Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, August 24, 2019

MVNews this week:  Page 11


Mountain View News Saturday, August 24, 2019 






Susan Henderson


Dean Lee 



Patricia Colonello




John Aveny 



Mary Lou Caldwell

Kevin McGuire

Chris Leclerc

Bob Eklund

Howard Hays

Paul Carpenter

Kim Clymer-Kelley

Christopher Nyerges

Peter Dills 

Rich Johnson

Lori Ann Harris

Rev. James Snyder

Dr. Tina Paul

Katie Hopkins

Deanne Davis

Despina Arouzman

Jeff Brown

Marc Garlett

Keely Toten

Dan Golden

Rebecca Wright

Hail Hamilton

Joan Schmidt

LaQuetta Shamblee

Politics, the Prussian statesman Otto von Bismarck famously 
said, “is the art of the possible, the attainable - 
the art of the next best.”

Surveying our political landscape these days, it’s all too 
easy to conclude that our elected leaders can’t even get 
to the next, next best. Or whatever comes after that. I’m 
thinking about 

Whether it’s President Donald Trump’s abrupt pivot on 
gun control this week, or Congress’ ongoing inability to 
pass on-time federal budgets or reach agreements on such issues as infrastructure 
spending where, we keep failing on areas where there appears to be 
broad, bipartisan consensus.

Meanwhile, news consumers are battered by the constant barrage of tweets, 
half-baked policy ideas and partisan sniping emanating from both ends of 
Pennsylvania Avenue. Is it any wonder that we’re all cynical?

But what if - just if - there was some parallel dimension where government 
functions according to that Platonic ideal that, well, some of us, anyway, hold 
in our heads?

On Sept. 18, on the campus of York College in south-central Pennsylvania, 
two former Keystone State governors – Democrat Ed Rendell and Republican 
Mark S. Schweiker -- will try to reach consensus on one of the most intractable 
public policy issues of our time: immigration reform and state government’s 
role in it.

And they’re going to do it in an hour. Yes, an hour.

That’s the goal of the “Democracy Challenge,” a new effort sponsored by the 
York County Economic Alliance, a regional economic development advocacy 

“There was a time in our country, where our leaders would conduct substantial 
debates on the issues,” said Kevin Schreiber, the president and CEO of 
the York County Economic Alliance. “There was a time where the ability to 
compromise was seen as a prerequisite for service and not as a weakness.”

It’s kind of perfect in a way that this exercise in idealism is taking place on 
a college campus. And there’s a lovely irony that Schreiber, a former Democratic 
member of Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives, is the guy who’s 
overseeing it. He’s been a roadside witness to plenty of legislative car crashes.

“Politics has become a zero-sum game, one that now picks winners and losers,” 
he said. “Cynicism in government is contagious.”

Indeed, public trust in government is at “historic lows,” according to the Pew 
Research Center.

In the Trump era, just 17 percent of Americans told Pew pollsters they trust 
government “always” or “most of the time.” That’s down from a high of 77 
percent in October 1964 - after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, 
but before the full conflagration of the Vietnam War.

Schweiker served a little less than two years, from 2001 to 2002, when Republican 
Gov. Tom Ridge resigned to become President George W. Bush’s first 
homeland security czar in those dark hours after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

He said in a statement that he hopes the event “will inspire [elected] leaders 
… to consider that even with competing points of view that we can come 
together to create a solution that generates accountability.”

Rendell, the former Philadelphia mayor who served two terms from 2002 to 
2010, said an agreement on immigration could be achievable because it “isn’t 
an issue that breaks Republican or Democrat.”

Clearly, that message hasn’t penetrated in Washington. But no matter.

Schreiber said he hopes the Sept. 18 event, which is being co-sponsored by 
both York College and cable titan Comcast, will become an annual occurrence, 
drawing in college students and others to work together to find common 

And maybe they’ll even give our battered a public dialogue a lift while they’re 
at it. Hoping for a return to sanity in government might be a little far-fetched. 
Especially these days.

But compared to, say, buying Greenland, it’s a walk-off.

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In every election campaign, there comes a point when cruel reality intrudes, 
forcing candidate and staff to confront the growing likelihood 
that victory is out of reach and further expenditure of time, money and 
dedication to a cause is futile.

For more than 20 candidates remaining in the race for the Democratic 
presidential nomination, that moment has arrived.

It is a personally wrenching decision, a public acknowledgement that 
one’s beliefs and principles have failed to create a deep impression on the 
public mind and support has diminished to an unsustainable level.

For those Democrats who have consistently failed to exceed three per 
cent in the Real Clear Politics polling average - national as well as in individual states - 
continuing their quest is a willing suspension of disbelief.

Using the RCP three percent average as the benchmark measurement to remain in the race, 
17 announced candidates would fail to make the cut. While nine candidates have already 
qualified for the next debate in September, four have failed to break three per cent.

Of the remainder, several - including sitting governors, and ex-Congress members - have 
failed to achieve greater than one percent. Even four of the candidates whom have qualified 
for the debate have consistently fallen under three percent and, while hope springs 
eternal, their candidacies are hanging by a thread.

If all below three percent conceded, the field would narrow to an eminently manageable 
five - former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren 
of Massachusetts, and Kamala Harris of California, and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete 

In less than six months, voters in Iowa will make their way to caucuses and, for the moment 
at least, the third and fourth tier candidates have nothing to lose by continuing their 
campaigns even though the hopes of a number of them will lie buried under snowdrifts in 
the state’s cornfields.

Seemingly undeterred by the long odds against them, rationales for keeping their candidacies 
alive range from consideration as the vice presidential running mate, securing a Cabinet 
or high level post in a Democratic Administration, attempting to influence the party’s 
direction and agenda, building an identification for a later run, or merely because it’s fun 
and ego-boosting.

The size of the field has wrought havoc on the two debates held so far, chaotic and embarrassing 
exercises in personal insults, raised voices, discourteous interruptions, talking over 
one another, and - sadly - offering little of substance on issues. 

The universal takeaways from these confrontations has been that of a party shoved further 
and further to the left, embracing out of the mainstream ideas that will come back to haunt 
the eventual nominee. 

Debating proposals to decriminalize illegal border crossings, end private health care insurance, 
and spend trillions of dollars on social welfare programs plays directly into President 
Trump’s wheelhouse. 

Even though the “Moderates need not apply” sign has been posted outside national party 
headquarters, Biden - the quintessential middle lane contender - has held the polling lead 
ever since he entered the race. The former vice president has littered the landscape with 
misstatements and non-sequitur’s, raising concerns about his intellectual agility but he’s 
been able to overcome them by remaining the candidate most favored to defeat Trump.

Shrinking the field by persuasion, appeals to loyalty, or emphasizing the overwhelming 
need to turn Trump out of the White House may succeed, particularly after the Iowa caucuses 
and certainly after the New Hampshire primary.

Force will not. The party boss days are long gone, replaced by the cult of self-interested 
personality. Pressure will be met with counter pressure, stubbornness and animosity. Voluntary 
withdrawal, leaving with dignity intact and pride in having given it one’s best shot 
is the only way to cull the field and assuring that all involved will continue to talk to one 

The immense personal difficulty in reaching the decision should not be minimized or dismissed. 
Belief in one’s self is a powerful motivator, even though it occasionally clouds one’s 
better judgment and blinds one to a reality seen and understood by others.

The political environment can be an exciting and exhilarating place, but it can also be a 
cold and cruel place, bringing down well-meaning individuals possessed of noble aims.

By next spring, trees will be in bud, temperatures comfortable, songbirds in full throat and 
five Democrats will remain standing. 


Churchill understood 
that in 
times of national 
emergency, it 
was imperative 
to forge alliances 
with anyone willing 
to help - no matter how odious 
those allies might be. As the British 
prime minister famously declared in 
1941, “If Hitler invaded hell, I would 
make at least a favorable reference to 
the devil in the House of Commons.”

In politics, as in international warfare, 
you win by addition, not subtraction. 
You win by welcoming anyone who 
wants to join the ranks. That’s how 
successful coalitions are built. But 
it’s amazing how so many litmus-test 
Democrats seem impervious to reality.

The other day, Oliver Willis, a senior 
writer at the liberal media website 
ShareBlue, tweeted his disdain for 
three prominent anti-Trump Republicans: 
ex-GOP congressman Joe Walsh, 
and conservative commentators Bill 
Kristol and David Frum, all of whom 
have signaled their willingness to make 
common cause with Democrats.

“Joe Walsh isn’t good. Bill Kristol isn’t 
good. David Frum isn’t good. These 
people are not worthy allies,” Willis 
wrote. “They’re working to undermine 
what is good. They’re just embarrassed 
at Trump for saying the BS out loud.”

Willis was applauded by many in the 
lefty Twitterverse. But prominent 
Trump critics on the right - including 
George Conway, Max Boot, George 
Will, and Peter Wehner - give voice 
to the restiveness within Republican-
friendly ranks. According to recent 
polling, it appears a sizable number of 
reality-based Republicans and Republican-
leaning independents are loath 
to vote for Trump again - not necessarily 
because they now oppose him 
on policy, but because his tweets and 
reckless antics have simply exhausted 

For instance, Tom Nichols is a Republican 
who teaches at the U.S. Naval 
War College who is begging for any 
reason to vote Democratic in 2020. 
He wrote last Thursday: “I don’t care 
if Sen. Elizabeth Warren is a mendacious 
Massachusetts liberal. She could 
tell me that she’s going to make me 
wear waffles as underpants and I’ll vote 
for her … I don’t care if Vermont Sen. 
Bernie Sanders is a muddle-headed socialist 
from a rural class-warfare state 
… He could tell me he’s going to tax 
used kitty litter and I’ll vote for him.”

Why? Because Nichols is fed up with 
Trump’s “compulsive lying, fantastic 
and easily refuted claims, base insults, 
and bizarre public meltdowns … It is 
a sign of how low we have fallen as a 
nation that ‘rational’ and ‘not compromised 
by an enemy’ are now my only 
two requirements for the office of the 
president of the United States.”

And Boot, an ex-foreign policy adviser 
to John McCain and Mitt Romney, is 
rooting for a blue victory. Earlier this 
month, he pleaded: “Don’t mess this 
up, Democrats. To preserve American 
democracy, we need to get rid of 
Trump. Then we can return to debating 
our normal policy differences.”

But because these people have toiled 
for the red team - George Conway 
(who calls Trump “a sociopath”) 
helped investigate Bill Clinton’s sex 
history during the 1990s, and Bill Kristol 
was a cheerleader for George W. 
Bush’s Iraq war - they’re deemed to be 
unacceptable allies in 2019. As one liberal 
magazine, The Nation, contended 
recently, “They’ve had their day. Democrats 
don’t need their votes.”

Really? If I’ve learned anything while 
covering national politics for the last 
30 years, it’s the axiom that a campaign 
or a party needs all the votes it can 
possibly get. That’s not exactly rocket 
science. And fortunately, during that 
Twitter spat the other day, some Democrats 
seemed to get it.

Neera Tanden, a former Hillary Clinton 
advisor who now runs the Center 
for American Progress, wrote, “Our 
democracy is under siege. Make allies 
wherever you can. We can disagree 
again when Trump is gone.” 

Elizabeth Bennett, a former congressional 
staffer, added: “The enemy of my 
enemy is my friend, at least while our 
mutual enemy is still a threat. Maybe 
we should just graciously accept the 
help b/c they can speak to people who 
won’t listen to us.”

Or as the old saying goes, “Politics 
makes strange bedfellows.” That’s still 
true - unless purist Democrats spurn 
the Republican migrants by building 
a wall.


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