Democracy under attack: Texas Poll Closings

David Frum quote

Some say it already has

2018poll-closure-TX click to read

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Response to a friend

Freedom Abe small
Dear Friend,

Dinner last night was great as usual. But I was disappointed in my response to your question…”like what?”

When I said that electing opposition candidates was good for our country to keep the majority party (now the Republicans) from having total control of our body politic, I thought that was so obvious that I was blindsided by your question and gave two really stupid responses – taxes and Roe v. Wade.

So let me try briefly to give a more measured response assuming that your question was a serious one.

One of the best classes I ever took in school was at North Texas in the summer of 1964. American Government. I wish I could remember the prof‘s name. He was terrific – did a great Sam Rayburn imitation. But one thing he said that has stuck with me all these years is this.

American democracy works best when three near equal forces are in dynamic tension with each other – business, labor, and government. Big Business, Big Labor, and Big Government if you will. If that tension is diminished or absent autocracy, injustice, even fascism can be the result.

Fast forward to now – big Labor no longer exists. While people rail against big government, it has been largely co-opted by BIG Business.

The three greatest threats to our democracy are unlimited money in politics (Think Citizens United – corporations are people, money is speech), gerrymandering by whichever party is in the state house, and voter suppression. Business rules government and labor.

And the more power granted to a single force the more self-serving that force becomes and the less well our democracy serves its ideals of freedom, equality and justice.

Democracy is messy. It is supposed to be messy. You bemoaned the Kavanaugh nomination process as being deplorable, especially the Democrats. No argument here. BUT at least there was a process where opposing positions made their case and slugged it out. For an example of the autocracy I fear, look no further than Merritt Garland – no process, no debate, no hearings. Which is worse? I know which I prefer.

I heard John Fea, an admitted evangelical and history professor at SMU recently. In his book Believe Me he develops 3 choices that Evangelicals made that really are not true to the faith but have had wide appeal.
They chose

FEAR over HOPE
POWER over HUMILITY
NOSTALGIA over HISTORY
Evangelicals have chosen Trump over their faith. Trump raises the specter of fear at every opportunity and it works. I think fear of the OTHER is in our DNA.
Christians are taught to be humble but they have embraced Trump’s drive for Power (Woodward’s book is named Fear because Trump thinks that Power is delivered through fear).
Power is almost always antithetical to freedom, equality, and justice (Power corrupts blah, blah, blah).
Finally Make America Great Again. Fea says Trump supporters hear “Great!” (Nostalgia) The historian hears “Again” (History) and asks when are you talking about? There has never been a time when America was great for all its citizens. Maybe great for you but how about ______? (Fill in the blank)

So my point last night, poorly made, was that by electing more Republicans we allow them to
1) cut Medicare and Social Security
2) emphasize school vouchers over public education
3) ignore climate change and continue to abuse our environment (I agree it’s too late – that battle has been lost)
4) offend our allies jeopardizing relationships that have kept Western peace for over 70 years.
5) praise dictators like Putin, Kim Jun Um, and MSB of Saudi Arabia. (I doubt if Mueller will find Trump colluded with Russia – probably because of lack of opportunity. But doesn’t his denying any election interference strike you as odd?)

So I’ll stop there by giving you the last line of Woodward’s book Fear.

John Dowd, Trump’s lawyer, on resigning gave his real reason for doing so

“Because He’s a Fucking Liar!”

No response is necessary.

An Incomplete Memory

I had the most interesting and instructive experience yesterday.

I was driving back from visiting a friend who was rehabbing from a severely broken left femur that required surgery a month ago.

I was listening to THINK, the KERA program with interviews of authors, journalists, and researchers. The guest was Casey Gerald. His autobiography, They’re Will Be No Miracles Here!, tells of being raised by an ex Ohio State football player cocaine addict and a bipolar often absent mother. Nevertheless after high school in Oak Cliff he attended Yale and got an MBA from Harvard.
I did not get his name as I drove but heard him tell of his father Rod at OSU. When the host, Krys Boyd, repeated his name I was suddenly thrust back in time.

One fall many years ago I was watching football on TV. Ohio State was playing an opponent whose name I can’t remember. What I do remember is that the quarterback for OSU was Rod Gerald. (Now when I look him up I see that he was the quarterback for the 1976 and 1977 seasons and led OSU to an Orange Bowl victory in 1977.}

Early in the next year after that football season I was returning from someplace south of Dallas. I went to the Home Depot on Interstate 20 in South Dallas to buy I know not what. What I do remember is asking a store employee for help. I was surprised when I looked at his name tag. On it was written Rod Gerald. I said to him that another Rod Gerald played football at Ohio State. Sheepishly he admitted that he was the same Rod Gerald and had left OSU involuntarily. I do not remember anything more of what he said – was it academic? (I think so) or disciplinary? (I can find no record of Rod Gerald leaving OSU).

So I saw Rod Gerald play football on TV and then saw him a few months later in a Home Depot in Dallas. It was such an odd coincidence I’ve never forgotten it. That I am sure of.

What I don’t remember is the year it happened, why I went to Home Depot, Where I went before or after, or anything else Rod Gerald said to me. That it occurred in 1977 seems earlier than I would have thought because my hazy recollection is that my wife, Cherry, was with me. We were not married until 1979. But we were dating in 1977 so that date is possibly correct. She has no memory of this event but then she wasn’t watching football then.
Maybe there was another Rod Gerald or Rod Jerrell that played later at OSU but I can find no record and that seems unlikely.

My vivid memory of a chance encounter is incomplete but no less real to me and is as accurate as I can recount.

Does this remind you of a recent tale of a vivid memory that has been savaged for its incompleteness? A reference to that memory in a recent adolescent rant by the President in Mississippi comes to mind.