One of my earliest memories is of my grandfather, a Swedish immigrant, sitting me down in front of our television in a trailer in Clewiston, Florida to watch President Nixon announce his resignation.
"This is important. This is history. You watch this. You remember this." he said in his gruff Scandinavian accented english.
Little did I know then that I, a child from the segregated southern sugar cane fields that would move to the housing projects of Seattle, would grow up to dedicate most of my adult life to American politics.
I currently am working at a local grocery store in rural Maine.
One of my coworkers, whom I'll call "Nancy", didn't vote last Tuesday.
Interestingly, just two weeks prior, she lost her eligibility for MaineCare. Her case worker at DHHS was pretty blunt about why - "You can blame Governor LePage", she told Nancy - referring to his decision to turn away federal health care funding for 70,000 working class Mainers.
So she had a personal reason to vote the bum out, so to speak, yet didn't go to the polls.
When she told me this on Wednesday, I asked her why. She said "I don't believe that the other guy (meaning Mike Michaud) would have fixed it."
This weekend I wrote about rural America and how I, as a progressive gay man from the city, am doing what I can to find common ground between my new rural neighbors and the lower and middle class in urban areas.
I had planned to take it in the direction of politics and finding political common ground, but the discussion that resulted has me thinking that there may need to be a middle step - finding understanding and common ground among us as people.
This diary has been on my mind for a while, so when I saw the excellent diary today written by Fishgrease I decided now was the time.
Extremists have existed in our political discourse for centuries.
It used to be that fringe groups would publish manifestos read by a few dozen people predisposed to join them, or perhaps small groups or cells that would find their way to one another and band together.
Sometimes, they would have enough basis in perceived reality that they would take hold as a political movement for a short period of time (the anti-masonic Know-Nothings and Father Coughlin to name a couple).
As technology advanced, you found them calling into late-night low wattage AM radio stations.
That has changed drastically in the last decade. Now extremism has mainstreamed into prime time.
I want to start by saying that I work on a Congressional campaign for an incumbent Democrat, and have worked in politics on various campaigns since 1997. That said, this is a personal diary and not meant to be affiliated to any campaign, candidate, or Member of Congress.
I have some thoughts on not only the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords, but also her staffmembers and constituents who were, to put it bluntly, shot in the line of duty.
Let me start out by saying that I am very much against the tax cut extention plan as it stands for many reasons that I and a lot of other have stated here and elsewhere.
I also understand the counterargument, especially now that UI is tied to this deal, but still get myself into a lather when I and others are accused of not caring about the unemployed because of our opposition to the larger plan. Trust me, we know the position this compromise puts us in, and I suspect those that make the "you don't care about the unemployed" argument know full well that we do indeed care about our friends and neighbors. Indeed, it is one of the main reasons we are so upset about the deal as put together. In short, the GOP by "compromising" on UI actually were politically masterful by tying the two together.
But what I would like to actually discuss is how we found ourselves, with a majority in the House, a supermajority in the Senate, and a Democratic President, in a place where the Administration is doing deals with the minority leader of the Senate for a deal that so many of his supporters find so unpalatable. While there are many - I'll look at just one reason that I feel we would do well to consider. His name is Harry Reid.
From the Senate Republicans declaring that they would block everything in the lame duck session if they didn't get tax cut extentions for the uberwealthy, to the tax cut compromise with Minority Leader McConnell, to "sanctamonious", to the House Democrats saying "Just Say No", to Bernie Sanders, to Bill Clinton - this has been quite a week.
I thought I'd try to write a diary that tries to tie together thoughts about all of this as a big picture. I, like many others, have a tendency to look at the pieces individually and not see a big picture.
The Washington Post is reporting that Senator Susan Collins is now saying that she will vote against cloture on the bill that includes DADT repeal because she isn't getting enough in negotiations with Senator Reid.
Collins has said she supports repeal, but won't agree to vote for cloture on the Defense Authorization Bill containing repeal if Harry Reid doesn't allow ample time for open debate and amendments on the bill.
In private discussions between Collins and Reid this morning, and between their staffs over the weekend, Collins has demanded that Reid allow what's known as "unlimited debate" on the bill in order for her to vote for repeal, the aide close to the talks says.
So just what was Reid's "unreasonable offer"?
I've been reading with interest a number of the diaries about the latest compromise/cave/capitulation (take your pick) of the White House and lots of thoughts on what should or shouldn't have been done.
Since that is being covered by plenty of people, I thought I would talk about what I think is one of the bigger problems this particular White House has; namely that President Obama, in my humble opinion, seems to be working under an unworkable construct in his position. Instead of being President in an equal but seperate branch of the government, he seems to be working as the US Senator from America.
9 years ago, I was managing a City Council race for a longshot candidate in a major city (who won the election, thank you very much). I was fresh off my first big win (a congressional race) and thought I had the answers of how to win.
In one of our first meetings, I was talking about themes and message and all the things a good campaign manager does. She got a phone call in the middle of the meeting, took it, then picked up the phone again and took care of the neighbor's problem - a missing trash can.
In my righteousness, I told her she shouldn't be worried about that stuff - let a staffer handle it or send the person directly to the city department.
She looked at me and said "What matters to people is what directly affects them from the time they get up in the morning until they go to bed at night. Everything else is just fluff."
In a startling development today, President Obama flew to Grand Isle, Louisiana to take another look at the damage from the Deepwater Oil Rig disaster, took the form of Aquaman, dove into the Gulf of Mexico and plugged the pipe that has been spewing oil into the Gulf for nearly two months.
"I didn't want to have to take the form of a superhero this early in my Presidency, but I could no longer wait on the sidelines and watch as attempt after attempt to stem the flow of oil failed" said President Obama. "I had to take action, and that's what I did".
Both sides were quick to condemn the President's actions.