Pathway To Citizenship for 11 Million: Dead On Arrival Or Inevitable?

I’m been following the immigrant rights movement since 2000 or so.  However, my interest in the movement peaked in 2006 while I was in Los Angeles and it has been of great interest to me ever since.  As an activist and an organizer, I am 100% committed to a pathway to  citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants here in the United States.  It is absolutely the right thing to do.  But as the Senate’s Gang of Eight release the first draft of the immigration bill on Tuesday, as a blogger and social media person who spends a lot of time following those within the movement, I can’t help but wonder what the responses will be from them once the bill is released. Massive disappointment?  Or a great place to start?

Although I’m optimistic, as a blogger and social media person observing the movement from the outside, I am also worried.  A year ago I could see a very tense and divided movement.  On the one hand you had activists coming out for building on the foundation of working with Congress to pass something meaningful, continuing the work from previous years and attempting to show a solid bi-partisan commitment to reform.  But on the other hand, you had activists who were not happy with the results of 2006 and beyond and they split, moving forward with a more radical and non-traditional form of protest against the political status quo.  Civil disobedience (which many of us would agree is what led to President Obama signing off on deferred action for DREAMers) is what many feel was necessary to hold the Obama Administration and Democrats and Republican’s alike, accountable, but it was also an attempt to go about the issue of immigrant rights to a completely different level.  Why focus on the political and pushing policy when we know Congress doesn’t function?  Why should we wait on the government to do anything?

Steps were taken to move in a different direction by the latter group and many of us, especially me, felt compelled to give these young DREAMers props for what they were doing.  No longer were they interested in doing things the “traditional” way, but instead spent days protesting in President Obama’s campaign offices across the country or risked their lives by purposely getting arrested and put into deportation proceedings to show the world how brutal detention facilities are across the country.

Now, while all of these examples show incredible bravery and have helped to shift the momentum for youth pushing for a pathway to citizenship for all, I can’t help but wonder how these two different methods from two sectors within the movement (with similar goals) will affect the conversation in the coming weeks.  A year ago I wasn’t worried.  A year ago I felt that things were moving in a separate but productive and effective process and that at some point after the election, these two ideologies would manage to come to fruition.  But in recent weeks, my observation is that this is not the case.  These two philosophies are coming head to head with one another and challenging chances for real reform.  We’re facing a devastating shift in momentum which could lead to much less than what we are bargaining for.

This is the United State of America and we know very well that our Congress cannot agree on anything and hasn’t during the last four years.  However, since the election in November things looked different in terms of immigration.  We had both sides of the political spectrum seeing the impact of Latino turnout and we were confident that policy makers understood our commitment to seeing reform through, capitalizing on what we stand strongly for.  But with the school shooting in Connecticut, the ongoing debate of gun control, in conjunction with the sequester and this division among the movement which I have been observing, makes me feel extremely worried about the prospects of immigration reform this year…

or at least being satisfied with a good foundation.

Soon after the the Gang of Eight introduces its bill on Tuesday and after all the amendments have been added to the bill and after all the debating and politicizing of the issue is made by both sides, will we again be disappointed like we were in the past or have the differences of methods among the immigrant rights movement laid the groundwork for something much more promising than even I have ever expected?

We’ll find out on Tuesday.

New Mexico Senator Tom Udall Visits Roswell, Hosts Roundtable With Farmers And Ranchers Affected By Drought

As Congress takes a break from Washington, DC, many are returning to their home districts to talk with constituents on a variety of issues.  Today, New Mexico Senator Tom Udall was in Roswell, hosting a roundtable with local farmers and ranchers currently struggling with the, I’d say, devastating drought facing the entire state.

Honestly, I was not fully prepared for this discussion.  I am in no way an expert on the issue of oil and gas, farming, ranching, nor the dairy industry for that matter, so most if not the entire conversation was a bit daunting.

A common theme amongst those in attendance was a passion for the work. Regardless of my own person feelings on the environment and what we should be doing to slow down the effects of climate change, I had to admire their conviction.  Of the ten or so in attendance, all had been farming or ranching their entire lives or their families had a long history of holding down their respective lands. Experts in their respective fields, I’d say.  While there were hints of forward thinking in terms of technology, efficiency and lowering carbon footprints, it was also clear that the same tired old ideas of yesteryear are still in play when it comes to energy here in southeastern New Mexico.

Regarding energy, for example.  A local farmer from Roswell, who explained that he wears a variety of different hats, including expertise in gas and oil, said that, “if we get away from producing coal, it will be a huge cost increase that cannot be solved.”  Senator Udall did not provide a response to this, but I immediately felt discomfort with this comment.  I’m immediately reminded of what the priorities are for this region of the state when it comes to any energy plan.

Livelihood vs. Climate Change

Just last year, President Obama was in Maljamar attempting to sell his comprehensive energy plan and sort of catering to gas and oil here in southeastern New Mexico.  But since his reelection in November, he’s not only talked about climate change, but he’s also prioritized it, both in his inaugural address and at this years State of the Union.  So my question is this.  How do you sell the effects of climate change and the deterioration of our environment to local gas and oil people who depend on this as their livelihood?

Especially here in southeastern New Mexico?

To find a successful solution to climate change, policy makers need the backing of those who attended today’s roundtable with Senator Udall.  But to be on board also means supporting an applicable piece of long-term policy that will make a significant difference and not just an attempt to squash an issue temporarily with some watered down piece of policy.  We can no longer continue to ignore this idea that perhaps oil and gas have contributed to our current drought challenges.  It is the incredibly large elephant in the room, except no one with real political power is willing to point that out.  Especially in this part of the state.

We don’t have a drought just because mother nature decided to take a break.  We have a drought because we, as a society, have done very little to produce alternatives to energy. Instead of finding solutions to help pull ourselves away from our dependence on oil and gas, we continue to increase and at a very rapid speed, which in turn directly impacts our land.  Unfortunately though, we don’t talk about climate change in these parts the same reason you don’t bring up the gun issue.  People get real upset.  At today’s roundtable with Senator Udall, there was desperation from those at the table, who were worried.  Not so much about what may come from this drought, but how much more government may interfere with their businesses if the issue become much more serious.

The question remains.  To what extent do we push the limits on the environment before we can finally say, “it’s time to do something?”  Around here, no one is willing to take a stab at that question which will be very problematic for any future debate on energy.

Senator Martin Heinrich Makes Case For Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Will Rest of New Mexico Delegation Follow?

March 18, 2013 2 comments

Today I participated on a call with United States Senator, Martin Heinrich from New Mexico, along with various organizations from across the state, many of which are involved on issues related to social justice, human and immigration rights.

The Senator’s office invited many community leaders to participate on this call because it was around a hot topic that could finally mean something in the coming weeks and months: comprehensive immigration reform.

Following the plight of immigrants in my own family and as an activist for the last ten or so years, this call was important in a lot of ways.  First, it tells me we might see some results this year.  Second, it says that as a border state, New Mexico is at the forefront of the conversation on border security and that our opinion on the issue should matter.  Finally, despite the horrendous record of our own Governor (must I remind you), our congressional delegation (minus the guy who’s last name rhymes with fierce but is not) have an opportunity to be leaders in ongoing discussions around the issue.  By contacting those of us on the ground to participate in a dialogue, my hope is that we can help the Senator frame his policy on this very important matter.

I had an opportunity to pose a question to Senator Heinrich prior to the call and the question was repeated almost verbatim throughout today’s conversation and that question was, “what is the Senator’s stance on deportations and the separation of families?”

His answer was simple.

“Illegal crossings [on the border] are down 90%. We must recognize what works and we must have real consideration for our communities”

An activist from Santa Fe made it clear, “the border is already secure,” Senator Heinrich may have confirmed it with this very simple statement.

But why does the Obama administration, Democratic Senator’s like Charles Schumer and those on the right continue to insist that we have to incorporate an overhaul in border security in order to make comprehensive immigration reform happen?

At the local level, we have seen horrible injustices to families who have been separated because of a horrible immigration system.  Actually, “system” is giving the federal government too much credit.  Instead, what families are experiencing, and have been for many years, is a bottle neck of uncertainty. Laws at the local and state level continue to deprive individuals of basic human rights, being subjected to intolerance and racial profiling at the hands of law enforcement who have no idea how to handle culture-sensitive issues or any immigration issue for that matter. More importantly and you would think this was common sense, but law enforcement should not be dealing with these issues.

Calls (and visits) with congressional leadership should continue and while Senator Heinrich was very happy to continue this dialogue from now on, it is important the we continue to push the same debate with the rest of the New Mexico delegation.  It is obvious that if the President is talking “border security” and continues to deport millions of people by separating millions of families, those of us working on the ground in New Mexico should be facilitating this debate and encouraging our leaders to do the same.

But we’ve been here before.  The question though is what will we do to make sure that promises made are no longer broken?  We must no longer rely solely on the a broken system of checks and balances.  We must demand that these promises be fulfilled by organizing our communities.

The Senator ended the call with, “este es el año.”

We must make it so.

Why Worry About An Outward Bigot, When It’s Your Own You Have To Worry About?

January 24, 2013 1 comment

Imagine how much more effective our New Mexico Legislature would be if “legislators” in Santa Fe, were actually “legislating” bills that help create, oh, I don’t know…jobs, maybe? Instead, our legislators, who are currently in their second week of a 60-day legislative session, are dealing with the Governor’s attempts to once again, continue with her ongoing attacks on immigrants.

This is the third year in a row New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez will go up against immigrant activists and public safety proponents, targeting drivers licenses and attempting to repeal a law allowing undocumented New Mexican residents to obtain drivers licenses. For the third year in a row, Governor, you will be stopped.

But at what expense to the rest of New Mexicans who need to work?

“I am once again asking the legislature to repeal the law that gives driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants,” said Martinez, a Republican. “I am always willing to discuss this issue with legislators from both parties and explore ways to find common ground, but I believe the most effective solution is to simply repeal this dangerous law.”

Governor Martinez is in no way interested in any compromise, which Democrats in the Senate and House have attempted to do the last two years.  While I am in no way in favor of the compromise being put forth by some legislators in the Senate and House, it is, by far, a much greater attempt for middle ground than the absolute repeal of the law.  But that’s what the Governor is committed to.  Full repeal of the law and going back in time.

This law allowing undocumented immigrants to acquire a drivers license, was brought forth to a vote and was made into law back in 2003 — way after 9/11 and way before this Tea Party, uber-conservative wave that swept the nation the year Susana was elected.  The purpose of the 2003 drivers license passage had nothing to do with the state declaring “safe haven” for undocumented immigrants, but instead it allowed for a much safer and less-costly situation for New Mexicans paying for auto insurance.  When you have a drivers license to drive in this state, you can acquire insurance, which not only reduces costs overtime for insured drivers, but you don’t have to deal with high costs that come with uninsured drivers during an accident.  It’s a win-win.

Except for the Governor.  Her only goal is to follow other anti-immigrant and in my own opinion, push very anti-Latino policies, in order to reach national political prominence.  To do this, she is playing the role of “enforcer” and following the likes of Governor Jan Brewer in Arizona who will ignore the Federal Government to do her own thing in her own state, despite the numerous attempts, on both sides, to find compromise.

Susana Martinez became popular because she was 1) Latina 2) endorsed by Sarah Palin at the height of her own popularity during that “wave” I mentioned earlier and 3) she was a Latina going against her own.

Why have the anti-immigrant bigot do it when you can get an ambitious Latina to do it herself?

I’m absolutely appalled at this ongoing witch hunt the Governor has towards immigrants.  More frustrating is we have to endure it once again, for the third year in a row.  We have to have a meaningless debate rather than focusing on real issues affecting all New Mexicans.

Next week, many immigration activists, including myself, will be in Santa Fe, protesting this attack on immigrants and pushing our leaders and legislators to do the right thing:  vote against the repeal if and when it comes to a vote.  However, if legislators plan to move forward with a compromise, fine.  But in the end, the Governor is not going to go for it.  She wants the repeal and she will bet her entire legacy on it.

Let her.  It will make her re-election bid that much more wonderful for the rest of us, who are going to work hard to make her a one term Governor.

I’m Not Saying That I’m Anything Like President Abraham Lincoln…

January 17, 2013 2 comments

But I’m currently reading, “Lincoln:  Team of Rivals,” and the more I read, the more I feel a deep connection to President Lincoln.  There are a lot of things he and I have in common.  For one, we’re both very emo.  

The author discusses President Lincoln and reports on his friends/family who made references to the President suffering between a cross of depression and melancholy.  

The passage that hits me the most is this one:   

“Periodically, when the distance between his lofty ambition and the reality of his circumstances seemed unbridgeable, he was engulfed by tremendous sadness.”  

I can testify to this passage and how powerful it is.  There are days in which I feel like I’m still waiting for my life to begin.  Waiting for that one thing that is going to catapult me to the place I am destined to be.  But what am I waiting for?  Why do I stress over whether or not I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing at this exact moment?  Why do I dwell on if I do this and not that, will it lead me elsewhere?  

I’m a true believer in “you make things happen.” But I’m also a true believer of having no regrets.  But like Lincoln, I am engulfed with tremendous sadness when the distance between my own lofty ambition and the reality of my circumstances, seem unbridgeable.

Goal for 2013 is to use my reality and circumstances to reach my lofty ambitions.  

It’s that simple.

Or is it?  

Ok…no questioning it.  Just do it.  


    

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Inauguration Saga: The Tale of A Small Town Girl Who Could Never Seem To Make It. Part Deux

January 12, 2013 Leave a comment

In 2008, I volunteered (as much as you can in a blue state) for President Obama in California. Even drove to Vegas to do some GOTV. That’s how much I was committed to his campaign. Low and behold, right after the election, a friend (with the help of now Senator Tom Udall) I was given access to the the inauguration via a purple ticket!
On January, 21, 2009, I woke up from my cozy couch in Arlington, VA, where I was staying with my good friend Jon. I decided that I was going to catch the bus at 3a and take it into DC so I could meet my other friend and get my golden ticket.
Let me just point something out. I was wearing the worst thing imaginable. If you were from the northeastern part of the country and understand how low the temps drop towards the end of January, you too would have looked at me like I was crazy. Anyway, I was standing at the bus stop waiting for my bus to DC…freezing.
1.5 hours later, I was still at the bus stop. Still freezing. Four buses had already passed by, waving me down that there was no longer any room.
By 4:30a, Jon met me down at the bus stop and we decided to grab a cab. Low and behold…that was also impossible. After running up and down one of the main streets in Jon’s hood, we ran into another group of idiots looking for transportation down to DC as well. After what felt like hours running after every cab we saw, we finally got the help of a very nice cab driver (in a van!!!) and she was kind enough to take eight of us into DC. However, there was a caveat. She was not going to be able to take us all the way in. Instead, she would only take us as far as Capitol Hill, off of I-395 and we’d have to walk the rest of the way.
Because Jon and I had different color tickets (his was gold and mine was the purple, which I still didn’t have in my possession) we had to split up near the, “Obama is the Devil because he believes in Sodomy” sign.
Sidenote: That sign should have tipped me off on the rise of the crazies.
So I leave Jon on the south side of the Mall. Somewhere in the middle of a cascade of gazillion people and I start my trek to meet my friend. It’s barely twilight at this point, sun should be coming up shortly and I’m cold as…well, the northeastern part of the country in the middle of January (and did I mention it doesn’t get cold like this in SoCal?)
It was around 5:30 or 6a when I finally got my act together, determined to meet with my friend with the purple ticket. But in doing so, there was a problem. My friend had the ticket.
Because there was so much security all over the damn place, I had to find ways to get through without having to present my ticket…
Rather than boring you with all the details (because there are many, like jumping over fences, my jacket getting caught on top of a fence, dodging police, sprinting through the I-395 tunnel) let’s just say that I finally got to my friend at 9:30am…3 hours after I started the trek, six hours from the time I was at the bus stop in Arlington.
But one thing before I joined my friend Alison (oh yeah, my purple ticket holder had a name)…when I arrived to our meeting place, there was a sea of people and they would not move. Let me put it to you this way. Jesse Jackson was standing just a few feet from me, stuck in the middle of the crowd, waiting impatiently just like the rest of us. I mean, seriously. If this famous civil rights leader wasn’t getting through, neither was I. 

Back to the story. So I finally run into my friend Alison, underneath the tunnel. Although there was already a line, I was strictly informed that I will not be able to cut to stand with her. I cut.
It was great to finally see her and to finally have my purple ticket. We were just steps away from our entrance to the inauguration and I had made it just in time. By this time it was around 10a, so I was convinced things were going to go my way.
We continued to wait. And wait…and wait. I mean, at first it was awesome because the energy was so great. People were happy, songs were being sung. It was just a great atmosphere to be in. I mean, c’mon? I was in a tunnel, about to witness our first Black President take the oath of office.
But when 11am arrived, I was starting to worry. I was already hearing people talk about Aretha Franklin taking the stage. Then there was the benediction…all of this while we were all under the tunnel. People were beginning to get upset. 

Finally the line started to move and I saw a bright light, heading towards the end of the tunnel (I wasn’t dying). We reached the outside and I knew we were going to make it. But we didn’t. When we reached the gate, we were told that everyone who had a purple ticket had already been admitted and that there would be no more admittance due to security. I was absolutely devastated. 

So my friend and I jetted. We reached the closest bar and it was standing room only and slightly hazardous, I’d say. So we didn’t stay.
Instead, we went back, hoping to get back in, but we could not. We stood with other people who had purple tickets and were not allowed and incredibly disappointed. The saddest part about the whole thing was that there were two older African American ladies, who I am sure were old enough to remember the Civil Rights Movement, unable to watch President Barack Obama be inaugurated and instead watching it from a phone, just yards away from the real thing.
So we left. I left the Capitol and walked to Dupont Circle where I unexpectedly met up with my friends Carlos and Teresa at The Front Page. There, they told me about the inauguration and what they got to witness and were so excited. They were truly excited about the fact that they had witnessed history that day. I may have started to cry at this point.
By this time it was after 3p and I was exhausted. Metro at Dupont was down and the bus…ugh, the bus. So I walked to Foggy Bottom. I figured it would be better. 

It wasn’t. 

I walked south on 23rd, to the Lincoln Memorial and across Memorial Bridge…to Arlington Cemetery. There, I caught the metro and took it to Pentagon City, where I met up with Jon, who took me out to dinner. He got to witness one of the greatest moments in our history. I may have cried at this point as well.
I must have talked 30 miles that day.
Fast forward to today.
I worked for Organizing for America (OFA) in Colorado in 2012, hoping to reelect President Obama. A successful campaign was ran and we were victorious! 

Last night I got an email with great news for OFA alumni. There are going to be tons of activities for alumni during inauguration week this year, including a visit to the White House, and that I should definitely go. This would be the last chance to RSPV. 

I took the chance, booked my flight and sent off my itinerary to my inauguration partner-in-crime, Jon. Yay!! I was going to be able to make it happen this time.
This morning, I grabbed my Iphone first thing and checked my email. There was an email from Jon, in response to my itinerary.
It said…in the only way Jon can say it, “Angelica My Luv… I think you need to change your return day. MONDAY is the inauguration… you won’t be able to see it if you are at BWI. :(“
HOLY CRAP!!
Right away I called my airline to get things straightened out, but no such luck. It was going to cost me double what I paid to fly out the following day. There is no way I could afford to rebook my flight for all the inauguration events and inauguration day.
Inauguration #2 – Bust
So the moral of this long story is that yes. I screwed up my dates for this year’s inauguration. But as you can see, while the first inauguration was somewhat tragic in my eyes at the time…I can’t really be upset about today’s events because well…I’ve had a good run. It’s such a great story, one I will be able to tell my grandchildren when they too do something really dumb. 

I went to the inauguration in 2009, didn’t witness it, but was there…I worked on the Obama campaign in Colorado this past year, having shook the man’s hand twice. Honestly…what more could I ask for, right?*
This last paragraph is just to help me feel better after what transpired with my airline ticket today.

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How Did We Allow MTV To Stop Playing Music? And Other Sad Things Going Through My Head

Today I was watching Portlandia’s newest episode, “Take Back MTV.”  In it, two characters played by Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, discover that MTV no longer play’s music videos and instead is being run by a bunch of tweens obsessed with reality shows like, Teen Mom.  Google it.  I refuse to link it from my blog.  Anyway, strategizing, they decide to take MTV back to its original form.  You  know?  Playing “music videos” and talking about “music” and “artists?”  With the support of all major public radio funders (which was hilarious), and the help of past VJ’s, Kurt Loder, Tabitha Soren and Matt Pinfield (the loud, bald guy), the goal of putting the music back into MTV, was set.

Spoiler alert:  After a successful coup d’état by Fred, Carrie and the old school MTV VJs, an older gent wakes up to find on this television this amazing and historical occurrence, from the comfort of his living room couch,…to only fall back to sleep.

I tend to complain about MTV myself.  Geez, it’s not what it used to be!  I mean, aside from watching Nev on Catfish religiously (what can I say? I find him incredibly smart and handsome!!!) the whole channel is such a waste.  But the reaction the guy on the couch gives on Portlandia…a reaction of “who cares?”, is the same reaction I picture from your typical person who hates politics and would rather not participate in any civic duty or local action.

Take the last week for example.  All over Facebook and Twitter you had “those” people complain when they got their paycheck last week and noticed that it was shorter than previous months.  “That Obama is taking my money!”  is all I heard.  Except that this was not the case at all.  Had they been paying attention to the politics they so despise, they would have realized that we’ve always had this thing called a “payroll tax” which is deducted from our checks each pay period to pay for Social Security.  However, in 2010, President Obama signed off on reducing the amount of this payroll tax through the tax bill, by two percentage points so that the working middle class would have some change left over each month, to pay for stuff, so that in turn, would stimulate the economy and get things going again.  But people don’t get that.  They just think it’s something that was just thrown at them (or taken from them)

Instead, what they should be concerned about is that like every other year since the President has been in office, the Republican party has been doing something we all like to call, “obstructionism.”  In the case of the fiscal cliff, in order to save stuff like, unemployment benefits, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and surviving the Dairy Cliff, among other things, the payroll tax was allowed to expire, thus raising the the payroll tax back to 6.2% instead of 4.2%.

Imagine if the President was allowed to keep everything he wanted on the table?

Yes, many other things were saved because of the fiscal deal…but despite all of that, many are still very upset about the payroll tax and the $1000 that will be taken from them this coming year.  I mean it’s a cable bill for crying out loud!!!

Yes, the President could have fought harder…he had the leverage like many progressives have said, some continuing to say that the guy is just not a closer when it comes to negotiations.  The President may have also given up enough leverage as he counters GOP BS in two months when we have to endure this torture again with the debt ceiling debate.

But think about it?  President Obama and the Democrats are putting policy on the table to help the working poor, the middle class and the 99% who don’t make a gazillion dollars, and the Republican’s are saying no to everything so we’re having to compromise and yet we still have some working poor, middle class and 99%ers defending the Republican party and their obstructionism?

Does this make any sense to you?

When will American’s finally wake up to the BS?  Fox News and Rush Limbaugh are spewing misconceptions about everything to the very people that these policies are affecting and yet people don’t think for themselves.

American’s remind me of the guy waking up in the middle of Portlandia’s MTV takeover.  He awakes to find the original VJs back to what is right in the world, with music being played and awesomeness being shown, to only go back to sleep because, you know what?  Who cares?

This attitude of complacency is what allows our leaders and lobbyists to take advantage of our communities across the country.  Until American’s begin to think critically, understand what is really going on and fight back, there will continue to be injustices…including your hard earned cash being used to pay for something your Congressman prefers rather than you putting food on the table.

It Loves Me…Oh, Gawd It Loves Me NOT! The End Of A Political Love Story.

December 13, 2012 2 comments

Wow. It’s been so long since my last post that I barely recognized the updates to the WordPress dash. My bad.

But it looks great. I mean, it actually makes me want to write…more often.

So…where have I been? Full disclosure. My last post was written in Colorado, which is where I was living at the time. I decided to go work for the Obama campaign in east Boulder county for seven weeks leading up to election night. After shutting it all down, returning to New Mexico and decompressing with some much needed Elliott Smith, SLEEP, sans CSPAN, and some traveling back east (by the way, did I say sleep?) I am ready to get back into the swing of things. President Obama may have won, putting an end to a very successful campaign against that guy…what’s his name? But while winning elections is one thing…winning major legislation in the next two years will be critical as it will determine the direction of this country. I intend to write about it! (Without the long absences)

I promise. (For the gazillionth time)

Much like what we unrealistically expected in 2008, I wish I could say we woke up the day after this election with every societal ill resolved. No. In fact, we woke up to a complete nightmare, which we continue to see unfold before our very eyes, and with no real end in sight. The difference however, is that we, progressives, are no longer the only ones willing to accept the chaos that is the United States Congress aka Republican Party. At least, that’s my theory.

Republican’s nation-wide are waking up to a fallacy. The demise of a true love story.

Four years ago, it was something special. The Tea Party was just oh, so charming. Sure, it felt too good to be true…but it really did feel good. So what if they were nothing like what you were used to? While your Eisenhower-Republican friends called you crazy, you sat back and enjoyed this idea of a good thing. You were courted. Despite all the baggage from the last eight years, you were willing to overlook it because it was that other guys fault. While you knew that the Tea Party was no good for you, you were convinced that you could make it work. You were so committed to this idea that you marched on the National Monument to denounce health care for all, even though it was a Republican idea just a decade before. You even went so far as to impress this Tea Party, whom you held up on a very high pedestal, to eventually replace strong Republicans and Democrats leaders in Congress in 2010 to get this Tea Party in.

Then came 2012. By this time, you were madly in love…but you’re the laughing stalk of your conservative, anti-Tea Party friends. They know that it’s not going to work out, but here you are holding on to this idea that it might just work. The Tea Party tells you exactly what you want to hear. At one point even convinces you that there might be a future. You just need to wait it out because election day is just around the corner and all the dumb things you’ve done for the party in the past four years will all be worth it in the end.

Then this happens.

The Republican Party is in utter chaos. They have pushed things so far to the right that they would rather wipe out our entire economy than to lose. Even though the demands put forth by the President are exactly what the American people voted for on November 6.

No cuts to entitlement programs. Let the Bush Tax Cuts for the top 1% expire. Extend the Bush Tax Cuts for those making under $250,000.

Instead, what we have is a lying John Boehnor, Speaker of our House of Representatives, attempting to explain his side of the story.

It’s taken four years for supporters of the Tea Party to finally begin to realize what a douche their party was. How could they have been so stupid??

Perhaps they have not completely made it out of the woods, just yet. However, I think our current economic debate (or lack thereof) will put their relationship into perspective pretty soon. (I hope.)

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“Won’t find it in Obama. Or Romney” — Well Than Who?

October 21, 2012 Leave a comment

It’s an ongoing theme with my blog posts. “Why President Obama?”

Most of the time when I write about this topic, I never focus on what the right thinks, because…well, we know what they think.  “President Obama is a Socialist,” “President Obama was born in Kenya.” With healthcare reform, it was a “government takeover, something we haven’t seen since… [insert some Commie, Pinko, Liberal here.] “Obama is going to take our guns!!” The list goes on and on.

My biggest frustration over the issue of “why President Obama?” actually doesn’t come from the right.  My frustrations are with my own community of progressives, liberals, lefties…whatever you want to call us.

There is no denying the fact that the left represents a number of issues. I mean, think about it? We support equal pay for equal work, reproductive rights for all women, comprehensive immigration reform, the end to the prison industrial complex, ending the war on poverty (or starting one), racial equality, improving quality education in our public schools and making college affordable to all, climate change, ending the war in Afghanistan (and Iraq), taking money out of politics, affordable health care for all, ….the list goes on and on.  So long, I know I’m missing a ton, so please, progressives — forgive me.

So I think you may know where I’m headed.  Like Ben Stein who has a tendency of fearing the end of his life at Fox News studios, I too worry about what responses I’ll get from the left if I don’t say the right thing. This isn’t an attack on the left, if anything it’s a minor criticism of how the progressive movement has responded to the last four years of the Obama Administration.

Look, I was there.  I shook the man’s hand in Washington, DC a few months after he announced his quest for the White House in 2007.  I was there, making calls and knocking on the doors of likely voters for the Obama campaign in Las Vegas, Nevada and Los Angeles in 2008.  I was there hosting my awesome election night party on 1729 E. 1st Street, Boyle Heights, USA, on that historical night President Obama won his election bid against Senator John McCain.  I was there, wide awake, on a really dark, cold and early morning in northern Virginia, chasing after maxed out taxi’s and buses, holding on to that purple ticket, after arriving to a very long and winding line on the National Mall, just to get a glimpse of Barack Hussein Obama’s inauguration as the 44th President of these United States.

I was there.

Then came January 22, 2009.

Whoa! Where did everyone go?

Obviously the election of Barack Obama did not lead to the collapse of the sky above, as most on the right were predicting, so things did carry on per usual.  But nowhere to be found was the massive 2008 “Yes We Can” campaign supporters.  The fight for all those issues I mentioned earlier did not get solved on the day the President Obama walked into the White House.   “Yes we can” during the 08′ presidential election had the exact same meaning millions of farmworker activists and organizers have shouted throughout the history of this nation’s ongoing progressive movements.  It really does mean, “yes WE can.” But after the inauguration it was more like, “It is what it is.”

Progressives stopped fighting the day the President was elected, plain and simple.  We allowed the fringe on the right to hijack the conversation on the very day the President took office.  The spring of 2009, we knew we needed to pass a stimulus package, in order to stop the collapse of our economy, but knew it needed to be bigger than it was in the end and we didn’t fight for that.  In December, 2009, the President announced more surge troops to Afghanistan and as I watch the announcement from West Point, I wondered, where is our anti-war movement?  During the healthcare debate in 2010, we wanted single-payer.  But rather than fighting for it and calling out our leaders in Washington, DC and at town hall meetings at their local districts in August, we stayed silent. We could have countered the highly funded astroturf, also known as the Tea Party, and ended its stupid antics right then and there.  But we were nowhere.  Where were we when we should have been fighting for harsher penalties against Wall Street and pushing for major sanctions against the banks and making arrests against the people who led to the collapse of the economy in 2008?  Where were we with Dodd-Frank?  It doesn’t do half of what it was intended to do and yet we let the watered down version pass. Where were we when Elizabeth Warren was being ridiculed by Congress and not defending her and the horrible things being said about her as she waited to be appointed as the head of her baby, the Consumer Financial Protection Agency?  Where were we demanding that our Congressional leaders campaign their asses off and take full responsibility for the Affordable Care Act also known as “Obamacare,” instead of shying away from it like it was a disaster?  Where were we on election night in 2010 when the Republican’s killed us by taking over the House of Representatives?  Where were we during the lame-duck session when we were so pissed off at the President because he “caved” to the Republican’s on the Bush tax cuts in order to extend unemployment for millions?  Where were we when the DREAM Act failed because the Senate didn’t even have a chance to debate the bill because the vote to just even hear the debate was filibustered by the obstructive Republican’s? Where were we demanding Congress to stop with the war on women and keeping the Republican’s from submitting legislation after legislation to keep women from having access to preventive healthcare and protect our reproductive rights?  Where have we been the last two years, pushing for the Jobs bill?  Where is the movement that is going to hold the President and Congress accountable for the numerous and horrible drone strikes taking place in the Middle East?  When are we going to rise up and tell our leaders that institutionalized racism really does exist and that our prisons are another signal that we have failed in our mission to end racism and discrimination in this country.

Where have we been celebrating the numerous successful milestones this administration has actually made?

Where have we been?

All of these honorable mentions are events I have remembered by memory because each time circumstance could have been an incredible turning point on progressives regaining control of the conversation.  But we didn’t.  Instead, here we are, 15 days before election day, and we’ve got people considering the possibility of sitting out the election or voting for a third party candidate, because the President is the lesser of two evils.  “Why vote?  It’s not like it really matters?,” they say. Tonight, I was told that the President losing the election would be a good thing for America because it would make people finally understand what is really at stake.

That is about the dumbest thing I have ever heard.

It’s cheesy, I know…but quoting John Lennon, “you may say I’m a dreamer...”  I still have faith in our democracy and that we can still become a better nation for all people.  I stand proud to be a progressive and believe that I am on the right side of history because our progressive ideals are the right one’s.  I would rather debate with each and every person I may not agree with, within the movement and make incremental change to get things done, than to not do anything at all.  But I cannot agree with the notion that this election doesn’t matter.  It does matter.

I hate to use the term, “defining” because it’s overused so often in mainstream media, but in my opinion, this election is a defining moment in the history of our nation.  Mitt Romney, if elected, will reverse so much of the progress we have made in recent years and it could take 30 to 40 years to return to where we should be now.  President Obama has made some really bone head decisions these last four years, but to just throw him under the bus and just say, “whatever” is not the right thing to do — not for the millions of people who are still looking for a chance to make it another day.  He needs more time to get things done and we owe it, not to ourselves, but to those countless people across this nation, who cannot do it on their own.  We need more time to dominate the conversation and take on the right like it’s never seen us do before.  This is what needs to be done.

Election day is in 15 days.  Do the right thing, not just for you, but for all America and the whole world.

Categories: Uncategorized

You’ve Got To Fight, For Your Right, To Vote!

September 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Remember when the working-poor, students, the elderly, and people of color were committing fraud by falsely documenting voter registration forms in order to vote in an American election?

Yeah.  Me either.

The last year or so, we have seen an increase in voter suppression laws all across the country, so much so that it could be devastating to the electorate this coming election and hand the Republican party’s, Mitt Romney (and many other horribly selected Republican candidates), a clear victory on November 6 if we don’t do something to stop it.

“So, wait…what is going on?” you ask?

I know.  It’s confusing, right?  All along you thought you could just show up at your local polling place and just…vote!  I mean, this is America.

Wrong.

It’s not going to be that easy for millions of people this year, who may face a considerable amount of drama due to very repressive and restrictive laws keeping honest American’s from exercising their most basic right.

Ok.  So for the last year or so, leadership in states like Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, (and many, MANY more) insist voter fraud is incredibly prevalent across their communities and must be intensely scrutinized.  However, fraud is almost non-existent and nothing like described on the far-right.  In fact, there have only been a few cases of some questionable voting practices but nowhere near what Republican’s and conservatives on the right are claiming.  Instead, what we find is that your chances of getting eaten by a shark are greater than for there being any issue with voter fraud.

But these suppression laws have passed and although some have been shot down by a higher court or are facing the courts now due to appeal from many legal entities attempting to defend our voter rights, these laws struck down are still, believe it or not, being implemented by many across the state.

Ok.  So you’re sitting there thinking, “well, what’s wrong with showing our IDs?”  “What could honestly be the big deal?”  Well, there are many reasons why many of us defenders of voting rights find this problematic.  First and foremost, not all people have the privilege of having an ID.  Sure, it’s not something that’s denied to anyone, but not everyone needs to have one for everyday use and to get one just to vote would be costly for many. According to a study from NYU’s Brennan Center, 11 percent of voting-age citizens lack necessary photo ID while many people in rural areas have trouble accessing ID offices.  Furthermore, states that provide free ID cards are a great alternative, but what happens to those who can’t afford to pay for additional costs such as having to pay to provide additional documents to obtain this ID card they may never use after election day? (i.e. birth certificate) Finally, there is an incredible disadvantage for these groups as well as those agencies needing to provide the documentation.  Many of these laws were thrown into the law books way too far into election season.  Think about it.  Election day is in less than 40 days and many government agencies that usually provide these identification cards may or may not have the processing capability or capacity to provide these cards in a timely fashion.

This morning, Melissa Harris Perry made it very clear, this isn’t a “Fox News” moment.  Let’s not get all “conspiracy theorist-like,” but the issue is clear.  The demographics affected the most by these laws (noted above) are groups that have historically voted for the Democratic candidate.  So it is no coincidence that here we are, a few weeks away from an important presidential election and these laws could prevent millions of voters from voting.  More importantly, preventing those same people from voting for a candidate they voted for overwhelmingly in 2008.

BUT PRESIDENT OBAMA IS AHEAD IN THE POLLS?

So right now, yes.  President Obama is ahead in the polls.  But these polls mean absolutely nothing if people are unable to exercise their basic right to vote.  Think about that.  Also this about this.  If voting doesn’t matter to many of us out there unwilling to participate in this very basic right, than why is the Republican party doing everything in their power to take that one right away from us.

The Republican party insists fraud is occurring and that it is mostly coming from groups many progressives represent (like those mentioned above).  But check this out! Yesterday it was discovered that a consulting agency being paid for by the the Republican Party, may have committed fraud themselves.  According to developing reports, Strategic Allied Consulting, a firm collaborating with others who have a history of tampering with Democratic forms, has been fired by the Republican Party due to serious discrepancies in voter registration forms across the country.

Aside from this situation itself, a very awful recording was discovered from a local Republican phone banker in Florida, stating the following:

Y’all sound like y’all are senior citizens, right? Yeah. We don’t want — you don’t want Obama. You really don’t want Obama because he’ll get rid of your Medicare. You might as well say goodbye to it. Yeah, and I don’t know if you’ve done any research on Obama or not, but he is a Muslim. He is — got a socialistic view on the, you know, the economy, the government, the whole nine yards. Um, if he had his way, we would be a socialistic country. Okay, really, do. Pay attention to Fox News. If you can get out and watch that movie 2016 do so. That has a lot of good information. Just really the newspapers and the Fox News will help you out; will help you. Okay, appreciate it sir. Thank you. Uh huh. Bye-bye.

Voter suppression laws are real but they aren’t real in the way the Republican party is portraying it to the rest of us.  Students, the elderly, people of color, and the low-income and working poor are not responsible for any decline in our democracy.  It is the Republican party and the shadiness that they continue to delve into in order to gain power and win elections.  This coming November we need to beat them with real power.

Our right to vote.