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Fulfilling the Dream of America

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As a pragmatic Democratic, I don’t care if your hail from the left, right or sideways. What I do care about it is my country and her people. For decades, we’ve accepted policies that put Wall St and capital over workers; that bailed out Wall St but neglected workers and home owners; that penalized bit players while letting the world-class con artists go free; that put large corporations ahead of average working middle and working class people and small businesses.

It’s time to change all that.

But none of that will change until the GOP is entirely, in every state and Congress. are voted out of office. As during the Great Depression, they must be shown that their ideas, policies and legislation does not support average working families but puts Wall St, large corporations, and the very wealthy ahead at the forefront of their policy decisions. It doesn’t have to be this way. What American workers suffer now, from stagnant wages to bankrupting health care costs to financially destructive education costs, at a time when education is vitally important to succeed, are the direct result of policies put in place, primarily by Republicans.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

When Teddy Roosevelt (R-NY) entered the NY State House, he looked around and saw legislation and legislators being bought or bribed. He wrote in his autobiography that legislators succumbed to accepting money from those companies seeking to influence legislation in their own favor or legislators blackmailing companies via their votes that could negatively affect those companies. Although many companies complained about the blackmail, few knew how to fight it. Nevertheless, all of the legislative process was to the benefit of the politicians and not the people.

TR had a strong ethical nature. Although he grew up physically weak, he developed an ideal of what it meant to be strong…not just physically but also intellectually and morally. As a candidate for VP, many thought he would come round to their corporate thinking. However, as president, he proved them wrong. TR was a strong believer in capitalism, but he recognized that unless capital (ie Wall St & large investors today) was restrained from its worst impulses, the masses would rise up to destroy capitalism.

As a result, he pushed through measures in Congress that restrained unbridled capitalism and brought not only transparency to elected officials campaign finances but also measures to prohibit the kinds of bribery he saw as a NY legislator. He sought a fair capitalism that worked for employees as well as owners.

Some thirty years later, TR’s cousin, FDR assumed the role as the President of the US during the worst economic crises of the 20th Century, but it had been preceded by numerous equally bad crises during the previous century of unbridled capitalism. FDR actually was far from what today is considered left-wing. He was a confirmed capitalist, but he recognized as did his cousin, TR, that when the financial rules of the road were dismantled, chaos reigns. At the height of the Great Recession, economist El-Erian, then the Chief Economist of PIMCO, wrote that financial rules are as important as highway rules of the road. That without those rules, chaos would ensue as drivers would push others off into ditches, cause crashes, and drive recklessly in pursuit of their own agendas, regardless of the havoc they caused.

When you set back or view from forty thousand feet, you can see his advice works throughout an economy. The rules of the road allow everyone to get to their own chosen destination.

What FDR did….

FDR, as a result of the unbridled speculation of Wall St that caused he Great Depression (and the recent Great Recession), worked hard to break to choke hold that Wall St and wealthy capital had over the economy. He instituted every program he thought might help to put the economy back on its feet again. Some worked, as in the Ag Dept farming policies, and some failed. But through it all he maintained that whatever was good for average workers would benefit America as a whole and maintain capitalism as a founding principle of the US.

While FDR policies didn’t save the country…

His policies did prevent the economy from becoming worse. Gradually, the bread lines shortened and the number of teens, like my own father, riding the rails diminished. People found work again, even if they were jobs the government created like the magnificent public works projects that still serve the nation.

WWII highlighted the need for Equality

Jump forward to the Truman Administration. Accepting the founding principle that “All men are created equal”, Truman fully integrated the Armed Forces, perhaps because he recognized the tremendous efforts and sacrifices non-whites showed during WWII. His bravery caused all non-white groups to say, “Hey, we’re Americans too and deserving of equal rights”, from voting to where to live to the places we can eat and our job opportunities.

Republican President Eisenhower accepted that challenge.

I don’t know Eisenhower’s personal views on Civil Rights. However, given his WWII experience, it might be fair to say he saw the exceptional bravery of all minorities in fighting against foes who would have slaughtered them solely based on their ethnicity or religion or culture. Possibly as a result of that experience, he and the military command tried to change the racial, ethnic and religious divides that plagued the United States.

What it was like in the Deep South…

In the 1950s, a white person could not drive down a primary Black community street in a Southern town without seeing conversations suddenly stop and children freezing in place, with fear written on everyone’s faces. Their fear was beyond palpable. It reflected their reality: that at any moment any one of them could or would be strung up on a tree branch to die simply because of the color of their skin and the underlying desire for white supremacy.

White people had any number of excuses for their long-held belief that they were superior: Blacks were lazy, even though they worked 12 to 14 hours a day;  Blacks had inherent diseases, a common myth of the “other” to incite fear; Blacks cheated and stole, although no more true than for Whites; Blacks were undependable and drunkards, another common myth, specifically designed to denigrate them; and perhaps worst of all, Blacks were of lesser intelligence, even though their educations and educational opportunities were all too often undeniably inferior. All of these myths and delusions were handed down from one generation to the next, with few questioning them.

Thus the racism and xenophobia continued….

In the 1970s, long after the Civil Right Amendment was ratified, this still held true in primarily Southern towns and military bases. In Ft Knox, KY, in 1969, Black children were still segregated and sent to different schools from white children, although they lived in the same military housing complexes, just doors away from each other. And where white children who befriended neighboring Black children were labeled as traitors and much worse.

Both Nixon and Reagan could have stopped the racism and xenophobia, had they chosen. But both chose political expediency over moral values. Picking up lingering Dixiecrat and George Wallace voters to win was more important than the belief that “all men (i.e. people) are created equal.”

Now fast forward to the 2000s. The GOP, especially under the influence of Newt Gingrich took full advantage of these splits in America to promote himself, regardless of the harm he caused to the Republic.

Regardless of Nixon’s and then Reagan’s “Southern White strategy” that specifically sought to drive Dixiecrat Democrats into the Republican party – a feat it did extremely well after the Johnson’s Civil Rights Act and the widespread expansion across America of Movement Conservatism after the Goldwater presidential loss which took much of its ideology from John Birchers – the election of Newt Gingrich to Speaker of the House drove a spike into the heart of reality. As Speaker, Gingrich proclaimed that anyone who was not Republican was an enemy of the people; that all Democrats were communists who aligned with the USSR; that Democrats were enemies of the nation, and that no malignant name for Democrats was beyond the bounds. Once he became Speaker, he proceeded to end every office that provided the House with accurate scientific and government data because those non-partisan adjunct committees did not suit his own partisan grasp for power. As a result of that and other power grabs, he left House legislators without institutional knowledge. Thus, information was outsourced to lobbyists.

About the same time, Mitch McConnell, now the Senate Republican Leader, began an all out drive to overturn all of TR’s rulings on transparency and fairness in political donations. He not only sought to hide who was giving massive donations, he actively fought for the right of political, and more importantly corporate, donors to have 1st Amendment rights of free speech. This idea is totally against everything TR believed; yet, it has been accepted orthodoxy by today’s Republican party. TR would be turning over in his grave at how much McConnell betrayed his values. Mind you, it’s only been 100 years since corporations were handed any rights beyond the need of the company to manage litigation. Prior to then, the framers feared the monetary and influence power companies might use to pervert democracy in their favor and away from the rest of the people.

Reducing the power of the people.

In the 1930s, as a result of the Great Depression, FDR, via Congress, instituted a number of policies meant to help working class people. The SCOTUS at the time, also known as the Lockner Court, rejected many, if not most, of those legislative ideas. They put the wishes of corporate owners well ahead of workers. It was only after FDR lost his battle to expand the SCOTUS – and recognizing their own unpopularity – that the SCOTUS changed their rulings to allow the programs FDR put in place to be ruled Constitutional. Today, we are in this same place with a Court that for decades now has put the voice of corporations above the voices of average citizens, Yet, if you go back to read what the founders wrote, they all maintained that “corporate” power was anathema to good governance.

There are chapters upon chapters of so-called conservatives seeking to silence the voices of middle and working class people throughout the 1800s. Some succeeded, as with the Midwest demand for Silver coinage of the 1800s in order to break the strangle-hold of Wall St on farmers and small businesses. And others failed. But what must be acknowledged is that Americans, by large majorities, sought to create a better, more just and fair nation than they inherited.

Today’s Republican party chooses to unwind those hard-fought battles at every level for the sake of partisan power. The Framers understood that kind of greed and often wrote about its corrosive effects. Their letters, speeches, and newspaper articles often spoke to and align with the same concerns that Democrats raise today.

Returning to long held American values

We live in a far different world that the Framers could ever imagined. But one thing rings true from all their writings and still holds true today: all people regardless of race, creed, culture, religion, or ethnicity deserve equal rights and treatment under the law.

Lest we forget, the Declaration of Independence said: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

We must again take these words as a sacred duty to uphold for all Americans and seek to create a nation where those unalienable rights are within the grasp of every American, regardless of race, creed, ethnicity, religion, gender, or culture. If all those people were good enough for Thomas Jefferson to invite here, for James Madison to declare they needed equal protections, for John Adams to defend, they are good enough for us too.

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Written by Valerie Curl

July 31, 2018 at 10:00 PM

GOP Turns Off Youth Vote

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So, the GOP must be in REAL trouble with the young vote if Politico says the report is scathing. As most know, Politico has a Republican bent to its editorials and reporting.

Report: How GOP lost young voters

Here’s my assessment. It’s a little long, but bear with me.

I’m a registered Democrat but consider myself fairly moderate. After California changed its primary rules to allow open primary voting, I considered changing my voting status to Independent. But no more. If anything, the modern, conservative movement GOP has caused me to become even more assuredly Democratic in my voting. As an older Boomer, I’ve witnessed the changes in both parties over many decades. But the change in the Republican Party has been so dramatic, and so negative that I no longer trust Republican candidates. And that’s a shame.

Throughout the 50s to early ’80s, Republicans could be counted upon to strong but sensible on defense and rationally conservative on spending. They believed in balanced budgets and taxing at required levels to pay for what was being spent. As a result, spending was controlled because no one really wants higher taxes. (The national credit card hadn’t been invented by latter GOP politicians.) And they had lots of ideas to strengthen the middle class as well as move lower income groups out of poverty.

Mind you, when I was growing up the majority of Republicans were either Eisenhower or Rockefeller Republican who grew up during the Great Depression and fought with everyone else during WWII. Many of that era’s leaders had a wholly different take on economics: they saw America, albeit of diverse background and religions, as one people striving to achieve the fabled American dream of success via education and economic opportunities…which is one reason why they continued to control Wall St’s penchant for unbridled peculation that caused the Great Depression. In their minds, as a result of their experiences during WWII, they concluded that we are all in this together. Moreover, honor, honesty, dignity and integrity really meant something to them.

I remember watching the Watergate hearings during which the only senator that grabbed my attention…and my praise…was Republican Senator Howard Baker from Tennessee. He exhibited all the honorable values and integrity I had come to expect, from my civics education and my youth as a military brat, from members of the Senate. Partisanship seemed not to enter his mind; only seeking  the truth.

Following the Goldwater rout in ’64, an extremely conservative, religious, libertarian segment of the Republican Party made a concerted push to take over control of the Party. That segment, from Southern state conservative immigrants to Orange County, California, worked hard to execute an all out campaign to take over the GOP. Both Nixon and Reagan fostered that movement to increase their electoral opportunities until their Republican Party take over was complete.

What Nixon and Reagan began and fostered, as a politically advantageous counter to the Civil Rights and Women’s Rights movements, unleashed a backlash against both government and large segments of the population. Prior to Reagan, most people did not hold the federal government in total distain. Except for a somewhat minor loss of presidential, executive prestige caused by Nixon’s paranoia, from which the federal government recovered nicely throughout Ford’s and Carter’s administrations, the federal government generally was held in high regard.

It took Reagan telling Americans that the federal government couldn’t be trusted…and all of his and Nixon’s old staff to convince conservative and Moral Majority religious Americans to hate the federal government as well as state, county, and city governments. In fact, they unknowingly advanced hatred any government whatsoever at all levels…and thus advanced the libertarian utopian idealism espoused by the Cato Institute.

The Republican Party used to be a party of middle class concerned ideas, i.e., protecting the middle class while helping lower classes enter the middle class, rather than a party that strictly protected the most wealthy in the nation. Eisenhower and Rockefeller Republicans, perhaps because of their WWII experiences, understood that a rising middle class was the secret to American economic success. They lived through the Great Depression and some even remembered via their parents TR’s era. As a result, their policies advanced long term capital investment (five plus years) while penalizing short-term investment gains; strict control of investment vehicles to prevent dangerous speculation; and corporate investment in product and business expansion as well as R&D over short-term stock yields.

For all the racial, religious, ethnic and gender discrimination, Republicans of ’50s through the early ’70s and even some into the early ’80s believed in the party of Lincoln. The party of opportunity even when it meant expanding federal welfare as well as the kind of fiscal responsibility that meant paying for what you spend. In truth, those older, fiscally responsible Republicans held down spending by simply making clear that increased spending meant higher taxes now…not somewhere down the road as our modern GOP chose to exhibit during the GW Bush Administration.

Regardless, the 1980s changed everything.

Modern generation Republicans have forgotten – or never learned – what their parents and grandparents learned. Even those skeptical of the federal government, Southern conservatives who immigrated to So. California during the Dust Bowl and those who stayed in their states eventually came around to asking the federal government for help, as Ken Burns’ documentary on the Depression and Dust Bowl illuminates. After many years of denying federal help, Southern and Midwestern farmers finally gave in, pleaing for federal help. It was the federal government that helped Southern state immigrant families in the West when they found themselves being exploited and Southern farmers who discovered modern federal farm policies could help them save their lands.

When WWII occurred, everyone, rich or poor alike, joined up and served together. Those vets learned about each other – from every sort of community and neighborhood, rich and poor alike – and out of that conflict arose Eisenhower and Rockefeller Republicans. Not unlike their Republican ancestors nearly 80 years before, they sought a better, fairer America in which anyone could succeed if given the opportunity.

Although racism continued, the barriers began to break down. First with Jews and then with Catholics. Finally, as a result of WWII, the barriers along color lines began to break down even as many Southerners refused to permit that breakdown. With Nixon’s Southern Strategy…and Reagan’s expansion of it…racist Democrats (Dixiecrats) shifted from the Democratic party to the Republican. But that wasn’t the only change that occurred.

Unlike 20th century generations, in which everyone, regardless of wealth or class, was expected to participate, we now have a military comprised mostly of poor or lower income people. Richer, upper income people refuse to serve. It’s not the first time in American history that the most-wealthy refused to serve, but that circumstance is new since the dawn of the 20th Century.

As the nation has grown, the separation of income status and communities has become even more stark, becoming a barrier to public unity. I see it all the time in my small, conservative rural community where community involvement and concern for the commons (local businesses, economic development, charities, and involvement in local activities) exists at nearly negligible levels. There is an attitude that says, “It’s not my problem, and I don’t care. Let someone else do it.” Yet, in communities of comparable size with a more liberal bent where I lived, community events volunteers were turned away as a result of the too many volunteers…and community events were packed with resident participation.

I grew up in a military household who voted Republican. I became a Democrat because of Civil Rights and the ERA. I believe in fairness and charity as practiced by government because of the lessons I was taught in Sunday School in Georgia as a small child. “God loves all the little children. All the children of the World. Black and White, Yellow and Red, all the children of the World.” Scripture is not much clearer than those words as I remember them.

There is a lot conservatives could do to put forth policies that seek better results than those proposed by old fashioned Democrats. But they don’t. They seek only to protect the plutocrats even if doing so destroys America’s ability to compete and succeed in the 21st Century.

The US is not Russia, ruled by a corrupt oligarchy whose only concern is their own wealth and power. The US is better than Russia. It always has been…and it always should be. The US should be the land of opportunity for everyone that Lincoln envisioned.

A few – very few – Republican reformers and pundits get it, but they’ve a very hard uphill climb against those Republicans who seek to return to the 1870s or 1890s or 1950s. As Austrian economist Hayek stated in Chicago, he was a classical liberal because liberals looked to the future while conservatives looked back at the past for answers.

“They filed down the punch pin so it would not reach thru the card.”

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Voting In response to a New Yorker story, The Voter Fraud Myth, a commenter wrote the following:

I once sold carpet and flooring and one of my customers in Nashville was a man who designed voting tools and booths for the entire nation. I noticed on his wall the photos of presidents from Ike to Nixon, to Reagon, Bush, and then Bill Clinton.

I asked him about the sudden change and he told me he had once been a Republican and even held office in California. He observed GW and the Republican Party damage voting boothes in Texas where there was a heavy Democratic vote, and road blocks to intimidate people trying to get to the polls. He said this was the dry run for what later happened in Fla.

He explained that the voter cards had to be punched for the candidate you wanted. The Republican Party filed down the length of the punch pin so it would not reach thru the card. This is what caused the controversy of dimpled chads and hanging chads. The punch pin would not punch cleanly all the way thru the voting cards because they were filed down deliberately. He showed me the shiny tip of one and said it would not have been shiny it would have been dull if it had worn down thru use.

This time they are robbing far more people of their right to vote using far more efficient tactics. This could easily set up the perfect scenario for a complete uprising.

[Note: Since this commenter has not yet given me approval to quote him, it would be inappropriate to use his name. However, the comment was made on Bruce Bartlett’s Facebook page in reaction to the above noted article in the New Yorker.]

There is the real voter fraud, but it obviously comes from GOP operatives, as noted here and in the decision of Virginia’s AG not to prosecute the registration worker who threw specific voter registration forms into a dumpster. Clearly, that action was illegal and a violation of election law.

All these tactics to deny voters the franchise are disgusting and unAmerican. They sully the values and standards for which America is known. They say that the US is no better than the most corrupt third world countries around the world.

Perhaps my pride in our country – our democracy – is too great. But I do believe America is – or can be – that “shining city on the hill”, but it will not be so if elections are rigged to deny people the most basic of all freedoms: the right to vote their conscience.

If for no other reason, American voters, if they really care about our democracy – its ideals and what those ideals mean, should deny the GOP their votes. Not voting for the GOP will send a loud and clear message that we Americans do not approve of our franchise and votes being manipulated. It will say we believe in a free and open society in which all Americans matter, regardless of political stripe or other factors, as many of our founding fathers believed.

American patriots do not deny the vote to other Americans!

Choosing the Future

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The Democratic National Convention begins this evening. There is little doubt by those who have read my blog posts over the years that I have sustained values inherent in our own Declaration of Independence.

1912 election cartoon featuring political corruption by the wealthyIt took us nearly two hundred years to achieve equal rights and opportunities for all our people, from the right to vote regardless of income, gender or skin color to the right of women to demand that they be paid the same salary as their male counterparts for doing the same job while having the same commitment to the job.

Even though our Founders never imagined this day ever arriving, it is in the very nature of humanity and democracy – democratic values – that inclusion and opportunity arise and grow.

Look back in the far distant historic past to the tribal communities of the Danes, the Britons, and the Celts. The leader was elected because he represented all the tribe, all the community. Everyone, including women, had a vote. And women were held in high esteem, not just as mothers but as the future of the community, the holders of history, and the healers. The Wise Woman was revered and loved and her thoughts were valued. But the Roman world overwhelmed the commonweal of those communities and utterly destroyed those rights, and even the value, of women – a destruction that lasted until the 20th Century. Now, women have regained those ancient rights. Just as everyone, regardless of color, religion, or ethnicity or any other designation, has attained their full rights as human beings.

The modern Democratic Party, post the Civil Rights legislation under LBJ, fought and attained these rights for all our people.

I’m an old gal now so I’ve seen the positive changes the modern Democratic Party wrought in my lifetime.

I remember my mother telling me that I would never attain a successful business career because men would never let me. I remember being told I should settle for a teaching or nursing career and never hope or dream of something better because I’d only be disappointed. I remember when I said I wanted a college education being told my brothers came first because they were male. I remember being told that I should settle for my lot in life as a mother and wife…and not hope for or expect more. I refused that advise to retire at a company director making many thousands more than I would have if I had followed that advise. I was able to encourage and inspire my daughters to be all they could be. Now they surpass me in income, in self-sufficiency, and most importantly in their belief in themselves…and they have happy loving families.

I remember living in the Old South prior to Civil Rights when my father’s accidentally turning down the wrong street struck fear into the hearts and minds of the residents of that Black neighborhood. I remember the children, still dressed in their faded but clean Sunday clothes, stopped their simple childhood games to stare at us with fear on their faces. I remember a neighbor woman telling my mother that Black people simply did not want to work, regardless of the fact that the only work available to a Black person was housekeeping and cleaning, yard work, or collecting the garbage. I remember being told in that deep pre-Civil Rights South that Black people didn’t have the intelligence or ability to do well in school or create successful businesses or achieve broad-based political leadership. Worst of all, I remember being told, as a very young child, that I couldn’t play Black children because doing so would make me sick with diseases that were endemic only to Black people. I never believed those lies, and in college I learned how completely and utterly false those many lies were.

I remember being told by my parents who had suffered through the Great Depression as children that anyone who was Jewish or of non-European, WASP extraction that those people were not Americans…that they didn’t deserve the same rights as we did.

But we changed those outmoded, restrictive ideas. We argued and fought for rights for all people. We chose progress towards more humanity, towards more inclusion, towards more human rights for all people, towards more equality.

Today, we are in another great fight. It’s not just a fight over civil rights – who has the right to vote and equality of income – but the fight of over opportunity.

The GOP today, against its Lincoln, TR, and Eisenhower heritage, would have us believe that the most wealthy in the country need to be protected not just from taxes but from their responsibility towards their country…the country that has given them so much opportunity and freedom to create and live their dreams. Where would Romney be without a country that gave his immigrant father so much opportunity? Where would Ryan be without Social Security after his father died? Where would JFK and so many other politicians be today were it not for the opportunity this country gave their poor immigrant ancestors?

The US opened our lands and eventually our hearts to those who came here seeking a better life for themselves and their families. That is the American dream in action.

Yet, when I listen to the GOP today, I no longer hear those iconic dreams and values espoused. I no longer hear Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence in their words. I no longer hear the words and deeds of Abraham Lincoln or of Texas’ own Lyndon Johnson.

I believe America can be – and should be – better than the modern GOP espouses, just as my ancestors who left England and Ireland in the early 17th and 18th Centuries for the wilderness of America believed that opportunity should be better for the non-wealthy and politically well-connected.

My ancestors not only believed that their own hard work should be rewarded but that community – the commonweal – was necessary to their health and well-being. As John Donne wrote in the 17th C., “no man is an island.” We all need each other to survive and thrive.

We all need government to provide the rules of the road so bad actors don’t harm the rest of the commonwealth. We all need government, at whatever level, when the exigencies of life throws us a curve ball or strikes us out. We need the commons, just as our ancestors who moved to the plains depended upon their neighbors and townships to help them in difficult and good times. We need the sheriffs (government) to protect us from those who would take advantage of us and cheat us or to mobilize the commons to help us get back on our feet to move forward again in our lives.

This country has been great for my family. We came here with nothing, having left everything behind in Europe. We homesteaded and with the help of our communities built prosperous businesses and prosperous farms. We succeeded in so many ways. We moved West in Wagon Trains and by railroads. We started new businesses, made fortunes and lost them. But all along the way, it was community – the commons – that helped us succeed.

The United States has never been about “me, myself and I.” It has always been about “us.” One nation indivisible.

Yet, today’s modern conservative movement within the GOP seeks to deny the “us” that made America not only strong but invincible. By working together as one community, regardless of the forces that seek to drive us apart or return to an economically fatal feudal society, America can continue its legacy of being the guiding light for the rest of the world.

To return to the days of the latter 19th Century when wealth decided elections, public policy and worker rights as well as taxation policies, as this new conservative movement espouses, would negate the very premise of the United States our ancestors left their homes for. It negates Republican TR’s legacy. It negates Eisenhower’s beliefs. It negates very the ideals of Jefferson and Madison. Even the iconic Reagan would be distraught at the extreme’s to which this GOP conservative movement has gone to preserve and expand the rights of the most wealthy at the expense of everyone else. He said as much in his speeches during the tax debates of the 1980s. Ronald Reagan’s tax policies were diametrically opposed to those put forward by Ryan and Romney.

So, as I sit here tonight watching the Democratic Convention after having seen the Republican Convention, I cannot but help feel the weight of all those ancestors who came before me: their struggles to start a new life, their fears and flights from homelands that sought their deaths, their fight to create a new nation and to preserve it against all odds for more than two centuries, and their hopes in creating a new commonweal. The weight of their history hangs heavy on my shoulders.

But I will not let their – or the millions of others who fought for freedom – hopes down. I will not succumb to irrelevance and apathy. If we want a better country…a country that leads the world in business and educational competition and human values…we have fight for it now as never before in our lifetimes.

We have an obligation to the future. An obligation to future generations of all American citizens, regardless of color, race, religion, ethnicity or gender. We have an obligation to fulfill the demands of the Declaration of Independence and the dreams of our ancestors. That is what this election is about because the visions between the modern GOP and the Democrats is that large.

We can choose to return to the late 1800s Gilded Age of Robber Barons that erupted in violence and nearly destroyed capitalism, or we can choose to avoid those pitfalls again by moving forward to build a better society for all citizens as TR chose to do with his early 20th C. policies and FDR expanded upon a mere two decades later.

As I said, I’m an old gal. I heard the stories from my grandparents who crossed the plains in covered wagons and early transcontinental trains. I researched their family histories going back to the Religious Wars from the 15th through 17th Centuries that devastated much of Europe. I learned of their travels and travails in coming to America and how much they needed and relied upon the commonweal for their survival. I learned of their movements across the country and their hopes, triumphs and re-creations. But the more I studied – the more I learned about how much they depended upon their communities, not just themselves – how they created successful lives, including very wealthy careers as well as how much they depended upon government, including the federal government, the more I learned how the commonwealth helped them. I learned more than anything else how much our ancestors depended upon each other to survive and thrive. How much we chose to progress towards the equality of opportunity and freedom that Jefferson, Madison and Hamilton wrote about more than two centuries ago.

Above all else, we need to once again adopt the commonweal that has been the primary foundation and sustaining influence of our country since our earliest immigrant ancestors. Without that attitude of “we are one people in this all together” regardless of wealth or talent or ability or any other outward attribute this nation cannot survive, compete and grow as it has in the past. We are all the children of immigrants, regardless of when our ancestors arrived on these shores, and we slowly learned to incorporate the words of Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence into our deepest feelings and beliefs. The “shining city on the hill” is, in fact, a nation of equal opportunity for all citizens, regardless of all other factors, which requires the commonweal.

I Wish I’d Said It

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Conservative writer Andrew SullivanConservative writer for the Daily Beast Andrew Sullivan, who left the new conservative movement during the Bush years as result of Bush’s outrageous spending, wrote on his blog what I only wish I had.

Romney is knowingly arguing that the spending and debt levels of the last three years were some kind of choice by a president who just loves to strangle the US economy by spending much more money than we have. But the only president who made that choice was George W. Bush – by crippling revenues, even as he fought wars with no budgets and new entitlements with no end (Medicare D), rendering us bankrupt even as we desperately needed a rainy day surplus to fight the depression.

Obama did not have a serious choice; he had a fate. That fate was to pick up the pieces of the most catastrophic presidency in modern times. The final bouquet – after emptying the public coffers with no serious boost to employment, profits or growth – was the financial collapse, which both shrunk the economy, decimated revenues to 50 year lows, and automatically increased spending for the unemployed and poor in desperate need of help. Once you account for that – and the [MarketWatch] Nutting graph indeed shows that this was baked in the cake by the time Obama was elected – Obama has been, like most modern Democrats, far more fiscally conservative than any modern Republican.

But his real money statement is:

There are legitimate issues to debate with respect to the future in this election. But the caricature of the last three years, the knowing lies that interweave with this false narrative, the attempt to describe a pragmatic, sane and successful president as somehow unqualified to tackle this mess – when the US economy has fared better in this period than much of the West – are deceptions, exploiting pain. I’m sick of them, and the cynicism they represent.

Read all of Sullivan’s blog post because he’s absolutely correct. If you want a better, more effective government, you have to hire people who understand the problems and challenges, who are willing to tell the ugly truth and not pander to a misinformed base. Certainly, John McCain showed more courage and honesty during his campaign for President than Romney has or ever will. I agree with Sullivan and Fumento which is why the radical right must be soundly defeated in the upcoming election.

Another Conservative Has Left The Building

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Conservative writer Michael FumentoMicheal Fumento worked for Reagan and wrote for National Review. But, he writes, the new hysterical right cares nothing for truth or dignity.

In a long editorial on Salon.com, Fumento not only explains why he’s left the conservative movement but what is wrong with it.

In My break with the extreme right, Fumento writes,

Civility and respect for order – nay, demand for order – have always been tenets of conservatism. The most prominent work of history’s most prominent conservative, Edmund Burke, was a reaction to the anger and hatred that swept France during the revolution. It would eventually rip the country apart and plunge all of Europe into decades of war. Such is the rotted fruit of mass-produced hate and rage. Burke, not incidentally, was a true Tea Party supporter, risking everything as a member of Parliament to support the rebellion in the United States.

All of today’s right-wing darlings got there by mastering what Burke feared most: screaming “J’accuse! J’accuse!” Turning people against each other. Taking seeds of fear, anger and hatred and planting them to grow a new crop.

Conservatism has also historically emphasized empiricism. Joe Friday of “Dragnet” must have been a conservative: “All we want are the facts, Ma’am.” When President Reagan famously said, “Facts are stupid things,” he meant to quote President John Adams’ observation that “Facts are stubborn things.” But how much fact was there in Heartland’s billboards, whose shock purpose has been likened to tactics of the hard-left animal activist group PETA, with whom I’ve repeatedly locked horns. Or in West’s assertion? Or Breitbart’s tirades? Rush Limbaugh compared Breitbart, who never wrote a single investigative report, to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the dynamic duo who brought down the thoroughly corrupt presidency of Richard Nixon. He actually said Breitbart’s work was superior. Oh, dear![…]

I personally know a lot of the leaders of this new rabid right. Most are very nice on a personal basis. Honestly, you’d be shocked. Unlike Breitbart, some began as real conservatives. One called me her mentor in her first book and attended my wedding. Many once sang my praises. Again, unlike Breitbart, Malkin was once a true investigative reporter. You can still see elements of actual research in Ann Coulter’s work, too.

But when times changed, and it became profitable to move from honorable advocacy to shrill name-calling, they changed too. They cashed in their reputations, as well as their ideology, for lucre. Those who didn’t – because conservatism runs against screaming, extremism and sensationalism – began disappearing from the talk shows, magazines and store shelves. They were replaced by pod people.

Conservatism, RIP

You cannot be identified by what you oppose, only by what you stand for. But this curious creature’s main claim to the title of “conservative” is that it hates liberals – as do liberals and lots of others on many points of the political spectrum. Obama is routinely bashed in such places as the Nation. The right-wing Nation?

Indeed in any violent anti-democratic revolution – Jacobite, Bolshevik, National Socialist – the first goal is to eliminate the real competition, those with ideals. The guys who really believed in liberty, fraternity and equality or rule by the proletariat were identified, isolated and eliminated early on to leave only two extremes to choose from. “It’s us or the Bourbons! It’s us or the Romanovs!” In Germany, the conservatives and liberals were dispatched to the labor camps before the Nazis felt safe to send the Jews to the death camps.

The new right cannot advance a conservative agenda precisely because, other than a few small holdouts like the American Conservative magazine or that battleship that refuses to become a museum, George Will, it is not itself conservative. Pod people are running the show. It has no such capability; no such desire. I find that disturbing for obvious reasons. But, based on my own conversations with liberals, I think – nay, I know – that if more of these allegedly godless, treasonous people understood real conservatism a lot would embrace many conservative positions.[…]

The right didn’t create this reservoir of fear, anger and hate. But it has both tapped into it and roiled it. Indeed, the right-wing mass hysteria is what sociologists call a “moral panic.” It occurs when a society is undergoing a wrenching transformation. Somebody then comes along and creates a “folk devil” both to provide an explanation for bad conditions, real or imagined, and a target. Kill the devil; eliminate the bad conditions. But the right has no serious incentive to help solve or ameliorate these problems. Indeed, as with the reelection of Obama, it will benefit from their continuation or worsening.

So animosity has now reached levels both hysterical and historical. The last time anything like this occurred was during World War II, when at least it was aimed outward. Before that? Just before the Civil War.

Back then a tall bearded Republican declared, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Just another one of those idiot, moron, “duplicitous bastard” RINOs.

The entire editorial is well worth the time spent reading it.

Then, ponder the French Revolution vs the American Revolution.

Because the angry, hate-filled French peasants, encouraged by those who hoped to use those emotions for their own benefit, had no constructive goal in mind, they knocked down, destroyed and pillaged the nation. Destruction for its own sake to slake the anger and hatred of the populace.

The American Revolution, on the other hand, never went down the path of utter destruction because there was general consensus, on both the conservative and liberal sides, to build a new government and country. Anger and hatred were put aside to build, not destroy.

As one nation, do we really want to continue down the path of tearing each other apart; of screaming “j’accuse” at those who disagree with our political beliefs; of fear, anger and hatred? Or do we want – choose – to come together to resolve the major challenges that have been building for more than 30 years?

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