I’m wondering what people are thinking in, say, the Philippines, or China–or anyplace where democracy is either non-existent or less than perfect. Are they envious of us here when they see examples of American democracy break down in front of their eyes?
On Monday, the quaint exercise in democracy known as the “Iowa caucus,” looked to be a nice reminder of how it all begins at the grassroots level.
But by midnight ET, not a single “official” result had been released, as the Iowa Democrats announced some reporting issues. Not a hack, they stressed. Still, results? Sometime Tuesday.
It didn’t stop Pete Buttigieg from declaring that Iowa had shocked the nation and that he was “going to New Hampshire victorious!”
Well, I guess that depends on if “victorious” is defined as actually getting out of Iowa on schedule, because there were no results when he spoke. Buttigieg was in the top three in a few actual caucus meetings that were televised. But the former mayor didn’t know officially when he spoke if he were on top. Or close. Or anything.
He took a victory lap anyway and introduced his partner as the “future first gentleman.”
That doesn’t happen every day.
The other candidates did what they could without caucus results.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, among the leaders in some pre-caucus polls, said Iowa, one of the least diverse states in the country, sent a message to the nation that “we want a government that represents all of us, not just wealthy campaign contributors and the one percent.”
Sanders on Trump: “He’s trying to divide our people up based on the color of their skin, their religion, their sexual orientation, or where they were born. And all of that hatred, all of that divisiveness is going to end when together we are in the White House.”
I suspect former Vice President Joe Biden may have finished mid-pack. In his exit speech, he tried to sound like the winner. “Four more years of Donald Trump will fundamentally alter the character of this nation,” said Biden. He also tried to use a litany of inclusion, saying he wanted to unite “men, women, gay, straight, everyone, Black, Brown, a whole universe of people out there.”
Asian Americans presumably are somewhere in that universe.
But in the caucus universe, I was hard pressed to find Andrew Yang, the only person of color among the caucus candidates. In fact, in some of the smaller televised caucus meetings, Yang didn’t make it out of the first “viability” vote.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who desperately needed an Iowa boost, had a diversity attack for Trump, too. “The American Dream cannot take another four years of a president who thinks he can choose who gets it.” She said his motto was to “Divide and demoralize,” and that hers was to “ unite and lead.”
In her not-quite-victory speech, Sen. Elizabeth Warren touched on how Americans came together to fight big issues like slavery and abolition. She didn’t stop there, and mentioned how America fought Fascism, birthed unions, grew a middle class, and marched for civil rights.
“Americans do big things, that’s who we are,” Warren said. “We meet big problems with even bigger solutions.”
Without official results, candidates were left to make some pretty uninspiring caucus lemonade.
It’s one thing to crow without any results, but it’s another to hear the white candidates try to add a little color in their rhetoric as they spoke to a nation more doubtful than ever about Iowa’s relevance in a modern diverse world.
Iowa’s racial makeup is like going back to pre-1965 America, when racist immigration quotas existed against Asians.
Still, I thought the caucuses would be a nostalgic shot in the arm for democracy, and how it’s resilient and works so well.
It sure didn’t look so well Monday night. Maybe by Tuesday? With all the speed of corn?
STATE OF THE UNION
Tuesday night will also be the regularly scheduled State of the Union Address. What will Donald Trump, TIP (“The Impeached President”) say tonight– with or without teleprompter?
Teleprompter used to be a guardrail.
It doesn’t matter anymore, for a man who can do no wrong.
There are no guardrails for Trump anymore.
If anything Trump says conflicts with reality, he’ll deny it. But it’s on tape, right? Doesn’t matter. He will say what he will to prove whatever he wants to prove. He’s that perfect. Like that Ukrainian phone call.
By Wednesday when the pre-determined fate of TIP is rubber-stamped by a majority of gutless senators who just held a trial without witnesses or documents, it officially will be a new day in our country.
As Alan Dershowitz–the distinguished O.J. lawyer, the Harvard Law professor emeritus, and now the pre-eminent criminal defense visionary for crimes against the Constitution–likes to say, anything the president does can be defined as being “in the national interest.”
If that “Hollywood Access” tape couldn’t sink Trump for his frat boy “pussy grab,” what will stop him from a real “power grab”? Nothing.
He’s practically there already.
The anticipated Senate acquittal on Wednesday means the president will have skirted the rule of law and successfully eliminated the main checks on his power.
The Founders would be dumbfounded.
The Senate, with the impeachment trial actions, has virtually given up its power of oversight and limited the House’s power. Trump’s stacking of the Supreme Court already has limited another major check. What’s left?
Some Republicans are hoping Trump won’t use the State of the Union to gloat about his new status.
I’m betting against it. What are they going to do if he does gloat? Take away his crown and scepter?
That leaves the people to speak out and guard against his abuses of power. But the Iowa caucus vote count breakdown show us how bad things are at this basic level.
If you weren’t worried about the election process in 2020 after the Mueller report’s chilling findings about the 2016 election tampering, well, maybe you should be now.
Iowa was a simple process, and the Democrats there say it wasn’t a hack.
But it’s still a snafu. That’s all it takes to undermine public confidence about our democracy at home and abroad—even further.
RISE AGAINST THE ACQUITTAL
When I was in Iowa last summer, I got to talk to a lot of voters. Mostly all white, they were the people media usually miss, or the ones who don’t get polled.
Many of them are so turned off to politics, even when the issues like health care, Social Security, and education directly affect them. They’re tired of the rancor and simply opt out.
But the acquittal process just opens up a new chapter in Trump’s assault on America, especially on Asian American immigrant communities.
For example, the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed the Trump administration’s new public charge rule to take effect, beginning Feb. 24, 2020.
If you are part of a government housing or food assistance program, it could lead to a denial of your permanent resident status.
These sorts of transgressions will continue. Time to speak out now?
With Trump’s anticipated acquittal on Wednesday, a coalition of groups like Public Citizen, Common Cause, Women’s March, Greenpeace, and others are rallying across the country.
Find a rally and opt-in wherever you are.
When our representative government in the Senate fails to represent all of us, it’s time to go out there and let the executive branch see and hear the real state of our union.