National Commentary

Hey, America, Avoid the Fringe!

“A lying, dog-faced pony soldier?” Really, Joe, really? It wasn’t funny to call a citizen that in New Hampshire ahead of the primary this week. It got no laughs, just the puzzled brain scramble that many people experience trying to make sense out of something totally inappropriate and off the wall an elderly person unloads from time to time.

What Democratic presidential candidate wants to quote John Wayne from the 1950s these days, anyway, now that it has come out the late John Wayne was proud to call himself a “white supremacist”?

Sadly, Joe Biden has driven himself out of contention for the Democratic presidential nomination after only Iowa and New Hampshire. All that effort by Putin, Trump and Rudy in Ukraine apparently for naught.

It shows that relying on yesterday’s measure of what a winning race involves cannot apply going forward. Biden is now out of touch. But that goes not only for him, but for other candidates approaching age 80 as well.

The sentimentality associated with the current youth surge for Bernie Sanders is nothing but that. Sentimentality.

It is nice so see young people honoring their elders and the legacy of their struggles for social justice over half a century. But Bernie cannot be more than an honorary candidate now. Not if the nation is going to avoid the unmitigated disaster of a second (and third and fourth) Trump term.

The nation is closer to losing its meaningful democracy now than ever in its history. Yes, we lost over 600,000 of our mostly young men preserving the union against a sinister and evil project to divide it in two. Yes, there were huge rallies of “America First” pro-fascists cheering on Charles Lindburgh on the eve of World War II aiming to keep America from intervening against a fascist onslaught in Europe.

But in both those cases, and in other challenges to our democratic institutions in the past, a solid majority of citizens stood for the right thing and no matter how high the cost, were willing to stand up for, and take up arms for the nation.

Now, however, the situation is different. Now, two major inflection points have passed in the current treasonous and criminal Trump term that have markedly heightened the chances of losing the republic for good.

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The first was the failure of the nation to rally to the conclusions in the much-awaited Mueller Report. There, the case was laid out in magnificent detail and suasion of the pattern of criminal behavior of Trump.

A robust, pro-American political leadership would have seized on its conclusions to walk in and arrest Trump on the spot, or nearly so.

The second was the acquittal on the impeachment charges brought against Trump more recently. Yes, the Democrats went into the process knowing in advance that the Republican-controlled Senate would never convict. But still, they had to do it, as in the case with the Mueller evidence, solely on the overwhelming burden of the evidence itself.

It wasn’t just an exercise. We, the American people, needed that conviction to protect our most cherished democratic values. Needless to say, the spineless sycophants who had substituted for U.S. Senators in that august body will go down with ignominy in whatever history some people preserve that survives us.

Now, Trump has an open field ahead of him to use whatever tools of the presidency he’s now had bestowed upon him to lie and cheat with impunity and God knows what else going forward.

Is there enough gavitas in the American public to rally to stop him now? Are we going to remain locked in the usual dog-and-pony show politics that CNN pundits shape?

Remember, Mueller warned us that the Russians are planning an even greater intervention to the 2020 presidential election than 2016. How is this taking shape? Do we have any idea at all?

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Here’s something to ponder: the majority in the middle of America is being abandoned for the fringe, on both the left and right.

However that is being engineered, it is a very troubling fact of our collective political life, and people had better begin to take it very seriously.

Nicholas Benton may be emailed at nfbenton@fcnp.com.

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