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Disowned for Voting Republican: Part II
Vanity | November 8, 2012 | Behind the Blue Wall

Posted on 12/08/2012 8:54:54 PM PST by Behind the Blue Wall

A good number of you responded to a vanity that I posted a week ago consisting of an email I sent to my father in law who was threatening to disown me for switching "sides" and voting "R" in the last election. He wrote back, and although I'll save you from having to read the extensive drivel that is his email to me, I'm posting my response back to him. Excerpts from his email are in italics.

This is even longer than the first one, so if you're not interested in reading all that, I more than understand. I did omit some of the more personal, conversational aspects of the email in the interest of brevity. But I wanted to post it here because in my opinion it outlines some of the arguments that could form the basis of how the GOP/conversatives might approach the African-American community for greater support.

I realize that some of you are none too happy with blacks in general at the moment, not because of their race, but because they mindlessly marched in lockstep into the polls to reelect a President whose main purpose appears to be to destroy America. Believe me, I'm not happy about that either. But I do believe that if there is ever an honest debate among blacks about whether they agree more with the Republican platform or the Democratic one, the Republicans will win at least 30 or 40, maybe even 50% of the vote, and that alone would be the end of the Democratic Party's demographic advantage generally. We just need to find a way to get past the short-circuiting of that debate by the endless propaganda campaign that convinces blacks that Democrats are their "friends" and Republicans the "enemy". Thoughts and reactions are welcomed.

I also realize that I'm still probably not as conservative as a lot of you here at Free Republic, but go easy on me: I'm a lot more conservative than I used to be, and there's nowhere else on the Web where I feel more at home.

Dear XXX,

[initial niceties ommitted]

Your first concern I think was summarized as follows:

I cannot fail to say that that your political affiliation and activities surely would have an impact not only on your career but how others view your family. That is particularly noteworthy is in a super-Democratic state like [my state].

I take this concern to heart with the utmost seriousness. Believe me, the effect that my political beliefs and activities might have on my career prospects is never far from the forefront of my consciousness. I do know that there are lawyers much smarter and harder-working than me on the unemployment lines, and other ones much dumber and lazier making the "big money" and "calling the shots" in the corridors of power. I am acutely aware of the risk that publicly affiliating myself with libertarian, conservative, Tea Party and/or Republican ideals and associations presents to my ability to advance in the world and provide for my family. I live in a city that is almost entirely Democratic, in a state that is completely ruled by Democrats, and in a country where it seems quite unlikely that Democrats will again lose control at the national level in my lifetime, given current demographic and political trends. Things certainly wouldn't look very promising for anyone in my position not affiliated with the Democratic Party!

In truth, however, this is probably a "failing" of mine that long predates any affinity that I might have developed more recently for more conservative and Republican ideals. My conscience has always stood in the way of me and Democratic partisanship, and I've purposely avoided taking career paths where "who you know" is more important than "what you know", sometimes probably to my detriment. I've certainly had opportunities to work in politics, but I've always balked at pursuing them because I knew that the sort of independently-minded, ethically principled (at least in my opinion!) person that I am would inevitably clash with the duty of loyalty that comes with those kinds of jobs. I also just don't enjoy the gamesmanship and lack of morals exhibited by the vast majority of the players in that realm. But I'm well-known in some circles for taking stands that conflict with the politically powerful, and have even at times received phone calls on behalf of the Mayor for example asking me to stand down on this or that particular issue, which I've always ignored.

Now, it's also true that I have worked to help elect certain particular Democrats in the past, but that was never because of Party loyalty, but instead because I saw something special in particular individuals that I believed in. And when I've been appointed to things, believe me, it's never been because of Party or even personal loyalty, but always because I was viewed as someone who brought certain skills and experiences that would be helpful to the particular board or commission in question. I remember the Mayor [of my city] saying exactly that during my interview for the XXXX Commission: "I know you didn't work on my campaign, but I respect your education and the work that you've done in the community, so that's why I'm appointing you". And even after receiving and ignoring those "stand down" calls, I was reappointed for a new term this year.

In that light, I've tried to maintain a certain separation between my professional career and my personal beliefs. I would also note that as a matter of principle, I do aspire towards a society where a person's success in life is determined by their skills and talents, not their political loyalties, and so I also seek to model that as I plot my own career path. The goal of that kind of society is part of what I would consider to be a conservative value, where jobs and resources are won on the basis of merit, as opposed to being doled out by government elites to a favored few.

I (and most conservatives and libertarians) have also always believed strongly in the federalist system of government established by the U.S. Constitution, where there is room for states and localities to serve as "laboratories of democracy" that allow for a diversity of local polities, some maybe more progressive, some more conservative, others libertarian, etc. People are then free to "vote with their feet" for the environment that they find most to their liking.

The truth also is that in the sort of one-party rule that exists in my local environment, and even statewide to an extent, in pushing for things on behalf of the communities that I represent legally, and work with politically, we are almost always aligned in opposition to the Democratic Party/Big Labor machine politicians that consistently seek to roll over the concerns of grassroots community groups.

Yes, most would say that we oppose them "from the left", and that's sort of, but not exactly or always true. In the recent election, for example, groups that I've worked with who represent neighborhoods in the black part of town as well as bus riders became so sick and tired of being rolled over and ignored by the Democratic Party/Big Labor machine that controls the local transportation agency that they publicly allied themselves with local anti-tax, Tea Party-affiliated groups to successfully defeat a proposed transportation tax. I've also helped the XXXX overcome opposition from mainstream Democratic Party/Big Labor construction industry power brokers in order to open up public works jobs to blacks who have historically been excluded from the construction trade unions.

I've worked with parent and teacher groups who have fought tooth and nail against the Democratic Party/Big Labor to establish charter schools whose purpose is to actually educate children, as opposed to placing them on the more common "school to prison pipeline", while avoiding all attempts at teacher accountability. I recently did a personal research project to determine where in [my state] I might be able to find a public school for [my son] with two attributes: (1) rated in the top tier of schools; and (2) more than a token enrollment of black students. I was shocked to find that there is not one single traditional public school in [my state] that meets those two simple criteria, but there are upwards of 20 charter schools that do. If the local Democratic Party and Big Labor (teacher's unions) had their way, those schools would not exist. But local parents and community activists pushed ahead anyways, and now it's proven that low-income black kids can be educated just like anyone else, contrary to the claims often made by the teacher's unions blaming low test scores on socioeconomic factors. The same thing is happening in New York (take a look at the success of the Harlem Children's Zone), and in a number of other states as well.

I would also note that there is more overlap in the real world between left and right than you might think based on the loudmouth squawking that passes for political discussion on cable television. By way of example, as a manager at XXXX, one of my functions is to recruit and develop proposals for candidates applying for a number of very competitive public interest fellowships available to law school graduates. I was contacted in summer 2011 by a third year law student from Harvard who had prior experience working at the dreaded and notorious Bain Capital, as well as a private corporate law firm, but who also spent two years working for legal aid during school. I was impressed by his talents and thought that his finance background could be bring a desperately needed asset to small businesses and social enterprises seeking to provide new jobs, goods and services in low-income areas, and so I helped him write a proposal and advocated for his candidacy. Others in my organization resisted, taking issue with his "corporate" background and lack of demonstrated commitment to public interest. Well, after the more preferred candidates were lost to other organizations, they allowed me to go forward with him. Lo and behold, those other candidates' proposals failed, yet my candidate was selected, and my Executive Director later told me that a member of the fellowship selection committee reported to her that it was the top proposal and candidate nationwide, and she considered it one of the best she'd ever seen!

And the conservative principle of federalism does serve to protect progressive as well as conservative values. A number of blue states have passed ballot measures allowing patients to use medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation. Since then, hundreds of organizations have sprung up to provide this "medicine", and thousands of patients have found relief from a variety of ailments, including wasting problems associated with treatments for AIDS and cancer, glaucoma, pain, PTSD, etc. It's not controversial in those states, yet the federal government under Obama has actually stepped up enforcement efforts against these organizations and patients since taking office. I'm sure that you are well-aware of the excessive incarceration of black youth resulting from the prohibition of drugs, beginning with and mostly due to marijuana, and the devastating effect that has had on black communities throughout the U.S. Even still, more and more states are decriminalizing and legalizing marijuana, and arrest rates are going down. It is only federalism that allows them to do this in the face of opposition from the Obama Administration in Washington.

So, my distance from the Democratic Party long predates any identification that I have more recently developed with conservative or libertarian ideas, and it is intrinsic to the work that I do as a lawyer and community activist everyday. If I were a loyal Democrat, I would not have been able to persuade developers to provide community benefits, the transportation department to alter its plans to "railroad" its way through minority neighborhoods, the school district to grant charters to parents and community groups to open new and better schools, the local police to forbear from arresting black youth for nonviolent drug crimes, or to recruit a Harvard Law graduate to help raise capital for struggling small businesses and social enterprises. Unfortunately (or not), the reality of how the political environment in which I've found myself has interacted with my personal morals and ethics has almost always resulted in my inability to be a partisan Democrat, and this long predates any interest I've ever had in conservative or libertarian ideas.

I would also note that growing up in the household of a history professor, I've always been probably more conscious of the "big picture" historically than the average person, and in the big picture, the Republican Party is the party that was founded for the purpose of freeing black people from slavery, successfully did so at a great cost in lives and treasure, and worked for decades afterwards on their behalf, whereas the Democratic Party is the party that defended slavery, spawned the KKK, established the Jim Crow system of racial segregation, and successfully resisted all attempts to dismantle it for decades. Democratic Party support for the abortionists that have its origins in anti-black eugenicism also does not endear me to that party.

But I am not naive. I know that being a left or even community-based dissenter from the local Democratic Party/Big Labor machine is a far cry from being affiliated with national Tea Party Republicans. Few of my allies in the community have (as of yet) joined me in going so far as to vote for somebody from the complete "other side" of the political spectrum, and I don't expect them to do so any time soon. Thus, I don't go around my local community or political circles or professional associations trumpeting my ideological leanings. I know that would be beating my head against a brick wall to my own detriment, so there's no point to doing that. I try to align my work and local activities with the sentiment of the grass-roots community people that I know and work with, whatever that might mean politically.

I will also say, however, that the fact that I've taken risks by publicly writing things on the Internet that I'd prefer stay within my personal networks as opposed to professional ones is not a complete accident. I know that you disagree, but I did and do truly believe within my "heart" that Obama and the Democrats are for the most part taking the country in the wrong direction. And my worst fears involve some pretty scary outcomes. I don't pretend to know what the future will hold, but when you have demographically-based one-party rule, assertions of unprecedented powers to target enemies for assassination, including American citizens, without due process, and a targeting of certain segments of the population as unjustly benefiting at the expense of the rest during a time of economic distress, I believe that there are places where that could go that are very dark. Hopefully not, of course. But I felt that I could not in good conscience stand by silently while the election was occurring and people were making their decisions, especially given the demographic reality that this was likely the GOP's last chance at national power. In all likelihood, my fears are unfounded, and the future will bring about the "peace and prosperity" that we all hope for. But if not, I didn't want to reflect back realizing that I saw the potential danger, and yet failed to in any way articulate my beliefs beyond the confines of the space between my ears. I wanted to at least let my friends and family know where I stood, and I wanted to use the technology at my disposal to share what I considered to be important information more broadly. I probably crossed the line into the "danger zone" a few times in the process, but at least if my fears do end up confirmed in any way, my conscience is clear that I did what I was able to do when I had the opportunity.

The next major part of your email addresses what I now understand to be probably the crux of our disagreement: the role of race in supporting or criticizing Obama.

Perhaps, you may not even have considered carefully the full complexity of the situation everyone us must face in life’s many contexts or, with respect to Obama, what it is like to be the first black person at the head of a major American enterprise, institution, or in this case, the presidency? It is a challenge that the holder of such an honor in a predominantly White society (at least in a power context) must necessarily approach with caution, steadfastness of vision, humility, integrity and wisdom, not simply with a revolutionary spirit of conquest, certainty, predictability and brash agenda for the oppressed.

It is a great milestone in the American history of civil rights to have a Black President. Therefore, irrespective of any rising expectations, unmet goals and unrealized hopes, a resounding majority of Blacks in America appear to understand the critical importance of this symbolism. As well, they seem to appreciate the depth of Obama’s challenge, the very bad hand he has received from the misdeeds and mismanagement of the last administration and the current limitations and insults such a Black President must endure even in the face of the urgent problems of his particular community. Overall, the opposition through its unrelenting obstructionism in the US Senate in particular, has not even allowed him (with few exceptions) to carry out his economic and social agenda.

Clearly, the first Black President of the United States cannot be perceived or understood as a miracle worker by his own people or simply as a “Black President” by the general population. Thus, although Obama has failed to quickly economically uplift some specific minority populations, Blacks especially still take pride in the symbolism of his Presidency. That, to me, as a Black man is a consideration—indeed an attitude—that takes primacy above all else! In that context, I cannot be fickle or opportunistic in my support of him nor can I fail to feel his pain, dilemma and self-imposed constraint.

I do believe that the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States absolutely does have great symbolic importance to black people here in this country, and all over the world. But I also believe equally if not more strongly that there is a grave danger to attaching too much significance to ethnic and racial identity in politics, particularly once somebody is already in power. Judging public officials based on their group identity as opposed to their actions can and frequently does often lead down a path of utter destruction. One form of that destruction occurs within a given group, when the members of the group fail to hold their leadership accountable for anything other than fulfilling their symbolic ethnic or racial function. "Being" a member of the group is the easiest thing a public official can possibly do, because it doesn't require "doing" anything at all, so then the rest of their time can be and often is spent working diametrically against everything that might be in the interest of that group, yet still enjoying its political support. That often translates into decaying polities ruled by corrupt leadership. I've seen it my local community here in [my city], where the "circle the wagons" dynamic protected corrupt leadership at a local public hospital serving the black community until so many unnecessary deaths piled up (literally) that the place was closed entirely by the federal government, leaving the community with no hospital at all. I've seen it when I lived in Washington and we re-elected Marion Barry time and time again even though it was a known, video recorded fact that he was addicted to crack cocaine. And again, it's nothing intrinsic to black people. You saw it in the segregated South, where even though whites were "in power", most of them were desperately poor and ignorant because they demanded nothing from their leaders other than whiteness. In the case of Obama, I think the data demonstrates that blacks have suffered greatly since he took office, even relatively compared to any other group.

But the intra-group problems with engaging in politics based on racial and ethnic solidarity pale in comparison with the inter-group problems that can arise. We are both well-aware of the kind of societal breakdown, violence, ethnic cleansing, and even genocide that can and often does result when ethnic and racial politics are the overwhelming mode of political interaction in a society. I'm quite certain that I don't have to recite to you the libraries of history books full of examples. And it's not an excuse to say that those who have historically been on the losing side of a particular conflict get a "pass" that allows them to engage in it. Every group considers itself to be have been aggrieved at some point in the past. The way out of racial and ethnic conflict is not to try to "flip sides" from losers to winners, but to end the game itself, and elevate non-racialism as the only guiding principle that can ensure freedom and prosperity for everyone. I believe very strongly that it was this focus on the "Dream" of non-racialism rather than simply advancing the narrow interests of the group that allowed Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement to be so successful in bringing about the changes they sought, and to serve as such a powerful inspiration to freedom-loving people all over the world.

I prefaced my comments on Obama by stating my view that of course race matters at a symbolic level, but that it was his specific actions that led me to my current position, and that I wanted to address. I'm disappointed that you dismissed engaging in such a discussion as "vanity". I would've liked to hear your opinions about some of the issues that I raised. Certainly, President Obama has faced societal dynamics and difficulties based on race that a white President would not have. But unless you can can explain to me how racial factors forced him to take the specific actions that I listed, I don't see how those dynamics affect my critique. I wrote of his reneging on a promise to accept public financing, his decisive support for the Wall Street bailout, his rejection of Republican input in the stimulus bill and subsequent lack of effective focus on using it to spur growth, his decision to introduce an unpopular health care bill that included the mandate that he'd previously campaigned against, his authoritarian civil liberties policies that would make Dick Cheney blush, his lack of recognition of the global threat presented by radical Islam, and his unconstitutional granting of amnesty to illegal aliens. I don't see where his being black forced him to do any of that. I'm making judgments based on his actions; you are making excuses for him based on his race. That seems to be the diametric opposite of King's famous words to the nation urging that individuals be judged based on the content of the character (actions), not the color of their skin (race). I reject it, and would implore you to engage in a discussion that addresses his actions, not his race.

But if there is one single thing that has driven me more and more into the conservative, Republican camp, it is this kind of reaction to critiques of Obama's presidency. Obviously, surrounded by so many progressive Democrats and Obama supporters in my life, and in some of the online forums that I've been a part of, I've had many opportunities to engage with people to about this or that Obama policy position or action that I've disagreed with. Occasionally I get a reasoned, fact-based response that addresses the substance of the issue. I enjoy that, and at times, I've moderated my views in light of becoming aware of additional facts, or of a perspective that I hadn't fully considered. Far more often, however, the conversations go like this:

Q: I don't agree with President Obama's policy on X. A: The only reason people are criticizing President Obama is because they can't abide having a black man as President. Whatever you think the basis of your criticism is, the fact is you're just being duped into siding with people who oppose him because he's black.

There's really no way for me to respond to that. But it also does nothing to convince me of the merits of Obama's policy on X. And because I know for a fact that I have (at least in my own estimation) good, logical, non-racist reasons to oppose President Obama's policy on X, reasons in fact that more often than not have to do with the negative effects of said policies in the black community, I also come away with the conclusion that the person is not being genuine, but is simply using Obama's race as a way to shield him from criticism. So I walk away not only more convinced in the validity of the criticism, but also with a reduced estimation of the opposing argument. That certainly does not help endear me to the progressive argument or to Obama.

We can agree to disagree, or we can discuss the merits of Obama's specific actions and policies, but if our discussion is going to be short-circuited by the invocation of Obama's race as the overriding factor determining the outcome, it can't go anywhere. If what you mean by "following your heart instead of your head" is that either your "heart" is with Obama as a symbol of black progress, or it's with the racists who can't abide having a black President, and nothing else matters, then no, I don't think I can "think with my heart" in that way. My "heart" is with the people who are affected by public policy, and not with any particular politician, no matter their symbolic importance.

You next outlined your criticisms of Romney, many of which I agree with completely. In my original email, I said that I wasn't an enthusiastic supporter of him, and that's due to some of the reasons that you mentioned. I think Romney infamously lacked empathy with the "47%", he was insincere in many of his political positions, some of what he did in private business was not anything to point to with pride as someone running for public office, and he was indeed responsible for introducing an individual mandate in Massachusetts, although it can be defended as appropriate at the state level, but not at the federal level, in our federalist system of government.

But I will mount a sort of posthumous (politically speaking) defense of him for purposes of this discussion, being that my vote for him is a part of what triggered your concerns.

Mitt Romney made his fortune by borrowing a lot of money that other people were forced to pay back. In my estimation, there is a cardinal moral issue involved. At the very least, this is the ugly face of capitalism and a free market gone wild. Romney is best-known poster child in modern American history and politics, because he is one of the greatest and most irresponsible debt creators of all time. In the past few decades, Romney has piled more debt onto more unsuspecting companies and written more gigantic checks that other people have to pay for, to enrich himself. He also caused untold suffering on so many people’s lives—workers, families, children, communities.

Nobody is "forced" to do anything in the private sector. Who is "required" to pay back the debt of companies taken over by Bain? Not the employees. If they no longer liked their jobs, then they were free to go pursue other opportunities. Not the prior shareholders, who profited from increase in value. Who? And it's at least a bit ironic that you knock Romney as "one of the greatest and more irresponsible debt creators of all time" who forced others to pay it back, when in fact as a private businessman, Romney had zero power to force anyone to pay anything back, but there is actually one kind of debt that all Americans are "forced" to pay back, and that is the debt of the federal government, and Obama is literally the greatest (measured in dollars) and arguably the most irresponsible creator of that kind of debt of all time.

To the extent that Romney's case was based on his experience as a businessman and at Bain it was not that he would govern the nation as he governed Bain, but that he understood how the business world works, and what it would take to revive it, and how to effectively run an organization. When I got hired at legal aid, part of the argument in my favor was that having previously worked in government, I could be effective in navigating through government processes on behalf of my clients. Nobody would counter that argument by reciting the particular policies that were passed while I worked there, and whether or not those policies were good or bad for my clients. Same thing with my Fellow. Nobody thought that he would raid or take over small businesses in [the local low-income black neighborhood], load them up with debt and fire all of the employees because he'd previously worked at Bain. He won his fellowship because public interest-minded people believed that he would apply skills gained in that job to the benefit of poor people. The same argument applied to Romney: he would hopefully apply the knowledge and skills he acquired from a career in the private sector for the benefit of the American people.

The job of a private corporation is to generate profits for its shareholders, not to achieve social goals. The job of government is to establish public policies that ensure that in pursuing profit, private businesses minimize harm and meet societal goals. So I don't hold Romney or any other business owner morally culpable for legal actions taken for the benefit of their shareholders; I hold government responsible if the law doesn't adequately proscribe their actions to protect the public. And there aren't really any examples of successful businessmen such as Romney who became President in the modern age, so we don't really know how that might or might not have worked out. I don't know where you get that Bush or Cheney were successful businessmen: Bush was a two-term Governor of Texas and failed oil man, and Cheney was a former Congressman and Secretary of Defense. Neither had any particularly noteworthy record of success in business prior to ascending to the White House.

I've also found after years of working with a variety of public officials that executive experience is a critical often overlooked factor in their success or failure. I've seen that when career legislators win executive offices, often there's a wide gap between their public pronouncements, stated policies and goals, and the effect of the activities of the people who work for them. Legislators only have to establish the "policy", i.e. the law. They don't concern themselves with what happens next. Executives are responsible for making sure that the law/policy is implemented in a way that meets the goals. They are different skill sets that don't always overlap. The fact that Romney built a successful organization from the ground up, an organization that in fact specialized in taking over and improving the operations of other organizations, indicated to me a superior executive ability that would have served him well in meeting the challenges of leading the executive branch of the U.S. government.

But ultimately for me, the election was not primarily about Romney. It was about registering my disapproval of Obama's actions. The argument in favor of Romney was that I believed that he would be more successful in reviving the economy (and I didn't see you specifically address any of his actual economic policy proposals), that he would more closely follow the Constitution, and that he would be more likely to recognize the threat presented by radical Islam. But neither of us has any idea for certain whether any of that is true; with Obama, we have a record, so we know for a fact much about what he has done as President, and by extension, is likely to continue to do. The real debate shouldn't be about whether Bain Capital's business practices are harmful, or Obama's race determinative; it should be about which candidate's record and proposals were more likely to indicate an ability to bring about "peace and prosperity". That then to me, would be a more interesting (albeit still moot) conversation.

The next section of your email involved a broader discussion about the share of taxes paid by the rich in the U.S.:

There is a very serious thing happening to the American view of the civil society, government and the role of the elites in it in present-day society—the refusal to help shoulder adequately the burden of the state. Even the Bible professes the ethical theory that to whom much is given much is expected. I recall, for instance, that during the Eisenhower years, the top tax rate was about 90%; under Reagan about 30%. Clinton had a higher rate as well than now. Yet, all of these administrations prospered!

In the midst of the country’s grave economic problem, so many among the filthy rich implicitly and explicitly reject the notion of “shared sacrifice.” Instead of helping by creating jobs and paying their fair tax share, they now whine about how they have been “mistreated” by modest government policies aimed at greater accountability and corporate responsibility and at helping to uplift the nation from its severe economic woes. That is selfish individualism at its worst.

What is wrong is the rich, including filthy rich, refusing to pay their fair share or to share the burden; yet, they want a strong and very expensive military-industrial complex. Host of MSNBC's Up With Chris Hayes made an insightful observation on the station's Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on July 21, 2012: "Societies that are in decline have difficulties extracting money from their elites." That is where America is right now.

Starting with the inception of the Bush tax breaks for the rich, America began more noticeably its decline into an unjust society—and also a country in great debt.

I think it might be instructive to take a look at some of the actual figures on who pays what taxes in the U.S. to determine whether it's true that the rich are not "adequately" shouldering the burden of the state, or whether their share has risen or fallen relative to the share paid by other segments of the population. In 2010, the top 1% paid over 37% of the nation's income taxes, versus just 19% in 1980. By contrast, the bottom 50% paid over 7% of the total in 1980, and that was down to just over 2% in 2010. So, if there is this trend of the rich increasingly "refusing" to shoulder their burden of the nation's taxes, then why has their share of it more than doubled over the past 30 years, while the share paid by the bottom 50% has shrunk to almost nil? And is it really true that they are not shouldering their fair share of the burden when they are covering more than a third of the total, even as the lower middle class and poor cover almost none of it? You could also talk about tax rates, with the top 1% currently paying an average rate of over 23%, and the bottom 50% paying an average rate of (again) just over 2%. Is our tax system really grossly unfair to the poor and middle class in favor of the rich, when the rich pay a tax rate nearly 12 times that of the poor and lower middle class?

Yes, it is also true that over the past 30 years the share of total national income received by the top 1% has grown, but that is apparently not the fault of the tax system, which has increasingly acted to smooth out those inequalities by transferring a greater share of the tax burden onto the rich, and reducing the share paid by the lower middle class and the poor. It's worth considering whether the actual causes of the increase in the share of national income enjoyed by the rich have to do with public policy, and, if so, whether those policies should be changed, but that is another discussion entirely. It's my understanding that with the ascendance of a global, information age economy, the increased scale of economic activities has meant that the "winners" win much bigger, and this is true in many countries. The only places in the world, then, where there isn't an increasing share of national income going to the top are places that don't allow their citizens to freely participate in the global information age economy such as North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, etc. You mention Canada, as you note does have a national health care system (and no mandated private insurance), but is also ranked higher on the economic freedom index than the U.S., with lower debt. It may not be a coincidence that it is also doing much better economically.

Margaret Thatcher famously responded to an accusation that her administration had contributed to greater income inequality by responding:

People on all levels of income are better off than they were in 1979. The hon. Gentleman is saying that he would rather that the poor were poorer, provided that the rich were less rich. That way one will never create the wealth for better social services, as we have. What a policy. Yes, he would rather have the poor poorer, provided that the rich were less rich. That is the Liberal policy. . . .

Certainly this is no less true in the U.S. than it was in Britain. Over the 30 years from 1980 to 2010, yes the rich got much richer, but a lot of people moved out of poverty and into the middle class, and the poor also became better off as well. Would you have preferred that we not have participated in the global, information age economy, which would've have resulted in greater equality, but lower standards of living at all levels of the income scale?

There are also public policy considerations that support the rich being allowed to pay a lower tax rate. One of the main reasons that the total rate paid by rich people is often low is that investment income is taxed at a rate of only 15%. I have heard almost no one in the Obama Administration or the Democratic Party or even on the progressive left in general suggest raising that rate. Why not? Because that rate is low in order to encourage people to invest. Nobody wants to discourage people from investing, because everyone would suffer if there was less investment in productive and job-producing enterprises.

A final problem I have with the idea of specifically targeting the rich for increased taxes is that it's a dangerous sort of political demagoguery. Historically, when taxes have increased or decreased in the U.S., it has been across the board. The Bush tax cuts were not "for the rich"; rates were decreased for all tax brackets. The tax increases during the early 90's were the same -- across the board. As soon as you start enacting tax increases that specifically target one group or another, you are potentially heading down a slippery slope where the tax system becomes a political weapon to be used by one group against another. If taxes are to be raised, they should be raised at least a little on everyone, so that we all feel at least some of the pain, not just one targeted group. There's nothing honorable or altruistic about voting to require someone else to contribute more of their money for the betterment of society, while you yourself continue to enjoy a reduced rate. Progressive taxation is fine; specifically targeting only a small subgroup is not.

Wisconsin is one clear example where, to pay for the very generous tax breaks given to the rich, the poor, the weak, and the downtrodden are being fleeced and stripped bare naked. Republican governors make a show of firing teachers, firefighters, policemen and other union public sector workers as a way of controlling their budget and paying for giveaways to the rich and the corporations. That is not in any way morally defensible. All over the country, the millionaires, the billionaires and their Republican surrogates in the US Congress and Supreme Court don't seem to care.

Except public sector workers aren't being laid off in Wisconsin. The rules of the collective bargaining process in Wisconsin were changed so that public officials could effectively restructure contracts so as to save jobs. And it worked as intended; public sector layoffs in Wisconsin were largely averted. But do you know where thousands of union public sector workers are being laid off? Right here in [my city] and elsewhere in ultra-blue [my state]. When people commonly live to be 80 and 90 years old, allowing public sector workers to retire at 50 with full salary pensions and "Cadillac" health plans for the rest of their lives that they contributed nothing to while they were working is inevitably going to result in cuts to the current workforce and a reduction in the quality and availability of desperately needed public services. But if the public sector unions are allowed to control the politicians by using their mandatory union dues to fund political campaigns, then there's no true arms-length bargaining, and the public will eventually suffer the consequences. The school district in my own city is instructive, with repeated rounds of layoffs often targeting the more capable and dedicated teachers due to seniority rules, reductions in the school year, deferrals of maintenance, etc., despite the fact that our very liberal electorate consistently votes to approve every proposed tax measure.

Now, there is little moral restraint and no openly or tacitly-acknowledged social contract. Even during the Bush administration, the Justice Department put in handcuff some Wall Street executives for the type of misfeasance that led eventually to the near collapse of the US and world economy. Obama has done very little about this, except for a new regulatory regime that Wall Street is still doing its best to sabotage. Yet, it is clear that Wall Street executives have gone back to their old habits and are again racking in millions, billions through financial gambles and derivative trading that do not contribute any real value to the national good. Recently (early July 2012), we learn, J. P. Morgan, a Wall Street titan, lost nearly $6 billion in one big gamble. Banks have become even much bigger than before the near collapse—certainly too big to fail, or to be ignored. Few among the super-rich show any moral obligation to the poor or the country for that matter.

I agree with much of this, and it is a major concern of mine as well. This is why the Wall Street bailout should never have occurred as it did, and Obama's decisive vote was so disappointing. The banks should've been allowed to take their losses, and if they went bankrupt, smaller, hungrier banks would've surely have quickly taken their place. Instead they were rewarded for their reckless behavior with billions from the public treasury, with no strings attached, and now the "too big to fail" problem that led to the bailout in the first place has gotten exponentially worse. The new regulatory regime actually codifies too big to fail, essentially guaranteeing the debts of these malfeasors in perpetuity. I have no problem if J.P. Morgan wants to gamble and lose $6 billion; I have a problem that my hard-earned tax dollars are on the hook to cover their losses.

But America is not invulnerable by any means. We must never forget, I stress again, that great powers and empires of the past centuries are no more. If the American civilization would ever fail, it would be primarily because of moral weakness–especially the greed and insensitivity of the most successful not because of the ascribed “laziness” of the working and middle classes.

On this we mostly agree. I see America as incredibly vulnerable right now, and I absolutely agree that its status as a great power is at risk. We do have a number of moral crises, and excessive greed is certainly one of them. The government is mostly under the control of corporate rent-seekers who use state power and subsidies to protect their own profits and prevent competition. But there is also moral decay at the popular foundation as well. Nearly half of all children in the U.S. are now born out of wedlock and that number for African-Americans is approaching 75%. All sorts of social pathologies are directly related to the breakdown of the family unit. If parents cannot be bothered to form a family prior to bringing children into this world, it is not possible for government to somehow magically raise those children with good morals and ethics on their behalf.

In America, corporations now enjoy unprecedented “person-hood” to the detriment of the electoral processes and the traditionally sustaining pillars of America democracy such as one man one vote. Therefore, corporations are growing in power while the individual becomes more marginalized and impoverished by low wage earning.

I absolutely agree with you regarding the corrupting influence of money in politics (and that is part of the reason why Obama's reneging on his promise to accept public financing was in my view such a destructive act), but I also think there has been a lot of misinformation about the issue of corporate "personhood" as it relates to the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. Corporations have been considered legal "persons" under U.S. common law for over 100 years, and there is no way that it could be otherwise. How else to enforce contracts between corporations except to apply the same principles of common law that apply to contracts between people?

But the issue in Citizens United actually had little to do with corporate personhood. At issue was a particular federal law that prohibited "real" people from speaking publicly about political issues only when they did it in cooperation with other people as part of corporations (or unions). Under that law, if I'm one of the billionaire Koch brothers, and I wanted to buy advertisements on television attacking my political opponents, my speech was protected under the First Amendment, but if a union of laborers wanted to buy exactly the same sorts of ads, they were prohibited from doing so. The court said only that under the First Amendment, it was not proper to deprive people of their free speech rights simply because they happened to be exercising that speech in concert with their fellow citizens, as opposed to as individuals. It didn't affect campaign donations directly to candidates, which is different and still restricted. I think it was properly decided.

American’s basis for its vaunted “exceptionalism” no doubt rests on its economic and military might and the fact that only America can do what many other nations, including Western nations, cannot do.

This is a fundamental misconception of the meaning of American exceptionalism. Here is the wiki definition of the term:

American exceptionalism is the proposition that the United States is different from other countries in that it has a specific world mission to spread liberty and democracy. It is not a notion that the United States is quantitatively better than other countries or that it has a superior culture, but rather that it is "qualitatively different". In this view, America's exceptionalism stems from its emergence from a revolution, becoming what political scientist Seymour Martin Lipset called "'the first new nation,'...other than Iceland, to become independent", and developing a uniquely American ideology, based on liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, populism and laissez-faire. This observation can be traced to Alexis de Tocqueville, the first writer to describe the United States as "exceptional" in 1831 and 1840.

American exceptionalism is not then in any way based on our currently superior economic and military might. We were "exceptional" when we were just a weak little upstart former colony in a remote undeveloped corner of the Earth, and we are exceptional today. And we have been exceptional through all of the ups and downs that have occurred in between. It is our "mission", the nature of our founding, and our "ideology" that makes us exceptional, not our economic and military might.

This misunderstanding of American exceptionalism probably then results in what I would consider to be your flawed prescription for how to moderate it:

In other Western democracies, there are responsible constraints upon freedom and liberty, especially freedom of speech. There is an upper limit of behavior, much like the speed limits on high ways. America cannot in the end maintain its superiority and might unless it fusses it particular civilization with a decency culture. As well it must not allow the selfish individualism of the few to sabotage it goal of real progress toward a better and more equal union–a just society.

Uh . . . no. If you want to explore some of the differences between "other Western democracies" and the United States as it relates to free speech, I would suggest you consider the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born former member of the Dutch Parliament who had to seek refuge in the United States to escape assaults on her rights of free speech by Islamic extremists acting in concert with the Dutch government. I don't see free speech as at all analogous to speed limits on highways. Driving as fast as you desire on a highway is not considered a fundamental human right in any country on Earth, yet free speech is considered so by most, including under the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Of course you cannot yell "fire in a theater", but outside of that sort of very narrow exception, I would strongly oppose any restrictions on our free speech rights in the U.S. along the lines of what we see in other Western countries.

I do believe, however, that the exact opposite of your misunderstanding is closer to the truth: our current economic and military superiority is not the basis for American exceptionalism; American exceptionalism is the basis for our current economic and military superiority. People have not streamed to our shores from every nation on Earth by the millions in order to be subjected to "speed limits" on their speech and enforced equality of outcomes. They came here to be free from politically repressive governments, and to pursue economic opportunities unimaginable to them in their home countries. We will not become stronger by sacrificing our freedoms; we would instead become weaker and more mediocre with each passing year.

(Romney, without equivocation during his campaigns, embraced the Ryan Budget, a budget that cuddles the rich and persecutes the poor and middle class).

I'd be curious to hear how you see the Ryan Budget as coddling the rich and persecuting the poor and middle class. I think it protects the poor and middle class by planning for the solvency of Medicare and Social Security over the long run, programs that are currently on a path to bankruptcy.

If Obama has disappointed you so much, at the very least one should look at it as a choice between the lesser of two evils (not that I think Obama is evil).

Rest assured, I most certainly do look at all political contests as between the "lessor of two evils", although I don't really consider any politician to be "evil". Politicians are all in my opinion fundamentally the same: they act for the purpose of gaining and maintaining power. There's nothing per se good or bad about that; "it just is". This is why I return again and again to the importance of the Constitution and the rule of law. "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely" is a truism that I will likely always subscribe to. It is critically important then in order for us to remain free, that our leaders are limited in their actions by the Constitution and the rule of law, and by an educated and aware citizenry continually demanding accountability.

His plans have been sabotaged with unprecedented filibuster in the US Senate (183 filibusters cf. only one during the Reagan Presidency)? His plan has indeed not been given the chance to work.

You do realize that Obama is the only President in modern history to enjoy a filibuster-proof majority of both houses of Congress during the critical first two years of his term when he was implementing his agenda? His stimulus plan was the largest such measure in the history of the Republic, by far. His health care bill was the most significant piece of social legislation since the 1960's. And in my experience, whenever there is a breakdown in negotiations, there are always two sides at fault? Is it not possible that there are more filibusters because Obama is the most liberal President in more than 30 years? Do you really believe that his opposition is motivated by race, when Clinton who is white faced a government shutdown, impeachment and in the famous words of his wife, a "vast right wing conspiracy" against him?

Without doubt, when political opponents ( especially president day Tea Party Republicanism) feel so free to depict Obama as a monkey or an African voodoo doctor, it must remind Blacks that they must stride with caution, and all of us that there is yet no end of racism in America simply because a Black man was elected President.

OK, now we've again entered a part of the discussion where if we were in the same room, the temperatures and voices would be really be rising, and throwing a few "monkeys" and "African voodoo doctors" and "birthers" into the mix, we might even have our hands around each other's throats! :^)

Again, please take a deep breath, and try to set aside the emotions on the topic for the moment, and I will certainly try to do so as well.

I don't believe that very many people "feel free" to depict Obama in a racist fashion. There were millions and millions of people who mobilized together all around the country under the Tea Party banner. They had thousands of public rallies and events that anyone and everyone was free to attend. If among those millions of people, there were one or two nuts who were racists, who's to say that they were condoned in any way by the rest of the participants? Who's to say that they weren't planted as agents provocateurs by the opposition?

You mentioned the OWS movement positively in your email. I could send you videos all day long showing that there were virulent anti-Semites there, rapists, people excreting on sidewalks, storefronts and police cars, violent Black Bloc anarchists bent only on destruction of private property, Lyndon LaRouche followers, and on and on. Would it be fair for me to say that all of those hangers-on somehow represented the majority of the participants who were there to decry economic inequality and Wall Street corruption?

In fact, the 2010 Tea Party-fueled wave resulted in the election of unprecedented numbers of Republican blacks and other minorities to high positions, including the highest number of black Republicans in Congress since Reconstruction, and an unprecedented number of nonwhite GOP Governors and Senators. If the Tea Party represents the racist fringe of the Republican Party, why are their candidates more racially diverse than those of the mainstream GOP?

Sen. McCain never encountered a virulent and unyielding “birther” movement so intent on denying his true origin, identity and even his personhood.

Sen. McCain did in fact face an infinitely more substantial official inquiry into his status as a natural born citizen than Obama ever did. In fact, Obama has never been asked to present his birth certificate before any official body (agency, court or legislature), and no official body has ever opined on his status as a natural born citizen. Sen. McCain was asked to present his birth certificate in the U.S. Senate, and he did so, and the Senate passed a resolution affirming his status as a natural born citizen.

Yes, I disagreed with your views on the site, but you have your own choice and right; however, I couldn’t believe that you would post on your twitter links pots asserting that or suggesting or implying that Obama was born in Kenya. At the end of the day, if someone wants to be against Obama, I can’t stop or be entirely mad at that (even though I strongly disagree). But I cannot make any exception for such baseless extreme right wing view. I find present-day Tea Party Republicanism and its politics, in its many ugly expressions, particularly odious.

Is it your contention that anyone who asks any questions relating to whether Obama qualifies as a natural born citizen is a racist, or alternatively, a self-hating black person? Do you think the requirement that the President be a natural born citizen is itself racist, and should therefore be ignored? If I were to present to you incontrovertible evidence that Obama is not in fact a natural born citizen would that change your view? If we could at least discuss these sorts of issues, then maybe it would be possible to locate the source of your offense at the possibility that I may have found an article addressing this topic interesting at some point in time.

What specifically to do you find "odious" about Tea Party Republicans? I think the Tea Party has done a great job in returning the principles of fiscal responsibility and limited government to the national debate, and has "cleaned house" within the Republican Party, removing a number of corrupt, old guard leaders who had long since outlived their usefulness to the American political scene. I certainly also oppose them on certain issues, but I'm genuinely perplexed as to exactly why you would seem to prefer that their voices be silenced.

Anyone can challenge or argue against Obama intellectually; but as soon as that person starts supporting this type of ugly, demeaning politics, he or she begins, in my estimation, to create a real problem. For I consider such an approach to politics steps far outside of the boundaries of objective reasoning, sound logic, provable fact and minimum standard of decency. To tell you my initial reaction—that doesn’t really sound like you. I said to myself, you are much smarter than this, more educated than that; that is not the XXXX I used to know. How can a person of your educational achievement and status be so open to racist prejudice (even against all the experiences of the Jews).

Again, I implore you, given the extreme emotions involved here, to refrain from unsupported generalized statements and instead focus on the specific issues at hand. What is racist about the question of natural born citizenship? Do you think that the requirement was adopted by the framers of the Constitution to exclude people of color? I'm fairly certain given the circumstances at the time that the provision was adopted with (white) British or French citizens in mind, not black or Indian. Now, in America there are tens of millions of Americans who unquestionably qualify as natural born citizens, so how is it racist? Why is it racially demeaning to inquire as to whether Obama is a natural born citizen, when it is not when inquiring into John McCain's status? You are characterizing something as being racist without establishing a foundation that it is in fact racist and then expressing outrage and forming a whole set of opinions based on the fact that I have supported such "racism".

Again, the Constitution requires that the President be a natural born citizen, and there is nothing racist about that whatsoever. When Arnold Schwartzenegger became Governor of California, he would have logically been on the short list of Presidential candidates as a Republican elected to Governor of the biggest, bluest state in the Union. But not a word was ever said about it because everyone knew that he was not eligible, having been born in Austria. It's arguably antiquated, but it's not racist. Arnold Schwartzenegger is as white as can be, yet it applies to him with equal force as it applies to any other naturalized citizen. So, how is it racist to ask the question?

And having asked the question, and receiving a less than satisfactory answer as a matter of fact or of law, is it racist to continue the inquiry? There is probably a flaw in our system in that there is no objective third-party agency tasked with establishing eligibility under this clause of the Constitution. It may not have been an issue because there has never been a U.S. President in the post-Revolutionary Era with a non-U.S. citizen parent. At the very least, because of that fact, there was a non-racist justification for further inquiries into the matter. Furthermore, given the extreme reluctance of the promised "most transparent President in history" to make his birth records available to the public (to this very day), when a person in power asserts secrecy over documents that ostensibly have no relevance to any question of current import, public or private, I don't believe that you have to be a racist to wonder why.

Are there likely to be "birthers" who are motivated by racist animus towards the President? Of course there are, just as there are people in every political movement who are motivated by racism. And to the extent that such people might ever do or say anything racially motivated, I would of course condemn it in the strongest terms. But there's nothing inherently racist about the question of natural born citizenship, and if you want to establish that there is no possible non-racist basis for any question on the matter, then I would think it incumbent upon you to conclusively eliminate as invalid each and every one of the arguments of law and fact involved, and also cite to specific evidence of the racist intent of the people making them.

As I noted above, when I ask a simple question about an issue that I believe everyone should take seriously, and the most powerful person in the world is going to every expense and invoking every power to avoid answering, and the response is that the only reason why I'm asking this question is because I'm being duped into aligning myself with those who are opposing the President because of his race, then it doesn't convince me of anything other than that those who are saying such things are afraid of the truth, and are doing everything that can to obfuscate and distract attention from any inquiry that might find the truth. It's not helpful or in any way persuasive. I would again plead with you: if you have a particular objection to a particular question or statement of mine, please address the facts and substance of it, and not fling around unsubstantiated allegations of racism.

Looking in from the outside, one might think I am over reacting, but as an African, the politics of the birther movement is deeply offensive to me. This movement paints a picture of some “African guy” allegedly illegally taking over America. It is the kind of politics that creates much division and racial animosity in society. It fuels racism toward Africa, Africans and people of African descent. It promotes the notion that black people are taking over the country, or taking it away from white America. It promotes the notion that Blacks should go back to Africa (once a stricture of White American racism in American experience along with the popular caricature of vaudevillian “black face”). It goes on and on.

I absolutely do believe that the same questions would be asked if Obama's father was from Europe, as Arnold Schwartzenegger was, or if he was white and born in Panama, as John McCain was, and of any President who was doing everything possible to hide shield his birth records from public view. His father could be from Iceland, or China, or Britain, or Mexico, it makes no difference. You are accusing the birthers of being racist, but they haven't mentioned race. You are the one bringing race into it. And in doing so, you are "dividing and isolating people from each other" by making a false and unfounded allegation of racism where there is none.

I would reiterate that there are few things more dangerous than a false allegation of racism. It is a horrible thing to call someone, and it creates a cloud that obscures actual instances of racism from the scrutiny that they truly deserve. Racism in its worst forms is surely amongst the very worst human dynamics that exist. It lies at the root of untold human suffering, violence and death. It is a gravely serious matter. If you want to call someone or something racist, then, I think it's incumbent upon you to clearly and definitively establish the basis for your allegation, and not toss the term around casually at shadowy, uncited, unnamed caricatures tied to political opinions and parties that you happen to disagree with for other reasons.

Rightly, it made me wonder whether you are even proud to be associated with us, and to be married to a daughter of African parents. This is the kind of thing said and applauded with vehemence and glee on many extreme right wing media establishments. I find that truly unfortunate, and the result of spiritual ignorance. To see you associated in any form with that kind of attitude or movement or politics made me question how you feel about black people. Or perhaps, that you are experiencing an identity crisis—yet, you will always be known as a Black man, not a White man.

I have said nothing in my life, my blog, or anywhere to disparage my wife, [my mother in law], yourself, African people, black people, or to indicate that I am in any way experiencing an "identity crisis". Again, all of that is imputed to my posting of a link that in your interpretation is offensive to Africans and blacks, but (although I don't in fact know the exact source in question) in my opinion addresses a non-racially motivated question about an issue that I consider to be of the utmost importance: the applicability of the Constitution, the rule of law, and transparency to the most powerful person on Earth.

Then, based on this unfounded conclusion, you question my "pride", "identity", "spiritual" awareness, feelings about my family, community, and race. I suppose you can deny me my own truth, but I can tell you with complete clarity that my feelings about being married to a person whose parents are from Africa, about being of African descent myself, and black people in general have precisely zero to do with my opinions about whether the Constitutional requirement of natural born citizenship includes a person born to a foreign parent, or whether Obama should be required to make his birth records available for public review, or whether there should be an official process to establish natural born citizenship, or any other questions related to the President's natural born citizenship status. And I do absolutely take offense at the implication that I ever would look at an issue like this on the basis of race, or anything else other than facts and law. That's not who I am, and the idea that after nearly fifteen years of knowing me and everything that I've dedicated my life to, you apparently do not know this to be an incontrovertible fact deeply disturbs me.

I would also note parenthetically that I do not believe in racial "pride". First of all, I don't believe that there is in reality such a thing as separate "races" such that I could take pride in being a member of one versus another: we are all members of the human race, varying infinitely in color, phenotype, hair texture, culture, etc. But more importantly, I don't believe that people should take pride in things that they played no role in. A person should take pride in their character and in their achievements, not in something that they were born into. Likewise, it should of course never be something to be ashamed of. But none of that has anything to do with the legal and factual question of whether or not Barack Obama qualifies as a natural born citizen.

This is not a matter of me pulling the race card or me having a chip on my shoulder; it is very clear to me that if Obama was White, and his father was born in, say Belgium, there almost certainly wouldn’t be a birther movement hounding his every move. Furthermore, the attitude itself (which in America is a social phenomenon) has created many Hitlers in the past. It is only a matter of degree in its manifestation in different societies and personalities. Therefore, I condemn it in the strongest terms, without equivocation—and without apologies. That is because the monster of racial animus can grow from initial benign prejudice.

Yes, it is a matter of you "pulling the race card", if pulling the race card has any meaning whatsoever. Pulling the race card means inserting race into a discussion that doesn't on its face involve race in order to shut down an argument without addressing its merits. Short-circuiting the facially race-neutral discussion of Obama's status as a natural born citizen with the allegation that to ask the question is itself racist is to shut down the argument without addressing the merits. If it's true that this would not be an issue if his father were born in Belgium, then explain to me why Arnold Schwartzenegger is assumed to be excluded from the Presidency? And to accuse birthers of being somehow one step away from Hitler is way over the line. There is no "benign prejudice" at issue here; there is only your own projection of racial animus into a situation that has no inherent racial aspect to it.

Again, I would ask you to answer the question: what if I were to provide you with incontrovertible proof that Obama is not in fact a natural born citizen, and is unconstitutionally usurping the Presidency? Your answer could very well be, "who cares, it's an old and antiquated provision anyways that should be ignored", as my father has said, or you might say, "who cares, he's black, and as such it's our duty to stick by him no matter what." But if either of those are the case, then it would be more honest for us to just agree that for me, the Constitution is more important than any one politician, no matter who, and that for you, the Constitution is just a means to an end, and when it doesn't serve our purposes, it should be ignored. That discussion would at least get to closer to the meat of the issue; but this throwing around of unfounded accusations of racism I believe to be beneath you, and unworthy of anyone truly interested in truth and the betterment of society.

Finally, I venture to say to you with as much emphasis I can summon that everything is connected, although at the same time everyone is a free spirit, to do as they please. WE ARE ALL ONE! Fundamentally, we all share a spiritual brotherhood. Therefore, it is not the so-called anthropological or social race that matters most; there is one race of humanity! Thus is the goal of my website—to promote unity. That will be the most important work of my life—selfless work—because it is the work of eternity.

Thankfully, we are now back to places where we can agree. As I believe I tried to explain in considerable detail above, you may disagree with my opinions, but I would only ask that you consider the possibility that they do in fact grow out of my commitments to family and community and the less fortunate. I do absolutely believe that we are all one, that we all share a spiritual brotherhood, that there is no so-called "race" at all except the one true race that is humanity. I commend you in your efforts to promote unity in the human race. I would only ask you to consider whether judging and supporting a powerful public official on the basis of his race as opposed to his actions, making unfounded and unsourced allegations of racism against your fellow "brothers" who happen to disagree with you politically, and using your own misconceptions to cast horrible aspersions on the very core of your own son in law's "identity" and "pride" really helps further "unity in the human race".


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Government; Politics/Elections; Your Opinion/Questions
KEYWORDS: allisvanity; bloggersandpersonal; family; freedom; notnews; obama; obotletter; romney; vanity
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Congratulations in you made it all the way through! It comes across a bit more acrimonious than it really is because I omitted the niceties in the interest of brevity.
1 posted on 12/08/2012 8:55:08 PM PST by Behind the Blue Wall
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To: Behind the Blue Wall

Is there a Cliff’s Notes version.


2 posted on 12/08/2012 9:07:19 PM PST by deadrock
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To: Behind the Blue Wall

I believe we have a new record. The longest vanity ever on the Free
Republic.


3 posted on 12/08/2012 9:07:46 PM PST by TruthWillWin (The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples money.)
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To: Behind the Blue Wall

geez...

Not going to even try to read all this.

Are you no longer disowned?


4 posted on 12/08/2012 9:11:06 PM PST by Aria ( 2008 & 2012 weren't elections - both were a coup d'etat.)
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To: DEADROCK

Cliff Notes: If I don’t vote for Obama, it’s because I’m a race traitor, or worse. My response: stop being a racist and look at the facts.


5 posted on 12/08/2012 9:17:11 PM PST by Behind the Blue Wall
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To: Aria
Are you no longer disowned? Not sure yet how all of this will turn out. This is my attempt to explain myself.
6 posted on 12/08/2012 9:18:26 PM PST by Behind the Blue Wall
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To: Behind the Blue Wall

All of this for a FIL who wants you to vote against the economic interests of you children, or for that matter, the futures of all children? Sorry, I couldn’t bring myself to go through so many machinations for someone like this.


7 posted on 12/08/2012 9:19:07 PM PST by Greenpees (Coulda Shoulda Woulda)
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To: Greenpees
I couldn’t bring myself to go through so many machinations for someone like this.

Part of it is just an opportunity to put into writing a lot of what I've been thinking lately. But yes, I'll certainly have limited patience for much more of this going forward.

8 posted on 12/08/2012 9:21:40 PM PST by Behind the Blue Wall
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To: Behind the Blue Wall

I’m so sad that radicals are still using racism to divide and conquer our nation for power.

When unions were all white, they racially demonized blacks with social doctrines taught in history and civics. After we tore down structures of segregation, now the Left came up with social studies to demonize whites and name minorities morally superior for power. I do not understand why we permit it to go on in our children.

Race hate and it’s twin, race pride, is a lie - ugly no matter who is spewing it and no matter their rationale. There is no racial lines that separate us; we only do that ourselves because we are...stupid or evil? No group of human being has gone through history innocent of hate, oppression and war. Not purely evil; not purely good. That is why race shame and race gulit are are as terrible as race hate and resentment. Tribal/racial resentment and hate is the exact opposite of the central message Jesus taught people! And most blacks and whites in the US are Christians! But they let this continue on.

Look at all our people we allow to be cut off from each on race hate doctrine and power games! It seems the left could “progress” to sell their utopian ideology and vison minus the race and sex hate. Men and women should not hate one another’s nature and individual meaning and races of people should not define themselves as separate by race.

That is why I am not a Democrat. But when you argue against and reject the radical race haters, you are named a racial diversity hater. It’s so demented. When will Americans stop tolerating racial doctrines, fear and hate?


9 posted on 12/08/2012 9:22:06 PM PST by SaraJohnson
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To: Behind the Blue Wall

Well, good luck.

I don’t talk politics with my liberal relatives. Learned my lesson after a blow up in a restaurant. Either they will see the consequences of their votes or they won’t. Nothing I can do about it - but I have NO apologies for my votes.


10 posted on 12/08/2012 9:23:52 PM PST by Aria ( 2008 & 2012 weren't elections - both were a coup d'etat.)
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To: Behind the Blue Wall

While I salute your determined response, This and ALL other Lib arguments relating to Obama and Lib politics in general can be shut down by asking and demanding an answer to the following question.

“Do you believe MLK was a liar or do you believe that the color of a man’s skin really trumps all else just as all racists do?”

When race comes up in any discussion, counter with the above and do NOT allow the opponent to duck/dodge/fillibuster.

Make them answer or make them spaz out to the point where anyone watching their ‘performance’ KNOWS what they are.


11 posted on 12/08/2012 9:24:14 PM PST by Norm Lenhart
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To: SaraJohnson

You hit the nail right on the head with your comment. The reason is clear however: the Left would never come anywhere close to power in the U.S. were it not for racial divisions. They play this race card over and over because it is effective in allowing them to win and maintain power. Really, it’s the same reason that it has always been played, everywhere and at all times.


12 posted on 12/08/2012 9:24:41 PM PST by Behind the Blue Wall
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To: Behind the Blue Wall

Fellow melanin-enriched conservative here. Pleased to meet you.

I saw your first report about this exchange with your father-in-law. Pardon if I don’t read through the follow-up tonight, but it’s late and I really only wanted to touch base and let you know that I feel yer pain :-)

I come from a huge family of west coast libs, of which I am the sole conservative/Tea Party/Patriot/Rebel. I’ve been near-persona non grata with the family since sometime during Clinton’s second term because of breaking ranks and escaping the Dem-lib mind control plantation.

It took a few years, but I eventually made peace with it all. A number of my kin also finally just accepted that I was never coming back to the left-wing fold. Others haven’t, but that no longer bothers me. They’re welcome to their viewpoints. I have mine, and nothing they ever do or say will change them.

Anyhow, I’ll stop back by your thread tomorrow and read more of it. I think it’s healthy that you’re having this debate with your father-in-law, but steel yourself for the possibility that you’ll never reach him. I stopped trying to talk sense into libs a long time ago, due to their immunity to fact, logic, and reason.


13 posted on 12/08/2012 9:25:50 PM PST by Windflier (To anger a conservative, tell him a lie. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth.)
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To: Norm Lenhart

Yes, you are right. Everything they stand for is diametrically opposed to the whole concept of a man being judged by the content of his character and not the color of his skin.


14 posted on 12/08/2012 9:26:41 PM PST by Behind the Blue Wall
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To: Behind the Blue Wall
you have a long row to hoe ahead of you, keep the faith...
15 posted on 12/08/2012 9:28:36 PM PST by Chode (American Hedonist - *DTOM* -ww- NO Pity for the LAZY)
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To: Behind the Blue Wall

“We just need to find a way to get past the short-circuiting of that debate by the endless propaganda campaign that convinces blacks that Democrats are their “friends” and Republicans the “enemy”.”

Perhaps there is a better way to go about this. You will not be able to convince him that Republicans are not his enemy... so don’t try.

There is a serious third party movement here on FR. The GOPe are fleeing conservative principles, so why defend them?

Tell your father-in-law that there needs to be a third party. Highlight what the Dems do. But you must first construct another way for him go. He will not fall into the arms of the “Republican Party.” They are the Enemy to him.

Liberals think with their emotions, not logic. Don’t argue logic with a liberal. Engage their emotions. Describe how it will FEEL when the President spends all of America’s money and “there isn’t any left.” Make it simple.

Then lay out this third party that should exist. I’m not saying there will be one (I think there will be one soon) but by putting another piece on the table perhaps you can start to shake his thoughts about what side he is on.


16 posted on 12/08/2012 9:28:49 PM PST by PastorBooks
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To: Windflier

Thanks for the kind words. I’ll look forward to hearing from you tomorrow. I’m definitely “steeled” to the possibility that I’ll get nowhere with my FIL, but actually there are several people being cc’d on the exchange who are “persuadable”, so there’s sort of another audience as well.


17 posted on 12/08/2012 9:29:54 PM PST by Behind the Blue Wall
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To: SaraJohnson

Excellent post!


18 posted on 12/08/2012 9:31:16 PM PST by PastorBooks
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To: Behind the Blue Wall

I would be fascinated to know how the FIL reacts to your heartfelt plea for sanity/reason. I pray for you and your family....as well as our nation.


19 posted on 12/08/2012 9:31:51 PM PST by TEXOKIE (We must surrender only to our Holy God and never to the evil that has befallen us.)
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To: Behind the Blue Wall

I’ll check out the full email when I have a little more time, however, I’d like to welcome you to the board. I’m new to FR as well, and I also feel like it’s the only board where I can freely share my beliefs and conservative values.

I also don’t understand why we feel the need to have a pissing match about who is the most conservative, or who isn’t conservative enough. We’re all obviously conservative, to vary degrees. I understand the frustration among conservatives as it relates to idiots like Boehner... but I don’t understand the hostility aimed at newer conservatives like you who have just now seen the light.


20 posted on 12/08/2012 9:32:18 PM PST by HawkHogan
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To: Windflier

“Fellow melanin-enriched conservative here”

This is wholly unfair. I am lacking. In the new America you are required to give to those ud is without.

So pay up ;)


21 posted on 12/08/2012 9:32:18 PM PST by Norm Lenhart
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To: PastorBooks
Tell your father-in-law that there needs to be a third party.

Yes, I could much more easily get away with telling all of my friends and family that I'm voting third party. Even the Libertarian Party is not the dreaded "Republicans". Unfortunately, there is no viable third party as of yet, and I don't see one developing any traction any time soon.

22 posted on 12/08/2012 9:33:05 PM PST by Behind the Blue Wall
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To: Norm Lenhart

Grrrr....

“Give to those of us who are without.

(I need sleep..._


23 posted on 12/08/2012 9:34:11 PM PST by Norm Lenhart
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To: Behind the Blue Wall

A few observations: maybe you live in a part of the country with no telephones, but I am skeptical of the legitimacy of this as correspondence with your in law.

Next, it’s like an old quarreling couple. No one is getting disowned while writing encyclopedic letters back and forth.

And just to throw in a political comment. When they talk about a business man’s “fair share”, just what is being shared by a welfare family that gets their food, clothing and shelter from other people, and works not a day in their lives? Our morality in this country is 180 degrees backward.


24 posted on 12/08/2012 9:36:17 PM PST by Andrei Bulba (No Obama, no way!)
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To: HawkHogan
I don’t understand the hostility aimed at newer conservatives like you who have just now seen the light.

Yeah, I caught a little flak on the last go round. I do understand it to an extent. If I and a few million others like myself had "seen the light" four years ago, we wouldn't be in the mess that we're in now. I can see how people might be a bit po'd about that. If they knew my influences throughout my entire life though, they wouldn't hold me responsible at all. I grew up deep "Behind the Blue Wall"!

25 posted on 12/08/2012 9:36:39 PM PST by Behind the Blue Wall
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To: Behind the Blue Wall

I read almost all of it — just a little speed reading here and there. I am impressed by your depth of commitment to principle, and especially impressed by the final several paragraphs. Wow. Your wife is a lucky woman. And your father-in-law needs to give you respect.


26 posted on 12/08/2012 9:37:58 PM PST by Albion Wilde (Government can't redistribute talent, willpower, or intelligence, except through dictatorship.)
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To: Andrei Bulba

Not sure what you mean about the “legitimacy” but it’s certainly real. I would NOT want to try to have this conversation on the phone because it would devolve into a screaming match very quickly, and things would be said and later regretted.

But you’re probably right; as long as there is this sort of exchange, no one is getting disowned. That’s why I initiated it.


27 posted on 12/08/2012 9:39:20 PM PST by Behind the Blue Wall
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To: Norm Lenhart
I am lacking. In the new America you are required to give to those ud is without.

So pay up ;)

Cin we jus do the blood brother thing? I don' wanna give up no skin ;-)

28 posted on 12/08/2012 9:39:20 PM PST by Windflier (To anger a conservative, tell him a lie. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth.)
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To: Behind the Blue Wall

Dreaded republicans my rear end. The election was lost with 51% going to Obama because of a straight racial black vote. Get off your damn knees and grow a pair like a man.

Once again, I am at a loss as to how a non working bunch of bums on welfare can possibly bitch about not getting enough enough from people who earned what they have. Republicans are not dreaded, but they are idiots.

It’s the welfare bums who are not doing their “fair share”. In fact, they aren’t doing anything.


29 posted on 12/08/2012 9:41:04 PM PST by Andrei Bulba (No Obama, no way!)
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To: Albion Wilde

Thanks for making your way through it and the kind words.


30 posted on 12/08/2012 9:41:24 PM PST by Behind the Blue Wall
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To: Behind the Blue Wall

I see many contradictions in the words that are in italics.

I guarantee you that if a black conservative born in Africa were to run for president, and it looked like he might actually win, the liberals would put the NBC issue front and center.


31 posted on 12/08/2012 9:41:45 PM PST by Terry Mross (I haven't watched the news since the election. Someone ping me if anything big happens.)
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To: Behind the Blue Wall

No offense but for a learned man your FIL is quite the koolaid drinker. I don’t believe that he missed a single PMSNBC talking point. So you certainly have your work cut out for you!

Good luck.


32 posted on 12/08/2012 9:41:52 PM PST by rockrr (Everything is different now...)
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To: Behind the Blue Wall

The election is over and he got what he wanted. Why can’t he be content with that and leave you alone?


33 posted on 12/08/2012 9:43:09 PM PST by A_perfect_lady (Great nations are born stoic and die epicurean. -Will Durant)
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To: Behind the Blue Wall

I do not see the basis for a screaming match in any of this. Maybe a long nap. I do not believe this is actual correspondence with your in law. Just me.


34 posted on 12/08/2012 9:43:17 PM PST by Andrei Bulba (No Obama, no way!)
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To: Windflier

Oh OK... (fine be that way...)

But I draw the line at doing a live duet of Ebony and Ivory. I would not want to embarrass both of us ;)

And BELIEVE me. If you ever heard me sing, you would be embarrassed for both of is.


35 posted on 12/08/2012 9:43:31 PM PST by Norm Lenhart
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To: Behind the Blue Wall

I read enough to know he’s hopeless. A moron. Don’t waste any more of your time.

If he has a lot of money, butter him up. If not, just be polite.


36 posted on 12/08/2012 9:45:09 PM PST by Arthur McGowan (If you're FOR sticking scissors in a baby girl's neck and sucking out her brains, you are PRO-WOMAN!)
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To: Norm Lenhart

Grrrr 2

Is = US.

That’s it. I’m going to bed. I can’t type straight anymore.


37 posted on 12/08/2012 9:46:24 PM PST by Norm Lenhart
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To: rockrr
I don’t believe that he missed a single PMSNBC talking point.

I was thinking much the same. His entire email to me was just a recitation of what you would probably hear in the course of a week or so of watching MSNBC. I think I tried to base my arguments in my actual experiences and raw data.

38 posted on 12/08/2012 9:46:43 PM PST by Behind the Blue Wall
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To: Behind the Blue Wall

That is a ridiculous vanity, you dredge up every issue in the world in a book length vanity, from pot, to birtherism, to slavery, KKK, corporatism, and on and on and on, and then ask people to respond.

What are we to say? What is the subject here? What is the theme, do we just all start going off on everything at once, with the pot guys going on pot, the birthers getting into their area, the people who are interested in the civil rights parts, slavery, and the KKK history jumping in, Romney, Obama, American exceptionalism, OWS, what are we supposed to be talking about?


39 posted on 12/08/2012 9:48:43 PM PST by ansel12 (A.Coulter2005(truncated)Romney will never recover from his Court's create of a right to gay marriage)
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To: Behind the Blue Wall
Don't be disappointed if you meet a brick wall. "Hear me now; believe me later" should be your mantra. He has definitely internalized the Kool Aid. Also, a different generation did experience some shocking discriminatory events. I am 67 and remember some things with real shame (I am white) on our summer vacation trips to South Carolina in the 50s-60s. Old attitudes die hard.

It's amazing to me how the Democrats have managed to steal credit for being the "friend of the minorities" when it was the Republican party who consistently made all the first moves and had to ram them through. Both parties should be accountable to all citizens; and all citizens should be able to vote as they see their unique set of interests reflected in one party or the other from time to time. Unfortunately, many see their political party as a religion.

40 posted on 12/08/2012 9:49:01 PM PST by Albion Wilde (Government can't redistribute talent, willpower, or intelligence, except through dictatorship.)
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To: Arthur McGowan

Fortunately (or not), money is not a factor here. If he “disowns me” it’s only in the metaphorical sense.


41 posted on 12/08/2012 9:49:35 PM PST by Behind the Blue Wall
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To: ansel12
what are we supposed to be talking about?

Whatever you want, I guess, but the topic I'm most interested in is whether there are arguments in there that could contribute to finding common ground between blacks and conservatives.

42 posted on 12/08/2012 9:52:08 PM PST by Behind the Blue Wall
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To: Behind the Blue Wall

Excellent post.


43 posted on 12/08/2012 9:52:53 PM PST by Rightwing Conspiratr1
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To: Norm Lenhart
Oh OK... (fine be that way...)

Now hold on a minute. I might be 'enriched', but that doesn't mean I'm in the 1%! I only gots so much melanin, and I dang sure didn't steal any of it! It's mine, dammit!

Now we can do the blood brother thing, but I gotta warn ya, I got a little Injun and honky blood mixed in there. Hope you don't mind!

44 posted on 12/08/2012 9:54:34 PM PST by Windflier (To anger a conservative, tell him a lie. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth.)
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To: Albion Wilde
>p>It's amazing to me how the Democrats have managed to steal credit for being the "friend of the minorities" when it was the Republican party who consistently made all the first moves and had to ram them through.

Yeah, that was certainly a very smooth trick. I think a lot of that goes back to the way in which the fight for equal rights under the law quickly morphed into a fight for special rights under the law. Ironically, once again Republicans were for equal rights, and the Democrats for special rights, except now the racial beneficiaries of the special rights switched places.

45 posted on 12/08/2012 9:55:55 PM PST by Behind the Blue Wall
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To: Behind the Blue Wall

I have to say,you are one very patient,passionate and determined person.
Keep it up!


46 posted on 12/08/2012 9:56:11 PM PST by peteyd (A dog may bite you in the ass,but it will never stab you in the back.)
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To: Behind the Blue Wall
I didn't read the entire post, but I read enough of it to know that your father is simply spouting the usual Leftist talking points without thought. Some of what he says simply makes no sense at all. His comments on Romney are pure boilerplate drivel straight from the Obama talking points. Very little of it is based in truth, but it is repeated ad nauseum by the Left until it becomes a "truth".

And therein lies our problem right now - we are dealing with people that simply cannot tell the truth if their life depended on it. But, their lies are effective and there is no counter from the Right. Frankly, I can't imagine being Boehner and the GOP trying to make a deal with Obama and his minions - they'll lie to your face and then go on TV and state just the opposite of what was said in private (not a new tactic for the Left, to be sure). And people like your father just buy into all of it without questioning what effect a dominant Democrat Party would have on their lives. But, they are going to find out, I'm afraid.

47 posted on 12/08/2012 9:56:38 PM PST by Major Matt Mason ("Journalism is dead. All news is suspect." - Noamie)
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To: Behind the Blue Wall
...in the interest of brevity.

Yikes!

48 posted on 12/08/2012 9:59:51 PM PST by Lancey Howard
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To: Behind the Blue Wall

I read almost all of it. You’ve obviously put a lot of thought into your positions, and not gotten bogged down with the superfluous. It would be nice if more people could reach such clarify, and be able to express it, especially to someone locked into their opposing position which is really a comfort zone. I will finish reading tomorrow, but hope you and your fil can keep up the exchange, You will both benefit.


49 posted on 12/08/2012 10:00:38 PM PST by EDINVA
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To: Major Matt Mason
we are dealing with people that simply cannot tell the truth if their life depended on it. But, their lies are effective and there is no counter from the Right.

Exactly. And luckily it's my father in law, not by father. My father's a big Lib too, but a thinker, not a drone, and I can have good discussions with him. But yes, we have a major problem in that the Progressive-Democratic Party-MSM machine is fully capable of turning any lie into a "truth" believed in by enough people to carry an election. It's truly scary to contemplate.

50 posted on 12/08/2012 10:01:38 PM PST by Behind the Blue Wall
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