Category Archives: Politics

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Who’s Upholding Fair U.S. Elections?

Well, it appears to be happening. After the Super Tuesday balloting, and now Mike Bloomberg’s withdrawal from the race,  Joe Biden has reached a standoff with Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential competition. And President Trump’s forces have been anticipating Biden’s electoral strength all along – hence the Ukraine controversy over Biden’s son, Hunter.

Also, thanks to the Russians, the integrity of the  U.S. electoral process, in general, has been under cyber assault.  Has an elemental American procedure  – free and fair voting – ever been under such stress? Not likely.

It would be heartening, indeed, to see a more forthright defense of the U.S. presidential election process occurring. But it hasn’t emerged as yet.

“Prior to resigning as U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security,” advises material on Wikipedia, “Kirstjen Nielsen attempted to organize a meeting of the U.S. Cabinet to discuss how to address potential foreign interference in the 2020 elections. Mike Mulvaney, the White House Chief of Staff, reportedly warned her to keep the subject away from Trump, who views the discussion as questioning the legitimacy of his victory in 2016.”

And, “Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, has blocked various bills intended to improve election security from being considered, including some measures that have had bipartisan support.”

So the status of American electoral integrity is uneasy indeed. Leaders of the country, regardless of their party membership, need to ensure that a fundamentally fair vote occurs. So far, we don’t hear enough such concerns being expressed.

Downplaying the Corona Virus

The presumptive President of the United States, Donald Trump, says the Democrats are “politicizing” the coronavirus, that it’s “their new hoax” – that’s what he was saying at a rally yesterday in South Carolina. Of course, Trump isn’t our “presumptive” president at all, he’s for real in the role – and that could mean woe is us.

The President, of course, has placed Vice President Mike Pence in charge of coordinating the federal response to the virus threat. From Trump’s tone yesterday, Pence shouldn’t have much to do, and we know that’s not the case at all.  The first death from the virus has just been reported in Washington State, And the virus appears to be spreading up and down the West Coast and heading inland.

Scoffing can be taken too far. Defenders of the President say he didn’t call the virus itself a hoax.  But if there were ever a time for choosing one’s words carefully, this is it and Trump spoke rather spitefully.

There are times when Trump’s handling of his nation-leading job seems as much prompted by whimsy as reality, and this is one of them.  We should be expecting more of the President – caution in the face of a health hazard that threatens us all. Yet the corona virus is “the Democrats’ new hoax”. We couldn’t let that one pass by. That wouldn’t be fair to a nation whose apprehension is growing  over the prospect of the virus spreading from coast to coast.

Let’s hope it doesn’t, but let’s not downplay the possibility either.

Speaking Freely. . .and Officially

Righteousness, at least self-righteousness, doesn’t necessarily jibe with fairness. It has, however, been a hallmark of the Trump Administration in Washington.

We’ve had this in mind especially since reading an Associated Press dispatch a while ago about a Trump administration official saying that the inscription on the Statue of Liberty refers to “people coming from Europe” and that America only wants migrants “who can stand on their own two feet.”

For a refresher, courtesy of AP,  Emma Lazarus wrote her “New Colossus” poem in 1883 “one year after Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which banned laborers from China. The poem is best known for its line about welcoming ‘your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Beginning in the 1930s, AP added, supporters of immigration began using the poem to bolster their cause. Biographer Esther Schor said Lazarus was “deeply involved in refugee causes”.

Thus fairness involves, from the start, getting one’s facts straight and, especially if one is a government official, being well-informed and careful about even impromptu comments.

Yes, fairness is a discipline in itself, appropriate for all government officials yearning (as we assume most do) to speak truthfully and as well as officially.

(The photo above shows Karen Meja, left, fitting her mother, Leonor Chipayo, with a souvenir Statue of Liberty foam visor on a visit to Ellis Island last year in New York.)