Category Archives: Party Politics

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 have 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?

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 with Republicans with majorities in both the House and the Senate? As with most things these days, I concede that 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 who would be able to 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 must examine our election process. Again, the media play a big role. 30 or 40 years ago, when a candidate was running for president, he 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 were an average citizen, you had little or no knowledge of the inner workings behind the politics of Iowa and New Hampshire. It was rare that you ever heard a speech from Iowa. You were not privy to the town hall meetings; nor the county fairs. Now, with 24-hour television, radio and blogs, nothing goes uncovered. Every time a candidate blows their nose, it is reported on any number of networks. We know exactly what type of tissue was used. Overb the last twenty years, the whole political procesd 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 or I could 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 cover better job prospects for the average American; 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 fot the average American has been stagnant, or has fallen, since the late 1970s. Americans are tired of hearing the same old drivel. Many politicians have become nothing more than noise boxes, sounding much like Charlie Brown’s teacher.

There are some politicians who have done some fabulous work. I’m not saying that they haven’t. 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 a child to college, these Americans are going to have to take out gargantuan student loans, which they have no conceivable way of repaying. Here is the problem. This is the exact concern which Donald Trump tapped into. He spoke differently. He never specifically said he was going to do this or that. He spoke in 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 could 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?

News Roundup – John Oliver, Trump, Bowling Green, Yemen

I didn’t watch the Last Week Tonight show after the election. John Oliver was exactly right. This is NOT normal. Trump is not normal. We have no idea what Trump is going to do. This is a leaky White House. I really, really want to give Trump the benefit of the doubt, but I still believe that he does not have the intellectual curiosity to be a good president. Remember, we had a long national discussion about Bush and his lack of being curious. He just accepted information that was given to him. You simply can’t do that.

Great opinion piece by John Marshall at Talking Points Memo. He argues that Trump was never a populist; rather, he is a nationalist. This could be a good thing, but it could also be interpreted negatively. From the perspective of a nationalist, it would seem that the fact that America is an open and inclusive society, embracing abd loving our melting pot, is one of our strengths. Trump, however, has adopted a different type of nationalism.

Paul Krugman has put my fear into words. It seems as if we are picking fights with everyone. Why would we want to pick a fight with Australia? BTW, what does “putting Iran on notice” actually mean? I have a bad feeling that we are going to be at war with someone pretty soon.

There is so much going on that it is easy to miss things like a raid on a compound in Yemen. For me, American casualties are never a good thing. We need to think long and hard about everything we are doing any time any American soldier dies. Was the raid worth it? So far, I don’t have any idea. I understand the problems with counterterrorism. The purpose of this raid was to stop what exactly? As the American soldiers approached the target they knew that they had lost the element of surprise. So why press on? Was this that important? I don’t know. We lost a $75 million MV-22 Osprey (an aircraft that got a terrible reputation 20 years ago as it was being developed).

Have you heard anything about the Bowling Green Muslim Massacre? Nope, neither had I.

So, it is Black History month. The White House usually does something to honor Black Americans. Trump was Trump. He started on the topic of Black History, covering the basics – Martin Luther King, Fredrick Douglass, and Harriett Tubman. He then veered off the subject into nothingness. It isn’t that I think that our president needs to be an expert on Black History, but he should at least pretend that it is important to America. That’s all that I ask…maybe that’s too much.

What stories are you following?