Tag Archives: democracy

The New Civil War

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

I don’t remember my parents being political at all. My Step-Dad was an Army Green Beret and my Mom a naturalized American citizen via Germany. I’m sure they voted, but it wasn’t like we sat around the dinner table discussing geopolitics. Neither of them had attended college while I was still living at home and being politically active wasn’t really congruent with my Dad’s military service.

After I joined the Air Force, that was also the case for me, especially when I became a commander. After retirement though, it was a different story. Since moving to Tucson in 2008, I ran for and won a seat on my local school board and worked on three Arizona campaigns, two Senate and one House, and supported various other campaigns in one way or another. It has been my service as a school board member though, that really led to my activism. Public K–12 education and the children it serves, (as it turns out) is my new passion. Continue reading

Losing faith in democracy

Some deeply disturbing reports in the Washington Post Wonkblog today. First, Yascha Mounk and Roberto Stefan Foa write, Yes, people really are turning away from democracy:

We have been surprised by the scale and intensity of attention our work has garnered around the world since the New York Times profiled it last week. Perhaps we shouldn’t have been. Our research, after all, helped contextualize the seismic shifts we’ve seen in some of the world’s long-standing democracies over the past year — and comes to some rather startling findings.

Public attitudes toward democracy, we show, have soured over time. Citizens, especially millennials, have less faith in the democratic system. They are more likely to express hostile views of democracy. And they vote for anti-establishment parties and candidates that disregard long-standing democratic norms in ever greater numbers.

Graph1

It is to be expected that claims as disconcerting as these would evoke some skepticism. Over the past week, our critics have mooted three main objections: They claim that our findings are highly sensitive to the wording of particular survey questions or the way in which we interpret particular results; they claim that, contrary to what we are saying, millennials are not more critical of democracy than their elders, and they dispute that disenchantment with democracy has markedly increased over time.

We would be very pleased if these criticisms held true. After all, we’d rather be reassured of the stability of our democracies than win an argument. Sadly, though, we remain as alarmed as we have ever been.

Continue reading

The New Fourth Estate

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

I recently read that today’s youth can’t determine whether or not a story is factual or fictional. Some of this no doubt is because there is just too much information available and there is no consequence of disseminating false information. I had an interesting conversation with a smart, older millennial recently and she didn’t know the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) once required holders of broadcast licenses to present controversial issues of public importance in a manner that was honest, equitable and balanced. The policy was called the Fairness Doctrine and its intent was to ensure viewers were exposed to a diversity of viewpoints. The FCC eliminated the Doctrine in 1987 and some believe its demise played a role in an increased level of party polarization.

Fast forward to 2016. We now have a President-Elect who tells outrageous falsehoods, (on TV no less), and then claims he didn’t say them. We have his surrogates who lied repeatedly during his campaign and continue to do so. We have Scottie Nell Hughes, Trump supporter and CNN commentator, who recently said “There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore of facts.” (Evidently, there’s no such thing as proper grammar either.) She followed that outrageous comment with “people believe they have the facts to back that [Trump’s tweets] up.” WHAAAAAAAT? No. Believing you have facts is not the same as well…ACTUALLY HAVING THE FREAKIN’ FACTS!!! Continue reading

Donald Trump is at war with democracy itself

trumpintimidationDonald Trump’s call for his supporters to be vigilante poll observers on election day — remember, RNC warns its members not to engage in poll watching or any other so-called ‘ballot security’ measures — is all about depressing Democratic voter turnout among “those people” with the prospect of voter intimidation.

Already, “Many of the schools across America that house polling booths will not be open on Election Day for the first time after parents raised fears over violence.” Election Day Safety Fears See Schools Cancel Classes or Move Polling Places.

A USA Today/Suffolk University poll conducted this month finds that Half of likely U.S. voters say they are concerned about violence on Election Day:

Half of likely voters say they are at least somewhat concerned about violence either on Election Day or after.

One in five likely voters say they are very concerned, about the same number who said they were not terribly confident that the United States would “have a peaceful transfer of power after the election.”

And then there were the Trump supporters, i.e., potential vigilante poll observers:

[T]wo out of three Trump supporters said they thought the election’s results would be manipulated rather than be accurate. Trump supporters were also more likely to say that if he lost, it would be due to corruption and therefore the outcome would not be legitimate.

Exactly what Donald Trump has been programming his supporters to believe for months.

Continue reading

Eddie Munster’s Monstrous Plan for America

EddieMunsterTom Toles is the Washington Post‘s cartoonist, but he also writes a column. Today’s column caught my eye: Paul Ryan: Eddie from the Munsters wants to grow up to be a real monster.

Bwahahaha! I have been using Eddie Munster for Paul Ryan for years. More on Toles’ column below, but first, a word from the professor.

The GOP’s alleged boy genius, Ayn Rand fanboy Paul Ryan, “the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin, ” is an intellectual fraud and The Flimflam Man. Recently Paul Krugman reiterated:

Paul Ryan is not, repeat not, a serious, honest man of principle who has tainted his brand by supporting Donald Trump. He has been an obvious fraud all along, at least to anyone who can do budget arithmetic . . . Yet he poses as an icon of fiscal probity. That is, he is, in his own way, every bit as much a fraud as The Donald.

Continue reading

John Nichols: US Needs 3 Constitutional Amendments to Save Our Democracy (video)

Flag-99-862-sig-sm72by Pamela Powers Hannley

One hundred years ago, at the dawn of the last American Progressive Era, the United States was a very different place– a place of inequality, discrimination, and wealth disparity, author and historian John Nichols told a gathering of Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) in June.

Although slavery had been abolished in 1865 (#13), the rights of citizens were established in 1868 (#14), and the right to vote for all men was established in 1870 (#15), the majority of Americans could not vote.

At the turn of the last century, women and adults 18-21 years of age were barred from voting, and because of racist, state-level machinations and poll taxes, many African Americans and poor Americans of any color also were kept from voting. In addition, citizens didn’t have representation in the US Senate, since Senators were chosen by robber barons in back room deals (not elected by the people).

This sounds all too familiar, doesn’t it? Are Republicans trying to take our country back to 1900? Consider these current scenarios:

The energy and activism of the Progressive Era (1900-1929) brought many positive changes and new Constitutional Amendments; it’s up to those of us in the New Progressive Movementto fight back against new regressive and discriminatory laws to save our country. 

Videos and details after the jump.

“We are no longer a democracy in this country,” Nichols told the Southern California audience. “When Barack Obama can be elected president of the United States by a 5 million vote margin, by a landslide in the electoral college, and [by a larger margin than any other recent president, including Ronald Reagan]– when we have landslides of that order, and we cannot get basic economic and social justice, then something has gone horribly awry.

“Our democracy has been diminished! It has been turned into a ‘dollarocracy’ where those with immense wealth may lose an election and then move back into position to win it by other means, this is fundamentally wrong!”

Nichols said he is tired of “tinkering around the edges” and called for fundamental change in the form of three Constitutional Amendments. In the early 1900s, progressive pushed for and won Constitutional Amendment #16 creating federal income tax in 1913; #17 establishing direct election of US Senators in 1913; and #19 giving women the right to vote in 1920. With these fundamental changes, we went from a country where most people couldn’t vote, where the wealthy chose US Senators, and where the robber barons hoarded their wealth (rather than sharing a portion to help build our country).

According to Nichols, it’s up to the new wave of American Progressives to stand up and change our country for the better by working toward these three new Constitutional Amendments: 1) abolish corporate personhood and establish that money is not speech; 2) guarantee the right to vote for all American citizens 18 years of age or older; and 3) eliminate the Electoral College and establish direct election of the President of the United States.

Let’s get busy. The time for tinkering is over.