Bedtime for Democracy

 

maxresdefault.jpgBy Zack Baer

When I was in college I took an American Politics course. I’ve always been interested in the subject and it turned out to be one of the best courses I took during college. The teacher was a middle-aged rocker who played in bands. He never disclosed his political leanings, but I have my suspicions they were similar to mine.

Anyway, the big project for that class was an essay answering the question “Is America a Democracy?” You were allowed to answer either way, yes or no; but you had to explain your answer in a convincing matter. If I remember correctly I argued that the US is a democracy and did a good enough job justifying my position to receive an A.

I no longer feel that way.

I’m not trying to be Mr. Whiney-Pinko-Snowflake here, I’m just stating something that has become painfully obvious in the wake of the 2016 election. I’ve read numerous essays and magazine articles examining the results and why the polls expected the opposite outcome. I believe I’ve read them in The Atlantic, Mother Jones, National Review and The Hill (That even led to an enlightening exchange with a Trumpkin).

I don’t want to add to the cacophony of voices lamenting, hand wringing and boohooing the election results. We’ve all read enough of that and quite frankly I’m sick of hearing about it, but all of these publications omit one very important fact in their examination of Trump’s victory… He lost the popular vote by three million votes.

Everybody’s writing about how the Democratic Party needs to rebrand itself and reach out to middle America.* I keep hearing about how Hillary Clinton, despite being one of the most qualified people ever to seek the presidency was regarded unfavorably by large portions of the population.

What I’m not hearing anyone, especially Trump, talk about is the fact that he won by −2,868,691 or about −2.10% of all votes. I’m not hearing anyone talk about how Democrats received more votes nationwide for the Senate than Republicans did, despite Republicans taking home more seats.^ I’m not hearing anyone talk about the gerrymandering that allows congressmen more unpopular than herpes or Nickelback to win reelection. I’m not hearing anyone propose methods by which we can remove someone who is quickly becoming the most corrupt and unpopular president in history from office before he does something we can’t recover from.  

What I keep hearing about is ‘populism,’ but I don’t understand it. Shouldn’t someone who calls themselves a poopulist** at least win a plurality of the popular vote? I keep hearing about how we all knew the rules going into it and we should suck it up and accept the results. I’ve even heard about how the Electoral College was designed to protect us from the “Tyranny of the Majority,” which is the only time I’ve ever heard a derogatory euphemism used for democracy. (and doesn’t address the obvious issue of what do we have to protect us from the tyranny of the minority?)

#Trumprussia

But hey, I’m just an average Joe from middle America who was apparently feels so disenfranchised by the system that I turned to a demagogue who promised an economic recovery that an obvious phantasy and a way to stem the apparent scourge of illegal immigrants fleeing drug cartels and war that was even more ludicrous. And like I said, my intention was not to bitch about the election results.

I just want pundits to stop using the term ‘democracy’ when they talk about the American system of government. By definition, democracy is majority rule. At the very least it should be plurality rule, but we can’t even manage that.

Feel free to call us a republic if you like, but why? I think that’s being too generous. We’re an oligarchy. Or a plutarchy.

And we’re quickly becoming a kleptocracy.

So make your jokes at America’s expense; I’m comfortable with it. However, if I do travel abroad please don’t ask me to explain why we do things this way in America. Not even the writers for The Atlantic, Mother Jones or The Hill have been able to come up with a coherent explanation for it.

*Nobody seems to care that I was born, raised and currently reside in middle America.

**I couldn’t resist

Author Bio: Zack Baer lives and works in Ohio. He writes for a local weekly magazine and blogs at tomsin83.wordpress.com. Follow him on Twitter @tomsin83.

Thinkpiece: A Vision of Mutuality

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By Pat Fuller

Wouldn’t it be great if we lived in a world where all people respected and valued each other? In such a world, there would be no domination of one set of people over another. We’d all be seen as having equal value and potential. Do you believe that such a world is possible? Are all created equal but some are just more equal than others? This simply cannot be.

A long time ago, some very patriotic and wise men got together and came up with this:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Do you recognize it? Yes, it’s from the Declaration of Independence. Look back, it says “all men are created equal”. Did they really mean that? All – men – ??

The Founding Fathers eventually framed a constitution that said slaves were 3/5th a person and women could not vote. So, it appears what they really meant to say was that ALL WHITE AND FREE MEN (who were landowners) are created equal. Since that time Blacks and women have had to fight to be treated equally by this Constitution. We’ve had to amend that Constitution several times and we’ve had to take issues to the Supreme Court to ensure that ALL are created and treated equally. And we aren’t done yet!

Perhaps you’ve heard this quote, “Women’s rights are human rights.” It’s from a speech given by Hillary Rodham Clinton in 1995. You can read the whole things here:
http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/hillaryclintonbeijingspeech.htm

That’s over 20 years ago!  Are we closer to a world where all people respect and value each other? Or do we still have work to do? If you believe we may have come a long way baby, but, we still have work to do, you might just be a feminist.

There, I said it. A feminist. Do you want to be labeled a feminist? Some think it’s a dirty word describing a man-hating woman who wishes she’d been born a man. Nothing could be further from the truth.
According to Bell Hooks, who is one of our most eminent feminist leaders, feminism is, “a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.” Anyone can be a feminist then. I am a feminist and I raised my three sons to be feminists. I’m proud they value equality for all. Feminism is for Everybody is the title of a book by Hooks published in 2000. Grab a copy. It’s small, but, powerful.

I believe feminists need to be political. I believe ignoring politics is not an option. We need awareness of what’s happening at every level in our political system. We cannot afford to ignore it. Not if we want to keep the rights we have. There are plenty who would love to see our political system return to the way it was when the Constitution was framed. 

 Are you interested? Are you willing to get involved? If you are new to political activism, start with Ballotpedia. It is a “nonprofit, nonpartisan collaborative encyclopedia designed to connect people to politics and elections at the local,state and federal level.” 

There is carefully researched information available on the site. According to wikipedia, Ballotpedia was “Founded in 2007, it covers American federal, state, and local politics, elections, and public policy.” Everything is referenced and it is free of partisan opinion. 

Here are some things you can do to make a difference: write a letter-to-the editor, attend a town hall, go to a city council meeting, volunteer for a candidate or organization you support; you get the idea. Act. 

Join me and others who want to make this world a place where mutual respect is the norm and all people are considered to have inherent value. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Author Bio: Pat Fuller is a retired professional counselor who worked in addictions and education. She enjoys spending time with her family, writing her blog, and keeping up on current events via her social media accounts.

Sean Spicer must resign.

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Today, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer made several attempts to downplay the horrors of the Holocaust. Spicer began by saying Hitler did not use chemical weapons and then tried to case concentration camps in a positive light, calling them “Holocaust centers.” As every senior official in any government around the world should know, of course, Hitler killed millions with gas. This behavior is part of a demonstrated pattern from the Trump Whitehouse. Trump began his campaign in controversy over tweeting out a white supremacist, anti-semitic, graphic. Additionally, Steven Bannon and other key players in the Trump orbit have expressed white nationalist views. Lastly, the president took weeks to denounce a wave of antisemitic hate-crimes that followed his victory.

Spicer has since apologized, but major advocacy organizations, including the Anne Frank Center have called for his resignation or insist he be fired. This is of course the only appropriate response. Nobody accidentally refers to concentration camps as Holocaust centers. It was an intentional choice aimed at revising the severity of the Holocaust, sending a dog whistle to the neo-Nazis and white supremacists who support Trump in droves.

Afraid to go to the Grocery Store in the Land of the Free

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By Clarissa Laguardia

 

Life was already rough for Latino families before November 8 when the United States election’s outcome took our nation and the world by surprise. The following days were rough for many, but especially uncertain for families with mixed legal status in what pundits were calling The Divided States of America. Children did not attend school and those who did attend feared for their future and that of their families. No child should have to worry about coming home from school, only to learn a parent has been deported.

Recently, a regular school event once overflowing with parents eager to help, was half empty because it fell on #ADayWithoutImmigrants. Various community-based organizations are trying to come together to figure out a way to ensure Latino families that they will be safe, but with the current administration there is no real way to make that assurance to any minority group targeted both during the presidential campaign and after.

Schools struggle to engage parents in their children’s’ education. More and more, Latino parents are afraid of stepping foot on school grounds. As some families in my community have expressed to me, they now think twice before even grocery shopping. They sometimes feel like they cannot risk taking their children to the park. And yet, still they try, they work, they persist.

These families live in a state of constant fear. Latinos as a group are not a threat to society. Immigrants in general are only seeking a better life. Indeed, many of our current undocumented immigrants were unfortunate to migrate after the gates were closed, but that does not mean they are a burden to society.

Immigrants pay taxes and start new businesses. Immigrant groups over centuries arrived to America to escape poverty, war, or seek opportunities. If only we as people could learn from history. Undocumented immigrants in the U.S. collectively contribute nearly $12 billion each year in the form of income, property, sales or excise taxes, according to a study from the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy. The economic impact Latinos have in the country as a group is growing at a steady rate, and according to Nielsen, a global information measurement firm, Latinos are “the most influential segment since the baby boomers,” representing a $1.5 trillion consumer market.

We are all in this together and immigrants are playing a big part. 

Author Bio: Clarissa Laguardia is a California-based professional translator focused on decreasing barriers to participation in society.
Twitter: @EstoyConHillary

Sign the petition to STOP TRUMP from wasting our tax dollars on golf

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CLICK HERE to sign the petition.

Goal: 100,000 signatures in 30 days gets an official response from the White House

Congress should limit how much of our tax dollars can be spent protecting the president and first family on unnecessary outings and activities. 

Description:

It is entirely appropriate for the public to pay for the protection of the president and first family during necessary travel, including limited vacation. That being said, the Trumps have abused this public provision of security and are on track to waste hundreds of millions of dollars on unnecessary leisure activities. Their vast fortune aside, this is not about the Trumps’ personal wealth. Congress should establish rules on this type of behavior for all first families going forward. Trump has personally cost $23 million in the first 10 weeks of his presidency, most spent protecting him on weekly golf outings. Melania refuses to live in D.C. costing millions in public funds. Just last month, Trump’s adult children took nearly 100 Secret Service members with them on a ski trip to Aspen.

Thank you for supporting this critical policy,

Kaivan Shroff

Founder, Millennial Democrats

Stop Saying, “When They Go Low, We Go High”

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By Kaivan Shroff

I love Michelle Obama. I loved when the room went silent at Clinton headquarters as we all listened to her now famous speech. With her usual charm, Mrs. Obama managed to condemn the crude rhetoric and questionable tactics of certain actors, while imploring progressives to continue to slow work of advocacy and civic engagement.

To educate, not name call. To go to the polls, not hate rallies. To stick to the truth, not tweet lies.

Yes, who among the educated elite could disagree? Obama had set America on an imperfect, but impressively progressive, track. Hillary was going to be president. There was work to do, but we would get it done – the classy way, with our heads held high.  We would persist in passing liberal legislation, invest in education, ensure equal rights for all Americans, and work to keep undocumented Americans safe. We played the game by the rules – and we we’re supposed to win.

The problem with Michelle Obama’s call, “when they go low, we go high” is that Hillary lost. Not only did the other side not play by the rules during the election, they now have the power to write them. If their nominee for a stolen Supreme Court seat can’t get the requisite 60 Senate votes for confirmation, the Trump and the Republicans use the nuclear option, destroying precedent and undermining our democracy. If Kellyanne Conway violated federal law on national TV by plugging Ivanka merchandise on Fox News, the administration says ethics rules don’t apply to her. When Trump spends millions of dollars in taxpayer funds EVERY WEEK to go golfing, nobody in power bats an eye.

The problem with the “take the high road” attitude so proudly touted by progressives is that the high road still has to lead to your destination. In 2017, we can’t promise that focusing on education, information-rich messaging and local organizing is what works and we also can’t afford to keep losing.

What if calling Trump an “orange-buffoon,” as many of my twitter friends call him, is the most effective way to get Trump supporters to turn on him?

Political Science research (Sniderman, et al.) on public opinion tells us that while high-sophistication voters are more ideological and principled in shaping their political views, low-sophistication voters rely much more simple likeability. In other words, we don’t yet know how and why each different type of voter votes. What we do know, is that progressives MUST win big in 2018.

It’s uncomfortable, but this may require some new strategies, perhaps even co-opted from the Trump movement. For example, liberal leaders not using twitter right now are FAILING their constituency. Progressives need to stop telling one another how to resist and instead we need to use every tool and strategy available, not just the pretty, sophisticated, ones. If a progressive congressperson can plug a policy on Reality TV, like Rep. Frederica Wilson does in The Real Housewives of Atlanta, that’s not beneath us – that’s a huge win where millions of viewers received an important message in an accessible way. In terms of policy, Democrats, should be exploiting every legal opportunity and anti-Trump message that they can. Don’t hold back.

There is no moral high ground when we don’t have the House, the Senate, or the Presidency. If we continue to lose, real people will continue to suffer extreme inhumanity on a daily basis.

Once we win, then we can go back to “when they go low, we go high.”

Welcome to Millennial Democrats!

This site, in conjunction with our twitter (@millennial_dems), hopes to uplift millennial voices. Not only have millennials proven to be the most diverse and socially minded generation in recent history, but we face a unique set of challenges in the Trump era. Together, we will unite, RESIST, and PERSIST.

This site is open for submissions. To pitch an article or submit a piece, please email: millennialdemocrats@gmail.com.

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

We hope you’ll join our efforts!

Sincerely,

Kaivan Shroff

Founder, Millennial Democrats