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“A nation that isn't broken, but simply unfinished.”
May 25, 2023
Eighteen days after the January 6th attack, twenty-two-year-old Amanda Gorman stood on the recently embattled steps of the Capitol. The eyes of the world upon her. In a moment of grace and healing, the young poet addressed the nation’s fresh wounds and uncertain future. She said:
We've braved the belly of the beast,
we've learned that quiet isn't always peace.
And the norms and notions of what just is
isn't always justice.
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it,
somehow we do it. Somehow we've weathered
and witnessed a nation that isn't broken, but simply unfinished.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
that even as we grieved, we grew;
that even as we hurt, we hoped;
that even as we tired, we tried;
that we'll forever be tied together victorious,
not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division.
The full text of Amanda Gorman’s poem is here: The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman (poetry.com). A video of Amanda reciting her poem at the Inauguration is here: 'The Hill We Climb' - YouTube. The poem is now available in book form at your local independent bookstore (which can be located at IndieBound.org).
Two days before Ron DeSantis announced his bid for the presidency, a school parent in Miami-Dade, Florida, filed a one-page form alleging that “The Hill We Climb” is “not educational" and contains "hate messages." It is doubtful that the complaining parent read the poem. The parent incorrectly claimed that The Hill We Climb was written by Oprah Winfrey. But under the fascist scheme established by Ron DeSantis, the ignorant and spiteful allegation of a single parent is sufficient to banish a book to the purgatory of endless “reviews” by the “Florida Thought Police.”
That is the Florida that Ron DeSantis has created. And that is the America he seeks to create. DeSantis’s campaign merchandise touts that he will “Make America Florida.” Most Americans do not want their states to resemble the hellish landscape that DeSantis envisions for Florida—or America.
It takes effort to recall the damage and division that DeSantis has sowed in Florida. Fortunately, the Washington Post reminded us of that carnage on the day of his announcement. See Washington Post, 10 things to know about Ron DeSantis as he joins 2024 presidential race. (This article is accessible to everyone.)
Democracy Docket has published a review of DeSantis’s anti-democratic voter legislation. See Democracy Docket, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Record on Voting Rights.
DeSantis’s abortion policies are so extreme that he tries to avoid discussing abortion when appearing before supporters. See NYTimes, DeSantis Avoids Talk of Abortion Ban on the Trail. (“On the trail, his remarks about the ban are usually limited to a single line in his roughly 45-minute stump speech.”)
DeSantis’s campaign launch on Twitter with Elon Musk was so bad that it became a joke and internet meme before the event ended. The “live” event on Twitter was “audio only” in an age when video dominates. Even then, the audio repeatedly dropped and froze, causing Musk to bail on the original event and open a “new” Twitter space to host the event. #DeSaster went viral before Musk mercifully ended the debacle. See Forbes, ‘#DeSaster’: DeSantis Roasted Over Botched Twitter Campaign Launch—By Trump, Biden And Others.
Worse, a DeSantis supporter published an op-ed in the NYTimes entitled, Not Dead Yet. As fans of Monty Python immediately recognized, the reference to “Not Dead Yet” is an unfortunate allusion to someone who has a very short life expectancy (measured in minutes). If that is the best his supporters can say in defense of DeSantis, his campaign will be short-lived.
While DeSantis invites mockery and derision in nearly everything he does, his candidacy is no laughing matter. He has denied tens of millions of Floridians fundamental human rights, including reproductive liberty, the right to vote in free and fair elections, freedom of expression and thought, safety from gun violence, and freedom from government-sponsored discrimination.
Let’s hope that DeSantis’s disastrous campaign weakens both DeSantis and Trump. While Democrats cannot rely on Republicans to defeat themselves, we should recognize the leading GOP candidates are wounded, desperate, and unlikeable. Democrats have their own challenges, as is the case with every presidential candidate. Let’s not dwell on our challenges; instead, tell our fellow Americans the truth about our opponents—including their inability (and lack of desire) to connect with their fellow citizens on a human level.
More on the Uvalde school shooting and gun safety organizations.
In response to yesterday’s newsletter, I received two reader comments that deserve to be highlighted for all readers.
Readers David and Ellen B. in Texas noted their support for Texas Gun Sense. For readers focused on preventing gun violence in Texas, check out Texas Gun Sense.
Reader Barbara M. wrote the following in the Comments section:
One way to save lives right now is to preach safe storage from every rooftop. When five million kids live in homes with unlocked guns and 8-out-of-10 school shooters obtained the gun from home, when 65% of gun deaths are suicides and the US has 12-times the gun suicide rate of any other peer country, when a gun is stolen every 90 seconds, safe storage will save lives. Massachusetts is the only state that always requires safe storage of firearms and has lowest gun deaths.
Also, Everytown for Gun Safety has a safe-storage initiative. Check out Be SMART | Secure Gun Storage (besmartforkids.org).
More on Ohio’s effort to change the rules for amending Ohio’s constitution.
Reader Steve S. sent a plea for readers to help Ohio citizens defeat the anti-democratic effort by Republicans to change the rules for amending the Ohio constitution. Although the plea is a bit long, it contains important information that deserves attention from all readers—because what is happening in Ohio may be a GOP template for other states where Democrats are attempting to amend the constitution to preserve reproductive liberty.
The Ohio GOP’s decision this month to put an initiative on the ballot requiring a 60% majority to amend the state’s Constitution threatens both democracy and the right to reproductive liberty. The GOP-60% initiative is an attempt to help defeat another proposed initiative on the November ballot that would amend the Ohio Constitution to guarantee a right to abortion and contraception. Unless stopped by the Ohio Supreme Court, the 60% initiative will be decided on August 8.
The right is pouring money into winning the August election. Reactionary Illinois billionaire Richard Uihlein has already given over a million dollars to a pro-60% PAC, and the GOP will do everything it can to turn out its base to head off the pro-choice initiative in November by raising the threshold to 60%. Trump beat Biden by 8 points in Ohio in 2020, so we can’t take it for granted that Ohio voters will reject the 60% initiative.
If Ohio voters pass the 60% initiative, we can expect that the GOP will push hard for the same kind of initiative limitations in most of the red states where voters have the right to place propositions on the ballot. Efforts to adopt similar restrictions are already underway in Missouri, Florida, Idaho, Oklahoma, North Dakota and other states.
At the same time, defeating the 60% initiative also creates an opportunity for us to advance majority rule and the right to reproductive liberty. Turn-out in Ohio August elections is ordinarily extremely low—about 7%—so getting the word out to voters about the importance of this election is critical. There are only two-and-a-half months left to organize the defeat of the 60% initiative. Hannah Ledford, who is heading up the No in August campaign, estimates that it will take $11.6 million to defeat the 60% initiative.
The Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) has a goal of knocking on 523,000 doors and making 135,000 calls. They will need a lot of additional financial resources to meet that goal and defeat the 60% initiative. You can help by donating to the ODP here (Ohio Democrats).
I am pressed for time due to family commitments, so I am cutting the newsletter short this evening. But I wanted to close by reporting on an incident in Nikki Haley’s campaign that should give us hope going into 2024.
Haley made a campaign stop in New Hampshire this week. She opened her speech by telling a trans-phobic “joke” directed at the short-lived campaign by Bud Light to use a trans spokesperson. The details of the joke don’t matter. The point is that when Nikki Haley attempted to make fun of a trans person while in New Hampshire, no one in the crowd laughed. Not one person. And the crowd included lots of Republicans. See The Daily Beast, 2024 GOP Presidential Candidate Nikki Haley's Anti-Trans Dylan Mulvaney Rhetoric Falls Flat in New Hampshire.
Haley lives in a Republican bubble in the South where it is still acceptable to mock trans people. She wrongly assumed that everyone in America shared her crass and insensitive views about the acceptability of mocking trans people. She won’t make that mistake again—which is good for Haley and America. Just as Ron DeSantis stops talking about six-week abortion bans when he leaves Florida, Haley is learning that most Americans do not share the GOP hatred toward trans people that is endemic in the red southern states.
The Republican “platform” for 2024 is based on hate, grievance, and fear. It sells in a narrow swath of gerrymandered Southern states—but not in most other places. The arrogance and hubris of Haley in assuming she could tell a trans-phobic joke in New Hampshire tell us that Republicans don’t understand how unpopular and narrow their platform is. It is already too late for them to switch courses.
As always, we cannot rely on Republicans to defeat themselves. But Haley’s complete lack of awareness of the mood of voters outside of South Carolina is a sign of GOP weakness heading into 2024. We have every reason to be hopeful but no reason to be complacent!
Talk to you tomorrow!