Wednesday, April 1, 2020

It's a Pandemic. You'll Have To Change The Way You Do Things.

I don’t have to tell you we’re in the midst of a near-total shut-down, trying to save as many citizens as possible during an already deadly pandemic. People who aren’t sick yet are hurting, too, trying to maintain their lives, trying to stay safe. Workers are out of jobs and struggling to stay afloat. Businesses are suffering, many of them already in their death throes. They may not survive this. Our unemployment rates are pointing toward astronomical. This recession may turn into a full-blown depression. And the worst part: People are suffering and dying in numbers that grow exponentially, without signs of slowing. We’re all terrified, and I’m not making it better by reminding you of just how much.
But here’s the thing: We have a chance now to show the country who we are in a crisis. It’s our make-or-break moment and it’s up to each of us to rise to the challenge. We’ve done it before. This is all sounding familiar.
“We Can Do It” — National Museum of American History
I lived through rationing during World War II. I know — I was only a kid — but I remember things. I was in charge of collecting and cleaning bottles and tin cans. I peeled off labels, washed them, cut off the can bottoms, stuffed them inside the cans and stomped them flat. (That was the best part.) I bundled newspapers and cardboard and listened to my parents complain when there wasn’t enough coffee. (They were allowed one pound once a month for each of them. I didn’t count as a person yet.)
We kids brought our dimes to school and bought War Stamps and pasted them into books. My parents bought Victory bonds when they could.
The idea of rationing was to make sure everyone had just enough, but not too much. The problem with rationing — just as now — was that they never figured how to stop greed. We were warned against black marketeers almost as often as we were against ‘loose lips sinking ships’.
Hennepin County Library — with permission
Wikimedia Commons
We saved grease and took it to the butcher because it could be used for explosives. In some parts they collected garbage to feed hogs. People grew Victory Gardens and shared what they grew.
National Archives
We stopped traveling when gas was rationed, and rubber tires were as valuable as gold. Our giddy idea of wealth was a spare tire and a patching kit. 
Library of Congress
When Nylon became a commodity used for parachutes, women took to wearing leg makeup and drawing fake seam lines down the backs of their legs. (Because working women were required to wear skirts and ‘hose’ at all times.)
Source: Smithsonian
Poster source: Foundation for Economic Education
There were posters on walls and in magazines reminding us that our days of being wasteful were behind us. We had to be good citizens or Hitler and Tojo would win. And we didn’t want that, did we?
National Archives
Yes, much of it was propaganda meant to scare us, but it did the job: We were scared. It was our government at work, doing everything they could to keep the armies of the world safe and efficient against our common enemies, and, as good citizens, we were required to help.
Notice a pattern in these posters? It was all about shaming. It was all about being proud to be an American. You want to be a good citizen? Then do what you can to keep our boys alive. Let’s win this thing!
And we did. There is no question that too many Americans died in that war, but we did what we had to do to keep even more Americans from dying. And we felt good about it. That was key. We weren’t sitting on our hands waiting for something to happen, we were a force. We had it in us to make simple sacrifices that ultimately made the difference.
So here we are again. We’re being asked to take stock and see what we can do to help. If it takes shaming, I’m all for it. If it takes constant reminders about what you can do for your country, remind me. Constantly.
But what if we could do this by just thinking about it and doing the right thing?
What if we didn’t hoard?
What if we didn’t gather in crowds?
What if we learned new ways of doing things?
What if we conserved food so others could eat, too?
What if we came together in hundreds of thousands of communities and looked out for each other?
And what if, when this is over, we kept it up?
Every life lost is a tragedy. Everyone is in danger. If we can do even a little to help the cause, we must do it. If we can do more, we must do more. We’re citizens of the world and the world is hurting. It really is up to us now.
(Cross-posted at Medium)

Saturday, March 7, 2020

I Cried When Warren left, but Now It’s Biden. Here’s Why.

Joe Biden - Flickr public domain

On Friday, March 6, the morning after Elizabeth Warren invited Rachel Maddow into her home for a live interview to discuss her withdrawal from the presidential race, her thoughts about the plans she put forward, and her hopes for the future, I watched two brilliant women talk for an hour without notes, without scripts, without guile — just putting it all out there — and I felt sorrow. Abject sorrow. And I knew I wasn't alone.

But when the hour was over, after they helped me send sorrow packing and replaced it with hope and pride, I knew where I would transfer my allegiance. It would go to the candidate with the greatest chance of building alliances and winning.

I know he may not be Elizabeth’s choice or Rachel’s choice, but Joe Biden is now my choice. It’s no secret I wanted a woman president. I stopped even considering a man when I saw there were women who could not only do the job, but far surpass many of the male candidates. Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren — it’s tough to watch them fail when they’re so damned qualified — but something happened, I honestly don’t know what,  and they didn’t make it to the end.

I built what I’ve written here as a Twitter thread, but I thought I could use this format to make it more accessible. I hope I can convince more voters that there are valid reasons to vote for Joe Biden. These are just some of them:

Watching Warren on @Maddow last night with anger, sadness, and pride. She didn’t make this run but she has a plan. She’s not done, and neither are we. I’m going with Biden now and I’m at peace with that, not because I think he isn’t flawed — he is. But here’s the thing:

Joe will disappoint me, he’ll infuriate me, he’ll embarrass me, but he won’t do anything to deliberately hurt me. People who know him intimately — including his colleagues in DC — talk about his big heart. He gives his cell phone # to people who tell him their painful stories.

He has the support of people like Jim Clyburn, a man with more integrity in his little finger than all of the Trumps put together. Joe understands the necessity of a Big Tent and when he says we’re all welcome, he means it. The people around him mean it. And I need that.

He’ll build a cabinet of people who respect their positions and understand the work ahead. The pros will start in on Day one, the only drama being the enormity of their tasks. I won’t have to wonder if they know what they’re doing. I won’t have to question their motives.

Every Democrat already working in the halls of Congress, in the halls of justice, will get behind Joe, steering him, encouraging him, and he will listen. He will brainstorm. He will understand that the country comes first. He will work hard for us — and he will make mistakes.

Joe Biden has made plenty of mistakes, almost all of them mistakes we’ve hashed over for years. Anita Hill, plagiarism, the Iraq War vote — so many others soon to be fodder for both the left and the right in the coming months ahead. I make no excuses for Joe’s past blunders.

But I’ll support him now, without equivocation, because, of the three old men that are my only choices, (not that Trump is even remotely my choice) he is by far the best to lead us out of this mess. It’s not because he’ll work miracles. He won’t. He’ll be far from perfect.

But he’ll bring with him the best of the best. The proven workers from inside and out. The established pros who are already working tirelessly to take down the Republicans threatening whole segments of our citizenry day after day after day. Social programs will be safe.

He’ll have a powerhouse behind him, already in place, already keenly aware, and deeply embedded in the process of removing the very real threats coming from the White House, from Congress, and from the courts. They know the secrets. All they need now is the unobstructed power.

The transition, if Joe Biden is nominated, will be smooth and seamless. They know Joe and Joe knows them. They are the ‘establishment’, and that’s to our advantage. They’ve seen up close and personal the damage the Trump regime has caused. They’re positioned. They’re ready.

But, until we’re in that place where we’re the decision-makers, we’re mere voices in the wind. We’re hurting but we’re not shattered. We have the means to build again, together. The enemy isn’t us, it’s them.

(Cross-posted at Medium)

Saturday, February 29, 2020

I Am That Liberal You Think You Know

I’m a Liberal Democrat, capital L, capital D. I’ve been a Liberal Democrat my entire adult life. I’ve never been ashamed of being either one. Why would I be? We Liberal Democrats have a long history of public service in the best sense of the words. We’ve been the caretakers while the Republicans have traditionally fought against any thought of taking care of all citizens. ALL citizens.

We work at being inclusive while the Republicans pride themselves on their exclusivity. While we’re trying to build a country they’re building a club.

So here’s a radical thought: Let the Liberals do it. Give us a chance to show how it could be done.

 Liberals, you like to remind us, are the classic political nerds, not good for anything but maybe wedgies or noogies. Quaint naïve little do-gooders lost in a world of ruthless cruelty without weapons adequate enough to bruise a flea.

 In the 1980s, around about the time the actor Ronald Reagan, friendly Midwestern Liberal turned hard-hearted California conservative, was enshrined as The Teflon POTUS, the word went out that Liberals — those ridiculous “for the people” gadflies — were ruining the country by helping too many undeserving and impoverished leeches, by welcoming foreigners, by insisting that workers be represented by hard-nosed unions, by pushing the toxic notion that health care shouldn’t be for-profit, and by tightening, enforcing, or inventing regulations that were or would be anathema to the gold-plated entities they targeted.

It wasn’t hard to convince the many millions that health, wealth, and happiness could only come from a government without teeth, from the benevolence of ridiculously powerful corporations, and, if all else failed, from that venerable standby, Old Testament God.

 All that stood in the way were those insufferable Liberals.

 Liberals became such pariahs an entire bloc jumped ship and took on a new name: Progressives. (I would describe them for you here, but I admit I don’t know the difference. So far they’ve been relatively friendly. Don’t look to me to rock that boat.)

 But what we Liberals are known for are hearts that gush blood whenever injustice rears its massive, ugly head. We see a bleeding heart as a badge of honor. The same with tears. We cry when things move us, and we don’t hide from our emotions. Our anger stems from compassion, our outrage roars at cruelty. We wear our hearts on our sleeves and it’s not meant as a fashion statement.

 Liberals have a long history of getting things done. We pulled the entire country out of a great depression by hiring our citizens to do meaningful busy-work, by using our charitable might, by giving dignity and hope back to a country mired in poverty and hopelessness.

 We built the unions and gave workers a voice. We put an end to child labor. We fought to give every adult citizen the right to vote, no matter their gender or color. We helped the poor and the elderly by creating Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. We passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, the Clean Air act, and the Clean Water Act. We ended a recession that nearly destroyed the middle class.

 We did all that and more against the wishes — and the might — of fat cats and right wingers who sorely wanted what we’re heading for today: a country ruled by non-contributing despots whose only interests are power, greed, and self-preservation.

 We are not that country and we never will be. The Trump phenomenon is an anomaly, destined as a vivid warning in our history books, a long chapter on how close we came to letting our democracy die. We’re still a majority of the good and, thankfully, most of us aren’t ashamed to show it. It’s our time now and there’s much to do. They’re out there waiting for us and they have heavy weapons. 

The truth-tellers are under barrage and the liars appear to be winning. Not in any honest way — that’s not their MO — but they’ve built a formidable army with thugs in both the House and the Senate, corrupt judges with life-long positions and no former experience, rules and laws that favor the wealthy and crush the poor, shady dealings with foreign dictators, and, if all else fails, voting machines spewing out questionable tallies.

We can’t afford to get it wrong this time. We are a country on the brink and this is no time to dismiss anyone working to change this mess. Do we need labels to tell us apart? Not as much as we might think. It’s enough that we’re on the same team. Not everyone on the team comes from the same background, but everyone should have the same goal. To win.

Come November, 2020, we have to win. There is no other acceptable outcome. So I’ll be That Liberal and you be…you. But let’s work at winning together. It's only our entire country that's at stake.

(A version of this appears at Medium)

Friday, February 28, 2020

Bernie Lost This FDR Liberal and It's His Fault, Not MIne

Source: Forbes

I’m a liberal and Bernie Sanders is a Democratic Socialist. Both of us have our roots in good old FDR blue collar pragmatism. I thought, way back in 2011, when I wrote glowingly about him, that if he ever decided to run for president I would be first in line to cheer him on.

I wrote:
Sen. Bernie Sanders, Independent from Vermont, held the senate floor for 90 minutes yesterday, talking directly to President Obama, pleading, cajoling, scolding — begging the president to take the lead on obvious things like lifting the poor and the downtrodden out of the depths, protecting them from any more grief, and demanding that the rich pay their fair share of U.S. taxes.

He was voicing everything I believed and he was one of the very few. I wanted to go on liking him. I wanted it so much, I went on pretending, long after I had grown squeamish about what I was seeing from him.

I wanted to believe his shouting and his finger-wagging were simply signs that he was immersed in wanting to do the right thing, but he smirked. He smirked a lot. And it was his haughty, knowing grin whenever his audience reacted to his many anti-Democrat accusations that convinced me this was not someone calling for solidarity.

In time it became clear that his idea of doing the right thing was to build himself up by attacking any Democrat who wasn’t willing to go along. He latched onto “establishment Democrats”, “corporate Democrats”, and encouraged the term “neo-libs”. He kept it up long after the 2016 primaries, when he should have been joining the Dems in supporting not only Hillary Clinton but every Democrat working to get elected in every city, county, state, or federal battleground.

He didn’t do that. He balked at everything, including handing the primary vote over to Hillary when it was clearly long past time. He talked up “revolution”, pushing his followers to stick with him long after the space between the primaries and the general election had closed behind him. He tolerated chaos from his own ranks when what we needed desperately was unity. His was a mission unto himself and the Democrats he refused to join up with had no place in it.

It comes down to this: Bernie is my first choice as revolutionary leader. As revolutionary leaders go, Bernie ranks right up there at the top. But if Bernie should win the presidency, his days as a radical revolutionary leader are over. He wouldn’t in a million years be able to accomplish as much as he might if he stays on the outside pressing for the goals he has outlined during his campaign…

 …A president has to be all things to all people. The leader of a revolution has to stay focused on the cause. Bernie, if he wins, won’t be able to do that and he’ll disappoint the people who are counting on him to make radical change. They’ll start a revolution without him, or in spite of him, or against him.
I haven’t changed my mind. Donald Trump may have shown us what the true Dark Side looks like when it gains ultimate power, but the Democratic presidential candidate can’t be a frothing revolutionary. Some would like to think we’ve moved that far to the left, but we haven’t. And we shouldn’t.

Bernie cemented it when he brought in known haters like Cenk Uyger, Michael Moore, David Sirota, Nina Turner, and Susan Sarandon. They went on the attack against Democrats, almost as if Donald Trump and the entire GOP were not the real threat.

I’ve never been convinced that Democrats shine as a party when they move away from wanting to be allies to all Americans, and not just some Americans. We’re not the party of dividers. We’re at our best when we’re lifting each other up, not dragging each other down.

I submit that Barack Obama’s popularity stayed constant mainly because he refused to get down in the mud. He refused to attack his allies or to get vicious when he was going after his enemies. He understood — and admired — the honor and the obligations of his office, and he’ll be remembered for that, long after Donald Trump disappears into the twilight.

I am a Democrat. I’ve been a Democrat for more than 60 years and, no matter how frustrated or disappointed I am in my political family, I’ll never be anything else. I will always vote the party.
I can say that, knowing there are entire factions out there still promoting a “hold your nose” policy when it comes to Democrats, or worse, a lean toward, “No other Democrat is good enough so it has to be fill in the blank, or else.

There are ways of doing battle without digging in the dirt. The Democrats must always take the high road. It doesn’t make us weak, it makes us right. We take the high road by showing what we’ve learned over the years — that we can and must help others while helping ourselves. We don’t see kindness as weakness. We can be revolutionaries without losing our way. Our eyes are on the prize and our prize is a country working toward the common good.

Bernie Sanders never became that Democrat. He relished the chaos in 2016 and did nothing to calm the waters. His talking points never became action. His talk of being a champion of women or people of color, for example, is still more fluff than substance.

His followers have built a long-lasting cult around him, and he’s using them again to rise to the top. I sincerely hoped he wouldn’t do that, but since he has, I’m out. I've already cast my vote for Elizabeth Warren, who shares many of the same visions, but without feeling the need to divide us into camps based on our loyalty to her causes. (If he wins the primaries, I’ll deal with it and support him. Because that’s what Democrats have to do.)

The defeat of Donald Trump is essential if we’re ever going to get those programs that both the left and the moderates agree need fixing. We can only defeat him if we work together. When Bernie shows signs of wanting to work together, I’ll come back and write a different story. But until then, this one will have to stand.

(A version of this appears in Medium)

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Let Democrats Be Democrats: It’s not chaos, it’s Democracy

We've just come away from the sham impeachment trial of Donald J.  Trump.  Everything we predicted about the trial once it got to the Senate has come true. All but one Republican (Mitt Romney) overlooked every crime, every attack on the constitution and the rule of law, and gave Trump yet another free pass.

The Democrats put up a good fight--often a brilliant fight--but it wasn't good enough. The fix was in even before they entered the room and, predictably, they lost. That will be the takeaway. The Democrats lost.

The Iowa Caucuses happened. Big screw-up and it took weeks to get the results. The takeaway: Who lost in Iowa? The Democrats. Of course. If they can't even get their act together in Iowa, blah blah blah.

The circus came to town at the House of Representatives as the Clown-in Charge performed Politics Porn before a captive audience in what was billed as a State of the Union speech. It was, as expected, a campaign speech, an "Impeachment, hell" speech, a pack of provable lies. Rush Limbaugh was awarded the Medal of Freedom during that hour and a half. RUSH LIMBAUGH. When it was over, Nancy Pelosi, the Mom-in-Charge whose House the clown had just trashed, tore up his speech in a display of total disgust. And who was attacked the next day? Nancy Pelosi. The Democrat.

The New Hampshire primary came and went and the press fell all over themselves deciding which of the Democrats no longer had a chance. (All of them except Sanders and Buttigieg. Show's over, folks. Exit at the rear.)  Never mind that actual party members might have other ideas.

The mainstream punditry has a nasty habit of talking down to Democrats, treating us like underdogs while openly admiring the bullies who hold all the power.The media narrative has to change and it's not on the Democrats to do that. It's on the media.

I am a Democrat, capital D. My loyalty goes way back, long before I could cast my first presidential vote — for JFK, when I was 23. I remember cheering in somebody’s living room when Truman won over Dewey in 1948. I remember crying in my classroom when the teacher announced the news that FDR, our beloved president, had died. I’ve lived my entire life as a Democrat.

I love my party, warts and all. Through thick and thin. Just as I love my country. Warts and all. Through thick and thin. My loyalty demands that I endorse and support both my party and my country. We’re in crisis now. What would it make me if, after all we’ve been through together, this was the moment I chose to abandon either one?

I can’t. And I won’t.

We Democrats have always prided ourselves on our diversity. We ought to think it’s funny that people think we should be anything but what we are. Instead, we’re guilty of the worst case of inferiority complex the world has ever seen.

I use that word “guilty” advisedly, since we tend to want to latch onto it every chance we get, but if we’re guilty of anything it’s that we tend to half-believe every rotten accusation against us, no matter how outlandish.

When Will Rogers said, “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat”, it wasn’t an insult, it was a compliment. And when he said, “Democrats never agree on anything, that’s why they’re Democrats. If they agreed with each other, they’d be Republicans”, I took that to mean, “The Republicans are sheep.”

The Democrats are a Big Tent party, more inclined to accept our differences than to shun them. Democrats in public offices across the country are out there working for the disadvantaged, the disabled, the disenfranchised. We have to work harder to protect them now, because too many people have bought into the Republican/Right Wing lie that the simple act of pulling up imaginary bootstraps is the answer to everything.

It isn’t, of course. Everybody needs a helping hand, even those people who pretend they actually have bootstraps — or even know what they are.

We’re inclusive and we’re proud of it. Our very brand is inclusivity — we invented the damn Melting Pot — but we’re not fools. Try to imagine the Democratic Party embracing Donald Trump, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, Mike Pompeo, Bill Barr, Steve Mnuchin, Brett Cavanaugh, Betsy DeVos, Mitch McConnell, Jared Kushner, Donald Jr., Eric, or Ivanka Trump, and putting any of them in positions of power over our people and our country. 

We’re in the fight for our lives this year and only the Democrats can save us. That’s a fact.

“The Democrats” are members of the Democratic Party. That’s a fact.

If you detest everything about the Democratic Party, that’s not just your problem, that’s our problem. You make it harder for the Democrats to win in November, and the Democrats have to win in November. That’s a fact.

So who are the candidates who have the best chance of helping the down-ballot Democratic candidates needing to win in the House, the Senate, and in state, county, city, and village races? They’re the candidates who already work to get the job done. The candidates with the best track records for working consistently to bring equality, equity, and good government to the people, and who do it from within the Democratic Party.

Of the party candidates left, only Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar have the experience, the know-how, and the willingness to keep the party strong enough to withstand the dirty fighting ahead. They can do it without mobs or popularity contests. They can do it by being healers and fixers — and their experience shows they can do it. (Yes, I'm aware that I left Bernie Sanders out. even though he has experience. I wish with  all my might that Bernie would stop trying to divide my party. Until he does I don't consider him a Democrat.)

The GOP will pull out all the stops to keep Trump in the White House — and themselves in the catbird seats. Their attacks are specifically against Democrats. And the Democrats have to win.
We lost some good fighters when Democrats like Kamala Harris, Julian Castro, Cory Booker, Beto O’Rourke and Eric Swalwell were forced to drop out. We could have had Sherrod Brown and Stacey Abrams in the race if we had given them the encouragement and the funding they needed. We should have worked harder for them. Every one of them deserved it.

But we still have a chance if we ignore the noise from within and without, if we remember who we were and who we are, and if we rise up as a party — as the Democratic Party — to take the enemy down.

Because the enemy isn’t us. It’s them. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

A Government Of the Women, By the Women, For the People

Photo by Vonecia Carswell on Unsplash

I want women in the highest offices in the land. It’s long past time.

Note: When I started this essay, Kamala Harris was still one of the three candidates figuring into my story about wanting a woman in the White House. Now I have to revise this, because yesterday afternoon word came that she was dropping out. The money just wasn’t there. She might have had the support but without the money she couldn’t go on. (Meanwhile, two male billionaires will be able to stay in as long as they want, never mind that neither of them has a chance in hell of winning the nomination.To say our election process is kerflooey is an understatement.)

So instead of the three women I thought I could highlight, I’m now down to two. But I’ll go on:

Until now I’ve been on the fence about Democratic presidential candidates, but a couple of nights ago, in the wee hours, it came to me that what I really want is for a woman to win. I’m down now to either Elizabeth Warren or Amy Klobuchar.

I want a woman in the White House, I want female majorities in the House, in the Senate, and, if we could ever pull it off, in the Supreme Court. I want those women to be Democrats, but I’d give Independents a hard look. I can’t think of a single female Republican I would trust with those jobs, and if that sounds harsh, too bad. They’ve brought it on themselves.

But back to my two:

Photo: Kathleen Gilligan — Detroit Free Press
Both women are smart, qualified, and are working on plans as we speak. Neither of them are novices. They’re seasoned politicos who know the system. They might look for compromise, even when compromise is seen as weak and namby-pamby (and kind of girly), but they’re both strong enough (and seasoned enough) to see past the BS and get what they want.

They’d both work well with Nancy Pelosi.

They’re tough cookies you never have to be afraid of — unless you’re on the other side. Their own unique assets are their weapons, but they never have to hit below the belt. They’re not hiding anything. They don’t think they’re God’s gift to humankind.

They’re not men.

Senator Elizabeth Warren is from academia and is smart about a whole lot of things, but her strongest asset is that Wall Street sees her as their most formidable enemy. They’ll do everything they can to make sure she doesn’t win because they know she’ll be working even harder to take away their power. They’ve had run-ins with her before. A sorry spectacle.

She exudes a kind of scholarly wisdom, but in a way that’s sort of down-home friendly. She doesn’t brag, she doesn’t talk down, she gets up close and personal. She’s savvy enough to to know how to get under Trump’s skin, and she’ll always come out on top. When he resorts to silly name-calling, she’ll resort to plain facts. And she won’t let up. She won’t back down.

Amy Klobuchar is a rock-solid Midwesterner with a blue-collar background. She’s a former prosecutor and a senator who announced her campaign entry while standing outside in a raging blizzard. She’s no white-bread sissy, so you can get that out of your head. I wrote about Amy a while back — musing about my own need for her kind of strength and comfort — and she’s still growing on me. I could see her dealing with our adversaries, both at home and abroad, and coming out smiling. Nothing seems to trigger her. She’s unflappable.

And now a word about Kamala Harris. I’m sorry she had to drop out. I know her campaign had problems, and maybe she didn’t strike that chord — whatever that chord is — but there’s no doubt she could have done the job. If she had won the primary I would have worked hard for her. She would have brought a refreshing take-no-prisoners toughness to the White House while caring deeply for children and the underclass. But she’s still a senator and a damned good one. Her time will come. I have no doubt.

I want a woman to be president in 2020. My choices now are either Elizabeth Warren or Amy Klobuchar. I don’t care about their histories, their ancestry, their flaws, or their “likability”. I care about their hearts, their minds, their vision, and their ability to do the job.

I know for a fact that each of them would choose cabinets reflecting the needs of a country battered and exhausted by an authoritarian regime bent on creating America’s first dictator. When Donald Trump is gone, when the Republican cowards who enabled him are gone, I want a leader who can start the healing process and bring us back to that place where we don’t have to hide in shame. I want a leader who is a government insider who understands the constitution and the rule of law. I want a leader who sees no problem with nurturing the sick, the poor, and the miserable. I want the next president to be a woman.

We formed the presidency in 1787. That’s 232 years without a single woman as president. It’s time. It’s long past time. And if it doesn’t happen in 2020, it’ll be because of a concerted effort to makes sure it’s always men in charge. It won’t be because the female candidate wasn’t worthy. That’s not going to wash this time.

(My apologies to Julián Castro. If it wasn’t for my very real need for a woman in the White House this time, you would be right up there on the list. I really am sorry. You’re one of the good guys and it’s a shame, but even you have to admit a country having been established for more than two centuries without once electing a female president is really pretty ridiculous.)

(Update: Michigan's primary is on March 10. I've cast my absentee ballot for Elizabeth Warren.)

Saturday, November 23, 2019

I Would Make a Better President Than Donald Trump

Man, that guy in the White House is quite the amateur, isn’t he? What a screw-up! Hire professionals, I always say, especially when the job is the absolute highest in the whole damn land.

But if you just can’t bring yourself to trust a seasoned, professional politician, next time try me.

First off, if I came to the White House through some fluke (which is how it would have to be), I would know, without anyone having to tell me, that I was an amateur. I would be looking to the experts even before I went out into the Rose Garden to congratulate myself for getting to that place women hardly ever even dream of anymore.

I would admit that, at 82, I may be missing a few marbles, but not to worry — my BS-Meter is still working overtime. I would take a few questions, and if I didn’t know the answer, I would say, truthfully, “I don’t know.”

I’m not good at small talk or bullshitting but I would make a few jokes, just to get the press corps laughing again. (Because, lord knows…) They would be self -deprecating, but not so awful that I look really bad. Then, when someone gave me the secret signal to wrap things up, I would toddle off, waving, promising it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life…

Right after lunch (in the White House!!!) I would call my cabinet together and we would get to work. My cabinet would be mostly made up of experts in their field, but might include both Jon Stewart and George Takei. That’s still up in the air, but I feel like I’ll need them.

I would take my cue from FDR and hire people who wouldn’t shrink from the words “constitution” or “common good” as if they were inscribed on wooden stakes aimed directly at their hearts.
If I didn’t understand them, I would say, “I don’t understand. Can you talk down to me, please?”, and they would, because, as I’ve said, I know nothing.

I would leave the big money talk to the experts, and if they couldn’t agree among themselves, I would call in Robert Reich to settle the matter.

I would ask Rachel Maddow to become my Chief of Staff, and anything else she wanted to be.
I would hire Lawrence O’Donnell to be my speech writer.

Dan Rather would be in charge of Communications.

We would reinstate the press briefings and Connie Schultz would be Press Secretary. Jim Acosta and April Ryan would get reserved front row seats.

I would make Chelsea Clinton our Good Will Ambassador.

I would ask Christiane Amanpour to be my Secretary of State.

Merrick Garland would be Attorney General.

The Secretary of Education would be a public school educator.

The Secretary of the Interior would be an environmentalist.

The Secretary of Commerce would send shivers through big business.

I would beg Dolores Huerta to be my Secretary of Labor.

Malcolm Nance would head Homeland Security.

I would put Beto O’Rourke in charge of gun control.

I would reopen every closed Planned Parenthood clinic and make plans to open more.

Jacob Soboroff would take over the investigation into the refugee crisis on the border. Heads would roll down there until those families are reunited.

I would create a Citizen’s Committee on Congressional Oversight and put Maya Wiley in charge of it.

I would make few demands, but one of them would be that Ruth Bader Ginsburg must live forever.

And lastly, I would never, ever do anything to make Nancy Pelosi mad at me.

(Did I forget to say Maxine Waters would be my Vice President?)

So now that you’ve seen my hypotheticals, I hope you’ll think about them. Think hard. But don’t, whatever you do, write me in as a candidate! I mean it! Don’t do it! Don’t you dare write in R-a-m-o-n-a G-r-i-g-g.

(Cross-posted at Medium/Indelible Ink.)


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