Finally, 2016 Is The Peoples’ Primary

The 2016 presidential primaries race should be a real eye-opener for both Parties. It should cause them to see that the American people are demanding an immediate change to how politics work in America.  However, since this is politics, it is probably too much for us to expect that, as a result, politicians will change their ways and begin listening to the voice of the many people rather than simply continue to cater to the expectations of the Party elites, special interest groups and billionaires and millionaires.

This phenomenon is both good and bad for America. It is good because the rich and powerful are finally being forced to see that all of their money and power is powerless against the people when they stand together and say enough is enough; no more!  It is bad because the people are stepping forward, resisting and demanding change out of anger.  As a result, they are oblivious to the great damage that can be visited upon our country if someone who does not have the best interest of America at heart; someone who is not selfless when it comes to love of country above self aggrandizement is voted into office.

For too many of the candidates who are still in the race and have a strong chance to win, the above mentioned qualifications are questionable. If any candidate who is questionable should win their Party’s primary and goes on to become president this could be a devastating blow to our country.

Those politicians that have been elected to office should have begun long ago to listen to the people and work to foster a system that will work for everyone and not just the few. This is what Senator Bernie Sanders is saying and that is why his message resonates so strongly among the many.  If what he says about the amount of wealth that has been accumulated by the top 1% over the past two years is more than that of the lowest 100 million Americans combined, this is shameful and the American people are right to be angry.

As I have said before, I am among those who believe that Senator Sanders has a strong message and believe that the approach that he is suggesting – a political revolution, is needed now because the only thing that politicians and the political elite seem to understand is power. Based on the current situation that we find ourselves in with the 2016 primaries, they are even slow to understand that.  Perhaps it is because this power is being wielded by ordinary American people and this is something that is foreign to them.

It is beyond shocking to them that something like this could happen. Fresh off of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United and Voting Rights Act rulings, the fact that to litigate anything cost a fortune so the richest person among the litigants all but always wins even if it is obvious that they are guilty as charged, and with all of the rules and regulations that they have put into place to tilt the field in their favor it is no wonder that they are shell-shocked, paralyzed by brain freeze and were slow – and may prove to be totally unable – to react to the Invasion of the Trump (Power) Snatchers.

Is the system rigged? You bet it is!  And although both Senator Bernie Sanders and Secretary Hillary Clinton are promulgating that message now in their campaigns, both of them knew that this was the case long before now and did not aggressively work to fix the problem.  The American people have been saying this and pleading for help from our elected officials for years to no avail.  Perhaps they ignored us simply because they are politicians, politics is difficult, or a combination of the two but the fact is that they ignored us.

Senator Sanders is saying let’s fix it now by way of a political revolution and large numbers of young Americans agree with him and are being drawn to him and supporting him as a result of that message. However, all of us know – and I assume that this includes the young people who support Senator Sanders, that even with a political revolution change will not come overnight.  But it will come because this suggested revolution is backed by power, which is currently being demonstrated by way of the untenable situation that the ‘establishment’ finds itself in, and which – again, is the only thing that the politically powerful seem to understand.  If common sense prevails, they will not simply wink at the demands of their constituents as they have always done in the past.

On the other hand, Secretary Clinton is acknowledging that the system is indeed rigged and needs to be fixed. But it appears that she wants to take a softer approach to this change via the political ‘common ground’ route, although America’s current situation with the primaries would suggest that it has not worked in the past, because she believes that conventional politics will be required to accomplish this task.  She is banking on the fact that common sense will prevail.

Which approach will be quicker and more effective is anybody’s guess but my take is that, if elected, she believes that politicians and the political elite have been jolted enough by the existing situation that they will be more receptive to working with her to find common ground. She must also be aware though that what has been perceived as ‘common ground’ in the past is a non-starter and that any solution must go a longggggggg way toward leveling the playing field in order to be acceptable to those who are demanding change.

To be for Secretary Clinton does not have to absolutely equate to being against Senator Sanders nor should it make him the enemy of Clinton supporters. That slight nuance that says that one can be for Secretary Clinton instead of being against Senator Sanders or be for Senator Sanders instead of being against Secretary Clinton is extremely important to Democrats’ end game.  It is important because in order to give our very best effort to assure that a Democrat wins the general election we must be united and stand together as one.  Let’s keep working until the 2016 Democratic nominee is in the White House!

Eulus Dennis – author, Operation Rubik’s Cube and Living Between The Line

He’s B–a–c–k: Or more Likely, He Never Left

Back in November of 2014 while Senator Mitch McConnell was still Senate Minority Leader he said that just because there is a divided government “I don’t think it means [the American people] don’t want us to do anything.”  He then vowed that once he became the Senate Majority Leader he would fix the Senate so that it operates again.  The senator who had worked so hard to break the Senate in an effort to fulfill his commitment to make President Barack Obama a one term president was a changed man!  Or was he?

Within hours of finding out that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had died, Senate Majority Leader McConnell announced publicly that the vacancy left by Justice Scalia should not be filled until after the 2016 presidential election; because, he said, “the American people should have a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court Justice.”  He was officially back!

My thoughts are that he was not back but that he had never left; he was never a changed man.  Instead, he had gone into covert mode or – to put it in terms of what the modern world has long accepted as the ‘legitimate’ business and method used by those involved in the spy business of deceiving people, ‘deep cover.’  However, the fact is that it wasn’t quite as scary – although just as duplicitous – because it was solely political smoke and mirrors and politicians are seldom held to account for this sort of thing even when they are caught red-handed.  He was trying to dupe the American people.

Anyway, the only way that the word ‘back’ could appropriately apply would be to say that now he was ‘back’ to openly doing what he and his fellow Washington Republicans know how to do best; point fingers and obstruct.  To justify Senator McConnell’s decision to not allow the Senate to consider any candidate to fill this vacancy even before President Obama had offered up a single nomination, all of the Republican presidential candidates, Republican senators – including Senator Chuck Grassley who is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee – and other Republican leaders began to publicly state that the president should not nominate a replacement.  They said that the person that replaced him should make that nomination.

Only time will tell if this line that Senate Majority Leader McConnell has drawn in the sand is a serious one, which if crossed will only bring President Obama a humiliating defeat or if he will reconsider his preemptive move to prevent the president from moving forward on his own announcement that he will nominate someone to replace Justice Scalia.  Since the day that he was elected the Republicans have completely loathe this president and worked tirelessly in their effort to assure that there would be an asterisk by his name in the history books that would somehow identify him in the eyes of their children and as many of the American people as possible as someone who was not actually a legitimate president.

Why would these elected officials choose to do this rather than focus on conducting the business of the American people and govern them based on the Constitution that they constantly tout?  No one really knows beyond a doubt what the answer to this question is except those elected officials themselves.  However, with the way that they have treated President Obama from the time that he was elected and the unprecedented disrespect that they have shown for him and the Office, if there is more than one reason why this has occurred, high on that list is the fact that he is African American.  By making such a strong accusation it is only fair that I reiterate that only those elected officials themselves know beyond a doubt if such an accusation is warranted and/or correct.

President Obama would likely be the first to say that I am wrong even if that proclamation was engendered more by his heart than his head because, from the time that he was elected, he so obviously longed to bridge that gap that separated white people and people of color based primarily on the color of the other’s skin, which thereby prevents them from hearing each other even when they espouse the same principles and values.  Politics as usual too often motivate our politicians rather than the collective voice of the people whom they are supposed to represent.

Senator McConnell is obligated to the Constitution, the American people, those others who support him (e. g. his donors and fellow senators) and his Party.  As Senate Majority Leader he has the additional responsibility of using good judgment to determine, whenever all of those just mentioned do not unanimously agree on how to move forward, which of those groups and/or individuals should be subordinated to the other in order for him to effectively do his job and conduct the people’s business.

The system is rigged in favor of the rich and powerful and all politicians know this but they do not have the courage to work to fix it even when they know that the odds are that a fair system will make a massive improvement in America and in the lives of her citizens.  In addition to considering the desires of their rich and powerful donors politicians must also navigate the pressure that is applied to them by special interest groups and their constituents back home.

But despite all of the pressures that our elected officials have to deal with we must still demand that they do the job that they were elected to do.  We should always give them credit for doing their job and reward them by voting them back into office when they are up for reelection.  On the other hand, we must always hold each and every one of them to account for the things that they fail to do by getting the facts and voting them out of office when they are up for reelection if what they failed to do cannot be justified to our satisfaction.

Yes, Senator Mitch McConnell’s hollow words of reconciliation that he made prior to becoming Senate Majority Leader were indeed just that and this is being borne out by his decision to deny the American people the right to a nine member US Supreme Court in order to secure political gain for himself and the Republican Party.  You can, and should, read the article that I wrote in 2014 on Senator McConnell’s words of reconciliation and you can do that by clicking here.  Should you choose to read it; you will find that it provides additional insight into this article.

Senator McConnell’s decision casts a bright light on the pecking order of politics versus the will of the people in our political system.  The obvious order for him is politics first and then the will of the people.  As voters we, along with these politicians, bear some responsibility for the untenable mess that our political system is in.  The good news is that we can still do our part to help fix it but we must begin to fix it now.

We can do this by getting informed, doing our part to select a candidate to run in the 2016 general election and then voting, based on the issues and who can and will best address them, in the 2016 presidential election.  But we cannot stop there if we really want to fix the system and make things better.  Instead, we must get engaged and remain engaged in the election process from the local levels all the way up to the federal level because they all ultimately impact on our country and our way of life (e.g. Flint Michigan’s water problem).

So whether you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent be sure to always vote.  And always remember, your vote is the most important one of all…unless you don’t use it!

Eulus Dennis – author, Operation Rubik’s Cube and Living Between The Line

What kind of a Democrat are you?

Let’s see now; how do I brand myself as a Democrat? Am I a liberal, progressive, moderate, neoliberal…?  Am I a populist kind of guy/gal or am I more of an FDR type; just a regular liberal?  Wait, maybe I’m a leftist type Democrat.  No…, maybe I’m a neoliberal; yeah – that’s it, I’m a neoliberal.  W-e-l-l with the way that I think, I’m probably more of a social conservative Democrat.  No…  But I know that I can’t be a libertarian because that’s Republican, isn’t it?

With the way that things are going today and with all of the different names that are floating around out there for those who are Democrats and those who are Republicans, people who are not political geeks but who regularly follow politics struggle to identify themselves (without an argument from those who identify themselves by the same name but define the name/term differently; e.g., conservative/conservatism). Even the political geeks and political pundits argue about this.

Right now USA Today has a headline that declares, “Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders battle over meaning of ‘progressive’. That’s right, each candidate and members of their respective staff are saying things like, he is not the gatekeeper of progressivism and she can’t be a moderate one day and a progressive the next simply depending on who she is speaking to.  If you presented all of the labels available to the regular Joe Democrat or Republican and then asked them, which one are you; do you think that they might have a tough time responding?  Remember when you could just be a liberal, moderate or conservative Democrat or a moderate or conservative Republican?

There are a lot of people who might argue that Democrats ran away from the ‘liberal’ word because Republicans had painstakingly defined it for Democrats and put it out to the world as something terrible and because Democrats were not able to effectively change that definition, they simply renamed it ‘progressive’. But this time Democrats defined it before the Republicans could trash it for them; although, obviously, we still argue over the definition.

So what is the big deal with all of this ‘I am a liberal’, ‘I am a progressive’, ‘I am a moderate’, ‘I am a social conservative’ Democrat etc. and etc.? Is it hard for the candidates to put less emphasis on that and focus more on the nitty-gritty stuff because the media and other political pundits emphasize it because it makes talking about politics more in-depth and, therefore more challenging and interesting to them?  Is it because the candidates themselves emphasize it for purposes of media coverage because they know that this is a tempting hook for the media?

I guess the regular Joe is left to either figure all of this out or just ignore it if they are to determine who they want to vote for then actually get out and vote for them despite the fact that all of the labels create some confusion as to what each candidate actually stands for. To make matters worse, it appears that they will be relegated to decipher this while different candidates are saying I am a liberal so I stand for this, I am a progressive so I stand for that.  And their opponents are saying, how can he/she be a progressive when they don’t stand for this, how can they be a progressive when they don’t stand for that?  He’s not a liberal, he stands for this!

But wait, you haven’t reached the finish line yet; there is still more to contend with. You are only dealing with the primary election.  You have to caucus for your candidate if you really want them to have a chance to win.  That’s right.  You can’ just go to their political rallies, show your support and let them know that you will vote for them in the primary and general election; you have to caucus for them.  Do what?

Ask most people (usually the regular Joes of the world) if they are going to caucus for their candidate and they will likely tell you yes because they have heard the word before. Then ask them what it means to caucus for their candidate and usually they don’t really know: you will normally get a bunch of stammering from them or just a blank stare.

What most people don’t know is that their candidate could have, for sake of a simple example, 1,000 supporters and someone else’s could have 500. However; if at caucus 100 (10%) of the supporters of the candidate with 1,000 supporters show up and 125 (25%) of the supporters of the candidate with 500 supporters show up, the candidate with 500 supporters will win.  Of course the process is significantly more complicated than what the example depicts but that is generally how things work at a caucus.

If you do manage to reach the finish line with your candidate as your Party’s nominee, the general election will still leave you and your candidate of choice to deal with all of the liberal, progressive, moderate, conservative etc. and etc. labels. But you will have successfully made it through the primaries process so the rest should be easy.  All you have to do now is stay informed and get out and vote.

That notwithstanding, hopefully the gatekeepers of liberalism, progressivism, conservatism and all of the rest will help us out before the 2016 presidential election takes place. Good luck to all of the regular Joe’s out there, you will probably need it!

Eulus Dennis – author, Operation Rubik’s Cube and Living Between The Line

African American Republicans Should Step Up

Why don’t influential African Americans in the Republican Party like Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Michael Steel, Allen West, Herman Cain and Dr. Ben Carson step up and speak up to try to help save the Republican Party from self destruction? Are they afraid of the repercussions that they might be faced with?  Are they afraid of the personal damage that they might sustain from the sheer impact of any blowback that they might receive?

I tried to find out how many African American Republicans there are but could not come up with a definitive answer. Even if there are very few they should step up and speak up.  They should at least make an effort to educate the conservative faction of the Republican Party on the perspective of African Americans and other people of color on these ‘pure’ conservative points of view.

I read and then reread E. J. Dionne’s recent article, “Republican self-destruction is fun to watch, but bad for us all”, dated January 29, 2016 in The Washington Post. I learned some things that I did not know about conservatives, in particular pure conservatives, and their perspective on governance.  Although I do not agree with all of the things that they advocate in how they believe that America should move forward I believe that there can be common ground and that Democrats and Republicans should seek that common ground.  But that presents a major problem because pure conservatives believe that compromise with the Democrats is a deal breaker and therefore a non-starter.

As naive as it might sound coming from me, someone who has followed politics for a very long time; after reading Mr. Dionne’s article, it strikes me that perhaps I never really knew the definition of conservatism. Maybe the definition is continuing to evolve and I will never fully understand what conservatism means.  A lot of conservatives still argue about this so I shouldn’t let something like that bother me.  But the point is not whether or not I can define conservatism.  Instead, the point is what the takeaway for me was from that article and its impact on my thinking as it relates to influential African American Republicans.

I have watched Michael Steele defend the Republican Party many times on the Hardball with Chris Matthews Show and on other MSNBC shows. I have witnessed him bristle when others on those shows rightly asserted that congressional Republicans in Washington were divisive, seemed to be more interested in obstructing than they were in governing and that they are a Party that is continuously becoming more exclusive, older and whiter.

Michael Steele is a Republican and I can understand why he becomes agitated and comes to the defense of his Party when he feels that someone is attacking it. What I do not understand is how as an African American he can know how many of those in his Party feel about people who look like him and still remain attached to it without making any effort to fix it.  How can he be comfortable with that?

The very definition of conservatism by too many in the Republican Party precludes me as an African American, and no doubt many other people of color, from even considering becoming a member of that party. Why?  Because these Republicans want to go back to what they consider to be the ‘good old days’ when slavery existed (they now seem to want what fundamentally amounts to slavery in a more palatable form), there was no Social Security, no civil rights laws, no women’s rights, no gay rights, no push for universal health care, lower taxes on the wealthy, the government’s focus was on assisting “makers” and “job creators”, and there were fewer minorities.  This definition, which defines how Republicans really feel, is likely also what predestined them to fail in their effort to build a bigger and more inclusive tent.

It is nonsensical for anyone to believe that people of color would want to be part of a Party that wants them to subordinate themselves to white people and allow them to rule their lives no matter how nice and compassionate that those white people might be toward them. I wouldn’t do it and I am sure that today’s young African Americans would not do it.  I want to be equal to them and I want to be treated as an equal.  I want to be able to rise based on my ability and reach my full potential, no matter what that level might be and not held back because they believe that my cognitive powers are limited and I am not cerebral enough in their eyes.  I want to be judged by the content of my character, not the color of my skin.

If the true definition of conservatism is grounded in those previously mentioned things and those things are etched in stone and unmovable then therein lies the problem. It should not be this way.  That is why people like Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Michael Steele, Allen West, Herman Cain and Dr. Ben Carson should step up and speak up.  They have the opportunity and the responsibility to help the Republican Party get back on track.  Their efforts, even if not immediately successful, would be beneficial to the Republican Party, people of color, and to America.  America needs the entire Republican Party and that includes the conservative facet of it.

I don’t know if E. J. Dionne even gave a thought to calling out people like those that I mentioned. Even if he did, in his capacity it would likely be unethical and or against the rules.  In this blog, however, I am allowed to interject my opinion.  The downside is that I obviously don’t get anywhere near the amount of readers that The Washington Post gets and so this message will reach a lot fewer people.

Mr. Dionne said in his article that “An intellectually vibrant conservatism is essential to a healthy democracy. The United States needs conservatives willing to criticize the grand plans we liberals sometimes offer, to remind us that traditional institutions should not be overturned lightly and to challenge those who believe that politics can remold human nature.”  I agree with him.  And that is why we need the Republican Party and the conservative presence to remain a consistent part of our two party system.  They must not be allowed to self-destruct because of their stubbornness and lack of pliability.

And because their continued presence in the political process is in the best interest of America, whether we are Democrats, Republicans or Independents we have a responsibility to convince them that this is the case. Further, those previously mentioned influential Republicans should be leading the pack among those who should be first responders.

Eulus Dennis – author, Operation Rubik’s Cube and Living Between The Line