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What is really happening in the 2016 race for president of the United States is a contest of consciousness within the American people. By "consciousness," I refer to the degree, higher or lower, to which an individual is free in thought and emotion to perceive the reality and equality of other beings and to decide how best to help them when help is needed. To get at the relationship of the presidential race to consciousness, today's politics need to be set against the background of the most intense political conflicts of the last two centuries.
Six years ago, after extensive academic and historical research, Renew Democracy developed the political theorem that, in a representative democracy, politicians represent those who pay for their campaigns. Several results derive from this demonstrably true statement. The first is that in order for the voter to gain control of the electoral process and have representatives responsive to their needs and desires, they must be in control financially of campaigns and political parties.
David Brooks penned a column on February 12, 2016, in The New York Times entitled "Livin' Bernie Sanders's Danish Dream." In it, he criticized Sen. Bernie Sanders, arguing that the Danish social democratic system and similar European systems are inferior to our own. Sanders, as we know, describes himself as a social Democrat. Brooks' writing on matters of character is eloquent; his book, The Road to Character, was superb.
Highlighted in this film are community members of El Barrio -- women, children, whole families -- as they take their struggle against Mayor Bill de Blasio’s unfair and destructive policies of displacement from community meetings to press conferences to the streets. This new film documents the struggle of East Harlem residents -- predominantly immigrant women of color, members of Movement for Justice in El Barrio -- actively opposing an unfair and destructive rezoning plan that the mayor is attempting to impose from above and which, if enacted, will cause widespread displacement of long-term low-income community members.
The right-wing Mackinac Center for Public Policy is making news after being charged $172,000 for Flint city records relating to the water crisis. They should get the records for a reasonable rate, as we have argued in our own battles for public records. But the story raises another, more pressing question: where has the Mackinac Center been on Flint for the last two months? The Flint Water Crisis is international news. It is, as the Mackinac Center itself notes, the largest public health crisis in Michigan since the 1970s.
To everything there is a season. We know the old Pete Seeger tune, composed in the late '50s and made famous by The Byrds in the mid '60s, a time just after McCarthy's communist witch-hunting campaign. It was a time of authoritarianism and public discussion about that kind of leadership. That time has returned. And now, it's time again to discuss it. The discussion is everywhere. Take, for example, "The Elements of Trumpism," an article by Ross Douthat published March 6 in The New York Times.
On December 18, 1865 -- 150 years ago -- when the 13th Amendment became the law of the land (after a 250-year run), Congress banned slavery in America. But it didn't - not completely. It added an exclusion clause: Slavery would be allowed as punishment for a crime. Reaffirming this, Virginia's Supreme Court declared prisoners "slaves of the state" in 1872. And so starts a second story of extraordinary exploitation.
While professing to love our children and to embrace an "it takes a village" mentality, the US continues to enact policies that demonize our children and fail to address issues that are literally killing them. Rather than preparing young people to be amazing leaders, we more often than not throw them right under the bus. The examples I cite below are by no means exhaustive of the many ways we sell kids short in the US. Rather, they represent the vast array of actions and inactions that fails to protect kids, and in many cases, presumes they are the problem.
Shifting political winds are battering the establishment, as the breeze flows to the back of the populists. Bernie Sanders didn't conjure the hurricane, but adjusted his sails to it. As the political storm grows apace with rising income inequality, new social attitudes are bringing fresh expectations, transforming politics as we know it. What seemed impossible yesterday is suddenly necessary.