Saturday, October 18, 2008

Harry Taylor & The New Political Awakening

Harry Taylor, candidate for U.S. Congress in NC District 9
In this photo, Mr. Tayor is interviewed for WGIV radio
by Donna Jenkins Dawson
Mecklenburg County Democratic Convention, April, 2008
(photo by Jude Nagurney Camwell)

Harry Taylor Has Sparked
A New Political Awakening

Mary Newsom said, in her McClatchy column this week, that "something profound is happening" - both in North Carolina politics and all around the nation. She credits a tiny flutter of a butterfly's wings for starting what has become a tidal wave. I think she's right.

This campaign is different. It isn't just a campaign with opposing sides, like 2004 and 2000 and 1996. Something profound is happening. It's as if a slow-building fire got lit sometime in the past few years and finally is blazing.

But the kindling was glowing as early as April 6, 2006. That day in Charlotte, a gray-haired real estate broker named Harry Taylor, attending a speech by President Bush to an applauding audience, stood and said into a microphone: "In my lifetime I have never felt more ashamed of, nor more frightened, by my leadership in Washington, including the presidency.

And I would hope from time to time that you have the humility and the grace to be ashamed of yourself. I also want to say I really appreciate the courtesy of allowing me to speak." Many in the audience booed. Letters to the editor in the Charlotte Observer flayed Taylor as "embarrassing," "boorish," and "wimpy." But that day in 2006, some subtle shift was already occurring in the political atmosphere, and Taylor's remarks were the fluttering of a butterfly's wings. His words rippled around the globe. He was interviewed on national TV and deluged with calls and e-mails. Seven months later, the Democrats captured Congress.

Now Harry Taylor is running for Congress.

For a while, America seemed to have lost its collective soul and mind. Harry Taylor warmed my broken heart on one of my own chilly April Upstate New York mornings in 2006 when he stood up to an American emperor who had been clearly naked for a long time with too few having an opportunity or the guts to say it.

On that day over two years ago, I sensed that nothing in American politics would be the same again.

My own cartoon, created on the 2nd anniversary of what has come to be thought of as the tipping point in the new American political awakening, shows the truth of the matter.

Click HERE for larger view

The people who surrounded George W. Bush never wanted to let someone like Harry Taylor in to one of their exclusive town-hall meetings. Harry didn't look like what they thought of as a typical protestor. He looked a bit like Abe Lincoln - tall, thin, a face lined to show many years of life and experience; a calm voice speaking from common sense.

One quietly intelligent, honest, and bold fellow certainly surprised the powerful [and the wrong] in Charlotte on that fateful day. It's only now that Americans are seeing the fullness of just how wrong a road down which the country has been led. A recent public poll of Americans showed that only 7% believed the nation was on the right path.

I hope, come November 4th, they'll continue to ask "who let that man in here?" I hope, this time, the "here" will be the halls and the chamber of U.S. Congress. Our country needs thousands more Harry Taylors in Washington DC.

Can the citizens of North Carolina's District 9 start by electing the original?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hillary to Bloggers: Chapter Closing on Republican Misrule

Closing a long chapter of "Republican misrule"

Hillary Clinton took some time out of an extremely busy campaign season to join a number of bloggers in a discussion about the way ahead here in this final stretch of the 2008 campaign as she and other Democrats work to win the White House and to expand Democratic majorities. I was appreciative to have been a party to that blogger's call. Senator Clinton's campaigned at more than 50 stops for fellow Democrats, including Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama. She's traveled to numerous states, raising over $10 million for Democratic races. She said that she's become increasingly optimistic about Senators Obama and Biden winning on November 4th. She believes the choice for President couldn't be clearer. She suggested that last night's debate at Hofstra University
- closed the deal for Barack Obama;
- that John McCain had his last chance to make his case;
- that, in her opinion, the debates were Obama's 3-for-3 [and the Democrats 4-for-4 if you include the Biden-Palin debate];
- and that she suspects that soon we'll be seeing the closing a long chapter of "Republican misrule".

She stressed the importance of changing the direction of the nation - both in the political party of the winning candidate and in the values that the party embodies.

"Society's unfinished business..."

On Sexism and Racism in the 2008 Campaign

The blogger known as Alegre [Alegre's Corner], who'd made a bold move in the world of alternative political media when she led a mass exodus of Hillary [primary] supporters [in the form of a strike] from an increasingly partisan Obama-focused group at Daily Kos last March, asked Senator Clinton how the political playing field can be leveled for women in future campaigns. Alegre pointed out the blatant sexism that she'd seen on display in the news - not only by media pundits but even with certain fellow Democratic party members - during the 2008 primary season, much to the sadness of many women and men who could see the injustice clearly. [Note: I'd done a bit of my own artistic commentary during the primary season]. Senator Clinton graciously commented that she felt that the sexism [and racism] that were raised as concerns during the 2008 campaign were indicative of "society's unfinished business" and, after 2008, she'd like to see public statements in the media that better reflect our progressive values. She said this could be accomplished by having more citizen-watchdogs who would make an example of any perceived blatant or inappropriate sexist or racist public commentary. She mentioned this watchdog duty as a particularly positive and productive opportunity area for progressive bloggers. Senator Clinton promised to do what she could do to make our nation a more just and free place for all.

"Keep the marketplace of ideas vibrant."

Fox News and Alernative Media

Alegre's question had surrounded a form of political media that had obviously become boldly partisan and a subsequent question from a blogger from MyDD seemed to extend the topic of fairness in media. Senator Clinton was asked a question about Fox News - particularly about Matt Bai's upcoming article in this Sunday's NY Times magazine where Obama was quoted to have suggested that Fox News has cost him a few percentage points in the polls. Senator Clinton replied that Fox News is a reality that must be dealt with and that no one benefits from ignoring the reality of their reporting. She pointed out that there are, however, many alternative political news-reporting outlets available today - including the blogs. She said it was important to keep after them and that it is very important to "keep the marketplace of ideas vibrant."

Down-Ticket Races

When blogger Armando Llorens [aka Big Tent Democrat at Talk Left] asked Senator Clinton about 2008's down-ticket House and Senate races, she became especially animated in her reply. She named certain House seats that looked very hopeful for a number of Democratic candidates, including Dan Maffei in my own District 25 here in Syracuse, N.Y. Her chief goal, however, is to see that the current Senate majority is increased on November 4th. She'd like to see progressive bloggers "adopting" a Senate or House race or two of their choosing in the next few weeks - bloggers can write about the issues or sign up to get out in the field and help in local races or travel to battleground states of their choosing. HillPAC has a website called "HILLARY SENT ME" [mentioned in a recent WaPo/Dana Milbank story] where Hillary supporters can sign up and offer to help out with the work left to be done before November 4th.

Senator Clinton's October 1, 2008 remarks about the Homeowners Mortgage Enterprise [HOME] can be seen HERE.

The Home Mortgage Crisis

A question was asked [by Armando] about Senator Clinton's call for a new Home Owners' Loan Corporation [HOLC] to assist Americans. She said she was quite surprised when John McCain announced his plan because, in some ways, it sounded eerily like her original idea (with the exception that, with McCain's plan, bankers and lenders would profit from their own irresponsible actions and her plan would not have that effect. A major missing factor in the recent federal bailout is the lack of direct assistance to homeowners who've seen their home values drop and those who've been affected by unabated foreclosures. Her plan would help stabilize the home markets and modify existing mortgages by creating a federal entity whose responsibility would primarily deal with home mortgages - stopping many foreclosures and providing an atmosphere for more stable mortgages. She said she was pleased to have heard Barack Obama's call for a 90 day foreclosure moratorium for homeowners who are acting in good faith.

Related Blogposts:

- BREAKING... Hillary takes a moment from campaigning for Obama-Biden and the Democrats to talk to progressive bloggers - Taylor Marsh

- Hillary's Call with Bloggers This Evening - Alegre's Corner

- Call with Hillary Clinton: Discussing HOLC and the Campaign - Talk Left

- Quote: "She was, as ever, dazzlingly brilliant on policy—and typically generous and funny." - Shakesville