A Not-So-Proud July Fourth Message

I’m not celebrating the Fourth of July this year, and I don’t mind. I’m going nowhere nonessential, until the COVID-19 crisis is over! Besides, I’m not so proud of my country right now. The United States is climate-emergency complicit. It failed to implement well-known pandemic best practices. Jeff Bezos is richer than ever, while major portions of the country tumble down a plunging economic spiral. Police Violence is uglier than ever, which their treatment of #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd protesters proves.

Normally, I don’t contemplate the misery of others in order to feel better about my own situation. But this Fourth of July, I’m going to engage in that practice. There were times in American history when people had it worse than we do: African American slavery; the Trail of Tears; worker exploitation, including child labor; robber barons and gross economic inequality that led to The Great Depression; the 1960s assassinations and Kent State Massacre; etc. (Notice these soul-breaking trials resulted not from foreign aggression, but from the consequences of our own character flaws.)

So I remember dark times in American history, because we’re in one right now. If the nation survived earlier tragic epochs, maybe we can survive today’s calamities. Maybe current atrocities will push us to advance and evolve. Greater minds than mine are open to the possibility.

The following media may spark hope in the weariest patriotic heart.

‘What To The Slave Is The Fourth Of July?’: Descendants Read Frederick Douglass’ Speech | NPR

The U.S. celebrates this Independence Day amid nationwide protests and calls for systemic reforms. In this short film, five young descendants of Frederick Douglass read and respond to excerpts of his famous speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” ~ NPR

Learning from Eugene Debs’ Mission | Bernie Sanders

The Purpose of a Democracy

My own words, and those of Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, allude to the parenting role of a democratic people.

I believe we may still raise our government up to behave like a responsible adult — by using a fair measure of tough love. Protest! Protest! Protest!

Happy Fourth of July.


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42 thoughts on “A Not-So-Proud July Fourth Message

  1. “Endangered” progressive Rashida Tlaib wins Michigan-13 primary in a landslide with 66% of the vote. Also, in huge upset, progressive Cori Bush unseats 20 year establishment Democratic incumbent in MO-1 primary.

    If only Shahid Buttar could beat Nancy Pelosi. That would send the DNC into a panic.

  2. Hi JoAnn:

    I think I you and I should feel some optimism that today’s protests bode well for positive progressive change. In the meantime, I am volunteering to mail out in mass, postcards reminding people to vote in November. Stay well.

  3. 90% of Democratic voters (and 69% of all voters) support Medicare for All, but Medicare for All was just voted down by the Democratic Party Platform Committee 125 to 36 (3 abstentions).

    78% of Democratic voters (and 2/3rds of all Americans) support the legalization of marijuana, but it was just voted down by the Democratic Party Platform Committee 106 to 50.

    Ordinary Democratic voters don’t even get what they want in the platform which historically means next to nothing anyway.

    What kind of political party refuses to support the policies the vast majority of its members want? Can it even be called a political party?

    This is a good indicator of what the Biden presidency will be like for ordinary people.

    Nina Turner, former Co-chair of the Sanders campaign, summed up what voting for Biden will be like for progressive Democrats.

    “It’s like saying to somebody, ‘You have a bowl of shit in front of you, and all you’ve got to do is eat half of it instead of the whole thing.’ It’s still shit.”

    Footnote: Bernie is going to vote for the platform as a Super Delegate even though it thoroughly rejects his policies. WTF.

    www DOT youtube DOT com/watch?v=qHEQMxN9mYA

    1. The Democratic Party is absolutely galling. Nevertheless…

      Bernie was not the Democratic Primary victor. The Obama-led Democratic-Super-Tuesday-Coup effectively cut the frontrunner off at the knees. Now Bernie goes along with little concessions that inch toward the Left, and he will vote for Joe. It’s calling “living, to fight another day.”

      Future days: Bernie would rather fight a President Biden, than a President Trump.

      I don’t know what other big thing Bernie may accomplish in the future, but I see him like a General (a great strategic planner) with a giant flow chart in front of him. If Plan A closes down, the resources and energy system are designed to effectively shift to Plan B.

      Biden and the Democratic Platform are small peanuts. To Hell with them!

      1. I don’t see any strategic value in supporting a platform which rejects our most important policies.

        BTW, Rashida Tlaib is not endorsing Biden. Good for her. One can vote for Biden without endorsing him and his right-wing policies and record. That’s what I told Moveon.

    1. I’ve watched the videos. Seems like with Ranked Choice Voting, some of the voting can be lost at different stages. I never knew — do you think that’s true? Guess I’ll have to look at the Harvard study. Anyway, Star Voting seems more simple and straightforward. How would you describe the salient difference between it and RCV in a brief statement (it that’s possible)?

      1. Sorry, JoAnn, I can’t summarize the differences briefly. It seems both methods have some drawbacks depending on the circumstances, but both are far, far better than what we have. Here’s Fairvote.org’s thoughtful position:

        https://www.fairvote.org/explaining_fairvote_s_position_on_star_voting

        RCV seems simpler to me from the voter’s perspective (just rank the candidates by preference), but maybe that’s because it was the only alternative for years, and it remains much more well known among the small number of people who realize there’s an alternative to what we have.

      2. Sidenote: establishment and fauxgressive Democrats are among RCV’s biggest enemies. Both Jerry Brown and, just last year, Gavin Newsom vetoed RCV in California. They don’t want real competition from lefties and other parties.

    1. Thanks for encouragement, Rosalien.

      Say, listening to clips from Trump’s July Fourth speeches regarding far left… The more he exclaims ‘how terrible!’ to his supporters, I think the Overton Window opens wider on unity and progress for the rest of the population.

  4. The way Native Americans have been treated is utterly shameful. Can we see a First Nation Lives Matter movement? And I don’t blame you JoAnn for giving yesterday’s celebrations a miss. Under Trump, the USA is moving in a very dangerous direction.

    1. And it won’t be much better under right-wing Dementia Joe. To give the devil his due, at least Trump hasn’t started any more wars. No politician is more of a lackey to the Military-Industrial Complex than Joe Biden. He hasn’t seen a war he didn’t like, at least until it becomes grossly unpopular. Will Biden invade Venezuela? Start a war with Russia and/or Iran? Be worried.

    2. In particular it was horrible to Native Americans that Trump held a July Fourth rally at Mount Rushmore, ND, in the sacred Badlands on Friday. With illegal fireworks (forest fire danger). The Oglala Sioux Tribe had told Trump not to come.

      Trump’s Juneteenth rally was held in Tulsa, OK, site of the 1921 Tulsa Race Masacre.

      It’s difficult to imagine Trump knows this much American history, to target such locations. But someone on his staff does.

      Most people here are very worried about Trump. Even a few of his staunch supporters are falling away.

      Yes. Native Americans, the First Nations, indigenous people, need a national/international movement.

  5. The best video I have seen which explains why America isn’t even a democracy.

    www DOT youtube DOT com/watch?v=JpwJKYbEAZ8

  6. Here’s my July 4th epiphany. Nothing exemplifies the real American character than the fact that we broke EVERY treaty we ever made with native American people. I was reminded of this by Trump’s rally at Mt. Rushmore. We also are among the world’s stupidest people. Trump’s jackbooted rednecks chanted “Go back to where you came from” to the Native Americans protesting the rally.

    1. Wealthy special interests influence elected officials and practically write our legislation. Whenever corporate rule took over, that was when we became a fascist oligarchy. Since Reagan, all U.S. presidents have boldly (if unofficially) served the oligarchy. We need to deal with corruption by getting big money out of politics. Lust for money and power has ruined democratic nations around the world, and our planet. Although cycles of rank corruption is part of human history, this time, we have a climate emergency breathing down our necks. I don’t know if there is time for the pendulum to swing back toward democratic reforms.

      1. What depresses me is that almost no one, including progressives, talks about the reforms necessary to give the American people the democracy we were always taught we had: a government that truly reflects the will of the American people. All the solutions have been on Fairvote.org for years, and they are simple to understand: ranked choice voting, multi-winner congressional districts, and direct election of the president.

      2. On my to-do list is a post about crucial necessary democratic reforms. There are so many good solutions to restore democracy, as you mention, like Ranked Choice Voting. We should be fighting for them, instead of who gets to be President.

      3. With regard to gerrymandering, the only reform which gets any coverage at all is establishing independent commissions to draw the winner-take-all district lines. We will never have a government which reflects the will of the American people without multi-winner districts so everyone can elect someone of their choice to represent their views and values. Fairvote.org calls it fair representation voting. The Fair Representation Act has been introduced in Congress but gets no coverage in the media.

      4. The single winner, or winner-take-all, district is inherently unfair because up to 49% of the voters are left with no one to represent their views and values. Even when gerrymandering is used to insure the election of members of racial minorities, what happens when all neighborhoods are racially diverse? How will minorities elect someone of their race or ethnicity? Multi-winner districts are the only answer. Say 20% of a 5 member district are black. They can elect a black member if they so choose. Gay people, progressives, conservatives, or any minority can do the same assuming they make up at least 20% of the population in the district.

        The concept of winner-take-all is the most pernicious concept in all of electoral politics. Most countries no longer employ it. It has to go.

      5. Maybe it’s obvious, but the more representatives in a district, the smaller proportion of votes it takes to elect a candidate. If there are only three representatives in the district, it takes a 33.3% threshold to elect a representative. I think that’s too high a threshold. A five representative district, requiring a 20% threshold, is good, but I think a six representative district with a 16.67% threshold, is better. On the other hand, if the election threshold is too low, then people with very unpopular parties and views can be elected. It’s not a good thing to have Nazis and KKKers in the Congress or the legislature. Also, the ballot can get too complicated. For example, Texas has 36 members of the House of Representatives. If Texas were one big congressional district, most people probably would not study the candidates or want to vote in 36 races. In addition, with 36 members the threshold for electing a representative would only be 2.7%, a threshold a lot of far out candidates could get.

      6. Yes. Multi-winner districts combined with ranked choice voting (RCV). I forgot to emphasize the RCV component. RCV is what enables minorities (be they racial, political, or whatever) to have representation in a multi-winner district.

      7. Oops, I made a mistake. I said, “If Texas were one big congressional district, most people probably would not study the candidates or want to vote in 36 races.”

        If Texas were one big congressional district, there would be one congressional race with 36 winners. There might be over 100 candidates running (too many for one race IMO).

        I should have said, “If Texas were one big congressional district, most people probably would not study the candidates or want to rank choice all the candidates for the 36 places.”

        It’s confusing because we were brought up to think that single winner (winner-take-all) districts are all there is.

      8. Got it.

        We were taught how to think about elections according to the agenda of power-brokers. The elite status quo always strives to dismantle democracy, which is a threat to its consolidated power.

      9. Absolutely.

        Can we sell multi-winner districts with RCV to the public? Seems like they should be a no-brainer once people understand how they work.

    2. I felt the same way that night but afterward Obama turned out to be Mitt Romney in blackface.

    3. How did we go from Obama to Trump? Easy question: the complete and utter failure of Obama’s neoliberal policies plus his continuation of neoconservative foreign policy. People knew they didn’t want another 4 to 8 years of that so they took a chance on an unknown who talked a good game and ran to the left of Hillary on healthcare and war.

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