We Are In Better Shape With Our New DNC Chair, Even If He Isn’t Our First Choice

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While I was a supporter Keith Ellison, Tom Perez will be a far superior DNC Chair than we had before. Have we all forgotten that Debbie Wasserman Schultz was more interested in elevating herself than party building? Debbie Wasserman Schultz was widely unpopular and a part-time chair. With Tom Perez, we now have a highly qualified, full-time chair that is committed to building the party at the state and local levels.

Choosing Keith Ellison would have unified the party quicker than choosing Tom Perez, but I believe that both will make us a stronger party. What we need to do now is exactly what we have been doing since the election of Donald Trump as our 45th President of the United States, rallying with fellow Progressives, Democrats and even some Republicans to make our voices heard. We are making a difference and we must continue to show our outrage to those that we sent to elected offices that are not representing the majority of their constituents.

Why Do I Fight For Issues That Do Not Directly Impact Me?

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Over the last month, we have seen protests for a number of issues; collective bargaining rights, women’s rights, black lives matter, LGBTQ rights, Muslim ban, Syrian Refugees, etc. These are issues that do not directly impact my life as a heterosexual, white male.

I have friends that these issues do impact. While they are part of why I fight for these issues, it is not the main reason. I was raised in a loving home that stressed the importance of treating everyone with respect and dignity. One of the things I remember my parents saying to me is, “do unto others as  you would want them to do unto you.” This is how I try to live my life.

One of my favorite quotes, and I have quoted it quite a few times this past month, is from Martin Niemöller, a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

This sums up the main reason I fight for the issues that don’t directly impact my life. I identify that these issues do impact my fellow Americans. First Trump threatened Muslim rights, and I DID speak out—because I respect people’s right to freedom of religion. Then Trump threatened LGBTQ rights, and I DID speak out—because I respect people’s right to love whomever they choose. Then Trump threatened Syrian Refugees, and I DID speak out—because I believe that everyone has the right to live without fearing for their lives. And when Trump finally gets around to taking away my rights—I will be there fighting alongside those I helped along the way.

The way we fight back against the oppression Trump and Republicans are pushing upon us is to stand up and fight for each other, even if the issues you are fighting for doesn’t directly impact you.

Trump Actions Are The Start Of Tyranny

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Tyranny – cruel and oppressive government or rule.

Throughout history, we have been witness to many tyrants and dictators. We are currently witnessing our 45th President of the United States of America walking the path to tyranny.

Over the last 4 weeks, we have seen some glaring signs of Trump’s path to tyranny. He has been bragging about how he won the election by a  landslide, even though the truth shows that the won was actually 46th biggest electoral college win out of 58 elections. Trump also keeps saying that he won the popular vote, tweeting “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” One of the biggest exaggerations was the claim that his inauguration was larger than President Obama’s. Exaggerating your mandate to govern and repeatedly claims of voter fraud are two signs of impending tyranny.

Anyone that doesn’t agree with Trump’s ideology is labeled as an enemy. This includes attempts to de-legitimize members of the mass media outlets. Any criticism journalists and news anchors send out are tweeted about, referring to journalists and news anchors as “deceitful“, “scum” or “fake news.” Turning the public against journalists and media outlets and referring to anyone that disagrees with you as an “enemy” are also sign of impending tyranny.

Until recently, there haven’t been very many press conferences from Trump. He has preferred to communicate with the American people through other means such as Twitter and rallies. From the communication we have had from Trump, he has told us some of the biggest and most blatant lies. De-legitimizing news outlets while telling blatant lies causes people to doubt the truth and believe the propaganda. Check off two more signs of impending tyranny, alternative communication and blatant lies.

Trump has consistently blamed the economic woes of our country on immigrants and racial or religious minorities in an effort to turn the American people against them, sometimes even violently. By signing the executive order implementing the “Muslim Ban,” Trump is putting blame for many atrocities on a religion. Another step he has taken, all in the name of “national security” is threatening mass deportations, registries of religious minorities, and the banning of refugees. All of this created an excuse to tighten security and the limit civil liberties that this country was founded on. These actions are also signs of impending tyranny.

Labor unions are important to many working Americans. Trump is completely against labor unions. This is evident by the insulting tweets personally attacking Chuck Jones, a union leader representing Carrier employees in Indiana. Another indicator that Trump is against labor unions lies in his choice of Andrew Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants (parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.) and a supporter of automating his restaurants to avoid paying worker costs, for Secretary of Labor. eliminating or reducing the influence of competing centers of power, such as labor unions and opposing parties, is another sign of impending tyranny.

Appointing Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, as his Senior Adviser fulfills another sign of impending tyranny, appointing family members to high positions of authority.

Trump is still using his own personal security force on top of the Secret Service. His personal security force isn’t bound by the same rules as the Secret Service, for instance, the Secret Service can’t silence protesters thanks to our first amendment right to freedom of speech and peaceful protest. His personal security force doesn’t have to abide by these rules. Using your own personal security force, instead of a security detail accountable to the public, is yet another sign of impending tyranny.

Appointing retired United States Army Lieutenant General Michael T. Flynn as Security Adviser covers a couple signs of an impending tyranny. The firs, appointing generals to top civilian positions and the second, having personal alliances with foreign dictators. General Flynn may have resigned, but his relationship and communication with the Russian ambassador to the United States, along with Trump’s own complimentary comments about Vladimir Putin, have brought concern about the relationship between Trump and Valdimir Putin. Aligning yourself with foreign dictators is another sign of impending tyranny.

From the time Trump won the nomination, he has refused to divest himself from his personal interests. Trump is the majority owner of the $212 million hotel in Washington D.C. that does business with foreign diplomats and lobbying groups. He has said that his grown children will run companies, but that is hardly divesting himself. Trump’s family has even profited from his position and comments from Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President, promoting Ivanka Trump’s businesses on live TV. The final sign of impending tyranny is a refusal to draw a distinction between personal property and public property and profiteering from public office.

“The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible reductions. In this way, the people will not see those rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which these changes cannot be reversed.”

― Pat Miller

Tyrants, such as Adolf Hitler, Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin, took away the rights of the people over time in a manner that was not seen until it was too late to do anything about it. Let’s just be happy that Trump hasn’t headed the words of Pat Miller. Taking away our liberties, as Vice President Pence has put it, “lock, stock and barrel”, Trump has awoke the American people to the tyrant he becoming. Tyranny has always forced people to action. Just look at the reaction to tyrants like Hitler, Lenin and Stalin. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t take a civil or world war to change course. We can’t wait for Trump’s actions to directly affect us before taking action, the time for action is NOW!

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

― Martin Niemöller

We Should NOT Write Off Rural Congressional Districts

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It was reported yesterday by the Gazette, third-term New York Democrat, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, has been doing an independent post-mortum of the House Democrats’ crushing loss in the 2016 elections.

The night before a 90-minute presentation he made yesterday afternoon, Representative Maloney said, “We can win where we used to struggle, and we’re struggling a bit where we used to win.” What Representative Maloney is alluding to is there are congressional districts that Democrats used to do very well, mainly rural areas, that have moved away from Democrats and that we need reassess if we should even campaign there anymore.

In my views, it isn’t that these rural congressional districts have left the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party has left them. At least in this cycle, here in Iowa, I have heard a lot of rural Democrats tell me that they can see why we lost the rural congressional districts because Democratic candidates almost never go there. From what I saw this cycle, Democratic candidates, for the most part, visited the bigger cities on the I-80 corridor; Des Moines, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and Davenport.

I believe writing off rural congressional districts will be extremely detrimental for the Democratic Party. Rather than write them off, I believe we need to reach out to the Independents and left leaning Republicans, as well as, Democrats in the rural areas. Host town halls and rallies in rural area and show the backbone of American, family farmers, that you don’t just represent the urban areas. After all, when we win elections, we aren’t sent to only represent urban American, we are sent to represent ALL American’s.

Representative Maloney, rather than complaining about losing the rural vote and suggesting Democrats writing them off, you should be suggesting that Democrats break from the norm of campaigning in mainly urban areas and actually fight to win back rural Americans by showing up and showing them that Democrats truly  care about, not only their vote, but their lives as well.