarios:

At the danger of making these self-fulfilling prophesies, I’m sharing several nightmare scenarios that I fear could prolong our tenure in Trumpville beyond 2020. 

First  — 45 overstays his welcome by declaring a national emergency and postponing the November 2020 elections, as catastrophes consume America:  disastrous Midwestern fracking earthquakes and water poisoning, or raging Western forest fires, or overwhelming Category 4-5 East and Gulf Coast hurricanes; or thousands or millions of Americans becoming homeless refugees.  And/or a war or the Yellowstone Caldera could erupt, or a meteor could strike Earth.  Part of the emergency will be the administration’s inability to handle an emergency.

Second – key blocks of citizens don’t get to vote against 45.  Power is a drug, Republicans have become addicts, and a fix is offered every election cycle by disenfranchising voters, gerrymandering districts, undermining faith in U.S. institutions to create voter apathy, and winning less populous “red” state elections to skew Electoral College votes that outweigh the U.S. popular vote (e.g., Bush v. Gore, Clinton v. Trump).  And then, the “Bernie or Nobody” crowd could pass on voting for any Democrat and throw the election to 45.

Or Third – Republicans and 45 capitalize on the docile herd animals called “humans,” who believe in fantasy like it’s reality, take breaks to chase novelties and shiny objects, and are drawn to leaders who threaten or cajole them into mythical love or submission.  These leaders are called “Alpha-animals.”  Our U.S. President is an Alpha-pretending, fantasy spinning, idiot savant of distraction (gaslighting, Tweetstorm, ridiculous public statement, & 14 lies-a-day master).  We pay attention because he’s the power player – POTUS.  We want to ignore him, but horrified fascination keeps us looking. 

            Historically, human society and activity can be described by a simple pyramid, whether it’s organized religion, empire, monarchy, corporation, drug cartel or authoritarian government:

                                                /              \

                                               /    Tribal     \

                                             /  Patriarchal   \

                                           /    Dictatorial     \

                                         /     Hierarchical     \

                                       /        Theocratic         \

                                     /___________________\

In America, that has meant a society dominated and designed by White, Male, Alpha-directed, Top-down organized, Christian-Capitalists.  The other tribes – people of color, immigrants, non-Christians, etc. have been marginalized or shut out of control positions in society.

So Fourth – 45 could be re-elected by playing on White people’s fear of non-white others.  Every authoritarian government in human history has (sadly) affirmed that humans respond more to fear than love.  You don’t need the Nazis, or Lederer’s A Nation of Sheep, or Harari’s Sapiens trilogy. to tell you love is powerful until the loving person gets threatened or killed.  Then survivors fear for their safety and lives.  Ideologues, marauders, conquerors and religious zealots always use violence on “non-believers” when they can’t persuade with words or deeds

Studies show that despots and authoritarian rulers win popular support and retain legitimacy using notions and beliefs that “bolster willing obedience.” Also, they keep a monopoly over use of force; control of economic and infrastructural resources; and a strong and sustainable administrative apparatus.  It enables powerful minorities to control population majorities.

Humans also tend to not think ahead or self-reflect – unless we’re pregnant females (and perhaps their partners).  Thinking ahead generally invites (a) arguments about which plan is best, and (b) delays to study the plan and make excuses about why it’s too challenging and/or expensive to do.  

Self-reflection is a thicket, too.  As Harari observes in 21 Lesson For The 21st Century, do Christians ask themselves how a religion based on love begot the Crusades, Inquisition, witch hunts, the 30 Years’ War and anti-Semitism?  Do Marxists ask how Marx’s teachings led to Stalin, the gulags and the Cultural Revolution? Or scientists ask how the scientific project has led to destabilizing the global ecosystem? Or geneticists ask how that helped Nazis hijack Darwinist theories?  Do capitalists ask how the “free market” created slave plantations, the Great Depression, today’s homeless crisis, and Facebook destabilizing Western democracy?  No.

So back to my nightmares about how Trump & Co. stay in office past 2020:

            1.  Monopolizing force by:

                        a.  Calling out the U.S. Army to “guard” polling places and scare away voters

                        b.  Calling on his “fine people” (Charlottesville, white supremacist & neo-Nazi gangs) to battle opponents.  Will militias drilling in American forests, and in 2016 occupied the Malheur national refuge in Oregon – take sides, and if so, whose?  Will U.S. Armed Forces (and/or National Guard and/or local police) crush the gangs or do 45’s bidding?  What will 2nd Amendment advocates do – support or fight the President and the gangs?

            2.  Not playing by the rules:  Jennifer Senior asked why R’s don’t, and Democrats and Independents do play by the rules (Oct. 2019 NY Times op-ed).  In today’s income polarized America, corporations are “persons” (SCOTUS Santa Clara 1886), money is “speech” (Citizens United 2010), and Senate and House R’s now block all legislative progress at the federal level, as they and 45 continue to run circles around hapless Democrats who “play by the rules.”

            3.  Attacking the impeachment process, (a) by declaring it unconstitutional, (b) calling all Congressional subpoenas for witnesses invalid, (c) calling the process a “Deep State” attempt to pull off a coup against His Unitary Executive-ship, or an attempt to undo the 2016 election.

            4.  Challenging Congress and the Supreme Court to unseat him.  Both the Supreme Court, and the Senate that would try Prez 45 are in sympathetic Republican hands (that’s another issue – how to eliminate politics from judicial nominations & appointments?)

            5. Delegitimizing the 2020 election, by indoctrinating Trump Herd supporters, with Fox News help, to view any close or contested 2020 election as an excuse to ignore the results (see Second above), so the D.C Police or U.S. Army would have to drag him out of the White House (Raw Story 10/13/2019) (see 1.b. above),

            6.  Declaring widespread voter fraud (see Second above) so he can remain in the White House post-election until a fraud investigation has finished.

            7.  Democrats give 2020 Senate and Presidential elections away to Trump and R’s, by continued in-fighting, and failure to agree on and strongly support a good presidential candidate.

Activist Aditi Juneja asks all 2020 candidates what they’ll do to prevent another president like Trump, assure that federal checks and balances will work, and that elections will be free, fair and accessible?” (Talking Points Memo Oct. 14, 2019.  U.S. democracy is not guaranteed, she says.  “It’s an idea that each generation has to renew and redefine.”

All of our American ancestors are immigrants who came here to escape persecution or famine, or/and to find safe haven and new opportunities IN America.  Now we, their heirs may have to think about where in the world we can go to find places that are safe FROM America.  Having to start that search is my worst nightmare.