The story of Aeneas provides one of the more iconic metaphors of all time and one especially relevant today—the Trojan horse. The Greeks, in their imperious haze, allow a gifted wooden horse to sit inside their fortress gates. During the night, Trojans hasten from within its lumber walls and decimate the city. It is the ultimate allegory of self-righteousness, subterfuge, vengeance, and loss. The moral of the story: flashy can be fatal.
The current situation in this country is heartbreaking. An unstable and insecure man ran for President and won. We now have a mandate of hate and cleansing blowing in the wind like a starched confederate flag. If this person believes what he espoused during the campaign, then we have a Machiavellian eugenicist waiting in the wings. If he doesn’t, then he will be relinquished of the incisive responsibilities of the Presidency by the very smart and strategic white supremacists, climate deniers and xenophobes who have been freed from the sidelines and are jockeying for positions in his inner circle and cabinet.
The recent position announcements of Bannon and Preibus, the elevation of Pence, and rumors of Rudy Guiliani, Harold Hamm (Energy Secretary), Myron Ebell (EPA), Newt Gingrich (State Department), Michael Flynn (National Security Advisor or Defense Secretary), Jan Brewer (Interior Secretary) and Forrest Lucas (Interior Secretary) should scare the bejesus out of us all. And yet, for some, it doesn’t. His campaign resonated, not in spite of what he said, but because of what he said. Trumpers claim their votes were based on economics and not race, but humans rarely make objective decisions devoid of emotion and historical perspective. This election was a backlash on “othering” and a reminder to the country of who remains first on the list.
So where do we go from here?
Seeds are planted to bear fruit. It takes time, care, focus and planning, but if tended to correctly, a bounty will produce. As progressives, our bounty should be the various local elected seats (school and community college boards, city councils, tax boards, county supervisors, judges, and district attorneys).
Races for mayor, governor and state representatives are flashy, but diligently working at the local level can produce the kinds of progressive pipelines that we need. For example, District Attorneys and judicial seats may be the least prominent of state and county government, but often deliver the most tangible results for institutional change. Together, they are a deadly combination. 48% of state supreme courts are conservative (strong or leaning) and have been responsible for decisions relating to increased voter suppression, increased executions, and decreased education funding.
A recent study revealed that 95% of all elected prosecutors are white and 83% are men. Prosecutorial discretion has a direct impact on how other systems (criminal justice, and education, especially) work, and hard-liners in the DA’s offices have left many communities under siege. Inmate monitoring, police accountability and mandatory minimum sentencing are examples of the one-two punches delivered by these two groups. So, start examining the pipelines of these candidates, and the histories of those currently in office.
It’s time to obstruct. Conservatives have been good at investing time and money into figuring out where and how to use law and policy to plug liberal holes. The Heartland Institute, ALEC and the Cato Institute are just a few of the many conservative, neoconservative and libertarian think tanks working to ‘right-set’ the trajectory of our country.
Start suing, hold the line, find the holes, and then fill them with progressive electeds from the pipeline. It’s “No” until you have enough votes and law to “Yes.” Lives depend on it.
Progressives are good at funding on-the-ground grassroots efforts, but it takes more than just registering voters to change these tides. It also takes strategic geo-mapping, constitutional law review and good old-fashioned math (counting your votes and your states) to win.
It’s time to call in a different kind of Calvary, one with product marketers, neuroscientists, policy researchers and lawyers, and then shut the door until viable strategies are born. Start suing, hold the line, find the holes, and then fill them with progressive electeds from the pipeline. It’s “No” until you have enough votes and law to “Yes.” Lives depend on it.
Education Still Matters
Discontent with unions, changes in tax distribution, and state deficits have turned our public education systems into something almost unrecognizable. As a result, millions of under-educated voters go to the polls and vote against their own interests.
We have done more harm than we think by defunding civics, arts and music classes. It’s time to rethink Proposition 13, streamline the readiness passage from K-12 into college and address the lack of compatibility between current student curriculum and trending job markets.
We need to get real about the dynamics of globalization (automation vs. union jobs), inherent consumer tendencies (do we want cheap or good?) and how and who we educate.
President Obama’s latest press conference reminded me that the system is bigger than one person. Pernicious self-preservation is the foundation of its design. Obama suffered from being too smart and thoughtful (and black). The President-Elect will suffer from being an outsider and unfocused.
Pawns they both are in a weird way – Obama was red meat for the conservative right, and the President-Elect was their Trojan horse. Regardless, the fights for equity, equality and existence are on the line more than ever before.