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World View for the Future Generations

Image from: https://www.nature.com/news/future-generations-1.19430

By Richard Coleman, Stafford County Democratic Committee Member

When my children were teenagers, I made a conscious decision to deceive them. I believed that the world would be a better place if we all showed more kindness, more tolerance and more compassion. So, I did my very best to convince my children that the world was, in fact, a better place than my life experiences had shown. My hope was that if my children believed that the world was a better place, the way they conducted themselves would actually help make the world a better place. I wanted my children to recognize that the world is not perfect, and that there are cruel, intolerant, selfish people among us. But I also wanted my children to be aware that the personal character of a person is revealed by their actions and how they treat others. Your race or religion does not equal your personal character.

To a great extent, I think I was successful. My children are people who are kinder, more tolerant and more giving then I am, and they have passed their world view to my grandchildren. My grandchildren are in high school, college or are recently graduated. So, the question now is what world view is on display for my grandchildren, and what values are we going to pass on to my future great-grandchildren. Trump’s cruel, intolerant, and narcissistic policies are on display while he actively sows division based on race and religion. Come November, let’s remove Trump so the conduct of everyone can actually make the world a better place

This is a post by a member of the Stafford County Democratic Committee. This post does not necessarily reflect the views of the Stafford County Democratic Committee, the Democratic Party of Virginia, or the Democratic Party of America.

The Convention is Over

By Michael Spragins, Stafford County Democratic Committee Issues Committee Chair

The Republican convention is over. As a taxpayer, I was appalled at the desecration of the White House, our house, the “People’s House,” as a backdrop for a political convention for a candidate with which I have profound disagreement. While the president and vice president are not covered by the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from campaigning on government time or property, the White House claims that there is no violation for the services of the many government employees used to prepare for the event or that it was happening on one of our most sacred and celebrated government buildings. This is corruption of the highest order. Mark Meadows, the Chief of Staff, says that people outside the beltway do not care about this. The White House, I believe, has a different conception of “corruption.” To them, “corruption” is about corruption of purity, of the usurpation of the traditional order by those not considered “worthy” (read here minorities, non-Christians, immigrants, not those “real” Americans of the heartland). As long as “Republican values” are upheld, any law can be broken. This is the mindset of this administration. It will only get worse if Trump is re-elected.

I haven’t even mentioned the photo-op naturalization ceremony, whose participants were not aware they were going to be starring in a Republican convention, the pardoning of a criminal as part of the show, or the Secretary of State beaming in a partisan speech from overseas, or the blatant disregard of masking or social distancing on the White House grounds.

But, I digress. I was planning to write about their new platform, but the Republican National Committee has declared that they have no platform this year except for whatever utterance proceeds from the mouth of Donald Trump. I suppose that means that if Trump is re-elected we will have more of the same. More children in cages on the border, more immigrant families separated, more bans on Muslims, more tariffs, more insulting tweets, more cavalier breaking of laws, more pseudo-police sent into cities, more Covid-19 deaths, more love for Vladimir Putin, more pardons for the friends of the president, more unconfirmed and unqualified people in charge of government departments, more separation from our old allies in NATO and elsewhere, more authoritarianism, more lies, more incompetence, and more promotion of white supremacy. As I am writing this, the United States has had 182,000 deaths from Covid-19 and has 5,930,000 cases. Who can want more of this? The re-election of Donald Trump will give this and much, much more.

This is a post by a member of the Stafford County Democratic Committee. This post does not necessarily reflect the views of the Stafford County Democratic Committee, the Democratic Party of Virginia, or the Democratic Party of America.

The Path We Walk

By Richard Coleman, Stafford County Democratic Committee Member

Someone told me that they voted for Trump in 2016. They felt that Trump’s economic policies were a good reason to support him. That made me think about a comment my eighth grade history teacher made back in 1963. She said that if Hitler’s path through history had ended in 1935, history books would reflect a very different view of him. He would be revered and remembered as the leader who restored the economic prosperity of Germany from the ashes of World War I. In Hitler’s rise to power, his promise of economic prosperity was based on demonetizing a minority group, unconstrained state control and the employment of authoritarian methods to intimidate opponents. The citizens of 1935 Germany were not planning to inflict horror on the world, but they closed their eyes to the horror being created along on the path they were walking. The horror along that path was Hitler’s establishment of a governmental structure that was intolerant of those who were different and invested with unchecked power. He staffed that structure with those willing to incorporate authoritarian methods into the defined legal framework of government. Germany achieved the economic prosperity that was sought, but the path allowed for the creation of an authoritarian monster that led to World War II. If Hitler’s path had ended in 1935, that monster may not have come to fruition and would not have been unleashed on the world.

Trump has always expressed his intolerance for minority groups. His ongoing actions to dismantle the impartiality in the structure of the federal Inspectors General is demonstrative of his quest for unchecked control. And now, his use of the Department of Homeland Security as a para-military force to intimidate opposition completes the trifecta. The question is not do we want economic prosperity for this country. The question for 2020 is whether we are going to close our eyes and walk the path that Germany walked in search of economic prosperity. Are we going to close our eyes and walk with Trump on a path that creates an authoritarian monster which endangers the world, or will we choose a different path?

This is a post by a member of the Stafford County Democratic Committee. This post does not necessarily reflect the views of the Stafford County Democratic Committee, the Democratic Party of Virginia, or the Democratic Party of America.

Blessed are the Mask Wearers

By Michael Spragins, Stafford County Democratic Committee Issues Committee Chair

It appears that the federal government has given up the fight against the novel coronavirus. In light of this, it now falls on us as individuals to do the best that we can to make sure that the virus is contained. Wearing a mask is the best way we can do that. However, some feel that it is an imposition on their “freedom.” Let me offer a couple of arguments that may help. Namely, capitalism and Christian sacrifice.

First, we are all capitalists and want businesses to get back on their feet and reopen as soon as practicable, but it should be clear by now that the way to reopen is to limit the spread of the virus. Putting politics ahead of science has caused us to lose all the advantage we gained from the initial closing of businesses. In short, those who do not wear a mask have put others in danger and out of business. Employees of the stores and shops should not be targets of the wrath of those who feel masks are unnecessary. We must wear shoes and shirts to be served, why not masks? It may be required for a while, but the benefit will be more employment and fewer bankruptcies. If you think this approach is wrong, then take a look at every other advanced economy in the world. They are opening up without difficulty and without the spread of the virus. We are the worst in the world and some seem to be proud of this.

Second, Christians have said that it is better to put the interest of others ahead of your own. Self-sacrifice is the point. Christ was the suffering servant. Not wearing a mask is a supreme act of selfishness. The mask does not protect the wearer as much as it helps protect others by not spreading virus that even asymptomatic wearers may have. It may also be seen on social media that many so-called Christians have been acting very ugly to those suggesting that they wear a mask, even when the local law requires it. Some have come to blows and worse over this simple request. Is the “Love Thy Neighbor” commandment not in effect during a pandemic? What would Jesus do? He would wear as mask. Blessed are the mask wearers for they shall not spread disease.

This is a post by a member of the Stafford County Democratic Committee. This post does not necessarily reflect the views of the Stafford County Democratic Committee, the Democratic Party of Virginia, or the Democratic Party of America.

Muslim Cemetery

By Michael Spragins, Stafford County Democratic Committee Issues Committee Chair

When the Department of Justice, the Free-Lance Star editorial page and the Washington Post editorial page all agree that the Stafford County Board of Supervisors acted improperly, then you know something awfully bad must be afoot. And it is. The facts of what happened are clear and uncontested. The All Muslim Association bought 29 acres off Garrisonville Road in 2016 to be used as a Muslim cemetery. They were assured at the time of purchase by the county that there would be no problem with having a cemetery at that location. Until Crystal Vanuch became involved.

Vanuch, who was a county planning commissioner at the time, lived across the street. She complained to Wendy Mauer, the Board Supervisor in Vanuch’s district. After investigation, the County concluded that a 100-foot separation between the cemetery and water sources was necessary. However, the Board of Supervisors, knowing that the land was to be used as a Muslim cemetery, recommended a 900-foot separation. That effectively blocked the entire parcel from being used as a cemetery. The declaration of a 900-foot separation was entirely arbitrary and evidently was for the sole purpose of keeping the property from being used by the Muslim group. Additionally, Wendy Mauer did not inform the full Board that the County planners only recommended a 100-foot separation.

This entire process smacks of Islamophobia and hypocrisy. The DOJ lawsuit charges a civil rights and constitutional rights violation, and for once the DOJ is absolutely correct. The Stafford Board of Supervisors was made up entirely of Republicans in 2016 and they have shown their true colors with regard to religious discrimination. Republicans do not want a Muslim cemetery in their area simply because the people involved are Muslim. Additionally, they are being hypocritical on the issue of religious freedom. Republicans constantly complain that the expression of religion is being harmed by government action. Well, they fully agree to practice governmental discrimination against Muslims.

The Stafford Board of Supervisor should immediately remedy this injustice and allow the land to be used as a Muslim cemetery.

This is a post by a member of the Stafford County Democratic Committee. This post does not necessarily reflect the views of the Stafford County Democratic Committee, the Democratic Party of Virginia, or the Democratic Party of America.

40 Acres and a Mule

By Richard Coleman, Stafford County Democratic Committee Member

What is “40 acres and a mule” worth, and who is entitled to it? I would guess that most Americans do not recognize the significance of that question. However, many Black Americans recognize it as the reparation promised to slaves after the Civil War. It was promised, not delivered. So does America still owe on that promise, and what is it worth? I believe the worth is not to be measured as a cash value, but should be measured as what “40 acres and a mule” provided.  America in 1865 was a farming society. So, “40 acres and a mule” was considered the basic requirement to be self-sufficient, contributing members of a free society. That provision promised to newly freed slaves in 1865 is still owed to all Americans, and we need to make those payments.

We must ensure that everyone is granted equal treatment and protection under the law, regardless of race, religion or economic status. We must ensure that everyone is granted adequate medical care regardless of the circumstances they find themselves in. We must ensure that everyone is afforded the opportunity for an education that allows them to maximize their potential, regardless of which section of town they live in. In short, we must ensure that everyone is enabled to be a self- sufficient contributing member of a free society. Regardless of the faults of the founders, to be the nation they envisioned we must move past con artists who would deny respect and opportunity for all. No one should sit on the sidelines in November. We must be in the voting booth to put those individuals truly committed to respect and opportunity for all in positions of public leadership.

This is a post by a member of the Stafford County Democratic Committee. This post does not necessarily reflect the views of the Stafford County Democratic Committee, the Democratic Party of Virginia, or the Democratic Party of America.

Republicans and the ACA

By Michael Spragins, Stafford County Democratic Committee Issues Committee Chair

As COVID-19 cases reach new daily highs in places like Arizona, Texas and Florida it is worth reminding ourselves that the White House and the Republican party are still trying to completely eliminate the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In the midst of a pandemic, Republicans are continuing the case at the Supreme Court that would invalidate the ACA.

To remind you, this case was brought initially by a number of Republican Attorneys General at the state level some time ago. The federal Department of Justice joined the suit in favor of destroying the ACA. They argued that Congress, by eliminating the mandate for insurance coverage in the 2017 Republican tax bill, intended for the entire law to be unconstitutional. The case received a favorable hearing before a conservative District Court judge, the Fifth Circuit, a notably conservative circuit in the South, agreed. Now we are at the Supreme Court, which will hear the case in the fall. The federal government filed their brief and basically argued that it was the will of Congress that the ACA be eliminated entirely. That means that every Republican who voted for the tax bill had in mind the additional goal of eliminating the ACA.

If the ACA is destroyed the Republicans have no plan to replace it. Millions will be left without medical insurance coverage in the middle of a worldwide pandemic that is striking the United States with particular severity due to the failure of President Trump and Republican governors to heed warnings about re-opening businesses too soon and their failure to mandate the wearing of masks and social distancing.

If you are unlucky enough to need hospitalization with the novel Coronavirus and need time in an ICU the expense will be staggering. Imagine facing that without any insurance at all. It is likely that the uninsured will never seek medical care for fear of the expense, and they will be more likely to die or spread the virus unwittingly.

Of the many deadly failures of this Republican president and Republicans in Congress and in statehouses as they have faced the pandemic, this may be the deadliest of all. Republicans simply don’t care about your health or whether you live or die. Remember this when it is time to vote.

This is a post by a member of the Stafford County Democratic Committee. This post does not necessarily reflect the views of the Stafford County Democratic Committee, the Democratic Party of Virginia, or the Democratic Party of America.

If we keep up the fight, we can move mountains.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963.Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

By Michael Spragins, Stafford County Democratic Committee Issues Committee Chair

I have been reading the book Strength to Love by Martin Luther King, Jr. The book is a collection of sermons written during and after the bus protests in Montgomery, AL. I started it before the incidents of the last several days, but the sermons are truly relevant for today. It is surprising and shameful that sermons from 65 years ago show how slow progress has been in relations among races.

This past week we have witnessed actions from police that rival the worst that I have ever seen. And my memory goes back more than 50 years. The police could not have done a better job of indicting themselves on charges of systemic racism and excessive force.  We have seen how police have deliberately attacked peaceful protesters, beat up media, used rubber bullets indiscriminately on people standing on the porches of their homes, dragged people from their cars, assaulted an old man on the sidewalk and walked by as he lay bleeding on the pavement. The examples go on ad infinitum from police departments large and small from coast to coast. In many instances police had multiple complaints of abuse in their background but nothing was done. One officer had 79 complaints of excessive force during a three-year period and was still employed. All of this shows a failure of leadership at all levels of law enforcement and of government officials who oversee their police forces.

The protests of the last several days since the death of George Floyd are a part of a grieving process and an expression of outrage. Governments, even in places such as the United States which allow such assemblies, generally detest protest because it highlights the failures of our society and their leadership. But we must have grievance and lamentation before we can move on to the healing process. The failures of our government are legion, and they begin at the very top of our federal government.

A quote from Strength to Love is appropriate here:

All of this reminds us that evil carries the seed of its own destruction. …Evil has a self-defeating quality. It can go a long way, but then it reaches its limit. There is something in this universe that Greek mythology referred to as the goddess of Nemesis.

Change can come about, but only if the current leaders are removed. Protest can be turned into powerful action at the ballot box. If we keep up the fight, we can move mountains.

This is a post by a member of the Stafford County Democratic Committee. This post does not necessarily reflect the views of the Stafford County Democratic Committee, the Democratic Party of Virginia, or the Democratic Party of America.

Leadership is About Forging a Path to a Better Life

Joe Biden (left), former vice president and Democratic presidential front-runner, and Donald Trump, president of the United States
(Los Angeles Times)

By Richard Coleman, Stafford County Democratic Committee Member

While eating breakfast this morning I was reading my local paper. One of the Letters to the Editor was a commentary on the failure of a local medical center. An elderly patient had been to the facility several times in the last few weeks and had made multiple requests to be tested for the Coronavirus. He was not given a test because the staff determined that he did not meet the guidelines for testing. But it turned out that he was infected, and it proved to be fatal. Objectively, we all must accept that, because of limited testing capacity, every medical facility must set a stringent standard for who gets tested.

Later in the afternoon while browsing news articles on various websites, I read a piece on Trump’s decision to speak at the West Point commencement. Like most other colleges, West Point had sent students home, and they were completing course work online. So, to satisfy Trump’s fragile ego, and his need to speak in person to the West Point class of 2020, about 1,000 cadets will be summoned from across the country and tested for the Coronavirus. I wonder how many lives those tests could save if they were available for soldiers living in close quarters of barracks, or in medical facilities facing limited testing capacity. I am sure we do not have to accept a President who puts his ego ahead of the lives of others. Trump seems to think leadership is about standing in front of crowds. In November we must replace him with someone who recognizes that leadership is about forging a path to a better life for everyone.

This is a post by a member of the Stafford County Democratic Committee. This post does not necessarily reflect the views of the Stafford County Democratic Committee, the Democratic Party of Virginia, or the Democratic Party of America.

Federal Help for the States

According to the nonprofit Tax Foundation, many of Republican-leaning states rely more heavily on federal aid that Democratic-leaning states.

By Michael Spragins, Stafford County Democratic Committee Issues Committee Chair

A few years ago, during the 2012 campaign, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney derisively used the terms “makers” and “takers” when referring to people who supposedly added value to the economy and those who depended on welfare or other government aid. Well, President Trump and Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell seem to be using the same idea when they refer to states. State governments are running out of money due to the costs associated with the Coronavirus. They must pay unemployment insurance and other costs while revenues from sales and other taxes are dropping rapidly. States must balance their budgets, while the federal government does not. States have been asking Congress for help to support their citizens, but Trump claims that such help would only go to “poorly run” Democratic-led states. He said, “Why should the people and taxpayers of America be bailing out poorly run states and cities, in all cases Democrat run and managed, when most of the other states are not looking for bailout help?” McConnell claimed that it would be a “Blue State bailout” for places like New York and New Jersey. In other words, Democratic-run states who needed federal funds were “takers” and thus, Republican-run states were the “makers”.

Since Republicans seem to like the “maker” and “taker” terminology, let’s see which states fall into which categories.  It seems that ruby red Kentucky is the greatest “taker” state in the Union. In 2018 Kentucky received more than $148 billion more than it paid in taxes to the federal government. Meanwhile, New York sent $116 billion more to the federal government than it received. New Jersey sent $71 billion more to Washington than it received back. In fact, of the top ten “taker” states, Red Republican states such as Kentucky, West Virginia, Alaska, Mississippi, Alabama, and Maine take six of the spots. Virginia, Maryland and Hawaii are on the list, but their presence is due to the high concentration of federal government installations, contractors and workers in those states.

So, don’t let the overblown rhetoric, and outright lies, of Trump and McConnell blind us to the fact that all states, red and blue, need federal funds to weather the Coronavirus storm. Red states probably even more than blue.

This is a post by a member of the Stafford County Democratic Committee. This post does not necessarily reflect the views of the Stafford County Democratic Committee, the Democratic Party of Virginia, or the Democratic Party of America.