The Two Als: ‘Bama and Franken

I wish Al Franken had said this instead: “What I did was wrong, and I have violated the trust of those who voted for me. I should not be representing the people of Minnesota in the Senate, just as Roy Moore should not represent Alabamans, and Donald Trump is a poor representative of the values of our great nation. As soon as Judge Moore withdraws from the Senate race, and refuses to serve if elected; and once our President appoints a special counsel to investigate charges of sexual misconduct which have been levied against him – I’m sure he wants to fully vindicate himself in the eyes of all Americans, and this is the surest and fastest way to do that – then I will resign from the Senate. It is past time for all Americans, especially those who seek and have the people’s trust, to do everything each of us can to ensure that everyone feels safe from sexual violence and abuse.”

This is about improving our society, our culture, not about the fate of any individual within it. The behavior of celebrities, politicians, and sports stars is a mirror, in which we look and decide if we like the reflection we see of ourselves.

For example, Bill Clinton should now stand up and tell the world he was wrong and he should have resigned. That’s what it means to ask for a change in society.”

Then, a miracle occurred, and Doug Jones was elected senator over Roy Moore in Alabama.

The lesson the Democrats seemed to get: go all in on elevating women’s issues as a wedge to deal with both Trump and gaining back at least one house of Congress. It will probably work, but what then? Like it or not, being an asshole, having a chaotic management style, and being just plain stupid are not what I think of as high crimes or misdemeanors. The Democrats should concentrate on being adults, finding policies which speak not to the fringe elements of their base but to the real economic needs of potential voters.

History lesson: this recent Democratic victory in the AL Senate race brings to mind the 1991 special election for Senator in Pennsylvania. Some similarities: Republicans were in the ascendency, with Bush serving the third consecutive term for the GOP in the White House. In April, the Republican Senator John Heinz died, and the Democratic governor appointed a Democrat as interim senator, Harris Wofford. A career bureaucrat, no one gave him a chance against former PA Gov. Richard Thornburgh in the November special election – initial polls showed him 40 points behind. But Wofford made access to healthcare his key policy focus, and won by 10 % points. This led to a change in political strategy nationally for the Dems, and once Clinton was elected, they went all in on universal healthcare at the Federal level.

So safety and equality for women may work to bring in some suburban college educated women who might otherwise vote Republican in 2018. But an additional, and primary focus on economic issues will be critical, both in 2018 and 2020. It is highly likely that a recession will appear between the 2018 and 2020 election. This will re-introduce the worries of those who become left behind; the Democrats need to have a better answer for them next time around. For the mid-terms, however, a relentless focus on the character, competence, misogyny, xenophobia, and covert racism of the president needs to be emphasized.

On social issues, and racial and economic justice issues, I stand with Democrats. But I worry about their tendency to create a huge Federal trough for community groups (not individual benefits like Medicare, Medicaid, SS, Obamacare, etc.) to lap from. Both Republicans and Democrats have been having trouble the last 4 decades managing our nation’s debt, and that is my biggest reason for looking towards the middle for relief. Until the Republicans stop tolerating/relying on racists, homophobes, xenophobes, and misogynists in their midst, it won’t matter what fiscal policies they adopt, I can’t live in their tent. And I still hope there is a majority among the electorate who can be persuaded towards that viewpoint.



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