The Right Wing is NOT Republican

Republicans should use the Trump debacle as an opportunity to correct course and build a reasoned, principled, inclusive future

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President Reagan meeting with Senator John McCain in the Oval Office. July 31, 1986. Photo credit: Reagan Library Archives.

The 17 months of Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency subjected the American public and the national discourse to a degrading obsession with personal insults, authoritarian threats, and overt cues to racist fringe politics. Since his election, Republican leaders have hoped he would “moderate his behavior” and begin to use rhetoric more befitting of an elected president.

He did not do this during the transition, and his first three weeks in office have demonstrated a near total disregard for anyone or anything that would limit his authority to act as he pleases, even where all evidence, and the law itself, are against him. Many conservatives now openly wonder what to do with someone who lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes but demands they follow his lead without question, even when he openly defames, dismisses or undermines their core values.

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A Breakthrough for All Americans

To all Americans who reacted to last night’s nomination of Hillary Clinton with disparagement, vitriol, conspiracy theories, and even hate-speech: Please take a moment to think about what what was accomplished, and to whom it might matter. Regardless of what you think of Hillary Clinton, for the first time in the history of our Republic, one of the two major parties (at last) nominated a woman as candidate for the presidency.

This is an historic moment for our democracy.

We should be humbled by how long it has taken, and proud of our ability to evolve as a people. To anyone who is not in politics, the decades of service and struggle to which this breakthrough candidate has committed herself, should be humbling. Future generations can now take for granted that the presidency really is an open office, to which any young girl or boy can aspire.

At the time our nation was being born, Mary Wollstonecraft observed correctly that any nation in which some are excluded from the rights and privileges of full education, public life, decision-making and self-determination, is diminished by that exclusion. Such a society is deprived of all of the personal virtues and talents the excluded persons might bring to its public life. She observed that everyone in that nation is diminished, even the most powerful of the old guard, who feel this diminishment affects only others.

Last night, whether you will ever vote for or support Hillary Clinton, we all became freer, in a deep and important way.

We should take a moment to celebrate this, as a tribute to the power of an evolving democracy and to the values that allow us to live with openness and unity, as both adversaries and as patriots, all at once. There is honor in showing grace to an accomplished leader of the other side, especially when we mark a milestone in advancing human liberty. It is that kind of grace that we proclaim is great when we talk about the greatness of our democracy.

The Presidential Ask

The 2016 US Presidential election is once again being framed as a brutal contest of wills between two disparate ideological camps: the activist government liberal and the skeptical libertarian conservative. Neither party is actually offering anything like that kind of decisive metaphysical clarity. On both sides, there are deep divisions over how to put ideas into practice and which ideas express the “pure” sense of principled public service.

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The world is more connected than ever, and this means all issues of public controversy are now more complex than ever. Every choice, whether in the realm of action or in the realm of ideas, has ramifications. Interconnectedness and complexity mean those ramifications are less and less likely to flow directly from the ideological core of a given way of acting, thinking or talking.

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Pope calls for Dialogue and Mutual Empowerment

In his historic address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, Pope Francis called America “a land of dreams”, which he said can lead the world in a shift to deep, inclusive politics and economics that brings people together, eliminates harm, and guarantees dignity and reciprocity. 

Pope Francis has come to the United States with a very clear and universal message: there are injustices no free and conscientious people can accept and against which all people of good will should work together. Challenges like climate change, immigration and income inequality are not ideological issues, partisan issues or issues of opinion or preference; they are deep moral issues. And we must do our best to work in solidarity, to oppose these unnecessary injustices.

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Quiet Revolt Stuns UK Pollsters

For weeks, public opinion polls in the UK have shown the contest for leadership of the UK government to be a dead heat, likely to require a complicated negotiation to achieve a new governing coalition. Nearly every poll showed the Conservatives and Labour to be hovering around 34 percent support each. No one was expected to win an outright majority. Late last night, however, exit polls showed something radically different: David Cameron’s Conservatives beat Labour 37 to 31 in the popular vote, and would hold an outright majority in Parliament, while the Scottish National Party won nearly every seat in Scotland.

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Why Kiev Matters

The struggle over Ukraine’s political system is important to the world for a lot of reasons. In short:

  1. It matters whether any human population has fair and transparent, democratically accountable government;
  2. Ukraine is a strategic crossroads, both for political and economic reasons;
  3. The tension over violence against protesters in Kiev could explode into a regional war that no one can afford;
  4. A peaceful resolution is an indicator of whether Russia and Europe can work together;
  5. Ukraine’s strategic value is partly to do with geopolitical spheres of influence, partly about carbon-based energy.

So, what is happening at this hour in Kiev matters to the wider world for moral reasons, for strategic political and economic reasons and because the outcome may determine whether petrostate hegemony will hold sway over the future of more than half a billion people. That authoritarian petrostate model—an outgrowth of both the Soviet dictatorship and the post-Soviet plutocracy in Russia—severely limits the power of individuals and communities to influence government, and to build a more humane, more collaborative, more sustainable future, from the ground up.

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Fourth of July: Egypt at a Crossroads

On January 25, 2011, the people of Egypt began a nonviolent uprising against 3-decade dictator Hosni Mubarak. On February 11, 2011, Egypt became the second nation of the Middle East / North Africa (MENA) region, after Tunisia, to oust a long-standing dictator in this way. Mubarak’s forces killed near 1,000 civilians, but never succeeded in slowing the growth of the nationwide movement.

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