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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Watching Dr. Zhivago for the First Time

Here is a documentary on the making of David Lean’s 1966 movie Dr. Zhivago. For years, I only saw brief excerpts of the movie on PBS as I was changing channels on the television. So until last week, I never saw the whole movie. Then I spied the DVD available in the library and I thought this is finally the time to watch the movie.

I loved Dr. Zhivago. It’s both an epic movie condemning both the Czarist government and totalitarian communism and it’s an intimate love story between Omar Shariff’s Dr. Zhivago and Julie Christie’s Lara. I felt sorry for Geraldine Chaplin’s character, the wife of Dr. Zhivago, and Lisa liked Geraldine Chaplin’s character better than Julie Christie’s character. At times it’s a bit melodramatic. But that didn’t bother me.

Because of the rise in authoritarian governments around the world, I’ve been very interested in watching movies about individuals who resisted authoritarianism. Dr. Zhivago was a stinging condemnation of authoritarian governments of both the Right (Czar Nicholas II’s oppressive government) and the Left (Lenin’s communist government). Boris Pasternak, the author of the book Dr. Zhivago, was part of a generation of artists and writers who were both critical of the Czar and grew disillusioned with the communists and were persecuted for maintaining their independent point of view. This generation included Marina Tsvetaeva, Anna Akhmatova, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Alexander Blok, and Osip Mandelstam.

After watching Dr. Zhivago, I went and checked out David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia. Another great movie. If the library has A Passage to India, I’ll have to check out David Lean’s last movie.

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Joe Biden and His Speech at Gettysburg

I support Joe Biden for President of the United States. Even with my support of Biden, I know that I will agree with him some of the time and disagree with him some of the time. A perfect candidate or political leader does not exist. All political leaders are human, which means that even the leaders we support will make mistakes. As a liberal Democrat, I will agree with Biden far more often than I disagree. I don’t think Joe Biden is perfect. But I do think he is a decent man who will do the best that he can to serve our country.

One of the big things that bothers me these past few years is the cult of personality that currently surrounds President Trump. There’s nothing wrong with supporting a particular leader. But no political leader deserves our 100% blind loyalty. The Founding Fathers created checks and balances to prevent the concentration of all power in one person or institution. History has shown that political leaders can take advantage of the 100% blind loyalty of their followers to lead these followers to do terrible things to vulnerable minority groups or to people who disagree.

Our democratic republic is premised on the idea that no one side has a monopoly on truth. Progressives, moderates, conservatives, democratic socialists, libertarians are all right some of the time, and we’re all wrong some of the time. Our republic works when people of differing viewpoints can debate the issues, and be willing to compromise and find common ground when the debate reaches an impasse.

This premise only works when we have a basic respect for differences of opinion. Conservative Republican Jeff Flake said in a 2018 speech that Republicans and Democrats need to see each other as competing friends and not as intractable foes. From the beginning of our democratic republic, there have been friendships between individuals from opposite ends of the political spectrum: the Republican Thomas Jefferson and the Federalists John and Abigail Adams; the liberal opponent of the Vietnam War George McGovern and the conservative hawk Barry Goldwater; the liberal Democrat Ted Kennedy and the conservative Republican Orrin Hatch.

Liberal Democrats, conservative Republicans, democratic socialists, and libertarians have many philosophical differences, but we all love this country and its democratic ideals, In spite of ideological differences, we should all be against racism and white nationalism. We should all be against authoritarianism (whether right wing or left wing). We should all fight for the rights of the people we disagree with as well as the rights of the people we agree with.

Here is an excerpt of a speech by Joe Biden on October 6, 2020 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania:

“There’s no more fitting place than here today in Gettysburg, to talk about the cost of division. About how much it has cost America in the past, about how much it is costing us now, and about why I believe in this moment, we must come together as a nation. For President Lincoln, the Civil War was about the greatest of causes. The end of slavery, widening equality, pursuit of justice, the creation of opportunity, and the sanctity of freedom.

His words would live ever after. We hear them in our heads. We know them in our hearts. We draw on them when we seek hope in hours of darkness; ‘Four score, and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.’ Here on this sacred ground, Abraham Lincoln, re-imagined America itself. Here, a president of the United States spoke of the price of division, and the meaning of sacrifice…

…As we stand here today, a century and a half later after Gettysburg, we should consider again, what can happen when equal justice is denied, when anger and violence and division are left unchecked. As I look across America today, I’m concerned. The country is in a dangerous place. Our trust in each other is ebbing. Hope seems elusive. Too many Americans see our public life, not as an arena for mediation of our differences, but rather they see it as an occasion for total, unrelenting, partisan warfare.

Instead of treating each other’s party as the opposition, we treat them as the enemy…

…there’s something bigger going on in this nation than just our broken politics. Something darker, something more dangerous. I’m not talking about ordinary differences of opinion, competing viewpoints give life and vibrancy to our democracy. No, I’m talking about something different, something deeper. Too many Americans seek not to overcome our divisions, but to deepen them.

We must seek not to build walls, but bridges. We must seek not to have our fist clenched, but our arms open. We have to seek not to tear each other apart, we seek to come together. You don’t have to agree with me on everything, or even on most things, to see that we’re experiencing today is neither good nor normal…

…I also believe injustice is real. It’s a product of a history that goes back 400 years, the moment when black men, women, and children first were brought here in chains. I do not believe we have to choose between law and order, and racial justice in America. We can have both. This is the nation strong enough to both honestly face systemic racism and strong enough to provide safe streets for our families and small businesses. The two often bear the brunt of this looting and burning…

…There’s another enduring division in America that we must end, the division in our economic life. That gives opportunity only to the privileged few. America has to be about mobility. It has to be the kind of country where an Abraham Lincoln, a child of the distant frontier, can rise to the highest office in the land. America has to be about possibilities.

The possibility of prosperity, not just for the privileged few, but for the many, for all of us. Working people on their kids deserve an opportunity…

…We cannot, and will not, allow extremist and white supremacist to overturn the America of Lincoln and Harriet Tubman, and Frederick Douglas, to overturn the America that has welcomed immigrants from distant shores, to overturn the America that has been a Haven and a home for everyone, no matter their background.

From Seneca falls to Selma, to Stonewall we’re at our best when the promise of America is available to all, we cannot, and we will not allow violence in the street to threaten the people of this nation. We cannot and will not walk away from our obligation to at long last, face the wrecking on race and racial justice in this country. We cannot and will not continue to be struck in the partisan politics that lets us, this virus, thrive, while the public health of this nation suffers…

…We have it in our hands, the ultimate power. The power to vote. Its the note instrument ever devised to register our will in a peaceable and productive fashion. And so we must. We must vote. We will vote. No matter how many obstacles are thrown in our way, because once America votes, America will be heard.”

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Hillary Clinton and the Peaceful Transfer of Power

One of the things that I most dislike about President Donald Trump is his authoritarian tendencies and his lack of respect for American democratic traditions and democratic norms. Over the past few months, I’ve been appalled at President Trump’s attempts to cast aspersions to mail-in voting, cut funding of the Post Office to weaken mail-in voting, his attempts to undermine the 2020 elections with baseless conspiracy theories,, and his unwillingness in the first Presidential debate to commit to honoring the results of the Presidential elections.

President Trump often talks about making America great again. What makes America great are its democratic values, The peaceful transfer of power is one of the great democratic norms that has kept our democratic republic healthy. George Washington, our first President, wanted his willingness to give up power and defer to elected civil authority to set an example for future Presidents. Washington saw his greatest duty as protecting the principles of our American democratic republic. This is the duty of all American Presidents.

Here is Hillary Clinton’s concession speech of 2016:

“Last night I congratulated Donald Trump and offered to work with him on behalf of our country.

I hope that he will be a successful president for all Americans. This is not the outcome we wanted or we worked so hard for, and I’m sorry we did not win this election for the values we share and the vision we hold for our country…

…We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought. But I still believe in America, and I always will. And if you do, then we must accept this result and then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead. Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power.

We don’t just respect that. We cherish it. It also enshrines the rule of law; the principle we are all equal in rights and dignity; freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values, too, and we must defend them.

Let me add: Our constitutional democracy demands our participation, not just every four years, but all the time. So let’s do all we can to keep advancing the causes and values we all hold dear…

…I count my blessings every single day that I am an American, and I still believe, as deeply as I ever have, that if we stand together and work together with respect for our differences, strengthen our convictions, and love for this nation, our best days are still ahead of us.

Because, you know, I believe we are stronger together and we will go forward together. And you should never, ever regret fighting for that. You know, scripture tells us, let us not grow weary of doing good, for in good season we shall reap. My friends, let us have faith in each other, let us not grow weary and lose heart, for there are more seasons to come and there is more work to do.

I am incredibly honored and grateful to have had this chance to represent all of you in this consequential election. May God bless you and may God bless the United States of America.”

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Al Gore and the Peaceful Transfer of Power

One of the things that I most dislike about President Donald Trump is his authoritarian tendencies and his lack of respect for American democratic traditions and democratic norms. Over the past few months, I’ve been appalled at President Trump’s attempts to cast aspersions to mail-in voting, cut funding of the Post Office to weaken mail-in voting, his attempts to undermine the 2020 elections with baseless conspiracy theories,, and his unwillingness in the first Presidential debate to commit to honoring the results of the Presidential elections.

President Trump often talks about making America great again. What makes America great are its democratic values, The peaceful transfer of power is one of the great democratic norms that has kept our democratic republic healthy.

George Washington, our first President, saw his greatest duty as protecting the principles of our American democratic republic. This is the duty of all American Presidents. If President Trump chooses to try to destroy our democratic norms and traditions rather than protect them, he should not be President.

Here is an excerpt of Al Gore’s concession speech, given on December 13, 2000:

“Just moments ago, I spoke with George W. Bush and congratulated him on becoming the 43rd president of the United States. And I promised him that I wouldn’t call him back this time. I offered to meet with him as soon as possible so that we can start to heal the divisions of the campaign and the contest through which we’ve just passed.

Almost a century and a half ago, Senator Stephen Douglas told Abraham Lincoln, who had just defeated him for the presidency, ‘Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism. I’m with you, Mr. President, and God bless you.’ Well, in that same spirit, I say to President-elect Bush that what remains of partisan rancor must now be put aside, and may God bless his stewardship of this country. Neither he nor I anticipated this long and difficult road. Certainly neither of us wanted it to happen. Yet it came, and now it has ended, resolved, as it must be resolved, through the honored institutions of our democracy…

…Now the U.S. Supreme Court has spoken. Let there be no doubt, while I strongly disagree with the court’s decision, I accept it. I accept the finality of this outcome which will be ratified next Monday in the Electoral College. And tonight, for the sake of our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession. I also accept my responsibility, which I will discharge unconditionally, to honor the new President-elect and do everything possible to help him bring Americans together in fulfillment of the great vision that our Declaration of Independence defines and that our Constitution affirms and defends…

…This has been an extraordinary election. But in one of God’s unforeseen paths, this belatedly broken impasse can point us all to a new common ground, for its very closeness can serve to remind us that we are one people with a shared history and a shared destiny. Indeed, that history gives us many examples of contests as hotly debated, as fiercely fought, with their own challenges to the popular will. Other disputes have dragged on for weeks before reaching resolution. And each time, both the victor and the vanquished have accepted the result peacefully and in a spirit of reconciliation.

So let it be with us.

I know that many of my supporters are disappointed. I am too. But our disappointment must be overcome by our love of country…

…This is America. Just as we fight hard when the stakes are high, we close ranks and come together when the contest is done. And while there will be time enough to debate our continuing differences, now is the time to recognize that that which unites us is greater than that which divides us. While we yet hold and do not yield our opposing beliefs, there is a higher duty than the one we owe to political party. This is America and we put country before party; we will stand together behind our new president.”

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George Washington and the Peaceful Transfer of Power

One of the things that I most dislike about President Donald Trump is his authoritarian tendencies and his lack of respect for American democratic traditions and democratic norms. Over the past few months, I’ve been appalled at President Trump’s attempts to cast aspersions to mail-in voting, cut funding of the Post Office to weaken mail-in voting, his attempts to undermine the 2020 elections with baseless conspiracy theories,, and his unwillingness in the first Presidential debate to commit to honoring the results of the Presidential elections.

President Trump often talks about making America great again. What makes America great are its democratic values, The peaceful transfer of power is one of the great democratic norms that has kept our democratic republic healthy. George Washington was willing to voluntarily give up his power over the Continental Army in deference to civil authority, and he stepped down from the Presidency after two terms. Washington wanted his willingness to give up power to set an example for future Presidents. Washington saw his greatest duty as protecting the principles of our American democratic republic.

Here is an excerpt of Washington’s farewell address:

“All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.

However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

…Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian. It is, indeed, little else than a name, where the government is too feeble to withstand the enterprises of faction, to confine each member of the society within the limits prescribed by the laws, and to maintain all in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and property.

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another…

…It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position.”

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Archie Bunker, Mike Stivic and Finding Common Ground with “All In The Family”

As the weeks wind down until the elections, I see all the great divisions in this country and I hope that our country can come back together again. One of my biggest hopes is that a way is possible to bridge the divide between the white blue collar communities that support Trump and the minority communities that are threatened by Trump.

The popular arts has always provided a way for disparate groups to find areas of common ground. You’ll find progressive and conservative fans of Star Wars or the Beatles or Game of Thrones. If the sports team of your city wins a championships, everyone celebrates together, whether they are progressive or conservative, rich or poor, whatever their race or religion or sexual orientation. I remember when Michael Jackson’s Thriller came out, everyone was listening to it, whether they were nerds, the popular kids, jocks, the heavy metal fans, etc…

I had a talk yesterday with a good friend and we talked about the social novel of the 19th and early 20th century. The social novel was a work of literature that was popular and read by all segments of society and made important social commentary on the issues of society. Charles Dickens, Alexandre Dumas, Leo Tolstoy, John Steinbeck and Mark Twain were examples of authors that produced social novels that described the plight of the poor, on racial and religious prejudice, on the struggles of peasants and migrant workers. These novels didn’t claim to have the solutions to the problems that they were highlighting, Instead these novels hoped to spark discussion among its readers so they could come up with solutions as a society.

Over the twentieth century, the art form that has had the most influence on popular society has shifted away from literature and painting and moved towards television, the movies and popular music. There are movies and television shows and music that tackle important issues that this country is dealing with today.

My one worry, though, is that as the political culture has become silos of progressive and conservative bubbles, our movies and television shows and popular singers become silos where everyone is preaching to the choir. How do we allow space for the clash of views that is vital to our democracy, see the humanity of those we disagree with, to be able to disagree without demonization?

I think Norman Mailer’s television show “All In The Family” in the 1970s is a great example of a popular art form that takes up the role of the great social novels of the 19th century. We see the heated arguments of Gloria and Mike Stivic and Archie Bunker about racism, the Vietnam War, the role of government, and all the issue that have divided the American Left and Right. And yet, in spite of all their disagreements, they still deeply love each other as a family.

Mike Stivic never stopped being a liberal. Archie Bunker never stopped being a conservative. Yet All in the Family taught that you can still deeply love someone even if you deeply disagree with that person’s politics. We have to see a person as more than just their political affiliation. We also have to see them as nuanced and complex human beings too. With all their good points and their flaws and their contradictions.

It’s a lesson that I take to heart. I’m a liberal Democrat. But I still have conservative friends, some Trump supporters and some anti-Trump conservatives. I still love and deeply care about them all, even if I think the Trump supporting friends are crazy. Caring for them has not stopped me from advocating and fighting for progressive causes that I believe in.

This is a clip from “Two’s A Crowd”, the 19th episode (176th overall) of the eighth season of the 1971-79 CBS landmark sitcom “All In The Family”. This episode aired Sunday, February 12, 1978.

Mike (Rob Reiner) and Archie (Carroll O’Connor) accidentally lock themselves in the storeroom of Archie’s Place. While trapped, they talk and Mike gains a sad, new insight and understanding of his father-in-law.

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Thomas Jefferson and Reaching Across the Political Divide

When I heard a week ago that President Trump went to Walter Reed Hospital. I instantly thought “Oh no! Please do not die! The last thing this country needs is even more chaos!” As much as I dislike Trump, I don’t want anything bad to happen to him, to Melania, or to any of the other administration members who have COVID 19. I just want him voted out of office so that this crazy man doesn’t have control of my life or the life of this nation.

I’ve been reading about other moments in this nations history when this country has been in the grips of hyper-partisanship. What did leaders do to try to bring our nation together?

In the 1790s, the Federalists and the Republicans were in deep conflicts about the nature of the new democratic republic that they were trying to create. Should the nation have a strong federal government to that promotes the mercantile and manufacturing interests to develop a strong economy, as Federalists like Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, and John Jay believed? Or should the new nation emphasis strong state and local control and the promotion of an agricultural economy that coincided with Southern plantation interests, as Republicans like Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe believed? These ideological conflicts destroyed many friendships, as Federalists and Republicans had deep disagreements on the relationship that the U.S. should have with England and France, on how much control the federal government should have in the economy, and on social issues like slavery.

Thomas Jefferson felt this conflict personally, as the 1790s saw a rift in his close friendship with Federalists John and Abigail Adams due to their ideological differences. When Jefferson won the 1800 Presidential elections, he wanted to heal the divisions of the ideological war between the Federalists and the Republicans.

I know that people today view Jefferson with more skepticism than they did in the past. People see a deep contradiction between Jefferson’s eloquent words of freedom and equality and the fact that Jefferson owned slaves.

I personally have mixed feelings about Jefferson. I see Jefferson in much the same way I see the United States, as this complex mix of very good and very bad. On the one hand, I deeply admire Jefferson’s eloquent words in the Declaration of Independence, his strong support for the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution, his fight for the separation of Church and State, his attempts to end primogeniture and promote public education, his attempts in the 1770s and 1780s to abolish slavery and end the slave trade.

On the other hand, I deeply dislike Jefferson’s racist views on the inferiority of African Americans, his allowing his slave overseers to whip slave boys as young as 8 years old to get them to be more productive in a nail factory in Monticello, his public statements against miscegenation and interracial relationships while privately having a relationship with one of his slaves. He was a great spokesman for our democratic values while at the same time having deplorable and contradictory views on race. I have a love/hate view of Jefferson that I’ve never been able to resolve.

In his first Inaugural Address, Jefferson said:

“During the contest of opinion through which we have passed the animation of discussions and of exertions has sometimes worn an aspect which might impose on strangers unused to think freely and to speak and to write what they think; but this being now decided by the voice of the nation, announced according to the rules of the Constitution, all will, of course, arrange themselves under the will of the law, and unite in common efforts for the common good.

All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression. Let us, then, fellow-citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things.

And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions…

…every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists.

If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it. I know, indeed, that some honest men fear that a republican government can not be strong, that this Government is not strong enough; but would the honest patriot, in the full tide of successful experiment, abandon a government which has so far kept us free and firm on the theoretic and visionary fear that this Government, the world’s best hope, may by possibility want energy to preserve itself? I trust not.

I believe this, on the contrary, the strongest Government on earth. I believe it the only one where every man, at the call of the law, would fly to the standard of the law, and would meet invasions of the public order as his own personal concern. Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.

Let us, then, with courage and confidence pursue our own Federal and Republican principles, our attachment to union and representative government.”

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A Political Cartoonist Panel in the CXC Festival

Here is a Zoom panel I participated in Saturday, October 3, 2020 with fellow editorial cartoonists Pat Bagley, Jen Sorensen, Eric Garcia and David Brown for the Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC), a non-profit organization that sponsors a yearly, four-day Fall festival in Ohio devoted to comics and cartooning. The panel was MCed by 2019 Pulitzer Prize-finalist Kevin “KAL” Kallaugher.

I was a little nervous, but I also had a fun time seeing all the other editorial cartoonists and listening to them talk about their work this year. I’m a big fan of all the participating cartoonists. For me, it’s always cool to meet the cartoonists that I admire. That morning, before I went online for the meeting, my wife and I helped a friend move boxes so I didn’t have time to practice talking about my cartoons so I don’t stumble over my words. It was fun anyways. When I hear myself talk, though, I always wish I can talk slower and in a deeper voice. My wife advised me to be careful not to say too much “ums” and “you know”.

One of the things that I admire about my fellow cartoonists is their deep knowledge of the issues and the seriousness in which they approach their cartoons. They deeply care about the issues facing their local community and the nation as a whole, and they find unique and creative ways of making serious political commentary. I deeply admire Jen Sorensen’s multi-panel cartoons, which gives her an opportunity to do more nuanced commentary on issues than single panel cartoons can do. I admire David Brown and Eric Garcia’s deep dives into the issues facing the African American and Latino communities. And I admire Pat Bagley’s courage in being a liberal voice in a very conservative community.

Of the American cartoonists today, Eric Garcia’s work probably has the closest affinities to my own cartoons. The Filipino American community and the Hispanic community are dealing with many of the same issues of immigration, the history of American imperialist exploitation of each community’s country of origin, the Philippines and Latin America’s shared history as former Spanish colonies, the continued harassment of the indigenous peoples in the Philippines and Latin America. Eric takes much bolder stands in his cartoons than I do, and looking at his cartoons always keep me accountable to be more brave.

I was happy to promote the work of Andy Singer, one of my favorite cartoonists. I like his very unique and insightful takes on the issues facing the nation. One of my biggest thrills as a cartoonist was meeting Andy at the San Francisco convention for editorial cartoonists. He hung out with my wife and I about 2 years ago, and we both liked him and his funny takes on the world.

I like and admire many editorial cartoonists, but I don’t really know many of them very well. So it’s always a thrill to be in events like this where I get a chance to interact with them and get to know them beyond their cartoons. When I get nervous, I tend to put my foot in my mouth. So I have to be careful to not be too nervous around them. But I’m really proud to be able to be an editorial cartoonist.

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Thinking About Trump and COVID 19

Last Friday I read the news that President Trump and the First Lady have COVID 19. This has been such a surreal year! Even though I hate Trump, I hope Donald and Melania recover. The last thing that I want is for Trump to die and become a white nationalist martyr.

What I want is for Trump to lose in a landslide to Biden and for the Democrats to win large majorities in both Houses in Congress. And I’m hoping that moderate and sane conservatives retake the Republican Party from the Trumpists and the white nationalists of the Far Right. Progressives and moderates need sane conservatives with whom they can debate the issues in good faith, be willing to find common ground when the debate reaches an impasse, and be willing to compromise to tackle the problems this nation faces.

I support Joe Biden for the Presidency. But if Biden is elected, I’m going to support him when I agree with him on some issues and I’ll oppose him when I disagree with him on other issues. Since I’m a liberal Democrat, I’m going to support Biden far more often than I oppose him. But Biden is only human, as all our political leaders are, and it’s normal to support our leaders on some issues and oppose our leaders on other issues. Even if the leaders have the same political ideology as I do, it’s crazy to expect me or any person to have to fall 100% lockstep with any political leader.

This is one of the things that has really bothered me about the cult of personality that has developed around Donald Trump in the Republican Party. When I see how Trump and the Republicans punish and try to humiliate anyone who does not agree with them 100%, I see a political party that has gone off the deep end. This is a dangerous way for a major political party to think.

I think this has been a problem for the Republicans since the 1990s, when Newt Gingrich became Speaker of the House in 1994 and conservative Republicans began putting ideological purity tests on their fellow Republicans and began driving out the moderates from the GOP. Jim Jeffords and Lincoln Chaffee were the last true moderate Republicans in Congress and they both left the GOP in the early 2000s.

The groupthink that is inhibiting the Republican Party is a problem of human nature, and I think we’re all vulnerable to it if we’re not careful. Both the Right and the Left have had their moments of ideological extremism and trying to impose ideological purity. When I get too harsh on the craziness in the Republican Party, I remind myself of Mao’s Cultural Revolution or Stalin’s purges to remind myself of the Left’s moments of craziness.

My biggest hope is that a President Biden will be able to bridge the divide between the white blue collar communities that support Donald Trump and the minority communities that are threatened by Trump. Some people think that Trump supporters are irredeemably lost to right wing craziness, but I don’t share that view. Looking at history, liberals like Eleanor Roosevelt, Hubert Humphrey, the Kennedy brothers, Martin Luther King Jr., Jesse Jackson, and Paul Wellstone were able to reach out to both white blue collar communities and minority communities to fight for the economic interests of both groups. In the 1930s and 1940s, Eleanor Roosevelt spoke out for struggling white farmers and miners while simultaneously advocating for greater rights for African Americans. In 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were trying to build a multi-racial coalition to advocate for both racial and economic equality through King’s Poor People’s March and Kennedy’s run for the Presidency. In 1988, Jesse Jackson walked the picket lines with striking factory workers, went to white farming communities to support farmers facing foreclosures, visited AIDS patients who were ostracized, reached out to inner city minority communities struggling through poverty and a drug crisis.

Though I think Trump supporters are crazy to support Trump, I do think these people have legitimate grievances that our country needs to address. During the 1980s and 1990s, the manufacturing jobs that used to provide these white blue collar communities a means to a stable middle class life were outsourced to other countries. The jobs that remained in these communities only paid half as much as the jobs that disappeared, and these jobs did not provide any stability or health benefits. These white blue collar communities became afflicted with the same problems that inner city minority communities were struggling with in the 1970s and 1980s: a steep rise in crime; rampant drug problems; a feeling of being trapped in areas of no economic opportunities; a loss of hope and apathy towards education, a rise in suicide rates.

If you look at history, unregulated capitalism often unleashes economic forces that overwhelm the ability of individuals and communities to cope. In the past half century, we’ve seen this happen in both white collar communities and minority communities. Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr,, Robert Kennedy, and Jesse Jackson hoped to build multi-racial coalitions that would ease racial tensions and fight for common economic interests. I’m hoping that a President Biden follows that same path.

I noticed that conservative Christians make up a large part of the Trump coalition. On issues like abortion and traditional gender roles, I think progressives and conservative Christians will have to agree to disagree. But there are areas of common ground between progressives and conservative Christians that can be pursued.

Both progressives and conservative Christians share a common interest in helping the poor and the downtrodden, and progressives can help churches that have programs to feed and shelter the homeless. Many conservative Christian of color have much more sympathetic views on immigrants and refugees than their white co-religionists. Progressives and sane conservative Christians can work together to fight the anti-immigrant prejudice that is currently afflicting both the Republican Party and white conservative Christian churches.

On the issue of LGBTQ equality, I think conservative Evangelical and conservative Catholic thinking on LGBTQ rights will evolve in the same way that Church thinking on antisemitism changed. For centuries, most Christian denominations held terrible anti-Jewish teachings that blamed Jews for the death of Jesus that lead to horrible pogroms and inquisitions. After World War II and the Holocaust, however, many Christian reformers saw that their church’s antisemitic teachings aided in Hitler’s anti-Jewish campaigns. Catholic reformers were deeply troubled by Pope Pius XII’s silence in regards to the Holocaust during World War II, and they led a 20 year effort to change Church teachings in regards to the Catholic Church’s relationship with the Jewish people. This effort bore fruit with the 1965 Vatican II document Nostra Aetate, which lead to a more respectful relationship with Judaism, Islam and most nonChristian religions. The Lutheran Church, Anglican Church and other Christian denominations began a similar effort to reform their churches of antisemitic teachings. Though I think the change in attitude will be slow, I think both the Evangelical and the Catholic Church will go through a similar evolution in their LGBTQ teachings.

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