All posts by ecthompsonmd

What is a Progressive?

I wrote this article for the Urban News back in December.

In November 2016, it is time for us to reassess who we are. What do we believe in? Since Hillary Clinton’s devastating loss earlier this month, I have heard a lot of … well, crazy talk. “Let us move to Canada.” “Let us impeach the president elect.” “Let us move to California and secede from the union.” And there been hundreds of others.

Does this sound very similar to the garbage that conservatives were spewing when Barack Obama won in 2008? We laughed at that rhetoric then and we called it crazy talk. We scolded conservatives and asked them if they truly love this country. Now, we need to look in the mirror and decide if we truly love the United States of America. Our talk about resistance and overthrow is, for the most part, wrong. It is treasonous.

So, as a progressive, what do you believe in? Now, I cannot speak for everyone, but I can tell you that I believe in a society in which the individual is given an opportunity to reach his or her fullest potential, no matter what side of the tracks they grow up on.

This means that I believe in public education. Not vouchers. Not charter schools. I want our public schools to be the best in the world.

We need to teach our children how to think critically. This doesn’t mean teaching our kids who to pass a winner-take-all test. Continue reading What is a Progressive?

Al Jarreau – Better than Anything

Artist: Al Jarreau
Tune: Better than Anything

For the most part, live albums are poorly produced and poorly recorded spectacles which really do not capture the artist. They leave us is disappointed. Of course, there are some notable exceptions to this. The biggest exception is probably Peter Frampton’s Frampton Comes Alive! Another exception is Al Jarreau’s 1977 live album – Look To The Rainbow. If you like Al Jarreau, like his voice, you like his emotion, you like the way he phrases words, this album is for you. There are several great tunes on this album but for me Better Than Anything is as close to Al Jarreau perfection as we can get.

Wow, what a mess! American Politics

Sometimes, no, most of the time, I scratch my head and try to figure out how we got here. How did we end up with Donald Trump in the White House and Republicans with majorities in both the House and the Senate? As with most things these days, I believe the answer is complex. I think it is easy to blame Hillary Clinton for running one of the worst campaigns in history. We can also blame the media for giving Donald Trump nearly unlimited airtime for months on end. I guess we could blame the Democratic Party for not fostering a selection of good candidates that would relate to America. We can go back and blame the media again for giving us a steady diet of complete drivel – reality TV.

First, I think we have to examine our election process. Again, media plays a big role. 30 or 40 years ago when a candidate was running for president, they would sit down with the voters of Iowa and New Hampshire. Those Americans were chosen to be the gatekeepers. They would weed out the knuckleheads from the serious candidates. If you are an average citizen, you had little or no knowledge of the inner workings of Iowa and New Hampshire. It was rare that you ever heard a speech from Iowa. You did not hear the town hall meetings nor the country fairs. Now, with 24 hour television, radio and blogs, nothing goes uncovered. Every time a candidate blows their nose, it is reported on three or four networks. We know exactly what type of Kleenex was used. Our whole political process, over the last 20 years, has changed from discussing policies on how to make America better to something much more superficial. Our political process has become the ultimate reality TV show. It is about gaffes, zingers, one-liners and who had their “oops” moment like former Texas governor Rick Perry. Bernie Sanders is talking about serious policy issues. Boring! Look Trump is throwing around a bottle of water pretending to be Rubio. Now, that’s funny. That’s entertaining.

For the most part, you and I can probably give an average political speech without breaking a sweat. You know the average Republican will talk about cutting taxes, restricting abortions and flexing American military might around the world. The average Democratic speech will talk about better jobs for the average American along with higher wages, fighting corporate corruption, clean air and clean water and, never forget, keeping America strong. While there is nothing wrong with any of these goals, Americans have heard it all before. Yet, the standard of living of the average American has been stagnant or falling since the late 1970s. Americans are tired of hearing the same old drivel. Many politicians have become nothing more than noise boxes sounding like Charlie Brown’s teacher.

I am not saying that some politicians have done some fabulous work. They have. What I am saying is that for the average American, who is 40 or 50 years old and makes $40,000 a year, not much has changed. He or she has seen Republicans and Democrats in the White House and they are still working as hard as ever. They have little or no savings. In order to send their child to college they are going to have to take out gargantuan student loans which they have no way of repaying. This is the problem. This is the exact problem which Donald Trump tapped into. He spoke differently. He never specifically said he was going to do this or that, he spoke in a broad terms – I am going to make America great again. He tapped into the frustration of middle-class America. He basically told us that he was going to give us the tools so that we can be prosperous again.

Although identifying the problem in our American society is relatively easy, figuring out how to fix the problem is far more challenging. What thoughts do you have?