Fearing the change that has already happened

A piece I wrote in 2011 – wondering if it still holds up to the scrutiny of hindsight given the last decade’s events.

Recently I saw Romney on TV warning that Obama is on a mission to change America into a country that we hardly recognize, and that this election represents our last chance to stop him before we lose “the America we know.” Echoing this message of cultural paranoia, last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC provided a platform for the most extreme versions of this thought, including panelists associated with white nationalist and anti-immigrant groups. The GOP’s core campaign message so far appears to be “Obama is dangerous because he isn’t really one of us.” 

In the first couple years of Obama’s presidency, the right promoted this message in the form of “birtherism” and the “he’s a Muslim” claim. Now they’re pushing it in the form of the “he’s a European socialist” canard. In the space of three years, right wing paranoia has moved the geographic location of Obama’s Otherness from Kenya, where he wasn’t born, to Mecca, towards which he doesn’t pray, to Western Europe, whose fully socialized medicine he didn’t promote. Republicans are going to need a GPS navigation system to keep the American people up to date on the geography of their fictional portrayals of Obama. 

The truth, however, is not that Obama is trying to change America into a country we won’t recognize, but rather that the GOP’s leaders don’t recognize the country that America has already become. America has already changed into, and will continue to become, an ever-more-diverse nation of many cultures, religions, and ideas. Before anybody knew who Barack Obama was, this change had already taken root. Obama is an American with mixed racial heritage and family ties to Kansas, Hawaii, Kenya, and Indonesia. He also has Muslim, Christian, and even Jewish relatives. He is a walking American melting pot who could only have become president long after the death of Jim Crow America. What the fearful right doesn’t see is that Obama is an awful lot like most people in this country – mixed heritage, ties to different strands of the weave of this nation, and a values system that has tolerance and respect for all these different cultural elements. 

Continue reading “Fearing the change that has already happened”

C’mon dudes this could be a great year progressives…

So, in the midst of this pandemic, those of us deeply hoping for a Democratic White House win this November have been reflecting on Bernie’s recent announcement that he has ended his campaign, leaving Joe Biden as the presumptive nominee.

If Bernie can help Biden and Dems win a big wave election, there are A LOT of very progressive young Dems running for literally everything downballot, and they’ll be a force to be reckoned with at every level of government.

I no longer engage with my FB or other social media the way I used to back in 2016, when I spent hours and hours reacting to comments by pro-Bernie friends who hated Hillary and, unbeknownst to me at the time, often re-posted Russian-troll generated fake news about her. I don’t do that anymore, so I don’t know whether the intensity of that kind of thing is as bad as it was then. I know there’s a pro-Bernie / Biden-loathing constituency out there, but I am not interested in debating people about my determination to support whomever is the Dem’s nominee, so I have no sense of what that whole situation looks, sounds, or feels like, and I don’t intend to find out.

And Then There Were Two: Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden | The New Yorker

What I am aware of, however, is that there’s an incredible opportunity that could be brewing, if Bernie, Joe, and a bunch of other Dems and progressives figure it out.

Here’s what I see: if Bernie leads by example and focuses on defeating Trump and maximizing the influence of his core supporters on the Dems’ platform and Biden’s agenda, and if Biden and all the other major figures in the D party seek to meet them halfway and show that their top priorities will be part of the overall D agenda, 2020 could be an unparalleled year of progressive gains.

By dropping out at this stage, so much earlier than he did in 2016, Bernie has already changed his behavior from four years ago. Right now he has leverage to influence a center-left nominee and (I hope) administration. I hope Bernie will focus on that goal and stay engaged with and identified with the party. If he leads in this way, he can continue to move his core ideas forward and build up the progressive wing of the party. He’s in a strong position to play the role of the father of a progressive renaissance within the Democratic party – one that works with center-left Dems to defeat neo-fascist Republicanism at every turn, while simultaneously promoting and popularizing progressive policy ideas. Part of this strategy should include Bernie elevating young Dems who can be the future of his agenda.

If Bernie can help Biden and Dems win a big wave election, there are A LOT of very progressive young Dems running for literally everything downballot, and they’ll be a force to be reckoned with at every level of government. That’s the key. 2020 could be a great year for progressives if Bernie and Joe both see the opportunity for what it is and work for common goals.

A Serious Injury or a Mortal Wound?

Is this the end of the USA’s democracy? Or does American democracy recover in a few years from Trump and his supporters? I wish I knew. This American dystopian unraveling of democracy that we’re living through, and which may easily last another 5 more Trumpian years (or more), has made me question a lot of things I have taken for granted my whole life about this country. I’m in agony, and I know a lot of other people who are too.

One of the things I didn’t see coming was the way that the times we’re living in have made a newfound literary love of mine feel prescient and relevant in immediate ways I never previously thought possible. I’m talking about sci-fi. And I wish that what I’m about to describe wasn’t the case…

Continue reading “A Serious Injury or a Mortal Wound?”

Relieved, grateful, frightened

I’m listening to a Laura Marling song, which I find really moving and beautiful. It’s maybe half an hour after I’ve absorbed the news that the House voted to impeach, and I’m thankful for the Dems determination, perseverance, focus, and willingness to take political risks to try to save our democracy.

But seeing no Republicans (except I think one ex-Repub) vote yes, and hearing that they seem to be locking arms around a narrative of lies, and hearing that Trump’s approval ratings have even ticked up recently, and knowing that he and his fellow GOPers are going to full-court press their Fox News conspiracy theory BS and present it as “the real truth” and continue to whip up the frenzy of hate and lies — well, it’s what frightens me even more than Trump himself. It’s my fellow Americans who are all in for 45, for the kind of willful pretending that he hasn’t lied over and over again, conned people left and right, and spewed racist and sexist and just plain nasty divisive speech over and over and over again.

Continue reading “Relieved, grateful, frightened”

We Are the Democrats

dems2My dear fellow Americans who don’t know the truth about who we Democrats are and what we believe: there’s a lot of nonsense being said about us, so I just wanted to set the record straight on a few things. 

It seems like Trump and the rest of the Republican leadership are hellbent on telling the public that Democrats are sickening, evil people who love late term abortions, want open borders, hate Christians, and want to impose socialism on the country. So, here’s the thing: all of this is wrong. Here’s what Democrats actually believe about these particular issues: Continue reading “We Are the Democrats”

Democracy’s Revenge?

In the last days of May, several right wing ethno-nationalist leaders suffered blows to their holds on power and the aura of muscular triumphalism they love to project.

In Israel, a feud between two far right icons prevented Netanyahu, whose right wing bloc won the April 9 election, from being able to form a government within the legal time limit of 42 days. Now Israel is going to have an election do-over in September.

British PM Theresa May announced her resignation effective June 7, after multiple failed attempts to get Parliament to pass a law approving the agreement that May negotiated with EU leaders to create an “orderly” Brexit process. With no such agreement, the alternative is a “no deal” implementation of Brexit, which could result in major economic setbacks and other undesirable impacts on Britain and the EU member countries. Her departure doesn’t mean that the British public have turned against Brexit, but it does mean that Nigel Farage’s xenophobic nationalist campaign has now led to the resignation of two consecutive Conservative PMs.

Finally, Special Counsel Robert Mueller made public remarks in which he openly contradicted Attorney General Barr’s characterization of the Mueller report as exonerating of Trump, and in which he pointed to Congress as the governmental body tasked with holding presidents accountable for improper behavior (some have interpreted this as a strong hint on his part). Mueller’s remarks may create a catalyst to move House Democrats to go forward with an impeachment inquiry.

Continue reading “Democracy’s Revenge?”

Focus on building a strong, enduring progressive majority (there are no shortcuts – part 2)

With the redacted Mueller report about to drop, it’s tempting to get sucked into the news and spin cycles that are sure to follow. I plan not to do that today. But I also plan not to go politically inactive and abandon the field of action to others. I am going to keep doing the activist thing I’ve been doing lately – sending personalized postcards to Democratic voters urging them to vote in various local, state, and special Congressional elections. (https://postcardstovoters.org/)

I am also going to continue using the wonderful online tool, ResistbotScreenshot 2019-04-18 at 08.03.54, to easily write and send letters and faxes to members of Congress demanding that the full, unredacted report be made public, and keeping the pressure on about other important issues.

And I’m going to look for opportunities to keep hammering away at the long term enduring work needed to win local, state, and federal elections for Democrats, by checking on Indivisible’s work in my area and keeping up with a great activist organization in my state, Turn PA Blue.

We can’t count on good luck with news cycles and the unfolding of events. If the eventual contents of the full Mueller report see the light of day, and if those contents actually bring Trump down or decrease his chances of re-election, huzzah – bonus – yay! But we all know that things might play out very differently, justly or not.

Continue reading “Focus on building a strong, enduring progressive majority (there are no shortcuts – part 2)”

Cracks

This may be misplaced optimism, but I am feeling it in my gut, and I’m going to express it. I’ve been a fool before in trying to read politics and social trends, so if I end up being wrong, welp… it is what it is.

That caveat stated, methinks some chickens may be coming home to roost for the right wing neofascists in both Israel and the U.S.

Let’s start with Israel. Much to my surprise, the two leading centrist parties,

tweetled by former army chief of staff, Benny Gantz, and former TV news journalist, Yair Lapid, have agreed to form a joint bloc in the upcoming, April 9 Israeli election. The two men have agreed to rotate as prime minister, with Gantz taking the first 2 years, and Lapid the second 2 years, should they win the election. This is a massive blow to Netanyahu’s plans for setting up this election in such a way that he is almost guaranteed to win.

Meanwhile, any day now we’re likely to hear the decision of Israel’s Attorney General on whether or not to indict Netanyahu on bribery charges.

neener neener

Now it’s not like a Gantz/Lapid led government would suddenly shift Israel hard to the left, but it would topple the corrupt, arrogant, and toxic order that Netanyahu and his acolytes have created in Israel for a decade now.

Continue reading “Cracks”

Visualizing Trump’s 2nd Term

This is the sinking feeling I get when I check my favorite news and politics websites. Talking Points Memo. Daily Kos. My WaPo subscription. Even my favorite folks on Twitter.

So many stories pointing to growing trouble for 45. Mueller’s comin’. People are flippin’. Documents are being filed, with intensifying and worrying accusations for the Donald’s friends and fans.

And yet, there’s one data point that hasn’t budged. That won’t budge. Presidential Job Approval rating over 40 – possibly as high as 44. With a job approval rating in the 40s – anywhere in the 40s – it will take a great Democratic candidate to win. Because all Trump needs to win is a second-tier Democrat to be the nominee. All he needs is 48% of the vote, maybe 49%, and the right combo of states.

All he needs is good economic numbers and a divided center-left coalition (enter Bernie and his followers) to get to that tipping point in our arcane, illogical, electoral system. Enough to tip Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Ohio, and Pennsylvania into his column. Florida? They just went extra-Red in these midterms, so don’t count on a blue wave there. DT can lose by even bigger margins in California, in Illinois, in New York state – he can lose the popular vote by even more the second time around and still win.

He has a floor somewhere in the low 40s. He only needs to get to 48. Unless the Dems find someone with Obama-like skills, they’ll go into the thing in the mid 40s. It’ll come down to how the 5 or 8 percent in the middle break. But the Dem will need to get them to put him/her/them up over 50, maybe well over 50. Trump may only need to get to 48 and run the table electorally in the same upper midwestern states plus PA.

I read a story that featured interviews with GOP bigwigs speaking on condition of anonymity so they could be completely candid. On the one hand, they said that they’re all bracing for the possibility that the stuff that’s gonna come out of Mueller’s reports or some of the other court filings is going to destroy 45 and it’s gonna be a Hindenburg level disaster. On the other hand, they’re also prepping for the possibility that the most serious legal problems that these investigations end up attaching to Trump himself are some violations of campaign finance laws before he even took office. These GOP insiders said that if that’s what happens, they think DT is so effective at bending media narratives to his will, and at ginning up his base, that they actually think he’d be the odds-on favorite to win re-election. And they’re simultaneously preparing for that possibility too.

Image result for election 2020

The uncertainty drives me nuts.

So what do I do with my little self? With the energy, time, money, words, actions that I can do something with.

I feel like I need to make a list that’s based on preparing for both of these possible political outcomes. I’ll think about it and possibly return with said list.