At a rally last night in Iowa, Donald Trump made headlines by declaring that he would not want poor people serving in his cabinet. “I love all people. Rich or poor. But in those particular positions, I just don’t want a poor person. Does that make sense?” Trump declared. Trump boasted that he appointed Gary Cohen, a former Goldman Sachs President, as an economic adviser. Trump has drawn criticism for assembling a cabinet that consists of multiple billionaires and wealthy donors that seem to lack expertise in their assigned areas. The Cohen remarks are notable because Trump and his supporters once attacked Ted Cruz for his ties to Goldman Sachs. During their contentious primary, Trump attacked Cruz, saying “I know the guys at Goldman Sachs. They have total, total control over him [Ted Cruz]. Just like they have total control over Hillary Clinton.” The barrage of Goldman Sachs attacks from Trump led to the heckling of Cruz by Trump supporters. We have posted one of the incidents during which Cruz was harassed about his wife’s ties to Goldman Sachs.
Donald Trump has championed a series of controversial ideas. He wants to build a wall, reminiscent of the Great Wall Of China along the U.S. & Mexico border. He wants to ban muslims from entering the United States. While these ideas are terrible, Trump offered two more ideas that are being universally regarded as awful.
The First Terrible Trump Idea is that women who get abortions should face some form of punishment for exercising autonomy in their reproductive decisions. Trump could not say if he would punish women with a fine or jail time but he did emphasize that they must be punished. This extreme position is an idea that goes beyond the pale for even the most ardent pro life groups. March For Life-a perennial pro life organization released a statement saying: “Mr. Trump’s comment today is completely out of touch with the pro-life movement and even more with women who have chosen such a sad thing as abortion,” said Jeanne Mancini, President of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund. “Being pro-life means wanting what is best for the mother and the baby. Women who choose abortion often do so in desperation and then deeply regret such a decision. No pro-lifer would ever want to punish a woman who has chosen abortion. This is against the very nature of what we are about. We invite a woman who has gone down this route to consider paths to healing, not punishment“.
Trump’s second Terrible Idea was to increase the presence of private prisons in our justice system. Perhaps Mr. Trump is unfamiliar with Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. who was convicted of accepting more than 1 million dollars in bribes from private prisons to fill their cells with juveniles. Judge Ciaverella is not the only justice to participate in such schemes. In introducing a profit incentive to incarcerate citizens, we pervert our justice system and undermine the faith citizens have in it’s outcomes.
These ideas represent a continuous decline in the seriousness of our discourse for the 2016 election.
During last night’s MSNBC Townhall, Presidential “struggle” candidate, John Kasich was asked by an African American republican: “what would you do to build trust and reform social and economic injustice in the African American community”. Kasich’s reply was noteworthy as it hearkened back to the GOP posture of yester-year. Instead of offering strategies for attracting businesses and jobs to black communities or addressing inequity in school resource funding or offering initiatives to build thriving charter academies in black communities, Kasich seemed to view the question purely as a Criminal Justice inquiry and only when pressed by moderator Chuck Todd did Kasich discuss jobs or the economy in black communities. Hearing “social and economic justice” Kasich seemed to pigeon hole the question as a stereotype of black interests in police reform. While reforming the criminal justice system generally has profound economic consequences, the tepid police related reforms offered by Kasich missed the mark in a significant policy sense.
Kasich’s reply was to recall his creation of a committee that worked to express to the black community the good will of law enforcement and that officers simply don’t want to be “killed” or “taken out”. While the safety of law enforcement is a primary interest to all, it’s inclusion in his answer serves to curiously reinforce the notion that cops are under-siege and the black “super-predator” narrative damaging Hillary Clinton. It is worth pausing to consider that Kasich was asked how to improve social and economic injustices and his first statement was to emphasize officer safety from the violent impulses presumably in the black community? He went on to note that he revamped the use of deadly force policy and moved to create a police force that looked like the community it was serving. In the field of criminal justice reform, Kasich was offering very low hanging fruit. The primary cause of black incarceration is non-violent drug offense but as numerous studies have concluded blacks are no more likely than whites to use drugs. The outrageously high rates of incarceration are a result of targeting and unequal enforcement of drug laws against black communities. As John Ehrlichmen-former Domestic Policy Chief for Richard Nixon confessed, the drug war was created to target black people. Numerous exposes have uncovered how law enforcement routinely enforces drug laws through greater scrutiny of black and poor communities. Creating diverse police forces seems like a minor reform, given the totality of the issue and it’s profound implications for black families, black businesses and the black economy. He ended his statement by highlighting his attempt to let non-violent felons wipe their records clean, in order to gain employment which does address the economic incentive that generally drives recidivism but he felt the odd compulsion to book-end his statement with “IF YOU’RE A GANGBANGER, YOU WILL NEVER GET OUT”. The response in totality was peculiar. Kasich offered a winding reply that offered the African American questioner a more diverse police force and a potential cleansing of records for non-violent offenders as a paltry sandwich between assurances to the general GOP voting base that he was still tough on crime.
Kasich was asked about social and economic injustice which could broadly be seen as a question relating to the economy in black communities. Only when pressed by moderator Chuck Todd, did Kasich discuss creating minority set-asides for the construction of a road in his state. Kasich could have seen the question as a prompt to opine on entrepreneurship and improving prospects for funding minority start-ups. It could have be seen as a question prompting a discussion of systemic impediments to creating wealth and opportunity. Offering clean records to obtain jobs in jobless communities for individuals that have lost years of potential training and education as a result of being incarcerated for recreational drug use, is a half measure and only a band-aid after the state has already inflicted a severe wound to the family of black communities. For a candidate that has built it’s success on the Tone of it’s candidate this was quite possibly Kasich’s most tone def answer of the political season.
Bernie Sanders was expected to lose the state of Michigan and get trounced in the state of Mississippi. While Sanders was demolished in Mississippi as expected, he was miraculously lifted to victory in Michigan 50% to 48%. The thin margin of victory compels an analysis of what communities drove the razor thin win. The United States has long been a nation that defied common wisdom, transcended division and overcame the stumbling blocks of past conflicts. Tonight, the Muslim community in Michigan contributed a new chapter to our collective story of triumph over tribalism. In the first serious attempt to seek the Presidency by a Jewish American, Muslim Americans in Michigan supported Bernie Sanders by overwhelming margins. It is important to note that Muslims were merely a factor in a multi-variable calculus that caused Sanders to succeed (such as an over-performance among African Americans and under-performance by Clinton). Michigan is one of the few states that hosts a significant Muslim and Arab population. Throughout the Middle East, antisemitism in the Islamic World is not rare. Conflicts like the Israeli and Palestinian struggle for statehood have helped foment strife between the Abrahamic communities. A multitude of terrorist organizations and even some duly elected governments in Islamic states have called for the extermination of the state of Israel and of Jews in general. The cantankerous relationship has resulted in a global stereotype of strife between Jews and Muslims that lead many political observers to presume that Bernie Sanders would be roundly rejected by predominantly Muslim communities. And yet, online periodicals like The Arab American News endorsed Senator Sanders. The Arab American News wrote:
“With the senator from Vermont, we have a historic opportunity to elect a principled politician who has remained true to his message from the days he was protesting with the civil rights movement to the day he proclaimed himself a democratic socialist on national television while running for president.
Most Arab Americans are hardworking, middle class families. The concentration of wealth in the top 1 percent of the nation’s richest people impacts this community directly. Sanders’ tax reforms and promised social programs would level the playing field for Americans to realize the American Dream.
Sanders stands for racial justice and has unequivocally condemned Islamophobia.
Sanders is a Jewish American. This newspaper and the community at large do not have a bias against anyone’s ethnic or religious affiliation. Ideas are what matters.
The newspaper does not trust Clinton’s interventionist inclinations. As secretary of state, she was a leading force behind the bombing campaign in Libya in 2011. There is no doubt that Muammar Gaddafi was a dictator who abused his people. But the hasty war on Libya, which was dubbed as humanitarian, led to that North African nation becoming a failed state. Now, two governments and countless militant groups, including ISIS, rule the once-stable country.
A CNN poll revealed this week that Sanders would beat Trump by a bigger margin than Clinton. According to the poll, the former secretary of state would top Trump 52 to 44 percent; Sanders would beat the real estate mogul 55 to 43 percent.
Even if Sanders does not succeed in winning the nomination, it is important for our community to vote for him, so he can promote his platform and communicate his ideas to the American public, taking his campaign all the way to the Democratic Convention. Between now and then, anything is possible.
Arab Americans need to stand for principles. In Sanders, we have a principled politician who is showing strength and courage in his campaign.
True to the history of America, American Muslims defied the conventional wisdom and at a ratio of 64% to 36% supported Bernie Sanders, who describes himself as proudly Jewish. Some have called the Michigan victory, the most stunning upset in recent political history.
Who is the rightful successor of the Obama Legacy? The fight to become the President’s standard bearer became the central theme of last night’s Democratic Townhall on MSNBC.
During the Townhall Hillary Clinton launched a series of attacks on Senator Bernie Sanders, alleging that he once encouraged disenchanted democrats to launch a primary challenge to President Obama’s second term in 2012. The attack while effective is also tactically blind to Clinton’s own previous actions.
Clinton has been informally running for President longer than any other candidate. One of the early narratives of her campaign was a direct rebuke of the Obama foreign policy. The Washington Post wrote that “there is little precedent for a secretary of state preparing a presidential campaign in part by criticizing the foreign policy being carried out by the administration she helped lead.” In the earliest moments of 2014 Clinton began a very public critique of President Obama’s Foreign Policy, highlighting moments when the President failed to heed her sage advice and the disastrous consequences of his naivete. At one point Clinton mocked the President (and his famous phrase) declaring that “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff is not an organizing principle” effectively attacking his reluctance to get the U.S. bogged down in long engagements.
While Clinton attempts to position Sanders as a disloyal soldier in the democratic ranks, her attacks on the President came at a much more precarious time for the President, while he was bogged down in the tumult of new complications in Iraq and the Ukraine. Clinton went even further, outpacing even right wing critics of the President becoming among the first to blame the President and the failure of his policies for the rise of Isis. Clinton stated in The Atlantic that “The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the Protests against Bashar al Assad-there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle-the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled”. The public spat evolved into a very embarrassing verbal joust, leaving a sitting President to publicly debate his former Secretary of State in the pages of the New York Times, in which he declared that the postulated scenario of success from Clinton’s recommendations had “always been a fantasy” (Washington Post 8/11/14).
Clinton’s early campaign was positioned to seek political benefits by distancing herself from the President. The Atlantic noted that Clinton repeatedly referred to the President’s policy as a “Failure” a remark she now assaults Sanders for making. As one who now seeks the mantle of the Obama Presidency, the inconvenient truth is that in the early months of 2014, Hillary Clinton was tacking right, praising President Bush and attacking President Obama as a failure (to summarize TheWeek.com 7/28/14).
The most costly charge for the Sanders team is the claim that Sanders once sought “someone” as a primary challenger for President Obama in 2012, however it is worth noting that the challenger most speculated about was Hillary Clinton. Team Clinton supporters, were the most vocal proponents of a Primary challenge for the President. In an article posted to TheHill.com frustrated democrats like Peter DeFazio suggested that a primary challenge might salve the wounds of disappointment he and other democrats felt about the President. A primary challenge he stated would “push the president and his advisers a bit……to give us back the candidate we had three years ago”. An unnamed lawmaker told TheHill.Com that Clinton was the only candidate that could “crystallize the issues”. The same liberal lawmaker told The Hill that “She could do the job and hopefully lead us to a better place”. The clamor culminated with articles like the Daily Beast’s “Hillary Told You So” in which numerous democratic acolytes loyal to Clinton asserted that the disappointment voters felt in Obama could have been avoided had voters made the wiser choice of electing Clinton. Redemption they argued could be earned by supporting a Clinton in 2012 primary challenge. While Clinton vociferously denied interest, fuel was given to fire by Clinton attacking her own Commander In Chief while serving as his Secretary of State, suggesting that Obama’s “Failure” economically was making her job harder as early as 2010.