Guy T. Saperstein

Donald Trump will destroy the Republican Party — here's how Democrats can help

There is a movement in Congress by Democrats to invoke the 14th Amendment and take away Donald Trump's right to run again for the presidency. Their time would be better spent encouraging Trump to run again.

Simply put, Trump is the most unpopular politician in America. In one term, he managed to lose the presidency, the House and the Senate. No one-term president in American history other than Trump has ever done this. In 2020, he not only ran 7+ million votes behind Biden, he ran 7+ million votes behind the Republican ticket. Behind Republican House and Senate candidates. In 2020, the Republican Party was not repudiated, but Trump was.

For four years, Trump struggled to poll more than 45%, and currently is polling under 40%. By contrast, Biden currently is polling 62%. Trump is toxic and Democrats should welcome another Trump run for the White House. He's the weakest candidate they could ever face.

It is true Trump is very popular within the Republican Party, which is why he can still terrorize Republican members of the House and Senate with threats of primary challenges, but why should Democrats worry about that? It mainly means that more Trump cultists will end up running against Democrats in general elections, where they will be easier to beat than moderate Republicans. Mitch McConnell and Mitt Romney, among others, understand this, but few other Republicans facing re-election seem willing to act on this message.

Donald Trump will destroy the Republican Party. Let's welcome that, not fight it. It will take one or two elections for this to become obvious, but you can take this prediction to the bank.

Guy T. Saperstein is a retired attorney who founded the largest private plaintiff civil rights law firm in America and successfully prosecuted the largest sex, race and age discrimination class actions in American history.

How America Became Irrelevant to the Rest of the World

Depending on the hour, President Trump is in open conflict with Congress, the media, the intelligence services, his own national-security adviser, his generals, and now, seemingly, his own veterans affairs director. That sort of turbulence leaves the United States paralyzed and indecisive, unable to speak with a common, or even coherent, voice on a number of important policy issues. And it appears that, on many topics, other countries have stopped listening.

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Jon Stewart Should Run for President

Two years ago, the suggestion that Jon Stewart should run for president would be met with satirical criticism. He does not have experience holding office, he is an entertainer, not a politician, and he's funny—too funny to be president. But times have changed dramatically. On Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, millions of Americans watched as Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio turned red and Donald Trump, a businessman who knows more about luxury hotels than foreign policy, was voted to the highest office in the land by the will of millions of Americans.

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Trump Didn't Win the Election, Hillary Lost It

Hillary was always going to be a weak candidate and the evidence was there for anyone willing to see it.  The only surprise was how hard many people worked not to see the obvious.
For one, she was exactly the wrong candidate for 2016. In May 2014, two and a half years ago, I wrote on these pages: 

By every metric, voters are in a surly mood and they are not going to be happy campers in 2016, either. Why should they be? The economy is still in the toilet, not enough jobs are being created even to keep up with population growth, personal debt and student debt are rising, college graduates can’t find jobs, retirement benefits are shrinking, infrastructure is deteriorating, banksters never were held accountable for melting down the economy, inequality is exploding — and neither party is addressing the depth of the problems America faces. As a result, voters in 2016 will be seeking change and there is no way Clinton can run as a “change” candidate — indeed, having been in power in Washington for 20-plus years as First Lady, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State, she is the poster child for the Washington political establishment, an establishment that will not be popular in 2016.  

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9 Things the Dems Should Do to Get Their House in Order

The first thing Democrats need to do is stop feeling sorry for themselves and stop issuing idiotic statements like their recent claim that they cannot "mathematically" do anything. They still control the presidency and have large majorities in the Congress. With a bozo who won the presidency with a minority of votes and thin majorities in Congress, the Republicans in 2001-2006 still aggressively pushed their agenda. "Mathematics" didn't stop the Republicans and there is no reason for the Dems to act impotent and paralyzed now.

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The Only Option for Health Reform Is the Public Option

The United States has the most-expensive, least-efficient and, in many ways, most-ineffective health care system in the world.

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Pat Buchanan Continues His Racist Attacks on Sotomayor

Yesterday, on MSNBC, Pat Buchanan attacked Sonia Sotomayor, specifically, and affirmative action, in general. Included in his attack were such claims as "this has been a country built basically by white folks," that Sotomayor was purely an affirmative-action candidate who lacks real credentials and his suggestion that we need more white, male Supreme Court nominees -- like Robert Bork -- despite the fact that 108 of the 110 Supreme Court justices in our nation's history have been white.

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What Game Is Hillary Playing?

Nothing reveals more clearly how utterly unprincipled the Clintons are than their assertion that rules set by the Democratic Party's Rules Committee, and endorsed by all Clinton representatives on this Committee, now should be abandoned. Nothing reveals more clearly that the only rules the Clintons follow are rules which favor them. Nothing reveals how exaggerated their claims are than Hillary's recent comparison of the votes in Michigan and Florida to the civil rights movement, the suffragette movement, the fraudulent election in Zimbabwe and the 2000 election in Florida.

The outlines of this story are simple and straight-forward: Two states, Michigan and Florida, sought to advance their Democratic primary elections ahead of other states in order to increase their influence in the primary process. If they had been allowed to do so, Democratic parties in other states could have done the same, it would have become a frantic, disorganized race to be the first, or among the first, state primaries, and the primary season could have been extended substantially. The Democratic Rules Committee reviewed this, understood that chaos would ensue if every state party could advance their presidential primaries unilaterally, and ruled that if Michigan and Florida advanced their primaries, the votes would not count in the delegate race.

Hillary Clinton had 15 representatives on the 30-member Rules Committee and every single one of Clinton's representatives supported this Rules Committee decision, which passed unanimously; Democratic parties in 48 states followed the rule, but Michigan and Florida chose not to. Subsequently, no Democratic candidate campaigned in either state and no Democratic candidate, except Hillary Clinton [who fudged the rules] was even on the ballot in Michigan. The Clinton campaign now contends that these wholly undemocratic elections -- even the Stalinist one-candidate election in Michigan -- must count or democracy itself will be imperiled.

Harold Ickes, one of Hillary's representatives on the Rules Committee who voted for the rule barring counting the Michigan and Florida votes, and Hillary's chief negotiator of this issue, was asked recently on one of the Sunday morning political talk shows, "You voted for the Rules Committee decision, but now you are complaining about it. What has changed?" Ickes replied, "What has changed is that now we are behind." So, there it is -- there is not an ounce of principle in the Clinton position. When they thought they were ahead in the presidential race, they supported the rule, but now that they are behind, they don't like it. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the rest of us could act like the Clintons and support rules when they favor us and ignore them when they don't?

Two days ago, Hillary hyperventilated on this topic, comparing enforcement of party rules -- rules she earlier had agreed to -- to the civil rights and suffragette movements, Zimbabwe and Florida 2000, as though enforcing a reasonable party rule was comparable to 300 years of slavery, the disenfranchisement of racial minorities and women from voting for hundreds of years, the unprecedented action of a conservative Supreme Court and the tyrannical actions of an African dictator. The Clintons are desperate; they need boundaries.

Ignoring all rules established for the Democratic primaries, which all Democratic candidates, except Hillary Clinton, followed, the Clintons now also contend that the elaborate system of caucuses and primary votes which have been used for this and prior presidential elections should be ignored in favor of reliance only on popular vote counts. In other words, 48 states have been actively engaged in following established rules, but now, at the end of the process, the Clintons propose to jettison the rules and substitute their own new interpretation. Not only is the threshold proposal absurd on its face, the Clintons don't even count the popular vote fairly: They include votes in the Michigan primary, where Hillary was the only candidate on the Democratic ballot and Obama got zero votes, and exclude hundreds of thousands of caucus votes in the caucus states. If all votes are counted, Obama wins by every metric, including popular vote, and he currently is 180+ votes ahead in the delegate count.

Meanwhile, the Obama campaign remains open to compromising this dispute so that delegates from Michigan and Florida can be seated at the convention, but, to date, the hard-line Clintons have refused all efforts at compromise.

We need to ask, "Who is the audience for this kind of nonsense?" There are only three possible answers: [1] Super-delegates; [2] Voters; and, [3] The Clintons.

If the Clintons think their bogus arguments are going to move super-delegates to their side, they clearly have miscalculated. In the past ten days, Obama has picked up 42 super-delegates; Hillary has picked up two. I have been calling super-delegates for the past two weeks, including some who previously leaned toward Clinton. Not a single one takes the Clinton disenfranchisement or popular vote arguments seriously. Every single one knows the rules were set by the DNC on a consensus basis, that they were necessary and that there would be chaos in the Democratic primaries if the DNC could not enforce rules such as this.

New York Governor, David Paterson, a Clinton super-delegate, was asked today if the Michigan and Florida votes should be included. He responded: "I would say at this point we are starting to see a little desperation on the part of the woman who I support .... There was a process. I thought at the time everybody agreed to it. I didn't hear any objections from the candidates .... So I think the Democratic National Committee would leave it where it is."

When asked about Clinton's claims about how to count the popular vote and her comparison of her plight to the civil rights movement, Paterson said, "You have to assume she won 100 percent to nothing in Michigan. I don't think anybody in their right mind would do that, nor would they see it as a civil rights issue."

If the audience is voters, the Clintons are reaching some of them, but for what purpose? If you read the blogs, you find some comments expressing distress at the prospect of Hillary losing, with some of them complaining about Florida and Michigan, as if including these states would make the critical difference. These are the Democratic voters threatening to sit out the general election or vote for McCain. Is that what Hillary and Bill are trying to accomplish -- to increase the number of disgruntled Democratic voters and make winning the general election harder? Whether this is their purpose, or not, clearly their behavior is having this effect.

Both Clintons graduated from a respected law school so I think it is safe to say they are smart enough to know their arguments about disenfranchisement of voters and their new preference for the "popular vote," as they selectively calculate it, have no weight. But they don't want to quit and the only way to justify staying in the obviously lost race is to build their own sense of aggrievement to the level of self-righteousness, and, like most confabulators, they have begun to believe their own propaganda.

Hillary and Bill are not acting like leaders, they are acting like self-absorbed adolescents, thinking that if they whine loudly enough people will accommodate them. This is not leadership, this is petulance. They will go down in this race, but not without their own sense of righteousness and value intact. This conveniently avoids the unpleasant prospect of actually taking responsibility for why they lost.

Introspection does not come easy to the Clintons, but during the next four years, let's hope they try some.

Hillary Is Trying to Drive Dems Into a Dead End on Foreign Policy

In recent weeks, Hillary Clinton has increased her attack on Barack Obama, arguing that foreign policy experience is essential to "being ready on Day One." Sen. Clinton thinks this argument will bring her closer to the presidency, but she is actually painting herself, and Democrats, into a corner in the general election, for, whatever one may think about her or Sen. Obama's foreign policy credentials, they certainly are less than John McCain's.

Democrats cannot run the general election campaign on the question of who has more foreign policy experience, or experience, in general, because the answer to those questions will be John McCain, even though most of his foreign experience is military. The Democratic campaign will have to be about which candidate has demonstrated the best judgment in foreign affairs, not who has the most experience. Which one endorsed and supported the greatest foreign policy fiasco in modern American history? Which continued to support this war long after every possible justification for it had collapsed? Whose belligerent statements would increase the chance of war with Iran? In answering these questions -- the questions Democrats will have to emphasize in a campaign against McCain -- Hillary Clinton doesn't fare so well.

First of all, it is not clear where Hillary derives the foreign policy "experience" advantage she claims, if not her eight years in the White House as first lady. But when did the American presidency become a monarchy? When did the first lady role morph into the queen? No first lady, including Hillary, has been tasked with foreign policy assignments. As first lady, the main purpose of her foreign travel was to engage in ceremonial events. There was nothing wrong with that, of course, but being hostess or guest at dinner parties is not "commander-in-chief" experience any more than Obama's experience living abroad is foreign policy experience. In fact, it can plausibly be argued that living in a foreign country, which Obama has done, provides a deeper understanding of how the rest of the world thinks than bopping into a country for a day or two to schmooze with a Saudi oligarch. If her foreign policy role was more than that, why has she refused to release her White House papers so voters could see evidence of what her "experience" claims are based on?

Whatever her actual level of "experience," since entering the U.S. Senate, Clinton has been one of the most hawkish of Democrats, including, of course, her vote for the October 2002 Iraq Resolution which led to war with Iraq. She and Bill have tried to explain that vote on the grounds that President Bush's true intentions, and the debacle Iraq would soon become, were "unknown and unknowable." These claims cannot withstand scrutiny, however. Long before October 2002, there were abundant reasons not to trust anything Bush/Cheney said about Iraq.

Long before October 2002, there existed a large body of scholarship that detailed the regional and religious conflicts that would erupt in Iraq if Saddam were removed. Two of the best predictors of the fiasco that Iraq would become, were President George H.W. Bush and his national security advisor, Brent Scowcroft, both of whom had written well-known articles and memoirs about why Baghdad should not be invaded -- in the case of Scowcroft, in a New York Times Op-Ed shortly before the vote on the Iraq Resolution. And these warnings were not lost on the large majority of Democrats in Congress; in fact, 148 Democrats in Congress (125 in the House and 23 in the Senate) saw through the smoke and mirrors, accurately perceived that Bush/Cheney would use the resolution to invade Iraq and voted against the resolution.

Hillary Clinton missed all the clues, took the Republican bait, and made one of the worst foreign policy decisions in modern American history. As recently as December 2005, Clinton wrote a letter to her constituents defending her war vote. While she now favors troop withdrawals, her turn against the war followed the opinion of a majority of Democratic voters by more than two years. Is following public opinion the type of leadership that "experience" produces? If it is, maybe we need less of it.

Clinton fell into the same hawk trap by voting for the Kyl-Lieberman resolution (Obama opposed it), which labeled part of the Iranian national army, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, "a terrorist organization." Aside from the fact that Iran has played a very cautious role in Iraq and seeks a long-term accommodation with the United States in Iraq, labeling the Iranian Revolutionary Guards a "terrorist organization" establishes the pre-conditions for a military attack on Iran, just as Bill Clinton's call for "regime change" in Iraq was the predicate for attacking Iraq. Once Democrats, like Hillary Clinton, label part of the Iranian Army a "terrorist organization," how can they complain when Bush attacks the Guards without appearing weak on "terrorism." The Clintons play chess one move at a time; they simply are no match for Republicans, who see the whole board and plan several moves ahead.

The problem of Clinton's poor instincts on foreign policy is compounded by the hawkish foreign policy advisors she has surrounded herself with, the most important of which are Madeleine Albright, Richard Holbrooke, Lee Feinstein and Sandy Berger. Former Secretary of State Albright is the person of whom Colin Powell's chief of staff, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, once said, "She never met a military option she didn't like. When I worked at Defense, she used to scare us." When Colin Powell urged the new Clinton administration not to bomb Bosnia too hastily, she countered, "What's the use of having his superb military that you're always talking about if we can't use it?" "I thought I would have an aneurysm," Powell would later write.

Perhaps an even more problematic member of the Clinton foreign policy team is Richard Holbrooke, who Clinton insiders say would be the most likely secretary of state in a new Clinton administration. Holbrooke certainly is not short on foreign policy experience, having been an assistant secretary of state for East Asia and ambassador to the United Nations, but his track record should cause all progressives concern. Holbrooke, described by pundits as, "The raging bull of U.S. diplomacy," cultivated and supported Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, supported Indonesia during its brutal occupation of East Timor and backed the generals behind the Kwangyi massacre in South Korea. He supported Bill Clinton's signing a bill calling for "regime change" in Iraq -- the predicate for the Bush/Cheney led invasion. Thanks to Richard and Bill, Bush and Cheney were able to say "regime change in Iraq is American policy." In his last press conference as U.N. ambassador, Holbrooke called Saddam Hussein "a clear and present danger at all times" and said the incoming Bush administration, "will have to deal with this problem." Supported by this push from the Clintons, Bush/Cheney and the neoconservatives were only too happy to oblige. As late as December 2005, with the Iraq war collapsing around Bush/Cheney, when asked what he recommended in Iraq, Holbrooke responded, "I'm not prepared to lay out a detailed policy or strategy." Holbrooke provides lots of experience and a great resume but outstandingly bad judgment.

Lee Feinstein is rumored to be in line for the critical position of National Security Advisor in a new Clinton administration. Like many Clinton foreign policy advisors, Feinstein enthusiastically supported invading Iraq, and in April 2003, shortly after the invasion, confidently assured CNN that "U.S. forces over time will find weapons of mass destruction and also find evidence of programs to build weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq, even when it was becoming apparent they would not. Feinstein expanded his theories of unilateral, pre-emptive intervention in an article he co-authored in Foreign Affairs, where he championed the "duty to prevent." He argued that the United States should try to build coalitions, but that it can attack sovereign nations without support from allies. He went even further, arguing that Bush's controversial, and internationally illegal, doctrine of preemptive war "does not go far enough." The logic of his argument would be that his concept of widespread violations of international law is crucial to strengthening international law. We see, once again, that deep foreign policy experience is serving the Clinton advisors so well.

Other top Clinton foreign policy advisors, such as Kenneth Pollack, Jack Keane and Michael O'Hanlon, strongly supported President Bush's troop surge in Iraq. This could be why, during Bush's recent State of the Union address, when Bush claimed that the surge was a success, Clinton stood and cheered while Obama remained seated and silent.

It should be noted that not every one of Clinton's foreign policy advisors is a stone-cold hawk. Gen. Wesley Clark and former ambassador Joseph Wilson have nuanced understandings of foreign policy, and neither supported the war in Iraq. Clark, in particular, understands not only the uses of military power but also its limitations. I hope he will serve an important role in the next Democratic administration, regardless of who wins the presidency. Experience is not always disabling.

In contrast to Clinton, in the critical months prior to the launch of the war in 2003, with public opinion running strongly in favor of invading Iraq, Obama openly challenged the Bush administration's exaggerated claims and astutely predicted that a war in Iraq would lead to an increase of Islamic extremism, terrorism and regional instability, as well as a decline in respect for America throughout the world. Obama is a case study of good judgment trumping a resume.

While nearly all of Clinton's stable of foreign policy advisors were strong supporters of Bush's invasion of Iraq, almost every one of Obama's foreign policy team opposed the U.S. invasion. Obama advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security advisor, warned that the international community would consider invasion of a nation that posed no threat to the United States to be an illegal act of aggression. Bzezinski said "without a respected and legitimate law enforcer, global security could be in serious jeopardy." Another key foreign policy advisor to Obama, Joseph Cirincione, argued that containing Saddam already had been achieved, saying, "Saddam Hussein is effectively incarcerated and under watch by a force that could respond immediately and devastatingly to any aggression."

While Clinton and most of her advisors have been strong supporters of virtually unlimited defense spending, some of Obama's key advisors, like Lawrence Korb, have expressed serious concerns about the enormous waste from excessive defense spending. While most of Clinton's advisors, like Madeleine Albright and Sandy Berger, have been strong supporters of globalization, some even being architects of it, Obama's advisors have raised questions. Susan Rice, an Obama advisor and an expert on Africa in the Clinton administration, has emphasized how globalization has led to uneven development that has contributed to destabilization and extremism.

Stephen Zunes, a foreign policy analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus, comparing Sens. Clinton and Obama, has written:

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Can John Edwards Pass the Leadership Test?

John Edwards ran a campaign of integrity and ideas, which he and his supporters can be very proud of. He spoke for a tradition of populist progressivism, which long has had too few advocates. He spoke of a need to change America, to change America's priorities. But now that he has bowed to the inevitable fact that the Democratic Presidential candidate will be Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, the question becomes, "Can John Edwards pass the test of leadership?"

Can he provide direction to the 15% of Democrats who supported him in the primaries? Can he use this moment in time, this opportunity, to advance the causes he believes in? Can he support the candidate who more closely represents his ideals, or will he be cautious, unwilling to choose, unwilling to lead?

There can be no doubt that ideologically John Edwards stands closer to Barack Obama than to Hillary Clinton. This was evident in the Democratic presidential debates. Despite the successes of Edwards and Obama in life and politics, both are true political outsiders -- mavericks in a sea of conventional wisdom.

Indeed, the Clintons not only represent the status quo, they embody one of the Americas John Edwards so eloquently described -- the well-connected, powerful, prosperous America which is doing well, which has benefited by globalization, which has secure jobs. This is the America the Clintons courted and pandered to during Bill Clinton's presidency, and which they continue to represent. This is the America of special interests, which is as comfortable with the Clintons as with Republicans. But it is not the other America that John Edwards spoke so passionately about.

Certainly, there must be the temptation for Edwards to step back and let the two remaining combatants battle it out. This path offers Edwards the easy option of hedging his bets, perhaps in the hope that he will retain credibility with the ultimate winner and be able to advance his issues, and, dare I say it, his own interests after the election.

On examination, however, this path offers Edwards nothing at all. Let's assume -- and I think it is a fair assumption -- that, for the reasons stated above, there is no chance Edwards would endorse Clinton and that the choice he faces is endorsing no one or endorsing Obama. If he stands mute and Clinton wins, she will owe him nothing and she will not even be interested in his concerns; the best he will get is a courtesy lunch or a sub-Cabinet position in a non-critical department. On the other hand, if he fails to help Obama now, when help is most important, the leverage he will have with a victorious Obama would be much diminished than what it is now -- such is the essence of politics, a brutal blood sport. On the other hand, should Edwards see the wisdom of endorsing Obama now, his leverage would be greater than it will ever be and he can deal for commitments to support his poverty agenda, and perhaps even for an important position in an Obama Administration.

Surely I am not the first to think of John Edwards as Attorney General and if Obama were to make such a commitment, it would be no sell-out of values because John Edwards not only is eminently qualified to be AG, he may well be the most qualified Democratic attorney in America to be AG in a Democratic Administration.

I supported John Edwards in the 2004 Democratic primaries and donated to his campaign this time around. I have watched him grow in stature as a politician since the day in June 2003 when he appeared at an event at my house to explain to me and 75 other Democrats who he was and what he stood for. He ran a great campaign in 2004 and he ran a better one this time, but it was just not to be. But having come as far as he has come, he is not done.

He owes it to his supporters, to progressive Democrats, to all Democrats, and to all the voiceless people he speaks for to provide leadership and direction about what direction this country should go and who should lead them as the Democratic Presidential nominee in 2008. Silence, or none of the above, should not be an option.

AlterNet is a non profit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed by our writers are their own.

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