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 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 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?

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, where we embrace and love this 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 like we are picking fights with everyone. Why do 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 an American soldier dies. Was the raid worth it? So far, I don’t have any idea. I understand the problems in 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 and covered 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?