Coming Back Online.

I apologize for it taking so long for an update, and for not following through on my last post’s promise to get my essay out within the week. Part of it has been that life has been busier than anticipated recently, and I haven’t had as much time to spend on this site. Another part is a general lack of direction with it. In a time where reasoned argument and bipartisan compromise is tossed aside, and people instead respond to, and even call for, name calling, foot-dragging, and “alternative facts”…what’s the point? The third reason is that I’ve been experiencing a bit of writer’s block on my gun control article specifically. It’s one of the most polarizing issues in our country and it’s difficult to express in a way that isn’t going to immediately put anyone with opposing views off, and so I’ve decided to put that one on hold for now.

I am picking up the site again now and I’m going to be attempting to write 2-3 updates per week, but I’m going to be focusing on shorter posts responding to more current events. As much as I hope that no reasons for it to happen, if guns come into the news again I’ll attempt to write about it, and it may give me the push I need to bring down the wall blocking me from finishing what I’ve started there. As before, my goal will be to give my real, honest, progressive, liberal, leftist viewpoint on things, calling out the misdirection and misrepresentation of those views being delivered by the anchors and pundits on the right. That’s my agenda, in its entirety. I want to tell you the truth about what I believe, and why I believe it. I’m not going to use lies to try to accomplish that out of some misguided belief that the ends justify the means. I will be as honest as I can, and if you find a mistake in something I tell you, I will more than happily review it and make every effort to correct it for my readers. Just let me know.

I want to spend the rest of this talking about what made me decide to bite the bullet and keep this site going in the face of the second reason I mentioned for why I put things on hold above. What’s the point? For the answer, I have a short story about something I experienced recently.

I have a friend whose parents divorced before I met him, and his mom has remarried. His stepfather is pretty far to the extreme right. He owns his own business and he strongly believes that “the left” is every bit the picture of American Destruction that his favorite politicians and talk show hosts paint us to be. His stepson and I aren’t on “the left” in his eyes. He’s able to separate us from “the left” that he hates because he knows us and believes our motives are good; we just have some misguided beliefs that we’ll grow out of…Sound like anyone you know…?

Anyway, I recently ended up having a few beers with him and a couple of other people while we got some things ready for a surprise party we were having for my friend. I was dreading it. I hadn’t spent much time with him without my equally liberal friend as a buffer; I mean this guy is who you think of when you picture a MAGA hat-wearing, ‘Murica-loving, rural Midwestern Trump voter. As we worked, talk inevitably veered towards politics, and something amazing and completely unexpected happened. We just talked. We talked about welfare and the social safety net. We talked about universal healthcare and universal education. We didn’t always agree, but we both listened to each other, and here’s the craziest thing: We agreed, almost completely, on universal education. I haven’t written much about this before, but I don’t think universal education means everyone goes to a 4-year school for free. A good education system needs paths for that for the students that want it, but it also needs paths for apprenticeships and tax breaks for the business owners providing them. It needs objective performance standards tied to the amount of funding a student gets. It needs a lot of things, and this right-wing, rural man was on board and adding his own ideas for improving mine and I liked them. We ended the afternoon joking about running against Trump in 2020 together.

My “shock” in that story and the way it played out is the teensiest bit facetious, but I was genuinely surprised that I enjoyed the conversation and wasn’t waiting for an opportunity to race out the door. I’m not saying that’s the way it would play out for you if you decide to try to have a conversation with your racist aunt at Thanksgiving, but it did reinvigorate me and it made me believe that this website might convince others on both sides to try it out. It was clear evidence of something that I have believed for a while: the polarization of our country is, for the most part, artificial. Compromise is not only possible, it’s something the majority of us could settle on pretty easily if we could actually have the conversation without screaming at each other, but pundits like to keep us screaming because polarization brings viewers to their shows. Outrage keeps us coming back for more.

The majority of Americans, even those at the opposite ends of the political spectrum, agree on more than we don’t. We all want to make our society as strong and enduring as we can, and we can work together to compromise and make that happens. It’s not going to be easy, and it’s not going to be fast, and though I have been right at the verge a few times in the last couple of years, I’m not quite ready to give up on it yet.

Thanks for stopping by,

-Malcolm.

Inactivity

I see a few views are still trickling in every day, and wanted to post an update to let you know I am still writing, just slower than I expected. I like to make sure I have fully processed my own thoughts and articulated them clearly, and I like to have strong research to back myself up and that takes time, especially since I’m so new at this.

I haven’t had as much time to focus on the site lately as I’ve gone into crunch time at work and had some issues with extended family back home that have kept my busy, but I have a post on guns and gun control that is essentially done, and I should have up in the next few days. I’ve been sitting on it for a bit for the conservatives out there so they can be sure that I processed and came to terms with my strong, immediate emotional response to the murder of 14 schoolchildren and 3 of their educators in Parkland on Valentine’s day before posting details on my beliefs, desires, and frustrations when it comes to guns. 😉

I’ve been a bit active on Quora, and I do like that forum for discussion a lot, so you can check out my stuff there as well, if you’re interested.

Thanks for stopping by,

-Malcolm

Do Conservatives Purposefully Set Us Up For Failure?

This is something that I’ve had rolling around in my head for awhile, and obviously if I’m writing on the topic, I think the answer is yes, at least to some extent. To be clear, I don’t think your typical conservative citizen wants their government to fail. I think the majority of citizens at both end of the spectrum mostly want a successful government in place. I’m specifically talking about the conservatives that are running things for their party. There are two statements I’ll kick things off with here. The first comes from popular conservative strategist and lobbyist, Grover Norquist.

“I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”

Grover Norquist,  May 25, 2001

This comes from a man that is behind a lot of government initiatives, runs a super PAC influencing government, and helps conservatives get elected all over the country.

The second is from someone I think will be a pretty common source as I move forward because he’s the epitome of a ruthless, conservative ideologue for whom the ends always justify the means. Shortly after the republicans took control of Congress in the midterms, Mitch McConnell said this:

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

– Mitch McConnell, October 23, 2010

Continue reading “Do Conservatives Purposefully Set Us Up For Failure?”

The Senate Tax Plan

This is part two of my two part series on taxes. This post was originally the second half of a post on taxes overall, but I split it off into it’s own because the whole thing was getting too long. Now, this post focuses on the bill that was just signed by our president and why I oppose it, why I believe that I should pay more taxes than those less fortunate than I am, and why I have an expectation that those wealthier than I am should pay more than I do. The other post, which you can find here, goes into what I believe a progressive tax system should look like, and ultimately the reason we all need to pay those taxes. Continue reading “The Senate Tax Plan”

Let’s Talk About Taxes

Phew, it took me longer than anticipated to finish this one. I was shooting to have it out on Wednesday, which was the day the Republicans in Congress passed their final tax bill. Both houses were supposed to be in recess by this past Sunday, but they stuck around to get this passed in a vote that shot straight down party lines, which interestingly enough, Senator McConnell doesn’t think should happen when it comes to such important legislation:

The chaos [the Affordable Care Act] has visited on our country isn’t just deeply tragic, it was entirely predictable. And that will always be the case if you approach legislation without regard for the views of the other side. Without some meaningful buy-in, you guarantee a food fight. You guarantee instability and strife. It may very well have been the case that on Obamacare, the will of the country was not to pass the bill at all. That’s what I would have concluded if Republicans couldn’t get a single Democrat vote for legislation of this magnitude. I’d have thought, maybe this isn’t such a great idea.

-Mitch McConnell, January 8, 2014

Tax Forms
Photo by ccPixs.com / CC BY 3.0

Ahh, isn’t it great that we live in a time where it’s possible to so easily expect people to meet standards they set for themselves? Anyway, with the tax bill in mind, I had been planning to do a breakdown of taxation, so I thought now was a good time to get it out of my head and post it. I wanted to address what I want in a tax system as a progressive, why I oppose the Republican’s bill, and why I believe I should pay more taxes than those less fortunate than I am and why I have an expectation that people more fortunate than I should pay more, regardless of how they come across their money.

As I dug in, my word count quickly grew, and I ended up splitting this into two posts because I think this is my longest post yet, even after splitting it. This one goes into the first part. It covers my philosophy around taxation. What is the purpose of taxation and why do we need to pay taxes even if some of them go to things we don’t personally like or believe they should? The other one targets the Republican tax bill specifically, and why I don’t support it based on how it was passed and what it ultimately does. The second part isn’t quite finished yet, but I’ll link to it here when it’s up. You can find that post here.

Continue reading “Let’s Talk About Taxes”

Hope

Doug Jones
Photo by Doug Jones for Senate Committee / CC BY 4.0

Doug Jones beat Roy Moore. It happened. That is something I never expected to be saying. I was as sure Moore was going to win as I was that Trump was going to lose a little over a year ago. I wanted Jones to win, but “hope” would be too positive of a word to describe it. A better word would be “fantasy” or “delusion”, but it happened. I’m still kind of awestruck today.

Hope is something I had lost in American politics. On November 9th, 2016, I woke up to reports that my supposed “liberal bubble” had burst — that “real America” was standing up and taking its country back. They were somewhat right, at least in the first claim. A bubble had burst for me, and another was suddenly very thin and weak, but was still holding at the time.

Continue reading “Hope”

Patriotism and the NFL

I wasn’t sure I was going to write about this topic, especially so early on in my blog. Part of my reasoning is that it was an older-ish news story and, even though this “scandal” was one of the reasons I decided to start this site, I wanted to try and stay more current. Luckily, I suppose, our president took care of that for me over the long weekend, though:

Another reason is that I don’t know how accurately I can write about this because I don’t personally know what it’s like to be black in the United States. I can’t truly understand what it is to experience racism like they have. I don’t want to come off as obnoxious, disingenuous, or self-righteous trying to explain my understanding of it when you, reading this, don’t know me or my sense of humor very well yet.

Colin Kaepernick
Photo by aukirk / CC BY 2.0

My last reason is that I strongly believe that, while average citizens might truly be angry, the outrage coming from the president and the conservative media pundits is inauthentic. They aren’t truly angry, but they know they can rile up their audience if they pretend they are. It’s largely meant to be a distraction for us in two ways. The first is keeping our minds off of other, more important things, like the CBO’s analysis of the tax bill, for example. The second is to avoid discussing the real issue that these guys are kneeling because of, which is a lot harder than berating them for disrespecting troops and the country that gives them millions of dollars to entertain it. But I find myself wanting to write about that real issue.

Continue reading “Patriotism and the NFL”

Why Am I Progressive?

This is a question I’ve given a lot of thought to over the years. As I mentioned before, there are plenty of reasons I shouldn’t be. So what is it? Is it just a phase I’m going through? Is it a secret desire to sit around my house all day living off of government handouts? Was I brainwashed by my public school teachers? Is it rebellion against my relatively conservative, religious upbringing? No…none of those sound quite right.

Empathy01
Photo by geralt / CC BY 1.0

Some people think it’s biological – that brain chemistry can help determine it. Studies have shown that there’s some truth to that related to a positive correlation in the size of the amygdala and how aggressively someone responds to a perceived threat biologically. There are pretty clear social signs of that being true in things like the arguments for and against the USA taking in refugees from Syria or other Middle Eastern countries, for example. That may be a part of it for me. I believe that the ability to easily empathize with others is an important part of someone becoming progressive, and I think brain chemistry likely plays a pretty big role in that. Even so, it’s definitely environmental for me, too. I’ll come back to empathy later.

Continue reading “Why Am I Progressive?”

Hello, and Welcome.

Hello! You can call me Malcolm.

I want to start off by giving you as clear of a picture of myself as I can. I’m hoping that information on my current life and my background will give you insight and context into where I am coming from as you read through my thoughts and ideas.

I am a 29 year old man, which puts me in roughly the oldest quarter of millennials. I currently live in the wonderful city of Madison, Wisconsin in the United States. I’m a pretty standard nerd, interested in comic books, video games, and science fiction novels. I have been married to an amazing woman named Sarah for the past seven years. We have two young children, Simon and Jane. Our oldest will be starting kindergarten in the very near future. I am a software engineer with a Master’s degree and my wife works in healthcare at one of the hospitals here in town. Together, we are fortunate enough to earn a combined salary that puts us in the top 5% of income earners in this country.

I was raised on a farm in the rural Midwest.  My parents weren’t particularly political, at least not openly, but our household was religious and most of the role models I had in our community and at church were conservative. That meant I was, too, for most of my formative years. That started to shift as I hit 15 or 16 years old. I started questioning a lot of what I had believed without a second thought up until that point. By the time I turned 20, I was what I am today.

I am unequivocally, unapologetically, proverbially progressive.

I plan to go into why I think that’s the case in my next post because there are a lot of reasons I shouldn’t be, a handful of which are above. I’m not positive what I want this to become yet, or even necessarily that I want it to become anything. I’m not sure if I want it to be read by a million people, or just my mother. What I want now, today, is a place where I can put my beliefs down on paper and process the thoughts and reasoning behind them. I suppose it’s an avenue for me to vent and process frustration with the state of the country that I live in and love, and argue my case for the changes I would like to see happen in it.

The site is still under construction, but I’ll finish polishing it and start posting my beliefs and ideas regularly soon. Thanks for reading.