One Cult, Two Cult, Red Cult, Blue Cult

When Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), hand to Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clark) in “Game of Thrones,” announced her arrival he made sure no title was omitted.  They included:

  • Princess of Dragonstone
  • Queen of the Andals and the First Men
  • Protector of the Seven Kingdoms,
  • Mother of Dragons,
  • Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea
  • Breaker of Chains

Not only is that a lot of power and responsibility for one person, the likelihood of one individual possessing all the skills needed to successfully fulfill each and every one of those responsibilities challenges one’s imagination.  And as was the case in Daenerys’ kingdom, unquestioned loyalty was the expectation.

Which brings us to the pending contest between Donald Trump and Joe Biden for president of the United States.  Trump has been compared to many historic figures from Jesus among his supporters to Hitler and Mussolini by his detractors.  Let me add Daenerys Targaryen, though fictional, to the list.  Trump wants us to believe he is:

  • Once and future monarch of the United States
  • Victim of the Deep State
  • Master of Real Estate
  • Purveyor of the Scripture
  • Perpetual Curator of Classified Documents
  • Champion of the Masses
  • Protector of the Persecuted
  • Speaker of Truths

This illusion depends on the unequivocal allegiance of a cult of followers who accept his word as gospel and criticism as “fake news.”

However, we need to recognize the evolution of an imperial presidency, thanks in part to the timidity of Congress to exercise its Article I authority and activism by Supreme Court justices who claim to be “originalists,” except when it does not serve their ideological purposes.  Which means every occupant of the Oval Office, has become, to some extent, a Daenerys-like, cult leader in terms of responsibilities and titles.  For example, Joe Biden is currently:

  • Chief Executive of the United States
  • Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces
  • Leader of the Free World
  • Guardian of the Constitution
  • Titular Head of the Democratic Party

On top of all that, in an election year, he is expected to be a master orator and debater.  Finding a single individual with the skill set to cover every one of these roles is next to impossible.  Which is why, when either American political party finds something they believe can answer the call, that person necessarily takes on a cult-like persona.

Which brings me to the purpose of this post.  The past few entries have focused on options to defeat Donald Trump if Biden decides to bow out of the campaign.  Today, I want to explore how the Biden/Harris ticket, despite the growing pessimism, can pull off a decisive victory.  The proposed campaign strategy is based on two distinct observations in the past five days. 

First, based on the rejection of far-right extremists in Great Britain and France, this should not be a contest between Biden and Trump.  The Democrats need to look at the election as though America also has a parliamentary form of government.  We know Trump will lie.  And as he just did, disavowing “Project 2025,” he will try and make voters believe he is not the right-wing radical the Democrats portray him to be.  To undercut his lies, Democrats should shift the focus away from what voters already know about Trump and run against MAGA, the Heritage Foundation, evangelical extremists and the Federalist Society.  Here is the message.

  • Donald Trump says he is not a Christian Nationalist, but people in his inner circle believe he is.
  • Donald Trump says he is not a white supremacist, but people in his inner circle believe he is.
  • Donald Trump says he opposes a national abortion ban, but people in his inner circle believe he will sign one into law.
  • Donald Trump says he is for hard-working American families, but people in his inner circle support extension of tax cuts for the one percent and major corporations.
  • Donald Trump has no idea what he would do about climate change, but people in his inner circle believe it is not a problem and would repeal Biden administration laws and regulations which address the issue.
  • Donald Trump now says he will not go after his political opponents, but people in his inner circle believe he must and will.
  • Donald Trump says he will appoint justices to the Supreme Court who honor the Constitution, but people in his inner circle applaud the activist justices he has already appointed and want him to pack the court with more Alitos and Thomases.
  • Donald Trump says he believes in First Amendment Freedoms, but people in his inner circle are all too ready to run the country in accordance with their religion, ban books and cancel the broadcast licenses of media outlets which criticize their leader.

The kicker, of course, is the fact these people in his inner circle will not only make up the 3,000 Schedule C political appointments to which all presidents are entitled, but also the 50,000 civil servants Trump promises to replace with political loyalists.  And there are people, like “Project 2025” director Kevin Roberts, who promise a “new revolution.”  The lesson from the recent elections in Europe is that a majority of the British and French voters rejected parties that emulated MAGA in terms of domestic and foreign policy.  It had little or anything to do with the party leaders’ personalities.  The Biden campaign should, therefore, focus on policy, not personalities.

Ironically, the second part of this strategy emerged as I was researching who might be a good Republican running mate if Kamala Harris was at the top of the ticket.  My choice of Lisa Murkowski was greatly influenced when I pulled up her Senate web page.  A banner at the top of the home page reads, “Over $8.2 Billion in funding through the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act and counting!”  Were there similar banners on the home pages for California Governor Gavin Newsom, Michigan Governor Gretchen Witmer, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers or Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro?  No, no, no and no!  Why not?  There should be lottery-like billboards in every battleground state that provide running totals of Biden/Democratic investments and net new jobs.  Every speech by an incumbent governor or member of Congress should begin with a status report of such investment and how many citizens of their respective states or districts have health insurance under ADA.  Or how many seniors are saving more than $300 per insulin injection.  Let the presidential ticket focus on the existential difference between the two parties’ policies and visions of the future.  Leave bragging about accomplishments to the folks closest to the voters.

When Brits ousted the Conservatives last Thursday, they did not vote for Keir Starmer.  They rejected 14 years of failed isolationist foreign policy and supply-side economics.  And in France, voters did not reject Marine Le Pen.  They spurned what she stood for.  Thinking of the November election in parliamentary terms has one additional benefit for Democrats.  It makes no difference whether Biden or Harris heads the ticket.  The message?  When you vote Democratic you are not voting for an individual.  We do not want you to be a cult beholden to any standard bearer. We want you to vote for an idea, an idea that has served America well for 248 years.  An idea based on the founding documents.  An idea that is too precious to risk on a party that believes we need a new revolution.

For what it’s worth.

5 thoughts on “One Cult, Two Cult, Red Cult, Blue Cult

  1. Yep. Policy details now. This is a list of what Project 2025 intends to attack. Murkowski is one good idea. I also like the present Secretary of Commerce, Gena Raimondo, Gretchen Whitmer, and – god forbid – Adam Schmidt with Liz Cheney. Reality – drill down this link. And drill down in the Chapter links within the Project 2025 manifesto itself. Reveille.,system%20of%20checks%20and%20balances/,

  2. Kudos. And dittos of all the comments posted. As I read this, I was thinking that this post in particular deserves a broader
    (How about “Guest Opinion” piece for NY Times or Washington Post. You’ve certainly got “the cred”, Doc. Really, I’m serious!)

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