Tag Archives: voting

Better Understanding The Franchise

We’ve taken voting a little too much for granted, methinks. That would include yours truly, though I have never missed a vote since June 4, 1968, my 21st birthday. I think I made the mistake of believing all that mattered was that I voted and I encouraged those close to me to vote as well. I’m pretty certain that’s no longer good enough; probably was never good enough, but it took the tender ministrations of the tangerine shitgibbon to make it clear we need to take the franchise a bit more seriously.

What, perzackly, that entails is unclear to me, but I’m sure a lot of us have ideas and many are already working on it. That’s what VR and GOTV are all about, no? But I am thinking a little beyond those two things, which we’ve been doing for a long time. We need to talk more about what it means to be an informed citizen. We need to find ways to present it that aren’t tres wonky. Therein may lie the greatest challenge.


Worst of the Worst!

Never forget that Trump, the spoiled three-year-old rich kid, comes with nothing less than the dregs of society, the worst of the worst; the greedy, unscrupulous, selfish, narrow-minded, bigoted, misogynistic malcontents. And don’t for one moment forget their white supremacy, which masks their white fragility. Trump, and as many Republicans as possible—especially in the Senate—must be soundly defeated come this November.

The only way we’re really going to accomplish what needs to be done is if a substantial percentage of people who normally sit out elections, step up and make their voices heard. Everybody needs to vote in this general election. Everybody . . . or at least a substantial percentage more than has been the case in the last dozen elections. Voter participation hasn’t exceeded 60% since 1968. This is no way to preserve a democratic republic, folks.


Let’s Clean Our Own House!

I posted the following on Facebook late yesterday, partly in response to all the angst that’s being spit out by the chattering class about Bernie and Fidel:

How come, when we talk about the suffering of Cubans, Venezuelans, and others from dictators and (horrors!) socialism, we don’t also talk about the role of U.S. Imperialism and historical colonialism?

So far it’s been liked by over thirty of my friends and it’s received nine comments and four shares. As of now, that’s after 14 hours since I posted. I don’t know if it will get more, but the response is interesting. What I was attempting to point out is something that really chaps my hide about my fellow Americans. A lot of y’all are really uninformed; either that, or you’re abysmally stupid and incapable of understanding history, economics, and society.

Now . . . to temper what I just wrote, let me add that I’m of the opinion most of us can’t be blamed for this ignorance of our history and what we’ve wrought in the world wherever—and whenever—we’ve put our grubby little money-making hands to work. As I was writing this, I noted another post by a friend who had liked the post I refer to here. She shared a comment from someone else and I think it’s quite relevant to the point I’m making here. Here’s what he said:

“There’s been a lot of criticism of Bernie Sanders for his praise of the Cuban literacy program that was initiated very soon after the 1959 Revolution. Under this program, young people who had been fortunate enough to learn to read and write were sent out into the rural areas, where most people hadn’t, armed with literacy materials and a kerosene lantern. During the day they helped their host family with whatever needed to be done; at night, they taught reading and writing. Cuba became one of the most literate countries in Latin America.

“According to the critics, this was a bad thing. The people learned to read, but they couldn’t read anything they wanted, and what they were given was propaganda extolling the virtues of the Revolution. So there’s 60 years of this evil stuff going on in Cuba. I’d just like to point out that we in the US have a much longer history of propagandizing, extolling the virtues of our system of predatory capitalism in classes like ‘civics’ and ‘social studies.’ The virtues include denying health care to many, keeping many from full involvement in the political and economic life of our country, enculturating people into the happiness that is being less-than-living-wage laborers at the mercy of shareholders and CEOs.

“Nobody in the US has any business calling what other countries do ‘propaganda’ unless they are willing to acknowledge our own long history of it.

~ Ronald Kephart

I’d like to point out that, although I am a Marxist (i.e. a socialist) I’m not much of a Bernie Sanders supporter. Nearly four years ago I posted my reasons for voting for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary of 2016. That post is located here. I just voted in the California primary for this year’s election and, again, I did not vote for Bernie. However, as I stated back then, should he secure the nomination I will vote for and support Bernie with gusto. Despite my misgivings, he’s head and shoulders better than Trump or any Republican currently in office. I’d even vote for him if he was running against Bill Weld.

So . . . the point of this post is not necessarily defend Bernie but, rather, to point out the incredible hypocrisy of those politicians (including Democrats running for POTUS) and pundits who are criticizing him for what he said about Fidel and the Cuban revolution.

There’s a doctrine in equity called “The Clean Hands Doctrine,” which states that one can’t complain about, or seek equitable relief from, an offense when one has participated in or supported actions that are as offensive as the action being complained about. I think it fits rather nicely into the common trope about socialist countries and leaders who have wrongly punished their opponents.

I shouldn’t even have to list anything the United States has done to make this point . . . but I will list a couple of the most egregious ones:

  • Our treatment of native Americans
  • Slavery & Jim Crow
  • The Chinese Exclusion Act
  • Japanese internment camps

I would also suggest that anyone who wants to really understand how the United States, by its actions (mostly done to protect predatory economic interests) has created most of the problems we’re now dealing with, especially those issues related to immigration from the southern half of our hemisphere, should read “The Enemy: What Every American Should Know About Imperialism,” which can be found here.

We may not like what Fidel did after the revolution in 1959, but we drove him into the hands of the Soviets back then by being indecisive in our dealings with Cuba. We later initiated an economic blockade that was unwarranted and immoral, IMO. There are literally dozens of other actions we’ve taken over the years throughout Central and South America that resulted in the deaths of thousands and that kept the economies of numerous countries from thriving. Felix Greene spelled it out a half century ago. He wasn’t wrong then . . . and his analysis is still instructive today.

PS – I’m leaving out the effects of our Imperialism in the Middle East, as that’s another clusterfuck that’s likely going to come home to haunt us. Perhaps I’ll address it at a later date.


A quinceañera adds voter registration to her celebration to boost Latino voting

This is such a great idea. It should be done for Bar and Bat Mitzvahs (though there will be far fewer of those) and confirmations . . . at any rite of passage. Isn’t citizenship and participation at the very heart of a strong, functioning democracy? Isn’t it?

For a few moments, Aleida Ramos, wearing her rose-colored tiara, coral dress with the scalloped bell skirt and cowgirl boots, floated above family and friends, uplifted by tradition, community and family.

It was Aleida’s quinceañera — her 15th birthday celebration — and at this moment, the men and boys had lifted her straight up as her guests applauded, a high point in a day dedicated to her.

But even though she had permission to soak up all the attention, she dedicated a part of the event to a bigger cause. In the entry of the family-owned event hall where her party was being held, Aleida had made room for the Latino youth advocacy group Jolt Initiative so it could register her mostly Hispanic guests to vote.

Source: A quinceañera adds voter registration to her celebration to boost Latino voting


The Consequences of NOT Seeing Systems

Senge on Seeing Systems

Want to understand Systems better? Check out Peter Senge, Russell Ackoff, W. Edwards Deming, or just search Google for some info

When I first started this blog, one of my goals was to bring a systems perspective to my posts. Circumstance made that goal a bit difficult at times, and my interests are a bit too eclectic for me to stay in a single lane, but it is a perspective I feel most comfortable with and believe is useful in understanding the world and human society and relationships.

It’s long been clear to me that many people haven’t the faintest idea how systems work and how not understanding the interplay of their aggregate parts makes it virtually impossible to make quality, informed decisions.

In order for democracy to be spread and actually implemented in ways that are meaningful to ordinary people (who are often really afterthoughts to our institutions and those who lead them) I am convinced we need to become not merely critical thinkers, but also “systems thinkers”, i.e. we need to learn how to “see” systems. We, meaning “the people”, need to recognize how all things are parts of systems and that smaller systems are parts of other, more encompassing systems. Whether closely or remotely, we need to recognize how things are related to each other, such that we can appreciate the ways in which they affect and sometimes transform each other.

When this happens without our fully (or even partially) understanding these effects, we call them “unintended consequences.” However, these generally come about not because we failed to appreciate their possibility, but because we didn’t even see how they were related. It is our ignorance — in the non-pejorative sense — that’s causing us harm, because we just don’t see the subtle interplay of forces or the way they interact with each other. I plan on continuing to touch on this subject, as well as the other things that interest me. Stay tuned!


Donald J. Drumpf – Your Drunk Neighbor

Based on recordings of things Teh Donald™ has actually allowed to plummet out of his fabulously wealthy piehole, this video pretty much sums up many (not all, but many) of my feelings about the man and his followers. I understand the fear some white people feel, though I think it’s ridiculous of them to do so. I’m pretty sure what really scares them is the realization of how terrible people of color have been treated and, since they’re so good at projection, they’re assuming white people are now going to get as good as they gave.

As a straight, white male I really do understand what many of them feel. However, as one who works hard to understand others, and who believes empathy is an important tool for anyone who wishes to live in a reasonably civilized, respectful, and well-adjusted society, I am of the opinion they’re making things worse for everyone, including themselves.

So . . . here it is folks. I can hardly think of a better way to characterize the blatherings of our first reality show presidential candidate. This is YUGE!!


Can Men Be Feminists?

What a Feminist Looks Like

Hint: It Doesn’t Mean You’re Feminine 🙂

I hope this is a question many men have asked themselves. It’s important to understand and come to a useful resolution about this, as I think there are many men who support women’s equality but are somehow intimidated by the thought of being seen as a feminist. Let me say it right up front. I am not only a feminist; I have been one since the early 1970s. It’s important for men to understand what being a feminist means, because it has nothing to do with being feminine, which I think is why many men might cringe somewhat at the thought.

The Oxford English Dictionary, online edition, defines a feminist as “a person who supports feminism”, and Wikipedia defines feminism as follows: “. . . [A] collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women. In addition, feminism seeks to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment”. As a movement, feminism is complex and – for the most part – understanding its history isn’t important to the issue of whether or not men can (or should) be feminists. On the other hand, one of the reasons for this post is to share a short video that addresses one of the more egregious historical responses to the struggle of women for suffrage, i.e. to gain the right to vote.

One of the main reasons I have been so supportive of women’s rights almost as long as I’ve been able to vote is my belief, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. Then there’s also this little thing called the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. I like to think the meaning of these two maxims – and so many like them – is that inequality is not a good thing. Since the very essence of feminism is, as stated above, the goal of establishing “equal political, economic, and social rights for women”, it seems to logically follow it is something anyone – even men – of good conscience must support. Let’s take it a little further, though. Let’s ask ourselves who these women are who wish equality. We don’t have to look very far for they are our mothers and grandmothers; our sisters, nieces, and cousins; our girl friends and wives. In short, they are all women, everywhere. Why would we not support feminism and thereby be feminists?

This November 6th we are going to make a choice in the trajectory our nation will follow for the succeeding four years, almost certainly a lot longer since one or more Supreme Court Justices is likely to retire. The Republican Party, through its most important representatives and through its actions, has made it clear they wish to return to a level of patriarchy that makes women second-class citizens and, in some respects, returns them to the status of chattel. Although the party has tried to move the national conversation away from the highly-charged term “War on Women”, the reality is a victory for Mitt Romney would be a “Disaster for Women“. It is imperative for not only women to understand what’s at stake but, perhaps, even more important for men to understand because they have a tendency to be somewhat timid when it comes to supporting these basic rights of women (should read merely “people”).

Today I came across a wonderful short video that recounts the struggle of a group of women who protested for the simple right so many of us take for granted – the right to vote – and were severely punished for their temerity. This was less than a hundred years ago, when Woodrow Wilson was President. Less than 100 years ago! There are far too many of us who either haven’t registered to vote or, in our apathy or despair, won’t take the time to vote. This is not a good thing. As Plato said, “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” The struggle for the right of women has come too far to now go backward. Here is the video I want you to see. I hope you’ll share it as well. It’s very powerful.

And get out there this November and VOTE! 

Photo from Douche, Bag and Shoes


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