DON’T TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE BALL

1. It’s Thursday, February 18, 2016.

2. I’m not falling for it. All this talk that America has a chance to shift to the left. Peter Beinart’s long-winded article in The Atlantic. Today’s Times online piece on how the nominee who replaces Antonin Scalia could shift the court in a more liberal direction. 

As someone who expected liberalism to emerge triumphant in the 60s, after Nixon resigned in disgrace, as a reaction to the excesses of the Reagan years, I’m incredibly skeptical that there will be a liberal lean in our nation in my lifetime.

Yes, the Obama years have provided some great moments. Health care reform. Recovery from a would-be depression. A more reasonable foreign policy. Increased investment in alternative energy that is contributing to the fact that it’s easy to find gas under $2 a gallon (Remember when conservatives were keeping tabs on how long gas was over $3 in the Obama years? I don’t hear about that much any more.)

3. But the red states remain the red states. And mere conservatives and those even further to the right of them are fighting a scorched earth campaign against liberal progress.

The Scalia seat fight is just one skirmish. The gall exhibited by Republicans in Congress and on the campaign trail in denying President Obama’s right to appoint a successor should be shocking. It’s not. It’s par for the course for these people.

4. Since day one of his administration, the right has tried to deny Obama’s legitimacy. He wasn’t really born here. He isn’t really Christian. He’s violated his Constitutional oath. He hates America. He wants to take the nation to second-class status.

And what these people who attack Obama are really doing is sticking their middle finger at the 65.9 million people, 51% of those who actually took the trouble, who cast their vote for this man on Nov. 6, 2012.

5. If you believe liberalism is ascendant, you believe that Bernie Sanders can win the presidency on Nov. 8.

You’re crazy. If, by some chance, Sanders can get past Hillary Clinton and win the Democratic nomination, he will face a smear effort the likes of which will make you shudder. He will be on the defensive on day one for being a tax raiser, for embracing socialism. He will be portrayed as a Communist, as a non-Christian, as a crackpot.

It will never be about the issues in the campaign. It will be about what kind of nut the Democrats got conned into nominating.

And then, even as they now throw haymakers at each other in a way that should embarrass the eventual nominee this fall, the Republicans will triumph. Even with a real joke of a human being such as Donald Trump or Ted Cruz as the nominee.

So much for your shift to the left. So much for changing the Supreme Court. So much for building on Obamacare. So much for avoiding stupid wars in the Middle East, or a rapprochement with Cuba. So much for fixing this nation’s infrastructure. So much for thinking climate change is a real problem.

It’s a dangerous time for those of us who never thought “liberal” was a bad word. We’re being lulled into thinking we can shift the direction of the nation. It might be possible, but it’s not something that’s a given.

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