REPUBLICAN PARTY GOES OFF THE DEEP END
By Don C. Reed
Watching the Trump Republican convention was not encouraging for the future of democracy.
My worries began with the denial of the "Conscience Amendment". Instead of allowing a state-by-state roll-call vote on whether or not a delegate could vote his/her own mind, the announcer called a for a voice vote, and then made his own judgment as to who won--unsurprisingly, it was the Trump position.
I did enjoy seeing former Presidential candidate Bob Dole, a man always deserving of respect. Over the years he has taken positions with which I differed, but I never felt waves of hate emanating from him, as from so many of the Trump-ites now.
Willie Robertson, the Duck Dynasty man, struck me as a cheerful conman who could sell ice to an Eskimo. A lot of personality, but he rang false when he said Democrats could not talk to "ordinary people" (presumably multi-millionaires like himself and billionaire Donald Trump).
I wonder if Mr. Robertson himself actually knows any Democrats. We are the "ordinary" people. Look at our membership, the poor and the middle class; too many Republicans identify with the one per cent, the owner class -- the rich and super-rich -- and support policies which benefit the wealthy.
I watched the soldiers strut and growl, as young soldiers often do, and remembered my own time in the Army, during the Viet Nam war. I enlisted for three years, though thankfully I served my time stateside -- but what of Donald Trump's service record? He managed to avoid serving his country, with a series of student and medical deferrals.
I expect a certain amount of nonsense from any political gathering--that's natural.
But there are limits, or at least there should be.
Instead of offering a positive prescription for America, Donald Trump's convention threw seemingly endless accusations against Hillary Clinton.
One poor woman, Patricia Smith, got roaring applause when she blamed Secretary Clinton for the death of her son, who died serving his country in Benghazi. Ms. Smith was obviously in agony. But that did not make her right.
After a while I had enough of hate and insults, which appeared to be the purpose of the convention.
When I turned the TV off, it felt like stepping out of a roomful of flames.
Remember when Donald Trump was supposed to be something fresh and new, the incorruptible non-politician -- a multi-billionaire who would finance his own campaign?
It should have been a clue when he gave up that promise and started taking donations from anybody with anybody with a checkbook.
In June the supposed self-funder raised $51 million in campaign donations.
But who would the alleged outsider pick for his vice President? That would tell us if he was a member of the establishment or not. Newt Gingrich? Absolutely intelligent, Gingrich knows how the system works, for good or ill. And Chris Christie, like him or not, is an extraordinarily loyal soldier for Trump.
But who did Trump choose? The most establishment Republican available: Indiana Governor Mike Pence.
Pence is famous for his connections with the billionaire Koch Brothers, the very symbol of dark money in politics.
A soft-talking smoothie, Pence had his own conservative talk radio show, which he described as "Limbaugh without the caffeine".
Consider his stance on just one issue, stem cell research.
I support stem cell research strongly, because my son Roman Reed was paralyzed in a college football accident, 22 years ago.
Roman was the inspiration for a California law, the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act of 1999.
Just a few days ago, Roman helped a newly paralyzed young man be considered for inclusion in an FDA-approved stem cell clinical trial.
Embryonic stem cells ( "blank checks" which can turn into any cell of the body) were made into nerve-wrapping oligodendrocytes, and injected into the young man's spinal cord. This is a phase 2 trial, primarily for safety, but with enough of the injected cells to hopefully restore some useful function as well.
This was the approach invented by Hans Keirstead, Ph.D, on a grant from the Roman Reed Act. It won't help Roman, because it is only for new injuries.
But it is a genuine beginning, perhaps the foundation for an actual cure.
In 2009, President Obama loosened the Bush stem cell restrictions. Roman and his mother Gloria and I were in the room when it happened, as was Bob Klein who led Proposition 71 and the California stem cell program, and a rowdy cheerful bunch of scientists.
But Mike Pence? That same year, he used his powers to try and block federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.
I went to bed. I don't think I missed very much, except for Mr. Giuliani's chest-thumping account of how he saved New York (I am still not sure from whom) and how he and Donald Trump would save us all from terrorists.
But why wait? If either Mr. Trump or Giuliani has an idea on how to prevent these horrific killings, it is their duty to speak up. If it is just empty political nonsense, of course, that is something else, and we won't expect anything from them.
In the morning I saw that Mrs. Trump (or her speechwriters) may have copied part of her speech from First Lady Michelle Obama. Well, whoever plagiarized it, at least he/she knew enough to steal from an outstanding person.
We Democrats have been lucky in our leaders.
When his term in office ends, I will miss the intelligence and elegance of President Barrack Obama: also, he is a kind and caring man.
But still I am excited for the day when Hillary takes charge. I am eager to see what she will do to fight campaign corruption; to end the suffering of eleven million Mexican-Americans who need and deserve a path to citizenship; how she will fight racism and inequality; to insure the rich pay their fair share of taxes, and that no one is allowed to poison the water we drink or the air we breathe -- and that medical research goes forward for the 117 million Americans who endure chronic disease or disability.
But the Republican party? Sadly, it has gone off the deep end.
And Donald J. Trump is dragging it down.