We had a minor dustup on our Facebook page over comments by a South Carolina State Representative Kris Crawford (R), who complained earlier this year that, "It is good politics to oppose the black guy in the White House right now," and, over the decision of Egberto Willies, who is African American and Latino, to share these comments on our Facebook page.
A lot of people jumped down Rep. Crawford's throat, assuming that he was gloating about something that he was actually criticizing. Others attacked Egberto for quoting Crawford's words and then pivoting to make his own argument. "Why do you have to bring up the issue of race?" is a common complaint from our more conservative Facebook commenters.
I understand the frustration of conservatives who often feel — and often are — attacked as "racists" when the issues of race and politics intersect, which is often. Our arguments against backward economic policies and institutionalized racism need to go much deeper than name-calling if we wish them to have merit, and, they need to resist name-calling if we wish them to be received with open minds.
However, I commented on the page that:
I think that we all have to acknowledge a truth that is painfully obvious to people of color in America, especially African Americans and Latinos. America has suffered from the tradition of exploiting racism for political purposes. The result has been bad policy, and, bad relationships between races. Heavily financed exploitation of racial anxiety by political parties and media outlets that support political parties has prolonged racial division in America much longer than it would otherwise have lasted.
How does it work? It simply takes advantage of a vulnerability all human beings have. We are afraid of people who are different, and, sadly, we are prone to believe stereotypes and lies about people who are different if those lies are told to us by people who are "the same."
That is why it may have been good politics, in the short term, to make so many false claims about President Obama, and about the majority of Americans who voted for him in the past two elections, and about Blacks and Latinos as a proxy target for simple anxiety over demographic shift.
It is not reprehensible to have such anxiety. It is reprehensible to exploit it.
Annabel Park and I have been filming in Alabama, where a county government is challenging the Voting Rights Act, and in North Carolina where hyper-partisans at the state level are attempting to legislate an electoral advantage for Republicans by limiting the number of people of color who vote. North Carolina legislators justify radical changes to election law by exploiting our tendency to believe lies about people who appear to be different if the lies are spoken by people who appear to be the same. "Voter ID" laws, they tell the public, are needed because the President, and African Americans and Latinos, have been cheating or want to cheat at the polls — one explanation for disappointing results in the last two presidential elections.
It doesn't matter that none of this is true. What matters most in politics is what people can be made to believe, and the sad truth is that political operatives are having a field day right now exploiting our blind spots when it comes to race. Rep. Krawford is absolutely right about that.
Advocates of a "voter fraud" crackdown have not presented any evidence that voter impersonation exists, but the possibility that it could exist, they say, justifies the passing laws that would abridge the right to vote for hundreds of thousands of people who do not have drivers licenses or were born before the era of state-issued birth certificates.
Conversations in the Coffee Party are often complicated by the need to address short-term issues and long-term systemic reforms. Today on LUNCH WITH LOUDEN, Jeanene and Debilyn are tackling this head-on, as it relates to our freedom.
Why does anyone think that the trendy movement to attack women’s freedoms might not be a Coffee Party concern?
The systematically executed strategy to use women’s issues as symbols for everything wrong with America is one borne of the vilification of “social justice”, and ridiculous amounts of cash that buy, in turn, the gratitude and loyalty of those that believe that freedom is for the “righteous” and the rest of us must be controlled.
We must rebrand any challenge to liberty, whether access to medical science or the right to work for a living wage, as not pro-anything, but rather as anti-American. We must fight the short term fights in the state legislatures and halls of Congress; and we must fight the bigger fight to end the domination of our political process by those who can buy the game.
It’s about power. Collateral damage is acceptable. As we wade farther into the sequester and compromises are made, what will the collateral damage be?
Our own fears and insecurities about the economy and individual futures are incited by our leaders and media as they are more than happy to assign blame to the usual suspects; immigrants, minorities and women.
It seems trendy at the moment to declare ANY spending for individuals in need a “wasted dollar” even when that dollar may yield savings far into the future. Investing now for family planning, education and immigration reform could save billions for future generations.
Today, these issues are used as CASH COWS for special interest groups of all stripes. As each issue is being attacked and defended, we the people are expected to take sides and fight.
This is the bigger game. How do we change the game so we don’t have to fight the same fight, over and over again?
Join the conversation today on LUNCH WITH LOUDEN or listen later.
If you’re like many in the Coffee Party, you know that there are “Republicans” and then there are Republicans. Some—many in fact, have internalized the hyperbole and the emotional triggers that constitute much of the right’s talking points, but there are others who consider themselves what tonight’s guest refers to as “Reluctant Republicans,” those who believe a solid conservative message is still very important and viable—but only if those delivering it embrace civility and facts, and are willing to engage in rational conversations.
Now imagine if there were more and more of these kind of Republicans, and if they weren’t quite so reluctant to speak out. We might have fresh ideas. We might have compromise.
Tonight on THE MIDDLE GROUND we explore what it means to be a Reluctant Republican through the eyes of our guest, Barbara Olschner. Barbara ran for the Congressional seat in Florida’s District 2 during the 2010 GOP primary, and writes about her experiences in her new book, The Reluctant Republican: My Fight for the Moderate Majority (read Michael Charney review here).
I recently quoted a Ross Douthat column praising Sen. Rand Paul's inventive approach to reforming the Republican party:
Beginning in 2003, a party that had long promised — and mostly delivered — peace through strength became identified with an intelligence fiasco, a botched occupation and the squandering of American resources, credibility and lives.
...[Sen. Rand Paul is seeking] a reorientation of conservative foreign policy thinking away from hair-trigger hawkishness and absolute deference to executive power.
Many of the initial comments posted to our Facebook page were very negative. Cherri from Eureka, CA wrote, "If the Coffee Party is endorsing Rand Paul they are going nowhere." Other comments got caught in our "civility filter" because they contained profanity or insulting language directed at Sen. Paul.
If the Republican party continues on its current track, Karl Rove and Sean Hannity are not the only two people who will suffer. Our country as a whole will suffer.
A party that has lost its credibility on national security, economic policy, and equal justice cannot win without warping the democratic process, and, cannot influence national policy without obstructionism and brinksmanship verging on sabotage.
Their defeat in the last two presidential elections was thoroughly earned, and some gloating may be warranted, but if we want America to succeed, we need at least two major parties vying for the trust of ALL the American people, and thus, working hard, and competing, to offer policies that serve the People. The first step is reform. For reform, the GOP will need some reformers. Rand Paul will be one of them. That's all this article is saying.
I'd like to expand on that by pointing out that Democrats, and America as a whole, will be better served by President Obama and the Democratic Party if they have to compete with a reformed Republican Party genuinely seeking to attract a diverse coalition that reflects the socio-economic realities of 21st century America. So often in recent decades, the GOP has taken a hardline position — i.e. preemptive war, anti-immigration, deficit hysteria — and the Democrats have said, wow, all we need to do is stand one notch to the left and we can stake our claim on moderates and independents. While this political strategy has worked out pretty well for the Democrats, it's a baby step toward the policy reforms this country needs to rebound from 30 years of economic mismanagement, and 8 years of costly foreign policy disasters.
Are you among the many who think that only the right wing groups seek to corrupt our government by flooding Washington with money? Tonight, Press  for Democracy takes a transpartisan view of corruption, seeking out and exposing all sources from all sides, specifically through the use of Dark Money Organizations.
Dark Money Organizations, including Organizing for Action, the Obama re-election campaign fund-turned grass roots action sponsor and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce exist to allow the anonymous purchasing of government influence. Join host Dan Aronson tonight as we explore the extent of Dark Money in politics, it’s negative impact, and what we, The People, can do about it.
We've made very little progress on the issue of money in politics since the "Citizens United" wake-up call in early 2010. Although public awareness has increased, there has been no real call for reform coming from Congress or the White House. They are too busy fighting partisan battles, and, sadly, adjusting to the new game and the new rules decreed by the Supreme Court: unlimited, anonymous money to influence the outcome of our elections.
Meanwhile, there are oligarchs and political organizations, and even Supreme Court justices who challenge the very idea of democracy. The Voting Rights Act is under assault, in the hands of the very same five Justices who sided with the ruling elite in Citizens United. For most of us, if we have less democracy, we will get less representation, and have less power as a People exercising our right to self-governance.
We need a powerful movement to reform our democratic process. Let's focus on movement-building. Let's figure out how to make our fellow Americans understand how important it is to address the corrupting influence of money in politics. And let's brainstorm on how a new Coffee Party initative called "The 535 Campaign" can lead to changes we need.
Annabel Park and Eric Byler host another in a series of Virtual Townhalls on Coffee Party Radio, each designed to hear from you, and each to be supplemented by videos from their new documentary, Story of America.
Those who attacked me failed to see the most important point I was trying to get across. Hugo Chavez was the creation of the Venezuelan oligarchy, the Venezuelan plutocracy. He was that icon the poor and suffering middle classes placed their hope in to make a change.
If we know that our media is corporately controlled and misleads us, or turns a blind eye to political shenanigans (misreporting of war in Iraq, Invasion of Panama, etc.), should we not explore how it addressed Hugo Chavez relative to his confrontations with the Venezuelan Plutocracy?
The question is, with the American Plutocracy engineering one of the largest income and wealth disparity in the industrialized world, is there an American Hugo Chavez waiting to emerge?
The real theft in our country is not being perpetrated by the people, but by those using the tool of government to suppress the people's self governance economically. With the DOW closing at an all-time high today, I wanted to address the errors that WE THE PEOPLE have failed to address and propose that we Coffee Partiers take some actions to rectify these errors.
Annabel and I have been filming in Selma, Alabama documenting the Bridge Crossing Jubilee held every year to commemorate the 1965 march for voting rights across Edmund Pettus Bridge and the violent treatment of the marchers by the police, referred to as Bloody Sunday.
THE MIDDLE GROUND with Michael Charney & Eric Byler Tuesdays at 8 pm ET (5 pm PT) CLICK HERE to listen live, or to archived recording Call (646) 929-2495 to listen and/or add your voice
This year is especially meaningful because the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is being challenged before the US Supreme Court. In Shelby County v. Holder, an Alabama county just north of Selma is challenging a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, Section 5, which requires 9 southern states and other districts with a history of voter suppression to get a pre-clearance from the Department of Justice for any changes in the voting laws.
Many civil rights lawyers and leaders believe that if Section 5 is struck down that it would leave many voters vulnerable to discriminatory laws.
It is interesting that the justices of the Supreme Court are making empirical claims about our nation such as the: South has changed; the South is not more racist than the rest of the country.
Do the American People want a balanced approach to debt reduction or across-the-board cuts to programs without any thought to the consequences?
This is the question I have been asking myself since this whole sequester thing began, and I am appalled at what Congress is NOT doing.
Great to meet you. My name is Cameron and I am the Director of Development at Coffee Party USA. We need to talk about the sequester and what the Coffee Party is doing to end this cycle of dysfunction.
Let’s get some facts straight. Isn’t Congress supposed to be representative of OUR wants and needs? I’m sure your answer is YES, so why are Leaders in the House and Senate KOWTOWING to the interests of BIG MONEY LOBBYISTS and MULTINATIONAL CORPORATIONS?
Why are we in a contest with these organizations for the ATTENTION of OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS? We know Congress is torn between the interests of their Campaign Donors and their Constituents; but do we have to accept this as common practice?
We need the resources to fight this fight. I know the capability of our collective will is incredible! Can you imagine if every person in the Coffee Party gave just $5 a month towards this goal? That is $27,000,000 dollars a year! We could use that money to put you on TV to tell it like you see it, the way the corporatists do!
Ask yourself: Will Congress answer to us or will they continue to answer to their campaign contributors?
It’s common sense that what works is our OWN self-governance. Why else would our nation’s founders give US the power? Does it scare you that we no longer have real self-governance? Think about it, we vote someone into office and what happens? Their campaign donors end up writing the laws. THIS IS NOT WHAT OUR FOUNDERS ENVISIONED!
Listen Cameron, we CAN collectively fix this, with innovative efforts from all of us and together we can do it. In 2014 I would love to send you another email saying, "This year we will finally have the representative government that we knew we could elect!
Let me tell you that this type of funding will also make the Coffee Party Movement a very formative force in the 2014 election: Think about it! We can stop this type of brinksmanship governance and highlight publicly what really matters to you!
The corporatists have Billions of dollars on their side, but they are a very small minority! We have Millions of people, and while money might be able to buy our elected officials, it cannot buy them all. No wonder there is an attack on our voting rights!
If you are REALLY SICK AND TIRED of watching crisis after crisis come to a head then help us force a change in government! (This is the first of four anticipated crises this year.)
I know I am asking a HUGE FAVOR here but a little bit per month to amplify the voice of the people goes a long way and it exponentially accelerates the process to reclaiming our self-governance. It is only $5 a month, less than a sandwich and it helps us bring direct pressure upon our wavering elected officials.
Lets make it OUR mission, OUR goal, and OUR job to increase OUR Congresses awareness of OUR wants, OUR needs and OUR desires. Lets amplify OUR collective voice so that finally, WE the American people, force the ears of those we elect to represent us, to hear us.
Please Follow this link now, and supply us with the collective resources to do the work necessary to help us all secure "The People's Seat" at the Governing Table.