Category Archives: progressive politics

Put On Your Big Girl Panties

   

We have not lived up to the ideals of our democracy. Ever. But there is a beacon that leads us in the direction of justice. Principles that inform our path through history and by which we find our bearings when we get off course.

America is built on the idea of inclusion in a just society. We thrive as new people and cultures add their colors, design, warp and weft, to our tapestry. The Americans with Disabilities act aided citizens with disabilities to more fully participate in families, in the workplace, and in the political arena. The expansion of women’s rights and LGBT rights have all grown our understanding of human worth and dignity

Now our elected officials want to build walls, to isolate us – not only from the world but also from one another. The rights of the most vulnerable are being eroded one law, one amendment, on step at a time. Those who gained protections are losing them. When I was little I was taught that the United States was a melting pot. Later I loved an essay by Norah Roberts who imagined us as a tossed salad. Republicans play into our fears and construct the myth of ‘the other’. They persuade us to distrust immigrants, to disrespect a woman’s right to make reproductive decisions, to openly and sometimes viciously discriminate against the LGBT community, and encourage racism as usual and acceptable, disregarding  the sanctity of black lives and brown lives and native American lives. They fan the flames of distrust and fear. So much so that I cringe when I hear a crowd chanting “USA! USA!” What I hear is: “Us not them! Us not them!”

It’s time  to change the conversation. We don’t need to be in dialogue with those who would destroy our values and vision of a nation whose arc is ‘bent toward justice’.

 It’s time to stop compromising about the lives and deaths of our fellow citizens.

It’s time to get up, gird up, and put on our big girl panties.

We cannot afford to wait and see how things ‘play out’.

We are the majority and we need to assert our power. Even if it is for the first time.

Vote now. Get involved now. Be the change now.

This is not the time to make nice.  It’s time to make policy.

On the bright side…

As angry as I am/have been/probably will be again I can’t leave my last blog hanging out there for a week without making a point of the good stuff. There is much to encourage us about the race for the 6th in Georgia. I see things every day since that give me hope to power on.

Women are on fire! It was amazing to work with and see so many energetic, committed women putting themselves out there every day and every evening for months. We have realized that politics cannot be a spectator sport. Voting is great, putting up a sign is important, giving matters – but it is not enough. And we worked our ‘osses’ off!

We got woke. We became aware of voting issues and committed to work on the issues of racist voter suppression, gerrymandering, and election hacking. We got informed about the efficacy of paper ballots, ballot trails, and the need for election overhaul. Now we’re going to do something about it. We: long time activists like myself, and those who now join us, worked together, made connections, and saw it through.

We took Michelle Obama’s words to heart: when they go low, we go high. We encouraged one another every day in face-to-face confrontation with the opposition ‘going very low’ to ‘go high’. We defined and continue to define ourselves by what we value  .

To paraphrase Hamilton: We are not a Moment, We are a Movement.

 

We are not an Algorithm

I may feel too angry right now to write a blog but there is much to say.  I am not even sure what to keep in and what to leave out. It all started on Tuesday night when, after a hard fought race, Jon Ossoff lost to Karen Handel in the Georgia 6th District race.

I have lots of thoughts about it- the whys and hows of it – and I am sure the race will be dissected ad infinitum by the press and the DNC, both publically and privately. However, we who ran the race – and it was we, not just Jon – may think differently about it and have not been consulted at all.

That’s the problem with the DNC today. As a national party they have lost touch with the local electorate. They have been hands-off in most of the South in local elections for years. Maybe not on national elections but certainly on local ones.

In this election they ran ads that were not approved by the campaign and that had a negative impact. They did not coordinate phone banking so that people around the nation were calling (that’s fine) but without an inkling of the intensive effort by volunteers here in Atlanta. A little coordination would have been helpful. As it was, the DNC’s efforts were clumsy. They participated in making this election a national mandate in a race that is truly local.

If the DNC deigns to involve itself I suggest they follow the lead of the locals. It is not their job to take over nor, I might add, are they very good at it. The arrogance of the national party works against local Democratic interests.

Finally, the question needs to be asked: what motivated 12,000 volunteers (the majority women) to put in countless hours over the past several months? Do you or do you not want to tap into our energy and fire? If so, are you willing to listen to us or would you rather pour over your computer generated data.

We are not an algorithm.

We Are the Resistance

 

          After the Women’s March I came back to Georgia and became a part of the Huddle network. A Huddle is a group of people who participated in the march – either in D.C. or locally – and who want to continue to stand, act, move, make a difference. We are the resistance.

Our most recent effort is to elect Jon Ossoff to the 6th District. Hundreds and hundreds of women have shown up and worked their “osses” off. We have canvassed, phone banked, written personal letters and postcards to voters, and rallied on street corners trying to get out the vote. We showed up at Board of Election meetings and got early voting times and locations expanded. We showed up in courtrooms and for hearings before the Georgia Legislature.

We showed up.

The race is very close. I teeter between the real hope that Jon will be elected as a harbinger of change from our current ‘leadership’ and political direction. And in the deepest night I am afraid he will be defeated and the direction of our nation will continue to careen in the direction it is headed.

But even in those moments I realize that what cannot be stopped is a million women who refuse to give in or give up. A million women who continue to engage the system with intention and energy. Making change doesn’t depend on this one election. It depends on every action of each one of us in all times and all places. No matter what happens tomorrow we have made our connections, found our strength, and will resist with every breath we take.

 

Lady Justice: America’s Wonder Woman

You ever know something – or at least in theory know something – and then find that you hadn’t really grasped the enormity of what you knew?

Okay, that may be too vague so let me get to the point.

I have heard a million times that we are a nation of laws but I’m not sure I ever fully appreciated what that meant. Or how important it is. Or at least that it is a VERY BIG DEAL.

Last week I sat in a courtroom for 8 ½ hours. I observed a case brought by Georgia voters, with the help of a non-profit voter advocacy group, challenging the efficacy of our (Georgia) voting machines. Particularly in how it might affect the outcome of our election in the 6th district.

I learned a lot. I learned a lot about cyber security from amazing and articulate expert witnesses. I learned a lot about electronic voting systems in general. And I heard the deep concern of voters that our votes be tabulated correctly and that we be able to verify our votes. Fascinating.

I listened to opposing arguments about current law, the applicability of old law to electronic systems, about the prohibitive cost of providing paper ballots, training for polling officials, and the problem of what the votes of early voters would mean. I heard the plaintiffs (with whom I clearly identify) rebut with ‘least harm’ if going forward the votes were changed to paper.

I watched the Judge listen, ask probing questions, discuss law and precedence, and run a no nonsense courtroom. And then I went home to join a postcard writing party for Jon Ossoff who is running for Tom Price’s old House seat.

That day and every day since I come back to the majesty of what took place in that county Superior Court. An African-American woman judge ruled on motions with an even hand, asked questions that clarified an argument or exposed it as unreasonable, and expedited a timely concern. The attorneys on both sides, women and men, white and people of color, were prepared, reasoned and courteous.

It reminded me of what it means to our nation that we respect opposing views and have ways for those views to be presented fairly, factually, and even-handedly. It reminded me of the notion that, after vigorous and well-reasoned debate, we work together to find a ‘third way’. We forget that finding a third way takes time and struggle but at least that is the ideal we used to strive for.

We all know our political discourse no longer encompasses mutual respect or even facts. As a national community we no longer subscribe to rules of civil political engagement. Facts and reason are optional. Congress, the body that makes law, used its power to overturn structures aimed at keeping our democracy safe. Like overturning the 60 vote majority rule for the election of Supreme Court justices.

Oh the horrors we have seen from Congress, the current Attorney General, and the election of a Supreme Court justice tied to ‘dark money’. But we haven’t lost it all. Go into a county or state courtroom sometime and watch what happens. You may even come to appreciate what seems to be aggravating ‘points of law’ and see the greater context that they serve.

Our courts, the rule of law, and the idea of justice as the cornerstone of this democracy may be what saves us. I thought I knew what it meant that we are a nation of laws. I never truly grasped how imperative it is that our justice system be the messy, sometimes seemingly unreasonable, shining beacon that returns us over and over to sanity.

By the way, we (meaning the side arguing for paper ballots for this election) lost. It doesn’t take away a smatter of how I feel about the procedure, itself. Like blind justice holding her scales aloft, it was magnificent.

Kathy Griffith, Moral Fiber and the Hard Work of Staying Sane

 Now is the time when every good citizen is called to stretch their moral fiber, to build their moral strength, and to go high when they go low.

It’s hard.

It is difficult to manage fear and anger when all around us we see and suffer from the abuse of power. It is especially difficult when our representatives in the White House and in Congress betray us on a daily basis.

Gut the EPA? Dismantle our education system? Abandon our commitment to civil rights? Reduce veterans’ benefits? Create non-realities based on ‘alternative’ facts?

Really?

All this is in addition to the vile disrespect hurled at both President Obama and Hillary Clinton with impunity. The lynching of effigies, the threats of assassination and hanging by Ted Nugent. Who, when challenged, responded eloquently with “Suck my machine gun.”

WE CAN’T DESCEND TO THAT LEVEL. We being the Dems, the left, the citizenry, and spiritual communities. None of us can afford to allow that sort of discourse to be normal.

I don’t want to live in a world where that kind of talk and action are normalized. Lynching is not okay. Assassination is not okay. Threatening either one is not okay. Neither are machine guns in the hands of the public. Neither is mock beheading.

Kathy Griffith is a funny woman. She went way too far. She expressed vividly and profoundly feelings we struggle with. But we are the gatekeepers of civilization as we know it and we cannot stoop to the level of those whom we oppose or we will become like them and soon there will be no difference between us.

The Scars of Evil

            As a woman and a lesbian I wear the first hand scars of the injury done to my soul by sexism, heterosexism, and the not so subtle message that I am “less than.” I also carry within me secondary scars of evil. As a white person, I the carry the secondary scars of racism, as a non-Jew, the secondary scars of Nazism. As a citizen, the secondary scars of violence. As a human being, the secondary scars of intolerance.

I guess I made that up, secondary scars, or maybe have heard in another context, but what I mean is that I and we carry in our persons the consequences of evil that is done to others. We are not separate from that which is perpetrated on others. We are injured either by our complicity or our compassion, whether conscious or not. It is those scars that make it impossible for me to remain silent.

Godde calls us all to confront evil with love and love seems like an awfully flimsy weapon given the depth of evil we are capable of perpetrating on one another. But the activity of love is justice and Godde enlists human souls to do justice and be justice as the antidote to evil.

– from A Gracious Heresy, by ConnieTuttle

Disprove me. Please.

I was going to reflect on what I have learned in sixty-five years of walking this earth because, well, I know stuff. Maybe I will share with you the few nuggets of wisdom I gathered over time one day. But not today.

Not today, because today our healthcare system is being dismantled. And human compassion is being subjected to bottom line business decisions.

I cannot say this enough, people: the government is NOT a business. It is not meant to be run like a business. The function of government is to assure the health, welfare, and safety of all its citizens. Who thought that a businessman would understand a different kind of bottom line than money? Who truly believed that a businessman would exchange the accumulation of power and money for the welfare of a nation?

#45 doesn’t have a grasp of or acquaintance with history – American or otherwise – the Constitution of the United States, or even of basic human decency. You have seen him on TV being disrespectful of people of color, women, the disabled, and Muslims. If you are surprised when he gets around to disrespecting your rights and your worth then you, my friends, have drunk the kool-aid. It won’t stop at your door. It won’t even stop at the doors of the most white and most wealthy among us.

Power and money are completely self-serving. It has been said, none too often, that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” And no one loves money as much as the Donald. He has and will continue to pander to those who he believes will keep him in power. He has and will continue to pander to people and nations with whom he has vested interests. Even though we have no idea where or how far his business interests lie. We, the people, are not any part of the equation.

Today I write as an elder. Sixty-five years of hard earned wisdom prompts me to stand and march and protest and defy this President with all the passion of a much younger me. The only real difference is that before I believed we would overcome. Now I am afraid we won’t.

Disprove me. Please.

Election Postmortem: You Missed the Point

 

Dear Democratic Party,

I write as a Democrat and a fervent progressive to let you know you have missed the point. Utterly.

When you do a post mortem of Hillary’s campaign you miss the mark often and with impudence. You fail to unpack  the inherent and rampant sexism that contributed toward fear and mistrust of her as a leader. I haven’t heard much said about her nearly 3 million vote majority. You curry Bernie’s favor and ignore the million women who organized and marched. (and continue to organize and march, I would add.)

You miss our passion and our concerns. The system is closed. As Democrats, we need a complete overhaul. We need to listen to women. Empower women. Follow women. You are missing it and missing it badly. I don’t want to split off from the party and I don’t want Bernie. Bernie misses the point, too. He addresses important economic issues but it is done at the expense and without the input of women. He does not speak to or for me.

As you think about our diversity in terms of color and class, as you ponder us as a party with a big table filled with disabled people, people of color, poor people, oppressed people, LGBTQ people, middle class people, immigrants, , and others you have forgotten that 51% of all those categories are women.

I am angry that you use my passion and energy for the political ends of the Democratic party and yet my wisdom, concerns, leadership, and rights are ignored. Court Bernie if you like. Your new constituency will be primarily young white men. And if he is true to form you will be left holding some incongruent bag of entitled members who may or may not support our agenda. The entitlement of young white men is much like the entitlement of old white men. And in the end, women are relegated to the gray vastness of ‘how we can be useful’.

The party needs to get serious about its internalized misogyny. The future of this nation and the entire planet depends on the leadership of women. Find a way to get there with us or move over and we will get it done without you.

Sincerely,

The Reverend Connie L. Tuttle

 

 

 

An Open Letter to My Senators

24 April 2017

Dear Senators Perdue and Isakson,

As I begin this letter several things occur to me. One is, I wonder what comment will be lifted from my many concerns by a staff person or intern so that I receive an automated reply to that particular ‘issue’ rather than to the content of the whole. Secondly, I fear my opinion doesn’t matter if I am not a member of your base. Part of me wants to tell you that I am a mother and grandmother, a senior, a pastor, and white, as if that makes my concerns more legitimate. I wonder if I add that I am also a feminist, a lesbian (NOT the same thing) and a progressive that somehow you could justify ignoring my concerns. However, for the moment, this is still a democracy and I am your constituent.

Perhaps my deepest concern is that we are moving away from being a democracy at a rapid pace. As I list the things that concern me I know I will still miss the scope and magnitude of the perils to our democracy. So here is my first question to you: are you so concerned with the political power of both your party and your elected position that you are willing to sacrifice the core tenants of our constitution? Your actions and lack of action make it hard for me to believe that you are not gleefully sacrificing our sacred principles. I say this because of your lack of concern over Russia’s interference with our election process. I say this because you are willing to kowtow to a dangerous and incompetent president. I say this because of your willingness to govern for the entitled on the backs of the disenfranchised.

Why is it that women, children, people of color, the elderly, the poor, the LGBT community, and others too varied to name suffer so that the richest among us and get richer? Why has industry been given permission to pollute our streams and rivers? All the agencies designed to protect us are being gutted. Shall I name a few? The EPA and the State Department come to mind, and our education system has been hijacked by the Incompetent. You know as sure as your heart beats that a vibrant democracy depends on a well-educated public. Is that what you are going for now? An easily led people? We are no longer the world leader in science and technology – or if we are it won’t be for long. Objective facts no longer factor in to determining policy. Science is dismissed in favor of faith statements. And why is it that you assume science exists in opposition to faith? Or are you pandering to the lowest common denominator? It is beyond my ability to comprehend.

I really want to know why it feels okay to reduce our access to healthcare. I want to know why a living wage is an anathema to you. I want to know if you are okay with this nation becoming an authoritarian kleptocracy. If you aren’t okay with it, what are you going to do about it? And if you are, how do you live with yourself?

Our democracy is one of the greatest social experiments ever conceived but I don’t recognize it any more. Do you?

Sincerely,

The Reverend Connie L. Tuttle