Monday, October 31, 2016

Tom Hayden: A Life Well Lived

His name may not be familiar to you, unless you're my age or older.  He was a product of an earlier time in this country, a time when patriotism was something that was not only authentic, but a little dangerous.  He and the generation of which he was part believed that the only thing better than the America of today was the America of tomorrow--but that, to get there, we needed to come face-to-face with our weaknesses as a country and address them head on.  He was not afraid to do so, whether than meant working within the system or working outside of it.

He was not motivated by a love of power.  He did not lose his soul in the rough-and-tumble of the times and the politics through which he lived.  He was not afraid to be controversial.  He was not afraid to take on the system, even at personal cost.  And he did so much to make all of our lives better.  And all of us, no matter where we are politically, are better off for it.

His name was Tom Hayden.  You can, if you wish to either learn or reminisce, read here.

In reflecting on Hayden's life and death, I find myself wishing that my only concern was for his family and close friends, who will certainly miss him in a way that those of us who did not know him personally can never do.  Instead, I find myself concerned with much more than that.

We live in phenomenally narcissistic times.  We live primarily for ourselves.  We talk far too much about the issues of the day, but do to little to make a difference with respect to any of them. Truthfully, many of us don't give enough of a damn, not at least in the way that Hayden did.  You care about an issue?  Fine.  Are you willing to go on trial for it?  He did.  Still interested in making a difference?  Well, guess what?  Sometimes, to do that, going to jail is exactly what you need to do.

I wonder and worry whether we have enough of those people left.  I wonder and worry whether we will have enough of them for the battles that lie ahead.  I hope and pray that Tom Hayden's memory is enough to inspire all of us, or at least many of us, to rise to the challenge his life and memory give to the rest of us.

The Coming Millennial Wave

I have written more than once that, contrary to Tip O'Neill's wisdom that all politics is local (partly true), all politics is really generational, especially on a national level.  When you think about it that way, in fact, the yin and the yang between liberal and conservative waves makes a great deal more sense when viewed with that fact in mind.  Each generation chooses the type and amount of government it thinks that it needs for their specific circumstances.  The Greatest Generation, facing both the Depression and the Axis, felt that it needed "big government" to help get it past both obstacles.  The Boomers (my generation) took prosperity for granted and saw "big government" as an obstacle on its own, to the individuality that Boomers craved (and still do).  As a consequence, it has tended to elect Republican Presidents and Congresses.

Well, the Millennials are poised to take over as the major cohort among the American voting public. And guess which direction it's leaning in?  Take a look.  That's right.  If only Millennials voted, Hillary would be the beneficiary of a nearly 45-state blowout. To say nothing about the kind of Congress she would get to work with.

Does this surprise you?  Millennials have come of age in the world of limited government and unlimited capitalism that sprung up as a consequence of Boomer self-centeredness and searching for individual fulfillment.  Why shouldn't they view the government as a potential helping hand?  Who else is going to extend that hand to them?  To paraphrase the late Senator Paul Laxalt of Nevada, when was the last time any of them got a hug and a kiss from Wall Street.

I don't know if we'll get to where we need to be in next week's election.  But I know it doesn't matter. Having graphically seen the voting inclinations of millennials, I feel that I can join the late Rev. Martin Luther King at the mountaintop, and see the promised land.  Our eyes hath seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!

Kansas Gets The Government It Deserves

Thomas Frank famously wrote a book entitled "What's The Matter With Kansas?"  The title quickly became a phrase for describing the phenomenon of red-state voters who vote for economic policies that are against their interests, promoted by politicians who use values-voting to pick the pockets of these voters.  Those voters keep on voting to have their pockets picked, either out of sheer stupidity or out of embarrassment for having been so sheerly stupid.

Well, based on recent events, we can still wonder what the matter with Kansas is.  The real question is whether, at this rate, there'll be a Kansas in a few years.

Sunflower State voters elected former Senator Sam Brownback, a Republican, as their Governor in 2010, on a promise to take Reagan Miracle-Gro economics down to the state level and make Kansas a paradise to be envied by the other 49 states.  With the aid of a supple and not highly critical legislature, he made his policies a reality.  Result?  Reality kicked back--hard.  The state's revenues tanked, followed by its economy, followed by massive cuts to some of its most basic services.

Were Kansas voters deterred by any of this?  Uh-uh.  They apparently view seriously the old Bolshevik joke:  "Proof of the farsightedness of Comrade Trotsky's predictions is that none of them have come true yet."  Brownback took it seriously enough to tell Kansas voters as he ran for re-election in 2014 that his wisdom just needed more time to take root.  Incredibly, the voters gave him four more years of that time.

Their most recent reward for this?  Brownback's recent announcement that he would end quarterly reporting of the state's economic performance, on the grounds that the reports were too complicated to understand.  Frankly, it's hard to escape the feeling that, were that performance worth reporting, Brownback would decide that Kansans could put up with the complications.

As it is, sadly, Kansas, like other democracies, has the government its voters deserve.  May they, for their sakes and everyone else's, find a way to deserve something better soon.

Fear Is Not As Powerful As Love

The recent death of Jack T. Chick, the founder of Chick Publications, set off a wave of reflection in my mind and heart.

As I have written previously, in my college years and for some time afterword, I because part of the evangelical community.  I did so in large part because the college I went to, Oberlin, did not have much in the way of a social life, and the student Christian fellowship was willing to provide me with one.  But I also did it in no small part because I was adrift at that point when it came to thinking about life after college.  Doubts about my abilities led to fear.

And fear, as anyone who has ever looked at a Chick track knows, is an emotion that evangelical Christians are only too happy to exploit.  Fear of going to hell, fear of displeasing G-d even if you don't go to hell, fear of being an outcast in the community--you name it, and they have a way of wrapping fear around it.  Chick tracks are notorious for using fear of hell as a motivator for preaching the Gospel.  They are described in the Times article as religious pornography; frankly, I'm not in a position to disagree with that assessment.

In my case, fear only led me to feeling more and more adrift in life.  It was only when I found the love of my life, and build both a family and a career around her, that the drifting ended, and I began to find the real Stephen Rourke.

So that's my message to all of you for right now, when it comes to spiritual things.  Fear of whatever it is you're supposed to be afraid of is highly overrated.  Fear simply produces more fear.  Fear is not a path to a better life; fear is a path away from it.

I know it's a cliche, but love really is the answer.  Too bad Jack T. Chick never found an effective way to put that into a tract.

Let The Government Create Competition

This article from the New York Times states the case for adding a public option to Obamacare as well as anything else I've ever read.  It forces us to face the fact that the private sector doesn't have the resources--or, for that matter, the will--to provide coverage for everything through market forces alone.  It accepts and outlines the need for the government to create competition in order to bring more people into the marketplace and help to drive costs down.  It points out that conservatives in the previous Administration under George W. Bush effectively did exactly that, by adding the prescription-drug benefit to Medicare.  And finally, it notes that Medicare is already a single-payer system that is highly popular and government-sponsored.  Why not effectively make it the public option by allowing people to buy into it?  Among other things, it would help to ensure the fiscal solvency of Medicare.

The only thing I would want to add are a few observations about the role of government in the marketplace generally.

Conservatives like to pretend that there should be no such thing.  But the harsh reality is that, even to do the very limited things that they think government should do (e.g., public health, the criminal justice system and national security) requires the government to go into the marketplace and compete with private interests for resources, natural and human.  By definition, this activity has an economic impact all by itself.  I've often thought that the solution to poverty should be giving Defense Department jobs to the poor.  They'd be working, and conservatives would fight like hell on their behalf.

It is time--it is, in fact, long overdue--for the United States to stop being the only developed country in the world that doesn't guarantee health care as a basic right.  If conservatives looked at the health care systems in the countries that we compare ourselves too, they would discover that those systems pass a basic conservative test:  they work.  It's high time ours did as well.

So let the government create health care competition.  And, in the process, guarantee health care for all.

The Earth Has Lost More Than Half Its Animals Since 1970

That's what this story is all about.  And it probably will not surprise you to know that we are the culprits.  Nor will it surprise you that our resource consumption is currently proceeding at an unsustainable rate.

What may or may not surprise you is that the doomsday effectively prophesied by all of this is not at all inevitable.  There are things we can do to stop this and, in fact, some of them are already being done, although not yet on a scale that would make a significant difference.  So, as always, the question of our survival is squarely in our hands.

But it's always been easier to pretend that problems don't exist, especially when the problem is planetary in scale.  It's just too big.  What if I do something, and no one else does?  And why should I suffer in the process?  Maybe the experts are wrong; they're not always right.  And, before you know it, we've exhausted all of the rationalizations, and imposed a death sentence on ourselves and everyone else.

It's easy for liberals like myself to look at the skeptics and decide that all we can do is use government to force people to make distasteful choices.  What if there were a better way to get people to take short-term action in our long-term interests?  One that didn't feel like sacrifice.  One that, if it didn't feel like fun, at least felt like it was a choice, one that people could make willingly.

We could take a lesson from Tom Sawyer and his ability to convince his friends to whitewash the fence.  There's nothing wrong with a little old-fashioned salespersonship, if its the case that you've got something worth selling.  We do; can we humble ourselves to adopt new ways of thinking that might save ourselves and others?

I don't know.  But we have to try.  If you point a gun at people and tell them to act in their own best interests, all they can see is the gun.  We need to put down the sticks, and find some carrots fast.

Values Voters, Beware!

It can be easy for a red voter in a red state to look at AIDS as G-d's righteous wrath against the "ungodly" (translation: gays).  It's much harder to look at what's going on in your own state, and ask yourself the question "What is G-d trying to tell me?"

And down in Alabama, as red a state as you'll find, G-d is delivering a very powerful message in the form of record drought.  This drought is not entirely due to climate change; it is in no small part a reflection of terrible water management policies that, in turn, reflect their distaste for good government, and their preference for building monuments to the Ten Commandments.

G-d isn't interested in any spiritual monuments except for the ones we build in our hearts.  And we build those monuments not by listening and repeating G-d's words, but obeying them.  We are commanded to be good stewards of the earth, and to care for the needs of others.  And governments are instituted by G-d to ensure that His commandments are reflected in the day-to-day affairs of the general public.

None of these principles are respected by the type of water management, or lack thereof, practiced in Alabama.  There could be no more basic responsibility of government than ensuring the provision of fresh, clean water.  Water is 90% of our bodies; without it, we die.

So, values voters in Alabama, what is G-d telling you?  About your government?  About yourselves? About your willingness to judge others?  About your ability to honor G-d not only with your lips, but with your lives?

Think about it.  But don't take too long.  You may start dying off sooner than you think.  And hating gays won't save you.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

There Is No One Righteous, No, Not One

When it comes to politicians, that is.

I get frustrated with progressives who are abandoning Hillary Clinton for the Green Party's Jill Stein based upon a misguided perception that she is somehow more "real" and "authentic" when it comes to progressive politics.  In the minds of these people, Hillary talks the talk but doesn't walk the walk, whereas everything that Stein does is based on principles so lofty you would need a combination of Jacob's Ladder and the Tower of Babel to reach them.

Well, as it turns out, that height is too lofty for even Jill herself.  It would seem, based upon this, that she does not put her money where her mouth, and the platform of her party, is.

But that's not particularly surprising.  To be political is to seek power, and it is simply impossible to seek power without currying a little favor from those who have what it takes to make the world go around.  Of course, this might not matter so much if Stein were really in the business of building a political movement.  But she's not.  She's a publicity parasite who shows up every four years and piggybacks her "campaign" on the back of the media coverage given to the Democratic and Republican candidates.

Say what you will about Hillary, who herself (along with her husband) sometimes seems far too interested in money.  She has built a political movement, one that contains real accomplishments with real and positive impacts on the lives of Americans.  She is not perfect.  But, if that's your litmus test for supporting a candidate, then put down your lantern, Diogenes.  And spare me the lectures about purity; I believe that politics is the art of the possible.  And so does the next President of the United States--Hillary Clinton (pu!  pu!  pu!).*

*Warding off the "evil eye" in Judaism (or, in more secular terms, avoiding the tempting of fate).

The Trouble With Capitalism Is Capitalists

And what, exactly, is that trouble?  "They're too damn greedy."

Those aren't the words of some bleeding-heart liberal, though most bleeding-heart liberals would agree with them.  They are the words of Herbert Clark Hoover, the 31st President of the United States and the man who, in the words of the National Lampoon, did a little thing called "the Crash."

The Great Depression of the 1930's destroyed the economic life of the country, and (worse yet) many lives, including the lives of men who should have seen the abyss that was coming and pretended that we would never reach it.  Hoover was arguably luckier than those men; the Depression merely destroyed his political career and reputation--and even those made a small comeback in later years. You can read more about all this here, including the above-mentioned quote.

Capitalists, in any case, were definitely Hoover's kind of people, so his words are worth pondering in the hyper-capitalistic world of today.  Sometimes, it seems that very little has changed.  Capitalism is still run by capitalists who are, in Hoover's words, too damn greedy.  Take Walmart, for example, which, despite phenomenal profitability, has historically paid its employees so little that they have to rely on food stamps and Medicaid to make ends meet.

Historically, that is.  That's all changing now.  Walmart has launched a new program to address customer complaints about unsanitary, poorly-stocked stores.  A key part of this program involves significant increases in wages.  The program has reduced the number of complaints and let to sales increases.  You can read more about this program here.  Interestingly, Wall Street is thus far unimpressed with Walmart's program; despite the rise in the retailer's revenue, the Street is fixated on the short-term impact to Walmart-s bottom line.

In other words--in Hoover's words, to be exact--they're too damn greedy.  Where in the world do they think Walmart's profits are going to come from if Walmart's sales revenue fails to go up? Throwing more people out of work by closing stores?  That's the preferred 1% way of improving the balance sheet.

Except that, like it or not, society exists for the long run.  And in the long run, this doesn't work.

To quote Hoover's Oval Office predecessor, Calvin Coolidge, when more and more people are out of work, unemployment results.  And, when more and more unemployment results, people have less to spend.  And, when people have less and less to spend, they spend less.  And, when people spend less and less, business revenue falls like a brick off a cliff for everyone.  And, sooner or later (more likely sooner), there's nobody left to fire.  Unless, of course, you want to shut society down altogether.

This isn't gooey-eyed lefty talk.  This is math.  The Republican establishment had better start learning how to do math again, and learn to develop a level of patience that runs beyond the arrival date of the next quarterly earnings reports.  Those Trump voters willing to sell their souls to a trust-fund con artist?  They're your employees.  And they're tired of being given a middle finger by the people who employ them, and being told that they should worry more about immigrants taking their jobs.

If the Republican establishment wants a little unsolicticed advice from me--if it can stand to listen to it--here it is:  Be a little less greedy.  Bridge the financial gap between the have-nots and the haves with decent wages and benefits.  Treat customers and employees like decent human beings, because that's what they are, and your profits don't exist without both of them.  Do that, and you will find them to be less attracted to the Cheeto Hitler and more willing to vote for the boring empty suit you put up who wants to fight for freedom from capital-gains taxes.

In other words, you'll be back in the saddle, and still making obscene amounts of money.  Plus, the Democrats will be knocked out of power for a long time, and you'll save money because you'll only need to buy one political party instead of two.

Personally, I'm hoping you're not listening.  Personally, I'm hoping that you collapse under the weight of your own greed, so that a truly progressive government can take over and give America the government it needs and deserves.  But at least you can't say, in any case, that I didn't warn you.

You're your own worst enemy.  Get over it.  Herbert Hoover and I said so.  That should be bipartisan enough for everyone.

Friday, October 28, 2016

No, The Constitution Does NOT Allow The Senate To Let The Supreme Court "Die Out"

I know I have said this in previous posts, but its worth saying again, if only because it's dangerous to not occasionally ponder its truth:  the only way for anyone to spout conservative rhetoric without going insane is to not listen to what you're spouting.  Especially if you're a member of the so-called "alt-right," the folks who view politics as war by other means.  Still, it's worth listening once in a while, especially to those instances when the spouter inadvertently discloses information compromising to his or her cause.

So it has been recently with someone by the name of Ilya Shapiro, who had this to say on the Web site about the current U.S. Senate blockade of President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court:
...  As a matter of constitutional law, the Senate is fully within its powers to let the Supreme Court die out, literally. ...
No, you did not read that incorrectly.  Mr. Shapiro wants you to believe that the Framers of our Constitution gave us a national government of separated powers, checking and balancing each other, with, somewhere in invisible ink, a clause slipped in saying that the Senate can systematically destroy one of those branches whenever it's in the mood.  True, Mr. Shapiro states that such a position may not be "politically tenable" (jeez, ya think?), but not to worry, you doubters out there. Per Mr. Shapiro, "it's definitely constitutional."

Based upon precisely what?

If you've managed to get through the article without throwing up, you'll have noticed that Mr. Shapiro does not go so far as to back up his helpful reassurances with anything that could be called proof--or, indeed, anything at all, other than his breezy take-it-from-me-you-have-my-word-on-it assurances. That shouldn't surprise anyone who's actually read the text of the Constitution itself, which is not particularly helpful to Mr. Shapiro's argument.

Article III of the Constitution lays out the framework for the national judiciary.  In Section 1, it clearly states (and I quote):
The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court ... 
Of course, it goes on from there to talk about lower courts and the rights of judges.  But take notice in that statement of the word "shall."  As any lawyer (myself included) with any basic knowledge of statutory construction can tell you, that language makes the existence of the Supreme Court mandatory.  In other words, the existence of the Supreme Court is not just a good idea.  It's the law. The exact nature, or even existence of lower courts surely isn't mandatory.  The number of judges needed for the Court to function is likewise left to the discretion of Congress.  But not the existence of the Court itself.  Sorry, Mr. Shapiro.  No dying out allowed!

So, why does Mr. Shapiro say otherwise?

Actually, I don't think he intended to do it.  In fact, I think that it's the by-product of what might be politely referred to as giddiness, based on the prospect that the current Garland blockade might, if the Fates are generous and a lot of Democrats forget to vote on Election Day, produce the outcome conservatives want:  a conservative replacement for Antonin Scalia instead of a liberal one.

I can accept that.  Because it gives away the game.  It proves that, contrary to the elaborate dissembling by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell about something called "the Biden rule," the one that Vice-President Biden proposed* but never enacted, this has never been the highfalutin' battle about principle that conservatives would have you believe.  This has always been about the naked acquistion and maintenance of power.

And that pursuit, all by itself, is unconstitutional.  You see, that awful word "shall also shows up in Article II, Section 2, clause 2--the one that states the President "shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint ... Judges of the supreme Court ..."  The double use of the word "shall" in this case makes it clear that the Senate must give its "Advice and Consent." They can say "No," of course.  But they have to say it.  Biden rules need not apply--and, by themselves, probably arent' constitutional.

But that would put Republican Senators, in an election year, in the position for explaining why they are now voting against a judge they had previously approved for a federal appeals court for a promotion for which, on the surface, he appears to be completely qualified.  And they would then have to tell the truth  they're against a liberal Supreme Court.  They don't want to say that, because they know how politically craven that sounds.

So they have to pretend that some "principle" in is play.  But the extension of the blockade proposed by John McCain to all potential nominees of a Hillary Clinton Administration demolishes that arguement all by itself.  The political character of the current Senate majority is now exposed.  And the nation's highest court, its reputation on a slow decline started with Bush v. Gore and the Citizens United decision, has now been formally annointed as a political trophy.  One of our three branches of our government is trying to "nullify" another branch, in an impurely political way for impurely political reasons.  And Ilya Shapiro is cheering them on, pretending--almost successfully--that it's all good.

The Republicans are now exposed for the would-be tyrants that they have always been.  But they can only get away with it if you let them.  They may not always listen to the words that come out of their mouths, but that doesn't mean we have to ignore those words.  Or their potential consequences.

What more can I say?


*It's debatable that he ever really proposed that "rule," but I'll let someone else write about that.

"Right Against Might": What 's At Stake On November 8

"I want world sympathy in this battle of right against might."
                                                                                                        --Mohandas K. Gandhi, (1869-1948)

Gandhi wrote those words on April 5, 1930.  The battle he waged was successful.  Our battle, sadly, is very much before us.

I write these words on a chilly Friday afternoon, sitting in my den while I wait for utility workers to repair a gas main leading into my house.  The chill that I am feeling right now is only partly due to the fact that, at the moment, the gas is turned off.  The far greater chill stems from reading a variety of online articles and social media posts this morning while I wait for the work to be done, and realizing how much, less than two weeks away from a national election, the democracy that so many have sacrificed so much to preserve and improve is in mortal peril.

Donald Trump's announced unwillingness to guarantee in advance of the election that he would accept its outcome might be easily dismissed as the lunatic ravings of someone who is either deranged or bluffing.  And, with Trump, it's easily possible that it's some bizarre combination of both. It can't possibly be his lack of experience in politics.  In the United States today, we may not have the best civics education available anymore, but everyone knows that the system of government we have will be stopped dead in its tracks if we do not accept its results.

Most of us do accept those results.  In 2000, Al Gore and his supporters, myself included, accepted them.  We did so reluctantly, distastefully, with an all-but-certain knowledge that they were based on outright fraud sanctioned by hypocritical rhetoric about "the rule of law" from people who were breaking it.  But we accepted it.  Al Gore did what he had to do to save the system, and the nation, he and his late father both served and loved.  And no, the fact that he filed suit to challenge the Florida results does not mean that he didn't "accept it."  Acceptance means working within the system if you believe that some part of it has failed to operate correctly.  Gore did that, and abided by the results. And so did Democratic voters, notwithstanding the carnage that was unleashed by the Administration that followed.

Trump makes no such distinction.  Like all demagogues before him (and, G-d help us, after him), in his mind he is the system that America needs.  Anything standing in the way of that reality must be stopped or destroyed, at any and all costs.  That has been his core message throughout the entire circus that has masqueraded as his campaign.  And, if you've wondered what "at any and all costs" might include, you need look no further than the thuggery, egged on by Trump himself, toward anyone that even looks like a protester.  For evidence of this, you need look no further than here and here.  Perhaps the most shameful part of this is the participation of former elected officials who have every reason to know better, but are desperate for a second act in their political lives.

Perhaps even this wouldn't matter, if it weren't for the evidence that it is working.  It's already affected the arts in Chicago.  It almost certainly is feeding the biggest terrorism threat that this nation faces.  (Hint:  it has nothing to do with Islam.)

And, worst of all, it has already undermined the court system, which serves as the final arbiter of disputes.  This is the only possible explanation of the outcome in the trial of the Bundy brothers for their illegal occupation of a national wildlife refuge.  The facts of the case were undisputed; the violations of the law were not in doubt.  But the Bundys still received a favorable verdict, in contradiction of the evidence, from a jury of their peers.  White.  Male.  Peers.

Lest you think that statement is some bizarre form of reverse racism, compare the outcome of the Bundy trial with this.  See if you still think there's only one system of justice.  In fact, that's exactly what the Bundys of this world want.  One system of justice.  Theirs.  And it's Donald Trump's as well.

Forget the phony-scandalmongering of the right, or the false equivalencies of the extreme left. Hillary Clinton and congressional Democrats are all that stand between right and might in America at this fork in the road of its history.  As Doc Brown said in the last "Back to the Future" movie, your future is whatever you make it.  So make it a good one.  Make it one which right defeats might, as it did in India and as it can today.


Saturday, October 22, 2016

What The Cubs And Their Fans Can Teach All Of Us

I started this blog nearly eight years ago (hard to believe now), with the intention of mostly venting my political spleen, but not doing so at the expense of other subjects that interested me.  That's been harder than I thought, in some ways.  Not because politics are the only thing I think about, or because it's the thing I think about the most.  It's mainly true because my mind tends to see the ways in which politics, and what we can learn about how to better practice it, manifests itself in decidedly unpolitical areas.

Like baseball, for instance.

I started out tonight with the intention of writing a congratulatory post to the Chicago Cubs, and especially to their (no longer) long-suffering fans.  And that's exactly how I want to begin:  with congratulations to the players, manager, coaches and management for an outstanding job on and off the field.  And with an even bigger, more heartfelt congratulations to the fans, many of whom have endured decades of frustration just to be able to enjoy this moment.  Many of whom, sadly, are no longer enjoying it in this realm of existence.  May there be many toasts in Chicago tonight, and over the next several days, to absent friends.

It was, however, precisely as I was watching on TV the largely peaceful (if also appropriately boisterous) celebration by the fans in the narrow streets surrounding Wrigley Field (and, as someone who walked them last summer, I can attest to their narrowness).  I found myself thinking of other championship celebrations in other cities, which ended in senseless violence that stands in opposition to every value sports should represent.  But not tonight in Wrigleyville.  That's not how Cubs fans roll, as it turns out.  Peace, along with joy, was the order of the evening--and, behind it all, the persistence that speaks for itself over the entire course of the team's history.  That persistence was, finally, well-rewarded tonight, and Cubs fans proved that they deserved it.

Fine words.  So what the hell do they have to do with politics?

It comes down to two words I just wrote a few seconds ago:  peace, and persistence.

Nearly sixteen years ago, progressives accepted an election "outcome" that was more of an outrage than an outcome.  Put simply, a Presidential election was stolen by a cabal of elected officials, and unelected ones on the Supreme Court.  In many countries, those on the "losing" side would have responded to violence, and many would have considered that to be an acceptable response under the circumstances.  It didn't happen.  It didn't happen for one simple reason--in this case, the "losing" side had enough faith in democracy's ability to overcome a sneak attack on it to honor that faith, and wait for a better day.  Eight years later, that better day came.

It is now eight years beyond that better day, and I find myself with a troubling mix of optimism and pessimism.  Optimism comes courtesy of the latest polls:  they suggest an easy victory for Hillary, a Democratic-controlled Senate, and perhaps enough Democratic gains in the House to move the overall balance of power in Washington in the correct direction.

But polls are not votes, and that's where the pessimism comes in, courtesy of a e-mail I received this evening from Michael Moore, in which he promotes his film on "Trumpland."  He describes Trump voters as being willing to walk through walls for their candidate, and Hillary voters as being perhaps consumed with enough doubt about her to sit at home and take their chances with fate, rather than "sully" their hands with a less-than-perfect outcome.

And he may be right.  But there's one big problem here.  The choice isn't between less-than-perfect and maybe-better-than-that.  It's between less-than-perfect and disaster.  And, if we get disaster, you may not have any hands left to sully.  And neither may your family, your friends, or anyone else you might care about.

And that's why persistence has to be the order of the day.  Persistence in the face of compromised options.  Persistence in the face of voting for less than we deserve.  Persistence in the face of asking this country to kick the can on its best destiny yet one more time.  Because that kind of persistence is the only way you get to join Dr. Martin Luther King at the mountaintop, seeing the promised land. You may not join those who get their but, with persistence, your eyes will see the glory of the coming of the Lord.

Dr. King told us also that the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.  It takes a long time to learn the truth of that observation.  Cubs fans, thankfully, are experiencing the truth of it tonight.  We should take a cue from their persistence, and model it in order to get America to its own championship.  Let me boil this down as simply as possible: