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Reader comments open for weekend.
May 20, 2023
[No audio version due to travel. Audio recording will resume Monday.]
This short newsletter is primarily intended to open the Comments section to paying subscribers. Thanks to those subscribers for helping to make the work of this newsletter possible. Everyone can read the Comments section (click on the dialog icon next to the heart icon at the top of the newsletter). The discourse in the Comments section is both insightful and cathartic. Check it out!
Travel to D.C. My wife and I spent the day in D.C. celebrating our youngest daughter’s birthday. We toured the White House (picture below). It was an emotional experience that reminded us that we are blessed to be living in America despite all its faults and shortcomings. And we are fortunate that sons and daughters of liberty responded to the call of our nation in its time of need. We must do the same.
Debt negotiations: Yesterday, I wrote: Anything can still happen—from a negotiated deal to unilateral action by Biden to a vote to remove Kevin McCarthy as Speaker.” I believe that statement reflects where negotiations stand heading into the weekend.
Meeting with readers in DC: Jill and I met with two dozen readers at the home of Susan C. for two hours of companionship and discussion. As always, I was inspired by the readers who attended. One reader, Don S., commented about “losing forward,” a concept discussed by Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. She said the following about “losing” a battle:
When we lose a battle, for example in a state house, we think about all the ways we actually won. That might mean taking note that the group grew in size or that it created new, meaningful relationships with lawmakers. Whatever we learned, we try to [internalize] so thath next time we will win.
“Losing forward” is a helpful framework for viewing the struggle in red states. The North Carolina legislature overrode the veto of Governor Roy Cooper of a bill imposing a ten-week abortion ban. While people supporting reproductive liberty understandably view the override as a loss, it is a loss that will ensure Democratic victory in North Carolina in 2024. The loss this week was dispiriting and disappointing. But we will convert the temporary loss into a long-term victory by defeating the reactionary legislators in North Carolina and winning the state’s electors in the 2024 presidential election.
To prepare for today’s meeting in DC, I reviewed my email with the guests who RSVP’d to the meeting. One guest (Arlene M.), asked on June 3, 2017, to be included on the distribution list of the daily email that evolved into this newsletter —only four months after the newsletter started. At that time, I was sending a nightly email to 51 people. I have pasted below an excerpt from the June 3, 2017 newsletter. Its message still resonates today:
Today’s Edition: June 3, 2017: Pale blue dot.
The withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement was a tough emotional hit for many of us. For the third day, the climate agreement is the major focus of this newsletter. I have heard from many readers who say that this decision has affected them like no other Trump has made. That is understandable. The stakes are huge. The decision was irresponsible, ignorant, short-sighted, callous and partisan. But it’s going to be ok.
Why it affects people so deeply. The decision feels like Trump has attacked our home, our planet, the fragile “pale blue dot” on which humanity depends for its very existence. Although we expected the decision, there was a chance that voices of reason inside and outside the Administration would prevail. Instead, the most reactionary elements in the White House won. It felt like the sucker punch of election night all over again. It is difficult to comprehend that this is actually happening.
As a matter of self-protection and mental health, we need to stop kidding ourselves. We must assume that Trump will be exactly the monster he portrayed on the campaign trail. Don’t be cynical or defeatist. But be realistic. We are long past any notion of a pivot. “When someone shows you who they are, believe them. The first time.” Maya Angelou.
Concluding Thoughts (For June 3, 2017).
A reader has expressed a sense of guilt over not immediately doing every act of resistance I recommend. Whoa!! I am trying to help people reduce their anxiety, not exacerbate it. I do not want anyone to feel worse by reading this newsletter.
Look at it this way: if you performed only one act of resistance in response to my suggestions, that would likely increase the total number of political actions you have undertaken in your entire life by 100%. That one action is multiplied by all other people who are taking their first political action steps. It may not seem like a lot to you, but to members of Congress, it is a deluge. So, relax. Do what you can. Otherwise, read the newsletter for information and as a sanity check. Then go for a walk without your phone.
Concluding Thoughts (for May 20, 2023).
I think that advice applies with equal force today. Millions of Americans have risen to help redeem democracy and restore the rule of law. That is hard work. But it is the shared work of millions. Bless you for all you do! But recognize that it is not all on your shoulders. We are here for one another in times of victory, defeat, sorrow, and joy.
If you can, relax and renew this weekend. Next week will be wild. We will need our strength.
Stay strong, remain calm, and reconnect with someone you love!
Talk to you on Monday!