Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Back to School 2021

This is one of those years when the public school system has been singled out as a bastion of liberal teachers who are corrupting the minds of youngsters by telling them that they are indeed responsible for protecting our democratic institutions, ensuring that all citizens get justice, and reminding the country that we have a horrible racist past that continues to infect housing, education, employment, athletics, politics, economics, social interaction, religion, police departments, the military, and the media. 

Please remind me if I've left anyone out.

But we also need to be particularly careful that we make sure students know, and are given the tools to address, how we can overcome these historical patterns and ensure that we break this cycle of ignorance and fear that those who see a danger in the changing American demographic landscape continue to promote. 

Yes, my friends and colleagues, teaching is, has always been, and will always be a political act, a subversive act, an act that challenges the foundations of society while also reinforcing the idea that questioning our basic beliefs and putting them to the test is in the best interests of the system. Teaching is based on the idea that in order to create a just system, we must conserve ideas that support all Americans while introducing new ideas that move us forward. Teaching requires that we truly challenge our students by asking them to question what they know, rather than repeating anodyne phrases and tenets that have long since lost their relevance and resonance. Education is not safe. It is stressful for the teacher and the learner. 

If certain segments of society are going to push against teachers, then we must push back with the certainty that facts and data provide us. The United States does not have one historical story. It has many, and we must tell all of them. We need to demand that textbook companies and those who produce content for schools provide perspectives that reflect the experiences of those who were previously unheard, unrecognized, and marginalized. And we need to go to Board of Education meetings to counter those people who promote misinformation and fear. 

Perhaps you went into teaching because it seemed safe, predictable, assured, and reflective of a point of view with which you agreed. Things have now changed. Are you ready to change with them?

Have a marvelous year.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

In Which I Say Farewell to Donald Trump


Donald Trump will not be a major force in Republican politics for the next four years. He still has his fans, and they number in the tens of millions, but he's done. The rest of the country has moved on to solving some of our most pressing problems. 

The Biden Administration will be focusing on cleaning up the environment and transitioning the country from one based on fossil fuels to one that increasingly uses renewable energy. It will create programs that address the terrible consequences of poverty, especially on children. The Affordable Care Act will get major upgrades, most of which will focus on affordability, access, and preventive care. Taxes on the wealthy will increase, mostly to fund infrastructure projects including making sure that all Americans have access to affordable broadband Internet service, reliable public transportation, and bridges, tunnels and roads that, well, function appropriately. Our allies will begin to trust us again, though that will take some time. Joe Biden will not proclaim his love for dictators.

Donald Trump would run against every one of those policies. He's done.

And, of course, we haven't even mentioned the insurrection at the Capitol, which was predicated on a lie. Donald Trump lost the 2020 election. By a lot. But, of course, he couldn't lose, so he created a lie and millions of people believe it still.

Americans, including police officers, died because of the lie. Some were injured. Others were traumatized. But it was a lie. Told by a liar. Whose political career is over.

Donald Trump might still have some influence in conservative and fringe-right circles, and we know he's uber-popular with the white supremacists, fascists, racists, and anti-Semites. This might translate into victories in Senate and House races in some states, but Democrats will run commercials using the attack on the Capitol to remind Americans that it was all the result of the lie that Donald Trump just cannot let go. 

Yes, he was acquitted in the Senate, but the fact that ten Republican Representatives and seven Republican Senators voted against him is a beginning. The trial laid bare what President Trump did as the mob began its attack. Nothing, for almost two hours. Yes, he did mention that he wanted his followers to be peaceful, but a responsible president would have said it immediately and would have repeated it. He did not do that. And did I mention that it was all based on a lie? I want to make sure I mention that.

I'm sure the press will continue to publish stories about Donald Trump's influence in the GOP and how he will support candidates who support his lie, and who label the Russia investigation a witch hunt and fake news (Have you noticed that we haven't heard these words much lately? Refreshing.), and I'm not against reporters and others having jobs and being paid, but Donald Trump's political career is over.

And I am done writing about him.

Here's to better days ahead.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

We Now Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Our apologies for the four year descent into the Emergency Broadcast System. 

Every president has an opportunity to be great. Donald Trump had that opportunity, and he did change our political culture for good and (mostly) for ill. but instead of trying to unify the country around an issue that both Republicans and Democrats could enthusiastically agree, such as rebuilding our infrastructure, he went straight for the Muslim ban, building the wall, and repealing Obamacare. His response to Covid was to hope it went away. And then there were all of those tweets. He also wallowed, and continues to wallow, in baseless conspiracy theories. 

History does not treat wallowers kindly. Especially those wallowers who incite insurrections.

He's ended his tenure with a graceless exit, refusing both to acknowledge his defeat and the importance of the traditional passing of power from one administration to the next. 

History similarly does not look kindly on unacknowledgers. See Adams, John; Adams, John Quincy and Johnson, Andrew. Add in two impeachments. Stir.

Joe Biden can also be a great president, and he's set an  ambitious agenda to tackle not just Covid, but immigration, the climate, economic opportunity, paid family leave, and social justice. He will have a slim majority in Congress, and the hope is that a couple of Republicans will vote for bills that will move the country forward. There is much he can do with executive orders, but especially with immigration and climate, it would be best to pass some legislation. We'll see if that happens.

My hope is that enough Americans see the insurrection of January 6 as a turning point in American history that ends some of the animosity we've built up over the years. Many Republicans are not in the mood to compromise. This will not be easy, but it will be necessary.

Biden will at least speak the words of unity and patriotism, but it's up to all of us as Americans to welcome them in the national interest. I understand that Democrats did not do this in 2017, and my expectations are such that I don't see Republicans doing it willingly in 2021. Time, though, has a habit of chipping away at the jagged stone of obstruction until it becomes, if not smooth, at least less perilous. Donald Trump did not try to unify the country, nor did he speak words that soothed or tempered the emotions of the moment. Joe Biden will do that. And words have meanings.

As always, I remain optimistic that we will become a more inclusive, more united, more compassionate country than we've been recently and that we will work to right the wrongs we've inflicted upon ourselves and others. 

Godspeed to President Biden and all who serve this nation.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

January 20 Can't Get Here Soon Enough

And here I was planning on writing a hopeful piece based on the new year and the Biden Administration taking over on January 20th. I was even willing to dismiss Senator Josh Hawley's stunt, in which he was going to formally object to the Electoral Vote count on January 6.

Then this happened. Eleven Republican Senators, with the Vice President's blessing, will also formally object to the vote count, and will further call for the formation of a commission to audit the vote in  states that flipped from Trump to Biden.

It seems they are concerned that despite the fact that no credible evidence exists of voter fraud, suppression of votes, or illegal activity on the part of states regarding absentee, mail-in, or voting machine votes, and despite the fact that the U.S. Attorney General, Attorneys General and Governors of states that switched from Trump to Biden, State Court, Federal Appellate Court, and U.S. Supreme Court Justices have found either no credible evidence to support overturning the will of the people or that, well, states can't sue other states and force them to overturn the will of their voters because they don't like the outcome, the election might be tainted. Why? Because Donald Trump says so.

Please understand that this attempted coup will go nowhere because both the House and the Senate would have to approve it and that won't happen. But also understand that if the House and the Senate were both controlled by Republicans and enough of them decided that losing the support of Trump's voters was too difficult to bear, then they could have stopped the process of counting Electoral Votes and possibly reversed the results of the election. Why? Because Donald Trump says so.

And that's the key here. The only reason why these officials are trying to subvert a fair and free democratic election is that Donald Trump cannot lose. He's been squawking about mail-in ballots since the spring, making unfounded accusations about voter fraud. Then he lost, which evidently can never happen, and he continued to make unfounded, unsupported, specious accusations about the vote and filed scores of lawsuits that essentially said that the election was unfair because...Donald Trump says so. 

That's it. There's no evidence, but these Senators, and 126 Republican Representatives, believe they must investigate a non- issue that's been investigated and adjudicated multiple times. 

It's a disgrace.

The president lost the election because of his terrible response to the pandemic, his vile tweets, his disregard for democratic institutions, his belief that he had powers beyond the constitution, his policies, his lack of political knowledge about how to get things done, his demeanor, his impeachment, and the general fact that both Democrats and moderate Republicans voted for Joe Biden. 

He lost the popular vote in 2016 and 2020 and his approval ratings were stuck in the mid-40s for almost his entire presidency. He was never broadly popular, and in Joe Biden, 81 million people saw a leader who would restore our pride, place in the world, faith in democratic institutions, and reliance on facts and science.

That, obviously, is not enough for the president or the Republicans who've decided to try and upend the election. There is no fraud. There was no cheating. There was only a free and fair election that saw a resounding rejection of a president that a majority of Americans did not want to serve another term. 

Trump's graceless response to his loss was to ignore the pandemic and the legislative process that might have resulted in more money being given to needy Americans until it was too late, and the rejection of a bill that funds the military because he wanted to keep Confederate names on military bases. For the latter, his veto was resoundingly overridden. He has not, nor will he ever, concede that he lost the election, and he will likely not attend President-elect Biden's inauguration or formally transition the presidency to him, which has been the foremost symbol of democracy after voting, that we have in this country.

Make no mistake: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn in as our next President and Vice President on January 20th. Americans can then decide whether they want to be part of the problem or part of the solution. The president and those Republican legislators who are plotting against the duly elected government have apparently made their choice.