12.04.16 David Moon for D20 Senate – deadline is December 7 to contact Central Committee

Posted December 3, 2016 by Keith Berner
Categories: Maryland

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Maryland District 20 voters are thrilled to be sending Jamie Raskin, to Congress to take on the Trumpian forces of darkness. Raskin’s elevation leaves a senate vacancy that will be filled by a decision of the Montgomery Democratic Central Committee (MDCC) when they meet on Wednesday, December 7.

It is unfortunate that state law does not allow us to directly elect Raskin’s replacement: any appointment process is not exactly (small-d) democratic, but this is the process we’re stuck with. It seems to me that the most democratic solution would be to appoint someone who has already won D20 votes, namely one of our three elected state delegates. David Moon and Will Smith are actively campaigning for the seat (while Sheila Hixson has, unsurprisingly, decided to hold on to her chairmanship of the powerful Ways and Means Committee in the House of Delegates). Both Moon and Smith have had impressive records as freshmen delegates. Both are strong progressives and have worked well with Hixson and Raskin.

I am endorsing Moon for Senate mostly because I see him as a determined progressive fighter in Raskin’s tradition, while Smith is somewhat more of a go-along-to-get-along Democrat that is more common in the MD legislature. Also, I have been significantly more impressed with Moon’s responsiveness to and engagement with district residents than Smith’s. (Smith has made several appointments to meet with me and broken every single one at the last minute.)

I urge you to write to all members of the MDCC immediately to indicate your endorsement. See below for more details.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the issues Moon has taken on:

  • Special elections to fill statewide vacancies: Just as D20 voters are frustrated by the lack of a chance to vote on Raskin’s replacement, so would we be if there were vacancies for US Senate, Attorney General, Comptroller. Under law, the governor would have had the right to name replacements, but Moon successfully got the issue on this year’s ballot (as Question 1) and it passed easily, meaning future vacancies will be filled by voters.
  • Helping homeless residents obtain birth certificates
  • Reining in mass incarceration and generally opposing the disastrous “war on drugs”
  • Early release of sick inmates
  • Protecting women’s pay equity
  • Reforming the investigative process in cases of police brutality
  • Reducing carbon emissions
  • Promoting transparency in rape investigations
  • Working to welcome refugees in Maryland
  • Fighting to maintain Metro service hours.

An argument has been floated that neither Moon, nor Smith should be appointed because it would give the selected individual incumbent power in the 2018 election. Those touting this position claim it would be more democratic to appoint someone for a two-year period who has not ever won an election in our district. I don’t buy it – as imperfect as the current system is, I believe the only way to respect voters is to select someone they have already supported.

If Moon or Smith is selected this week, that will open a D20 seat in the House of Delegates and the MDCC appointment process will start all over again. The following people should not be considered for that seat:

  • Valerie Ervin quit her last public office (MoCo Council D5) two years early because her ambition and arrogance led her to believe she would be a shoo-in for the county executive race (Ike Leggett’s decision to run again in 2014 killed her plans). Then she dropped out of an abortive race against Raskin for Congress after only two months, with a bitter attack on a political process she felt was uniquely stacked against her. She blamed everyone but herself, while a healthy number of other candidates made it all the way to April. Ervin has a record of anger and divisiveness, including a willingness to attack local progressives. If Ervin were appointed to represent us, we could count on her spending most of her time in office figuring out how to move up the political ladder.
  • Will Jawando has run twice for local seats (for state delegate in 2014 and against Raskin for Congress), losing badly each time. He has never done any on-the-ground work in our area and seems to think that his brief service as a White House staffer makes up for having no local record. I’d love to see Jawando work on something that benefits district residents before he tries again for political office.
  • Jonathan Shurberg is a very capable local lawyer who has done a ton of work for progressive causes and individuals in need. Just the same, he must have set a record for dollars spent per vote in his unsuccessful race against Moon and Smith for delegate in 2014. I endorsed his run at that time, but he did so badly in the final result that any appointment to office would be in violation of district voters’ clear preferences. Most recently, Shurberg used his blog to attack Raskin’s candidacy for Congress, while carrying water for megabucks, pro-corporate Kathleen Matthews and David Trone.

Please write to all members of the MDCC to support David Moon and to oppose appointment of anyone who has not previously been elected in our district. You do not have to write an essay – simply stating your view is enough. Here’s the list to write to:

©2016 Keith Berner




11.07.16 The GOP’s existential threat to democracy

Posted November 7, 2016 by Keith Berner
Categories: Maryland, Politics, Presidential Campaign 2016

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For the past 50 years, the Republican Party has pretended to have a number of missions. It has seemed to be the party of patriotism, a militarily aggressive foreign policy, the Bible, and the Wall Street elite. In 2008, I described the party as an awkwardly constructed “3-1/2 legged stool” (see Parts I and II): a coalition that didn’t really fit together, but was joined for convenience. That analogy was true, but—in retrospect—rather superficial.

Last week, New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait took a deeper look in an aptly titled piece, “The GOP’s Age of Authoritarianism Has Only Just Begun.” The author (who, in my estimation is the best analyst of the US body politic today) unpacks the apparent paradox between libertarianism and authoritarianism (which I had referred to eight years ago). He demonstrates that the core driving force of the GOP is service to the wealthy. This is the GOP of Paul Ryan and Ayn Rand, under which it is immoral to suggest any impingement on the right of the rich to keep every penny they control.

While “libertarianism” can mean different things to different people (including protection of civil liberties and civil rights), the US version has been deeply aligned with the GOP. The justification here is that full liberty is meant only for those who can afford to purchase it and enforce it. And this is where authoritarianism comes in.

In the aughts, as W’s “with-us-or-against-us” politics was in full swing, I remarked sardonically that the only reason why the GOP hadn’t called tanks into the streets and canceled elections was because of their confidence that elections posed no threat to their and their donors’ power.

Sure—ever since the mid 1950s (with the exception of Pat Buchanan)— the GOP had favored aggressive US imperialism around the world (the military leg of the stool). But who were these policies ultimately in service of? The giant corporations who manufactured our might and the open markets that enriched the rest of US industry. (The 170-year history of US intervention in Latin America— supported by both parties—has often constituted outright theft of others’ resources.)

No doubt the GOP has championed theocracy (another stool), from assaults on reproductive freedom and gay rights, to prayer in the schools. At bottom though, this was purposeful manipulation of cultural and religious symbolism to exploit the lower classes into supporting an economic agenda counter to their own interests. Many claim that Trump 2016 embodies the realization by the down-and-out that the GOP has never had their interests at heart. Of course, this is not really the case, as shown by the $72,000 annual income of the average Trump supporter, well above the national average.

Even regarding economic policy, the GOP uses its stated mission (jobs, jobs, jobs) to obfuscate its real one. The Party doesn’t give a hoot about job losses caused by automation or trade, nor wealth losses caused by declining wages. There is no purpose behind their wealth transfers to the rich other than to make the rich richer (trickle-down is a convenient lie and its effectiveness been empirically disproven).

The Republican Party has opposed democracy and the US Constitution whenever it has served their core mission. From Nixon’s infamous “Southern Strategy,” to the voter-fraud fraud, to harassment at the polls, to W’s far-right rule as if he’d been popularly elected, contempt for the public has been a purposeful right-wing strategy. The current culmination is the Party’s announced intention not to allow a president Hillary Clinton to get a single Supreme Court appointment, if they keep the Senate. (Supposed uber-patriot, John McCain was the first senator to announce this intention last month. It has now been echoed by many or most GOP senators.)

The GOP and its donor class now feel threatened, not so much by a risk that their agenda will be turned back, as by the possibility of having their oh-so-close complete victory snatched away from them. They still don’t need to call out the tanks, but the Trump campaign is even better, as it avoids the inconvenience of civilian casualties (beyond the occasional immigrant beaten).

While it is uncomfortable for the likes of Ryan and Mitch McConnell to be tied to Trump and his Deplorables’ explicit racism and misogyny, their continued support for the man is not a display of weakness or hypocrisy. Most of their discomfort is feigned. As Chait points out, they believe a Trump presidency will lead to the final dismantling of the New Deal welfare state, elimination of most federal regulations, and the end of progressive taxation. These are their true goals and the ends justify all means necessary. So much the better if appeals to bigotry motivate a sufficient number of voters to allow a semblance of democracy to proceed.

(There is one aspect of discomfort that is real for Ryan, McConnell, and McCain: they consider Trump an amateur whose lack of self-restraint has seemed to put victory at risk.)

So, here we end up with authoritarianism in service to a libertarianism for the few. There’s no problem with a Supreme Court that hands victory to one presidential candidate over another or an FBI that delivers an October-November surprise in service to the forces of reaction. Who cares if minority voters are intimidated face-to-face, kicked off voter rolls, or impossibly inconvenienced by closing polling places only in their neighborhoods? What’s the problem with a know-nothing, wanna-be-dictator for president, as long as Ryan and McConnell are naming his advisers and cabinet appointments (not to mention his Supreme Court picks)?

The Trump campaign is only truly embarrassing to the small minority of so-called “intellectual” Republicans (like David Brooks, Ross Douthat, and Michael Gerson). These are a mostly honorable bunch, with whom I’ll disagree much more often than I agree, but whose motives seem noble, if misguided. It is interesting to note that there are almost no actual GOP officeholders that are members of this group. This is because all of them are exclusively interested in cash from the biggest donors, power, and the continued suppression of the popular will.

Two-thousand-sixteen is a GOP wet dream. The chance to get a president they can boss around, both houses of Congress, their own Supreme Court, and control of most US states, makes a little thing like democracy a trifling matter.

Chait predicts this is only the beginning. If he is right, progressives’ hope that the GOP will degenerate into civil war and destroy itself is fantasy. Instead, the corporate elite will learn from the lesson of having allowed an infantile candidate to lead them. Next time, they will be back with someone much more polished, who can control his own impulses, stay on-message, and go back to dog-whistles instead of blasts of racism and misogyny.

The GOP is not the only threat to US democracy, of course. A grossly irresponsible broadcast media is perhaps just as dangerous, as purveyors of sensationalism (CNN) and lies (Fox and the alt-right). Even the newspapers of record have been scared to speak out for truth, engaging in “false equivalence” (“Democrats declare earth round; experts disagree”).

I sympathize in principle with those who say we need a responsible center-right party to make our democracy work. (Maryland, an example of nearly complete one-party Democratic rule, is not pretty, giving rise to machine politics are that are also profoundly anti-democratic.) But there is no hope in sight that the GOP can resurrect its earlier moderation. Until big money is removed from politics, redistricting is made non-partisan (are you listening, Maryland?), and voting rights are aggressively enforced, moderation is impossible. And the problem is that the only way to accomplish any of these objectives is to get control of legislatures and courts.

It took Barack Obama five years to understand that he was dealing with an intractable enemy in the opposing party. One piece of good news is that Hillary Clinton will have no illusions in this regard. For the rest of us, there will be no point in trying to play nice with a radical, authoritarian GOP. All we can do is to beat them anywhere and everywhere they show their ugly faces. James Comey will have robbed us of the chance to bloody them badly this year. He needs to be removed from office and we have to try again in two years and four.

©2016 Keith Berner

11.03.16 That World Series: A Cleveland-Chicago boy celebrates the joy of baseball

Posted November 3, 2016 by Keith Berner
Categories: Baseball

Tags: , , , ,



I grew up in Cleveland. And I spent many glorious afternoons in the bleachers at Wrigley Field. My loyalties during this most astounding World Series seemed to float back and forth, sometimes batter to batter.

In my childhood, I went to more games than I could count at the old 86,000-seat Municipal Stadium on the Cleveland lakefront. During those 103- or 105-loss seasons in the ’60s and ’70s, I’d be one of about 3,000 lonely souls in that huge, depressing canyon. The “Tribe” only won more games than they lost three times in the first 34 years of my life. And, as most people now know, the city didn’t experience a single major league sports championship from the time I was four (the Browns in 1964) until earlier this year, when LeBron James led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the pinnacle of the NBA.

But it wasn’t only sports. When I was born in 1959,  Cleveland was still the fourth largest city in the country at nearly 1 million inhabitants. Then there were riots in 1967 and the Cuyahoga River caught fire in 1969. The city hemorrhaged population to less than 400,00 today. Cleveland was a national laughing stock (“the Mistake on the Lake,” “Cleveland’s like Newark without its charm”). In the early ’80s, the city defaulted on its debts. It took inner fortitude to admit in polite company where one was from. Then, there was a stubborn pride in doing so. Cleveland today is desperately poor, with one of the worst public school systems in the country and a brutally racist police force.

Sure other baseball teams had longer droughts than the Indians’ that started in 1949. The White Sox, the Red Sox, and then the Cubs had it worse. But all of those cities had other sports and civic victories to celebrate. Not Cleveland. (To be fair, there was a some glory in a world-class symphony orchestra and art museum and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.) Who most desperately needed and deserved some limelight going into the World Series, the Cubs or the Indians? I think the more pitiful city was clear. Hell, even in losing, the Cubs have had a devoted national following. The Indians, meanwhile, have consistently played to the smallest road crowds in baseball, year after year.

Oh, but that Wrigley and Cubbie magic! In the mid-80s (before lights!), bleacher seats went on sale on the day of the game. You lined up in the morning and for three bucks, you got one of the best seats in baseball. There was a feeling of community in that ballpark that no other place could match. After attending dozens of games in ’84 (that heartbreak year) and ’85, I went abroad for a year. When I returned to my customary spot in the bleachers in mid-’86, everyone remembered me! They welcomed me back, asked where I’d been, and bought me beer after beer until I cried mercy. That magic has stayed with me for 30 years.

As I have previously written, the baseball “industry” has gradually, but steadily alienated me, over the years.* The year 2016, when — ironically — four of my “natural” clubs (Cubs, Indians, Nationals, Orioles) made the playoffs, was the first in my life when I didn’t follow baseball at all.

Then, the Cubs and Indians were to meet on the World Series! When I lived in Chicago, a childhood friend of mine who was living in Wisconsin came down to visit me from time to time. There was no point at all in rooting for the hapless Tribe, on their way to another last-place finish. So we were all about the Cubs. We joked that if the Cubs and Indians were ever to meet in the World Series, surely the apocalypse would follow.

There was no way I was going to stay checked out this October and November. I quickly studied all I could about both teams. I decided intellectually that I had to favor the Cubs because I am so offended by the Indians’ horribly racist and just-plain UGLY logo, Chief Wahoo. (I have long mourned that I would be too ashamed to wear any Cleveland baseball paraphernalia. The “logo” I inserted above is a placholder for Wahoo). I also learned that the home-town fans had deserted the Tribe, leaving them with the third-worst per-game home attendance in 2016. Even during the Series, Progressive Field was substantially populated by Cubs and other out-of-town fans. This could not be a city whose fans deserved a championship.

Then I started to watch. Like I said, I could never really decide which side I was on. I just had to listen to my gut, as I found myself hoping the pitcher would get a called third strike this time or that the batter would smash a home run the next. I sometimes cheered when a player stole second or when the next one got picked off first.

It is an amazing luxury to be rooting for two opposing teams at once! This saved me from frenzied heartache as the momentum swung this way and that. I was joyful no matter what happened. (The only time I had experienced anything like this was when the Indians and Orioles met in the post-season in the 90s.)

Something happened to me by Game 7, though. Chief Wahoo stopped mattering. I stopped trying to measure which city and whose fans were more deserving. Instead, I let myself fall in love with the scotch-tape-and-rubberbands, tiny-payroll Indians ballclub. I fell in love equally with Terry Francona, the Indians manger, who delivered managerial performance — strategy! — that was stunning, while he exuded nice-guy vibes.

At the same time, I felt growing contempt for the Cubs’ manager, Joe Maddon. His abysmal handling of pitchers was contemptuous. His call for a two-strike bunt with a runner on third and one out in the ninth inning of a tied Game 7 has to be the stupidest managerial decision I’ve ever seen. (Ironically, the other terrible manager I remember whose team won in spite of him was Charlie Manuel who oversaw the uber-talented Tribe in the mid-90s).

So, I just couldn’t help rooting for Francona and against Maddon. I was actually surprised to find myself disappointed when the Cubs pulled out a miraculous three-game streak to win on the road in 10 innings. But, not nearly as disappointed as my other Cleveland friends, because of the Wrigley/Cubs magic that also lives deep within me.

That was a seven-game series for the ages. The intensity and constant surprises may well have reawakened my love of the sport, even in the face of the “industry” that has been so alienating for so many reasons.

I thank Cleveland and Chicago for the heritage they have given me. I thank both rosters. I thank Terry Francona. I thank all the Cubs fans for their joyous explosion on Facebook and in the media today. And I thank my dear old childhood friends with whom I watched two games in the last week.

In a terribly depressing world, I thank baseball for delivering this week some innocent and full-hearted happiness.

*In addition to all the enforced religious/military patriotism, also: the spectacle of spoiled millionaires and billionaires fighting over spoils, the utter lack of loyalty of players to cities and fans, the outrageous prices for tickets and concessions, the way steroids destroyed the baseball record books, arbitrary interleague play, and the ridiculous imbalance of having a team play so many more games against against its three or four  division opponents than against the rest of the league.

©2016 Keith Berner

10.31.16 Fire James Comey (on November 9)

Posted October 31, 2016 by Keith Berner
Categories: Presidential Campaign 2016

Tags: , ,

See this outstanding article by Richard W. Panter in the New York TimesOn Clinton Emails, Did the F.B.I. Director Abuse His Power? Even if Comey did not commit an illegal act, his credibility is too compromised to continue serving as the nation’s top law-enforcement officer. While I would like Obama to act on this promptly, the damage that has been done to our electoral process cannot be reversed and firing Comey prior to November 9th would fan right-wing rage without a clear benefit.

©2016 Keith Berner

10.30.16 Keith Berner’s Biennial Voters Guide (oppose term limits!)

Posted October 30, 2016 by Keith Berner
Categories: Montgomery County

Tags: , ,

I do not have an original fall edition for 2016, because the top-of-the-ticket races are too obvious to require my analysis and I lack the expertise to analyze most of the down-ticket races. Therefore, I refer my readers to Progressive Neighbors* — my favorite local political organization — for advice on school board, judges and ballot questions. (Since PN hasn’t posted their endorsements to their website yet, I’ll paste an image of them below.)

I do want to comment, though, on Robin Ficker’s ballot initiative to inflict term limits on Montgomery County and urge you to Vote “no” on Question B. Why oppose term limits?

  • Term limits are inherently anti-democratic: they take away from the voter the opportunity to select whichever candidates they want for public office.
  • While there is understandable sentiment to “throw the bums out,” there is already a democratic means to do so: elections. In the absence of campaign-finance reform, built-in incumbent advantages make make term limits appear attractive. Even so, Montgomery County has implemented campaign finance reform, rendering this argument moot this year in this place.
  • Governing is difficult. To be an effective legislator or executive requires arcane knowledge and on-the-job experience. Forcing amateurs to replace professionals on a regular basis undermines government effectiveness. This is a selling point for anti-government fanatics like Ficker, but no moderate or progressive should fall for it.
  • Term limits actually increase the influence of special interests. Neophyte legislators are more easily manipulated by big-money interests than those who have learned how to reject empty marketing that is not in the public interest. Also, these neophytes are significantly more likely to hire as aides lobbyists in sheep’s clothing. A revolving door between industry and government relies on gullible legislators.
  • If Robin Ficker is for it, that’s reason enough to oppose it. Ficker has been trying to undermine good governance in Montgomery County for nearly 20 years. There is no difference between Ficker and the Tea Party. Ficker has tried and failed twice previously to get term limits through. He has put referendum after referendum on the ballot to prevent the country from raising the funds to provide necessary services. Last time he tried this, he succeeded: it now takes a supermajority of 7 (out of 9) votes on the county council to raise taxes.

Unfortunately, there is a very good chance that Ficker’s current stunt will succeed. A recent county tax hike and upcoming raises for councilmembers have put MoCo voters in a sour mood. The current incumbents bear a lot of blame for the sour mood. They have done an abysmal job of proactively communicating with constituents about what they’re up to and why. Progressiveson the council have failed utterly to mobilize constituents against bad policy. Party of me says the incumbents have what’s coming to them. But, we must not forget that this referendum is not about meting out punishment, but rather about preserving democracy and increasing the chance of good public policy in the future. Politics as a fit of pique is what Robin Ficker and Donald Trump both espouse and embody.

*When you visit Progressive Neighbors’ website, please take the time to make a contribution. This grass roots residents’ movement has had a profound impact on local politics since its founding in 2006 and needs your support to keep up their work.

©2016 Keith Berner




10.29.16 Does the rattlesnake bear the blame?

Posted October 29, 2016 by Keith Berner
Categories: Presidential Campaign 2016

Tags: , ,

When a rattlesnake bites a person taunting it, which one is to blame?

The analogy to present circumstances is imperfect: a rattlesnake isn’t morally at fault for biting. The GOP and all its alt-right companions are nothing if not morally culpable. Just the same, it is as inherent to the nature of the GOP as to the rattlesnake to act the way they do. (It sadly took Obama five years to learn this and stop negotiating with himself.)

And Hillary Clinton is the taunter. For nearly 30 years, Clinton and been bitten over and over again by the snake. Yet, over and over again, she persists in the same behavior that turns GOP overreach into scandal that ends up tearing her down and our interests along with her. From Whitewater to “Emailgate,” Clinton’s instinct is to hide stuff that doesn’t need to be hidden and – when busted – to dig deeper and cast a web of petty lies that further enrage and empower the rattlesnake.

Imagine that Clinton decided while secretary of state to use a State Department server for her email. Imagine if a year and a half ago, she came out within a day and said, “Wow, that was a real error in judgment on my part. Here are the keys to everything.”

Instead, she pretended it didn’t happen, she lied about circumstances around it. As recently as late summer this year, she stood up in front of the country and claimed that FBI Director James Comey had exonerated her of bad behavior. (He had declared her breaches unindictable, but was unflinching in condemning what she did.) It wasn’t until September that she could bring herself to simply say, “I’m wrong. I’m sorry.” At which point, who could possibly believe her sincerity?

This latest imbroglio almost certainly has zero legal implications or connection to public policy. It doesn’t matter. Decades of Hillary Clinton’s behavior have so undermined her credibility that we don’t stand a chance of simply laughing this latest turn out of existence: it will be on the front pages nonstop through November 8.

We still need Hillary Clinton to be elected. And – after she is – we know the GOP plans to waste millions of dollars and hundreds of hours to investigate everything from her secret plans to kill babies to how she ties her shoes. But we can also count on her to react each time by making everything worse. We have seen no evidence at all that she is capable of learning from her past mistakes and, so, we know she will continue making them.

Now, I know some readers will condemn me for criticizing Clinton at all in this time of political crisis. Sure, we have to do whatever it takes to win. But just as I have no tolerance for GOP evil, so have I none for Clinton hagiography on the establishment “left.” (“Left” is in parentheses here because many of these folks are military hawks and Wall St. apologists.)

Oh for a progressive leader who has an ounce of common sense and enough humility to learn from mistakes on the way to becoming an ever-more-effective leader. We don’t have that this year. Will we ever again?

©2016 Keith Berner

10.22.16 Voting for Hillary Clinton in “Safe” Maryland

Posted October 22, 2016 by Keith Berner
Categories: Presidential Campaign 2016

Tags: , , , , ,

I’m proud that Maryland is in the top three bluest states in the country (Hawaii is first and Vermont and Maryland are neck and neck). This means that any individual progressive (or wing-nut) can cast a protest vote in Maryland and not put our 10 electoral votes in play. In fact, when I switched my presidential endorsement from Bernie Sanders to Hillary Clinton in May, I wanted her to beat Donald Trump nationally, but still planned to write in Sanders as a protest vote in November.

So, what changed for me?

This election stopped being about one candidate or one party vs. another. Trump’s campaign has ended up making it a referendum on bigotry, misogyny, xenophobia, and – finally – democracy itself.

In this new light, it is essential to decimate the forces of darkness – not only Trump himself, but the legions of “deplorables”* behind him and the GOP elite that sowed these bitter seeds for decades and will not denounce evil when it is in their midst.

We must each stand up – in public and in the voting booth – to declare our opposition to hate and our love for democracy.** It is not enough to achieve an electoral-vote landslide on November 8. No, we must drive up the popular total everywhere – in swing states, as well in deep-blue and deep-red ones. The moral outcome of this election must be overwhelming. To vote for Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, or a write-in candidate, as our democracy is under assault, is an abdication of responsibility, a retreat from the real world of nuance and hard choices.

Which side are you on? You may not abstain (or meekly protest, which is a form of abstention) in the face of evil.

*Hillary Clinton was an idiot to have publicly called Trump supporters “deplorable” in September, even though she was mostly correct in using the term. Yes, there are many angry, suffering people who have been neglected by the elites of both parties. Yes, at the very least, Democrats must address their needs (the GOP never will). Yes, poor education and pernicious TV have fostered ignorance that cannot solely be blamed on the individual. Just the same, citizens who welcome and propagate lies and embrace hate are deplorable. It is correct to denounce them and the party that mobilized them.

**Our democracy is flawed. But a flawed democracy does not equal zero democracy – the difference is profound. The need-to-be-improved good should never be set against the impossible perfect. Fight to improve our democracy, but do not allow it be stolen from us.

©2016 Keith Berner