Dammit Democrats!

Dammit Democrats, you screwed up what should have been a landslide victory once again! What in the hell is wrong with you? Never mind, you don’t know what’s wrong unless you establish a committee to create a think tank to determine what’s wrong.

I figure after almost 49 years on this planet and having been registered and voting Democrat for the past 30 years, I’ll give you my insights as an outsider. Do I expect you to listen? No, but it’d be nice if you did.

First, you have got to stop being so damned nice all the time. I recall the first time I noticed that, as a whole, the party is too damned polite. It was during the election between Michael Dukakis and George Bush, Sr. While the GOP was throwing every bit of muck and garbage they could at our candidate, the party kept playing nice. Taking the high road when you should have gone after any weak spots you could find, and there were plenty. Then, when Gore ran and, once again, the party went flat. Same with Kerry. Yes, there is the hacking scandal to blame in part for the current mess, but there’s more to it than that. Which brings me to my next point.

Second, the Democratic Party used to be the party of the poor and middle class. We’re the party of FDR and JFK! Have we lost sight of being able to not only fight for the rights and welfare of the poor and middle class, but to also communicate with them? The folksy manner of George W. Bush and the populist rhetoric of the current president-elect should remind the party leadership that great ideas don’t mean a thing if you cannot communicate them to folks that may only have a high school education or less. FDR, while being a wealthy man, was able to do this through his demeanor and weekly fireside chats. He used larger words with caution and relatively sparingly. Yet, words are just a part of the issue.

The GOP has campaign offices set up all over the United States all year long and even in non-campaign years. They are visible in almost every small town from coast to coast. Our party shows up around campaign time, then goes away after the election. When the average person can walk past a GOP headquarters 24/7, 365 days a year, but only see a Democratic office during a campaign cycle, what message does that send? It send the message that we are around for you to elect, but no other time. That’s egregious! Set up offices like the GOP does. Be active in communities. Support and raise up candidates who are viable and active members of their communities and not just names. I know when I tried to run for a state legislative seat where I lived in Florida, the local Democratic party seemed resigned to defeat because the incumbent was one who held the office for quite a few years. They wanted people to go door-to-door with petitions for other offices, but didn’t see how a high school English teacher could be a viable candidate. I wasn’t a name. I wasn’t wealthy, so why help? How many other contenders are there who are staunch Democrats who are working class people who don’t receive support from the party that he or she should to even have a chance at contesting a seat? I think there are more than the party leadership thinks.

Third, and this goes along with the second, get out there and talk to people. I think pollsters are relied on far too much and the people far too little. If we are the party of the people, then we need to know what the people think. What affects their lives. What will help them live a good life, send their kids off to higher education or a good job? The things that truly matter to most rank and file voters.

Fourth, celebrate our diversity as a party. We are not a party of one race or one socioeconomic class. We need to communicate that better. We’ve had the greatest opportunity these last 8 years with President Obama in office to show off our diversity. He did many things to help, from the Affordable Care Act to seeing that marriage equality became the law of the land. We didn’t capitalize on that enough, plus we didn’t combat the negative rhetoric about those items enough. We allowed the GOP to incite fear over both of those items far too much. We could have shown how both would help all Americans, again by going to the local level where there were people who saw these things as either government intrusion or as being somehow against our values as a nation.

Fifth, we need to go back and find our roots as a party of the people. There are new generations who don’t recall the victories of our party that helped all Americans. They don’t realize that fair wages, good working hours, vacation/sick time, and other social net programs were due to the efforts of our party in particular. We witnessed a resurgence in our values and roots in the campaign of Bernie Sanders. He, while historically an independent who sided with Democrats on most issues, excited the younger voters. He didn’t do this through his name or by being the preferred candidate of the party, but through listening to what was needed in our country. He reached out at the grassroots level, much like President Obama did, to listen and act for the people as a whole. Hillary had the experience, but Bernie had both the experience and the passion. What’s more, he excited the passion in the largest voting block in our country. (For the record, I supported both candidates in the primaries and supported Hillary once the primaries were over). Hillary tried to excite the voters, but that’s not her style. There’s nothing wrong with her style, but given the opponent was well-known for his loudmouth and willingness to do whatever it took to be elected, her strengths became weaknesses in the eyes of some voters. Besides, the GOP had enough alleged muck on her to sabotage her efforts. We played into their hands, in effect. (This goes back to my first two points).

Finally, the Democratic Party needs to stop being so damned centrist on every issue. We need to embrace our progressive side on some things and our more conservative on others. Instead, we sit on the fence too damned much. There’s nothing wrong with being able to take a conservative position on one issue while taking a progressive tack on another. We can be fiscally responsible, but still find ways to pay for social programs, for instance. We can fix our infrastructure by putting people to work, for instance, though work-fare programs where people who are able to work are trained to do so and given a job to receive their check. Yet, we can also care for those who truly cannot work as well.

We have a lot of work to do to win back both the Congress and the White House, assuming the incoming administration doesn’t sell us out to the Kremlin and set our country back hundreds of years or creates a Fourth Reich out of our country.

Be Prepared To Save America

The country, as we know it, will change dramatically come January 20, 2017. As such, we must be prepared. Already, there are rumblings from the GOP to gut the Affordable Care Act. They already attempted to undermine oversight of the House, but enough Americans stopped them through calls, emails, and letters. Don’t think for a minute that they’ll stop trying to pull midnight shenanigans or hidden attacks on those they deem as “enemies”.

We have already seen that the incoming person to the Oval Office has chosen to cozy up to a foreign government. Heck, even members of his party have done so with impunity. It seems the threat to our democracy will be from within as well as from outside in the coming years. This is why we must stay vigilant. We cannot allow our country to be taken over by a puppet president who answers to a foreign power and ignores his own intelligence agencies.

Here’s how I look at the next 4 years in the US as far as it comes to what we need to do to protect ALL Americans.

1. Make certain you have all the contact information for your politicians from the local level all the way up to the top (or down to the bottom if they’re GOP or Orange Sauron). Use that information to write/call/email/tweet your views and demand to be heard.

2. Keep a file of their pledges and promises and things they say or do and call them out if they screw up or praise them if they do what’s best for ALL Americans. (Use all your information from #1 and social media to do this).

3. Get or stay active, including informed, on all issues from local to state to national. Be heard!

4. Support candidates who will champion ALL Americans and not just a few.

5. When voting occurs, vote. If you don’t vote, you can complain, but you’re part of the problem if you don’t vote.

6. Orange Sauron DOES NOT have a mandate. The GOP does not have a mandate. He LOST the popular vote by 2.8 million votes! Remind him and others of that. If it wasn’t for the Electoral College, he’d not be there. Hold him accountable for special interests and his mouth/tweets.

7. Stand up against ALL forms of prejudice! Do this however you are able. March, hand out pamphlets, call, write, be there for someone who feels threatened, donate to causes, just do something. If not, you’re part of the problem.

Again, stand up and speak up for what is good. Don’t allow prejudices against others for whatever excuses they make to prevail. We are better than that as a country. There is no room for fear or hatred in the US.

Thank youE

Divided

Divided

E Pluribus Unum. Out of many, one. That’s the traditional motto of the United States. A motto that reflects that our country is made up of people from many different lands, cultures, races, religions, and such. It is a motto that states, although you may be different from me, you are okay. You are accepted and acceptable. You are free to be the person you are, love whomever you love, worship however you wish or don’t worship any deity, and that’s okay.

Yet, with this last election cycle in particular, the idea of unity was tossed out like smelly garbage. One particular candidate with his inflammatory rhetoric managed to abolish a sense of unity within the United States. He created what many pundits, including Time magazine, have called the Divided States of America. This is not to say that there haven’t been factors or ideologies that festered below the surface of American society since the country’s inception. Anyone with a sense or knowledge of history knows those ideologies exist and have existed for decades. They came to a head once before as our country waged a civil war. They appeared during the push for civil rights. They continue to appear as we see inequalities in our justice system, our economic system, and other places within our society. We see people still speaking out for justice, such as the Black Lives Matter movement, the Flint water crisis, and the Standing Rock water protectors.

However, what makes the election so much more insidious is that a foreign government helped to fuel the disunity. As has been reported by the CIA and the FBI, the Russian government wanted the GOP candidate to win. Why? It’s more than simply an attack against the Democratic candidate. It’s that the Russian government, as well as other groups and countries around the world know that if the United States is a divided country, then we are weaker. When a country is weak, it is vulnerable. It is that vulnerability that the enemies of the United States wants to capitalize upon in order to either control us or more of the world.

Tomorrow, the Electoral College will meet to make the final decision on who should be the next President of the United States. They have a great deal of pressure upon them to act for the best interests of the United States rather than simply rubber stamp the candidate who received the most electoral votes in our system. They need to realize that that candidate did not receive anywhere near the popular vote as his opponent. Last count was somewhere in the area of 2.8 million more votes were cast for the Democratic candidate than for the Republican one.

2.8 million.

Now, I know that the Democratic candidate has her own issues. I can understand why the electors may not want to allow her to become president even though she won that popular vote. That’s okay. However, what’s not okay is to allow a person as divisive as her Republican challenger to become president either, especially given the interference of a possibly hostile foreign power in the election. The electors of the Electoral College have a choice to make, but they have options in that choice.

They can rubber stamp the winner of the outdated Electoral College vote winner and do so knowing that his tenure in the Oval Office was gained through the interference of a foreign power. Doing so would be easy, but the consequences could be catastrophic for our country.

They can elect his opponent who won the popular vote by a margin that was far beyond most of the popular vote victories in modern elections. She may have her detractors and issues with some voters, but she has the potential of uniting our country once again, plus her votes were not gained through the interference of a foreign power or through gerrymandering or voter intimidation or voter disenfranchisement.

They can choose another person who may have been a candidate who may be able to unify the country. That person could be from either party and a number of names have been discussed who would fit that description.

What the electors must realize is that they have the power at this point to reset our country. They can choose what they think is the easy way, yet risk continued and worsening disunity in our country; or, they can choose another path and create a way toward a more unified country. We, as citizens, need to hope for the more unifying approach. If not, then we need to prepare as best as we can for things far more worse than we’ve already seen.

Thank you for your time.

It’s been awhile

I apologize for not posting anything for the past few months. Part of that was due to trying to get my children prepared for this school year, part was due to trying my best to maintain sanity during the election, part was due to training to run my second marathon, part due to compiling a new book, and part due to the panic and anxiety I’ve been feeling as a result of the election.

Whew!

I did complete my second marathon, but not as I’d hoped. There were changes in the race that were unexpected, including it being much warmer than it usually is in mid-October in Toronto. While my finish time was much worse than my first marathon, the mileage I physically ran was actually longer than an actual marathon. This was due to changes made in when they decided to start closing the course and there being no markings for how to complete the course once it was closed. I chalk it up to being my first ultra-marathon as it was over 26.2 miles by almost 2.5 miles. So, it was my worst marathon, but my best and new personal best for an ultra-marathon.

As far as the book goes, it is a collection of short stories and poems entitled, Fourteen Poems and Five Stories. Many of the pieces in the book are rather dark, but overall, I hope those who pick up a copy will enjoy it. It’s available on Amazon as well as CreateSpace and for order through most bookstores.

Finally, the election. Still trying to wrap my head around how someone as vile as the president-elect could have even gotten the Electoral College numbers needed to become the president-elect. Yet, as I write this, I am hopeful that the recent revelations about interference from Russia and his other shady dealings will cause the Electoral College to veer off their typical rubber stamp of approval and select either Ms. Clinton or someone more unifying than the person whom I shall simply call Orange Sauron.

Last, it is a snow day here where I am. I enjoy the snow, not shoveling it, but the ambiance it gives to the earth. The quiet way it falls and coats the earth in its blanket of white. Almost gives the earth the appearance of being cleaner than it is sometimes.

I wish you peace and hope to write more much sooner rather than later.

Political Extremism

The dictionary defines extremism as “the condition or act of taking an extreme view” and “the taking of extreme action” (-Ologies & -Isms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc.). It goes further to describe a person who acts in such a way as an extremist or “One who advocates or resorts to measures beyond the norm, especially in politics”(The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition).

We see extremists at work in a wide variety of ways in our world. Most of the time, extremism is associated with groups of people who hide behind a facade of religion to commit acts of atrocity against other people. Yet, there are those who are extremists who use other facades, such as political views or parties, as their means of acting in a manner that is beyond the norm.

One of the problems with extremism is that as it is covered more frequently in the news, it loses its shock and starts to become seen as the norm. We become desensitized to extremism unless or until it rears its ugly head in a violent manner. Even then, to some extent, we are desensitized to it unless it happens to us directly. Then, we become incensed and enraged and demand action to rid ourselves of extremist elements around us. By then, many times, it is too late for the extremism has crept into our mainstream lives and, in doing so, has caused others to see the extremism as a means for their own salvation.

Rather than focus on the obvious example of extremism, that being religion based, let us look to that which is based on politics. They share commonalities with one another even though their mode of operation and existence is different.

What breeds extremism? What causes seemingly normal people to want to follow extremist views? I believe this is a very complex issue and cannot claim to be an expert, but I think some of it has to do with power or at least the perception of power to be gained through extremism.

Some people who have nothing to lose are drawn to extremism and extremist views. They feel that their problems are caused by some entity or group of people who are different from them and, since they themselves feel powerless or so downtrodden that they cannot bring themselves up, they turn to promises made by the peddlers of extremism.

Take a look at the current political situation in the U.S. One particular candidate knows how to peddle extremism very well. So well, that he has managed to become the primary candidate for his political party. If a person looked simply at his ability to govern or ideas, there is nothing there. He leads through intimidation and inflammatory rhetoric alone. One news report mentioned his lack of debate skills during the primaries by saying that he “is active, if not overwhelmingly aggressive, in the first 30-45 minutes. When answering a question during that time, [he] tends to avoid any policy details and has, on occasion, shown a remarkable lack of knowledge on the issues” (Blake). The article continues and says that the candidate then, “tends to fade into the background. He answers the questions asked of him and hits back when someone attacks him. Beyond that, however, he tends to look somewhere between disinterested and sleepy. He does very little to inject himself into the conversation. He is, rather transparently, just waiting for the whole thing to be over” (Blake).

However, when he speaks at his events, he is very much the center of attention and speaks quite long. However, there is not much content in his speech aside from rhetoric that is meant to inflame his most devoted followers. He talks of building walls to prevent immigrants from Mexico, hints at both imprisoning or assassinating his opponents, and makes negative commentaries on refugees. These comments are not policy meant to give people an informed choice as to issues that matter to the entire country, but inflammatory remarks made to people who he knows are most likely led to extremism. While he may not directly tell his followers to discriminate or even consider murder, he does so indirectly and with innuendos that he and his supporters are quick to dismiss and remark that he was simply misunderstood.

It’s a bit like Mark Antony’s soliloquy in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” where he says that “Brutus is an honourable man”(Shakespeare). Antony knows Brutus is part of the murder, but in order to turn the crowd against Brutus, he first uses the phrase to flatter, then to condemn him. The candidate in question says things such as “…nothing you can do, folks…Although the Second Amendment people—maybe there is, I don’t know”(Corasaniti and Haberman). The candidate did not call for murder, but his words, along with chants often heard from crowds at his events to “Lock her up” or “Kill the bitch”, certainly give the impression that he does not disagree entirely with the suggestion. Add to this his hints at the possibility that the general election will be rigged as being the only reason he feels he could lose, and you have a potentially dangerous situation.

This political extremism is dangerous regardless of which party someone supports. It is dangerous for our country as it lends those who feel they are no longer heard or who fear no longer being in the majority an excuse to act in extremist ways.

That is not how a democracy exists.

It is dangerous because it creates a sense of anger-fueled anarchy simmering below the surface of our society. It only takes people who feel they have nothing to lose who have reached either such a low state of self-control or who are worked into a frenzy by this type of rhetoric for things to become violent.

That is not how a democracy exists.

It is dangerous because, if unchecked by people who are not beguiled by such extremist rhetoric, it undermines the very Constitution upon which our country is founded.

That is not how a democracy exists, but how a democracy perishes.

We cannot allow political extremism to hold sway over our country. We must peacefully and legally stop the extremism. We must get out the vote to stop that particular candidate and those who support him and his extremist agenda in order to save our country.

Extremism is not an American value. It is the value of dictators, tyrants, and those who do not value human rights and decency.

Works Cited

Blake, Aaron. “Why Donald Trump might not debate Hillary Clinton.” The Washington Post. N.p., 9 Aug. 2016. Web. 11 Aug. 2016. .
Corasaniti, Nick, and Maggie Haberman. “Donald Trump Suggests ‘Second Amendment People’ Could Act Against Hillary Clinton.” The New York Times. N.p., 9 Aug. 2016. Web. 11 Aug. 2016. .
Shakespeare, William. The Life and Death of Julius Caesar.