Category Archives: Blog

Here are some essays and opinion pieces from our hosts and listeners.

Why I AM a Democrat

by D.J. McGuire

In reading Bruce Bartlett’s compressed autobiography-turned-advice column, I couldn’t help but feel the old supply-side economist had, for the most part, been just a few steps ahead of me. My dissolution with President Bush the Younger came a few years after his 2005 broadside against same (although I dimly recall even then considering his critique having merit), and of course, I left the Republican Party in the last year of the Obama Administration, rather than its beginning. I’ve even felt the liberation of sloughing off the political orthodoxy that comes with partisan tribalism.

Yet somehow, I was taken up short by how Bartlett chose to…well come up short of switching to the Democrats. Despite his clear antipathy to the Republican Party, he cannot bring himself to go to its opposition. He states his reasons in the Huffington Post (well after Bill Moyers).

I’ve grown to hate my former party. You’d think this would make me a prime candidate for recruitment by the Democrats. But I’m not. First, no Democrat has ever reached out to me. I am not insulted by this, only surprised. And my efforts to suggest ideas to Democrats have been uniformly rebuffed. Like the Republicans, Democrats are wary of apostates and are only receptive to those born into their church, it seems.

Of much more importance in terms of my reluctance to join the Democratic Party is that the party doesn’t really seem to stand for anything other than opposition to the GOP. Admittedly, just about everything the Republicans are doing deserves to be opposed. But the Democrats also need a positive agenda of their own.

Anyway, for the time being, I will remain an independent who is waiting for a tough, muscular Democrat with the courage of their convictions and no fear of Republicans to arise, as French President Emmanuel Macron did. He showed that being a moderate does not mean being weak, and that fear of the right is the right’s greatest strength, but one that is easily punctured.

I share Bartlett’s wishes for a “tough, muscular Democrat” who knows “that being a moderate does not mean being weak,” and lead the party to present “a positive agenda of their own.” Yet having trailed Bartlett for much of this journey, I have now passed him, and declared myself a Democrat. While Bartlett has his reasons for remaining an independent, I feel compelled to present mine for fully crossing party lines.

My decision after last year’s election, when I felt the Democrats needed some changes (particularly on economic policies). I concluded, on the morning of November 9, that Democrats would be more willing to hear advice from one of their own. While Bartlett can certainly opine from the outside, my experience with the Republican Party showed me that outsiders don’t get the attention that members do.

Unlike Bartlett, who began as an economist who got pulled into politics, I began as a political activist when I was 15 – and only decided to pursue economics as a discipline a few years later. My time in the Republican Party spanned 25 years, and included actually being a candidate for office. As such, I’m guessing I’ve been to far more party meetings and election night watch parties than Bartlett. We had a bond, my fellow Republican activists and I, one that allowed for discussions about what the party was doing and should be doing…discussions that were always discounted when an outsider was involved.

I presumed it would be the same with the Democrats. So, I made sure there was enough not to make being a Democrat too incongruous – LGBTQIA rights, immigration policy, and Syria were more than enough – and set about helping them become a party that, in my opinion, can not only defeat Trump in 2020, but govern after him.

Thus, on the first Tuesday in December, did I attend the local Democratic committee meeting for the first time in my life. Contrary to Bartlett’s observations, those “born to the church” welcomed the newcomer with open arms, and my “efforts to suggest ideas” led to a request that I join the platform committee.

Granted, being a conservative Democrat is not exactly easy (well, except when attention goes to the Republicans’ efforts to pass a health care bill) but I found that, having taken the first step, my new(-ish) party is a better fit than I’d hoped, and its longer serving members are more receptive to suggestions than Bartlett’s experiences have told him…

…which is why, unlike he, I am a Democrat.

The Day I Almost Became Philando Castile

by Kevin Kelton

In the wake of recent news stories about the police shooting death of Philando Castile, More Perfect Union cohost Kevin Kelton shares his own story of being pulled over gunpoint by the LAPD. Luckily, he’s still here to tell it. Which is why it’s valuable.

In 1990, back in my long hair and bearded days, I was driving on a major street in Los Angeles on a sunny Saturday afternoon, when I hear a siren behind me and see flashing police lights. Assuming I’m about to be ticketed, I pull over and keep my hands on the steering wheel as I’d heard you should do. It’s just a traffic stop, right? No big deal.
 
That’s when I hear, over a loud speaker, “Put your hands on your head and don’t move!”
 
So I do, then I look in my mirrors and see not one, but three LAPD cars with six cops all crouched behind their open doors while pointing handguns and shotguns at me. Like I was a bank robber. Of course now I’m scared sh**less because it was the first (and only) time I have ever had guns pointed at me. Naturally I’m going to do whatever they say.

Continue reading The Day I Almost Became Philando Castile

On Health Care Reform (Which is NOT Being Offered by Washington Republicans)

by D.J. McGuire

So, the Senate Republicans have, at long last, graced us with their plans for “health care reform” – quotes used because it isn’t health care reform. At best, it’s an attempt at health insurance reform much like “Obamacare,” which was corporatized health insurance cleverly disguised as socialized medicine. Regarding “Obamacare” – or, as I call it, the Patently Deficient and Unaffordably Careless Act – Congressional Republicans are far closer to Rinse and Repeat than Repeal and Replace.

Regarding actual health care reform, Washington would be best served doing what they could to increase health care supply. In that spirit, I present the following ideas (below the break).

Continue reading On Health Care Reform (Which is NOT Being Offered by Washington Republicans)

Democrats Can “Save the World” AND Save Tax Reform

by D.J. McGuire

Republican division and incompetence has opened a door for Democrats to have a say on tax reform this year. If they play their cards right, they can move America past the Paris Accord kerfuffle and strike a serious blow for carbon reduction – and even get the GOP to thank them for it! The question is: do the Democrats in Washington even know how to play the hand they’ve been dealt?

Continue reading Democrats Can “Save the World” AND Save Tax Reform

Democrats Need to Make the Political Case Against Trump’s Russia Policy

by D.J. McGuire

“It was worse than a crime; it was a blunder.” – Joseph Fouché, Chief of Police for Napoleon (though often misattributed to Talleyrand)

For Democrats, the case against Donald Trump is so personal that we risk losing or not gaining support that would otherwise naturally be ours. There is, sadly, no other plausible explanation for the party’s overemphasis on finding legal grounds to remove him from office to the detriment of building a policy case against his affinity for Vladimir Putin.

This is not to say the legal issue stirred up by accusations of collusion between Trump for President and the Kremlin should be ignored, but I think my new-ish party can – and indeed, must – walk and chew gum at the same time. We need to ensure voters – especially Republican voters – understand the inherent danger Putin’s regime poses to American interests, to the democratic world as a whole, and to human rights. Otherwise, there is a great risk that Trump will survive, be re-elected, and do incalculable damage to the matters above. Continue reading Democrats Need to Make the Political Case Against Trump’s Russia Policy

Russia-gate Harkens Back to the Bygone Days of Benghazi-gate

by Kevin Kelton

For Americans over 19, today’s “Russia-gate” headlines harken back to a bygone era of the 2015 “Benghazi-gate” scandal and a time of hot yoga, iPhone Sixes, John Green novels, and a guy named “Jeb!” captured the hearts of dark money donors everywhere.

Hard as it is to believe, it’s been almost two years since the email scandal and “Benghazi” hearings that so closely echo the Russian election tampering news of today. But for Americans who were born then, the similarities are eery.

Continue reading Russia-gate Harkens Back to the Bygone Days of Benghazi-gate

I’m watching my former Party devolve before my eyes

by D.J. McGuire

The title of this post comes – literally, word for word, from a lament of mine on Facebook as I gauge the reaction from Republicans to the Trump revelations.

For those unaware, I was active in the Republican Party for over 25 years: in College Republicans, as a campaign volunteer, as a precinct captain, and a party leader in a local district. I even ran for local office as a Republican nominee in 2009. So I know the game.

What I cannot understand is how few, if any, of my former party are willing to criticize Trump – at all.

Continue reading I’m watching my former Party devolve before my eyes

The Fault Lies In Ourselves

by Kevin Kelton

While we watch the slow, painful destruction of our political system, we should take a moment to reflect that we did this to ourselves. Every one of us. We bought into the politics of hate. We bought into the politics of cults. We devoured negative ads and delighted in dirty, underhanded campaigns. (This goes for the liberals as well.) We believed the worst in our candidates and pilloried them for being human. We gave ratings to hate. We rewarded crassness and punished civility.

Continue reading The Fault Lies In Ourselves

To What Standard Do We Hold Presidents?

by Rebekah Chodoff Kuschmider

It was 1998. I was a 25 year old liberal. President Clinton, the first president I had ever voted for, was embroiled in an investigation and an impeachment proceeding that was about perjury and obstruction of justice and adultery and real estate and some thread of thick contempt for an arrogant man with a southern accent and not enough Washington gravitas.

I was of the “It’s just a blow job! Chill” school of thought. What was the big deal? He had affairs, he lied about them, a million other people have done the same.

Then someone pointed something out to me: adultery is against the military code of conduct and can result in disciplinary action. Bill Clinton, as president, was Commander in Chief of the military. Why should he not be held to the same standards of behavior as the rank and file?

It was a good question. One I have never forgotten. To what standard do we hold the president? Should it be higher or lower than the standard to which we hold others? Continue reading To What Standard Do We Hold Presidents?