Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


WHAT IF EVERYONE VOTED? As a result, voters’ experiences in the same national election will vary significantly by state, to a greater degree than has been true in decades. Underlying that reality is an increasingly partisan split over whether it should be a goal at all in the United States to get more people to vote. Many political scientists say that policies that make voting easier would also make American democracy more representative and less likely to favor the interests of wealthier, older and white voters who typically turn out at higher rates. Broader participation, proponents say, could ease polarization, lift faith in government and dampen criticism that politicians representing the views of a minority of Americans wield the majority of power in Washington. “Equalizing turnout across the population would be the single best thing we could do for our democracy and probably for our country in the near term,” said Adam Bonica, a political scientist at Stanford.

NC'S HUNTING AND FISHING AMENDMENT IS A PLOY: Among the six proposed constitutional amendments on the North Carolina ballot the most puzzling may be the simplest. It reads: “Constitutional amendment protecting the right of the people to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife.” Most voters will wonder: Why does the right to hunt and fish need to be enshrined in the North Carolina Constitution? The short answer is: It doesn’t. The long answer is: politics, including the calculation that this unneeded amendment will bring more rural Republicans to the polls. Voters should go with the short answer and keep this bit of political gamesmanship out of the state’s governing document. There’s no threat to the right to hunt and fish and harvest wildlife in North Carolina. That right is already embedded in the state’s culture and broadly recognized, even by activists committed to the protection of animals.

EXCERPTS FROM ROY COOPER'S REMARKS AT VIGIL FOR SYNAGOGUE VICTIMS: The freedom to live and worship without fear is essential, and yesterday’s act of violence strikes at the very heart of our country’s greatness. But we cannot allow terrorism in any form to stifle the work of good and righteous people. We must continue to gather in prayer. To better our communities. And to repair our world. While there is a time for mourning, there will also come a time for action. Action to fight anti-Semitism, hatred and bigotry in all its forms. Action to change the policies and divisiveness that have made such mass murders all too common in our country. The increase in hate speech that we’ve seen in recent months is alarming. It is unacceptable. And it is a wake up call for everyone. It is more clear than ever that no one can sit idly by and let violent hatred run rampant. Like the Jewish mourner’s Kaddish, a prayer which is not intended to be said alone – neither shall we take action alone, but rather together, hand-in-hand. May the memory of those killed be for a blessing – and so much more. May their memory be for courage. Strength. Action. And healing.

BLACK PEOPLE IN AMERICA LIVE ON HIGH ALERT: Recently, America went into panic mode over suspicious packages being sent to CNN and various public figures’ homes. While these events might have raised the blood pressure of many Americans, it was just another day in paradise… To be black in America is to be in a constant state of high alert. Most of us wake up every morning already on Def Con 3, not knowing if we are gonna be shot by some trigger happy cop or attacked by some Confederate flag waving, Civil War sympathizer. Not to mention the real possibility of being hit by a stray bullet courtesy of some kid with bad aim who felt dissed by the guy across the street. The annals of African-American history are filled with stories of unsuspecting black men and women in the South being brutalized by a slave master for getting out of line or maybe just because he was having a bad day. Even those above the Mason Dixon line lived in constant fear that some slave catcher trying to meet his monthly quota would snatch them up one night and drag them back down to Dixie.

THE BEST WAY TO PROTECT DEMOCRACY IS TO PRACTICE IT. GO VOTE: No matter who wins, higher turnout is a good thing. It reaffirms the essence of the democratic process, and it tends to help candidates who are both more reasonable and more representative of the public at large. It’s also true that when more people vote, the electorate becomes more liberal. If Americans voted in proportion to their actual numbers, a majority would most likely support a vision for the country far different from that of Mr. Trump and the Republicans in Congress. This includes broader access to health care, higher taxes on the wealthy, more aggressive action against climate change and more racial equality in the criminal justice system. It comes down to this: Democracy isn’t self-activating. It depends on citizens getting involved and making themselves heard. So if you haven’t yet cast a ballot, get out and do it on Tuesday, or earlier if your state allows early voting. Help your family, friends and neighbors do the same. Help a stranger. Vote as if the future of the country depends on it. Because it does.


JERRY CARR: SILENT SAM DOESN'T REPRESENT POOR UNC STUDENTS. IT REPRESENTS A LIE: Kevin Lewis declared Silent Sam a “masterpiece of art” that represented the sad, isolated, average soldier (“Silent Sam is not just a symbol; it’s a masterpiece of art,” Oct. 29). Eunice Brock (“Silent Sam redeemed,” Oct 31) expanded on both of these ideas, saying that it was a “mob” that tore down this “beautiful piece of art.” What she saw in Silent Sam was “a poor, young man without slaves.” The UNC students to whom the statue was dedicated were not poor. Some of them brought slaves to school to serve their personal needs. Some of those slaves were buried in unmarked graves in the slave section of the UNC cemetery. The “poor soldier” argument is part of the familiar theme that the South was the victim of Northern aggression. Silent Sam was one of thousands of monuments dedicated to the lie that there was something noble about this war against the Northern invaders. The truth was that the war was initiated by the slave-owning elite and it was absolutely intended to preserve and expand slavery. It wasn’t an uncouth mob, incapable of appreciating fine art, that tore down Silent Sam. The whole thing was an outstanding act of performance art — the symbolic pulling down of that abysmal thing called Racism.

DENISE BAKER: THE RICH GET THE TREAT, THE REST OF US ARE TRICKED: Mitch McConnell and Republicans in Congress are hoping to play a reverse trick-or-treat on us. Last December they voted for the largest tax cut in history as a treat for their wealthy donors and corporations. McConnell then dismissed any concerns about the rising deficit, claiming the tax cut would probably pay for itself. Less than a year later the deficit has increased by 17 percent and could top $1 trillion by next year. Now comes the trick: Suddenly McConnell is “disturbed” by the rising deficit and claims that “it is driven by three entitlement programs that are very popular: Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.” This Republican trick is very familiar but nonetheless very scary. It’s not that these life-saving programs are freebies. We all pay into Medicare and Social Security. Rather, McConnell and his Republican Congress have used our life savings to give big gifts to their besties, and they don’t care about what’s best for the rest of us.

DANA MANGUM: STOPPING HATE SHOULD BE OUR GOAL: I hear about violence every day. As the CEO of the N.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the focus of our work is with intervention and prevention solutions. We know that the connections between persons committing domestic violence and perpetrators of mass shootings are compelling and too great to ignore. We are undoubtedly at a period of U.S. history in which societal violence has heightened, fueled by the accessibility of guns and the far-reaching effects of social media. Violence is encouraged with words designed to evoke fear —fear of those who worship, appear, or express in ways that are different from ourselves. The divisive rhetoric and action of our political leaders feed the division and opens the door to create harsh animosity. This is not us. Our government leaders are failing to lead the nation towards civility. This is a call for all leaders—those of scout troops, families, businesses, organizations, school committees, health care and educational institutions, and particularly those in positions of authority—to speak strongly and decisively against actions and words that support white nationalism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia, and to encourage moral conversations that discourage divisiveness. We all must represent humanity. Our lives depend on it.



From the dark side

This week's winner is not an enemy per se, just a naive professor whining about Democrats:

Democrats are not contesting immigration this year. Republicans mention immigration four times as often as Democratsin campaign ads. Fifty percent of pro-Democratic ads aired in September were on health care, compared with just 4 percent on immigration.

The political calculation is obvious. “It is very difficult to win on immigration with vulnerable voters in the states Trump carried in 2016,” argued a strategy memo circulated among Democratic campaigns by two influential think tanks, the liberal Center for American Progress and the centrist Third Way. The memo claimed polls showed “even the most draconian of Republican policies” toward immigrants had failed to sway swing voters, and so Democrats should spend “as little time as possible” on contentious issues such as sanctuary cities, pivoting to health care instead.

When Trump talked big about revoking birthright citizenship, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), the Democrats’ would-be speaker, retorted, “Clearly, Republicans will do absolutely anything to divert attention away from their votes to take away Americans’ health care.”

But who was really diverting?

Okay, first of all: She's absolutely right. We'll talk about immigration in a moment, but what Republicans are doing with health care is the single biggest scam in politics in the last fifty years. Before they could even pass their tax cut last year, they had to appease the deficit hawks in their own party by passing a resolution to severely cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security Disability. In that vote, they promised to cut $488 Billion from Medicare over the next 8-10 years, and a cool Trillion from Medicaid. This year's resolution saw an increase in their proposed cuts to Medicare up to $537 Billion.

Make no mistake, these cuts will not only cost millions of Americans (much) more in out-of-pocket medical expenses, they will literally cost human lives when citizens avoid seeking care because they can't afford it. And for the most part, this scam has gone unnoticed by the bulk of the voting population. I'm *glad* campaigns are addressing this so heavily now; they should have been doing that from the start. Back to immigration:

Trump wants to make this midterm a referendum on a welcoming stance toward immigrants that has been Democratic doctrine for a half-century, and all the Democrats can say is that this campaign should be about something else. The loss of moral authority from abandoning this fight is certain to be greater than the political gain – of which there is no certainty anyway.

The Democrats are additionally limited because their proposals on immigration are mostly old, familiar and oft-defeated. The Dream Act, which would provide relief to worthy young people brought here without authorization as children, was first introduced in 2001 and failed in 2010 when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. Comprehensive immigration reform was defeated in 2007 and 2014 but remains the Democrats’ go-to proposition. It was originally authored by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), who died nearly 10 years ago and has never been replaced as the Democrats’ champion and chief legislator on immigration.

Elected Democrats have numerous and diverse policy ideas about immigration. You haven't noticed these proposals because they didn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of even reaching the floors of either house of Congress, much less garnering enough votes to pass.

In addition to ignoring the blunt reality Congressional Democrats face as a minority, the author also ignores their strategic gains on immigration. When the battle over DACA renewal in the US Senate reached the point where no compromise would actually help these young people, Senate Dems risked everything by throwing a government shutdown right in the faces of the GOP. And they blinked.

While DACA has not been entirely settled, their action forced the courts to intervene against Trump, and now DACA is still alive. Had the Democrats folded, the draconian measures Republicans would have required of applicants would have successfully killed the program.

By nearly every measure, Senate Democrats produced a "win" for immigrants, and we need to remember that.

Trump might yet provoke a backlash among swing voters. Hard-line immigration rhetoric has failed to carry the day in elections such as the Virginia governor’s race last year. And the Democrats’ strategy of playing down immigration in favor of health care might prove a winner.

But, win or lose, the Democrats will have paid a price. Their ability to contest Trump will be limited by their failure to confront him and to offer alternative policies. And, even if they win one or both houses of Congress, they will have no mandate to make immigration policy, because they never asked for one.

Bolding mine, because right now, winning elections is everything. Especially as far as "contesting" Trump. The author seems to have forgotten that Congress, not the President, is tasked with writing and passing laws. The President can "propose" Legislation until his orange face turns blue, but that's about all he can do.

And when you're dealing with a demagoguing, lying sack of shit like Trump, standing up to him with words means nothing. He will just twist your words around, or make shit up out of whole cloth, while you sit there in frustration. The *only* successful strategy is to win seats in Congress, and if that means Democrats virtually ignore your pet issue during their campaigns (whatever your issue is), get over it.