Appointments in Kenosha

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Dr. Malcolm Cross

Kenosha, Wisconsin, has become the epicenter of the 2020 race for the presidency as the issue of law and order grows in importance.  Both Donald Trump and Joe Biden showed as much by going to Kenosha last week.   Of the two candidates, Biden has the greater need to handle the issue well.  Trump has the greater probability of success.  Neither has yet emphasized what can be done to reduce the violence following the conclusion of the election, or whether he can cope with the challenges of making our cities more livable.

Biden’s greater need stems from the fact that the more concerned Americans become with law and order, the less likely they’re willing to trust Democrats with its maintenance.  This may well be considered ancient history, but a case in point is that of 1968, when America was roiling with racial and anti-war riots.  Hubert Humphrey, the Democratic presidential nominee won less than 43% of the popular vote.  Richard Nixon won just over 43%.  But he would probably have won far more votes had it not been for the presence of Alabama governor George Wallace running as a third-party candidate for President.  Wallace, like Nixon, advocated “law and order” in contrast to Humphrey’s call for “order and justice.”  Together, the two law and order candidates won 57% of the vote.

A look at more modern history supports this point.  My favorite opinion journal, the conservative National Review, has noted that in 2016 polls showed Hillary Clinton leading Trump in Wisconsin by margins raging 8% to 15%, but her support began to drop after a race riot in Milwaukee following a police shooting.  Trump ultimately carried Wisconsin.

So, argues the National Review, Biden had to do what Trump did in 2016 and Hillary did not—actually go to Wisconsin.  Biden hopes, not unreasonably, that a visit showing his concerns will reduce the degree to which Post-Kenosha public opinion may begin to shift to Trump.  But will this be enough?  Biden has a tightrope to walk.  On the one hand, he must show he supports law and order and condemn violence as vigorously as Trump does.  If he’s successful, he may yet win the moderate White “suburban housewives” who could tip the outcome of the election one way or another.  But his law and order stance must avoid offending those on the left of the political spectrum.  Otherwise, while they won’t support Trump, they may decide to stay home in November.

Trump right now is in a stronger position. He may have to effectively answer Biden’s charges that he’s been fanning the flames of racial unrest for the past 3 years.  But the continuing economic recovery, with more jobs and a declining unemployment rate, is strengthening his overall position. He’s trailing Biden in Wisconsin, but not by as much as he was trailing Clinton in 2016.  He can more easily make up the public opinion deficit with his strong endorsement of the police.    Moreover, he can point to a fact which Democrats must find most embarrassing:  Most of the cities in which the protests and riots have been occurring are led by Democratic mayors.  Baltimore’s last elected Republican Mayor left office in 1967; Chicago’s in 1931; Detroit’s in 1962; Minneapolis’s in in 1961; Portland’s in 1956; Rochester, New York’s in 1973; Seattle’s in 1969; and St. Louis’s in 1949.  One can ask why, in all these years of Democratic-led city government more hasn’t been done to alleviate the conditions giving rise to Black rage.

In fairness to the Democrats, it must be admitted that there’s frequently less to the power of city governments, whether run by Democrats or Republicans, than meets the eye.  Some mayors have the power to be relatively effective political and governmental leaders, while others head governments in which most other major executives are either independently elected or appointed by city councils.  And all cities are really administrative subdivisions of the states in which they’re located.  As such, their powers are frequently limited by state constitutions and laws which tell them what taxes they can collect at what rates, how their funds are to be spent, and what programs they can or cannot pursue.  Nonetheless, one can fairly ask why the Mayor of Portland refused to help restore order at the beginning of his city’s unrest, when protesters and rioters first began to threaten federal facilities there last summer (like the Mayor of St. Louis, he’s fled his home as the protesters now target him for violence).  What does it say about the judgment of the Mayor of Seattle, who dismissed early lawlessness as simply meaning Seattle was about to experience a “Summer of Love?”  And what can be said about the decision of the Mayor of Rochester, New York, to cover up the most recently revealed police-related atrocity—the suffocation of a mentally ill Black man last March?

Both Biden and Trump have their challenges—Biden, to maintain his lead, Trump, to regain it.  How each candidate addresses the emerging issue of law and order is critical.  But whatever challenges each candidate faces over the next two months will shrink in significance compared to the challenge the winner will face come next January 20:  How to actually make our cities more livable, restore law and order, and promote justice as well.


Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present).  He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014.  He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.

4 Comments

  1. Home » Blog » The Apocryphal Twain » The Apocryphal Twain: “When the rich rob the poor, it’s called business.”

    THE APOCRYPHAL TWAIN: “WHEN THE RICH ROB THE POOR, IT’S CALLED BUSINESS.”
    Posted on December 28, 2016 by Matt Seybold
    There is perhaps no greater testament to Twain’s lasting reputation than the habitual misattribution of miscellaneous wit and wisdom to his name. The circulation of such apocryphal aphorisms was common enough in the 20th century. It has only increased with the popularization of digital media. The most common question addressed to the Center for Mark Twain Studies is some variety of “Did he really say that?” Whenever possible, we track down the original source, as well as attempt to trace how their words came to be imagined in Twain’s mouth.

    “When the rich rob the poor, it’s called business. When the poor fight back, it’s called violence.” – The Apocryphal Twain

    There are, of course, many things we wish Mark Twain would’ve said. And this aphorism, with its elegant structure, and its biting cynicism certainly sounds like Twain, particularly early polemics like “Open Letter to Commodore Vanderbilt” (1869) and The Gilded Age (1873). It is not terribly difficult to find instances of Twain skewering the rich, even after he counted himself one of them. As late as 1906, he recast the opening lines of his “Revised Catechism” (1871) as “the gospel left behind by Jay Gould,” the gist of which was, “Get money. Dishonestly if you can, honestly if you must. But, by any means, get money.” This witticism, clearly one of Twain’s favorites, was a poetic inversion of something Judge Frederick Loew said in 1868.

    But I digress.

    The above aphorism seems so apt to contemporary political debates because it came from them. It was not associated with Twain until October of last year. The first specious attribution I tracked down was made on the Facebook page for The Birds of Paradise, an independent film about “psychic hipsters” involved in Occupy Wall Street.
    facebook-apocryphal
    The film, according to IMDB, is still in pre-production, but its subject provides insight into the quote’s true origin. I will not speculate as to a single, reliable source, but it is apparent that it began circulating on social media in the weeks just before the Occupy protests, which began on September 17, 2011. The earliest iteration I found was this one (on Twitter):

    When the rich rob from the poor, it’s called business, but when the poor fight back, it’s called violence.

    — Alfred Remulla (@alfredremulla_) September 10, 2011

    As the protests persisted, the slogan would appear on signs and, on at least one occasion, be chanted by demonstrators:

    apocryphal-2
    It would be picked up by sympathizers around the world, attributed to Priyanka Ghandi and Drake, among others, but, for the next four years, never to Twain.

    This quote deserves to have its anonymity preserved. As a genuinely crowdsourced piece of collective wisdom, rather than just another sharp jab from America’s favorite satirist, it speaks much more directly to the inequality and injustice it describes, as well as the idealism of the Occupy movement.

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  2. Or how bout this as you Republicans are control freaks lets only allow the Active Duty military vote and American citizens with a DD-214 from having served in U.S. Armed Service. I have one Dr. Cross do you? Just allow “losers” and “suckers” vote Professor.

  3. https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-admitted-to-bob-woodward-that-he-downplayed-the-coronavirus-and-there-are-tapes?utm_source=web_push

    Trump Admitted to Woodward That He Downplayed the Coronavirus. And There Are Tapes.
    ON THE RECORD
    In a series of interviews from spring 2020, the president showed his understanding of just how deadly the coronavirus truly is—all while publicly downplaying its severity.

    Justin Baragona
    Contributing Editor
    Updated Sep. 09, 2020 12:15PM ET / Published Sep. 09, 2020 12:13PM ET

    Weeks before the first confirmed U.S. case of the coronavirus, President Donald Trump admitted to legendary investigative journalist Bob Woodward that he knew the virus was airborne, highly contagious, and “more deadly than even your strenuous flus.”

    And weeks later, as he declared a national emergency over the outbreak, Trump confessed to Woodward that he “wanted to always play it down,” and “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

    Those comments—which stand in contrast to Trump’s repeated insistence that the virus will merely “disappear”—are among many revealed in Woodward’s upcoming book Rage, due out September 15. CNN obtained the audio recordings of Trump making the remarks in on-record chats with the journalist.

    So Dr we lost 10’s of thousands because the man you voted for didn’t want to prepare Americans for the scientific truth to the educated mature Americans as you Republicans worship money so you can control. And twice your party Dr has abused the working class by using the Laffer Curve under Reagan and just with Trumps tax cut…

    https://qz.com/895785/laffer-curve-everything-trump-and-republicans-get-wrong-about-trickle-down-economics-and-reaganomics/

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffreydorfman/2017/01/08/a-little-laffer-curve-reality-should-guide-republican-tax-reform/?fbclid=IwAR3w1RhQUlufmL4bEUKz1CX6MA1M_WzmrkgZVQDR1F46xYrwyRygx5pARmA#d278e7f2e618

  4. I guess our cut-and-paste propagandist is back filling up the comment pages again….You would think they would create their own blog rather than hijack someone else’s page. These comments don’t even match the topic on this page.

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