Why I Am a Democrat: Response to a Critic Who Calls My Views “Very Unrefined” (a manifesto of sorts)

[My response, my story, my fundamental principles, for the record, part 1 of 2]

[My response, my story, my fundamental principles, for the record, part 2 of 2]

I pay attention to my critics because I value transparency, accountability, and intellectual discussion about challenging issues, especially in the realm of politics because policies directly affect us.

Policies affect whether we are at war or at peace. Policies impact matters of poverty and wealth. Policies determine whether or not our civil rights are protected. They influence the harmony or discord in a diverse, cosmopolitan, pluralistic, democratic society. They can cause great anxiety or great relief. If we are going to talk about policies we should do so with great care.

When one of my critics- Duke Manning, a student of philosophy at Temple University, who is also a bassist- wrote a six paragraph complaint describing his belief that I do not discuss politics with great care, tremendous thought, and synthesis and logical analysis of research, I took issue to it because it could not be further from the truth. You might even note the irony that I spent over three hours articulating my refutation to his comparatively short Facebook comment.

Here is his critique:

Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 9.01.01 AM

While Mr. Manning’s critique is inaccurate I must thank him for one thing because it is fair to say that if I am going to advocate staunchly for a set of policies it would be beneficial to all who consider my commentaries on the matter if I were to take extra efforts to clarify with greater intensity, why I think what I think.

With respect to my thinking, Manning suggested to me that I “seem to jump in head first with a thought [I] have without really doing enough research and considering how certain” I am. He adds that I “tend to be the kind of person who gets an idea and runs with it without really investigating it deeply or without considering that you are wrong.”

He cites the fact that in 2013, when I was a member of the Libertarian Party (which I am no longer. Now I am a registered Democrat) and running for the New Jersey Assembly, I advocated establishing a voting poll tax.

He notes that he insisted to me that it was a bad idea and that I disagreed with him. (I didn’t disagree for long however. Within months I came to realize the utter absurdity and injustice of such a policy.) This to him, proves that my “views are very unrefined”  and causes him to “worry that [I] will eventually promote an idea that might harm [my] appearance.”

While it is true that Manning’s description of my intellectual shortcomings in 2013 are accurate, he fails to account for the fact that over the last half of a decade I have first of all disavowed a plethora of false assumptions I used to hold.

Secondly he fails to note that my commentaries are in fact heavily sourced and cite experts with a diversity of perspectives. In fact, in his assault on my intellectual integrity he does not cite a single published commentary of mine.

Instead he relies on statements I made half a decade ago which I in fact disavowed within months of having made those statements as proof of my intellectual laziness and “very unrefined views” today. 

I want to provide you with my refutation of Manning’s characterization and while doing so explain to you in the form of an extemporaneous statement, the story of political evolution, and the fundamental concepts that underline my social democratic political philosophy.

It is my hope that first of all, this will serve as proof that I value and contemplate feedback even when it is negative, even when it is wrong. Secondly, I hope that you will find me transparent- that it does not seem as if my point of view came to me hastily out of some vacuum. Finally, I hope that by having done this you have gotten to know me better.

As always, let me know what you think.

Advertisements

Help Democrat Josh Welle Unseat GOP Rep. Chris Smith; Americans Throughout the Country Should Donate to His Campaign

Fire and replace the “absentee congressman” and anti-women, anti-LGBT Republican Chris Smith! Democratic candidate Josh Welle deserves the privilege of serving New Jersey’s fourth congressional district instead. The district’s voters should vote for him, and Americans throughout the country should donate to his campaign.

(“Absentee congressman”: by the way, that’s Welle’s words for the record, not mine.).

Welle is not afraid to condemn President Donald Trump for his treasonous, criminal, unethical,  behavior.

At the U.S.- Russia Summit Press Conference in Helsinki Associated Press reporter Jonathan Lemire asked President Trump: “would you denounce what happened in 2016 [i.e., the Russian interference in the election] and would you warn [Russian president Vladimir Putin] to never do it again?”

Trump would not denounce it, would not warn Putin never to do it again, and in fact said that Putin’s denials were “strong and powerful” while the U.S. intelligence community’s findings were not “strong and powerful.”

Trump also said he didn’t “see any reason why” Russia would interfere in our elections. (The fact that we have been sanctioning them for things like violating international law when they annexed Crimea, et cetera, seems to escape the consciousness of the president)

In response to Trump’s open treason and groveling before Putin, Welle said:

 

“As a post-9/11 veteran and an everyday citizen, I was appalled by the President’s actions in the press conference with Russian President Putin in Helsinki. For a sitting U.S. President to side with an authoritarian Russian leader while undermining the integrity of America’s intelligence community is a threat to national security and an insult to the men and women who serve and protect this country.”

 

Responding also to Trump’s claim that the European Union is “a foe, ” Welle said:

 

“In choosing to support Putin over our NATO allies, Trump failed in his duties as Commander-in-Chief and reinforces to the American electorate that he lacks the diplomatic skills necessary to lead during times of great uncertainty.”

 

In contrast, Representative Chris Smith refused to criticize the president in the least. (Anyone who is dogmatically uncritical in the name of being “a team player” for their political party proves they lack basic ethical standards and the intellectual capacity necessary for the kind of judgement a lawmaker should have).

Smith did not utter a single word acknowledging President Trump’s deference to Putin (or his sycophancy towards him) nor did he demonstrate an awareness of Trump’s blatantly obvious undermining of U.S. intelligence. In fact, Chris Smith acted as if President Trump was not even at the summit, saying:

 

“Today’s summit broached crucial issues affecting human rights in many countries, election meddling, the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, and terrorism, among other serious concerns.”

 

After it took a day for President Trump to try and play the American people for idiots, and tell us all that actually, he misspoke, Chris Smith took part in Trump’s deceit, saying

 

“Today, President Trump stated the obvious—we know that Russia meddled in the election. He said further that he has ‘full faith and support’ in the conclusion reached by the intelligence agencies in their investigation. This clarification is welcomed and, frankly, expected.”

 

Smith says this despite the president’s numerous walk-backs calling the entire Russia investigation “a witch-hunt” and “a hoax.” Smith has no comment on that, proving he is either incompetent or unethical.

But there is more at stake than a treasonous president doing the bidding of an anti-Democratic Russian President and flouting the law. The preservation of basic civil rights are under constant attack so long as Chris Smith remains in congress.

Thankfully, Josh Welle won’t have it.

Welle believes women should not be slaves to theocrats and fetuses- he believes women have the right to choose if they want an abortion or not. Welle says: “A woman should be able to make her own healthcare choices” and that he “Support[s] women’s reproductive rights and their access to safe and affordable care including contraception, preventive care and funding for Planned Parenthood.”

Chris Smith does not believe that. He believes that  rape victims should not be allowed to have abortions.

Consider Smith’s attempt to actually change the legal definition of rape as part of his Pro-Choice agenda.

As Mother Jones reported back in 2011:

“For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. (Another exemption covers pregnancies that could endanger the life of the woman.)”

 

Chris Smith took issue to that and introduced legislation that would redefine “rape” and thereby limit the number of rape victims who can receive government funded abortions.

Mother Jones reported:

 

“types of rapes that would no longer be covered by the exemption include rapes in which the woman was drugged or given excessive amounts of alcohol, rapes of women with limited mental capacity, and many date rapes.”

 

Mother Jones added: “As for the incest exception, the bill would only allow federally funded abortions if the woman is under 18.”

Chris Smith’s attacks on reproductive rights spans decades, with relentless attempts to pass a constitutional amendment banning abortion.

Screen Shot 2018-08-10 at 11.47.15 AM

[See the bill on Congress’ Website]

 

Chris Smith has also spent his career trying to pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage.

Screen Shot 2018-08-10 at 11.53.34 AM

[See the Bill on Congress’ Website]

 

He also infamously denigrated the LGBT community when he said “I am a strong believer in traditional marriage and do not construe homosexual rights as human rights.” It’s clear that Chris Smith is divisive- that he thinks the 14th amendment of the constitution, which declares all Americans equal under the law- is null and void. Smith wants utterly unconstitutional control our sex lives.

Welle, on the other hand,  supports LGBT rights. He says “No American should be treated differently because of who they love. I support full federal equality for LGBT Americans because gay rights are human rights.”

A number of Smith’s constituents are disgusted by his bigoted policies and rhetoric but Smith doesn’t have the nerve to listen to their appeals to change his mind.

He hasn’t granted his constituents a town hall in a quarter of a century. He is terrified of facing their criticism. He doesn’t even have the courage to face his opponent, Welle, in a debate. He doesn’t even live in the state he is supposed to “represent.” As is widely reported, he lives in Virginia, not New Jersey.

Chris Smith is an absolute coward, afraid of the outrage his decades of bigotry have incited.

Josh Welle, a Veteran who has served in Afghanistan and Iraq has proven he does have courage.

Residents of New Jersey’s fourth congressional district deserve a Representative who is not afraid to condemn the president’s treasonous, criminal, unethical behavior, not afraid to face the people he wants to serve, and not afraid to stand up for them, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. And if Americans throughout the country donate to this campaign it will also help in the Democratic effort to reclaim the House of Representatives.