Home > opinion, Relationships > What do you dream beyond 2016?

What do you dream beyond 2016?

I received a DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL STRATEGY SURVEY a few weeks ago. I immediately placed it in my shredding bin, but pulled it out for inspection this weekend.

There’s so much I could say about this survey. Had I more time, I could write thousands of words on all the false dichotomies it presented, and all the ways in which it ridiculously limited choices while painting Democrats as heroes and Republicans as villains.

After sitting with it for a while, I struck through a prominent concluding paragraph*:

YES, LEADER PELOSI… I will help Democrats protect the progress we’ve made from attacks by Donald Trump and the radical Tea Party Republicans, and deliver the positive change America needs by putting more Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and electing Hillary Clinton to the White House!

I replaced it with much shorter text:

YES, LEADER PELOSI… I believe your party is useless at effecting change needed for true equality.

That’s what I want: true equality.

Deregulation and dramatic cuts on taxes to wealthy individuals and corporations over the last three or four decades have starved the U.S. government of revenue that had historically been used to create opportunity–educational and otherwise–nationally. While Democrats have leaned toward slightly higher such taxes during this period, the benefits have been as incremental as the increased tax rate.

Even as a UCLA Bruin, I highly recommend this USC article summarizing the changes and their horrific impacts, without any of the expected “trickle-down” gains. U.S. schools were one of the key no-longer-beneficiaries of these taxes, leading to dramatic educational disparities between affluent and poor students.

Having myself growing up in poverty and abuse, and knowing first hand how rare it is to escape these things, I demand economic equality as an essential mechanism to achieving educational equality … and thus prospects for quality of life into adulthood.

One of the survey’s questions asked, “Who do you trust to hold Wall Street accountable and provide economic relief to Main Street?”

Based on exhaustive readings the last few months, I rejected the “Democratic” and “Republican” boxes and checked “Other” instead. On the tiny line provided there, I wrote, “Hahaha, yeah, right.”

(Add the tax implications above to seeing how it’s best to “keep the people ignorant” about its favored candidate’s “relationships on Wall Street,” it’s hard to believe I’ve found in elected Democrats the representatives who will demand equitable redistribution of money from wealthiest beneficiaries of democratic infrastructure to those who have little hope of success as the infrastructure around them literally crumbles.)

My big takeaway from that survey is that I reject it. I reject us-versus-them. I love my Republican neighbors, and also my most ardent Clinton-supporting, the-content-of-WikiLeaks-doesn’t-matter liberal friends. I want all people everywhere to be consistently able to be safe, sound, and healthy. I don’t believe we’ll equip ourselves to achieve this by embracing us-versus-them mentality, or by creating “our” positions as primarily oppositional to “theirs.”

The world is more nuanced than that, which we’ll see better the more we try to see it better together … and work to ensure that our elected representatives truly represent all of us in effecting it.

That’s my take, though I also believe reasonable people can reach very different conclusions.

This leads me to ask you today:

For what do you stand?
In an ideal world, without framing your answer as against someone else,
what would you hope to be achieved following the U.S. 2016 election?
How will you take action to translate your dreams to reality?

All comments are moderated. No comments attacking, taunting, shaming, or belittling any other commenter will be published. If you’d prefer to submit your comment via email, feel free to use the form below. I can’t guarantee a response, though I’ll try to respond eventually!

* My more moderate husband requested I also strike his name from the survey. 🙂

  1. August 1, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    I dream of a day when people don’t have to fear where their next meal is coming from. I want to be able to trust government to do what’s best for everyone, not just the affluent. I want the out of control anger and hate to be replaced with acceptance of differences and mutual respect. I want a political system with more than two choices so that in coming years, we’re not faced with a “who do you not like” the least choice. I’m tired of being upset with my fellow human beings and failing to make a difference despite really trying to do unto others as I want done unto me.

    • August 1, 2016 at 4:38 pm

      Oh, my gosh. You say in so few words exactly what I haven’t yet–for all my thousands of words of effort–come close to being able to articulate. Thank you.

      (With our eyes on that destination, perhaps we’re already taking more steps that direction than we realize.)

  2. August 1, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    The us and them mentality worries me. The sooner we realise that we are a community the better.
    And how I would love to see the expansion of the community mindset become global.

    • August 1, 2016 at 5:03 pm

      Agreed. I find myself falling into us-versus-them thinking and try pulling myself from it. It takes so much practice, but it’s something well worth practicing and improving at.

  3. August 1, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    I want people to not have to starve, or struggle to pay the rent with two kids, and absolutely no help because they make a dollar too much. I want the parents or the single mom or dad to be able to take themselves to the doctor without the fear of the bill stopping them. I want people to be able to have their freedoms of religion or lack thereof in peace and harmony. I want our government to actually do their job instead of consistently lying to us. America has the best politicians money can buy, no matter the party. We the people are constantly being screwed. People have learned to work the system so it makes it hard for those who actually work to get anywhere.

    That’s what I want.

    • August 1, 2016 at 5:12 pm

      I hear and second all of this. Thank you for sharing these eloquent thoughts, which I’ll contemplate as I continue making dinner.

    • August 1, 2016 at 5:12 pm

      (So, so grateful to now always have enough money for dinner, a truth I wish were universal.)

      • August 1, 2016 at 5:14 pm

        I am so happy to hear you have that blessing for your family! We have the same blessing, and I share the same sentiment as you do.

        We can’t afford healthcare for ourselves, but our children have it so that’s all that matters to us.

        • August 1, 2016 at 5:31 pm

          Ach. I’m glad you’re children have healthcare, but by the same token … my first “political” post was one about the importance of parents having healthcare, too.

          I will always wonder what might have been the trajectory of my mom’s cancer had she not so feared the medical bills from having checked what began as slight worrying symptoms.

          (They were already somewhat progressed by the time she began mentioning them to me and my siblings. Rache actually meant to write another post entirely about how hard it was to get Mom signed up for government insurance far, far too late.)

        • August 1, 2016 at 5:32 pm

          The link was stripped from my comment, so here’s the plain text URL: https://deborah-bryan.com/2011/07/26/dead-moms-cant-care/

          • August 1, 2016 at 5:34 pm

            I will definitely check out the link. It’s stressful for us not to have it, but we just cannot afford it right now, and that’s even more saddening. We are blessed do not get me wrong, but we struggle and we struggle hard. 😦 It worries me, but there is nothing I can do to fix it for now.

          • August 1, 2016 at 5:36 pm

            Totally heard and understood. It’s not a position you should have to be in to begin with, IMO, which is at the heart of yet another thing I hope to work to change. ♥

          • August 1, 2016 at 5:41 pm

            Agreed! I hope it changes too and quickly.

  4. Paul
    August 1, 2016 at 9:20 pm

    LEADER PELOSI … ” Ja, mein Fuhrer.

    • August 2, 2016 at 4:49 am

      That was exactly what I thought when I read that. The feeling was enhanced by many things I’ve read/seen recently, most prominently these:

      * The only Sanders item for sale at Dem convention was in the vein of Nazi anti-Jew paraphernalia: https://m.reddit.com/r/SandersForPresident/comments/4v6lz1/this_is_the_only_image_of_bernie_sanders_in/
      (This is especially disturbing in light of the leaked DNC email trying to find a way to spin Sanders’s Judaism/potential atheism to his detriment in the south.)
      * The militatism on display at the Dem convention. Margot Kidder expressed her dismay–also mine–beautifully here: http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/07/29/my-fellow-americans-we-are-fools/
      (Watching pieces of the convention made clear progressives weren’t meant to be won by this distinct militaristic lean. Indeed, one representative said confidently they’d pick up two moderate, middle class Republicans for each blue collar Dem they lost.)

      • Paul
        August 2, 2016 at 9:17 am

        Sigh. There are definitely heavy militaristic , national narcissism overtones in American foreign policy. I think it is in part because of democracy – which holds the individual as the primary political unit. We are taught that what is right for me is best for all – that my needs come first. This is one of the weak points of democracy. Don’t get me wrong, I think democracy is the best political system yet invented by humans – but it needs to be channeled and focused – left to grow without oversight, it will degenerate into “Me”-ism. Which it is doing -Me, Me, Me, Me,Me … 350 million times.

        Margot Kidder is over the top – she may not be wrong, but what she says when describing a people, is very incomplete. Americans are the first on the scene of world-wide national disasters to offer food and clean water and medical aid. Those very same military assets – like C-5’s or C-130’s – are often used to transport humanitarian aid. They built schools and brought freshwater to many who were dying. Even at their darkest hours, often good comes of their endeavors – sometimes against their will. For instance Merk accidently discovered a cure for River blindness ( a terrible tortorous, deadly disease caused by a parasite) and the governments of the affected countries in Africa would not allow distribution. Merk had it distributed clandestinely at their cost – over $1 billion – they saved literally millions of lives. It was a two pill treatment that needed no refrigeration and no follow up – there was no profit in it for Merk. The affected countries eventually had to acknowledge the treatment and erected a statue to the President of Merk.

        Americans as individuals are as kind and caring as any people I have met. Between capitalism draining the wealth to the rich and democracy reinforcing the Me generation, they are becoming hard as a culture.

        • August 2, 2016 at 5:35 pm

          I temporarily unpublished this comment lest anyone read the words “over the top” and feel like they ought not comment. Visiting your comment after the workday, that seems more than a little overly cautious. I’m pretty sure no one would take your “over the top” as a potential indictment of anything they’d say, though that was what I worried about when temporarily holding your comment.

          I have a lot to mull over as I contemplate your comment. One thing I’d like to say now is that I feel like we rely too much on data today. We use it to overemphasize the importance of the numbers we see over the things we feel and know on some gut level. So while I, too, like to know there’s some kind of data substantiating my gut instincts, I sometimes find things that really just resonate in my gut. They’re beyond fact. They’re a call to question. That’s how I felt about Kidder’s piece: that there was an important call to question whether “U.S.A.-U.S.A.” was really, truly a chant that put the American people on any kind of high ground.

          Her piece was incomplete in the totality of human history, but it was a complete assessment of what she felt as she wrote it. It’s something I identified with as I wrestle with questions of what makes me complicit as I witness wrongness unfolding and wonder what role I play in it, particularly if/when I remain silent.

          • Paul
            August 2, 2016 at 6:21 pm

            Indeed Deborah, data bases are the tip of a much larger issue. What we are doing is reducing human behavior to data and in the process we are losing some information-important information. For instance, we can describe human behavior in terms of violent acts committed – however, in the process we are losing the random acts of kindness committed. In the name of efficiency and for our own ends, we are choosing to represent human acts in far fewer dimensions than they actually exist (if you assign a dimension to each quality and the interaction of qualities). If you know about differential calculus, this is a good metaphor. For instance the definite integral between a and b – which is the area under the curve is expressed as the following integral:

            The result of this is a number – say 7 units (whatever units the x and y represent).

            So now we have taken a nice curvy line to a single number. In fact if the curvy line goes below 0 on the x-axis between a and b, then that amount is subtracted from the integral total. What this means is that as soon as we define the data of our curvy human as an integral, we lose the curve.In fact if we want to go back to the line by differentiating there are an infinite number of possibilities that will satisfy the criteria.

            And yet even in the face of the loss of humanity, we continue to reduce humans to data – and from that data we make decisions that do not reflect the human condition.

  5. August 1, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    Dang … meant to post this as a comment. Or maybe I did. Delete if it pops up twice, okay?

    I would love to see the beginning of a complete and radical change in the way government within this country is managed. That’s why I’m voting for Johnson – not because I entirely buy into Libertarian ideas about utopia (certainly not as presented by Ayn Rand!) but because I think he offers an excellent opportunity to break the deadlock.

    The chances of a third party candidate winning are slim – they’re always slim … BUT so many people are so dismayed by the Clinton/Trump choice that maybe, just maybe, this is the year we can have someone free of the D/R ties in the White House. Johnson has promised to draw on the best minds from among both Democrats and Republicans to make up his Cabinet. Wouldn’t that be incredible? Can you imagine the two sides of the house FINALLY working together, no longer torn apart by party allegiances but actually getting the job done?

    I keep reading “Yes, the two-party system is broken – but this is NOT THE YEAR to fix it! A Clinton/Trump presidency would DESTROY THIS NATION. You MUST vote against Trump/Clinton – and the ONLY way to do that is to vote Clinton/Trump!”

    I say bullshit. Firstly, what motivation would people have to fix a broken system in an electoral cycle where everything seems peachy and voting the good old traditional Elephant/Ass feels comfortable? Secondly, voting D/C is what got us to this broken place. How can it possibly make sense that we will avoid trouble only by continuing to vote D/C?

    Deb, obviously I say all this with total respect for the different stance you – and others – have chosen. Voting your conscience means taking all the information you have available to you, measuring it against what you believe to be in the best interests of this country, and putting your X in what you believe to be the best place.

    But you know what I’d love? I’d love a whole bunch of people – regardless of how they plan to vote – to give Johnson a boost in the polls. If he can get to 15% he’ll be able to participate in the presidential debates – then all the thousands or millions of people who think they have no choice beyond the Trump of Doom and Hellary will hear what he’s proposing, learn that actually there is at least one other meaningful option, and be able to make a more educated choice. The media is giving him more attention than they usually give non-core candidates, but by and large they’re continuing their usual great job of keeping the populace uninformed.

    A really need to write my own blog post on this subject, instead of hijacking your comment section! But thanks for the invitation anyway…:)

    • August 2, 2016 at 5:10 am

      I can’t type much because I’m on my phone, but did want to say (1) thank you for your thoughtful comment and (2) that “voting my conscience” increasingly means “not voting Clinton/Kaine.” The more I read–dozens of articles daily–the more I am inclined to vote third party. Over and over I see the same abusive, shaming messages that I must vote Clinton/Kaine lest I do otherwise and make it harder for them to beat Trump. Here’s the thing, though: for months, polls had Sanders beating Trump, often by double digits. The final Trump-v.-Sanders post on the Huffington Post trend graph showed Sanders beating Trump by an 11-point margin. So why not Sanders? I know many people reach many conclusions, but mine is this: they backed Clinton against the odds to help maintain their own entrenched power. They did this with subtle pushes toward Clinton throughout the primaries (as evidenced within some leaked emails) and by fundraising benefiting Clinton almost exclusively, with only a fraction (around 1%) of raised monies staying with state parties. Add to that a 96-page report on the primaries showing numerous voting irregularities handily favoring Clinton, without similar bias represented in the Republican race. The thread weaving together many otherwise apparently unrelated stories is numerous actions to ensure a Clinton victory. Then, with Clinton thereby “winning,” strategy could shift to exactly what we’re seeing now, blaming and shaming of voters who won’t “get in line” with the current candidates … shifting attention handily away from how the current candidates might not have been, had the DNC been more interested in the real voice of the people. I reject their narrative and conclusions alike, seeing how many choices they have even today to change the playing field.

  6. August 2, 2016 at 3:46 am

    I want to be able to finish my higher education without having to worry about the crippling debt that comes with it. I want future generations to have a better education than I did, growing up in a lower-middle-class hick town. I want to graduate college and have a career that reflects my studies, that pays me more than just the bare minimum so I can eventually afford my own place.

    • August 2, 2016 at 5:13 am

      I so hear that. My ed debt is now down into the five-figure range, but my siblings’ debt is staggering. This is what we’ve done to have a chance, but man, it should not be this way … now that we live in a world full of successful examples of other ways. I really hope there is better ahead, individually and collectively.

  7. August 2, 2016 at 7:41 am

    I totally agree with your sentiments, and I’m having such a hard time with this election. What I want to see in America is a living wage for every citizen. How can we ever expect to see equality or have an economy that works when some people earn $7.50 an hour and others earn $60+ an hour? The economic disparity is not equivalent to the mental or physical output of “hard work”. Some of the hardest workers I know are poor people. Work is work, whatever it is, if it has value then we need to value the workers in a more equal way. That doesn’t mean everyone has to earn exactly the same, but it does mean we could make it more fair.

    And then there’s the cost of “higher education”. When I was in high school only 25% of kids went on to college. Now everyone is expected to go to college if they want to get a good job. But starting your adult life with $40,000 to $100,000 in school loan debt is insane, especially in the current job market. This has to change.

    I would like to see the USA have better international relationships, better trade agreements, and be respected in the world again. I would also like to see the USA become the champion of renewable energy and environmental conservation. And yes, we need safe borders and better security but we don’t need to appear as the world’s “bully”.

    Don’t get me started on corruption in politics and government spending. Both sides are equally at fault. I would like to see good, honest and ethical leadership that really cares about the average everyday concerns of citizens. I’d like to see government that’s in touch with the people. I’d like to see a system that works the way it’s supposed to.

    I could go on, but I won’t, everyone knows already the multitude of issues we face.

  1. August 2, 2016 at 8:12 am
  2. October 11, 2016 at 6:01 pm

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