Hello all and thank you for your support.
I, like many of you, have been transfixed by the testimony and hearings of Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh.
I was initially hesitant to weigh-in as I believe that we are, in general, paying too much attention to the drama in Washington. But this has become the center of our national conversation. We can’t look away. And this appointment will have massive legal and cultural implications for years to come.
I found Christine Blasey Ford to be incredibly sympathetic and genuine. I instinctively believe her. She seemed like a thoughtful and introspective woman. She also seemed like exactly the opposite of the kind of person who would welcome having her life disrupted and uprooted. She had every incentive not to come forward. To me, the only reason she would have is if she were telling the truth.
Brett Kavanaugh, on the other hand, painted a different picture. His testimony centered on him, his work, his career, his relationships. There was a sense of indignance, aggrievement and disbelief throughout. I thought some of his testimony was either utterly unbelievable, odd or unseemly. He seemed like a man who believes that his accomplishments render him above inspection. He did not seem thoughtful or introspective.
He also made the process overtly political by attacking Democrats and blaming them for his situation. This is immensely destructive, as the Supreme Court is supposed to be one of our primary apolitical institutions. That presumption is getting demolished.
Most people did things to be ashamed of when they were young and still figuring things out – and many men in particular are deeply uncomfortable with being held accountable for misdeeds from our distant past. Many are also uncomfortable with a sense of guilt upon accusation when it is very difficult to confirm or deny what happened because of time passing or the fact that only two people were in the room.
I share these concerns. We generally should not be railroading people because of unconfirmed accusations from decades ago. We should not be weaponizing people’s teenage years and behavior. I, like most people, said and did some things as a teenager that make me cringe now. We should respect an objective process and not assume guilt.
Here though, the standards are very different for a number of reasons.
Brett Kavanaugh is not owed a Supreme Court position – he’s applying for a job. There are perhaps 200 – 300 jurists with equivalent credentials and accomplishments who are technically qualified. No one is forcing Kavanaugh to apply for this particular job. And if you are searching for someone whose judgment will shape the law of the land for decades to come, he or she can rightfully be held to an exactingly high standard. Many employers, if they were confronted with the likelihood or even possibility of this sort of behavior, even from the distant past, would pass and move on to other candidates.
Of equal importance, the behavior Kavanaugh is accused of goes way beyond usual teenage behavior. If true it indicates a wildly debasing attitude toward women and actions that inflicted serious harm for decades afterwards.
Third, the argument he is making is not that “This shouldn’t matter.” It is “This did not happen.” And to support that belief you would have to believe many other things that he said that were contradicted by other accounts and common sense.
Fourth, Kavanaugh is putting his own career and interests above that of the Supreme Court and the country. Even if the accusations are false, he would know that a significant proportion of the country would see his ability to objectively rule on many issues as compromised. It is hard to see a scenario where his being on the Supreme Court is good for the court’s ability to command popular and moral authority.
Fifth, this process is clearly designed for political expedience. Imagine if Kavanaugh makes it to the Supreme Court and then 10 other women come forward. It makes no sense not to let some time pass and investigate further. It particularly makes no sense not to compel testimony from Mark Judge, who was in the room at the time and wrote a memoir called Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Drunk which featured a character named “Bart O’Kavanaugh.” No one could look at this process and conclude it was anything other than a maximal attempt to cram an appointment through before more facts come to light or elections take place.
Kavanaugh strikes me as a distinctly Trumpian figure – someone with a history of debasing women who has a mindset that facts and the truth are what you make of them. The fact that he may become our newest Supreme Court Justice would be a further step in the erosion and disintegration of our institutions. The Republicans could nominate virtually any other qualified figure and it would be a massive improvement. It is also a disaster for those who believe our society must evolve in its treatment of and respect for women.
|The Republicans have a very narrow majority of 51-49 (Mike Pence votes on a Tie) so they need all of their votes with one defector. Right now, the goal should be to push Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota) and Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) to vote ‘No’ on Kavanaugh. It looks like it’s going to go down to the wire.
If Kavanaugh does wind up on the Supreme Court, there are very few options. Supreme Court Justices can be impeached just like Presidents. But this requires a supermajority of Senators (67), which is why you never hear about it as a possibility. The other move is equally dramatic – adding Supreme Court Justices. There is nothing in the Constitution about the number of Justices – indeed the number has changed over the years. In theory, a Democratic President and a majority of Senators could add 2 Supreme Court Justices, swinging it the other direction.
This last move would make the Supreme Court avowedly political, which would itself lead to problems. For the record, my suggestion is to replace Supreme Court lifetime appointments with an 18-year term. That’s long enough to resist influence – each President would get one appointment every 2 years. It makes no sense to have the law of the land hanging on the ongoing health of an 83-year old, or to have an appointment impact laws for thirty years afterwards. This could be bipartisan as it simply makes the Supreme Court less volatile and more predictable on both sides.
In the meantime, the problem is that the Republicans are winning elections and when they win, they pull out all the stops to achieve their goals. They blocked Merrick Garland who should be on the Court right now. It is difficult to be principled if only one side seems to be adhering to norms.
The only lasting way for us to make changes is to win. And win big. There is naturally a pendulum dynamic in American politics – that as one side governs the discontentment grows and the energy swings to the other side. There will be a reckoning on the other side. We must take full advantage of it.
If you’re in Maine, Alaska, Arizona, North Dakota or West Virginia, call your Senator.
Otherwise, the best way forward is to win big in 2018 and 2020. It is the only way. And after we win, we should be relentless in making our vision a reality. I, for one, would love to nominate Christine Blasey Ford’s pick to the Supreme Court and invite her to the announcement.
Thank you for your support. After our last email, we received hundreds of donations totaling thousands of dollars which we appreciate a great deal! We have a reporting deadline on September 30th– please do donate TODAY so that we can demonstrate that Americans want a new form of leadership that puts people first. Let’s win.
Thank you for your support for the campaign! We really appreciate it.
I am writing this from New Hampshire, where I met with the St. Anselm College Democrats Monday and am heading to Plymouth State University and New England College Tuesday. The young Democrats of New Hampshire are wonderful—active, thoughtful and passionate about improving our country. A number of students specifically chose St. Anselm College because they knew that they would get to participate directly in politics that would shape the country’s future. Imagine that!
They will indeed have an outsized role in determining our shared future. New Hampshire is the first primary voting state and will be one of the major battlegrounds leading up to 2020. I wrote an Op-Ed for the Concord Monitor, a major paper in New Hampshire, that was published this past weekend — it appears below.
After New Hampshire, we are heading to Pittsburgh, Des Moines, and then Chicago. Click here if you’d like to get a sense of the upcoming schedule. We are gearing up for an even bigger tour starting in late October/early November. The campaign is growing fast and we’d love to meet you.
One metric I have is how often someone will stop me on the street. I have to say that it’s happening more and more often. Everyone is very excited and friendly—this campaign draws the best people.
September 30th is a filing deadline and we need your help to boost our support. Please make a donation today and let’s show that we need to fight for a brighter future. The establishment candidates are coming, and every cent we get helps prove that we belong on that debate stage to talk about the challenges of this era and what we need to do to address them.
Seriously, between now and September 30th is a crucial time. So if you have been waiting to tell your friends about me or to bug them for a buck or two, NOW is the time.
See you on the trail soon,
A ‘Freedom Dividend’ of $1,000 a month would boost state economy
Hello, people of New Hampshire. It’s good to be back. I spent two formative years as a high school student in New Hampshire from 1990 to 1992. But I haven’t been back since.
Now I’m running for President, which means you’ll see a lot of me over the next year and a half.
And not just me – there will likely be 20 to 25 candidates on the Democratic side alone. We will criss-cross the Granite State in the months to come. We will show up to cafes, community centers, house parties and anywhere a lot of people are getting together. For the next few months, some of us will play coy. “I’m just here from Ohio because, uh, I really want to find out more about what people in New Hampshire are thinking.” But come November and December, we will drop all pretense and start jockeying for your votes.
A few of us, you really want to hear from. You take your responsibility as the first primary state seriously. As Ray Buckley said to me, “New Hampshire is where candidates spend millions of dollars to win over popular opinion, to no great effect. We actually want to meet the person.” You know that the rest of the country will take its cues from you. That no one has won the presidency without finishing either first or second in your primary and that you have selected 11 of the last 16 presidents from both parties.
Yet this time, the field will be so crowded that it will be a bit of a mess. You will be invited to multiple events on any given night. Having a senator or congressperson or mayor or entrepreneur in your town who wants to share his or her vision for the country will become commonplace. Anyone you know who works in politics will be hired by a campaign and in your ear. You will be inundated with ads and messages on your Facebook feed and on the TV and on your radio in your car. The ads will blend together into a cacophony of messages funded by some of the richest people in our country (some of whom may themselves be running).
And then, in February 2020 – it will all end.
The whole caravan – smaller, since you will have winnowed it down to six or so – will move on to South Carolina, and Nevada, and California. You will look on with some relief and hope that your candidate continues to do well in other places. But the campaign will soon become something of a faded memory. And part of you will wonder, “What was that all for?”
That is truly the challenge – to make it all mean something.
I’m like many of you. I have lost faith in our political process. It’s a distasteful mess where the machinery outweighs the humanity. Regardless of who we send to Washington, D.C., the day-to-day problems in our communities only get worse.
Yet I’m a parent and look out at the future that my children will inherit and think, we need to do much better. And like it or not, the government remains one of the most impactful tools to change our future – aside from the more important work we do every day in our families, enterprises and communities.
My campaign is built around the Freedom Dividend. There are approximately 836,000 adults in New Hampshire between 18 and 64. Under my plan, every adult would receive $1,000 a month, free and clear, to pay your bills, care for your children, start a new business, go back to school or do whatever you want. It is called the Freedom Dividend because it is your dividend as a citizen and owner of the richest and most advanced society in human history. In total, the people of New Hampshire would receive about $1 billion per month, or $12 billion per year. This would increase the size of the New Hampshire economy by approximately 15 percent and create tens of thousands of new jobs. It would be paid for by a combination of current spending, a tax primarily on companies that benefit from automation, and new revenue from economic growth.
The single best thing that your government can do for you is to give you $1,000 a month and get out of your way. It’s one reason why libertarians from Milton Friedman to Friedrich Hayek supported a Universal Basic Income as well as figures like Richard Nixon and Martin Luther King Jr. If this seems far-fetched to you, consider that a nearly identical measure passed the House of Representatives in 1971 and 1,000 economists signed a letter saying it would be great for our economy and society, and that a similar policy has been in effect in Alaska for 36 years.
I have come to believe in the necessity of the Freedom Dividend as an entrepreneur who has worked in business, education and technology for nearly 20 years. The truth is that we are automating away millions of American jobs due to software, artificial intelligence, robotics and new technologies. New Hampshire has experienced this in manufacturing, but it is about to spread to retail, customer service, truck driving, food service and on and on throughout the economy. It is a rot that is spreading fast. We need to build a new kind of economy. There is not that much time.
I haven’t been back to New Hampshire in about 25 years. But I’m back now, and I’m on a mission. If I become president and pass the Freedom Dividend, it will reverberate throughout the towns and families of New Hampshire every day. It will improve hundreds of thousands of lives throughout the state and millions around the country. Isn’t that what these elections are supposed to be about – making your lives better?
My friend Anand Giridharadas recently wrote a book, Winners Take All, about how the world of philanthropy has adopted a Win-Win mentality where praise is given to those who talk about how to make others stronger and more successful, but it is unacceptable to talk about taking less or changing the underlying system. Instead, the emphasis is on how to make people more successful in the marketplace. The mantra is “Doing Well by Doing Good,” positive thinking, getting along with each other, helpful TED Talks, and, ultimately, very little actual change.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Anand’s book and its core idea—how market-friendly ideas have grown to dominate our culture so much that genuine sacrifice is off the table. Instead, the height of virtue is for winners to generously distribute some of their winnings to make others a bit more like themselves.
Last week I wrote about Walter Reuther, the union leader in the 1960s who was beaten; survived being shot in his own home and having his right arm shattered; grew the UAW to 1.5 million people; bailed Martin Luther King, Jr. out of jail; helped lead the March on Washington; and died in a suspicious plane crash. His brother had his right eye shot out, also in his own home.
In Walter’s day, actual change actually happened. Higher wages, workplace safety rules, child labor laws, health care, and pension benefits as well as all of the rights fought for in the Civil Rights movement. All of it involved grievous conflict and sacrifice.
Today, unions are a shadow of their former selves. Walter Reuther is dead. Civil Rights revolve around police brutality instead of actual economic injustices. Women march for the most basic reproductive rights. Teenagers march just to prevent shootings in their schools. And social media shares have taken the place of sacrifice. Market-based thinking is so complete that conflicts revolve around basic human rights rather than any fundamental systemic changes.
I founded an entrepreneurship organization and ran it for 6+ years in the hopes that it would spur change and help create thousands of jobs throughout the country. It was the best work of my career. But I came to realize that the good we were doing would not be nearly enough, particularly in the face of new technologies that will wipe out millions of jobs. I worked in Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Birmingham, and other cities that had gone through the first automation wave. I started out believing in the Win-Win, but I now believe that advanced technology will result in a super-charged version of capitalism that will increasingly brutalize us all, winners and losers alike.
Some believe that there’s a small group of corrupt oligarchs that have taken over our political and economic system. But others believe that it is even deeper—that corporate leaders themselves have their hands tied so that they cannot do much more than maximize returns on capital. They are not really in control—the system is. Tim O’Reilly calls it the Master Market Intelligence: the corporate bosses are themselves subject to the logic of the marketplace. Yuval Harari writes that the power has disappeared—government gets weaker and weaker and no one knows who has the power.
I was at an event sponsored by The New York Times earlier this year, and a journalist said it like this: “We can sense that we’re going in the wrong direction. But no one knows what to do about it. So we are all just looking at each other, hanging on, and waiting to see how it will end.” We are on a path to ruin and no one knows what to do.
I believe we can help with that.
I’ve been running for President for a number of months now. It’s been a tremendous journey. I’ve made many new friends—this campaign tends to attract the best people. When someone supports me, it means a lot. Sometimes a person will say to me, “What you’re doing, it’s a real sacrifice.”
But I think to myself, “Is it? Sacrifice has become relative.” Running for president has been quite fun and invigorating. I’m fighting for a vision I believe in. The biggest sacrifices I’m making are time with my family, money and professional opportunities, and the chance to live a more ‘normal,’ stress-free life. Of these, the first one hurts the most.
I have the feeling that in order to change our future, a lot of people are going to have to sacrifice a great deal more.
I’m running for President because I see the big changes that need to be made. You do, too. Our political institutions aren’t designed for this. It’s going to take people like us coming together—fighting and making sacrifices—to change our future. We don’t have that much time.
Let’s show what we can do—and that this sacrifice is not beyond us.
Happy post-Labor Day! Hope you had a wonderful time with friends and family.
I spent my Labor Day speaking at a workers’ rights rally in Fairfield, Iowa. It was a lot of fun. The organizer of the event was Chris Laursen, the head of a United Autoworkers chapter in Ottumwa, Iowa.
In preparation for my speech, I researched the history of Chris’s union, including the work of Chris’s hero, Walter Reuther, the founder of the modern UAW.
Holy cow did I learn a lot. Walter Reuther was an incredible leader. Some of the things that he did were astounding:
– He showed up to a Ford plant knowing he was going to get beaten up just so the press would get photos of his bloodied face to build sympathy for workers.
– He told one automaker that if they didn’t give in on a particular area, he’d call a strike just in their factories and let their competitors get ahead. Then, after he got that automaker on board, he’d go to the other two and ask them to match the concession. He systematically improved worker conditions and grew the UAW to 1.5 million members.
– He survived two assassination attempts, including being shot in his own home. He had to write with his left hand because his right arm had been shattered by buckshot. His brother was also shot in his home and lost his right eye. They kept going.
– He bailed Martin Luther King Jr. out of jail and helped organize the March on Washington in . He gave a speech right before the famous “I have a dream speech.”
– He advocated for civil rights and women’s rights and was a key force in Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. He saw his role as organizing for a more just society. He continued to be a force for change right until he died in 1970 under suspicious circumstances in a plane crash.
Learning about Walter Reuther’s life and impact gave me a different appreciation for just what workers had to go through to fight for decent salaries, benefits and equitable treatment. Labor Day for most of my life has simply been a Monday off at the end of summer. I didn’t realize until recently that it was inaugurated in 1894 in response to the Pullman Strike, a long-running set of railway riots that killed dozens of people and caused billions of dollars worth of damage. Our country has not historically been quick to treat workers well.
What I said to Chris and the workers in Fairfield, Iowa was that this hasn’t changed. But unfortunately, things have gotten much worse for unions since the 1970s. Their membership has collapsed by 70% since its peak, reflecting the declines of unions nationally. Many trends are going against them. Their union is fighting a losing battle.
What they need is a game-changer, something that fundamentally changes the rules of the field. And that game-changer is the Freedom Dividend – a dividend of $1,000 per month for every adult in Iowa.
Universal Basic Income would put about $16 billion into the hands of Iowan families every year and create 40,000 jobs in the state. It would also dramatically increase worker bargaining power, as workers would have a cushion to fall back on and could push harder against exploitative labor conditions. And it would help all workers make better decisions and transitions.
The Freedom Dividend might seem impossible, until you look at our history. Alaska has had a dividend for 36 years that now pays every resident between $1,000 and $2,000 per year out of oil money. It was instituted by a Republican Governor and is now immensely popular. And a plan much like the Freedom Dividend passed the House of Representatives in 1971 under Richard Nixon. It was endorsed by 1,000 economists who said it would be great for the economy and society.
As I spoke I could see people’s faces opening up to the possibility. “Really? That happened? We can do that?” Yes we can. Our history shows what our future could be.
I concluded that there is no Walter Reuther anymore. There is only us. I reminded the workers of Iowa that they have a unique ability to change the national political conversation. The leading political leaders will each come to Iowa to court them. If they come out for a more human-centered economy we can change history.
To do this, we must borrow from the Walter Reuther playbook. We have to be relentless. We must be strategic. And we must fight for a cause bigger than ourselves. Union members should fight for non-union workers, women, and families. Only then can we change the rules for everyone.
Afterwards, a group of people signed up to volunteer in Eastern Iowa. It was tremendously gratifying. The tribe grows every day.
If the tribe grows big enough quickly enough, we will shock the world.
“And while you’d imagine that the lowest-paying jobs are most at risk of automation, an interesting split develops when you dig into the numbers. While food prep is one of the top two automatable jobs (87% of the tasks could be done via automation), bookkeeping and accounting, traditionally viewed as a white-collar job, could also have 86% of tasks automated.”
Read the entire article here.
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