We have better ideas

Democrats act as if we have the best ideas, but fail to explain in clear terms why THE IDEAS are better. For example, Democrats also know that the ACA and Medicare are behemoths, but we insist explaining we are the ones who are going to save these programs and Republicans are going to change it is enough of a strategy. Here’s a lesson from 2016- it wasn’t. The Democratic party chose to run an anti-Trump campaign and while a number of resources were available online – their chosen ads focused on Trump- not ending the tipped minimum wage, not the increase in investment of solar panels, and not aggressive rural investment (all of which were on her website as positions).

We are not just the alternative to Republicans- if we really think our ideas are better we need to talk about our ideas in reference to Republicans. We will not get anywhere with block grants in Medicare are bad and Taiwan is important. We need to say 1)why is it bad/important and 2) what would Democrats do BETTER. Nobody instinctually knows anything about block grants, Sino relations, or even why public transportation is a good investment even though it’s not profitable. The fact that we have opinions on the specifics, but don’t explain it is absurd. At best it’s lazy, at worst it’s elitist and condescending.

We knew that we weren’t going to regain the house and we thought the Senate was 50/50, we over-relied on certain groups turning out and didn’t expect a large number of votes for the other guy to turn out- and all of these things cost us the election. The fact we knew we weren’t going to get either house of Congress should have been a warning sign. The election, save for the Foster Campbell race in Louisiana, is over. If we ever want to win again, we need to talk to people about why we deserve their vote, not why they shouldn’t vote for the other guy, but why they should excitedly and wholeheartedly vote for us.

You know what losing looks like? It looks like the fact that Clinton carried a district in Texas and we didn’t even have a candidate. It looks like the fact that we can’t get Issa out of the House even though Clinton carried that district. It looks like a guy, whose own mom didn’t know he was running, winning the Democratic nomination in a gubernatorial race. It looks like the fact that we are still fighting the primary. It looks like the fact that Democrats got a majority of votes in Wisconsin and North Carolina, but Republicans still have majorities in the state houses. It looks like people when they roll their eyes at Democrats ever again winning in the South. We, as politicians, have completely abandoned areas in the country that we insist we are the most concerned about. People might believe us; if we were actually there.

At some point next week, Trump is going to (again) do something incredibly stupid and instead of explaining why it’s stupid – I’m going to see a bunch of snide remarks about the state of education in this country. Do you really get the proposal for Medicaid block grants? Do you have a full understanding of conflict of interests that Trump has? Do you understand every single aspect of almost any national policy? Because I sure as hell don’t. So maybe, just maybe, we could actually EXPLAIN OUR VIEWS WITHOUT THE WEIRD SMUGNESS – because we actually lost.

We lost and a lot of people are going to hurt by policies, some of who voted for Trump and some who didn’t. And I want to win, not just because I like winning- but because I believe my ideas are better. Not because they’re my ideas (for the most part they’re not). But because I think they lead to a more equitable world, because I think they increase opportunity – because I think the results are better. The reason I’m a Democrat is because I think the ideas are better, it’s time we do a better job of telling people what they are.

The Long Hangover

The 2004 election is the first election that I remember having a strong opinion on. I was too young for Bill Clinton’s elections and Bush vs Gore didn’t mean a  lot to a 9 year old. I’ll never forget seeing a young senator with ties to Hawaii give the keynote speech and I’m not so sure it’s my memory or a series of video clips laid on top of each other. Of course, I don’t remember all of it, but that’s what the internet is for:

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Remember Romney?

At several points in this election, we have been faced with the comparsion between Trump and past Republican nominees. Everyone seems to agree now that Trump is one of the worse nominees in history, but this agreement has for some reason led to a false conclusion. Romney was not a particular good candidate, he was surely a decent candidate. Maybe he is even a decent human being,but he was not a particular good human being. He was a person who benefited immensely from privilege and didn’t realize it. He thought Sesame Street and HUD were a waste of money. Trump is terrible, but Romney was not in any way ideal or for that matter an acceptable choice.

Trump was already terrible by 2012, he eagerly jumped into birther movement. He had already declared bankruptcy six times. He had already been sued for not allowing African Americans in his residences.In 2012, Romney eagerly stepped on stage with him after courting his endorsement calling him a job creator. For the record, if the majority of jobs you create are low wages temporary jobs- I’m not that proud of you.  Romney was thrilled to be on stage with Trump.

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4 Small Scale Ideas for Transit

1) Provide Grants to Develop or Improve Mobile Applications for Transit
Driving alone is the most popular way to commute to work. This method leads to high traffic, long wait times, and congestion on our roadways.  One solution to these issues is to transition drivers to alternative transit. Public transportation has a perceived lack of reliability. A grant that provides for the development or improvement of mobile applications that track buses will lead to increased trust in the public transportation sector and higher rates of ridership. Another option would be for the grants to go into the development of text-tracking.

2) Compel Ride-sharing Services such as Uber or Lyft to Share Data
Uber and Lyft’s popularity is, in part, because they use their data to better tweak their systems. They encourage drivers to go out and direct the drivers to high usage areas. Using anonymized data, we can create more efficient and accurate transit policy. One small example: discerning if rush hour times need adjustment.

3) Provide Grants to Reward Increased Bicycle Programs
Biking has numerous benefits, including reducing traffic congestion, encouraging physical activity, and reducing energy consumption. When cities and other entities make their long-term master plans, they often include priorities for the next 5 years. Encouraging states and cities to include bicycle programs through have a certain percentage of bike lanes or developing educational programs will encourage bicycle use.

4) Fund Large Study on Cause of Rising Crash Fatalities
Crash fatalities are up 9% from the same period in 2015. The National Safety Council did not release a reason why the traffic fatalities are up. The State Smart Transportation Initiative suggested are that the national 30% increase in bike riding and the 8% increase in walking to work may be partially responsible. Funding a large study on why traffic fatalities are up could provide valuable life-saving information to planners and communities around the country. It could also provide valuable information on where distracted driving is increasing.



Every political campaign seems to attempt to bottom out the negativity. Donald Trump’s favorite word seems to be loser. Losers go against the American dream, no one wants to be a loser. Losers exist. The sooner that we are able to recognize that losers exist in a global economy, the sooner we can make better decisions. We live in a strange world, where we can’t say basic truths but we can convoluted half-truths. For example, we can’t say eat less red meat but we can say, “Choose meats that are low in fat.” Similarly, when we talk about trade or overseas jobs – even though we know they are losers- politicians can’t call them that. Surely, they are more losers- fathers, mothers, hard-workers but they lost. They put their faith in an industry that they thought was forever was going to be in their hometown and now its not.

The fact that we cannot acknowledge that jobs will not come back blinds from how to actually deal with the issue. Yes, many articles are being written now about how the growth in home care workers and service industry are the future. Yes, there are argues about Trump’s rise is due to a “perceived loss.” There is plenty written to justify or pick at whether of not they have actually lost or to look at the potential new winners.

There is not literally enough written about what to do about the losers. Yes, no one wants to be a loser – but everyone is one at least once. If we are able to talk about who loses from policy -we can actually create HONEST policy. In this world, where indirect and dishonest policy is used to not offend – maybe a little hard truth can actually move us forward.

Uber’s Not-so-Innovative Future

Uber has disrupted industries, grown at a breakneck pace, and spawned a million think pieces. It threatens to end the taxi industry and has brought the gig industry to the mainstream. Hardly a month goes by without a new piece on how Uber is disrupting the industry by lowering prices, rolling out new plans or just doing something “different.” Most recently, Uber made headlines for rolling out self-driving cars in Pittsburgh. Self-driving cars are possibly the biggest disruption ever. But just how innovative is Uber’s new plan? I’m saying no, not innovative. Uber is just going to become an optimized bus.
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It’s My Party

You can cry if you want to, but if you don’t have votes – tough luck. As we near closer to the election one of the things we hear over and over again is the importance of swing states. These are states that don’t vote reliably blue or red in any election. One of the most common critiques you’ll hear of current fractured and dysfunctional political system is that our parties are parliamentary, but our system doesn’t reflect it. A parliamentary system would mean that when one party is in charge, it would (basically) have unlimited control to carry out its legislative agenda.

State and local legislatures have certainly become more productive over the past few years, no doubt due to the gridlock nature of national politics.While certainly nothing matches the power of federal government, t


Credit to Melanie Martinez’s Website

here is an untold number of policies that the state enacts. For example: marriage equality, plastic bag bans, transgender rights, Planned Parenthood funding, healthcare expansion, and many more. The states serve not only as “laboratories of democracy” in their own rights, but also as leaders and warnings for how the future of the country will look.

Most states are under one party control, Republicans have united control (meaning both houses and the governor’s house) of 25 states and Democrats have unified control of 7 states. This means the majority of states live under unified control, much like the parliamentary system. It also means that the majority of Americans live under a form of unified control. Of course, this doesn’t change the importance of the federal government, but it does mean that the government that  affects people every day acts somewhat reliable like a parliamentary system.

The reason why what kind of government we have is supposedly another form could bring us a HIGHER level of satisfaction. In this way, the states that are under unified control would hypothetical present higher levels of either economic confidence or health measures. Unfortunately, the polls seems to suggest that unified control while certainly legislatively productive that economic confidence is about the same. Which begs the question- what exactly is the point of my party?