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Using populist Trump against GOP Trump

January 10, 2017 at 12:20 pm

Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

On Tuesday, Jan. 3,  Americans woke up to news that Republicans were going to gut the House Ethics Committee. The first thing I did was post the news to several groups, with a short ask for people to call their member of Congress.

I called Republican Steve Chabot’s office here in Cincinnati and actually reached someone. I told Steve’s aide I was calling to urge him to vote against gutting the Ethics Committee and commented that it seemed like a funny way to #draintheswamp. She was quick to tell me that Steve had opposed the committee vote and would vote against it.

The attempt at gutting the committee ended up going down like the Hindenburg.

More importantly though, it made something clear: The people who voted for Trump believed him when he said he was gonna fight for the little guy.

Here’s why this matters—and how to use Trump against Trump and the GOP Congress.

Indivisible: A short guide for the resistance by former congressional staffers

January 2, 2017 at 12:23 am

If Trump’s cabinet appointments are any indication, the Republican agenda is going to be selling off the remainder of the country to private interests. Betsy DeVos at Education is a proponent of privatizing schools. Tom Price at Health and Human Services is an opponent of the ACA. Scott Pruitt at the EPA is an oil lobbyist. Rick Perry, the candidate for the Department of Energy, has proposed scrapping the Department of Energy. Corporate raider Carl Icahn is going to be advising the president on regulations. Paul Ryan has plans to privatize Medicare.

It seems pretty obvious what’s coming: Republicans and the Trump administration are going to try and realize the corporate special interest dream of selling off the country to the highest bidders.

I think the way to stop this is to oppose everything loudly. As the authors of “Indivisible: A Practical Guide to Resisting the Trump Agenda” write:

The hard truth of the next four years is that we’re not going to set the agenda; Trump and congressional Republicans will, and we’ll have to respond. The best way to stand up for the progressive values and policies we cherish is to stand together, indivisible — to treat an attack on one as an attack on all.

This is not what we’re used to. We’re used to talking about what we believe in. Unfortunately, Republicans are going to control all three branches of government so if we have any hope of keeping the country in the hands of “We, the people,” we’re going to have to resist. This guide is well worth sharing for its outstanding practical advice. What’s in the four sections of the guide:

  1. What we can learn from the tea party: How the tea party targeted individual representatives of Congress
  2. How members of Congress think (Hint: re-election, re-election, re-election)
  3. Identifying and organizing your local group for action
  4. Four tactics that work

I’m not going to go into the detail, but I thought I’d talk about some highlights.

Aftab Pureval, Hamilton County Ohio’s new Democratic Clerk of Courts, and how he won

December 6, 2016 at 3:29 pm
[caption id="attachment_2159" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Aftab Pureval for Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval for Hamilton County Clerk of Courts[/caption]

The Hamilton County Clerk’s office was not a race Democrats should have won. The Hamilton County Democratic Party was up against Tracy Winkler, a member of the Winkler local political dynasty. Robert C. Winkler is the current Common Pleas Court judge and Tracy is married to Ralph Winkler, the current Probate Court judge.

Out of the blue comes Aftab Pureval, a young former prosecutor and Ohio State student body president who took a leave of absence from his job at Proctor & Gamble to run for clerk of courts.

How did a guy with such an strange-sounding name (strange for Southern Ohio, anyway) beat a strong incumbent?

Pay more and get less: The Ryan plan to privatize Medicare

November 29, 2016 at 11:41 am
[caption id="attachment_2147" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Paul Ryan speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2011 (Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia) Paul Ryan speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2011 (Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia)[/caption]

One of the fights likely to come up early during the next administration is privatizing Medicare.

Tom Price, chairman of the House Budget Committee, has indicated Republicans will try to privatize Medicare in a budget reconciliation bill (a sneaky filibuster proof attack).

You’re going to hear a lot about “choice” and “efficiency” and the amazingness of markets, but Ryan’s plan basically comes down to two things: 1) you will pay more, and 2) you will get less.

If you want to build a big movement, pick a big fight

November 21, 2016 at 1:29 pm
[caption id="attachment_2153" align="aligncenter" width="800"]Democracy Spring protesters at the United States Capitol building, April 2016. (Michele Egan/Wikimedia) Democracy Spring protesters at the United States Capitol building, April 2016. (Michele Egan/Wikimedia)[/caption]

A week before the election, I went to a Hillary Clinton rally in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was a well-attended and polite affair on the riverfront in Smale Park. That night increased my worry about her chances to win.

Clinton seemed to be playing what I’ll call “small ball.” She spoke of policy issues, like which gun control measures she wanted to enact. She spoke about the threat Donald Trump posed to national security. And she spoke about how many people he had insulted.

What worried me was the mild interest. By comparison, Donald Trump filled U.S. Bank arena in Cincinnati in October.

Michael Moore wrote:

And therein lies the problem for November – who is going to have the most motivated, most inspired voters show up to vote? You know the answer to this question. Who’s the candidate with the most rabid supporters? Whose crazed fans are going to be up at 5 AM on Election Day, kicking ass all day long, all the way until the last polling place has closed, making sure every Tom, Dick and Harry (and Bob and Joe and Billy Bob and Billy Joe and Billy Bob Joe) has cast his ballot?

Sadly, he was right. Trump even did better with minorities than Romney did in 2012.

In part, it was because he picked a big fight.

Donald Trump is the establishment

September 20, 2016 at 10:42 pm

This may be the weirdest election year ever. People are not happy about what’s happening in their lives and a supposedly “anti-establishment” candidate has risen by playing off these fears and scapegoating all of the usual suspects.

[caption id="attachment_2137" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Donald Trump signing the Republican pledge to support whoever becomes the GOP nominee. "So I will be totally pledging my allegiance to the Republican Party and for the conservative principles for which it stands." (Michael Vadon/Wikimedia) Donald Trump signing the Republican pledge to support whoever becomes the GOP nominee. “So I will be totally pledging my allegiance to the Republican Party and for the conservative principles for which it stands.” (Michael Vadon/Wikimedia)[/caption]

Time and again, in talking to people I know they’ve told me that they like Trump because they see him as an “outsider.”

“How,” I ask, since this type of scapegoating and raging against “big government” has been going on for over 30 years, “is Trump any different?”

To me, this looks like Lucy laying down the football once again for Charlie Brown. “This time it will be different, Charlie Brown,” she says. And we all know what happens. The candidate was just playing us.

Don’t buy it. It’s the same establishment, tea party trick of pretending to run as an outsider that we’ve seen for years. Donald Trump is the establishment.

1. When you can tell people how corrupt you are without any consequences, you are the establishment.

I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And yunno what, when I need something from them, two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me.

America is angry. If we don’t speak to this anger, we’re in trouble

July 27, 2016 at 6:30 pm

While taking a short break from work this afternoon, I ran into my next door neighbor. She is an older lady who is about as liberal as I am. She said to me, “I’m afraid Trump is going to win.”

Recently, I’ve heard this from a couple of other people as well. It’s wise to never discount intuition—especially when I have the same feeling. So I started thinking about why I feel this way, as we often intuit things before we’re able to explain them. This was how I wrote about how “Donald Trump isn’t going anywhere” in August 2015. This is just how people’s brains work.

So I threw aside the piece I was going to write this week to think about why.

By now we all know that politics is about emotion, yet often we still don’t really understand this. Why?

Because it’s not translating into speaking to the outrage America feels. Because I keep seeing posts and discussions about policy and how Hillary is adopting policy changes. Because we seem to be talking about policy and relying on anti-Trump sentiment. Because we’re not speaking enough to this anger in a way that isn’t anti-Trump.

If we don’t genuinely speak to the anger America is feeling, we’re in a lot of trouble. Here are some examples and some thoughts on how to genuinely acknowledge the very real pain people are expressing.

[caption id="attachment_2132" align="aligncenter" width="640"]The famous moment where Bill Clinton went off script during the 1992 presidential debate. The famous moment where Bill Clinton went off script during the 1992 presidential debate. (Screenshot/YouTube)[/caption]

7 questions for Derek Bauman, 20-year law enforcement veteran, about police shootings

July 11, 2016 at 12:20 pm

Derek Bauman, a law enforcement veteran of over 20 years, is currently serving a suburban Cincinnati police department. He is the president of his department’s patrol officer union and in 2011 was awarded the Medal of Valor for injuries sustained during a felony arrest. He’s a friend of mine who’s very active on social media and advocates for police being more involved in the community. In light of the past week’s tragic shootings, I thought I’d ask him some questions.

How to get to Planet X, the change we desire

July 5, 2016 at 8:29 am

planet_x650Planet X is that place liberals want to be. The planet people like Bernie Sanders talk about. Where we believe Elizabeth Warren lives. It’s where people understand climate change and don’t think it’s the government testing secret weather machine weapons. It’s where racism is understood as a problem, as well as a key driving factor in economic inequality. It’s where reason and fairness and mutual responsibility live and where democracy once grew.

Here’s the rub. You can’t teleport to Planet X.

So how do you get there?

Big businesses are hurting small businesses

June 29, 2016 at 6:39 pm
[caption id="attachment_2112" align="aligncenter" width="650"]'The Big Fish Eat the Little Fish,' satire on the fall of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, 1619. ‘The Big Fish Eat the Little Fish,’ satire on the fall of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, 1619.[/caption]

We often hear that taxes and regulation are hurting small businesses. As a small business owner and someone who talks to a lot of conservatives, I hear this all the time.

Though it has a small kernel of truth to it (a key to most successful marketing), this ignores the larger part of what’s really happening.

What’s hurting small businesses? Big businesses. A few ways they do this are through consolidation, market leverage, technology, temporary jobs, corporate special interests, media, and globalization. They also do this through tax evasion, government capture, and lobbying for regulations that create barriers to entry.

Here’s a closer look at how big businesses are hurting small businesses.