The rise of Kamala Harris in polls showing Democratic favorites for president should come as no surprise. If she ever tempers her radical stances and stops invoking race into every issue, she will pose the biggest challenge to President Trump. That, as they say, is a big if. With her appealing manner, she certainly has the potential to lure minority and female voters. Though she still trails Joe Biden by a considerable margin, her performance in the first round of debates helped elevate Harris. Once Biden self-destructs, as he likely will do, the race may very well belong to Harris.

It is puzzling, nonetheless, that she invoked busing as a theme in her opposition to Biden’s admittance that, as a young Senator, he cooperated with segregationists in Congress during the 1970s. Busing has an unfavorable image for most Americans, black or white.

Biden’s staying power, thus far, speaks to his status as a less-radical, safe candidate to moderate Dems.

The in-fighting between moderate Democrats and the party’s increasing radical voices doesn’t look to subside any time soon. When egos are involved, as they invariably are in politics, rifts never die easily.

Increasingly, as primaries begin and the race begins to sort itself out, the choice for Democrats will come down to one consideration—which one has the better chance to defeat Trump. Given the party’s lurch to the far left, that may prove daunting. Nonetheless, that single issue—taking Trump out—will ultimately unite Dems.

Good to see the World Cup victory by the U.S. Women’s Team. It’s always uplifting to see American teams thrive in international competition. Too bad the celebration and potential White House visit have devolved into nasty politics. It’s past time for that type of divisive nonsense to end.

Due to the recent floods and disruptive weather events, meteorologist Joe Bastardi has often been interviewed on television. Bastardi, by the way, is a critic of the global warming hysteria and the grandstanding that follows extreme weather. With a book on the topic (“The Climate Chronicles”), he’s definitely a voice crying in the wilderness, but you have to admire his spunk given the zealots who stand in the pulpit of global warming.

A recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal (“An Education Horror Show”) highlighted the chronic woes faced by the school system in Providence, Rhode Island. That system should serve as a warning cry to every progressive do-gooder looking to make a mark in public education. According to the editorial: “One culprit are policies that discourage student discipline. Rhode Island Democrats in 2016 passed legislation backed by the American Civil Liberties Union that limits school suspensions, which progressives claim discriminate against minorities. Teachers are reluctant to punish students, and violence and misconduct make it harder to retain good teachers.”

You have to hand it to Nike. The folks in charge certainly know how to stay relevant and gain publicity. The recent brouhaha involving the “Betsy Ross” flag, patriotism, and Colin Kaepernick smacks of a contrived attempt to gain attention. I’m just saying.

Speaking of the flag, you have to wonder to what level we have devolved as a country when our president stages a July Fourth celebration and so many decry his attempts at uniting us. Since when is a patriotic celebration anything but a recognition of our freedom in the greatest country on earth?

A book by Notre Dame professor Patrick J. Deneen, “Why Liberalism Failed,” came to my attention recently. Deneen looks at liberalism from the classical sense of freedom of the individual, including economic freedom, and divides liberalism today into conservative liberalism and progressive liberalism. The two are bedfellows, he maintains, in the dissolution of the cultural and community bonds that maintain democracy. The following excerpt offers an example of Daneen’s philosophy: “While ‘conservative’ liberals express underlying hostility to state expansion, they consistently turn to its capacity to secure national and international markets as a way of overcoming any local forms of governance or traditional norms that might limit the market’s role in the life of a community. And while ‘progressive’ liberals declaim the expansive state as the ultimate protector of individual liberty, they insist that it must be limited when it comes to the enforcement of ‘manners and morals,’ preferring the open marketplace of individual ‘buyers and sellers,’ especially in matters of sexual practice and infinitely fluid sexual identity, the definition of family, and individual choices over ending one’s own life.” Whether you’re liberal or conservative, Deneen’s book offers a thought-provoking consideration of modern society.

Nowhere are politicians more divided today than in the issue of immigration. Yes, we are a nation of immigrants, and this country stands tall as a beacon of freedom, but that in and of itself does not dictate that we can’t have a systematic, orderly system of immigration. Given the disorder that defines much of the world, it’s merely common sense that we control our borders. Still, the break-up of families and reluctance to address “Dreamers” does not bode well for either party. It’s an issue both sides have neglected for too long.

You don’t have to look far today to see that not everyone is a fan of our system of government. Listen to some members of Congress, such as Alexander Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, and it’s apparent that radicals are out to destroy much of what made this country what it is today. This is not about Trump slogans or the partisan issues that have come to define us. This is about freedom and the choices we make as Americans.

On a lighter note, a friend and I recently had a conversation lamenting the loss of late night television shows worth watching. We both miss the days of Johnny Carson, Jay Leno and even David Letterman, particularly his early work. Today’s late night viewing has reached new lows, no more than dumping grounds of partisan views that often stand in opposition to mainstream America. The aforementioned book by Patrick Deneen touches on this topic: “Custom has been routed: much of what today passes for culture—with or without the adjective ‘popular’—consists of mocking sarcasm and irony. Late night television is the special sanctuary of this liturgy.”

A final thought: Are there any services seemingly more overpriced than wireless internet or satellite television?

Larry Cothren is a former newspaper and magazine editor who currently teaches marketing at the high school level.

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