Saturday, September 19, 2020

Saturday Morning Thoughts, with a Few Links

I don't have anything profound to say today. I am sad and I am tired and a part of me wants to just turn inwards, stop caring so much, and find a way to live where all of this is not my problem. But I know that is a false path. As the pandemic has shown, there is no way to guarantee any of this stays "not my problem" and anyway, I just have to look at my children to remember why I need to stay in the fight. 

Reading the news of Ruth Bader Ginsberg's death was like a punch in the gut. I mourn her loss deeply, both because she was a great woman and because of what it means for our country. But it should never have been the case that our future depended on one woman staying alive and in her Supreme Court seat. Perhaps this can be the moment that shakes us up enough to realize that we cannot rely on individual people to be our saviors, whether they are Presidents, Supreme Court justices, or Congressional leaders. Our government is supposed to represent us all, and for that to work we need to look at how we got to where we are and think about what reforms we could enact that would make things more fair, and give the majority who want to deal with the problems we face a chance to do so.

I don't know what the right reforms are. I support making DC a state and giving Puerto Rico a chance to decide if they want to become a state, too, because I think people should have a voice in their government. I support reforms to limit gerrymandering and try to ensure that everyone's vote has equal weight, at least in electing the House. 

Beyond that, I am convincible. I have no great affinity for the electoral college and think those who fear doing away with it would take away rural voters' voices should perhaps come talk to some rural voters in California, whose voices are overwhelmed by those of us in the cities. 

We're clearly going to need to do something about the courts, but I don't know what that is. I am intrigued by the idea of making Supreme Court appointments a limited term, instead of lifetime, to ratchet down the high stakes brinkmanship we saw after Scalia's death and are now going to see again. I can see the merit of those arguing that we should expand the court if McConnell does what he says he will do and votes on Ginsberg's replacement while voting has already started, when he wouldn't even give Merrick Garland a hearing, but I suspect that option is just going to politicize the court further.

So I don't know what we should do right now, except - don't give up. I have seen a lot of people confidently stating what Ginsberg's death will mean to the election, to various precedents, and to things like abortion rights. But we don't know what the ultimate outcome will be, and so I think we just have to do the next right thing, to, uh, quote Frozen II. 

For me that is fighting hard to win the 2020 Presidential election, and win as many down ballot races as possible. I don't know how we fix the mess we're in, but I know we don't even get to try if we don't kick out Trump and the people who turned a blind eye to his corruption and anti-democratic behavior.

So here is what I'm doing today: continuing to write for Vote Forward. I think this weekend, I will also start writing postcards again with Postcards to Voters. There are active campaigns to help win down ballot races.

I am going to redirect some of my giving to political campaigns again. We'd been focusing on donations to help people in need due to the pandemic. We need to sit down and figure out the balance we think is right, but I decided to start by sending some money to Mike Espy, who is polling surprisingly well in Mississippi (better than McGrath polls in Kentucky...)

I will think on where to donate next. Possibly to Vote Save America's "Get Mitch" campaign, because we need to flip the Senate. Possibly to Pinboard's Great Slate, because I like the idea of investing in down ballot races that can help move some Senate races, too, and I think we need to fight everywhere. I like the idea of helping to pay off fines and fees for ex-felons in Florida, so that they can regain their full rights as citizens, including their right to vote.

I don't think we all have to agree on what the next right thing is, but I hope we can all agree that we should figure out what we think it is and do it. 

That's where I'm at this morning.

Here are some of the links I wanted to share with you:

If you haven't listened to Olivia Troye yet, here is the video:

She is a mid-career, lifelong Republican with everything to lose by speaking up. I doubt I agree with her on many issues, but I appreciate her service and am  impressed by her courage and integrity in speaking up. I hope she has a good team around her to buffer her from the inevitable reaction. I wish some of the men who have served in the Trump administration, are now at the end of the careers, and have less to lose would show some similar courage and speak up now.

I put off listening to Ezra Klein's interview with epidemiologist Julia Marcus about how to think about coronavirus risk. I am tired of thinking about coronavirus so much! But I am glad I finally listened to this podcast. She has a good way of framing the decisions we are all having to make, some insightful things to say about why it is such a failure that these decisions are all being pushed down to us as individuals, and a really good point about how we tend to turn fear into anger, and how that is counterproductive. I think some folks in San Diego would be well-served by thinking about that last point, as we face falling back into the most restrictive tier due to an outbreak among students at SDSU

Another thing I listened to this week that I really liked: Krista Tippett's interview with Rev. angel Kyodo williams about keeping hope alive in 2020 (and more - it is a really good conversation, and after I finished it, I went and re-listened to their 2018 conversation, too.)

Some things that made me happy this week:

I posted a new Where in the World quiz on Adjusted Latitudes. I am continuing my strategy of browsing old vacation photos to make me feel happier.

This picture:

And here's your weekly bunny:

I have a long list of things to do, and a desire to spend some time in my hammock now that the air is better... so I am going to end here. Don't give up hope. The fight is not over. 

Have a good weekend, everyone!


  1. Anonymous1:58 PM


  2. Doing postcards to voters now...

    I really appreciate these weekly updates of yours.

  3. Ann B9:14 AM

    I've been reading your writing for more than six years: so, thank you for your writing!

    I check every weekend for your weekend reading post.

    Greetings from Camrbidge, UK

  4. I think it's really interesting that you suggested talking to rural voters in California. From my perspective, those are the voters who most wanted California to split into three states, so their voices would count. In my opinion, California is an excellent reminder why we need the electoral college--the cities overwhelm the rural areas, leading to policies that don't reflect the needs of areas that provide essential services (food!) but don't have the same population density.
    I'm all for making Puerto Rico a state, and offering the same opportunity to Guam and other protectorates. Ideally, we would have many more members of the house of representatives too so there would be more representation.

    1. I don't quite follow your argument - the Electoral College makes it so that there is no reason for any Presidential candidate to try to appeal to rural California voters, because all the EC votes will go to the winner of the state, and that will almost certainly be determined by the far more populous urban areas. Unless you are counting on the rural voters in states like Wyoming and Idaho to represent rural Californian interests, I genuinely think that Electoral College is not doing anything to help rural California voters have their concerns heard.

    2. I thought it was an analogy-- rural voters aren't heard in California legislature because CA doesn't have an electoral system for itself?

      But... that's not true. CA is all about its agricultural districts. Just look at how water is handled!

  5. I'm a week late but thanks for this post. It's easy to let the heartache push us into apathy and ostriching. But actions will help and it's important to keep fighting.


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