Monday, January 25, 2016

Democratic Town Hall: The Angry, the Inspired and the Resilient

Democratic candidates for president met in Des Moines, Iowa a week ahead of that state’s caucuses for a town hall style meeting with voters Monday evening. This different presentation of the candidates may give prospective voters new insights into subtle or not so subtle differences in tone, tenor, and policy. Senator Bernie Sanders faced voters first, with former Governor Martin O’Malley making the most of his time before Secretary Hillary Clinton rounded out the night. 

Sanders certainly had amazing charisma. When he's the jovial, happy socialist democrat, he can be quite funny and even charming. It's a great juxtaposition to the actual tenor and tune of his campaign rhetoric. Both of these attributes were on full display during the town hall. 

Voters asked the senator specific domestic policy questions. With regard to why people should support his Medicare for all program, it was because they are angry about the cost of healthcare. Sanders repeated his plan on giving children, both rich and poor, free college educations.

When questioned about how he would realistically fund his programs, he responded by explaining that people are angry about the billionaire-class making all the gains in the economy over the last thirty years. Challenged on how he would break the gridlock in Washington and actually pass his proposals, he explained how angry people are about all the money in campaigns because of Citizens United.

Interestingly, at the beginning of the next half of Sanders’ time with voters, he posed how he’s not ran a negative campaign. Then, went into a point-by-point attack of his main opponent, Clinton. A voter was concerned with what he would do as President on gun reform. Instead of answering the question, he dove into another defensive attack on Hillary Clinton instead of describing what specific steps he would do. 

To put his town hall in context. . . ‘You're angry. I'm the vessel. Vote for me.’ It is consistent. It does definitely resonate with many voters. And, it has absolutely rallied more support to his side throughout the course of his campaign. His march has been steady. His rhetoric has been on point.

I wasn't even going to write about Martin O'Malley, but then he started engaging the voters in the town hall. I've not seen a more engaging, active, uplifting, and focused delivery of answers to questions from any candidate this entire election cycle until this moment. This is probably because I wasn’t anticipating anything remarkable.

He discussed criminal justice and civil rights as well as focusing on healthcare reforms in a way that is more affordable and dedicated toward wellness for Americans. He highlighted the economic benefits of focusing the country's manufacturing sector on tackling climate change.

Then, he began discussing his 15 point plan. I was curious, so here's a link to it. To summarize it . . . high on goals, short on pathways to achieving them.

He discussed a new agenda for America's cities, and an economic reform plan with a theme of freedom from monopoly without stoking anger like Sanders. Probably, one of the most inspiring and visible political moments he's had during the entire campaign.

O’Malley certainly created an energy and buzz that was palpable and wholly different from Sanders. While Sanders was on an angry, negative, and at times defensive narrative, O’Malley seemed like a breath of fresh air to clear the political palette. 

Hillary Clinton may have benefited from that cleansing and uplifting of the mood in the room, and she took full advantage of it, painting an exciting, forward-looking energy about the campaign and how she's used to people throwing insults at her and working hard for every vote.

When asked about why younger voters aren’t passionate about her candidacy, she dove right into how she's fought against the status quo for progressive values, to tackle all forms of inequality, and exactly what she's done. ‘Not talk, action.’ 

Challenged on her overall foreign policy philosophy, she discussed her imperative to avoid military action, use persistent diplomacy, while projecting our shared American values. Then, Clinton elaborated in how she worked to use diplomacy to ultimately avoid military action with Iran, forcing them to the table so they don’t achieve a nuclear bomb, as well as the complicated efforts she used to avoid yet another Israeli military invasion of Gaza after rockets began raining in Israel. 

Pressed regarding her Iraq War authorization vote, she stated, ”I have a much longer history than one vote.” With even more specifics as to that history, she added that Obama also trusted her judgment. She also discussed advancing women's right, gay rights, Internet freedom, and religious freedom around the world.

Secretary Clinton really seemed to enjoy herself. She was high energy, optimistic, uplifting, and full of hope of finding common ground if she were to become the nominee and ultimately elected president . . . ‘the president for everyone.’

I don't think she mentioned Sanders once until the end when the moderator asked her to respond to a Sanders political ad. Her response was all positive. This was in stark contrast to Sanders, who earlier had mentioned her in nearly every exchange in a highly negative manner. 

Of all the debates and the one candidate forum, this town hall may have actually altered the race significantly by reversing present momentum. O’Malley may have actually energized some movement in his direction, and from both candidates. Sanders’ support is fairly solid. However, I don’t see his attacks on Clinton and overall pessimistic, angry demeanor gaining him much added support. Clinton shored up support that may have been slipping in recent weeks. Any sort of dark cloud over her campaign was brightened by her spirit and enthusiasm for the process and fight she was all too familiar with.
+Wonderful Wildlife

Overall, this town hall was one of the most dynamic candidate experiences of the season thus far. It should be a very energized week and month ahead with candidates and their supporters all jockeying to move the needle. All of the candidates’ supporters should be thrilled with their candidates’ performances. There’s a reason you believe and support your candidate. They all share core values with one another. Remember that.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Hillary Clinton: The Consistent Progressive

Many Democrats, liberals, progressives, and independents are about to go to the polls and vote in the Democratic primary for President of the United States. Much has been said about one candidate that doesn’t fit the history of that candidate. People wonder out loud and argue even louder that Hillary Clinton is not a progressive, is a faux progressive, or is only saying she’s a progressive in order to win the nomination.

They’re wrong. Let me explain why. I welcome people to refute the facts with other facts. Let’s have an honest conversation. 

Hillary Clinton has actually been fighting for the progressive agenda her entire professional and political career. She was the first female executive in Walmart who pushed to move women into management positions in the country. However, she was more successful in moving the company and the entire industry back in the 80s in more environmentally friendly policies. The policies she pushed through in Walmart eventually became industry standards. Secretary Clinton also fought for children, mothers, and families during her work with the Children’s Defense Fund as an attorney. 

Of course, she worked tirelessly to revolutionize and modernize the country’s view of and what it means to be the First Lady, both at home and abroad. During her time in the White House, she championed women’s rights across the world, most notably in China and Asia. She also fought at home against the establishment in both parties and against the insurance industry for healthcare reform to move the country toward universal healthcare. 

As you may not remember, she was the first sitting First Lady to ever have a multi-million dollar ad campaign ran to smear her for being such a tireless fighter for the progressive agenda. When universal healthcare failed, she did not give up. She fought for and advocated for the creation of CHIP, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which has been vital for children receiving healthcare ever since. 

And, then, as Senator from New York, she fought Wall Street leading up to the financial collapse to stop their disastrous and dangerous policies that ultimately led to the mortgage crisis and the Great Recession. This isn’t just something that is said, it’s been fact-checked.

Further, she had a six-point financial regulation plan that she put out BEFORE the collapse during her presidential run back in 2008. This is very comprehensive and attacked not only the risky Wall Street investments but acted to protect homeowners caught in the subprime mortgage nightmare. All of this before the primaries and before the Great Recession . . . check it out as it is amazingly comprehensive and specific.

And, here are Clinton’s own words at her commencement address all the way back in 1969 echoing her fighting spirit of connecting aspirations and ideals with actions and perseverance.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Debate Wars- Trump:Cruz; Clinton:Sanders

In two debates, the Republicans and Democrats battled it out prior to the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. The Democratic race has tightened up a bit whereas Donald Trump has begun shoring up his support amongst likely Republican voters. Still, both debates offered insight into candidates, the two parties, and the mood of the country.

The rise of Senator Ted Cruz in the Republican race seems to have unsettled the establishment even more than the rise of Trump has done. A coalescing behind a single establishment candidate to unseat or challenge Trump prior to votes being cast seems a distant dream to candidates like governors Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and John Kasich. Dr. Ben Carson seemed to nearly sleep through the debate, chiming in brief, awkward moments.

Senators Marco Rubio and Cruz sparred often. Despite landing a couple well rehearsed lines, Rubio seemed not up to the task of besting Cruz, a self-acknowledged master debater. Cruz also wrestled with Trump. Cruz gift-wrapped Trump’s best moment during any of the previous debates and possibly his signature moment of the entire campaign by caricaturing Trump as having New York values. Trump’s response was as iconic as it was American, referencing 9/11, the fall of the World Trade Center, the smell of death for months, and the amazing resilience of the people of New York in the aftermath.

On stage, Cruz won the natural born citizen question that looms over his candidacy. However, lingering constitutional questions remain considering his once dual citizenship and birth in Canada. 

Trump and Cruz had their best nights, with Christie and Kasich fighting for prominence in the waning establishment lane. Rubio seems to lack stamina and consistency. Carson’s campaign is over, and Bush’s might as well be.

The Democratic debate was the most contentious and combative yet between Secretary Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders. Supporters for both candidates will undoubtedly find their performances bested the other. That being said, this debate gave Sanders many opportunities, some of which will either make or tank his campaign hopes.

Prior to the debate, Sanders changed his position on immunity for gun manufacturers and unveiled his new healthcare plan, both of which the Clinton campaign had been demanding from him for days. This rightly created a great deal of energy and focus on Sanders throughout the night. It also opened himself up for potential criticism as likely Democrat voters examine his plans and policies more closely.

One of Sanders primary narratives has been his consistency in policy positions. Therefore, changing positions on guns, may take away that aura of wonder about his candidacy. Also, his healthcare plan maybe difficult to explain, challenges voters to grapple with healthcare reform yet again, and includes taxes that seem ambiguous, complex, and can easily be misconstrued and mischaracterized. But, he has a plan. 

Clinton shined a bright spotlight on all of these potential points of contention without becoming lost in the details. Also, she opened up a new line of attack on Sanders by painting him as being too similar to congressional Republicans in wanting to dismantle the Obama agenda. However, knowing if she successfully balanced challenging Sanders and his positions, as he’s risen in the polls in both Iowa and nationally, without alienating all of his passionate voters has yet to be seen.

+Wonderful Wildlife
Truly, this debate certainly sparked more interest than any of the previous Democratic debates. Neither Clinton nor Sanders will likely lose support immediately. The real movement in the next two weeks will be with independents and Sanders-leaning supporters who don’t identify as socialist as well as those voters who began moving toward supporting him in the last month. 

Should be an exciting couple of weeks in both the Republican race as well as for the Democrats. Cruz was surging in Iowa, but his Canadian birth issue may break his momentum. Iowa is a real tossup in both parties. Regardless of polls, both Iowa and New Hampshire tend to break late. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Terrorist Takeover in America; Between the Overly Sensitive and the Overly Offensive

+Amazing World
Everyone is so damned defensive in this country. 

This is because the rise of the politically correct is replacing the descent of the religious and far right. Both constituencies are squashing public discourse about these issues. As the religious and far right's dominance begins to waver and fade, some within their ranks have taken to using intimidation, fear, and even terror to make a stand.

You can't have a discussion about race, religion, or politics with most people in America these days without either side becoming incensed. Everything has to be said with such perfect precision to manage everyone else's feelings. This is how and why issues never get resolved. Everyone is either too sensitive or too offensive. 
+Amazing World

Cops are defensive because they're under attack. Many citizens are more defensive on the side of cops because they've never experienced a negative experience with a cop that ruined their life or ended the life of someone they know. However, many of these same people are highly critical of the government. Curious.

+Amazing World
Meanwhile, others are defensive that these problems haven't been addressed in exactly the way they wish them to be addressed. Some take the reaction to a violent extreme. 

So many in America have become so reactive. So quick to anger and outrage as opposed to finding some common ground or compassion or some understanding. 

It's beginning to become exasperating. Now, it's becoming dangerous.

Currently, we have a MSM-labeled 'militia,' which is actually a homegrown terrorist group, that has taken over federal property by threat of the use of force. If they were any other race but white, the far right would be calling the federal response feckless and weak. If these were any other race, there would be blood spilled already.

Fighting over our legal rights is a principle I absolutely believe and I will always defend . . . It's an American principle. An armed takeover of any facility, which is what this actually is, is entirely different from protesting the government and property rights.
+Amazing World

Why are 'these' American people fed up? Why is this their method of choice in channeling their frustration?

The anger and outrage that has been channeled and fueled by some in our country for personal and political gain is looked at differently depending on which side of that frustration and outrage you happen to be sitting on at the time.

Where's all this support when Americans are protesting peacefully without arms in America's cities after one of their community's own is killed by police?

That's the dichotomy that so many seem to miss when looking at this armed takeover of property over what, again? Property. Not loss of life at the hands of the state.