Curtain Raiser

Choices We’re Born to Make, Colltalers

We may be approaching the most pivotal U.S. election of our times, as you may’ve heard. Americans of all ages, notably women, Latinos, and first-time voters, are putting on a remarkable effort to get people to vote. Except, of course, the Democratic Party.
Just as party minions dream of a blue wave, hopes for even a House turnaround got fairly dim. And it’s no wonder: some of the most crucial issues at stake, gun violence, reproductive rights, wages and the climate, have all had little if any Democrat support.
So, last week when an Eugene, Oregon, judge let a climate change lawsuit against the federal government to proceed, staging a rare win against the administration-revived fossil fuel industry, cheers and optimism were in order. Specially for the 21 children and young adults, and their progressive supporters, who for three years, have been pursuing the suit. Absent: elected Democrats.
They’re still missed as the ‘new’ Supreme Court and its Chief Justice John Roberts, halted it before giving it an expected hearing, on Oct. 29. In the move, perceived as a nod to the administration’s merit less objections, some see a sign of bad things to come.
Also, orphan of support from the party that should be leading every single progressive issue of our times, is Newsweek reporter Jeffrey Stein, who since Jan. wages a legal battle for transparency in the Trump administration’s vetting of the president’s closest advisers. He’s suing multiple federal agencies over the opaque and ultimately flawed approval process of 15 Trump’s nominees.
That’s a record the president won’t boast about: average turnover within the most senior level of White House members – a group he once called the best and the brightest, or something to that effect, probably stolen from somewhere else – is an unprecedented 83%. Of this undesirable bunch, Steve Bannon is likely the busiest: he’s now engaging in destroying democracy in Brazil too.
It’s inexplicable that the Democratic Party is not the least engaged in these two, and many other issues affecting

life for millions of Americans. The Dems were seen last week, but agreeing to confirm 15 more lifetime ‘Republican’ judges picked by Trump.
Meanwhile, teenagers who cannot yet vote have been out all year, in the trenches, fighting for gun controls – over 2,200 teens killed so far this year – without a single high honcho Democrat leader at hand. (Kudos for Senator Bernie Sanders, who as an independent, stood by those children playing adults and being treated as, well, children). That doesn’t bode well for November.
The same about the women’s resistance movement, pretty much on its own defending Roe v Wade and other basic achievements of health care for everyone. A bunch of new, and outraged, faces at the rallies, but no recognizable Democrat leader on sight. No wonder, again, Brett Kavanaugh and dozens of judges faced little scrutiny, and lots of bad theater, getting to national courts.
Like the newest justice, this but conservative wave will be ruling for years to come on issues they’ve shown, or at least did not prove, any specific qualifications, apart from having friends in high places. That includes a useful hand from the Senate minority.
They may argue they’ve been busy fighting the White House’s attempts to dismantle the Robert Muller investigation into the president and his all but proven collusion with Russia. But even taken at face value, this claim doesn’t pass muster. Where are the pointed speeches, blunt interviews, thunderous denunciation of administration efforts to insulate Trump? ‘Angry mob?’ Hardly.
On the contrary: with recent reports of Russian official hackers most likely interfering again with the American electoral system, with potential to alter its results, where can one check a Democrat-driven list of committees, hearings, town hall talks and news conferences calling out the GOP on that and other issues? When will the American people feel they’re not on their own again?
Instead, Democrats are playing Trump’s Twitter game of bait and switch. Every week, they get dragged on by his distracting drivel, played out at full blast by the media, while the Republican Party quietly disenfranchise another thousand of registered voters, here and there, under the cover of their cheerleader role. Why can’t Democrats play similar role for everybody else?
It may be foolish to attribute the multiplication of incidents of open racism and xenophobia, some violent and all senseless, to Trump or Bannon alone. But they both are certainly accountable for them, as blacks, immigrants, the LGBT community and others have been facing a string of acts of intolerance against them, even in pluralist – elitist? – places like Manhattan, New York, NY.
Speaking of Brazil, whoever comes on top on Sunday’s presidential election is already a winner in a land of losers, no offense to hard working, idealistic Brazilians. If, as polls indicate, ultra-right Jair Bolsonaro wins, Trump and that reactionary agenda gets endorsed globally. A massive majority will lose, though, and so will all hopes for the country’s fledgling democracy to survive.
If, contrary to surveys, Workers’ Party candidate, Fernando Haddad, wins, it’s not just the political and religious right that stand to play the losers themselves. Also, people who can’t come to terms with what the party, known as PT, has done to remain in power. For many, it was enough to compromise ideals of the left, and put a damper in Brazil’s years of world projection under it.
Voting is compulsory and takes place on Sundays in Brazil, so expect a higher turnout than what we’re used to in the U.S. 147 millions, out of 209 million Brazilians, are eligible to vote, and a single majority of 51% of votes will dictate the winner.
Even losing, however, the PT has already, or is back at having, the most congressmen: eight of 81 Senators and 56 out of 513 Representatives. Such place atop the food chain is cheered or jeered by supporters and detractors alike, but makes the party the most powerful player in the country’s politics, despite having its leader, former two-term president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, in jail.
A last word about the gruesome murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the disturbing stream of news and revelations associated with it. Above all, how someone as rich and drunk with power like Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has the gall to blatantly lie to the world that he had no part on it. It’s painful to admit but only a bigger liar like the U.S. president to buy it.
The youth of America, the global women’s movement, and the immense array of activists and networks pushing back against this stench of murderous racism and ideological intolerance threatening to choke the air we all breathe, have showed us all the way.
Brazilians, please don’t make the same mistake as many Americans made, conflating Hillary Clinton and Trump as being one and the same. Like the deluded, history will judge you harshly. Reality has more than proved how the world would be now a totally different place had the U.S. majority prevailed in 2016. Next Sunday, vote for democracy, #ELENUNCA. Let’s roll. WC

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