That’s Not How it Works

Your vote in this election (or lack thereof) will do one of two things: It will assist in electing Hillary Clinton or it will assist in electing Donald Smith. It won’t create a viable third party; it won’t dismantle entrenched parties; it won’t remove money from elections; it won’t make a statement; it won’t prove a point; it won’t do anything except assist in the election of one of these two people. That is what is on your conscience when you vote or don’t.

I can sleep at night knowing I have supported a highly competent, successful lawmaker who has put forward a strong domestic agenda intended to support social welfare and social justice.

I could not possibly sleep at night knowing I abetted the election of an unqualified liar who pursues hate through an agenda of mass deportation, the banning of persons of particular religions and the prosecution of women who abort or miscarry.

I’m Still With Her

Hillary’s admirers think she doesn’t get credit for her relentlessness, that she gets overshadowed by politicians who can give a better speech but don’t know how to get anything done, that she gets dinged by a press corps that loves to talk about optics but isn’t particularly interested in how policy gets made.

Some of this is fair; some of it isn’t. But the reason it’s important is that relentlessness is core to Clinton’s theory of change. If you want to know her plan for being a good president, it’s actually pretty simple: Read everything, learn everything, work with everybody, and never stop trying to push the ball forward. That may sound obvious, but it’s actually a sharp change from recent presidents and current candidates whose theory of change relied on the power of oratory to mobilize citizens to demand new policies.

Bill Clinton explained Hillary’s political style perfectly — but disguised it as a love story

I’ve had this conversation with a lot of people about Hillary Clinton for two reasons: 1) I believe it’s true of her and 2) I work in the slow, deadly details of social change (well, court reform, but they overlap quite a bit).

When I talk to my friends about being burned out at work (which happens, unfortunately) or when I talk to my colleagues about the next steps in a policy change or when I try to get my donors excited about some marginal improvement we’ve made somewhere, this is the context of what I’m saying. Policy is hard and it’s so slow, most of the time, people don’t see the change.

Then, suddenly, a bunch of people jump on the bandwagon and something, which has taken you years or decades to research, design, and advocate for, just seems to happen. But that is not true at all.

It’s not fair and it’s cold comfort, indeed, to people suffering injustice at this minute. But it’s a critical understanding for someone in charge to have.

Fear, Hate and Facebook

gavinNTo which I add:  And it’s important to note, given the fear of immigrants and people of color–as well as the ignorance of cultural history–on display at the convention, that Freddie Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara to parents from the Gujarat region of India.

He was not Christian, either.

There is so much upsetting here, so I’m going to focus on this ability and need to dehumanize and subjugate people of color, queer people, and women by denouncing them and their needs and their humanity while simultaneously using their art, their labor, their skills while opposing the policies and systems which might enable those without power and privilege to thrive.

The GOP is so happy saying you, gay man who is foreign from one of those places, believing one of those religions have no value and don’t deserve anything society can provide, but aren’t you happy we like your little song enough to use it?


The unspoken word in “Black lives matter” is not “only”–it is not “more”. If there is an implicit modifier in the phrase, it is “also“. If, when you hear the words “black lives matter”, you also assume an unspoken word, such as “more” or “only”, it’s a good idea to ask yourself why.

Please, sit quietly, nonconfrontationally, and completely honestly with yourself and walk through why this is your reaction. Bluntly, and knowing no-one is going to hear your thoughts or judge you for them, honestly learn why you respond to the statement “Black lives matter” as though it were “only Black lives matter” or “Black lives matter more”.

If you get no further than “BUT all lives matter, that’s why ‘black lives matter’ has an unspoken ‘more’ in it”; or if you can’t come up with a better explanation than “I’m not included in the statement ‘black lives matter’, so it must mean ‘only’ “, I’d suggest you need to keep thinking.

“Think”–the strongest admonishment I grew up with. “Why aren’t you thinking?” And “this is not about you”–the best advice I grew up with. These are your guides here, when you ask yourself why you think “Black lives matter” is a threat or an insult to you or why you dismiss it as something that does not concern everyone.


Is Elena Smiling?

“We add that, when directly asked at oral argument whether Texas knew of a single instance in which the new requirement would have helped even one woman obtain better treatment, Texas admitted that there was no evidence in the record of such a case.”

Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt, No 15-274, p. 28 (Breyer, J.)

Not “did it?”, but “could it have?”, and the answer is No.

As the Washington Post put it: Supreme Court rules against Texas and for science in abortion case


A Friend of a Friend Made this Handy Venn Diagram



Senators that voted against background checks and against LGBTQ employment discrimination and who receive campaign contributions from the NRA.

(original download link; imgur link that is much easier to read)

It is not an accident that we have so many gun deaths in the United States and it is not acceptable. It’s also not a mystery how to stop them. We need–at a  minimum–strong gun regulation or, as I believe, we need a complete ban on private firearm ownership in the United States.

But we also need people to withdraw support from politicians who preach hate, discrimination or the Us/Them dichotomy that allows acceptance of exclusionary policies, that promotes a culture in which it is acceptable to afford some people less than the full measure of their humanity and the dignity owed them for that humanity.

Privilege is a Privilege


Reconstructing the Dreamland: The Tulsa Riot of 1921: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation by Alfred L. Brophy and Death in a Promised Land The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 by Scott Ellsworth. Eyewitness account.

Even if you are the most progressive, most egalitarian white American who ever lived, even if you were born with nothing, worked hard to change that, and succeeded, this is some of the history which gave you–a white American–a headstart.

It’s hard to reconcile that with the knowledge that you worked hard, that you are smart, that your road was not easy and never sure. But you can. Because you work hard, because you are smart, because you know how to travel roads that are not easy.

And once you’ve reconciled this–or perhaps to help you reconcile this–you can work for remediation.

Because you know how important it is to benefit from your own hard work and your own smarts–no matter who you are or what you were born with.

And you owe this to your communities, to the people this history harmed, to the people still harmed by this history. My privilege–your privilege–was not earned; it was bought with this history of injustice and hate and harm. The debt requires your hard work.