Community Brainstorming for Ideas to Get Out the Vote in 2014

brainstormingThose of you who’ve followed me on Twitter and this blog know I have this desire to get as many people out to vote their interests as we can. All polling shows that the majority of this nation supports what the right would call a “liberal agenda” over such things as freedom of choice, immigration reform, stronger gun control laws, universal background checks, same-sex marriage, equal rights for all, etc. Yet we have many in local and national office who not only block such agendas, they work to enact the opposite with things like voter suppression, abortion bans, constitutional amendments to restrict rights, weakening of gun laws, etc. The problem is there is a small number of rightwing zealots who also tend to vote in each and every primary and election. Though they represent a small minority of the nation, they represent a large number of the voting public.

There have been several theories as to why this occurs, why a fringe ideology is more apt to exercise their constitutional right and obligation to vote a narrow ideological agenda while the rest of the nation who support things that benefit the entire nation, often sit on their hands on election day.

Some mention that the neo-conservative mind is prone to blindly follow their perceived leaders without much thought and do what they are told to do. The imagery of lemmings rushing over the cliff comes to mind.


Others mention that this group tends to always be angry and it’s that anger that is their motivation to vote against whomever they are told is the enemy, against these people without really thinking about it and why they should be against them.

angry voters

Perhaps its a combination of the two and possibly other motivating factors. Regardless, these people always vote, the rest of us don’t.

I’m asking those of you who read this blog to please comment on what you think is needed to get the majority of the nation out to vote in the upcoming midterm primaries and general elections.

Every House seat is up for 2014, even those in gerrymandered districts, a third of the Senate seats are also up, several governors and State legislators are also up for election. Ordinarily, far less than 40% of the nation votes during the midterms.

When you realize that a majority of that 40% will be the rightwing ideologues, you understand the danger this nation is in. I remind you all of 2010 and the damage we still suffer from so few Democrats and Independents voting. The rightwing Tea Party swept the nation and most states and started voter suppression acts, misogyny on Biblical steroids, gerrymandered redistricting, cuts in the social safety nets for the nation and individual states. We cannot allow this to happen again. We need higher turnouts.

get out the vote

Please post your comments and I promise to post them as I have the time to review them. All ideas are worth exploring so please give us your thoughts.

Thank you all in advance.

The History, Facts, Myths, Pros and Cons of ObamaCare

HSTQuoteAs we near January 1, 2014 and the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, many are grasping for any straw they can to dissuade Americans from trusting or supporting a law that has already been written, enacted, signed into law and upheld by the Robert’s Conservative Supreme Court as Constitutional. Many on the right cite now that President Obama “lied” over saying you can keep your insurance, even though the insurance you keep ends up costing you more in premiums than what you ever get back in coverage, otherwise known as “junk” policies.

The Republican Party went so far as to shutdown our government for what Ted Cruz coins as a “Train Wreck” destined to cost jobs, freedoms and money. Forget the fact his orchestrated shutdown of government cost the United States economy in those two weeks $24 billion in lost economic activity and 120,000 private sector jobs. It would appear that if ObamaCare won’t endanger the economic health of the nation or cost jobs, the GOP will create the losses themselves fighting it. Somewhat ironic but true.

What follows is a brief history of what led us to the Affordable Care Act, the facts regarding the law, some of the myths and the pros and cons about implementation of the law. I will include links to the sites I used for this rant for your own edification.

A Brief History:

The debate over our government mandating healthcare actually goes back to our founding. In 1790 the first Congress that included 20 of our “framers” mandated that ship owners buy health insurance for their seamen. It was signed into law by George Washington. In 1798 it amended the law requiring the seamen to buy insurance themselves. This was signed into law by John Adams, considered today to be the first “conservative” president of the United States.  This comes from Harvard Law Professor Einer Elhauge:

The reason for this was simple, at the time, traveling the seas paid a high price of individual’s health. We were a young nation that depended on sea travel for our international commerce. Getting sick was costly to business, our economy. Requiring healthcare coverage was an easy fix to a problem that could seriously impact our economy of productivity. So it was required then, as it should be today.

In the late 19th Century, European nations, who were still essentially conservative, began implementing mandatory and universal healthcare for their citizens. In the late 19th Century and early 20th Century the Progressives began looking to expand healthcare for the workers for more “humanitarian” rather than nationalistic reasons.  Theodore Roosevelt advocated for healthcare believing a nation couldn’t be so strong if her people were so sick and poor. In 1906 the American Association of Labor Legislation led the fight for health insurance.  They did not want to abolish capitalism, they wanted to reform it. They proposed health insurance for those families earning less than $1,200.00 a year that provided services of physicians, nurses, and hospitals. The costs would be shared between workers, employers and the State. In 1914 the American Medical Association backed the AALL agenda.  In 1917, the AMA House of Delegates favored compulsory health insurance as proposed by the AALL, but many state medical societies opposed it. Further, the American Federation of Labor denounced the plan fearing that government control of healthcare would weaken the unions by usurping their ability to provide healthcare to their members. There was also opposition from the private insurance companies and finally, due to our entry into World War I, and the anti German “socialistic” views that provided healthcare to their citizens, sympathy for our own national healthcare withered until the 1930’s and Franklin Roosevelt.

After the implementation of Social Security work for national healthcare went forward. After FDR’s death, Harry Truman took up the cause. However, whereas FDR looked at utilizing private insurers competing with each other for business among the citizens who would be subsidized by the government, Truman looked to a single payer plan modeled under Social Security. Everyone paid in and everyone would be covered. Both plans were denounce as “socialism” modeled under what the communists had. Conservatives fought the very notion of universal healthcare for these ideological reasons despite the benefits such plans would provide. When the Republicans took the Congress in 1946 ushering in what Truman would call ‘The do nothing Congress” the efforts for giving the nation a healthcare plan died until the 1960s.

During the push to pass the Medicare and subsequent Medicaid laws, the same conservative voices citing the same arguments of “socialism” taking away “freedom” came down. A future President, Ronald Reagan in his ads opposing Medicare said “If you don’t {stop Medicare} one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.” A line that Senator Ted Cruz actually plagiarized from Ronald Reagan in his opposition to ACA.

What is interesting is that after he became president, Reagan actually worked with the Democrats to save and extend the solvency of both Social Security and Medicare. With Medicare in place and later Medicaid as well as improvements to both programs in implementation, efforts went on regarding the 55 million Americans who remained uninsured because they didn’t earn enough to buy health insurance that more and more became for-profit under Reagan resulting in higher premiums and stricter guidelines regarding who they would insure, but made too much to qualify for Medicaid, and were too young for Medicare. So in the 1990’s, Bill Clinton tried to implement coverage for these people in what became known as “HillaryCare.”

The right used the same talking points of socialism used for nearly a hundred years. This time, the conservative think tank known as the Heritage Foundation came up with a plan that required an individual mandate to buy insurance from the private market. However they weren’t too keen on government regulating the market regarding pre-existing conditions, life-time caps, or rescission of coverage. HillaryCare died in Congress, but the Heritage plan was picked up and modified and implemented in the State of Massachusetts and was later called “RomneyCare.” We then moved to the debate over the writing, creation and implementation of the Affordable Care Act known as ObamaCare. The arguments and tactics mirrored those over the previous century, false claims of socialism, too high of costs, jobs, freedom, and personal attacks on the advocates. But it passed and was held constitutional none-the-less. President Obama succeeded where a century of previous Presidents and administrations failed; he implemented a plan that filled the gap of around 55 million Americans unable to get care. Prior to this, we were the only industrialized nation that didn’t have some form of universal healthcare. Further, our healthcare costs were significantly higher than the rest of the world with worse outcomes for the majority of people. If you had money, health insurance you had care. Unfortunately we aren’t a nation of million and billionaires, so access to our great system of medicine was out of reach to far too many citizens.

Here are some interesting links I used for the above:

So what is ObamaCare?

Here is the link to HB3590 “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” also known as “ObamaCare” passed by Congress, signed into law and upheld by the Supreme Court:

If you don’t have the time to read this document, here’s a good summary of the law:

I cite the links to the law for those of you who may have read or have been sent tweets and post citing certain sections of the law that sound terrible. The problem is, many trolls on the right will cite something in the act and even give the page it is on, thinking you won’t go to the effort to read that page of the law. This has been going on for a few years. There are no death panels, coverage for undocumented aliens, or implantation of micro-chips, anything they cite.

Here is a link from NCBI that tells you what the implications to public health the ACA is:

Finally, here’s two links I have found to be the most comprehensive and thorough guide to ACA and all the key factor surrounding it to educate you when confronted by those on the right. One comes from American Public Health Association and the other is a guide dispelling the myths from both sides, citing facts, sources and answers you may have regarding ACA:

Key facts regarding ACA:

CBO estimated in July 2012 that 55 million Americans under the age of 65 are uninsured which is 1 in 5. Without ACA, that number would grow.

Healthcare Spending represents 17.9% of our Gross Domestic Product and is expected to be 20% by 2020.

7 in 10 deaths in the United States are related to preventable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer and 75% of our health care dollars are spent treating those conditions. However, only three cents of each health care dollar currently goes to prevention. ACA places emphasis on prevention.

The United States spends far more on medical care than any other industrialized nation but ranks 24th among 30 OECD nations in terms of life expectancy.

Without ACA the CBO estimates that the uninsured rate would rise from 20.4 % in 2012 to 21.1% in 2022 with 60 million lacking coverage.

ACA is expected to reduce budget deficits by $210 billion from 2012 through 2021.

Under ACA you can no longer be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, you no longer face life-time caps on coverage, you can no longer have you coverage rescinded by the insurance companies, companies must direct 80% of premium dollars to healthcare.

ACA is free market healthcare coverage, not single-payer. Insurance companies must compete with each other for your business. That is capitalism, not socialism.

ACA is fully funded via eliminating wasteful spending of Medicare Trust Fund moneys via fraud and giveaways to private insurance companies. It is also funded by additional tax revenues from tanning salons, medical device providers, insured and penalties from those who don’t take advantage of the individual mandate. This link shows how the funding is provided and why:

Here’s another link explaining the funding:

ACA has been compared to RomneyCare. That is actually a good comparison because the Heritage Foundation program modified by the Massachusetts legislative branch and implement by Mitt Romney is working as this link from Forbes explains:

What are the Myths?

These two links analyzes the most discussed myths from both sides of the aisle regarding ACA:

What are the Pros and Cons?

The major con regarding ACA in my opinion is that it isn’t single-payer as Harry Truman and many today advocate for. It is what works in Europe and will work here. The problem is that isn’t politically possible in Washington today. ACA is a step in the right direction, but it isn’t where we ultimately have to go. However, as the Stone’s say, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might just find, you get what you need.”

Here is an honest link of the pros and cons regarding ACA:


ACA or ObamaCare is here to stay. As it nears full implementation, it is obtaining higher approval ratings from the American people, which is what the right feared. Much like their concerns over Medicare in the 1960’s, now that we have it, we won’t give it up. Healthcare is a good investment for a nation’s health, productivity and overall economy.


For both liberal and conservative reasons we should be working to make this a more healthy nation. Partisan politics get in the way of logical and pragmatic thinking. However, this has been our nation’s history.

Despite the pros and cons, the myths, the attacks, the problem with the Website, on the whole, this is much better than what we had before and it is already having benefits for people as they become involved with it. To try to end it now is quite simply impossible and those in office who say that’s what they are working for are lying to their gullible base. They say they will end it to get the uninformed people’s support, but they know it can’t be done. Again, this is the history of our politics.

I know there is a lot to read here, but consider this post a warehouse of information you can use with your friends, family, coworkers and more importantly, trolls trying to irritate you into being against a program that helps everyone, including the trolls.


Religious Freedoms and Governing Intolerances


Article VI of the United States Constitution states: “…This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

That last sentence is perhaps the most important line for Article VI for not only the Federal Government, but for all lesser elected offices, “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

This line and the concept of separation of Church and State represented the views of our founders regarding how and if we should include religion in our government.

The United States was not only the first Constitutional Democracy created, it was the first nation created without a National Religion. This was emphasize in the Treaty of Tripoli, a treaty ratified by unanimous consent in the Senate (made up of many of our original founders) and signed by President John Adams that stated clearly As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims],—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan  nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

Why is this so important?

The founders knew the history of the colonies was a story of people coming to our shores to escape religious persecution from the countries they came from. The Puritans were demonized by the English State Religion, Protestants were persecuted by Catholic State Religions, Catholics were persecuted by Protestant State Religions, so the United States was to be different.

Our founders were mostly Deists, they believed in God, but many didn’t put much faith (no pun intended) in organized religions or the rituals and nuances that surrounded those faiths. They knew of and studied all the religions of the day. The Federalist Papers and Jefferson’s letters discuss what has become known as “The Separation of Church and State.”

The founders advocated not only religious freedoms for the citizens of this country, but more importantly the freedom against religion influence on the workings of government.

Religions are prone to advocate to one degree or another, intolerance against people. All faiths have passages in their religious texts that have been used to justify bigotry, intolerance against other faiths, lack of faith, and/or sexuality. This was true then and it is true now.

So to have a nation that honors the separation of Church and State, the founders weren’t saying you couldn’t be a Christian, a Protestant, Catholic, Jew, Muslim, Agnostic, Atheist, Hindu, etc.; you are entitled to have you views and use your views to govern your life, just not the lives of those you represent. Sorry Bill O’Reilly the history is clear, the founders did believe in Secular governance.

A religion can be used to justify slavery as it did in the Southern States. Republicans in the 19th Century bridged all religious interpretations of the day, focused on Secular reasons to justify abolition and the eventual end of Slavery despite the hard felt views of many in State and local governments.

When you are in office, you aren’t leading a congregation of like minded religious types; you are governing a community of varied beliefs and tolerances.

You are there to serve them and their needs, even if they conflict with yours. The most honored politicians in our history did that very well.

Kennedy governed as a secularist, not a Catholic;

Truman governed as a secularist not a Methodist,

as did other great leaders. They allowed things to progress that possibly ran counter to their own personal religious views, as taught to them in order to serve all of the people they represented. You can’t do that if you place your religion before your duty as an elected government official.

If you are unable to separate yourself from your religion in making decision that impact all you serve, you frankly have no business running for public office.

If elected you must represent each and every Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Agnostic, Atheist, and each and every homosexual. You are not there to change their views, you’re there to represent their views as Americans, all deserving of the same rights as all other Americans regardless of color, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation. That is the only formula that works in a country we hope honors democratic rule.

So why this rant?

I believe in having tolerance for all people regardless of their classification. I have problems with those who practice intolerance against people based on any criteria of their birth or faith and I honor those who work to bridge those intolerances and bring understanding and equal rights to discriminated people. The story I’m about to relate pertains to a Phoenix City Council race in District 8 on Tuesday. However, a variation of this story I’m sure can be found in other races on Tuesday and in years to come.

District 8 has for nearly 50 years been represented by an African American. The Phoenix City Council has had good representation from that District that covers a portion of Phoenix that is predominately minority and impoverished. One of the candidates for this race, Reverend Warren Stewart is an African American who has honorably fought for minority rights in Phoenix for years. He worked to get us to honor Martin Luther King, he is a man of God, he has helped the Hispanic Community, and his resume would appear to be what many of us would like to see in a City leader. But there is a problem. He cannot separate the prejudices of his faith against the inherent rights of all the people he will represent.

He has issues with the LGBT community, and them with him. Although he says he supports civil unions and supports Phoenix City Ordinances giving rights to LGBTs, he is clearly on record as opposed to same sex marriage. He went so far as to send President Obama a letter regarding his evolution into accepting that same sex marriage is a right. Reverend Stewart is placing his religious intolerance of those outside his version of the faith against a growing number of more enlightened constituents who support gay marriage.

Bigotry is not restricted to angry old white men; it transcends all races, sexes, faiths, ideologies, and sexual orientation. In my opinion you cannot be intolerant of any group despite intolerance practiced on you or your work to end it for others. If you are intolerant of any group for any reason, you may as well accept being intolerant of all groups.

To justify your intolerance using religion and indicating you will govern under those religiously sanctioned intolerance does no service to you, your faith or the people you intend to represent.

Bigotry finds strange bed-fellows. Reverend Stewart is a Democrat, by all accounts a liberal Democrat, but his views on being anti same-sex marriage and frustration with the President’s conversion has gained him support from Conservatives in Arizona. See this link to a blog post that speaks in favor of Reverend Stewart using language that those of a liberal/progressive/enlightened and tolerant mindset would find distasteful:

What is also disappointing with the Reverend’s campaign is he is clearly playing the race card in trying to win this seat. His opponent is Kate Gallego, her married name that those on Stewart’s side says she using a Hispanic name to gain support, not that women often take the names of their husbands. They are sending out fliers saying that voting for Gallego will end 47 years of racial diversity on the City Council.


These are links to a local story of this race and the views of the LGBT community here:

I agree that racial diversity is good, but what’s more important is tolerant governance of all races, sexes, religions and sexual orientation. To be an African American on the Phoenix City Council does provide diversity in racial make-up, but does it provide tolerance for all people?

When I voted for Barack Obama twice, I didn’t vote for him because he was black, I voted for him because he is intelligent, thoughtful, compromising and tolerant. It helped that he was black, but that wasn’t the focus of my votes or my current support. This country does need more racial diversity in all government offices, we need more female representation in all government offices, but more importantly, we need more tolerance, void of religious shackles in all government offices.

We govern better for all people when we do so secularly, not religiously. Save that for home and church and remember we are a diverse nation and that is where we draw our strengths. Intolerance saps us of those gains whether it’s for racial, sexist, or religious reasons.

I’m not in District 8 so I won’t be voting there and I’m not telling those living in District 8 how to vote, but I am asking you to consider what is more important when you make your selection, a person of race or a person of tolerance for all?

And as I mentioned above, this scenario is playing out in other races across the country with different candidates for different offices, the same rule applies. Figure out what is important to you, but no matter what, VOTE!