Companion post, Voters, here.
I am, and you and every else are, “politics”. The “them” we like to despise, really is US, period.
Two years ago, August 1 and 2, 2020, I did two posts on successive days about U.S. politics, and where I stood and why.
Like then, I welcome comments here.
It is not new news that I’m a committed Democrat, and basically have always been. But, the person I call my political mentor was a progressive Republican; and, earlier, “I like[d] Ike”, etc. This is no contradiction in terms. These kinds of Republicans have been purged from what goes by “Republican” today.
Two years ago, like almost everyone, I was caught unaware about the pending and escalating insanity following Election Day, won by over 7-million votes by Joe Biden – a margin which didn’t surprise me at all.
With all of us, I watched storm clouds gather, which I erroneously thought crested and ended with January 6, 2021, but which continue to this day. And the crisis was hatched long before Election Day 2020.
In my lifetime, I have never seen anything like the time between Nov. 2020 and today. In our country’s lifetime, except for the Civil War, there has been nothing like this: craziness unchained: ur democracy on the edge of destruction.
There is no longer a “Republican Party” as commonly understood particularly in recent times; the name has been stolen and it’s reputation sullied perhaps beyond redemption. It can recover, but this will take many years of very hard work.
Today’s Democrats by and large are like yesterdays progressive Republicans, by and large banished from today’s party.
Two years ago I differentiated between today’s two major parties with the distinction “We” vs “Me”.
Democrats – the “We’s – often are portrayed as disorganized, even by Democrats. I consider that a strength, since the Democrats are a party that embraces and endeavors to respect all voices (which is, after all, the nature of our nation itself).
However imperfectly, Democrats consistently work towards the ideal of Community – a gathering place where all matter, not just some. Where ‘winning’ is not reserved for the privileged few. A personal hero, Paul Wellstone, said it best: “we all do better when we all do better.”
The T’s (Me’s) seem most attracted to authority – working to control who makes the rules (Laws) and interprets these laws (Judges). In their view, there are in’s and out’s “winners” and “losers”. And they work to control. In a diverse society this is a dangerous and doomed philosophy.
In these tribal days, the gap is difficult to bridge. A “me” frames an issue in terms of personal self-interest – what I want. A “we” starts from a community perspective – how are we, together.
Of course, no definition is absolute, especially when people are involved – look at your own circles – family, friends, associates…. But I think my basic distinction (we v me) is true, and one of the main reasons dialogue is so difficult: “what’s best for all of us” is very different than “what’s best for me”.
As a society, person by person, we need to deal constructively with differences of opinion. This used to be more common that today. Now it’s winner or loser.
We are all losing.
POSTNOTE: As this was ‘going to press’, Jeff sent a query relating to the upcoming primary election in Minnesota: “why the primary system exacerbates the pull to the left and the right for candidates” referring to a column by Tom Horner in yesterday’s Minneapolis Star Tribune.
It happens that my primary ballot has numerous contests, for Congress, and other positions, Republican as well as Democrat, as well as a large school district referendum. If you’re Minnesotan here’s the link to find the info for your area.
My opinion: Probably as long as there have been humans there have been contests for power and control. Come to think of it, this holds true in the animal kingdom generally.
Elections are an effort to civilize this conflict. Even in our system of government, since the foundation, there have been contests, not always polite, at election time.
I was fairly active politically (as a Democrat) for quite a long while. Generally the candidate endorsement process was through the political party structure beginning at the local level. Anyone could run, and the conventions would endorse, and ultimately the state party endorsed candidate was on the ballot.
The contest was open and relatively civil.
My first experience with a deviation was in 2010, when Mark Dayton bypassed the regular endorsement process, won the primary, and became two-term Minnesota Governor from 2011-19.
In 2010, I was active in the DFL Senior Caucus, Minnesota Democratic Party. Internally within our caucus came a controversy: do we go with the endorsed candidate, or support Dayton? It became a divisive issue. I favored staying with the endorsed candidate – respecting the long-standing process. The non-endorsed candidate, Dayton, won. (In my opinion he was an outstanding Governor.)
My opinion, the primary process does as Tom Horner suggests. Fewer folks vote and it’s more susceptible to manipulation by well organized constituent groups. In my local case, the long-time well-respected Congresswoman, (who I support), is being challenged by a another woman who appears to be from the more progressive wing of the party. Who’ll win? Ask me on August 10. But it’s an important contest.
There is another question on my ballot: an important school bond referendum. I know the issue, which was advanced by the local school board, and is important. The details of the issue are here: 833 Referendum 2022. Public Schools, of course, are public entities for the powerless, and depend on the public for taxation. Over the years I have noticed political manipulation of such issues, particularly how, if at all, they can be publicized and by whom, and when the elections are held. If you wish to defeat the issue, you don’t allow it at the time when it will most likely be passed. Mostly the signs I’ve seen (and there aren’t many of them) are “vote no” with absolutely no detail. I suspect that the “vote yes” group is mobilizing in other ways. Again ask me on August 10 how it turned out. Defeat will not get rid of the issues; only the cost will rise as time goes on.
from Norm: Norm is a long-time active Democrat and we’re good friends. I had raised this issue with him, and here’s his most recent response.
Julianne J___ [a Democrat friend] and I made a presentation to my local Kiwanis club a few years ago on the political process.We wanted to make the presentation non-partisan in recognition of the far ranging and various political views of my Kiwanis club colleagues, all mainly retired and many of them nationally and internationally known in their fields of academia, science and medicine.That is, quite an accomplished and sophisticated group of men and women!Julianne found and discussed the results of the research that had been done on the development of personal political views. Not surprisingly, the research found that most political views and opinions are formulated by most people before reaching the age of five based upon the views of those around them, that is, primarily their families.*Further, that those views are unlikely to ever change during their lifetime save for some traumatic life changing event.Given that, it is interesting to speculate what traumatic event happened to the many people who have chosen to believe little Donnie’s Big Lie and to lose faith in so many pillars of democracy including the Constitution, elections system and its process, truth speaking and truth seeking legislators like Rep. Cheney who will be demolished in her primary for the great work that she has done with the January 6 inquiry, and so on.What happened to cause such a change?Was it little Donnie and nothing more?Was it little Donnie convincing too many people that all of their ills, lack of successes, public policies that they did not like including LBGTAI rights and so on were all the fault of “those people?”Further, was it little Donnie convincing too many folks to forget all about those laws, policies and so on that were victimizing them and to just trust him and that he would take car of them aka Rev. Jones? That is, drink the Kool-Aide and all will be well.Coal will once again be in high demand and all miners will have jobs. Steel will be made again in the US and all of the rusted plants will be brought back to life and jobs will be plentiful. Climate change is just a hoax by folks trying to make me aka little Donnie, look bad!Heck, COVID is just another hoax perpetuated by folks wanting to make me aka little Donnie, look bad. Just gargle some Chlorox and you will be fine!*Note: one of my Kiwanis colleagues told me after our joint presentation that he was quite sure that Julianne was a Republican so we knew right there and then that we had accomplished our intent to be non-partisan with our presentation!
Linda adds to the conversation:
Nice to read of Norm and Julianne’s presentation to the Kiwanis club. What a great project. These projects take a great deal of effort.
At the time DJT was elected in 2106, I spent 3 months preparing a public presentation on “Understanding the Constitution”. This morphed into the “Trump Administration and the U. S. Constitution”. It was sponsored by the American Constitution Society.
Meetings were held around the TC and law students, lawyers, some Republicans, and members of the public came. My focus was what the Trump Admnistration was advocating through the courts and changes to the law, stating the outcome of these changes or rulings, and contrasting them with the preceeding interpretations of the Constitution.
It was interesting to listen to the questions that attendees had. A few people just sat there and glowered at me. Many people took notes. Many people just asked for further information. A few people wanted to develop these sessions into classroom projects.
I was gratified that the talks were received with interest and not controversy. I concluded that many people who believed in Trump just do not realize what profound impacts the rule of law and Trump’s prejudices have had on the country. Many people spend most of their days being entertained, working at a job, and looking for simple answers.
Why do people not believe what experts say? I think the following events account for it.
- The Catholic Church scandal.
- Nixon and Watergate (Republicans lied about it)
- The War Against Iraq (Republicans lied about it)
- Lack of understanding how health and science professionals make us safe (Trump lied about them)
- Lack of Civics teaching
- A history of racism and sexism, that meant white men lost when others had rights.
- Vietnam (Democrats and Republicans lied about it)
- Politics and churches
- Indifference to community values (Republicans)