Friday, February 12, 2016

The Tenor, Tone, & Tactics within Democracy

I find it curious that some Bernie Sanders’ supporters don't actually discuss Hillary's plans or promote Bernie's plans. Instead, it's a daily dose of who's the latest target of the negativity, anger, and outrage train. 

Bernie Sanders is a good man who deserves to have his policies for America vetted thoroughly. 

I've not demeaned nor dismissed him, nor his candidacy, and certainly not his avid supporters. The passion and vitriol that they feel is real and understandable. I do find the tenor, tone, and tactics that some use curious. 

+Wonderful World
Anyone who praises Hillary or endorses Hillary becomes the latest target. Anyone who challenges the resulting negativity becomes the latest target. 

I don't understand what Bernie Sanders gains from this.

I’ve posted my own analysis of Sanders’ plans on college and healthcare because his candidacy deserves that. It’s not an attack on him; it’s an exploration of the issues that actually matter. 

Instead of attacking people who support Hillary Clinton or challenge Bernie Sanders’ policies, how about discuss and address the actual issues that face Americans today?

Our country is at a crossroads, as it often is. That’s how important America remains in the world. Elections matter, but the issues and the people those issues impact daily matter so much more.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Free College: The Bernie Speculation Plan

As the Democratic primaries continue and the race tightens, an exploration of some of the campaign promises by the candidates is necessary to differentiate fact from fiction. One of the biggest claims by Bernie Sanders is to offer free college to all Americans. 

‘Free College’ is something that every parent, college student, graduate, or dropout can relate to and some on an even more guttural level than others. Student loan debt, after all, is the one kind of debt that cannot be forgiven by a bankruptcy. Buttress this harsh reality with the narrative of the billionaire class having their way with government and the allure of the promise of free college is indeed hard to resist. 

All of Bernie’s plans are first explained by how it’s not radical because everyone else in the world is doing it or giving it away. Certainly, when comparing the current costs of higher education, something has to change, but, is the Sanders plan for ‘Free College’ even feasible? 

Sanders’ plan for ‘Free College’ at first glance seems both concrete and sensible. There are actually very relevant arguments he makes for changing the current system. It’s how he pays for ‘Free College’ that should concern every parent and potential college student. This revenue stream he has selected to pay for this ‘Free College’ plan is not just unstable, it’s irresponsible. 

The tax is on Wall Street speculation. That sounds great! Of course, part of Bernie’s Wall Street reforms also targets reducing the irresponsible speculation he’s going to tax to pay for his ‘Free College’ plan. That doesn’t make a great deal of sense, now does it? But, the plan is banking on American’s anger at the Wall Street bailout in order to sell it as being realistic.

There’s more to be concerned about with this ‘Free College’ plan. There are currently colleges and universities in the State of Illinois that aren’t even receiving the necessary tax revenues to fund their school budgets. This is forcing layoffs, creating program and service cuts, and potentially shuttering institutions of higher education, all because of a budget stalemate between Governor Bruce Rauner and the Illinois State Legislature. All of this with no regard for students, communities, or the longterm cost to the state or the citizens. 

+Amazing World
This is the gravest concern for the Bernie Sanders ‘Free College’ plan. It requires the states to be responsible partners. Recent history and ongoing crises expose that many states are governed by the irresponsible. 

To summarize the Bernie Sanders ‘Free College’ plan, he pays for it with a tax on irresponsible Wall Street speculation and expects potentially irresponsible governors, legislatures, and Congress to not gut higher education if given the opportunity. I’m sorry, but our collective future depends on higher education. We don’t need irresponsible plans dependent upon irresponsible revenue streams governed by irresponsible politicians to make a reality. We all know what happens when irresponsible people are allowed to do what they want. We all suffer.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Differences in Democrat Healthcare Reforms

Common misperceptions persist between the two Democratic candidates for President, their supporters, their critics, beliefs, and realities about their healthcare reform plans. 

Senator Bernie Sanders has provided a single payer, universal healthcare plan. This plan has an impressive array of revenue streams, dismantles the current healthcare system, replaces it with a Medicare-for-all program, and graduates taxes the higher the income. It is revolutionary. 

The plan is predicated on the overall cost of healthcare in America versus other modern economies. It does not address the feasibility concerns that were raised during the recent six year ‘adventure’ the country and many Americans have endured during the political infighting between Democrats and Republicans, the States and the White House, and the legal battles that have landed in the Supreme Court twice so far. 

Secretary Hillary Clinton has a different approach to healthcare reform. Let’s start with the criticisms. Critics say she is for maintaining the status quo. This is wrong. People say she is for protecting the pharmaceutical industry. This is mistaken. 

Actually, there is not one part of her healthcare reform proposals that are about maintaining the status quo. 

Many people are upset with the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare. Clinton seeks to build on the progress made with the ACA, fix the problems made by the law, and address the issues that it has created. She has three chief issues she would address: out-of-pocket expenses, lowering prescription drug prices by holding the pharmaceutical companies accountable, and protecting reproductive rights for women.

Clinton’s approach is based on the premise that passing the ACA was nearly impossible, Republicans not only in Congress fought and continue to fight the law, but red states continue to obstruct implementation of the law. This makes the effort of passing single payer, Medicare-for-all legislation through Congress and implementing it throughout the country virtually impossible.

Now, my personal thoughts, experiences, and feelings about the differences. I want to qualify this that I do believe Bernie Sanders to be completely above board in his proposal. He’s not offering something he doesn’t believe in completely. He believes it’s possible. 

That being said, let me begin.

If you require healthcare for your very life and you happen to live in a red state with a Republican governor and a Republican-controlled state legislature, Bernie's proposal for universal healthcare is not just ridiculous, it's insulting.

There are people dead because of this state versus Obamacare war that has now spanned six years. They couldn't get lifesaving medications and lifesaving medical treatment, not because of Obamacare, but because Republicans wanted to stand up to Obama. 

I know people personally that are dead or nearly died because of the turmoil.

It's a disgusting proposition to thrust the entire country and healthcare system through another bitter, partisan, ignorance fest that doesn't have a chance in hell of getting through the 30+ governor's mansions and state legislatures that are held by extreme right wing legislators. 
+Amazing World

I'm sorry. The country, the political system, and people that depend on the stability of the healthcare system cannot go through another multi-year fools errand because one politician wants to pander to people who want to feel good instead of doing good.

Obamacare extended access to so many more Americans. Building and fixing the ACA is the most amenable, most appropriate, and best approach to achieving the progressive ideal of universal healthcare in America. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

What Democracy Isn't

Why is it that some of the people that lose elections always have a fraud story to weave, even four years later? It could just be that other Americans or other members of your party's electorate just don't agree with your personal judgment about your preferred candidate. 

Ron Paul had ardent supporters when he ran. So does Bernie Sanders now. That doesn't mean when those candidates lose that there's some giant evil conspiracy against them. What’s truly wild about this conversation is that the Iowa caucuses were barely over and the conspiracy weavers were already busy at the loom. 

Hillary Clinton lost in 2008 and didn’t weave some conspiracy story about why she lost, did she? No, she absolutely didn’t. She rolled up her sleeves and immediately went to work to elect Barack Obama the President of the United States because that was the best use of her time and skills. It was also what was best for America. 

Democracy isn't about agreeing. It's about disagreeing and dealing with the resulting reality.

Who knows how the primary season will actually conclude . . . that doesn’t mean there has to be a conspiracy behind every loss just because you didn’t happen to get your way.

+Wonderful Wildlife
Democracy isn’t about getting your way. It’s about everyone having a say. After every single one of us has an opportunity to have their voice heard, we go back to work. We do what America is great at . . . working together to make a better world for each other, our families, our communities, and the world. 

That’s what has made America great and still does. Sometimes, the intensity of our passions can overwhelm that American sense of togetherness. We don’t always get our way. That is okay. That doesn’t mean we throw a fit and make up a conspiracy as to why it didn’t work. It means we keep at it. There’s always another opportunity in America. The next election cycle is probably nearly here. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Iowa Caucuses Prepare Parties for Long Fight

The Iowa Caucuses rarely mean much by the end of the primary season. However, they are the first to ring the bells of democracy that do sometimes continue ringing until Super Tuesday. They also tend to be a shooting gallery for the lesser candidates. 

Huckabee, O’Malley, already no more.

Trump’s glorious ‘I’m a Winner’ status has officially evaporated, and that’s being kind about it. Cruz rises from the ashes after being pummeled by not only Trump but by every other candidate and every establishment Republican for well over a month. Rubio, too, had a rousing finish, nearly besting Trump for a second place finish. In fact, he was quick to congratulate himself so he could board a plane for New Hampshire ahead of the blizzard.

In his speech after losing to Ted Crush,Trump surprisingly was the candidate many thought he couldn’t be. He was not combative. He was not defensive. He was extraordinarily gracious in defeat. Perhaps, this was even more stunning than the win by Cruz.

Clinton and Sanders were neck and neck all night, despite higher than expected turnout, which should have favored Sanders. This seemed to place in doubt the idea of a revolution spearheaded by Sanders. He moves on to a stronghold of Sanders, where Clinton is most certain to come in second. But, New Hampshire is also known to make stunning last minute decisions. In 2008 it brought back to life Clinton’s campaign after her stunning defeat in Iowa to Obama, after all. 

For the Republicans, the establishment-governing lane has another shot at Trump, Cruz, and Rubio. The Bush money-burning machine seems to only be a furnace for rising the other candidates it targets. Christie seems to bluster his way much like the hurricanes and nor’easters that have flooded New Jersey. Kasich, recently garnering the New York Times editorial board endorsement for the Republican nomination, may have yet another opportunity. How many glances can this Ohio governor receive? 

In the end, with both outcomes tonight, the primary season for both parties nominations appears to be a long, hard fight. If you enjoy politics, it’s a gift. If you hate it, what’s wrong with you? If you get angry about politics, it’s yet another opportunity to learn patience, understanding, and above all compassion for each other. 

We are, after all, Americans. We may have different political views, make different decisions, but that’s what makes our country truly great and has for over two centuries. We can make mistakes, we can learn from each, and we always keep moving forward.