Only a Bold Stroke...

September, 2016

Washington -- As a political scientist, I have a crystal ball that tells me the Clinton campaign's strategy of relying excessively on demographics and identity politics will not win the 2016 presidential election. As a person who has worked in government and politics at every level over five decades, I have a second crystal ball that shows Trump winning, assisted by free media exposure he has cleverly turned to his advantage. As a person who has tried to think ahead by prudent planning, I have a third crystal ball that shows a colossal crisis looming from day one of a Trump presidency as he throws government into turmoil by issuing previously unimaginable executive orders that challenge what we hold dear as the American way of life.

When these three crystal balls agree, the outcome seems inevitable. I see only one event that would smash these visions. It is a Bold Stroke by the Clinton campaign to change the dynamics of the campaign in her favor, and for her as a consequence to win impressively as the media moves on to a new and compelling story.

The Bold Stroke I have in mind is for Clinton to focus on the failure of our politics and our political parties, and to offer solutions to begin taking effect on her election. The failure of our politics is the common denominator of discontent throughout the country. What has brought us to this frightening point in history are not the usual differences over our economy or our foreign policy. Rather, it is the year-after-year failure -- with no end in sight -- of politicians and parties to put the national interest first, through respectful debate and compromise, ahead of themselves and their narrow interests, be they right, left, center, or personal. It is the selfish exploitation of our country's institutions that depend on comity and goodwill to operate effectively that has the country's electorate so desperate for leadership even the whiff of fascism seems refreshing to a growing share of voters.

With a Bold Stroke Clinton would propose a change, through her election, in both political parties. She would offer nothing less than a re-alignment of the two parties so as to be able to break out of the current stalemate.

As president, she would be the leader of the Democratic Party and would bring it back closer to its roots as champion of the working class, a move that would be welcomed by former Democrats who have left the party out of concern that it has become elitist and dependent on Wall Street money.

To change the Republican Party, she would use the presidency to reward Republican cooperation to move legislation. To do this, she would enlist the two most recent Republican nominees for president, Mitt Romney and John McCain, to identify areas of cooperation and compromise in the best Republican traditions of presidents like Abraham Lincoln (infrastructure and education), Theodore Roosevelt (foreign policy and environment), and Dwight Eisenhower (decency). In the process they would drive out the dangerous party fringes and those who love to hate. Clinton would make reform of our politics her highest priority and name Romney, McCain, Vice President Kaine (a man respected by both parties), and herself to a committee of four to move ahead with an agenda that likely would include immediately passing a huge, job-creating infrastructure bill, an immigration bill based on McCain-Bush, and perhaps legislation in obvious areas of common concern such as anti-hacking. The results of their work would be highlighted in the first state-of-the-union message.

Would it work? Could the party caucus strangleholds be broken in Congress? Of course. They collapsed in the Spring of 1981 under far less demanding circumstances, to give one example where I watched it happen.

Would Romney and McCain agree to do it? My fourth crystal ball is clarifying -- yes. Hell, they might even propose it.

Edith Schwartz Clements, Redux

September, 2016

Lincoln -- Among the more popular posts that have appeared in these pages is one about Edith Schwartz Clements, whom I nominated for the Nebraska Hall of Fame in 2012. This week alone the 2013 post has had more than two dozen hits. It has had hundreds of hits over the years.

Since that post appeared, Edith Clements has been the subject of an excellent new Wikipedia entry. New biographical sketches of her have also started appearing online, such as those here and here. Older biographical entries in professional journals are also becoming available online. Her papers are with her husband's at the American Heritge Center, University of Wyoming.

It is deeply satisfying to know there is still interest in the life and work of Edith Clements. Someone should write a full biography of both the Clementses, or a movie script, or an opera.