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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I Fear Insurance Companies More Than a “Government Takeover”

Patient and doctor consulting

I worry a lot about the state of health care in the US. The system we have now is unsatisfactory and unsustainable. And access to health care is so vital. But I don’t see a solution coming any time soon.

The most common argument offered against the US moving to a system of universal health care (whether it is “Medicare For All” or whatever) is that it will be a “government takeover” of our health care. It will “give the power and control over health care decisions to the bureaucrats in Washington DC.”

The idea that “The Government” is going to be making your medical decisions is supposed to scare the hell out of you. It’s supposed to conjure up images of some bureaucrat in a cheap suit sitting in a nondescript office in Washington writing prescriptions and deciding whether or not Grandpa gets to have his chemotherapy this week. OMG “Death Panels!” The Democrats want to turn us into Venezuela! This is a typical scare tactic by conservatives and the CEOs of multinational corporations who think that our money works better when its in their bank accounts. “The Government is the enemy! Be afraid!” We’ve heard it all before: in the 90s they wanted to privatize Social Security. Then it was Charter Schools. And then privatizing roads and bridges all over the country. In the US, we’ve been trained over the last 40 years to believe that the Free Market is our friend and that The Government is our enemy. And we’re convinced. Because a fear of The Government plays nicely off of our historical enmity of Communism and fear of its “political twin” Socialism.

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Our Defeats Will Steel Our Resolve

Obstacles do not block the path. They are the path.

I just realized something:

All of the “defeats” that we have been subjected to over the last two years, that have left us so deflated and demoralized, are not defeats at all. They are signposts along the way to our better future. They are there to energize us, and more than that, to test our resolve:

Do we really believe in our cause? Or is it just so many empty words?

Are we whiners who expect that everything will go our way, and when it does not we throw up our hands in defeat? Or are we willing to get our hands dirty and do the hard work necessary to create the future that we believe in?

Do we wallow in defeat and demoralization while everything wastes away at the hands of a small group of people who will walk all over our rights and our dignity and take it away from us? Or do we fight back?

Do we really believe in the promise of our country? That all of us are created equal. That hard work will be rewarded fairly. That we can leave a better world for our children. That ours is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Because right now — at this moment — we are engaged in the great test of our generation: can the promise of this country endure?

We have been sitting here pining for someone to step up, waiting for someone to emerge and show us the way. We have been desperate for a leader so we can follow them to the promised land. But we don’t need a leader to follow: we already know the way. We can join hands and walk there together.

There is a great task ahead of us. And we will take increased devotion to our cause from the defeats we have suffered. But we will not be demoralized. We will not be defeated. We will not let others steal our hope. We will not watch our country crumble. We will steel ourselves for the fight ahead. And we will succeed.

Our future is one month away. Let’s go.

Have a Little Pity For Senator Manchin

A lot of people are really mad at Senator Joe Manchin right now. Today he voted to confirm very controversial, very conservative nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The final vote was 50 to 48, with Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski voting “present” (meaning she didn’t vote either yes or no) and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia being the only Democrat to vote yes.

Liberals are branding him a traitor, calling him spineless, labeling him a self-serving coward, and threatening to back his Republican opponent in November.

But have a little pity for poor Joe Manchin. It’s not easy being blue (in a red state).

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Kavanaugh Situation is the Teachable Moment We’ve Been Waiting For

Photo of 1985 DKE Fraternity

Are you one of the people who says kids today need to learn that their actions have consequences? That parents today need to stop bending over backwards to protect their children from the consequences of their behavior? Do you complain about the parent who calls their kid’s teacher to explain why Justin didn’t finish his book report, or tell stories about that mom who showed up at school with Emily’s warm coat that she accidentally left at home?

Or are you one of the people now saying that Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s behavior shouldn’t matter: “It was a long time ago. It was high school. It’s not relevant.”

Because you don’t get to have it both ways.

Leave aside Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations about what happened the night of that party 30-odd years ago. That’s a different topic. But enough people who knew Kavanaugh at Georgetown Prep and at Yale have now come forward to say that he was a frequent heavy drinker and a partier. He was a member of DKE, a fraternity at Yale that was notorious for heavy drinking and misogynistic behavior. Former roommates, friends, and acquaintances have described him as belligerent and mean when drunk, have said that he was “frequently unusually drunk,” and have described other behavior that anyone who is familiar with the heavy drinking that goes on at high schools and college campuses easily recognizes.

And yes, it was a long time ago, but that behavior has consequences. Still. Now.

Responsible parents struggle to teach their teenagers to be careful: to use discretion and sense and to think before they act. Modern parents have also had to add the caution about being responsible about what their kids post and tweet. Be careful. Because your behavior could come back and haunt you.

The big threat is always that a potential employer might learn about your indiscretions and decide that you aren’t the kind of person they want working for them. Yes, employers can, do and should look back at your behavior and decide what it says about your character. Even when the employer is the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

This moment right here is the moment that parents need to point to to remind our kids that their actions have repercussions. If we excuse this behavior because it happened a long time ago we’re no better than the helicopter and lawnmower parents that we criticize. We need to let the chips fall where they may.

And that’s true no matter how you feel about the political ramifications of the nomination, regardless of whether you support the current administration or not.

This is where the rubber meats the road, folks. This is where everyone who ever criticized an overly-involved parent or said that Millennials or Gen Y or kids today need to learn that life is hard should now be saying “Sorry, Brett. You’re not hired.”

An Old Friend’s Very Revealing Statement

Even the people that you think are your allies often turn out to be as much a part of the problem as the people who show it overtly by their words, deeds, or their votes.

Today I was confronted by a statement from a man that I have known and respected for more than three decades. With his statement, he showed that he, too, blames the victims and completely fails to understand the real problem. Continue reading “An Old Friend’s Very Revealing Statement”