Tag Archives: West Wing

Vote in every election like it’s a Presidential

I’m going to do something I don’t do very often, which is to talk about our parallel universes. That’s how important this is.

That’s how important the November 4th election is.

In the West Wing universe, 2014 is a Presidential election year. After two terms, President Santos will be stepping down and his successor will be elected.

In the universe of real-world America, 2014 is a midterm election year. But it’s every bit as important as a Presidential election year. Some might even say it’s more important.

Consider how much is at stake. Control of the Senate could shift to the Republicans, leading to even more gridlock than exists today. It’s very possible that Congress will accomplish even less than it did this year, if you can imagine that.

In state races across the country, the extremist conservative wave that crashed to the shore in 2010 could continue on its destructive path — or the tide could be turned by replacing Republican legislators with Democrats. From gubernatorial races to school boards, elections matter. They will determine the direction of the state and, in many instances, the country.

Look at where we’re headed. Voters are being asked to decide on some extreme amendments this election cycle, like the personhood measure in Colorado. If amendments like these pass, it will embolden other states to go to extremes. In states like Wisconsin and Michigan, voters can decide whether to kick out Republican governors who pulled a bait and switch — making promises they never intended to keep while silencing the voices of their citizens — or continue to live under leadership that’s serving special interests, not voters.

How did America get here? Because historically, Democrats don’t vote in midterms with the enthusiasm that they do in Presidential elections. They get complacent. They definitely got complacent in 2010. That can’t happen again.

As Republicans in many states do everything they can to take away voting rights — from passing onerous voter ID laws to allegedly tossing out 40,000 new voter registrations in Georgia — citizens must stand up and be counted.

Every vote matters. Your vote matters. A lot of these races are going to be close. Just a few ballots could make the decision.

Do you want to make those decisions? Or do you want to let someone else make them for you?

President Bartlet knew what he was talking about when he said, “Decisions are made by those who show up.”

Democrats need to show up for this election. That’s how we win.

The best defense against a system that’s going off the rails is to set it right again by exercising your democratic rights.

If you can vote early, do it. If you need to vote absentee, note your state’s deadlines and get on it. If you need a ride to the polls, find a way to make it happen.

Whatever you do, vote as if your life depends on it. Because in some cases, it actually might.

In the West Wing universe, Election Day will mark the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. There’s no reason it can’t be the same in both universes — in the best possible way.

<Image via Wikimedia.>

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Thanks, Male Feminists

I was already a fan of Male Feminists when they asked me to write a guest post.

This is what I came up with:

Watching Women: Why Are Female TV Characters Judged So Harshly?

My thanks to Male Feminists for asking me to contribute. It was a pleasure.

I hope you’ll check out their other posts and follow the smart, clever conversation.

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It’s time to get to work — together

I can’t say I know exactly how I’d feel if the President hadn’t won re-election. Deeply disappointed, I’m sure. Heartbroken, probably. Maybe even angry.

But I do know this: I would not be taking it out on my fellow citizens.

Enough is enough. It’s time to move on. I say that to Democrats as much as I do to Republicans. No more gloating, no more blame, and for goodness’ sake no more hate and vitriol. From either side.

I’m not talking about intelligent, measured post-game analysis. It’s fine to look at what worked and what didn’t and learn from it. It’s the irrational, ugly responses that trouble me.

I freely admit that some Democrats have rubbed the other side’s nose in it too much. Let’s be gracious in victory.

But it’s the unrestrained anger I’m seeing and hearing from some Republicans that’s downright disturbing. These are actual quotes, seen online or heard in person.

“Our country is ruined. We’ll all be communists now.”

“I’m not hiring any more employees. No one can force me to give them health insurance.”

“My family’s wealth helped stimulate this economy. Why doesn’t my vote count more than the vote of some loser who doesn’t even have a job?”

“The President would never have won if all those sluts hadn’t voted with their vaginas.”

“I refuse to tip anyone ever again. I know all those people voted for the President.”

“It’s your fault that China is going to own our country now, because you voted for that guy who isn’t even an American.”

Putting aside the ignorance of these statements, the unabashed hatred and divisiveness is painful to witness. As the President has said time and time again, we aren’t always going to agree but we have to work together if we’re going to move forward.

Do these angry citizens who want to inflict more suffering on the middle class or hurl insults at others, including the President, think they’re doing our country a favor? Can’t they see that they are making the problem worse?

It's time to get to work - togetherI will fight to the bitter end to help our President achieve the goal of bipartisanship in Washington, to reach across the aisle and find ways to compromise that are fair for everyone.

Most of us want exactly the same things. Freedom. Happiness. Security. Good health and strong communities. But when ideology becomes more important than our shared humanity, we begin to lose the chance of ever finding solutions that make it possible for everyone to have these things — provided they’re willing to work for them and do their fair share.

If you’re one of the people who still wants to place blame or is still hating your neighbor who voted the other way or is still gloating over victory, it’s time to stop. Because you’re part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Now is the time to come together as a nation, put country before party and get to work.

It’s what I plan to do. I hope you’ll join me.

 

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What kind of American do you want to be?

This is not about how you’re going to vote in November. That’s important, of course, and making an informed decision and casting a ballot is something every American should do.

But this is about the choices we make every day, about the kind of Americans we want to be. It’s about the kind of people we want to be. About how we want to treat the other people we share this country with. Because this isn’t your land, or my land. This is our land.

What kind of American do you want to be?So what kind of American do you want to be? Do you want to be an American willing to consider the widely varying viewpoints and beliefs that exist in our country? Or do you want to be an American who shouts down someone who doesn’t see the world exactly as you do, or believe exactly what you do?

Do you want to be the kind of American who respects other people’s faith, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and life choices? Or do you want to be the kind of American who hurls insults or might even take violent steps to show how much you hate them and everything they stand for?

Do you want to be the kind of American who will do what you can to help your neighbors? Or who will grab everything you can for yourself, no matter what it takes or who it hurts?

Consider these two true stories of people who are volunteering by knocking on doors to talk to neighbors about a candidate they support. One of them spoke to someone who said, “I’m voting for the other guy but I appreciate that you’re out here doing this.” The other volunteer — who took her daughter along to teach her about civic engagement — was told by her fellow American, “Get your black ass off my porch.”

Which one of those Americans do you want to be?

What kind of American do you want to be?It’s not even just about politics. Do you want to be the guy at the grocery store who doesn’t rush to the newly opened checkout lane because other people were already waiting? Or do you want to be the guy who pushes everyone aside as if they’re not even there?

I realize that as Americans, we’re going to have our own opinions, as we should. And with those come differences and disagreements. I’m not shy about speaking my mind — and yes, I am sometimes critical of politicians and others whose actions or policies trouble me. Especially if they’re lying, cheating or being hypocritical. I check my facts and I focus on educating people about the truth. I often use humor to make a point and, I admit, sometimes I can be downright snarky. That usually means I’ve been pushed to my limit. But I don’t believe in stooping to the level of lying or hate-speech or attacking someone’s personal choices.

And that, right there, is where I think people too often cross the line. I have no problem with someone disagreeing with our President or anyone else. I do have a problem with blatant disrespect, lies and abusive rhetoric. It’s never okay to threaten violence, even if you’re doing it from behind a computer screen.

The next couple of months are going to be intense. Yes, both sides will fight hard because that’s the reality of modern politics. It would be ideal if every candidate talked about nothing but the issues and specific plans for our country’s future. I’m eager for the debates, where we’ll see which candidate focuses on those points. Sadly, though, for the most part that’s not what tends to get in the news or capture the attention of much of the public.

What kind of American do you want to be?But each and every one of us has the power to change that. In the words of Leo McGarry, we can raise the level of debate in this country. We can work hard to be civil, to be fair, to debate based on facts instead of hyperbole and hysteria. We can have conversations that serve to educate those we disagree with instead of tearing them down. We can have conversations that open our own minds. And we can certainly be kinder to each other, not just in political discourse but in everything we do, every day.

We can either be a country of Americans who treat each other with respect, tolerance and acceptance, or we can be a country of Americans who resort to insults, violence and hate.

What kind of American do you want to be?

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Time to get serious

Politics are funny. They just are. But there’s a time for joking around and a time to get serious. And right now it’s time to get serious already.

Look, I’ll laugh at politics all day long. I don’t care which side of the aisle is pulling political pratfalls, I’ll poke fun. I usually avoid the obvious but, sure, I made jokes about Anthony Weiner. I’ve made jokes about John Boehner. (Those jokes all kind of come from the same grab-bag, don’t they?) And most of the GOP candidates are perpetual punchlines. Um … sorry. Oops.

Laughing about it is fine and healthy, especially if you work in politics. It also helps our economy by keeping more comedians working.

Time to Get Serious

We're funny, right?

But seriously? What’s going on in Washington, D.C., just isn’t funny anymore. Millions of Americans need jobs, or better incomes, or help with a thousand other things we simply aren’t helping them with as much as we could be. That’s nothing to laugh about.

The President has proposed The American Jobs Act (AJA) to get things moving. Yet the Republican party flat-out refuses to discuss the AJA. Won’t even talk about it, other than to say they won’t talk about it. I’ve asked plenty of people: “Why won’t they talk about it?” The only answer I’ve heard was a quote I read from John Boehner, saying the GOP is against the jobs bill because it’s “paid for with tax hikes which ‘will hurt [the] economy and put Americans out of work.’ ”

Aside from the fact that Speaker Boehner’s comment is misleading — because the tax increase would only be on the most wealthy Americans and the AJA would also be paid for with spending cuts — that simply isn’t a good enough reason to not even spend time talking about it in the House. I desperately want to write a comedy sketch where Speaker Boehner says to House Republicans, “Should we debate the American Jobs Act and tell Democrats what our concerns about it are? Nah, let’s just reaffirm our country’s motto as ‘In God We Trust’ instead.”

Sure, if I pitched that sketch it might make it on a comedy show. It’s funny. But when you realize that the House actually did put the motto before jobs in real life, it’s no laughing matter.

Neither is some of the other legislation that’s been prioritized before any discussion of the AJA. Limiting or eliminating women’s access to healthcare and birth control. Rolling back regulations that protect people and our environment. Or how about spending time meeting with Herman Cain during the first week of his alleged sex scandal instead of being on the House floor? And, to be fair, the Senate isn’t much better. For the most part, they basically keep voting on what I like to pretend they call the “We Have Our Fingers In Our Ears And Just Don’t Want To Hear About The AJA” rule.  [Update: After this was posted, the Senate and House voted in favor of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, which the President signed into law on November 21. It’s one small part of the AJA, with tweaks. A step in the right direction, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough.]

Time to Get Serious

Haha! No, wait. Cut it out!

There’s a fine line between funny and frustrating.

Clearly, voters in the November 2011 elections were serious about making their voices heard: They are not amused.

Still, there’s much, much more to be done. It’s time to stop playing games and get to work. The President is taking every possible step. But what did the Republicans do when he introduced his legitimate “We Can’t Wait” approach to taking action? They turned it into an attack. Reince Priebus actually tweeted “#WeCantWait to make [this] a one-term president.”

I guess we should thank Priebus for making the Republican agenda clear. (And for giving us such a great name to mock.) I’m sure he thought he was being clever and funny in his tweet, but he wasn’t. It wasn’t just the President he disrespected. It was also the millions of Americans who need the help of the officials they elected.

Is everything the President and the Democrats do perfect? No, of course not. Is everything the Republicans do wrong? No, of course not. There’s both good and bad in every group and everyone. Our elected representatives are all human and imperfect, something they have in common with every one of their constituents.

But when it comes to job creation and getting the economy back on track, it’s time to stop fooling around. It’s time to get serious and get to work. The two parties have got to get together and sort this out already.

Anything else is just a joke. And one that isn’t even remotely funny to the American people.

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Yes, I started a blog

No, there’s not much here yet. But there will be.

I have a pretty busy job. I write a lot, every day. And I tweet what I think with some frequency.

But there are times when I have more to say, or just want to say something different.

So that’s what this space is for. When topics warrant it. Also, when there’s time.

As they say in TV, stay tuned.

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