Playing Fields Can’t Level Themselves

The whole notion of “The American Dream” rests on the foundational idea that, in America, provided you’re willing to work your ass off, anyone (from anywhere) can make themselves and their future into whatever they want it to be. American exceptionalism flows from the fact that people from every other country on earth aspire (still) to get to America because of that tantalizing possibility. Then those same people — having achieved some part of their dream — invariably pay America back with not only their hard work but the products of that work — whether food, health care services or just great ideas. Immigration has always been essential to America’s exceptionalism. But, some Americans don’t want just anyone to achieve the American Dream. Because economic success converts into political power, white people have worked hard — via racist legislation, voter suppression tactics and outright violence — to take any and all Black wealth before it can accumulate thereby denying them even the chance to walk onto the American playing field and play. The “playing field” in America has NEVER been level. How could it be when “All men are created equal” actually means some MEN are created equal and everyone else who isn’t white, male and Christian can go screw themselves?

White people love a level playing field when it’s been leveled for their benefit. White conservatism’s goal is to keep the playing field from ever being level. That’s what conservatism wants to “conserve” — how it was back when the playing field was at maximum tilt toward them. It’s not just advantage that succumbs to gravity — so, too, does all the money. It rolls straight downhill. Conservatives don’t want to chase it as it rolls, they want to be waiting for it at the bottom. That’s the Republican Party’s stated goal. It’s their clear intention with every anti-voting bill they shotgun at the wall in fear of what 2022 will bring. Not only did we not start with a level playing field here in America, one of our two political parties is actively engaged in doing everything in its power (including commit treason) to keep the playing field as it is — not just “unleveled” but violently unleveled. The whole point of Trumpism — which is really just Republicanism on steroids & powdered Adderall — is permanent minority rule. In other words, a playing field that can never be leveled ever againby design.

Accountability levels playing fields. That’s why Republicans don’t want it.

Fairness levels playing fields. Competition — real competition — levels playing fields. That’s really, what conservatives most want to avoid: competition. Especially in the marketplace of ideas since their idea — taking America back to the past — won’t sell to anyone else but conservatives, racists and Trumpanistas. If Republicans thought they could sell their ideas, they’d sell them. Republicans after all excel at marketing. “Trickle down economics” is pure marketing. It’s bullshit, too. “Mission Accomplished” was marketing and nothing but. Remember “Compassionate conservatism”? Hurts just to think the words together, doesn’t it? That was marketing at its most diabolically cynical.

Republicans arrive at the stadium knowing their only path to “victory” is through cheating so, first, they set about hobbling Team Democrat’s ability to assemble and suit up their team via voter suppression tactics (a thing both sides absolutely DON’T do — Democrats don’t even think of suppressing Republican voters). Then, the Republicans work the refs hard. They commit every foul in the book, deny they did anything, but assure the refs that the Democrats were doing it. They assure the refs that their flagrant twos to the head are the same as the Democrats accidentally stepping out of bounds while taking a corner three. See? Both sides “break the rules”! And our news media nods its head — yeah, both things are “outside the rules” so “both sides do it”. But, remember, the playing field was un-leveled when everyone stepped onto it. It was especially un-leveled this time because Russia was sitting at one end — waiting for America to finish tumbling into Russia’s open maw.

We’re sitting, today, in the “float” between Trump’s perverted Department of Justice and the refurbished, rejuvenated and returned-to-its-core-principles Department of Justice that Merrick Garland will helm once he’s confirmed by the Senate — a process that starts tomorrow. The DoJ has already begun finding its equilibrium again as the lifers who hung on by their fingernails during the Trump-Sessions-Rosenstein-Barr years step forward, asserting normalcy as they formally await new leadership to clock in. Garland has already stated publicly that he will prosecute white supremacy as terrorism. That, all by itself, is a game changer. But, it’s what happens as Garland’s DoJ pulls those white supremacy threads that will undo the entire, corrupt, treasonous Republican Christmas sweater.

The January 6 Insurrection dot connects to the white supremacy dot. The white supremacy dot connects to the Roger Stone and Mike Flynn dots which connect to the Donald Trump dot. But, the pandemic dot ALSO will connect to the Insurrection dot (I betcha they wondered aloud in the Trump WH — which someone will testify to under oath) if it would make it easier to roll America via insurrection if America was weakened by a non-existent pandemic response. We already know Russia had an interest in keeping America weak. The Russia dot, we’ll learn — after Merrick Garland’s DoJ resurrects the counter-intelligence investigation into Trump’s relationship with Russia that Rod Rosenstein quashed — connects, one way or another, to pretty much everything.

If we want this playing field leveled, we’re going to have to level it ourselves. We’re going to have to remain vigilant once it’s as close to leveled as we can get it (keeping in mind there will always be resistance) by electing people committed to getting the playing field leveled. Every attempt to un-level the field — as the Republicans are doing all over America with a raft of new anti-voting laws — needs to be met with not merely resistance but rage focused back on them with white hot, laser-like intensity.

The bottom line is so simple: the fairer the game, the better the outcome for all and the more Americans “win”.

There Really Are People Who Dream Of A World Without Jews — Many Call Themselves “Republicans”

Jews know what it’s like to be “tolerated”. It’s not the most comfortable place to sit. The ground beneath is unreliable. It can shift at any second. Black and brown and Asian people in America all know what that’s like, too. That’s why some of us try to assimilate. We want to transition from “tolerated” to “accepted” by the larger, white society. In America, Jews have benefited somewhat from our “white adjacent” status — we look just enough like white people on the outside to get slightly better treatment from them; for one thing, Jews were permitted to accumulate and keep most of the wealth we accumulated here in America. Black people especially have not had that experience. Their wealth has been continually stripped from them. For what it’s worth, if the Jews were still living in the Old Days of Europe? They’d know exactly how Black Americans feel about that, too.

In the Old World, the pattern was “allow the Jews to accumulate wealth while holding the nation’s debt (usury being completely un-Christian) until such a time as the Kingdom seizes all the Jews’ wealth and nullifies any debt legally owed them. That was probably what kept Old Europe from coming to a Final Solution earlier. They were like the guy in the old joke who tells the psychiatrist his crazy brother thinks he’s a chicken. They’d take him to therapy to try and help him but they need the eggs. They might have gone and wiped out all the Jews but then, who’d do the dirty but necessary business of holding their debt?

Every human culture on earth has, within it, the potential for greatness. Every human culture — if given the same chances to learn, imagine, innovate and create would, in time, solve most of our problems because human beings, by their nature, are problem-solvers. While a few of us are a tiny bit smarter than all the rest of us (and a good thing too), most humans, left to their own devices, would, in time, muster the brain power to figure it out. It’ll be that or die. Some cultures have continually excelled at figuring things out while others have figured things out for a brief, golden moment before sinking back into confusion.

In his lecture “Beyond Belief”, given back in the early 2000’s in the aftermath of 9-11, astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse-Tyson made a whole bucket of excellent, interesting points. He talked about “naming rights” after then president George W. Bush insisted that white culture had named the stars. No, actually, a lot of the stars have Arabic names since they were first identified by Arab navigators who were inventing celestial navigation. DeGrasse-Tyson reminds us that between 800 – 1100 AD, Baghdad was the center of world learning, an “open city” where people of every stripe came to trade spices and goods but also ideas.

Algebra was invented then. It’s an Arabic word. Same goes for algorithms. Medicine advanced significantly during that period. And then, as DeGrasse-Tyson tells it, a Muslim cleric named Al-Ghazali shows up and makes the pronouncement that “Mathematics is the language of the Devil”. The man literally demonizes math. Nothing good whatsoever can come of that — and, intellectually speaking, that denial of math would ripple through Arab culture for a thousand years and counting. The dogma of its faith over-rode the greatness of its thinking. This is not the first time that’s happened, is it?

Jews, on the other hand, DeGrasse-Tyson points out, did not succumb to any sort of religion-caused mass hysteria event (like a papal schism or a holy war or a Crusade). They put their minds to solving problems and answering perplexing questions. Plenty of them happily spoke the language of math. They won plenty of Nobel Prizes for their hard work. DeGrasse-Tyson points out that relative to their size relative to the human population as a whole, Jews have won an inordinate number of scientific Nobel Prizes (hundreds) while Arabs (a far larger part of the human family) have won three. DeGrasse-Tyson’s point isn’t to denigrate Arabs and their culture, it’s to point out that thinking scientifically is not alien to them — not at all. That, given the chance, Arabs would almost certainly have represented themselves better than they did.

There are plenty of cultures that value education above almost anything else. They recognize that the best way to give their children the best chance to succeed is to educate them. Americans don’t necessarily agree. Correction — some Americans. While not all cultures fight to make secondary education a part of all Americans’ education, it’s only white people who actively work to to deny secondary education to huge swaths of the population. First, they actively work to keep it expensive (the student loan business is incredibly lucrative). Then they work to keep it exclusive. If you don’t think some Americans would bring slavery back if they could, you’re looking at some other America.

Take Black people out of America, you don’t have America. Though slavery will forever be a blight on the idea of America, we need to celebrate — and learn from — how African Americans reacted to being enslaved here. White America could learn a lot about perseverance and loyalty to an idea. They could learn a lot about what America is really about, too — and what it means to actually BE American. In spite of being treated, well, like slaves, Black Americans have given American life vitality, art, innovation, scientific breakthroughs and all around greatness. So has Latino culture and each of the various Asian cultures. That diversity, in fact, is what makes America “America”. It’s at the heart of American Exceptionalism — a very real thing when allowed to shine.

America IS exceptional because something happened here that never happened anywhere else on the planet before. Whereas it took French people the better part of a thousand years to slowly transition from a bunch of tribes living in what’s now “France” into “French People” (same goes for every other country in Europe), aside from Native Americans (and if not for European diseases wiping them out, they might still be part of this equation), America had no slowly evolving local culture to call its own. All the nations of Europe actively engaged in exploring the planet saw the potential for profit in America. That’s what they came here in search of — not some democratic ideal or notion of human self-government.

The idealism beneath America’s founding — stripped of its White Guy’s Only worldview — drew every other nation’s people. America represented something revolutionary — the very real potential for self-reinvention (provided one was rich enough or willing to work hard enough). That was the draw — not white guys and their money. The potential do be whatever you want to be — whoever you are.

A few years back we regularly did “Days Without Latinos” to demonstrate to white people what their lives would be like if all the Latino men and women vanished from them. Spoiler alert — it didn’t go so well for the white people. An awful lot of our fruits and vegetables get picked by Latino migrant labor. Alabama learned the hard way a few years back what happens when you’re stupid (racist) enough to stop all that migrant labor from picking your crops: they don’t get picked. Theirs is a job most Americans refuse to do. Alabama lost an entire crop in 2002. The financial hit was brutal. How did Forrest Gump put it? “Stupid is as stupid does”? Yeah — that.

America would be a fourth world dump without the contributions made by Black people. And Latino people. And Asian people and Jewish people. America needs every contribution from every tribe here in order to do what it does and be what it is. The Republican Party would deny every bit of it.

That’s the funniest part of the joke (though it definitely isn’t haha funny) — white supremacy begins with the entirely false premise that white people could be “supreme” — better than all others. Um, no. Sorry, white people — you’re not “supreme”. That’s not to say you, too, haven’t made some very good contributions to humanity and human history. Hey — penicillin? A white guy (English) invented that! The telephone? White guy (Scottish)! The Ponzi Scheme? A white guy (named Charles Ponzi)!

Republicans have it in their heads that “they alone can fix it”. I’d focus in on the word “fix”. What does a Republican mean by “fix it”? “Fix” how and fix “what”?

All of us who aren’t white people look at white people differently from how white people look at us. For starters, we don’t look at white people like they’re cockroaches; that’s a luxury we don’t have. And, unlike white people who imagine a world free of us, we don’t imagine a world free of them. Frankly, it’d be impossible — there’s just to many of them.

But, confession, some of us do contemplate a world less dominated by white people and their racist way of seeing everything. “Jews will not replace us” is a strange chant to begin with. Replace them doing what? I bet, given a shot, most every Jew could replace them — that’s why they’re chanting. Frankly, it would be nice to live in a world where white racism, bigotry and ignorance didn’t feature constantly.

That’s the world the rest of us wish we could experience — if just a little: a world without white people — abusing the rest of us.

Dear RW-ers: No, Freedom Is NOT Free; It Comes With Responsibilities

Listening to most RW-ers defend their ideals is starting to sound like a ten year old bully defending himself. “You’re not the boss of me” is what “freedom” sounds like in his ears. That might work as freedom if you live alone on an island. Put one other person there and “you’re not the boss of me” will cause problems almost immediately. Politics begins the instant two people have to negotiate with each other just so they can get through the day. Even two people trying to decide what to have for dinner are engaged in a political conversation. If both those people have “you’re not the boss of me” in their heads? They’ll never make good decisions together. They’ll never be happy. The fact is, they’ll never be free.

Freedom is imaginary to begin with. So is democracy. So are rights.

Each and every one is a human invention. No deity has bestowed any of this upon us. Trust me, if there IS a deity and that deity (with a whole freakin’ cosmos to worry about!) is worrying about piddly stuff like this? This universe needs a new deity with more deity-like priorities. Geez, whose mediocre idea of a god is this anyway? While we’re at it, unless anyone can demonstrably prove otherwise, God or gods are all human creations, too. The proof? That we think a deity with a whole freakin’ cosmos to worry about would worry about whether or a bunch of little, tiny humans “believe” in him. That’s not a deity, that’s a male in need of psychotherapy.

We have rights because we finally realized that we could give them to ourselves — that we didn’t need a god-appointed king to grant them. Like maintaining a republic (as Franklin said “If we can keep it”), maintaining our rights will demand vigilance, grit and resolve. There were forces then that sought to shut down what had just been created. The slavers always hated democracy because democracy and slavery are mutually exclusive propositions. Slavery cannot exist in a democracy. It can’t. That it did wasn’t a reflection on democracy, it’s a reflection on us — and our continuing willingness to compromise with evil.

America is still fighting about slavery. That’s a stone cold fact. Cotton and sugar cane were labor intensive businesses. They were all the south had to run their economy. The most expensive component? Labor — but only if you’re forced to pay for it.

Hey, what if you could get all that expensive labor “for free”? Okay, so the labor costs you nothing, but you’ll have to feed and clothe and house your free labor. Considering as you can feed them garbage, clothe them in rags and house them in squalor, the costs will be negligible compared to the profits. And that’s why slavery exists. Free labor. All the rest — the inhumanity, the families and lives destroyed, the murder and mayhem — those are all ripple effects. Stuff that “happens”.

The slaver sits on his verandah, believing he is living the “dream of democracy”, a free man making money. He’s confused. No, he’s wrong. Completely and utterly wrong. Being a pig or a bully isn’t freedom. It’s being a pig or a bully. Being a slave owner is the opposite of freedom — because everything the slave owner does contradicts other peoples’ freedom. That’s the problem — right there.

We have rights because we gave them to ourselves (well, white men, at first, gave them to other white men. Fortunately, we’ve begun to wise up to the scam the white men have been running. The genius of America is the thing that makes it unique among nations. Aside from Native Americans, America was not formed by tribes that lived here for a thousand years like the countries of Europe were. We are the product of all those European tribes — plus tribes from EVERYWHERE ELSE on the planet. THAT’S what makes America exceptional — we’re the only country that was formed from all the other countries. It is unfortunate (but fixable) that white people commandeered this country for its first 240+ years. White people are very clever — but they’re not the only clever people on earth. Pretty much every other tribe? They’re clever, too. And when you put all that multi-cultural, approach-problems-from-every-conceivable-angle kind of thinking to work — as we have, here in America? The results are like nothing else humans have created. As experiments in human self-government go? We’re worth preserving — but, adjustments are needed, urgently.

Already the idea of “civic education” is finding purchase. Good. America needs that. We need to stop thinking that flag-waving is patriotism. No, knowing and understanding how the Constitution works — THAT’S patriotism. Under Trump, we could have turned into a fascist shithole just like that — without changing our flag. The Constitution would have ceased to be despite the stars n stripes’ endurance. See how that works? The piece of colored cloth is actually quite meaningless whereas the Constitution…

Among the first things we’ll need to teach the generations of Americans to follow is how valuable their rights are — how special. But, we’ll also need to teach them that those rights do NOT come without caveats. Everything costs something. Nothing is truly “free”. Just as rank has its privileges and obligations, so do rights.

The right to vote demands that you exercise it. Voting is every American’s OBLIGATION, not just their right. I kinda like Australia’s approach. You cannot be made to actually vote and Australians don’t have to vote come election day. BUT, Australians do have to show up. Regardless of whether or not they actually vote, Australians are obligated by law to at least go to their polling place.

Americans are equally responsible for paying for our democracy and freedoms. These things do cost money. Living costs money. Unless we all revert to being hunter-gatherers, feeding ourselves costs money. Our problem in America is that we see taxes as a black hole of inefficiency and corruption. It’s money out and virtually nothing back. Of course Americans see the tax man as the enemy!

What if Americans received a yearly statement though — an accurate accounting of exactly how the govt spends every single dollar it collects? What if Americans could see, every year, what their money bought them (bought the country), what it should have bought them and what it could never buy them? What if Americans — instead of seeing their taxes as money lost forever — saw them as a fair, accurate accounting of what their tax dollars are buying for them?

If Americans got something they could point — like guaranteed health CARE (as opposed to health INSURANCE — which is the focus of our debate) that could never bankrupt them or their families, they might look at those tax dollars (plus the out-of-pocket savings) a little differently. If Americans could point at the good public university or skills training education their children could have — again just because they pay taxes here — they might look at those tax dollars a little more open-mindedly. If Americans viewed their government as theirs, as their elected intermediary tasked with getting their collective problems solved, they might not see government as “the enemy”.

Again, this is framing — how we think of things (and how we don’t). This is entirely up to us.

If everyone in a family insisted they had to do things their way, the family would collapse in less than a heartbeat. Even relatively happy families have their issues. Welcome to being human and living at cross purposes with each other. Successful families learn to negotiate with each other. If they want something, they’ll probably have to give something to get it. Hello, politics.

A country like ours is just a giant family with a giant closet filled with giant skeletons. Families that don’t acknowledge their skeletons devolve into chaos. Families that at least try? They can’t do worse than chaos. Just like surviving a family takes work, so, too, does surviving a country. Balancing conflicting needs isn’t easy but the alternative is authoritarianism. For what it’s worth, living in an authoritarian state — provided you follow the rules — is a hell of a lot easier than living in a democracy.

That’s part of fascism’s appeal — you don’t have to think. The state does that for you. All you have to do is march neatly in lock step.

In November 1947, Winston Churchill put it this way: “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”. Democracy is hard, bloody work. The alternatives may be “easier” but only on the surface.

That is, if your idea of freedom isn’t a ten year old’s.

Republicans Don’t See America As A “Work Horse”, They See Us As A “Work HOUSE”

Imagine thinking that — after almost a year of being economically slammed by a pandemic made exponentially worse by their own political cravenness — Americans would be mollified by a check for $600. Wow. That’s some cynical thinking from a bunch of pirates who’ve ripped off OUR TAX DOLLARS to fatten the bank accounts of their cronies while denying We The People those same — desperately needed — bucks. Which are OURS to begin with. This is who the Republican Party is. Putting aside, for the moment, just how TREASONOUS they are, if sanctimony was a crime, Republicans would be even more guilty of that.

It’s a stone cold fact — conservatism lacks largesse because it cynically expects the very worst from people. It doesn’t see “America: The work horse”, it sees “America: the work HOUSE”. Work is not aspiratioinal; it’s punishment for being poor because, “clearly”, God wanted you to be poor; all they’re doing is carrying out God’s wishes.

In their eyes, this is what we look like…

We’re Oliver Twist — and the hunger has crossed the line…

You can almost hear our plaintive voice — “Please, sir, I’d like some more…”.

Good thing (for the Republicans) that THIS is how they see themselves — as Mr. Bumble!

And Mr. Bumble — upstanding Christian that he is — knows how to deal with the likes of us!

Republicans, detesters of regulation, don’t want child labor laws. They hate unions because unions empower workers. They hate when government forces fairness upon them. It all stems from their “faith” — or what they insist is their “faith in God”. Not a one of them believes IN God, they believe they ARE God. How else shall we take it when a person insists that they understand better than anyone else what the imaginary voice in their head says and means? That conversation is taking place in a completely closed environment. No deity is looking in or taking part. Correction — there is a deity taking part: the believer and their belief that they are God — telling this particular human what to do.

Americans are now suffering deprivations as never before. The economy is teetering for lack of cash when plenty of cash is available. Republicans — wedded to a bizarre, white nationalist Christianity that preaches “Do what we say” instead of “Do unto others” — see their own existential crisis in every American’s survival if that survival came from government money. The idea of Universal Basic Income horrifies Republicans even more than “socialized medicine” does. If Americans realized that UBI was 1) possible, 2) beneficial not just to those Americans receiving the UBI but to all Americans, and 3) something we’re idiotic not to do forever starting right here, right now, they’d want it.

Having UBI would mean that people didn’t have to leap at the first job offered them — despite the fact that it pays minimum wage (when they need far more) and doesn’t call on a single one of their skill sets. In places where they’ve experimented with UBI, the results have been almost uniformly good. Knowing their basic bills are paid (and, with a universal single payer system in place, that their health CARE is being provided for too) allows people to wait for a job better suited to them so that they can be more productive. The data shows — that’s what happens. People DON’T incur debt while paying their bills (or incur less debt and manage it better). They don’t hoard the money, they spend it — feeding the economy where it needs feeding most: down at the street level.

American Exceptionalism is a very real thing. That’s why people have always come to America — to have a chance at being part of that exceptionalism. What makes their product exceptional isn’t the money that pays them, it’s their very diversity as they walk in the door. America has always benefited from the rest of the world’s collected wisdom especially when we’ve made it our own. We understand the deal here: come, work your ass off — make something of yourself that you want to make of you. Then use that “improved version of you” to make America even better.

We are on the verge of escaping the Republican Party’s “Work House America”. They will do everything in their power to stop that from happening.

The Russian guy who owns the Work House is going to insist, I’m afraid…

Conservatives vs Progressives Can Be Summed Up As “Me vs We”

Trumpism is conservatism on steroids (plus copious amounts of snorted powdered Adderall). If one had to sum up Trumpism in one word, it’d be “me”. “Me” is the one country Donald Trump has fealty toward. Well, “Me” and Vlad Putin. But that’s not ideological fealty. Trump isn’t loyal to Putin because he believes in “Putinism”. Rather, it’s the fealty that a crime boss (Putin) demands from his underlings and capos (Trump). “Me” is the core weakness Putin holds over Trump. Putin is exploiting Trump’s absolute adoration of “Me”, Trump’s willingness to indulge “Me”, make “Me” richer even if doing it is illegal or downright treasonous.

Trumpism = Me-ism. And now, so, too do Republicanism and conservatism.

To be fair to conservatives, they do come by their Me-ism honestly. That is, it’s completely organic to who they are. Conservatives love the Libertarian notion of the “rugged individualist” — that “I alone can fix it” guy. They all see themselves as “rugged individualists”. This dovetails nicely with the conservative, institutionalist idea of religion — a neat twist that turns “Do unto others” into “Do what we say or else”. Conservatives all claim to know God’s will better than you (so you better shut up!) That’s because conservatives don’t believe IN God, they believe they ARE God. So, how could anyone be the “boss of them”?

See how that works?

Conservatives, as their names says, want to conserve. Fair enough. The next logical question: WHAT do conservatives want to “conserve”? Since one can’t conserve the future (it doesn’t exist yet), one is left conserving the present which means conserving the past since that’s what the present reflects — what’s left of the past. THAT is what conservatives want desperately to conserve — as much of the past conserved in the present as possible. Why? Was the past better?

For them, yes. Yes, it was. In the past, conservative values (white, Christian, male) dominated all conversations. “All men are created equal” didn’t mean “all men”. It didn’t mean “all people” either.

For conservatives, the past was infinitely better than they fear the future might be. Which is why they resist change. And progress. Change and progress are antithetical to conservatives and conservatism. That’s not a rap or a judgment. It’s simply a fact. It’s part of the DNA of any conservative argument — resistance to change because of a preference for how it was before.

“How it was before” is a problem for Progressives because “how it was before” was racist, bigoted, misogynist and ignorant. And it’s entirely antithetical to democracy because the majority of Americans aren’t those things. We keep voting against those things but getting the opposite result. It’s like someone was constantly getting in the way of change — of the progress toward real fairness, real justice and a truly level playing field that the majority of Americans want.

Donald Trump pointed out a basic truth that every Republican knows: when more Americans vote, they vote against Republicans and for Democrats because they don’t want what Republicans are selling. Democracy is a marketplace of ideas. In the binary marketplace that is American Democracy, more Americans want to buy Progressive ideas than conservative ideas: a vigorous social safety net, socialized medical CARE (not insurance; insurance doesn’t provide care, it’s a payment mechanism for it) that won’t bankrupt a person (or their family) just because they got sick, UBI, a healthy climate, women’s and minority rights, full LGBTQ participation in American life, a clear separation between Church and State. As Trump put it, if every American voted, Republicans would never win another election.

Exactly so, Donald, exactly so. It’s a testament to how good most Americans are. We want our individual rights respected. But we also recognize that there will always be a dynamic tension between “me” and “we”. If not everyone in the “we” is getting the same “me” treatment? Then it’s like NONE of “we” is getting the “me” treatment. We can’t be truly free until we’re ALL free. Otherwise, we’re just pretending to be “free”.

Even the nature of our protests is different. Most Progressives protests were masked and, at least, had the pandemic’s toll and impact in its head.

Conservative protests?

They’re masked when they must be but you can see “You’re not the boss of me!” burning in their eyes. They’re armed to the teeth. They’re not there to protect anything — other than the scared little boy inside them. As Kyle Rittenhouse was shooting those two UNARMED protesters to death, was he striking blows for freedom? Or was he, down deep, saying “Eff you, man, you’re not taking away whatever it is that I’m so desperately afraid of losing!”

The reason most conservatives fear “we” is because it doesn’t look like them — or what they think “me” should look like: Northern European white people. Christian. Rich.

That’s what conservatives think “American Exceptionalism” is. Them. And their money. They couldn’t be more wrong. American Exceptionalism is spelled out in our motto: “E PLURIBUS UNUM”. Out of many, one. America is the product of diversity. That’s the “PLURIBUS”. The “UNUM” isn’t a bunch of unums making one giant “unum”, it’s an unum borne of the pluribus. “We” has always been essential to the American ideal.

Our mistake thus far has been that we’ve EXCLUDED so many Americans FROM that ideal. Good thing We The People stepped in at the very last second to pluck our democracy back from the selfish, greedy, corrupt conservatives who, frankly, never had much use for it anyway.

There will always be dynamic tension between “me” and “we”. That’s not a bad thing. It’s baked in to our experiment in human self-government. Our duty is to keep the tasting spoon handy. Don’t let the mix get TOO “we” (that will undermine the “me” and we don’t want to do that either).

Maybe we need to reframe our differences. Maybe conservatism isn’t the political opposite of progressivism. Maybe conservatism is an island unto itself. What if we think of “moderation” as the political opposite of progressivism. Rather than “forward v backwards”, what if we thought of the future in terms of “forward v forward with greater deliberation”? After all, whether we like it or not, the future is coming at us. We will face problems in the future that we haven’t even considered yet.

If we don’t anticipate them — by building the future into our plans — then we’ll be caught out when the future arrives. Kinda like the Trump White House prepared America for the pandemic.

See? We are living in a live “Me v We” test tube. “Me” thinking produces sickness and death. “We” thinking does not.

Like there’s really a choice here?

So, What If — In This Transformational Moment — We “Could” Get It Right? What Would “Getting It Right” Look Like?

America’s dirtiest secret is out: we have never lived up to the ideals on which our country was founded. In part, that’s because the European men who founded America couldn’t themselves live up to the ideals. Some compromises should never be made. After all, how can you compromise with evil? What’s the outcome — semi-evil?

We “compromised” with slavery. But slavery never compromised with us. Evil never does.

Another compromise at the start — women were not granted equal rights. I guess the founders were being literal by “All MEN are created equal”.

Getting great ideas to the finish line in one piece is tough. And, democracy, as we’ve learned, has a lot of “sausage-making” to it. That’s compromise for you. And that’s making compromises with ideas that deserve to be compromised with. They’re not evil like, say, slavery.

We’ve now come face to face with our most original sin — the racism that compromises all men being created equal. Equal people cannot own each other.

But it’s not just racism that’s bedeviled us. Greed has had a go at us too. Greed and racism rut like demonic weasels. Here in America it’s produced a value system that’s completely ass backwards. We pay social influencers a ton while paying teachers so little that some have to take second jobs to pay their bills.

We think a high school “education” is so essential that we automatically pay for it. But try to add four more years — where we begin to refine those minds so as to make them genuinely useful? Suddenly it’s “socialism”. I guess it’s just a coincidence that — to pay for that part of our childrens’ educations — we’ve set up a whole for-profit business of lending kids money to pay for those educations. Corporate socialism is okey-dokey, as always. That’s greed talking.

Blue sky here. We don’t need to sledgehammer our system, we need to re-focus it — away from “me” and toward “we”.

That means we need to completely and forever disabuse ourselves of the notion that any one person can fix anything by themselves. To fix anything — or raise a child — it DOES take a village. And that village needs to be well-funded and well-organized. We want everyone to be the best and most individual “they” that they can be. But never, ever at the expense of the “we”. No “me” can ever have more weight before the law than any other “me” or the whole collection of “me’s” that produce “we”.

We need to win every argument with me. If we start from there, it’s almost assured that we’ll get it right because our focus and framing will be correct. Part of my blue sky here takes into consideration the fact that more and more women (and women of color) are pouring into American politics. If there’s any salvation to be had — that’s where it will come from. It would not be a terrible thing if just about every white male got out of politics for an election cycle or two.

We would do the following things: we would value education and educators over just about anyone and anything.

We would value health CARE over health INSURANCE (they are not the same thing).

We would teach our young people not how to memorize (so as to pass tests) but how to think analytically. We’d teach them how to write and express themselves articulately. We would teach them how to communicate — both directly and honestly. We would teach them to be respectful of everyone.

We would teach them how America works and that freedom is not “free” — it comes with huge responsibilities and obligations. Voting, for example.

We would give every single child the same benefits and advantages, the same access to health care and opportunity. We need to be almost maniacal about this — getting every kid the same chances. America has a remarkable brain trust that no other nation has because no other country is the product of every other country on earth creating it, in essence.

America isn’t a perfect melting pot. Parts of the pot never get the same heat as other parts do. And the different elements don’t melt together into a homogenized end product of indeterminate origin. America and Americans are a hybrid. Nothing like us has ever existed before.

That really should be our goal — to recognize 1) that America IS exceptional though 2) not for the reasons we’ve told ourselves but 3) now that we understand what makes us exceptional, we intend to do everything we can to nurture every last drop of our exceptionalism.

If we can pull that off, the sky’s the limit.

“E Pluribus Unum” Is What America Was Always Meant To Be — “From Many, One”

“Out of many, one”. That’s what “E pluribus unum” means. It was approved as America’s motto in 1782 as part of the act that created Americia’s Great Seal. “E pluribus unum” and “Novus ordo securum” (new order of the ages) were afixed to it. Together, “out of many, one” and “new order of the ages” was meant to speak toward our ideals.

The problem is we were oppressing some of the “many” we were counting as the “one”. Slavery still haunts America. Maybe the peaceful protests filling America’s streets every day now represents America’s conscience finally (FINALLY!) waking the hell up. We ended the commercial institution of slavery. We never ended the racism that permitted it to even be a consideration as part of a free, democratic country where “All Men Are Created Equal”.

Perhaps the idea this nation’s founders imagined was too big for them to fully grasp. They Euro-centered it in their heads. They didn’t even mean all men when they wrote “all men”. They meant all white men. Some wanted only all property-owning white men. And they certainly didn’t mean any women.

Yeah — great idea, guys — good thing you made the Constitution upgradeable and capable of evolving. Good thing you didn’t put, at the end, “And there will be no changes made to this document, we intended that the law will be how we wrote it in our world with our knowledge base and our technology”. That would have meant we’d still be stuck living in the 18th century.

Originalism is to sound legal reasoning what snot is to caviar. What horse shit is to Truth.

It epitomizes conservative “thinking”. It wants to freeze a moment in time and force us to live in it — because that’s when conservative white power was fully in charge.

Some little boys never learn how to share.

White conservatives would have us all believe that “American Exceptionalism” is rich white guys and their money. E Pluribus Unum says otherwise.

Right now, America doesn’t look terribly exceptional. I take that back. Before America suddenly got woke — at the tragic expense of George Floyd and far too many black Americans to be even remotely acceptable. The protest marches are filled with everything that makes America exceptional. They are American Exceptionalism on the hoof.

Black Lives Matter is a pure expression of American Exceptionalism.

Those protest marches are E Pluribus Unum.

Hey, America, Don’t Forget: Republicans Are A Minority Party — By A Lot

Americans either can’t bear talking about politics or it’s what we obsess on. Politics are fraught wherever you go — in our time especially — but politics are especially fraught here in America. The divide seems more intractable than ever.

It is.

The way our news media reports it, America is split 50-50 between two equal arguments represented by two parties. Our founders did not intend for there to be political parties. But even at the country’s founding, we were split between diametrically opposite ways of approaching power. One favored federalism, the other favored the states. Either or. The first parties split along those lines and have never really wavered.

To assume Republicans (modern Republicans, not Lincoln’s Republican Party — read Heather Cox Richardson’s excellent To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party and you’ll see how the two parties have, in essence, flipped identities) have an argument for power equal to the (modern) Democrats’ argument is to assume that “slavery” vs “no slavery” is an equal argument with equal merit. Of course those arguments aren’t equal. To give slavery any ground is to compromise what cannot be compromised.

It’s a bullshit discussion from the start. We shouldn’t be having it. There’s no possible middle ground.

And yet, we stand on it. Middle Ground that shouldn’t be. We can feel the intense dynamic pressure it creates every single day.

It’s why institutional racism runs so deep. It’s why we have armed men storming state capitols demanding they get to have hair cuts or mani-pedi’s the coronavirus be damned. It’s why women can’t get health care because men want to control their bodies. It’s why we have a health INSURANCE system instead of a health CARE system. It’s why students leave college and university with a mountain of debt on their backs. It’s why the rich keep getting richer while the rest of us struggle harder to make do with less.

It feels not only wrong but… incorrect. Like we’re being forced to live someone else’s life under someone else’s rules. We look around at our communities — all of us feeling the same helplessness — wondering why things don’t change — why the majority never seems to get what IT wants? How can this be.

The real problem is (ironically) what Spiro Agnew called “The Silent Majority”. There is a Silent Majority, it turns out — Democrats. There probably wasn’t even really a “silent majority” of conservative Americans back when Agnew claimed there was. Agnew was only thinking about white people anyway — a silent majority of WHITE PEOPLE. Now, polling says, the “silent majority” of independent voters (38% of us) vote Democratic.

Among voters who don’t regularly vote? The margin’s even bigger.

We can all feel it — the dynamic tension between a minority that somehow has the power and the majority that didn’t vote that way and wouldn’t have if they had showed up at the polls. The majority of Americans either lean Democratic or are Democratic — and that is the Republican Party’s existential problem.

As Donald Trump himself said out loud to Fox News — the problem with mail-in voting is that it compels more Americans to actually vote and when more Americans vote, “It’s bad for Republicans”. If more Americans voted, fewer Republicans would get elected — and America would already be a very different place. If only every American saw voting not just as some right they have but as their moral duty as citizens.

And yet… Americans are not flush with civic pride. We need to ask WHY?

Americans know less about their government and how it works than anyone who comes to this country seeking citizenship. They actually have to study our system.

Not to “both sides do it” but, in this instance, in their own ways, both sides brought us here. The Republicans have deliberately made Americans ignorant. They’ve made voting hard or not impossible for people of color all across America. They’ve fought vote-by-mail while relying upon it — or using it personally. They’ve favored ignorance over science in our classrooms — and made the teaching mantra “get a job, get a job” instead of “get an education, get an education”.

Democrats got smug. They gained national power during the Clinton years and forgot that real power starts on the local level — with school boards. To their credit, right-wingers and evangelicals ran for office at the local level all across the country. They took over the re-drawing of voter districts — and began gerrymandering. They took over statehouses and began making it harder for the Democratic majority to get what they wanted from government. Government began to break down. Changing it got harder — all because the Democrats took their eye off the ball: all elections are local elections and (in America) you have to motivate voters to be engaged every single day.

It’s frustrating to be a majority lorded over by a minority. That’s authoritarianism. At any point, the majority could take to the streets and bring the minority’s “government” down. Even Thomas Jefferson allowed that a little revolution was a good thing from time to time. Clearly a little revolution is what’s needed here.

Royalists have taken over the greatest experiment in human self government ever.

We need to throw these regressive bastards out. We need to restore America and its exceptionalism. That’s a real thing — American Exceptionalism. It isn’t white guys and their money, it’s diversity. Our diversity is what makes us truly unique in the world. Contrary to what Republicans will tell you, America has never been a celebration of the white man and the white man alone. Having decimated the native populations with our germs, we truly created a new country here without a past.

In essence, our past begins with the country’s founding. And, while the actual “founding” was done exclusively by white men, the country outside those doors where the founding was being done did not look exactly like them. While it was far whiter then, the innovation and energy demanded to not only found a democracy but keep it running — what kept it running even back then as it was being founded — was diversity. Americans who weren’t “white” and male.

The reason Republicans have to cheat to win elections is because the majority of Americans won’t vote for them. The majority of us want to live in a diverse future where as many Americans as possible prosper. We don’t want to live in a past where white men have all the privilege.

Shocking, right?

We Should Give Republicans & Conservatives The America They Want — But Only If We Put A Wall Around It First

As we watch our Democratic Republic slowly sink beneath the waves of corruption, let’s play a thought experiment. What if we could “give” Republicans & conservatives the country they want America to be? What if we could arrange so that if you want to live in Trump’s America, you go live in the south. Want to be a Confederacy again? Go ahead.

We’ll even give the Republicans & Conservatives a “satellite” territory — Wyoming and Idaho. We’ll throw in the remotest parts of Nevada too — so all the multiple-marriage-loving Mormons in the FLDS church can feel at home in this their new country. The Trumpian States Of America.

One caveat though — the whole thing must be walled off. I bet they’d insist, too, because the last thing they’d want is all that nasty diversity outside the wall (that set them off to begin with) infiltrating their lovely White Christian Male Kingdom.

Meanwhile, outside the wall, the Real America will go on. We’ll continue to innovate and research and problem solve using every tool available to us — including the wide knowledge base that comes from so much diversity. Diversity, after all, is what makes America exceptional. Nowhere before in the world’s history had one country become a blending palette for all the world’s cultures. It took a thousand years for the various tribes scattered around France to become French. Same goes for all the tribes scattered around Britain to become British or the German tribes to become German et cetera et cetera.

If European pathogens hadn’t wiped out most of the Native American population before Europeans arrived en masse (they found an empty continent mostly because their germs — having preceded them via the first explorers — had already wiped out literally millions of people), our story might be very different. But diseases did kill the native populations so efficiently that more or less seizing their land became easy.

That newly vacated territory filled with a new-fangled thing called “Americans”.

The Trumpian States Of America will be a very, very, VERY white place. It will celebrate whiteness and being white and staying white forever. It will point to its pure whiteness as proof of its superiority — regardless of the fact that, white as it is, it’s failing horribly in every possible way. Most people of color will flee because who wants to live in a place where you are clearly a second class citizen at best.

Every white person with a double digit IQ will be right behind them.

The white people who stay — who proudly call themselves citizens of this place — won’t be America’s best or brightest. They won’t be our most talented or our best problem solvers. They’ll be sheep — doing what they’re Amertold to do — spouting the shit they’e told to spout. For a while, things will seem normal. The trains won’t run on time because white people don’t need trains. They all have trucks. But the trucks will get to drive wherever the hell they want. Same difference in a Trumpian’s mind.

But then things will start to break down. Mechanical things at first. Good thing lots of good mechanical minds stayed behind in Trump’s America. So the status quo can be maintained — for a while. But Trump’s America won’t play well with others. They’ll pitch obnoxious trade deals that make them a pariah. Because America doesn’t manufacture much anymore, the Trumpian States Of America will have to rely on the rest of America — or foreign countries like China — to get equipment. Being as the Trumpian States of America have little to offer anyone, they’ll be in the typical Trumpian negotiating position — a horrible one.

In time, people outside the wall will simply give up on dealing with the Trumpians. It’s not like they ever pay their bills anyway, right?

Mechanical breakdown is eventually in Trump’s America. I give the electrical grid 5 years max. That’s assuming no one hacks into it and shuts it down before it breaks down. It’s a fact — the Trumpian States Of America will end up living in the dark the exact same way most of North Korea does.

Funny irony? It’ll be Kim Jong-On building North Korean hotel-spas on the shores of Trump’s America rather than the other way around.

Trump’s followers may be dim-witted but they still need their creature comforts. Remember — they’re a jealous lot. They live by their grievances. When the quality of their lives dips below standards even trailer trash demand — they will take to the streets with pitchforks and torches.

Unable to solve its own problems, unable to do anything other than slowly sink into the cess pit they created for themselves, the leadership of Trumplandia will appeal to the rest of us: Help! Give us money! Fix us fast!

Of course, being Trumpanistas, they’ll blame US for THEIR problems.

That’s why we’ll tell them to go screw themselves. Them AND their country. I hope all those Trumpanistas understand. Screw em if they don’t.

By Their Very Nature, RW-ers Are Closed-Minded & Progressives Are Open-Minded

“Both Sides Do It” thinking (and journalism) would want us to believe that that headline is biased and wrong because both sides are equally closed-minded and open-minded. The fact is both sides are different not just because they want to be different but because they actually think differently. There’s even science to back that up (both sides are not equally interested in science by the way — because both sides are not equally “open-minded” about new information).

Conservatives, as their name says, want to conserve. They’ll accept conserving the present but what they really want to conserve is the past. The future — and any change — terrifies them. Progressives, as their name says, want to progress into the future of course since no one wants to progress into the past. Progress demands an open mind because one knows one will face new challenges that old ways simply won’t be able to resolve.

Progressive thinking, by its nature, is inclusive. We see that the answers to our problems could spring from nearly anywhere — and anyone — if only we’d give all these minds the chance to develop. We see America’s diversity as its exceptionalism. We aren’t just the greatest experiment in human self government ever, we’re also the greatest experiment in human diversity where our cultural dynamism is born out of the rich gumbo of ideas and approaches that flow from the variety of cultures who came to this place in order to be part of the first experiment.

Conservative thinking cannot tolerate uncertainty. That’s why it tends to be deeply religious (instead of being more openly-minded and just plain spiritual). Conservatives want a power structure in place. They want the world as it was (when they were in absolute control) to be the world as it always WILL be — with them continuing to be absolutely in control). Never mind the fact that they are an ever-increasing minority. They are the “god of the gaps”.

It’s painfully ironic that our news media — regardless of the topic — always demands equal open-mindedness from both sides. Lacking any perspective, they start from the false premise that both sides are the same and behave the same. They assume that both sides start off equally stuck in their ways — as if “their ways” were exactly the same.

This is why we get a press that demands Elizabeth Warren explain how she’s going to pay for health CARE for all Americans while they shrug off Republicans insisting (without a lick of data) that their tax cuts to themselves will PAY for themselves. This is why we have a main stream news media that gives equal weight to lies and the Truth. This is why we have a news media that insists that Democrats are impeaching Trump for entirely political reasons.

No, you idiots, the Democrats impeached (and will impeach Trump again) because he violated his oath of office the instant he took it. The Rule Of Law either is or it isn’t — and the instant we allow a POTUS to violate his oath brazenly and with impunity, our entire system of self-government is in mortal peril.

The Democrats did not drive us to this Constitutional crisis, the Republicans did. The Republicans are acting political because their interest is political — they want to HOLD ONTO the political power they now have AT ALL COSTS. They’re so determined to hold onto power that they’re willing to cheat every which way they can. They’re willing to suppress every Democratic voter they can. Those are all political acts. The person having their vote suppressed is NOT acting politically, they’re the VICTIM OF A CRIME.

Same token — the Democrats, when they point to the myriad ways Donald Trump has violated his oath of office, broken the law and shredded the Constitution, they’re NOT reacting politically, they’re pointing to criminal acts. When Democrats cry foul — that election 2016 was neither free nor fair because RUSSIA decided its outcome (isn’t that what Mitch McConnell was protected by refusing to let President Obama tell America that our election was under assault?) — they’re not acting politically, they’re being PATRIOTIC.

They’re also speaking for the real victims of the crime, The American People. Our electoral choice was stolen from us — our Will. That’s the majority of Americans. The 3 million plus (who knows how many suppressed votes there were) who wanted what Hillary and the Democrats were selling, not what Trump, Mitch McConnell and the Russian-owned Republicans were selling.

Mitch McConnell epitomized conservative closed-mindedness by not even giving Merrick Garland a hearing. Democrats wouldn’t even think of doing such a thing. Because it’s now how Democrats — the Progressives among them especially — think.

Even a glance at a conservative crowd versus a Progressive crowd tells you all you need to know about each crowd’s open-mindedness versus its closed-mindedness. A thousand words? No — a million words. More even.

Is there really a question?