Ted Harvey has decided to make it his business defending President Donal Trump. He came to the work in an odd way. He explains in our interview that he was a Rand Paul supporter when the GOP primary season began. He shifted to Ted Cruz after Paul abandoned his campaign. He jumped to Trump after the hotelier and reality show star emerged as the Republican nominee.
Harvey’s embrace of Trump came easily as for two years he’d headed the Stop Hillary PAC. His brother serves in the diplomatic corps and Harvey says the infamous Benghazi incident in which four Americans were killed cut close to home for him. Despite the fact that years of House Republican investigations could prove no lawbreaking on the part of Secretary Clinton’s part, the fact that she had ultimate responsibility for the events in Libya (coupled with what he says are “decades of corruption” involving the Clintons) was enough to set him off on his anti-Clinton quest.
The first tumultuous month of the Trump presidency has seen the presidents Republican allies in the U.S. Senate approve every person he’s nominated for a cabinet post — at least all of those who have stuck around for a Senate vote.
Since the election, a lot of energy and anger have been spent trying to manipulate the Constitutionally established election process to overturn the results. There was a massive march on Washington the day after the inauguration accompanied by many in cities across the country. There have been many new avenues to activism created by veteran activists and those new to it, including the Indivisible movement created by now unemployed congressional staffers.
As the results become evident, all of this has been mostly ineffective. Trump is president. His administration is embarking on policy changes that aim to remake the United States into a safety-net free society that has not existed since the Great Depression. This rush to repeal the 20th Century will shift the fights to the courts. The good news is that the systemic inertia that we found so frustrating in the Obama years might well buy us some time to enable us to survive the blitzkrieg of legislative and policy initiatives coming from the administration and the Republican Congress.
The Democratic Party bears a large share of the responsibility for this mess. Sure, the DNC colluded with the Clinton campaign to block Bernie Sanders from winning the nomination. But, where have the DNC and the state party organizations been for the past three decades while Republicans and conservatives were gerrymandering the party nearly out of existence in state houses across the country?
The party — at the state and federal levels — has been so busy chasing corporate cash that it forgot that its basic work is politics. They have been asleep at the switch, ignoring fundamentals on the ground (like redistricting) while Republicans boxed them in.
The opportunity to change the election maps and math won’t really happen until after the 2020 Census. The good news is that there’s time to educate ourselves and organize around that issue. The bad news is that non-corporatists start from a stark disadvantage that extends from state houses to the Capitol. Legislatures redistrict themselves and they redraw congressional district maps. Louisiana will elect a new Legislature in 2019 and there will be significant turnover in the Senate due to term limits. But, there is the problem of the maps of those districts which were designed to lock-in conservative majorities.
Don’t expect much change in the 2018 off-year federal elections as the maps of House districts will be the same ones that have locked in Republican majorities in that chamber since 2012. There are few districts that are or can become competitive because of the way in which they were drawn.
The current frenzied level of activism does not feel sustainable. What is needed now as the fights shift, is a strategic assessment of where we stand and where we can be effective outside the electoral system. We also need to work with those (not only progressives) who see the need for changes in the electoral system ranging from ending gerrymandering to ending the corruption of the political process through the flow of virtually unlimited amounts of money into elections.
All of the major work I see needing to be done is issues-based, not personality driven.
In this sense, the President and his chaotic methods are best viewed a distraction from the work of his administration, the long term damage being inflicted on people and institutions by the Congress, — and the work that we must do to save this country.
We cannot afford to burnout.
Thanks to Matt Roberts, AOC’s Community Programming Director for help locating the music used in this segment.
A Foolish Game by Hans Atom (c) copyright 2017 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/hansatom/55394 Ft: Snowflake