As I write I listen to you speak of poll taxes and voter suppression. I wish to share my story in respect to my personal reality and the fear that I live with. Decades before the Barack Obama long-form birth certificate, I realized my own fear. Unlike the persons in your account, I am not a senior citizen. I am a permanent resident of the United States and have been for all of my life. While I have never crossed a border into another country, I have great apprehension for what might occur.
May I provide a bit of background? For the last six years, I have lived in the State of Florida. I trust that the Florida situation, and thus mine, is familiar for more than a few. Millions of Americans have found, or will discover, circumstances have changed. The opportunity to cast a ballot, early, easily, or to merely to be part of the electoral process is no longer theirs.
Viewing the current attacks on voter access as a whole, several key points emerge:
• Fourteen states enacted a total of twenty-five measures that will unfairly and unnecessarily restrict the right to vote and exact a disproportionate price on African-American and other voters of color. Dozens more restrictions have been proposed nationwide, in a coordinated assault on voting rights.
• Several of the very states that experienced both historic participation of people of color in the 2008 Presidential Election and substantial minority population growth according to the 2010 Census are the ones mounting an assault to prevent similar political participation in 2012. These states include those that experienced the largest growth in total African-American population during the last decade (Florida, Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina), and three states that saw the highest growth rates in Latino population (South Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee).
• The restrictive measures adopted by these states include:
• Tightening the requirements for voter registration or making the voter registration process unnecessarily difficult by imposing severe restrictions on persons who conduct voter registration drives or requiring individuals to produce documentary proof of citizenship in order to register to vote.
§ Increasing disfranchisement of people with felony convictions.
§ Substantially reducing the opportunity to vote early or by absentee ballot.
§ Erecting barriers to participation on Election Day itself The heart of the modern block the vote campaign is a wave of restrictive government-issued photo identification requirements.
In a coordinated effort, legislators in thirty-four states introduced bills imposing such requirements. Many of these bills were modeled on legislation drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-a conservative advocacy group whose founder explained: “our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
• According to one estimate by the Brennan Center for Justice, these block the vote efforts could impede as many as five million eligible voters from registering and/or casting ballots in 2012. While the sheer volume of the affected eligible voters is alarming in itself, the threat is compounded when you consider that the effects will not be felt evenly throughout society. In the context of state photo identification requirements, for example, an astonishing 25% of African Americans (over 6.2 million African-American voters) and 16% of Latinos (over 2.96 million Latino voters) do not possess valid photo ID. By comparison, only 8% of whites are without a current government-issued photo ID.
However, the trepidation I feel existed before my move here. It began when I first realized that my birth certificate and proof of my lineage were in question. More than once, I have been asked to produce what I can do, only in part. While I am not visibly a minority, other than being a woman, which may be both a majority and among the marginalized, I may not be among those characterized as a fully documented citizen.
My Mom is my birth mother. My dad adopted me when I was thirteen. My natural father as well as each of my parents is no longer present in the physical world. Even when they were here on Earth, I was concerned. Being adopted while living a thousand miles away from my birthplace; indeed, even being adopted while in Middle School, on many occasions I have been asked to present my papers!
Since the age of seventeen, I lived on my own. I also began my career as an extremely committed and regular voter. In Wisconsin, if you were seventeen during the primaries but would be eighteen by the time of the general election you could as I would, cast a ballot in the Spring.
When I was in my late teens or very early twenties, my mom gave me my hospital birth certificate, the State papers, as well as the revised, post adoption documents. I know not how, or when, I only know that I proceeded to lose every record.
Thankfully, I had studied the three before these disappeared. I know the name of the hospital I was born in, the city, the county, and the State. I am well aware of the time of birth. My Mom always told the story I love. I know the tale of how and where I was conceived. Still, for all these years, I have been unable to secure copies of my original birth files.
The hospital changed hands. The State of Pennsylvania, a score ago, sent me the altered copy of my short version birth certificate. On it, my adopted Dad and Mom are listed as my parents. Funny or not, today, I know not where that document is either. [I have moved too often and from State to State.] Were I asked to produce a long form file, or required to furnish more forms that speak to the specifics, I could not.
Perhaps, having been asked for my papers on many occasions in my five decades on this planet, in this country, shades my reality. In truth, that is why Mommy bestowed the certificates. Schools, professional pursuits, medical circumstances, and much more in an American life, at times, necessitates that I produce documentation.
Aware of the current political environment, and where I now live, my apprehension increases. While I believe I am still able to retrieve a copy of the altered post-adoption short-form certificate, were there a need for me to actually present verification of my birth, complete with the names of my natural parents, the hospital and time at which I was born, I cannot do so.
No Rachel, I am not Black, Brown or any color other than the Caucasian pink. I am not elderly. I am not an immigrant. I was born in a hospital, one that still stands. I also was born in a very large city! Produce my official papers? Currently, I cannot!
I strongly suspect I am not alone. Might a Tea Party person share my truth? I often wonder. Could a Conservative too be without the documents he or she is certain someone has? Independents too, in America, do not live on an island. Any of these might experience as this Democrat does. I am without documents
I thank you Rachel for reading my story. I hope my veracity will serve to expand the story. The disenfranchised could be you, and very easily me!
So long as I do not firmly and irrevocably possess the right to vote I do not possess myself. I cannot make up my mind-it is made up for me. I cannot live as a democratic citizen… ~Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior
“Only you can choose whether the Earthly weight, the gravity of circumstances holds you down. You have the power to decide if you are one with the whole of the elements. Wind, air, fire, and water are yours for the taking . . .
Fly freely. Breathe deeply. Ignite or inspire with intensity. Drink the joy of living with gusto. Learn. Grow. Glow Greater!”
More than a month has passed, actually now it has been two. In the third week of June, I heard the song in my head for the first time. With each day that passes the volume increases. Friends, family, and familiars were privy to what has been a curiosity for me. Still haunted by what I know needs to be shared farther and wider, today I tell you my tale. The story begins with two Florida Democrats. Each aspires to fill the one open United States Senate seat. The date; June 22, 2010. I was amongst those invited to attend the initial Meek Greene debate.. The place? The Palm Beach Post headquarters. The time? Midday. The reality realized and the reason my mind marinated in the melody titled It’s About Time. Today, Democrats, Progressives are not as they were.
I knew this was true and have for quite some time. Still, never was this veracity as stark as it appeared to me on that day. Oh yes. Daily, none of us escapes what fills the airwaves. We have heard the newer definitions and seen greater divisions within the Party; indeed, the population, for years. During election seasons yours and my mailbox burst with messages, all of which signal the metamorphosis. Often, in most every campaign, “It is about time, about space, and about two men [or women] in the strangest place.” The difference for me, is blatancy.
A close comparison, face-to-face with the candidates, the two campaigns, persons in the crowd, and the strange circumstances that surround each of these, magnified what is evident everyday. Amongst the audience alone, there were Democratic loyalists, persons with a strong commitment to the Party. Independents, people from the Press, there only to cover a story took their chairs. Present were former Republicans, individuals who did not identify their preference, and those truly enamored with a billionaire’s earnings. Then, there were a few such as me. I value the common good, government of, by, and for all people. The commonweal, I believe, is the basis for all that ensures a quality life, liberty and the possible pursuit of happiness. We were a somewhat skewed sampling of the electorate. Within the Senatorial candidates and campaigns one could see aspects of any or all of us.
Their beliefs, background, and circumstances that brought each challenger to this scene were as dissimilar as the makeup of the spectators. Jeff Greene led a lavish life of luxury and indulgence. Even in the hard times, he managed to attend all the best schools and work in exclusive environs.
Kendrick Meek has a skeleton in his closet, or at least that is how Mister Greene framed the phenomenon. That aside, Senatorial hopeful Meek has a far more humble background. He is and has always been an average American, amongst the working class. Despite his less than glamorous childhood; he has achieved. Ultimately, Mister Meek worked his way into the Halls of Congress. Currently, he serves Floridians in the United States House of Representatives. Separately and together the two personify the strangeness of the times we live in and the dilemma that has become Democratic politics.
In 2010, Democrats are a divided bunch. Perhaps, they always were. Near a century ago, Will Rogers asserted, “I do not belong to an organized political Party. I am a Democrat.” At present, a far Left fringe and followers of a more conservative liberal agenda are self-identified Progressives. As one author observed, Beware of the Progressive Democrat. Helen Redmond cautions against a “Party of Lemmings.” One might wonder . . .
What Do Progressives Believe?
When I was younger, I trusted that Democrats believed in social equality. Those who identified themselves as advocates for democracy, a principle that speaks to government of, by, and for the people, marked off the box on their voter registration forms that denotes, “Democrat.” However, slowly, over the decades, a silent transition occurred.
Democrats began to define themselves as “Progressives,” or at least many did. Unlike a score ago, when a large body of research revealed “that individuals were frequently unable to correctly identify their ideology, unlikely to express an ideologically constrained set of political values, and unable to consistently use ideology to inform their political preferences in a coherent way,” today individual survey respondents report a preference for an ideology that does not fit neatly into the conventional liberal or conservative categories.
Polarization has come to define political elites and the common people. People presume that labels are legitimate. The latest examination of the electorate exposes what is evident through Jeff Greene and Kendrick Meek.
Let the Debate Begin. Pundits, Press, the Public Define Progressive Positions
The opening scene began with little fanfare. The dynamic duo, or applicants for the United States Senate seat, walked onto what sufficed for a stage, and spoke to citizen concerns.
Years earlier, the specifics of what each said, would not have been defined as democratic. Today, we see this novel truth daily. Countless Democrats, moderates, conservatives, and liberal, call their positions Progressive. Studies seem to support the divergence that has occurred. For me, the hour and one half encapsulated what had occurred over time and in the vast space we classify as America.
The candidates posited their “Progressive” practices. Humanitarian travels were amongst Greene’s treasure trove. A trip to an island Republic, certainly would calm the United States, Cuban conflict. Further investigation revealed that Cuban American affairs were not Mister Greene’s priority. Personal purchases played a primary role in what was professed to be a charitable mission.
Congressman Meek has often been characterized as an actual Progressive by numerous reputable and respected organizations. On many themes the Representative speaks and votes as a more liberal person might. However, whether or not Mister Meek is an authentic Progressive, well, that depends on who you ask and what actions you assess.
For persons who favor a fuller, more robust reform than we have seen enacted, Kendrick Meek can be quite regressive and Progressive. Thus, the dilemma for persons in the audience such as me. I felt and feel immersed in a strange time, at a strange place, almost as though I were in outer space.
The only clear consensus; corruption. Weeks before the big debate, billionaire Greene stressed what average Americans might think questionable, regardless of a Party affiliation. Jeff Greene accused Kendrick Meek. and the Congressman’s Mom of being in the pocket of an arraigned developer. Mister Meek responded then, and in this more public forum. Meek maintained his innocence and addressed his association. Jobs and development for Liberty City residents was the reason Representative Meek had any relationship with the local businessman.
Surely a Progressive or a Democrat would declare that rationale just. Yet, what of Congressman Meek’s vote on House Resolution 310? “It hands over public lands to an organization that seeks to develop them for its own private uses.”
What might spur a shopping spree or justify a jaunt to Cuba with no visible altruistic intent? Well, only Jeff Greene knows for sure and he has yet to suggest what might help a Progressive believe he had the people’s best interest at heart. Evidence for such a claim cannot be easily unearthed. Nonetheless, the candidates Campaign Manager, in a telephone conversation, assured me that aspirant Greene is absolutely a Progressive.
Emblematic of Elections and Electorate
During the formal appearance, and earlier in interviews held with the Editors, Jeff Greene and Kendrick Meek outlined their stance on the issues. Jeff Greene articulated his values and addressed his financial worth as well. People’s interest was obviously peaked. After all, money in America is not only a source of pride, as it is for the billionaire businessman; it is also scorned. Dependent on your principles or principal a person could be impressed or disgusted by what they think decadence.
Mister Greene was asked why he thinks himself the more priceless aspirant. His response evoked thoughts for why he may not be. Default swaps loomed large in this discussion. Lead Journalists felt no need to focus on the topic when they addressed Congressman Meek. Issues were the central theme.
Environmental concerns, Mister Meek explained, was an issue that helped demonstrate his consistency. His record on Education, Health Care, the Economy, and Veterans Affairs, Meek said helped to illustrate that he was a worker. He has been and would be there for the people. In the Meek interview, credit default swaps were not the issue. The financial faultfinding the Editors found in regards to Congressman Meek was his action on overcrowded classrooms.
Mister Meek believes that Legislators must fund schools as the class-size amendment states. The candidate cries out in favor of a reasonable student-teacher ratio. On this subject, Kendrick Meek does exemplify what I think is a Progressive point of view.
However, only days before the debate Alex Sink, another supposed “Progressive” candidate, and I believe a life long Democrat who seeks the Governor’s seat, stated that she disagrees with Kendrick Meek on this issue. Jeff Greene appears to stand silently on the subject, perhaps, in the corner of an overcrowded classroom. In this strange time, it would seem there is no safe place. There are only strange locales where the song plays as background music. Might we consider many a recent political and philosophical campaign in this country?
Hillary Clinton recently described a progressive as “someone who believes strongly in individual rights and freedoms, who believes that we are better as a society when we’re working together,” (CNN/You Tube Debate). The description offered by Center for American Progress is more precise. Their website explains, “As progressives we believe that America should be a country of boundless opportunity-where all people can better themselves through education, hard work, and the freedom to pursue their dreams. We believe this will only be achieved with an open and effective government that champions the common good over narrow self-interest, harnesses the strength of our diversity, and secures the rights and safety of its people.”
A different perspective is offered by the monthly magazine The Progressive which explains that since 1948 it has “steadfastly stood against militarism, the concentration of power in corporate hands, and the disenfranchisement of the citizenry.
While people and organizations might posture and proclaim an allegiance, what is perchance more real is The Role of Reputations. Public opinion can be manipulated. What the Press presents and persons choose to believe can build a movement. Frequently, voters cast a ballot for or against an aspirant based solely on a sound bite, Personal jabs can count more than a candidate’s record.
The Role of Reputation
Every person I spoke with before the two men entered the room had an impression of who the individuals might be. The records paved the way; nevertheless, in National, state, or local campaigns the Party, and or person who sets the agenda will affect electoral outcomes.
Framing and funds to move the message mean more than a “fact” check. Reputation rules. A political hopeful will push possible hot buttons, posture, and pay for Press that promotes his or her position. Personal attacks are preferable, perhaps more so today in a social media saturated society. On the day of the debate as occurs daily on radio, television, blogs, and periodicals, Progressive politics are not the paramount issue. Whether he [or she] was a newcomer to the Party or a ” career politician” matters more.
Alliances and allegiances also count. When a candidate says they support the President and his policies this can work for or against him [or her]. Progressives might pounce, “panderer,” “Party pleaser,” or a person unwilling to really risk reform. On this single subject devoted Democrats have lost what would be their base.
War and Peace. Fund the Fight. Commit to End the Combat.
Congressman Meek supports global tranquility and a pay-as-you-go system. Each could be considered a Progressive value. However, in practice, the fiscally aware United States Representative, voted to fund further combat on credit.
Representative Meek recognizes and states, were we to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan we, as a nation, would greatly reduce our expenses. “The war was a reason for chest beating in many cases and saying we need to continue to fight in Iraq, not looking at the price tag,” Meek said. “When it comes down to the war, I think we have to have enough discipline to say when.” Then, days later, just as he had on other occasions, Congressman Meek voted to continue the flow of cash for endless war.
Strange as the contrast between Representative Meek’s rhetoric, voting record, might be, these are nothing in comparison to the silence heard from the Greene campaign. When asked of the war in Afghanistan, Jeff Greene endorsed an eternal devotion to Israel. (Meek agreed.) Mister Greene assured the audience, military engagements in the Middle East would not diminish his dedication.
Jeff Greene (and Kendrick Meek) avowed loyalty to war and peace as though the two divergent possibilities could be one. The Progressive populace, on the other hand, is more definitive.
Self-identified progressives appear to have a strong commitment to diplomacy in international relations and are predisposed to think of immigrants in a positive light. Zogby reports that 77% of progressives say that it is not America’s job to promote its values around the world and 97% think that our efforts in the war on terror should focus on reducing anti-American sentiment rather than on military force. . .
Activist progressives identified by Pew are even more likely to be dovish in their approach to military affairs than liberals. For instance, 96% of activist progressives think that diplomacy is the best way to ensure peace compared to 76% of liberals. About 78% of activist progressives believe that the United States should take its allies’ interests into account even if it means making compromises with them and 93% agreed that it is acceptable to refuse to fight in a war one believes to be morally wrong..
Then there is the issue of tax and spend. Did the candidates think it wise to allocate Federal funds to forward America’s future? As a United States Senator, would Mister Meek or Mister Greene vote to invest even more money in a Military Industrial Complex? Would either work to endow the infrastructure, education, environmental research, or expand the development of renewable fuels? Perhaps the answer is revealed in personal realities. Historically, how have Kendrick Meek and Jeff Greene handled their own taxes? Obfuscation and again the role of reputation reign in the Greene rhetoric . Representative Meek returns to his theme, the record.
Tax and Spend
Traditionally, a “Progressive” tax structure is one that charges those with higher incomes. This is, usually, a prospect that Democrats endorse. As one would expect, Florida Democrat and candidate for the United States Senate, Kendrick Meek supports such a system. On this issue, Citizens for Tax Justice with an established thirty-year mission of “working for a fair and sustainable tax system” rated Congressman Meek’s record 100% in support of a Progressive tax. Citizens for Tax Justice and Congressman Meek advocate for “Taxation that minimizes distortion of economic markets,” CTJ and Kendrick Meek also think it necessary to “Require the wealthy to pay their fair share.”
Neither are philosophies reformed Reagan Republican Greene, from his actions, would favor. The fiscally very flush candidate nay his wife, think such an agenda serves them well. When asked Will Jeff Greene release his tax returns? they exclaimed in chorus, “Hell no!”
Ah; the paradox. For Democrats, and or Progressives this is truly a strange time, a strange place and these two men are in the strangest place, or they are but a reflection of a novel reality. For me, personally, favoritism for other than the greater good is extraordinary. In a country where all men are believed to be equal I struggle to understand. Thus, as I cast my ballot for the candidate that offers a chance at meaningful reforms, Congressman Meek, I could not help but think of America and the newly adopted ballad; Look What They’ve Done to My Song.
Weeks ago House Representatives refused to award the auto industry a blanket bailout or even a bridge loan. Policymakers insisted they must see a reasonable plan to revamp a business near bankruptcy. The legislators set a deadline for delivery of the proposal, December 2, 2008. This same date was reserved for another auto review; in Florida a delayed vote on emission regulations would finally be realized. The two tales may seem separate; certainly, the cities where Congresspersons will meet are far apart. Nonetheless, the sagas are inexorably connected.
As automobile manufacturers submit plans that advocate an eagerness to adjust to a new reality, at the same time they lobby the automobile sector, as they know it.
Consumers, taxpayers, may have already been critical of the industry; yet the question is, will fear of widespread job loss cause common citizens and Congress not to inquire as they might. Is an anxious America too anxious to ask; have we not seen this house of cards, or cars, once before. Did the car corporations not deal from the bottom of the deck in the past and might they again do us in? The American people need only consider the dichotomy of two news stories. On December 2, 2008, Big Three automakers try again for a bailout, and (Florida) State panel ponders stiff rules on car emissions.
In Washington, this Tuesday, with hat in hands the automobile manufacturers submitted their plan to Congress. The plea was as a cry of “mea culpa.” In Florida, the Big Three forge ahead with a contradictory strategy. They endeavor to delay a green development.
The car corporations Chief Executives prepare to sit on the Hill. The perhaps duplicitous tycoons hope to beseech lawmakers in the next few days. Please forgive us they may whimper. As requested, we have spent weeks away from the world of Washington. The Big Three might tear as they proclaim the error of their ways and ask for forgiveness. Corporate tycoons have been humbled. Automakers state they will change their ways. If the trio can obtain a bridge loan, they promise to be good, penny wise, and not pound foolish, if only given a second chance.
Admittedly, the triad say, our first attempt to explain the dilemma was a lemon. They understand the reason the House of Representatives asked General Motors Corporation, Ford Motor Company, and Chrysler to provide lawmakers with detailed plans on how they might use federal money to ensure their long-term survival. For General Motors, Rick Wagoner, Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally, and Chrysler’s Robert Nardelli resigned themselves to the reality, twenty-five billion would not be forthcoming if the dole was used only to avoid an immediate collapse. Today, December 2, 2008, the three declared would be a new dawn.
The automobile moguls have abandoned the use of private jets. The significance of what had became a symbol of corporate greed was not lost on the entrepreneurs who now pledge to be frugal.
For the return trip to Washington, Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally will drive to the scheduled Thursday hearing in a in a gas-electric hybrid vehicle. General Motors and Chrysler Corporations released reports that their CEOs would not fly in personal planes. The implication is business class was just fine. Word is the auto-industry Senior Administrators agreed to a substantial pay cut. The public is told two of the executives would work for a salary of one dollar a year. A paltry one hundred pennies would suffice. Sources do not mention the millions that these three might have spent, saved, and stashed away for years. Likely, they have plenty of money, individually to survive.
Instead, talk is of strategies to sell off lines that do not do well or are no longer viable sources of income. General Motors has arranged to put it Hummer division on the market. Granted, that was done six long months ago. Now, the car company considers the sale of Saab, or even Pontiac, and perhaps Saturn.
Ford’s management was able to secure a buyer for Jaguar and Land Rover. Indian carmaker Tata Motors purchased the products earlier. Alan Mulally, on Monday, mentioned he would acquire funds from the sale of another luxury line, Volvo. The magnate also stated Ford Motor Company could survive if the recession were not as long and deep as some fear. Deflation or Depression could wipe his company out, as could the connection to a failed General Motors or Chrysler.
What was not offered of on the federal Hill was that which occurred concurrently in the flatlands of Florida. On the same day that the automakers expressed their woe, and willingness to be different, to the Congressional leaders in Washington, they attempted to thwart progress in The Everglade State. As the manufacturers plead their case earlier in the District of Columbia, in Florida, the industry tycoons stood firm in their decision to maintain the status quo.
The nation’s most important industry is putting its best effort into lobbying Washington and Tallahassee instead of designing and building cars and light trucks that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the worst effects of climate change.
The Big Three showed reckless disdain for the idea of new designs and the development of vehicles that used renewable energy. Despite the concerns expressed by Florida Governor Charlie Crist and the State Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the automakers have actively worked against the adoption of clean car standards in the South East.
Thirteen  other States have thankfully assumed the same stricter California standards. It is increasingly obvious that the people prefer to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from tail pipes. Yet, lobbyists for the car manufacturers knowingly choose to defy the desires of the public. The Big Three do as they have done for decades. As they attest to their guilt, they work to undermine actual progress.
General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler turn to the federal government whenever they can. In Florida, the trio requests, the people be patient. The automobile-makers avow the citizens “should wait a few weeks longer.” Industry leaders decisively declare Washington will impose stringent standards soon. Again the words not uttered by the Big Three are the ones most worthy.
The federal standards the car companies are still waiting for, known as CAFE, have yet to be enacted by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). Instead, the headlines have all been about the car companies being rebuffed in Washington as they’ve sought taxpayer funds to cover years of bad business decisions . . .
The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) conducted a study of the proposed rules affect in Florida and found that consumers who purchase vehicles that are compliant with the standard spend less on gasoline on a monthly basis than the increase in their monthly auto loan payment. This direct, short-term consumer pocketbook test alone justifies ERC ratification of the standard.
The CFA report also found that the clean car standard serves the long-term consumer interest because reduced gasoline consumption reduces the vulnerability of the economy to price shocks, enhances national security and improves public health and the environment
Perchance the automobile moguls are not as dishonest they appear to be. They may be but blinded by a desire to recover from losses too deep to imagine. Reports also released today, December 2, 2008, reveal November, sales fell drastically. General Motors sold 41 percent fewer vehicles although they began a year-end clearance sale several weeks early. The former industry leader sees the writing on the walls.
The triumphant vehicle producer Toyota also suffered a 33.9 percent fall from grace. The Japanese company that had long claimed glorious sales offered phenomenal incentives to purchase their wares. Yet, still they were virtually crippled by an economic crisis. Honda’s sales also declined, 31.6 percent. Ford Motor Company fared only slightly better. The corporation with “a better idea” lost 30.6 percent in sales. Even the esteemed BMW [Bavarian Motor Works] said its sales dwindled. The numbers were a startling 26.8 percent below what they has been in previous months.
While there is abundant reason to worry, and fear for the future, if Americans lose sight of what the Big Three truly do, consumers will again be duped as we were decades ago. No cry or intent to change, can cast a new course. Citizens and Congress could choose to invite a crucial conversation. The people and policymakers might explain; had General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler come to the Chambers and said, we have decided to work with Florida lawmakers and secure stricter standards, perchance lawmakers and laymen would believe the trio intended to retool.
Were the car companies to state and relate a need to impose stiff regulations on the industry that had served them well, Americans might trust the sincerity of those who now beg for a financial advance. Had the Big Three done more than ask for more dough, and sell-off the securities that tie them down, then, maybe the American consumer, taxpayers, could believe as the Chief Executives claim, there is a need to be benevolent. Such assurances have not materialized. Obstinate actions have.
It is said, the Almightily helps those who help themselves. Perhaps, the public and policymakers might do the same.
Sources of sorrow, sales, and auto industry realities . . .
I saw them. I heard them. The undecided voters were no longer in the shadows. The seven, eleven, or fourteen percent, the unpersuadables who either decline to state a preference, or have not yet determined whether they could or would support the presumptive nominees, Barack Obama or John McCain, were there. They stood at the door of the Arena. It was a Thursday afternoon, in Boca Raton, Florida. Hundreds, myself among them, stood in wait as the storms overhead threatened. Rain clouds did not deter us. What some thought oppressive heat did not dissuade the many who wished to hear the former First Lady. As we stood outside and discussed when the doors might open, many shared their deeply held conviction. Obama could not possibly beat Senator McCain without Clinton, and her supporters. If Hillary was at the top of the Democratic ticket, several speculated, we could crush John McCain.
Numerous expressed their distress. People in this horde were not happy with what they felt was forced upon them. Many mused of the eighteen million who cast a ballot for New York Senator Hillary Clinton. Certainly, she received more, not less of an endorsement from the electorate. More than one person proclaimed, “She was President for eight years!” Hillary needs to be in the White House again. However, these statements were offered in somewhat hushed tones, before we entered the building.
While outside the auditorium, people chatted quietly as they expressed sincere concern. Senator Obama does not address issues that are important to them. He does not know what it means to be a woman, to be oppressed, to be the victim of gender bias. Most offered their angst politely. They made no loud declarations. These respectful persons whom the Obama campaign, with the help of Hillary, hoped to recruit inquired. Did the new man on the political scene have enough experience?
A few said, Barack Obama was not their choice, first or last. Individuals whispered their disdain for the person the press says now leads the Democratic Party. This group was for the most part refined. In the throng, the older population was well-represented. The persons in line, before the doors to the Florida Atlantic University amphitheater opened, were ladies and gents, sophisticated and sensitive to the fact, Barack Obama, and his supporters hosted this event. The actual audible venom was not heard until we were indoors. There, shouts would ring out more loudly, although just a few. “Hillary for President.” “We can secure the nomination in Denver; yes, we can!”
While at the entrance of the edifice, before the rally began, and after, inside the sanctioned sports center, men and women discussed what for countless was a dilemma. How could it be that Hillary Clinton was not the Democratic nominee? What could be done to make her dream, their hope come true? This was the consensus in this assemblage, although most had reluctantly resigned them selves to what seemed out of reach.
Silva, a very sweet women in her seventies sat to my left. This delightful woman shared stories of her past activism. She had been committed to a Hillary presidency. She worked on the 2008 Clinton campaign. While she had always liked Bill, in this election season she thought much of what he said was inappropriate. Yet, the words of Hillary’s husband did not lessen her commitment to the former First Lady. Silva, though wobbly when she walked, as she recovered from a serious illness, was willing and wanted to devote hours to the Hillary Clinton candidacy.
The lovely silver-haired lady, whose smile lit the room, grimaced at the thought of what she might do now. No, she had not met Barack Obama. She did not attend any of his forums in Florida. “What was he like” she asked after she heard my stories of him. Silva listened intently. She knew, chapter and verse of all that the Clinton campaign had hollered. Every barb the New York Senator directed at Barack Obama as she attempted to defeat the Illinois Senator was familiar to this genteel and feminine being. However, she had not heard much else about Obama. Nor had she had the desire to listen in the past.
Silva was turned off to Barack Obama before she had ever tuned in. Admittedly, her love and trust in the Clintons had shaded her research early on. She remembered how well the Clintons had served the American people. Prosperity and peace, just as Hillary Clinton often claimed were emblematic of the 1990s. Oh, how Silva longed for the good old days.
Before the Democrats were barred from the Everglade State, prior to primary date being changed, Silva saw the Clintons on more than one occasion. As we watched the clock in anticipation of the first Lady’s arrival, this gracious women wondered aloud. Is Barack Obama as impressive a speaker as Hillary is? Her sharp and focused eyes voiced her curiosity as much as her words did. She said, “Hillary answers every question posed to her. She cares. The Senator from New York is passionate; her speeches are animated. Does he listen to the people in his audiences? Can he relate to the average American? I shared my story.
I told her of how, when he went through the rope line, he shook my hand and that was nice. However, such a gesture could be expected. Then, I told her of the tale.
As Barack Obama stood before me, I said, “I have a silly question to ask.” He stopped. The Illinois Senator still held my hand. As I offered my inquiry, he did not let go. Indeed, he looked me in the eyes throughout our conversation. I expressed a concern for what had troubled me. I went on and on for minutes. The background seemed important to me. I mentioned a friend hand-delivered an article I had written on the topic to each of his offices, in Washington and in Chicago. “Had he reviewed them before his oration on the subject?” He smiled and honestly admitted he had not seen the script. The Presidential candidate mused of his schedule and the lack of time he had in the office during the primary campaign dash.
As hundreds vied for his time, as hand after hand reached over my head, and out to him, the Senator from Illinois took more than a moment to spend time with me, a no one to him. My story is one of millions. I assured her that my meet and greet with Michele Obama was equally wondrous.
Still, I have other questions about Senator Obama’s candidacy, not the conventional sort, that fill the airwaves. I worry of advisers who think they know what the electorate wants. I agonize over turns to the Right, Left, Middle, or what is declared the popular, and therefore preferred path.
Candidates who crave to appease or please the public trouble me. Both Bill and Hillary appealed to the moderates, to many conservatives, to the same voters Barack Obama now seeks. Compromises were well crafted by the Clintons. Obama fashions the familiar. Too many Presidential aspirants, for too long, all at the expense of the American people, shape their speeches. We, the people may admire one, and hence, dismiss another. Likeability, more often than not, determines electability.
“Silva,” I shuttered, “Divisive dictums disturb me.” Hillary harkens. Bill beckons. Barack has begun to bellow. My qualms extend to the constituents. People, every one of us, are entrenched in what we believe to be true. Frequently, we cannot see beyond our limited scope. Silva understood. She acknowledged she had not sought out information about Barack Obama prior to today. She was sold on the Clintons and had faith that her choice was the best. While my stance had, has, and still waivers, I am certain that no human is objective, not even I. Sadly human, I too can be influenced. However, I hoped I would not let a person sway me. Principles, I feel, must be my guide.
The thoughtful soul that sat near me understood. We had conversed at length before and after the conversation focused on the candidates. We told each other of our personal physical and psychological traumas. She was less steady since she suffered from what for some is a fatal illness. I had been in an accident that could have left me unable to move through life as I do. She had explained, as had I, our history taught us not to trust experts, to be weary of titles, and not to do as prescribed by a “professional.” In our lives, physicians told us what they thought best. Yet, for us, the treatments were unwise.
When Silva and I honored our insights, our intellect, our sense of veracity we did better than when we listened to one thought to be knowledgeable. We concluded we could not be lead by a love for Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or the hate for either. As one woman near us declared her hate of all that is Obama and her intent to cast a ballot for John McCain Silva and I thought how silly she or we might be.
The answer to what ails America will not be found in fondness for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. The cure for this country will not be cast in a vengeful ballot for John McCain. If Americans are to truly care for the body public, we must vote not for a person, or a particular policy. What might best persuade us is not the Presidential nominee, he, or she. The principles, philosophies, or ideas that invest in our ideals, not individuals, will bring this nation back. If the undecided are to choose wisely, perchance they, we, might look away from the podium and look within.
Why Clinton voters will come back to the fold, Don’t worry about those angry Hillary supporters who say they’ll vote for McCain or stay home in November. History proves they’ll vote for Obama. By Walter Shapiro. Salon. June 23, 2008
Trend-setter and teacher Congressman Robert Wexler may have mentored many a freshmen class of Representatives. Well into the future, the newest Congressmen and women will study the mistakes that might define an earlier Wexler performance. Certainly, Robert Wexler did. Upon reflection, his trials helped him to acquire great knowledge. The Democrat from Boca Raton, Florida learned his lessons well. He illustrates why, as retired Major League Pitcher Vernon Law attests, “Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward.”
In 2006, Comedian, Stephen Colbert delivered a pitch. Robert Wexler, swung and missed, although, then he felt as though the effort was a glorious home run. It was after the replay, in front of a less than receptive audience that Robert Wexler realized his standing ovation would be rescinded.
Wexler got into trouble for following the host’s instructions to repeat statements that could doom the politician’s reelection if his 2006 race were contested. Those statements included “I enjoy cocaine because it’s a fun thing to do.” At Colbert’s urging, he said he enjoys prostitutes “because it’s a fun thing to do – much like cocaine.”
“If you combine the two together, it’s probably even more fun,” he said.
The day after the show, stories hit the mainstream media – including The Associated Press and NBC’s “Today Show” – characterizing Wexler’s appearance as a genuine admission of the use of cocaine and prostitution. On the following night’s show, Colbert took the unprecedented move of refuting the news accounts and defending the congressman.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), then the minority leader, issued a verbal warning discouraging other lawmakers from going on Colbert’s show. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) made a similar statement as Democratic Caucus chairman to freshman Democrats at the beginning of the 110th Congress.
Undeterred and proud that he is open to erudition, Robert Wexler decided he would place himself in a precarious position once again. Congressman Wexler said of his initial effort, “he harbors no hard feelings.” Indeed, the incredible Representative said “he knew what he was getting into before he sat down for the interview.”
The wise and wondrous, Congressman Wexler extolled praise upon those some see as his nemesis’. Colbert’s and Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” provides “a method of political communication that is very powerful and going to be more powerful.”
With that in mind, Robert Wexler again chose to take the stage. He spoke with Stephen Colbert on Thursday, June 26, 2008. The determined and courageous Representative studied his earlier examination. Mister Wexler evaluated the “tests” others took under the tutelage of Mister Colbert. Then, he concluded, he could again enter the fray and rise above it. After all, he is a fire-breathing Liberal who not only survives, he thrives . . . just as he did in this recent command performance. Well done Congressman Wexler!
In Florida, talk of fuel prices flourishes. Citizens communicate concerns in Letters to Editors. For the populace in this Southeastern State is the focus of numerous negotiations, consultations, and deliberations nationwide. The subject is offshore drilling. Might Americans abandon opposition to this environmentally perilous practice and let the petroleum flow. There is much push and pull. There always is when purses are pinched. With the cost of gas high, and the use of cars critical in a culture built on travel, much hot and cold air is bandied about.
The questions presented to publishers are, who might decide the fate of the sea just off the shores of the Everglade State. Are natural beauty and a balanced ecosystem high priorities, or only afterthoughts? Do Sunshine State residents have a say in what happens on the fragile coastline or does the federal government dictate what occurs? Perchance, Governor Charlie Crist rules? There is reason to believe Californians are also caught up in this tumultuous tide, over offshore drilling. The difference may be Floridians now fear a fight from within. For many concerned citizens the Chief Administrator in the Gator State is a foe. Charlie Crist has forgotten his constituency or made friends with those more interested in financial investments.
Readers mention on Op-Ed pages, many affluent individuals muse offshore drilling is an ideal resolution. These influential profiteers have convinced an anxious public, the greater the surplus, the lesser the expense. The people willingly believe. Well-connected politicians propose what will benefit those with deep pockets. The energy problem would not be, if only . . .
Other options are no longer preferable. For consumers who contemplate the dilemma in print, the time is now. The people do not wish to wait, worry; they love to wander. Therefore, few have the “energy” to study how might laws affect the inhabitants and the country as a whole. Sea mammals, fish, and fowl are not a consideration to contemplate; nor are future generations.
Article after articles addresses the fact, Americans clamor; the cost of gas is too high. This seems to be their more significant quandary. The public asks what are the politicians going to do to relive the pain at the pump. People who write in to periodicals note, the persons in power pounce on the problem. The current President of the United States, George W. Bush, and his “protégé” Arizona Senator John McCain say, “I will take care of your needs immediately.” Governor Crist relents, or rejects an earlier definitive stance. While in the past all spoke of how we, as a nation, must reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Now that the price of petroleum has generated much public protest, these savvy elected officials speak of sweet crude differently. They say supply can be easily increased and should be.
The three public servants boast, inexpensive fuel is just around the corner, or off the shores of Florida. Each “representative of the people” wishes to forego environmental policies they once endorsed. Presidential hopeful McCain, and Texas-tea-tycoon and the man who now occupies the Oval Office offer, perhaps, it is best to do as we have done and know how to do. Let us reinstate offshore oil drilling near the coastal shore of Florida. Charlie Crist chimes in, “What is good for the goose or his political Party, will be good for his gander. Governor Crist has his eye on his future. Many whisper he could be chosen as John McCain’s running mate.
A few letter writers assert, certainly, ocean exploration will provide Americans with the gas they covet. At least this theory is the conventional wisdom amongst those who wish to please the people who ultimately place them in office. In the case of George W. Bush, he may not desire a position in the Executive Branch. He has been there and done that; he only wishes to strengthen his legacy .
While this shortsighted solution may seem supreme, did anyone mention Mister Bush, his family, and friends will profit from further investments in fossil fuels? Might we discuss the rewards Republican John McCain will reap if research on alternative fuels is once again delayed? Could we consider that the oil moneyed moguls intentionally choose not to operate eighty percent of established oilrigs? If energy executives wanted to, they could produce more petrol . . .
Attempts to keep these topics out of the mainstream are ample. Taboo questions are suppressed. Talk is controlled just as the flow of fuel through pipes is forbidden. However, on occasion the subject of profits, the Presidency, past and present, petroleum bubbles to the surface.
Many Floridians have penned Letters to Editors. Often the refrain posits a need to lower the price Americans pay at the pump.
While some wish to speak of the cost of gas, I for one prefer to ponder the fate of nature, horticultural plants, to be differentiated from power plants, and people. I submit my correspondence below, and I ask you to inscribe your own communication. You may wish to use the template Florida Democrats furnish. If so please click here, or you might read the reference and use it as a guide. If you enter the Internet portal and select the publications you wish to address, the software will forward your message on. Please remember, Letters to Editors need be short and concise. A standard 250-word count may help to ensure your words will be published.
Economic and environmental endangerment
Dear Editor . . .
The reckless plan John McCain and George Bush proposed is meant to appease the public. Fat and happy people will not protest. The populace is encouraged to consider the current cost of fuel before they think of the planet’s future. A desire for immediate gratification among the masses is a profitable opportunity for oil executives. John McCain, George Bush, and Governor Charlie Crist benefit from the stuffed coffers of corporate oil cronies.
If we lift the ban on offshore drilling consumers will reap few if any rewards. The price at the pump will remain high. The greater the supply, the more likely demand will increase. If we continue to focus on fossil fuels Americans will be as we have long been, at the mercy of oil moguls.
Off shore exploration will endanger the habitat of man, sea mammals, fish, and fowl. Oilrigs blemish the natural beauty that is the coastal calm.
Oil executives allow eighty percent of fuel fields to remain dormant. There is no need to give petroleum companies permission to penetrate the Earth’s crust near Florida’s coast.
Might Americans realize oil production is an expense we cannot afford, economically and environmentally.
For years, in cooperation Florida Republicans and Democrats were unified against offshore drilling. Let us not be led astray or forget our conscious choice to clean a badly damaged environment. Our lives depend on this decision.
Presidential aspirant John McCain is in Florida this week. Five days into the hurricane season that typically haunts this South Eastern State, Senator McCain, grapples with his own disaster. The Arizona Senator, proud of his opposition to a proposed National Catastrophe Fund, needs dollars to restore order to his political house. Hence, the Arizona Senator has come to the Sunshine State to catch some rays, or more accurately to raise the necessary green.
The prominent prisoner of war, captive to a want for cash, seems oblivious to the correlation. Senator McCain has struggled to garner the gelt he needs to run an effective Presidential campaign. He has not had the most passionate support from his Party. Thus, he turns to constituents in Florida. After all, it was in this State the Senator won a victory that changed the tide of his campaign.
John McCain does not seem to realize a subtle analogy. Floridians sought relief from a nation that they are part of, and the people in this great country let them down. The Arizona Senator was among the most ardent opponents to a subsidy that might have helped support Floridians at the time. He continues to denounce the possibility that as a nation, we work as one; that is unless he is speaking of contributions for his cause.
Now, John McCain, a member of the Grand Old Party declares Republicans must come together. However, he experiences the political stalwarts in his camp are not there for him as he hoped they would be. Senator McCain may now feel the pain of abandonment Floridians find all too familiar.
Just as John McCain said, to the people in a territory overwhelmed by the damage hurricanes caused, “No! I will not deliver the dough,” his people now say, “No, I will not contribute the cash you require to rebuild.”
The Senator, desperate to survive and financially strapped seems oblivious to the similarity in this situation. Floridians hearts ache. Those in the Gulf State know to their core how it feels to be connected, and yet rejected. Perchance, John’s spirit is so scarred from what feels as a slight, he can no longer see the irony that is evident to those in the Everglades.
Denunciation is difficult. Irony is intricate.
Citizens in the Sunshine State understand this. They need only reflect on recent circumstances. After being victim to two devastating hurricanes, Katrina and Wilma in 2005, they were forced to ask for favors. The disdain expressed by those who live elsewhere was ample. The idea of a national Catastrophe Fund was easily dismissed by the masses. John McCain led the contemptuous cry.
People in the presumed “United” States, and John McCain, concluded that inhabitants of the Sunshine State took the burden of blight upon themselves. The general public and Senator John McCain stated, when the individuals in Florida elected to live in the tropical “paradise” they knew the danger.
Only three years ago, ‘constituents’ in cooler, calmer, less critical climates believed they were impervious to peril. Times have changed. In this year alone, millions throughout the country were struck by tornados, windstorms, and tempest of hail. Rains ravage the hillsides. Wild fires burn the forest. Neighborhoods are scorched. Droughts dry the land and leave many plants and people without water. Perchance, even John McCain, Senator from this arid state has or will suffer great distress if weather conditions continue to devastate Americans.
Floridians empathize. The people situated on a peninsula know how an environmental crisis can cause a financial calamity. In the Everglade State, individuals and families have been crippled by natural disasters that they cannot control. They felt the same fear John McCain now realizes. When resources are few, there is not much a solitary individual (or State) can do.
Residents in the Sunshine region have been in dire straits. They recall how it felt when few were willing to donate to their cause. Today, as Presidential candidate John McCain circulates through the Florida terrain, as he moves from sea to shore, people may inquire, will the Presidential aspirant consider what he did not less than thirty-six months ago. When circumstances punish people, or a person, the untouched may be reluctant to offer aid.
In Florida, it happened again, and then again, just as it did throughout the nation. At two Barack Obama assemblies, a seasoned voter saw what she never imagined. Betsy L. Angert marveled. People in support of Senator Obama do not come to see the Presidential hopeful. In small assemblages, or en masse those present at Obama election events enter with a deep desire to be part of a something bigger than themselves. Common working folks and professional persons come to serve, not to be served.
At each jamboree Miss Angert attended, she observed people were extremely patient and polite. No one pushed or shoved in a horde of hundreds, or in a throng of near twenty thousand. Conversations were not casual. Nor was interest in the event pedestrian. The people and the discussions were profound. A man in a dark blue suit stood sweltering in the sun. He, just as Betsy, arrived early on Friday. Each hoped to have a close encounter with the candidate, although neither expected to. The two understood that they were in Sunrise to be with others who were as they were, concerned citizens.
John expressed excitement for an endeavor that captured much attention. He, along with others in the area, had advanced an award winning film, Sugar Babies. Human Rights was the issue of import for all those involved in the production, John among them. As he and Betsy stood in line he spoke of how another President, a Democrat, who presided more than decade ago, ignored what occurred in the Caribbean. When the former leader of this country learned of how children were mistreated in the Dominican Republic, he did nothing to help.
The previous Chief Executive acted in accordance with the wishes of sugar company tycoons. Tearfully, the man who now awaited an Obama arrival in Florida choked as he contemplated the plight of the babies who toiled so that Americans might have sweet sustenance on their tables.
John was not the only person in the crowd with purpose. Each individual had a story as Betsy quickly discovered. She chatted with a retired television network executive and his daughter who were nearby. Apparently, Samantha turned eighteen that day. This would be the first time in her life the young adult could legally vote. Sammy was enthusiastic; however, faint. The ninety plus degree heat had taken a toll. John offered his suit jacket as an sunshade. The two were covered in sweat, as were all those who waited patiently.
Perspiration was barely visible on the face of a baby who slept in his mother’s arms. A young boy looked cool; however, his expression affirmed the temperature was high. The lad’s father covered his son’s head with his hands. The heat was oppressive. Still, the sense of hope and purpose freed the crowd.
In front, of Betsy and her newfound friends another group stood in wait. One of the woman in the cluster of three women and a gentleman, had to kneel. She was close to exhaustion. The High School teacher thought she might collapse. The sun scorched her physical spirit; yet, her emotional sensibility remained untouched. Each in this group had skipped school. None were students. This flock of a feather were Educators.
A middle aged Mom would be at the Bank Atlantic Center before Barack Obama took the stage. This frail female had fallen ill with cancer. Her regular treatment occurred at 2:00 on that very Friday afternoon. Certainly, she would be too sick to see or hear Barack Obama. Besides, it would be late by the time she finished with the physician. The cancer victim’s daughter drove her to the doctor’s as she always has. Mom was never strong enough to manage once she received the “cure.” However, this time was different, just as the Obama campaign is for many Americans.
Mother and child exited the medical center and the woman who had just undergone chemotherapy said, “I need to go to the Barack Obama rally.” The younger lady thought to object, and did question her unwell parent. Yet, Mom was relentless. She spoke of how important it was for her to support an agenda of hope and change while she still could. Dutifully, the daughter traveled to the arena.
The parking lot was full. The overflow was in a shopping center a decent distance away. Medicated Mom insisted they park, and hastily walk to the Bank Atlantic Center. The two were gratified; they made it! Each insists; this was a sign. The Senator from Illinois is destined to be President of the United States.
Betsy wonders if the many elderly and disabled she saw in wheelchairs feels as this family does.
Might some be longtime supporters as the thirty-two year old wife Betsy met the night before? This graduate of Harvard law School saw Barack Obama on countless occasions. The now accomplished attorney heard the candidate speak often at their shared alma mater. The then Senator often addressed an audience of avid listeners at the University. He discussed the importance of community service, just as he did this Memorial Day weekend at Wesleyan University.
Possibly, people are as an older white woman Miss Angert met at an earlier gathering is. A spry little lady became interested in the Obama campaign, for she saw the candidate had vision. Just as Barack Obama’s Mom actively encouraged her son to seek wisdom, perhaps more so than most parents do, Helen did the same with her children, and now her grandchildren. In Barack Obama, this retired Social Worker, who is very interested in community, parental involvement, and education, sees more than a politician. Helen watches Barack the man with his family. She is impressed.
Perchance, there are countless in a crowd of close to twenty thousand who feel as Jayne Chapman does. Jayne expresses, “For me, [the interest in Barack Obama and the inspirational message] takes me back to being 22 in 1968.” Ms Chapman recalls “(T)hat June night, when Bobby said it is was on to the rest of the Primaries . . and then it happened.” As she relates, Jayne sorrowfully sighs, “I still remember the way he looked that day and the way he pushed the hair out of his face. I didn’t vote that year or in the next Presidential contest either. I was disheartened and really was down on my government and felt disconnected.”
Ms Chapman, a Boca Raton resident offers, “When I heard Obama give his 2004 convention speech . . . my heart actually jumped. When he said “There are no blue states or red states. There is the United States of America!” I gave a little gasp . . . When he said “”we worship an awesome God in the blue states and yes we have some gay friends in the red states” Jayne Chapman felt an authentic connection. Jayne reflects, “I turned to my husband and said, ‘Who is this guy? He’s astonishing!’ She muses, “I waited to hear anything else from this man.”
Years passed before Ms Chapman heard more. The now committed South Florida organizer for the Barack Obama campaign ponders and proclaims, “I saw him on the Oprah show. She [Oprah] was half teasing him and half annoyed that he wouldn’t accept her offer to use her private jet but was flying commercial to DC and back. Imagine!” Jayne smiles. She recalls, “He said that if he did that he would lose touch with his constituents. My heart jumped! The day he announced I knew I would do whatever I could to help him. I thought it was probably not going to happen but I was in it 100%,” Jayne asserts.
Ms Chapman continues. She speaks of her decision to travel to the campaign through cyberspace. On her home computer, Jayne typed in BarackObama.com. “I put in my zip code [so that I might] join a group. There were none close by.” As she recalls a moment of stress Jayne Chapman says, “I knew Nothing about running a group like this, but I decided then and there that I was too impatient to wait for someone to start one . . . [I] started my own group. It has been a roller coaster ride. We’ve been up and down – discouraged and thrilled.”
Yet, for Jayne Chapman, the trek was worth the sweat and tears. This week Jayne had an opportunity to witness the fruits of her labor. “When I watched him enter the Bank Atlantic Center to the screams and shouts from almost 20,000 people the other day it was surreal. The first time I saw him was over a year ago, there were just several hundred of us there. I was amazed then. Now I know it is most likely going to happen that on January 20,2009 Barack Obama will be sworn in to become the next President of the United States.” A prideful and appreciative Jayne Chapman sighs as she states, “What a journey.”
Indeed it has been, for Jayne, for Barack and for Bob George. He has seen the evolution here in The Everglade State and shares why for him, this election is as no other. Mister George ruminates, “For me this campaign means the opportunity to take back our government for the people.” Bob offers his personal travel; “For a long time I felt nobody was listening. Now I realize I was not speaking loud enough, often enough to have my voice heard.”
Mister George reveals two and one half years ago, “I became active in a local peace movement and a group that is working actively to impeach George Bush and Dick Cheney. Even though I thought it a long shot, I believed something needed to be done to create a different reality.” Bob felt it was vital to speak, to act, to lobby, and to demonstrate for peace, justice, and impeachment.
He supported another Presidential candidate early in the election cycle. “At the same time, I felt a resonance within the Obama movement.” Over time, Bob perceived Barack Obama believed “in the power of ordinary citizens.” As an advocate for democracy Mister George believes in the refrain Barack offers; “it is our election, our government, our world to guide.” This is a message the activist “honors and respects.” Bob explains, “For me the words of this election are “If it is to be it is up to me!!!!”
A man permanently employed as an usher at the Bank Atlantic Center, in Sunrise, observed that perhaps that statement defines all Obama supporters. After the rally ended, the attendant told Miss Angert, he never saw such a clean group. The staffer confided; in all his years of employ at the arena, this was the first time he saw people use receptacles for trash. It was obvious to the jobholder; Barack Obama is not as a rock star. Nor were those at the rally fans who lived in a fantasy world. These people obviously cared about the community, the Center, (and cleanliness.)
The older man who worked at the Center for many years, smiled. He observed, principled people remained true to expressed values. The attendees demonstrated a genuine concern for conservation and community.
Another worker mentioned what he thought a wondrous moment. Treacherous thunderstorms rolled in while tens of thousands waited in line. The doors to the amphitheater had just opened moments before the deluge. Few had passed through the metal detectors. Those who were protected by a canopy immediately passed their umbrellas back to the people who were exposed to the elements. People worked as one. No one selfishly clung to property. One individual was not considered more prized than another. Well, that is with the exception of infants and toddlers. Everyone worked to ensure that the little ones stayed warm, dry, and safe from the storm.
Perchance, that is the purpose of this campaign. Barack Obama has helped to build coalitions rather than destroy the fragile bonds that sustain a society.
Betsy, an experienced elector who has participated in many a political campaign since her teens, senses this campaign, this candidate is different. It is not only the more than 3.5 million new voters, who have joined in a movement towards democracy that astounds Miss Angert, it is the bank teller who learned of the rally, and expressed her glee.
The tollbooth worker Betsy met on the way to the Bank Atlantic Center encourages her to believe that this time, change is possible. When Miss Angert shared with the man who collects fees on the highway where she was off to, this average American asked for details. The laborer thought, maybe, he too could be a part of the political process. After all, he was scheduled to leave his post before the event began. The eyes of a “commoner” sparkled with delight at the prospect of what might be.
The nascent reality expressed by the man, who after an elegant Obama affair revealed his newfound truth had a profound effect on Betsy. Miss Angert watched as this well-connected chap waited for the valet to return his vehicle to him. Once the luxurious, late model automobile arrived in front of the hotel where hundreds still patiently lingered, the well-dressed gent pointed to his “Obama ’08” bumper sticker and declared, “For the last sixteen years I was unwilling to place a placard on my car. Now . . . look!” The crowd applauded.
In Florida, in May 2008, and perhaps nationally, something is happening. People are changing. Hope is in the air, and a veteran voter wonders; are miracles possible, probable? Can the dream be achieved? Betsy reflects and considers . . .
“The ninety and nine are with dreams, content but the hope of the world made new, is the hundredth man who is grimly bent on making those dreams come true”
Americans speak of the divide within this country. Most accept the labels. We are a nation of Red states and Blue regions. People define themselves as Conservatives or Liberals. West Virginian primary election voters, who were asked, reinforced the notion in this nation we are not unified. One fifth of those polled stated, skin color influenced their decision. Former Senator John Edwards often expresses his distress for what he sees as “Two Americas.” The one time Presidential candidate reminds us of why the common folks clamor. The rich get richer while the poor become more impoverished. For some of those who fight to endure, a “gas tax holiday” is thought essential. Others believe such a measure will negatively effect the infrastructure and the environment. In Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 14, 2008 a Black man and a white man stood on a stage together united and equal. Some, in this splintered nation of ours, thought this was a sign. Perhaps, Americans would finally come together as one.
People applauded and expressed a sincere hope for the future. However, what segregates us may not be easily transcended; nor is it obvious and observable. Ethically, Americans are not united. Often the person the public elects to govern does not share their values, although citizens believe the esteemed Representatives do. Rarely do we imagine that there are a myriad of definitions for morality. However, there are. What one person or persuasion thinks rational and reasonable is heinous to another. This is not obvious or observable, for we all feel certain there is but one truth. Nonetheless, research illustrates what we might consider before we hire, the next President/
Bad behavior seems rampant in business [politics], and scholars are divided as to why people act ethically or unethically. Many have argued that ethical behavior is the result of simple judgments between right and wrong. Others suggest that the driving force behind ethical behavior is the individual’s moral identity, or whether the individual thinks of him/herself as an ethical person.
New research from the University of Washington suggests that both of these forces are at play. In two separate studies, Scott Reynolds, an assistant professor in the Michael G. Foster School of Business, and Tara Ceranic, a doctoral student studying business, surveyed roughly 500 college students and managers about their ethical behaviors.
In the first study, researchers asked students if they would have cheated in college in order to score better on a test. Those who explicitly considered themselves to be moral people and considered cheating to be morally wrong were the least likely to cheat. In contrast, students who considered themselves to be moral but saw cheating as an ethically justifiable behavior were the worst cheaters.
“Our research suggests that a moral identity motivates behavior, but that accurate, ethical judgments are needed to set that behavior in the right direction,” Reynolds says. “A person’s moral identity can interact with his or her judgments and actually push ethical behaviors to extreme levels, as we saw with the students who decided that cheating was justifiable and OK.”
According to the researchers, a moral identity specifically centers on a person’s moral aspects and acts as a self-regulatory mechanism that sets parameters for individual behavior and motivates specific actions that are moral.
Previous studies implied that moral identity is “good” when it is associated with and motivates individuals toward socially desirable outcomes such as volunteering and making charitable donations.
Reynolds and Ceranic found that this motivational force needs direction, and that without proper guidance a moral identity can conceivably push individuals toward socially undesirable behaviors.
“Moral identity seems to be more motivational in nature than ‘moral’ in nature,” Reynolds says. “Managers and organizations should not just assume that a moral identity will necessarily translate into moral behaviors.”
Executives and the electorate must consider that a performance may not be as principled as it appears. Adults are only children in older bodies. Babies learn how to get what they want. Boys and girls perfect the practice. Men and women are masters. As we age, Americans, become better actors, not more ethical, merely more expert entertainers, and obtainers.
In a prosperous nation such as the United States, when a baby cries, Mommy coddles her child with the candy he craves. If she does not, mother risks the toddler will throw a tantrum. Dad does not hesitate when his little princess screams, “I want it!” Papa understands a young women’s scorn can be great. Daddy has no desire to be part of a stressful situation.
Parents have learned to pamper themselves. Moms and Dads indulge themselves, just as their caregivers’ cosseted them in their youth. In this nation, people expect to receive. Here, we have more than we need, and the price is right, or it was until the cost of petroleum rose. Granted, many struggled to survive before the bottom fell out of the oil barrel. However, these impoverished individuals were and are virtually invisible to the mainstream. Perhaps, those without never had the opportunity to grasp the notion that the ends justify the means. Nor did these less than distinctive individuals fully comprehend in affluent America if you wish to be successful and fulfilled you must adopt a certain style, an ethical standard.
Give the people what they want and you will get what you need. Presidential hopefuls, New York State Senators, Governors, and those who are groomed for political prominence are fully aware of this truism.
Promise the public a holiday from gas taxes, and perchance they will award you with additional support or a spectacular win. If a political aspirant wishes to ensure greater success amongst the electorate, then pledge to punish those who the people envision as the enemy. Large corporations, whose Chief Executive Officers profit off the petroleum people depend on, conglomerates such as ExxonMobil, are always good targets. It will matter not that experts define the plan as a quick fix. A person who seeks the highest office in the land will not be concerned if members of Congress, friends or fellow colleagues, reject the proposal. Words of woe from Economists will not deter a determined doctrinaire dilettante. When a man or a woman thinks they are correct, experienced, and will be the “best” Commander, then a plan, a pander, are appreciated for the power they yield. Hence, talk of what may be a terminal action. a holiday that might place our planet in peril, will not die.
This truth is evident out on the stump. A month after Senators John McCain and Hillary Clinton were harshly criticized by fiscal and political policymakers for a proposed “gas tax holiday’ the scheme survives. Indeed, the rhetoric thrives. Americans are comfortable with cognitive dissonance. They embody this demeanor. Let us have our cake and eat it too.
McCain: I will not shirk, the mantle of leadership that the United States bears. I will not permit eight long years to pass without serious action on serious challenges.
Bash: McCain promised . . . To reduce greenhouse gases, he proposes a cap and trade solution which caps gas emissions but allows companies to trade emission credits.
McCain: As never before, the market would reward any person or company that seeks to invent, improve, or acquire alternatives to carbon-based energy.
Bash: Portraying himself as a rare species of green Republicans is a regular part of McCain’s stump speeches.
McCain: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge [ANWR] I believe is a pristine place. I don’t want to drill in the Grand Canyon and I don’t want to drill in the Everglades.
Bash: But coming to Oregon to highlight his environmental proposals is all about the fight . . . for independent voters. It’s why McCain is using one of his most precious resources — campaign cash . . .
McCain: I believe that climate change is real. It’s not just a greenhouse gas issue. It’s a national security issue.?? End Video Clip) ??
Bash: (on-camera): Democrats and several left leaning environmental groups blasted McCain for what they call hypocrisy. Putting out, for example, that he praised renewable energy here at this wind power plant, but voted against tax credits to promote research. The McCain campaign insists that legislation and others like it collided with another priority, which is to cut excess spending.
Indeed, the dollar dictates decorum. Mores and expediency are often found in monetary policy. In an opulent region, some pray to the Almighty buck. It is no wonder the words “In G-d We Trust” are inscribed on every bill and embossed on each coin.
In this, the most affluent nation on the planet, all, but the hidden few, know it is possible to get what you want and not spend much. Hence the harangue; Americans desperately want to ensure life is comfortable just as it once was. Until now, in this country, petroleum was cheap . . . and that is the way the people like it. Actually, comparatively speaking, the price Americans pay for petrol is still relatively low.
Our countrymen are as spoiled children. They stamp their feet, hold their breathe, pound on the table and say, “Give me, give me, give me what I want, or else!” Just as parents respond to the pleas of their babies, so too do Presidential hopefuls. Moms, Dads, and potential Commander-In-Chiefs may be labeled as leaders; however, often they follow. Ethical standards are often silenced in a time of turmoil. Consequences can often outweigh principled wisdom. We see this logic in our children, and in ourselves.
Perhaps, Americans might take a moment and reflect; are we children being coddled, the parent whose priority is to please, or the individual who will patronize just to get what they want?
Consider the scenario. Senator Clinton offers a glorious summary of her experience. She is abundantly able. When her future employer, the electorate, pressed her on an important issue, such as the cost of gas, Hillary Clinton offered her plan to the people who might provide her with what she most wants. Just prior to the primary elections in Indiana and North Carolina, the former first Lady Hillary Clinton called for gas tax holiday.
The Arizona and New York Senators were not the only government officials to suggest that Americans need some relief, even if only temporary. Governors also thought to appease the masses. One day after Economists everywhere pointed to the problems with such a plan, Governors from The Everglades expanse, in the Show Me State, in The Empire area and lawmakers in the Lone Star region signed on to the idea that citizens need a gas tax holiday.
Slocomb, Ala. – Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida has been fighting to cut 10 cents from the state’s gasoline tax for two weeks in July. Lawmakers in Missouri, New York and Texas have also proposed a summer break from state gas taxes, while candidates for governor in Indiana and North Carolina are sparring over relief ideas of their own.
If experience with such gas tax “holidays” is any guide, drivers would save less than politicians suggest. But that is not necessarily the point.
“It’s about trying to serve the people and trying to understand and have caring, compassionate hearts for what they’re dealing with at the kitchen table,” said Mr. Crist, a Republican.
He added, “I’m supposed to respond to the people and try to make them happy.”
As talk of the possibility increases, throughout the countryside individuals are thankful. To many Americans it seems, finally, politicians are listening to them. The common folk forget that those who compete for elected positions never overlook the fact that the populace has the power to appoint a President, a Governor, or any other policymaker. In a republic, many individuals who wish to “represent” Jane and John Doe have one purpose. They wish to please [placate] the public. If the people are content, the life of a politician is good. If the public is displeased, they will act out as an angry child might.
Actually, parents [politicians] have learned to pamper themselves just as they were indulged in their youth. Mother gives herself a present, or two. She shops ’til she drops. Papa purchases plenty for himself. In the wealthiest country in the world, “Waste not; want not” makes little sense. Here, we have more than we need, and the price is right, or it was until the cost of petroleum rose. Americans, comfy and cozy with convenience do not consider the cost of a gas tax holiday. Ordinary citizens look upon experts as overly protective. Authorities always offer a doomsday scenario when they do not wish to give gifts.
More than 200 economists, including four Nobel prize winners, signed a letter rejecting proposals by presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and John McCain to offer a summertime gas-tax holiday.
Columbia University economist Joseph Stiglitz, former Congressional Budget Office Director Alice Rivlin and 2007 Nobel winner Roger Myerson are among those who signed the letter calling proposals to temporarily lift the tax a bad idea. Another is Richard Schmalensee of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who was member of President George H.W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers.
The moratorium would mostly benefit oil companies while increasing the federal budget deficit and reducing funding for the government highway maintenance trust fund, the economists said.
“Suspending the federal tax on gasoline this summer is a bad idea, and we oppose it,” the letter says. Economist Henry Aaron of the Brookings Institution is among those circulating the letter. Aaron said that while he supports Obama, the list includes Republicans and Clinton supporters.
If Economists from each political party convincingly challenge a plan proposed by esteemed and ethical persons such as Hillary Clinton and John McCain, how might the people evaluate the dichotomy.? Who might, we the people, the electorate, those who employ a President trust?
Certainly, these political contenders have long been admired. Senators Clinton and John McCain would not have risen though the ranks were they not qualified, quality candidates. Americans can have faith neither, a respected former prisoner of war, or a revered former First Lady, would recommend a policy that would intentionally harm the public. Nor would these leader postulate a proposal that would place the planet in peril. Yet, Economists, and yes, even Ecologists caution constituents that the gas tax holiday is unwise. Hence, Americans are left to inquire, how might this variance be explained?
The answer may not be as obvious as we would wish it to be. We cannot condemn or condone a plan as Conservative or Progressive. While the strategies differ, logistically, symbolically they are similar. Each hopes to allow Americans to continue to consume as they had. A satiated society can and will simply dismiss ethical questions, and ignore environmental issues. A child content with candy does not consider how the sugar rots the teeth. A Mom, who is comfortable with convenience foods, does not contemplate fresh fruits and vegetables might be much more nutritious. A father fine with his fleet of vehicles does not ponder how he pollutes the air.
Americans happy to have a gas tax holiday do not think beyond today. Few recall what was foremost on the minds of the people in the 1970s. As citizens in this country realized the reality of an energy crisis, laws were passed to improve fuel economy. Memories are short. The desire for self-satisfaction is deep. In 2005, near three years ago, a New York Times editorial addressed what was and continues to be true.
There’s no serious disagreement that two major crises of our time are terrorism and global warming. And there’s no disputing that America’s oil consumption fosters both. Oil profits that flow to Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries finance both terrorist acts and the spread of dangerously fanatical forms of Islam. The burning of fossil fuels creates greenhouse emissions that provoke climate change. All the while, oil dependency increases the likelihood of further military entanglements, and threatens the economy with inflation, high interest rates, and risky foreign indebtedness. Until now, the government has failed to connect our crises and our consumption in a coherent way.
That dereliction of duty has led to policies that are counterproductive, such as tax incentives to buy gas guzzlers and an overemphasis on increasing domestic oil supply, although even all-out drilling would not be enough to slake our oil thirst and would require a reversal of longstanding environmental protections.
Now, however, the energy risks so apparent . . . have created both the urgency and the political opportunity for the nation’s leaders to respond appropriately. The government must capitalize on the end of the era of perpetually cheap gas, and it must do so in a way that makes America less vulnerable to all manner of threats – terrorist, environmental, and economic.
The best solution is to increase the federal gasoline tax . . . That would put a dent in gas-guzzling behavior, as has already been seen in the dramatic drop in the sale of sport-utility vehicles. And it would help cure oil dependency in the long run, as automakers and other manufacturers responded to consumer demand for fuel-efficient products.
Still, raising the gas tax would be politically difficult – and for very good reasons. The gas tax, which has been at 18.4 cents a gallon since 1993, is painfully regressive. It hits hardest at poor people for whom fuel costs consume a proportionally larger share of their budgets; rural dwellers for whom truck-driving over long distances is an everyday activity; and the gasoline-dependent middle class, particularly suburban commuters, who, on top of living far from their workplaces, have been encouraged by decades of cheap gas to own large, poor-mileage vehicles.
Fortunately, those drawbacks can be overcome. A bolstered gas tax would raise huge amounts of revenue, roughly $1 billion for every penny of additional tax. Some of that money would have to be used to provide offsetting tax breaks to low-income households, such as an increase in the earned income tax credit . . . Eventually, the gas tax would pinch consumers less, as revenues from it are used to finance long-term structural changes to reduce oil dependency, including mass transit and research into alternative fuels and technologies.
Might Americans be ready to consider, a policy that protects a lifestyle of over-consumption is not as ethical as it would appear to be. Those who vie for votes, wish to be employed by the electorate. A candidate may benefit from a simple solution, but what of the Seventh Generation. Will American adults continue to be as children concerned with nothing but immediate gratification?
There is a better way. Truly dealing with global warming . . . The good news is that doing so is far more popular politically . . . Voters overwhelmingly support this objective, and Gallup found last year that 65 percent of voters support spending at least $30 billion a year to do it.
If the environmental movement is to finally translate its rhetoric into reality, it will need to shift its focus from making dirty energy expensive to making clean energy cheap.
Truly, ethical parents who care for the lives of the children in the present, do not indulge, pamper, or pander to the whims of those who have yet learned the art of patience. The best Moms and Dads teach the young, or juvenile at heart, to plan for the seventh generations, Might we all reflect upon the Chinese proverb . . .
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
As we consider which of the Presidential candidates we will hire, perchance we might ponder. Are solid solutions and ten-point plans as fish in what we are led to believe is an abundant sea of aquatic vertebrae? Might a mentor who inspires us to catch our own schools of trout, bass, and salmon better serve us, the people better? Think of the species yet to be discovered.
As employers, the electorate, we, future fishermen must assess, who truly has our best interest at heart. Which individual shares our sense of ethics? May we acknowledge and act on the imperceptible. Morality is often in the eyes of the beholder.
On April 15, as Floridians rush to file tax forms few think of more than the burden. The cost of living in the Sunshine State is high. Levies are higher. Each year, the toll these expenditures take on the lives of individuals and families increases. Many citizens in this Southern State cry, “We need some relief!” Representative have heard the call and responded. Yet, the reaction may not be as thoughtful as it first appears to be.
Floridians may wish to consider the plea Democratic Party Chair, Congresswoman, Karen L. Thurman presents. The Congresswoman discusses a stark reality. Change may come at the expense of the common people. A reduction in dollars and cents spent does not always equate to a savings.
Many in The Orange State are grateful. Representatives in the State reviewed the budget and then expressed a belief cuts must be made. Prompted by much public angst, the Conservatives may claim the people want the Legislature to be more restrained. Few would argue that this is true. What is equally valid is the fact that few would wish to compromise the safety, security, or sanity of the poorest people, and those who are physically most dependent on others. If the impoverished are in need, incidental costs amass and local communities pay the ultimate price.
Our children, and their education, are vital. The progeny are our future. Parents are also not persons we would wish to hurt. Throughout our lives Moms and Dads, now elderly protected us. Now, we must help provide for their safety and security, just as they did for us. Without the person who cared for us in our younger years, we would not be as profound and emotionally prosperous as we are.
The police and fire men and women also help ensure our safety and security. Floridians, please ask yourself, can you afford to chance that these public servants may not be there when you need them most?
Granted, in this moment a resident of Florida may not be able to see into the future. Today, he or she may think himself or herself healthy. However, all living creatures must consider that cancers, heart attacks, strokes, and pneumonia does not knock on the door and ask for an invitation to enter a body. These catastrophic illnesses creep up on a being silently, too often suddenly. When people are fit, they need to ponder the possibility that has become more probable in many American households. Insurers have cut coverage. Co-pays are more exorbitant. Businesses have eliminated Health Care benefits. As the economy worsens and profits are negligible, this trend is likely to increase. Floridians need to consider what might occur in hospitals as the cost of care soars .
There is much to contemplate as Floridians assess the quality of life and the proposed budget cuts. I invite readers to respond to the impending crisis. Planned budget cuts may not be the blessing citizens in the Everglade State thought they would be. It is possible to remove allocations that do not serve the common folk well. Floridians, please, let us look before we leap. Do not throw the baby out with the bath water. Please, ponder the profound impacts these changes may bring, rather than rely on clichés.
Seemingly, simple solutions rarely address the specifics that are all too real in the lives of residents. The thoughts of the Congresswoman, Karen L. Thurman may help the people in Florida to make an informed decision.
Help if you choose. Click on any of the links if you wish to act in the interest of those you love, Mom, Dad, son, daughter, spouse, and you . .
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
“If a state had its priorities straight, balancing a budget on the backs of the working poor, the elderly and the disabled would be the last option. This year in Florida, it’s the first option… the Republican-led House and Senate [have] completed mutually heartless, stupid budgets…”
– Palm Beach Post Editorial, 4/15/08
Dear Florida Democrats,
Today is tax day in America, which means that we’ve all got money on the mind, even more than usual. Times are tough. Florida families are being squeezed, either directly or indirectly, by skyrocketing gas prices, rising health care costs, the continued housing crisis and, of course, the subprime mortgage disaster.
Moreover, the Republicans’ reckless policy of raising property taxes on middle class families to pay for special interest tax loopholes has been devastating. You won’t ever hear them admit to raising taxes, but it’s true. They’ve increased the required local effort – local property taxes – time and again.
Now the Republican politicians in Tallahassee want to squeeze the people of Florida even more – including the most vulnerable among us. I’m always amazed by how heartless and self-serving Republicans in power are, but the proposed state budgets from the House and Senate mark a new low.
It’s not over yet, however. As the “leaders” of the Republican-controlled Legislature negotiate the final budget, we must send them a strong and clear message: Get your priorities straight – NOW.
Click below to use our automated online tool to send a message to Republican Senate President Ken Pruitt, possible future Senate President Jeff Atwater, Speaker Marco Rubio and Speaker-Designate Ray Sansom today.
The Republicans want to reduce per student spending in K-12 education for the first time in almost 40 years. They want to eliminate Everglades clean-up efforts. Though child abuse rises as the economy dives, they’re going after more than 70 child-protection jobs.
The Republicans also want to gut the highway patrol and reduce public safety. They want to lay off almost 2,000 corrections officers, despite prisons being stretched to the limit already. They want to cut a third of the state’s probation officers – the law enforcement specialists whose job it is to keep convicted sexual predators away from your children.
Republicans want to reduce hospice care for seniors and decimate county health departments and Area Health Education Centers, where Florida’s poorest in rural areas and underserved urban communities often go for their medical care. They want thousands of inner-city school kids in Miami to see their doctors less often.
The Republicans want to end hospital care for 20,000 people with catastrophic illnesses and reduce access to anti-rejection drugs for Floridians who have received life-saving organ transplants.
The Republicans don’t have to do this. Florida has a rainy day fund, and there are plenty of corporate tax loopholes that can be closed. Democrats in the Legislature are fighting tooth and nail against the Republicans’ terrible decisions, but they need your help.
Click below to send a message to the Republicans in charge. Write them about a personal story, and tell them to stop their recklessness before it hurts more Floridians.
They’ve spared nothing – except their special interest buddies.
Speaker Rubio secretly inserted language into the House budget to allow a friend’s company to bid for a multi-million dollar state contract. While the Republicans want to slash financial aid and increase tuition for college students, Sen. Mike Haridopolos is accepting $75,000 a year to lecture part-time – on top of the $150,000 in state money he took to write a book that was never published.
Atwater, who thinks he should be Senate President, tried to kick bail bondsmen some cash, until he was caught red-handed by Democratic Sen. Arthenia Joyner. Meanwhile, President Pruitt is allowing Atwater to take $7000 a month to train his future chief of staff – an unprecedented waste of taxpayer money.
Democrats proposed an alternative budget, and of course, the Republicans rejected it. But that doesn’t mean we should back down. Someday we’ll have a Legislature that works for the people again. Until then, we have to speak up loudly. Please take a few minutes today and write the Legislature before it’s too late.
Thank you for your commitment.
Congresswoman Karen L. Thurman
Chair, Florida Democratic Party
P.S. This Republican recession is a mess, and the Republican Legislature’s budget plans are going to make it even worse – if we don’t act now. Send a message today:
Floridians who care thank those who also choose to do more than stress, then slice, and dice the necessary expenditures, those that ensure that inhabitants of the Sunshine State are safe, sane, and remain stable.