Showing posts with label democracy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label democracy. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

The Lincoln Project: Aftermath (video)

"Donald Trump’s plan for America is no secret. Beating Trump this November is the only mission. The Lincoln Project invites you to take a peek at the terrible future Donald Trump would impose on America.

The Lincoln Project is a leading pro-democracy organization in the United States — dedicated to the preservation, protection, and defense of democracy. Our fight against Trumpism is only beginning. We must combat these forces everywhere and at all times — our democracy depends on it. "

video link -> 

Note: As mentioned last week, I generally avoid big party politics. As the election season leading to November 2024 develops, I will share something worthy of conversation so we can maintain a democratic process. It is not perfect, we are working towards a more perfect union, but it could be a whole lot worse. 

Thursday, July 4, 2024

How to Boat - Sarah Cooper (video)

Note: I generally avoid big party politics but on a day when democracy is celebrated, one does need to question the quality of our current leadership candidates.

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Democracy, Refreshed: Increase the membership of the House

By Danielle Allen, Contributing Opinions columnist
As I wrote in the first part of this course, we desperately need to renovate our democracy. Our institutions weren’t built for the country as it has become — and we have been cobbling on additions and extensions decade after decade.We need a plan for functional institutions of self-government in 21st-century conditions. There’s so much work to do. Where to begin?

I propose we start with the first branch of government — the branch of the federal government that was designed by the framers to be closest to we the people. What if we increased the size of the House?

Given that most of us are pretty frustrated with Congress, this might sound crazy. But growing the House is the key to unlocking our present paralysis and leaning into some serious democracy renovation.
Continuing to read the Washington Post via my gift article =

Sign up for the Democracy, Refreshed, newsletter
Sign up for the Democracy, Refreshed, newsletter 

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Sign up for the Democracy, Refreshed, newsletter from Post Opinions - The Washington Post

Danielle Allen writes:

"Over the past year, I focused my columns and my public speaking on how we can renovate our democracy so it works for all of us — today and into the future. Readers wrote in and commented, asking one thing over and over again: What can I do? How can I help?

To answer those questions, we’ve turned the columns into a course. The course, delivered via email weekly for 10 weeks, gives you the chance to dive deep into some important approaches to renovating our democracy. It also gives you a chance to take your turn helping advance the cause of renovation. Sign up here.

You’ll receive the first email upon sign-up. Then, starting the following Monday at 8 AM. E.T., you will receive:
  • A summary of a key democracy renovation
  • Links to related reading and resources
  • An activity you can do in your own community to renovate democracy
  • Suggestions for other features from The Post that can help you stay updated on American democracy.
As Abraham Lincoln said, democracy is of the people, by the people and for the people. Join us, and help make sure that the next era of our democracy is truly by the people."

Sign up for the Democracy, Refreshed, newsletter
Sign up for the Democracy, Refreshed, newsletter 

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Indivisible Groups Across Massachusetts Demand Justice For January 6 Attack On Democracy

Indivisible Massachusetts Coalition (IMC) and local Indivisible groups throughout the state demand that the U.S. Justice Department prosecute those involved in the attempted coup of January 6, 2021 and other efforts to subvert the 2020 election. Actions will be held across the Commonwealth on the weekend of January 6-8th to support the findings from the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol.

“Activists seeking to protect our democracy are taking to the streets, the phones, and social media urging prosecution of Trump for crimes referred to the DOJ by the Jan 6 Committee.” IMC Chairperson Deb Paul said. "The Jan 6 committee factually established that Trump is an insurrectionist whose followers assaulted the Capitol at his instigation. He and his allies must be held to account. We demand that the Justice Department do its work and bring criminal charges against Trump and his co-conspirators.”

Events across the Commonwealth are planned as Trump and extreme Republican MAGA politicians continue to spread false claims about the 2020 election results and to undermine our Constitution and House Republicans plan a sham investigation into the January 6 committee so that they may stay in power and push their extreme agenda. This agenda includes destroying reproductive rights, abolishing our Social Security and Medicare benefits, limiting access to affordable higher education, and thwarting solutions to the climate crisis and gun violence, among other pressing issues.

Activists have planned rallies in multiple locations across Massachusetts to demand accountability, protect our Constitution, and prevent another coup attempt. Members of our Congressional delegation including Representatives Katherine Clark and James McGovern are speaking at rallies in Concord, Worcester and Northampton, along with multiple MA state legislators, local politicians, and grassroots leaders. 


Find an updated list of local actions on the IMC calendar under the listing January 6 Justice. 

For further information, contact Larry Pareles (, 860-670-7542).

Here is a link to the document too:


Indivisible Mass Coalition (IMC) is the statewide organization of volunteers who support the work of more than 50 Indivisible groups and their allies across Massachusetts working to improve democracy and support policies and legislation that improve equity and justice for everyone and eliminate institutional racism. IMC helps to build, support, and amplify the network of Indivisible groups throughout Massachusetts to promote and support a participatory democracy. IMC is committed to ensuring that people are informed, organized, motivated and have the necessary tools to engage in our democracy. IMC coordinates with Indivisible National to work on our shared goals for democracy in our country. Learn more at

Indivisible Groups Across Massachusetts Demand Justice For January 6 Attack On Democracy
Indivisible Groups Across Massachusetts Demand Justice For January 6 Attack On Democracy

Sunday, November 13, 2022

"voters roundly rejected extreme partisans who promised to restrict voting and overhaul the electoral process"

"Every election denier who sought to become the top election official in a critical battleground state lost at the polls this year, as voters roundly rejected extreme partisans who promised to restrict voting and overhaul the electoral process.

The national repudiation of this coalition reached its apex on Saturday, when Cisco Aguilar, the Democratic candidate for secretary of state in Nevada, defeated Jim Marchant, according to The Associated Press. Mr. Marchant, the Republican nominee, had helped organize a national right-wing slate of candidates under the name “America First.”

With Mr. Marchant’s loss to Mr. Aguilar, all but one of those “America First” candidates were defeated. Only Diego Morales, a Republican in deep-red Indiana, was successful, while candidates in Michigan, Arizona and New Mexico were defeated."
Continue reading the article in the NY Times (subscription maybe required) ->
Voting stickers in San Francisco on Election Day on Tuesday. Politics watchers have recently turned their eyes to California, where the battle for House control will probably be decided.Credit...John G Mabanglo/EPA, via Shutterstock
Credit... John G Mabanglo/EPA, via Shutterstock

Monday, October 10, 2022

The Washington Post: "Where Republican election deniers are on the ballot near you"

The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) tweeted on Fri, Oct 07, 2022:

"Election deniers will be on the ballot in 48 of 50 states in the midterm elections this November.

Nearly 300 Republicans seeking those offices have denied the outcome of the last presidential election, according to a Washington Post analysis."


Where Republican election deniers are on the ballot near you

Where Republican election deniers are on the ballot near you

election deniers in MA
election deniers in MA

Sunday, October 9, 2022

Helping Voters with Disabilities Participate in Our Democratic Process

During the 2022 midterm election, 38.3 million voters with disabilities will have the opportunity to participate in the democratic process. These voters may include you, one of your friends, or a family member.

Voters with disabilities face unique obstacles when casting their ballots. The Help America Vote Act ensures that all voters with disabilities have the right to mark, cast, and verify their ballots privately and independently.

The Election Assistance Commission (EAC) helps voters with disabilities register to vote and understand their options to cast ballots. 

Helping Voters with Disabilities Participate in Our Democratic Process
Helping Voters with Disabilities Participate in Our Democratic Process

Continue reading this article ->

What is Franklin TV, radio and News doing in this arena?
Election interviews in particular are shared in video and audio formats where possible. If needed, a transcript of either can be made available. We are working towards making the combination an 'automatic' production so in the meantime, feel free to ask for a transcript.

Comment on this post to request a transcript of an interview, or send an email to

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Dan Rather: Remember Al Gore?

2000 vs. 2020 (and 2022)  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌
Open in browser

Remember Al Gore?

2000 vs. 2020 (and 2022)

A few trendlines have collided recently that got me thinking of a former vice president, Al Gore. Remember him?

For one, there is the existential threat of our climate crisis. It's been 16 years since Gore's Academy Award-winning documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" debuted. During that time, the truth he warned about — our planet's spiral toward a new climate reality, fueled by human activity and significantly less hospitable to human existence — has become only more inconvenient, urgent, and dire. 

Drought in the western U.S. Severe heat waves across Europe. Unusually heavy flooding in Kentucky and elsewhere. Scientists say these kinds of dramatic weather patterns will become more frequent as climate change progresses. We hear about 100-year storms or even 1,000-year floods, terms that are meant to indicate rarity. But it is increasingly clear such events are no longer anomalous. A horrific tragedy is currently playing out in Pakistan, where immense flooding is causing widespread destruction and mass death.

The warming climate, as Gore warned us, will result in greater hardship and instability. It is a cruel injustice that the countries that contributed the least to greenhouse gas proliferation tend to be the poorest and will suffer the most. 

On a more optimistic note, the recent climate bill passed by Congress represents exactly the kind of concrete action for which Gore has long advocated. Start somewhere. In the case of this legislation, that "somewhere" is quite significant, according to climate experts. Once you've started, keep going. Change the direction. Chart a new path forward toward carbon neutrality. 

The climate is a grave and unending concern. It should dictate our policy choices and define our national security. Gore saw this clearly. His warnings will cry out from the history books to future generations. "Why were they not heeded?" they will ask in disbelief. 

But it wasn't only the climate that has had me thinking of Gore. There is also the matter of the clear and present dangers our institutions and democratic order are facing. 

Donald Trump is still at it about the 2020 election (here in August 2022). He just issued a statement saying he was the "rightful winner" and at a minimum, someone (not exactly sure who) should "declare the 2020 Election irreparably compromised and have a new Election, immediately!" 

Of course the former president is now under a serious investigation into his retention of highly classified documents (and what he might have done with them). One would have hoped that this grave matter would have Republican elected officials waiting at least to hear about findings before escalating divisive partisanship. But there was Trump's one-time critic and current sycophant Senator Lindsay Graham, alluding to violence. "If there is a prosecution of Donald Trump for mishandling classified information after the Clinton debacle, there will be riots in the streets," he said. This is completely irresponsible and dangerous.

Against this backdrop, let us remember Al Gore and the 2000 presidential election. Gore won the popular vote, but of course that's not how we choose our presidents. As for the Electoral College, it all came down to Florida, as anyone of memory age at the time certainly recalls. There was a lot of weirdness in that state — "butterfly ballots" and "hanging chads." To make a long and sordid story short, ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court intervened. A majority of justices, all appointed by Republicans, stopped the vote count and effectively handed the election to George W. Bush. 

It is hard to overstate how big an inflection point that was in American history. Unlike in 2020, when Trump lost decisively, Gore had legitimate claims. And also unlike 2020 (through today) when Trump is eager to blow up American democracy and even spark violence with his lies and refusal to act responsibly, Gore chose a path of reconciliation. His concession speech is one that should be studied for its graciousness and straightforward eloquence. 

I have pulled some excerpts to provide examples of Gore's words. Recognize how difficult they must have been for a man who had long harbored dreams of the presidency — and knew he might very well have earned it.

Gore addressed the finality of the rule of law:

"Now the U.S. Supreme Court has spoken. Let there be no doubt, while I strongly disagree with the court's decision, I accept it. I accept the finality of this outcome, which will be ratified next Monday in the Electoral College. And tonight, for the sake of our unity of the people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession."

He called for common ground:

"This has been an extraordinary election. But in one of God's unforeseen paths, this belatedly broken impasse can point us all to a new common ground, for its very closeness can serve to remind us that we are one people with a shared history and a shared destiny."

He argued for country over party:

"I know that many of my supporters are disappointed. I am, too. But our disappointment must be overcome by our love of country...While we yet hold and do not yield our opposing beliefs, there is a higher duty than the one we owe to political party. This is America, and we put country before party. We will stand together behind our new president."

He ended with a recognition that our country must be bigger than our politics and any single individual:

"Now the political struggle is over and we turn again to the unending struggle for the common good of all Americans and for those multitudes around the world who look to us for leadership in the cause of freedom.

In the words of our great hymn, 'America, America': 'Let us crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.'

And now, my friends, in a phrase I once addressed to others, it's time for me to go."

Contrast this humility with the last president, who will never relinquish the spotlight. Contrast the passionate pleas for unity with January 6. Contrast Gore's appeal to the sanctity of our institutions with the election lies sweeping Republican politics. Contrast how he led in a moment of potential crisis with the enablers and toadies who appease Trump's destructive behavior. Contrast the appeal to reason with Sen. Graham's wink at violence. Contrast how he tried to tamp down passion with those who use their perches in right-wing media to spew divisive hatred.

The Republicans rail against their political rivals for being out of control, violent, subverters of democracy. It is, in poker terms, the ultimate tell. What they complain the loudest about is often what they themselves are pushing. I have said it before: There are so many projectionists among the GOP that they might as well open a chain of movie theaters. 

Looking back at what lawyers call the "fact pattern" of the 2000 election, we can see one that had all the hallmarks of bringing American democracy to its brink. But at that moment, Al Gore made the determination that to wreck our constitutional order by undermining the results of a very flawed process was not what leadership demanded. 

He stood there, surely believing in his mind that he should have been president. He knew that a majority of American voters had agreed. Imagining "what could have been" must have been intensely difficult. Looking back at what happened in the presidency of George W. Bush, we can see how fateful that election was. But Al Gore knew that to preserve our constitutional system, there really was no other option. He accepted his fate, and so did his party. 

As Trump still rages after an election that was not nearly as close, after he lost in the courts, after he spurred a violent insurrection, Gore's example is all the more striking. The Republican officials who are playing along with this attack on American democracy are old enough to remember 2000. And they're old enough to know better.

Note: If you are not already a subscriber to our Steady newsletter, please consider doing so. And we always appreciate you sharing our content with others and leaving your thoughts in the comments.

Leave a comment

Share Steady

Thanks for subscribing to Steady. This post is public, so please feel free to share it.

© 2022 Dan Rather
548 Market Street PMB 72296, San Francisco, CA 94104

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Dan Rather: We Should Not Become Inured to the Shock

After the affidavit  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌
Open in browser
Dan Rather: We Should Not Become Inured to the Shock
We Should Not Become Inured to the Shock

The Department of Justice has released the affidavit it used to obtain permission to search Mar-a-Lago and seize files from Donald Trump. The document fills in some details but leaves many questions unanswered, largely because it is heavily redacted — as it should be. The sanctity of the investigation demands it. So does the security of the nation.

What we knew before has been further confirmed — Trump absconded with hundreds of classified documents. We now know these were incredibly sensitive and included information on clandestine human sources and secrets not to be shared with foreign governments. We may never know the documents' exact contents — that's how sensitive this material is. 

What is so striking, as many others have observed, is that as president, Trump was notoriously uninterested in details. He doesn't read. He certainly doesn't pore over policy details. He is famous (or infamous, depending on who is assessing) for "not getting into the weeds." So why these documents? Why did he care so much? What, if anything, do they have in common? Can they point to a motive? We can speculate on what that might be, understanding that he has long ago lost any benefit of the doubt. 

The government said it gleaned the information it included in the affidavit from "a significant number of civilian witnesses." This detail will undoubtedly fuel Trump's paranoia, but it also suggests just how unsafe these national secrets were at Mar-a-Lago. 

As we learn more, as we look for clues, as we wonder and question, we should be careful not to lose track of the big picture. 

At the very minimum, this situation represents a major breach of national security. Do we really believe that any other citizen of this country, which is who post-presidency Trump is, would be walking free if found in possession of these documents? Rather than being persecuted, as Trump self-servingly claims, this affidavit makes it clear that the Department of Justice was extraordinarily patient — possibly to a fault. They gave Trump every opportunity to hand these over. And yet he didn't. Why not? 

At this moment, around the world, women and men are risking their lives for our country. We have a system of secrecy that protects the most sensitive aspects of our national security. It is in place for a reason. Because the lives of Americans and the future health and safety of the nation depend on it. 

That this saga has become "partisan" is not a reflection on the seriousness of these documents. Rather, it is a reflection of how unserious the Party of Trump is when it comes to our national wellbeing.

As shocking as this episode is, we must not become inured to it. Shock like this should not wear off. It should propel us forward to ensure that justice is served and nothing like this ever happens again. 

Note: If you are not already a subscriber to our Steady newsletter, please consider doing so. And we always appreciate you sharing our content with others and leaving your thoughts in the comments.


Leave a comment

Thanks for subscribing to Steady. This post is public, so please feel free to share it.

© 2022 Dan Rather
548 Market Street PMB 72296, San Francisco, CA 94104

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Dan Rather: Blowing the "Anti-Woke" Dog Whistle

An assault on the very notion of truth and all who seek it  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌
Open in browser

Blowing the "Anti-Woke" Dog Whistle

An assault on the very notion of truth and all who seek it

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

Let's get something straight. The weaponization of the term "woke" by the political right is not a joke. Far from it. It provides a window into the low regard (to say the least) these people have for human rights, empathy, and the truth. 

You can see the self-satisfaction, if not outright glee, as they appropriate a term that began as an aspirational notion of justice for Black activists and their allies into a slur hurled right back at the community from which it came. The fact that "woke" "originated in African American English" (according to Merriam-Webster) only increases the joy of those who spit it out with derision. 

This is saying, in effect: "Try to come get it and feel your powerlessness."

The latest example comes courtesy of the mean-spirited oration of Ron DeSantis, Republican governor of Florida:

"We can't just stand idly by while woke ideology ravages every institution in our society. We must fight the woke in our schools. We must fight the woke in our businesses. We must fight the woke in government agencies. We can never ever surrender to woke ideology. And I'll tell you this, the state of Florida is where woke goes to die."

If the sentence constructions sound familiar, you might be remembering the famous World War II speech by Winston Churchill that included these stirring lines:

"We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender."

Texas activist Olivia Julianna recognized the similarities — and the important difference. ​​

Returning to the dictionary, it defines "woke" as "aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice)." So, in other words, a positive. But the dictionary also mentions that while the term came to prominence in 2014 with the Black Lives Matter movement, "By the end of that same decade it was also being applied by some as a general pejorative for anyone who is or appears to be politically left-leaning." If you watch Fox News, some has now become many.

That imbalance in the two definitions above gets to the heart of the issue. On the one hand, we have a way of thinking, an approach to gaining a better understanding, a grappling with "important facts." To be "woke" is to be aware. On the other hand, to be "woke" is to be a type of person, one to be shunned, stigmatized, and vilified. 

It makes you wonder, when the crowd cheers DeSantis' incitement, whom they picture in their minds.

Is it a Black mother marching in the street for racial justice?
A gay parent?
A college professor?
A scientist?
A person of Jewish heritage?
A librarian?
A teacher?

I can already hear the hackles of rationalization rising from the "anti-woke" crowd. They will say that they don't demonize all Black people, or gay people, or Jewish people, or librarians. And there are undoubtedly some members of these groups who are themselves fueling this assault on "wokeness." But it is more complex. In the eyes and objective analysis of many people, the political right is using "woke" to attack "the other," or basically anyone who has the temerity to not agree with them. 

To be sure, there are some examples of actions under the banner of "woke" that in my opinion go too far. Are there excesses on the left? There are excesses in any group on the planet. Does some of it get ridiculous? I think so.

You can cherry-pick people, moments, and situations that seem absurd. But doing so does not invalidate the general thrust of what "woke" was originally meant to convey. It is about a core truth: that the U.S. has a long way to go to turn our perception of ourselves as a nation of freedom and justice into reality for all citizens. Americans' life experiences are vastly different. We need to grapple with our history, even when it is ugly. We should not become inured to imbalances of power. We are more resilient when we challenge our own assumptions. The truth can be elusive, but that makes the journey toward it all the more urgent. 

The rants of DeSantis are thus an assault on the very notion of truth and all who seek it. His behavior cheerleads a malignant ignorance that utterly dismisses the lived experiences and aspirations of large swaths of society. It is an assault on science, on reason, and on the impartial rule of law. Historically, many on this path have followed it to very dark destinations. 

Thinking of DeSantis and the "anti-woke" crusades, my mind turned to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I had the great fortune of covering Dr. King in the early days of the civil rights movement. But in recent years, I find myself thinking more about the end of his life and how he was viewed at the time of his murder — something we wrote about here in commemoration of his birthday:

"It is important to remember that he was a deeply contentious person at the time of his death. Dr. King would not, could not, suppress the moral clarity with which he saw the world. His messages about racial prejudice and social justice were not welcome in most corridors of power. He was a danger to the status quo and many who benefited from it. He not only preached powerfully about the necessity for racial healing and desegregation; he also issued stirring rhetoric from his pulpit on the need for economic fairness across racial lines. And he was a fierce critic of the Vietnam War.

To reread his writings and listen again to his speeches in today's political climate is to reconnect with the hard truths he eloquently levied at the American establishment. If he had survived the assassin's bullet and continued on his life path, there are reasons to believe he would have remained a divisive figure. Many who now pay homage to his legacy with florid paeans might well be singing different tunes if he had spent additional decades actively rallying civil disobedience toward the twin causes of racial and economic fairness for the marginal and dispossessed."

With this in mind, I tweeted out the following:

The tweet has received over 100k likes, and many agreed, including Dr. King's daughter:

From musician John Legend:

But not surprisingly, the tweet also garnered attention from people with MAGA in their Twitter bios. There was a fair amount of expected derision. But there were also a lot of claims that I had it all wrong, that Dr. King was, in fact, "anti-woke." People selectively quoted his writings and suggested that because Dr. King preached about seeing past racial divisions, that he would oppose the political left today because it promotes mindful recognition of race's role in our society. Some responses went so far as to claim that if Dr. King were alive today, he would vote Republican, as in the party of Donald Trump.  

The absurdity of this historical revisionism is almost beyond belief. Except I think some people actually do believe this craziness. It's all the more reason we need the history taught in our schools that they would dismiss as "woke."

Politicians like DeSantis, however, know better. They take another lesson from the civil rights era, that attacking the "other" can be a path to power. But maybe they also need a refresher course. Time and time again, demagogues have risen up in American history. And time and time again, they have been defeated because America "woke" up. 

Leave a comment


Thanks for subscribing to Steady. This post is public, so please feel free to share it.

© 2022 Dan Rather
548 Market Street PMB 72296, San Francisco, CA 94104