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The politics of unctuous incongruency


Practical Politics

No, this is not about Trump and his nefarious escapades, though it could be.

He and they would certainly fit the definition of our topic for today—greasy,  slippery inconsistencies. But the various court cases he’s starring in lately will be self-evident. Already, the presiding judge in his massive New York real estate fraud case has entered a summary judgment that Trump and his family have been defrauding the city and state of New York for a long time, and the only real question yet to answer in that case is the amount and extent of the appropriate damages Trump will have to pay. Will it be $250 million plus, including a lifetime ban on Trump business dealings in New York state?

No, today we are closer to home. Our topic is the appointment of Laphonza Butler–temporary though it may be–as U.S. Senator for California. She will become only the second African American woman to hold that significant position. Why her?

Her bona fides include substantial leadership of a major branch of the SEIU union in California, membership on the University of California Board of Regents, president/chair of Emily’s List, a public organization that works to elect Democratic women into office who support abortion rights, and, as a practicing lesbian, she is a leading advocate for LGBTQ+ rights in the state and elsewhere. She does not come to this position unprepared or untested.

The clapback, however, is that Gov. Newsom had promised to appoint a Black female political figure to replace Senator Feinstein were she to leave office before her term ended in 2024. Senator Feinstein died in office last week.

The political talk around the state was that Newsom would appoint long-time Rep. Barbara Lee from Northern California (Oakland) to the newly-opened seat. But he apparently changed his mind after announcing his intended choice a few months ago, now saying that to appoint anyone who intended to run for the full-time senate seat would be putting his hand on the scale and not letting politics take its own course.

However, very recently he also said that whoever he appointed could actually run for the full-time senatorial position if she wanted. Very interestingly, however, the senate seat is a plum objective to a lot of well-known politicians, and the Democratic/Republican Party primary for the position is in six months or so (March, 2024). Only the top two candidates coming out of that primary, regardless of political party, will be allowed to run in the general election in November, 2024.

Any candidate other than those already well-known would have a very difficult time campaigning into a significant polling position to contest for the seat. Besides that, the new appointee—Ms. Butler—will have to spend all that time and more to learn the ropes of being a current U.S. Senator, especially the only Black female one, and will constantly be under a news microscope. Sometimes it’s hard to keep count when it's not your own numbers you’re counting.

There’ll be a constellation of California political stars in the running for what amounts to an open U.S. Senate seat for 2024. Already running is Congressman Adam Schiff, a star during Trump’s impeachment trials. He had already announced that he would run for Senator Feinstein’s seat whenever it was up for grabs, as had Rep. Barbara Lee and Katie Porter. Heavy hitters all. So, when Gov. Newsome chose an outsider, he did not uncomplicate the issue in the least.

We are all in for a wild political ride joining the political maelstrom already promised for the next 18 months or so. For political junkies these will be heady days.

For the rest of us, ahhhh, more political drama, intrigue and unpleasantness galore. Just California Streaming.

Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.

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