Three Trump Takeaways

I know many of my friends are still reeling from Tuesday’s election results. I sympathize. Thus, allow me to provide a positive, locker-room-halftime-style pep talk that addresses some inconvenient truths.

First, I understand how you feel. I felt much the same way when former law school classmates gleefully taunted me after Hillary Clinton was declared the winner of the rigged Democrat primary. It is an unpleasant feeling. But we move on. We keep fighting.

Second, Trump won fair and square. And before you attack me, please understand, I am just as upset about that outcome as you are. Frankly, it seems like the most absurd and embarrassing moment in American political history to me. However, the fact remains that Donald Trump is our legitimate President-elect (typing that felt painful). And Trump won by a decisive margin of electoral votes, unlike G.W. Bush. The sooner we accept that reality, the sooner we can start fighting for a better future.

So, here are three election takeaways that are helping me stay positive about our situation:

  • Trump voters are not all racist monsters. I refuse to believe that. To me, it seems much more likely that 47.4% of American voters simply would not cast their ballot for a candidate who embodied the corrupt status quo at which they were so angry. To me, it seems likely that Americans, especially in the Midwest, are sick of working longer hours for less pay, and feeling like they have no voice in Washington. To me, it seems likely that these citizens wanted more than fear-mongering and false promises from a dishonest Washington insider. They likely felt desperate. And desperate people do desperate things, like vote for a complete scumbag with no coherent policy agenda just to send a message to the ruling elites. To me, this election seemed more like a referendum on the Democratic Establishment than a dress-rehearsal for facism.
  • Trump will fail. He is incompetent. The people around him are incompetent. His agenda (to the extent that he even has one) does not enjoy widespread support. He was only elected because the Democrats nominated a terrible candidate (sorry guys, but it’s objectively true). Unless Trump can do something to vastly improve the lives of the people who elected him, I seriously doubt he will enjoy the same level of support four years from now. And count me as skeptical that our President-elect will be able to deliver on his amorphous promise to “Make America Great Again.” This guy will be toast in four years. He’s not worth your fear.
  • Commit to fighting like hell to elect a real progressive in 2020. Trump actually did us a huge favor by taking out the establishment wings of BOTH major American political parties. Now, all we have to do is organize to defeat Trump in 2020 by electing a real progressive who will actually fight for the interests of working people. As noted above, this seems like a very attainable goal. Whether we bring the Democratic Party back to the people, or start something new remains to be seen. Either way, we already have the grass-roots infrastructure in place from Bernie’s campaign. We also have a number of strong progressive leaders like Tulsi Gabbard, Nina Turner, and Elizabeth Warren. I would be thrilled to see any one of them become our first woman President four years from now.

Instead of wallowing in an unpleasant present, let’s focus on where we want to take this country in the next four years, ten years, twenty years, fifty years, one-hundred years. Then, let’s mobilize, organize, and fight like hell to make that vision a reality.

Why the Kissinger Connection Matters

“Once you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands. You will never again be able to open a newspaper and read about that treacherous, prevaricating, murderous scumbag sitting down for a nice chat with Charlie Rose or attending some black-tie affair for a new glossy magazine without choking. Witness what Henry did in Cambodia – the fruits of his genius for statesmanship – and you will never understand why he’s not sitting in the dock at The Hague next to Milošević.”
Anthony Bourdain, A Cook’s Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines

While Armchair Firebrand does not condone, endorse or encourage acts of violence, this publication certainly understands the sentiment Mr. Bourdain expressed in the quote above.

For me, the moment of truth on Hillary Clinton was when Sen. Bernie Sanders called her out for praising Henry Kissinger as her mentor during one of the primary debates.

At the time, my first thought was that Sen. Sanders overstepped because no Democrat Secretary of State would ever overtly state such a close relationship with a well-documented war criminal. Instead, Clinton replied by saying something to the effect of, “Yes, I take advice from him and I am proud to call him my friend.” My jaw hit the floor. It was like a spell had been broken.

For the first time, I actually started researching Clinton’s history, and was disgusted by what I found. Her record is disturbingly Nixonian, right down to the dirty tricks, militarism, and power-driven paranoia.

Given Ms. Clinton’s neoconservative foreign policy positions, it makes sense that G.W. Bush’s foreign policy team is lining up right behind her. That fact should give any responsible citizen pause.

Some Kissinger defenders seem to imply that the ends justified his destructive means. That argument makes me curious about what we actually gained from roughly 60,000 American deaths, over a million Vietnamese deaths, roughly a million Laotian deaths, and roughly 700,000 Cambodian deaths.

Did those deaths make the world any safer? Were our vital national interests ever really at stake in Indochina? In Iraq? In Afghanistan? In Libya? In Syria? Or do these disasters primarily serve the needs of well-connected energy conglomerates and defense contractors.

Kissinger’s illegal excursion into Cambodia led to the rise of Pol Pot, and the ensuing genocide that destabilized the region for decades. And then there’s Chile, East Timor, and Operation Condor to consider.

Kissinger’s well-documented actions go far beyond those of a usual Secretary of State. Christopher Hitchens, hardly a pacifist himself, makes a compelling case for Kissinger’s indictment as a war criminal.

It’s no wonder Mr. Bourdain feels the level of animosity towards Kissinger demonstrated in the quote above. The fact that Kissenger’s favorite disciple is already sounding the drums of war should alarm all Americans.

The Moral & Spiritual Case for Dr. Jill Stein

After enduring two major party conventions and weeks of campaigning, the choice seems clear: do we want a President who will persecute undocumented immigrants and people of color here at home, or a President who will drop bombs on civilians in the Middle East, and escalate tensions with a nuclear armed Russia abroad? In other words, do we want a disastrous domestic policy that destroys lives, or a disastrous foreign policy that destroys lives? This false choice presents quite a quandary for those of us seeking a candidate who represents our moral and spiritual values.

Armchair Firebrand draws a stark distinction between deeply held religious beliefs and deeply held spiritual beliefs. The former often implies an almost cult-like devotion to a dogmatic set of rules, while the latter generally applies to much broader principles regarding the nature of existence, the human condition, and the universal brotherhood and sisterhood of humanity. Additionally, religion is often associated with an opposition to science, while spirituality generally embraces science, and explores its boundaries.

Armchair Firebrand values human life as precious above all else. Therefore, Armchair Firebrand makes no distinction between American lives, Palestinian lives, or Russian lives. To this publication, killing civilians abroad in the name of an endless “war on terror” that serves only the interests of the military-industrial complex, is worse than promoting an insanely restrictive immigration policy, which would seem to have very little chance of being implemented for a host of constitutionalsocioeconomic, and political reasons.

That’s no kind of choice. Armchair Firebrand fundamentally rejects a system that attempts to box the American People into such an absurd choice. Thus, Armchair Firebrand proudly endorses Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein as the only candidate who represents this publication’s moral, political and spiritual values.

For instance, Dr. Stein is the only candidate in the Presidential race who stands for an aggressive response to climate change by getting us off fossil fuel by 2030. Dr. Stein also advocates strongly for a Green New Deal jobs program providing 20 million good jobs to replace and repair our crumbling infrastructure. Moreover, Dr. Stein believes in universal healthcare as a right, not a privilege, and in making public colleges and universities tuition free. These bold stances reflect the moral and spiritual values for which Armchair Firebrand stands.

Armchair Firebrand strongly believes that voting for a candidate who represents one’s values and interests is the very essence of democracy. Dr. Stein represents Armchair Firebrand’s values and interests. Therefore, she has earned this publication’s strong endorsement.