It’s time for honesty…even if the truth hurts

The most popular phrase uttered in the last ten days has been, “Well, not ALL Trump voters are racist” or some variation of this sentiment.  The conventional wisdom, even from those who supported him, seems to be that while he did have a contingency of followers who have racist, bigoted, anti-Semitic, xenophobic, or misogynistic views, the vast majority of his voters don’t believe in such horrible things.  The problem with this viewpoint is simple: personal prejudices and enabling those who promote prejudice should not be treated differently.

Donald Trump ran a campaign fueled by hate, lies, fear, and all of those horrible elements mentioned above.  There are mountains of data that support this claim and it is absolutely true.  If you can not, at the very least, concede this point you should stop reading now and go renew your membership to the ‘flat earth society’ because this point is not even debatable.  Now, the question exists, how can a candidate using a modified Goebbels playbook get elected President Of The United States in the year 2016?  He/She can’t.  While the number of openly proud racists, bigots, misogynists, etc. is way too large, there aren’t enough of those votes in America anymore to win a Presidential Election.  So how did Trump do it?  He did it by creating a coalition of enablers.

en·a·ble – verb

  1. to make able; give power, means, competence, or ability to; authorize
  2. to make possible or easy
  3. to make ready; equip

(emphasis added)

This is crucial because it is time for us to stop splitting hairs and making exceptions for those who are bigots and those who enable bigots.  In a democracy, there is nothing more sacred than a person’s right to vote.  When you vote, or even if you choose not to, you are exercising the most important action a citizen of this great nation can take.  There were millions of qualifiable candidates available to you when you cast your ballot.  You could have voted for one of the two major party candidates, a “third party” candidate, written in your choice of candidate, or even chosen to not vote for the presidency at all like our 43rd president and his wife did.  If you voted for Donald Trump, when there were literally millions of other options, you have to accept the responsibility of your actions.  You knew who this man was, who he represented, all of the horrible statements and actions he had committed, and the prejudicial ideas he would pursue as President.  In spite of all of this, with all of the other options available, you chose to vote for him.  With your precious vote, you “made able; gave power, means”, “equipped”, and “made possible” his path to an Electoral College victory, and the presidency of the United States of America.  You are culpable because you have enabled him.  Without your vote, he would not have become president.  Trump voters, you had your chance to run away from his “other” supporters, but you chose not to.  So stop running, and embrace what you have enabled…you are one of them now!

 

 

Pep Talk For Democrats and Hillary Clinton Voters

Here’s a pep talk for my fellow Democrats and Hillary Clinton voters.  I know Tuesday’s election was brutal.  I’ve felt depressed, angry, despair, anxious, and helpless just in the last few days.  I have tried to find any silver linings that I could and I wanted to share them with my fellow Democrats, Hillary voters, and anyone scared about Trump being our next president.  While things could be better, when we take a step back and look at the big picture, we are not as defeated as we may seem.  In fact, we’ve done quite a bit of winning…even winning more votes than the Republican candidate.

Election Eve 2016

I love Election Day, but I’m always a nervous wreck. This year I have been for weeks since it’s not just two candidates on the line, but there are fundamental pillars of democracy on the line. I thought after eight years of horribly racist vile rhetoric I’d be prepared for 16 months of non-stop misogyny. I’ve struggled, but I knew the opponent was so ill-equipped and ignorant he’d have no chance.  I knew that him, losing to a woman, would put him back in his cesspool. Then I saw people buying into the lies, hating journalists, bashing our military, hating entire religious groups, blaming our problems on “the others” and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Then came the most harmful, asinine, and reckless action of the campaign season: false equivalency. I started to lose hope not just in the election but of my fellow citizens, falling for a charlatan. I’ll be honest, I’m scared. This man is within striking distance of winning and I’m scared.

We have 5 living presidents (people who have done the job), 3 Democrats and 2 Republican, none of them are supporting this man. In a normal election partisanship would split the bunch, but when they all tell you how dangerous this man is and they come together because they worry about our country’s future…that may be the biggest sign of how unfit this person is to lead the greatest nation the world has ever known. We need to heal, but we have to stop the blade first or there will be nothing left to patch up. We don’t have to agree on politics, religion, anything, but I do hope that at least once, for the sake of our nation, we can put those differences away and save our democracy. I hope with all of my head and my heart that you will vote for Mrs. Clinton. I’m not exaggerating when I say that our democracy depends on it. We all will be asked decades from now where we stood during this election. I know America has problems, but it’s already great and we need to keep moving forward. Stronger. Together.

2016 Blue Ballot Voter Guide

I just received a copy of the 2016 Mecklenburg Democratic Party’s Blue Ballot Voter Guide.  This guide lists all of the Democratic candidates running for office, including the judicial races where party identification is not shown on the ballot.  It also has the Early Voting schedule including times and locations.  Please feel free to share this document and encourage everyone you know to exercise their right to VOTE!

If you need to check your voter registration status (for any resident of North Carolina) you can check that on the State Board of Election’s Website here.

Let’s make sure we do all we can to Turn North Carolina Blue!

 

Clarifying what the “Marginal Tax Rate” is, and is NOT

The other night at dinner I was sitting beside a man (talking very loudly) who said he could never vote for Bernie Sanders because Bernie wanted to raise taxes to 90%.  I believe his quote was on the lines of “…so I’m supposed to work each week and have Bernie take 90% of my paycheck?  No way!”.  That would be something to be mad about, fortunately though, this man had no idea what he was talking about.  It was, yet again, an error in understanding what a “Marginal Tax Rate” is with regards to income taxes.  Neither Bernie, the IRS, or the Easter Bunny were going to take 90% of this (loud) man’s paycheck.

Just to clarify, I’m not voting for Bernie Sanders in our state’s Democratic Primary.  I don’t technically have any “skin in the game” with hopes that this man will vote for Bernie.  I do however take issue with willful ignorance, and regardless of who the gentleman is voting for, I fully believe he should base his decision off of facts and not some anecdotal talking point he got from a misleading source.

In America we have a progressive tax system.  This basically means that as you earn more you will pay higher taxes on the “next dollar earned” in an increasingly staggered tax bracket.  The “next dollar earned” is where the term “marginal” comes into play.  It appears what confuses many Americans is that they know that they make “X” dollars, they look at an income tax chart, find where that falls, and assume ALL of their income is taxed at that rate.  This is simply not true.  Here is a visual that should be able to help explain:

progressive tax

What this means is that you, me, and your angry Uncle Joe, all pay 10% for the first $8,350 we make, 15% on the next amount up to $33,950, etc, etc…  This picture comes from a great article that does a much better job of explaining the Marginal Tax Rate than I can.  It should take you all of two minutes to read so I recommend highly checking it out.  It also dispels another myth you hear frequently, the “…I turned down that other job because it paid more, but my take-home pay would have been less because it bumped me into a higher tax bracket”.  Yes, like the above example, this is equated to three-headed unicorns crapping fairy dust.  It’s just not true because, it also, looses sight of the “marginal” component of our tax rate.

One last point, we have to remember that the greatest expansion of the middle-class in this country, in which we had the longest sustained period of overall economic growth, came during a time when our marginal tax rate was above 90%.  In today’s terms that means families making about $3.5 Million dollars or more (in income) would be impacted…and remember our lesson from above; they, you, and me, all pay the EXACT same tax on the first $8,350, and so on and so on…  Also, keep in mind, families making that kind of money are normally earning that amount in capital gains, not working income tax (meaning, they are making most of their money off of investments which is taxed at a much lower rate).  If you’d like to look for yourselves with regards to past marginal tax rates, here is a link to that information.

I hope this helps clear up some of the myths and misconceptions that are associated around income tax here in the United States.  I have always believed that the most powerful force in any election is an informed electorate.  Also, voting is the most fundamental piece to a democracy’s foundation.  While there are those out there who want to make it harder for citizens to vote, remember that we must all remain steadfast, and exercise our most fundamental task – Go VOTE!