AS YOU READ THIS, YOU MIGHT WANT TO HOLD YOUR NOSE
With the passing of Labor Day and the yellowing of the leaves come random thoughts on politics. The question is, what is natural to man and woman-kind? Are we cooperative creatures who take care of one another or does war come as second nature? Do we all have the same basic instincts? Are there two classes – one peaceful and one warlike? If we look at the people in office and those running, are there common traits that we can identify? As you read the rest of this, you really might want to hold your nose.
Of course, the number one model is Donald Trump, who tends to bring out the worst in human kind. What is really interesting about this person (used advisedly) is that it is clear that he cares not a whit about anyone else except, maybe, for a few of his first-degree relatives. He has no personal loyalty toward anyone and yet he whines like a baby that others have no loyalty toward him. Take, for example, his treatment of the members of his cabinet, both former and current, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions being the most remarkable example. Sessions, of course, was an early supporter of the president and follows his leader with a no-goodnick attitude. We’d all be screaming at him except for the fact that, probably out of a cunning sense of self-preservation and an instinct to stay out of jail, he stepped aside and recused himself from the Russia investigation.
Recognizing their own peril, the feckless Republicans in the House and Senate have refused to do much of anything to hold this brat of a president responsible for aiding and abetting the destruction of the country. That includes much of what the Republicans hold dear, like free trade. Obviously they can’t and won’t say anything that might possibly endanger them with the Trump base but up to now, they have been adamant about protecting the Mueller investigation. Indeed, Mueller is all that protects the country from going down the road to ruin. Even the politicians who are leaving, presumably because they can’t stand Trump, have basically kept their traps shut because they might want to do something like run for president some time in the future. They know that Mueller, a Republican, is all that separates the country from traveling down the Fascist, totalitarian road that Trump has laid out for us.
The same thing goes for those Republicans who are running for endangered Congressional seats. If they open their yaps in criticism of Trump, they will lose a ton of votes from Republicans who will more than likely sit on their hands and not turn out. Yes, these Republican types might strategically find one of Trump’s more obnoxious moves to criticize out of self-preservation, but should they win reelection, they will still be there to make sure that they vote for continuing Republican organization of the House.
On the Democratic side, Governor Andrew Cuomo demonstrates almost symbiotic personal traits with Trump. Like Trump, he has the ability to turn on a political dime and reinvent himself at a moment’s notice. He takes no responsibility for the corrupt doings of those around him. Clearly, his protestations that their actions have been hurtful to him actually work for him. He spends a lot of time making war on Trump. It’s almost a sporting event. Their acrimonious relationship works well for both of them. It’s like one of those phony TV wrestling matches that are designed to amuse the audience. Cuomo was willing to throw his lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, off his ticket because she was inconvenient and because her presence on the ticket could cost him reelection. There was a famous boxer who once said, “Hey it’s just business.” We know, of course, that the fault is ours because all too often we are at best uncaring or, at worst, a little stupid.
Alan Chartock is professor emeritus at the State University of New York, publisher of the Legislative Gazette and president and CEO of the WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network. Readers can email him at [email protected].