Joe Biden: The Comeback Kid?

A few days ago, I was drawn into yet another Facebook political debate. I can’t help it. I’m a political junkie and off my meds.

The debate was about the 2020 presidential campaign, and I made the comment that I identify as a “right-leaning moderate”

Within a few seconds after writing that post, some guy (a “friend of a friend” ) attacked me and said I was not a moderate . . .blah, blah, blah.  . . .because I am not a big fan of Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential bid.

At first I thought that I should just move on. I don’t know the guy and we had never met or interacted before. But I could not help myself. I decided to defend my position and my lack of enthusiasm for Joe Biden.

In summary, I posted that I was indeed a moderate Republican — to the left of people such as Sean Hannity, former Maine governor Paul LePage and President Trump (even though I did vote for Trump in 2016). Before my ardent friends on the left hyperventilate, I will not be supporting Trump’s re-election campaign.

I voted twice for George W. Bush. I also voted for the John McCain/Sarah Palin ticket in 2008. I  posted that I identify with other moderate Republicans such as Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and former Secretary of Defense (and former Maine Senator) William Cohen.

I voted for Barack Obama in 2012, yet I  still considered myself to be a so-called “moderate,” steering left of hyper conservatives such as Mitch  McConnell, Lindsay Graham and Rush Limbaugh, but  to the right of outspoken liberals, such as Rachel Maddow, Jimmy Kimmel and Chuck Schumer.

This year, I will hold my nose and cast my vote for Biden. But I am worried about his mental health and his ability to execute the duties of the president.

>>>>>>>

Jolting Joe has left and gone away

Joe Biden is all but assured to be the Democrats’ choice to prevent another four years of Donald Trump.

But is Biden really the best candidate for Democrats? After almost four years of the Trump Administration, the Democrats throw Biden into the ring to take down Trump? Really? That’s the best they got?

I have my own theory about why Biden came out on top: he is not an extremist. He is experienced and he is likable. But most of all, he is a moderate and may also be able to pull some fence-sitting, moderate Republicans like me: RINOs (Republicans In Name Only).

And here’s a conspiracy theory I have heard about:  The Democratic Party is banking on the probability that Biden (if elected) won’t be able to finish his first term; thus his vice presidential pick is critical — not to mention the need to fire up the Dems and increase voter turnout from younger voters who may otherwise stay at home on Election Day.

Several weeks ago there was an op-ed published in the Washington Post   that details several examples of behavior and missteps that lead to a troubling possibility: Biden may have some serious cognitive issues.

In fairness, the op-ed penned by Marc A. Thiessen also reminds us that President Reagan had his own cognitive issues.

Furthermore, Biden’s age could be another chink in his political armor. Thiessen points out the following:

“Joe Biden is 77, four years older than Reagan was during the 1984 campaign. If Biden is elected, he’ll be older on the day he takes office than Reagan was on the day he left office. So yes, his mental fitness is a legitimate issue.”

As I pointed out in my aforementioned Facebook post. I am a political junkie and a second-rate pundit with an internet connection and a keyboard.  But, over the course of my  professional roles (journalist, public policy and political consultant,) I know it is critically important to remember that voters are more likely drawn to voting FOR a candidate as opposed to voting AGAINST a candidate.

Then again, tapping Sarah Palin as a running mate didn’t accomplish much for John McCain. Why? Because voters were electrified by Barack Obama and his charisma. Obama could have picked Vito Corleone as his running mate and still would have won the race by a landslide.

In summary? Biden’s choice of a running mate is of paramount importance.

Joe Biden is no Barack Obama. He needs to widen his base, including young voters, progressives, the LGBTQ community and yes — even moderate Republicans like me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outrageous Fortune

Noam Galai | Getty ImagesEvery time I start to feel a bit of optimism about the future, the reality hammer drops on my head.

Today, we learned that restaurants in southern Maine will not be able to re-open as originally scheduled  because of ongoing concerns about the Cov-19 epidemic.

The social media reaction to this news has been swift from both sides of the political aisle, Republicans blame Janet Mills and Democrats blame President Trump.

There are posts calling for an armed revolution to overthrown Maine Governor Janet Mills.  “. . .Open up anyways and bring your guns!!! ,” wrote one poster on Facebook.

In the Shakespearean play Hamlet, the young prince contemplates suicide, best referenced within this famous soliloquy: To Be or Not to Be.

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them.
People on the right are still referencing mask wearers as “sheep,” unable to discern the truth.
People on the left use terms like “mouth breather,” to describe conservatives.
There doesn’t seem that there is any middle ground.
And now the news released today by the governor: dine-in restaurants in southern Maine will need to remain closed until further notice, as opposed to a cautious opening date of June 1.
Think of all those businesses that purchased food and supplies as they geared up for June 1. Think about the employees called back to work. What does the future hold?
From my perspective, the future looks pretty grim, so I have designed my own plan for businesses that want to open on June 1:
  • Let the restaurant owners decide if they want to open or not.
  • Let customers decide on whether they want to frequent these establishments
  • Let the employees decide whether they want to work.
  • For people who have a weakened immune system (like my wife) stay at home.
  • For people who do not want go to public places, do not go there. You can order groceries and food online.
This my five-point plan. What do you think?

 

The war of the words

I am 56 years-old. I am a white man. I live in the suburbs. I have two healthy sons and an amazing wife.

I have nothing to complain about. But still I have a knack for finding political fights on social media platforms.

I used to be a journalist, and then a columnist. I put food on my family’s table by sharing my opinions every week.

Please, however, make no mistake, I am today a little more than a second-rate pundit with a boatload of opinions, a keyboard and an internet connection. Sadly, a lot of other people I know are in the same boat.

When I was growing up, I was taught that voting, and politics were private things. That’s why we have curtains at the voting booth: to keep our choices private. Back then, however, we didn’t have an internet and access to so many people.

According to Facebook, I have more than 1,100 “friends.” Let’s get real. I can count the number of my friends on two hands,

“We are reckless in our use of the lovely word friend,” or so wrote French author Romain Rolland in 1913.

I am guilty of being a political monger, easily sucked into meaningless debates on Facebook and Twitter. But I also like to think I am a political centrist, and that it would be difficult to discern my political orientation based on my social media postings.

Maybe I am kidding myself. Maybe not.

I find it curious that so many people spend so much time engaged in political debates on social media outlets, some of which become quite heated as these amateur pundits duke it out on the world-wide web.

Both Democrats and Republicans (in almost equal measure) line up in their own turf and pontificate why their points are absolute truth. Are these people trying to recruit more members? Are they hoping to influence our nation’s political discourse?

Following my career in journalism, I accepted a job as a public relations professional. Yes, social media is a powerful communications tool in today’s world of political engagement, but every PR pro knows that it must be handled with precision.

Do you really think that name calling, badgering and screeching hardcore positions will “convert” someone from a different camp?

How much time do you spend on social media platforms, engaged in political debates?

Is it worth it?

All Along the Watchtower

(previously published in Saco Bay News)

It seems ironic that this is “Sunshine Week.”

No, it has nothing to do with Daylight Saving Time, but as the world grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic it becomes even more important for the media to “keep a check” on our government whether federal, state or local.

Sunshine Week was founded in 2005, and its purpose is to provide the media (and the general public) with the tools and resources necessary to ensure that government operations are open and transparent. Sunshine as opposed to darkened backroom deals among government officials.

More than 200 years ago, during a debate in the British Parliament, Edmund Burke coined a phrase to describe the media: “The Fourth Estate.” It was a recognition of the media’s power and responsibilities. We have a system of checks and balances between the branches of our government in this country. The First Estate is the executive branch; the Second Estate is the legislature; and the Third Estate is the judiciary.

Spiderman comics coined the phrase “With great power comes great responsibility.”  But the media cannot exercise its power if the government operates in secret or manipulates the flow of information.

Fortunately, the media (and the general public) have an awesome and powerful tool in their arsenal.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1966 just as the Viet Nam War was heating up. FOIA provides the media with legal muscle in order to keep the public informed about government affairs.

One of the earliest and most notable uses of the FOIA was its role in the Watergate scandal. Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein had to use extraordinary tactics, which included FOIA, in order to get to the truth that eventually crumbled Richard Nixon’s presidency.

The media plays an important role in disseminating the news. In fact, it is the media that frames the story, whether it’s a global issue like the Corona virus, a national story such the Democratic primary or a local issue such as the city of Biddeford’s plan to construct a parking garage.

All over the globe, the media has changed drastically over the last 30 years or so. Today, news consumers have more options than ever before. Today, we have a 24-hour news cycle that is voracious, supported by advertising and highly competitive. The days of Walter Cronkite and the neighborhood paperboy are behind us.

Today, consumers have a plethora of choices about where to get their news. You can watch CNN on your smart phone while riding the subway. But how do we know whether your choice of media is trustworthy? We don’t. The cure for this problem is for you to gather your news from a variety of news sources.

If we want the media to be fair, balanced and accurate, we must ensure that reporters (and even back yard pundits) have access to the information that allows them to keep the government in check because our representative government is obligated to be open and transparent.

This year, Sunshine Week runs from March 15 to March 21 (the first day of spring).

Open your windows and pull up your blinds. Let the sun shine into your life so that you can make informed decisions and choices.

Remember, it’s your government.

 

So long, and thanks for all the fish

Robert Johnson Album Cover
Robert Johnson Album Cover

I have a lot in common with my hometown of Biddeford.

I am at a crossroads, and I have decided that all good things must come to an end. It’s been an incredibly fun ride, but it’s time for me to make some changes.

You may have already noticed, but last week I put All Along the Watchtower — my personal blog — to bed.

Going forward, this site will focus solely on my new business venture. The blog posts will be less personal and focused more on subjects such as public policy, politics, economic development, media trends and healthcare.

The timing for this seemed right. For many years, All Along the Watchtower focused primarily on the city of Biddeford and its political infrastructure. Because my wife was recently elected to the Biddeford City Council, it would be increasingly difficult to write about the city objectively.

And then, I decided to start my own business.

Many people have asked why I decided to launch Randy Seaver Consulting. A number of factors converged; some anticipated, some beyond my control.

Laura and I have been talking about doing this for more than a year, and finally the time seemed right. So, I find myself at a crossroads. A proverbial turning point in my life.

It is exciting and simultaneously terrifying. There is no safety net. Either I swim or I drown.

Now, with the disclosure out of the way, I would like to offer a few final thoughts on my hometown of Biddeford, a city that is facing its own crossroads; its own turning point.

Biddeford is in the midst of a renaissance, a revitalization that would be impossible to recognize 15 or 20 years ago. There is a new vibrancy here. The city’s narrative is changing and people all over Maine are noticing.

But still, there is an internal conflict in the city and it’s not so subtle sometimes.

I read something on Facebook recently that left me shaking my head. It was penned by a woman who claimed she moved here three weeks ago.

Essentially, this woman wrote that the city does not need a parking garage because downtown has nothing to offer but crime and crappy businesses. Who would want to come here? Why would they need parking? There is already plenty of street parking because Biddeford — basically — sucks.

I fought the urge to respond to this woman. I had a few questions for her. 1.) Why did you choose to move to Biddeford, if it is truly as bad as you say? 2.) Were you court-ordered to move here? 3.) Did someone force you to live here?

I understand that change is uncomfortable. I am experiencing my own incredible set of changes (and challenges). But change is part of growth while stagnation leads to decay.

I can appreciate the apprehension some people have about the city’s transformation. I also fully support the notion of constructive criticism from people who are worried about being priced out of their homes because of property taxes. These conversations happen in every community across the country.

But Biddeford has something unique, there is a strong element of self-loathing here.

Over the last few months, countless social media accounts have been set up for no other purpose than to spread negativity and vitriol through the city. No solutions are offered, none of these folks step forward to actually do anything other than gripe.

Self-hatred is prevalent here, and I wonder why more of our residents are not rooting for the city’s success. I don’t expect anyone to become a cheerleader. I respect different opinions and perspectives, but if you stay focused on the negative then you will find yourself in a negative place.

I am at a crossroads, and if I want to be successful, I must focus on success.

If I want my clients to succeed then I must keep my energy positive while also remaining open to constructive criticism.

It is the same for my hometown.

I am excited and anxious about my future. It’s no different in Biddeford.

 

 

What would you do?

reportersMany moons ago, when I was an editor at a weekly newspaper, we used to run a section in the paper that was known as the Police Notes.

It’s a common practice for smaller, local newspapers to run such police blotters, but we used to have a little fun with ours by giving each blurb a humorous sub headline,  and we never included names.

For example, a police report regarding a complaint about a neighbor’s dog doing his business in the neighbor’s yard might be titled “Canine Travels for Business” The blurb would read something like this ” An Elm Street man called police to report that a neighbor’s dog has been repeatedly defecating on his lawn.”

We sought out the most amusing police notes from the three communities we covered. More serious crimes were covered in other parts of the paper. But still, we had access to all police reports, so everything was theoretically fair game.

There are different standards when writing news stories. For example, if a city councilor were arrested for an OUI offense that story would likely be on the front page. If an average citizen were arrested for the same exact crime, it would likely end up in the police blotter without his name.

Police officers are also held to different standards than firefighters. Why? Because a police officer has authority over citizens and a sworn duty to uphold the law. A basic firefighter or public works employee has no such authority.

Bottom line: some people are treated differently by the media, most notably public officials and those who have thrust themselves into the public spotlight. An obituary for a long-time city volunteer and former school teacher would likely run longer than an obituary for someone who was not as well-known in the community.

These are always tough judgment calls for reporters and editors.

I remember one particular item that gave me pause. The adult child of a city official was arrested on a domestic violence charge.

Was this “news” simply because of the relation to a city official? I eventually decided it was not. Typically, domestic violence reports were covered in our Police Notes, not in the news section of the paper.

But if you were a newspaper editor, where would you draw the line? Do the actions of a municipal official’s relative (sibling, child or parent) warrant a news story?

What if the governor’s brother were indicted on charges of mail fraud? For me, that’s an easier question to answer.

On a higher level, the media usually keeps a clear distance when reporting on the children of the President of the United States, but President Jimmy Carter’s brother, Billy, seemed like fair game.

These are all tough judgment calls, and they become more murky as we descend lower on the authority scale. Certainly a city councilor wields much less influence than a state senator or governor.

So, I made a choice. I decided not to pursue a story about this councilor’s adult son. The action’s of the son were not directly connected to the councilor. Thus, in my opinion, it was not fair game and would be in poor taste to publish such a news story. In short, it would be sensationalism and had no impact on residents in that community.

Where do you think the media should draw a line?

I never wonder whether I made the right choice. I am as confident in my decision today as I was 13 years ago.

But what would you have done?

The Outsiders

outsidersUp until two months ago, most political consultants within the DC Beltway would tell you that you need a “moderate” candidate in order to win an election. That candidate, the consultants would tell you, should be a centrist, an establishment-type, someone who makes most people safe and secure. Someone predictable.

Outsiders, consultants explain, are unknown quantities; unable to steal votes from the sacred independent, middle-of-the-road voters who often carry much weight in so-called purple states like Ohio.

Conventional wisdom dictates that in order to win the general election, the primary candidate has to draw from the middle to outpace his/her opponent.

This presidential race is unlike many other races in recent history, for both the Democrats and the Republicans. But is there any truth in the theory that moderate candidates are effective for either party?

The establishment didn’t work for the GOP

Republicans bristle at the idea of an “establishment” centrist candidate. They point to the last 20 years, in which they have won only two presidential elections after unsuccessfully nominating Bob Dole in 1996, John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012.

In each of those Republican primaries, anti-establishment outsiders were quickly sent packing. Sam Brownback, Jim Gimore and Tom Trancedo were all anti-establishment outsiders in the 2008 GOP race. Rick Santorum, Buddy Roema, Michelle Bachman and Rick Perry were all anti-establishment, political outsiders. Where are they today?

The establishment rarely works for Democrats

In 2008, Senator Hillary Clinton’s star was shining brightly. She seemed to be the heir apparent for the Democratic nomination. She was, by definition, a Washington insider and portrayed herself in the same mold as her husband: a pragmatic moderate who could get things done.

But a war-weary electorate was looking for something fresh. They rejected all the insiders (Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, John Edwards and Bill Richardson), instead rolling the dice on a virtual poltical unknown with almost no experience in Washington DC.

But the election of Barack Obama was an anomaly in politics. It defied conventional wisdom. Clinton’s campaign consultants wound up with egg on their faces.

In 2000, the Democrats took the safe bet with Al Gore, who is about as establishment as they come. Of course, we all know that Gore came within inches of winning that election, and that he was able to sway independent voters. But still, it was not enough.

Four years later, John Kerry, another insider and establishment type fended off political outsiders such as Howard Dean and Wesley Clark. He also beat other insiders Dick Gephardt, Joe Lieberman and Dennis Kucinich.

When outsiders make a splash

Many Republicans still blame billionaire Ross Perot for handing Democrat Bill Clinton a victory over President George HW Bush in 1992; and Democrats still seethe when they speculate about the damage that Ralph Nader played in 2000, supposedly stealing very critical votes from Al Gore.

This campaign cycle, both the Democratic Party and Republicans have their hands filled with so-called outsiders.

I don’t know how you describe Bernie Sanders as an “outsider” because he’s been a part of Washington’s infrastructure for nearly 16 years. But he is most certainly not an “establishment,” middle of the road candidate. He is a self-described socialist, but his poll numbers look good in both Iowa and New Hamshire. He will likely get crushed in South Carolina, but are Democrats fired up enough to “feel the bern” past Nevada?

And then there’s Donald Trump, a candidate who is all over the map. Trump defies every ounce of campaign logic known to man.

The establishment is beside itself. The National Review and Rich Lowry can’t stop him or slow him down. His off-the-cuff remarks about immigrants, Muslims and even war heroes only makes him more popular.

He is an egomaniac who has filed for bankruptcy four times. Yet, he describes himself as a fiscal conservative who can make “America Great Again.” (He’s just short on specifics)

So maybe, just maybe, this will be the year when Republican voters tell the consultants to just stuff it.

 

 

 

Orange Crush

donald-trumpThere is no doubt in my mind that this blog post is going to cost me some friends.

In fact, it may cost me some other things too, but I can’t sit here and be silent.

I am watching as my country is gripped in fear. I am watching as politicians scream about safety. I am watching and listening to heated debates among my friends about the Paris terror attacks, the Syrian refugee crisis and the role of Muslims in the United States of America.

It is like a nightmare, and I wonder: has everyone forgotten their history?

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” said philosopher George Santayana.

Yesterday

Most of us are too young to remember the horrors of WWII, when millions of Jewish refugees fled Germany during the rise of the Nazi Party.
Then, under the authority of the Third Reich, Jews were required to register with the government and to report their movements and whereabouts.
Eventually, Jews were rounded up and sent to prison camps. They were systematically executed during Hitler’s reign of terror.
How could this horror take place? What gave rise to the Nazis? How could Hitler lead an entire nation into a campaign of loathing that eventually turned into mass murder and one of the most significant atrocities in human history?
The answers are difficult to imagine, but it was an incremental process. Germany was reeling financially and on the brink of hyper-inflation fueled by crushing debt that stemmed from their obligations for reparations after World War I.
So, Germany’s economy was in rough shape. But beyond their terrible economy Germans were also concerned about the growing threat of communism in their country. They needed some scapegoats to blame this on.
Hitler came onto the political scene as a magnetic and charismatic speaker. He promised the German people safety and security. He had a stunning ability to whip up the masses with his rhetoric. He delivered scapegoats in the form of Jewish financiers who he blamed for the country’s economic woes.
Sound familiar?
The German people were complicit, either by their silence or by their support of Hitler and the Nazis.
Polls taken in 1938 and 1939 found that the majority of American citizens did not want the government to allow Jewish refugees from Europe to settle in the United States.
A couple of decades later, another gifted and charismatic speaker came onto the political scene; this time in the United States.
Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy led America through the “Red Scare” of the 1950s.
McCarthy spent nearly five years trying to expose communists and other left-wing “loyalty risks” in the U.S. government during the early 1950s, at the height of the Cold War against Russia.
Even mere insinuations of disloyalty by McCarthy were enough to convince many Americans that their government was packed with traitors and spies. McCarthy’s accusations were so intimidating that few people dared to speak out against him.
But Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith, a fellow Republican to McCarthy, did stand up to him with her Declaration of Conscience speech. One part of that speech that I find especially relevant today is this:
“The nation sorely needs a Republican victory. But I don’t want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny –Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry and Smear.”

Today

Donald Trump, so far the leading candidate for the GOP nomination in 2016, endorsed the idea for a database to collect information about Muslims living in the United States. At a campaign event in  Newton, Iowa, NBC asked [Trump] whether there should be a database to track Muslims. “There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases. We should have a lot of systems,” he said, according to The Atlantic. “We’re going to have to—we’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely. We’re going to have to look at the mosques,” Trump added. “We’re going to have to look very, very carefully.”

When challenged to explain how his policy ideas differed from those used in Nazi Germany, Trump’s only response was ” You tell me. You tell me.”

What scares the bejesus outta me is that Trump’s leading poll numbers surged again this morning, fewer than 24 hours after he refused to elaborate on how his policy idea differentiated from those used by the Nazis.

What scares me more?

So many of my friends really like Trump.

“He (Trump) says what I’m thinking, but what political correctness won’t allow me to say,” said one friend, adding that safety is the most important thing a politician can do for the nation.

But should we sacrifice liberty and American ideals for safety?

I always thought this was the land of the free and of the brave, not the land of bigotry and fear.

What was it that Ben Franklin said?

“Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

 

 

Je suis navré

eifelOver the last 24 hours, many of my Facebook friends changed their profile pictures with a backdrop of the French flag.

I did not.

I have no criticism for my friends who did this, I can only explain why I did not.

What happened in Paris last night was an outrage. Those were cowardly acts perpetrated by cowardly people. Of course, we should stand in solidarity with our fellow men, women and children in Paris. We want to show that we are united.  There is nothing wrong with that.

We are saddened. We are outraged. And yes, we are afraid that this form of terror will soon land again on own shores.

Paris was not the first attack coordinated by ISIS. The loose-knit terror organization has struck other nations, albeit not members of Western Civilization.

I did not change my Facebook profile when ISIS beheaded journalists. I did not change my Facebook profile when ISIS attacked a hotel in Tunisia. I did not change my Facebook profile when ISIS attacked a French Gas plant or when they attacked and killed people in Kobane or Hasakah in Syria; or in Libya or Egypt.

I was a newspaper editor when the 9-11 attacks on the United States took place. Shortly after those attacks, my publisher and I had a lengthy conversation about whether to place an American flag symbol on the top of the front page. Another local paper had made that move, but we decided not to. It was a difficult decision, but I think we both realized that we were dealing with raw emotion, rather than sound logic.

For example, how long would the flag symbol appear on the front page? Would it be like a Christmas tree, which should be taken down after six weeks? Were we suddenly becoming patriotic because we were attacked? Why didn’t we have the flag on the front page on September 10, 2001?

To us, it seemed like being exploitative in the days following a horrific attack on our nation.

As could have been predicted, that other newspaper stopped with printing the flag on their front page long before the end of the year.

Social media is different, however. I see nothing wrong with wanting to show solidarity. I see nothing wrong with wanting to affirm our common connection to the human experience, including its shock, grief and outrage.

I just fear that we are dealing with something so much larger than what we can comprehend; a force of evil that we cannot imagine.

Some say the United States is unable or unwilling to face this latest form of human terror. Some say we are complacent, self-absorbed and don’t have the will to fight any enemy like ISIS. Some even criticize western leaders like President Obama for being “weak” on terrorism.

To those people, I say you are wrong. The same things were said about America and her president on December 6, 1941. We proved the world wrong, if only reluctantly and waiting until we were attacked.

People have criticized Generation X, yet Armed Forces recruiting stations were filled in the days after Sept. 11, 2001.

America has what it takes to confront ISIS, but this will need to be much more than a social media campaign of altered Facebook profile pictures. This will need to be a worldwide effort, and it will require both resources and tremendous sacrifice.

I am not a foreign policy expert, and more than likely, neither are you. I do not know how to bring the world together on this issue, but I do know that it will require much more than symbolic gestures.

We stand with Paris. But we must also stand with Berlin, Tunisia, Prague, Beirut and people of every stripe across the globe, not just the ones who look like us.

 

 

 

#Black Lives Matter

Seattle Times photo
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King: Seattle Times photo

I had a little bit of an epiphany yesterday during an especially long drive home.

To prevent road boredom, I was a listening to talk radio, and a news segment about the Black Lives Matter movement caught my attention.

Before we proceed, a bit of disclosure: I am a white, middle-aged man.

Up until yesterday, I generally had a reflexive, knee-jerk reaction to the synergy building in the Black Lives Matter campaign: I would generally mutter: “All lives matter,” and while I still believe that is intellectually true, what is so wrong with acknowledging that Black Lives do, in fact, matter?

I began wondering, can’t we say Black Lives Matter without assuming that it is an automatic dismissal of other lives, races or ethnic backgrounds?

Why can’t we simply acknowledge that Black Lives Matter without feeling defensive and the impulsive need to correct those who deliver that message?

Like most white people, I want to believe that racism in the United States is a topic best left for the history books. I generally ignore it, or once in a while give it a passing nod as a present day and legitimate problem. I wrote about my own battles with racism previously.

But how can we ignore the rising tensions in black communities without actually sticking our heads in the sand?

I know and expect that I am going to get push-back for this blog post, but before you respond I would ask you to consider the following analogy.

Close your eyes and imagine that you and I are close friends. I have just been through a painful ordeal, one in which justice and fairness evaded me.

I say to you, “My Life Matters.”

Do you feel compelled to say, “Well, my life matters, too. Stop feeling sorry for yourself.”

Or could you say, “Yeah, your life matters. I’m sorry you are going through a difficult time.”

I really think it’s okay to acknowledge someone’s pain, sorrow or grief without lecturing them about what a politically correct response should be.

It is 2015, why is not okay for some people to hear the phrase that Black Lives Matter?

Why does that make so many people uncomfortable? No one is saying that white lives do not matter or that Hispanic lives do not matter.

A growing number of people in America are standing up, acknowledging reality and asserting that Black Lives Matter.

And they do.

#BlackLivesMatter