My First Principle Event

The heat wouldn’t go away. My memories of September tend more towards the “briskness” of early fall. Perhaps that’s just a rose-colored view of the past. Or maybe it’s global warming. Anyway, it was still hot. To be fair, early September is still basically August. What’s the point of all this weather talk? I was about to spend a lot of time outside.

For anyone that doesn’t understand what I mean by “principle event”, it’s the term campaigns use when a major figure gives a speech or makes a public appearance. For us that meant anyone named Clinton or Obama with Kaine or Biden thrown in for good measure. Trump had himself and Pence. We were a bit busier probably than our Republican counterparts.

Being in the largest city in one of the most fought after swing states meant we were going to be busy constantly. Many of my co-workers still spoke in hushed tones about the joint Clinton-Obama event that had taken place a month or so earlier. At the height of the Southern summer heat. Again, with the weather. Why does it matter? Because organizers don’t set up the event in the cool comfort of air conditioning. That’s Advance.

We work the line.

During my two months on the campaign I worked seven principle events. The majority of those I did sign in and line management. The best way to learn just how angry people can get when asked to give up their email. It’s just an email, ya’ll. Give me the spam Hotmail account you never check. I don’t care. But please don’t act like I’m trying to steal your identity.

Anyway.

My first principle event arrived less than a week after I started. A big one too. Hillary Clinton herself. That’s right, I had to learn event work after only a few days on the job and during a speech by the main candidate.

It went as well as could be expected.

Luckily, I was posted to parking duty. I’m not sure if it’s because someone took pity on me or if fate smiled that day. Parking was easy work and it got easier as the lot fills up. The best thing is no one can yell at you really. It’s easy to see there are no open spots and if you’re not there in time it’s hardly the parking guy’s fault.

None of this stopped some people from getting angry but Americans are an entitled bunch.

Eventually, they stop letting in cars. That’s when I got my first taste of the line. Sounds like I’m talking about starting a cocaine habit but it’s far more exhausting. Remember when I talked about the heat? The parking lot was in shade for the most part. The line, not at all. I handed out bottles of lukewarm water and made sure people were signed in.

Thankfully, everyone in line was on the same team. The mood was joyous and excited for the most part. Spirits were high. I bought my first campaign T-shirt ever from one of the traveling merchants that always spring up outside events. Not a lot of Obama swag made it over to Japan and my political activism in college began and ended at the voting booth.

I put it on over my other shirt, which was dumb. Because of the heat.

A chance to move inside for the speech opened up for me thanks to the sacrifice of one of the organizers I trained with. He volunteered to stay outside and catch stragglers instead of escaping the heat. I did not have his moral strength. I’m perfectly fine with siphoning off some of his for my own use, though.

Which is why he’s currently one of my job references.

I kid of course. We all shouldered the burden together at different times. That’s what it means to be a team. That’s what I was thinking as I stood in the midst of the crowd and its roiling energy. That’s when I knew that I was doing something important. It’s when I knew I’d be able to make it through whatever the campaign could throw at me.

It was when I knew I had made the right choice.

Trump is padding his legislative resume.

The Trump administration wants you to believe that they are getting things done. You might hear something along the lines of “nobody has passed more laws in this amount of time.” Or something equally pedantic.

For the record here is the list of all legislation passed in the current Congress. I have tallied them under some broad categories. Keep in mind that Republicans control both houses of Congress and the White House.

Removal of rules from previous administrations: 15

These are what makes the most headlines and aren’t actual laws being changed so much as rules for how branches of the government will act within their mandate. These “laws” do nothing new. They just role back the efforts of those that came before.

Appointments: 5

Self explanatory. These are “laws” to appoint people to various positions including getting a waver about having a retired military person running the Dept. of Defense.

Memorials/Naming Buildings: 5

Naming a federal building or setting up a memorial takes an act of Congress. Nice way to pad a stat.

Government Management: 8

This is the category that deals with mainly how the government spends its money or handles paperwork. It includes passing a continuing resolution on the budget which was needed to prevent another government shutdown. But this group also includes a bill that makes it OK for government workers to comp their travel costs when using Uber.

Encouragement: 4

These are bills that sound good but have little muscle behind them. Things like saying the US would like to have a World Expo or asking NASA to come up with a plan to inspire women to go into STEM careers. Sounds nice yes, but does very little in real terms.

Actual Laws: 2

After all of that there are only two laws passed that have any real substance to them. Expanding weather prediction capabilities and giving more money to NASA. More science money was definitely one of Trump’s major campaign promises, right?

So when you hear Trump try and convince you he’s moving the country forward, nearly half of what he’s accomplished is the exact opposite.

The rest is fluff.

But I guess yay for science?

Leaving on a Campaign

I snuck out before my friends woke up. My training for the campaign had just finished and I was about to leave from Raleigh to Charlotte, North Carolina. Standing on my friend’s porch I paused to take a picture of my car in the early morning sunlight.

The car was not as impressive as the moment would suggest. A Nissan hatchback of some sort. What more could you expect from a rental? I had only been back in the country for around five months. This would be my first proper job since leaving Japan so a car of my own wasn’t something I could manage.

Of course, renting a car for two and a half months isn’t exactly cheap but I’m fortunate to have a patron.

I woke up early because it’s a long drive from the capital to the Queen city. I never appreciated how vast my home state truly was until this experience. I drove a lot in Charlotte, which has some of the craziest roads in the state. Five lane highways suddenly split off into three and two. You might be forgiven for not noticing the change because one of those lanes was inevitably an on ramp as well.

Worst drivers too, probably.

I was fortunate during my time on the campaign to see a large part of the city. We also got to have a field trip into the surrounding areas closer to the end, but that’s a story for another day. All told, I put in about 3000 miles over two months. Not bad considering I spent most of my days in an old accounting office glued to a phone.

I don’t remember what I listened to on the long stretch of I-40 between my college home and my new temporary life in Charlotte. Either the Hamilton cast recording, which I had been listening to non-stop in those days, or the audiobook version of Team of Rivals, the classic Lincoln biography. I have a bit of a thing for early American history.

You’re required to be a bit of a nerd if you want to work in politics, I think.

Interstate 40 is an interesting animal. It has long been a part of my life as it was the best way to get from my home town to where I went to school. For the first 24 years of my life I never moved more than 30 minutes away from that stretch of concrete. During that whole time, it’s been under perpetual construction. People from the area know what I’m talking about.

Some of my co-workers were shocked to hear I had never been to Charlotte either in that time. I moved half a world away only to wind up just off that highway once again.

Eventually, I reached Charlotte and made my way to my first voter registration drive. Straight off the highway right to work. I should have expected no less. The drive was at a Revolutionary War re-enactment of all places. This being North Carolina, my first guess would be Civil War as the re-enactors conflict of choice. I couldn’t go in and check it out, though. For one I was on duty. For another they required tickets.

This was when I first met some of the people that would become my fellow organizers. A special bond. People who would go from strangers to dear friends over a span of mere weeks. I knew I was in good company when one of them wore a shirt with a British flag on it to a Revolutionary War event. Cheeky to say the least.

That evening I got my first taste of call time. We did calls during training but there’s no substitute for the real thing. For some reason, I remember the lights being dimmer than they would be for the rest of the campaign. Perhaps my brain wants to remember that time more intimately. Maybe it was because a light was burnt out.

Either are equally possible.

Why does the Right Hate Liberals?

I lived in Japan for nine years. I bring this up because as a foreigner there, I often got the sense that the government saw me as a mild inconvenience. It might have been the frustration apparent on an official’s face when my Japanese wasn’t good enough to navigate complex tax procedures. Despite his English not being good enough to navigate Cat in the Hat.

Languages are hard ya’ll.

I lived there though, it was on me to learn how to speak good. Fair enough. It might also have been the difficulty in getting a visa for longer than I had proof of employment. One year contract? One year visa. Since you can only get a visa with a guaranteed income that made it difficult to change jobs. Unless you’re the type that works better under time pressure.

You could argue the government is just looking out for the gaijin. You wouldn’t want to be stuck in a place without a support system. It certainly lit a fire under my ass to keep steady employment whenever the visa date came around.

It might also have been knowing I had things pretty easy in terms of being a foreigner, given that I was white. And a dude. And American. That mix often adds up to banker after all.

All foreigners are required to carry ID and have to show it to police whenever asked. I was carded exactly once during my nine years in Japan. It was because I was drunk and belligerent on a public street at 8am on a Monday. I might have been yelling obscenities in front of children. I can’t remember for sure because I was drunk and belligerent.

My friend, who is also an American dude, was carded once for standing outside of my apartment late at night having a quiet phone conversation. Pretty much the exact opposite of my experience. He got carded at least once every other week, so he was used to it.

Did I mention he is of Filipino descent?

I’m not trying to make this about racism in Japan or even in America. I’m not qualified to talk about it because of my white privilege. As South Park tried to impart years ago, I don’t get it. Because I can’t. I get that I don’t get it. Get it?

But it’s hard not to see it going on.

I had it better there and I have it better here. None of this is news and I’m not expecting to open anyone’s eyes that have kept them shut until now. What worries this particular white male is the other hatred that has been stewing for a while now. Because it affects me! Me by golly! And isn’t that the point? Yes, as I will explain later.

In the wake of Trump pulling out of the Paris Agreement, many on the right said it was a great move because it “made liberals cry.” What the fuck is this? Kindergarten?

How is it that the force in charge of America makes decisions based on how much pain they cause to the other side? Is it due in part to the fact that a large number of people who identify as liberal are also minorities? It’s no longer acceptable to say racist things in public. Twitter jumps all over that shit now. Racism is going to racist so what’s the alternative?

Jeff Sessions is working diligently as Attorney General to set back civil rights by decades. And he’s like, Kunta Kinte next to the Cheater in Chief.

Elections and marriages, a double threat!

Hatred of an ideology is becoming as baseless and rooted in ignorance as the hatred of skin tone. Obviously, the history and results between the two are incomparable. I’m not trying to claim the same type of suffering by being a liberal. There are plenty of “Bernie or Bust” types out there who’ll do it for me. #shotsfired

Yet, for perhaps the first time, straight white people in America are learning what it’s like to be hated by their government. Black people have put up with it for as long as they’ve been here. Latinos certainly understand the threat of an adversarial government. Every person of color in this country is forced to come to grips at an early age that the people in charge don’t like you.

I got a small taste of that in Japan. Racism Light, fewer problems, less filling. But even then, my white hetero-maleness shielded me from the worst of it all. A super power that doesn’t make for a good comic book perhaps but I was comfortable taking advantage of it.

I came back and stumbled head first into the frontlines of this fight. Racism Classic, now with more power. Thousands and millions of us tried to stop it. Or rather, shove it under the rug for another cycle. It didn’t work for a hundred reasons that didn’t involve someone named Clinton.

Most of my volunteers on the campaign were black women, which should surprise no one. They knew what was going on. They also knew the election wouldn’t wave a magic wand and fix the problems in their community.

They still came out though. And that was before all the horrors Trump has unleashed in his short tenure as President. Obviously though, we all saw it coming. Us stupid libruls. We tried to warn you that hate was growing. It threatens all of us. That’s why things feel so scary.

It’s equality of hate. Because now it doesn’t matter what you look like. If you believe certain things, a way of thought that you chose, now you are a target for the worst ills of humanity.

But what do I know? I’m just a Liberal.

Shared Humor is Cathartic: #covfefe

In case you’re not the type of politico who checks Twitter constantly, you might not know what covfefe means. Then again, it’s already seeped a bit into the general consciousness. The true meaning will be discussed for ages to come, I’m sure. The actual creation of this new vocabulary it thanks to the Tweep in Chief, Donald Trump.

I came late to the covfefe party, I only checked into Twitter about an hour after Mr. 45 tweeted a partially formed thought. The tweet itself is now gone from Twitter. Once again, Trump goes with the deletion of Presidential records because it embarrasses him. This is on paper, from what I understand, a crime. But whatever, get to the lolz.

Late on Tuesday, the President of the United States tweeted “Despite the negative press covfefe”. Now, as I write this the White House is trying to spin this as something more than a simple typo and a mistakenly sent tweet. They even tried to claim there’s some secret meaning that only super smart Trump types understand.

Which is complete bullshit. Not a chance. It’s more embarrassing to pretend otherwise.

Anyway, as the internet often does, it latched on to this mistake by the most powerful man-child in the world and mocked it without mercy. Trump deserves every single mocking tweet and late night joke. Here’s why.

He is causing severe emotional torment for a large number of Americans. I’ve disagreed with a lot of politicians before. I disagreed highly with George W. Bush. Until this year, I was confident Bush Jr. would go down in history as the worst President the USA has ever had. No longer, not a chance. Trump wins by a mile.

Now, I understand that a lot of people will disagree with me. Some people think he’s doing a great job. Some people don’t care as long as it doesn’t bother them. There are even some people who think Hillary Clinton would have been worse. Whatever. That’s all fine and good.

The problem is Trump is so blatant about not caring what people who disagree with him think. He is convinced 100% that every idea he has is perfect because he thought of it. A lot of people agree with him because on the surface he appears to think like they do. These are the same people that railed against Obama as an imperial President.

The difference is Obama actually tried to work with the other side and was constantly slapped away. He didn’t say and do things that embarrassed the nation as a whole. People say Obama ruined our reputation abroad which is the complete opposite of what happened. He repaired what was damaged by the last bumbling fool to occupy the Oval Office.

Trump is the bull in the china shop of all our nightmares. Can you blame us for latching on to the one purely innocent example of comedy this man has produced? We try to joke about his awful relationship with NATO but it represents the worst our relations with Europe have been since WWII. The Russia investigation kicks over new rocks every day. He threatens the entire world because he thinks the US shouldn’t have to take any responsibility whatsoever.

We are tired of constantly being stressed out by the assault on our values this man represents. That sounds ironic I know because it’s highly reminiscent of the Tea Party rhetoric. Obama in their eyes wanted to tear down their most fundamental beliefs. The problem is, he really wasn’t trying to do anything of the sort.

Trump is actively trying to tear down what I believe is good about this country. Then he has the gall to look us all in the eye and tell us it’s not happening. Or if it is it won’t be that bad. Or if it is that bad, then it’s not a big deal. If it is a big deal then it’s not his fault. Or if it is his fault then we deserved it.

Having to constantly fight against that coming from the highest reaches of power is exhausting.

Please excuse us for taking a small break to make fun of an old man who has trouble handling technology. Of course, when I put it like that it sounds mean doesn’t it?

But this is Trump we’re talking about. He’s beyond sympathy.

Trumpism: The Cult of Donald Trump

Editor’s note: This was originally posted in February 2017. Almost none of the revelations that consume the news today regarding Russia had come out yet.

So I’ve been reading this book in my spare time called “The 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene. It was first brought to my attention by an Uber driver in L.A. so you know it’s high quality…

So I’ve been reading this book in my spare time called “The 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene. It was first brought to my attention by an Uber driver in L.A. so you know it’s high quality…

Anyway, basically it’s a collection of stories from history and teachings from books like The Art of War and The Prince broken down into lessons about gaining the ephemeral quality known as “power”.

I wanted to read it because even if I couldn’t be as ruthless as required by some of these tactics it is good to be aware of them in case they are used against you. However, when I reached Law 27 things became a little scary.

“Law 27: Play on People’s Need to Believe to Create a Cult-like Following”

There are 5 steps to this law. Rather than just list them and let readers come to their own conclusions I feel like I need to be more explicit as to how the man currently in the office of the President has seemingly followed this path to power in particular.

Step 1: Keep it Vague; Keep it Simple

“To create a cult you must first attract attention. This you should do not through actions, which are too clear and readable, but through words, which are hazy and descriptive.”

Trumpisim: “Make America Great Again”, “Repeal and Replace, Build the Wall”

These phrases sound great and project a real sense of power. When it comes to achieving them things become far murkier. Trump’s much vaunted deal with Carrier was fraught with unfortunate realities in terms of making America great again. Republicans have been calling for repeal of the ACA for years but are only now rolling out ideas for replacement. Ideas which do little to fix what problems there are with the program and threaten to take away the parts that are actually working.

The wall will be a boondoggle. Mark my words.

Step 2: Emphasize the Visual and the Sensual over the Intellectual

“Once people have begun to gather around you, two dangers will present themselves: boredom and skepticism.”

Trumpisim: Constant rallies

Trump never seems comfortable unless he’s in front of a large crowd of sympathetic supporters. That might be part of the reason he brings staffers to speeches to applaud and cheer for him. Less than a month into his Presidency while being assaulted from all directions over allegations of misconduct and incompetence, Trump holds a literal campaign rally. In 2017, not 2020. Clearly he’s falling back on the spectacle that served him so well in 2016. The sight of large cheering crowds emphasize his popularity which is why he is so adamant in his attacks on stories to the contrary.

Step 3: Borrow the Forms of Organized Religion to Structure the Group

“Your cult-like following is growing; it’s time to organize it. Find a way both elevating and comforting.”

Trumpism: Mike Pence

I don’t think anyone can argue that Trump has ever been an ardent representative of the Christian faith. This step is actually the one that applies the least to Trumpism as it is intended to be more about structural organization specifically. However, the 45th President is not afraid to claim divine intervention in the weather. The choice of Mike Pence as VP gives him all the cover he needs in terms of Christian conservatism without demanding any real sacrifice on his part.

Step 4: Disguise Your Source of Income

“…you must never be seen as hungry for money and the power it brings. It is at this moment that you must disguise the source of your income.”

Trumpism: Tax returns

Do I really need to go over this part?

Step 5: Set Up an Us-Versus-Them Dynamic

“To keep your followers united, you must now do what all religions and belief systems have done: create an us-versus-them dynamic.”

Obviously this is not a unique aspect of Trump or many other political candidates. It is a central idea behind why spectator sports are so popular. People like being part of a “team”. What is dangerous and scary about Trumpism is the official target known as “them”.

The media. The term “fourth estate” refers to a medieval concept of society where the people were broken up into three broad groups. (The clergy, the nobility, and the commoners, in case you were wondering.)

The idea is the press is a separate entity who’s role is to check the power of the others. An independent press is so important that the founders of America made sure journalistic protections were enshrined in the Constitution itself.

Trump’s attacks on the press started almost immediately. His administration has constantly given false or misleading information to the public and when news reporters point that out he calls them “fake news”. Anyone the least bit critical is denied legitimacy. The message is clear “we [us] are right and anyone who disagrees [them] does so just because they want us to fail.”

We need to have the ability to question power. If they do something wrong they should be held responsible. The chilling effect Trumpism could have on legitimate criticism is frightening. I’m personally somewhat worried about posting a long description comparing the President of the United States to a cult leader as the family is notoriously litigious.

Despite the click bait nature of the title of this post I am not saying with any certainty that President Trump is a cult leader. I have no way of knowing if he’s read this book or even if he consciously follows the steps listed above.

But the similarities frighten me.

Imagine If: Dispatches from an Alternate Political Universe

January 22nd, 2017.1 –

President Clinton spent her first full day in office responding to controversy surrounding statements she made about the crowd at her inauguration. Several outlets have questioned an assertion she made during a visit to the CIA regarding the attendance of the ceremony.

During her speech, which was intended to show her support of the intelligence community after the firestorm surrounding both the alleged Russian hacking attempts and her own troubles regarding the handling of classified information, Mrs. Clinton stated that her inauguration was “one of the largest crowds in history.”

Several news organizations quickly released photos from President Obama’s first inauguration in 2008 side by side with those from yesterday. While after a cursory glance both crowds appear similar in size there do seem to be several large gaps towards the back of the viewing area during yesterday’s event. Ridership numbers provided by D.C Metro indicate Mrs. Clinton’s inauguration was indeed heavily attended but the numbers are less than those reported 8 years earlier.

President Clinton’s newly appointed Press Secretary, Samantha Spencer, was out earlier in the day to answer questions from an at times hostile press core. She repeated claims that Mrs. Clinton never said her inauguration was “the largest ever, period,” but in fact had used a more moderate framing as “one of the largest.”

This defense hasn’t won over many Republicans on the Hill, however. Jason Chaffetz, Chair of the House Oversight Committee, held a press conference moments after President Clinton had left the CIA. “I was there,” Congressman Chaffetz said of the inauguration, “It was certainly not one of the biggest inaugurations in history. The fact that the President would mislead the American people on day one of her administration is despicable.”

Chaffetz, who was one of the lead drivers of the Benghazi hearings that plagued President Clinton when she was Secretary of State, went on to announce his intention to continue a pattern of rigorous congressional oversight. “I find it troubling that we never got a satisfactory answer to the question about the President’s missing emails. Now that we have clear evidence of her desire to mislead the American public about something as simple as the size of a crowd, I believe it’s time to re-examine what happened with the infamous private server.”

Donald Drumpf, who following his narrow electoral college defeat has hounded the Clinton transition about supposed voter fraud, took to Twitter once again to rail against the new President. In a series of early morning tweets, he referred to Mrs. Clinton as both, “sad” and “a liar.” He went on to rail against the apparent “slack” that the mainstream media is giving President Clinton. His final tweet ended with “If I were President people would be going crazy over this. Unfair.”

Drumpf has been meeting with various leaders in conservative media, including former campaign advisors Roger Ailes of Fox News and Steve Bannon of Breitbart News. When he isn’t tweeting about the Democrats he has been dropping hints about his plans for a new media company, the scope of which remains to be seen.

Lost in the flurry of news surrounding the crowd size statement was President Clinton’s assertion that the intelligence community is a key component of the fight against terrorism. “This is a fight we can win without sacrificing any of our basic freedoms or personal safety,” Mrs. Clinton said to finish her rousing speech, “And that’s exactly what I plan to do.”

The White House has announced that one of President Clinton’s first executive orders will deal with strengthening the country’s borders and adding resources to the fight against terrorism. The President is expected to sign the order later this week.

  • This article is a complete work of fiction. If you needed to be told that then you haven’t been paying attention.

Republicans would be better off if they had lost

I’m standing on the porch at a friend’s house. It’s late November, maybe early December. I had spent Thanksgiving making a concerted effort to not bring up politics. It wasn’t easy since my mother is the only person I know for sure didn’t vote for Trump. Some of my cousins might have been on Team Democrat but I wouldn’t know it. We all kept our mouths shut.

Except to eat of course.

It’s taken me some time to recover from the shock of losing. Understandable given how much time I had put into the election. I don’t know how my co-workers who were at it for years managed. I suspect booze played a large role. Despite all of that, here I am on a cool Raleigh night, arguing about politics.

My opponent is a smart guy. I have to give him credit. He thinks NPR is a left wing ivory tower but he listens to it and comes with logical counter arguments. This might have something to do with being the only conservative in our mutual friend group. He’s used to being on the defensive so he keeps the walls manned and the pikes sharp.

As most discussions of this nature do, we get close to a shouting match. Tempers are easily enflamed when it comes to matters of Trump. At this point however, all we could really do was rehash the election. 45 hadn’t yet begun to pick from his Cabinet list entitled “The Absolute Worst Options Possible.”

So of course, we’re talking about emails.

My other friend who, until this point, has kept out of the argument suddenly pipes up.

“Well the one thing we can all agree on is that we hope Trump succeeds and is one of the best Presidents ever.” A bit overly optimistic perhaps. One of the best ever? At even this early point I was willing to settle for doesn’t destroy the economy.

Now before you throw my buddy under the bus, think about it. That’s not a bad sentiment to have. Yes, Trump is a horrible human being in most ways. But prior to the inauguration we didn’t know how he would govern. I mean, we all knew but we didn’t know. At that point, it was all hypothetical. It couldn’t possibly be as bad as we imagined, right?

Unquestionably, we should hope for success rather than root for failure.

Well things are different now. They’re real. Far, far, far too real. On the day I write this, they’ve just appointed a special prosecutor to look into Trump’s ties with Russia. By the time that I post it anything could have happened. The consequences of the President’s actions will be sweeping and devastating for the Republican party.

What have they gained in the bargain?

A Supreme Court pick that forced them to throw away decades of tradition, a universally hated health care bill, and one of the worst political scandals in modern memory. Plus, the embarrassment of having to vouch for an unhinged amateur autocrat. This is Comcast internet levels of bad deal.

What would they have if Trump lost?

Chances are they’d still have the margin they have in the House and Senate. They lost seats with Trump at the helm but still managed to hold on. They would be able to rail and complain about the ACA for another few years without having to actually do anything about it. Complaining without doing anything is their favorite pastime.

They would have gotten Merrick Garland and wouldn’t have had to cheat on the rules. The Republicans certainly would have wanted that 60-vote threshold around for Clinton’s presidency. They would have a newly ascendant Fox News style media powerhouse in after Trump played Voltron with his MAGA brand and Breitbart.

Does anyone still think he wanted to be President at this point?

Trump is never going to be popular. He could cure cancer tomorrow and people would still be like fuck that guy. I’ll be one of them. Even if the investigation turns up nothing the Democrats are riled up. Apathy is the liberal’s greatest enemy and I think it’s safe to say that the coming midterms are going to be a barnstormer.

There’s also the bigger issue that the Republicans have quite likely lost an entire generation of voters. The Snapchat armada is not buying what they’re selling. The ones that do are more likely in it for the shits and giggles. Memes and centipedes or whatever. It’s not something you can build a governing coalition on.

I could be wrong of course. If this year has taught me anything it’s to never make assumptions.

But I feel good about this one.

Apathy Lost the 2016 Election

“Hello?” Her voice is suspicious already. Might be because I have a weird area code.

“Hi! Is this Sharon?” I’m trained to sound super upbeat. My co-workers tell me I’m pretty good.

“Who’s calling?” She’s gone from suspicious to angry. My guess is she just got off work and doesn’t want to be bothered. I get it. Yet, I press on.

“My name’s John and I’m calling from the North Carolina Democratic Party. How are you tonight?” The introduction flows smooth as silk. I’ve long since lost count how many times I’ve said it. It’s a lot though.

Beep boop.

Cell phones don’t click, did you notice that? There’s no dial tone anymore either. I’m well aware about what just happened. She hung up on me. I mark her “Not Home” because she didn’t tell me her name. I can’t say for certain that she was Sharon. Her number will come up again in a day or two. Chances are she won’t pick up next time.

Ninety percent of the time people don’t answer the phone. Or the number is disconnected. Lots of times it’ll just ring and then drop. You get to know some of the names that pop up. Those are the ones that ring once and go straight to voicemail. I think this is what it’s like to get blocked.

Still mark them “Not Home” though.

“I’m doing well, how about you?” Finally, someone wants to talk.

“I’m doing great. I’m calling tonight because we need your help to make sure Trump stays out of the White House.” I say this because it usually gets a laugh. Those were innocent times.

“I already donated to the campaign.” That’s how I got your number, by the way. I don’t tell them this. Unless they go “HOW’D YOU GET THIS NUMBER?”

That’s always a fun conversation.

“I’m not after your money, just your time. We need volunteers to help us register voters.”

“I don’t have time for that.”

Beep boop.

Mark that one “Maybe later.”

Fifteen or twenty more no answers go by. I step outside for some fresh air. It’s hot for October.

“I work two jobs so I don’t got time. But you got my vote!” Put her down as “Maybe later.”

“If you don’t stop calling me I swear to God I’ll vote for Trump!” He counts as a “Declined.” I’ll try him a few more times though just in case he’s kidding.

“Sure thing, what do you need?” It’s been so long since I’ve gotten this far I’m caught a little off guard. I snap out of it and give her the dates and times of the events I have set up. Once we find a time that works I put her into the system and thank her for her time. I’m super charming.

There’s at least a 50% chance she won’t show up but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. For right now I’m smiling because I don’t feel like a total failure. I got a shift.

“Good evening, my name’s John and I’m calling from the North Carolina Democratic Party…”

Beep boop.

“Not Home.”

Don’t lose sight of Healthcare

It’s important not to forget some of the bullshit going on despite the palace intrigue currently engulfing the White House. Millions of people will lose their health care if the AHCA continues on in its current form. But we knew that. Most of these people will lose Medicaid after the bill cuts over $800 billion from the program. In the ACA, that money came from high income people through special taxes. Those taxes will be removed.

This is nothing new. Republicans in congress do not believe rich people should be forced to pay for poor people. Its un-American apparently. All right, let’s assume however, they still want poor people to have health insurance. Which is something they continue to claim in public.

It costs a lot of money to provide health insurance to people. One way to make it “cheaper” is to not require companies to provide certain “brands” of medical service. The idea being you can buy a basic plan for basic care and pay more for advanced care.

Sounds good on paper except it doesn’t. Because healthcare isn’t cable TV. Actually, it’s a lot like cable now that I think about it. But people don’t die if they don’t get HBO no matter how much they claim to love Game of Thrones.

What in the AHCA prevents these advanced care plans from becoming outrageously expensive? Are there any limitations on how much extra an insurance company can charge for maternity care? Unless costs come down they will have to provide the same amount of care with fewer people paying for it. Basic economics says the costs will go much higher to compensate.

How about pre-existing conditions? The same problem exists, people who cost more will have to pay more because the price of care won’t decrease. The Republican answer to this is almost always “high risk pools.”

Let’s set aside that this idea has never worked in America before and the AHCA doesn’t provide nearly enough money for this to cover everyone it will need to cover.

What I don’t get is why Republicans in Congress are fine with a state waiver system. If they truly believe the ACA is a disaster and will ruin the country, why wouldn’t they fight harder for a nationwide repeal?

Red states are going to get waivers. We have no idea what they will need to do other than “set up a system” to provide for pre-existing conditions. The Republicans have to know that this will break down on party lines. Blue states will keep the rules and most Red states won’t.

Is it because they think once the system goes into effect then the Blue states will collapse? Which will force them to come around? If so that’s a rather callous way to look at things. That doesn’t explain why Republicans from heavily blue states (14 of California’s Representatives are Republican for example) also voted for this bill.

Do they honestly think high risk pools are a good idea? California tried one and it failed miserably. So why would California Republicans think this is a good idea?

If it’s about personal responsibility and choice then why provide any money at all? Let the free market decide. The problem with that is if I fall and break my arm I don’t want to spend a few hours on the web choosing an emergency room. Prices are kept secret by most hospitals so I can’t bargain shop. An MRI in Wilmington will likely have a different cost than one in Raleigh. Not like I could drive the two hours to get from one to the other with a broken arm.

Healthcare is not a product that is affected by standard market forces. Even if you throw out the moral argument, you cannot expect healthcare to work in a for profit manner without damaging people’s health. The system only works if everyone is paying into it. The Republicans want to argue that states know how to do things better. Republicans in my state just took school money from Democratic districts purely out of spite. I get the feeling they won’t suddenly turn friendly because of healthcare.

This is why old people are so protective of Medicare. Everyone pays into it so it works pretty well. Perfectly? No because nothing is ever perfect. Ever.

By Republican’s logic though, why should I pay Medicare taxes?

I’m not using it. Probably never will at this rate.

If Republicans in Congress truly believe this is a better way then why does it have so many flaws? If they truly want people covered, then why do they want to kick so many off Medicaid. People who by the very fact they are on the program are too poor to afford normal health insurance?

It seems to me that they don’t care about providing health insurance to people at prices they can afford. I know a lot of them honestly believe that giving poor people stuff is “coddling” them. I also highly doubt many of them have ever had to choose between health insurance and rent. I’m also confident that none of them, certainly none in Congress, have ever had that decision come back to bite them in the form of hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses. Bankruptcy doesn’t lend itself well to political campaigns. Unless you’re Trump.

This whole bill reeks of being crafted by someone that’s always had quality, employer provided insurance and who’s never had a serious medical issue in their lives.

I’ve heard actual Republicans saying that this will never pass the Senate as if it somehow excuses this kind of behavior. I wouldn’t be so sure. What the Republicans in Congress want most are the tax cuts. I know this because they never bring the cuts up in their defense of the bill. They don’t want people to focus on that aspect at all.

This could pass the Senate and Trump will sign it the second the paper hits his desk. Red states will fall all over themselves to make it so insurance companies can charge whatever they want to the people who need care the most. The wealthy will get back in taxes more than most of the folks on Medicaid make in a year.

But it’s O.K, right? Because they deserve it. All of them.