A Rally for the Asian American Pacific Islander Community in San Jose, CA – March 13, 2021

On Saturday, March 13, 2021, from 11 a.m. to noon, there was a political rally in San Jose’s City Hall to support the Asian American Pacific Islander community.

In the past year, the AAPI community had been targeted with harassment and violence as many people have scapegoated Asians for the COVID pandemic.

Just last week, a Filipina American health worker was assaulted in San Jose’s Diridon Caltrain Station by a man who said anti-Asian epithets against her.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and various political leaders and law enforcement officials voiced their support for the Asian American Pacific Island community during a time when bigotry against the community is on the rise. San Jose police officers handed out stickers with the website SJPD.org/SafePlace to let individuals know where to report if they are subject to any hate crimes or harassment. Volunteers handed out free alarms for elderly Asian individuals to warn people if they are subject to any sort of harassment.

Between March and December 2020, Stop AAPI Hate, an initiative that tracks and responds to reported incidents of violence directed at Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, received more than 2,800 reports of incidents against Asian-Americans. Elderly Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been especially targeted. Within the past few months, an 84-year-old Thai American man was murdered in San Francisco, a 91-year-old man was shoved to the ground in Oakland’s Chinatown, a 64-year-old Vietnamese grandmother was assaulted in San Jose and a Filipino American man was slashed in the face with a box cutter in New York City.

There is a long history of bigotry and violence against the Asian American community. In the Chinese Massacre of 1871, a white mob hanged nearly 20 Chinese immigrants in Los Angeles. In 1930, hundreds of white men terrorized Filipino farmworkers in Watsonville, California. After Pearl Harbor, Japanese-Americans were interned in camps and were deprived of their rights as American citizens. During the 1970s, the Ku Klux Klan tried to drive Vietnamese-Americans out of Texas by burning their houses and boats.

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Sister Dianna Ortiz, Spokesperson For Those Tortured by Authoritarians

When I was growing up and I became aware of the news of the world, I developed a deep admiration for the Catholic priests, nuns, and lay people in the Philippines and in Latin America who were speaking out against the authoritarian governments in their countries during the 1970s and 1980s. I would read in the San Jose Mercury News and in magazines how these Catholics would speak out for the poor and indigenous people, and they would risk their lives to call out the human rights abuses of the military and security forces.

Though I had never heard of Sister Dianna Ortiz until I read her obituary last week, Sister Ortiz represents the courage of those Catholics who spoke out for democracy against both right wing and left wing authoritarian regimes.

After making her final vows as an Ursuline nun, Sister Dianna Ortiz became a missionary in Guatemala in 1987 and dedicated herself to teaching the Mayan children of San Miguel Acatan. This simple decision would place Dianna in the heart of unforeseen and incredible danger and alter the course of her life.

In Guatemala, while working with people who had been victimized by one of the most oppressive regimes of Latin America, she received warning to stop her work and to leave the country. She did not heed the warning. As a result, on November 2, 1989, she was abducted and forced to endure unspeakable horrors of torture.

While under torture Sr. Dianna made a promise to those whose screams of pain she heard: “If I survive, I will never forget you. I will tell the world what I have seen and heard.”

In 2007 Sister Dianna came to New Zealand to share her story. She spoke out for the plight of torture victims for the rest of her life.

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Tallulah Bankhead, A Southern White Woman for Civil Rights

I just watched “The United States Vs. Billie Holiday” a few days ago and thought it was a great movie. One of the many things that surprised me was the romantic relationship between Billie Holiday and Tallulah Bankhead. I only knew about Bankhead from the Alfred Hitchcock movie “Lifeboat”. I googled about Tallulah Bankhead and was surprised to learn that she was a progressive activist who was a strong supporter of civil rights for African Americans, a brave stance for a Southern white woman in the early twentieth century.

Bankhead was a member of the Brockman Bankhead family, a prominent Alabama political family; her grandfather and uncle were U.S. Senators and her father served as an 11-term member of Congress, the final two as Speaker of the House of Representatives. She often publicly opposed her family’s support of racial segregation.

Tallulah Bankhead campaigned for progressive candidates her entire adult life. In 1924, Bankhead voted for Robert La Follette of the Progressive Party. In the 1948 presidential election, Bankhead supported the re-election of Harry S. Truman. After Truman was elected, Bankhead was invited to his inauguration on January 20, 1949 and she booed the South Carolina float which carried segregationist Strom Thurmond

.In Democratic primaries and campaigns of later years, Bankhead supported Estes Kefauver in 1952, Adlai Stevenson II in 1956, John F. Kennedy in 1960, Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 and Eugene McCarthy in 1968.

Bankhead was also a lifelong supporter of civil rights and opponent of Jim Crow. In 1940, Tallulah Bankhead helped to organize the Fourth Annual National Sharecroppers Awareness Week in New York City in May 1940. Its purpose was to raise awareness and funds for Southern sharecroppers who worked in semi-feudal conditions and faced state and vigilante violence when they attempted organize. Among the featured speakers were A. Phillip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, Walter White and W.E.B. Dubois of the NAACP, David Dubinsky of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union and Norman Thomas of the Socialist Party.

She tried to make sure that the casts of the plays and movies that she performed in were racially integrated. She shared the stage in a Chicago production of The Little Foxes for several weeks with African American actors Abbie Mitchell and John Marriott in the summer of 1940. In Alfred Hitchcock’s “Lifeboat”, she acted with African American actor Canada Lee. Tallulah Bankhead fought for the racial integration of the audience for the National Theater in Washington, D.C. in the late 1940s.

In the late 1940s, Tallulah Bankhead spoke out for James Hickman, an African American father of nine, who was facing execution for the murder of his slum landlord, David Coleman, also an African American, whom Hickman strongly believed was responsible for the arson/murder of his four youngest children. Decades ahead of her time, Bankhead spoke out against redlining and informal covenants that prevented Blacks from living where they desired in Chicago.

Tallulah Bankhead was a bisexual who was romantically involved with men and women of all races, including Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Hattie McDaniel, Alla Nazimova, and singer Billie Holiday.

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Looking Back at Life

A few weeks ago my wife and I were enjoying the television series Encore. In the show, a group of people get back together after several decades to perform again a high school musical that they performed while they were at school. At some point in each episode, the director of the play asks the cast what advice they would give to their high school selves. Several of them said that they would tell their younger selves that everything would turn out o.k.

That question has been on my mind a lot since I binged watched through all of Encore. Two weeks ago, I went to my parents to do some chores and found my old high school yearbooks. I read with nostalgia and fondness the things that my classmates wrote in my yearbook. And I thought of the question that they asked in Encore. I remember being scared after I graduated from high school and then college. I wasn’t sure I was ready to be an adult. What if I failed and became disappointed in my life. And I thought of the answers that so many people gave in the show Encore.

Everything will turn out o.k.

I didn’t become a famous and wealthy artist. But I’m still doing art. I have a wife that I love and friends and family whom I appreciate. My life has taken turns that I was not expecting. I’ve done things that I’m proud of and made mistakes that I regret. I’ve made friends and I’ve lost friends.

One of the most important things for an artist to do is to find their unique artistic voice. In a similar way, I think each person should find their own unique voice if they want to live an authentic life and not be trapped in a box that others put you in. I think that is a lifetime project and we’re always learning new things about ourselves and about life. There will always be individuals or groups who will try to tell you what to think or what to believe, whether it’s with politics or religion or other things. Take what you find useful and disregard the rest. If some person or group tries to impose their beliefs on you or control your life, then you have to hold on to your unique self and resist the pressure.

I have met some high school and college friends who only want to see me as I was during my school days. I have to admit that I sometimes make that same mistake when I initially meet old friends and assume that they are exactly the same.

I’m sure there is a part of me that is still that school kid. In the thirty years since my high school and college, though, I’ve gone through a lot of different experiences and learned different life lessons.

And my old school friends have gone through a lot. Some have raised families and entered fulfilling careers. Some have gone through financial difficulties. Some have faced cancer or other health problems. Some have struggled with mental health issues. Some served in Iraq and Afganistan.

None of us goes through life unscathed. We all will have our triumphs and disappointments, our joys and deep hurts and losses. In our fifties, our concerns turn towards caring for our aging parents. Unless we were cyrogenetically frozen, I don’t think it’s possible for our 50 year old self to be the exact same as our 20 year old self. For most people, that’s probably a good thing. We should always be working to becoming our best selves.

To weather the difficulties in life, we all need individuals whom we could laugh with and be ourselves with and just lean on when we get overwhelmed and don’t know what to do. When you find individuals like that, they’re worth more than gold.

I have fond memories of my high school and college years. But I don’t want to go back to that time. I like my life now. There are too many art projects I want to paint, places I want to see, friends and family I want to visit. My mind goes back to that question in Encore.

Everything will turn out o.k

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Thirteen Years Doing Editorial Cartoons for the Tri-City Voice and The Philippine News Today

Recently, someone pointed out to me that I’ve been doing political cartoons now for around 13 years. I started out with the Tri-City Voice, a community newspaper covering the east part of the San Francisco Bay Area. Then in 2012 I joined the Philippines Today, later renamed the Philippine News Today.

It’s been a wonderful experience for me to learn more about the Filipino American community and Philippine community. I haven’t really had many Filipino American friends since my college years, so I felt really estranged from the Filipino American community. So researching about the issues facing the Philippines and the Filipino American community gave me a chance to reconnect. I was what they used to call a “banana”: yellow on the outside, white on the inside. I’m proud of being an American, but I got a chance to learn more about and be proud of my Filipino heritage too.

Because I do political cartoons, I can’t hide my politics. Every once in a while, I encounter a conservative who hates my liberal views or a progressive who doesn’t think I’m progressive enough. That’s o.k. with me. These are my political cartoons and they reflect my political views only, no one else’s. Expressing my independent point of view is more important to me than falling 100% lockstep with any group or ideology.

I am very conscious of the fact that I am making political commentary on the Philippines when I’m a Filipino American who has been in the Philippines for only one month my entire life. So I feel an obligation to do extensive research to understand the issues. I talked to my parents, to activists and those who’ve been in the Philippines to get their perspectives. I try to make sure that I do not get stuck in an ideological bubble, so I try to read a variety of resources to fact check and get a diversity of views, from leftist activists and news sites, more conservative business sites, various news media like Rappler and ABS-CBN and Bulatlat, Catholic and Protestent news sites.

Even with all of the research that I do for my cartoons, I’ll be right some of the time and I’ll be wrong some of the time. I still see things from my American point of view. I realize I am looking at Philippine affairs as an outsider looking in.

I am to the Left of the political spectrum. But in these past few years, with the rise in authoritarianism in the Philippines and around the world, my cartoons have been focusing more on defending basic democratic values that we all should share, whether we’re progressives, moderates or conservatives. Defending the freedom of the press. The idea that a person is innocent until proven guilty. The idea that a person has a right to defend themselves in a court of law. The idea that the police should not have the power to act as judge and jury over a criminal suspect’s life, that extrajudicial killings and vigilante killings are wrong. The idea that we have a right to criticize our political leaders. Fighting against ideological purity tests and the cult of personality in politics. The idea that it’s important for diverse views to be able to debate about important issues and be willing to find common ground when the debate reaches an impasse.

I frequently encounter ideologues who think they’re always right and anyone who disagrees with them are always wrong. During my teen years and early twenties, I was guilty of ideological arrogance at times. But I’ve made enough mistakes and have been wrong enough times to be humbled by life. I always figure that at some point, most ideologues will be similarly humbled by life. They’ll see that there is a lot of grey in this world, that the issues of politics and life are not so black and white. I am worried about recent political trends in the Philippines and the U.S. But I’m lucky to have my editorial cartoons as my outlet for my worries and fears. I love doing the research and trying to come up with ideas, then doing the drawing and inking. It’s fun.

Here is a talk that I did on my political cartoons on March 20, 2019 with fellow political cartoonist Eric Garcia at the Art Boutiki in San Jose. It was cool to listen to Eric’s philosophy in creating his cartoons. We both share similar artistic influences and we both view our cartoons as a means to advocate for causes we care about.

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Democrats and the Left Oppose Totalitarian Communism

There’s been a lot of erroneous talk in right wing media and conservative Christian sites about how Democrats support totalitarian communism and are trying to take away the civil liberties of conservatives. This just isn’t true.

Just as many on the Right oppose right wing fascism, most people on the Left oppose totalitarian communism.

One of the strongest opponents of Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union, for instance, was George Orwell, who was a Democratic Socialist. Socialist Norman Thomas was a vocal critic of the Soviet Union’s human rights abuses during the 1950s and 1960s.

Another Democratic Socialist, Bernie Sanders, has been a fierce critic of totalitarian China, North Korea, and Cuba.

Even many Marxists, like Angela Davis, oppose totalitarian communism as a betrayal of Marx’s intentions.

Liberal Democrats have been strong opponents of totalitarian communism. Liberal Democrat Harry S Truman opposed the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe and built a foreign policy aiming to contain the spread of communism.

Democrats John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson escalated the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War because of their mistaken belief in the domino theory: the idea that if Vietnam fell to communism, the rest of the Asian countries would fall to communism like dominoes.

Democratic President Jimmy Carter withdrew the U.S. from the 1980 Summer Olympics and imposed a grain embargo to protest the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afganistan.

No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, you should oppose totalitarianism and authoritarianism in any form. Conservatives should oppose right wing authoritarianism as well as left wing authoritarianism. Leftists should oppose left wing authoritarianism as well as right wing authoritarianism.

Here is an excerpt of John F. Kennedy’s 1963 “Ich Bin Ein Berliner” speech to encourage West Berliners who were walled off from communist Germany:

“Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was ‘civis Romanus sum’. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’…

…There are many people in the world who really don’t understand, or say they don’t, what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world. Let them come to Berlin. There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future. Let them come to Berlin. And there are some who say in Europe and elsewhere we can work with the Communists. Let them come to Berlin. And there are even a few who say that it is true that communism is an evil system, but it permits us to make economic progress. Lass’ sie nach Berlin kommen. Let them come to Berlin.

Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in, to prevent them from leaving us…

…What is true of this city is true of Germany – real, lasting peace in Europe can never be assured as long as one German out of four is denied the elementary right of free men, and that is to make a free choice. In 18 years of peace and good faith, this generation of Germans has earned the right to be free, including the right to unite their families and their nation in lasting peace, with good will to all people…

…Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free. When all are free, then we can look forward to that day when this city will be joined as one and this country and this great Continent of Europe in a peaceful and hopeful globe. When that day finally comes, as it will, the people of West Berlin can take sober satisfaction in the fact that they were in the front lines for almost two decades.

All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’.”

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The Impeachment, Former President Donald Trump and The Republican Party

I just read that the Senate doesn’t have enough votes to convict former President Trump of impeachment. If the impeachment doesn’t have the votes, I hope they try censuring Trump and invoking the 14th Amendment to prevent Trump from running for office again.

Former President Trump just incited a mob to storm the Capitol building to try to overturn a free and fair election that Trump lost by 7 million votes. This isn’t something that you give Trump a free pass on.

One of the things that most bothers me is how the Republican Party has become a cult of Trump whose only governing philosophy is blind loyalty to Trump. The Republican Party is in the dangerous grips of a leader who will try to destroy any person who offers even the mildest criticisms of him.

At this moment, the Republican Party are in the grips of an extreme form of groupthink. Groupthink is a weakness in human nature and all groups and political persuasions are vulnerable to it if we’re not careful. Today the biggest problems of groupthink are found in the right wing. But the left wing can get caught up in groupthink too. In 2016, for instance, I had to leave a few facebook groups when I got into a few arguments with some Filipino leftists who were trying to defend Duterte’s extrajudicial killings. That same year, I had some bad experiences with some of the more rabid Bernie Sanders supporters.

You don’t have to give up your independent point of view if you join a political party. If you join the Democratic Party or the Republican Party or the Socialist Party or the Libertarian Party, it doesn’t mean that you have to agree 100% with that party. I am a liberal Democrat and I voted for Joe Biden. But I know that I’ll be agreeing with Biden some of the time and I’ll be disagreeing with Biden some of the time. That used to be normal for Democrats and Republicans. We don’t owe blind loyalty to any political leader or political party.

Many anti-Trump Republican Senators and Representatives like Mitt Romney, Jeff Flake, Bob Corker, Justin Amash, Mark Sanford, Liz Cheney and Ben Sasse have said is that in private, their Republican colleagues are very critical of Trump and worry about how Trump attacks democratic norms. But these Republican colleagues are afraid of voicing their concerns in public for fear of losing the support of the Republican base and losing friends, families and possibly getting death threats.

Here is a video I saw a few weeks ago by CNN’s Brianna Keilar where she calls out Republicans for warning Americans about President Trump in 2016, then choosing to ignore his “uniquely troubling nature” and ultimately end up supporting Trump and keeping quiet at Trump’s more troubling actions as President.

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Hubert Humphrey and Building a Coalition of White Blue Collar and Minority Communities

Hubert Humphrey was one of a generation of liberal Democrats from the 1930s to the 1990s that were able to garner support of both white blue collar communities and from minority communities. These liberal Democrats, which included Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, the Kennedy brothers, Harry S Truman, Henry Wallace, Walter Mondale, Paul Simon, Jesse Jackson, and Paul Wellstone, were able to build this multiracial coalition by fighting for the civil rights of minority communities and defending the economic interests of blue collar communities.

Liberal Democrats believe that capitalism has great benefits but also great flaws. If you ignore capitalism’s flaws, those flaws grow until they eventually overwhelm any benefits that capitalism has to offer. In the course of this country’s history, the United States has had periods of serious economic crisis in 1837, 1857, 1873, 1893, 1907, 1919, 1929 and 2008. During these economic crisis, homes and small farms were foreclosed, small businesses went bankrupt, millions became unemployed and many were thrown into poverty and starvation.

The boom and bust cycles inherent in the capitalist system unleash economic forces that overwhelm the ability of individuals and whole communities to cope with. Liberal Democrats have adopted the philosophy of Franklin Roosevelt and the New Dealers that the federal government has a responsibility to help its most vulnerable citizens from the worst effects of the free market economy.

I am a liberal Democrat. Even though I am a liberal, I know from history that liberals have been right about some things and wrong about some things. The same thing, though, can be said about any group: moderates, conservatives, democratic socialists, libertarians, Marxists, anarchists have all been right about some things and they’ve all been wrong about some things.

I deeply believe in the principles of the democratic republic that no group or ideology has a monopoly on truth. It is important for diverse and differing voices to participate in the debate on ideas on how to solve our nation’s problems, and to be willing to compromise and find common ground when the debate reaches an impasse. And I believe each side has made important contributions. Conservatives are right about the importance of the family unit for the stability of society. Moderates are right about the importance of compromise and finding common ground. Democratic socialists and Marxists are right in their critiques of the flaws of capitalism. Libertarians and anarchists are right in their concern about protecting individual liberties against an often overweening federal government.

Liberals have made an important contribution to the national debate. They’ve been responsible for the fight for civil rights for African Americans, women, the LGBTQ community, immigrants and other minority communities. From the New Deal, the Fair Deal, the New Frontier and the Great Society, liberals have created the social safety net that has helped the poor and middle class have access to vital services that the free markets alone cannot provide. The radical cartoonist Jules Feiffer once said that liberals play an important role in taking the best ideas of the radical Left and watering it down to make it palatable for the rest of society, making compromises and improving society with those ideas.

Here is a speech that Hubert Humphrey gave in the 1948 Democratic Convention supporting the civil rights of African Americans. Humphrey’s speech caused 35 delegates from Mississippi and Alabama to walk out of the 1948 Democratic National Convention. Humphrey urged the Democratic Party to “get out of the shadow of states’ rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights”. When President Truman endorsed this civil rights plank, governor of South Carolina Strom Thurmond helped organize the walkout of delegates into a separate party that ran in the 1948 Presidential elections. The party Thurmond formed was called the “Dixiecrats” and it’s racist slogan was “Segregation Forever!”.

Here is an excerpt of Hubert Humphrey’s 1948 speech:

“All regions and all states have shared in the precious heritage of American freedom. All states and all regions have at least some infringements of that freedom – all people, all groups have been the victims of discrimination…

…We cannot use a double standard for measuring our own and other people’s policies. Our demands for democratic practices in other lands will be no more effective than the guarantees of those practiced in our own country…

…I do not believe that there can be any compromise of the guarantees of civil rights which I have mentioned.In spite of my desire for unanimous agreement on the platform there are some matters which I think must be stated without qualification. There can be no hedging – no watering down.

There are those who say to you – we are rushing this issue of civil rights. I say we are 172 years late.

There are those who say – this issue of civil rights is an infringement on states rights. The time has arrived for the Democratic party to get out of the shadow of state’s rights 3 and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights.

People – human beings – this is the issue of the 20th century. People – all kinds and sorts of people – look to America for leadership – for help – for guidance.

My friends – my fellow Democrats – I ask you for a calm consideration of our historic opportunity. Let us forget the evil passions, the blindness of the past. In these times of world economic, political and spiritual – above all, spiritual crisis, we cannot – we must not, turn from the path so plainly before us.

That path has already led us through many valleys of the shadow of death. Now is the time to recall those who were left on that path of American freedom.

For all of us here, for the millions who have sent us, for the whole two billion members of the human family – our land is now, more than ever, the last best hope on earth. I know that we can – I know that we shall – begin here the fuller and richer realization of that hope – that promise of a land where all men are free and equal, and each man uses his freedom and equality wisely and well.”

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Ted Kennedy’s Strategy for Passing Legislation

A passage from Lion of the Senate: When Ted Kennedy Rallied the Democrats in a GOP Congress: Littlefield, Nick, Nexon, David: 9781476796154: Amazon.com: Books by Nick Littlefield and David Nexon:

The best strategy for Democrats is to identify the issues that matter to working families- health care, education, jobs and wages- and hold every Republican action and every Democratic initiative to the standard of how it affects middle- and low-income Americans…

…The American people didn’t want Medicare to”wither away.” They didn’t want government to stop protecting them against unsafe water or polluted air or dangerous pesticides. They wanted the federal government to do more to improve education, not less. They didn’t want senior citizens left to the untender mercies of the nursing home industry, and they wanted health security for their own families and for eery other family as well. Fighting against the Gingrich agenda was not only critical for the American people: it was good politics for the Democrats.

Furthermore, people all over the country depended on Kennedy for leadership for their causes: blue-collar workers, minorities, immigrants, the poor, the LGBT community, the elderly, children. These people and their champions in Washington and Massachusetts and across the country had been allies of Kennedy’s for years. There was no question that they needed him now, as they were the ones in the sights of the Contract With America. They knew he would not stand aside while the Republicans sought to decimate the programs on which they depended. Other Democrats would help, but Kennedy had to lead the charge…

…Kennedy was a master of the legislative process, so after six years in the majority I had learned something about how legislation moved. There were three components to our strategy that had worked over and over again: substance, politics, and public relations.

The first requirement involved researching the substance thoroughly to get the initiative or strategy just right and to prepare to respond to every question and challenge. Kennedy insisted that there was no substitute for exhaustive research, analysis, discussion, and preparation. He always tried to know more about the subject before him than anyone else, whether the venue was a committee markup, a floor debate, a caucus discussion, or a meeting among senators. he believed that knowledge was power.

The second element was politics, which included an “inside game” and an “outside game.” The inside game covered the strategy in the Senate, on the Hill, and in the administration. Here we benefited from Kennedy’s ability to gather bipartisan support for whatever he was doing, whether he was in the majority or the minority. He knew the importance of building relationships with Republicans- conservative Republicans at that- and using these relationships to forge important alliances on bills. This inside game also included working with Democrats to make sure they would be supportive, even if they were not as committed to the initiative as we were.

The outside game was equally important. This refereed to the grassroots support for the initiative, spread as broadly as possible across the country. We usually started by organizing this support in Washington with the national groups concerned about whatever legislative we were working on, but quickly expanded the effort through the groups or directly to the grassroots. here the senator emphasized that legislators needed to hear from their constituents at home to know that the issue was important enough to act on.

The third broad component of our approach was the public relations or marketing effort. Our allies never had as much money as the opposition, so we couldn’t run major television advertising campaigns. But recognizing the Washington adage that nothing happened if it didn’t happen in the press, we focused on the so-called unpaid media- the free press. Because politicians respond to issues that are in the public eye, we were constantly engaged in organizing public events and drumming up news around each of our initiatives. We worked for endorsements, held rallies, reviewed and publicized polls, sought out- and sometimes developed ourselves- reports and studies that could be released to create news. We held hearings that were designed to generate media interest. Sometimes the effort put into an event seemed immensely disproportionate to the coverage it received, but the cumulative effect was what was important.

The three elements worked together, and each was indispensable to success. Without the substance you couldn’t assemble the political coalitions or motivate the public interest allies or fend off the arguments of political opponents. Without the politics you didn’t have the support necessary to get anything done. Without a press strategy there was no energy or pressure behind an initiative to cause it to emerge from among the hundreds of other ideas and causes competing for attention.

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George Orwell and the Importance in Not Being a Blind Partisan

I’ve read in a few articles that these have become such partisan times that many people are no longer willing to be friends with those of opposing views. I find that sad. There are limits, of course, to whom I’m willing to have as a friend (I won’t be friends with a Nazi or a Ku Klux Klan member for instance).

I don’t have the diversity of friendships that I had in my 20s and 30s. I’m a lifelong liberal Democrat. But over the course of my life, I’ve been friends with progressives, conservative Republicans, Democratic Socialists, Libertarians, Anarchists, Marxists, fundamentalist Christians and a wide assortment of individuals that I’ve encounter at work or at church or just among various circles of friends.

So long as they respect my right to have my own independent point of view, I’m willing to be friends with a person.

Because of various bad experiences in my life, though, I’ve learned to be wary of individuals who are ideological purists. These are individuals who have a hard time dealing with differences of opinion and look down on anyone who doesn’t believe 100% with what they believe in. Over the course of my life, these type of people have caused the most problems in my life as I’ve gotten into crazy conflicts that emotionally drained me.

So I’ve learned to look for red flag warnings. Are they honest about the mistakes of their particular side and are willing to admit that all sides are vulnerable to the frailties of human nature? Are they willing to see the humanity of the people they disagree with and not just see them as stereotypes?

If I meet a Marxist or leftist, are they open about the atrocities committed by Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and various totalitarian communist regimes?

If I meet a conservative Republican, are they just as critical of right wing authoritarians like Pinochet, Franco, Marcos and Bolsanaro as they are of left wing authoritarians?

If I meet a Christian, are they open to the mistakes of the Christian Church: the pograms and Inquisitions and witch trials; the historic persecutions of Jews, LGBTQ people, Muslims, indigenous peoples; the coverup of the priest/pedophilia scandal and the sexual abuse being found in various Protestant denominations?

I believe that no particular political ideology or group has a monopoly on truth. Progressives, conservatives, moderates, democratic socialists, libertarians and various ideologies are all right some of the time, and we’re all wrong some of the time. Our particular sides will all have accomplishments that we can be proud of. And all political sides have made terrible mistakes that we need to acknowledge and try to fix.

Several weeks ago, conservative Republican David Brooks noted in a PBS News Hour segment that many Trumpists and right wing media outlets are more anti-Left than they are conservative. There is a difference. Being anti-Left means opposing anything that the Left believes in and attempting to eliminate any areas of common ground. Brooks noted that, even with ideological differences, there are areas of common ground between true conservatives and progressives.

A democratic republic only works when people of differing views can debate the issues and be willing to compromise and find common ground when the debate reaches an impasse. Our democratic republic breaks down when its people are no longer able to do so.

Someone that I learned to admire is George Orwell. Orwell was a Democratic Socialist like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Though Orwell was a Socialist, he became one of the biggest critics of Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union’s totalitarian communist government. Orwell was not a blind partisan. Orwell realized that all political movements are vulnerable to the corrupting influences of power if they are not careful. Orwell’s books “Animal Farm” and “1984” were written to specifically critique Stalin’s Soviet Union. But Orwell’s critique can apply to any authoritarian government whether it be from the Left or the Right.

Here is a BBC News segment explaining why George Orwell’s book “1984” is still applicable to today’s world, where authoritarianism has been on the rise.

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