Trump Would Likely Do to America What Berlusconi Did to Italy

While many of Donald Trump’s supporters concede that he is crude and dangerous, they justify voting for him because they believe he could “shake up” Washington. Trump, they claim, would not act like a typical corrupt politician because he is too rich to be owned by anyone. He would transcend the present political dysfunction and set the system straight.

But even if one accepts Trump’s “shake up” capabilities, what evidence is there that he would shake things up in the public interest? Trump’s wealth and the self-promoting way he pursues it even as he seeks public office raise red flags about his ability to separate the public good from the good of Trump. His frequent bending of the system to benefit his empire and his past payoffs to politicians show how much he disdains the idea of a transparent democracy accountable to average citizens. Shaking up the system in the Trump manner would just as likely lead to a shake down: further corruption in the system to reward himself and those he favors.

For an ugly example of this syndrome in practice, it might be useful to recall another self-promoter in the Trump mold: the brash and egotistical Silvio Berlusconi of Italy. Berlusconi, a media mogul, presented himself as a solution to his country’s dysfunctional political system at one of its vulnerable moments. On the basis of showmanship and demagoguery, he rose to power and ruled Italy on and off for ten years between 1994 and 2011. The consequences were not pretty.

Indeed, rather than rescuing Italy from its troubles, Berlusconi used the country as a stepping stone to his own aggrandizement. When coming to power, he backpedaled on the promises he had made to insulate his media empire from politics. On the contrary, Berlusconi expanded it to the point where he was able to sideline most of his competitors and control the free flow of information. Members of the national press who refused to go along he attacked with all the powers of the state apparatus.

Idolized by the distressed masses whose anti-establishment anger he helped to fuel, Berlusconi went on to play the role of clownish cynic rather than reformer. As he amused his followers with his ridicule of political norms, he used his power to enhance his business interests, even to the point of crafting specific legislation to shelter his corporation, Mediaset. No lover of democratic checks and balances, he waged a war of attrition against judges and the court system to help his enterprises avoid prosecution. In the meantime, he neglected the country’s economic woes and its increasing debt. He left office in disgrace in 2011 under pressure from the European Union as Italy struggled to avert disaster.

Unbelievably, history could well repeat itself in the case of Donald Trump. Like Berlusconi, Trump is used to seeing the world in terms of his own personal and economic interests (political convictions, by contrast, play a strikingly subdued role in his Weltanshauung). If anything, his narcissistic tendencies towards self-promotion go even further than Berlusconi’s, as he pushes his hotels and golf courses in lock-step with his campaign for public office. Given his fierce protectiveness of the “Trump” brand, his promises of creating a blind trust if elected is surely as implausible as Berlusconi’s.

Aside from devotion to his own cause, Trump shares Berlusconi’s psychological insecurity and intolerance of criticism. Such qualities augur poorly for a leader’s capacity to shepherd a democracy and safeguard its freedoms. His threat to sue newspapers over “unfair” reporting, his vow to put pressure on a judge he doesn’t like, and his threat to “pay back” enemies reflect an inability to distinguish between personal and public exercises of power. It also reflects a sad misunderstanding of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.

What is perhaps most disheartening in Italy’s case was the inability of voters to hold Berlusconi accountable for his corrupt actions. Normally in democracies, when elected leaders show themselves more devoted to padding their own nests than holding to their promises, the citizenry reacts by dumping them. Italy’s electorate apparently was so jaded that it was willing to tolerate repetitions of the same treatment. It re-elected Berlusconi three times in spite of uninterrupted scandals.

One critic surmises that Italy’s voters were willing to forgive Berlusconi because, in spite of his failure to deliver, he “sanctified” their prejudices. Could it be that Trump might get away with the same trick?

Posted in corruption | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Populism and Donald Trump

Historically, the term populism described a movement of farmers and workers formed in the 1890s to counter America’s corporate monopolies. Its purpose was to put a leash on unbridled economic power. Spurred on by the anger of common people, the movement spelled out a clear agenda of reforms that later inspired progressive legislation to regulate business and level the playing field .

By the mid-20th century, however, “populism” appeared to lose its connection with progressivism and reform. Instead, it became identified with conservative discontent centered around crime, welfare, racial integration, and civil rights. Its anger was aimed at  intellectuals, poor people dependent on government, and emerging groups seeking a voice, notably women, gays, and minorities.

No longer reform-oriented, this new populism resembled the old populism only in its ability to harness the grievances of frustrated Americans. Politicians like George Wallace, Richard Nixon, and Pat Buchanan were able to reach these voters by appealing not only to raw prejudice but to fear of social and economic disempowerment. Their tactics were often adopted, though more subtly, by Ronald Reagan, G. H. W. Bush, and other Republicans seeking a wedge against Democrats. The formula worked well for many years as a means of attracting white working class votes and securing a power base in the South.

With the rise of conservative talk radio, Fox News, and websites like, populist appeals to the anxieties of Americans have only increased in recent years. Certain voices in the media (e.g., Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, Glen Beck) and politicians (Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Steven King) have been purveyors of these appeals, relying on conspiracy theory, undocumented claims, and angry hyperbole. They have both fed on and contributed to a general disillusionment with government and civic compromise.

Donald Trump, known for his earlier contributions to the “birther” movement, has taken naturally to the populist mode in his presidential campaign. A master of the coarse and the outrageous, Trump adds a definitely new flavor to the genre, dwelling on his own favorite topics and themes. Early on he called for draconian measures against illegal immigrants and American Muslims. Later he displayed his signature pugnacity on ISIS, climate change, crime, and political correctness, all red meat issues for conservatives. But he has also appealed to the economic grievances of workers, a traditionally left-wing stance. He has not only robustly promoted trade protectionism, but defended social programs like social security and universal medical insurance.

Thus Trump’s populism takes on a bipartisan thrust. He caters to independents by avoiding hot-button cultural issues (e.g. abortion and gay rights) and by attacking establishment politicians of both parties. His foreign policy, such as it is, draws criticism from experts generally. One writer calls him the “perfect populist” because of his skill in transcending normal party allegiances.

But does Trump’s populist calculus add up? Will it gain him a winning number of America’s voters? Probably not. The problem for Trump is that his populist causes may never capture a plurality, let alone a majority, of the electorate because discontent, while high, is still countered by some degree of pragmatism and hope. For every passionate voter he gains on immigration, he probably loses at least one Republican suburban housewife or college-educated independent unable to stomach the risk of a Trump presidency.

Win or lose, Trump has already taken American politics another step toward dysfunction. He has shown how easy it is to mobilize a sizable portion of the populace by identifying and homing in on its palpable grievances. Until we can deal with the ever increasing disparities within our nation, we had better get used to politicians making raw appeals to those who fail at its edges.

Posted in populism | Tagged | Leave a comment

Is Tim Kaine a Progressive?

As a progressive democrat, I was disappointed when Hillary chose Tim Kaine, a politician known as a centrist, for her running mate. Hillary, it seems to me, missed out on a chance to show her progressive good faith and to appeal to a critical part of the electorate. My personal preference was for Sherrod Brown of Ohio, a senator with a strong reform record and a proven concern for the plight of America’s working and middle class.

The choice of vice presidential partner, of course, is important for considerations other than the tactical one of getting elected. The prospective vice president is key not only as a trusted assistant in a Clinton administration, but as a possible future Democratic nominee.

In whatever role he plays, there are different ways of looking at Kaine from political perspective. One finds basically two narratives about him coming respectively from the Hillary and Bernie wings of the party. To begin with the Hillary side, he checks off many of the boxes we think of for a liberal politician. In his senate voting, he gets a respectable 90% rating from Americans for Democratic Action. Kaine takes generally liberal positions on immigration, healthcare,  gun control, the minimum wage, the environment, and energy. Despite a recent attempt to lighten up on small local banks, he is generally supportive of financial regulation. While he has made no secret of his personal opposition to abortion based on his religion, he recognizes the validity of Roe v. Wade, believing that decisions on such matters are beyond the government’s authority.

To his credit, Kaine has shown a strong personal commitment to civil rights over the years. His liberalism on that score has to be understood in the context of his Catholic upbringing. Educated in Jesuit schools, he absorbed the liberal tenets of Catholic social doctrine. While at law school, he took a year off to work for the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Honduras. As a practicing attorney, he specialized in fair housing law, taking on cases that involved discrimination against racial minorities. He was elected mayor of the black-majority city of Richmond. And in his personal life, he involved himself in the community he served, attending a black-majority church and sending his three children to the integrated Richmond public schools.

The Bernie wing, on the other hand, raises valid questions about Kaine’s past connections and proclivities. Perhaps most critical is his long-time association with the now-defunct Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), a home for middle-of-the-road Democrats who sought to combat leftward tendencies in the Democratic Party. Friendly to the corporate world, it embraced “market-based solutions” and sponsored such ideas as welfare reform, free trade, charter schools, and austerity budgets. It was central to the careers of such politicians as Sam Nunn, Bill Clinton, and Joe Lieberman and presumably provided a template for Tim Kaine.

Kaine, who governed a moderately conservative southern state during the George Bush years, could not avoid being brushed with DLC-type policies. Precluded by a conservative legislature from raising taxes, he presided over a regime of government cut-backs and frequent concessions to corporate entities. He focused on balanced budgets, although this was part of his duty as a chief executive, as required by the state constitution. Later on in the Senate, he apparently bought into the general wisdom fostered by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its allies that trade agreements are unalloyed benefits.

The key question one has to ask is how Kaine stands today on the corporate world’s agenda of market-based solutions and reduced regulation. Would he generally support it, or would he align himself with progressive policies that dial back corporate influence and uphold the broad public interest. To be fair to Kaine, times have changed since he was associated with the DLC. The Great Recession of 2008, which showed what can happen when financial regulations are lax, and the rise of economic inequality in America have produced strong correctives within the Democratic Party. The Occupy Movement, the rise of Elizabeth Warren, and the vibrant campaign of Bernie Sanders are clear illustrations of the new climate.

One can take some comfort from Kaine’s stance on one issue where most Democrats, including Obama and many progressives, have been badly led astray: education (see our previous blogs on this subject). While Democrats these days typically sing the praises of charter schools, Kaine sees through the siren call of the education reformers, having observed public education up close in Virginia. He understand that charter schools, heavily supported by corporate backers and generally not organic to their communities, have drawn federal and state funds away from existing public schools and shown, at best, only mixed results. In absorbing public money, they threaten one of America’s most democratic of institutions. Kaine and his wife Anne Holton (Virginia’s Secretary of Education) are proven supporters of public schools. Kaine’s progressivism on this one issue is a tea leaf in his favor.

But first Clinton has to get elected. And it remains to be seen how Kaine will enhance the ticket, about which I am somewhat skeptical, before we can speculate on how he might affect a prospective Clinton administration.


Posted in political strategy, progressivism | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Email Controversy

Whoever could have predicted that an issue as technical and nerdy as  Clinton’s email system would become so controversial? The scandal has dominated her candidacy and sucked much of the oxygen out of issues that cry out to be discussed in the current presidential campaign. Whatever valid questions it may raise about the candidate’s judgement, it needs to be put in perspective. Certainly Bernie was on the right track when he said “Enough about the emails. Let’s talk about real issues!”

The polarization that dominates our politics, of course, has made this a vain hope so far. Key political forces have pushed and continue to push the issue as far as it will go. The Republican Party naturally is the major instigator, believing it has found an issue with the momentum and robustness to cause maximum pain for the Democratic nominee. If something as flimsy as Benghazi could live on for years, why not email-gate? Republicans have raised expectations for months that a criminal indictment was inevitable, understanding that they would win either with a decision for prosecution, which would upend Clinton’s candidacy, or a decision against, which would offer new opportunities for conspiracy baiting and partisan outrage.

The media has also been a key force in the never-ending drama, giving far more credence to sensational interpretations of the scandal, such as expectations of impending indictment, than to sober ones.  The press largely ignored the less hyped observations of experts like William Weld, vice-presidential candidate on the Libertarian ticket and former federal prosecutor, who pointed out that there was no criminal intent in Clinton’s case and hence no chance of indictment.

Moreover, the institutional forces tasked with bringing light to the matter did little to bring closure. In the current polarized climate, what was especially needed was a sense of balance and context. Instead, the FBI investigation focused narrowly on how many classified items in the emails it could find, without acknowledging the serious flaws of the classification system, which is overly broad and improperly applied, or taking into account similar, though less obvious, conduct by other past Secretaries of State. Comer’s condemnation of Clinton for sloppiness together with his decision not to seek an indictment will hardly put an end to the affair. Her opponents are still actively pushing the issue of perjury and seeking further depositions of the candidate. But in the absence of official action, non-indictment still offers them a great way to remind voters of how well people like Clinton fare under a “rigged” system.

Given all the tendencies for prolongation, how do we get beyond the private email issue, which now stands as the centerpiece of the Trump campaign and grist for claims of Clinton’s “corruptness” and “dishonesty”? In my opinion, Hillary’s best way to put it past her would be to make a direct apology to the American people for her “carelessness,” as Comer has put it, at the appropriate time, possibly during the debates when the issue comes up. Voters tend to be forgiving when candidates look them in the eye and admit their shortcomings.

Beyond that, given how the Comer announcement has removed almost all suspense and uncertainty, the email issue seems to have lost its worst sting. Like Benghazi, it has shifted from being something handled through institutional processes to one fanned almost solely by partisan forces. As such, it has the potential to be a reminder of how fixated and relentless the Trump candidacy is. Carried much further, the issue could easily backfire.


Posted in media, political strategy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Man Who Stood Up to Donald Trump: The Lesson of Michael Forbes

Most Americans have probably never heard of Michael Forbes. And perhaps that’s understandable since the man resides in far-off Scotland and is not a typical celebrity. Forbes is an elderly Scotsman who owns a family farm in Aberdeen province and works hard to make ends meet.

But to the Scottish people, Forbes is a national hero. In a well-known annual poll taken in 2010, he was voted “Top Scot,” beating out  Sean Connery and other rich and famous candidates. His claim to fame? His refusal to be pushed around by one of the world’s best-known developers, Donald Trump.

Mr. Trump would, of course, take umbrage at Forbes’ fame at his expense. Michael Forbes goes on Trump’s list as being an obstructor of progress and blot on humanity. But no spinning by the Donald erases the fact that this common man faced him down, stood up for his rights, and came out looking pretty good.

The source of the disagreement between the two men involved a golf resort that Trump decided to develop on the scenic Aberdeen coast in 2006. The development, intended for a well-heeled clientele, was to displace the inhabitants who currently lived around the site. Trump saw it as an easy bonanza and natural extension of his entertainment empire.

True to form, Trump began by lining up all the usual politicians, business organizations, and opinion-makers to bless his project. Promising vast economic benefits to Scotland, he was able to create considerable momentum for the plan. While the local Aberdeen Council voted to block the development, the Scottish government, which had been heavily lobbied by Trump, came back the next year to overrule the Council and approve it.

But even with the official go-ahead, Trump had to grapple with a key local issue: the resistance of the affected landholders. Trump’s plan required that their homes, which stood between the proposed golf course and the coastal beach, be demolished in order to afford golfers a clear, unblocked view of the ocean. Getting the owners to sell and vacate their properties was an unusual challenge. Many of them had lived their whole lives on this strip of land and saw themselves as its natural caretakers. For them, money was not the issue.

Trump became aware of this problem early in the game after sending some of his delegates to try soft persuasion. When this appeared to have little effect, Trump summoned the owners to a local mansion where he laid out his plans. Those few who attended showed little enthusiasm. Michael Forbes, the owner with the largest property, passed the word that if Trump wanted to meet him, “he knows where I am,” giving Trump and his entourage little choice but to walk over to Forbes’ home and engage directly. A few offhand remarks were made about the price of land. But the atmosphere was tense.

Things worsened as Trump began applying pressure. Trump’s deputies took to pestering Forbes regularly in an effort to change his mind. Trump himself launched a campaign of invective, claiming that Forbes’ property was unkempt and “disgusting.” Local officials sympathetic to Trump began finding things wrong with Forbes’ property and requiring intrusive inspections.

When the screw-tightening appeared ineffective, Trump lost patience. After he received government approval for his project, he took the step of asking the government to force the hold-outs to sell. Trump deployed legal surrogates to justify such a bold maneuver. Unfortunately for Trump, the government seemed unwilling to go that far, reluctant to further antagonize the local inhabitants,

Judging from the subsequent tide of public opinion, Trump’s request seems to have been a strategic mistake. As Michael D’Antonio explains in his book Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success, the bid for coercion sullied Trump in the eyes of the public and gave his opponents “the high moral ground.”  Trump had failed to take into consideration local pride and tradition. Historically-minded Scots were keenly aware of how the English government had once forcibly appropriated the land of Scottish landowners to make way for hunting estates for the English upper classes. The abused small owners, called “crofters,” were the stuff of national legend and were glorified in Scottish history books as resisters to outside authority. Michael Forbes and his fellow cohorts were seen as part of that esteemed tradition.

Although thwarted in his efforts to persuade or coerce, Trump still showed no let-up in his pressure tactics. As construction work got into full swing, Forbes and his neighbors found themselves facing ever more obstacles to their daily activities and freedom of movement. Mountains of dirt were piled high around their properties, blocking their view and increasing their isolation. Lanes leading into the area became eroded and damaged. Forbes’ access to a beach where he had rights to fish was hindered.

Forbes, as the leader of the holdouts, soon garnered a loyal following among the public. To deter the possibility of government intervention in Trump’s behalf, a group named Tripping Up Trump devised a complicated stratagem of co-ownership for a slice of Forbes’ land involving 7,000 people. The multiple co-owners each held an individual deed to make any attempt at confiscation a potential nightmare for the authorities. On a second front, sympathetic filmakers came down to make a documentary on the standoff entitled You’ve Been Trumped. The film boosted Forbes’ celebrity as a Scotsman willing to fight for his rights.

All of this, of course, only further incensed Trump. His efforts to retaliate publicly, however, only revealed the extent of his pettiness. After Forbes received the “Top Scot” award, largely on the basis of the documentary, Trump decided to take out his anger against the company that sponsored the competition, the Scotch whiskey producer Glenfiddich. By his order, Glenfiddich whiskey could no longer be served at any of his hotels around the world.

In the end, Trump’s Aberdeen golf resort turned out to be a lot less than first boasted. Instead of a grand resort with a golf course, 450 room hotel, conference center, and community of villas, it wound up being a course with a clubhouse and 19 rental rooms in a nearby mansion. Forbes and his neighbors’ plucky resistance was undoubtedly one of the factors that reduced Donald Trump’s dream down to size.

Forbes, of course, paid a heavy price as he witnessed the diminishment of his mobility, his view, the free use of his land, and the surrounding environment. But his independence and pride remained intact throughout the ordeal. There was also the bonus of knowing that he had given his country and the world an important lesson in the limits of greed and power when bravely resisted.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Republican Party Will Never Be the Same after Trump

It will be a while before Republicans truly come to grips with a Trump-dominated party. So far leaders are trying to view his upcoming nomination in the old manner, still convinced he can fit a recognizably Republican mold. RNC Chairman Priebus is bravely trying to unite the party behind him, while House Speaker Ryan, not yet ready to embrace Trump, still thinks there is hope of making him ideologically and stylistically acceptable. Trump, however, has already changed the old GOP beyond recognition.

Indeed, on the level of rhetoric and substance, Trump has radically altered what is now talked about on the right. Only a few months ago it was liberty, small government, low taxes, free trade, and the Constitution. Now it is illegal immigration, Islam, unfair trade agreements, and political correctness. Before, it was conservative principles and how best to implement them. Now it is big-stick nationalism and strong-man threats.

Demographically, Trump has fastened upon a receptive audience for his message: disgruntled white voters. Many of them are male, working class, and economically struggling. Such voters, typically those who have voted Republican in the past because they saw nowhere else to go, seem to care little about conservative ideology. They respond to Trump because he talks their language, feels their anger, and offers quick solutions to their present frustrations.

Trump, of course, did not arise out of  vacuum. His right-wing populist approach to politics follows years of extremism in the GOP. Fox News, the Tea Party, radio talk-show hosts all laid the ground for Trump. The targeting of enemies, the no-compromise posture, the vicious rhetoric, the conspiracy thinking all foreshadowed his candidacy. What Trump did was to bring nativism and racial resentment out into the open, to replace ideology with id.

By steering the party in a populist direction, Trump has upset all the familiar alignments within the party. The old dualities of establishment/anti-establishment and purity/pragmatism are no longer so consequential. Establishmentarians and tea partiers must now make personal decisions about how they will adjust themselves to the new reality. The litmus test is how one relates to Trump and his leadership style.

The emerging alliances seem bizarre at best. Thus in the current pro-Trump camp, Tea Party icon Sarah Palin and right-wing brawlers Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and Ann Coulter find themselves in league with so-called establishment pragmatists Chris Christy, Rudy Giuliani, and Bob Dole. In the anti-Trump camp, ideologues like Glenn Beck and the National Review crowd are now bedfellows with conventional pols like Romney and the Bushes.

Such alliances, of course, are more motivated by short-term political considerations than by steadfast commitments. There is little certainty about what will follow the November election, when Trump either takes over the Republican Party apparatus in triumph or leaves it in shambles in defeat.

But one thing is fairly certain: there will be no going back to the old Republican Party. There will surely continue to be something like an establishment wing associated with traditional pols and presidential types. And the conservative ideologues, who have long represented the activist wing of the party and control Congress and the red state legislatures, will make their voices heard. But these groups must take heed of and make room for a new potent force, call it the “vox populi” or populist element of the party, which has been awakened from its sullen torpor. Its avid supporters have had a chance to discover their muscle and find a place under a new Republican dispensation. These volatile voters can be expected to cause the party major heartburn for the foreseeable future.

Posted in conservatism, politics of extremism, populism | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

North Carolina’s Bathroom Law: Culture War Redux

North Carolina’ recent “bathroom bill” is a classic example of legislation that creates a problem rather than solving one. Not only does it make life excruciatingly difficult for a vulnerable minority, it seems to decree general chaos. Among other stipulations about discrimination, House Bill 2 requires all transgender people to use bathroom facilities conforming to their birth gender, in contradiction to their chosen identity. It can only have explosive consequences in the real world since it gives transgenders who look and act like men no choice but to use women’s restrooms, and vice versa for women transgenders. To add insult to indignity, the bill would put police in the untenable position of having to examine people’s genitalia in order to enforce it.

The truth is that transgender people, a small minority that makes up about one-half of 1% of the population, have been using public bathrooms tied to their gender identity for years across the country with virtually no controversy or adverse effects. People in numerous communities have readily adjusted to the situation. Some 225 towns and cities in the U.S. have passed ordinances that forbid discrimination against gay and transgender people in such matters, not just in New York and California but in red states like Utah, Idaho, Indiana, and Texas. And many states have passed similar anti-discrimination laws.

Still, the swift passage of the North Carolina law indicates that transgenderism remains a volatile issue in some places, especially where big cultural divides exist. General unfamiliarity with the issue does not help. In North Carolina, polls show that a majority of the populace doesn’t even “fully understand what it means to be a transgender.”

Given the potential for confusion, the manipulators of fear have moved in to take advantage. They have framed the new law as a safety measure to protect women and children from bathroom interlopers and rapists. They portray tolerance of transexuals as a step too far, a form of catering to immoral lifestyles and capitulation to secular activists. These are the same folks who use religion to justify opposition to same-sex marriage and discrimination against gay people.

The major shaper of the North Carolina law and mentor to the Republican majority is an organization called the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADL), a Christian Right legal group that crafts laws and lobbies for them in Republican-dominated state legislatures. Its mission statement indicates a biblical, socially conservative agenda: “To keep the doors open for the Gospel by advocating for religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family.” The group, which comes with large financial resources and a network of paid and unpaid activists to support its efforts, has played a key role in the national anti-gay rights movement.

The North Carolina bill borrows heavily from language that ADL has specifically prepared for anti-transgender legislation. The language has served as a template for a number of states considering similar legislation, including Nevada, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Kentucky, although in each of those cases, the legislation was ultimately rejected. North Carolina has the dubious distinction of being the first state to pass a general bathroom-access law.

Along with the bill’s designers, Governor Pat McCrory must share plenty of blame for allowing it to pass. He might easily have followed the recent example of another Republican governor, Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota, who when faced with a similar bill (one having to do with bathrooms in public schools) met with a delegation of transgender people to hear their side. Daugaard then vetoed the legislation, stating that it “does not address any pressing issue.” Instead he encouraged local communities to find practical solutions.

McCrory, who was looking to bolster his re-election chances by catering to his party base, was not so deliberative. He signed it within hours of its passage. Even in the face of widespread outrage and opposition by the business community, McCrory roundly defended the bathroom-related part of the legislation, using the code words and rhetoric of those who wrote it.

After receiving three weeks of negative media coverage, McCrory, still unrepentant on the issue, is now calling for “dialogue.” But, as Chuck Todd pointed out in an interview on Meet the Press, where was the dialogue when the law was muscled through in the first place? Those who start wars are not in a strong position to call for disarmament.

Posted in culture war, human rights, politics of extremism, Religious Right | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment