27 thoughts on “Public Affairs Month

  1. To be honest, I could only make it through half way but the civic illiteracy point is absolutely on target. If I posted half of this on Facebook, it would be called “liberal trash”. Muncie Voice which holds all elected officials accountable and the private sector who corrupts it is called just another “Trump bashing site”.

    I also contend that tribalism is a faulty solution for Americans because they are not being told the truth about anything. Including our history. I’ve read more about our junk history in the last five years than ever before. The whitewash is fading away. We’ve learned the truth about wars like Vietnam and Iraq.

    All with one common theme: our government lied to us.

    In Einstein’s excellent piece in the 50’s, he already saw it. We are individuals but also part of a much larger WE. Unity is the message but tribalism keeps us apart.

    Oppressors know this as well. In fact, much of the divisive strategy comes from the military and intelligentsia.

    As long as they can keep republicans and democrats bashing each other, the oppressors win. Why in a country as diverse as the USA do we only have two political parties? How many does our parent now have?

    I contend the one strategy employed long ago by the oppressors was killing off the unions. Why?

    It got us much closer to unity. We all came together for a common cause – our livelihoods. Communities were stronger and neighbors knew neighbors. We need a Labour Party. If more Americans could hear Jeremy Corbyn speak, they’d want a Labour Party.

    While we are both individual and social creatures, we crave for unity whether we are conscious of it or not.

  2. “Over the past several years, America’s political environment has become steadily more toxic. Partisan passions and previously suppressed bigotries have erupted, overwhelming reasoned analysis.”

    The above quote from Sheila’s speech summarizes why she has the repeated theme of the need for civic knowledge to be taught in our education systems and the need to stress this knowledge on students. Yesterday’s blog, “Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Privilege” regarding Executive Privilege and Attorney-Client Privilege and the quote “The limits of the two may determine the future of the Trump presidency.” give us a “reasoned analysis” of the scope and limitation of our civil rights under the Constitution. Her blog the day before yesterday, “The Call Of Moral Duty”, in my estimation brings us to her speech in today’s blog and the above copied and past assessment of our current toxic political environment, making these blogs a trilogy to be referred to again and again.

    Because I do not remember if I even had a civics class prior to dropping out of high school, I keep copies of The Constitution on my coffee table and next to my computer for immediate reference. Next to my computer I also keep my Bible for reference purposes due to the lack of reasoned religious usage which has sucked in the element with lesser knowledge and released the suppressed bigotries because they are now deemed acceptable and necessary by the Trump administration.

    “Reviving America’s democratic norms, turning back the assaults on the rule of law and equal access to the ballot box, fixing the gerrymandering that feeds apathy and makes too many votes meaningless…the list of needed repairs to the system is long, and it will require political action and persistent civic engagement by an informed,civically-literate citizenry.”

    The “jury may still be out” on these issues but we need to hope the jury doesn’t send the case to SCOTUS!

  3. To your point about the fringes controlling who gets elected – have any of you watched the debates between the R candidates for Senator?

    They each repeatedly make it clear that they are for: 1) 2nd Amendment 2) Pro life 3) Pro Trump. If those declarations aren’t about asking for the votes of the R extremists, then I don’t know what else could be.

    My hope is that there will be enough intelligent voters in November to re-elect Donnelly. Rokita and Messer need to be kicked out of DC and Braun shouldn’t be sent there.

    On a positive note, the 2nd Congressional IN District has three intelligent and viable Democratic candidates who are running to oust Rep. Jackie Walorski. They are all working very hard and not one of them is an extremist. Walorski must go! She is owned by the Koch brothers and their ilk and she has never had any intention of representing her constituents.

  4. As a former educator, I couldn’t agree more with the “civic literacy” portion of this speech. From a sinister point of view, ideological movements all have an insidious attack portion directed at children. From churches inculcating the children in “Sunday School” to Hitler’s “Jungedeutsch” program, getting the kids’ heads “right” at the beginning perpetuates the tribalism, divisiveness and the worship elements that either work for or against the betterment of the people.

    Now, go try and sell this to the 40% who still support Republicans and the Trump phenomenon. Be prepared for blank faces or angry, knee-jerk responses. The United States is about one – maybe two – generations from outright collapse as a society. That “shining light on the hill” will turn out to be the entrance to our oblivion as a democratic republic. And, as Marx suggested, we did it to ourselves. Capitalism will have destroyed itself from within.

  5. Vernon,

    “Now, go try and sell this to the 40% who still support Republicans and the Trump phenomenon. Be prepared for blank faces or angry, knee-jerk responses.”

    Good advice. They understand one thing and one thing only, WHITE POWER. If you want to change their minds, you better be ready to convince them otherwise. And because of this phenomenon, if the Democratic Party doesn’t adopt a platform of equality for all, then they can forget the African-American vote. They are making their position clear as day. And I don’t blame them.

  6. By Rebecca Ruiz
    http://www.Mashable.com

    “The Trump voter is often portrayed in media and pop culture as a working-class white person, down on their luck and desperate for change. These voters were — and remain — willing to look past Trump’s erratic and unorthodox behavior and “politically incorrect” commentary if his presidency brings better jobs. These voters, the narrative goes, are in pursuit of a noble life, even if the man they chose to be commander-in-chief is neither generous or honorable.

    But a new study, published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, argues that a segment of these voters was motivated partly by a far less righteous cause: to protect their own dominant status in American culture and politics.

    The study looks at a nationally representative group of the same voters who cast ballots in 2012 and 2016. In particular, it focuses on those who voted for Barack Obama and then, four years later, supported Trump. Instead of finding voters nervous about their family’s finances, it uncovered deep concern related to America’s declining global power and the projected demographic changes that will put people of color and ethnic minorities in the majority by 2045.

    “What we find is this sense of threat,” says Diana C. Mutz, the study’s author and professor of political science and communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

    Mutz found no evidence that personal economic anxiety, represented by indicators like worry about retirement savings, medical bills, and education expenses, predicted greater support for Trump. She also asked about the state of voters’ personal finances and whether their community had high unemployment and a concentration of manufacturing jobs. Meanwhile, Trump’s supporters favored a smaller safety net, which suggests they’re less concerned about how people will fare when they face dire financial straits.

    One particularly telling factor did increase the likelihood of support for Trump: believing that white people are more discriminated against than people of color, and believing that Christians and men experience more discrimination than Muslims and women.

    Mutz also found that the people who switched their vote from Democrat to Republican between 2012 and 2016 were more aligned with Trump’s aggressive stance on free trade and China’s ascendance as a global superpower. And they expressed a desire for group hierarchy instead of equality, with their group on top.

    Other studies since the election found that racial attitudes played a role in Trump’s election. Mutz says her analysis, which uses high-quality panel data as opposed to cross-section survey data, suggests that people are more threatened by the accelerating achievements of black people rather than the negative stereotypes they may hold.

    Her findings should provoke uncomfortable conversations about the complicated ideas and beliefs that motivated people to vote for Trump. In fact, these are debates many people of color, including those in the media, have engaged in since well before Trump was elected.

    But for the past year-and-a-half, many reporters and pundits have crafted the prevailing narrative, which is rooted in sympathy for Trump voters. Roseanne Barr, for example, has taken this campaign into people’s living rooms with the reboot of her show, which tacitly defends its support of Trump based on the economic salvation he represents for white working-class Americans. This idea was front-and-center in Sen. Ted Cruz’s recent tribute to the president in Time: “President Trump is a flash-bang grenade thrown into Washington by the forgotten men and women of America.”

    Imagine instead, though, a media narrative that took seriously the notion that voters chose Trump as a way to protect their own dominant status — not as an act of noble rebellion. It might help explain, for instance, the shockingly high approval rating the president still has with evangelical Christians. And yet, that debate is fraught because it points to deep-seated bias and prejudice.

    “It’s a really difficult conversation for people to have. Most people don’t want to perceive themselves as racist.”

    “It causes people to confront things that are uncomfortable and unflattering,” says Andra Gillespie, an associate professor of political science at Emory University who was not involved in Mutz’s research. “It’s a really difficult conversation for people to have. Most people don’t want to perceive themselves as racist.”

    It is indeed easier to point to just about any other thesis for Trump’s victory, including Hillary Clinton’s various weaknesses as a candidate and her campaign’s mistakes. And while Mutz’s findings represent one aspect of Clinton’s loss, they are arguably the hardest to face.

    They also present a daunting challenge for liberal activists hoping to mobilize support for Democrats in this year’s midterm elections. There are certainly ways Democrats could strategically tailor their message to address people’s concerns about China and globalization, but there’s no realistic way for the party to reassure voters interested in protecting their status without betraying its base: black people and progressive allies, who believe that nothing short of full equality and equity will suffice in the 21st century.

    Even if the Democrats nominate a flawless presidential candidate in 2020 — as if such a thing exists — it’s entirely possible certain voters will still be eager to march to the polls, ready to defend their place on top. No matter how easy it is to pretend that fight is about pocketbook anxieties, it’s increasingly clear it’s instead over who gets to wield the most power in America. THAT IS A BATTLE WE SIMPLY CANNOT IGNORE.”

  7. SK:” Climate change, the loss of jobs to automation, the worrisome tribalism and racism that is tearing at our national fabric, inadequate funding of public education, the multiple, obvious flaws in our justice system”..

    I have nothing to digress from today’s topic except the “Climate change” reference. I believe it was JoAnn in a post awhile back who mentioned that”climate change” is no longer the correct moniker for what’s happening wrt to our planet’s reaction to man-made emissions,et al. In fact,according to her,in her words,we cannot act upon “climate change”.

    JoAnn:”We cannot ACT ON Climate Change as it is nature; the terms are NOT interchangeable.”

    https://www.sheilakennedy.net/2017/10/the-roads-not-taken/

  8. Sheila’s speech was excellent and should be read by all Americans from whatever tribe. When I write about civic literacy I almost always mention the Texas State School Board’s removal of civics from the high school curriculum in what seems to be a deliberate attempt to keep ’em dumb – and, of course, easy prey for subsequent political manipulation whether the tools for such manipulation include race, gender, class etc. Removing civic literacy from the schoolhouse joins gerrymandering, NRA and Russian disruption of our elections which, among others, tears at our version of Athenian democracy. Vern is right that we are doing it to ourselves and Sheila has identified the culprits, so the question is now > What are we going to do about it?

    If we are to salvage what is left from current assaults on our democracy and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, it comes down to winning the election this fall, followed by real attempts to end gerrymandering both legislatively and judicially, election of local and state school boards who establish and expand civic literacy curricula etc., since, as Sheila wisely notes: We cannot fix what we don’t understand. Sheila covered all the bases, and now we are up to bat, so let’s hit a homer this November!

  9. Speaking of Climate Change. I think there was a post last week about Christian hypocrisy wrt The Trumpster.The question was raised; How can evangelicals support a man with a hedonistic lifestyle?

    Easy,hypocrisy is a solid fabric firmly permeated in American life. Let’s take Climate Change,that’s great to be concerned about our environment,however if you’re unwilling to change your lifestyle to ameliorate the effects of carbons…..Then just stop complaining. Frankly,nothing will be done because no one is willing to change their lifestyle to accommodate such changes. Secondly,the burden upon business is too great to lessen the effects of climate change by the business community. The business community is the donor class. As the empirical evidence has proven and is plenty,they’re not going to give in at all to the changes needed…..just like the public.

  10. Attributions are not certain and wording approximate: Jefferson “A people cannot be both ignorant and free.” Mussolini”I love democracy! A government ofcounting of heads. The more empty the better!”

  11. A very recent example of the pernicious effects of the most ideological voters, i.e., the “base,” attacking from the flank. In this case: Utah. As most of the well informed followers of Professor Kennedy’s blog surely know, Mitt Romney is currently running to be the Republican candidate to hopefully replace the retiring Orrin Hatch in the U.S. Senate in a mostly red, socially conservative state.

    Whatever you might think of Ol’ Mitt, he’s hardly a liberal. For only one thing, remember his “self-deportation plan” and the “takers.” And, of course, he is a prominent Mormon in a state that is socially and culturally dominated by the Mormon Church.

    But over the weekend, the Utah Republican Party, controlled by the most rabid Trump/Tea Party right-wingers refused to endorse Mitt as “their” candidate for the U.S. Senate because he wasn’t sufficiently conservative enough, or perhaps not on the “Trump Train” enough. So now Mitt will have to suffer another indignity; this time having to run in a primary to obtain the “Republican” nomination. The moral of the story is not to feel sorry for Ol’ Mitt. He will likely win the primary and go on to become the next Senator from Utah.

  12. Responses to William and David F – The answer to the problem you pose is exclusive public financing of elections, William, and David F, Mitt isn’t running for the Senate; he is running for president – a deja vu experience – running for the Senate is designed to keep him in the limelight until 2020.
    As to costs of public financing of elections, consider the costs of elections and policy bought and paid for by the Kochs, Mercers and their ilk. Such “costs” would not only be cheaper but would also restore the peoples’ rights over the (Citizens United’s) rights of Big Money to control our political choices.

  13. I find it convenient some times to separate politics from government. The politics include the running or preparing to run for office while the governing includes actions taken by those in government doing the jobs that they were elected to do. From that perspective one of our problems is that we have too much politicking and not enough governing. Why?

    For one thing because of our campaigning laws the politicking is the overwhelming time demand of the job and because of our lobbying laws the financial stakes of politicking which results in governing are huge. That’s all quite different from the perspective of our founders whereby people who could afford to devoted some of their time to give back to the society that they were part of.

    Both problems are relatively straight forward to solve from the perspective of what could be done to mitigate them. Both are apparently impossible to solve from the perspective of it would require people who are greatly benefiting from the current system giving up the financial benefits.

    The only way to me it’s even conceivable that they get solved is from a very strong committed President leaning from the bully pulpit on Congress and the public.

    It’s impossible to even state how far we are currently from that condition.

  14. Pete,

    “The only way to ME it’s even conceivable that they get solved is from a very strong committed President leaning from the bully pulpit on Congress and the public.

    It’s impossible to even state how far we are currently from that condition.”

    You are left with that one alternative since to YOU all solutions are solely INTELLECTUAL. Hopefully, for the good of the country, some of us are not that limited.

  15. Marv,

    Per your request, my latest book is now available on Amazon.com and The Kindle Store.
    Why Angels Weep: America and Donald Trump
    Authored by Vernon Turner

    List Price: $20.00
    6″ x 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
    Black & White on White paper
    212 pages
    ISBN-13: 978-1717207043 (CreateSpace-Assigned)
    ISBN-10: 1717207049
    BISAC: Political Science / Political Process / Campaigns & Elections
    When angels weep, something is terribly wrong. The election of Donald Trump, a minority President, has shaken the foundations of democracies around the world. This is a man with no governing experience, a massive ego, and a bullying attitude who also possesses the nuclear codes that could destroy all life on Earth.

    How did we come to this place? Who allowed themselves to be conned by a New York real estate hustler such that our very Constitution is attacked by a dictatorial agenda? How did subterranean pundits suddenly have the ear of this president?

    Ask yourself these and any other question you like, because “Why Angels Weep: America and Donald Trump” seeks to answer them all and suggest how we might fix the causes of such a frightening and disturbing occurrence.

    It’s time for each of us who claim to be true patriots to examine our own and others’ motives that made us so susceptible to the long con game of Donald Trump.

    Fasten your seat belt and enjoy the ride, the lessons and the possibilities for our future in this compelling book.

    Vernon Turner is a retired industrial engineer and science educator who currently publishes columns for specialty outlets. Vernon has traveled to all the continents except Antarctica and learned the wonderful things the good people around the globe have to offer.

    He started writing a political column in Marble Falls, TX in 2009, and watched it lead to a third career and four published books; this one being the fifth. Vernon’s hobbies include model replica building and following his favorite baseball and hockey teams.

  16. And here I thought “Public Affairs Month” was something evangelicals uniformly condemned as hedonistic until POTUS 45 revised the calendar.

  17. If Romney is running again,I wonder if he’ll use the ACA as an example of his positive influence upon the country during his campaign?

  18. Marv, my experience in life is that liberalism is the triumph of intellectualism over emotionalism. A product of the Great Enlightment.

  19. Gerrymandering has had another effect. The polarization has heightened confirmation bias in our consumption of news. There are many who refuse to watch traditional news programs because they feel objective news is biased against them.

    I am continually amazed at the viewers of Fox news who are completely unaware of major news stories. When made aware, they become furious. They have no tolerance for news that isn’t biased their direction.

    Voters also have very faulty memories. A friend yesterday thought all the media attention to Trump’s comments was unprecedented. This viewer was old enough to remember all the negative news that ultimately forced LBJ and Richard Nixon from office and Bill Clinton to be impeached and Ronald Reagan to be on the receiving end of Iran-Contra news. Anyone who runs for office and especially for President should be prepared for microscopic examination. Why someone of Trump’s background would invite such close scrutiny is a huge question. While his candidacy and presidency did and does gain more attention to Trump and the Trump brand, they’re also evidence that narcissism and greed can overwhelm judgment.

  20. Pete,

    “Marv, my experience in life is that liberalism is the triumph of intellectualism over emotionalism. A product of the Great Enlightment.”

    I believe you. You’re stuck in the late 17th and early 18th Century. The problem with that orientation is that there wasn’t a Joseph Goebbels or a Steve Bannon clone back then to contend with.

  21. Pete: “my experience in life is that liberalism is the triumph of intellectualism over emotionalism”

    Not any more. The triumph of emotionalism over intellectualism occurred during the tenure of Bill Clinton’s first term. In fact,at the moment,that’s the only thing (besides fumes) the DNC and DCCC are using against the Republicans;Emotionalism–nothing more.

    i.e.

    We’re Not Trump!

    OMG!! Russia!

    We’re Suing Russia and We’re Going To Get Em! Win One For The Gipper—-Er, for Hillary!

    You Have To Vote For Us,If you Don’t You’re a Moron!

    We Caved wrt DACA!

    We Have Not Proffered ANY Solutions wrt Electronic Voting (such as Paper Balloting) Because We’re Stuck At 2016!

    Are We Even Relevant Anymore? Thank Republican Mitt Romney For The ACA! Are There Any Other Republican Programs We Can Pass With Enthusiasm and Aplomb!?

    Virtue Signaling and Daily Outrage Has gotten old.

  22. Apparently some are happier with the Trump regime and his toady Congress than I am. Here’s what I am counting on to end it. Everyone who is unhappy with it voting D this year.

    One of the dangers I see us facing are people overthinking the problem and fracturing the resistance to it.

  23. Pete,

    “One of the dangers I see us facing are people overthinking the problem and fracturing the resistance to it.”

    Can’t argue with you on that one.

  24. It seems this long article has 1/3rd of the problem well described–civic literacy. (I think the Tea Party people carried copies of US constitution in their pockets. Other people have trouble knowing where afghanistan is, or iraq, or syria, or lybia, or Mt Whitney) .

    1/3rd missing is the part defined by the equation (General Literacy-Civic Literacy ) or GL-CL = L(G-C). We’ll call that L2. and L=L1+L2. L=General Literacy.

    So this person is promoting L1—civic literacy. She doesn’t know much about nor care much about the other parts of literacy (sciences, mathematics, economics, psychology, anthropology, etc.) She promotes half literacy. (And by logical implication, half illiteracy, ignorance or stupidity.)

    as noted on this blog, the author of OP (which means ‘original post’ in case you aren’t a law prof) doesnt do the web site–her son does that. She gets 100% on test for CL or L1; 0% for L2 (everything she left out).

    So grade is 50%. (Many numbers even after complex calculations turn into 1/2).

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