The Final Debate

NOTE: this post was originally published at MSNBC.COM on 10/22/12.

The final debate for the 2012 presidential election will focus on foreign policy, a policy arena former Governor Romney has little experience in yet one in which President Obama after almost four years has plenty.

Let’s not forget that one of then-Senator Obama’s weaknesses in seeking the presidency was his lack of foreign policy credentials. Picking then-Senator Joe Biden, former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, was widely seen as a move to stem that criticism and it worked. Couple that pick with his near decimation of Al Qaeda and his killing of Osama bin Laden, and you’d think he would be untouchable.

Last week Romney blundered his chance at a home run when the President laid a neatly concealed trap on Libya and Romney stumbled right into it. It was jaw-dropping. This week both men will need to be able to explain to the American people why he’s going to be the better Commander-in-Chief and chief diplomat for the USA. Both men have tall orders ahead of them.

I’ll be listening for the following:

1) Will Obama continue to be strong on the Libya situation and specifically will Romney be able to find an open window somewhere in that topic to attack? I’m not sure after last week.

2) Will Obama specifically lay out how he’s going to reshape our military and foreign policy while ending the war in Afghanistan?

3) Will Romney just spew out more Bush neocon gibberish about being strong abroad i.e. code for war when convenient but not when necessary?

4) Will Romney be able to pivot back to the economy, as his advisors continue to say he will do tonight?

Both men have a hell of a lot riding on this last debate and frankly it’s Obama’s to lose.

He must, I repeat, must come across as the man capable of leading this country another four years both abroad and at home. That’s what the narrow sliver of the undecided electorate needs to see tonight. That’s what he must do because if he doesn’t, the growing sentiment that Romney is a plausible alternative could take hold. With two weeks to go, the President has no room for mistakes.

I’ll be live tweeting from @jimmyspolitics with my MSNBC colleague @goldietaylor so follow us there or at msnbc’s facebook page. See you afterwards with “The Final Debate: Part Deux”.

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Binders Full of Women?

NOTE: this column was originally published at MSNBC.COM on 10/17/12.

Ok, so you know how you hear something and you have to do a double-take?

Well, that’s how I felt at the beginning, middle and conclusion of this debate…literally stunned. And probably not for the reasons you think.

A few weeks ago I was sitting in the Green Room at CNBC in New Jersey with Jennifer Rubin, the right-wing Op-Ed columnist with the Washington Post. This was right after the Libya tragedy had taken place and we were both talking about the “political sea legs” of it.

While it was early in this tragic story, we both thought it could turn out badly for President Obama and for the last few weeks, Jennifer was right.

Until tonight.

Clearly the President was ready to tackle this issue tonight and he just waited for Governor Romney to bring it up. It was, in two words, a game changer. “Get the transcript” was as calculated and disarming as anything I’ve ever seen in a debate in my adult life. It was like watching Romney walk up to the President and let him slap him across the face in Nassau County, NY. Stunning.

Prior to that part of the debate, I was prepared to say Obama was back “on his game.” He executed a new debate plan and almost to a person, every Republican I’ve talked to post-debate says Obama handed Romney his lunch. After that exchange, there was simply no turning back for Obama.

All of that is fine for the Democratic base but did President Obama do what I wanted him to do? I wanted him to lay out his vision for the next four years to the women in this country and correct Romney when needed. He absolutely succeeded on the latter and mostly succeeded on the former.

The President also lucked into something remarkable: “Binders Full of Women.”

When Governor Romney said he had “binders full of women” for cabinet positions as the chief executive of Massachusetts, my jaw dropped to the floor. Ten years from tonight, when we are playing the historical gaffes of debates, this will be included. It was insensitive, it was callous, it was a turn-off to those very same women I speak of above. It was certainly offensive to me.

The immigration portion of the debate was fantastic. It laid out two very different visions for a subject that matters to many American, both Latino and not. Sadly, we are now three debates down with one left to go and the issue of gay civil rights has yet to be broached.

This is a sad statement, considering the next debate will focus exclusively on foreign relations and the chances of civil rights won’t come up.
I called on the President to have that “gut check moment” and he did it. His appeal to women was widespread and he showed empathy, especially when talking about his grandmother, mother and daughters.

Now let’s see what the polls do. My gut tells me Obama will edge up in Virginia, Ohio and Iowa. If that happens and he holds those three important states, he will be re-elected as the next President of the United States in exactly 20 days. And 20 days in a campaign is a lifetime.

On to the debate in Florida!

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Presidential Debate Part Deux

NOTE: this column originally appeared at MSNBC.COM on 10/16/12

As the second debate gets underway between Republican nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama, I’ve been thinking a lot about what Obama needs to do coming off his last debate debacle, and a couple of ideas flooded into my aging, 45-year old brain.

First and foremost, one-half of this country’s voters simply will not vote for Obama, no matter what he says or does. I’ve been in politics for over 20 years now, and I’ve never seen such hatred for the man holding the top job in our country. The impeachment of former President Bill Clinton looks like child’s play compared to the hatred people have for Obama. It doesn’t matter if it’s deserved or not; the Obama campaign has to acknowledge this fact between now and November 6th.

Second, who’s left over then? Who are the voters the President must get and where do they live? What we know is many of those voters are women ages 30-50. These are white suburban women, mostly; the traditional soccer moms, that choice part of the electorate all candidates must claim in order to hold elected office.

So now that we know women rule the world (Why did it take me this long to figure this out?) and it’s women that will put one of these two men over that Electoral College goal of 270 electoral votes, what do they want to hear? And that leads me to what Barack Obama must say to them tonight.

Women have long memories, and they remember where they were exactly four years ago. They remember the headlines: CNN/Money’s ”Jobs Lost in 2008: 1.2 million; BBC News; “More US workers lost jobs in 2008 than in any year since Word War II”; the New York Times’ ”159,000 Jobs Lost in September, the Worst Month in Five Years.” Talk about doom and gloom.

That was the picture then. So what are today’s headlines? CNN/Money reports, ”Amazon to Hire 50,000 Seasonal Workers”; the New York Times adds, “Drop in Jobless Figure Gives Jolt to Race for President”; the Washington Post says,”The Numbers: 114,000 Jobs Created, 7.8 Percent Unemployment.” Talk about a turn around.

But there’s a problem with these headlines: they’re not enough. They’re good, they’re positive, and they’re pointing in the right direction. But tonight, President Obama has to have a gut check moment, reach into the very core of his being, and tell these women what he’s going to do for the next four years. We all know how bad the last four years have been. Women know better than men.  What we don’t know, what these women don’t know, is precisely what the President is going to do to make them and their families better off in the next month, the next year, and the next four years. Will he commit to rebuilding their children’s aging and crumbling schools? Will he spell out precisely how he’ll make the costs of college tuition more affordable? Will he talk about their privacy, or what happens to them when they’re sitting in their doctor’s office while politicians are deciding how they should live their lives? Will he talk about how he’s going to make sure their taxes don’t go up while he’s president?

That’s the Obama we must see, hear, and feel tonight. He must focus like a laser on these women.  It’s what Reagan did; he made them feel good about America. It’s what Clinton did; he reassured them. It’s what Bush Jr.; he made them feel safe in those critical first years after 9/11.  And yes, Obama must correct the record—specifically former Governor Romney’s record. The president can walk and chew gum at the same time. I mean, he gave the order to kill Osama bin Laden and made a room of political types laugh at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner all within 24 hours of each other.

We know President Obama has nerves of steel. The question is: can he show compassion and empathy with the women of this country? If he does that, he wins. If not…

So, here we go. It’s you, me and 50 million-plus other Americans tuning in to watch two men lay out their very different visions for America. I’ll watch with an open mind and then, afterwards, write the second part of this column.  I’ll also be tweeting under @jimmyspolitics throughout the debate, so watch for my gut checks.

Posted on by jimmy in Presidential Comments Off on Presidential Debate Part Deux

Romney’s Constant Flip-Flopping

NOTE: this post was originally written for & published by MSNBC.COM on 10/23/12

Well, it’s all over but the voting.

Tonight’s debate was clearly won by the President of the United States. While he came out swinging a little too hard in the first five minutes, Obama had an unabashed mastery of the points he wanted to make and he made them forcefully. Governor Romney was also holding back; the look on his face was “pained.”

I’m left with one main takeaway from tonight’s debate: Obama reminded every voter watching tonight that Romney changes his positions wantonly. The biggest doozy of the night came when Romney switched positions on the 2014 deadline for our Afghanistan withdrawal.  This is news, folks. His VP running mate said the same thing but left the door open to staying longer. Tonight, Romney shut that door. He did the same on how he would’ve handled former Egyptian President Mubarak. Time and time again, the President reminded America that Romney will say anything to get elected, even if it’s the exact opposite position he took just a few weeks ago.

Libya didn’t play a huge part of the debate tonight but the two visions of what our military should look like did, and what each man described were two very different American militaries.

“Horses and bayonets” may get the most post-debate play, and it should. Romney wants to build more ships and submarines. I suppose by spending trillions of dollars for boats we don’t need is the new way of scaring the hell out of Russia. Problem is: this ain’t a Tom Clancy novel. This is modern warfare and thinking like a Cold Warrior doesn’t make the Cold War come back. Obama was very strong here—”the 1980′s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back,” he quipped—and provided a stark difference between himself and his opponent.

While I thought the Governor would go “Neocon” on us tonight, he did exactly the opposite. In fact, he agreed with President Obama often, and I’m sure John Bolton’s mustache is turning grey as I write.

Somehow, some way, both candidates did seem (to Bob Schieffer’s consternation) to pivot back to the economy on a regular basis. And once again, Obama did a back-of-the-envelope math quiz and he hammered Romney’s math. Simply put, you can’t increase the Pentagon’s budget by $2 trillion without paying for it, nor can you take the Bush tax cuts and cut them 20% more without paying for them without ballooning the deficit. This is a fact. Just saying “Well of course you can” doesn’t make it so.

It was almost like Romney was sinking into his chair as the night wore on.  President Obama hammered the “my opponent is lying” nail into Romney’s coffin. Will it be enough? Will it play in Ohio, Iowa, and Nevada? If it does, Obama is reelected. If not, well I’d prefer not to think about that possibility. We’ll know in two weeks.

In the meantime, watch closely as the Obama campaign keeps hammering Romney’s character.  It’s how he’ll win.

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Narrow Justice

Justice has been served.

Today a judge in Pennsylvania sentenced former Penn State University Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky to 30 to 60 years in prison for sexually abusing 10 boys over the course of his career. The picture above is that of a monster and he will rot in jail until God takes him from this earth.

As a victim of sexual abuse  many years ago, this day couldn’t have come soon enough. It was just under a year ago that I took a leap of faith and revealed on MSNBC that I too had been through the same thing those 10 boys had gone through. I said at the the time that I allowed the abuse to happen over a number of years and never took steps to stop it until I reached an age where I knew what my abuser was doing was morally wrong. I stand by that statement and am not ashamed of what happened to me nor am I ashamed that I let it happen to me. It’s a part of my life and while it was tragic and hurtful, I forgave that evil man many years ago and put his fate in God’s hands.

Jerry Sandusky’s fate is now determined. He will never walk out of a prison as a free man again. Judge John Cleland said “The crime is not only what you did to their bodies but to their psyches and their souls and the assault to the well-being of the larger community in which we all live.” Cleland is right on, specifically about the “larger community” where this type of grotesque behavior happens daily.

It begs the question: had Sandusky not been such a prominent figure within the Penn State family, would his actions have caused the amount of publicity they did? Probably not. And that’s the triumph and the tragedy that we have to realize. Countless kids are abused every single day and yet no one speaks up. That’s the tragedy. The triumph is that because of Sandusky’s fame, thousands of watchful eyes will be turned on in our locker rooms, in our parish halls, in our school corridors.

Sandusky’s victims may now move on. Some of them will and some of them won’t. I don’t judge them either way. Instead, I think of how I handled my own abuse and how it affects me in the future. I’m not sure of the answer to that except to say that I don’t think about the man that violated me everyday. He didn’t make me a gay man and he doesn’t play a significant role in my life today as a 45-year old grown man. But if this sort of thing could happen to me, I fear the spotlight will fade and that it will keep happening to our children.

And that’s why today, justice has been served in a narrow sense. Today we close the door on Sandusky. Today we cannot close the door on this national tragedy. If we do, there will be thousands more Sandusky’s and that’s even more tragic.

Posted on by jimmy in Equal Rights Comments Off on Narrow Justice

Playing By a Different Set of Rules?

I’ve been stewing for months now over this issue of whether half the country does or doesn’t pay income taxes. A few weeks ago, my old Senate colleague “Mac,” emailed me in complete frustration over this debate. We went back and forth and both agreed that there needed to be a simpler way of explaining the “taxing” of America. So I’ve been trying desperately to find the best way to write about this when lo and behold, Governor Romney’s recent statements about the American taxpayer came to light and lit a fire underneath my, well, you get the point.

The basics of taxes are simple: while most workers pay payroll taxes (up to a certain percentage of their salary), not all Americans pay net taxes. Almost all Americans pay income taxes throughout the year but when it comes to that dreaded April filing deadline, nearly half the country qualifies for deductions or exemptions that negate their income tax liability. So while they pay their taxes upfront (check your paystub, you’ll find them), most Americans get refunds.

This presidential campaign seems to be a philosophical war between the “have’s” and the “have nots.” It was less than a year ago the country was abuzz over the 99% vs. the 1%. The GOP was decrying class warfare and the Democrats were calling the GOP cold-hearted and mean. I, for one, was desperately trying to tune it all out. Until today.

Today, my friend David Corn, Washington Bureau Chief at Mother Jones, reported that Governor Romney has been caught saying he didn’t care about the 4 7% of Americans who don’t pay taxes. I’m unnerved by this video but not because he said “half the country doesn’t pay taxes.” My problem with this video is that Romney has written off half the country. He makes it clear, pointedly clear, that this 47% of Americans aren’t going to vote for him, that they’ll never vote for him.

This isn’t a smart move, especially from a politician. This isn’t a smart move from a man who most likely pays NO payroll taxes because he doesn’t have earned income (while just about every other working American does). This isn’t a smart move from a man who admittedly pays only 13% in income taxes on investments (when the top rate on “work” is 35%). Simply put, what Governor Romney has said is offensive and I frankly don’t think he can recover from it.

The reason this “revelation” is so shocking is because it’s finally crystallized that Governor Romney has no clue who his audience even is. The smart folks over at The Tax Foundation have published a ton of great data but this map shows precisely where that 47% of Americans Romney thinks are freeloaders live

The states with the highest number of “freeloaders” are in red. Only one of them, New Mexico, seems to be in play for President Obama. All the rest are solid GOP states. Solid GOP states that Governor Romney seems to think are freeloaders, are slackers, are living off the government, are “entitled,” to use his exact words.

This is frustrating for me because I don’t live in a world where success is castigated or looked down upon nor do I live in a world where Americans who need a helping hand are government leeches. I, for one, applaud success. What frustrates me here is the hypocrisy coming from candidate Romney. In a closed-door fundraiser, he berates the very voters that love him (see the red states above). He hides his tax returns yet tells us that he pays 13% and demands years of tax returns from his Vice Presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (WI). What’s worse, that he won’t show his returns, that he pays on average less than most Americans pay in taxes, or that he holds his running mate to a different standard than he does himself? This is insulting.

It just seems that Governor Romney seems to be playing by a different set of rules than most Americans. This double-standard is what made “Mac” so upset and should make most Americans upset. For me, it’s simply insulting.

Posted on by jimmy in Congress, Presidential 1 Comment

Is Gov. Romney Responsible for a Woman’s Death?

We’re clearly only a few months away from a presidential election, the latest indicator being the onslaught of negative advertisements coming from each presidential camp. By most accounts, it’s just getting nastier and nastier by the hour. Both sides of the aisle have dirt under their fingernails and the latest ad comes from my friends on the Democratic side of the aisle.

While this ad isn’t surprising, it troubles me.  The message here is that Mitt Romney’s actions at Bain Capital were responsible for a woman’s death from cancer. Nothing is farther from the truth and even the White House/Obama campaign have distanced themselves from it. David Axelrod on Morning Joe was clear: “no one should or could blame Governor Romney for the death of that guy’s wife.” To be clear, this ad ran only on Youtube and aired once I believe on TV before it was pulled down.

Both campaigns and/or their surrogates are spewing false ads on TV, radio, in print, etc. False ads aren’t some sort of new political invention. It just seems to me that the brazenness employed by both sides of the aisle is getting out of hand this cycle. Take for example the TV ad the Romney campaign is running, claiming President Obama cut $716 Billion from Medicare. While it is true he used part of those cuts to pay for “Obamacare,” he also uses part of those savings taken directly from medical providers, NOT Medicare recipients, to pay for preventative care. At no point does Obama cut Medicare benefits. What’s worse is  the Romney campaign leaves out that the Ryan budget did EXACTLY THE SAME THING. The hypocrisy is beyond belief.

Bottom line: both ads are pure unadulterated lies. I suppose it might be a tad bit naive to think that you just can’t lie on tv like that. But yes, that would take naivety to a whole new level, something I’m not prepared to do. Nor should I, for that matter, since I’m a part of the media now.

I’ve said time and time again on tv that what the American people crave right now, what they’re thirsty for, is authenticity, for someone to just tell them the truth. One of the reasons the Obama campaign from 2008 inspired so many people was because of his positive message of hope and change. I supported  President Obama then and support him now but he and his staff were naive to think they could “change” Washington, DC in four short years. I’m reminded of President Carter’s same promise. He, too, failed miserably. And so the GOP talking point, or better yet laughing point, today is “keep the change.”

What I don’t want nor do I expect for the President’s campaign or its surrogates is to engage in the same dirty tricks as the other side of the aisle. Do I expect them to fight back, to counterattack? Of course! Sen. John Kerry’s people will tell you to this day that taking the high road in 2004 instead of attacking the Swift Boat ads was a mistake and probably cost them the election.

It’s one thing to counterattack. It’s another thing to smear the other side with lies. Burton and companies advertisement is dirty and it’s wrong. It is, in a word, a lie. I for one don’t believe there’s nothing the Obama campaign can do to stop these types of things. And I suppose there’s a difference between a campaign lying (like Romney is doing) versus a Super Pac lying (like Burton’s group is doing). In the end though, both stink to high heaven. It’s no wonder tv-watching America can find their “Mute” button without even batting an eye.


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Romney vs. Ryan

I’ve been asked over and over again for my opinion on Governor Romney’s vice presidential pick of Representative Paul Ryan (WI). Ryan is, if anything, authentic. And that’s a HUGE problem for Romney.

Listen, Ryan is a smart guy. He’s a serious policymaker and he has proposed serious policy positions, many of which I’ve legitimately disagreed with. Ryan has gone places where most Members of Congress would never go and I respect that. There are some votes where I’ve agreed with him, specifically his vote in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. And there are plenty of votes where I’ve disagreed with him, including his vote in favor of Medicare Part D (because it wasn’t paid for and added trillions of dollars to our national debt), his vote against my marriage equality, and obviously I disagree with much of what’s in his proposed budgets. But again, Ryan actually believes what he’s proposing. I’m going back and looking at his record and I can’t find a single time where he’s flipflopped on a single policy position.

I don’t need to rehash Governor Romney’s habitual flipflopping. That’s widely-reported but now his inability to come up with a single position and then stick with it is under even more scrutiny because of his running mate’s record. By picking Ryan, Romney has inadvertently turned the spotlight directly back on himself. The contract between the two couldn’t be more stark. Romney will say anything to be elected POTUS and Ryan doesn’t shy away from anything.

Simply put, Ryan has a core and Romney doesn’t. That’s harsh. That’s tough. But it’s fair. By choosing Ryan, Romney has exposed his ultimate wound. He’s shown he’s the Stepford husband of the pair. There was plenty of me to agree with when Romney was the Governor of Massachusetts, yet very little of me to agree with as the eternal “conservative” candidate for the presidency. He’s devolved in his positions whereas Ryan picks a position and sticks with it.

I’m of the school of thought that most Americans just want someone who’s authentic to lead this country in these troubled times. In 2008, most Americans thought that was going to be then-Senator Barack Obama. Then the reality of Washington slapped him square across the face with its ugly partisan hand.

Four years later, the country is being asked to make a decision: pick a man who lacks a core or a pick a man who’s been schooled as a sitting President. It’s a “choice” election and Ryan’s pick I think will backfire on Romney and hand the Democrats the White House for four more years. We’ll see in exactly 86 days.

Posted on by jimmy in Congress, Equal Rights, House, Presidential 1 Comment

Washington Makes a Deal: a Bad Deal

Yesterday, House Speaker Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Reid announced that they had reached a six-month, short term agreement that would avert a government shutdown on October 1, 2012.  At first glance, it seems we finally have some good news coming from Washington, DC.  But if you look at this deal more closely, Congress has done nothing more than kick the can down the road.

Congress’ job is to pass legislation for the good of the country and keep the government open at spending levels the nation can afford.  Sadly, they have failed to do both.  Blame can be attributed to both political parties but the so-called “Tea Party” and the recession have made this normal routine of passing spending bills almost impossible.  Partisanship has reached unprecedented levels in the last three and a half years and for proof look no farther than the record number of filibusters by the Senate’s GOP in this Congress.  Never before in American history have we seen more legislation filibustered than we see today.

So while we may think the agreement reached by the leaders of both Chambers is a good thing, the reality is Congress is shirking its responsibilities at a time when the American people and American businesses both want and expect them do their jobs.  These spending bills touch almost every aspect of American society: our defense, our diplomacy abroad, our healthcare system, our schools and our hospitals.  That’s what is in these spending bills and that’s where our tax payer dollars go.

 You may recall last summer House Republicans took the nation to the brink of disaster by demanding draconian cuts and a possible default on our national debt. This disaster was averted at the very last minute when both houses of Congress and President Obama agreed to reduce the national debt by putting in place what is known as sequestration.  Those cuts will take effect at the beginning of 2013.  In addition, the Bush tax cuts from 2001 and 2003 will all expire on December 31, 2012.  So while most Americans don’t have a clue what their tax rates will be in five months, Congress has decided to put itself on autopilot for the next six months. No profiles in courage here.

While this is a smart political bill, the only people that this agreement helps are those who work under the Capitol dome.  I suppose getting any kind of agreement is good news these days but it seems as if we have to swallow yet another bitter pill coming from Washington, DC.

Note: this column was originally published on MSNBC’s Lean Forward blog.

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Rural vs. Urban: Who Has it Right?

Not that you care but I wake up between 5:30-6:30am most everyday. My routine’s simple and straightforward: 

1) convince the hound to wake up so I can make his, I mean MY, bed

2) hit the “head”

3) take the myriad pills my doctor forces me to ingest since I’m officially falling apart and

4) grab my Iphone to make sure the world hasn’t “blown up” on Facebook or Twitter while I let the dog out so he, too, can “hit the head.” Fair’s fair right?

It’s my last step in waking up where I usually get “my fix” of useless drivel posted on the Internet that makes the process of morning coffee amusing. Some of my favorites are “Should I add these over ripe bananas to my breakfast cereal or should I make banana bread?” or “Traffic blows today!” or “Why isn’t Matt Lauer on tv today?”. Yes America, this is the crap you write for the entire world to see that adds absolutely nothing to the national dialogue.

Then this morning, something amazing happened: one of my Facebook friends actually vented about how the District of Columbia can’t seem to pick up his trash with any regularity. Normally I’d just keep scrolling down to another banal thought but I began to think back on my time when I rented on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC and realized how right my friend Matt was.

And that’s when it struck me (sans coffee): things haven’t changed much since I bought my little log cabin in the mountains.

Washington, DC is actually a small city of only 618,000 residents, none of whom have meaningful representation in Congress but pay one of the highest local tax rates in the entire country. DC residents have the right to vote yet their votes don’t count towards electing our President. They don’t have two Senators like Wyoming, a state with nearly 50,000 fewer residents. Bottom line: DC is the physical seat of power for our country yet its residents are treated like second class citizens. Part of this is Congress’ fault but frankly (and here’s where  my DC friends will get ticked off at me) most of the blame belongs to DC itself.


What is it about a major metropolitan area not getting the basics down? Snow removal, trash pickup, pot holes: the list is endless. I guess when  you have hundreds of thousands of people in cars/buses/trucks using you everyday, you’d have pot holes too. But   trash pickup? I mean, that’s about as simple as it gets right? It just seems small towns and rural communities get it right most of the time, even in a time when state and local budgets are smaller and making do with less. Perhaps it’s just that the people in smaller communities rely on each other more so than larger, more metropolitan areas.

I think this is why I continue to be so saddened and disappointed in the District of Columbia. Nothing has changed since I left her. I mean after eight years, they can’t even get trash pickup right? I’m not sorry to say that’s just plain pathetic. Other major metropolitan areas have some of the same basic problems as DC (namely Detroit, MI) yet others are well-run. I’ve written about the beauty of working in New York City. It gives you everything you want, when you want it, from Central Park to the subway to Broadway to Wall Street. And yes sometimes it gives you things you don’t want: murder, thievery, and endless traffic jams.

I’m lucky that I’m allowed the dichotomy of living two lives: one in a bustling, pulsing big city and the other in a large mountainous county of a mere 7,000 residents. I’m struck by the similarities: we have murder albeit on a smaller scale. We have thievery as well. And we definitely have traffic jams, especially when it’s harvest time and we get stuck behind a huge tractor for miles and miles of non-passable country roads.

Here’s the difference though. The county where I live, there is no trash pickup. Hell, we don’t even have stoplights. Our police force and public schools are paid for from my county taxes but most everything else is volunteer. I traded a life in the District of Columbia where public services were sporadic at best and the cost-of-living was twice as much for where I live now. I traded a life in the city of “easy and accessible” for a rural life  of “get in my car and drive” for even the most basic things. I get my city fix pretty much every week when I go to New York for work but then I get on that plane and head back to the land of lightning bugs and blue-ridged mountains.

To be honest, it’s worth it for me to drive my trash to the local dump where I can talk to the old crusty dudes that have worked there for decades about the lack of rain. It’s worth it for me to walk to the top of my property and look out at Battle Mountain and then look back at my little log cabin built in 1729 in sheer wonderment. And it’s worth it for me to stand in my kitchen with my french pressed coffee, reading inane Facebook posts because every so often, one just jumps out at me and reminds me that we rednecks out in the country can get it right too.

My rural vote counts, as it should for every American. It just seems to me that if we can get even the simplest services right in BFE (and you know what that stands for), then the District of Columbia should be able to get it right too. Until they can even get the basics down pat, then I’m not ready to say our nation’s capitol should become a state and have the same rights as my little county or New York. I mean, if you can’t do only the basics, then how the hell can you manage the major stuff right?

It’s time for Washington, D.C. to figure it out. It’s past time actually. And in the meantime, its residents will continue to suffer and be denied the one thing that makes us such a beautiful democracy: a vote that counts. How un-American.

Posted on by jimmy in Congress 1 Comment