Windmillin'

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Where politics and faith dance in the shadow of the windmill.

The Amash Dilemma

In the era of Trump, Michigan’s Justin Amash has made a name for himself. Not only has he shown the ability to go tweet to tweet with the President, but he has also shown a willingness to meet with constituents, as The Hill reports

He has faced packed town halls in his home state recently with hundreds of constituents, many of whom are anti-Trump.

“I think it is critical that members of Congress hold in-person town halls like this,” Amash said at an event about two weeks ago. “There aren’t enough of people on either side of the aisle who do it.”

This puts a problem to local Dems. On one hand we actually like being listened to; there’s a respect here that is rather ego-gratifying. And we do like having some one who actually stands up to the President, who even in his libertarian ways nonetheless appears to have a backbone.

Of course, what that all means is that no one serious will run against Amash. The already steep odds have gotten psychologically steeper. To oppose him one needs to draw contrasts, but at least psychologically, he deflates this. At the same time his “moderation” buys him freedom from outside money. The path for engagement then lies less on the issues, but on the philosophical — how do establish our life together — and on the empirical. The former begins to create a space to draw in Republicans, the latter can help establish what the actual policy questions are. And then, what are their consequences.

 

 

Filed under: Politics, , ,

Don’t Count on It.

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Republican regulars have thought that Trump was different than their own vision. Ed Kilgore breaks the news: the support is consolidating with Trump.

Conservatives Are Losing Their Base To Trump

While Dems can think of rebuilding relationships with the disillusioned working class, the reality will be that the nationalistic right of Trump is likely to hold them. The folks more likely to come into play will be civic Republicans, those middle class, non-evangelical, educated voters. There are a bunch of them in the near suburbs and so offer potential as the Party turns to 2018. A Democratic Party that is sane (progressive but practical) may have some possibilities in the eastern townships.

Filed under: Democratic Party, Elections, , ,

All Politics is Local

Tip O’Neil’s words were never  more true. Particularly when it comes to resistance. In an era of erratic and likely increasingly autocratic government in Washington, the pushback will not wait until 2020. It starts at the local level, as Josh Marshall reminds us:

Resistance to Trump and anti-Trump activism is a critical precondition of turning back to Trumpite tide. But it is not a sufficient one. I appear to be considerably more confident than a lot of other people I know that Republicans may face a big electoral backlash in 2018. But if it happens it will happen because of grassroots organizing in red states and the red parts of blue states.

Of course, it will not simply be grassroots efforts, as if finding more Democrats will cure the ills. In the past, this has too often meant concentrating on the known players and motivating them to vote. As we saw in the last election, this was roughly the equivalent of the drunk looking for his keys under the street light because ‘that’s where the light was good.’

We might put into this same pot the danger of taking an anti-charter stand, as gratifying as that may be. What we forget with charters is that it is not simply the schools or their philosophy, but these are places of parents.

To go beyond our known voters and known friends will require issues that resonate with larger audiences. At their best such issues should be intuitively true — not unlike how Right to Life found the power of babies. Two suggest themselves: transparency and accountability.

Transparency. This is election reform by a different, neutral name. Rather than focus on limits to campaign finance, much as we want them (cf. reactions to Citizens United), we ask only that funding be transparent. Citizens have a right to know who is putting up the money in politics. Secret money is almost certainly corrupt money. This also puts the weight on citizenship, on empowering voters — a theme that often is heard on the Right. Well, it’s time to steal it.

Accountability. Again, accountability is a  theme found among some conservatives. Going forward the same theme can be applied especially to failed, Republican-driven policies. It’s not just Flint, it is fundamentally the flawed governance of charters.

In campaign finance and charter oversight, Michigan ranks at or near the bottom nationally. Two themes give us the path forward.

 

 

Filed under: Democratic Party, , , ,

Senator Milquetoast

It’s good that U.S. Senator Gary Peters has spoken out against the President’s anti-immigration Executive Order. But sadly, the voice is muffled.

“As a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Armed Services Committees, my top priority is ensuring we’re doing everything we can to keep Americans safe. But I am also proud to represent vibrant Muslim and Arab American communities that are integral to Michigan’s culture and our economy.

The first sentence is pure political muffery: “my top priority… doing everything… keep Americans safe.” What is missing is a clear point of view, what he (or his office) thinks. The second sentence is little better: he’s “proud to represent.” yeah yeah yeah. This is indirect speech, at a distant from a straight forward presentation of the case.

There are big, legitimate issues of national security involved. This is the natural forceful lead. And it’s powerful, as Mother Jones demonstrates.

In the second paragraph Sen. Peters compounds his wishy-washiness.

“One of America’s founding – and most sacred – principles is the freedom of religion. I am extremely alarmed by President Trump’s executive order that effectively implements a religious test for those seeking to enter the United States…

The shift to First Amendment issues has a nice ring to it, but again one may ask whether it demonstrates a grasp of the actual Constitutional issues involved with the Executive Order. If anything the focus on Freedom of Religion plays into the cultural push of the President’s order, namely that of privileging Christian America. Immediate feedback from Trump supporters indicates their approval of the action. So rather than change opinion the appeal to the First is a sign of political boundary making. It is a lost opportunity.

And then finally there is a return to muffery with the final sentence:

 “While I support continued strengthening of the refugee screening process, I remain opposed to the suspension of the refugee admissions program.”

This is the sound of a man trying to have it both ways. “While I….” Oh, be direct. Know what time it is, and what the issues are. In the days ahead the battle needs far more direct, far clearer expression of ideas. Now is no time to waffle.

— Originally published at Written and Noted.

 

 

Filed under: Michigan, Washington, , , ,

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