What a Super Tuesday

Being a volunteer on a a political campaign is an interesting experience. We spend our time reaching out to people who are registered to vote. Voter registration is public, and can be requested from any state board of elections or Secretary of State. I have been doing this for 20 years. I’ve helped to “GOTV” or get out the vote, on local campaigns, county level, district or state, and I have volunteered on national campaigns.

When volunteers like myself reach out to voters, we get a lot of common responses. Sometimes they support the candidate I support, sometimes they support someone else, sometimes they’re undecided, and then there are those who have no desire to be involved in politics, and everything is just so messed up there’s no point. Their vote doesn’t matter, and every excuse in the book is thrown out to not be involved. Sometimes people even tell me I’m wasting my time. They tell me to get a life.

It baffles me. What could be more important, than upholding our civic duty? This is how I show my patriotism. I participate in my government, I do my best to be an informed member of the electorate, and I uphold my part of ensuring that this democracy is by the people and for the people.

I am fascinated that people do not seem to draw the line between our government’s dysfunction and our lack of participation in it. If you owned a business, and I’m sure many of you have, would you hire someone and never check on the work they did?

Would you not tell them what you wanted them to do, while working for you?
Would you not require that they be accountable and transparent to you?
Would you not expect them to accomplish your agenda and not their own?

If they didn’t do those things, would you keep paying them or would you find someone else?  I imagine in some businesses, you might even do the job yourself. You might recruit someone and vet candidates until you found the right person. Someone moral and ethical. Someone hardworking and intelligent. Someone who speaks clearly about the challenges and offers good solutions. Above all, someone trustworthy.

A healthy democracy requires that all citizens pay attention to it, ensuring that their voices are heard, and that everyone’s voices are heard.  We are all meant to vote. We are meant to communicate with our representatives on matters that concern us. We are meant serve in the government if we choose. We can serve in public service, civil, government, or military. These can be callings for people, just like becoming a teacher, a doctor, a scientist, or an athlete.

Patriotism is not wrapping up in a flag, or wearing the flag as a piece of clothing in violation of the US federal flag code.

Patriotism is participating in your government.
Patriotism is fulfilling your civic duty.
Patriotism is taking pride in your government, and the work of the people who proudly served in it.

People who work in public service are not all corrupt, and they are not all bad. It is an excuse to people use, so they can absolve themselves of the responsibility to pay attention. I have worked with many representatives, public servants, or people who serve the public. I have campaigned with and for them, I have worked on issues with them, I have helped to find people resources to information or assistance that they needed, I have helped register people to vote, I have helped people find their polling places, get rides to the polls, and I have helped explain the system, so that participating in our democracy and voting can be accessible to everyone.

We can all do our part. At the very least we must pay attention and not roll our eyes at campaigns and elections. We can make them better but first we have to at least take them seriously. We have to stop listening to the pundits, and the polls, and the backspin, and the speculation. We need to look at each campaign as they are. We need to read their vision, their plans, and look for who really has the most comprehensive platform.

Please spend 10 minutes looking directly at each candidate’s plans for this country. Decide who has the best plan. Show your patriotism, by showing up and doing the work. We can’t control what anyone else does, but can choose to do our part to ensure our democracy is by the people, and that it includes our voice.

Elizabeth Warren: https://elizabethwarren.com/plans

Joe Biden: https://joebiden.com/joes-vision/

Bernie Sanders: https://berniesanders.com/issues/

If you want a quick way to compare the plans, I made this Google Sheet, comparing a handful of plans:

2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Front-runners – Comparison of Plans (Google Sheets)

If you are wondering why there are some holes, I explain that here:
Let Me Make This Simple Democratic Voters

Choose wisely. This is your one chance to vote for the best candidate, nominee, President. The rest is just sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing. 
~ William Shakespeare, Macbeth

How Hard Will You Fight?

I often participate in get out the vote efforts.  To me, it’s our civic duty. I was posting about it earlier this week. If we want our government to be for the people, it must be by the people.

While I mean this for all citizens of our country, right now I’m writing this for my fellow Elizabeth Warren supporters.  We know how amazing she is.  She is intelligent, thoughtful, accountable, transparent, and effective as hell.  The problem is, it’s not just enough to support her. It’s not enough to just vote for her. We must be off the sidelines.

Tonight is an FEC deadline. Tomorrow is the South Carolina primary. Tuesday is “Super Tuesday” when 14 states, 1 US territory, and Democrats Abroad will be voting (What is Super Tuesday and why is it important?). About 1/3 of the delegates will be awarded.

Bloomberg has spent $500,000,000 already on ads, and he’s not stopping.  Warren tried to get everyone in the field to swear off Super PACs, but no one would, and so now she wants them all to disclose their donors, including the one backing her. She didn’t ask for this, and she will make it a priority to get money out of politics, but first we have to get her elected.

Right now pundits are consumed in their punditry, and when we listen to them we get caught trying to play that game. Who is electable? Who is “safe”? Who will beat Trump?  This distracts everyone from our true civic duty, which is choosing who will be the best President, not the best politician.

No amount of money can outweigh our votes.  The challenge we have, is to reach enough voters and convince them that we must Dream Big and Fight Hard, to get the democracy we want. A primary is the exact right time to vote for the candidate you want, not the one who you think will win now or later.

So what will you do tonight? What will you do this weekend? What will you do between now and Tuesday? What will you do between now and the convention, in July? If you aren’t sure where to start, that’s why I’m writing this. I meet people all the time, who want to help, but don’t know where to start.

Fortunately Elizabeth Warren has a plan for everything, and her campaign is full of amazing people. This is a link that has all the information you need to get going.

Elizabeth Warren Volunteer Toolkit

Choose the activity that you can help with, and read everything in the corresponding tool kit. There is so much useful information in there, and they don’t put anything in there that is not needed. It’s all great stuff. Any questions, feel free to ask and I will do my best to help answer them, or find you someone who can help.

There is also a handy donate button at the top.




Warren is the President Americans Don’t Know They Want

It’s certainly interesting to watch the media continually erase her from the narrative. They go out of their way to not mention her. Is it because billionaires own the media and she is coming for them to pay their fair share? (These 15 Billionaires Own America’s News Media Companies) Is it because she’s a woman? (The Erasure of Elizabeth Warren Continues)  Who knows.  Meanwhile, Democratic voters are figuring out who to support, and they get most of their information from pundits and polls, which are leaving out this amazing candidate.

What metrics should voters use, to decide who to support?  Should it be who won the first primaries? What about the top 3?  Is it who has the most money to spend? Is it who gets more media attention or runs the most ads? I’d like to suggest some metrics that I believe can be applied to all candidates, and I am confident Elizabeth Warren will come out on top.

For starters, let’s put aside the need to decide who is the best “candidate”. It’s not our job as voters to choose a savvy politician who speaks in platitudes. It’s not our job to pick someone who will be a verbal bully. Our civic duty is to be an informed member of the electorate. It is our job to pick the person who will serve the public as the best and most effective President.

I believe that person is by far Elizabeth Warren. Let’s lay out some characteristics I look for in a President and how I believe Warren meets or exceeds those traits.

Being accountable. If there is one thing a Trump Presidency has shown this country, it’s what it looks like when the President thinks themselves a king and not a public servant.  All elected offices are positions of public service, and they have a duty to be accountable to the people.  Elizabeth Warren shows this and it isn’t a stunt. She continually takes responsibility for her actions and has a willingness to be held accountable. (Black Womxn For Supports Elizabeth Warren for Admitting Her Mistakes)

Being inclusive. It’s not just enough to say you support all groups of people, you have to back it up with legitimate plans. When Elizabeth Warren sees that a group of people are not being heard, she doesn’t just hand them a mic for a second, she pulls up a chair and fully includes them. She doesn’t just invite them to join her team, she joins their team. She is a bridge builder. This is just one example, and its one I have yet to genuinely hear about from any other candidate: Warren: “Non-negotiable” For Campaign to Be Fully Inclusive of People with Disabilities

Being effective. She is the only candidate who has created a federal agency from scratch. Critics will bemoan the complicated issues the agency faces and the revolving door that financial lobbyists are making in the agency, but that happens anywhere.  Doing big things is no where near easy, but she gets it done. She doesn’t just move the needle. She moves the line.  (Why Haven’t We Heard More From Warren About the CFPB on the Campaign Trail?)  There is still work to be done, and Elizabeth Warren is the one who will get it done.

Being transparent. People criticized her for taking the DNA test, but it was a rebuke to Trump’s lack of transparency.  She has apologized and acknowledged the damage that her carrying family folklore into the public arena, does to Native American people.  Like I said at the onset, everyone makes mistakes, whether they are running for President or not.  The true measure is whether they will be transparent about their life, who they are, and what they hope to gain from the Presidency. (Elizabeth Warren’s DNA Test Shows How She’s Weaponizing Transparency) When she stumbles, she gets back up, wipes off her hands and gets back to work. She has a plan for honoring and empowering tribal nations and indigenous peoples. (Honoring And Empowering Tribal Nations And Indigenous Peoples)  She doesn’t just own up to her mistakes with the level of transparency we deserve, she makes substantive changes to her policies and her way of thinking.  She evolves.

Look, there are a lot of ways you can slice up this primary. You can even run a poll and leave out the person in 3rd. I hope the voters will do what they did in 2008.  People said Barack Obama didn’t have a chance, but then the Democratic voters voted for him anyway.  I hope people do that now, with Elizabeth Warren.

She will restore transparency and accountability to the White House and to our federal government. She will root out corruption, and she will close the revolving revolving doors to lobbying. She is effective because her plans make economic sense, and she knows economics. Read the linked articles in here, to get background on that. She is a lauded professor of bankruptcy law, and she knows how to get the power of the dollar back into the hands of working families. Out of anyone in the field, I believe she will use her power to do that, and she will get it done.

She truly is the candidate, people don’t know that they want, and she’s the President we need.


A President’s Day Nomination

Today is President’s Day, which is really George Washington’s birthday, so happy birthday to him.  I decided today would be a good day to write out my endorsement for the Democratic primary. I’m going to try to keep it succinct which, if you’ve read even one of my blog posts you know, is a challenge for me.

Every registered member of a political party has the privilege and the responsibility to choose their party’s nominee.  Our vote is our individual nomination.  My vote is to nominate Senator Elizabeth Warren.

The media is working hard to erase this amazing candidate, and the polls show people are supporting candidates out of fear and an outdated sense of what is “safe”. I just don’t see how that will ever get us to a better place. It’s a misnomer, a fallacy, that voting for another billionaire will do it, or supporting someone who uses PACs and PAC money, will get us the transparency and accountability our federal government needs.

I used to think Senator Warren was too left, too radical.  Then I spent more time listening to her speak.  She knows her stuff.  This is a bonafide nerd. A Harvard professor, who did the work and really studied economic systems. She sees where the corruption is, she sees what it’s doing to the power in our government, and she knows where that power needs to go; in the hands of the people.

I had a dream the other night, that she called me, as she is known for calling people who donate to her campaign.

In my dream, she was thanking me for donating and volunteering with the campaign. I was pumped! I was flustered, wanting to tell her how fantastic her plans are, and how much hope it gives me that I don’t have to merely vote against Trump, or convince people to vote against him. I believe in her and want to vote for her, as well as convince voters to do the same.  We talked and laughed and became best friends, as happens in dreams.

Most people will say I’m naive and unrealistic, but I respectfully disagree.  At this point in the primary, in 2008, everyone said Senator Barack Obama didn’t have a chance.  People saw the polls and heard the pundits, but they voted for him anyway.  State by state his support increased, and he stunned everyone, by winning the nomination.  I want the Democratic party to do that with the candidacy of Elizabeth Warren.  If you think her candidacy isn’t legit, please take a look at just some of her plans. I compared her plans with Biden and Sanders.

You can read about that here: Let Me Make This Simple Democratic Voters

Here is a list of some of her plans:

Topics Warren
Environment https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/100-clean-energy
Public Education https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/public-education
Immigration https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/immigration
Trade https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/new-approach-trade
Agriculture https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/new-farm-economy
Student Loan Crisis https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/affordable-higher-education
Jobs and Wages https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/empowering-american-workers
Addressing Washington Corruption https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/end-washington-corruption
Social Security https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/social-security
Supporting Soldiers and Veterans https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/promises-to-veterans
Health Care https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/health-care
Gun Violence https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/gun-violence
Disability Rights https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/disability-rights
Affordable Housing https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/safe-affordable-housing
Child Care https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/universal-child-care
Paid Leave https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/paid-leave
Women’s Reproductive Rights https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/action-to-protect-choice
LGBTQ+ Equality https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/lgbtq-equality
Private Prisons https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/end-private-prisons
Native American Rights https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/tribal-nations
Marijuana Legalization https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/criminal-justice-reform

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There are too many plan to list here, but even her website is logically arranged. I have such respect for efficiently organized information.  You can view all of her plans here: https://elizabethwarren.com/plans. Scroll down about 1/2 way and you can search for the issue or topic of interest to you.

The reason my focus is on these plans, is that my goal in vetting the candidates is not to weigh their platitudes, the polling, or how the news covers them (or doesn’t, in her case).  Instead, my priority is the choose the candidate who has the best plans for running this country. My vote must be for the candidate who will make the most effective, principled, and honest leader.  Elizabeth Warren has made mistakes, but despite people hammering her, she has legitimately apologized and instead of trying to sweep anything under the rug, she has shown she has the capacity to learn and evolve.

I’ve talked to a lot of voters, and people say “she used to be Republican” or “she used to take PAC money” or “she claimed she was Native American”.  I’m not her, and I don’t represent her campaign. My perspective is two-fold. One is that all of the candidates have weaknesses, within the Democratic primary contenders, and on the Republican side.  When I weigh her weaknesses with theirs, it’s not even close.  The biggest reason I still back her, is the 2nd part of my perspective in all of this.  She is the only candidate I have ever seen genuinely apologize, not punt, not pivot, and not refuse to take responsibility.  She was Republican, and then she learned that the party didn’t represent her values.  She did accept PAC money, until she saw the insidious cost, that people wanted to buy access.  This was the opposite of why she went into politics and more importantly public service.  She proved she will do the hard work to forge a new path, when she sees the one she is on (with so many others) is untenable.

Some people dream of being a doctor, or a teacher, or an athlete.  I am not sure many realize that public service is also a calling.  It wasn’t Elizabeth Warren’s. Her dream was to be a teacher.  My dream was public service, but behind the scenes, supporting the representative I believed in. The calling for public service is one of caring about who represents us in public office. It’s believing in the ever-moving and resilient democracy. It’s knowing that it is up to us to show up and run our government. It’s a belief that alone we are one, but together we are more than individuals. We are a collective, with a common wealth, and a common vision that can lift us all up together.

It’s hard to see that vision in the current landscape, I admit. That’s why I’m supporting Elizabeth Warren. I think the hardest criticism to get passed with Elizabeth Warren is the Native American claim.  People call her Pocahontas, and we all know it was the petulant and childish person in the White House, who started that.  It is being used as an insult, but that name should not be used to insult people.  I learned a lot when this happened, because I am much like Elizabeth Warren. I grew up being told that we likely have Native American ancestry, and my Aunt even told me a story of our family and how there was a love tryst with a tribe we communed with.

I’ve never gotten a DNA test, because I’m 1/2 Jewish and I take issue with giving my DNA to some DNA company.  I never marked Native American on a job application, but that’s because I always figured it was more for people who didn’t have white see-through skin like me, who were more likely to receive prejudice when applying for a job.  I still don’t feel I need to cancel Warren for doing this.  I truly believe she didn’t realize that she was causing damage. Native American people have approached her, because of this, and she did what many don’t do in politics. She listened. She learned, she apologized and she sees how much Native American tribes and peoples are marginalized and erased.  This is just one way us white people have been known to perpetuate that.

I’d rather nominate and elected Elizabeth Warren, than any other primary candidate, because I know she truly cares about Native American people, despite this mistake. It wasn’t malicious or intentional.

At the end of the day, we all have to do what we think is right.  Ever registered member of the Democratic party has a responsibility to show up and vote in this primary.  Anyone sitting it out to see who the rest of us vote for, is abdicating their duty as a member of the party to shape who the nominee is.  Don’t want Sanders? You better get up and support a different candidate. Don’t want another “billionaire bully” like Bloomberg? You’ve got to show up and back someone else.  Don’t think Buttigieg is at all ready for this?  Let me tell you, Warren is ready.

Reject the media, and the polls.  Donate $5 to the candidate who is not funded by dark PAC money. Join her grassroots campaign to get the vote out.  Support the candidate who has a goal and vision to lift up this country, clear out the corruption, and get our government working for all Americans, not just the wealthy and well-connected.

Make your President’s Day a time when you decide that not only are you ready for a woman President, you’re ready for a President who has plans to dream big and fight hard for every American.

I know I said I would try to keep this short. I apologize for my failure. Now let’s go nominate Elizabeth Warren!

Featured photo from RollingStone (https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/political-commentary/elizabeth-warren-955377/)

In American Democracy The Ends Should be Defined by The Means

We have only completed 2 of the state primaries in the elections that will occur, for the Democratic Presidential primary.  This is a race involving 50 states, DC, 5 territories and Democrats Abroad (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_Democratic_Party_presidential_primaries).  This primary was already one with incredibly high stakes.  The Republican party went all in on selling it’s soul for a racist, narcissistic and unbalanced nominee, who encouraged foreign influence to win an election.  He has continuously flouted the law, demeaned our institutions, and brought disgrace to the office he sits in.

What is not discussed much is that there is a divide between ideologies in this country. It’s not left and right, as it transcends both sides. This is about whether people believe the ends justify the means or whether they believe, like I do, that they are defined by it. This is not just a Trump or GOP problem. This is an American problem. This is a problem that faces us at every level of society.

Now we have a protracted battle for the Democratic primary, to determine who will be the nominee for President. People lamenting this have one of two goals. One to suggest nominating their candidate will unify us quicker. The other is the media prerogative to stoke the frustration of viewers, and those social media, to demand immediacy for the sake of catchy headlines. 

If we make the wrong choice, we stand to lose our republic as we know it. The problem is, no one can really profess to know who will make the best candidate to beat Trump and right this ship. Anyone who does is not speaking in good faith, but rather with a selfish agenda to further their own nominee. Anything can and will happen between now and then. Trump, the GOP, and Russia et al (other adversaries) will push disinformation, and they will relentlessly attack whomever is chosen to be the Democratic nominee.

They will dig up dirt. There will be as many “October surprises” as they can possibly manufacture, no matter how ridiculous they may turn out to be. They will attempt to divide the party through this nomination process and through the election.  This is going to happen no matter what. It’s futile, for registered members of the Democratic party, to choose their nominee based on some sort of attempt at predicting who will make it through the inevitable gauntlet and still be standing strong.

It seems to me, that we need an impenetrable way to choose our candidate. Maybe that is by viewing how they run their campaign, as a reflection on the merit of their candidacy. That coupled with their record getting things done for others, seems to be strong metrics.  When I say getting things done for others, that can be activism and/or their record in elected office, sponsoring bills that have passed, co-sponsoring and voting for or against legislation, and creating initiatives or agencies aimed at helping citizens of this country. 

In this past week, some of the Democratic campaigns are showing their true colors, and they should be red flags for Democratic voters in this primary that has 98% still to go. My first criticism is for Michael Bloomberg. This campaign has really hit every button of being an insidious campaign. Not only is Bloomberg completely unwilling to acknowledge the damage of his stop and frisk policy and redlining, his focus is on quieting the criticism instead of acknowledging it. He uses racist justifications and has not shown any respect for what his policies did to black and brown citizens he was meant to represent (https://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe/watch/audio-of-bloomberg-on-stop-and-frisk-emerges-78611525957).

Now it’s clear he’s not just buying his campaign, he’s buying his way toward getting people to support him (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/13/us/politics/bloomberg-campaign-cash.html). It’s disingenuous and it’s an illustration of a white man so sure that he is the one to save us all, he will use his imagined ends to justify bad faith campaign maneuvers. 

He’s not alone either. Bernie Sanders campaign also reflects a reckless narcissism, that is frustrating to see. I supported Bernie in 2016, and even voted for him in the primary. I had committed before the convention, to supporting the nominee, and I fully supported Hillary Clinton once she secured the nomination. That was when I also saw the bloom come off Sander’s proverbial rose.  He was interviewed shortly after the convention (it may have been the next day). 

The question was posed to him, what he intends to do about the Bernie or Bust/Never Hillary crowd. With a straight face he said “I can’t snap my fingers and tell my supporters what to do.” I was able to find that clip on youtube until recently. Now I can’t seem to find it (there are so many Bernie interview clips now and from 2016). He spent months telling them what to do, but now he was taking his ball and going home. His supports decry that he campaigned for Hillary, but it was clear to me the he was a sore loser who didn’t campaign for her, and for the sake of this country anywhere near as hard as he campaigns for himself.

Let me be clear. I would prefer Bernie Sanders to Bloomberg, any day.  He is progressive, and I trust him more than Bloomberg to genuinely fight inequity in this country. Bernie has been a loud voice in the Senate, for decades, bringing attention to critical issues.  I thank him for that.  The problem is, Hillary was right. I’m not sure no one likes him. He’s a pretty likeable guy, from what I’ve seen, but he is very much a “my way or the highway” guy, and that’s not how you get stuff done in a bipartisan government. In his storied Senate career, he has been the original sponsor of 7 bills (https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/bernard_sanders/400357). Two were to name Vermont post offices, and one was for “Vermont Bicentennial Day”. The others were more substantial, and regarding caring for our Veterans. 

Beyond his record, his campaign is not as genuine as his rabid supporters would like us to believe.  He found a loophole to disavowing PACs, by forming a non-profit one (https://apnews.com/345bbd1af529cfb1e41305fa3ab1e604). As a life long registered member of the Democratic party, I am insulted at Sanders refusing to join our party unless he gets to be in charge.  According to Wikipedia he has been a registered Independent from 1978 – present. He switched to the Democratic party in 2015, but switched back to Independent when he didn’t win the nomination. Now he’s back, only because he wants the nomination (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernie_Sanders).

This is opportunistic and not how political parties are meant to work. Commit to the party and work with them to make them reflect what you want the party to stand for, but don’t demand that you will only join the party if you get to be king. I just can’t respect that. I’ve never ascended to anywhere near his level, but I’ve been in the dirt working with the party at the local level. It takes work and commitment. This is a slap in the face to everyone in the Democratic party, who is doing the hard work from the inside, instead of lobbing attacks from the outside.

Finally, his campaign is a hotbed of abusive and duplicitous behavior, for which he barely acknowledges and he fails takes tangible responsibility for shutting down. If he can’t get his base to reflect his campaign accurately, how will he ensure that his Presidency will effectively be healthy for this country? It seems that his is more happy to have the fanfare, and will ignore the cost. Some examples:

Toxic “Bernie Bros”:

Harassing critics:

One offs that are hard to trace:

As frustrating as it is, I will support them if they win the nomination, but we have a long road ahead. Instead of focusing on who will likely win, by reading the tea leaves of any one state’s primary results, the polls or the noise from the pundits, I suggest we focus on what matters.  Their record, the efficacy of their campaign, and how likely they can achieve their platform as President. I would also note, that I notice how the candidates respond to criticism. Some candidates acknowledge the criticism, can show they have learned and have an ability to evolve.  Others will deny the criticism, reject its worth, and dismiss it. If a candidate can’t admit their imperfections, how can we trust them to be honest when they make a bad decision?

To me, the ends are defined by the means, and how these campaigns are run speaks volumes.

Americans Need Patriotism

Patriotism in America used to mean something.  It wasn’t about just draping yourself in the flag, It wasn’t about being free to not vote. It wasn’t hating other countries, or hating anyone who was different. It wasn’t about hating and dismissing all elected representatives.

Patriotism was founded in this country, on the principle of self-governance. We were meant to have a say. We were meant to vote for who would represent our interests and the interests of our communities.  We were meant to tell our representatives how to represent us.  In this age of information, we have no excuse not to. Our country used to be thought of as the leader of the free world, yet our citizens spend a lot of time complaining about our government, and little action to do our part. A self-governing government can’t govern itself. Say that a few times. 

You would think we would have 90% or higher turnout, but instead, a local election year we see around 30%, depending on where you live (30% is generous for my community).

Monroe County,  New York Voter Turnout in 2015. Source: https://www2.monroecounty.gov/files/2015%20General%20Voter%20Turnout.pdf

In 2016, we had 65% turnout, among registered voters. It was 58% of eligible voters, according to this: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/voter-turnout-2016-elections

I am considered among those who know me, to be a politically engaged person. I work in IT, but that is my day job.  I have a BS in political science. I have worked on campaigns, run a campaign, and worked with the Democratic Committee in my county.  In 2016 I took election day off work. I volunteered at my county Democratic committee office helping people verify their voter registrations, find polling places, get a ride to the polls, and answer questions. It was a fantastic day engaging with voters and other volunteers committed to helping as many people vote as possible.

Now I’m volunteering with the Warren campaign.  I am someone who loves to talk about politics, and I love to engage with people on the issues.  I know most people hate politics, roll their eyes, and would rather do anything else.

The problem is, the only way we are ever going to fix our government and make sure it’s working for us, is if we make it a priority in our lives. I know everyone has too many priorities. The problem is, this affects every one of them.  Got kids in school?  Education. Drive on roads? Infrastructure. Military family? Military and veterans affairs.  Got a body? Health care. Over 65? Social security.

I hope I’m making my point.  

I did phone banking to voters in North Dakota, trying to help re-elect Heidi Heitkamp in the midterms. I have good Senators in NY, so I wanted to help other states. Even though she didn’t win, I had some really good conversations with people, and yes in the red, red state of North Dakota, Trump supporters would have a good conversation with me a life-long liberal Democratic voter.

Volunteering with the Warren campaign, I have received some of the same feedback as I did from voters in 2016, during the 2018 midterms, in last year’s local election, and on social media.  People have a few popular responses to a conversation about politics or an election. One common response is that all elected officials are bad.  Not only is it an excuse for not paying attention or voting, it’s a 100% false statement.  Before you dismiss me, who has met, volunteered, campaigned, and talked with more candidates and elected representatives, you or me? Hint: If it’s you, this isn’t meant for you.

For the rest of you. It’s time to make this a priority. You don’t have to make it your number 1 priority, like I do, but there are some things that I need you all to do this year, and going forward. These need to go on your to-do lists. A lot of them don’t take that much time.  

In order to start making this at least a priority, try to spend 15 minutes a day working on the list below. Imagine what we can get done, as a nation, if everyone does this.

  1. Verify you are registered to vote, and register if you are not: https://www.rockthevote.org/
  2. Look up your representatives. To do this, google the county you live in and “Board of Elections”, e.g. Cool County Board of Elections
  3. Get signed up on a tool that will let you be in contact with your reps in Congress.

Once you’ve done that, it’s time to start paying attention.  I get that the news sucks, but not all of it is political, and the politics is what you need to pay attention to. It’s important you know what your reps are saying and how they are voting, or what they are signing into law, repealing, or vetoing. This is the civic duty of citizens in a self-governing democracy.  We all know it’s a democratic republic, but we have always cherished that our founding fathers wanted this country to be, if nothing else, a truly representative democracy. 

Use an app like countable, and you can see what bills are circulating in Congress. You can vote on the app, for which way you want them to vote and send them your comments on it. You can go straight to the House and Senate websites to see what they are voting on, and what’s in committee.

Now that you have gotten this far, I want you prepare for the election. Not just 2020, but every year.  This is real patriotism. Honor your civic duty.  Our government can only function if we run it.  Would you run a company, hire someone, and never check on their work? If the person you hired wasn’t doing what you asked them to do and what they said they would do, or acted in unethical and/or immoral way, would you keep them on or would you hire someone else? 

We talk a lot about how elected representatives aren’t doing their job, but we aren’t really doing ours. It feels like it would be a lot of work, but once you do it, once you really get informed and aware, there is a good reward to it.  There is service to our government. Not every elected official is corrupt or bad.  Some people dream of being doctors, some want to be athletes, or go into music, or be farmers.  Some people want to want to go into public service.  They want to represent people’s interests.  

I have met them, I have worked with them, I have supported their campaigns, and I am volunteering with one of them right now.  None are perfect, and yes there are a lot of bad apples, who self deal and have insidious aims. There are also many, who are good and decent people. There are people out there who believe that our government can cultivate a common wealth and common vision for the interests of every citizen.

The reality is that good representatives are accessible, accountable, and transparent with their constituents. They will hold town halls, and their staff are on hand to answer your questions and help you find resources when you are in need.

I know the idea of paying attention, being informed, making the tough choice of picking the best representative out of the candidates on the ballot, seems like a lot. Democracy, and being the leader of the free world, takes work. I am also only asking for 15 minutes. 15 minutes a day to see if we can do our part to make sure our government works for all of us, and not only for those who decided to show up and those with the most influence and money.

If you see that value, then having finished the to-do items above, please work on the following until you registered party’s primary election:

  1. Check when your primary is: https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/2020-state-primary-election-dates.aspx
  2. Research each candidate.  That’s right. At least know something about them. Not rumor. Not what you saw from some post on social media with no source. 15 minutes, getting to know 1 candidate a day for yourself. At least those polling in the top 5, if you are a Democratic voter or planning to vote in the Democratic primary this year.  Google them and go to their website. Look for their plans or agenda. Read up on what they want to do and decide if you think it’s the best approach for where we are right now.
  3. Pick a candidate. One of them will represent us, in this election and in office if they win.
  4. Vote in the primary.  Saying none are good is not an option. You are part of picking the nomine and these are the choices. One will be chosen. It’s up to you to pick who you think will be the best out of those who showed up to do the job.

Now we know who is running in the election. If you are supporting a candidate who doesn’t take PAC money or high donor contributions, know that they rely on small donations to run their campaign. They are up against massive dark money influence. If you can’t donate, consider volunteering some time.  Phone bank, text, canvass. Do something to ensure our government is run by someone who will serve our interests and not serve that which is not in our interests. Talk to friends and family, and make sure the people in your life know that you are taking your civic duty seriously, and they should too.

Pay attention to who has a plan and is using facts, figures, recorded factual information and who is making claims without any proof or solid information. Vet the information. Make sure the information is solid.  Remember 15 minutes a day.  

The more we pay attention, the more we can ensure our government isn’t just by people but for people.  It’s time we acknowledge that running the government is a big, complex job and it needs all of us to contribute for it to be a success. 

When we can do that, We can ensure everyone has health care. 18 countries have been able to do that, and there is no reason why we can’t. (https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=how+many+countries+have+universal+health+care

We can ensure everyone has a livable wage, and the resources to ensure our homeless are not abandoned on the streets. 

We can ensure secure elections, fair elections, and accessible elections for every eligible citizen.

We can ensure we have maintained roads, bridges and tunnels.

We can ensure excellent public education for every child and we can ensure child care.

We can ensure that our borders are safe, and so are immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers needing our help.

We can ensure a healthy and thriving environment, renewable energy, and the means to address pollution.

If we stand up and do the truly patriotic act of fulfilling our civic duty, we can ensure our government lives up to the legacy of our nation. We can ensure it lives on.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you so much for your time. I hope this took less than 15 minutes. I hope it gave you something to think about. If you are willing to do the above, and give me 15 minutes a day, to be an informed member of the electorate, then I thank you as a fellow citizen of this country. If you have questions about any of the above, would like more or specific resources, or have feedback, please leave me a comment.

Once you do the above, you have just one more thing to do, in November:

  1. Vote.

Let Me Make This Simple Democratic Voters

A lot of Democratic voters wish the Democratic Party was stronger. So do I.  I have been a registered Democratic voter since I turned 18. The thing is most of our party, at least the average registered voter, does little to make the party strong. They complain and lob attacks at the leaders, the ones who bothered to show up. I fail to see how that helps.  I worked at the Board of Elections, and I worked as Director of Operations for the Monroe County Democratic Party. I can tell you how this works, based on voter registration and voter turnout.

More voters are registered with the Democratic party, than the Republican party.  Republican voters turn out in higher numbers.  This results in close races, and the Democratic party has to woo Democratic voters.  They have to convince them to turn up.  The Republicans use 2 obvious tactics and they work every time.  One method is, they suggest that the Democratic candidate is going to win, which causes Democratic voters to think they don’t have to turn out. The other tactic is, they convince Democrats that the Democratic candidate is no better than the Republican candidate. Thanks, Susan Sarandon.

So this is the deal.  We get what we put into our party and our government.  We can lament the corruption, but what do we expect?  Would you own a business, hire someone, and then not monitor their work to ensure they were faithfully doing the job you are paying them to do?  Would you keep paying them if they weren’t doing their job?  Would you keep them on if they weren’t transparent and accountable to you, in any conflicts of interest, or that they were behaving ethically and morally?

Our government can only be by the people and for the people, if the people are doing their part in the process.  That means not bemoaning elections and campaigns. It means vetting candidates, voting, and holding elected officials to the job of representing the interests of the community.

I get that we don’t all have time for that.  Between work, family, friends, responsibilities, it’s a lot.  We can’t afford not to pay attention, though.  There is too much at stake.  It’s not just health care, and education, and basic civil rights. It’s not just the environment, breathable air, and coastal erosion.  It’s the worst corruption attempting to strip our voting rights, stack the courts, and ensure that there is only power when the right party is in control.

This post is my attempt to make it a little easier for Democratic voters to compare the candidate’s plans on a variety of issues.  I made up a spreadsheet, listing different topics.  I then went to the top 3 candidates’ websites and looked for a plan or policy, or narrative on how they plan to “move the needle” on that issue.

This is what I came up with: 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Front-runners – Comparison of Plans (Google Sheets)

I added columns at the end, so that I could grade each candidate on each topic. My goal is to review and grade each of them.  If instead of using A-F, I will use 1-10 (1 = low and 10 = high) then I should be able to total them up and see a clear winner.  I didn’t do that before posting this, because I’m not trying to sway Democratic voters.  My only goal is to make the information as accessible as possible, so voters will not sit this out. This is our opportunity and our responsibility, to choose the best candidate, from those who showed up to run, and then to vote for that candidate, in our state’s primary. 

I hope this information helps.  You will notice some holes in that list.  I reached out to both the Sanders and Biden campaigns to ask for links to the topics I wasn’t able to find info on. I emailed their general info/ Contact Us from their campaign sites. I have received no response from Sander’s campaign, but now I am receiving emails from Biden wanting me to join their team and donate to them:

I also tweeted to their Press Secretaries.  I am sure they are busy, but I figured they might be able to help.  Neither have responded.

If either campaign wants to fill in the holes, they are welcome to send me links and I will update the spreadsheet.

Is this helpful? Let me know in the comments. Thanks!

O-M-G The Democratic Party is Like So Weak

How many Democratic voters lament their party’s weakness in public or online?  I’m a life-long member of the Democratic Party. By that, I mean I was raised by progressive parents and once I turned 18 I was so excited to register as a Democratic voter and vote for progressive Democratic candidates.

I didn’t get really engaged in politics online until about 2015. Once I did, there was a shocking amount of criticism about the Democratic party.  It wouldn’t have been shocking if it was from the Republican party and conservative voters, but it was seemingly from members of their own party.

Here’s the thing. Just because a candidate or elected official is registered with the party you are registered with, doesn’t mean you owe them allegiance. You have the right to criticize their actions, voting, and rhetoric. Of course you do. That’s democracy. You have a right to support challengers to incumbents within your own party.  That’s how we get a Rep like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which is what we need. We need people who care about the community they represent, and you know actually go to that community and listen to the constituents.

There is a difference though, between speaking your mind to a specific representative’s work to represent the people, and attacking the entire party. Painting them with a brush that says “the establishment is horrible and wrong and poopy”.  It’s a lazy cop-out and it neglects to account for what the attacker is doing to help.

People love to throw rocks from the outside, but how much are they working to make the party stronger? Most of them will respond with saying “I’m making them stronger by telling them how to get there.” Really?



Here is my challenge to Democratic voters, who wish their party was stronger. Ask yourself what you have done to roll up your sleeves and work to make your party as strong as it needs to be, to beat the bad faith actors in the GOP.  There are a number of ways to help:

  1. Pick a candidate and volunteer in their campaign
  2. Make phone calls
  3. Canvass to gather petitions to put them on the ballot
  4. Host a phone bank
  5. Host a rally or watch party
  6. Make small contributions to support their campaign, so they can run their campaign without owing lobbyists and wealthy execs
  7. Become a delegate for them at the convention
  8. Register people to vote
  9.  Talk to other voters about why they are the best candidate – remember how you respect people is a reflection on the candidate you support. You are representing them
  10. Do the hard work of putting together your top issues, and then go review the plans of each primary candidate on those issues, and grade them. Your grade. Who is the best?  Not perfect, but which candidate gets the highest grade? If none of them do, are you being realistic? Because the alternative is Trump, so grade him too.

My point is, if you have a beef with the Democratic party, each out to them directly, instead of trashing them online.  If you really want them to be stronger, reach out to the local committee (county level), the state party, or the DNC.  Become more active in the party, so that it can reflect more of what you want to see.

Expecting your party to work exactly as you want, with you doing nothing else than shouting at them, is like a toddler throwing a tantrum in the store, because their parent won’t buy them the toy. Well, the child hasn’t cleaned their room, doesn’t eat their vegetables, and the parents are on a fixed budget.

So this is my challenge to you.  Get involved. Start to look at each candidate and elected official individually. Don’t write them off because of one thing they said, or one vote. Take a real look at their record and give them a reasonable grade, knowing that the job of representing people is not as easy as it may seem.  If you still aren’t satisfied, then run for office and be the representative who will deliver on what you want.

We need Democratic voters off the sidelines in 2020 and going forward. We certainly need them to stop attacking their own party, as if that will help anyone but Trump and the Republican party. We get out what we put in to your party and to your democracy. It’s time we make some lasting investments.

Ugh Do I Have to Be Nice?

So recently I posted on a local Facebook group, because I was hosting a phone banking event for a candidate I’m supporting in the Democratic primary. Quite quickly there was a laughing reaction to my post, and a comment that said “good luck with that!”. I sensed, despite emotion being lost in social media, that the comment was likely meant sarcastically. I was dumbfounded as to why. I confirmed if it was indeed sarcastic and it was immediately confirmed. I wanted to post redacted print screens, but the admin of the group deleted my post. I’ve messaged them to confirm they did this, but it seems that they did. I so wish they hadn’t.

When I posted the phone banking event, I didn’t expect a bunch of people to sign up, but I also didn’t expect people to be rude about it. I’m on twitter and facebook enough to have dealt with my fair share of trolls and bots, but this is supposed to be a local group.  I follow the same group account on Twitter, and although I will admit I haven’t seen national politics coming from that account or page, I do see stuff about the community. It seems I misjudged the point of the page.  I thought the page on Facebook, and the account on Twitter, was meant to be a way to bring people in the community together. I thought it was a way to help us get to know each other, and maybe enable us to do what we can to make our community as good as it can be. To help us all thrive.

For me, being a member of a community means doing my part, and that includes participating in my democracy. I consider it my civic duty. To me it is the ultimate act of patriotism. The more citizens participate in our democracy, the more our democracy will represent the interests of our community. 

After the other person on the post started posting back, I started writing a knee-jerk response, and then I took a step back.  Not only would I reflect badly on the campaign I’m volunteering for, I wouldn’t make the situation better.  I’m annoyed this is the first response I got.  I would have so preferred no response, to that. Instead, I expressed that I was sorry they felt the need to insult me, and I wished them well.

They then started posting Trump/MAGA stuff and that re-affirmed my decision not to make it worse. It’s not just that the Trump/MAGA crowd is most commonly about racism and claiming everyone is out to get them and their way of life. It’s also that there was no need to go down that petty of a path. How does any of that build up our community or bring us closer together? I was trying to bring us closer together. I was not forcing my candidate on anyone. I was posting for those interested. Those not interested could have just ignored the post. I would have welcomed a respectful debate on any issue we might disagree on, but that wasn’t on the table here.

I didn’t share one of my political blog posts, or a meme. I posted a local event that I thought other people in my local community might be interested in. I wasn’t selling anything. I was volunteering my time, and inviting others to join. 

Being a liberal Democratic voter, I am used to getting called a snowflake, a smash-up between liberal and the R word (I don’t get how this makes anyone a better person, smashing up the R word with anything), and I get labeled with some sort of allegiance to a “deep state”/do-nothing Democratic Party.  Ironically, a “Do-Nothing” Congress has a specific meaning that most aren’t aware of (The ‘do-nothing Congress’ graduates to the ‘do-nothing-much Congress’: 12/20/2016) It’s not all of Congress, in the current session, and voters need to check that. Right now, the Senate is the problem, thanks to Mitch McConnell and every Senator not standing up to his corruption.

When it comes to volunteering for a campaign, or spending time paying attention to politics, our representatives, campaigns for office, and our elections, I just think this country needs to really consider our individual responsibility. I believe we get what we put into our democracy.  If we want our government to work better, we might just have to do some work ourselves.

Right now is the primary season for the Presidential elections.  If you are registered with a political party, this is your chance to have a say in who will run for President in your party. This is it. You can support candidates who you believe will represent your community for the better. 

I believe that sitting on the sidelines, painting all politicians and elected officials as bad people, is lazy. Our democracy takes more work than to moan and complain, from the cheap seats. It requires that we are part of it. We are meant to be an informed member of the electorate. We are meant to pay attention to how our representatives are representing us. We are supposed to call them and contact them and tell them how we want them to vote. We are supposed to challenge them. We are supposed to show up to town halls, and if they don’t hold town halls insist that they do. We should write, call, email, and get on social media. If we are up to it, we should run for office.

I will absolutely vote for the Democratic nominee, but more than that I will volunteer for them, I will campaign for them, and I will not sit on the sidelines, because our democracy demands that we all work for it. It’s up to us to make it as good as it can be, and the more that we participate, the more that we are involved, the more our democracy can deliver for us all. 

I believe it is a privilege that I have, this freedom to elect representatives who are bound to serve my interest. I believe it is my civic duty to make sure they do, and if they don’t, it’s my responsibility to call them out, and support a challenger if they don’t do right by my community. I cherish this right, this privilege, and this opportunity, to have a say in how my government works. I wish more would join me.

“Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.”
—George Jean Nathan

Today and Tomorrow

Today the House impeached President Trump. During the debate, the Republicans failed their oaths, as they tried to distract from the proceedings. They stomped their feet, and refused to acknowledge that Trump asked for a favor in return for Congressionally approved aid. They made him out to be a martyr, suggesting he has been treated worse that Jesus. For some reason, that won’t offend Christians.  They don’t seem to care that Trump attempted to use our tax dollars, so to leverage dirt on a political opponent, because he wanted to rig the election in his favor. That is not respecting the will of the people, or his duty as a public servant.

Republicans claimed that Democratic voters and Congressional reps have wanted Trump gone since the beginning of his administration. They aren’t wrong, but why does that matter? I have wanted him gone for his refusal to be transparent and accountable to the people. Where are his tax returns? The people have a right to know what the President is hiding in them. President Carter had to sell his peanut farm, but Trump, who was just recently reported to have 2 sets of books for just one of his properties, and no one in the GOP seems at all concerned about the need for him to be transparent to the people.

He tears babies from their parent’s arms and locks them in cages, to be neglected and guarded by armed white supremacists, who don’t even have to pass background checks. The kids’ records aren’t kept and kids are being sold to private adoption agencies, while the parents are coerced into signing deportation papers they can’t read.

He is repealing environmental regulations meant to protect our planet, our breathable air, and our drinkable water.

He manufactured a trade war with China, so that he could have a reason to trigger a farm bailout, which didn’t help small family farms at all. Instead it went to corporate farms who donate to his campaign and GOP campaigns. Meanwhile massive numbers of smaller farms are ending in bankruptcy.  Just one in a number of kleptocratic grifts Trump is openly commmitting from the White House.

He is working tirelessly, not for the people, but in an effort to dismantle our health care so that only the wealthy can afford to get any care. This is one the GOP isn’t just ignoring, but are 100% on board with. They don’t want the government to ensure health care for every citizen. They want it privatized, because that ensures their campaign coffers stay fat.

Despite all of this, none of it has anything to do with why Trump was impeached today. He abused the power entrusted to him, by the people. When he took the oath of office, there isn’t any part of me that believes he understood what the oath meant, or cared about its meaning.

The thing is, ignorance is not an excuse. Whether he knows or cares, he chose to take a job that comes with requirements. He is not a king. He works for the people, and he swore an oath to uphold the constitution. So did Republicans in Congress. Attempting to extort a foreign leader, in an effort to find dirt on a political opponent and swing an election in his favor, is a high crime. It has to be. There is no basis for debating the merit. The transcript clearly shows that he attempted to bribe a leader with our tax dollars, for his own self-interest, in an effort to subvert the will of the people.

Republicans complained that he isn’t being given any chance to defend himself. This is an abject lie. The White House has received multiple requests for documents and for witnesses to testify. Trump and the White House have refused this opportunity to participate in the process, which no other White House has ever done. This obstruction flies in the face of Congressional oversight, and the checks and balances of our government. It is also not what any innocent person would do. It is not what someone who respects our constitution and laws would do.

When this is all over we will see whether the GOP in the Senate, led by Mitch McConnell, will allow a fair trial or whether they too will obstruct justice in order to cover for Trump’s crimes. We the people must demand that our Senators call witnesses, including acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, who said from the press briefing room that the President attempted a quid pro quo and that this happens all the time. He said we should get over it. I never will.

We must demand that the GOP not make a sham of this impeachment, simply because it hurts their political advantage. The constitution and our democracy demands they put the country ahead of their greed and desire for political power. We the people must also be ready to work in 2020. We have a big year ahead, and not just because of the Presidential election. If we do not unseat McConnell, he will keep stalling hundreds of House bills meant to help people, and he will just keep stacking the courts with wholly unqualified lifetime appointments. The GOP will keep trying to suppress voters and we must fight that with voter registrations and grassroots efforts to get out the vote. We must win in big margins, because we know Russia is hacking voting machines, and McConnell refuses to pass the election security bill on his desk. We need to be willing to vote, get friends to vote, and volunteer on campaigns to get the vote out in record high numbers.

Our democracy requires that we the people get more involved. A representative democracy only works if we speak up about how we want to be represented. We need to be diligent and stay informed. We need to vet information, before sharing it online. We need to be ready to vote in our party primaries, so that we voice our say in who the nominees should be, for all offices on the ballot. We have to get past purity tests and compare the candidates on the ballot to ensure we make our votes count.  We have to convince people on the fence what the math comes down to. Democrats are generally registered in higher numbers, but Republicans vote in higher numbers.  This creates a lot of razor thin majorities. We need to be willing to have those conversations with our 3rd party friends, about the statistical reality. Voting for a Republican will mean the Republican wins. Voting 3rd party, will ensure the Republican wins. Not voting, helps the Republican win.  The only way we ensure the Republicans don’t win, is if we vote Democrat in high enough numbers, that we sweep the math.

We also need to help people understand the reality of which way the wind is actually blowing in this country. That starts with making sure maps show the populations that vote, instead of the land, which doesn’t vote.

This is a good way to show the reality:
Land Doesn’t Vote, People Do: This Electoral Map Tells the Real Story

Wired also covered this well:
Is the US Leaning Red or Blue? It All Depends on Your Map

I’m a fan of pointilism maps.  I feel they really show the political reality of our people very well.

All in all, we need to be in this for the long haul. We need to get non-voters engaged and we need to get citizens to keep voting in all elections. We should have 90% + turnout in every election, and until we do, we shouldn’t be surprised at why things are so dysfunctional. We get what we put in to our democracy, and right now we are in the red. It’s time for a serious investment in the health of our democracy. And yes, yes, I know. It’s a republic. It’s honestly a democratic republic, and it only works if we the people are running it.

Today we impeached. Tomorrow we move forward with upholding the law, and demanding that our government be accountable and transparent to the people.

By the people and for the people.