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This is EXACTLY how I feel every day. I don’t know how to reach anyone anymore. I have joined Indivisible, Common Cause and RepresentUs here in Austin, Texas. I am now a Precinct Chair in my county. I knew almost nothing about politics 3 years ago. I woke up. I stepped up. I thought I would inspire others to do the same. Now I help create ads and videos for these organizations. This week with Indivisible, we just did a Jan 6th candlelight Vigil at the Texas Capitol. We had amazing speakers, US Reps, State Reps, candidates for AG etc - maybe 50 people showed up. - I put the Ad all over social media. I got 3 likes, no comments. A few weeks ago, I posted a selfie with my wife and I having a cocktail… 100 likes and 30+ comments… I’m starting to lose respect for my friends. I’ve been at this nonstop- I don’t know how to get anyone to step up, to show up, to really pay attention… I’ve tried logic, humor, sometimes anger out of frustration to try and tell people how badly we need them to see that their lives are out of balance. Where is their civic responsibility beyond voting? Why is a Netflix series more important than reality? Some people claim burnout (like you wrote about the other day) but I point out, these are not people doing anything to get burnt out from. These are people like me from three years ago when I was just too self involved to see that I was not paying attention and not doing my civic responsibility. As a result, it was my fault someone like Trump got elected. What’s happening right now is all of our fault. All we have to do is step up. This is fixable if we could reach people willing to change their lives to truly support our democracy. It’s just not happening…. I’m not giving up but I can tell you, while I’ve met some incredible people inside of these organizations I have joined, we’re fighting this fight but we’re not making a tiny dent in waking people up to consider the common good, much less do anything about it. - I feel like I’m such a downer in my comments. I don’t mean to be at all but, I want to be blatantly honest. We’re losing our democracy and it’s our fault, but no one is willing to own it or change it… I hired an immigration lawyer yesterday… broke my heart…. I see the writing on the wall…. I would spend every moment of my time and every single last penny I have to change it but I don’t know how.

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I get it, Gina. You're not a "downer" in your comments. You're reflecting the reality you're directly experiencing. It's extremely difficult to get people mobilized to save our democracy, not only because of Fox News, rightwing radio, and the anti-social media, but because most people don't see and feel democracy. They have no memory of World War II, when we fought and died for it. They either take it for granted or -- and this is what worries me most -- they're cynical about it ever being responsive to their needs, particularly given the power of the moneyed interests. All the more reason we need to mobilize. This effort will take a long time. It will take one "tiny dent," as you put it, after another. But there is nothing more important. Everything else we want for our country, our communities, our families, and future generations, as well as the world that depends on the United States, depends on this.

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Gina. We all feel exactly like you. I was chairman of my local non partisan governance PAC. I tried everything even social media, ads etc. I finally gave up. People are as you said, "self involved". The WWII folks gave back to their communities. Baby boomer are golfing, traveling in motorhomes, painting, hobbies, on vacations overseas and living the good life in their million dollar homes. The only connections people have now is social media. And that is being controlled. ZOOM and Tik Tok are basically owned by China. China is eating our lunch while we fight each other. Sad to watch. I have no answers. I am glad Robert has this forum but I doubt it will do any good for our country. Those that need to hear are not listening. Sending you virtual hugs.

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Cecilia, I agree with much of what you say -- except "I doubt it will do any good...". Every effort to preserve and protect our democracy will do good, no matter how small. Those that need to hear will listen if we tell them over and over again.

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Robert, I agree with your point here about telling folks OVER AND OVER again about the importance of preserving our democracy. The anti-democratic movement in the past 30 years has been UNRELENTING in their repetitiveness in espousing thinly veiled memes of white supremacy, sowing mistrust in our election integrity, blatant disregard of the rights of women and people of color, and stoking fear of “the other”, etc. We need to bombard social media, newspaper op-eds, etc with our own deeply felt views of true democratic values to counter the pervasive views of demagogues, conspiracy theorists, and those who disrespect the rule of law and democratic values and norms.

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Thank you!! I needed this. You are SOOO right. Do you think there's anything we can do? And big virtual hugs back to you. I'm gina@blueworldav.com if you ever wanna reach out. I need more people in my life like you. I have SO many friends but I feel completely alone except for my wife and the people in my organizations...

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Gina. I don't think there is much we can do. I am very involved with my local community. I own and operate a small business. We help seniors and veterans that are totally scared, vulnerable, and sick. They are disheartened to see what has happened to our great country the past 30 years. I like you have tried. Trump and his followers plus Biden and his followers have sent us into a well of poison. Hollywood plus main stream news (be it Fox or CNN) continue to use propaganda. America is as divided as during the civil war. Biden speech this week divided us even more. Trump continues to divide as well with his fanatic followers. I will email you. Perhaps we can console each other.

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OK Cecelia, I have another moment here. Do you think Biden‘s calling out Trump’s big lie is poisoning the well? Do you think Merrick garland’s prosecution of the insurrectionist on January 6 is poisoning the well? do you think Jonathan Karl’s book betrayal is poisoning the well? Do you think the House committee on January 6 is poisoning the well? Please expand on those statements of opinion so that I can understand what you’re really saying. How you’re really feeling.

I crossed paths with a very polite gentleman not much younger than I am. He saw that I was reading the book Betrayal. He asked me was it pro trump or anti-Trump. I told him it was a book about the facts of January 6 among others. He said he liked Trump’s emphasis on our country first. .He said you mean I could just read it and determine what I believe. I said yes.

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Cecelia, CNN is nothing like fox! It is disturbing to see you make that statement/comparison. Biden in no way has helped send “us into a well of poison” It is very disturbing to me that you made that statement also. At this moment I don’t have time to further elaborate, but I will.

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I wrote you back but the email came back returned... I don't know why. I did friend you on FB as well. Let me know if you received the email. Thank you!!

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Virtual hugs coming from this direction too! As a member of the baby boomer generation I know some of those golfing, traveling, self-indulging people. We are not all like that. I also know older folks who are involved with voting rights, civil rights and climate change groups. I think that during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s harder for us to stay connected. Zoom events don’t get the juices flowing like in person meetings, marches, rallies, etc.

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Same here. I am a boomer with a lot of friends in my cohort and most are not oblivious or selfish. I don’t know what the answer is either but we do have each other, thank goodness. 😘😘😘

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music to my ears!! Hugs from another boomer coming your way!

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Cecelia, if we can’t discuss these issues in this safe environment then what hope do we have to unite this country. The well, as you referred to, was poisoned well before Biden entered the contest for the presidency. We are in a dangerous time for our democracy as I think you would agree.

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Robin O. I totally agree with you. The well has been poisoned 30 to 40 years ago. We keep adding to the poison. I have watched with my own eyes over plus through my sons and now grandsons in American public education system. There is a reason we have so many charter, private and home schools in America. It is a very dangerous time for our democracy. I believe in the next generation. There is lots of work but the "old fools" as I call them need to get out of the way. Anyone over the age of 70 years old should NOT be allowed to run for the presidency. That will solve a few of our issues immediately.

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Oops at 76 I’ll have to change my plans then.

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Characterizing a particular generation as the source of self-involvement is not just offensive but wrong; wrong in intent and wrong in fact. If you don't see this then perhaps you're part of the problem instead of part of the solution.

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I would challenge you to work tirelessly for 3 years with national organizations doing national marketing and organizing and showing up at countless meetings and rallies that should have thousands of people, but most have less than 20. I would challenge you to walk up to any stranger and ask them “who is your STATE Senator?” 99% will tell you their US Senator and have no concept of the difference between federal and state governments. Ask any stranger to define gerrymandering and explain who is responsible for it? Ask any stranger what district they live in. Do you know these answers? Have you joined organizations? Been to any rallies? I hope the answer is yes. - I have invited everyone I know to meetings and rallies. They don’t show up. What is more important than life or death than our democracy? I can’t get friends to watch documentaries- read a book like After the Fall by Ben Rhodes or Robert’s book The System. I’ve sent both books to about 20 people and not one has read them…. The common denominator is people being too busy aka too self-involved to pay attention to our democracy that is absolutely and definitely dying. Until we face and own our own self righteousness and stop getting defensive, nothing will change. - I had to look in the mirror and see that I was almost politically illiterate and I was absolutely way too self-involved. I never joined organizations or watched political documentaries or read books like The System. Until Trump was elected and instead of blaming everyone else, I looked in the mirror and realized that my lack of doing anything but the bare minimum by showing up every few years to vote, was the problem. Three years later, I see a lot of people I relate to but who (like I was) are too self-involved to step-up and pay attention, learn and then really fight for our democracy. Sorry for the rant… it just irks me when people can’t or won’t see the truth about why we’re losing this country- it’s our fault - all of us - me too and I’m deeply sorry for not doing something sooner…

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Gina have you considered moving? Maybe Colorado, California or even Georgia? I mean Ted Cruz is your Senator. You really have an uphill battle in Texas. I live in New Jersey and try to stay away from Ocean county where the Trumpers are.

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It's good that you've worked tirelessly but I'm a bit puzzled by how this exonerates Ms Jergen from blaming a generation for wastefulness or apathy.

But really, the majority of seniors aren't sailing around on their yachts and traveling around in their motorhomes and taking overseas vacations; many seniors are struggling with illness and financial woes; many seniors have also worked tirelessly, for years, to foster change.

I would also postulate that *most* folks are self-involved, regardless of age. I would also postulate that individual actions, no matter how egregious or good willed, have a difficult time outpacing corporate greed and the rapaciousness of multi billionaires. Again, but phrased differently, blaming individuals is a fool's game and plays into the hand of the Zucks and Musks. Corporate Exxon loves it when liberals get into a slugfest about who is greener, who is more active or more woke.

Personally though I don't like being "challenged" and actually found this a bit objectionable. I don't have to prove my activist credentials here to you. I get that you're upset that the circle of friends you frequent seems to be sleepwalking and I'm sorry about that.

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Bless you Gina! You are doing great work -- I just followed you on Twitter. I am gonna back-up to Prof. Reich's piece on "Tenacity" and how to pace ourselves for the long haul. That is exactly where you and many of us are. It does take tenacity. You inspired me today and also you probably inspire others and you don't even know it.

Keep up the good work! Texas needs you; we all need you. <3

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You made me cry in the best way. THANK YOU!! Big big hug!

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Also, not everyone is called to become an activist. Most people just want peace and security. I think we should always start with this in mind because it is a positive fact, not a negative one. We want to be happy. If you are happy yourself, you will inspire others and your actions will reach others in ways unknown from you. "The way out is in," said Thich Nhath Han (I quote a lot today). I am deeply convinced of this and it helps a lot personally. In gratitude for your dedication.

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Spreading joy and serenity is so important in a world filled with anger and hatred. Every individual needs positive forces in their life. I completely agree with you. If the people causing all the trouble had happy lives filled with positive people none of this would be happening.

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Definitely. I do not see hate-lovers as happy people. There is a key there.

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I am also a resident of Texas. Has our Republican leadership in Austin done anything to fix the damn power grid? It is my understanding Abbott has done nothing because the responsible corporations have generously donated to his campaign.

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I hear ya... but if you look at at the UT Poll they do monthly on issues of most concern, the Grid is not even on it... Insane.... people are oblivious to Abbott profiting from it or the lack of action to prevent it from happening again.

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1) Trump is not your fault. 2) 50 people is not horrible especially if they are motivated to reach out to their networks. 3) You're learning. You've clearly come a long way in 3 years. 4) Meeting incredible people is worth a lot. I imagine that they think you're incredible too. 5) Texas can be rough, but you're needed there.

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Gina, I’ve been thinking about your post all day and I have a couple of things to say. First, I think you should consider changing your expectations. The typical response rate to surveys, marketing, just about anything where you try to engage people is 1-2% at best. I think this is a reasonable goal for you as well. This means you have to talk to a hundred people in order to reach one. It sounds exhausting and it is but this is what businesses expect and base their projected sales on. Second, I’ve been thinking about what Philippe said about the value of making life pleasant for those around you. I sincerely think this is something that might help you. When you get discouraged about people’s apathy, why not just try to make someone’s day with a little pleasant conversation or even a small favor? This might be a sales clerk, someone at the doctor, or the mail carrier. I’ve been consciously trying to do this for a few years and I can tell you it makes a difference—people have told me so. The reason I’m bringing this up is that I think it could help lift your spirits. Just a couple of thoughts. 😘

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Gina, I feel your pain. Similar situation living in red, red Eastern WA. I ran my own little PAC against the former guy, but we had to keep a low profile locally to avoid being targeted. Burner phone lines, etc. Our well is poisoned. I worry about our son's future and research foreign residency.

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Barb. Don't feel bad. The local radio station censored me 2 years ago. Still will not allow me on their station. There is a lot of censorship going on.

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High 5! I share your frustrations.

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Go for it young lady!

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It is shocking to see the extremes to which Republicans are going to demolish the common good. It has blown my mind that there are no safe guards to prevent what is happening now in our country. There are obviously no laws to confront those who don't honor their oaths of office. even before our former guy, there were moments when things were happening that had no remedy. Newt Gingrich and the gang. Mr. Boener and his speakership. Mitch McConnell bragging about being 'the grim reaper' and vowing to not cooperate with anything Democrats want to do. The increasing use of government shut downs. The bail outs with taxpayer's money of entities too big to fail that have used our treasury as a casino. Where was any meaningful pushback? What is the oath of office if those taking it do not have to actually follow it? Why are these people getting paid? Why are those associated with a coup attempt still in office. They are still at it, by taking away votes, using the 'states rights' arguments? If they disenfranchise people, isn't that against the Constitution? Where is the remedy; and most importantly, what's next? Legalized slavery?

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Honor the true patriots, like Liz Cheney.

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Yes. Gosh, she has been amazing. One of only about 2 Republicans who will put Country over party.

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I do appreciate Liz Cheney's support of the Constitution and the principles of Democracy in the face of what is happening now. It must be risky for her and any other who would dare to care.

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Too bad that true patriots in the Republican party are so few.

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This is valuable: https://gelliottmorris.substack.com/p/the-problem-at-the-heart-of-january/comments. To iterate with the Arbery case, one of the killers had his attorney give their video recording of their murder of a black man to a radio station in the belief that the recording would exonerate them in the eyes of their community and that what they did was legal and proper under the laws of the state of Georgia and of the United States. That was their true, heartfelt belief. And that's one of our problems. They weren't taught civics, social studies, or the laws of the USA in K-12. We might be able to rectify that as a nation someday, if we have enough days, which we don't, because of a much larger problem. Global warming. We don't have 50, 30 or 25 years to solve this problem. What to do? That depends on your age. No matter what, though, it does seem prudent to find another more climatologically, culturally, and politically safe place to live, and move there.

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You stated it depends on your age. My biggest concern now is for my grandsons.

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I’ve always been disappointed since they canceled Civics classes in the public schools. That decision really was to our future detriment.

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The good guys in Washington are busy contemplating the lures of power. Democracy is just a nice word to them. I believe they are sincere in their allegiance to it, but they simply do not see that you cannot have it both ways. It is either democracy or power games. If the latter, a political void is then created for the population where resentment and anger are easily prayed upon by demagogues.

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You are the safeguard and the remedy.

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WE are the safeguard and the remedy. And (spoiler alert): There is no "more climatologically, culturally, and politically safe place to live", and if there was, it wouldn't be for long.

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We need to blame ourselves and take responsibility and change our behavior. We elected these people in office. WE are to blame - not them….

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Yes, I agree that we the people need to participate in our Democracy. But voting has been gamed for years and the will of the people has not been honored. Did we get a chance to vote on the bailout, for example? How about a speaker of the house announcing that his party will block the popular health insurance that so many need, plus anything else they don't like? (Anything or everything the Democrats want or try to do). That is not Democracy.

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In the spirit of respectful debate not confrontation, look at voter turnout. The will of a huge percentage of the people is not even being expressed. They say "all politicians are corrupt" or "my vote doesn't matter" or " the system is rigged". These are all excuses not to step up. Paying attention to who we elect takes discipline, time and effort. Doing our civic duty beyond voting takes time and effort. - When gay people were denied the right to vote, we flew to DC and marched. Enough of us stepped up and look what happened, things changed. That's been the biggest change in my lifetime but it showed me that change is possible IF we work together. So, IF enough people cared about the bailout or healthcare, they can get off their butts and stop complaining and organize and do something about it. A mass of people protesting has the power of persuasion, inspiration and the ability to force things to change. But most people don't.... Look at any big changes in history. Every single one came from a mass of people who selflessly put their personal lives aside and stepped up for the common good, like Robert mentions.

If the bailout was not for the common good, why didn't we step up and do anything about it? We can all make change happen, but we don't. We (including me) get involved in our lives and we feel too overwhelmed or uninformed or incapable of making big change, so all we do is complain and blame...

Until voter turnout is truly reflective of the will of the people and until we start taking responsibility for the people in office and holding them accountable for the decisions they are making and until we stop being so self-involved and REALLY do something beyond voting, we have no right to complain. Sorry to be such a hardass.... but this is the honest truth. I ask my friends, "what are you REALLY doing to change things?" - I get blank stares... I hope that changes...

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Gina Fant Simon ; I feel your frustration. The truth is, most people are too busy working multiple jobs and taking care of their households (if they are lucky enough to have them) and kids, elderly parents, themselves, if they are older and have health issues, and hardly have time for a break or, something resembling a vacation trip, never mind going to a mass protest in D.C.. They can't take the chance of being arrested, (and now, shot at or roughed up). Our 'representatives' have been given a message that they do not have to serve the voters. They can be bought off thanks to Citizens United, and really don't care what the voters want or even need. This is nothing new, this corruption. It has recently been enshrined and coronated. The Golden Calf and his minions are proof. They laugh in our faces and destroy our Country, the Democracy while they do it. Justice has no emergency mode. It must be bought too. Only a common threat, like extreme weather and famine might bring people out of this fantasy that they seem to be indulging, that they do not have to care. We have seen huge marches. It's hard to participate if you have health problems and no means to even get there and march. Lucky to have a place to sleep, and food to eat. Climate destruction may get their attention. They certainly don't seem to know what their jobs in our Government should entail. Protecting the Common Good! Not their 'investments'!

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I hear you… we need to step up and protest the injustices…

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Gina Fant Simon ; Even healthy young people might not want to do protest marches with the Covid surges that are happening now, And there is the cold weather to endure, too.

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"But if we are to participate in the same society we must agree on how we deal with our disagreements, our obligations under the law, and our commitment to democracy." In the summer of 2013, soon after I established myself in the United States as a Green Card holder, I watched in disbelief a certain Ted Cruz adamantly trying to obtain a government shutdown. I cannot remember what the pretext was at that time but I can say I was utterly shocked. This guy was clearly situating himself out of the realm of politics since if things weren't going his way, the country had to shut down. Because of him and others who did not seem to have the slightest regard for democracy, I wondered for quite some time where I had landed. The only thing that kept my faith alive, beyond the common decency and generosity of the American people, is that I knew a country stands not by its boundaries or its culture (the former can change and the latter evolves) but by its project. I adhere to what the United States is meant to be. (Apologies for saying I and me so much; this is just my testimony as a new comer)

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Welcome Philippe !

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My husband is English. He emigrated to the US in 2000 to be with me and became a citizen in 2007. He’s appalled and would like to go back to the UK. We are now poised on a knife edge trying to figure out if ww should do that. I don’t want to leave but it’s increasingly looking like the best thing for survival. I am furious that my country is coming to this. You are not alone.

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I am in France at the moment and looking forward to be back in the U.S. It may sound strange, but it is at times like this one that the best can rise up next the worst. The U.S. political establishment has waved goodbye to democracy long ago and the country has become a full-fledged plutocracy (or corporatocracy). There is no hope to be cultivated on that side, except for the few progressives elected to Congress in the recent years. Whatever the outcome of the mid-terms and next presidential elections might be with Republicans going all-out in suppressing voting rights (assuming that John Lewis Voting Rights Act does not pass), this country has far more resources in its people to resist the advent of fascism than many other countries do. Activism is not an empty word in the U.S. and, as Margaret Mead famously said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Even if another Trump-like presidency came to be, my view is that there is too much underlying progressive presence in society for that presence not to eventually prevail. We, the people, have to re-learn democracy and impose it, by our votes and our civic engagement, on those who are meant to represent us. Too many people have probably been seduced by the piper's music into the thought that democracy was a done deal. It never was and never will be.

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I hope you’re right, Philippe. I might agree with you if it weren’t for all the guns. They terrify me.

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Jan 8, 2022·edited Jan 8, 2022

There is a story by Pierre Rabhi whose book I read in French. There was a huge fire that was burning the forest and a hummingbird went and got some water in its beak and threw it on the fire. Everyone laughed and asked him what he thought he was doing by putting so little water on such a great fire. The hummingbird replied, "I'm doing my part." I'm a mentally ill artist. I live in a different world than most people. I am somewhat isolated but I surround myself with good people who believe in the common good. I am very selective about who I let into my life. I can't do much but I do what I can. I vote, I am vegan for the animals and for climate change, I speak up when I don't have to, I participate in organized protests, I am active on social media. I have many issues that I stand behind, like prison reform (à la Michel Foucault), teaching true history to my nephews in school, rethinking many systems of power (Foucault again), mental health as a basic human right, etc. It is not easy being who I am and living at the edge of town in Mississippi. I am half Thai, half Caucasian. I am not included in statistical reporting. Yes, for me it IS all about ME. I live in a bubble of my own making. It is essential for my mental well-being. I write. I cannot blog. It is a disaster. But I can write well. And it will be my tool for social justice. I love writing essays. I like Angela Davis, James Baldwin, Zadie Smith, and others who have used writing to bring about social change. I'm reading The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. I have only just begun to write, so don't expect anything from me yet. Since I went to Paris for the last month, I basically completed my memoir that needs a bit more revision, and I don't know how to end it since I'm still living my life. I have found my tool for preserving the common good. Just give me a bit more time. I graduate in 2024. I hope this hasn't been too self-indulgent, but as an artist I must express myself, and let you know what I am doing to preserve the common good. Thank you, Mr. Reich, for today's newsletter and topic.

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I love the hummingbird story as well and I love your story. I feel your passion and frustration and I share it. Sending you much respect and appreciation from Texas!! I can’t wait to read your memoir.

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Thanks for being vulnerable. I am almost 64 and just starting to achieve some of your wisdom. I have bipolar II disorder as an approximation of who I am. I now see it as a gift as well as a challenge for me and others. I am fortunate to be in a position that I can risk the consequences of sharing this. I'll give you all the time you need not that time is something I can give you.

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I thank you as well for being open and vulnerable. I really appreciate this! Big hug.

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Jane. I totally loved the analogy about the hummingbird. We all need to do our part. Keep up the good work you are doing.

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Before I read your email this morning, I was thinking about your essay regarding the despair so many feel as a result of government-facilitated inequality. I then thought that what might add to the despair is the fact that so many in our federal government seem to be using their government positions to enrich themselves, looking out for #1. I'm thinking particularly of members of Congress holding individual stocks that they can buy and sell according to privileged information they receive, and can also enact legislation to benefit businesses in which they hold stock. Some U.S. senators made a considerable amount of money from the pandemic that devastated so many American lives. We have federal judges deciding cases involving businesses in which they hold stock. Even a member of the Federal Reserve got in on the action. There has to be a common good for our society to survive, but it's hard to sustain that message when our purported leaders act in their own interest at the public's expense.

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Each member of Congress must put their investments into a blind trust, managed by a disinterested party, while in office. Since they will never do this on their own, the voters must insist by withholding their vote from those members who refuse.

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In my opinion, members of Congress and federal judges should not be allowed to own individual stocks at all. People who feel they cannot survive without owning individual stocks (which millions of Americans manage to do) are free to find employment in the private sector.

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Tim Baldwin ; Very good idea!

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Very well stated. Many of us feel exactly as you stated.

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Jan 8, 2022·edited Jan 8, 2022

It is all well and good to speak about coming together to preserve our democracy and I respect that notion highly but alas there are far too many who have become outliers due to the rampantly persistent propaganda and miscommunication our country has endured, most especially seen throughout the trump years to the present. This goes far beyond the “me” mentality of the ‘70s…the cloak of fascism and dark rhetoric has produced sinister mistrust in our citizens which in turn has caused hatred for their fellow man and I mean real loathing and resentment. I’ve seen it, I’ve spoken to it and it’s ugly and pathetically misguided. We have treasonous politicians advising their constituents to go to the streets and fight for what’s rightly theirs and damn the rest. This idea of a common good doesn’t stand a chance when the citizens of these United states are no longer willing to stand beside each other and work together. I’m sorry if I sound cynical but it’s so palpable as we approach the midterms. You may have heard the idiot Cruz backpedaling to the great white Carlson the other night following his admonishment of the nightmare that was January 6. How can people come together as long as miscreants such as Cruz and all the rest of them continue to speak out of both sides of their mouths?

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That is a real concern indeed. Fascist tropes are reaching far and wide (nationalism, white supremacy, people vs. "the elite," etc.) and are emotionally powerful enough to make the country err the same way European ones happened to do in the last century. The only way out I can see is to reinstate a civic sense based on the understanding of democracy. The fish rots from the head down. Equivalently, it is up to political leaders to speak out clearly, forcefully, and regularly about how this country genuinely defines itself. For that, they need us.

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Yes, the “me” mentality of the 1970s could have been a movement toward the good goal of self-realization, but it took the 19th century capitalist road instead.

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Mary Hyland ; And Ted Cruz is getting paid while speaking out of both sides of his mouth. Kind of like what the Native Americans described as 'speaking with a forked tongue' ( at least on television, I know nothing of what they were saying back then).

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My thoughts? You are entirely correct, and that's why I'm here. I always learn something, and you give me hope, you motivate me to participate and trudge on and think positively towards keeping the good things and changing the diapers that Republican have been filling up lately. But, all in to work together to save democracy.

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Love the diaper metaphor!

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Lucy and Paula ; Does this mean that Republicans should grow up?

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Yes, at the very least stop throwing the tantrums

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I grew up in the fifties. I raised two adopted children. I stayed home to raise them. They did not have all the advantages of their friends who had working mothers. At story hour, we mothers grimly shared the knowing that we were a “heartbeat” away from welfare. I volunteered in a hospital, the town library, and in my children’s school. Was a founding and active member of our PTO. I went to Board of education meetings and finance board meetings and town meetings. Only once did I not vote, due to illness. I took classes at a community college. It took ten years for me to get a (pretty much worthless in the job market) Associate in Arts degree. I was told if I wanted to finish my education I could mortgage my house to pay for it. The house that my husband and I built with our own hands, as many others in my neighborhood had. I worked part time jobs for years and finally retired after working for 26 years in a non union hospital, that stripped us of our benefits, one year at a time. (When my husband was laid off at the age of 55, along with many others who worked for General Dynamics, Human Resources complained about all the employees that were now adding their spouses to their insurance.). I am proud of the service I gave to our patients. I cared for them the way I would want my family cared for. I spent 6 years caring for my own parents, who had devastating illnesses. Beware, if you choose to serve, you will be considered a fool. And if you work in a non-union business, after two decades, you will be the object of greed that before that you may never saw coming. Thankfully I have a son who is moving me in with him and his wife. If your heart says serve, then serve, but know that in this society you will be looked upon as worthless. Service is not where we are at. Taking care of others is for the foolhardy. And yes, I got all of my COVID shots, and wear masks because it was for the common good, as well as my own. My conscience is clear. When I die I won’t regret how I spent my life. Probably neither will the greedy.

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I am humbled by your testimony. You have planted seeds of love. The greedy don't.

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founding

OMG, Betty, you are not worthless! You sound like a wonderful person, the kind we need more of. I know it’s been incredibly difficult for you but do not ever feel unappreciated. Don’t let the fact that the ruling class is selfish and unfeeling define you!! Hugs!! 😘😘

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I'm just going to throw this out there. I love everything I have read here today. I have been reading constantly since Trump got elected. That is when I finally realized my civic duty, no matter how small a difference it makes, is important. I should have realized that 50 years ago. My fault for being self absorbed.

Based on my reading, including a number of Dr. Reich's books, I am coming to believe that the root problem here is systemic racism, which has always existed in the United States, but has now successfully been used by those who think it is their right to own everything, and those people have spread racism to new levels not seen since the Civil War. The simple plan is as always to blame "the others". The poor, mostly people of color, and immigrants, who have always provided a cheap labor source here, are portrayed as the villains. This has pitted the two largest parts of society, the poor and working class, against each other. And because it has been done so subtly over so many years we almost can't see it happening. Especially the marginalized working class who probably have no time to read the many excellent books on the subject because they are too busy working overtime trying to survive.

I have no doubt that the architects of the society we now have are triumphantly and gleefully enjoying their victory. I still have hope that when the time comes the good people, who I think outnumber the misguided angry, will come together. I am hopeful that the human heart is at it's core compassionate. I can only hope that is enough to win the day for the majority. So it's the oldest story, good verses evil. Only now it's sometimes confusing to many people which one is which. Let's all keep doing the best we can.

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founding

Yes!

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As a Christian, I can also tell you where to find the "common good". Paul in his letter to the Church in Rome writes that government should be God's servant for the common good (Romans 13:1-8). Yet, conservative "Christian" pastors ignore the Bible, & try to hijack Christianity for power & money, read "American Fascists" by Chris Hedges.This reminds me of theologian Karl Barth who similarly exposed the "Christians" who supported Hitler in his writings. As Paul warned his Church in Corinth, beware of pastors who "are mere peddlers of God's word", & do NOT "speak in Christ".

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I would love to hear from any other Christian who can rebut Brian's comments. From within my own experience, the pastors are all talking within their own bubbles that do not connect with the real world that we live in. That is unfortunate since the Christian Gospels have a powerful message of justice, inclusiveness, and the common good.

(Black churches are probably a notable exception, perhaps along with synagogues, but they are largely outside of my experience other than through media of some type. And Islam is even more beyond my ken.)

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I would also add that Bishop William Barber, in my humble opinion speaks "in Christ". If interested in Christian theology which glorifies our God of inclusive & unconditional love, read "We Cry Justice", an excellent book.

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Yes, he is a black bishop who I see often on public media. Knowledgeable, wise, articulate, and inspiring.

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A great man.

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Brian's hint to "American Fascists" by Chris Hedges, himself a Calvinist pastor, would probably give you the type of answer you seek.

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Thanks for the reference. Our library does not have that title, but I put a hold on his 2018 title "America : the farewell tour", which might not address this specific question, but should be relevant to our general discussion.

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I would like to add that I have a master's degree in theology which I earned at Perkins (SMU). However, I do not speak Greek, the language of the New Testament. A Perkins professor, who spoke about 5 different languages, including the Greek used by Paul, transcribed Romans (13:1-8) for me. Remember, Paul wrote this letter to the Church in Rome, where Christians were being persecuted by the Emperor, at that time.

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Jan 8, 2022·edited Jan 8, 2022

Here's another - perhaps moronic - notion. The Federal Government has jurisdiction over state lines. State election results of federal elections necessarily cross state lines. The Federal Government should be able to block institutionally falsified Federal election results at the state lines under laws against transporting stolen goods across a state line or crossing a state line to escape justice in the act of committing a felony. Just another thought.

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DZK ; Interesting Pandora's box of an idea!

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Jan 8, 2022·edited Jan 8, 2022

I'd say the states that voted themselves the right to interfere with - that is, "nullify" - federal election results opened the Pandora's box. I'm just spit-ballin' on ways to mitigate what stands to be turned loose. I like to think of it as "running it up the flagpole to see if anyone salutes it!"

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founding

You are awesome as always!!

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Thank you for that! Along with all that, it would be interesting to see how the polarization in our politics tracks with the rise in the extreem income/wealth inequality.

America in the past may have been "good" because America was still "expanding" in size, economy and opportunities. Now, with the rest of the World catching up, America and Americans are more "constrained" and hemped in.

As a people, we simply do not know how to deal with such restrains. The people of the World have learned these facts of life by bitter history. We rather blame others and weave conspiracies to explain why life is so difficult.

Add to this mix Reagan and his "government is the problem" ideology, and all radical extremism in our country can be explained. The rise of Trump is not a historical accident!

But what can be done? The country cannot "self-correct"! Only the major political parties can prevent the immediate threat of Trumpism by enacting Party Rules that can "certify" a candidate as being "safe for consumption". We do as much for the food we eat!

But don't expect the Republican Party to do that. Only the Democratic Party can take the lead on this!

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Constantinos Ragazas ; Ideally, both parties would draw up and enact a 'certification' that a candidate is 'safe' to invite to the party or 'consume'. But with the present lack of ethics in both parties ( presently outsized by the 'Big Tent' R's), it would be interesting to watch, but unworkable. Both parties are on the take, with laws that support the lack of ethics.

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I understand the difficulties! But keeping things as they are greatly favors the Republicans. Who cannot otherwise win on policy or demographics.

This is a moment when the Democratic Party can take the lead and challenge the Republican Party to do the same. A national mass media campaign ala Gingrich's "Contract with America". It will favor all Democratic candidates and is the most cost effective political advertising in an election year!

Showing in sharp contrast to the American people where their political heart belongs, Country over Party!

The American people will positively respond to this. This could become a watershed moment in American politics. Propelling Democratic policies forward for a long time. Giving us time to fix our otherwise broken system.

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"My thoughts" are that I don't of course agree with everything you say but that I agree with enough and respect you enough that I want to be your teammate and mentee which our modern technology allows me to do. Perhaps, no definitely, I think that I can even mentor (for lack of a less presumptuous word) you in some way. My admiration for you was validated by a friend who knew you at Berkeley and vouched that you were kind and helpful on a personal level. I add to your comments that there is a growing body of scientific knowledge and logic showing that true "selfishness" (i.e. happiness, fulfillment, etc.) includes a great deal of "selflessness", that it is truly often "better (not only for others but for oneself) to give than to receive." I am enjoying the conversations and the actions flowing from them. Thanks to you and all others commenting!

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I would not want to take this "scientific knowledge" very far towards the "magic hand of the market": that self-interest is the only thing necessary to control the market. Regulation is only harmful.

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I wouldn't either. Part of the scientific knowledge that I am referring to is from studies that attempt to determine what makes people "happy" and that it is often related to helping other people not just in direct friendship and community relationships. As a non-religious person, it helps me to explain and justify things which I do and how I feel. To me, "the market " that you seem to refer to is ideal/theoretical and so far from reality in so many circumstances that this model is often useless. In other words, I agree with you. Thanks for your comment.

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How do we protect democracy when its potential destroyers are no longer fringe groups but institutions like state legislatures? I fear it is too late. If the 2024 election is decided by these institutions, we’re goners. But I see no way to stop them. The Supreme Court? How can that work if they are asked to choose the President every four years? That’s not democracy either.

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Douglas Berg ; Things have been imperfect up until now, not really democratic, with the 'to form a more imperfect union' thing. But with a clearly Partisan Supreme Court, it doesn't look promising.

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I think we do have common ground but we are being distracted from it. I suspect that a white Christian male with fascist leanings and black lesbian with communist leanings want a fruitful economic life, dignity in old age. We want the well being of those we love most—education for are children, a comfortable retirement for are parents. We want respect.

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I agree but I also fear: (forthcoming in my Myth Busters column, Columbus Free Press)

The Constitution begins, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Prosperity.” All states endorse this “founding,” if aspirational, text. American history, even before 1776 and 1787 and long after those dates, has been devoted to making those aspirations a reality for all Americans.

A dominating conception of “the public” is central to the U.S. in theory and centuries-long struggles. Today represents an extraordinary retreat, especially for people other than white males. For the partly empowered peoples from 1863-65 “emancipations” through women’s suffrage in 1920 and civil and voting rights legislation in 1965, an inclusive public has always been contested. The battle increases anew with the combined and interconnected assaults on public health, public education, public safety, genuine choice and freedom, right to vote, right to control one’s body, right to gender determination, right to....

Yet the actual text of the Constitution, like the letter of the laws and the Declaration of Independence, is a surprise to many right-wing ideologues and their followers. In sharp contradiction to the founding texts and the abundance of court case histories, they “promote” ignorant and false notions of “freedom” and “rights.” Genuine conservatives—who respect facts, honor debate, support tolerance, and campaign for limited government, not banning everything with which they disagree—have always endorsed the Constitution. They argue over more subtle, interpretative issues.

What today’s false “freedom fighters” share with their book-banning and free-speech-curtailing co-conspirators is a willful lack of knowledge of—a refusal or perhaps an inability to read—the texts that they alternatively wish to enshrine or “cancel,” to use one of their favorite terms. To a historian, this is unprecedented.

To a significant extent, this challenge results from the right-wing assault on strong public education, rigorously trained teachers, and broadly and deeply educated youngsters prepared for maturity and citizenship—and on the free speech of these parties. (See Graff, “The new illiteracy and the banning of books, past and present,” Publishers Weekly, Jan. 3 (online Dec. 31 https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/columns-and-blogs/soapbox/article/88195-harvey-j-graff-examines-the-history-of-book-banning.html); Graff, "Testing can save democracy," Inside Higher Education, Oct 10, 2021 [https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2021/10/21/civics-test-should-be-required-hold-public-office-opinion]; Graff, “There is no debate about critical race theory,” Washington Monthly, Sept. 4, 2021 [https://washingtonmonthly.com/2021/09/04/there-is-no-debate-about-critical-race-theory/]; Graff, “The new white fright and flight and the critical race theory nondebate,” Academe Blog, Sept. 30, 2021 [https://academeblog.org/2021/09/30/the-new-white-fright-and-flight-and-the-critical-race-theory-nondebate/].)

In the place of our once-proud tradition of “We the People,” “more perfect Union,” and “general Welfare,” we have inconsistent, contradictory, and selfish campaigns against commonsense public health, such as regular vaccinations that were accepted practice and whose success is unquestioned. This is the new, radical individualism and selfishness. It includes arguments that amount to the purported “right” to catch and spread disease and death to oneself, one’s loved ones, and the public.

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There seems to be a dichotomy between many peoples' views of governments' role in regulating personal behavior vs. its role in regulating the commercial sphere. Both conventional Republicans and Evangelicals appear more united in the latter aspect, while the Evangelicals focus on the former. But that conjunction allows the oligarchs to mobilize the votes they need to field winning candidates who pass laws that grease the way for more economic concentration. I believe there are analogies in other countries where the religious parties become partners in government coalitions in return for laws implementing more strict religious requirements. In this country, it seems to be the way to breach the firewall between church and state. Religion can be a positive influence in any society, but the line has to be clearly drawn and strictly enforced. Social biases can also be mobilized to win elections, eg: racism, xenophobia, etc. Your final example of the paradox of anti-vaxism shows the strength of bias in shaping dysfunctional behavior.

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