|The Duopoly at Work: The Democratic Party Debate, 12/19/15, and the GOP by Steven Jonas|
January 9, 2016
If you wanted to see the Democratic/Republican political Duopoly at work, outside of the Congress and the Administration, you needed to have looked no further than the Democratic Party debate on television on Saturday evening, Dec. 19. First of all, these debates were carefully arranged by the Clinton Campaign’s de facto chairwoman, Cong. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, otherwise known as the Chairwoman (sic) of the Democratic National Committee, to be at a time when the fewest people could possibly be watching. My-oh-my, we would not want anything — like Bernie Sanders’ candidacy, for example — to get in the way of the coronation of Hillary Rodham Clinton at the Democratic Party’s nominee, would we?
Holding up the Democratic Party establishment’s end of the Duopoly bargain, that of course plays right into the hands of the Republicans. For while the Democratic candidates actually debate substantive matters, at least to some extent, the Republicans don’t. But then, there is no prime time opportunity for the Democrats to get a head start on next year’s campaign, by showing up all of the Republicans as empty, but very loud and nasty (or soft and very nasty, like Carly Fiorina) suits. And then there was Debbie making a fuss about a “data breach” (the type of which apparently happens all the time) that allowed much of whatever airtime the Democrats got after the debate (when most of it, in the mainstream media plus Fox ”News” of course goes to Trump) to be caught up in a molehill-like mountain instead of again, being on the real issues.
But then, second of all, when confronted with real issues and real differences between Democrats and Republicans, particularly on national security and foreign affairs, the Democratic candidates (well at least Clinton and Sanders, dunno much about O’Malley) the Duopoly-in-action was clearly demonstrated. For example, Clinton was asked if she could guarantee that “San Bernardino” could never happen again. That is, could a slaughter perpetrated by a U.S. citizen, obtaining on the open market with the help of a friend perfectly legal (!) assault rifles, assisted by his wife who entered the U.S. under a “fiancée” visa program of long-standing, be absolutely prevented? (Of course nothing was said at all about a U.S. citizen who got his guns because of a background-check flaw and then went out and slaughtered other U.S. citizens of a different skin color. Which event is, of course, not characterized as “terrorism.”)
So Clinton goes into her three-part “national security plan” and of course doesn’t say anything like, “well, you know, each Administration does absolutely the best it can. But after all, let’s remember that with the best of intentions, after warnings were coming all the summer before, 9/11 did happen on President Bush’s watch.” You can just imagine the reaction to THAT one, but those are the facts, Ma’am! And oh yes, she might have added that no terrorist attacks of anything remotely close to that magnitude have happened on President Obama’s watch, and that on her husband’s, two that could each have been larger than 9/11 were prevented: the 1998 “25 airliners plot” and the 2000 “LAX Millennium Bomb plot.”
Turning to Trump (since everyone else does and for me too he’s such an inviting target), the New York Times noted that “Clinton’s Focus in 3rd Debate is on Trump.” Well, yes, if you can call what she did focusing. She did note that Trump’s “plan” (if you can call it that) is sending the wrong message here and around the world about the U.S. attitude towards Muslims, and that the U.S. is not, I repeat NOT, in a “clash of civilizations with Islam.” Well, that’s good to know. But how about Trump’s call to have every U.S. Muslim be issued a religion-based identity card (to be followed by being required to wear a Yellow Crescent, perhaps?) (Even Trump did not get into the administrative problems the Nazis faced when doing the same to the German Jews, like identifying them first-off, dealing with the problems of the “Mischlings” [you could look it up] and so forth.)
Whether or not Daesh actually made Trump-insulting-Muslims videos, there is plenty of Trump stuff on You Tube that Daesh could make use of, directly or indirectly, and according to Arab newspapers, the material is circulated widely (an important point that she did make). But, Clinton did not go on to challenging Trump on his proposal to halt all Muslim immigration to the United States, on which she could have given the example of the Republican-sponsored Chinese Exclusion Act of 1885 or the Republican-sponsored Immigration Law of 1924 which severely limited the immigration of Southern and Eastern Europeans and Jews to the U.S. (And Bernie didn’t do any of this sort of thing either.)
In attacking Trump — described by the Times reporters as “setting herself above the intra-party fray, while looking ahead to the General Election, she didn’t, to my knowledge, get into Constitutional issues, to demonstrate that whether or not Trump understands it (or has even read it), it certainly easily lays it aside. For example, in accepting the endorsement of some police organization he casually mentioned that if elected President on this first day in office he would issue an executive order mandating the death penalty for killers of police. The Constitutional/legislative niceties not to be observed here would make up a fairly long list, but this is Trump’s approach to governing. About which she could have made a very important point, but it was not, to my knowledge, mentioned.
Nor did she trouble herself with Trump’s proposal to bring back water-boarding (which not only doesn’t work for intelligence gathering, but also violates Article VI of the Constitution). Nor did she note that he wants to do it not only for intelligence-gathering but also because “those guys deserve it” (to great roars from the crowd). The niceties of such items ranging from probable cause to trial by jury to “cruel and unusual” punishment clearly escape Trump. But heaven help any of the Democrats up there to call sharp attention to the Republican approach to the Constitution and or governing, by fiat (and that approach to governing was originally established in the country that makes Fiats). And, yes one can say “the Republicans” because very few of them dare to fault Trump on very many of his recommendations.
And so, one could go on about the Far Rightist positions of virtually all of the Republican candidates on a variety of issues, should one want to launch the general election campaign now. Let’s see. Dominionist Ted Cruz has attended meetings run by one of the foremost Islamphobes in the United States, Frank (“let’s make up some poll numbers”) Gaffney (also attended by Rick Santorum and Carly Fiorina). He also attended a meeting addressed by a leader of the religious far-right who calls openly for the execution of gays — for being gay (also attended by the Dominionists Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal).
Then the “trying-hard-to-be-an-’establishment’-candidate” Marco (“if I were to tell the truth, which I try hard not to, my ‘refugee Cuban parents’ actually fled from Batista, not Castro [as did Cruz’ father, by the way]”) Rubio has called for criminalizing abortion with no exceptions. As for the “moderates” JEB Bush, in commenting on Trump’s “ban the Muslims” proposal, said that the U.S. should let in the Christian ones (all Christians, JEB, or just ones of whom you approve?), while John Kasich has called for the establishment of a governmental office for spreading “Judeo-Christian values.” Forget about the Constitutionality of that one. Forget even about bringing the Christians — from the Dominionists to the Catholics to the Unitarians — into it. Just think about putting a Hasid, a modern Orthodox, a Conservative, a Reform, a Reconstructionist, and a Secular Humanist (like me) Jew in a room to figure out just what is meant by the “Judeo” part of “Judeo-Christian” values. OY Veh!
Anyway, no, these issues and many more like them (to the best of my knowledge) did not come up. Nor are they very likely to. This is the (there’s a bunch of issues Democrats don’t touch) Duopoly at work, whether it is led at this point by Hillary Clinton, Bernie (the New Deal on steroids) Sanders, or Barack Obama. And it is going to stay that way for quite some time.