A Divide As Wide As the Clear Blue Sky

Once it began to sink in on election night that the anticipated Great Blue Wave was not going to come and wash away the insanity that has gripped this land, the sad-but-obvious conclusion that I was forced to confront is this: We are a deeply divided nation.

Some 78 million Americans saw what has been happening to and in our country over the past four years and were motivated to wait in hours-long lines in northern cold and southern heat in the midst of a pandemic to rid our nation of Donald J. Trump. At the exact same time, nearly 73 million Americans braved those same conditions because they saw what has been happening to and in our country over the past four years and concluded that what America needed most was four more years of it.

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Ghosting the Orange Menace

Yesterday someone made the totally obvious yet utterly profound observation that Trump never wanted to be The President. What they meant was that he didn’t have any interest in leading our nation or in governing in the true sense of the word. Most people seek the highest office because they have a profound desire to serve the public, or out of a sense that they are uniquely qualified to lead the country at a pivotal time in our history, or because they want to move the country in a certain direction. But Trump had no such desire. He has never had a political philosophy or any meaningful agenda beyond Make America Great Again, which isn’t so much a presidential agenda as it is an advertising slogan, one about as meaningful as “Where’s the Beef?” What Trump wanted was to be the most talked-about person on the planet. And for the last four years, that’s exactly what he’s been.

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Invisibility Doomed Elizabeth Warren

Ever since Elizabeth Warren ended her presidential primary run, there’s been a deluge of articles analyzing what went wrong with her campaign. After all, on paper at least, Warren was the ideal Democratic candidate for 2020: brilliant, capable, experienced, compassionate, and female. She had real policies for fixing many of the problems that plague hard working Americans. She had a plan for everything. And after the near-miss in 2016, America seemed ready to put a smart, capable, qualified woman in the White House.

Political analysts looked everywhere for the reason Warren never placed higher than third in any primary — why she didn’t even win her home state of Massachusetts. Some argued she was doomed out of the gate by the mishandling of her claim of Native American ancestry and by allowing Trump to bait her into taking a DNA test. Others argued it was her public feud with Bernie Sanders over whether or not he told her that a woman couldn’t be elected president. One analysis laid the blame squarely at the feet of her chief campaign strategist Joe Rospars for softening her edges and trying to hide her image as a fighter, arguably her most compelling quality.

But most pundits came to the conclusion that, just like in 2016, the true reason for Elizabeth Warren’s failure was that we just don’t like women. Call it sexism, misogyny, testimonial injustice, or a double standard, the only logical explanation for why, in a campaign that began with a historically diverse field of candidates, the putative Democratic nominee for president in 2020 is an old white man.

But it wasn’t sexism that sank Warren’s campaign. Or Amy Klobuchar’s. Or even Hillary Clinton’s. It was invisibility. Elizabeth Warren’s problem isn’t that she’s a woman per se; it’s that she’s a middle-aged woman. And in our society, middle-aged women are simply invisible.

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It’s Springtime In America Again

Like a crocus tentatively emerging through the late-winter snow, I have begun to awaken from the darkness of Impeachment Season, and as the blustery winds of the Democratic Primaries pummel my delicate spirit I search desperately for some warmth which will encourage me to bloom. Fortunately I see some rays of hope, and I turn gratefully towards them. The hope that I cling to is that, like the long dark winter nights, voter apathy is receding into the past.

A crocus emerges into Primary Season
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Primary Strategy: Two Views

“Who should the Democrats nominate?”

Wherever I go, that’s the question on everyone’s mind. Whether I’m having dinner with friends or out for coffee, whether I’m with one person or with a group, everyone wants to talk about it. Even at work, where politics is taboo, the subject comes up: Bernie or Biden? What about Warren? Some candidates, like Mayor Pete and Kamala Harris were the hot topic for a while, but their stars have begun to wane, as has Corey Booker’s, and Beto O’Rourke’s and many of the rest. No one seems to be particularly excited about any of the possibilities, but everyone is anxious about the outcome.

The overriding consideration in every conversation, of course, is beating Trump. But there’s a whole lot of angst and disagreement about the best way to do that.

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I’m Sitting Out This Debate

Political junkie confession time: I have no interest in watching the debate this evening.

This primary season has been utterly disheartening, as has the political environment in general over the last 3 (or more!) years.

The debates are promoted like sporting events, with splashy graphics and pre- and post-game analysis, because apparently someone has determined that sports is the only thing that Americans can understand. The moderators and the networks are more interested in ratings than they are in helping voters understand the issues. Honestly, how much has anyone learned about any of the candidates in the previous two events? Close to absolute zero, I’d estimate.

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A Primer on Primaries

It’s primary season. Yay! The Democratic debates have begun. Woo hoo! And the Democrats are in the process of determining who their candidate for the 2020 presidential election will be. Gulp.

Of course, we know that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee. But who will be the Democratic nominee? Twenty-five people are vying for that title, and the primary process will whittle that number all the way down to one, who will oppose Trump in the general election. What is there to know about the process? After all, primaries are just like any other election: all the same rules apply to primary elections and general elections. Right?

Wrong.

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Majority Rule: Is It Always Best?

Is “majority rule” the gold standard of decision-making? Is it always best for us to be governed by the 51%, or should there be some consideration given to the opinions and rights of the minority? That’s a question nobody is asking as political attention Continue reading “Majority Rule: Is It Always Best?”

Virginia: A Possible Spoiler for the Dems

There’s an important debate going on in the Democratic party right now. The careers of three men in Virginia hang in the balance. And even if you don’t live in Virginia, it matters. Let me explain why.

People often liken politics to sports. There’s a certain appeal in that analogy for Continue reading “Virginia: A Possible Spoiler for the Dems”

I Thought We Were Better Than This

I’m so saddened by what I’ve seen in the news and on social media this week. The rush to judgment, the hard lines drawn, the accusations. I really feel as though we have reached a new low.

The discourse surrounding the now-infamous events in Washington DC between Kentucky’s Covington Catholic High School students and an indigenous activist and Marine veteran Omaha Elder Nathan Phillips have highlighted divisions and biases in America that are deeper and uglier than I ever imagined. In an era where we are exposed to a daily dose of deeply depressing and disturbing events, this is the most deeply depressing and disturbing thing I have seen.

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