What’s in a Name: 3 Pieces of Legislation with Misleading Titles



Upon winning independence, our founding fathers were wary of centralized power. They understood the corrupting nature of power, and set about creating a system meant to balance power, and reduce greed and corruption. 

Our system of “checks and balances” is supposed to ensure that the government doesn’t violate the constitution, and they were successful.. for a while.

Arguably the first erosion to this system came in 1913, when the 62nd Congress voted to pass the 17th amendment. Prior to 1913; the general population would directly elect members of their community to represent their interests in the House of Representatives, while state legislatures would pick 2 citizens of the state to serve the interests of the state at the federal level. When state legislatures picked Senators to represent their state, the Senator holds no power, if you’re not living up to your obligations, than the legislature would replace you.  Counteracting the members of the house who would stay in power by using charm to win re-election. The general population lives in an echo-chamber. If you’re a liberal, you watch MSNBC and read Slate on your phone while driving the kids to school.  If you’re a republican you watch “The Five” on Fox News and listen to Rush Limbaugh on your lunch break. When you think about it, it’s incredibly easy to trigger Democrats,Republicans, and Libertarians.

For example most Democrats LOVE giving their takes on these topics:


  • Income inequality
  • Healthcare
  • Identity politics 
  • Environmental concerns
  • Abortion
  • Guns
  • Taxes not being high enough


While Republicans will lose their mind for:


  • Illegal immigration
  • Military spending
  • Police
  • Guns
  • Taxes
  • Christianity
  • Muslims
  • Abortion

Libertarians? We will lose our mind for just about anything, but if you want to get us going discuss:

  • Roads
  • Military
  • Public Education
  • Free Markets/Regulations
  • Entitlement Programs
  • Ron Paul
  • Government spending


We’re all hypocrites. Democrats care about identity politics, unless you’re a person of color who may disagree with you politically.  They want government mandated equality for every gender and race, except white guys. Republicans think we spend too much. Specifically on regulations, bureaucracy, and entitlement programs; but balk at cutting military spending, despite finding $125 billion in administrative waste, or any government spending that helps them remain in power; you’re a conservative farmer who wants to cut food stamps? Alright, how about after we cut corn subsidies? Last month I wrote about how Social Security is destroying our country and Republicans went ballistic. Libertarians are the most annoying people on the planet, nobody’s a “real” libertarian, we have a portion of the party that wants free markets, but is anti-immigration and “America first.” We have a county chair in Michigan who supports Antifa, and our Vice Presidential candidate appeared to be actively supporting Hillary. Literally no consistency.

Our general stupidity, and tendency towards hypocrisy has allowed the career politician to thrive. Knowing we react to buzz words and topics that sound sexy, they use psychology to garner support. Just look at the title of the bills they write .

The Patriot Act

patriot act.jpg

Sixteen years ago next month, on 10/26/01,  George W. Bush signed the “USA Patriot Act” into law. Passed in the aftermath of September 11th by a vote of 98-1 in the Senate, and 357-66 (it is worth mentioning that the only Republicans to vote against this bill were Robert Ney, Butch Otter, and Ron Paul) in the House, in an attempt to curb terrorism.  

To put it simply, the legislation was passed in a panic with very little debate. Former Wisconsin Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner introduced H.R. 3162 on October 23, 2001, the House passed it the next day, and within 72 hours we had passed legislation that massively expanded the scope of the federal government.

There is nothing “patriotic” about the “Patriot Act.”  The indefinite detention of immigrants? That violates the sixth amendment. “Enhanced surveillance?” That’s led to NSA wiretapping, a clear violation of the fourth amendment. A lot can be said about some of the shady things in our Constitution, but the most important political document in American history isn’t the Constitution, or the Declaration of Independence; it’s the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers. Both collections of essays helped develop this country; while the Federalist Papers defended the Constitution, the Anti-Federalists demanded there be a Bill of Rights to protect the people from the government.

The point is, the first ten amendments to the constitution are so important that it almost tore apart this country.  And in a moment of panic, we passed laws that violate the bill of rights.

The reason the Patriot Act keeps getting extended (last extended by Obama in 2011), is that no politician wants to appear weak on national security, and being against the Patriot Act means you support terrorism, so politicians continue to support it. Even though it doesn’t  work and often ruins lives.

Affordable Healthcare for America Act


The “Affordable Healthcare for America Act,” commonly referred to as “Obamacare” was President Obama’s landmark legislative achievement. FDR had “The New Deal,” Johnson had his “Great Society,” Barack Obama has “Obamacare.”

Signed into law by the 111th Congress in March of 2010, with a single Republican voting for the legislation (Joseph Cao, Louisiana). 39 Democrats voted against the bill, bringing the final tally to 220 for, and 215 against.

The legislation is exceptionally long, and provided healthcare to 24 million uninsured Americans (at the threat of a tax for non-compliance). After surviving the Supreme Court, Obamacare premiums have continued to soar. As the “New York Times” points out;

“While fewer than 20 million Americans buy their own insurance, the tribulations of the individual market have captured most of the public’s attention. The average cost of a benchmark plan in the individual market rose 20 percent this year, according to Kaiser, as insurers tried to stem their losses. “

Although they later go on to defend the Affordable Care Act, the fact is that using the the term “affordable” is a misnomer. Being forced to pay for insurance you don’t want, that rises at a rate of 20% annually, under threat of punishment is the exact opposite of “affordable.”

The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984

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Unlike some other pieces of legislation, “The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984,” enacted by President Reagan in October of 1984, doesn’t have a flashy nickname. The name itself is straightforward and to the point. An idiot could conceive what this legislation was meant to do. When enacted it became the first comprehensive revision of the United States criminal code since 1900. Like the Patriot Act for Bush, and “Obamacare” for Obama, “Comprehensive Crime Control” was meant to be, and is, a cornerstone of Reagan’s legacy.

The name itself is brilliant. Nobody likes crime, crime is bad. We need to get rid of crime.

But what is crime?

We all have our own moral code, our own sense of right and wrong. We all define crime differently. A soccer mom from Kansas is going to have a different vision of right and wrong than a poor kid from LA.

The benign nature of the name meant most people wouldn’t pay any attention to it. The goal was if you were against crime, than the average American wouldn’t give it a second glance.

Problem is the legislation was not benign. This country was founded on a set of principles that valued the individual over the community, the community over the state, and the state over the federal government. When it came to legal affairs the founding fathers preferred to leave the punishment of citizens to locals. A soccer mom in Kansas and a poor kid in LA have different experiences, values, and ways of life, it only makes sense that there would be minimal federal oversight on criminal affairs. That was true until small government conservatives created the United States Sentencing Commission, and put them in charge of normalizing prison sentencing.  Their recommendations became the “Armed Career Criminal Act,” creating mandatory minimums. Mandatory minimums have had a jarring effect on society. Disproportionately affecting people of color, and lower economic status, hurting multiple generations. Mandatory minimums created career criminals, comprehensive crime reform just created more crime.

The legislation also reinstated the federal death penalty, increased penalties for marijuana possession and cultivation, and created the despicable act of civil asset forfeiture .

All of this was able to get through because the name was self-explanatory and boring.
How a lawmaker labels their legislation matters. These pieces of legislation affect hundreds of millions of lives. What they pass matters. Using clever, or boring names and nicknames to either attract or repel attention is manipulation that pays off in votes. We need to demand better.



2018: A Make It or Break It Midterm for Libertarians



Logging onto Facebook this morning I was met with a pleasant surprise – a message reminding me that it had been a year since I had signed on to the Gary Johnson campaign.  The public declaration that I was done with the Grand Ole Party meant absolutely nothing to the people on my friends list, let’s be honest most people don’t give a damn about your political leanings unless you’re constantly flaunting your beliefs.  The announcement did, however, mean a lot to me.

Prior to last July I was a Republican who had gradually lost faith in the Republican Party.  I was sick of the hypocrisy, the blatant violation of our civil liberties, the lack of fiscal conservatism, and the message of the Republican nominee for President. I felt, at the time, that Gary Johnson could legitimately carry a state in the general election.  My optimism turned out to be wrong; Johnson/Weld did not carry a state, nor did they receive an electoral vote.  Despite that, the ticket received nearly 4.5 million votes, carrying 3.27% of the vote, while appearing on the ballot in all 50 states and Washington DC. Disappointing according to my own expectations? Yes. But the election was monumental for the Libertarian Party.

For the longest time the biggest hurdle facing the growth of third parties in this country has been ballot access.  A lack of ballot access ties up a third party’s limited resources, forcing them to focus on things other than campaigning.  Heading into the 2018 midterm elections, the Libertarian Party will have ballot access in 37 states.

What’s more important than ballot access, however, is that the Libertarian Party has incumbents that need to win re-election; Nebraska State Senator Laura Ebke, along with New Hampshire State Representatives Brandon Phinney, Caleb Dyer, and Joseph Stallcop all ditched their former parties, and registered as Libertarians in the last year. Now they all face re-election bids without the backing of the powerful two party duopoly. 


Brandon Phinney is one of 3 libertarians in New Hampshire’s House of Representatives 

All the aforementioned candidates had their own reasons for ditching their former parties. Joseph Stallcop, who serves in New Hampshire’s House of Representatives representing Cheshire 4, was elected as a Democrat. His decision to switch to the Libertarian Party, he told Authentic Liberty, was based in part because of the disrespect his ideas and views were generating among Democrats. Stallcops colleague, Brandon Phinney, explained his decision to switch parties as frustration with the direction, and leadership  of Republicans, a familiar sentiment. When Authentic Liberty asked Senator Laura Ebke why she switched parties, she pointed out several moments where she realized that the Republican Party no longer represented her values. Senator Ebke told us that “the recognition that the Republicans were going to nominate Trump, and then a “call out” for not being an adequately “platform Republican” at the 2016 State GOP convention by the Governor–when he called out a number of us by name” appeared to be the last straw. Like many people, Senator Ebke realized that the GOP didn’t care about policy, but party.

While Representative Stallcop is unsure if he will be running for re-election next year (he is set to graduate from college), the state of New Hampshire presents an interesting scenario for Brandon Phinney and Caleb Dyer, his colleagues in the only libertarian caucus in the nation. New Hampshire is one of a handful of states that allows for “fusion tickets,” which allow one candidate to run under multiple parties. Both Phinney and Dyer, former Republicans, could choose to seek both the Republican and Libertarian nominations for their districts,and in a comment to Authentic Liberty, Phinney stated that this is his intention; in doing so they would eliminate potential rivals while having their names appear multiple times on the ballot.  That scenario could be interesting, and increase their odds of reelection, but could also make them beholden to the whims of two different parties. A victory on a fusion ticket would also minimize the importance of the Libertarian Party; if, in this hypothetical situation, both candidates win both the Republican and Libertarian nominations, then win the election, outsiders could say that they only won because of the Republican Party, marginalizing the importance of libertarians.

Senator Ebke’s situation in Nebraska is also interesting. She serves in the only unicameral state legislature in the nation, and in Nebraska, all state elections are

Laura Ebke.jpg

Senator Laura Ebke is up for re-election in 2018

nonpartisan, when voters step into the ballot box in 2018 they will see a list of names with no party affiliation. Senator Ebke believes the nonpartisan nature of Nebraska’s state elections probably helps her, as she explained to Authentic Liberty “while many people will know the affiliation, the fact that it isn’t listed on the ballot, nor do we organize by party in the legislature–probably helps me some.” Senator Ebke says that the biggest difference she has noticed during her re-election bid is her ability to effectively raise money; “Libertarians–as a whole–seem to be far less likely to part with their money–whether $25 of $100. Republican (and probably Democrat) activists are used to being asked for cash, and attending fundraisers.”  With that said, she has had some success raising money for her re-election, and she will continue to need our support, if you’ve got $10, you can make a donation here.

Winning re-election to these offices should be the focus of the Libertarian Party. As we move forward we cannot simply be content with the occasional officeholder quitting their party out of protest, and registering as a libertarian.  Libertarians need to learn how to win elections; we need an effective, proven blueprint, and we need to show the Republicans and Democrats that we can do more than just steal a few votes. The best way to do that is by continuing to seek support from the party at both the state and national level. If we cannot support our candidates and win elections as libertarians, then party members really need to question if there is any advantage to running for office as a libertarian.

5 Progressives to Watch in 2020


I found myself in an interesting situation the other day.  While talking to one of my progressive friends, in between insulting republicans, capitalism, and Donald Trump, she would wax poetically about socialist icon Bernie Sanders, and how she couldn’t wait to see him as President in 2020.  “I hate to break it to you,” I told her, “but the corpse of Bernie Sanders will never be President of the United States.” And he won’t, despite what he may say, Senator Sanders will be pushing 80 in 2020, and by that time I imagine he will be retired to one of his three homes. After watching my friend quickly go through the five stages of grief, she asked me, who I thought could be the Democratic nominee for President in a couple of years. After briefly thinking about it, I gave her five names.


Elizabeth Warren


“There is nobody in this country who got rich on their own. Nobody. You built a factory out there—good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory….Now look. You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea—God bless! Keep a hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

The Junior Senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren was first elected to office in 2012. Since then, she has made quite the name for herself. The former Harvard Law Professor has been a champion of the Occupy Wall Street movement, bemoaning corporate greed as a national crisis that can, and should, be addressed by raising taxes on the rich, and increasing job-killing regulations. She has made public statements on the dangers of deregulation, and how it only helps billionaires, while being a big fan of expanding the welfare state.

Despite her progressive credentials, Elizabeth Warren preaches about the powerful one percent, and the evils of greed while cashing in handsomely.  The woman who has falsely claimed to be part Cherokee, has, according to Politico, made a small fortune

Warren earned nearly $535,000 in 2009, including $310,000 for teaching law at Harvard University, according to financial disclosure reports she had to file as a political appointee of President Barack Obama.

She took home $507,000 in 2010. Neither of those figures included the salary of her husband, fellow Harvard law professor Bruce Mann, or the $192,722 Warren earned between 2009 and 2010 for chairing the congressional panel tasked with overseeing the bank bailouts. The totals also did not include the roughly $138,000 she earned between September 2010 and July 2011 while launching the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to separate salary records obtained by POLITICO.The Cambridge couple reported at least $4.6 million in financial investments and property.

While she would absolutely be a strong candidate in 2020, her hypocrisy would be easy to exploit, for whichever Republican she would have to face.


Cory Booker


Our platform calls for a balanced deficit reduction plan where the wealthy pay their fair share. And when your country is in a costly war, with our soldiers sacrificing abroad and our nation facing a debt crisis at home, being asked to pay your fair share isn’t class warfare – it’s patriotism.


The former Stanford football player, Rhodes Scholar, and mayor of Newark has been New Jersey’s Junior Senator since 2013, and he may be one of the more interesting Democrats in the Senate, primarily because he doesn’t identify as a progressive, and has a history of bi-partisanship.  New Jersey Democratic Party leader, George Norcross, called him a “New Democrat” stating

“he’s representative of a new Democrat — a Democrat that’s fiscally conservative yet socially progressive.”

While the New Jersey democrat supports an expanded role of government in our everyday lives, he’s also proven that he’s willing to cross party lines on issues like criminal justice reform, an issue he has worked closely with Rand Paul on in the past.

As far as his liberal credentials are concerned; Booker is pro-choice, believes that increased government spending is necessary for economic growth, believes that increasing income tax is necessary to reduce the deficit, and is against the privatization of social security.

Watching Senator Booker seek the Democratic nomination could be entertaining, especially if he’s running against a strong progressive like Elizabeth Warren, who would likely use Booker’s support of Wall Street against him.


Kamala Harris


“Doing nothing while the middle class is hurting. That’s not leadership. Loose regulations and lax enforcement. That’s not leadership. That’s abandoning our middle class.”

The freshman Senator from California, and former California Attorney General has only been in office for a few months, but has already proved to be one of the more insufferable progressives out there. Reading through her twitter feed makes a rational human being want to bang their head against the wall.  

Free higher education, throwing more money at government run schools, killing unborn babies, and fixing the non-existent wage gap are just a few of the issues the rising star has made a priority for her first term.

Perhaps she is best known for a Senate hearing in which she asked Jeff Sessions several questions, then didn’t give him a chance to respond before yammering on with her own agenda.  It was at this moment, as I watched CNN call Republicans sexist for cutting Harris off in order to allow Sessions to answer, that I knew she had to be a rising star. After all, when Democrats wouldn’t let Betsy Devos answer questions directed at her during her confirmation hearing, no Democrats were called sexist.

The good news is that California Governor Jerry Brown, and other Californians, are actively trying to secede. With any luck, she won’t be eligible to run for federal office by the time we get to 2020.


Jerry Brown


Economically, minimum wages may not make sense. But morally, socially, and politically they make every sense because it binds the community together to make sure parents can take care of their kids.

The above quote pretty much sums up a progressives attitude towards the economy. It’s also why I expect the current Governor of California to at least explore a possible run for President in 2020. During his time as Governor, he has successfully expanded the welfare state to the point where over 9,000 businesses have fled California, unwilling, or unable to comply with the state’s insane tax and regulatory requirements.

Governor Brown’s legacy will include having the nation’s highest poverty rate, a massive housing shortage caused by increased housing costs, an unsustainable water supply, and one of the worst education systems in the country.  But his lasting legacy will likely be how under his leadership, California has $77 BILLION dollars in unfunded liabilities for an excessively large state government.

Like all progressives, Brown loves throwing around tax payer dollars, the first paragraph in his 2017 budget, for example, states;

“The past four budgets have significantly expanded government spending. The Legislature and the governor have focused the spending on counteracting the effects of poverty.”

While common sense dictates that spending cuts, deregulation, and the free market could help make California great again, Brown completely ignores that sentiment, particularly when it comes to education spending

 “Funding is expected to grow to $74.6 billion in [fiscal year] 2017-18 — an increase of $1.1 billion since January and $27.3 billion over six years (58%).”

Apparently, Brown believes that spending money in an inefficient manner on education will fix one of the nation’s worst education systems.

If he runs, I think his campaign could be even more entertaining than Rick Perry’s failed attempt a few years back. It would be fun watching someone as economically illiterate and self-righteous as Brown crash and burn on a national stage.


Tulsi Gabbard


All Americans should have access to affordable healthcare through Medicare or a public option. We must ensure universal healthcare and empower the government to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to bring down the price of prescription drugs.

I have to admit, I have a crush on the Congresswoman and veteran from Hawaii. This woman voluntarily served two tours in Iraq, and since then she has consistently stood for a policy of non-intervention overseas, even when it goes against her own party.  She is adamant in her opposition of the NSA’s bulk data collection, and she introduced a bill to stop arming terrorists. Her moral character, and consistency are beyond admirable.

Gabbard is proudly anti-establishment,  originally endorsing Bernie Sanders in the 2016 election, the establishment was angered at her less than enthusiastic “endorsement ” of Hillary Clinton. 

Despite that, she is a staunch progressive when it comes to domestic issues. She believes Obamacare didn’t go far enough and is one of the leading voices calling for universal healthcare.  She is anti nuclear energy, and personally protested the Dakota Access Pipeline.


Her consistency on the issues, and her endorsement from Bernie Sanders, makes me believe she is the favorite to win the Democratic nomination in 2020.  


Third Parties Could Have a Future, If New Bill Passes



It’s no secret that the two party duopoly in this country has done everything in their power to suppress political freedom in this country. From filing lawsuits to deny minor parties ballot access, to refusing to let non Republican and Democrats debate, many people feel as though they have no choice but to vote for the “lesser of two evils” or else risk “wasting” their vote. Well, legislation introduced late last month is designed to change all of that.  

In late June, Democratic Virginia Congressman Don Beyer, along with his Democratic colleagues Ro Khanna (CA), and Jamie Raskin (MD) introduced legislation that would radically alter the way we elect our representatives. Nader vote

As it currently stands, individual state legislatures are in charge of drawing up congressional districts.  What generally tends to happen, in this scenario, is that the governing party draws up districts in a manner that is most beneficial to said party. This gerrymandering means that a Republican controlled legislature in Wisconsin, or a Democrat controlled legislature in Connecticut can use their power to ensure that their opposition will have a tough time winning an election.  This gerrymandering means that 97% of congressmen get re-elected.

Under the “Fair Representation Act,” that would change. According to Rob Richie, Executive Director of the advocacy group “FairVote,” this legislation creates an

“ impartial, national standard that gets at the core of FairVote’s mission: Giving voters greater choice, a stronger voice, and a representative democracy that works for all Americans.”

The bill has three major components. RCV_Easy_Ballot_Ranked_3.jpg

First; it would ensure that an independent board, not state legislatures are drawing congressional districts. By having an independent board handle redistricting, it eliminates one political party from drawing up districts that specifically help that party.

Second; the bill would establish “multi-member” districts. This means that if you’re living in Michigan’s third district, instead of having one person represent that entire district, you may have 3 people representing that district. That way there is a chance for every group to receive equal representation.

Finally, and most importantly, this bill would change our voting system from a “winner take all” system, to a “ranked choice voting” system.  As it currently stands, if a candidate wins 40% of the vote, and their opponent receives 39% of the vote, the person who received 40% of the vote wins the election, even though 60% of voters voted against them.  

In a “ranked choice voting” system, voters would be allowed to rank their candidates based on preference.  So if you’re a Libertarian, who wants to vote for the Libertarian candidate  but also doesn’t want to help elect a progressive socialist, you won’t have to compromise on your values and vote Republican. Instead, what you would do, is vote for the libertarian candidate, ranking them as your first choice, then you could vote for the Republican as your second choice. Because in a “ranked choice voting” system, candidates need a majority of votes to win the election.  

So let’s say you vote for a Libertarian as your first choice and a Republican as your second choice.  If the Libertarian only receives 10% of the vote, and the Republican receives 45% of the vote, while the Democrat receives 40% of the vote, there would be no official winner.  In that scenario, the election committee would then look at voter’s second preference, so if that 10% who voted Libertarian all had the Republican candidate as their second choice, the Republican would win with 55% of the vote.  

While ranked choice voting seems like it wouldn’t make much of a difference, especially if the two major parties continue to win elections, it would erase the “wasted vote” stigma, and over time third party candidates would have a legitimate shot at winning more elections.

3 Things to Watch in 2018

2018 election


With the 2018 midterms approaching, the political climate in this country is going to be interesting to watch.  Sometimes it’s hard to predict what issues could be of importance, or what politico’s should be looking out for – but if you pay attention, you can make a few guesses as to how politicians will campaign, and what they will pay attention to.  After a crazy 2016 election, 2018 promises to be pretty divisive. 

Universal Basic Income


As more jobs become automated, and the cost of social welfare programs soar, there has been growing support in the last few years to roll out a “Universal Basic Income” for all Americans.  A UBI is pretty straightforward. Each American receives a set amount of money from the federal government each month to cover some living expenses.  The idea is hardly new, and currently a UBI is being tested in both Finland and Ontario Canada.  Now it’s gaining popularity in the United States; not only among progressives, but among some libertarians who see a UBI as a more cost-effective alternative to welfare.

Silicon Valley has become increasingly vocal in their support for a UBI; so much so that Y Combinator, a Silicon Valley based firm that provides “seed” money to startups, is experimenting with giving 100 families in Oakland California between $1000-$2000 a month as a way to cover expenses.  Proponents like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk see a UBI as a way to combat automation stealing jobs, and income inequality.  The issue gained further attention on June 17th when Hawaii’s legislature passed a bill introducing a UBI to the state budget.  Although Alaska has been giving citizens oil money since 1976, if signed into law, Hawaii will become the first state to pass a UBI as a way to combat poverty.  

The idea isn’t just popular among progressives.  Some libertarians have argued that a UBI is more efficient than the current welfare state.  Matt Zwolinski, of the Cato Institute, points out that we spend $668 billion dollars a year on social welfare programs that waste a lot of money. While a Universal Basic Income would not be ideal, writes Zwolinski, it would save the average taxpayer money.  Zwolinski even points to Thomas Paine, who supported a “Citizen’s Dividend” that comes from taxing land.

The argument among progressives, and some libertarians, then seems to be “how much does everyone get?” and “what do we do with other welfare programs?”  In order for a UBI to be feasible, the current welfare structure would need to end, and that may be the biggest issue of contention moving forward.

Social Justice

Social Justice

Over the last 5 years, social justice issues have re-emerged as a hot button topic in US politics. Incidents like the violent Berkeley riots, and the embarrassment at Evergreen State College  show just how polarizing issues surrounding race, gender, and “privilege” can be. While groups like “Black Lives Matter” have encouraged other perceived disadvantaged groups to step up.  

Over the last two years we have seen the uproar caused by the North Carolina bathroom bill that put limits on who can use what bathroom (parts of which were repealed in March). The bill cost the city of Charlotte the NBA All-Star game last season, and emboldened companies and universities are refusing to do business in the state. As other state legislatures consider similar bills, it is likely that we will continue to see protests. 

Social justice issues are starting to make their way into more and more pieces of legislation.  Canada, for example, added “gender identity or expression” to the Canadian Human Rights Act, which means citizens can be prosecuted for expressing their displeasure of the LGBTQ community.  At home, Senate Bill 1006 would federally ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Taking away the autonomy of individual states, the senate bill would be redundant for those currently debating similar legislation, and would disrupt the states from acting in their own best interest, even if outsiders find it controversial.  While House Bill 1869, the “Paycheck Fairness Act” would eliminate pay differences for men and women, this bill is designed to “eliminate” the “wage gap”.

Rural America

rural america


There was a time where Democrats had a solid hold on rural America. Rural America flocked to the polls to vote for democrats who cared about issues that would affect them; including trade issues, protecting social security, and workers rights.  These Democrats were more centrist, and understood their constituency.  Over the last decade democrats have been losing this vote at an alarming rate.

Representative  Collin Peterson, of MN, is a rurally elected Democrat who claims that the democratic party has become “too liberal. Focusing on urban areas and social issues at the cost of white america.

Peterson also explains that Republican gerrymandering efforts have helped “pack” democrats into urban districts. This means that even if the state may be evenly divided as far as party affiliation goes, redistricting efforts have helped one party gain an advantage over another.  With the Supreme Court agreeing to hear the Wisconsin gerrymandering case Gill v. Whitford, it’s possible that redistricting efforts will change the makeup of the congressional districts, forcing candidates to run a more centrist campaign.

In addition to that, rural america became wary of the democrats for focusing on issues they either don’t care about, or are uncomfortable with.  The Obama Administration did their part with the introduction of the “Trans-Pacific Partnership” which rural america felt would cost them their jobs. Democrats continued to alienate rural, white voters by focusing on social issues that don’t affect them, causing many in rural america to feel neglected.  It will be interesting to see if the party tries to continue down this path, or make a major adjustment prior to 2018. It will be equally interesting to see how the Republican’s try and take advantage of this ideological shift.

Supreme Court Case Could Shake Up Congress


For the first time since 2004, the Supreme Court will be taking up a partisan gerrymandering case. Gerrymandering is a practice used by political parties to give one party a specific political advantage over another, and for the last several decades, it has been used by both political parties as a way to manipulate voting districts.  

Gerrymandering, in one picture.

The case, Gill v. Whitford, marks the first time since Vieth v. Jubelirer in 2004 that the Supreme Court will hear arguments centering on the idea of “partisan gerrymandering.” In that case, Justice Anthony Kennedy was the fifth, and deciding vote in the case that allowed partisan gerrymandering to continue. At the time, Justice Kennedy had made it clear that he would be willing to readdress the issue at a later date, if future plaintiffs could come up with a case that quantified a “workable standard” in which to base partisan gerrymandering off of.

Last year a panel of 3 federal judges determined that the Wisconsin electoral map violated both the first and fourteenth amendments, and on June 19th the Supreme Court announced that they will hear arguments in the case. This isn’t the first time partisan gerrymandering has been challenged since 2004, but the Supreme Court sees the case as unique.

Why SCOTUS is Hearing These Arguments

On NPR’s “All Things Considered” Shawn Johnson explains why Gill v. Whitford is unique:

“this case is unique among other redistricting cases in the way that it went after Wisconsin’s Republican-drawn legislative map. So it’s not unheard of for a court to strike down legislative maps on other grounds – diluting the voices of minority voters, for example. But this case really sets out a challenge. It says you can actually have a redistricting plan that’s so partisan that it’s unconstitutional, that it’s a political gerrymander… “

“what these plaintiffs were trying to do is go back and look at the results in Wisconsin in 2012, for example. President Obama did very well here. It was a decent democratic year. And yet Democrats gained no seats in the legislature, remained deeply in the minority. And even in 2016, even though it wasn’t part of this lawsuit, you look at Wisconsin – it was essentially a 50-50 year for races at the top of the ticket, like in the race for president or U.S. Senate. And yet Republicans actually added seats in the legislature to the point that even though Wisconsin is a 50-50 state, they have almost two-thirds of the seats in the legislature”

The case seems to be designed to entice Justice Kennedy.  In his 2004 decision, he alluded to the fact that he would be open to hearing future arguments on gerrymandering if the plaintiffs had come up with some workable standard to determine a level of partisanship.  In this case, the plaintiffs have come up with something they call the “efficiency gap.”

According to NPR, the “efficiency gap” measures”

“ what they call wasted votes. Let’s say you have a strongly Democratic district. And if a Democrat got a lot of votes there, but they only get one seat, they’re saying that they wasted a lot of votes to get those seats. If Democrats come up just short in a lot of other districts, they’re saying they wasted those votes as well.

So they compare that district-by-district to the statewide total, and that gives them this efficiency gap measure. And by that metric, plaintiffs looked back at redistricting plans throughout the U.S., going back to 1972, and Wisconsin’s redistricting plan was one of the most strongly political gerrymandered in history. “

The Brennan Center for Justice further points out that the Wisconsin gerrymandering is among the worst gerrymandering cases seen in decades.  

In 2012 Republicans won 60 of the states 99 legislative seats, despite only winning 48.6% of the popular vote.  In 2014 Republicans won 63 of the 99 legislative seats, with 52% of the vote.  The outcomes suggest that federal rules may have been violated.

Generally there are two federal rules surrounding redistricting.

  1.  Equal Population: for congressional districts that means districts need to be “as nearly as is practicable.” This means that states must make a good-faith effort to create districts with an equal population. For local districts the threshold is lower, they must be “substantially equal” meaning largest and smallest districts generally must be within 10% of each other population wise. At the local level, legislatures have a lot more flexibility to manipulate outcomes.
  2. Race and Ethnicity: the “Voting Rights Act of 1965” was designed to reverse tactics like “cracking;” a redistricting tactic designed to draw each district so that there are as few minorities as possible in each district, and “packing” which is concentrating as many minorities as possible into as few districts as possible.  Section 2 and section 5 of the “Voting Rights Act” are meant to protect the voting rights of minorities, ensuring that they get fair representation.

Why is This Important?

Gill v. Whitford has implications for congressional races in Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.  If SCOTUS rules on the side of the plaintiff, the “efficiency gap” standard could be applied as a barometer for the active lawsuits in the above states. This means congressional districts could be redrawn, and favored parties could face a real challenge, possibly even giving some legislatures a tough election for the first time in years.

More importantly, the case could seriously affect redistricting efforts after the 2020 census.  Applying a new standard to redraw districts could put incumbents in a position of defending their seat against other incumbents, or, more likely than not, take away any unfair advantage they may have had entering the election.  



Evergreen State College: A National Embarrassment



For years conservatives have been deriding the increased liberalization of America’s college campuses; mocking recent trends like “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings” has recently led to some of those same groups purposefully trying to “trigger” their liberal counterparts.  2017 has seen several examples of this campus liberalization, and until last month, Cal Berkeley was the center of these protests.  That all changed in late May, when the world was introduced to “Evergreen State College” in Olympia, Washington.

The small liberal arts school of about 4500 students was founded as a “non-traditional” college back in 1967 as a way to even out the distribution of “higher learning” opportunities for students, at the time, students from that part of the state didn’t have many college options, so Evergreen State College was born.  The college quickly earned a reputation as being one of the most liberal colleges in America, and in 1970 the school started sanctioning “A Day of Absence.”

“A Day of Absence” traditionally takes place in the Spring, and until this year was a day in which people of color were urged to avoid campus, and instead attend a number of off-campus events meant to promote diversity.  “A Day of Absence” was traditionally followed by “A Day of Presence” in which minorities would return to campus the next day, joining their white friends in a series of on-campus lectures and activities.  

This year, however, the tables were turned.  Rashida Love, Director of the  “First Peoples Multicultural Advising Services” office at the “school,”  pushed an event in which white people were told they had to leave campus for 2017’s “Day of Absence.” Chloe Marina Manchester, writing for the school newspaper, explained this year’s changes:

This year, however, it was decided that on Day of Absence, white students, staff and faculty will be invited to leave the campus for the day’s activities. This decision was reached through discussion with POC Greeners who voiced concern over feeling as if they are unwelcome on campus, following the 2016 election.”

While the paragraph is frustrating to some, it isn’t the worst thing in the world, after all, white students and staff were only invited to stay off campus. It’s not like they were forced out by a shouting mob.

Just Kidding, That’s Exactly What Happened

On May 23rd, a group of 50 students surrounded Biology Professor Bret Weinstein, calling him a “white supremacist” and other insults for refusing to participate in this years “Day of Absence.”


Professor Weinstein isn’t some far-right radical, either.  Weinstein describes himself as “extremely progressive” and actively supported the candidacy of Bernie Sanders.  In the past he was extremely vocal in his support of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement and seems to be a perfect fit for such a liberal school.  However, he did take issue with this years event; particularly how there was no discussion surrounding the validity of the event, and in an email to Rashida Love he expressed how he feels that this year’s day of absence was an act of oppression and force.

Email sent by Bret Weinstein to Rashida Love

After  these protesters surrounded and threatened Weinstein, the protesters barricaded themselves in the “Trans & Queer Unity Lounge” before issuing a set of demands to school President George Bridges.


Bridges proceeded to meekly defend the protesters, caving to the students demands which included “cultural competency” training for all faculty and staff.

Protests Continue

The weak response from Bridges, as well as other faculty and staff, have led the situation to go on for far too long.  Culminating in duel protests last Thursday that ended in violence. Riot police had to break up the protests, and one person was arrested.  

The protests were held by “Patriot Prayer,” a Portland based conservative group. And “Antifa,” the violent, left wing, “anti-fascist” group.  Antifa was there protesting, what they called, a “white supremacist group.” In response to those claims, “Patriot Prayer” organizer Joey Gibson said:

“I love all people, because they’re human. It doesn’t matter what the color of their skin is. Ok? And I’m sick of hearing about that,” Gibson said. “If we’re white supremacists, why do we have more people of color rolling with us than they do? That’s what I want to understand. All those people dressed in all black, they’re the most whitest (sic) people I’ve ever met in my life.”

The situation has gotten so bad that students attending Friday’s graduation had to go through metal detectors.

In the wake of these protests, the “college” has announced that they still plan on going forward with their re-vamped “Masters in Teaching” programming which emphasizes training teachers to indoctrinate students in left-wing ideology. Program director J. Patrick Naughton wrote in the programs catalog that:


“Our schools are called upon to help children and youth develop physically, emotionally, and cognitively in order to create meaningful lives for themselves and to participate collaboratively and creatively in public life. In our increasingly diverse and complex society, public education must play a key role in nurturing and educating citizens who care about equity and justice for all beings. We focus on preparing teachers ready and willing to take on these responsibilities every day. “

This emphasis on social justice is mandatory, even for teachers who are training to teach subjects like math or science, in the program students will;  

“examine and consciously act on differences such as ethnicity, race, class, gender, gender expression, culture, religion, language, ability, and sexual identities.”

Schools are supposed to be a place of higher learning, yet more frequently publicly funded schools are being used to push a political agenda.  With luck, Evergreen State College will lose the $24 million dollars in public money currently allocated to them for next year.