Put up or shut up, Don!

What’s the magic bullet for dealing with this election year craziness?  I propose that it is time to demand wagers. I’ll give three examples.

Challenge Number 1) “I’ll bet 10% of my wealth vs 10% of yours – the loser to pay the winner’s favorite charity – that there’s no real evidence the election will be “rigged” in the Democrats’ favor. In fact the preponderance of rigging now favors the GOP.”  

Seriously. Hillary Clinton or Tim Kaine should drop everything and declare a national crisis! “You have impugned our entire electoral process. You insult the 250,000 election officials and volunteers. You set the stage for de-legitimizing our entire government. So PROVE IT!”

Demand that Donald Trump name six prominent Americans for a commission. Six more to be named by the Democrats and six by retired Supreme Court justices like Sandra Day O’Connor. A commission to investigate right now Trump’s allegations that seek to undermine Americans’ confidence in their electoral process.

This is urgent. Lest after Trump’s trouncing on November 8, we then suffer a wave of delusional-wrathful Timothy McVeighs. And it should be couched in simple terms of confidence or cowardice. If he is too wimpy to step up to a simple wager, that is the only character trait his frothy followers would truly hold against him.

Challenge Number 2) Demand that Donald Trump right now give the IRS permission to tell the public whether he is currently being audited. And if the answer is no, to immediately release his tax returns.

Trump has broken a 40-year-old tradition of U.S. presidential candidates making public their tax returns because he claims to be under audit by the IRS — but he has yet to prove he’s really being investigated. At his request, the Internal Revenue Service would produce a letter stating that he is under audit. I eagerly await his imaginative excuse for that one.

Oh… and add one more demand.  That Trump give the IRS permission to drop any current audit, in the national interest and to allow electoral transparency, without being thereupon accused by Donald Trump of plotting against him.

On a side note, the Clintons’ newly released tax return shows $10.6 million in income.  Not exactly the middle class levels from before and during Bill’s presidency.  Their profession since – as far as income is concerned, not time – was the same as mine. Public speaking. Only I don’t charge anything close to what they do! One thing I do know.  A speaking fee does not oblige you to do favors. Not when you are in demand.

They paid 48% in taxes and another 10% to charity. Ratios that Trump would sneer as making them “suckers” and thus disqualified for office.

Another side note, at least they are consistent. Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, has so far refused to release his tax returns, as well.

Challenge Number 3) Is President Obama an American? Hey Don. Show us the “amazing” things your investigators “found in Hawaii.” He will answer: “I’m not talking about that, anymore.” So make it a simple wager! Trump maligned the Chief of State of the United States of America.  That should be worth at least a bet as to whether he had anything.  Anything at all.

Challenge Number 4) Bonus question: Demand Republicans explain why the last six highest GOP officials – GHW Bush, Dennis Hastert, Tom DeLay, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and John Boehner – went un-mentioned across the entire span of the Republican National Convention? Or indeed by almost any of the folks running in the GOP primaries?

What kind of party is so ashamed of its leadership, across 28 years, that it never mentions any of them? Or a single large, verifiable accomplishment? And you’d trust such a party with a burnt and doused match?

And now the fellow who actually ran the Republican Party for 20 years, Roger Ailes, is exposed as a sexual predator. Oh it comes in floods. No wonder they screech so at Clinton. Hysterical distraction from what they see in the mirror. In fact, this is not about Trump at all.  It is about crazy

Is there a Liberal Media Bias? 

Complaints fume among Donald Trump supporters that the Lame-Stream Media are paying too much attention to Trump’s outrageous behaviors and statements. But absolutely nothing has changed since the Primary Season. Back then he bragged – and his rivals whined – over Donald getting ‘a billion dollars worth of free publicity’ each time he opened his mouth.

The only difference now is demographics. Back then, he was vying among fellow crazy candidates (a more accurate phrase than “conservative” these days) for pluralities of GOP primary voters – AKA Confederate crazies.  Hence, free attention to wild-ass statements helped him win support from 40% of the one-third of American voters who were vigorous republicans.

Now he is being the same guy and getting the same outsized attention. Only those behaviors that enamored him to the one-sixth of voters who got him the GOP nomination – and that are overlooked by another one-sixth who are in denial — are hurting him with the 70% or so of U.S. voters who are not part of that cult.  It truly is that simple.

What’s not simple is returning to the Stewart Question.  My wife pointed out a very simple question. Why did Jon Stewart retire from fake-news comedy just when his skills and insights would be most-useful to the republic?  And just as the Trump phenomenon hit full stride?

You want to go full tilt paranoid over that? Knock yerself out.

Rats Jump Off 

Here’s a semi-comprehensive list of the many notable Republicans who have said they won’t support GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, why they’re opposing him and who they’ll back instead.  It is a very, very long list of American leaders who in the past tried to propel sense and reason from inside the Bush-Cheney-dominated GOP tent.

These “moderates” should have seen the Fox-ignited insanity long before Trump made it so blatantly obvious… and they still make the mistake of personalizing the symptom, rather than the deeper disease.  Still, they are now – Like Oskar Schindler in 1943 – saying “I can sink no lower. I must oppose madness.”

Skim to the bottom of the list.  You’ll find the smartest of them all, like Brent Scowcroft, and Richard Armitage, who are part of group of 50 leaders in the Republican foreign policy and national security community wrote an open letter condemning Trump and pledging to oppose his presidential candidacy.

Only notice a funny thing. The really brainy and serious ones? They aren’t just opposing Trump. They are supporting Hillary.  She’s too-liberal economically, okay.  But geopolitically she’s “solid and capable.” They think of her as democrats viewed Eisenhower in the 1950s.

Shrug and murmur. “We’ll live.”

A False Equivalence 

I’ll concede that pharma and Wall Street have some voices in the Democratic Party, which is a vast and wide tent. Bernites and other reformers will only get part of what they want.  Which is why “never Hillaries” are foolish. Because reformers will get part of what they want, and be able to build on that.

Whereas goppers have run the laziest, do-nothing congresses since the beginning of the republic. Corrupt and slavishly devoted to Oligarchy.

“They’re the same?” Equivalence zealots ignore the fundamental.  That there will be less oligarchy in America if Hillary Clinton and the Democrats get in. MORE laws requiring pharma openness and broken-up banks and bolstering the SEC.

Ever heard of the CFPB?  Democrats fought for it and Goppers blocked it every step of the way.  You know your false equivalence is flat out dumb.  Goppers have slashed the budget for auditors at IRS and the SEC and EPA and FDA… Democrats will put them back to work. Want to run off to Jill Stein?  Grow the hell up.

Better yet, fight good fights down ticket!

Note:  We should all look around and find the geographically closest congressional or state assembly race where things are tight enough that a little cash or a little volunteer work could make a difference.  There is one such race near me.  There is likely to be one not far from you.

By the way, volunteering in a local race can be fun!  You get a sense that your own efforts make a difference, unlike the Presidential circus.

 The Libertarian Gambit 

Some of you have been opining on “what is libertarianism?” now that the “Never Trump” faction in the GOP is leaning toward supporting Gary Johnson and the Libertarian Party.  Stop oversimplifying. It’s an interesting and complex topic that most libertarians themselves do not understand. e.g. most think they can defend oligarchy and competition at the same time.

Wrong, those have been opposites for 6000 years, as described by Adam Smith. Do I hope the Libertarian Party will offer a home for 20 million quasi sane US conservatives fleeing the insane GOP?  Sure. From then on, they’ll stop caring about controlling women’s bodies and bathrooms.  Progress. Terrific.  I just sent Johnson some money.

But if the Libertarian Party is controlled by oligarchs like Forbes, Kochs and Romney?  No, No. The revolution is ongoing. And that is not True Libertarianism.

About David Brin 16 Articles
David Brin is an astrophysicist whose international best-selling novels include The Postman, Earth, and recently Existence. His nonfiction book about the information age - The Transparent Society - won the Freedom of Speech Award of the American Library Association. (http://www.davidbrin.com)