With a week to go in the 2020 campaign, my blogging energy is running dry. I’ve voted, mailed out letters asking others to vote, said everything I know how to say to encourage voting, served as a Democratic poll greeter, and shared my hopes and dreams for the country that my grandchildren will inherit from my generation. Now, I am ready for the American people’s decision about the shape of our future as a nation.
Here are some random thoughts as we approach the end of a difficult journey:
It is Your Time
It is your time, Generations Y and Z—time to bring your youthful energy and world-changing idealism into the corridors of public power and into the boardrooms of corporate America. The future is yours to shape, so go for it, and do not be deterred.
Finding the Right Balance
Safeguards are needed in the governance structures and processes of a democracy to ensure that the majority does not discriminate against or abuse the rights of the minority. But some of the Constitutional safeguards we now have in place are anachronistic tools, such as the Electoral College and the requirement that each state, regardless of population, must be represented by two senators. These two tools ought to be refashioned to better meet the realities of this century rather than the reality as seen in the 1700s.
Today in America we have lived with a semi-permanent rule by the minority and I do not believe that was the intent of the nation’s founders. For instance, Republicans have won the popular vote for president only once in the last 20 years, but for 12 of those years they held the presidency. In the 2016 and 2018 Senate elections Democrats received the most votes nationwide, but Republicans control the Senate. The will of the people is not being represented. A case in point is the recent confirmation of a Supreme Court justice even though a majority of Americans opposed the action. A democratic nation will not last if it is governed by a permanent minority.
Despite their baked-in Electoral College and gerrymandered advantages the Republicans need more help to maintain their hold on government, so they have focused on suppressing the vote, particularly in ways that discriminate against the poor and minority communities and college students. They use their gerrymandered advantage in states to control the voting rules and limit polling places; they delay mailed ballots by disrupting the work of the post office; and use a court they have packed with partisans to uphold their discriminatory policies.
It is time to eliminate the filibuster, pass legislation that gives a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote, and enact national voting standards in which the states have the authority to broaden access to the polls but not restrict it.
In the short run these reforms would help the Democratic party, but in the long run the Republicans would also benefit because they will be forced to expand from their mostly white, rural, Southern base.
Feeling Sorry for Donald Trump
Poor Donald Trump! He is sad because suburban women don’t like him. “Suburban women” he implores, “won’t you please like me? Please…please. I saved your damn neighborhood, ok?”
This week he complained about and ridiculed strong, competent women who, he said, “treated me badly.” These women included Savanah Guthrie (“terrible, crazed”) and Lesley Stahl (“whiny, pathetic”), and he personally belittled two women who dared to criticize him, Senator Kamala Harris (“unprincipled, phony, sexist, monster, something wrong with her“) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (“crazy as a bedbug”).
I have a warning for Mr. Trump and all men who have for too long controlled political discourse and decision making: You are in the process of being replaced by women who are at least your match intellectually and heads above you in terms of integrity, empathy, courage and common sense. Brilliant, highly competent women have always been among us, but they are now beginning to emerge in large numbers as the leaders of this nation.
They are women who have had successful careers in business, community organizing, the military, FBI, CIA, medicine and law. They are tough-minded, but not stubborn; seek unity instead of division; and are multi-dimensional thinkers rather than single-minded zealots.
On the Democratic side of the aisle they include, among many others, House members Abigail Spanberger, Elissa Slotkin, Akexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mikie Sherrill, Rashida Tlaib, Haley Stevens, Katie Porter, Ayanna Pressley, Crissy Houlahan, Sharice Davids, Lucy McBath and Val Demings. Add in political veterans like Pelosi, Harris, Sheri Bustros, Karen Bass, Amy Klobuchar, Tammy Baldwin, Tammy Duckworth, and Elizabeth Warren. Then there are governors like Gretchen Whitmer, Gina Raimondo and Michelle Lujan.
The way to the future, my brothers, will be led by women. Prepare to support and follow them or be left behind.
Bill Jamieson’s career has included leadership positions in business, government, and education. He was also an ordained deacon in the Episcopal Church and his ministry centered around advocacy for low-income families and children.