Saturday, September 29, 2018

A Week That Will Live in Infamy

As a white male who grew up in the 60s and 70s in Bethesda, Maryland, I somehow feel relevant all of a sudden.   Perhaps you are waiting for secret dirt – like the fact that back then, a 16 year-old high school boy could cruise into Wildwood Deli (an eight-minute drive from Georgetown Prep) and buy beer with no questions asked, or the fact that I personally did so on numerous occasions.   But enough about me.

Instead, I’m thinking about my 97 year-old mother, herself a 50+ year resident of B-Town, but not a patron of the Wildwood Deli.  My mother is part of a very different cohort than mine.  In her day, the boys went off to war and fought together, rich and poor alike, against the most evil enemy known to humankind.  They came back – or at least some came back –as young but wise men.  They were victorious and, no doubt, exceptionally patriotic.  Having looked into the heart and soul of darkness, they cherished the values associated with the red, white and blue.  Values like freedom of expression and opportunity, equality, respect for human dignity, brotherly love, and an appreciation for the principles of democracy.  It’s no wonder that America became the envy of the world.

When these young veterans grew older and went into politics, they were determined to honor the country they loved so dearly.  They knew that America was capable of great things – if it could defeat the Nazis, surely it could put a man on the moon.  And we did!  Our politicians worked together.  They ended the Jim Crow Era, implemented the Great Society programs, and created the Environmental Protection Agency.  Equality of wealth in this country was never greater than back in those days.   Nor were expressions of cultural unrest.  We saw the Summer of Love, the rise of the feminism, and a powerful Anti-War movement.   To be sure, that generation wasn’t perfect – they gave us the debacle of Vietnam.  But all and all, the “Greatest Generation” as they are now called will be remembered far more for what they did right than what they did wrong.  And my cohort – those of us who grew up in the 60s and 70s – were among the beneficiaries.

Obviously, as that older cohort faded away and my own came to power, we have seen national deterioration.  I was born in the latter part of the Baby Boom generation.  The earlier Boomers were the ones who were born shortly after World War II.   When it was the new generation’s time to serve, the war (Vietnam) wasn’t nearly so compelling.  The richest families figured out legal ways to evade service, and the poorest families took on casualties for no apparent reason.  In the mid-to-late 70s, we saw one politician get caught committing a crime, and two more who were clearly not ready for prime time.  So then came the Election of 1980, the ascendancy of Ronald Reagan, economic policies based on a combination of rugged individualism and social Darwinism, and an uptick in economic inequality that has been growing for decades.  Also in the 80s, we saw the beginning of right-wing talk radio, where liberal Americans are vilified on a daily basis and conservative Americans receive their talking points.  That phenomenon begat similar cable news outlets on the left, which can be equally dismissive of conservatives and their motives.

By the turn of the century, with the Baby Boomers firmly in power, we no longer saw the same kind of common values inform our political discourse.  America had become tribal.  The Presidential Election went to the guy who won fewer total votes but was a member of the party with a slim majority on the Supreme Court.  The public lost confidence in that court.  It already had lost confidence in the Congress. Now, people just lined up with their own tribe in an everything-goes battle against their domestic enemies.

Rural vs. Urban, Red versus Blue, Men versus Women, White versus Black.  To the people on the political right, the New York Times became the “New York Slimes,” feminists became “Feminazis,” and ethnic and gender studies departments became un-American symbols of political correctness.  Meanwhile, to the people on the political left, conservatives came to be seen either as evil hypocrites or knuckle dragging morons, the former moniker being used for the leadership and the latter for their followers.

E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One) had morphed into E Pluribus Duo.  And we owe most of these trends to my cohort, the Baby Boomers.  Apparently, too many of us grew up fat and happy – guzzling beers in high school, guzzling beers in college, and then walking into a job market that was pretty sweet and forgiving.  The Gospel of Luke taught that “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required.”  But in the case of my cohort, we were given a lot, we expected to receive just as much, and we became indignant whenever someone asked us to share money or power.  What took our predecessors centuries to build up, we have squandered in one generation.
... which leads me to the spectacle at the Senate on Thursday.

On the one hand, we’ve all seen something similar before.  I vividly remember feeling incensed during the so-called “high tech lynching” of Clarence Thomas 27 years ago.  But somehow, this past week’s spectacle was even more difficult to experience.  This time, I didn’t feel enraged so much as wounded.  At times, I was near tears, and I’ve never even big a victim of sexual assault.

I won’t take a position in this blog about the guilt or innocence of the nominee.  The FBI is about to investigate, so I am not going to comment about that. But whatever happened at that Bethesda party back in the early 80s, I want to know what is happening in the backrooms of the Senate in 2018.  I want to know what it means for us today to have a “Separation of Powers.”  I want to know whether, when then candidate Trump joked that “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” he was talking about people like the Republican leadership of the U.S. Senate.

Do we really want to deny Democratic Presidents the right to nominate people to the Supreme Court and then “plow right through” when serious questions are asked about a Republican nominee?  Do we want, in other words, to apply a beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard whenever Republican nominees are being accused of misconduct, after denying a Democratic nominee the right even to be considered for the job?   Are these the principles that the Greatest Generation would have applied when they came to political power in the 60s and 70s? Or are they signs that American governance has fallen prey to only a single principle – might makes right?

The Greatest Generation, once they returned from World War II, came to be known as Cold Warriors.  They battled Marxists and Marxism, especially its idea that even totalitarianism can be justified by the idea that “the end justifies the means.” To me, as to these Cold Warriors, that notion is a disgusting abdication of values -- for situational ethics are no ethics at all.

The Greatest Generation fought against such “ethics” – on the battle field, in the realm of geopolitics, and even in the halls of Congress,   They sought bi-partisan agreements, expressed genuine affection for politicians across the aisle, and reached principled results.  They accomplished big results.  And they did so together. 

Unfortunately, those days appears to have left us.  The old Cold Warriors are dying, and a new Cold War has returned.  This time, it is not America against foreign enemies.  It’s one group of Americans against another.  This war is no holds barred.  We wait until someone screams across the aisle, and then we salute that screaming.  We have come to see civility as a sign of weakness or cowardice.  Even our would-be judges are encouraged to spew partisan passion.

I look for the next generation to get things right.  Clearly, my cohort can’t be trusted with power. 

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Celebrating a Milestone

At midnight, when this weekend officially ends, I will be halfway to accomplishing the central goal that I have set out for myself in life – the single item on my bucket list, as it were.   My ability to attain this goal is not totally up to me.  In fact, it’s largely out of my control.  But that’s OK, because luck is central to pretty much every venture in life, and I’m at peace with depending on luck in the things that matter most to me. What choice is there?

So what happens at 12:00 a.m. Monday morning?  I celebrate my 30th wedding anniversary.   My goal is to make it to 60.  Once that happens, if that happens, I would be 88 and my wife would be 89, and I’ll be ready for whatever God has in store for us.  Until then, I respectfully request that the two of us keep on breathing, and we’ll take care of the rest.   

As long as I can remember, I’ve revered the institution of marriage.  I saw my parents fight and fight and fight and yet, I never saw them separate, let alone divorce.  They were married for 17 years before I was born and another 41 years thereafter, and believe me, it was no bed of roses.  I knew they deeply loved each other.  And I also knew that they drove each other crazy.  So I had to decide – what is the more important value in life: to minimize the extent to which we are driven crazy by our loved ones?  Or to maximize the extent to which we experience and bestow the deepest of love?   You have my answer. 

I have been a bit more fortunate than my parents.  I married a woman who actually doesn’t drive me crazy.  I found her at Harvard Law School, where she was a bit of a fish out of water.  Now, instead of honing her rhetoric and brinksmanship skills in arenas of verbal combat, she teaches 5-10 year old schoolchildren how to appreciate reading and do research.  Recently, she spent 15 days in a hospital attempting to recuperate from surgery, but never once did she get upset with me, or with anyone else.   No, being married to her for 60 years would hardly entitle me to combat pay.  In fact, to use the immortal words of Lou Gehrig, it would make me “the luckiest man alive.” 

This weekend, as I reflect on the significance of Monday’s anniversary, I’m reminded that not everyone in my generation was given the opportunity to aim for the goal that I’ve set out for myself.  In order to have a reasonable chance to be married for 60 years, the members of my cohort needed to tie the knot by the end of the 80s or early 90s.   But for many, that wasn’t possible.   Not in America.  Not overseas.

The group of people I have in mind who were denied their rights to marry were formerly known by several nasty, hurtful words.   Oh, there was no shortage of names.  They weren’t sequestered from society like lepers, but to a degree they served the same role in society.  They were the ones most likely to be bullied by teenage alpha males.   Why sequester them if we can ridicule them instead?  It’s so much more fun, right?  Civilized people – the kind who thrive at places like Harvard Law School – would know enough not to mock these people or even to refer to them by derogatory names.  But when it came time to decide whether to support their right to get married, now that was a bridge too far.  Like most Americans, Ivy League educated lawyers turned politicians, knew enough NOT to advocate for same-sex marriage.   Obviously, the Republican leaders opposed it.  But, more notably, so did the highest leaders of the purportedly-progressive Democratic party.

Barack Obama finally came out in favor of gay marriage in 2012.  He was joined by Hillary Clinton in 2013.  Is it any wonder that as recently as 2003, not a single state allowed gay people to get married? 

In 2018, the times have changed.   The coup de grace was the 2015 Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which mandated that all 50 states allow same-sex couples to get married.   The vote was 5-4.  And yes, Justice Kennedy decided with the majority.

I have scrupulously striven to make this blog a law-free zone so that I may separate what I write about on weekends from what I do for a living.  Accordingly, I don’t wish to comment on the legal reasoning of Obergefell, or the stability of this precedent in light of past and future changes on the Court.  That kind of candor will be preserved until the time I leave government service and feel free to speak my mind on all topics.  But today, allow me to point out on a personal level just how important it is for me that other Americans be granted the same fundamental rights that I possess, and just how fundamental I view the right of all consenting adults to get married.

It is sad enough that gay people my age will never dream of reaching the big 6-0.  But I pray that in my children’s generation, and their children’s generation, every American will grow up secure in the knowledge that they can reach for this beautiful milestone regardless of their sexual preference. 

You know, my wife isn’t a very opinionated person, and she is definitely an open-minded one.  But I remember her telling me once that while she is typically able to see two sides on every issue, the one issue on which she only sees a single side is gay marriage.  I feel the same way.  Anyone who would take away that right for secular reasons is making arguments I simply can’t fathom.  And anyone who would take away that right for religious reasons is just the opposite kind of religious person than I am. 

Long live marriage.  Long live tolerance.  Love live progressive religion.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

They Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot

The Dow is over 26,000.  The last quarterly economic growth rate was 4.1%. The last monthly unemployment rate was only 3.9%.  Median family income is over $62,000 – an all-time high.  

Liberals need to acknowledge that these are strong numbers.   Trump supporters need to acknowledge how amazing it is for a President to preside over that kind of economy and yet still have an approval rating of only 36%.   Maybe Americans are crazy.  Or maybe sane Americans care about things other than aggregate economic numbers.  In fact, maybe the sanest Americans of all are the ones who care about the environment.

In 2015, representatives of nearly 200 countries negotiated the Paris Accords on Climate Change.  Those Accords go into effect in 2020.  The Accords followed the effort of the United States Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), an international treaty that went into effect in 1994.  Nearly 200 countries have signed onto the UNFCCC, including the United States.   Of those countries, however, only one is poised to reject the Paris Accords.  You guessed it – the good old US of A.  Early during his tenure as President, Donald Trump announced the United States’ intent to withdraw from the 2015 Accords.  Officially, we will not be able to do that until one day after the next Presidential Election.  So perhaps the 64% of Americans who don’t approve of Donald Trump’s Presidency won’t want to watch him be re-elected and then immediately tell the world “To Hell with talk about climate change!  Damn the torpedoes.  Full speed ahead.”

You can say many things about President Trump’s climate change denial.  But you can’t say he came to this perspective overnight.  Fully seven years ago, Donald Trump tweeted “It snowed over 4 inches this past weekend in New York City. It is still October. So much for Global Warming.  A few months later, he tweeted that “Global warming has been proven to be a canard repeatedly over and over again.... The left needs a dose of reality.  Then he added, “Reckless! Why is @BarackObama wasting over $70 Billion on 'climate change activities?' Will he ever learn?” In fact, one commentator put together an article a year ago chronicling 115 different instances in whichTrump has questioned climate change. 

President Trump didn’t come to his climate change denial alone.  He has been led by the wizards of the Republican Party and by a few Democrats from coal country.  The current leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, when asked about the issue in 2014 responded, “I'm not a scientist, I am interested in protecting Kentucky's economy, I'm interested in having low cost electricity."  That attitude was common enough that early in the Obama presidency, the Senate handed the President his very first major legislative defeat by refusing to pass cap-and-trade legislation. 

Sadly, for many Trump supporters, the mere mention of “climate change” has become a bogeyman, portending an effort on the part of the liberals to use the environment as an excuse to increase the size and scope of government.  It’s one thing for politicians to justify their apparent apathy on this issue by claiming to be agnostic as to the science.  But now, in our combative, polarized political climate, we have right-wing organizations talking about the global warning “hoax” as if it were a sinister plot by sneaky liberals to take over the economy with more bureaucracy and more regulation.  Donald Trump has used that term several times himself.  My guess is that it didn’t endear him to the majority of Americans.

You see, the majority of Americans have come to realize that talk about climate change or global warming is no hoax.  It’s no sinister liberal plot.  And you don’t even have to be a scientist to understand that we’re talking about a serious threat to our way of life.  You merely have to walk outside on a daily basis.  No, that won’t reveal the deterioration of the Great Barrier Coral Reef near Australia, the melting of the ice caps near the poles, or the exacerbation of droughts in East Africa.  To learn about those phenomena, you may actually have to read a newspaper, something that more and more Americans are loathe to do.  But simply walking outside your mountain home in California could tell you about the spike in deadly fires.  And simply walking outside your house in Minnesota could tell you about how winters aren’t nearly as cold as they used to be.  And attempting a simple stroll down the street in Wilmington, North Carolina, or New Orleans, Louisiana, or Houston, Texas may be deadly, because the “storms of the century” we used to endure have now become the new normal, and the only question is whether this year’s “storm of the century” is going to hit your hamlet or someone else’s. 

This is no hoax.  The consequences are only getting worse and more common.  And the more our politicians boast about “the economy,” the more that the sanest among us are worried that our economic accomplishments are the fruits, in part, of a reckless attitude toward Mother Nature.
I want to leave you today with a few simple points.  We used to think that living near water and trees was a blessing.  Now, they are becoming the agents of our destruction – respectively flooding our streets and falling on our houses.  We used to think that deadly hurricanes were “acts of God.”  Now, they are becoming acts of industry.   We used to think that politicians on both sides of the aisle could work together to tackle scourges that threaten the nation or the world.  Now, we watch as our leaders can’t even agree to save the environment.

And people wonder why Donald Trump’s approval rating is so low.  And why his political party is in such trouble in the Midterms.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

A Must-See Film: The Oslo Diaries

Perhaps the singular lasting image of John McCain came during a Minnesota town hall meeting ten years ago.  A woman in the audience said “I can’t trust Obama. I have read about him, and he’s not, um, he’s an Arab.”  McCain then cut the woman off, responding, “No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man [and] citizen that just I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what the campaign’s all about. He’s not [an Arab].”  In hindsight, McCain should have added that even if Obama had been an Arab that wouldn’t make him untrustworthy.  But as a spur-of-the-moment response by a politician, McCain’s was exemplary. Given an opportunity to fuel the anti-Obama frenzy, he instead chose to point out that his opponent was a decent man and a fine American.  McCain also modeled that in a democracy, ethical politicians fight fairly and honestly.  In short, when it counted the most, McCain’s instinct was to put honor above winning.  That is why so many of us chose to honor him last week.

On Wednesday, I was reminded of that incident while watching a documentary on the Oslo Peace Accords entitled “The Oslo Diaries.”  The film’s most chilling scene was real footage from Jerusalem’s Zion Square on October 5, 1995.  There, thousands of right-wing Jews gathered to hurl venom at Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.   Rabin, who had served 27 years in the Israeli army, had become a reluctant peace maker, determined to implement the so-called “two-state solution” if at all possible.  However, on that October evening in Zion Square, the crowd had no patience for peacemakers, least of all Rabin.  They displayed posters of their prime minister donning a Nazi uniform or serving as Arafat’s loyal dog.  But the most hideous image of that rally was the chant of “Death to Rabin!  Death to Rabin!”   Less than a month later in Tel Aviv, the prime minister was, indeed, assassinated by a Jew who had opposed the Oslo Accords.  A year later, Rabin’s party lost the national election by less than 1 percent of the vote. 

The Zion Square mob scene was, in many ways, the polar opposite of the calm town hall meeting 13 years later in Minnesota.  But the one common element was that there was a politician – the so-called “leader of the national opposition” -- at the forefront.  In the case of Zion Square, the politician was a 45-year-old Benyamin Netanyahu.  Netanyahu had already made quite a name for himself criticizing the Oslo Accords.  For example, he had previously taken to the floor of the Knesset and attacked Rabin for giving away “parts of our homeland” (i.e., the land needed to create a space for a Palestinian state adjacent to Israel).  But speaking – even shouting – on the floor of the Knesset was one thing; standing up in front of a mob of vicious, hate-filled anti-peace activists is something very different.  And when the time came for Netanyahu to respond to the chants of “Death to Rabin,” he just kept on fanning the flames of passion, seemingly unconcerned about letting things get out of hand.

I’m not suggesting that Netanyahu wanted Rabin to be shot.  But when you become the leader of an anti-peace movement, you have responsibilities.  One is to dampen the rage when your supporters call for your rival’s death.  Netanyahu did nothing of the sort.  He put winning above honor.  And, to be sure, he was elected Prime Minister in 1996.  He won, McCain lost.  So did Rabin.  So did the peace process.

The Oslo Diaries is a film well worth seeing by all of you.  It did more than expose Netanyahu.  It also, in a different way, exposed Shimon Peres, the long-time peacemaker who was given the opportunity to succeed Rabin.  As they say in sports, when Rabin was assassinated, Peres “choked.”  Being a big-hearted liberal, Peres understandably had trouble coping with his beloved leader’s death.  He largely mourned when he should have exclaimed.  Optimally, Rabin’s shooting by a member of his own people would have spurred on Peres to give his own defiant  Netanyahu-style speech at a public square.  He could have brought the house down in a Tel Aviv analogue to Zion Square (Tel Aviv is the left-wing capital of Israel, Jerusalem the right-wing capital), saying things like: “The peace movement is strong.  We all are its soldiers.  We know that whenever we fight this war, we risk our lives.  Soldiers are prepared to do just that – and to die fighting.  We will not be stopped by murderers.  For we are the future of humanity.  And they – the murderers, the terrorists – they are misguided animals.  Jew, Arab, cold-blooded, hot-blooded.  It doesn’t matter.  If you are a murderer, if you are a terrorist, you are an animal.  Humanity will not be deterred by your kind ever again.”

Yes, that defiant speech could have been given over and over again during the weeks after Rabin’s shooting on November 4, 1995.  Had that happened, who knows which man would have won the election of 1996, or how such speeches could have affected the peace process or the history of the Middle East.  But Peres didn’t have the stomach for such defiance in the fall of 1995, and as The Oslo Diaries chronicled, his top aides didn’t have the heart to yell at him to get up and fight.  It’s a shame.  But you can forgive Peres’s reaction after the Tel Aviv shooting a lot more easily than Netanyahu’s reaction in the face of the Jerusalem mob.

Last but not least, The Oslo Diaries is worth seeing for what it says about the “little people” -- you know, the ones who according to the proverbial Hollywood acceptance speech are thanked for “making it all possible.”  In this case, the “little people” included a couple of unknown academics who, at least on the Jewish side, kick-started the entire Oslo process by themselves. Unlike Oprah, Uma, and Keanu, these academics aren’t “stars” even today.  Their names are known to only a small number of people.  Likely, that will not change, for the Oslo Diaries isn’t fated to become a smash hit, unlike “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” “Despicable Me 3,” or “The Fate of the Furious,” all of whom have grossed over a billion dollars.  

I’m not even sure how easy it will be for you to view The Oslo Diaries.  While I saw the film thanks to the Washington Jewish Film Festival, I have heard that there are actually cities in the world that don’t even have a Jewish Film Festival.  Perish the thought.  But if you are fortunate enough to locate and see that film, please consider that the Oslo Peace Accords gave our species perhaps its greatest chance for a lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.  And Oslo wouldn’t have happened without a tiny number of non-celebrities who were just trying to help.  Did those people actually help?  That could be debated.  But can they serve as inspiration for all of us – as reminders that even we the little people can make a difference, or at least try?  You’re damned right they can. 

Saturday, September 01, 2018

A Moment in Time

Let me begin by joining a national chorus in expressing my sadness over the passage of an American hero.  I took the opportunity last year to pay tribute to John McCain.    (   I would add only one obvious point -- that the Senate should re-name the Russell Office Building after him.  That’s the least this country can do for the man.

Today, while so many of us are thinking about the American political arena and one of its true lions, allow me to point out just how critical a moment in time we are facing.  On the surface, America exemplifies one-party rule.  The GOP controls the White House, both Houses of the U.S. Congress, and the vast majority of Governors mansions.  Their nominees are also on the verge of taking control over the Supreme Court.  But if we look deeper, we can see that the “majority party” is, in fact, anything but.   Just consider that according to the Wash. Post-ABC News Poll released today, 78 percent of Republicans, but only 36 percent of the American public, approves of the President’s performance.  That’s not exactly seeing eye-to-eye with the majority.  Consider also that of all ethnic groups, only the Anglo-Saxons seem to be primarily Republican.  In fact, a recent University of Virginia Center for Politics report indicated that in party registration states, 12 million more people are registered as Democrats than as Republicans; percentage wise, that’s an advantage of 40-29, with Independents representing another 28%.  With the passage of time, the GOP number is likely only to drop further based on current ethnic trends.  Truly, the GOP is a minority party that has all the power.  If you think that is a stable situation, you must not think this is much of a democracy.

In light of the above, it is not surprising that the GOP captivates our interest. While the Democrats keep winning battles, the Republicans keeps winning wars.  They are a fascinating success story, and this story now has a face: the party’s leader and the nation’s President, Donald Trump.  Nobody can watch cable news for two minutes without hearing about him -- his tweets, his lawyers, his children, his wife, his girlfriends, his trade policies, his views on football....  The news has become all-Trump, all-the-time, for if we’re not talking about him, we’re talking about how other politicians react to him.  Our interest in Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell or, for that matter, Mitt Romney, is dominated by what they are, and are not, saying about Trump.   In fact, you would forgive him for uttering the words “L’etat c’est moi.”  Those words pretty much ring true.  And because of Trump’s association with the GOP, his party is understandably at the center of our thoughts.  To the extent the Democratic Party exists, most of us see it merely as a place to register disapproval for the President and the GOP, rather than something of intrinsic interest.

Not me, though.  I find the Democratic Party right now far more interesting than the GOP, or even the President.  What is going on right now among Democratic voters and leaders (in that order) may help determine American policy for decades.  I’ll grant you that those decades may not begin for another several years, but the Democratic storm is coming.  Need I remind you that the number of “minority” children will exceed the number of non-Hispanic white children by the end of next year, that America will be majority-“minority” in no more than 25-30 years, and that the so-called “white” demographic includes groups like Jewish-Americans who vote primarily Democratic.  The GOP is definitely playing with house money.  The only questions are, when will their luck run out?  And at such a time that the Democrats will get their shot to rule the roost, what kind of party will they be?  The party of the Clintons, Barack Obama and Joe Biden?  Or the party of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez?

I don’t know.  But I do know a few places to look for bellwethers.   And perhaps the best of all is the upcoming Governor’s race in Florida.  There, we will see a fight in the nation’s largest swing state between a Bernie guy and a Trump guy.  If the Trump guy wins, moderate Democrats can point to this race for years as proof of why the Sanders/Warren wing of the party can win only in deep blue places like Vermont and Massachusetts (or in a few large coastal cities) and should never represent the party on the national ticket.  That was clearly the conventional wisdom among so many people I knew who back in 2016 claimed to prefer Bernie to Hillary personally, but voted for Hillary because she was “electable” whereas Bernie wasn’t.  (Sorry.  I’m still laughing.  Give me a moment please.)

By contrast, if the Bernie guy – aka Andrew Gillum – wins, now that would be a story.  Gillum was supposed to get trounced in the Democratic primary.  He was going against a number of far-better funded candidates, including a former Congresswoman who was the daughter of a former U.S. Senator and Governor from Florida, and who had developed her own reputation for being a liberal, bipartisan, pro-Israel voice.   She was, in short, the poifect candidate to represent a center-left Democratic Party in the fall.  And yet Gillum is the one who will be taking on the pro-Trump Republican candidate in a huge state that Trump won in 2016. 

Gillum’s nomination was, by all accounts, a shock to political junkies and Floridians.  But a victory for Gillum in the fall would be the shock felt around the nation.  It would mean that the centrists can no longer question the viability of the “Medicare for all” set.   Or that if you rail against economic inequality and don’t worship at the altar of corporate fundraising, people will have to argue against you on substance and not on electability.  It would also mean that Democrats would have free reign to focus once again on poverty and the poor, and not merely on the “middle class.”  And it would allow us to contemplate a Presidential ticket composed of statesmen who are readily distinguishable from Republicans as soon as they open their mouths.  Imagine a Democratic Party that didn’t come across as Republican-lite? 

People say that I’m a dreamer.  But I’m not the only one.  Perhaps one day you’ll join us.  But first – pay attention to Florida in November.