1. Yesterday’s funeral for John McCain was, no matter how you cut it, a powerful expression of opposition to the authoritarian personality and policies of Trump. That the president was uninvited to this carefully choreographed political event that included anybody who’s anybody in Washington, had to be noted by the tens of millions who watched in real time or later. It was a visual that spoke more than a thousand words about a president that doesn’t fit on what is considered the traditional spectrum and within the normal boundaries of U.S. politics.
But no less powerful than the visuals of an absent, uninvited president was the equally powerful message, delivered by former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and Meghan McCain. Each, and especially Obama and McCain, robustly defended democratic values and institutions, constitutional norms and boundaries, the rule of law, inclusion, an independent press, and human decency.
I’m not in a position to say what the exact impact of McCain’s funeral will be on the November elections or over the the longer haul. but what I can say is that the funeral for John McCain was a singular event in many ways that surely touched millions in a way that can only help our existential struggle against Trump and Trumpism.
I would guess that few, if any, Republicans in the audience yesterday or around the county felt that the politics on display there gave them a leg up as they attempt to rally support for their candidacies.
Whether they created any fissures between the GOP and Trump only time will tell. In the meantime, the rest of us have to do whatever we can to elect a Democratic majority to the House and Senate in two months.
2. Watched Andrew Gillum on Morning Joe this morning. Very impressive. And his focus was on the day to day needs of Florida’s people. Wouldn’t allow the election to be put into a left versus right or pro Trump, anti-Trump framing.
That makes good sense as a candidate appealing to a broad cross section of Floridians, but it is hard not to think that such a framing won’t come to dominate the airwaves.
By the way, Gillum’s victory didn’t come out of the blue nor is he Bernie’s candidate.
There is also no way to “splain away “monkey this up.” Anybody who does is an apologist for racism. It was neither an inadvertent slip of the tongue nor a dog whistle. It was a racist appeal, pure, simple, undisguised. And surely the first of what will be many from the candidate and campaidn. Does anybody really believe that Trump’s supporters heard it as nothing more than a slip of the tongue by their Trump supported candidate?
3. One more thing on John McCain: more than one person has said I gloss over McCain’s voting record in the Senate over the past two years. To that charge I plead guilty. But I would add that, while my critics read the score card right, what they miss is the main action happening on the field. Millions of people, however, don’t.
What they see and hear was someone steadfastly opposing a loud mouthed and crude bully who, if allowed, would impose authoritarian rule on the country. So much so that the bully goes out of his way to defame his critic in the most mean spirited manner, even on his death bed and in death itself. This battle royale between these two bitterly opposed protagonists may seem insignificant for many on the left, but for many other people who don’t live and breathe politics every moment the words and actions of Trump’s critic give them courage and hope that we can prevail against tyranny.
4. Fascism isn’t imminent, but let’s not make the mistake of the left in Germany that failed to understand the impending danger the country faced as it was developing, not to mention when it was staring them in the face. And thus didn’t unite against it. And we know the rest of that awful story.
By contrast, it seems like the progressive and left community here is avoiding that sinkhole. Indeed, lots of energy is being expended on the election of a Democratic Congressional majority this fall. It helps that Democratic candidates are tacking in a progressive direction, which, in turn, activates the not so old Obama coalition.
5. When I was the National Chair of the Communist Party I tried to keep in mind Lenin’s admonition a century ago to his coworkers to avoid what he called a “small circle mentality.” Still seems like good advice.
6. As you may know, I come out of the communist movement where democratic and moral values were considered subordinate to working class and socialist imperatives. That doesn’t mean that communists didn’t fight for democracy in its many manifestations; they did (and still do), consistently and at times bravely.
Nor am I suggesting that communists didn’t have strong moral convictions; they did and do. But still the advancement of class interests was considered primary in the framing of their thinking and actions. And in most instances, this presented no problem, as class interests converged with moral values and democratic struggles. But there were instances where that wasn’t the case, especially when class interests were narrowly constructed. The most egregious was the uncritical attitude of most of the communist movement toward Stalin and the Soviet Union. As the first country of socialism, the official interpreter of Marx and Lenin, and the primary opponent of imperialism, it was considered above any serious reproach in the eyes of most parties and communists, myself included.
It wasn’t until the 1990s and then later as national chair of the party that I began to seriously examine this way of thinking and found it wanting.
7. The most uplifting event this week was without a question the funeral and celebration of Aretha Franklin. In song, story, and prayer, this extraordinary woman, daughter of Detroit and the African American people and church, and incomparable artist and musical genius was celebrated by family, friends, and millions of admirers.