Republicans + Woke

Republicans + Woke

“Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without.” Millions of Americans were forced to live by these words during the 1930s. The Great Depression swept across the country like an unforgiving force. Millions became jobless while many others went hungry. Kitchen soups and bread lines became common sights in every major city; the nation was on the brink of collapse.

For those who witnessed the country’s incredible growth during the 1920s, the stock market crash of 1929 was nothing more than an inconceivable nightmare. While the U.S. had experienced market downturns in the past, nobody expected the widespread devastation that the Great Depression would cause. 

In their time of need, Americans of every stripe understood the necessity for renewed leadership. Something had gone horribly wrong and it was now the government’s responsibility to ensure that the people of this country aren’t forced to endure such hardships ever again. That unified desire for change resulted in the rise of one of America’s most influential political figures: Franklin D. Roosevelt.

A Democrat, FDR is the only president in American history to have served four consecutive terms in office (he died in 1945 while serving his fourth term). Considered by historians one of the three greatest U.S. presidents (the other two being George Washington and Abe Lincoln), FDR redefined the role of the federal government in ways that, I would argue, remain unmatched.

Aware of the tremendous pain the Great Depression was inflicting on American families, especially on older Americans, the Roosevelt administration set off to implement one of the nation’s most ambitious policy agendas in history: the New Deal. Forgotten by many young Americans today, the New Deal proved very successful at curbing the very negative effects of the crisis. It included numerous programs intended to support rural America, the unemployed, the young, and the elderly. The Public Works Administration or the Works Progress Administration, for example, led to the creation of countless job opportunities and helped lift thousands of Americans out of poverty. But perhaps FDR’s New Deal is better remembered for giving rise to one of America’s most popular government programs: Social Security.

The Social Security Act was signed into law in 1935, creating the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program. Colloquially known as Social Security, the OASDI program became the first government program to target the many challenges faced by American retirees, although it also provided benefits for widowed and disabled citizens. Prior to the creation of Social Security, old Americans had to rely on their savings or on family support to make ends meet after retirement. But the Great Depression had severely severed those two lifelines, leaving them without a dependable source of income. Today, millions of retired Americans continue to view their Social Security benefits as an important source of economic security in their old age.

FDR’s unwavering commitment to helping the poor and those in need resonated with his party, and for over forty years the Democratic Party became a resolute advocate for justice and for equality. It wasn’t easy, but progress towards a stronger, less unequal society was made. In 1965, as part of his war on poverty, Lyndon B. Johnson picked up where FDR left off and launched Medicare and Medicaid, thus creating the country’s first national health insurance programs. Today these programs provide health and financial security to nearly 100 million Americans.

At this point you may be wondering why I decided to revisit a chapter of American history most of you are already well aware of. Here is my answer: Our public discourse seems to have fallen victim of increasingly nasty and ill-informed attacks, so I thought it would be quite educational to look back and reflect on this country’s not-so-distant past, a past when so-called “socialist” policies were all the rage. Because let’s face it, folks, this country is drowning in socialism. Every single policy I laid out in this post is an example of a socialist policy. And there is more, of course. K-12 and even your nearest fire department are also examples of socialism in America.

For over forty years, the Democratic Party was a champion of such policies. They cared for the poor. They believed in a more equal society. But not anymore. Today, the Democratic Party is not all that different from the Republican Party. Why do you think the Democratic Party has been running on identity / woke politics for the past twenty years? Because they don’t have anything else to offer. Their economic agenda is the GOP’s agenda.

As I stated in my previous post, the Democratic Party seems to have reached the conclusion that Joe Biden is the best candidate to run against Donald Trump in November. The moment the party understood that Bernie had the resources and voter enthusiasm to secure the nomination, they put together a campaign strategy that will make political history. In a matter of days, endorsements of Biden and opinion pieces trashing Bernie Sanders have piled up like dominoes, seriously wounding the self-described democratic socialist and very likely putting the final nail in the coffin for his historic campaign.

Bernie Sanders is often demonized for not being a true Democrat, and it is no secret that the Democratic establishment has come down hard on Sanders because they believe he poses a serious threat to the party’s identity and future. But nothing could be further from the truth. Sanders is no threat to the party. In fact, Sanders and his movement are the embodiment of what the Democratic Party represented for the better part of half a century. A party that did not shy away from challenging the status quo. A party that understood that widespread poverty and inequality were the true enemies of the nation’s overall well-being and stability.

Whether or not Bernie Sanders wins the nomination, his message is here to stay. Now it is up to those who believe in that message to bring decency, humanity, ambition, and hope back into the Democratic Party, and to carry on FDR’s legacy.

Five Minutes

Five Minutes

Joe Biden’s front-runner status has earned him some much-needed attention, but I worry all that attention might wind up hurting his campaign. As I am now being compelled to think more deeply about Joe’s candidacy, I begin to wonder what Joe thinks about regarding healthcare, education, poverty, or foreign policy. If you were to ask me what Bernie Sanders believes in, I could probably give you a few bullet points detailing his key policy positions. But if you were to ask me about Biden, I’m afraid I’d leave you hanging. Yes, he was a senator for a long time. Yes, he was Obama’s VP. But what has he really accomplished for the American people? What is his signature policy proposal? The man is a mystery. I have watched every debate this campaign season and I still can’t tell where Joe Biden stands on the issues. Maybe the media is to blame for failing (perhaps intentionally) to scrutinize Joe’s candidacy, but that’s a different matter.

Those of you familiar with what I write know that I support Bernie Sanders. He may not have been an ideal candidate twenty years ago, but he is exactly who we need in the White House in 2020. The race for the democratic nomination is an uphill battle, however, and there is a chance Sanders may not pull through. As of right now the party seems to be betting it all on Joe, a candidate whose campaign was crumbling less than a week ago. So, I decided to learn more about Joe to see if he has what it takes to defeat Trump.

Campaigning for the highest office in the land exposes you to all kinds of nasty attacks, so whoever wins the democratic nomination will be wise to ready up for an ongoing stream of negative ads and media scrutiny. I needed to know if Joe, the front-runner, could overcome such pressures, so I went online to look for answers, and oh boy we are in trouble.

It only took me five minutes to understand how weak a candidate Joe Biden really is. Five minutes online and this is what I found:

  • Biden was accused of plagiarism during his first year at Syracuse University School of Law, and later claimed that he was not aware of proper citation rules.
  • Biden also claimed to have graduated “top half” of his class when in reality he was closer to the bottom of the bottom half.
  • While running for president in 1987, Biden duplicated parts of a speech by British politician Neil Kinnock. The speech was meant to be a heartfelt account of Biden’s upbringing, but how heartfelt could it be when he didn’t even bother to come up with his own words.
  • Biden once talked about being an active participant during the Civil Rights marches of the 1960s, even though his advisers were aware of this falsehood and warned him against making false claims.
  • More recently Biden claimed to have been arrested while trying to get to see Nelson Mandela during a 1990 visit to South Africa. He later admitted that arrest never took place.

This is what I found by literally spending five minutes online getting to know Joe. Imagine what Donald Trump’s political machine and media allies could dig up if only they tried. At a time when voters crave for authenticity above all else, running a candidate who has a long history of struggling with the truth is an incredibly risky move.

Donald Trump lies all of the time, but somehow comes across as genuine and authentic. That is his gift. That is why he continues to dominate the political landscape. Joe Biden doesn’t have that gift. He can’t play the media the way Trump does, and the Democratic Party must acknowledge this.

We cannot wait for Trump to take down Joe Biden. It is up to Sanders to expose Biden for what he really is. Now, I know how Sanders feels about negative ads, and I admire him for that. But negative ads work, and if we are going to win this thing, we are going to need to play by the same rules everyone else is playing. Let’s worry about changing the rules when Sanders is president.

Let Us Not Repeat Past Mistakes

Let Us Not Repeat Past Mistakes

The 2016 general election made something abundantly clear: business as usual in the world of politics is now a thing of the past. It’s only been three years since Donald J. Trump was inaugurated, but people in the media and democratic establishment seem to have completely forgotten what made Trump the 45th president of the United States.

A sizable chunk of the general public feels that Washington is not on their side. To them, politics is no longer a tool meant to address the challenges they face in everyday life. They feel disenchanted, and they are ready to vote for whomever they view as a catalyst for change. In 2016 Trump represented that change. Now, I would agree that the current president has done nothing tangible to “drain the swamp”. In fact, I would say the swamp is now overflowing. Relatives in key (and paid) government posts, industry leaders overseeing regulatory policy, diplomats staying at the Trump Hotel just a few blocks away from the White House… The list goes on and on. But don’t be fooled. To the disenchanted public all of this means absolutely nothing. Why? Well, ask yourselves this simple question: Who has been telling the public about all the awful things Trump has done as president? The media. And for many Trump voters the media has lost all credibility. As progressives we need to understand this. Under normal, business-as-usual circumstances, Trump would have been ousted long ago, and rightly so. But there is nothing normal about the current political dynamics. To Trump’s base he remains the outsider, the anti-establishment figure who will set everything right. If democrats want to beat Trump in 2020, they are going to need their own anti-establishment figure.

Bernie Sanders is the antithesis of Donald Trump, but he shares one key characteristic with the current president: Sanders can appeal to millions of Americans who no longer believe that politicians are on their side. That kind of appeal was the key to Trump’s victory nearly four years ago, and remains very much relevant today. I am convinced that if the Democratic Party nominates yet another establishment figure to “play it safe”, four more years of Trump await. And to me, that is the most amazing thing. It is incredibly hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that the democratic establishment seems to have forgotten the lessons they should have learned in 2016. Back then the party went out of its way to nominate Hillary Clinton because they believed her to be the safest choice. Today, democrats are on their way to making the same mistake. And for what? Is keeping the party intact more important than removing Trump from office? Has the democratic establishment forgotten every racist, anti-environmentalist, anti-LGBT policy enacted by the current administration? Whatever their motivations, failing to reflect on what happened in 2016 is incredibly reckless and irresponsible.

There is no easy path to the nomination for Sanders. The man is taking on the entire political machine of the Democratic Party, making new enemies along the way. Sanders cannot do this on his own. He needs allies. He needs new voices that will vouch for him on the national stage. He needs visible figures who will validate his message. Every democrat who calls themselves a progressive should get behind Bernie’s campaign, but Bernie stills needs political support from the likes of, say, Elisabeth Warren. Now, I know what you’re thinking, but remember: campaigning for political office is a nasty business. At the end of the day, Bernie is Warren’s closest ideological ally in the Senate and certainly in the democratic race. They are both representative figures of the party’s progressive wing and share many of the same policy goals.

In a matter of days (maybe today) Warren will end her campaign and be asked to make her position clear, just like her former primary opponents have done. I’m hoping she will stand by her principles and endorse Bernie Sanders, a move that would honor her. Anything other than an endorsement of Bernie would, once again, call Warren’s commitment to a progressive agenda into serious question.

Sanders needs Warren’s endorsement to give his campaign a much-needed boost after a disappointing Super Tuesday performance, but he will need other prominent democratic leaders to come to his aid if he is to secure the nomination. But the question remains: are democrats ready to accept the lessons 2016 taught us?

An Intolerable Publication

An Intolerable Publication

Sorry, folks. But today I stand with President Trump, and after you’ve read through this blog post I would hope that you’ll all do the same.

So, what has led me to this unusually supportive attitude towards a man who once bragged about grabbing women by the p***? Well, the answer is pretty straightforward: There IS such a thing as crossing the line when it comes to lambasting the president.

Village, a well-known political and cultural magazine based in Ireland, just released a new cover story that has the President of the United States in the crosshairs. And I mean that literally. The magazine has published a picture of the president with crosshairs placed over his left temple, accompanied by the following headline: WHY NOT. The article reads: “We have one of the worst men in the most powerful position, one where he can do damage to millions, to billions, to the planet. … So perhaps the solution is tyrannicide. As he might say himself – ‘take him out.”

This story is sure to cause a great deal of controversy. And for good reason. To suggest that assassinating the president would be an OK thing to do is not only disgraceful and deplorable, but also an enormous mistake on the part of the magazine’s editorial team.

The publication is sure to be met with immediate backlash over the piece, and it will be well-deserved. You can never win a political argument by wishing death on your opponent. It undermines your credibility and your ideas could permanently be cast aside. I expect the magazine’s editors to come out and give some sort of reasonable explanation as to why they decided to go ahead with the publication of this unfortunate cover story. Sadly, whatever their statement reads, it will be pointless. The damage has been done.

The only thing that this story will accomplish is to strengthen Trump’s voter base and their support for the president, which will cripple progressive efforts and their struggle to defeat the president’s extremist agenda.

Liberals and progressives must put aside name-calling and petty attacks on President Trump, and focus on developing new ideas that appeal to a larger population. Only then we’ll stand a greater chance of vanquishing this administration.

I’m hopeful that Village will issue an apology sooner rather than later so we can all move on from this unfortunate incident and engage in the only battle that counts: The battle of ideas.

And the Old Empire Stood Up to the Tyrant

And the Old Empire Stood Up to the Tyrant

Recent developments at home and abroad have forced me to use the words “perplexed” and “unprecedented” an awful lot, lately. This time, however, the context is quite different. Today, in a sudden break from the constant stream of bad news inundating my newsfeed the British Parliament has announced that it won’t allow President Trump to address both houses of Parliament during his planned state visit to the United Kingdom. The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, announced today in response to a question from the opposition that he “would not wish to issue an invitation to President Trump to speak in the Royal Gallery”. Mr. Bercow’s remarks come as a surprise to many, and I would’ve paid anything, and I mean ANYTHING, to have seen Mr. Trump’s face following this historic announcement.

The British Parliament has never denied a foreign leader the honor of addressing Westminster, especially once the Prime Minister has issued an official invitation for a visit. This is anything but good news for the President of the United States. When the Parliament of one of your closest allies turns its back on you and in doing so effectively humiliates you in front of the whole world, you have no choice but to reexamine that relationship and deduce the causes of this unfortunate end result. Then of course, that is something only a normal leader would do. And Trump is anything but normal.

Here’s a transcript of Speaker Bercow’s remarks:

“An address by a foreign leader to both houses of Parliament is not an automatic right, it is an earned honor. Moreover, there are many precedents for state visits to take place to our country which do not include an address to both houses of Parliament. Now, in relation to Westminster Hall, there are three keyholders to Westminster Hall: The Speaker of the House of Commons, the Speaker of the House of Lords, and the Lord Great Chamberlain. Ordinarily, we are able to work by consensus and the hall would be used for a purpose such as an address or another purpose by agreement of the three keyholders. I must say that before the imposition of the migrant ban, I would myself have been strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall. After the imposition of the migrant ban by President Trump, I am even more strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall. So far as the Royal Gallery is concerned, it is in another part of the building, although customarily an invitation to a visiting leader to deliver an address there would be issued in the names of the two Speakers. I would not wish to issue an invitation to President Trump to speak in the Royal Gallery“.

“We value our relationship with the United States. If a state visit takes place, that is way beyond and above the paygrade of the Speaker. However, as far as this place is concerned, I feel very strongly that our opposition to racism and to sexism and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary are hugely important considerations in the House of Commons”.

Before I continue, it would be worth noting that up until he became the Speaker of the House of Commons in 2009, Mr. Bercow was a fervent member of the Conservative Party, a reminder that this unprecedented move has nothing to do with politics. It’s simply about doing what’s right.

Mr. Bercow’s remarks echo what many in the UK and across Europe think and feel about this president. They don’t like him, and worst of all, they don’t seem to have any respect for him. And who could blame them? This man has singlehandedly alienated an entire nation and its closest allies. On top of that, he’s constantly reminding us that diplomacy, good manners, dignity and decency are values that no longer belong in the White House. The president reaches new lows every single day.

I would hope that today’s unusual announcement serves as a wake up call for a man who doesn’t seem to know what he’s doing or what his job truly entails. But then again, hope is for fools.

Watch the Speaker’s full remarks here.

A Sign of Things to Come

A Sign of Things to Come

Wow. It’s been quite a long time since I got my hands on this keyboard typing away and sharing my thoughts on whatever nonsense the world was delighting us with. A lot has happened in this country and around the world since the last time I published something on this blog and you might be wondering what brought me back. And the answer is simple: Too much craziness accumulated.

For starters, Donald Trump won an upset victory that many didn’t see coming (Yes, that happened and yes, I’m sorry to remind you of that). After that, everything began to unfold. Protests broke out and false realities became the norm. Soon after the inauguration, the new White House began signing executive orders with the potential of dramatically altering the path to social and economic progress that the previous administration had worked so hard to establish. Undoing trade agreements, scapegoating immigrants, alienating our closest allies, and closing our doors on those who need our help the most have become signature policies of the new administration in less than two weeks. And now, and under the orders of right-wing extremist Steve Bannon, President Trump seems to have accomplished what no POTUS has ever been able to accomplish: To seemingly say and do whatever he wants without fearing the consequences.

The sad truth is that, for now, Trump will get a free ride. It doesn’t matter how hard we all work to disprove Trump’s “alternative facts”. His supporters will always stand by his side no matter what he does or says (Remember when he said he wouldn’t lose any votes even if he shot someone in the middle of 5th avenue? Well, he was right). The fact is that the only people who can stop him is the Republican establishment. After all, the GOP controls the Congress and over 2/3s of the state governments. It’s been too long since the last time Republicans had so much decision-making power on their side and they aren’t going to let that go to waste.

Nevertheless, whether or not Trump succeeds in continuously deceiving the public for a whole term in office, his deeds remain just as frustrating and disgraceful.

And now, to the two recent developments truly responsible for ending my patience and bringing me back online. I guess you all still remember Trump’s “drain the swamp” slogan. Yes, his supporters used to chant that during his rallies. They would put up signs and chant along with their beloved leader. Those were some good times, huh. I don’t think he ever thought he would ever have to keep his promises. After all, did he really think he was going to win? Well, as fate would have it he’s now in office and I guess it’s time to start draining that swamp. Or is it?

On Friday it was reported that Eric Trump had embarked on a business trip to Uruguay where he was accompanied by a Secret Service security detail and US embassy staff. To everyone’s surprise, the trip is reported to have cost taxpayers nearly $100,000. Now, wait. I thought Eric Trump was running a business empire the president had “divested” from. What is a private citizen doing conducting private business abroad with the assistance of public officials and publicly funded security guards? Is this really the new normal now? Are they playing us all for fools? The swamp hasn’t been drained. It’s overflowing.

While the news of Eric Trump doing business in South America at the expense of the taxpayers shocked many, the president had a lot more in store for us. In an interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly yesterday, Donald Trump made it crystal clear not only that he doesn’t wish to serve as the President of the United States, but also that he will never put the interests of this county first. In a truly unprecedented statement, the Commander in Chief called the USA out on past mistakes. And he did it for Putin. In a response to O’Reilly’s claims that Russia’s authoritarian president is a “killer” who has authorized the murder of journalists and dissidents in his country, Trump said the following:

“There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?”

You heard, or rather, read right. A US President publicly standing up in defense of a decades-long foe of the United States and criticizing his own country at the same time. Can someone explain to me what’s going on? What kind of president is he? This is perhaps the most anti-American statement ever made by a US President.

Trump’s first two weeks in office have been a total disaster, and they’re a sign of things to come. If he weren’t the president, this whole thing would actually be kind of fun. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. His decisions will make a difference and we’ll all have to live with them. Unless something unexpected happens, the next four years are going to be tough. But please, don’t lose heart. Now it’s the time to stand up and speak out. Remember, every cloud has a silver lining.