Dallas to Debacle

The effect on the 2016 elections by the recent shootings by and against the police underlies the struggle to absorb the horror of what has happened.  If the slayings reverberate in favor of Donald Trump, then this week’s events only presage greater terror.  Trump’s lack of understanding of most topics of any magnitude and his shoot-from-the-belt approach —  seriously, no pun intended — would make matters worse.  He has more than demonstrated his capacity to unleash upon the land the full furies of the hate he already has used to fuel his campaign.

Sadly, the assassination of five law enforcement officers in Dallas by a black man transcends tragedy.  The murders personify the country’s new fragility that changing demographics, a difficult economy and vitriol and corruption in Congress are abetting.

Like the new age of climate change that jeopardizes our very existence, we have entered a new era in which race and other critical social stresses animate the possibility of disunion.  It can’t happen here, we are told.  Yet the greatest and most dangerous moment in this already perilous passage into the immediate future emanates from the social media and 24/7 news platforms that govern the public space today.

Ironically, the very tools shedding light into the continuous and discriminate shootings of black men also are the weapons that will be turned against the development of leaders who could lead us through these times.  Those who would lead will have their heads decapitated on social media before they can finish their statements on how to move us forward.  Social media and 24/7 news will serve to make us increasingly leaderless.

If the new-media normal hamstrings President Obama and Republican leaders at so important a moment as this week represents, then it surely bodes ill for the country.  How can anyone float a vision for the future in this unnerving environment?

In this poisoned mess, the country needs a Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Instead, we hear the voices of angry whites and, justifiably, of angrier black men and women who are tired, tired, tired of the rampant murders inflicted on their community by police officers who almost always face no consequences for their actions.  The question is if reaction to action will breed reaction and put us on the path to an abyss.

We as a nation need to rise above ourselves.  But who can call us to our better angels?  White people finally are beginning to understand that black and Hispanic/Latino complaints about law enforcement are neither bogus nor confection, and so white acceptance of reality must be encouraged.  So, too, minority communities must rein in their rancor.  But who can summon us together as a people to make sure that tomorrow or the next days or year or decade are not the beginning of the civic and internal strife that throughout history impelled empires and nations to self-immolate over time?

It can’t happen here denies the possibility of collapse of democratic rule or the arrival of a new holocaust or increasing disconnection that fosters extended paralysis.  It is a view fast becoming antiquated.  The new environment we have entered makes anything possible – even the election of a man like Trump who makes no bones of admiring dictators and dehumanizing his fellow citizens.

Without the anvils weighing her down, Hillary Clinton could have been the one who could speak directly and persuasively to moderate white voters and spark an electoral landslide to set us towards a better future.  O, what judgment history might render on Clinton and her decision to install a personal computer server in her home!  And this is easy stuff for the social media and the 24/7 menace.  What they have done to her we shortly could rue.  Not perfect, Clinton, compared to Trump, is clearly the way to not increase the chances that the new age ahead will be the history of old.

It really does not have to happen here.

Jesús (Jesse) Treviño is the former editorial page editor of The Austin American-Statesman.

Paul Ryan: Too Angry Too Young

Gore Vidal many decades before he grew old said in a television interview that the old grow angry when they accept that their youth is indeed lost, never to return.  That was rich coming from Gore, who was angry most of his life, living as he did long before more tolerant times changed public sentiment towards his sexual orientation.  Gore had a reason to be angry, but by all reports he was not the prototypical angry white male when he lived out his last years with more grace than Clint Eastwood and Jack Welch are displaying in their last decades.  Now the times are giving us angry white men like Paul Ryan.  His business suit last night during the vice presidential debate seemed a tight fit, perhaps made so by its efforts to contain youthful, muscular ire.

Eastwood, of course, is now remembered for his vulgar empty-chair routine at the Republican National Convention in Tampa that embarrassed himself and Ann Romney and her kids on national television.  The Romneys all showed up excitedly to see the bonanza of a Hollywood star endorse Mitt for president.  What they got instead were the rantings of an old, angry man taking license with the here and now.  Only a couple months later, Jack Welch, the former chairman of General Electric, also took fictitious liberty with reality, accusing the Bureau of Labor Statistics of cooking the numbers so that the employment rate fell just in time to benefit President Obama’s campaign for re-election.

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Not a Good Night at the Political Ballpark in Tampa

Posted on Wednesday night for Thursday.

Strike two.  For a country worried and anxious about the future, the second day of the Republican national convention was breath-taking in its failure to produce anything that the nation could use to begin to rethink its future.  Instead, Paul Ryan’s speech was an ongoing lament about problems that President Obama’s predecessor caused.  The only attempt at authenticity was a prerecorded video about the Bushes – one defeated for re-election and the other someone the country wishes it had never elected.  Even a solid Republican had to worry about that kind of a start.

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Male Chauvinists: Soon in Obama’s Corner?

The latest attack from the right on President Obama comes in the form of former Navy SEALs who disparage him in a video that seeks to diminish his standing as commander-in-chief. Whoever commissioned the video did so weeks ago when the opinion polls showed Obama leading Mitt Romney – and putting distance between the two. One poll reported something unusual: An uptick in support of Obama among male voters, the group least likely to support him.

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Julián Castro and the Democrats’ Looming 75-Percent Solution

Could President Obama’s share of the Hispanic/Latino vote – as high as 75 percent according to some polls – be bumped any higher after Mitt Romney selected Paul Ryan as his running mate?  Seems unlikely, but the possibility of freezing HispanicLatino support at that stratospheric number alone should make the mouths of Democratic strategists water.  Think of it: Romney, clinging to the anti-HispanicLatino message that he embraced during the primary campaign, puts on the ticket a representative of the tea party – comprised of the most vociferous anti-HispanicLatino Republicans.

If Romney’s campaign already was taking a shellacking nationally – his unfavorable rating among all voters is at an unheard of 49 percent for a challenger to an incumbent President – then among HispanicLatinos Romney has tanked.  That sound you hear should be Chicago going in for the kill to seal the election.  Continue reading