Don’t Mourn For The GOP Of Old.

In the age of Trump, some long for the GOP of old. True, the party of Lincoln was truly admirable. But that GOP hasn’t existed for a very long time. The GOP of modern history bore little resemblance to the party of Lincoln. Yet some would have you believe that the party of Nixon, Reagan, and Bush was just as caring, just as patriotic and just as principled.

Don’t believe the myth.

Though it is true that the GOP of the 70s, 80s, 90s, and early 2000s was significantly better than the current hot mess, it was no friend of ordinary working people. It was a coalition of corporatists and industrialists. It included war mongers, bigots, anti-unionists, and those who felt it was their duty to interfere with democracies and governments around the globe on behalf of our corporations.

It was the GOP under Eisenhower and the Dulles brothers that overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran when it tried to nationalize Iranian oil, an act that led to a brutal dictatorship and, ultimately, the Islamist revolution. It was the GOP that undermined the Vietnam peace talks to help Nixon’s election chances, an act that resulted in thousands more deaths. It was the GOP that embraced southern racists after the civil rights movement.

In the old GOP, it was Nixon who founded a dirty tricks squad and tried to circumvent our democratic elections by breaking into the Democratic National headquarters. It was Nixon who ordered the overthrow of Chile’s democratically elected president who was replaced by a dictator.

In the old GOP, it was Reagan who fomented distrust in the government, who launched an attack on labor unions, who handed out large tax cuts to the wealthy under his bogus “trickle-down” economic theory, who imposed a range of hidden taxes on the middle class, and who ran up the national debt. It was Reagan who created a shadow government that illegally sold weapons to Iran in order to fund the Central American Contras.

It was George H.W. Bush who continued Reagan’s economic policy and launched a war in the Middle East. And it was George W. Bush who used his brother to corrupt Florida’s election in order to attain office. “W” also ignored warnings of the impending terrorist attack on 9/11 and launched a horrific war in Iraq based on false information.

It was the old GOP that spawned ultra-partisans such as Newt Gingrich, Paul Ryan and Moscow Mitch McConnell – the people who placed party over country and made compromise a dirty word. It is members of the old GOP who, like Mitt Romney, Moscow Mitch, and Elaine Chow, have parked funds in offshore tax havens to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. It was members of the old GOP that showered trillions on the military-industrial complex. And it was the old GOP that has gone to great lengths to suppress and intimidate voters who are unlikely to vote for GOP candidates.

Yes, the GOP of Trump is significantly worse than what preceded it – led by a treasonous conman who has taken corruption, division, lies, and bigotry to new levels. But it was the old GOP that embraced Trumpism and made this horror show possible.

Why Republicans Should Lose. And Lose Bigly.

Set aside most Republicans’ embrace of divisiveness, violent militias, Qanon and its wacko conspiracy theories, and their head-in-the-sand approach to the climate crisis. The reason you should spurn the entire Republican Party is its blatant attempts to deny millions of American citizens the right to vote.

For more than 20 years, the party has launched an all-out attack on the voting rights of people of color and the poor. It began by raising questions about the integrity of our election process on the heels of the party stealing the 2000 election in Florida. Yet the GOP had the audacity to claim that there was widespread voter fraud throughout the nation. Acting on that claim, the Bush administration ordered an investigation which found that intentional voter fraud was non-existent.

Nevertheless, many GOP-controlled legislatures began limiting voting rights to only those who had a photo ID. And, rather than make the IDs free and easy to obtain, the legislatures not only set fees for them. They limited access, often forcing poor Americans without drivers licenses to take time off from work and travel many miles to obtain the IDs. The IDs had the effect of denying voting rights millions of Americans.

In 2013, a Republican-driven lawsuit against the federal government (Shelby Co v Holder) led to a US Supreme decision that weakened the Voting Rights Act of 1965, claiming that federal oversight of state election rules was no longer necessary. Almost immediately following the decision, GOP-led states dramatically reduced the number of voting centers in areas that are predominately black. At the same time, they reduced early voting periods and voting hours. That caused voters in those areas to wait in lines twice as long as their white counterparts.

In Arizona, Georgia, and other Republican-controlled states, the legislatures have ordered a purge of registered, but infrequent, voters. That act alone almost certainly put a Republican in Georgia’s governor’s mansion, instead of the more popular Democrat.

More recently, Donald Trump his Republican Party, in an attempt to undermine the 2020 election, have argued that the election is rigged and raised concerns about the safety of mail-in ballots, saying that mail-in voting is an opportunity for Democrats and China to commit election fraud. At the same time, Republican-appointed members of the governing board of the United States Postal Service and Trump’s Postmaster General have delayed mail service by removing dozens of mail sorting machines and hundreds of mailboxes. They have called for armed militias and white supremacist supporters of Trump to show up at the polls in large numbers as “poll watchers” – an obvious attempt at voter intimidation.

In Florida, the Republican Secretary of State has defied a voter-approved referendum by refusing to restore voting rights to felons who have served their sentences until they pay all costs associate with their crimes while making it almost impossible to determine what those costs might be. The Republican governor of Texas has ordered that there can be only one voting drop-off box per county, thus making voting even more difficult for those living in large cities.

In Texas, North Carolina, Wisconsin and other states, Republicans have resorted to extreme gerrymandering which allows Republican officials to choose their voters rather than voters choosing their representatives. Administration attempts to rig and cut short the Census are also intended to impact redistricting in order to create more districts that are safe for Republicans.

As if all that isn’t enough, Republicans have continued to bombard voters with disinformation to create fear and confusion. They have embraced Russian interference and disinformation campaigns. And, I believe, Trump’s performance in the first debate was intended to cause numerous voters to become so disgusted with politics that they stay home on Election Day due to the reality that voter suppression always benefits Republican candidates, since the majority of Americans support Democratic policies.

The only solution to such tactics is to vote. Vote as if the future of our democracy depends on it. Because it does.

The End Of Precedent. The End Of Justice.

From its beginning, US law, following that of the United Kingdom, has been based on legal precedent – that the outcome in one case is binding or persuasive in the outcomes of subsequent cases with similar circumstances.

However, in recent years, conservatives have increasingly chosen to ignore precedent. That is certainly true in the case of the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, the unleashing anonymous political donations by Citizens United, and the weakening of abortion rights as established by Roe v. Wade. In each case, conservative justices on the Supreme Court of the United States have decided that their conservative political views outweighed precedents previously established by the Court.

Similarly, the US Senate under Moscow Mitch McConnell has ignored long-established precedent to steal two seats on the Supreme Court.

In the entire history of the US, there have been four previous vacancies on the Court that occurred between July 1 and a presidential election. In three of those cases, beginning with Abraham Lincoln, the president refused to nominate a judicial candidate to fill the open seat until after the inauguration of the next president. In the other case, the president nominated a candidate. But the Senate refused to hold hearings on the nomination until after the election.

In addition, there have been nine vacancies on the Court between January 1 and July 1 of the same year of a presidential election. In eight of those cases, the president nominated judicial candidates who received Senate hearings and were confirmed. The lone exception is President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland, which was blocked by Moscow Mitch who claimed the vacancy occurred too close to the election and should be held open for the next president to fill.

Now we come to the vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

For the first time in history, the Senate under the leadership of Moscow Mitch has vowed to confirm and seat a nomination by Donald J. Trump before the election. Precedent and Justice Ginsburg’s dying wish be damned.

This win at all costs mentality has become a hallmark of Trump, McConnell and the GOP. Rather than following precedent and principle, they choose to divide. Trump has blamed Democratic governors and blue states for his own failures, even going so far as to prioritize PPE for red states. He then stated that if it were not for the pandemic deaths in blue states, the administration’s response to the pandemic would look much better. Indeed, that fits the pattern of the entire GOP. When in power, GOP officials almost entirely dismiss the opinions and wishes of their political opponents. They initiate voter suppression measures and gerrymandering to hold onto power. And, when in the minority, they routinely resort to parliamentary tricks to block Democratic initiatives.

It is this mentality that is responsible for the increasingly violent political division in the US. How can you debate policy issues and achieve consensus when only one party is willing to come to the table?

Will The US Become The Next Belarus?

With the US presidential election approaching, US citizens should see the events in Belarus as a warning. As you may know, though the incumbent Alexander Lukashenko claimed to be re-elected with 80 percent of the vote. International observers have declared that the election was neither fair nor free. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Belarussians have continued to march and demonstrate. More worryingly, one of the leading members of the opposition candidate’s campaign has been abducted by masked men and 3 others have vanished.

Think that couldn’t happen in the US? Think again.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe has raised concerns about the integrity of the upcoming election. Other international observers have also voiced concerns. Why? Maybe it’s because the GOP has disenfranchised many voters by demanding often difficult to obtain voter IDs. Maybe it’s because Republican-controlled states have closed voting locations and reduced voting hours in Democrat-leaning areas. Maybe it’s because GOP-controlled states have gerrymandered congressional districts to make it virtually impossible for Democrats to win. Maybe it’s because the average waiting time to vote is 51 minutes for minorities and only 6 minutes for whites. Maybe it’s because GOP-controlled states have purged tens of thousands of registered voters.

Maybe it’s because the wannabe dictator incumbent has tried to discredit and undermine vote-by-mail and installed loyalists to the governing board of the US Postal Service with the express purpose of delaying the mail. Maybe it’s because he continues to tell his heavily armed and conspiracy loving supporters that he can only lose if the election is rigged against him!

Or maybe it’s because the incumbent was put in office as a result of election interference by our nation’s greatest rival and, in fact, has solicited foreign interference yet again.

Moreover, increasingly it appears that Trump and his supporters will only accept a Biden win if the vote is overwhelmingly against him. Anything less and Trump is likely to claim the vote is rigged and refuse to accept the results. After all, he already has claimed that Hillary Clinton’s nearly 3 million margin in the popular vote was only due to voting by undocumented immigrants and Democratic cheating.

So, it’s highly unlikely that Trump will bow out gracefully. He’s far more likely to refuse to leave the White House and to call for his armed supporters to rise up in his defense. We’ve already seen his supporters attack peaceful Black Lives Matters protestors. We’ve seen anonymous federal forces under his direction abduct protestors. And we’ve seen him order a peaceful demonstration cleared with force so he could have a photo-op with him holding a Bible backwards in front of a church he doesn’t attend.

Vote! Vote like our democracy depends on it. Because it does.

The GOP’s War On Democracy.

The dismantling of the US Postal Service by Trump’s campaign donor and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has garnered deserved attention from the media and a large cross-section of Americans. Certainly, the impact on mail-in and absentee voting by slowing down the mail will disenfranchise tens of thousands of American voters. But we must keep in mind that it’s not the only GOP attempts to prevent large segments of Americans, especially black and Native Americans, from voting.

Over the past five decades, Republicans have instituted extreme gerrymandering in the states where they control the governorship and legislature. For example, Austin, Texas is the state capital and the state’s 11th largest city. It is also a bastion of liberalism. Yet the state has been so gerrymandered its residents have no representation in the state’s legislature or the US Congress.

Other states like North Carolina and Wisconsin have also resorted to such extreme gerrymandering to guarantee that Democrats cannot easily obtain majorities in their legislatures. And they have taken matters a step further. When the two states elected Democratic governors, the Republican majority legislatures and the lame-duck Republican governors signed into law measures that would take away much of the new governors’ powers.

There is more.

Republican-controlled state legislatures have passed laws to require voter IDs. Then they made it difficult for the poor to obtain the IDs by specifying they could only be obtained at certain DMV locations. Those locations are often located far away. And they have limited hours which forces the poor to take time off from work to obtain them.

Moreover, Republicans have closed many polling places in Democratic-leaning districts, reduced early voting periods, and limited voting hours forcing voters to stand in line for hours. They have purged tens of thousands of voters from registration lists for not voting in the past two general elections. They have passed laws to prevent college students from voting in the districts where their colleges are located forcing them to drive or fly back to the districts where their parents live in order to vote. And they have passed laws that make it illegal for felons to vote, even after they have served their sentences and paid their debt to society. And when a voter referendum restoring felons’ voting rights passed in Florida, the Republican legislature passed a law requiring the felons to pay court and legal costs for their trials. The same state famously prevented thousands of registered voters from voting in the 2000 elections because they had the same, or similar, names as felons.

Many Republican-controlled states adopted untested and unreliable electronic voting machines, some of which can be easily hacked. As a result, many voters have reported that the machines actually changed their votes when they pressed the button to record their votes. And because many of the machines have no paper trail, the voter theft is impossible to uncover. Many believe the 2004 presidential election was stolen from Senator John Kerry when Diebold voting machines recorded votes for Kerry as votes for George W. Bush.

And, despite Trump’s statements that absentee ballots are safer than other mail-in ballots, there is little evidence of voter fraud involving votes by mail. Indeed, the only examples involve Republicans. A GOP operative in North Carolina was charged following the 2018 election. And an investigation by an independent consortium into the 2000 Florida presidential election uncovered hundreds of absentee ballots counted for Bush – enough to sway the election results – that sported the same signature.

As if all of this isn’t enough, the Trump campaign solicited and embraced election interference from Russia during the run-up to the 2016 election. If you doubt that, I refer you to Section One of the Mueller Report. Though Trump’s Attorney General characterized the report as an exoneration, the campaign’s blatant cooperation with Russia was clearly documented by the Mueller investigation. That didn’t seem to matter to Republican senators. Even when Trump was impeached for his illegal attempt to coerce Ukraine into providing election help in exchange for US foreign aid, they refused to remove him from office saying they believed Trump had learned his lesson. Yet, afterward, far from being cowed by his impeachment, Trump openly solicited election help from Russia, Ukraine and China during the 2020 campaign.

In an effort to intimidate voters, particularly in minority areas, the GOP has recruited up to 50,000 “poll watchers” for election day. So when you arrive at the polls, you will likely be greeted by armed members of rightwing militias and the “alt-right” who may be spoiling for a confrontation. And, of course, we can’t forget that the GOP called upon the conservative majority Supreme Court to undermine the Voting Rights Act of 1964 allowing the most racist states to, once again, engage in a variety of tactics to prevent people of color from voting.

Given all of this, one has to ask: Do Republicans believe in democracy? Obviously, the answer is a resounding “No!” It’s clear that we now have less to fear from foreign rivals than we do from one of our two largest political parties.

A Few Questions For Republicans.

1. You have witnessed the decay of the middle class and the growing inequality of wealth. Do you not understand that it’s the inevitable result of Reaganomics and the continuing tax cuts for the very wealthy?
2. You have seen Congress and state legislatures blatantly ignore the will of the people on numerous issues. Do you not see that it is the result of lobbyists for billionaire businessmen and multinational corporations? Do you not realize that GOP lobbyists and corporate-sponsored organizations such as the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) write many of the bills that reach the floor of Congress and legislatures for votes?
3. I am sure you are aware of widespread voter suppression tactics waged against Democrats and minorities. Do you not understand that such tactics are blatantly undemocratic? And that your party is alienating minority voters for generations?
4. You have heard reports from all of our intelligence agencies that document Russian meddling in our elections. In fact, the Mueller investigation offered a mountain of evidence of cooperation between Russians and the Trump campaign. Similarly, you have seen Trump impeached for withholding funds from Ukraine in exchange for opening a bogus investigation into Hunter and Joe Biden. You likely also witnessed him openly ask China to interfere in the upcoming election on his behalf. Do you not worry that, in addition to being blatantly unconstitutional, such interference permanently weakens our nation?
5. You have cheered Donald Trump’s attacks on many of our most important democratic institutions – the free press, the Department of Justice, federal prosecutors, the FBI, the CIA and other intelligence agencies, the courts, and inspector generals. Do you not see that such attacks are, in fact, attacks on the rule of law and our nation?
6. You have applauded the Trump administration’s cruelty toward immigrants and refugees, including its separation of children from their parents. How can you continue to celebrate our nation’s history of immigration – “Give me your tired, your poor, your wretched masses yearning to breathe free?” Do you not realize that without these immigrants – even the undocumented immigrants – we would not have nearly enough “essential” workers to pick our produce, to process our meats, to cook our food, to serve the infirm, and to clean our buildings?
7. You claim to be “pro-life.” Yet you ignore the homeless and the hungry. And you continue to dismiss the deaths of 168,000 Americans in your rush to get back to “normal.” Do you not hear your own hypocrisy?
8. You continue to brag about American exceptionalism and claim that our healthcare system is the best on Earth. Then how do you rationalize the fact that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted Americans? And that more than 900 of our healthcare professionals have died as a result of a lack of proper protective equipment? How can you justify Trump’s attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act during the pandemic which will deny healthcare to millions more Americans?
9. You claim to admire our nation’s military. Do you not understand how little regard your president has for veterans? Did you not hear him deny that Sen. John McCain was a war hero? Did you not hear him say that avoiding STDs was his personal Vietnam? Did you not hear his vile insults aimed at a Gold Star family? Do you not realize that, in order to build his great wall on the border with Mexico, he redirected essential funding from military personnel and their families? Have you not heard him demean our nation’s military leaders by saying he knows more than our top military generals? Have you not seen that he delayed essential relief funding to the Navajo – the Native American nation that helped win WWII as “Code Talkers?”
10. You boast of America’s natural beauty “from sea to shining sea.” Do you not realize that the Trump administration has compromised that beauty by auctioning off mining and drilling leases on environmentally sensitive lands? Do you not know that the administration plans to reopen uranium mining in the Grand Canyon that will, once again, make the Colorado River radioactive? Do you not see that the administration’s actions are polluting our air, our soil, and our water? Do you have no concern for the hundreds of thousands of wildlife species that are made vulnerable as a result? Do you not worry that your party continues to deny climate change despite the multitude of evidence that it endangers the planet?
11. You now label many of your party’s former leaders – George W. Bush, Colin Powell, Jim Mattis, Michael Steele, Tom Ridge, Steve Schmidt, Rick Wilson, George Will, John Weaver, George Conway, the McCain family, Nicolle Wallace, Jennifer Horn, and many, many others as RINOs and Never Trumpers. Have you not considered why those leaders call for the defeat of Donald Trump? Do you seriously believe they have abandoned conservative ideals to become “libtards?” Or have they simply recognized that Trump is a real and present danger to our nation?
12. Many in the corrupt Trump administration and Trump’s GOP – Steve Mnuchin, Jeff Sessions, Ryan Zinke, Tom Price, Ben Carson, Wilbur Ross, Scott Pruitt, and Trump, himself – have been caught squandering taxpayer money to enrich themselves and their friends. Do you still believe that Trump will drain the swamp and hire “only the best people?” Or is Trump himself the real swamp monster?
13. You condemn a Democrat-controlled House for seeking testimony from cabinet officials and for attempting to conduct oversight of this administration. Will you have the same reaction when the roles are reversed? Or do you truly believe that a president – any president – is above the law? Do you want to tear up our Constitution and destroy our democracy so that we become an autocracy?
14. When you don’t like facts and truths based on irrefutable evidence as reported by news media, you call them “fake news” and refer to them as enemies of the people. You seek only those media that share your political ideology. Where does that end? Is the party’s longtime propaganda arm, Fox News, no longer believable because Chris Wallace dared to fact-check your Mango Mussolini?
15. You call yourself “patriots” for wrapping yourself in the flag with a Bible in one hand and a gun in the other. What kind of patriot supports a fascist regime that seems intent on destroying constitutional norms by refusing congressional oversight and claims the leader is above the law? What kind of patriot condones the funneling of taxpayer money to millionaires and billionaires? What kind of patriot denies people of color social justice, equal opportunity, and economic equity? What kind of patriot believes the most outlandish conspiracy theories and embraces foreign interference on their behalf while viewing a significant majority of Americans as the enemy?

Long-Term Consequences Of Trump’s Failed Coronavirus Response.

When China first reported the outbreak of a novel coronavirus, the Trump administration had an opportunity to prevent, or at least to minimize, its impact on the US as previous administrations had done several times before. Instead, Trump dismissed the threat, telling us that China had everything under control. Then, when it did arrive on our shores, Trump called it a “Democratic hoax.” Apparently, he did not want to anger Xi Jinping. In fact, as we recently learned, instead of worrying about the coronavirus, he was trying to enlist China’s help for his re-election campaign.

When Covid-19 evolved into a full pandemic, Trump told us that it was only because of failed Democratic governors. Instead of leadership, he offered us false promises. And, instead of utilizing his emergency powers to provide Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), he created a bidding war between states and the federal government, prioritizing the needs of Republican-controlled states.

When the stock markets crashed and the economy stalled, he delayed emergency funds for the unemployed in order to have his name printed on the checks. Further, though he signed a second congressional bill to provide loans and more emergency funds, his administration refused to reveal the recipients, which has led Congress to suspect that Trump’s family businesses have benefited. And, instead of worrying about public health, he was laser-focused on pushing states to reopen their economies in order to improve his chances of re-election.

The short-term consequences have been devastating with now more than 2.6 million cases despite limited testing and nearly 129,000 deaths. Still, he refuses to show any real leadership by ordering the manufacture of more PPE and by ordering all Americans to wear masks to limit the spread of Covid-19. In fact, contrary to scientific advice, he held two rallies that will likely further spread the virus.

The long-term consequences could be even more devastating.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has written that the administration’s response and GOP policies are all but certain to lead to a “lost generation” of workers. He points to the 14 percent of the US population that is on food stamps and the projected 30 percent unemployment rate. “The numbers turning to food banks are just enormous and beyond the capacity of them to supply. It is like a third world country. The public social safety net is not working,” says Stiglitz.

He goes on to state, “If you leave it to Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell, we will have a Great Depression. If we had the right policy structure in place we could avoid it easily.”

The economy and staggering unemployment rate are only part of the problem. The trillions of dollars in additional debt will reduce our ability to fund other needs, such as infrastructure, safety nets, and national defense.

Trump’s failure to stem the pandemic has already led to a loss of US standing in the world, leaving those in other nations flabbergasted at our incompetence. That will have long-term impacts on tourism, trade, and alliances. The failure will also impact our already stressed and inadequate healthcare system. The pandemic has ended most elective surgeries and other procedures causing some clinics and hospitals to close. That will lead to even less access to healthcare, especially for the poor. And Trump’s defunding of the World Health Organization will only leave us more vulnerable to future viruses, some of which have already been identified in other parts of the world.

The Trump-ordered ban on work visas will create a brain drain for our research institutions and technology companies that can’t be fully replaced by our own residents. Americans are unlikely to quickly embrace sports, concerts and other large gatherings resulting in billions of losses annually. And since the Trump administration prioritized rescue funds for large corporations, we’re likely to see a further consolidation of brands and services.

The pandemic has already affected human rights in this country by leaving some of the poorest populations vulnerable as “essential workers” in nursing homes, groceries, and meat-packing plants. Worse, it has exposed those seeking refuge in this country who are being held in detention facilities. And it has caused others to be deported back to their countries of origin to be raped or murdered. Moreover, the GOP’s response to the pandemic will lead to further voter suppression which will most impact the poor and people of color, forcing them to risk infection in order to exercise their constitutional right.

Last, but certainly not least, the financial consequences of the pandemic, while temporarily stemming carbon emissions, will make it more difficult for the US to invest in renewable fuels to address the climate crisis.

The only conceivable answer to all of these crises can be summarized in one word: Biden. Or, if you prefer, two: Bye Don.

“Mississippi With Snow.”

During television coverage of the recent protests in Minneapolis, the head of the NAACP referred to Minnesota as “Mississippi with snow.” As a proud resident of Minnesota who has long tried to address the racism in our state, that was still difficult to hear. But it is an alarmingly accurate description. Despite the economic success of Minnesota (it’s home to numerous Fortune 500 headquarters) and our widely acclaimed creativity (in music, theater, advertising, graphic arts, culinary arts and more), the primary differences between the two states are that we have a harsher climate, fewer people of color and a different accent.

Once a bastion of Scandinavian-style liberalism and tolerance, Minnesota changed under the leadership of GOP governor Tim Pawlenty. It cut taxes and passed laws that rewarded the wealthiest Minnesotans while punishing the poorest. That punishment was felt most by Minnesotans of color.

In 2008, the population of Minnesota was just 4.6 percent black compared to 12.8 percent for the US as a whole. Similarly, the Latino population in Minnesota was just 4.1 percent versus 15.4 percent for the US. Yet, black people living in Minneapolis (there are precious few outside the Twin Cities) are nearly 6 times more likely to be poor than their white counterparts. A black college graduate in the state, on average, makes less than a white high school dropout.

In 2009, at the height of the Great Recession, the unemployment rate for black Minnesotans was 22.5 percent compared to 15.5 percent for Latinos and just 7.1 percent for whites. Again, in 2010, Minnesota ranked second in the nation for racial disparity in the jobless rate behind only Mississippi. Even in 2018, before the pandemic, when black unemployment was at a record low of 6.8 percent, black unemployment in Minnesota was nearly double the US average.

Nationally, for every $1.00 of income white households receive, Latino households receive 72 cents, and black households earn just 59 cents. For every $1.00 of wealth held by white families, Latino families have 12 cents, and black families have 10 cents! And one-third of black children live in poverty, compared to 12 percent of white children.

Police in Minnesota and elsewhere kill blacks at an alarming rate compared to whites. Each killing leads to mental health issues for most of the black population. And it’s not just police killing black people. Discrimination is literally killing blacks because they are less likely to be able to afford healthcare. (A fact that has been especially apparent with the impact of the pandemic on people of color.)

Moreover, people of color not only suffer from disparities in employment, income, wealth, healthcare, and opportunity. They suffer from disparities in education, policing, and voting.

In Minnesota schools are some of the most segregated in the US. Why? Because Minnesota was an early adopter of charter schools. And Minnesota law exempts charter schools from desegregation. Public schools are also highly segregated with many predominately black schools underfunded, which has resulted in a large achievement gap between blacks and whites.

Minnesota is not alone. The US spends $23 billion more on schools that serve predominately white students versus schools that serve predominately black and Latino students. Blacks, Latinos and Native Americans are expelled from schools at a higher rate than whites for the same transgressions. Too often, that leads to participation in the “justice” system and eventually to incarceration. Once they’re in the system, they find it hard to escape.

Per capita, blacks are 2.8 times more likely to be killed by police than white people. And believe it or not, Native Americans fair even worse. They are 3.1 times more likely to be killed by police than whites. Native Americans make up 0.8 percent of the population. But they experience 1.9 percent of all police killings. Many Native Americans live in poverty with no access to clean water. And many of their children are sent to outdate, mold-infested schools. Moreover, in an age of technology, many Native Americans have none. They not only lack high-speed Internet (a growing requirement for education). Many lack phone service.

And, if you think people of color can create change by voting, think again. A recent study by the Brennan Center for Justice found that black voters stand in lines 45 percent longer than white people. Latinos wait 46 percent longer than whites. And many Native Americans are unable to vote at all because some states require a street address, which most reservations lack. As a result of GOP voter suppression tactics, the situation is getting worse as evidenced in Georgia. Is it any wonder then that there are only 3 US senators who are black?

Now, following the murder of George Floyd, Minnesota has a real opportunity to make systemic change. As it has in many other ways, it can lead the nation. It can create an environment of justice and equal treatment for people of all colors and backgrounds. It can make its immodest slogan “Minnesota Nice” truly mean something.

Now Available On Amazon:

Ironically, in the age of information, our nation has been compromised by lies and disinformation as never before.

Decades of consolidation, short-term thinking, corporate greed, extreme political ideologies, and poor leadership have left our nation’s economy, healthcare system and its citizens unnecessarily vulnerable.

Many of the decisions that led us to this point were made in good faith. Some were dictated by difficult situations. But others were made willfully and knowingly, their true purpose and their all-too predictable results hidden in a fog of falsehoods and lies. This book attempts to cut through the misinformation to examine the problems, explain how they happened and reveal the truth.

George Washington Warned Us This Might Happen.

Having watched the History Channel docuseries on George Washington and having completed further research, I could not avoid the conclusion that the “Father of our Country” had foreseen the dangers we now face. After leading the nation to liberty and setting the standard for future presidents, he offered some advice to all Americans in a prescient farewell letter. Though I’m certainly not the first to look at his letter in context with the current state of our union, the obvious warnings bear repeating.

In particular, Washington stressed that Americans must remain united in order to maintain our liberty. At the same time, he warned of the three greatest threats to our unity: Regionalism, Partisanship and Foreign Interference.

It now seems clear that, despite his warnings, we have fallen victim to all three.

Regarding regionalism, Washington feared that loyalty to states and geographic regions would lead to factionalism – that people would vote for their self-interests rather than for the good of the union. Of course, we now see evidence of factionalism in references to the “coastal elites” and to “flyover country.” Such attitudes are at the heart of the so-called grievance politics that resulted in the election of Donald J. Trump. We also see factionalism reflected in congressional decisions, such as former Speaker John Boehner’s demand that the Pentagon build unneeded Abrams tanks in his state of Ohio. And in Arizona’s battle to maintain airbases for the outdated A-10 Warthog against recommendations from the Pentagon.

As for the dangers of partisanship, Republicans have led us down that rabbit hole for the past five decades. It’s not that Democrats are entirely blameless. But Republicans have taken every opportunity to suppress votes and disenfranchise voters as evidenced in the recent Wisconsin primary. Not only did they endanger lives by insisting that the election take place in the midst of pandemic. It sets up the likelihood that many of those who stayed home or who were unable to wait in long lines will have their names purged from voting lists for this fall’s election. Republicans have used their control of state houses to gerrymander districts to ensure their re-election. They have also used the filibuster, parliamentary tricks and dirty money to stuff the courts with ideological judges, and to block the initiatives of their Democratic rivals. But none of that compares to the hyper partisanship that Trump has displayed by calling the COVID-19 crisis a “Democratic hoax” and by favoring Republican-controlled states with medical supplies during the pandemic!

Even worse, mountvernon.org explains that Washington feared partisanship would “open the door to foreign influence and corruption” resulting in decisions on “ill-founded jealousies and false alarms.” He feared that it might lead to the election of “those in league with foreign conspirators.” Of course, that’s exactly what happened in 2017 when Trump was allowed to take office after soliciting and receiving help from Russia during the campaign. If you read the Mueller report, that fact is undeniable. The collusion with a foreign government was breathtaking in both its scope and breadth. But Trump didn’t stop there. Almost immediately after winning the public relations battle over the Mueller investigation, he again sought help from a foreign government to undermine a political rival. An action that led him to be only the third president in US history to be impeached.

Finally, Washington warned us to guard against would-be despots who would use parties as “potent engines…to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government.” Of course, we’ve already seen that in the Trump administration. Trump has almost entirely and repeatedly ignored the interests of the majority of Americans who voted against him. He has used the national treasure as his personal bank account. And he has removed anyone who has failed to show their undying loyalty. Loyalty to him. Not the nation. It’s frightening to think of what he might do if he manages to retain office.

Given how Washington’s warnings have gone largely unheeded, I was astonished to learn that Washington’s farewell letter is recited annually in the United States Senate, a tradition dating back to the Civil War. Maybe some year, Republicans will actually listen to the reading. That’s assuming their actions don’t destroy the nation first.