Atavistic Attitudes

Washingtonian

Democrats have tried to tackle race inequality before and they were shut down by Conservatives in the Republican Party, some of whom are racists who never got over losing the Civil War and who nursed their racial myths, hated Northern liberals, and felt that the generals who lost the Civil War were heroes. There are Americans who seem to think that wiping out Americans of African Descent, brought here by their own ancestors into slavery, is justified; that they should be terrorized and killed, either separately or in groups until they leave. (America is their country; where would they go?) At least a campaign to decimate this population appears to be true if you keep track of black deaths at the hands of white folks and the police. In 2020 a law was just introduced by Kamala Harris and Cory Booker that would make lynching illegal. Do you know any white folks who were ever lynched?

In the 60’s the nation was made aware of the dissatisfaction of our fellow citizens with black and brown skin. The Black Panthers showed America what it could be like if black Americans decided to get really angry and militant. Citizen demonstrations by black Americans arose in a number of American cities and neighborhoods. Perhaps you heard about the demonstrations in Watts which turned destructive and were labeled as “riots.” Race “riots” were effective in that they scared legislators into thinking about laws that could be passed and actions that could be taken. Solutions split into two camps. One group, mostly composed of liberals, agreed that our treatment of our black neighbors had been appalling and that what was needed was an investment of time and money and opportunity focused on lifting up black folks in our inner cities for the most part. Of course, the squeaky wheel gets the grease so bigger cities got more resources. During the administration of LBJ programs to educate and offer good health care and encourage entrepreneurship in our cities proliferated. 

Republican legislators were frightened by the violence enough to try these lefty ideas although they hated them and never let Democrats forget that they felt this approach was wrong. Even then Republicans had no faith that the government could solve societal or economic problems. But what they really believed is that Black Americans were lazy and flawed and that they were incapable of adopting the behaviors of successful white folks. They were uneducable and had no work ethic. They were simply a bunch of drunks and criminals and any money spent on such programs would be wasted money. They sabotaged these programs with one hand while they voted for them with the other. They added rules and restrictions that made taking part in many of these programs embarrassing or difficult. The government built housing but only in certain neighborhoods where poverty practically guaranteed that the building would be substandard and overcrowded. There was optimism on the left and the self-fulfilling prophecy of predictions of failure on the right; in fact, Conservatives Republicans made sure that failure was built in so they could say ‘I told you so.’

Then the right came back in the 80’s and 90’s and claimed that these programs had been abject failures; that they had no effect on lifting up inner city black folks. The self-fulfilling prophecy ‘bombs’ built into the programs had muffled their effectiveness. But it was not true that no one was lifted up. The number of Americans of African Descent in the middle class grew. Head Start programs did help children do better in school. Small businesses did spring up, but without any nurturing from above they often failed and added to the burden of hopelessness. Home ownership improved for a few, but because of redlining many people were imprisoned in their inner city neighborhoods without the resources to find housing in diverse, upscale neighborhoods or they owned homes that were undervalued. Real estate is at the base of much generational wealth. Such wealth could only be found in the inner cities residents felt by becoming a professional athlete, a musician, or engaging in some form of criminal or gang activity. Imagine if these were the only choices white children had?

As the programs failed and some in the inner cities turned to gangs for power and family loyalty, criminal activity increased in our inner cities. Guns appeared on our city streets. Families in these neighborhoods who hoped for a better future for their children found that their children got sucked into gangs, each with a pitifully small turf of city territory that they had to protect and defend against intrusion by other gangs. Did anyone get rich? A few gang leaders flashed cash and fancy cars, but it did not trickle down to the regular troops. Gangs have ended up being a sort of pyramid scheme. Conservatives began to slip the words ‘law and order’ into every conversation. What they meant is that we need our police forces to declare war on these behaviors and put these criminals, big and small, young and old, but only black or brown or poor, into jail cells. Getting them off the streets will solve the problems. They were successful at busting gangs, using old mafia laws, like RICO laws to convict in the courts. “Being nice to them won’t work”, Republican said. “We told you so. Put the fear of the law in them. Let them live out their lives in prison.” It became a kind of exile right here in America. Racists avoided having to find a nation or an island to ship people of color off to. Did it work? Did our inner cities become oases of civil society, the arts and opportunities to advance economically. No ‘law and order’ did not work. No, although our cities contain many creative and positive elements we could not exactly grant them oasis status.

So, here we are once again, trying to find out how to rid ourselves of our racism and of the damage it does to black and brown Americans and to the ideals America was supposed to stand for. And we are divided in exactly the same ways we have always been. Democrats still say that opportunity, that welcoming Americans of African Descent into diverse communities with great schools and lots of adult mentoring for any children who struggle educationally is the only correct pathway out of racial discrimination and inequality. Once we recover from the economic setbacks of the coronavirus, reparations to make up for the lack of chances to build up generational wealth, for the land robbed from black folks, for the lives destroyed or ended, would definitely be in order.

But Democrats are not in control and the current administration, right down to the lowliest new Republican representative or senator believes that ‘law and order,’ the baton and the tear gas, the hoses and the rubber bullets, the dogs and the real bullets are the only language that black and brown Americans will understand. They see no injustice here. All they see is people flaunting the rule of law and the power brokers. They still refuse to accept that their own hatred and fear caused the tragic suppression of black and brown people in America. Until Republicans are voted out, and Conservatives are ignored to become a circular echo chamber pontificating only to each other, until then, we cannot do the things that need to be done; pass the laws that need to be passed, spend the resources that need to be spent and try, just try to humbly apologize for what has been done and what has not been done. And then we have other shortcomings to make up for as well. Do not let that ‘law and order’ cry win the day. Vote in the Democrats and since we are a big tent party  we will find ways to lose racism forever and to try, once again, to live up to the uncompromised ideals of the American republic/democracy. If the Democrats lose in 2020 you get Trump’s Troops and apparently the entire military might of the United States in our streets. Republicans cannot and will not change the way they think; their atavistic attitudes.

Washingtonian

Fox and Dems

 

No Dems on Fox in 2020 - the HillThere is a lot of talk in the media about why the Dems turned down an offer to hold one of their primary debates on Fox News. It seems relatively uncontroversial to me. After all, Fox New is not really a news channel now is it? However, apparently during daytime broadcast hours there are a few actual journalists, like Chris Wallace, on Fox News doing actual news. These journalists who make up a minority of commentators on Fox News are wounded at the rejection by the Democrats.

It turns out that there are more reasons than just the Fox News reputation as a propaganda outlet to say no to Fox News. There isn’t much data available but there is some. A 2017 study found that 50% of the people who watch Fox are Democrats, but this data is old.

Another study from 2018 found that the Fox News audience is overwhelmingly white. This would make Fox News a poor venue for a party that is a “big tent”.

2019 study of the demographics of Fox viewers found that the median age for people who tune in Fox News is 65, although the same was true for people who watch MSNBC. This study also backs up the study from 2018 and found that 94% of the Fox audience is white.

In addition to the content of Fox News it seems that there are other compelling reasons for declining the offer to hold a primary debate at Fox, and it is difficult to think of any reasons beyond not hurting the feelings of a few TV journalists for putting such an important election debate on a channel that is not watched by many of the voters the Democratic Party hopes to attract.

There is also the problem that folks on the right are not allowed to refer to the Dems as the Democratic Party because it makes them sound like the keepers of democracy. Right-wingers now chance being ungrammatical and consistently refer to the party on the left as the Democrat Party. They also insist that our democracy be called a Republic, probably not so much because it is a republic (a democracy based on a written document) but because the word Republic is reflected in the name of the Grand Old Party, the Republicans. Parsing words, using semantics as propaganda is what we do now. I believe the Democratic Party made the correct decision. Why go on a TV station that is reluctant to use the party’s actual historical name?

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – the Hill.com

Dems Do So Too Have Substance

american-flag-antiqued big pixabaySo much has been written that is critical of Democrats. Some say they are no different from Republicans, mainly because they also seem fixated on money and war, at least those seem to be the key complaints.

Others complain that the Dems have no substance, that voters do not know what the party stands for. It is true that Dems do not have a web of think tanks and foundations that hold frequent meetings and produce approved lists of talking points. If the Democratic Party starts doing lockstep they will lose their constituents and they will certainly lose me. It would not suit the modus operandi of the party, which believes in inclusion and which wants to be the party of “we the people”. Detractors argue that its power structure is perhaps made up of too many wealthy people who do not favor more progressive goals and who are too moderate for the tastes of many would-be Democrats.

Someone (a friend who scours the internet for memes like the one below) sent this list out on Facebook. I could not find the attribution but it is not mine. However it is a pretty complete and well-designed outline of the policies that Dems find important and serves as an excellent counterpoint to the policies we see being played out on the right. These party goals remind me of why I will be a Democrat as long as the party supports these policies.

  • Raise Incomes and Restore Economic Security for the Middle Class
    o Raising Workers’ Wages
    o Protecting Workers’ Fundamental Rights
    o Supporting Working Families
    o Helping More Workers Share in Near-Record Corporate Profits
    o Expanding Access to Affordable Housing and Homeownership
    o Protecting and Expanding Social Security
    o Ensuring a Secure and Dignified Retirement
    o Revitalizing Our Nation’s Postal Service
  • Create Good-Paying Jobs
    o Building 21st Century Infrastructure
    o Fostering a Manufacturing Renaissance
    o Creating Good-Paying Clean Energy Jobs
    o Pursuing Our Innovation Agenda: Science, Research, Education, and Technology
    o Supporting America’s Small Businesses
    o Creating Jobs for America’s Young People
  • Fight for Economic Fairness and Against Inequality
    o Reining in Wall Street and Fixing our Financial System
    o Promoting Competition by Stopping Corporate Concentration
    o Making the Wealthy Pay Their Fair Share of Taxes
    o Promoting Trade That is Fair and Benefits American Workers
  • Bring Americans Together and Remove Barriers to Opportunities
    o Ending Systemic Racism
    o Closing the Racial Wealth Gap
    o Reforming our Criminal Justice System
    o Fixing our Broken Immigration System
    o Guaranteeing Civil Rights
    o Guaranteeing Women’s Rights
    o Guaranteeing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights
    o Guaranteeing Rights for People with Disabilities
    o Respecting Faith and Service
    o Investing in Rural America
    o Ending Poverty and Investing in Communities Left Behind
    o Building Strong Cities and Metro Areas
    o Promoting Arts and Culture
    o Honoring Indigenous Tribal Nations
    o Fighting for the People of Puerto Rico
    o Honoring the People of the Territories
  • Protect Voting Rights, Fix Our Campaign Finance System, and Restore Our Democracy
    o Protecting Voting Rights
    o Fixing Our Broken Campaign Finance System
    o Appointing Judges
    o Securing Statehood for Washington, DC
    o Strengthening Management of Federal Government
  • Combat Climate Change, Build a Clean Energy Economy, and Secure Environmental Justice
    o Building a Clean Energy Economy
    o Securing Environmental and Climate Justice
    o Protecting Our Public Lands and Waters
  • Provide Quality and Affordable Education
    o Making Debt-Free College a Reality
    o Providing Relief from Crushing Student Debt
    o Supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions
    o Cracking Down on Predatory For-Profit Schools
    o Guaranteeing Universal Preschool and Good Schools for Every Child
  • Ensure the Health and Safety of All Americans
    o Securing Universal Health Care
    o Supporting Community Health Centers
    o Reducing Prescription Drug Costs
    o Enabling Cutting-Edge Medical Research
    o Combating Drug and Alcohol Addiction
    o Treating Mental Health
    o Supporting Those Living with Autism and their Families
    o Securing Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice
    o Ensuring Long-Term Care, Services, and Supports
    o Protecting and Promoting Public Health
    o Ending Violence Against Women
    o Preventing Gun Violence
  • Principled Leadership
  • Support Our Troops and Keep Faith with Our Veterans
    o Defense Spending
    o Veterans and Service Members
    o Military Families
    o A Strong Military
  • Confront Global Threats
    o Terrorism
    o Syria
    o Afghanistan
    o Iran
    o North Korea
    o Russia
    o Cybersecurity and Online Privacy
    o Non-Proliferation of Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Weapons
    o Global Climate Leadership
  • Protect Our Values
    o Women and Girls
    o Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People
    o Trafficking and Modern Slavery
    o Young People
    o Religious Minorities
    o Refugees
    o Civil Society
    o Anti-Corruption
    o Torture
    o Closing Guantánamo Bay
    o Development Assistance
    o Global Health
    o HIV and AIDS
    o International Labor
    • A Leader in the World
    o Asia-Pacific
    o Middle East
    o Europe
    o Americas
    o Africa
    o Global Economy and Institutions

This list of goals is fairly inclusive and it shows that any Democratic administration would have a lot of offer to we the people. One problem I can see with this is that so many of these areas will be eroded by the Trump administration that it will be difficult to set priorities for what to tackle first. It is a lengthy menu and tough to address even some of the many priorities in a timely fashion. 

Another problem is that this list, while impressive, is too lengthy to serve Dems in an election campaign. It needs to be condensed and redesigned from a long list of bullet points which most voters won’t even bother to read, into a convincing and powerful set of promises that are specific and realistic. We should have a contest, with a great prize, to get some clever Democrat to produce just such a memorable meme.

 

Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong – The Resistance

Yes we are divided into two ideological tribes or camps. Yes this point has been made a million times by everyone including me. However the fact that the message is repetitive does not make it wrong. Each side believes that the policies espoused by their party will keep America stronger, healthier and more influential on the world stage than will the policies of the other party.

Moving From Obstruction to Demolition

But I think we have to look at this from another perspective because one of the two major parties (one set of ideologically-based beliefs) requires Americans to scrap all of the laws they have made since the Constitution was written and to start over. This party wants to obliterate the other party, annihilate it and get rid of any traces that it ever existed. This party says we should throw out everything we have done, especially on human rights, humanitarian concerns, environmental concerns, and regulation of business and the banks, on foreign relations and trade.

They believe the true test of a nation is economic, not humanitarian. They believe that celebrating diversity will change the hue of America beyond recognition and it will just not be America anymore. Behind this is an argument that our democracy/republic was designed for white people who are Christians and that is all.

They blame our changed position in the world (no longer first in production or universally feared and respected by all the world’s nations) as arising from the failed policies of the other party rather than any other forces like greater connectedness through air travel, tourism, the internet and cell phones. They want to hold the world still just like they tried to hold our government still for the past six years. They want things to be like they used to be.

(Smack your forehead here at the naivety of this extreme nostalgia.) Even these folks know in their hearts that nothing stays the same forever.)

This is exactly why the left says that the right wants to take us backwards. The party on the left seems to at least try to address current needs of our society as they arise.

It’s Personal

Despite the chaos of the past two week the Trumpers who were once my friends and family are starting to creep back on to my Facebook page crowing triumphantly because the man who is not my president is doing just exactly what he promised his “peeps” he would do. It is quite distressing that my feelings are so different from the friends I grew up with and from my family. Where I see creeping fascism and racism and warmongering they have visions of influence and world domination dancing in their heads. Who’s right, who’s wrong?

I have been as aware as anyone that our government is far from perfect. I think that there is too much money in politics. I deplore the Citizen’s United decision and the McCutcheon v FEC decision and even the original ruling that made corporations people because that just led to the laws that define money as speech. Why does this statement that money is speech sound like linguistic nonsense to me and like common sense to others? Who’s right, who’s wrong?

Now there is to be an executive action that allows religious not-for-profits to contribute money to campaigns. My brain is ready to explode already, but then we are told that laws are being passed that challenge the right to religious freedom – because they require religious people to do things that threaten either their soul, their bottom line, or both such as bake a cake for a gay wedding or offer insurance to their employees that pays for contraception. (Smack your forehead again.)

There is an obvious clash of values here. Does our country legislate to please those who follow the Bible, or does it legislate to offer treatment to all that is as fair as possible. Since we are not a theocracy I come down on the side of the latter, but I also despair that this conflict is almost impossible to resolve without untangling how to respect the separation of church and state and still respect the desires of citizens to honor their religious beliefs. Perhaps only time will smooth out this one but in the meantime it is tearing America apart. So I see the logic of Christians, although it blows the idea of tolerance out of the water and that can’t be right.

These estranged friends and family members do not even agree that the GOP has skirted and subverted the US Constitution to serve their own purposes, or that there was ever obstruction, or voter suppression, or extreme gerrymandering. If they get even a glimmer of a thought that some of this may be true then it was justified, they say.

So none of these folks will ever buy that resistance is required; they will not see anything amiss with Trump’s cabinet appointments, including the horrific-for-our-schools Betsy DeVos. They do not think that a Supreme Court seat that was Obama’s to fill has been stolen on purpose and handed to DT to fill. In fact they applaud this maneuver although it sort of annihilates our US Constitution.

 

 

Talking to Democrats

This leads me to the “speech” I want to make to Democrats in Congress. I do not care what you believe that sets you at odds with other Dems. This is a time for unity. (No pledges, I don’t like pledges. Look what Norquist did to Republicans who signed his pledge.) This is a time to put our differences aside and decide about what we agree on. I bet we can all agree to resist every executive action or bill that tries to overturn laws that were passed to address the problems of the 20th and 21st centuries, or any action that is unconstitutional.

I bet we can all agree to keep an eye on the whole Trump entourage and try to soften the blows that he seems likely to dish out to America and the world. And if you do not – every one of you – vote no on Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, I hope that any wealthy backers we have will see that you get the “primaried” treatment that the GOP used so successfully to keep elected reps in line and I hope we the people surround your offices and demonstrate peacefully in your face until you get the message.

Here is link to a list of all of the Democrats in the 115th Congress. We are watching you. This is not a threat, but it is a promise.

http://thearmchairobserver.com/115th-congress-democrats/

 

Stick together. Go down fighting or win through resistance. Obstruction is their word: let’s use the word resistance.

A Few Parting Thoughts

So far I see little of the buyer’s remorse I hoped to see by now. Trumpers don’t think DT is personally hurting them in any way; but they seem delighted that his is sticking it to the left. Oh my giddy aunt! (OK, I stole that from A Knight’s Tale, but in my defense I love that line and it is difficult to find many opportunities to use it.) How much longer will it take for disaffection to appear?

(And Facebook – these folks and I still strongly disagree and I am not ready to let them back onto my page yet, so please continue to block them. I guess Facebook thinks all is well and it is time to reconvene. This is one time that we cannot agree to disagree.)

This is a view from the cheap seats.