Saturday, September 17, 2016

Trump Will Win Unless Decent People Unite
About a month ago I came to the conclusion that various forces are moving in an alignment that would result in a Trump presidency. I know this because my status update on Facebook records my every passing thought. This worried me a month ago and even more so now.

Yesterday Trump announced:

"I lied to you all, over and over for years. 

I was lying all along in order to boost my own brand at the expense of the American people by targeting the first African-American president with a blatantly false accusation designed to undermine his ability to solve the problems facing American families. 

I doubled down on that lie more than once. I ridiculed anyone who had the nerve to challenge me with 'facts.' And I was lying. I made it all up. 

For years I told a story in the news and demanded attention because I wanted to mislead Americans. I wanted to make it harder for our president to fix the problems we face. And I did it to build my brand as a truth teller, because (as I have said before) some voters are so stupid they will believe even the most outrageous lie is an illustration of truth telling if a rich white guy says it angrily and often enough. 

I lied over and over again and today I stand before you to say I lied, on purpose and knowingly. You are correct to conclude that you cannot trust anything I say and I am giving you more evidence of that today, announcing that...as we have all known all along...the president was indeed born in America."

Then his poll numbers went up.

Then he shot a thug in Times Square with TV cameras all around that he invited to the event. And his poll numbers went up as the news covered affluent white voters gleefully wearing 'We are the Deplorables' t-shirts only just visible beneath their hoods.

Yes, we should all be concerned, because while DT is ignorant about domestic and foreign policy, and so unaware of his ignorance that he proudly asserts that he is his expert adviser, he knows more than the generals, and Mexico will pay for the wall that will never be built...while his ignorance is on display daily...he is a brilliant huckster, using his skills to capture and control each daily news cycle.

And he will win unless all decent Americans--on all sides--come together behind Clinton. Let me be clear: I disagree with Clinton on many issues. She is far to hawkish for me. She and her husband drove the War on Drugs, creating enormous harms. But this is not a normal election. The 'other side' is not just the candidate I like less--he is an existential threat to the great American experiment.

As a citizen I am calling on decent citizens in both parties to unite around rejecting Trumpism.

As a Democrat I am calling on all decent party members on all sides to unite around rejecting Trumpism. To do this, we need to agree that rejecting Trumpism does not mean rejecting other Republican candidates.

I recognize that this makes it harder for my Republican friends to sign on to this. But it is hard for both sides, because we have to trust each other. However, If my Republican friends will promise to split their ballot and vote Democrat at the top of the ballot, I will promise to do that same and vote for at least two Republicans in other races on the ballot.

It is that important.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Deplorables--telling it like it is, refreshing candor


If you like candor, then embrace the deplorables comment rather than get duped again.


And when DT asks blacks 'what have you got to lose' the telling it like it answer is: your vote


And every other victory since the Civil War... Or as EJ Dionne puts it, newly acquired health care, reversals on the recent rise is household incomes and decline in poverty...we would also lose the already just step one efforts to reign in Wall Street and since DT calls climate change a hoax it becomes difficult to imagine exactly how much we have to lose.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Poll Shows Disconnect in Ohioans’ Stance on Immigrants
ML Schultze WKSU Public Radio, page A1
Before getting to selections from an article in the ABJ below (black text), some data that was in the hard copy of the paper: immigrants make up 4% of the population in Ohio, compared to 13% nationally and most in Ohio are from Asia (37%) and then from Europe (29%) with only 21% from Latin America, compared to 53% from Latin America nationally. 

And a question: if immigrants are such a small portion of the population in Ohio, and nearly non-existent in the Ohio counties where Trump's support is strongest...and immigration does not even show up in polls asking Ohioans what their top concerns are today... WHY do Trump supporters in Ohio say they prefer him because of his stance on immigration?  

At the national level political claims-making can often get away with being more symbolic and less grounded in specific policies, sometimes displacing local conversations that tend to be more pragmatic with more expressive and satisfying media-driven sound bites designed to distract and mobilize by amplifying some fears and muting others (such as countervailing concerns about the harms done to families). Stu Scheingold made a similar (and much better) argument about the relationship between national and local law & order narratives. I am appropriating it here.

Donald Trump’s biggest applause line at rallies in Ohio continues to be a promise: “Don’t worry; we’re going to build a wall.”
It’s a line that oddly resonates in a state where the experience with immigration is far different from most of the country.
Ohio has only about a third the national average when it comes to the percentage — 4 percent — of foreign-born people living here. The state ranks 12th from the bottom. And of that tiny group of immigrants, fewer than 1 in 5 are here without the necessary papers.
Moreover, support for Trump is strongest in the counties where immigrants are least likely to be found — if not leaving.
Polling of Ohioans for the Your Vote Ohio project shows an odd disconnect on the issue. Asked in an open-ended question to name the top issues in 2016, immigration doesn’t make the top 10.
But when asked to define the reasons they like either Trump or Hillary Clinton, it’s his stand on immigration that helps Ohioans define Trump as a good candidate.
And in a state that is always pivotal to winning the presidential election, Trump has found ways to make immigration critical to dealing with the most important issues on Ohioans’ minds, among them the economy and terrorism....

Ohio’s immigrants also tend to be more educated and have higher incomes than the immigrant population nationally and Ohioans in general. More than 20 percent of foreign-born residents have a bachelor’s degree compared with less than 16 percent of native Ohioans.
Even among immigrants without documents, 37 percent have at least some college.
Average earnings are about 18 percent higher than native Ohioans....

The economic impact
Regardless of their origin, lots of Ohioans believe immigrants take jobs and keep wages low for native-born Americans....
Census data show that immigrants are indeed less likely to be jobless than native Ohioans — by a little more than a percentage point. And they’re far more likely to have jobs in private businesses rather than government.
Ohio’s foreign-born population is clustered largely around its big cities. Franklin County has the most and has been growing the fastest. But midsize counties like Summit and Montgomery have seen growth, too.
Lagging far behind is the region along the Ohio River, which continues to lead Ohio in unemployment. It’s in counties like those that Trump prevailed over Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the March primary election.
Reanne Frank, a demographer at Ohio State University, says the high unemployment creates a familiar pattern.
Immigrants “have very little to do with the issues that these communities are facing. They’re not even there. But some of these communities are going through transformations, and some people are being left behind. And these kinds of moments are when immigration as a scapegoat gains a certain amount of traction.”

Monday, September 12, 2016

#Students Rock

USG President Megan Bodenschatz offers her five tweets of advice!

#challengeyourself
#admityouarewrong&learnfromyourmistakes
#changeyourmind
#sayyesbutalsosayno
#beveryproudtobeazip

Thanks Megan. It is moments like this that make my work feel worthwhile.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Beyond My Limited Comprehension
It is a puzzle to me how otherwise smart people can fail to see the threat that is Donald Trump in all its ugly glory...and fail to put all other disagreements aside until after we defeat this uniquely dangerous threat.

How do we explain to our grand children that we gave him the nuclear codes...after he told us he was eager to use nuclear weapons...because a highly qualified woman was not liberal enough for me?

Or because we were too distracted to take up the fight against Fox News and the far right campaign against her that has sowed the seeds of her trust problem...largely on the basis of untruths (though like any politician, she is not without sin)?

Or because we just cannot face the fact that Trump will win if we do not get off our couch and stand with the sober and the decent against him and Fox and Brietbart?

Why is it so difficult to come together to fight the most threatening enemy first and then, once we are back within the normal range we can return to other fights--important fights for sure, but none as important as defeating Donald Trump...and we lose each one of these other fights if he is elected.

My own policy preferences lead me to wish I could vote for Barack Obama or Michelle Obama or Paul Wellstone, but what these (and others) have in common is they are not one of the two remaining candidates who will become our next president.

Would it be better if we had a multiparty system? I agree, but we cannot let a desire for structural change to prevent us from operating intelligently within the structure we have today. As difficult as it must be, no good mother would send their young black boy out into the world without clear instructions on how to obey police officers, even as she might also be a leader in Mothers Against Police Harassment. 
"For it's precisely the pursuit of ideological purity, the rigid orthodoxy and the sheer predictability of our current political debate, that keeps us from finding new ways to meet the challenges we face as a country. It's what keeps us locked in "either/or" thinking: the notion that we can have only big government or no government; the assumption that we must either tolerate forty-six million without health insurance or embrace "socialized medicine". It is such doctrinaire thinking and stark partisanship that have turned Americans off of politics. ” Audacity of Hope
We all need to break out of tired trenches and soothing silos to engage with the conflicts we face, deploying the resources on hand, collaborating with those who hold competing or alternative perspectives. 
“...What's troubling is the gap between the magnitude of our challenges and the smallness of our politics--the ease with which we are distracted by the petty and trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions, our seeming inability to build a working consensus to tackle any big problem.... With the rest of the public, I had watched campaign culture metastasize throughout the body politic, as an entire industry of insult--both perpetual and somehow profitable--emerged to dominate cable television, talk radio...." Audacity of Hope

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

John Prine 
...is one of my favorite singer songwriters and this is one of his best songs, sung with the amazing Bonnie Raitt.


Here is another great JP song, "Hello in There"


And my all time Prine favorite, "Your Flag Decal"


Sunday, September 4, 2016

We Need to Share the Goal of Achieving Agreements
Following advice he sought and received from the Dalai Lama on what to do when one feels contempt for an adversary or opponent or person who sees the world differently: “substitute contempt with kindness…answer anger with love.” 

Arthur Brooks, president of the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute, is encouraging fellow conservatives to recognize the importance of civility in a democracy—of course we disagree with those on the other side, but better policy ideas are the result of multiple perspectives working it out…and that gets cut short when either side holds the other in contempt.

No side has a monopoly on good policy ideas and we all have a lot to learn from each other, but that learning and progress never happens in a context where disagreeing with me is confused with being stupid and evil. That is just too easy and lazy and, more importantly, fundamentally anti-democratic.

In the comments after this short article we see that this suggestion was not well received by his fellow conservatives. The central theme of the comments, in short, argues that disagreeing with me really does mean someone is stupid and evil. Several reasons are provided, including the perennial favorites—should we substitute our contempt with kindness for Nazis and ‘if liberals aren’t stupid or evil, how do you explain Obama?’

Other reasons include that the problem is only liberals are trolls and only liberals attack conservatives with malice and conservatives just don’t do that sort of thing. And several were kind enough to provide the standard list of grievances to justify being unkind: liberals are the enemy in a culture war trying to destroy our constitution and are in league with Islam trying to destroy America.

Let’s consider what these comments share. Let’s also use language that prevents us from seeing this celebration and defense of unkindness as a uniquely conservative malady, following the spirit of Brooks’ initial suggestion.

The comments argue we can, indeed must, be unkind to those who disagree with us because any failure to be unkind will result in the triumph of evil and we will be responsible for not standing up to defend what we know to be right.

When I take a look at people I know well, I see liberals struggling as mightily as conservatives with this call to substitute contempt with kindness for those who disagree with us. Please do not willfully misunderstand me here—I am not arguing an absolute equivalency, but only observing that this is a shared struggle, without ideological markers, and that I observe that our failure to make this substitution is widespread.

Right now most readers (if there are any) are demonstrating the truth of my observation.

My liberal friends are making reference to studies they have seen that show conservatives are much more likely, for psychological reasons, to adopt an authoritarian perspective and to deploy the either/or, dualistic, thinking needed to make this ‘I have a monopoly on the truth’ approach seem sensible, moral, and defensible.

My conservative friends are similarly foaming at the mouth with a ready list of grievances they believe conclusively demonstrate the harms repeatedly caused by liberal big government, wasteful spending, and inattention to the moral education and ethical behavior needed for civility, prosperity, and democratic decision making to thrive.

In the end, then, the value of Brooks statement here is that he directed this toward his friends, rather than doing as most of us usually do—directing this type of critique toward our opponents.

Clearly, democracy requires all sides to share the goal of achieving agreements that can move us forward, even as we (inevitably) continue to disagree. Our refusal to honor alternative perspectives, indeed to substitute honor with contempt, indicates how far we are from sharing this goal. 

When we share this goal we are much more likely to agree that kindness and empathy and civility and listening with an open mind are not just platitudes for our kids in civics class, but the building blocks for a successful democracy that we are overlooking today.

I rarely agree with positions articulated by the AEI, but this is now the second time that I applaud their willingness to take a public stand in favor of this deeper level of commitment needed for our experiment with democracy to survive, must less thrive.

Norman Ornstein (of AEI) co-authored a brilliant piece with Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institute making a related argument last year. JS Mill in On Liberty emphasizes this point as central to protecting and advancing freedom. EJ Dionne and John Danforth have made the argument earlier.

Today I see Arthur Brooks taking that risk again and, again, I applaud the courage and self-sacrifice. And I hope this message might be heard by our friends and allies on both sides of the aisle. Thanks Mr. Brooks.