Friday, November 06, 2020

Next Steps


With the election of Joe Biden looking more and more certain every hour, the topic of discussion amongst my online community has turned toward the future of the Democratic Party. These conversations fall into two broad camps:

  • One group maintains that, in order to win elections, we have to be a more centrist or center-left party … no radical proposals, nothing earth-shaking, just an incremental approach toward progress.
  • The other group holds that, because of the fact that down-ballot races tended to swing progressive, it is time for the Democratic Party to adopt a more activist and liberal platform.

Both of these groups are right, and both are wrong ... and both of them overlook a very key point: that the Democrats have been abysmally bad at communicating what we are for.

Back in the day the Democratic Party was the party of the working class, the party of unions, and fair wages, and keeping the 1% in check, and a level playing field. And while we still stand for those things, we have been horribly bad at telling people we are in favor of these things. Instead of saying what we are for, we have allowed the Republican Party to put us on defense, forcing us to deny increasingly absurd accusations and thus taking time away from outlining our platform. If we are going to increase out majority, if we hope to regain the majority in the Senate, we have to completely revamp our messaging.

This is where we can actually learn from the GOP playbook. Say what you will about the Republican Party, say they are hopelessly corrupt, say they are in the pocket of billionaires and corporate America, say they are reactionary racists and misogynists, say they are enables of our worst impulses ... I forgot my point.

Oh, right.

Like 'em or loathe 'em, the Republicans have always been very good as message discipline. They have a platform, they have marching orders, and they go out and follow those orders to the letter. Granted, many of these orders are abominable -- using "religious liberty " as a shield to enact all manner of regressive policies, employing racist dog whistles, etc. -- but they are effective and efficient. We need to start employing this same message discipline, but on the side of good and light as opposed to evil and darkness (okay, a bit hyperbolic, but you get my point).

The best way to do this is to cop a move from Ronald Reagan's playbook. During the 1980 presidential debate against Jimmy Carter, Reagan ignored attacks by simply shaking his head and saying, in a rueful, kind voice, "There you go again." This completely delegitimized anything Carter said, and gave Reagan the rom to make his own points ... and, in the process, make attacks that forced Carter to rebut, thus taking time away from his message (seeing a pattern yet?) We need to simply dismiss any Republican attacks in this manner. Basically, ignoring them and moving on to what we want to say.

This is all well and good in the long term, but we have a more pressing need right now: retaking the Senate seats in Georgia.

Raphael Wornock and Jon Ossoff are facing runoff elections on January 5th against Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue respectively. These are winnable seats, but not if we double down on the strategy that failed us this time around. We no longer have the boogeyman in the White House as a convenient foil, so this means we have to give voters something substantive.

This means that Ossoff and Wornock have to articulate clear visions for what electing them to the Senate means for Georgians and for the country apart from "hey, at least we aren't those assholes." This can be anything from highlighting how the Democratic Party will protect health care for all, or competent handling of COVID, or making education more affordable, or cutting taxes on the working and middle classes, that sort of thing. The Republicans should not enter into our messaging until after we have made our points, and then only in the context of how they are trying to screw the average Joe out of everything they can get.

We also, and this is much tougher row to hoe, have to get the point across that just because people of color are getting more than they have in the past, this doesn't mean that white people are getting less. We need to highlight how increased equity -- in gender, in race, in sexual identity, in ethnicity -- benefits everybody, not just these marginalized people.

Finally, we need surrogates. Lots of 'em. And they need to be tailored not just to the message, but to the people to whom they will be delivering it. For example, to have Julian Castro speak to the LatinX community on behalf of Raphael Wornock, or Stacey Abrams to speak on behalf of Jon Ossoff to the African-American community. This approach will work not just in Georgia, but also nationwide.

See, it's not that Republicans appeal to more people -- they don't. An absurdly large number of studies have confirmed this. This is why the GOP has been pushing gerrymandering, voter suppression, etc. as strongly as they have ... they know they cannot win elections based solely on their agenda, as people have said time and again that they do not favor these things.

If we can do these things, we can pretty much guarantee a Democratic majority for the foreseeable future.

I gotta lie down.

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Tuesday, November 03, 2020

The Time Has Come


Well, it's election day. I've been laying quite low for a while for mental health reasons, but here we are. We are on track to have the highest voter turnout (as a percentage of the eligible population) since 1908.

What makes this especially impressive is the fact that, in 1908, the eligible population only consisted of white males. I mean, yeah, African-Americans ostensibly had the right to vote thanks to the 15th Amendment, but racism and Jim Crow put so many barriers in place to prevent it that I think there were roughly 73 black people who were actually allowed to vote.

Also, in 1908 the population of the United States was around 88 million, and there were only 46 states (Alaska, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Arizona had not yet been admitted to the Union and were still territories). The total number of votes cast was 14,889,239, or roughly 17% of the population of the United States at the time.

Today, Election Day 2020, around 3:30 PM Eastern, we have already seen over 100 million votes cast (out of 331 million people), or around 30% ... and there's still six or seven hours to go until polls close out West.

Whether you like 45 or dislike him (and I dislike him intensely, with a level of disdain and loathing I have never before felt in my life ... and I am not happy about this emotional poison at all), he has managed to get people to pay attention to the electoral process and its shortcomings, as well as many if the institutional flaws in our nation's government. There are some who maintain we should express some gratitude for this, and while I can understand the logic behind this sentiment I cannot in good conscience agree with it.

This is a man who, while the echoes of his oath of office were still reverberating off the sides of the Washington Monument, announced a ban of people of Muslim descent entering this country based solely on their religion. He then went on to lie to the American people over 30,000 times, kidnapped children away from their families with no plans for reunification, and exploded the deficit by giving tax breaks to his Wall Street cronies. All of which was bad enough, but then came COVID.

As of this writing, there are nearly 230,000 people dead as a result of the pandemic. We are ninth in the world in fatalities compared to total population (behind San Marino, Peru, Belgium, Andorra, Spain, Brazil, Chile, and Bolivia) with 237,636 (compared with such advanced societies such as Burundi, which has had one COVID fatality out of 12,007,734 people, or Vietnam (35 out of 97,635,833) or even the Democratic Republic of Congo (308 out of 90,459,807).

Hell, Papua New Guinea has had only 7 out of 9,003,821, and these are people who are descended from cannibals.

When some place like Somalia, with its internal strife and warring factions and kidnappings and murder and so on can get away with 104 out of 16,040,033 (0.00065%) while the United States, supposedly the most advanced country in the world, can't get below 0.07% (two orders of magnitude), then there is something seriously wrong. And this seriously wrong can be laid squarely at the feet of donald trump.

This is why I think he will lose, and lose big. Granted, he will do everything he can to avoid this, stooping to some pretty slimy tactics (Republicans in Harris County, TX trying to get 127,000 ballots form a heavily Democratic district thrown out on spurious grounds, for example, or insisting that the vote counts have to be completed by election night -- which has never happened in our country's history, not even once) to do so.

And despite all indicators pointing toward a rout of the GOP at all levels, you can bet that he will not go gently into that good night. There will be violence. There will be intimidation. There will be endless lawsuits and Constitutional trickery and shenanigans. And through it all he will be exhorting his followers to get into the streets and make life miserable for anyone who does not hew to this line.

So the trick here is to stay positive and keep hoping. With any luck we will get enough results tonight to point to a complete repudiation of all that the GOP has become in the past ten years. And, if we are really lucky, Mitch McConnell will also be sent packing, along with Lindsay Graham, Thom Tillis, Martha McSally, Joni Ernst, and all the other enablers he has cultivated on Capitol Hill.

And I will be smug and self-satisfied, and with any luck I will be able to get in some trumper's face and say "neener, neener, neener. You LOST. Just accept it" in the same condescending tone they have used on us for the past four years.

I gotta lie down.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Ctrl-Alt-Del


I've had enough.

Today the United States Supreme Court voted 5-4 along party lines to disenfranchise voters in Wisconsin by overturning the governor's decision to extend the deadline for mail-in ballots. There are many problems with this (not the least of which is that this is a blatant power grab by the Republican Party that has been sanctioned by what is looking more and more like a kangaroo court), but it's at the point where it's not worth trying to fix.

It is time to administer last rites and start over.

The Republican Party is now the Blatantly Authoritarian And Dictatorial Party. The Democratic Party is the Quibbling Over Calling Them Firefighters Not Firemen While The House Burns Down Party. Neither of them represent anybody who does not have the resources to make at least a six figure campaign donation. Both of them are more concerned with feathering their own nests and protecting their seats than with representing us. And, once you start digging, it turns out that there really ain't a whole lot of daylight between them.

We made it nearly a quarter of a millennium under our current Constitution. It's been a pretty good run, but the time has come for a wholesale update ... basically, jack up the Capitol dome and put a new country under it. For this to work in the long haul, we will need a new Constitution. I have included my suggestions below as to the concepts that must be included in this document.

  • That all people are created equal, and are entitled as human beings to certain rights:
    • The freedom to worship, or not worship, as they please, free from governmental interference.
    • The freedom to marry regardless of gender or sexual identity.
    • Freedom of speech.
    • Freedom from unwarranted search and seizure.
  • That religion has no place in government, even to the point of removing references to any deity in invocations, oaths, etc.
  • That all people, regardless of citizenship status, are entitled to medical care, with the only regulation being that the patient and doctor have agreed that it is medically appropriate.
  • That all people are entitled to earning a living wage when working full time hours.
  • That employees have the freedom to organize and practice collective bargaining.
  • That Congressional and Presidential elections are publicly funded, with no private contributions allowed.
  • That all citizens must perform two years of public service between the ages of 18 and 26. This is not limited to military service but also encompasses the following (not a complete list):
    • Teaching in distressed school districts.
    • Fire/EMT.
    • Legal services for low-income people.

This is not venting, or a vanity project. This is real. The time has come to boot up USA 2.0. We need our modern day Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, John Adams, George Washington, Patrick Henry. We need that incendiary spirit.

This is intended as a springboard for discussion, so let's start quibbling!

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Thursday, March 12, 2020

Some Factual Information regarding COVID-19


This is getting real, people.

Right now there are news outlets critiquing trump's performance last night in his address from the Oval Office. People on the right are claiming the coronavirus is a conspiracy on the part of the Chinese to cripple America's economy. People on the left are bitching about the fact that trump's travel ban has a carveout for countries where, in a staggering coincidence that fools nobody, his resorts are located. People on both sides are pretty much resigned to the fact that Jared Kushner being in the lead on this in any capacity whatsoever spells the impending extinction of the human species.

None of which is relevant.

There is a lot of information -- and misinformation -- about the COVID-19 virus flying about. Some of the misinformation is malicious in intent, but the vast majority is either the result of honest mistakes, or of trying to rush things to press. To that end, I have included the following links to the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization so y'all can get legitimate information:

Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html

World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

As of this writing, there have been 1,215 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus in the United States in 43 jurisdictions (42 states and the District of Columbia). There have been 36 deaths. The vast majority of these cases have manifested in the past few weeks -- prior to Feb 17, there had been one or two cases identified per day, with some days seeing none.

In January, we saw an average of 0.7 cases identified per day. In February, that climbed to 7.9. For March -- even though we only have complete data for the first three days of the month, that average is 16.2. A week-by-week breakdown from January 12 to present is pretty grim, as shown below:

1/12 - 1/18 0.4
1/19 - 1/25 1.0
1/26 - 2/1 0.7
2/2 - 2/8 0.3
2/9 - 2/15 1.4
2/16 - 2/22 6.7
2/23 - 2/29 24.0
3/1 - 3/7* 24.0
*Illnesses that began after March 3rd may not yet be reported

The point of all this is, this is not a Republican/Democrat thing. This is not a struggle between Christianity and Islam. This is not racial in origin. This is not something that can, or should, be used to wallop trump (that can come later). This is a human thing.

If we are going to get past this thing, we have to unite as a species. Closing borders and isolating the United States is not the answer ... after all, the virus is already working its way through our population; does a travel ban make the virus any less here?

As I write this, scientists the world over are working feverishly to find a way to mitigate this. Until that time, it is simply a matter of following some commonsense measures:

  • Wash your hands. I know I'm not the only one beating this drum, but it bears repeating as often as humanly possible: wash your hands. Get under the fingernails, under the cuticles, anywhere a virus might be hiding out (within reason; there's no need to take a belt sander to your knuckles ... yet). If you do not have soap, make sure you are using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow, not your hands.
  • A new term that has popped up in the past couple of days is "social distancing." This is  just a nicer way of saying, in the immortal words of Sting, "Don't stand so close to me."
  • It sucks, but we have to limit gatherings. The NBA has canceled the remainder of its season. The NCAA will be playing in empty arenas.
  • Do not spread misinformation. Many people on social media are posting links to stories about COVID-19 being a Chinese conspiracy, or that Democrats are fighting against a solution to the problem for electoral reasons, and on and on and on. Knock it off. Check your sources. If you are going to post something, please make sure it is legitimate and not some crackpot bullshit conspiracy theory or partisan bleating (on either side). And for the record, Fox News is not really considered a legitimate source, considering how they attempt to spin everything in favor of trump (by the same token, MSNBC is suspect because they tend to spin things against trump, although to a lesser degree).

We will get through this. There are nearly 8 billion of us; it's going to take more than this to do us in.

I gotta lie down.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Pay Attention, Dammit

I have seen a number of people today throwing tantrums, claiming the nomination was stolen from Warren/Buttigieg/Harris/Booker/et al and that they'll be damned if they're going to vote for a corporate shill like Biden. Given the hyper-polarized nature of the current time, as well as the sheer blinding corruptio and incompetence of the current occupant of the Oval Office, I thought it would be helpful to list some of the things for which you will be voting in November.

Minimum wage
You will be voting for a minimum wage that is actually a living wage, instead of forcing people to take on two or three jobs to not fully meet their needs and rely on public assistance anyway. The common conservative argument is that there is no reason that businesses should shoulder this burden. My argument is, why not? For decades, the American taxpayer has been paying a portion of these peoples' wages without seeing an ounce of benefit from it, while employers get away with increased profits. That we pay for.

The Supreme Court
You will be voting for Supreme Court justices. It is pretty much a foregone conclusion that the next president will have to replace at least two SCOTUS justices. Ruth Bade Ginsburg will be 87 on Election Day, Stephen Breyer 82, and Clarence Thomas 72. Even if it is just Ginsburg and Breyer, this can flip the court from 5-4 conservative to 5-4 liberal. As we have seen over the past few years, the GOP is in a race to lock down the courts, preferring captive, compliant judges over true jurisprudence. Left unchecked, Republicans will start using the courts to enforce ideology instead of the law.

Climate Change
You will be voting for an intelligent climate policy. It is no secret that trump doesn't believe climate change is real, calling it a "Chinese hoax." He has rolled back environmental regulations at a frightening pace, endangering the health of millions in the pursuit of short-term profits for fossil fuel companies. In addition, he has opened up protected natural preserves for drilling. If he gets another term, we will see these efforts ramped up so that, by 2024, we will be living in a smog-shrouded hellscape.

Electoral Integrity
You will be voting for fair, honest, and open elections. In 2016, Russia put its thumbs on the electoral scales. This is not in dispute; all 17 intelligence agencies have verified this with 100% confidence. In addition, they are doing at again, with the goal of getting trump elected. Why? It's not because trump is sympathetic to Putin's policies; I doubt that trump has dedicated more than a few seconds to Putin's policies. The reason Russia wants trump in office is because he is a fucking moron and easily manipulated, as evidenced by how easily he was convinced to abandon the Kurds and give Russia the foothold in the Middle East it wanted.

In addition, this is a Census year, which means that who ever wins at the state level this year (governors, state legislators) will be tasked with redistricting Congressional districts for the 2022 campaign. In 2010, GOP focus was on state races for precisely this reason. As a result, in 2012 in PA, Democratic Congressional candidates got a slight majority of the votes (statewide total), yet only had 5 out of 18 House seats. This was due to blatant partisan gerrymandering, to the point that Pat Meehan (R, PA-7) never really had to run ... the district was drawn so egregiously that he basically sat in the House for ten years and collected $174,000 in salary as well as about $50 bajilion in "campaign donations" for not doing a damned thing.

International Relations
You will be voting for sane, competent diplomacy, as opposed to the unchecked tire fire that is trump's foreign policy. Whether you like Biden or not, it cannot be disputed that the man has serious foreign policy chops. years on the Senate Foreign Relations committee, as well as eight years as Obama's right-hand man, have made him arguably the most qualified candidate in terms of international relations we have had since Eisenhower.

Health Care
You will be voting to make health care more affordable and accessible for all. Republicans have tried at least 70 times to repeal Obamacare -- including several during the 115th Congress (2017-2018) -- and have failed every time. That's not to say that they will fail again, and they will definitely keep trying. A vote for trump will guarantee that pre-existing conditions will not be covered, premiums will balloon out of control, and the number of uninsured and under-insured people will skyrocket.

Higher Education
You will be voting to make college more affordable. Sure, his plan is not as generous a those of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and others, but it does include provisions for tuition-free community college. This provision alone can save students, on average, nearly $25,000 in student loan debt.

Taxes
You will be voting for a more equitable tax code. The trump tax plan that went into effect in 2018 was designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to give massive breaks to trump and people who look like him at the expense of everybody else. We have seen this demonstrated very clearly when people like Jeff Bezos can get away with a zero tax bill, while everybody else sees deductions for things like local property taxes, mortgage interest, etc. vanishing.

I get it. There are a lot of people for whom Biden is not the first (or second, or third, or fourth) choice. However, the toddlers who are throwing tantrums because they wanted Booker or or Mayor Pete or Harris are losing sight of the fact that a no progress happens all at once ... it is always incremental. And right now the first step we must take is to eliminate the orange stain on the White House. Without this step, nothing else happens.

I gotta lie down.

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Thursday, February 20, 2020

Where They Stand ...


It is early 2020, and we are embarking on an exciting new phase of our journey, a phase in which the "consent of the governed" has been deemed to have outlived its usefulness, one in which the country is run by he who is a self-appointed king in all but name. And Democrats are, true to form, doing everything in their power to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Granted, they aren't doing this alone. They are receiving a lot of help -- from Russian bots, from the Republican Party (which is investing in the same sort of disinformation campaigns the Russians employed in 2016), from trump himself. But most of the heavy lifting involved in losing what has to be the most winnable election in decades is being done by Democrats -- the candidates themselves as well as their campaigns and their supporters.

Of course, all this disinformation is useless if people are informed, right? I mean, one of the bedrock principles on which this nation was founded was that of an informed electorate. Unfortunately, thanks to social media, voter apathy, and deliberate propaganda campaigns, we are dealing with a woefully misinformed electorate (for example, trump supporters who are perfectly fine with the Affordable Care Act, but they don't want none o' that Kenyan commie Obamacare bullshit).

This election is shaping up to be the ugliest, meanest, most vile, most vicious election ever. Bet your bottom dollar that trump will be going after the nominee in all his fetid, adolescent glory, hurling insults that would not be out of place in a sixth grade cafeteria, and manufacturing crackpot conspiracy theories about how Mayor Pete is actually Caligula and he's trying to abduct Jared Kushner as a sex slave, or something.

Unfortunately, because of the impeachment debacle, trump now feels invincible. It is not outside of the realm of possibility that, should he lose the election, he will simply declare martial law, declare the election to be invalid, and install himself as the Provisional Military Governor "just until we get things straightened out" (or the Earth crashes into the Sun, whichever comes first). The only way we can do this is to not just win the election,but annihilate him in the election. We need to make the Nixon-McGovern election of 1972 look like a squeaker. He has to lose so big, so obviously, that there is absolutely no political cover for any of his cronies in Congress to support him.

Speaking of political cover, another thing we need to do is to create avenues for Republican lawmakers to quietly oppose trump without suffering too much political blowback. My gut feeling is that there are at least twenty or more Senators and close to a hundred Representatives who would like nothing more than for trump to go away, but who are in districts/states that tilt heavily toward trump. If we can make it safe for them to come out and play with us, we can get the kind of numbers we need and thoroughly undercut his support.

Finally, we need a platform. I realize this is usually revealed at the convention, but in past election cycles details would start to leak several months before the convention (which, in a staggering coincidence that surprises almost nobody, is right about now). What we are seeing this time around, however, is kind of a free-for-all -- sort of a progressive cage match where the winner is apparently selected based on who was the loudest. And it has to be more than "we're gonna get rid of trump."

By all means, that is important. Crucial for our survival as a nation, actually. But one political maxim that has rung true throughout our history is this:

People don't like to vote against things.

They want to vote for something, something positive, something that can be viewed as progressive (in the literal dictionary sense of "making progress toward a goal").

This election is not just about unseating a wannabe dictator. Thanks to trump's constant assault on common decency and our senses, we have all become inured to his bloviation, desensitized to his outrages. Things that would be scandalous in the extreme four years ago are just "meh" now. What we need -- from all of the candidates, and you can tell 'em I said so -- is a unified message, and it has to be more than "hey, I ain't trump."

It is also about restoring America's place in the world, and restoring some semblance of dignity to our political discourse. With this in mind, candidates need to hit on the following points:
I will not lie to you. There may be times when I have to withhold information for purposes of national security or political necessity, but I will not mislead you. This includes propagating baseless conspiracy theories.
Opponents are people, too. In our current political climate it is not enough to disagree with someone; that person has to be absolutely destroyed. I will always respect my opponents, their views, and their right to hold these views. To quote Evelyn Beatrice Hall, writing under the pseudonym S. G. Tallentyre, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
My White House will be run professionally. People will be selected for appointed positions based on their abilities and experience, not their loyalty.
My administration will operate under a principle of complete transparency. I have nothing to hide.

Below is a table of the candidates and their positions on various issues. A few notes ...
  • If a square in the below table is blank, it means that the candidate has not been asked this question. If a question were to be refused by a candidate, this would be so noted.
  • I have attempted to group these in a way that makes some kind of sense. Questions are organized into higher-level areas of interest.
  • I used this Wikipedia page as my jumping-off point. Data were collected from this page as well as various news articles, position papers published by the candidates, public statements, etc.
  • This article is by no means intended to promote or denigrate any specific candidate (my preferences are specified elsewhere). It is merely a repository of information that I hope you find useful.
So, with that being said, here is some accurate information about the current crop of Democratic candidates.

I gotta lie down.
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Issue Joe Biden Michael Bloomberg Pete Buttigieg Tulsi Gabbard Amy Klobuchar Bernie Sanders Tom Steyer Elizabeth Warren

Education

Tuition-free public college Community college for all Public college for lower and middle income families. Community college for all; four-year college for families making less than $125K. Community college for all. Community college for all; four-year college for families making less than $125K. Community college for all. Public college for all.
Student loan debt relief No No No Borrowers should be able to refinance student loans through the federal government and receive a lower interest rate. Federal student loan interest rates should be lower, and the federal government should not make a profit on student loans. Cancel $50K for those making $100K or less; "substantial debt cancellation" for families making between $100K and $250K; debt cancellation not treated as income.
Universal child care Free for all Free for low-income families. Free for low-income families. Free for all. Free for all. Free for low-income families.
Universal pre-k Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Increased funding for primary/secondary education Yes Yes Yes Yes

Environmental Issues

Green New Deal Pushes the decarbonization deadline out two decades from 2030 to 2050. No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Carbon tax Yes Yes Maybe Yes Yes Yes
Paris agreement Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ban fracking No Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Ban offshore drilling Will pursue an international ban of offshore drilling in the Arctic. No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Declare climate change a national emergency Yes Yes Yes Yes

Gun Control

Universal background checks Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ban assault weapons Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Gun buyback Voluntary Voluntary Voluntary Voluntary Voluntary Voluntary Voluntary
Require gun license No Yes Yes Assault weapons only. Yes Yes

Health Care

Single-payer No No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Public option Yes Yes Yes Yes
Eliminate private health insurance No No No No No Yes No Yes
Import Rx drugs from Canada Maybe Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Immigration and Border Security

trump border wall No No No No No No No No
trump travel ban No No No No No No
Support DACA Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Allow more visa workers Yes Yes Yes Yes
Demilitarize US-Mexico border Yes Yes
Invest in ports of entry Yes Yes
Abolish ICE No No No No Yes No
Decriminalize illegal immigration No Yes Yes Yes

Technology

Reinstate net neutrality Unclear Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
CASE Act Yes No No No

Economics

Raise the estate tax exemption or eliminate the estate tax Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Postal banking to allow the "unbanked" to participate in the economy Yes Yes
Slavery reparations Supports a commission that determines what form reparations could take Supports H.R. 40, the Congressional Reparations Study Bill that is introduced in every Congress since 1989. Yes Supports H.R. 40, the Congressional Reparations Study Bill that is introduced in every Congress since 1989. Supports H.R. 40, the Congressional Reparations Study Bill that is introduced in every Congress since 1989. Yes Yes
Wealth tax No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Break up largest banks Yes Yes Yes

Labor and Welfare Issues

Minimum wage $15 $15 $15 $15 $15 $15 $15 $15
Universal Basic Income No Partial Yes No Maybe
Paid family leave Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Paid sick leave Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Limit right-to-work laws Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Job guarantee -- create full employment and price stability by having the state promise to hire unemployed workers as an employer of last resort (ELR). No Yes Partial

Foreign Policy

Rejoin Iran nuclear deal Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Recognize Juan Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela Yes Yes No No
Israel-Palestine two-state solution Yes Yes Yes Yes
Aid to Israel No No Yes
Tariffs against China Unclear Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Meet with Kim Jong-un Partial (only with preconditions) Partial (only with preconditions) Yes Partial (only with preconditions) Yes Partial (only with preconditions)
Resume diplomatic relations with Assad Unclear No Yes Open No No

Defense

Withdraw troops from Afghanistan End of 1st term 1st year 1st year End of 1st term End of 1st term End of 1st term
Intervention in Syria Yes Yes No Yes No Unclear
Military intervention in Venezuela No No No No
Intervention in Yemen No No No No No No
Drone strikes Yes Limited Limited
Decrease military budget No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes

Electoral and Institutional Reform

Abolish Electoral College Unclear Yes Open (supports electoral college reform) Open Yes Yes
Abolish the filibuster Open Open Open Open Yes Yes
Adoption of ranked voting Yes Yes Open
Ban voter ID laws Yes Yes Yes
DC statehood Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Puerto Rico statehood Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Open Open
Restore voting rights to released felons Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Expand/reform Supreme Court Yes Impose term limits for Supreme Court justices, opposed to expanding the number of justices Yes
Make Election Day a federal holiday Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Lower voting age to 16 Open

Campaign Finance

No corporate PAC donations No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Overturn Citizens United Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Publicly funded elections Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Democracy vouchers1 Yes
We The People amendment2 Yes Yes

Abortion

Support the right to an abortion Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Contraceptive mandate (contraceptive costs covered by health insurance) Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fund Planned Parenthood Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Retain Hyde Amendment No No No No No No

Criminal Justice

Legalize and regulate all illicit drugs No No Endorses simply decriminalizing possession of all drugs Yes No No No No
End capital punishment Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Legalize marijuana Supports decriminalization at federal level, rescheduling marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II, and allowing "states to continue to make their own choices regarding legalization." Partial Yes Yes Supports legalization at the federal level, but believes states should decide at the state level. Yes Yes Yes
Expunging records of cannabis convictions Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
End cash bail Yes Wants to reduce or eliminate cash bail for non-violent offenders Yes Yes Partial Yes Yes Yes
End private prisons Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
End mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenses Yes Yes Yes Partial Yes Partial
Job placement for released offenders Yes
Decriminalize sex work Yes No Open Open

LGBT Issues

Equality Act3 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Same-sex marriage Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Transgender military service Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Candidate Solidarity

Pledge to support eventual nominee Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes

1Each registered voter receives a number of vouchers for a specific amount, which they were eligible to give to any eligible candidates standing for election. To be eligible, candidates must have:

  • Already raised between $1,500 and $6,000 from a minimum number of donors.
  • Agreed to campaign finance restrictions, including accepting no more than a predetermined amount of non-voucher funds from any individual contributor.
  • Agreed to cap campaign spending to a determined limit.

2The We The People Amendment is a joint resolution to amend the United States Constitution to abolish the doctrines of corporate personhood and of money equaling political speech.

3The Equality Act is a bill passed by the House that would amend the Civil Rights Act to "prohibit discrimination on the basis of the sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition of an individual, as well as because of sex-based stereotypes."

Monday, January 13, 2020

And The Reality Is ...

It has to stop.

It is becoming absurd.

All of this uproar over the Democratic candidates ... which one beats trump in a head-to-head poll. Which one is the true Democrat, while all the others are mere pretenders. Threatening to withhold your vote if your guy (in a non-gender-specific sense) doesn't get the nomination. Demanding that your candidate hew precisely to your view of the world, and if they don't then they are garbage. I have not seen purity tests this intense at an evangelical wedding.

So here's the reality.

The president's approval ratings have been in the low 40% range since day one. They may have wavered back and forth slightly, but have never gone outside the margin of error.

Republicans at the state level across the country are gearing up their voter suppression techniques ... the most popular being the on-the-surface-legitimate-but-it's-just-a-smokescreen tactics recently employed in Georgia. What they did was to send postcards to voters asking them to verify their voter registration. This effort is insidious for three reasons:

  1. These postcards are not sent to every district in the state, only to those districts with majority Democratic registrations.
  2. The postcards are designed in such a way as to make them look like your average, run-on-the-mill junk mail ... with the result that, conservatively, 2/3 of them will be thrown out. Which means ...
  3. If no response is received by a certain date, then that voter's name is removed from the voter rolls. Interestingly, this date is on or after the last date for voter registration. This not only means that, a) should someone be booted off, they would not be able to re-register in time for the election, and 2) even if someone is vigilantly keeping an eye on their registration they will be shown as being eligible to vote ... until it's too late to do anything about it.

This is our new reality, people. The Republican Party has ceased to be a political party and has become a protection racket, all geared toward keeping trump in office and making it progressively more and more difficult for his opponents to have any say in ... well, anything.

So, by all means ... root for your chosen candidate. Vote for him or her in the primary election. Just be willing to accept that they might lose the primary, and the task at that point is -- not to put too fine a point on it -- to send donald trump back to the egg sac from which he was spawned.

The thing is, even after he leaves office in January, 2021 (hoping I don't jinx it), trump will not get any kinder treatment. G. W. Bush, who was widely regarded as the worst President in our history until the Orange Staph Infection came along, was able to rehabilitate his image on his personal charm. Bill Clinton went from being a complete horndog to being an old, retired horndog. Bush Sr. was viewed as a serious public servant who, even if you didn't agree with his policies, you could see they came from a genuine belief that it was the right thing for the country. Jimmy Carter is widely regarded as being a marginally effective President, but probably the greatest ex-President we have ever had based on his work with Habitat for Humanity.

Unfortunately for donald trump, he does not possess any of the qualities required to be viewed as an elder statesman. Personal charm, a la George W. Bush? Nope. Smartest guy in the room, a la Barack Obama? Not even close. Public speaking ability that can reach even his most ardent opponents, a la Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan? No way.

As a President, he has been a disaster. As a person, a case could be made that he is even worse: good people on both sides; grab 'em by the pussy, "beat the shit out of 'em and I'll pay your legal bills." There is absolutely nothing about the guy that endears him to anyone. As a person and an ex-President, he is arguably worse ... but at least it becomes much easier to ignore him.

I gotta lie down.

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Next Steps

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