An Incoherent Bully: thoughts on the GOP, ICE, and Sanctuary Cities

Several Boston media outlets are reporting this morning that Federal immigration officials arrested 50 people in Massachusetts as part of a nationwide sweep focusing on what they called “sanctuary” jurisdictions…

Said one ICE official: “This [is] a concerted effort to target those locations where we don’t get the cooperation from those agencies. We need to put additional resources into these locations to make these arrests.”

In other words, the Federal Government is stooping to bullying those who are acting to protect innocents from the current administration’s cruel and racist immigration policies: hoping to beat such dissenters into submission.

Continue reading “An Incoherent Bully: thoughts on the GOP, ICE, and Sanctuary Cities”

A Reality Check about Trump and Russia

putin-finalWhile I lean towards accepting what is being said by many in the government (and echoed throughout the mainstream media) about Russia deliberately interfering in our elections to benefit Trump, I am also aware that human beings, especially bureaucrats, tend to behave a bit like Lemmings.
 
So, we must ask ourselves: are these many Federal bureaus and agencies all reaching this conclusion of Russia’s deliberate interference out of independent, unbiased investigations and analysis; or are they looking at which way the wind is blowing and finding facts to fit the conclusions they feel others want to see?
 
Such “proof” got us into the the Second  Iraq War; and such “proof” has been the cause of much injustice and pain throughout history. So, let’s be careful about jumping to conclusions prematurely.
 
On the other hand, more than a few Republicans, and especially Trump’s camp, are taking this as an attack against his legitimacy as President. They’re right, it is; but it is a legitimate concern, not a manufactured one.  And frankly, if Hillary had been a stronger candidate, the validity of Trump’s election would never have become a concern.  (To be clear, I was a Hillary supporter; even though I recognize her weaknesses as a candidate.  However, this discussion is about Trump and Putin, not the validity or outcome of her candidacy.)
 
The way for Trump and his supporters to solve the problem is NOT to try and discredit the concerns and accusations, or to try sweep the whole mess under the rug.  It was hard enough for Obama due to similar (although baseless) accusations, and he swept into office with a huge electoral mandate on his side.  It will be far harder for Trump, who will be a President with a shaky mandate from day one.  So, it is in Trump’s own best interest to make sure the truth is revealed, and quickly – even if the accusations turn out to be true. Otherwise, he will find himself to be a President that few see as legitimate and whom no one pays much attention to, outside of an ever-shrinking circle of devoted fans.
 
Our faith, and our Democracy, are both intended to help us to find Truth in spite of ourselves.  So, let’s make sure we take the time to allow the Truth to be made known.

Abolish the Electoral College?

In the last week we’ve all been seeing numerous petitions, blogs, and posts calling to eliminate the Electoral College because it has made it possible for candidates like Donald Trump and George W. Bush to be elected President without a majority of the nationwide vote.
 
Now, it is obvious that the GOP has been waging a war to restrict the ability of minority voters (in particular) to have a voice in elections; and this does affect the Electoral College. But, eliminating the Electoral College is fixing a symptom: it does not address the root causes of gerrymandering (which both major parties are guilty of) and voter suppression.
 
Hillary Clinton appealed to the majority of the country in a numeric sense; but she failed to appeal to the majority of the country in a geographic sense, which is the function of the Electoral College.  Without it, states with small populations like Wyoming and Vermont (both of which I lived in for several years) would have no meaningful role in Presidential elections or the national political dialog.  And without the Electoral College, politicians from smaller states – like Bernie Sanders and Dick Cheney(!) – are less likely to be seen as viable Presidential (or Vice-Presidential) candidates.
 
So, do we really want to the major parties to focus on the largest states, ignoring the needs and concerns of rest of the country?  As Christian, it seems to me the answer is “No.”  As I see it, my faith calls me to work to ensure that everyone has a meaningful voice in determining our nation’s direction, not just those who think and believe like I do.
The Electoral College is not perfect, but it is an important tool we have to ensure that living in certain States does not preclude having a voice in the national political dialog.  We cannot eliminate it without first creating some other mechanism that achieves the same end.

Copyright (c) 2016, Allen Vander Meulen III, all rights reserved.  I’m happy to share my writings with you, as long as proper credit for my authorship is given. (e.g., via a credit that gives my full name and/or provides a link back to this site – or just email me and ask!)

Goodbye Mr. Boehner

We will always need a viable, strong and thoughtful opposition in Congress, one that acts as a counterbalance to the excesses that will inevitably come if the majority party feels no need to seek consensus with others as it implements its own agenda. Sadly, the GOP is a sycophantic caricature of the great institution it once was, and is unable to be such a voice; and it may never be again if it continues on its present path.

John BoehnerYou know, while I am sure it is no surprise to my readers that I don’t agree with the Conservative Agenda (as presently conceived), and have never felt that Rep. John Boehner was a very effective Speaker of the House, I also recognize that Boehner was in an extremely difficult position: trying to hold together an increasingly fractious, extremist, and polarized GOP while simultaneously trying to make some sort of progress on many important issues. Not an enviable position; and he did far better in that thankless situation than most anyone else would have.

So, rather than “piling on” and mocking or ridiculing him as he resigns from office and leaves Congress, I think it best to wish him well, and thank him for his dedication.

I do worry, though – Boehner is the latest casualty in the GOP’s race to marginalize itself ever further from the American mainstream, alienating itself from most groups within the electorate in ways that will take decades to recover from, if they ever do.

We will always need a viable, strong and thoughtful opposition in Congress, one that acts as a counterbalance to the excesses that will inevitably come if the majority party feels no need to seek consensus with others as it implements its own agenda. Sadly, the GOP is a sycophantic caricature of the great institution it once was, and is unable to be such a voice; and it may never be again if it continues on its present path.

With Boehner gone, the Republican Party may well descend into chaos for a time.  But whether it does or not, I worry about what the future will hold if they continue to reject the centrality of consensus-building within the political process.

Copyright (c) 2015, Allen Vander Meulen III, all rights reserved.  I’m happy to share my writings with you, as long as proper credit for my authorship is given. (e.g., via a credit that gives my full name and/or provides a link back to this site – or just email me and ask!)