Politics

Lincoln…The Know-Nothings…Trump

There is an old Trump Tweet for everything these days.  Twitter users share those archived messages with glee each week.

I’m proposing a corollary: There is an old Lincoln quote for everything these days.

Consider this one, written to his best friend Joseph Speed in the early 1850s. This was inked as a private citizen, without any clear political future. That he would be President of the United States less than a decade later was laughable. He was sitting alone in his office, watching the growth of a nativist political party, and worrying for his country…

“Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it, ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics.’ When it comes to this, I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty–Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, without the base alloy of hypocrisy.”

 

 

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Something We Can All Agree On – We Want to Stay Alive

I’m naive, but I still believe that most Americans agree on many basic things. We’ve forgotten that recently, because we voted for different people in November. But we can figure this out together.

The only thing about politics that truly matters are the actual policies that are enacted. The rest is noise.

No policy impacts you and I more than healthcare–by definition, it is life and death. Please give serious thought to the Republican healthcare bill that is inching closer to becoming law.    Senate Tax 2

Do not be fooled by the nonsense talking points that you’ll hear about this legislation. It is downright disgraceful:

1) No, you will not be getting a tax break–unless you are already wealthy. This proposal calls for massive tax cuts (almost $1 trillion), but it will go to the richest among us. 

2) No, you will not get better coverage for less money. Some premiums may go down–but only for those who are young without any health issues. Even then, your insurance will cover fewer things and may have a higher deductible.

3) Yes, many Americans will be completely screwed. If you are older, have existing health problems, or disabled you will receive worse insurance (if any at all) and pay much more.

Some believe that it is not the government’s job to ensure everyone has access to healthcare. It’s their political philosophy. That is why they have no problem giving money to the wealthiest and cutting support to the sickest and poorest.   

If you disagree with that principle, please be vocal, oppose this bill, and demand accountability–no matter who you voted for in November.

Being Right Doesn’t Matter in Right Now. Winning Does.

It seems like we are getting closer to a knock-out. Left jab lands. Right hooks connects. Trump is reeling and feeling woozy on the ropes. It’s only a matter of time until he collapses in the ring, and victory is proclaimed. Right? Not quite.

Politics isn’t boxing. Those of us outraged, saddened, disgusted, terrified, and embarrassed by the current administration need to land many more punches before this national nightmare is over.machiavelli

Everything hinges on Congress. Democrats are united in opposition, but Republicans control both chambers. In other words, Republican members of the House and Senate matter most. We have two options:

  • Option #1: We vote and give Democrats control of Congress.
  • Option #2: Enough Republicans stand up to Trump’s nonsense and, if appropriate, force him out of office.

ossofOf course, we cannot vote again until November of 2018. That is almost 20 months from now. Can we make it that long? For perspective, Trump has only been President for 4 months. Option #1 is slow.

Right now, we need to focus on Option #2. But what can any of us do to influence Republicans?  As much as we’d like to appeal to their reason, sense of principle, and putting country first—-that doesn’t do much. Members of Congress will respond to one thing: keeping their seat. They must believe that they have a better chance at keeping their seat if they stand up to Trump.

The traditional advocacy actions help on that front: Calling their office on controversial bills; Showing up at town halls; Participating in marches. But Republican members of Congress can discount those efforts. After all, there was a mountain of anger at Trump before November, and yet Republicans still won seats. Why is the anger different now? 

quistWe have to demonstrate that it’s different now. Literally show them that the anger translates into votes. Give them an example of a Democrat winning a seat that Republicans used to hold, and the game changes.

It can be done as early as next week.

Two special Congressional elections are on the way.  Absolutely nothing will be watched more closely by wavering Republicans than the outcome of those races. Much more attention needs to be focused on them.

May 25th – Montana Special Election –  You can donate to Rob Quist, the D candidate here

June 20th – Georgia Special Election – Donate to Jon Ossof, the D candidate here

Winning these elections, and/or making them as close as possible, is the single most important thing we can do right now to steer our national ship away from the iceberg. As you watch all the new developments related to Comey’s memos and Russia– keep your eye on these dates. Donate, call, and do everything you can–big or small–to influence these races.

Spread the word.

Get It Out of My Head. Please Make It Stop

I cannot write political blog posts anymore. The same internal dialogue makes me start–then stop–writing articles, Facebook updates, comments, and Tweets.

Am I alone in this? Please help.

Here’s a typical thought train:

I can’t even with this guy on Facebook. He has no idea how hypocritical he is. Every day he has pro-Trump posts. And now he shares something about bald eagles being killed by lead poisoning. What the hell?wth

Does he not realize that Trump’s pick for the EPA wants to dismantle as many environmental protections as possible?

Wait, let me google Scott Pruitt again…Ok, yea, he’s terrible on this. Certainly no champion of helping bald eagles dealing with lead.

Typical Trump voter, so hypocritical. Maybe I should write a blog post on all the hypocrisy we’ve seen so far.  Never mind. That is the least original idea ever. Like the world needs more writing on Trump being a liar and hypocrite. Real out-of-the-box thinking, Paul. Sheesh.

Anyway, I’m going to comment on this Facebook post. Someone should say something. It can’t go unchecked. If no one calls him on it, the guy will go through the whole day without realizing how terrible his opinions are. You can’t be a Trump voter AND get to pretend like you are the new Jack Hanna. Wait, maybe a good post would be discussing the tragic irony of how the symbols of our nation are literally dropping dead. Eh…forget it. No one wants to read that. This isn’t a freshman English assignment. Political blog posts about symbolism?  Get your head in the game.

But I am responding to this Facebook thing. Even if I don’t change this guy’s mind (I won’t), the quiet lurkers will notice. Maybe it will have an effect. Too many Trump voters have no idea what the President is actually doing. Policy-wise, I mean. 

That’s the root of the problem, isn’t it? That Trump supporters don’t really know the details of things. They assume he’ll support policies that will personally help them. They ignore the crazy and give him the benefit of the doubt on every-god-damn-thing.  Crap, that is exactly the critique used against people who “worshiped” Obama. Stop it Paul, that is a false equivalency.  

All this thinking is a little high and mighty of me, isn’t it…like I’m so smart and clearly wiser than these fools. Am I just as hypocritical?  I say I love animals, but I eat meat. Lots of it.thinking5

I know how this guy will respond on Facebook, though. He’ll say that just because he supports Trump doesn’t mean he supports everything the administration says or does. Great, tell that to the bald eagles.

Or he will try to find something bad about Hillary Clinton and then say, ‘so you must support that too, right?’ 

Or maybe he’ll play it really understated and use the ‘lets give him a chance’ line.

I’ll have to go into the specifics about exactly what Pruitt plans to do with the EPA. Honestly, I’ll need to research that. The only thing I can remember right now is that he is a climate change skeptic (or should I say ‘denier?’), and I think he sued the EPA while in Oklahoma. Something like that. 

Is that hypocritical of me, that I don’t really know the details off the top of my head and am kind of assuming?  At least I’m willing to look it up, and I know the gist–Pruitt is terrible for the environment, right?

I’m sure Trump voters do that same thing though–a quick google search, find an article, and then spit it back out. Ugh. Am I falling into the same trap?  No no. Don’t be silly. Don’t forget the one thousand other awful things Trump has said and done. Keep perspective. But that is probably what Trump voters told themselves during the election- ‘That may be true, but don’t forget all the other terrible things about Hillary.’ 

thinking6You know what, never mind. It’s not worth it. I only see this guy a couple of times a year. I don’t have time for back-and-forth comments all day. He shares a lot of baseball posts too. Move on. Remember, life isn’t politics…

Wait. What are you talking about? Paul, don’t be a moron. Now is not the time for silence.  Silence only normalizes this horror show of a presidency. Speak boldly and confidently, rise up and……  

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

20 minute internal dialogue. Nothing accomplished. Repeat 5x a day.

Is this how Trump wins?

I’m Usually Not the Marching Type, But…

Donald Trump is President of the United States today. Tomorrow I will join fellow citizens in marching on our National Mall in Washington DC. 

You may be joining me in DC. You may be rallying in a different city. You may be rooting along from your living room. OR…you may be saddened and confused that people would do something like this.women10

You could be thinking…

Get over it already! He won. Move on.

I can’t stand people who protest. You’re just lucky there are brave men and women who allow you the privilege.

We all need to come together and support the President. We are all Americans.

I respect that 63 million people voted for Donald Trump. He was certified as our next President by the electoral college. A rally will not change that.  But please don’t misunderstand what is going on. The marches are not an attack on our country; they are a validation of what makes it great.


women20(1)  The right to assemble was enshrined by the Founders–a tool for those who do not have official power. It’s a demonstration of solidarity…
We are still here and will not go away.

(2)  Exercising that right is especially critical now–at a time when a single party controls the Presidency, House of Representatives, and Senate. That same party controls 68% of state legislatures and 62% of Governor’s offices. This is the most power in the hands of a one group since the Civil War.

(3)  But there is a disconnect. Because, the current President lost the popular vote by 2.8 million votes. That is a 5x bigger defeat than when George W. Bush lost it in 2000.

(4) One side’s ability to enact dramatic alterations to society has never been higher. Yet that power is completely out of proportion to the public’s indicated desire for it.

 

The election…this year…is not normal.

I have been thrown on my heels since November 9th–growing further aghast at the conduct and temperament demonstrated by the man holding our most treasured office…

  • Defending a foreign despot over our own American intelligence officials
  • Threats to punish journalists who challenge him
  • Incoherent late night rants about TV shows and celebrities
  • Refusal to eliminate or even reveal personal business conflicts
  • Cabinet nominations that no reasonable person can claim represent the “best and brightest”

Millions disagree with me–you may be one of them. But I hope we can come together on at least one idea: We only sharpen our ideas when we are forced to defend them against those who disagree. 

Tomorrow, your Facebook feed may be filled with tired, one-liners. Please think before following along….

women14

No, if you see one picture of someone doing something stupid that does not represent everyone who is marching. Do KKK Trump supporters represent you?

No, we are not out of touch “liberal elites” from big cities. Some live in cities. Some don’t. Some are rich. Some are poor. Some aren’t even that liberal. We don’t agree on everything. But we do agree on many big things: like fairness, kindness, and competency. 

No, we are not snowflakes who need participation trophies. We’re folks who refuse to stay silent when we think we can make a difference. 

 

I am not joining this march in spite of being an American, but because I am. Democracy is not just the right to vote. It is an ongoing commitment to pay attention to your community, understand how issues align with your values, and put those values to action.

We are still here. We are paying attention. We will not go away.

IS HILLARY THE NEW MARCIA CLARK OR CRUELLA DE VIL?

hillary-gun-3You are on a Red Line train in Chicago as it pulls up to the Addison stop. Wrigley Field is almost an arm’s reach away. A thousand people wearing Cubbie blue shirts and hats cram onto the car. You immediately hear chatter from them:

“That home plate umpire was unfair.”

“He was way off on those calls, particularly in the 7th”

You didn’t watch a single pitch, but you already know the outcome: The Cubs lost. Because you don’t make excuses immediately after you win.

Anyone who has ever watched a baseball game knows who “won” the first Presidential debate. Within minutes of walking offstage, Donald Trump and his surrogates were making excuses about the previous 90 minutes–to explain a poor performance. By the next day, however, the excuses were transforming into obnoxious conspiracy theories.

A Timeline of Trump Responses to the Debate:

  1. Lester Holt, the moderator, asked him “unfair questions.”hillary-parkinsons
  2. He could have been more aggressive, but he held back because he is a gentleman.
  3. He had microphone problems: “They gave me a defective mic…I wonder if that was on purpose? It was much lower [volume] than hers.”      …Then things shifted to the nutty…
  4. Hillary had  an earpiece to get secret information.
  5. Actually, that wasn’t an earpiece, it was a device used by people to quell the effects of Parkinson’s disease…which she might or might not have.
  6. Lester Holt gave Hillary all of the questions ahead of time.
  7. Maybe he didn’t, but they had a secret scratching code where Hillary indicated what she wanted Holt to do by itching her face 5 times in a row.
  8. But seriously, a majority of the country thinks Trump won except, “Google search engine was suppressing the bad news about Hillary Clinton’s [debate performance].”

Those phrases in quotes aren’t from random Trump supporters wearing tinfoil hats. They are the candidate’s own words.

If you actually believe those arguments, you are probably not reading this. And if you are, I am definitely not persuading you. I mean, Hillary likely paid me to write the post.

Luckily, this post is not directed at those who share articles about secret scratch signals and Parkinson’s devices. Instead, it is directed at the 10% of voters who are legitimately unsure how to cast their vote this year (or whether to cast one at all). Please do not buy into the nonsense conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton. You shouldn’t believe conspiracy theories about Donald Trump, either.

hillary-killerConspiracy theories are groundless. They are not useful for getting a true picture of the world. But they do have some use. They are helpful in understanding the character of those who promote them. Reasonable, intelligent, honest individuals do not make absurd claims of others to rile a crowd. These conspiracy theories should give you pause….not about Hillary, but about Donald Trump.

They are a sign of weakness. Why isn’t there an endless stream of popular conspiracy theories about Trump? Because there is no need.  Listening to what he says, how he acts, and what he proposes on a daily basis is plenty of fodder for seriously questioning his judgement.

The same is not true for Hillary. You can challenge her proposals, but she does not present herself to the world on a daily basis in a way that a reasonable person would think: “she has a terrible lack of judgment; she is spouting nonsense.” You can disagree with her without believing that she worships Satan (yes, that claim has been made). To discredit her, a campaign must make up wild theories of phantom illnesses, mass voter deception, or murder. This is in the hope that those insinuations drown out her actual words. Because her actual words and conduct on the campaign stand up as Presidential. Her opponent’s do not.

The bottom line:

  1. This is an extremely close election–either Trump or Clinton could win.hillary-murder-3
  2. Voters should evaluate candidates on their own words, actions, and proposals that have factual backing.
  3. Continuous negative campaigning and promotion of outrageous conspiracy theories is proven to decrease turnout.
  4. Trump wants lower turnout–it’s his only path to victory. The awful insinuations will continue.
  5. A third-party will not win this election.
  6. If you evaluate the two main candidates honestly–without pre-judgement–and find Hillary Clinton to show more competence, intelligence, and understanding for the office of President than Donald Trump–vote for her.

 

Photo Credit: Main image- Cover of “My Turn” a book by Doug Henwood

Clinton or Johnson? Listen to Other Republicans.

Typically, I reserve the first day of Fall for brainstorming my Halloween costume. Not today. This year is different. Decades from now, I won’t remember how clever my costume was…but I will remember what I did (or didn’t do) to participate in the most important el10ection of our lifetime.

For both Trump and Clinton supporters, this election feels different. A struggle over the American identity. We can’t lose this one.

Confession: I  believe Donald Trump is the most dangerous, ill-equipped Presidential nominee in generations (ever?). His win would shake my confidence in our democratic experiment.

A majority of the country agrees with me. But Trump still may win. How is that possible? Because even 10% of those who agree are thinking of voting for a 3rd party or not voting at all. The main reason: Maybe Clinton is just as bad as Trump?

Is that true? If you are genuinely undecided, where can you turn for honest information? The media is biased. Facebook feeds are pure nonsense. What information should persuade you either way?

A suggestion: Examine the criticism of both major candidates made by those who have the most to lose by criticizing them. In other words, what are their own party members saying about them? Don’t listen to their enemies, listen to those who presumably would be their friends.

Under this framework, the true difference between Trump and Clinton is clear. A staggering number of respected Republicans are risking their reputations and reversing years of tradition to publicly reject Donald Trump. The same is not true for Clinton. A sampling:georgehw

  • Republican President George H.W. Bush – will be voting for Hillary Clinton — This is unprecedented. A former President voting for the opposing party’s candidate.
  • Republican US Representative Chris Shays – will be voting for Hillary Clinton — “I think many Republicans know Donald Trump could cause great damage to our country and the world at large, and still plan to vote for him. But not me.”
  • Republican Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson – will be voting for Hillary Clinton — “I’ll be voting for Hillary Clinton, with the hope that she can bring Americans together to do the things necessary to strengthen our economy, our environment and our place in the world. To my Republican friends: I know I’m not alone.”
  • Republican National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft – will be voting for Hillary Clinton — “The Presidency requires the judgment and knowledge to make tough calls under pressure…Hillary Clinton has wisdom and experience to lead our country at this critical time.”
  • Republican World Bank chief Paul Wolfowitz – will be voting for Hillary Clinton – “The only way you can be comfortable about Trump’s foreign policy is to think he doesn’t really mean anything he says.
  • Republican Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez – will be voting for Hillary Clinton — “I would have preferred Jeb Bush, but I think Hillary is a great choice. I am afraid of what Donald Trump would do to this country.”
  • Republican historian and writer Robert Kagan – will be voting for Hillary Clinton – “For this former Republican, and perhaps for others, the only choice will be to vote for Hillary Clinton. The party cannot be saved, but the country still can be.”
  • Republican writer George Will – “Were he to be nominated, conservatives would have two tasks. One would be to help him lose 50 states—condign punishment for his comprehensive disdain for conservative essentials, including the manners and grace that should lubricate the nation’s civic life.”
  • Republican Senator Lindsay Graham – “ There’ll come a time when the love of country will trump hatred of Hillary.”
  • Republican Gov. Mitt Romney – “I wanted my grandkids to see that I simply couldn’t ignore what Mr. Trump was saying and doing, which revealed a character and temperament unfit for the leader of the free world.”

Those are not random names. They represent some of the most respected Republicans of the last generation (and they are just a sample). Let’s be clear: N27680461903_c84b9c09d8ever has a Presidential nominee faced anything remotely like this type of rejection from high corners of his own party.

This is a stark difference between the two candidates.  For undecided voters it should be a big, red blinking light…Warning. Warning. This candidate it not normal.

  1. Based on today’s polling Donald Trump has a very real shot of becoming President of the United States.
  2. Trump continues to over-perform in polls where a 3rd party is present. His chance of winning increases with more 3rd party votes.
  3. Trump is relying on disgruntled voters to chose Johnson over Clinton.
  4. A Johnson vote is not wasted. It has real world consequences.
  5. A Trump win would only drag the Republican party further into the abyss. Returning to the party of competence, pragmatism, and classic conservatism requires a Trump loss and a party reset.
  6. The prudent choice in this one year, in this one line on the ballot, if you are in any sort of swing state, is a vote for Clinton.

Vote for Republicans or Libertarians in every other race this year. Vote for Republicans or Libertarians for President in future years. But this year…this office…this candidate is different. Use your vote to prevent President Trump.