Progressives Bridging the Divide Between Working Class White and Minority Communities

One of the big challenged that I see for progressives in these times is to bridge the divide between the working class white communities that supported Donald Trump and the minority communities that feel threatened by Donald Trump. Many people that I know point out there is a segment of the Trump support that is in a conservative bubble and will be unable to be reached. While I think that may be true, I think there is a segment of the white working class whose support of Trump is based on their own desperation in living in communities where the jobs that gave them opportunities to live in the middle class have disappeared due to globalization and shifts in the economy. I recently read two articles about Bernie Sanders going into Trump territory to talk to these Trump supporters about their concerns on health care.

Clare Foran wrote an article for The Atlantic Magazine titled Bernie Sanders’s Pitch to Trump Voters. Foran wrote:

If Democrats want to win back the White House, Congress, and hundreds of seats lost in state legislatures, the party may need to convince voters who pulled the lever for Trump of this fundamental argument: The president is not their champion, and never will be. Sanders, who posed a serious challenge to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary while running as a self-described ‘democratic socialist,’ is doing his best to persuade them…

…It’s unusual for a high-profile progressive politician to hold a rally in a red state like Kentucky, or even West Virginia, a former Democratic stronghold that has trended conservative in recent years, outside of a presidential campaign. That may be part of the reason why the Democratic Party’s power has eroded so severely across the country.

“It’s amazing, the degree to which, in this country, in states like West Virginia and Kentucky, Democrats have, to a large degree, forfeited these states, conceded these states to right-wing Republicans,” Sanders said in an interview before boarding a plane to leave Kentucky. “In many cases, these are working-class states, these are states where people are struggling economically. The idea that Democrats would not be fighting, and investing in, and working with people in these states, is to me, beyond comprehension.” He added: “You don’t win if you don’t show up.”

Sarah Jones wrote an article for The New Republic magazine titled Bernie Sanders is Showing the Democrats How To Approach Red States. Jones wrote:

We don’t know for certain if the Sanders approach will pay electoral dividends. But the Democratic Party needs to reclaim ground that it has lost to Republicans, and in order to do that it needs to revamp its approach to red states. These states aren’t necessarily eternal conservative bastions; some, like West Virginia, aren’t even historically red. Further, they are undergoing the same demographic shifts that affect the rest of the nation—albeit at different paces. There are plenty of practical reasons for the party to challenge the GOP’s dominance in these states.

And the formula for success may not be as complicated—or regressive—as many believe it to be. Democrats don’t need to triangulate on abortion or immigration to illustrate the dangers of Trump administration policy. There’s an increasingly stark gap between Trump’s populist rhetoric and his policies, which Democrats can exploit by hammering health care every day between now and the mid-terms. In other words, they can do exactly what Sanders is doing now.

Bernie Sanders is adopting the same strategy that Robert F. Kennedy, Jesse Jackson and Paul Wellstone had in reaching out to both working class whites and minority communities.

The Kennedy, Jackson, and Wellstone strategy was simple: show up in the communities that are suffering and listen to the people talk about their problems.

In the late 1960s, RFK went to Native American reservations in the midwest, striking Filipino American and Mexican American farmworkers in California, poverty stricken African American tenant farmers in the South, rural white farm communities, and struggling mining communities in the Appalachian Mountains.

Here is a video of Robert F. Kennedy visiting a struggling mining community in east Kentucky in 1968.

In Jesse Jackson’s presidential run in 1988, Jackson tried to build the coalition of working class whites and minority communities that Martin Luther King Jr was trying to build in 1968 with his Poor People’s Campaign. Jackson visited inner city minority communities, walked the picket lines with striking union workers, showed up in white rural communities to support farmers whose farms were being foreclosed, visited AIDS patients who were being shunned by the rest of society

Here is a video of Jesse Jackson’s 1988 campaign.

In the mid 1990s Wellstone walked the picket lines with workers, visited rural poor white communities, marched with minority communities for their civil rights.

Here is a 1997 video of Senator Paul Wellstone retraced the steps of his hero, Robert Kennedy, through Appalachia, focusing in particular on eastern Kentucky. During the 1997 tour, Senator Wellstone spent several days visiting a Head Start classroom, touring a housing rehabilitation site, and hearing the concerns of working and disabled coal miners, their wives and widows.

I think this is how Bernie Sanders and the Democrats can reach out to both working class white communities and minority communities. Here is a video of Bernie Sanders speaking to voters at McDowell County West Virginia Town Hall Mar 13, 2017.

Here is a February 2017 segment of PBS News Hour that explores why middle aged, white Americans are experiencing a stunning rise in premature deaths due to alcoholism, suicide and drug abuse. Economists who have documented the dramatic decrease in life expectancy say an obvious place to look is the loss of work and economic status for the working class. But PBS News Hour economics correspondent Paul Solman finds that’s not the whole story.

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The Good and the Bad of Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson is this complicated mix of very good and very bad, in much the same way the United States is a complicated mix of good and bad. On the one hand, Jefferson was one of the strongest voices among the Founding Fathers against slavery and he tried various times in the 1770s and early 1780s to pass legislation in the Virginia state legislature and the Continental Congress to end abolish slavery and end the slave trade. He wrote The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom and was the main force for fighting for the separation of Church and State. During Jefferson’s time in the Virginia legislature, he proposed laws to end primogeniture to allow more people to own land and have the ability to vote. And he enshrined in our Declaration of Independence the values of freedom and equality.

On the other hand, Jefferson held racist viewpoints on the inferiority of blacks that were not shared by his contemporaries like John and Abigail Adams, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Alexander Hamilton. He sold off slaves to pay off debts and allowed the flogging of captured runaway slaves. And his relationship with Sally Hemmings brings up disturbing questions about his private life that are important to examine.

So my feelings for Jefferson are very complicated and mixed.

I tend to see Thomas Jefferson not as a saint or as evil, but as a complex mix of good and bad. I don’t want to conjecture on the relationship between Jefferson and Sally Hemmings, but I do share the outrage that many people have at the historic rape of slave women by white Southern slave owners before slavery was abolished. Since the primary focus of many Jefferson critics have to do with Jefferson’s views on slavery and race, I’ll post the positive side and the negative side of Jefferson. I respect Jefferson’s efforts to try to abolish slavery and end the slave trade, but deplore Jefferson’s personal views on the inferiority of African Americans as a race.

Jefferson At His Best

In 1769, Jefferson collaborated with senior member Richard Bland to introduce a law to the Virginia House of Burgesses, a British institution that would have allowed individuals to free slaves simply on their signature. They were heckled and shouted down and the bill was rejected.

On October 18, 1769, Jefferson at no charge took the case of Samuel Howell, a person of mixed race, who was suing for his freedom at a Virginia county court. Jefferson argued that every person has a natural right to liberty. Lord Botetourt, the Royal Governor of Virginia, dismissed the case.

In 1774, Jefferson wrote an indictment of slavery in his document A Summary View of the Rights of British America. He wrote:

The abolition of domestic slavery is the great object of desire in those colonies, where it was unhappily introduced in their infant state. But previous to the enfranchisement of the slaves we have, it is necessary to exclude all further importations from Africa; yet our repeated attempts to effect this by prohibitions, and by imposing duties which might amount to a prohibition, have been hitherto defeated by his majesty’s negative: Thus preferring the immediate advantages of a few African corsairs to the lasting interests of the American states, and to the rights of human nature, deeply wounded by this infamous practice.

In 1776, Jefferson was appointed the chairman of the Virginia Revisors Committee. On June 16, 1777, Jefferson proposed a law banning the importation of slaves from outside the country into Virginia that passed the Virginia legislature in 1778.

On June 18, 1779, Jefferson introduced a bill to the Virginia General Assembly to free all slaves that did not pass the legislature.

In 1783 Jefferson proposed a constitution for Virginia that called for the freedom of everyone born after 1800. Jefferson’s proposal was rejected. The proposal stated:

The general assembly shall not have the power to infringe this constitution;…permit the introduction of any more slaves to reside in this state, or the continuance of slavery beyond the generation which shall be living on the 31st day of December 1800; all persons born after that day being herby declared free.

In 1784, Jefferson submitted to the Continental Congress the Report on Government for Western Territory that proposed to ban slavery from all new states of the western territories. The representative from New Jersey, James Beatty, who would have supported the prohibition, stayed home with a cold. The proposal failed to pass by a single vote. Jefferson would privately write:

The voice of a single individual…would have prevented this abominable crime from spreading itself over the new country. Thus we see the fate of millions of unborn hanging on the tongue of one man, and Heaven was silent in that awful moment.

Finally in 1806, when Jefferson was President of the U.S., he asked Congress to end the slave trade in his sixth annual address to Congress. He said in his address:

I congratulate you, fellow citizens, on the approach of the period at which you may interpose your authority constitutionally to withdraw the citizens of the United States from all further participation in those violations of human rights which have been so long continued on the unoffending inhabitants of Africa, and which the morality, the reputation, and the best of our country have long been eager to proscribe. Although no law you may pass can take prohibitory effect Ôtil the 1st day of the year 1808, yet the intervening period is not too long to prevent by timely notice expeditions which can not be completed before that day.

Congress passed the bill ending the slave trade. Jefferson signed the bill into law on January 1, 1808

I got most of this information from this website.

Jefferson At His Worse

Jefferson wrote several passages stating his opinion on the inferiority of the African American race. Here are several quotes from his book Notes on the State of Virginia where he writes about his opinions on race.

Nor is it less certain that the two races, equally free, cannot live in the same government. Nature, habit, opinion has drawn indelible lines of distinction between them.

Here is another passage where Jefferson expresses his opinion on racial beauty:

The first difference [between whites and blacks] which strikes us is that of color. . . . The difference is fixed in nature, and is as real as if its seat and cause were better known to us. And is this difference of no importance? Is it not the foundation of a greater or less share of beauty in the two races? Are not the fine mixtures of red and white, the expressions of every passion by greater or less suffusions of color in the one, preferable to that eternal monotony, which reigns in the countenances, that immoveable veil of black which covers all the emotions of the other race? Add to these, flowing hair, a more elegant symmetry of form, their own judgment in favor of the whites, declared by their preference of them, as uniformly as is the preference of the orangutan for the black women over those of his own species. The circumstance of superior beauty, is thought worthy attention in the propagation of our horses, dogs, and other domestic animals; why not in that of man?

In this passage Jefferson expresses his opinion on the intelligence between races:

Comparing them by their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears to me, that in memory they are equal to the whites; in reason much inferior, as I think one [black] could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid; and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous. It would be unfair to follow them to Africa for this investigation. We will consider them here, on the same stage with the whites, and where 2 the facts are not apocryphal on which a judgment is to be formed. It will be right to make great allowances for the difference of condition, of education, of conversation, of the sphere in which they move. Many millions of them have been brought to, and born in America.

In this passage, Jefferson expresses his opinion on the superiority of one race over the other:

To our reproach it must be said, that though for a century and a half we have had under our eyes the races of black and of red men, they have never yet been viewed by us as subjects of natural history. I advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind. It is not against experience to suppose, that different species of the same genus, or varieties of the same species, may possess different qualifications.

Jefferson really doesn’t have an excuse for having these racist views. Several of his fellow Revolutionary compatriots, like John and Abigail Adams, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton, did not share Jefferson’s racist views about the inferiority of the black race.

George Washington had initially held racist views about African Americans. But he changed his views on race during the Revolutionary War. About a fourth of the Continental Army were African American and Washington grew to respect the courage of these African American soldiers. Washington invited black poet Phillis Wheatley to his camp because of his admiration for her poetry. When Washington died, he stipulated in his will that all of his slaves would be freed upon the death of his wife Martha. To aid any old and infirm free former slaves, property of Mount Vernon would be sold to raise funds for their aid.

Benjamin Franklin changed his views on race when he visited a Philadelphia school and saw that black students were just as smart and capable as the white students. After the revolution, Ben Franklin became president of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, a group dedicated to the abolition of slavery, in 1787. In 1790, Franklin sponsored a petition by the Pennsylvania Abolition Society to get Congress to enact measures to gradually abolish slavery and end the slave trade. Franklin believed that the welfare clause in the Constitution empowered Congress to take these measures. It was debated in the House and faced opposition from the Congressmen of Georgia and North and South Carolina. The petition was tabled by Virginia Congressman James Madison in March 1790. Franklin died in April 1790.

Alexander Hamilton and John Jay were founding members of the New York Manumission Society, a group dedicated to the abolition of slavery in the state of New York. They set up lists to protect freed African Americans from being kidnapped into slavery (something depicted by the movie 12 Years a Slave) and petitioned the New York legislature for decades to get the state to end slavery. During the 1790s, Hamilton was not as involved in the Society, but he would offer legal advice to the group. In 1799, New York passed a Gradual Emancipation act that freed slave children born after July 4, 1799, but indentured them until they were young adults. It passed through a state legislature dominated by Federalists (Alexander Hamilton’s political party) and it was signed into law by state governor John Jay.

While Washington, Franklin and Hamilton thought that African Americans were equal to whites and could eventually be integrated into American society, Jefferson thought that blacks would have to be deported from this country once slavery was abolished.

When Jefferson’s slaves would try to escape, Jefferson would have some of them flogged in front of the other slaves. Jefferson would allow slave boys to be whipped that were working in his nail factory in Monticello. He would sell slaves to other plantation owners to get money to pay his debts, even if that meant separating slave families.

Jefferson also wrote about his opposition to miscegenation, or interracial marriage. This seems very hypocritical considering the children that he fathered with Sally Hemmings.

I don’t know enough about the relationship between Jefferson and Hemmings to make any definite judgement on that relationship. Though Sally Hemmings was never freed by Jefferson, his daughter Martha inherited Hemmings and informally freed her. Though she was not legally freed, Hemmings lived the rest of her life as if she was free.

Even if you ignore the implications of the Jefferson/Hemmings relationship, though, there is enough deplorable things that Jefferson wrote on race and his willingness to separate slave families and flog runaway slaves that would be objectionable.

If you look at Jefferson at his best and you look at Jefferson at his worst, it’s like you’re looking at Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. If you hate Jefferson, there is ample things in his life that you could choose to justify that hate. And if you love Jefferson, you can find a lot of things in his life to justify that love.

Because of this Jeckyll and Hyde quality about Jefferson, I have this love/hate view of him.

Here are some good books on Thomas Jefferson and slavery

The Hemmings of Monticello by Annette Gordon-Reed

Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings: An American Controversy by Annette Gordon-Reed

The Wolf by the Ears: Thomas Jefferson and Slavery

American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson by Joseph Ellis

Thomas Jefferson: Architect of American Liberty by John Boles

Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham

Most Blessed of the Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination by Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf

Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves by Henry Wiencek

Those Who Labor For My Happiness: Slavery at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello by Lucia C. Stanton

Jefferson’s Pillow: The Founding Fathers and the Dilemma of Black Patriotism by Roger Wilkins

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Loving America in the Age of Trump

Every Fourth of July, I reflect on what I love about our country. This is more important than ever in the presidency of Donald Trump. With the increase in political polarization in this country, and with Trump making personal attacks against journalists and anyone who disagrees with them, I’ve been worried about the attacks on the American values that I love about this country.

Among the American values that I see under attack by Donald Trump and his administration: a sense of civility in the public discourse; protecting the civil liberties of everyone, even those we disagree with; majority rule coupled with the protection of minority rights; respect for the role of the press as the watchdog of government and corporate power; a respect for the checks and balances that the Founding Fathers placed in our republican government to insure that power is not abused. When I see Trump attack Muslims, illegal immigrants, and other marginalized groups, I see a demagogue that is scapegoating vulnerable groups to gain the votes of working class white communities that have legitimate economic grievances.

As a liberal Democrat, I’ve experienced first hand some exasperating conflicts with conservatives over the years, especially conservative Christians. But my experience with conservatives have not been universally bad. I personally know some conservative Republican friends who are kind people who listen and are respectful of differences of opinion. Over the past decade and a half, my biggest problems have been with people who do not respect differences of opinion and have tried to shout and bully me into agreeing with their point of view.

Though I’m critical of more extremist conservatives on this issue, I know that there are some on the Left who are equally intolerant of differing views. I don’t think this is just a result of political ideology as much as it is a dark side of human nature and groupthink. Most liberals that I know are kind and decent people. But I’ve had some experiences with more dogmatic people in the Left as well who are a stickler for ideological purity.

I think one of the things that has bothered me the most about today’s hyper partisanship is the reluctance of people to protect the freedom of speech and expression of people whom they disagree with. Whether it’s the blackballing by NFL owners of Colin Kaepernik due to his kneeling down in protest of police violence or leftist students preventing conservative speakers Charles Murray and Ann Coulter from speaking in Middlebury College and Berkeley, I see a dangerous trend where a person’s right to challenge prevailing opinions is being curtailed.

I was encouraged that progressives like Bernie Sanders, Keith Ellison and Elizabeth Warren spoke out to defend Ann Coulter’s free speech rights. In an article in the Huffington Post, Daniel Marans wrote:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) criticized the security threats to a speaking event by conservative pundit Ann Coulter at the University of California, Berkeley that prompted the school to postpone the talk.

“I don’t like this. I don’t like it,” Sanders told The Huffington Post after speaking at a rally for Omaha mayoral candidate Heath Mello on Thursday night. “Obviously Ann Coulter’s outrageous ― to my mind, off the wall. But you know, people have a right to give their two cents-worth, give a speech, without fear of violence and intimidation”…

…”To me, it’s a sign of intellectual weakness,” he said. “If you can’t ask Ann Coulter in a polite way questions which expose the weakness of her arguments, if all you can do is boo, or shut her down, or prevent her from coming, what does that tell the world?”

“What are you afraid of ― her ideas? Ask her the hard questions,” he concluded. “Confront her intellectually. Booing people down, or intimidating people, or shutting down events, I don’t think that that works in any way.”

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who was also in Omaha to speak at the rally for Mello, expressed similar sentiments, noting that opponents of the black civil rights movement sued protesters and media outlets that reported on them in an effort to restrict their speech.

“Absolutely protest these people you don’t like, absolutely write against them, denounce them,” the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee advised progressives angry at right-wing speakers. “But the solution to bad speech is good speech, the solution to bad speech is more speech. Once you start saying, ‘You can’t talk,’ then whoever’s in power gets to impose that on whoever’s not in power and that’s not good.”

As a progressive I think one of the great challenges in the next 4 years is to try to bridge the great divide between the working class white communities who supported Trump and the minority communities who feel threatened by Trump. This will not be easy. In the past, liberals like the Kennedy brothers, Paul Wellstone, Jesse Jackson, Hubert Humphrey, Walter Reuther and Eleanor Roosevelt acted as bridges to both working class white communities and minority communities by simultaneously fighting for civil rights issues and for economic justice issues. In this way, these liberal leaders were able to steer a significant portion of the working class whites away from the racism of demagogues like George Wallace and Ross Barnett. For instance, a poll in 1968 found that a large portion of the white voters who supported George Wallace for president would’ve supported Robert F. Kennedy instead had Kennedy not been assassinated.

In the next few years I plan on fighting for the rights of Muslim Americans, Immigrants, LGBTQ Americans, Jewish Americans, African Americans, and any marginalized group whose rights are threatened. That’ll mean attending protests and political rallies, taking photos and posting them in my blog, making political cartoons, attending city council meetings, and making a lot of phone calls to my Senators and Congressmen.

Though I plan on fighting for progressive causes in the next few years, I also want to be open for friendships with decent conservatives who are respectful of differences of opinion. It’s important to get back at that stage where political differences do not prevent friendships on a personal level. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were close friends even though Jefferson was an ardent Republican and Adams was a passionate Federalist. Democrat Jimmy Carter and Republican Gerald Ford formed a close friendship after both attended the funeral of Anwar Sadat and found they enjoyed each other’s company. One of liberal Democrat Ted Kennedy’s closest friends in the Senate was conservative Republican Orrin Hatch, and they collaborated on laws like The Ryan White AIDs Act, the American With Disabilities Act, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Serve America Act.

I end this blog with excerpts of addresses by Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. Both Jefferson and Lincoln lived in extremely polarized political climates that rival the extreme partisan environment of our present day. In Jefferson’s day, the Federalists and the Republicans had profound disagreements about the efficacy of a strong federal government as opposed to strong state governments, and this led to much personal animosity among its partisans. In Lincoln’s day, the issue of slavery led to a civil war between the northern states and the southern states. In both instances, Jefferson and Lincoln tried to appeal to the republican values that both sides had in common.

In Thomas Jefferson’s first inaugural address, he 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. During the throes and convulsions of the ancient world, during the agonizing spasms of infuriated man, seeking through blood and slaughter his long-lost liberty, it was not wonderful that the agitation of the billows should reach even this distant and peaceful shore; that this should be more felt and feared by some and less by others, and should divide opinions as to measures of safety.

But 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.

Abraham Lincoln said in his second inaugural address:

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding.

Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him?

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

A New York Times video of parents and children who voted for opposing candidates to discuss their hopes and fears for the country — and for each other — over the course of the next four years.

Conservative pundit Rachel Campos-Duffy and liberal pundit Cathy Areu are total political opposites and best friends. They talk about how they teach their kids to respond when they’re challenged on their political views.

Dan Lieberman hosted a discussion with staunch Donald Trump supporters and Muslim Americans to discuss the 2016 election and Trump’s comments regarding Muslims. ‘Breaking Bread’ is a series where people on opposing sides of a divisive issue sit down to talk out their differences over a meal.

Fusion’s Dan Lieberman brought together a group of transgender activists, whose lives have been disrupted by HB2 (bathroom bill), as well as conservative proponents of the bill.

James Carville and Mary Matalin went to the LBJ Library to share their memoir “Love and War: Twenty Years, Three Presidents, Two Daughters and One Louisiana Home” released on January 7, 2014. They discussed two decades in the nation’s history and in their bipartisan marriage and comment on American political culture, past and present. The program was held in the LBJ Auditorium.

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An LGBTQ Pride March and Rally in San Jose, California – June 2017

On Sunday June 11, 2017, I went to the LGBTQ Pride March and Rally in San Jose, California. It was a very inspiring event. People were very friendly and reaching out to get to know people they didn’t know. There was a strong sense of solidarity with other groups who may feel threatened with the political climate of today, from Muslims to immigrants to other people of color.

In the previous LGBTQ rallies that I’ve attended, since the rallies were focused on marriage equality, I noticed a lot more gay and lesbian couples in the rallies and not so much transgender people. In today’s rally and march, transgender people were a lot more visible. I think this is because transgender people feel their rights are being threatened by the Trump administration and the conservative Republican state legislatures around the country.

A few of the gay and lesbian couples who attended brought along their children in strollers and red wagons. One of the speakers made it a point to say that the San Jose Pride March was a family friendly event. It’s cool to see how the LGBTQ movement is evolving as more rights are being won.

Here are photos I took of the rally and march.

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Radicals and Reformers

I strongly believe that social change in democracies occur when radicals put pressure for change outside the political system and reformers work for change within the system. The radicals are like the canary in the coal mine: they spot the problems in society before anyone else and they do the hard work of protesting, making the arguments, coming up with ideas and changing people’s attitudes. The reformer works within the system to forges relationship and coalitions with the powerbrokers, makes the compromises, and comes up with the legislation that enshrines changes into law.

Frequently the radicals and the reformers do not get along. The radical often thinks that reformers compromise too much and settle for too little. Reformers often complain that radicals are too idealistic and are unwilling to appreciate the pragmatism of winning incremental changes. In spite of their often contentious relationship, social change in this country is not possible without both radicals and reformers working in conjunction for the same goals.

A good example of this is the Abolition movement of the 19th century. From the 1820s to the 1860s, radical abolitionists like Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Angelina and Sarah Grimke, Lucretia Mott, and Sojourner Truth did the hard work of protesting, writing articles, and speaking to hostile crowds to try to persuade the nation to abolish slavery. Eventually their work began to change attitudes about abolition. But it wasn’t until Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party were elected to power in both the executive and legislative branches that the abolition of slavery took place. Lincoln gradually began adopting many of the measures that were first staked out by the abolitionists: allowing African Americans to join the Union Armies; ending slavery in Washington D.C.; abolishing slavery through the 13th amendment; and allowing some African Americans the right to vote. Lincoln couldn’t have abolished slavery without the decades of work of the abolitionists to change attitudes. But the abolitionists needed Lincoln’s political savy to get legislation passed.

I think the conflicts between the Bernie supporters and the Hillary supporters echo a lot of the historic conflicts between radicals and reformers. A lot of the complaints that Bernie supporters have about Hillary being too cozy to Wall Street and being too entrenched in the system echo the complaints radicals have that reformers are too willing to compromise. In a similar way, I think the complaints that Hillary supporters have that Bernie is too unrealistic and isn’t loyal to the Democratic Party echoes the complaints that reformers have that radicals are too idealistic and can’t get anything done.

I was a Hillary supporter, but I liked Bernie too and appreciated his attempts to push the Democrats further to the Left. I think the big difference between Hillary and Bernie is that Hillary’s loyalties are ultimately to the Democratic Party while Bernie’s loyalties are to his democratic socialist principals. If you look at Hillary’s history, if the Democratic Party moves to the center, then Hillary moves to the center. If the Democrats move to the left, Hillary moves to the left. I see nothing wrong with that. I see Bernie’s importance in his attempts to push the political center and the Democratic Party more to the Left.

Right now there is a lot of internal debate within the Democratic Party between the Hillary faction and the Bernie faction about the direction the Democratic Party should go to. As long as the debate centers on ideas and whether the Democrats should go in a more moderate or a more progressive direction, I think the debate is healthy and should be encouraged. If the debate degenerates into name-calling, then I think the debate becomes destructive for the Democrats.

This is one of the reasons I liked last year’s debates in the Democratic primaries. Though the debates got heated at times, both Hillary and Bernie are well versed in policy and their debates largely focused on policy specifics and their differing government philosophies. It was a great contrast to the name calling that marred the Republican debates.

Here are 3 books that illustrate my theory about the importance of radicals and reformers: Kennedy and King: The President, the Pastor, and the Battle over Civil Rights by Steven Levingston; The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice by Patricia Bell-Scott; and Douglass and Lincoln: How a Revolutionary Black Leader & a Reluctant Liberator Struggled to End Slavery & Save the Union by Paul and Stephen Kendrick.

Here is a quote by radical political cartoonist Jules Feiffer:

I’ve always seen liberals as people who’ve taken radical ideas, whether from socialists or communists, finding ways of redefining them, relabeling them, reforming them, compromising them, and then improving the society with them. And the liberal’s job generally has been to process and homogenize the more radical notions out there for some time and make them acceptable to the mass society. And to that extent, liberals have played an important part. That liberals innovate anything is questionable. But that they innovate anything worth innovating is doubtful. The innovation comes from more radical sources generally.

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A May Day Rally in Mountain View, California – Part 2

On May 1 I took time time off work to attend two May Day rallies in the Mexican Heritage Center in San Jose and in Rengstorf Park in Mountain View. Both were fun events. I took lots of photos and talked to a lot of the activsts and participants.

I first went to the Mexican Heritage Center. At around 2 p.m. I picked up my niece from her school. She is really passionate about social justice issues and she knows more about certain issues than I do. I try to cover up my lack of knowledge by joking around, but I don’t think she’s fooled.

The Mountain View march was a lot of fun for Phoebe. She met a few Filipino American activists, and encountered a classmate from her high school. We marched to the Mountain View City Hall, where the Raging Grannies were waiting to greet the marchers with protest songs.

Here are photos of the May Day rally in Mountain View.

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A May Day Rally in San Jose, California – Part 1

May 1 was a rather busy day. That morning I was expecting to walk a picket line, but found out that the strike that was scheduled was called off. The Sunnyvale Employees Association and the City of Sunnyvale negotiated until 2 a.m. this morning and came up with a compromise agreement. They met halfway on their positions and managed to come up with an agreement that hopefully the workers will accept.

I had taken the time off to attend two May Day rallies in the Mexican Heritage Center in San Jose and in Rengstorf Park in Mountain View. Both were fun events. I took lots of photos and talked to a lot of the activsts and participants.

I was wearing my Sunnyvale Employees Association shirt at the two May Day rallies. When several people saw the shirt, they congratulated me on the labor settlement and asked me a lot of questions about the Sunnyvale Employees Association (many of which I didn’t know how to answer). They were all very impressed with the SEA for their willingness to take a stand. It made me more proud to be a Sunnyvale employee.

I first went to the Mexican Heritage Center. At around 2 p.m. I picked up my niece from her school. She is really passionate about social justice issues and she knows more about certain issues than I do. I try to cover up my lack of knowledge by joking around, but I don’t think she’s fooled.

The Mountain View march was a lot of fun for Phoebe. She met a few Filipino American activists, and encountered a classmate from her high school. We marched to the Mountain View City Hall, where the Raging Grannies were waiting to greet the marchers with protest songs.

Here are photos of the May Day rally in San Jose.

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