Tuesday, February 02, 2016

People Get Real About Multiracial Identity In This Powerful Video

"I am who I am, and no one else is like me, and that's pretty cool."

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What Is This Bernie Supporter Thinking? By Kyle Leach

What Is This Bernie Supporter Thinking? By Kyle Leach

I’m online a lot. I like being able to keep track of campaigns, elections, and sitting officials from my own spaces. I enjoy going out to the digital world and seeing what supporters of Bernie, Martin, and Hillary have to say. Many Dems seem to think that something feels different about this election cycle. They impart that we seem more fragmented, more hostile to one another, less focused on electing all of our own. I’m writing this piece because some of my Hillary “friends” in the greater online world are having a difficult time reconciling these developments and are having a hard time seeing where the conflicts and dissent are seated. They have voiced fears of impending Republican takeovers and an ultra-conservative Supreme Court if we do not come together. They want to know why we can’t all simply be unified again.

I can understand these perceptions; I certainly understand what they are trying to impart, but from my perspective, it is erroneous to conclude that this is a new feature to our political realm; or to conclude that this in fact a bad development for our party; or to even assume that the Democratic Party was ever unified. I can’t tell you what the millions of Bernie supporters are thinking or what has led them to support Bernie Sanders. We are a very diverse group of thinkers, hopers, dreamers, and changers.  But what I can do is help you understand my thought process, and why I am willing to give Bernie support.

Part of my support for Bernie comes from knowing his work long before he became a presidential figure. I have followed his career, even though I am not a constituent. I know his history; I know his voting record. I know he is consistent. He has always been focused on the average person and he has always pressed for human rights.  He has fought very hard to reduce human suffering throughout the world. Part of my support comes from Bernie’s views being close to my ideological placement, though I’m much further left; much more liberal.  My online profiles don’t say uber-liberal for nothing. That means Bernie and I disagree on some things, but by and large, Bernie and I are on the same playing field. When he makes decisions, he tosses the ball out of the field sometimes; and sometimes he’s right on the very edge.  But most of the time, he is still pretty close. I see centrist Democrats pop in to the field and then pop out; and I sometimes I used to see a Republicans every now and then.  Though now that is very rare.

People in the Party love to use the words liberal and progressive to identify themselves.  But if I use their actions as indicators, I’m not sure many people really know what those two words mean, or the world view they embody.   Liberals create actions that lead to universal equality and human rights, while retaining as many personal liberties as possible. Their goal is to alleviate all ills for all humankind and to make sure no person is in need. If you can get far enough socially you go beyond equality and push for equity, giving each human being everything they need to succeed and to be the best they can be, even if that requires  more than others would  need for their own success. 

Progressives do believe in similar things, though I think they tend to favor a more stepped approach while trying to hold to the same ends as liberals. The key here is that both want reform and change, not in small pieces, but in broad, sweeping, often fundamental, shifts from where we are now. Bernie is progressive; I’m not sure I would call him liberal, though he does support many liberal ideas, so maybe he could be. Given my perspective I’m sure you can see why I often double over in laughter when Republican s call many Democrats liberals or try to label the Party as liberal, or progressive, or to say that the a  “liberal wing”  has control of the Democratic Party. 

People in our party too often forget when and where our party started, and how our touted successes over history are marred by the failings of individuals, and the times they were a part of. Too often, Democrats pump up past leaders from the Party as people to emulate or rally behind, all the while holding a curtain over the transgressions of those same people.  This frustrates me greatly. It is lazy and one day it will catch up to us. As far as I can tell, our party has always been divided. The decades change, the issues at hand change, but how we move forward and who or what we  choose to champion has always been a great point of contention.  There are many people in our tent, E Pluribus Unum, out of many, one.  But we have never been united; if you think we have, you have bought into a false narrative, probably made and distributed by the Party. My advice on that is to dig deeper. Question more. Don’t take things on face value. The perspective you gain can be immeasurable. 

You will probably find it odd that I have Bill and Hillary to thank for my uber-liberal awakening. Before they were President and First Lady, I took most things the Party said at face value. I took what most officials said at face value. I took what the media said at face value. I was young then and obviously very naïve, something I sometimes miss in middle age. Much of what Bill Clinton did in office launched a domino effect that lead to the disempowerment of millions of people here at home. His decisions here at home also had repercussions that echoed into the lives of billions of people throughout the globe. NAFTA was one of those ideas. It hurt workers here. It hurt workers abroad. It hurt unions. It hurt women. It hurt minorities.  He gave into corporate interests. His tough on crime stance did much of the same thing but focused those hurts on our own people. Don’t even get me started on what DADT and DOMA did to my own LGBQTIA community. Bill helped to ignite my uber- liberal center; he helped me to realize that I needed to find others like me. He made me realize that I didn’t want to be anything like him. He made me realize I didn’t want our Party to be anything like him. He helped me realize that I had to be the change I wanted to see. 

My dislike for Bill did not influence my judgement of Hillary when she ran for a Senate seat. Each human being is unique. Each person is their own. I had no idea where she might take things. She has many strengths. She is very intelligent. Her campaign is fond of saying that she gets things done in our system.  She does. She moves very slowly; she is calculating. She hedges a lot, but she can move things within the system. The better question to ask is not if she can, but when she does, where will she move them?

What Hillary accomplished in the Senate didn’t help the nation’s middle or lower class. When she green lit military action, she harmed millions of people in an entire region of the world. That was just one vote. That one vote started the wheels turning for the military industrial complex; they were able to gobble up even more of our national budget, they were able to interfere in other nations, they we able to siphon young people from the middle and lower class, and they were able to further privatization of that entire arena. Her authorization of TARP bailed out the Big Banks and financial institutions responsible for the Great Recession. It gutted the financial present and future of the middle and lower class, at the same time preparing for a new era of corporatization. 

And after all was said and done, and all the investigations were concluded, only one person was ever convicted. One. Millions of average citizens lost their personal wealth, their jobs, their homes, their retirement, their chance at college.  They had to watch it all go to banks, institutions, and corporations.  They were left with little, while corporations, banks and their greedy shareholders, took all their dreams and plans away. They had to watch as it filtered up to 62 people they don’t know, that they will never meet, and who have little regard for the other inhabitants of this world. Many of her most important votes helped the wrong people.  These two votes and many others are the reason I cannot think of Hillary as a liberal or a progressive. 

To ruin so many lives and then to think she could say she was sorry and to just go on with her very privileged life, her  political aspirations, is beyond what I can fathom . After her mistakes in the Senate, and after her failed campaign for president, she could have gone on to be a better public servant perhaps in a less prestigious position. I still thought she might redeem herself. That’s how hopeful I am. Instead, she chose to take position as Secretary of State, continued on the same path she did as senator, and advanced her future political prospects. It is why I cannot imagine she can stand up to Big Business or the Big Banks, or Big Ag, or Big Pharma, or to the military industrial complex. She has more ties to them now than she ever did before. She’s receiving more donations, more support from them now than she did then. The endorsements Hillary gets day after day from industry, the political establishment, and from establishment non-profits should tell you one thing; none of them want things to change greatly. They are all perfectly fine with things the way they are. Political ambition isn’t bad; it helps you get elected. Political ambition at the expense of your people, well that is a whole new category entirely.

Corporate entities and concentrated wealth are the problems that we need to recognize, that we need to fix. I’m happy Hillary would like to talk about them, but talking about them, or chastising them, isn’t going to get them to change. One of the first things people who are abused learn in counseling is to get away from their abusers.  They have to learn not to go back to their abusers.  They learn not to negotiate with those abusers. The abusers will always tell you they are sorry, and that they will change. They will pretend they will do anything for you. People are tired of being abused. People are tired of being told someone is sorry for what they are going through. People are tired of watching their futures evaporate. People are tired of watching their communities and public services degrade while having to work harder and harder, longer and longer, just to keep up, much less get ahead. People are tired of watching fellow human beings being murdered on a regular basis, all around them, with almost no repercussion.  Bernie has attracted so many people, from across the political spectrum and tens of millions of small donors from across the nation because he doesn’t pretend to care; he really does care.  

Bernie’s not our messiah, he is our therapist. Bernie has never told any of us that he can give us our old lives back, or bring things to where they were before. What he does tell us is that, with all of our help, he can try to shut down the abuse. He is telling us that with all our help he can stop our abusers from hurting us in the ways they are currently hurting us. He has told us that he has ideas for how to start fixing some of our most systemic national problems and that he wants to expand the social safety net further in order to help our most marginalized, our most at risk, people.  He is up front that some of the ideas are unconventional; some have never been tried before, some were last used after the 20th century’s Great Depression. He is also up front that opposition will be fierce. We won’t just be able to vote on voting day and then abandon him. He will need us to fend off the wolves. He is too nice to say this, but the wolves won’t all be from the other side of the aisle. We will have to have his back. He’ll have to be focused forward on our next therapy session and getting us ready for the next bit of hell we have to face. We all will have to do the work. We will have to make the changes stick.

We supposedly live in one of the wealthiest, most resourceful, most educated, most adventurous nations on the globe. Why is it then that we could not accomplish at least some of the things Bernie proposes? Money is really not an issue. We have plenty of it. It is simply concentrated in places where it cannot help our people, where it cannot be used to reinvigorate our society. Much of what he has proposed has worked in other nations in the world. Why do you think we could not examine things they have done and scale them to our own nation?  If he has the support of enough people to elect him to office, we can change the flow of money in this country.  We can enhance and enforce much needed regulations.  We can diminish the improper influence that corporations, and those with unusually large wealth, have on our government.  Bernie isn’t being bought; he is one of the few who is not.  As President, he could change some things simply by executive order. We’d have to work on the rest in Congress.  Just a hint: that’s our jurisdiction; it is our responsibility, not his.  If we don’t get more Progressive Dems into Congress, we better turn our flaming eyes on the Party at all levels. Their sole job, and they say it so often, is to elect Democrats. 

I think the problem is not that Bernie’s supporters create, think, dream, and hope too much.   I think the problem is that those that do not support him, might do too little creating, thinking, dreaming, and hoping.  One day, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was asked when we would have enough women on the highest court. She answered by saying when it had nine, without a blink. I smile every time I think of that. That’s how I look at moving toward our future. That’s how I think as an uber-liberal. We focus on the things we want. We go to the table with those ideas. Going to the table already sacrificing, weakens your position and makes for certain you will not get anything near what you wanted.  You have to dream big, and think big, if you are ever to get close to what you want.

It is not that I can’t imagine Hillary as President Clinton. It is that I can imagine so many other women, so many other people, who would be a better match for the position. I can think of so many other people who would protect the nation from corporate interests, corporate corruption, and the whims of the extremely wealthy. One of those better matches is Bernie Sanders. I’m not worried about the Supreme Court changes or a Republican sweep, because when Bernie gets the nomination he would have all of his supporters, and all the support from the rest of our Party.  At least that’s what the Party, and supporters of Hillary, constantly say.  Once a nominee is chosen, we must all get behind our candidate.  So if that candidate is Bernie, Hillary folks should rally around him, just as they expect Bernie supporters to rally around Hillary if she wins.  Fair is fair right?

Many people criticize Bernie and his supporters as idiots who think up the most fantastical things, things no one could ever accomplish. They are too hopeful, too gullible, and too eager to gamble on future creations that cannot be guaranteed.   We are thinkers. We are dreamers. We are hopeful. We are creative. I’m sorry if others have given up those things. They are the things that make life worth living, even when you have lost everything else.  If you have lost the ability to dream, hope, and be creative, you should try to get them back.

I know it is frightening to think of doing something new, and untested. You won’t be alone in that thought. Don’t you think our nation, our people, our world, deserve a chance? The status quo hasn’t worked for a long time. Yet, we keep proposing the same solutions and expect different results.  We can’t afford to wait for change any longer. We have to make it happen now. Don’t you think it is worth trying? I think it is.

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Friday, January 29, 2016

My Thoughts On The Bernie, Hillary, The HRC, And LGBTQIA Firestorm By Kyle Leach

My thoughts on the Bernie, Hillary, the HRC, and LGBTQIA Firestorm By Kyle Leach

In the decade of my birth gays, lesbians, drag queens, and the transgendered fought for tolerance and acceptance.  They pressed society and every human being they encountered, asking to be recognized and to be treated with dignity and respect. In the 1990’s I was in my early twenties. I was, for the first time, becoming my own person and making my own way.  I was discovering who I was. The world and this nation were still broadly hostile, often violent, and universally dismissive of those of us who would eventually become known as LGBTQIA.  LGBTQIA. That acronym does not tell the complete story of our history.  It does not contain who we were, who we are, or what we will become.  At that time, we were just beginning to assemble into the “alphabet soup” that now is almost universally recognized. Until the 90’s, I had never known a place where we were not demonized, dismissed, blamed, and hated. Slowly, that started to change. 

One of the few people in public office, not in our community, who publicly defended us before the 1990s, was Bernie Sanders. In the 1990’s I remember learning about this crazy straight dude, from Vermont, who stood up for us. I was shocked-- shocked because someone was trying to help us who didn’t have to.  In 1983, Bernie backed Burlington’s  first-ever pride march. 1983!  Think about that. He pushed to decriminalize homosexuality when he ran for governor of Vermont.  He stood up for us in fighting against DADT and DOMA; and he voted against both. He stood by us frequently throughout my life, and his actions, coupled with those of many others, helped to move our community out of the closet and into the 21st century. He did all of this before it was fashionable.  He supported us. He didn’t remain silent. He added his voice to ours, a true ally. The fact that we are even having a discussion about his record shows how much LGBTQIA, and the average American, need to learn about LGBTQIA history.

What did Hillary Clinton do for us in the 1980’s? What did she do for us in the 1990’s? Where was Hillary Clinton during these decades? Did she sanction her town’s first pride parade when I was twelve? No.  That was Bernie.  As First Lady, did she rail against her husband’s DADT policy? Again, silence. Did she fight against DOMA?  Unfortunately, she was not silent.  In this case, she supported it. Did she rally to abolish discriminatory laws pertaining to sexuality? No.  She didn’t.  It’s true that Hillary “evolved” on many issues relating to LGBTQIA, but not until the last decade. And on marriage equality, her change of heart came just two years ago.  She changed her mind and supported us when it was politically expedient to do so.  She needed us.  In fact, each time she chose to “evolve”,  the political ramifications of that evolution diminished.  Now, it’s fashionable to support us.  So there is little risk.  Does this mean Hillary is a bad human being? No, of course not.  But it does mean that people should check their history books, and get all their facts straight about how and when she did support us and what the conditions of that support were.  Personally, I’m a little cautious of people who have to “evolve” on civil rights issues. And I’m even more cautious when a person doesn’t consistently look at their fellow human beings as equals.  As for Hillary Clinton, she has many strengths, to be sure.  But, unfortunately, this arena is not one of them.  And it never has been.

The last component of this piece deals with the Human Rights Campaign. like Hillary, they also have “evolved”. They were once one of the foremost organizations spearheading issues that were important to the LGBQTIA community.  They made us very visible. They collaborated with many organizations, including the Democratic Party, and drew in revenue to help fight for our rights.  They are very efficient at those two things: collaborating and fund raising.  Now, the organization is extremely corporatized, as are so many of our large scale nonprofit organizations, as is our society. My biggest criticism of the HRC is that the organization’s focus is not very diverse.  Money is not spent on those who really need it, especially marginalized people in the LGBQTIA community, it is spent on fashionable things that can help raise even more money.  I’m also still very upset at the HRC because  when ENDA was being debated, many from the HRC were willing to throw out the T in LGBTQIA in order to gain what they considered to be success.  They felt the entire transgendered community was worth sacrificing to gain success for the other groups in our community.  And what’s even worse, is they were willing to sacrifice the most vulnerable people in our community, those that face the worst oppression and hate, and need the most support.

I abandoned the HRC a long time ago, and I would only ask that people be careful of any advice you would get from the organization. They have become a self- fulfilling prophecy, and are beholden to money and power, selling out to remain relevant at all. The fact that the HRC board was willing to praise and endorse Hillary, a candidate who has a lower HRC rating than Bernie, over Bernie, before the primary, gives you a good indication of how money and power mean more to the HRC Board than the LGBTQIA community they say they support.

In the last two decades of my life, there have been far too many LGBTQIA who have lost their lives unnecessarily.  Many of us don’t survive coming to terms with our sexuality in one way or another. Those of us who do survive are understandably altered by our experiences.  Whether those of us are beaten, shot, bullied, succumb to AIDS, or take our own lives, those parts are taken from our collective, far too soon, and leave us far less than what we should be. Still, we keep moving forward and amazingly continue to find ways to keep their memory a part of our world. And we thrive as a community.  It is what we do.  I have felt respect now; and I know what dignity is.  I know what it feels like to trust and have a sense of community.  I also know what love is. But I have not forgotten where we have come from and those that have helped us. I also kept track of those that stood in our way and those that shielded themselves from the discomfort or repercussions that support might bring, by staying silent on issues, or pretending to help our community behind the scenes.

Dark deeds in our world succeed so often, not because humanity is bad, but because, too often, people are afraid to stand up to those dark deeds. Actions can speak louder than words and so can the lack of action. In the 1980’s, activists used to chant SILENCE=DEATH.  Even though we are in the 21st century, don’t think that has lost its relevance.  Stand up. Don’t be silent. Silence does equal death.

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How America's Gun Manufacturers Are Quietly Getting Richer Off Taxpayers

"I've had CEOs in New England tell me that the offers from states' economic development teams are so extraordinary that they could essentially move their factories for free. In some cases they've received these offers almost daily over extended periods of time." Larry Keane, senior vice president of the National Shooting Sports Federation

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Illusion Of Choice

 Some great infographics and information on how corporate entities control much of what you buy and what you watch via TV and online.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

How Should We Talk In The Digital Age?-By Kyle Leach

How Should We Talk In The Digital Age?-By Kyle Leach

I was inspired to write this piece after reading a post by Ray Buckley from his personal Facebook account. He had wandered into a comment section of a Facebook post, an online quagmire on the best of days, and was shocked with what he saw. He proceeded to tell us what he found and then gave everyone some of his thoughts to reflect upon. I reflected. You can read the post above if you didn’t already see it, to see Ray’s thoughts.

His post is actually a great place to begin the conversation we need to have about 21st century communication.   I think we, as a party, need to start talking about this. We are already a decade and a half into this century. Digital and social media are now powerful tools for communication, the subjects of research studies. Social media connects people in ways we have never been able to connect before and allows for sharing and collaboration at rates we never thought were possible. They can motivate and connect people around the globe. They can make human beings stronger and give them courage and help people everywhere feel they are not alone.

With that great power, comes great responsibility. You’ve probably heard me say before, words have power; words can change the world. I really believe that; I’m not just using that as poetic literary decoration.  I don’t believe in saying things you don’t mean or saying things simply because you can. Once words pour from your lips, or your fingertips, you can’t take them back. With that being said, are these modern tools too dangerous to use? Should we discourage usage because they can harm? Absolutely not. 

Tools cannot be good or evil, if you even believe those things exist. Tools are only as good as the human beings using them and that means it is necessary for all of us to monitor ourselves individually and monitor each other. We have to take the responsibility to help each other use these technologies in the best ways we can and teach each other to use them well. We need good digital citizenship.  If we did this we could all speak freely within the ether,  and reach each other without causing undue harm or encouraging homogeny or compliance, two things toxic to discussion, debate, and open discourse. To apply this to Democrats at large this would mean we need our organizational structures to promote these ideals and provide funding, time and people power, dedicated to this end. Anything less is just lip service.

One of the first suppositions Ray proposed in his post was that the digital realm provides a false sense of security and false courage. This is good place to center the conversation.  It is true that the online environment has a fair share of bullying and that can foster it. In some individuals, it provides a sense of protection from recrimination. However, most reasoned people using digital devices are careful in what they post and what privacy settings they use.  Facebook’s own research found people will quite often type something and change it several times before it is sent; and that often people type something out and erase without ever sending it at all. As Democrats, I think we should be very careful about acting as “thought police”.  That is not our job. I’ve always preferred the idea that the best library is the one that has something to offend everyone. The best environment for our party would be one that is supportive of diverse ideas, even if they are not convenient; even if there is something that may offend everyone.

Next, his response talks about your associates online understanding more about you, your leanings, and efforts you would support. This might be true of people like me who keep online friends and associates to a manageable minimum.  But many of us have accounts with followers into the thousands or tens of thousands. There isn’t any way a human being can keep track of that many people; we aren’t built like that. What we share can reach people we don’t know well or people we might be able to talk with. How our online world is decorated can be a way to show support, attack something we oppose, or simply be blank because we don’t care.  Are our online comments going to change every mind, sway every voter, or persuade an adversary? Definitely not. I know for sure that each individual’s space is theirs and belongs to no one else. What they choose to post or say is up to them. If you don’t like something you can always unfollow them or you can block them, or delete any comments that upset you. It really is as simple as that. But use that control sparingly. The worst thing we can do is to turn social media into a gated community where conformity is the expectation, and new ideas are squelched. 

I liked the second thought in Ray’s post very much, but I also find it to be short sighted. If a Democrat is feeling lonely or anxious, he says they should go to a local campaign office, local committees, or to a local Dem event, in order to feel more involved. It’s unrealistic. Many people would have to travel quite distance to find to these things.  And it is not like they are there all the time, and then there is just the fact that not all people connect with each other in those ways. Why limit ourselves? With social media you can reach out to the world for inspiration, help, and advice. You can learn about anything in history, read commentaries from around the world, and access video, audio, and podcasts of many political and social events. Information online comes with the same dangers of information in the real world. Democrats don’t want to discourage people from meeting face to face, but geography and financial limitations might. We expect people to learn and find new information. Why would we, as Democrats, discourage people from finding solace and information online?

The last four points in the post are the most problematic from my viewpoint. All are fearmongering, to an extent, and put severe limitations on speech at the least. Each reinforces mitigating or silencing dissent.  I have said this many times before; silencing dissent is not a Democratic value. Curbing passion and differing ideas might streamline communication and make it easier, but it has the chilling effect of dampening energy, limiting creativity, and fostering isolation. Sameness can be a tempting construct, but the differences we have are what make us special as individuals and as a collective. That’s when we shine. It would be a shame to shadow that potential because we fear social repercussions, because we fear our flawed past, or because we fear tomorrows we have yet to write. As Democrats, we have to make decisions wisely online.  We have to be better at inclusion and acceptance of new ideas. We can’t perseverate any more in the land of ones and zeros than we would in the physical realm.

In the online world some of us are more, myself included. If I were in front of you now, my agoraphobia would limit me tremendously. My social phobias would shut me down, and my connection to each of you would be strained terribly. It would be very hard to say all of this at once or even pull it together as I have here. In this online space, I am not limited by my body, or age, or perceived gender, or sexuality, or any of the confines of my real life. My soul and intellect reign here.  I don’t take that lightly; and many people don’t. We shouldn’t limit the potential of each Democrat by making them fear this space. This space can empower so many of us, in so many different ways. I hope it will eventually ignite the social humanity of many, many more. We don’t have to unite the party to be successful. We have to learn to arrange ourselves into a coalition that others want to connect with, want to become a part of.  We have to learn to share; to collaborate. We have to learn to be social, without the old constraints, and use our collective intelligence to move us forward. That’s what the 21st century is all about for Democrats. That’s what being a good digital citizen is.

Share this content as you like. Do not re-publish, in whole or in part, without the written approval of the author Kyle Leach.

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Thursday, January 07, 2016

Where Do We Go From Here? Reflections On The Democratic Party, 2016, And Beyond By Kyle Leach

Where Do We Go From Here? Reflections On The Democratic Party, 2016, And Beyond By Kyle Leach

Three things happened recently that led me to write this piece. This is difficult to talk about because I really care about these circumstances and outcomes. Otherwise, I would have just moved on. Writing often helps me to process what is going on in my head. Some of this is to extract meaning and determine any courses of action. But it is equally important because I've been told so often not to articulate what I’m feeling and I think it is important for others, who feel as I do, to know they are not alone.

The first story I have to tell is the most personal. I found out by chance that my father and brother are seriously thinking of voting for a Republican this year. That may not be very impressive to any of you, but for my whole life each of them have voted consistently and voted for Democrats. I can't tell you all the things that may have led to this change, but I do have some ideas. They've been watching more and more Fox News as the years have gone on and their life circumstances have taken turns for the worse, making them even more willing to believe the rhetoric coming from the right. I’m not going to blame Fox or Republicans; that is ridiculous. They simply benefited from our failure to keep them as Democrats.

We, as a party, pushed them away; neglected them; and they latched to the closest life raft they could. We failed to give them relief. We failed to give them hope. We failed to give them a glimpse of a future they could see themselves a part of; and so we lost them. We’ve allowed people outside the Democratic Party, and the Oligarchs, aligned both with and against us, to define who we are and how things will get done. And that has to stop. We have to stop blaming everyone else and take a close look at our own failings and inadequacies; and fix them. If we don’t, we will continue to loose support from our voters.

The second thing that led me to write this piece is less of an event, it is more of a progression. Now that I'm a Democratic town chair, and now that I have been on the county committee more than once, I've had the chance to attend and observe yearly events through a different lens. Different people sit in the positions and even with some good changes, I still have had far too many negative experiences, but the negative experiences I have pale in comparison to what I see happening to others within the party.

Most are being fostered by the Democratic Party establishment. Many of those negative experiences never needed to happen, and we lost good people because of those experiences. Many people became discouraged just from seeing those events unfold. I joke about how it is pretty funny that I'm often the youngest person in a room, but the truth is, it isn't funny. It's a warning sign. There are lots of warning signs. It is obvious that we need to change, but the Democratic Party is an ancient beast; and it doesn’t like change at all. Stronger, more important, people than I have relayed these feelings through the proper channels, but they go completely unheeded.

The last has to do with voting. Some people in the Democratic Party regularly debase the responsibility we have as voters. I see it all the time online. They reduce it to numbers and obscure strategy and unfortunately that doesn’t inspire anyone or persuade anyone to vote. In fact it makes voting look like an edict and a chore instead of a choice and a fulfilling duty. We should be making it feel important, something for everyone to take pride in. It is one of the most transformative things I do each year, along with serving on boards, going to town meetings, and writing and calling elected officials. Presenting people with the lesser of two evils does not make voters, it makes voters apathetic.

Each year, Democrats get directives from above. This year was no different. They always echo the same things. "Think of the party first. No dissent. No truths, we don't present ourselves." I'm not sorry to say that this is simply wrong. All three will lead us to worse places and further the distance we must navigate to get back to the path we should be on. Winning elections and raising money have become more than an obsession; it has become an addiction which drains the party and all of its’ time and resources, on all levels, no matter what the short or long term cost is. We have been borrowing against our future to feed this addiction; eventually our dealer is going to cut us off or we will die from complications of the addiction. If we don’t want that to happen we have to take the hardest step, that is to recognize that we have problems.

I’ve compiled a list of observations and recommendations. Things I think Democrats can work on. Things I think we can change. They aren’t fresh or new, but they ring true to me from where I sit and I think all would strengthen and empower us immeasurably.

1. Define who we are and define where we want to go. Make that definition clear. Figure out the pragmatic goals we can easily accomplish, but don’t stop there. Dream. Dream big and don’t just talk about it in inner circles and closed meetings. Share. Sharing is the most crucial part. Leave room for those ideas and dreams to grow. Letting another party define who we are limits us. Break that cycle. Above all else stop mirroring the GOP. They are a party based on fear, sustained by lies and deception. Why would we ever seek to emulate those behaviors? Stop deflecting by pointing fingers at the GOP. We can’t change them, but we can change ourselves. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones and Democrats live in a giant greenhouse.

2. Now that we know what we want to be, change the way we connect. This is not the 19t century. This is not the20th century. Time to bring forth media and sharing structures that work in the 21st century. Digital and social media have to be a central focus not an afterthought or parlor trick that you spend an hour on. We have to be where people are, where the young people are. We have to get used to connecting in these new ways. We have to get used to sharing.

3. If there is anything we can learn from the Sanders campaign it is that you don’t need establishment or Super PACS to raise cash. What you need are good ideas that resonate with the average person, and clear messages. Change our fundraising dynamic. Drop the Super PACS, drop the Oligarchs. The sooner we do, the sooner we can build a future for ourselves instead of a world conceived for the most affluent around us.

4. Stop obsessing on winning all the time. At the rate we “win” we’d be better off using a coin toss. Start looking for people we can build with and people we can bring into the party to help transform it. Invest in the bottom of our structure and prune the top. That will breed innovation our party needs to transform. Leave behind egoists, information brokers, and people who don’t want the future our party exemplifies in our platform. It might take a decade or more but we could go from being a party that sells itself to the highest bidder to one that forges a path from the ideas of the masses.

5. Stop officials and elected party members from favoring campaigns or shutting others out. We are told to be non-biased, yet I’ve see this violated so many times it isn’t funny at all. It may not always be the intention, it may not always be grossly negligent, but in the end certain campaigns do get favored and others get shut out. Endorsements. Just stop. At its worst it is a very thinly veiled form of bullying; and the rest of the time, it just looks like we are all in high school again.

6. Change our votebuilder software. It is clunky and unsecure; the data is consistently outdated. And exactly why is it gated? On numerous occasions, during elections, I know of towns requesting information via their software and those requests are ignored. Ignored. Even after follow-up. I know I always appreciate being ignored and not getting information I need.

7. Listen and act on the advice of the young, immigrants, women, LGBTQIA, people of color, Latinos/as, native peoples. They are the groups in our society that have overcome the most adversity and taken limits and turned them into unifying rally cries and spontaneous opportunities that transformed entire portions of our society. Don’t fear them for their rowdy, unconventional, ever-changing behavior. Learn to embrace it. They have fire in their souls and that power can push back almost anything in the natural world. We need them in as many positions in the party as we can. They are our future.

8. If you are going to bother making rules, stick to them. If you are going to bother make a platform, stick to it. Make each process as transparent as you can and make it as easy to participate as you can. Stop locking things down. That fosters elitism and stirs up apathy. This century is all about collaboration and the sharing of ideas. We all benefit from our collective intelligence.

9. Support a National Voting Day holiday, and make it a priority. Make it happen. Everyone has a holiday -except essential personnel. Get people registered and help them become informed. If you want a governing structure of the people you have to provide the opportunity for that to happen.

10. For the people who would decry this as hippy- dippy esoteric nonsense, I’ll leave you with this. If you don’t think we could do these things or change the Democratic Party this much, with all the wonderful people and the wealth of resources and talent we have, why should anyone ever believe we would be fit to run an entire nation, or make decisions about the world? If we can’t change something like the Democratic Party, what should make anyone believe that same party could give our nation a better future? The implication, by default, is that we cannot or that we do not want these changes. And that is why we are in this horrible position in the first place. It’s an awful place to be centered.

I will live through several more Republican presidents and several more Democratic presidents. I may live long enough to see a viable third party emerge. I will see Congress change dozens of times and my local legislature will change more often. I will see the high court change not just one more time but probably twice. Every election I take part in is important, every vote I make is important, but make no mistake that is not equivocal to meaning winning elections is important.

Losing has merits. It allows you time to assess and to reflect. It allows you time to renew. It allows you the opportunity to find new allies and redirect attention. Keeping an organization focused on perpetual winning dooms it to failure. It deprives it of a future because you are always focused on the present win, never looking forward and eventually you are going to lose. Anyone that thrives learns to live beyond the wins, they learn to adapt from losses.

I've never had the privilege of having someone in public office who completely matches my ideological perspective. A few have come incredibly close. A few have tried and lost. For me, no matter who wins an election, the work afterward is much the same. If a Republican wins the national election all my efforts go toward fighting the severe ideological shift toward the right. If a traditional Democrat wins the national election half of my efforts go toward fighting for the things that help our people, that help our world, keeping them where they are, and the other half of my efforts go toward keeping that person from shifting toward the right. If someone truly revolutionary gets the office, I will spend all of my time transforming everything we are. All require my full attention and effort. All are prone to setbacks and failure.

I try to center my activities on what I can do, how can I help, fix things I can fix; but I don't let go of the things I most wish were true. That keeps me inspired. I've never taken voting for granted and though I've made a few mistakes in those I chose to support, I've tried to learn lessons from those mistakes. I don't listen to polls; they are generally designed for specific reasons, or paid for by very specific groups, with very specific interests. I don't pay much attention to where candidates are in comparisons, because there are few people I would trust to make a comparison of value. I don't listen very much to what politicians say during campaigns. I pay much more attention to what they do in offices they hold and how they vote while in office. I pay attention to how they live their lives. Look at who they surround themselves with. People don't change much at all beyond their twenties. If their statements don't match their lives or previous votes or what they did in office, they are probably lying. At best they are hedging. I wish it wasn't so, but it is advice from my youth that has served me well for two decades.

I also don't vote for people who I don't want in a position. Most of the time I do this in local elections where choices can be very limited, but I have never ruled out applying it further up the ticket as I have grown older and acquired more information about our political landscape. As I said before, I've regretted votes, but I've never regretted not voting for a specific person because I didn't want them in that position or because I didn’t think they were qualified. There were reasons I didn't think they were worthy. You are supposed to be electing a leader, not a place holder. Imminent doom is a voting mind trick that doesn’t work on me anymore. It is a false narrative both parties use to elicit fear based action and to direct people toward predictable, controlled behavior. Don’t fall for this. It’s the worst trap to get caught up in.

So where do we go from here? Well, some of us will stay in the system and work on our problems from within. Stan and others I trust have convinced me to concentrate my efforts within the system, so for now that is where my efforts will go. Others who were never a part or left at some point have the daunting task of building and contributing from outside the system. I imagine you'll continue, perhaps with greater success than me. I may re-join you some day. To everyone I simply ask that you vote. Be involved. Don't throw that gift away. So many people in our world don't have that right. So many people don’t have the opportunity to use it.

Share this content as you like. Do not re-publish, in whole or in part, without the written approval of the author Kyle Leach.

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Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Spirit Of Christmas Future Manifests As A Millennial-Will We Listen?

The Spirit Of Christmas Future Manifests As A Millennial-Will We Listen?

Well worth the time to read this and reflect on it. This was a message from a young person on the foolishness of a particular meme. The meme isn't really important for context, nor is it important who this sentiment came from or where it came from. It is a striking piece and it makes me more hopeful for our collective future, something that is hard for me to get from my contemporaries. As important as it is to listen to our elders it is also important to listen to the voices of our youth, as hard as it may be to listen. They are our future. Here is one of those voices. From a millennial...

This is about more than the current election--it's also about the future of the Democratic Party.
First, I'm not a Democrat. I've been a liberal for years, but I've never had any particular reason to identify with the party in particular. As I've studied history, I've realized I really don't want anything to do with it, though I may still support individual candidates the party runs. The Democratic Party is the oldest existing political party in the world, and for all the good it has done, it has just as many years of corruption, war-mongering, racism, discrimination, oppression, and support for the political and financial elites of the day. These things stem from the basic fact that the Democratic Party is a capitalist party; there's just no getting around that. 

The Democratic Party is losing people my age. We've grown up with bipartisan support for wars, financial corruption, mass incarceration and the war on drugs, the dismantling of public education, and many other things. People on here seem to think that millennials love Obama because we voted for him in 2008. I hate to break it to you, but we don't. We don't dislike him, either, but we've seen too many things he's done to believe in the Democratic Party as an effective vehicle for change. We are much more in support of movements like BLM, Occupy, or the current movement growing that has Sanders as its figurehead. 

That's the thing with my generation; we have completely stopped caring about the establishment parties. We fully recognize the difference between the Republicans and the Democrats; we're not that stupid. Very few of us are fans of the extremist rhetoric being spouted by people like Trump, but you have to realize that apathy is one of the defining characteristics of my generation. It's so easy to disappear into technology with the knowledge that we're screwed by our loans, our skyrocketing tuition, our joblessness, and our leaders. It's so easy to look at a world threatened by the biggest problem the world has ever seen, climate change, and believe that all hope is lost. It's easy to say that we should just live our lives as best as we can while we have the chance--and I'll be honest, I'm not immune to the charms of a life like that. 

In the context of all of that, the Democratic Party means almost nothing to us. I have met three, count them three, people that are full-on Democrats my age. We might support them individually, but we have an almost instinctive reaction against identifying with a particular party. 

So why am I starting off with all of this? Because I want people to realize that the Democratic Party is not going to be the party of the future. Sanders supporters here often look at the current mess with DWS and the DNC and still believe the party can be reclaimed--that it somehow can be made "theirs". Now, you can believe me or not, but if you look at the almost 200 year history of the party, that's never happened. It's not going to start now, no matter how much we want it to be true. I think you're kidding yourself if you believe corporations will relinquish the hold they've had for so long.
With all that being said, I'd like to offer a few thoughts on the current Democratic candidates and what they mean for the future of the party, as well as say a few things to each of their supporters.
O'Malley fans, I don't have much to say to you guys. He's a solid liberal, and he'd make a great liberal candidate. Best of luck in your efforts. He's not for me, though. 

To me, Clinton is everything that millennials don't like about the Democratic Party. Beholden to major corporations and embodying the half-solutions that neoliberals propose, she comes off as the exact type of establishment politician that we have such a passionate dislike for. Now, she absolutely does have progressive tendencies, but when push comes to shove, she almost always defaults to protecting the privileged. I haven't fully committed to not voting for her should she be the nominee, but there's going to have to be a hell of a case made for me to do so. The Republican bogeyman doesn't scare me, because if it's not now, it'll be next election and we'll be voting for a Lieberman instead. 

There's three types of Clinton supporters I've met so far, and I have some thoughts for each of you. There's the people who genuinely believe she is the most progressive option, there's the people who recognize all of her shortcomings but are pragmatists, and there's the anti-Sanders folks.
To the people who think she's the most progressive: are you joking? No offense intended here, but to be blunt, you've gotta be blind. She's receiving literally billions from corporations and funds. She makes speeches for half a million a pop. Call me naive all you want, but it's even more naive to think that rich people give their money away without expecting something in return. Those wonderful rich philanthropists like Gates and Buffet? Yeah, they're investing and shaping, not donating. She supports the death penalty. She supports imperialism. She supports corporate trade agreements. She's not an LGBT ally, no matter how many times you show me her record--she's got ties to creepy religious fundamentalists and it took her until 2013 (2013!) to be okay with me marrying a dude. Come on, now. She can say she supports whatever she wants, I don't trust my rights with her in the slightest. I really can't take people seriously who think she's a progressive hero. I think you'll be shocked by how little support she will receive. 

To the anti-Bernie folks, well...can't say I disagree with you on most of what you say. But I don't think Clinton is the answer. Best of luck figuring out your path. I don't agree with it.
To the pragmatists: you've almost convinced me. Almost. She would be a decent tool for getting progressive-ish legislation through. She is a woman, and the value of that cannot be understated. She would inspire thousands, and she'd be sure to expose certain elements, just like Obama has. And she sure as hell isn't a Republican. But...and I ask you to really carefully consider my words here, would she really be progress? Or would she just forestall the plunge that the Republicans represent?
I personally think she would make it much harder for activists to do things. Looking at her recent statements about encryption, that scares the crap out of me. We're already being watched, we're already being monitored on the streets. We cannot have someone who would further police power, and I think she would. She also has been a strong supporter of the prison industry and mass incarceration. I have a feeling she would be worse than Obama has been on those issues, and he's been pretty bad. Her foreign policy is quite aggressive, and another war would be devastating. She has supported things like the coup in Honduras and the mess in Syria. She has planted herself firmly on the side of maintaining power for US military and corporate interests, and that's possibly the biggest issue we face other than climate change. For all the issues we face at home, they pale to the war zones and profiteering we create abroad. And of course, neoliberalism is just awful for anything domestic. 

I simply cannot see how she represents anything good other than her (admittedly strong, but still rich white liberal) feminism and the fact that she's not a Republican. And that hasn't convinced me. I haven't ruled out voting for her; I already changed my mind on that. But I really, really don't want to. It's going to take a lot to convince me, and the pragmatic argument so far hasn't. I know this country isn't ready for the revolution that will happen under a Trump presidency. I don't want that. But 8 years from now? We might be in a place for that. I don't know. I think you all should really carefully consider what needs to be done to move us on from the current situation we face. I don't think Clinton helps that. 

And that brings us to Sanders. I don't have much to say about him that hasn't been covered on this site. I think he'll call out 85% of the bullshit in our current system, and that's good enough for me. I don't think he'll change much right now, but I think he might nudge us in the right direction for once.
So, to Sanders supporters, I have this: be careful about what you think he represents. He's not the future...yet. Capitalism will not work--any variety of it. Sanders still advocates for that, and that's where we part ways. I'm willing to vote for him because I think he might wake us up, and start preparing us for the revolution that will have to come. But he supports the US constitution. I cannot. He supports private property rights to a far more significant degree than I do. And as far as I can tell, he supports the idea of nation states. I don't. 

Basically, I am all for most of what he proposes. But we have to be very mindful of where we are headed after we achieve that. What he proposes will not last. It is only a step on the way to a society that I am confident we cannot yet imagine. If we keep that mindset, we will achieve a ton. If it is the end of the road, then we will fail. Be prepared to leave the party when the party abandons you, because it will. 

In the end, I haven't decided who I'll vote for. I don't know if it'll be for the Democratic nominee or not. We'll see. There's lots more for me to learn. 

Thanks for listening...

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

The UN Sent 3 Women To The U.S. To Assess Gender Equality- They Were Horrified

"So many people really believe that U.S. women are way better off with respect to rights than any woman in the world. They would say, 'Prove it! What do you mean other people have paid maternity leave?'"  Frances Raday, the delegate from the U.K

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Thursday, December 03, 2015


We have one livable planet. There is no Plan B.

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Black Lives Matter! Vigil Tuesday, Dec 22nd 5:30pm - 6:30pm

The message of the vigil is that we no longer accept the systematic abuse of people of color, and that the militarized police forces racial profiling, and pattern of excessive force by police are unacceptable, as is all institutionalized inequality.

We can no longer stand by when black lives are discounted. The ongoing deaths of young Black Men are a breaking point in humanity’s conscience and the inception of a new movement in America.

Please join us, get involved and show that humanity is better than this and that there will be change.

Presented by Occupy NH Seacoast. Occupy NH Seacoast is a local group working to promote social and economic equality worldwide.

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Why Thanksgiving Is A 'National Day Of Mourning' For Some Americans

"Some would say, 'Why be so dark about it?' Well, it's real, it's truthful, it was a holocaust, and that holocaust must be shared and communicated so that we ensure that mankind doesn't do that to each other again. We know this world is made up of travesty and tragedy. We also know that this world is made of a lot of goodness and hope and honesty and integrity." Cedric Cromwell Chairman and President of the Tribal Council of the Mashpee Wampanoag

"We are Americans as well, and so even today, I sit down at Thanksgiving with family. I do have that Thanksgiving meal on that day with family but it gives me an opportunity to speak to the kids and the family about the truth of the day, and why that day is important to give thanks." Cedric Cromwell Chairman and President of the Tribal Council of the Mashpee Wampanoag

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George Takei: Trump's Comments On Refugees Have A 'Nazi Echo'

"It has a Nazi echo, doesn't it? The Jews had to wear that Star of David, and Donald Trump is saying all Syrians have to carry an ID card and they can, without warrant, go into any Syrian's home or a mosque." George Takei

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Homicides Of Transgender Women In U.S. Reach Alarming High

"Most Americans think it's been an amazing year for transgender rights, but for the transgender community, it's been one of the most traumatic years on record." Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality.

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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Black Friday Protest-Nov 27th 9-10

at 9:00am - 10:00am

Walmart Somersworth
59 Walton's Way, Somersworth, New Hampshire 03878

Black Friday is a symbol of the consumerism and greed that drives the inequality that is destroying our country!

Please join us on Black Friday to protest greed,consumerism and a company that like many others doesn't pay a living wage because they've manipulated our government to subsidize them and to fight for $15/Hr.

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