There are several things I would like to see in the coming year. The following, a not so modest list of them:
- I’d like to see the commercial media, print and broadcast, dismantle its long nurtured cottage industry employed in Clinton Bashing. This has been an on-going activity for the last two and a half decades at least, and I’m finding it tiresome. I am sure the chattering classes find it amusing to resurrect and inject their old talking points; and there’s a certain comfort in returning to old themes, much like one’s favorite blanket on the bed or pillow on the couch. However, the plethora of Clinton columns a year past the last election, only indicates to me that Secretary Clinton is living rent free in several editorial heads. Perhaps, it seems as though they couldn’t live with her, and now they can’t live without her.
- It would be pleasing to wake up some fine morning to discover a news broadcast in which the various travel and singular expenditures of the present administration are explored in some detail. I recall an old bit of wisdom from the sheriff’s department about people who get caught criminal littering: One could be an accident, Two is an indication of trouble, and Three times and it’s deliberate. Thus we’ve had a Health and Human Services secretary resign, which should have been a message to others — but, we now know the Secretary of the Treasury indulged in excessively expensive travel, followed by a Secretary of the Interior doing likewise. Were this not enough, we have a director of the EPA indulging in what gives every appearance of being truly excessive “security” expenditures. What does he have to hide?
- A little patience is required for my third item: A thorough and accurate report from the Special Counsel. Perhaps Trump’s opponents are hoping for too much, and his followers are hoping for an exoneration which is not to be. Whether the President* himself was entangled in a web of deception and conspiracy is relevant but not, I think, the core of the matter. The important point is that a hostile government, the Russians, sought to interfere, did interfere, and continues to interfere in our democratic institutions and practices. The more important point is what we, as a nation, intend to do about it. This leads to my 4th wish.
- I wish for personal, professional, and tangential issues to be separated from the essential process of addressing Russian interference. This will take more than beseeching private Internet corporations to “do their duty.” Further, it will take more than a narrow focus on whether or not that interference had an appreciable effect on the 2016 election. We need to know what the Russians did, how they did it, and what we can do to prevent “it” in future election cycles. We need state and local election officials who are aware of the nature of Russian (and other) attempts at interference, who have the resources both in terms of funding and expertise to prevent meddling. We need federal officials who will take this threat seriously and who will engage with state and local officials to be of assistance in these efforts. What we don’t need is a sham commission rehashing old conspiracy theories about “illegals” voting and fraudulent voting myths. What we do need is a task force with components from the Department of Justice, Homeland Security, and the Intelligence Community to take foreign interjections seriously, investigate them thoroughly, and to make thoughtful, rational, suggestions for protecting our most basic freedom — the right to vote.
- We need the improvement and enaction of the Voting Rights Act. Nothing is so central to our Republic, nothing so necessary to the health of our Democracy.
- We need a rational statement of what constitutes citizenship, and it’s not the legal fiction including a corporation. The decision in Citizens United is a major problem for our system of government. No, my friends, corporations are not people. They may have property rights, and rights pertaining to their organization and operations, but they are not people — as in We The People.
- Wouldn’t it be fine to end 2018 with a new attitude toward rules and regulations. Corporate propaganda has generalized anything commercial interests don’t like into “burdensome regulations.” However, there are some burdens we should bear with a sense of civic pride. No, we do not wish our rivers to be polluted and our forests unnecessarily despoiled for profit. Nor do we want our elders placed in care to be ignored, mocked, and mistreated. Nor do we want to eat contaminated food, or drink contaminated liquids. Nor do we want employers to allow, perhaps even encourage, unsafe working conditions. Too often the generalizations have been presented to us as ‘fact,’ without a challenge from public quarters asserting the rationale for the rules in the first place. Those challenges deserve more publicity than they are currently receiving.
- Although it’s an election year, wouldn’t it be beneficial if we were to receive more information about POLICY than POLITICS? The failure to emphasize what a candidate is offering and to focus instead on poll numbers and other electoral data means that politicians are allowed to speak in broad, and often meaningless, generalities. In this circumstance a politician becomes little more than a human megaphone, his or her popularity based on the cheaper expedient of polling than on a serious consideration of what is on offer. Granted there have always been demagogues among us — but we really don’t have to encourage them.
And so ends this little list. We can only hope.