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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Charlottesville: A Question Of Self-Examination And Healing

Category: Donald Trump
Posted: 08/13/17 23:16

by Dave Mindeman

White supremacy is an affront to the moral values of this country and will never ever be tolerated in any form.

Is that a hard thing to say? I would say that most people would agree with the above statement. It doesn't seem controversial.

But those words seem to stick in Trump's throat. They are difficult to say for him. Kind of like the words, "Putin is a bad guy."

When Barack Obama was elected President in 2008, there was some ridiculous talk of a post racist society. That we had conquered the hate. That we could now move forward.

But for a variety of reasons, including Trump's constant birth certificate diatribe, we seemed to revert back to a more ugly time.

Today, I have been thinking a lot about this quote from Nelson Mandela:

"No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love. For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite." - Nelson Mandela

And I very much believe that to be true. Those young men that marched in Charlottesville with such hatred in their hearts learned that somewhere. They learned it from their family or they learned that from their peers. But they were not born with that attitude.

Our society, especially in the south, gives lip service to the idea that "all men (and women) are created equal". When Thomas Jefferson wrote that, he owned slaves. But those words transcended even his own shortcomings and ever since they were uttered, our version of a more perfect union has strived to end discrimination in all of its forms.... gender, racial, sexual orientation, transphobia, handicapped, ageism....all of these things have been tested in this society and found to be unacceptable - even if they are yet to be eliminated.

We have made progress...at least we were until our current President took that oath of office. His rhetoric, his bully pulpit, has been found wanting in leading our nation into the diverse future it is destined to achieve.

The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of hope to the oppressed - not some monument to European alliances. The people who come to our shores want to participate in the greatest democratic experiment of all time. And we, as a nation, benefit from their willingness to begin anew on our shores.

We have had some very ugly history in regards to that progress. The history of African Americans is not one of choice. They were forced into labor for multiple generations. And when they were finally given their freedom in the land of the free, they endured a lesser status because too many people would not accept the color of their skin as equal to those who formerly held them as property.

That deep seeded flaw in the American character needs to be ended once and for all - but some people, especially in the south, keep passing that flaw down to generation after generation. And it is not a genetic flaw as Nelson Mandela pointed out. It is a flaw of character. It is a flaw of the human condition. It is a flaw instilled in us by fear of losing power and privilege. Power and privilege which we do not deserve and which our religious heritage says is not bestowed upon one race over another.

What happened in Charlottesville is something we have both feared and felt inevitable. People who try to rationalize this event with cockeyed explanations and excuses need to stand down. We cannot heal until we face up to what this really is. It is hate, plain and simple. You can rally around symbols and say it is just a different philosophy, but we fought a viscious and costly World War to recognize it as hate and to banish it to the crypts of hell it deserves to be locked into.

This isn't about economic disparities. This isn't about sharing resources. This country is big enough and rich enough that we can solve these problems without choosing to hate those that are different. We are supposed to be the example of moral attitudes that the world can follow., But what we have been seeing lately is the moral equivalent of barbarism. And we must put an end to it.

We have a President that has been given this leadership role...and he has failed miserably. In just a few short months, we have abdicated Western leadership, moral leadership, leadership on human rights, and being a champion of peace. And it feels like more failures are yet to come.

Charlottesville cannot be a bipartisan debate. It is not a left or right issue. It is our test. Our moral test as a country...as a people.

Forget the politics and the strategies and the excuses. We need to confront this problem...all of us. Whether it is a blatant racist attitude, an ignorant tolerance, or just plain indifference...all of that must end.

We must change this...heal this...find the right path. It is crucial that we find a way - and it must be done with a united front.

Blood And Soil

Category: Donald Trump
Posted: 08/13/17 01:16

by Dave Mindeman

It is discouraging to watch what happened in Charlottesville and then watch the discourse that follows.

This isn't hard to explain. It was an attack on the civil order. It was hate. It was a criminal act.

And yet, I read some of the most ridiculous arguments about this as if there are "shades of grey". Some Trump supporters blame the victims. Some argue that to criticize the President over his reaction is unpatriotic and shouldn't be questioned. I even read one comment that said the city pulled back their police intentionally in order to create "martyrs". How sick do you have to be to think that way?

Prior to Trump, most of the country accepted the existence of the newly named Alt Right (really just white supremacists of all stripes), but they were universally condemned in their beliefs and actions.

But Trump changed that. After he won the nomination for the party, he played this game in regards to white supremacists. He knew they supported his rhetoric and offbeat ideas - and in return he tacitly approved of their participation. He gave them cover. They could come out from under their collective rocks and hide their hate rhetoric within the First Amendment, a right they share with all Americans, but with the additional allowances of a President who refuses to condemn them - giving them a voice that normally would never make it to mainstream discourse.

Charlottesville is the culmination of this developing new order. That "Blood and Soil" chant was particularly chilling. That phrase refers to a nationalist philosophy that Hitler embraced giving priority to genetic ethnic descent and homeland property. These ideas sprouted in rural areas first, among people who were still recovering from the depression....

Ultranationalists predating the Nazis often supported country living as more healthy, with the Artaman League sending urban children to the countryside to work in part in hopes of transforming them into Wehrbauern (soldier peasants).

Gatherings of these hate groups is a dangerous thing. And although they have the right of assembly - they can be publicly challenged in their hatred. And they absolutely do not have any right to violence. Frankly, their entire philosophy depends on violence. So many of them brandish their weapons menacingly hoping to obtain intimidation of their opponents.

There can be no disagreement that what happened in Charlottesville is a terrorist act. At least under normal circustances. An act like Timothy McVeigh...like Eric Rudolph. Trump is quick to condemn the acts of religious fanatics with Arabic heritage. But stumbles for the proper reaction involving a terrorist act coming from people within his base.

A President has to be a President of all our citizens. He does not get to apply Constitutional protections or access to legal recourse to a favored few.

Today, Trump has failed another test. He couldn't bring himself to condemn a actions of groups that were clearly hate crimes - a political act of retribution.

He is not a true President of all the people.

There Is A Naivete Flaw Regarding Jeff Erdmann

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 08/10/17 07:53

by Dave Mindeman

Let's get back to the Jeff Erdmann interview at the Uptake.

I am a bit concerned about the naivete of Erdmann's government view. He has not been active in politics - says he had to be neutral while he was coaching football. Although other teachers have been some of the most vocal activists I know, each person has to decide that.

But when explaining why he became a Democrat, Erdmann mentions the following...

Other aspects of why I would be a democrat, age 22, 23, I learned a very valuable lesson. It was one of my first checks or second checks as a teacher, and at that time I was pretty physically ... I was in the best shape of my life and I look on there and there's medicare and medicaid coming out, and I'm like, "Ugh. I don't like seeing that money come out of my check." Because at that time, I was trying to buy a truck ... I bought a little used Ford Ranger and I was trying to get my payment under 100 bucks. And so I was frustrated that that was coming out of my check.

Medicaid is not funded by payroll taxes. Medicaid is a joint program between the Federal government and the various states. It is the main contentious argument in changing healthcare because expanded Medicaid under the ACA has been a big factor in increasing enrollment.

Erdmann also talks about "Medicare for All" as the fix - and I think Democrats, by and large, will support that for the most part. But he seems to be saying that payroll taxes are going to fund the bulk of this.

Well if people look at how it would work, it's gonna go from the 1.45 up to 5, 5.5% in a payroll tax, and then that is gonna pay for all the aspects that are needed with it. But when you do this, you're bringing in everybody. You've got all the healthy people, you've got everybody under that.

Payroll taxes going up 300%? I know that the contributions would have to increase some, but the burden on working people seems a little steep. A large number of people do not pay payroll taxes. Retired people, people with dividend and bond income, people on pensions. In fact, the older population, which will consume the bulk of health care services would once again be subsidized by payroll taxes, if that is the main approach.

Medicare for All is a solid idea. Even the idea of just allowing people 55 or more buying into the program would greatly ease the pressure on insurance premiums in the private sector. But Erdmann is going to have to flesh out his ideas - because that kind of increase in payroll taxes is just unacceptable.

And then he lumps the "wealthy" into some broad monetary concept. He insinuates that Angie Craig is "buying" her Congressional seat. I think most of us in the 2nd District are very familiar, from the last cycle, with the Craig story of growing up in a trailer park in Tennessee. In fact, from Erdmann's account of his own story, Angie Craig came from much humbler beginnings than he did. Yet, Erdmann lumps her current status into some kind of "wealthy elite" group. Simply because she began her campaign by self funding to garner name recognition in the district.

Yes, Angie Craig put in a considerable amount of her own money. But unlike the Sheldon Adelson's and Stanley Hubbard's of the world, her contribution "hurt". She took money that could keep her family comfortable for a long time. It wasn't throw away money. She made a heavy commitment to the district.

Yeah, very few people can afford to do that. And she states that she cannot afford to do it that way again. She is not self funding her 2018 campaign. But Erdmann's insinuations of elitism, in regards to Craig, are unfounded and if he truly understood the dynamics of how campaigns operate today, he would save his fire for the actual wealthy donors who are the true corruptors of this system. It seems a little strange to me to lump Angie Craig into the class of Stewart Mills and Betsy Devos. It just does not fit.

And Erdmann talks further:

Angie's running again and we don't know what her platform is, so it's hard to make a comparison as far as that. I think there's definitely comparisons between us. I think there's a lot of differences between us. And as the campaign rolls out, I think people are gonna see that and they'll have an opportunity to choose, to see how that plays into their voting decisions and what they value.

I don't think there is much secret about her platform. She has many of the same issues that Erdmann talks about. Erdmann makes "money in politics" a front and center issue - but Craig has spoken of the same concerns. She wants to get to Universal Coverage in healthcare, but is open to what will work the best - Medicare for All is included in the possibilities. As part of a proud gay family, she has a unique understanding of LGBTQ rights and concerns. There is nothing secret about her platform and I question the "differences" that Erdmann seems to believe exist between them.

Erdmann is a good progressive. I do not question his motives but his approach to a competitive primary shows naivete and inexperience. And we are all too aware of how inexperience can get us into trouble.

If I am being too critical I apologize, but I am concerned that Democrats will once again turn a victory into a defeat because of internal divisions. The 2016 split in our party is still there and exploiting that only plays into the hands of the tribal Republicans.

Jeff Erdmann has not been a Democrat very long. He has not been in the trenches. And, judging by his statements, is still learning about how all of this works.

2018 is extremely important. It is crucial for the 2nd District. We cannot afford more on the job training.
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