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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 05:39 PM
Number of posts: 22,210

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It fell short of my hopes & expectations, but there's much I'm thankful for about the 2020 election

Foremost, of course, is that our democracy now lives on to fight another day. And I'm extremely thankful for the strength, honesty, wisdom and compassion of President Elect Joe Biden, and President Elect Kamala Harris, who will now step forth to lead us. I thought we would do better, but I'm thankful that Nancy Pelosi will return as Speaker of the House, and appreciate that we have already narrowed the gap in the Senate, with at least one seat picked up and our VP now poised to cast any tie breaking vote in that chamber.

I am so thankful that, by the millions, People of Color fought back back against rampant efforts by Republicans to suppress their right to vote, and turned out instead in historic numbers. Likewise, I am thankful that younger voters defied all expectations, and surged to the ballot box all across our nation. All of that bodes well for the future of our democracy.

Yes we lost some seats in the House of Representatives, but two years ago we were in the minority there before flipping many long time Republican seats blue. This year, with Trump running at the top of the ticket rallying his base to turn out, we still held onto most of those new Democratic seats. It is extraordinarily difficult to defeat an incumbent President, but we did. It is unusual for a political party to control the White House for eight years, and then be returned to power again after the opposing party held the presidency for only a single term. That had not happened for 40 years, but it happened this November.

We will have integrity in the Justice Department again. We will have science guide us out of this pandemic. We have the first female Voice President, and she is a Woman of Color. There is so much left for us to do, so many battles that we can't afford to lose over the next four years, but there is also so much for us to be thankful of today. And that, once again, includes DU.

The Good News: We found out that it takes a malevolent POTUS more than four years

...to destroy our 250 year old democracy. The Bad News: We found out that a malevolent POTUS, in four years, can almost destroy our 250 year old democracy.

Way too close for comfort.

MEMO to Republican Leaders:

Yes. Donald Trump has every legal right to seek judicial remedies for meritless claims of injury that are detrimental to our democracy. We get it. Go ahead, affirm the obvious if you must. But not everything that one has a legal right to pursue is wise to pursue. If what Trump was up to now effected only himself, he could be irresponsible without harming others. Trump has every legal right to publish a monthly Sports Magazine in Latin if he so chooses. It's his money, it's his call. This isn't that. Just because Trump has the legal right to do something doesn't mean that you have to endorse that behavior, or be silent on the matter rather than arguing against it.

There is a fundamental difference between refusing to formally concede defeat before all the votes are tallied, and insisting that one has won an election after the results prove that you haven't. The integrity of the foundation of American democracy is being assaulted by Donald Trump in case, after case, after case, that is being thrown out of the Courts. This isn't like the 2000 Presidential election when 500 votes one way or the other determined the final results. Lacking clear evidence of overwhelming levels of fraud in multiple States, Joe Biden won. That evidence isn't there and you all know it, and yet you persist in giving Donald Trump cover to take a wrecking ball to our democracy.

We get that Trump has a legal right to pursue his complaints in court. Do you get that you have an obligation now to our democracy to urge Donald Trump to instead accept his defeat? No, I didn't think so.

The election was rigged. The rigging failed.

There is ample wide spread evidence that the 2020 election was rigged, and it was done on a massive scale and barely disguised if at all. The evidence is clear and irrefutable, and that rigging almost certainly moved millions of votes; Directly into the trash bin. Look at decisions made by Trump appointees to the United States Postal Service to see how the 2020 election was almost stolen for Donald Trump. The abrupt simultaneous decommissioning and dismantling of automated mail sorting machines, and sudden new directives stripping local facilities from the ability to utilize overtime pay, an order that would paralyze the functioning of any major law enforcement agency anywhere in the nation. Directives that required mail delivery trucks to rigidly adhere to predetermined schedules for mail delivery, even if those trucks drove away empty while huge stacks of mail were almost ready to be shipped out. Hard cold statistics that showed severe drops in on time mail delivery, most centered in regions that tend to vote Democratic in swing states where everyone believed the final election results would be determined.

It was no secret that Democrats, due to the lethal pandemic, urged voters to make use of mail voting. It is no secret that Trump, in order to pump up his standing on election night itself, urged his supporters to vote in person instead. The 2020 election was rigged, it was rigged by Donald Trump, and he disenfranchised millions of voters in so doing and thereby swung the final results to Republicans in an unknowable number of races below the Presidential level. Those elections were successfully stolen, the Presidency was not. But that wasn't for lack of trying.

Most wouldn't call me religious, but my overwhelming feeling is expressed in two words

Thank God

Two names: Stacey Abrams and Bernie Sanders

Their political ideologies overlap but are not identical. They both worked to reach a broad range of center left voters, but their core constituencies are not identical. They broadly agree on the direction our nation needs to take, but their specific short term agendas, no doubt, are not identical. There will be a robust ongoing debate inside the Democratic coalition about policy priorities, issue framing, and the best routes to increase our share of the electorate. I expect those two will differ on such matters at times, perhaps sharply. Where, exactly, we go from here has yet to be decided, but this OP isn't about the near future, it is about the recent past.

Both Stacey Abrams and Bernie Sanders, each in their own unique way, worked to build and mobilize key elements of the Democratic coalition over the last few years. They were not unique in this, but their contributions were high profile, and the ultimate fruits of their labor in this regard made a critical difference in the 2020 Presidential election, when both the African American and the youth vote surged in key states enabling this Joe Biden win, which would not have been possible without that level of increased turn out from them.

This OP isn't about arguing about who is more right or wrong about this or that policy or approach. It is about acknowledging that the efforts made by the likes of Stacy Abrams and Bernie Sanders over a period of several years to energize, mobilize and help turn our core center left constituencies, made a crucial contribution to ensuring that the next President of the United States will be Democrat, Joe Biden. Jobs well done.

We underestimated the power of brainwashing

Yes, there is latent and often blatant racism behind support for Donald Trump. Yes there are fervent one issue voters, who will vote for Trump simply because he vows to overturn Roe V Wade, or because he strongly supports "gun rights." Yes there are those who will vote for Trump because they know on which side their bread is buttered, and thus advance their own narrow economic self interests. And yes there are "low information" voters who are not well educated and/or poorly informed about the issues that effect us all. Yes there are also tribalists who automatically give the advantage of the doubt to whoever is wearing their own team colors. But it is much more than all of that combined. There is brainwashing.

It is easy to be critical of those who succumb to brainwashing when you yourself can't identify with them. It is easy for me to accept that budding new racists get indoctrinated into white nationalism, for example, when I start out viewing them as being particularly vulnerable to recruitment into that toxic creed, or in other words, if I see them as inherently unlike me. But while brainwashing might be most easily effective against those who are most vulnerable to it, far fewer people than that are actually immune to it.

I have seen too many instances where people who I would characterize as being left of center fall victim to what I see as brainwashing. I moved to San Francisco in 1977, and when I first arrived there The People's Temple and its pastor Jim Jones were well regarded in liberal politics. The vision that the Peoples Temple embraced was multi-racial, multi-culteral, humanistic and avidly behind advancing social justice on every front. The Peoples Temple, for a time, was a player in Democratic local politics. Many political activists belonged to it. Many well educated and socially conscious people were drawn into it, and the sense of community and inclusion they felt inside its ranks. It was painful years later to watch video interviews with Peoples Temple members who one way or another avoided a deadly fate in Guyana. Though I did not know those people personally I still recognized them, they weren't much different than me.

There are other examples, some of them relating to those among us who suffered from the feeling of a spiritual void, ranging from those who were ensnared by the Moonies to those who became followers of this or that eventual cult leaders. There are, and have been, relatively extremist political movements on the left also dominated by central figures and bold ideological views painted in primary colors. Many of us heard of the late Lyndon LaRouche, whose movement (according to Wikipedia) "originated within the radical leftist student politics of the 1960s. In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of candidates, some with only limited knowledge or connection to LaRouche or the movement, ran as Democrats in the United States on the LaRouche platform."

Brainwashing does not just affect stupid and/or uninformed people. Once the infection begins it often spreads to ohers, much like a potential viral pandemic. The body politic in America had no built up antibodies to someone like Donald J.Trump. The last political figure in America who remotely compares to Trump in his ability to remold minds through propaganda and lies was Joseph McCarthy, and that was almost 70 years ago. Americans were not psychologically prepared by our recent political past to reject a constant thundering waterfall of lies. We knew how to respond when small lies were injected into the political discourse. Small lies can be fact checked and debunked, and those who tell them usually reacted with discomfort, and one or another form of chagrin when confronted with evidence that refuted them. America was not prepared for the introduction of Hitler's propaganda tactic, the use of the Big Lie, a totally fabricated alternative reality that defiantly proclaims itself the truth in the face of any and all evidence to the contrary.

The fact that The Big Lie now originates from the highest office in the land, one that for generations Americans have come to venerate as the focal point for our democracy, allows it to permeate through many of our rational defenses against it. We have become conditioned to expect lies to be retracted by reputable figures when the evidence doesn't support them. We have been conditioned to regard any siting President of the United States to be, essentially by definition, a reputable figure. Trump was a figure given a high profile national profile for many years prior as a reality TV star. Credible news networks covered his bombastic and hate riddled campaign rallies repeatedly and in full during his "novel" 2016 campaign, supposedly for news value but in reality for ratings. Cult figures ordinarily can not win 1/100th of the exposure that our assumed to be reputable media granted to Donald Trump. And then he seized the Bully Pulpit.

The Right wing news media in America cynically broadcasts to a hermetically sealed bubble. It is a hugely profitable business that's made mega millionaires out of the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity who front for it. At this point it is essentially one and the same with the National Enquirer in regards to objective truth. This propaganda echo chamber is fully deployed now and sanctioned from on high, and it is extremely effective at what it does, unrestrained as it is from any need to convey the truth. I say all of this not to excuse any of the racists in America who have crawled out from beneath their rocks, nor to excuse those who refuse to even look at evidence of their own embedded toxic prejudices. I say this not to minimize the caustic influence of greed in America, or the glorification of selfish individualism that runs rampant in our culture. Nor do I dismiss the danger from fundamentalist religious forces that seek to sit in judgement over us all, controlling the options open to us to conform to their own concept of morality. I say this because we need to both know and understand our enemy. We are up against more than just racism and ignorance, more than intolerance and greed. We face a full blown cult of personality in America today, one that is as much psychological and cultural as it is purely political. And to combat that we need to develop more than just sensible policies and better framed talking points. We need to somehow initiate deprogramming on a mass level.

I am now pretty confident Joe Biden will be our next President AND I am depressed as all hell

...about the nation that we live in. It doesn't help at all that it seems most likely that Republicans will retain control of the Senate which will severely curtail Biden's ability to make essential fundamental structural changes. Still we will once again have an Attorney General who believes in the rule of law. We will have directors of our various intelligence agencies who are not covertly assisting Putin. Biden won't be able to get a Treasury Secretary confirmed through the Senate who strongly advocates a progressive path forward, but he will be able to get some competent moderate type Democrat confirmed. There are still two or three Republican Senators who will allow Biden to appoint his own team to the Cabinet, as long as his picks are moderate technocrats and not perceived as seeking to implement an overtly progressive agenda. The EPA will once again be headed by someone who believes in science, for example, and Biden's FDA head will also.

That's the relatively positive way of looking at the probable result, and the net positives of having a Biden presidency replace a Trump presidency are far from being insignificant. But the fact remains: Far, far too many Americans seem perfectly willing to let Trump lead America toward increased racial animosities and autocratic rule, which bodes poorly for our immediate future as a nation. It is deeply sobering and disturbing to confront this truth, though with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the White House, we will remain in the fight for a better America.

Report from a trusted friend about Democratic efforts at combating voter harassment.

He works with elected Democrats. He is part of a network organized by Party insiders to respond to reports of voter harassment throughout the nation. Trusted people are working phone shifts covering specified regions. I am unclear how many people may be covering the same regions simultaneously. I think he said he personally handled responses to 50 reports of voter intimidation this morning.

He says there have been numerous incidents reported nationally that have led to hundreds of actual arrests, including intimidating behavior by those with guns and those physically making access to polling locations hard or impossible. BUT he assures me that this is NOT bad news because in reality Democrats had carefully prepared for these type problems and these incidents are being dealt with effectively. A LOT of advance planning went into preparing responses to voter harassment, he said, down to the level of knowing ahead of time who in which law enforcement agencies would respond positively to requests for intervention. He assured me that, specifically, PA's Attorney General is extremely well prepared for this, and highly effective at shutting down harassment.

His overall message was, hey, we knew this was inevitable but we planned for this down to the smallest detail and that planning is paying off and problems ARE being dealt with efficiently and effectively when they emerge. He is not freaked out about all of the issues they are being forced to deal with because the systems they put in place to deal with them are functioning exactly as planned for.

When record breaking voting totals are announced, remember...

Relatively speaking, not a whole lot of folks live in rural areas. Trump can only potentially turn out small numbers of small town and tiny hamlet new voters. The real reservoirs for potential new voters are urban and suburban, and young voters everywhere.
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