June 12 is the anniversary of the day in 1967 that the Supreme Court handed down it’s ruling in Loving vs. Virginia. The ruling declared Virginia’s law prohibiting living with or marrying someone of a different race to be unconstitutional.
The terrorist murders this week in Paris, France in the name of defending Islam and the Prophet Mohammed revealed individuals who actually have no faith as they used a Faith to exercise their own evil personal power through violence.
Today, August 6th, marks the anniversary of the U.S. attack on Hiroshima during WWII. That attack was different from the firebombing that we had inflicted on the mainland of Japan in that we used an atomic bomb. Today marks the beginning of the nuclear age of possibilities and horrors.
One of the most frustrating experiences for those of us on the left at the beginning of the Obama administration was seeing him continue to hold out hope that he could change the ways in which Washington politics work and move forward with both Republicans and Democrats working together.
Because of that, Democrats lost precious momentum in the first two years when they had control of both houses of Congress and the White House.
History teaches us that Obama’s strategy didn’t work.
What has been a trickle of unaccompanied children arriving on our Southern border over the last few years, has now turned into a flood. And it is causing distress to both liberals and conservatives, albeit for different reasons.
But it didn’t come from out of the blue, as the Right Wing wants us to believe. Nor is it some Obama conspiracy to bring in more brown people, as the Right is saying now. Solid facts on this refugee crisis can be found here.
It was caused by specific overt and covert policies of the political Right Wing in the U.S., starting all the way back in the early 1950s. Those policies have produced a Central America today that is ravaged by poverty and violent gang control.
They are wrecking the Mummers Theater/Stage Center building in downtown Oklahoma City. It is likely because of some essential design flaws in the building itself. Often overlooked, those flaws caused it to be financially toxic to each of its owners. In addition, its bold design that made it so notable also made it a relic that could not be used for new purposes.
And so, the building that has wrecked its owners is being wrecked. Justice? Perhaps.
Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides.
— Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of Britain’s House of Commons
One of the biggest issues in my deep red state of Oklahoma is that liberals and progressives very often shrink from the larger, harder debate about how government should be conducted for The People. You know, us.
The recent rise of nation-wide interest in progressive thought comes from a frustration with earlier generations of liberals who maybe tried, but failed to effectively engage in the debate for those who need a voice.
We have seen a transformation over time with President Obama as he tried to take the old liberal approach of reaching out to the other side. It didn’t work. It won’t.
He is just now starting to understand that this is a debate and a contest of ideas. And he seems to understand that unless we advocate for our ideas, no one else will. They won’t be understood or heard.
I wish he had known that in 2009.
Oklahoma Liberals Have Learned the Hard Way
We have seen that here in Oklahoma, where one year after another over the last 30, liberals seemed tongue-tied when opposing corporate-sponsored Republicans. Corporate tools who call themselves “conservative” rode into office on the most bogus of claims about
reducing government (they haven’t),
getting government off our backs (it’s even more so, now), and
lowering our taxes (for the rich, as they raise “fees”, really use taxes, that ordinary people pay daily).
What old-style liberals found out the hard way was that strategies for trying to negotiate with conservatives so that “we all would get along” and so that “we can all be winners” didn’t work then. It doesn’t work now. All it does is buy time for the right wing, whose approach is always – and I do mean always – “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable.”
Most importantly, that strategy conceded too many points that the public needed them to stand up for. Without knowing the other options for thinking through ideas, the bulk of uninformed voters had an “oh well” approach or showed angry resignation against those politicians who essentially betrayed the cause. Perhaps they never understood that it was a cause in the first place.
In politics, there really is no such thing as “business as usual”. Either you are winning the debate or you are losing it.
The Necessary Opposition
The debate itself is important. Period.
What I mean by “the debate” is engaging the prevailing mindset and the prevailing party with the determination to not allow a temporary campaign defeat to stop the engagement at the level of ideas.
What we know from history is that groups that have started out small in a democracy can become larger and more powerful by engaging in the debate over time and insisting upon being heard.
Conservatives in general seem to understand this. So do their politicians, either intuitively or because big money donors actually listen to their think-tankers and force their puppets to listen, too.
The value of the debate itself is that more people become informed by the opposition. Most importantly, they are informed from a different viewpoint than the prevailing narrative that slick corporately-funded hired guns deliver to a lazy, compliant media.
Modern-day progressives must push to win in the debate of ideas. It does not serve our concepts or the people who need us to advocate for them if we don’t.
Will we always win? Of course not.
Will we ever win if we never try to win? Of course not.
That’s why the debate of ideas has so much value in and of itself. And debating to win in the arena of public politics and policy is critical.
Time to Participate in a Bigger Way
In earlier posts I have suggested ways in which progressives in this red state can be a part of the debate. It is time to be a bigger part of the debate in this red state.
Reps Inman and Pittman speak to the 2014 Education Rally at the Oklahoma Capitol (video is trimmed to start at 9:21 mark)
From Great Britain: Margaret Thatcher – Tory (conservative) Prime Minister Vs. Neil Kinnock – Labor Leader, on Education
From Great Britain: The first ever House of Commons prime minister’s question time that was televised.
The Stand-out Group: Public School Teachers
My post tomorrow will focus on how public school teachers, generally known for their cultural conservatism, and especially in “red” states like Oklahoma, are a stand-out group who are more progressive than people think because of what they see every day in the classroom.
“Enough is enough. Somebody stand up! Get up!” — Chuck D and Public Enemy
Some vets sacrifice their lives all at once on a battlefield. Those are the especially tragic situations. But other vets have made their sacrifice in increments for their country. Those are harder to identify and harder to appreciate. But on this Memorial Day it is especially important to remember those sacrifices, too.
It always stuns me to hear various media sources on Memorial Day referring to service members’ “losing” their lives for their country.
People “lose” their lives while trying to live and are surprised by death.
But, our service members who give their lives in service to their country – to us – are correctly referred to as having SACRIFICED their lives. It is their sacrifice to us all that they have risked their lives for the sake of our country’s mission. They have worn and flown our flag.
Some have made that sacrifice in an ultimate, terminal way on the battlefield and don’t come back home alive. Their lives have been given and the lives of everyone who they know are changed radically forever.
Others sacrificed in combat, were badly wounded, both physically and emotionally, and will spend the rest of their lives sacrificing over and over along with their families who will make the sacrifice daily of loving and helping with the healing.
On this Memorial let’s remember that now we have the largest group of returned vets ever in history due to four wars, three of which were the longest in American history: The Vietnam War, the Iraq War, and the Afghanistan War.
It isn’t enough to demand that the VA do everything that they can to serve and heal our vets who have given so much for us. Even more, we must fund that institution and fund other efforts to care for and help mend out returned vets. Arguments about the expense being too high from the party that sent us into two wars at once has stink to them that won’t go away.
The tendency is to think of those who have died on the battlefield as having sacrificed; but, those who did not as being just fine and no big deal. But their ongoing sacrifice must be remembered and addressed, also. We must take care of our veterans.
As Senator Bernie Sanders said while commenting about a veterans benefit bill that some argued was “too expensive” and was defeated in the Senate in February,
“If you think that it’s too expensive to take care of veterans, don’t send them to war.”
The most dangerous and damaging spin that the Republican Party inflicts upon the political process is presenting itself as the party of principles; but, their only two real principles are: protect the rich guys and send the rest of us to war.
As you listen to Republican politicians speak you will hear certain buzz words that sound familiar. They are actually code for something else.
“Liberty”, unless your exercise of it violates their racial prejudice or might cause them to lose money.
“Freedom”, for those who want to treat you however they want in public, at the company that they own, or in their neighborhood, where they think you don’t belong.
“Less government”, so that corporations can get by with anything that they want and eventually be the actual ones that we depend upon instead of a duly, democratically elected government.
“Freedom of religion”for those Christians on the extreme right-wing socially and politically. Christians who don’t ascribe to their particular kind of Christianity, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and others will only be infringing upon the “freedom” of those who want to impose their religion on you.
“Free speech” for corporations and the rich who want to use their money to buy elections. However, according to them, this does not apply if you are liberal or even moderate. It does not apply to those who protest. It does not apply to those who go on strike. It does not apply to publications that oppose their ideology.
And what we hear the most on Memorial Day weekends:
“Supporting the troops” only when that means adding more money to the military budget so that contractors continue to get wealthy with the blood of the brave, patriotic young men and women who actually go to war.
This language only comes out when Republicans think that it’s time for conquests, like invading a country that has not attacked us and has a lot of oil, like Iraq.
In this opinion piece, penned by two Oklahoma Republican Congressmen, the headline is written as though they are standing up for men and women in the military, when they are actually arguing for more military spending on equipment and training, not medical care and benefits. Their campaign supporters, the defense contractors, will be happy to see this.
Indifference for Veterans
As we have engaged in longer and longer wars that are fought by the middle class and lower classes, actual support for real veterans has drained away. Those who have been torn apart and emotionally wrecked along with their families meet indifference in the GOP.
Budget talks stall and legislation is held up for veteran’s benefits because that’s when Republicans get very concerned about “the national debt” (it’s shrinking) and “the growing deficit” (it’s shrinking, too) and they argue that we can’t possibly afford it.
Do the sons and daughters of the rich go to war? No way. They are “important”. The idea is that they are smarter and more valuable and should not spend their time going to war and perhaps finding out first hand about the brutality of war. If they did, then they would be reluctant to send others to war later. And they mustn’t have that.
After all, when it’s time to go to war to steal another oil field or to gain control of another waterway or strategic pipeline intersection, they can’t have reluctance on the part of a rich person who has actually gone to war and has compassion on those who fight them.
Their positions of leadership have been bought and paid for with cash from the rich so that their generation can send someone else from the “lesser” classes in this generation to go to war again.
Time to Point Out the Only Two Principles of the GOP
Any time that you hear or see Republican leaders referring to their principles, just remember that there are only two, and they should be pointed out with gusto. All of us deserve more than their spin.