Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Now that the Electoral College has cast their votes, I think we can at least hope Donald Trump will be a successful President. If he isn't, it's going to be a long couple years that increases the pain and suffering of too many Americans and decreases stability across the globe.
We have to remain vigilant, but we cannot afford to lose the high ground. As First Lady Michelle Obama said, "When they go low, we go high." That's how I intend to approach life with dedicated action in the coming years.
And, we have to demand that Democrats no long ignore rural and mid-America. Leaving wide swaths of the countryside behind decades ago has been an abysmal failure, both for average Americans and for Democrats chances for state legislatures, gubernatorial offices, Congress, and now the Presidency.
Reasonable policies have no chance of success if the right people never hear them.
(Picture: +Wonderful World )
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Many people from both parties have voiced concerns over how the country can move forward after such a toxic and divisive campaign. This toxic attitude will only dissipate with effort and action applied over an extended period of time over many election cycles across generations.
We can't just come into people's lives every 2 or 4 years and expect them to start listening to what we have to say.
We have to have to have a visible, active, and tangible presence in communities everywhere.
It's more than a 50-state strategy, it's a community by community strategy that gives us the opportunity to put a face and actions behind a message of togetherness and progressive values that all Americans actually share.
It's so easy for far right conservatives to demonize liberals and progressive values when those groups don't stand up and speak out for those values when challenged in hostile territory. The same is true for liberals and progressives demonizing conservative and libertarian values and principles in cities.
The absence of rational voices for decades has left a vacuum and allowed one side to ram an intimidation and bully message in both rural and urban areas. Workers and the middle class have suffered as a direct result.
Most people's views are capable of being moved, but they're not going to be convinced in one conversation, in a series of conversations, or even in a decade of conversations. People are convinced by actions, by results, and by how they feel.
It takes a concerted effort to engage with Americans where they are, discovering why they feel the way they do, and adjust your own policy approaches and messages accordingly.
The most common liberal and progressive approach I've seen over countless election cycles is that being "right" should win the day. That's simply not how anyone convinces people about a belief or an opinion.
We have to truly listen to others, not just tell them what to do and expect them to do it.
If we can't translate a progressive policy agenda to these people in a way that they can understand and embrace, then we've failed them as well as our positive agenda for the country.
We should be doing better. We can do better. And, we must do better.
Monday, November 14, 2016
For some background, I happen to live in Illinois, which went for Hillary, but I live in an area that is so deeply red and went about 60/34 for Trump. And that’s a good result for this area for Hillary, especially considering the heavy turnout in rural precincts.
I worked in a grassroots effort for other Democratic candidates on the ground, and we had one of the largest turnouts in decades here. It was a patchwork quilt of turnout. In some precincts and counties across the area, turnout was way down. But, in many others, the turnout was shockingly high.
In my opinion, many regular Republican voters didn’t vote, or did so unenthusiastically. From all the poll watchers and election judges I've talked to across the area, people showed up to the polls that hadn’t voted in decades. It was as shocking to them as it was to us on the ground.
So, to the question as to why people voted or supported Trump. There were a lot of different reasons I’ve discovered.
One of the top reasons would be Obamacare. People in the rural areas were hit harder by the fines for not having coverage and also weren’t offered health insurance by their employers. Employers were hit hard for the same reasons. This group was seething mad about this issue. If you had children in a divorce, you may have been hit doubly hard, especially if you had to pay for their healthcare out of your own pocket or paycheck that hadn’t grown much in decades.
They ended up not blaming their employers for not raising their wages and not offering healthcare coverage. They didn’t trust or weren’t willing to listen to anyone connected to President Obama that said they would fix the problems with the law. They were over it.
Other groups of people I talked to were seething mad about Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. They just hated her for some conspiracy-laden reasons that weren’t backed up by the facts. If it wasn’t Benghazi it was emails. If it wasn’t Bill Clinton, it was the pack of lies they say she had made over the years. Try and tell them something different about all of those things, they just wouldn’t listen. Try and tell them Trump was far worse, they didn’t care.
I do believe this second group of people were never going to vote for a woman, were never going to vote for a Democrat this year, and just had a pack of excuses to scapegoat their choice. If Bernie had been the nominee, the outcome would have been far worse, IMO. I could be wrong, and I’m sure about every Bernie supporter would strongly disagree with that assertion. If Bernie had been the nominee, those other Republican voters who stayed home would have came out in force for any Republican, including Trump.
And, there absolutely were a number of people that were driven to support Trump by his divisive, conspiracy-ridden, misogynistic, bigoted, and xenophobic rhetoric. These people range in ages, which would be a surprise to many.
Yes, there are many young people growing up with an array of troubling and troubled views of others that aren’t like them. There are many of these types of children and adolescents being raised to be this way throughout rural America. If the Democratic Party really think this problem will die off, they’re dead wrong. (That’s why I strongly urge Democrats to get busy and engaged in rural areas. Stop relying on urban and suburban areas to carry general elections. It’s not a winning strategy.)
However, the support of Trump because of these extreme views is not what won him the Electoral College, and thus, the Presidency. These are definitely some of the loudest voices on social media that were part of the Trump base, that includes gays and women that supported Trump. However, I just don’t buy into the narratives that these won him the White House.
People want to group everyone together into these monolithic, homogenous groups that just aren’t based in reality. The violence at peaceful protests don’t have anything to do with one another. The vast majority of these protesters are just exercising their right to peaceably assemble to right to free speech.
The same can be said of all those who voted for Trump in this election. They don’t condone all of his hateful, divisive rhetoric, nor do they support the real violence that continues to take place against minorities, women, and the LGBT community across the country. Of course President-elect Trump doesn’t want violence done against others in his name.
If you believe he would condone such violence, then you would also allow others to believe similarly about those who are committing violence on Trump supporters being condoned by President Obama, right?
Basically, both parties have left rural America behind. Trump was the perfect vessel for their vengeance on Republicans and Democrats. Try running as a Democrat in rural America with or without support from the state or national parties. The groundwork and foundation simply isn’t there and there also hasn’t been a relevant, rational, public discourse about ideas in these areas for decades.
If both parties continue their strategy of disinterest and “couldn’t care less” philosophy, there will always be a place for a disruptive, caustic character such as Trump to take advantage. I wish I had some answers as to how to bridge the divides. I’m working to understand what just happened instead of just rage against those who disagreed with me. I think that’s a better place to begin a conversation.
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
I wanted to give a word of congratulations to Donald Trump, who had a surprising turnout across the Rust Belt today. Simply stunning.
I do hope that despite the lack of decency and the lack of understanding of the issues that he often displayed that he and others will somehow he cobbles together a successful administration that benefits everyone, not just those at the top.
That might come as a surprise to many people. I believe that we have to strive to work together, whomever is elected. We can’t afford to use divisive, poisonous rhetoric. We can’t become histrionic and threaten throwing a fit, leaving the country, and not participating in this great democracy that is America.
I do believe in the coming days the autopsy of this race will find a couple of key ingredients in Trump’s win.
The 5 to 8 percent of the vote that went to Gary Johnson and Jill Stein in states like Wisconsin and Michigan were the difference between winning and losing. It was 2 to 3 percent of the vote and the difference in Pennsylvania, Florida, and North Carolina.
And, that’s how you elect someone else by voting for someone who has no chance.
The Comey letter to Congress regarding Clinton’s email server and subsequent secondary letter that declared ‘nothing new here’ gave rise to a buoyed Trump campaign in the last two weeks.
And lastly, the women, millennials, and minorities simply did not show up in as big of numbers as they needed to in order to protect the legacy of President Obama and to promote their own agenda.
It will now all be in the hands of President-Elect Donald Trump and a GOP-controlled Congress.
You sometimes get what you want. Other times, not so much. That’s what democracy is all about. And, I at least have a clean conscience for doing what I could during this election.
Here in Coles County we were successful in at least passing a 1% sales tax for our community schools. That is at least something. And, I was thrilled to meet, work, and help support an amazing network of such motivated, inspired, and hardworking people in this community.
I do hope that we all do come together, that somehow the Congress, the President-elect, and the States can work together to actually raise wages, rebuild the middle class, promote opportunity, and protect those in need.
They certainly cannot do it on their own. I do hope that they hold them to the same high standards as they have held others.
Friday, November 4, 2016
I proudly voted for Hillary Clinton today. She’s the best candidate we could have ever hoped to have. That doesn’t mean I believe she’s perfect. She doesn’t even think she’s perfect. No one is.
If you drop the anger, drop the outrage, drop the talking points, she’s been amazing. She has comprehensive policies to move the nation forward, economically, with wages, to make health insurance and health care cheaper, to advance a forward-thinking foreign policy that relies on smart power. She’s about bringing people together, not tearing them down.
A lot of people have been saying a lot about Hillary Clinton. However, most of these are designed to grab headlines and to make you angry and outraged. People don’t bother to care about the actual facts of the case, the context, nor the reality.
Hillary has fought long and hard for others. If you don’t believe that, you’ve bought into the lies of others that can’t handle that truth.
Have the Clintons profited from being in the public eye after leaving the White House? Of course they have. They’ve also paid their fair share of taxes and donated millions to charity. I call that pursuing good while making a living.
If you believe the Clinton Foundation hasn’t done amazing good acts for hundreds of millions of people around the world, you’ve bought into the lies of others that can’t handle that truth.
Did the Clinton Foundation take money from just about anyone? Yes. Did they do amazing good with that money? Absolutely.
People, however, are making amazing claims about the Clinton Foundation that just aren’t founded in factual reality.
I could make a negative case against Donald Trump, who actually has used Trump Foundation funds to illegally fund political campaigns of attorneys general that were investigating fraud cases against Trump University who later dropped those fraud charges. He also used these charitable donations to pay off other legal fines and fees.
I could make the negative case against Donald Trump, who actually didn’t pay federal income taxes and hasn’t bothered to share his federal tax returns as the Clintons have done. Some will say he pays plenty of other taxes. Then, why not show us his tax returns?
He makes lots of claims about Hillary deleting emails, but he actually has deleted and destroyed documents and emails in multiple lawsuits against his companies.
He actually has made terrible, heinous, and hateful statements about veterans, women, minorities, religions, and others. He actually has had numerous women who claim he followed through on some of the statements he was caught on tape saying about how he sexually assaults women.
And, for some reason, the Hillary haters continue to minute by minute spread their misinformation. It’s so sad if it wasn’t meant to purposefully distract and enrage voters.
I’m proud to have voted for Hillary Clinton today. She’s going to be an amazing President if she happens to be elected next Tuesday.
Go out and vote!
Monday, October 10, 2016
If there was any indication this would be one of the more cynical and disturbingly nasty debates in America’s history, it started hours before the Town Hall presidential debate when Donald Trump paraded four of former President Bill Clinton’s accusers in front of a flashy news conference. This after a 72 hours utterly dominated by released tapes from just a decade ago that exposed Trump’s open misogyny and sexual hostility toward women.
Yes, Trump was going to do whatever it took to will that exposure away. He declared some five times that it was just ‘locker room talk’ during the debate itself. He even managed to bring those Bill Clinton accusers into the debate hall to further create a hostile environment and provide more deflection and chaos, smoke and fire, as a backdrop for what should have been the time for the People to have their moment to be heard by the two major party candidates.
The first question directly addressed that elephant in the room, how the tenor and tone of the presidential campaign was affecting today’s youth. Hillary answered the question. Donald did not. The moderators called him out on outright dodging answering the question and followed up with a direct question regarding the leaked tapes. He juxtaposed this with violent terrorist imagery, saying there was no comparison, “It’s just words.”
From there, Hillary laid out a very eloquent and thoughtful analysis of how Trump wasn’t fit to be President of the United States, from his words, actions, and his behavior throughout his adult life but more specifically by his words throughout his campaign against women, minorities, POWs, and people with disabilities.
Trump punched back fairly consistently and incessantly throughout the debate, not allowing for much, if any, of a policy discussion. He accused Hillary of much, which fact-checkers have summarily refuted. The one point of attack he was accurate about was the deleting of some 30,000 emails.
At one point, and quite possibly the most disturbing response he gave throughout the 90 minutes, was his threat to use the government to prosecute her and send her to prison if he were to become President. This obviously sells well in the rabid Republican and Trump base. However, any student of American and world history would know that in America we don’t throw in jail our political enemies. That’s something they do in Russia, China, Iran.
This willingness of Trump to abuse power should concern every American.
Hillary stood toe-to-toe with Trump throughout every attack. She actually bothered to listen to each voter’s question. She mostly used the question in her answer, including the voter’s name. She strived to stay out of the way when Trump was answering, or rambling, which he did from time to time. Trump, however, was pacing the floor, huffing and puffing, throughout the 90-minute debate.
Hillary was the clear winner. She showed extreme capability to withstand a barrage of insults, attacks, many of which were outright lies, insults on her family, and denigrating to her life’s work. She was interrupted countless times by Trump.
It was truly a sad display of democracy and a sad display of decorum and debate.
What really lost out last night was an honest and sober exchange of ideas, policies, principles, and ideals. Somewhere in the last few decades, some of the far right and the far left have truly lost their way. They enjoy reveling and supporting others that tear down their political enemies. To hell with the facts, to hell with progress, and to hell with actually having a discussion where we listen to one another.
This is not the way a democracy works.
Donald Trump deserves some credit. He has galvanized a great deal of energy and has garnered an extreme amount of attention on this election. However, it has come at a grave cost. Civility, decency, and reason are withering away.
Trump’s diehard supporters will love his behavior last night. That’s the way they talk about politics and Hillary Clinton all the time. That’s not how anything actually ever gets accomplished in this country, though.
I feel much sympathy for the children growing up and watching all of this unfold in front of them. Having a grown adult behave like the biggest, baddest bully on the grade-school playground is not something most reasonable adults applaud and support with votes and encouragement.
What are we teaching our children and grandchildren?
Sunday, October 9, 2016
In a massive show of his character and focus in this presidential race, Donald Trump has paraded a few of President Clinton’s accusers in front of reporters and cameras. I gather those who hate Hillary will just embrace such behavior, using alleged victims as political props.
Obviously, Donald Trump isn’t sorry about what he’s said and done. He’s too busy deflecting attention and pointing the finger at someone who’s not even running for president to bother with being sorry.
And, of course I do feel compassion for these women who I’m certain must be deeply wounded and feel wronged. Bill Clinton isn’t running for President. Hillary Clinton is. Donald Trump is.
There’s plenty of compelling reasons to be for a candidate. Can you list any reason to be for Donald Trump? I can write for days my reasoning for supporting Hillary Clinton.
I see people defending Donald all over social media, accusing Hillary Clinton of actions she’s never actually done and that there’s no evidence of her actually doing.
There are mountains of evidence regarding Donald Trump’s corruption, bad behavior, and dangerous temperament.
From money donated from his “charitable” foundation to political campaigns of attorneys general. That’s actually pay to play. There is no evidence of pay to play between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department. None.
There are mountains of audio and video evidence of Trump’s bizarre mentality regarding women and minorities. Not from a decade ago, but since he’s been running for president.
He’s failed at business, multiple times. And, yes, he did turn his business around, but he lost a billion dollars in one year alone. He’s bankrupted businesses throughout his career. He’s not followed through on paying contracts at all or in full for work and services completed and delivered. That should be damning evidence of his business ethics to anyone who’s ever worked or ran a small business.
He created a fraud on students of his failed Trump University that used dishonest recruitment methods and false promises. He paid attorneys general through his charitable organization who then dropped the charges.
What are the compelling reasons to support Donald Trump?
Let’s watch him face the voters tonight in the Presidential Town Hall. I’m curious to see how it unfolds.
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
From a distance, I’ve got to give this debate to Governor Mike Pence. That’s going to be a bit painful for some to hear. Pence wisely didn’t take the bait on much of the Trump quotes and attacks. He took every opportunity and certainly every attack as a way to stick the knife into both Clinton and President Obama, which will certainly please conservatives of all stripes. That being said, Senator Tim Kaine really made as many accurate attacks against both Trump and Pence as he could, just in the least beneficial way.
As far as demeanor, Pence was also much more calm and put together than Kaine, who seemed to be a bit flustered and frustrated by the format and by the at times outright lies and misinformation Pence was espousing.
Kaine was obviously uncomfortable in a defensive position. Pence was obviously most comfortable in a partisan stance attacking Clinton and President Obama with bad information and statements designed to stoke anger and outrage in the base and in blue collar America.
Pence, rather eloquent in narrating nearly any partisan point. Kaine, not so much when interrupting, but on criminal justice and sensible gun reform was definitely on point.
Kaine defended Hillary’s tenure at Secretary of State from Pence’s lies about Iraq and ISIS. The broken down talks on a status of forces agreement which resulted in a departure time table were led and negotiated by President George W Bush, not President Obama and Secretary Clinton.
Pence on the economy-1980s and 60s economy. Small businesses and family farmers. Coal. Repeal Obamacare. Red meat and bread & butter for blue collar America. Doesn’t seem to budge the needle on the groups Trump-Pence need to reach to win the election.
Kaine was much more specific with plans on both domestic and foreign proposals.
- Invest in manufacturing
- Invest in workforce
- Invest in education, teachers, debt free college.
- Increase income fairness.
- Focus on small business growth and tax reform where the rich who haven’t been paying their fair share will and tax relief for the middle class and small business.
This is in direct contrast to the Trump plan, which he said would cost 3 million jobs, plunge us deeper into debt, and give him and his family million dollar tax breaks.
Squabble on Trump tax returns.
Kaine laid out the terrorism strategy.
- Take out leaders on battlefield
- Disrupt finance networks
- Disrupt recruitment
- Work with allies to surge intelligence
Pence had nothing but attacks on Clinton and President Obama with regard to foreign policy. Any quotes or criticisms of Trump, his statements, or policies, he would just exclaim “no” or “not true.”
In the long run, Kaine may win the debate just on fact-checking alone. Add to that the more substantive rollout of comprehensive policies, both foreign and domestic, and it would be a slam dunk. However, the demeanor of Pence won the night. He just kept Kaine on his heels, didn’t budge regardless of what was lobbed in his direction.
Pence appeared more presidential. Unfortunately, the facts won’t line up with what he presented in the debate. And, what’s worse with regard to Kaine’s demeanor is that is obscured that painful reality.
“Trump can’t start a twitter war with Miss Universe without shooting himself in the foot.” That might be true, but Kaine couldn’t make a point without obscuring the lack of substance in his opponent.
Tonight, I look for social issues, cultural competency, taxes, and spending to be highlighted, between these two VP picks and between their respective campaigns.
Certainly, Governor Pence's own abysmal record in Indiana will be under the microscope. He passed one of the country’s first Religious Freedom Restoration acts, creating a cultural clash in the heartland that cost Hoosier jobs and convention business for Indianapolis due to opening the door for discrimination against the LGBT community.
Also, Senator Kaine’s evolving stances on abortion and marriage equality coupled with his Jesuit missionary work will provide an equally compelling point of comparison to that of Pence, who passed restrictions on abortion and who pushed for a gay marriage ban amendment to the Indiana State constitution.
Besides the intersection of cultural and social issues, look for Pence to buttress the flailing Trump campaign, who has spent the last week creating self-inflicted wounds over a war of tweets and words with the former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado. Also, look for Pence to defend Trump over his curiously leaked tax returns, exposing nearly a billion dollars worth of losses in one year, which could have allowed him to not pay any taxes in the 18 subsequent years.
For Kaine, a relative unknown on the national stage, his goals are to not make any big blunders, to highlight the social and cultural disparities between the campaigns, and to shine a spotlight on the policies Hillary has been unable to accomplish over the last month.
Watch for Kaine to highlight Hillary’s tax and investment policies that juxtapose Trump’s lack of transparency by not releasing his tax returns, losing a billion in one year, and with Trump’s tax plan that gives giant tax breaks to billionaires.
Watch for Pence to be the stable, concerned voice of conservative principles that will highlight the Supreme Court, social values, and out of control tax and spending that would come with a Clinton presidency.
With the high unfavorables of both leading names on both tickets, who knows what lens, what visibility, and what scrutiny this VP debate and these VP picks might be under this evening. Considering over 80 million tuned in last week for the first Clinton-Trump head to head debate, anything is possible in this race.
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Donald Trump, as well as many of his supporters, have often touted how supportive he is of the LGBT . . . Q community. Trump certainly has expressed sympathy for the tragic loss of life in the Orlando gay nightclub attacks. As far as the rest of the issues that are relevant to LGBTQ voters, Trump, and certainly the Republican Party, fail and fail ‘Big League,” as Trump so often states.
Most notably, Trump is against marriage equality. Fact-checkers mark this as true.
Not only is Trump against marriage equality, he would appoint justices to the Supreme Court that would overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark case that brought marriage equality to the country.
But, Trump on September 22nd went farther, joining his VP pick, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana, famous for passing one of the nation’s first religious freedom and liberty laws, in supporting the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), which goes farther than any religious discrimination bill passed anywhere in the states could have gone.
In the H.R.2802, “Prohibits the federal government from taking discriminatory action against a person on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that: (1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.”
This goes far beyond just the LGBTQ community. This attacks sex before marriage. Talk about government intrusion into the bedroom!
So, if a business owner doesn’t like you, uses their religion as the reasoning, they can deny you service, kick you out of housing, refuse you anything, all because they don’t like your reputation and blame it on their religion.
What’s very interesting about the FADA is that it explicitly states that these businesses refusing business with the excuse of religion cannot be discriminated against with regard to tax write-offs or deductions as well as when they apply for federal grants or benefits.
The FADA gives all the power, in both litigation and in refusal to service, to those who discriminate. This is what Trump and many Republicans are pushing in Congress.
Sounds like a supporter of the LGBTQ community, right?
Monday, September 26, 2016
It's unlikely the debate will change the race much if at all. The only real chance for change are for independents and soft supporters of either candidate. Trump's hardcore supporters will still be there no matter what kind of performance he delivers. The same can be said for Hillary Clinton's hardcore base of support.
Currently, Hillary's lagging group of support is in the under 30 crowd. If one is to believe the polling data available, it fairly grim. 45% in some polls compared to President Obama's 2012 reelection numbers of 60%.
The remaining Bernie supporters are being split between Johnson-Weld, Jill Stein, and even Trump. It's about voting against the establishment for many. These voters are not going to be swayed by logic, Hillary, her supporters, or by a terrible Trump performance either.
The remaining Bernie supporters are being split between Johnson-Weld, Jill Stein, and even Trump. It's about voting against the establishment for many. These voters are not going to be swayed by logic, Hillary, her supporters, or by a terrible Trump performance either.
This could be discouraging as Hillary has the toughest road in these debates. She can't make a mistake, and she has to get Trump to make colossal ones. No matter what she says or how she performs for many, it'll never be good enough.
Trump is graded by an entirely different set of criteria than her. And, the expectations for him couldn't be lower. All he has to do is minimally exceed them to be seen as winning the debate or at least matching her.
It's a rough road for her, but one I think she could and will rise to the challenge and meet.
Her internet haters will be out in full force during and after the debate. They will, as usual, flood the zone in those unscientific web polls in order to give the appearance that Trump won.
That is what we should anticipate.
If anything is accurate, millennials aren't the most reliable of voters. However, it should be of some concern that 66% and 60% respectively voted for Obama in his two elections. Hillary has made up for some of that in white college educated voters and women voters.
A lot of this is connected back to the behavior and rhetoric of Bernie, his campaign, and the hardcore of his base of support that still exists. It makes no sense why people would flock to Johnson-Weld, and Stein's only real issue is the Native American pipeline, where an arrest warrant was even issued for her.
However, Trump still opposes marriage equality, would appoint judges that would overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that made marriage equality the law of the land, and has an extensive and murky record and statements regarding the LGBT community, including supporting discrimination on the basis of religious beliefs, as Governor Mike Pence signed into law in Indiana.
Of course, 22% of LGBT voters supported Romney in 2012.
Best advice. Become more informed. Watch the debates. Talk about what's important to you.
These choices are difficult for those who have yet to make up their mind. Take the time to look at what these candidates have actually done with their lives. What work have they done, for whom did they do that work, how long have they been doing it.
I can't wait to see how this debate unfolds.
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