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  • Writer's picturePhilippe Henold Buteau

Thanks Obama. Flawed Individuals Will Be on the Ballot. We Know.

To be polite, there is a barrier between our cultures. However, please refrain from muting or cancelling me because of my flaws. I have good intentions and Barack Obama said flaws are acceptable.

It took me months to read The New Jim Crow. I highlighted sections of The New Jim Crow without writing notes. I have yet to read a book about criminal justice reform other than The New Jim Crow. My flaw, economically, is I know our species invented our own money therefore no federal government can run out.

Months into the 2020 Democratic Primary, the Iowa Caucus is looming, several candidates are out and the former president has again offered his insight into the contest to be his replacement’s replacement. His insight, unfortunately, has been like an ol’ man - I mean, more experienced - man knowing the kids will be in charge of the house someday telling them how to mow the lawn instead of showing how to do taxes, fix the kitchen sink or (wo)man up and help a woman manage the resources.

The problem with Obama’s comments is, he is speaking to people who voted for Hillary Clinton, Jill Stein, Gary Johnson or wrote-in Bernie Sanders. The good parts of those four candidates encapsulate the Obama agenda and the coalition. Obama, more than once now, is telling that group to stick together, do not divide yourselves, get over yourselves and be open to the candidate with “flaws” because “the world is messy.”

We know. The problem we are in now is because of people who voted like they wanted a 2,000-mile-long wall along the Southern border and agree Mexico sends rapists and murderers and/or that immigrants are to blame for the nation’s economic struggles, that tax cuts to the rich and repealing coverage for preexisting conditions would be good for the country and so would Donald J. Trump so they voted for Trump. 

And because of people who believe they actually had a legitimate reason for voting against Hillary Clinton voted for Trump.

I get Obama’s thinking though. The people who are more likely to scatter their power or not use it are millennials and Black and Brown people. Also, it’s the primary, better to keep the troops together as the “I’ll never vote for Biden talk” ramps up, while sitting next to a Never-Bidener. But why should they have to vote for Biden? Liberty in a democracy being able to vote for who we believe in.

Obama advised his coalition about people they know very well, the flawed. (The nail biters? All of us?) What is a flaw in presidential politics. The Democratic candidates have them too, some easier to find depending if you’ve hitched a wagon.

Bernie Sanders said he was a “little busy” to respond to sexual assault allegations during his 2016 campaign. Elizabeth Warren wrote she was Native American on an application. (To increase the group’s representation? Let a white person with single-digit-percentage do the same about being Black.) Biden is handsy. Pete Buttigieg says things without having policy attached, like Medicare(For-All-Who-Want-It). Kamala Harris has yet to say why she incarcerated non-violent drug offenders. Cory Booker was soft on Big Pharma. Julian Castro has yet to challenge Buttigieg’s executive experience - 1,000 South Bend employees and a $380 million budget to over 7,000 HUD employees and more than $40 billion in the agency’s budget.

Although any of the current Democrats are better than Trump, anyone is not better than anyone.

(Full stop?)

Obama should be careful though. If I understand the quotes and paraphrasing correctly, he's advising against what got him elected, and led to being able to voted for by Black people - activism.

While Mr. Obama did not single out any specific primary candidate or policy proposal, he cautioned that the universe of voters that could support a Democratic candidate — Democrats, independents and moderate Republicans — are not driven by the same views reflected on “certain left-leaning Twitter feeds” or “the activist wing of our party.”

If the cause is worthy activate communities for it.

Pundits and people against "identity politics" say "purity test" and mock "cancel" or call-out culture (The last is fine as long as it's not at an individual's expense.). "Identity politics" is actually sensitivity to others and supporting policies which help specific people. "Purity test" is agreeing based on how people think other people should be treated. Failing is willful ignorance to the plight of others and accepting human rights violations for a sense of security that can be had without the violations. Those people should be called out and may be "cancelled" from conversations at Thanksgiving, or just uninvited.

Obama’s coalition is already sticking together against the wholesale capture of people, packed in cages, disenfranchised from voting days after release, or thrown out from the country as if they were somebody’s Monday.

This is about changing the rules to the current system so we have a new one. The rules nationally are written, in Congress. Therefore they can be changed, edited or even removed. Yes, people do not want to tear down what can change the rules, but they do want to change the rules. It's just that "tear down the system" sounds better than we are going to rewrite the rules, but that is what will happen if Democrats win back the Senate, the Presidency and maintain control of the House.

What if Democratic voters helped set the agenda by sending in their top 10 legislative priorities and those agenda items be given points, 10 to 1. Maybe the idea of telling those running what voters want will help raise voter turnout.

The Democratic platform for me is: 

  1. Criminal Justice Reform (Legalize, decriminalize, regulate marijuana and help for nonviolent drug offenders.)

  2. Infrastructure (completely off fossil fuels, renewable energy grid)

  3. Immigration Reform (A stay on deportations of nonviolent people should happen the first day on the job and all migrants, refugees or asylum seekers currently detained should be taken care of in five-start resorts with trolleys to a local USCIS office.)

  4. Education Reform (Education methods for specific people, not a system for all, campuses renovated to allow for 5-15 people classrooms.)

  5. Housing (House the homeless, pay off all rent to eliminate evictions.)

  6. Health Care Reform

  7. Mental Health Reform

  8. Police Reform (This includes more personnel assistance through DHS.)

  9. Public Transportation Grants (To completely pay for the changes needed in municipal government.)

  10. Tax Reform (Universal basic income will be in here.)

(The rationale being federal, state, county, local government agencies and private sector organizations determine the costs of the new legislation to them and the tax law pays for all the reform. Nowhere did I write that what I wrote is how it has to be.)

Obama’s coalition should be above hearing about how they should stick together against Trump. 

Obama should thank the people who got him into office but speak to pull them back. It’s hard to determine what will drive non-voters to vote, but it starts with policies and those start with ideas. He wants to avoid endorsing a candidate; that’s fine. 

He should endorse the correct policies.

Resources: NYTimes

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