The politics of compromise

I’m getting tired of people suggesting state and federal legislators should pass bills with morally reprehensible amendments and carveouts/omissions just to make it “easier.” These advocates have a critically flawed, short-termist view of governance that is ultimately more harmful than helpful.

Here’s a simple rule: Do it right or don’t do it at all.

What this means in practice: Don’t amend out special exceptions that undermine the moral integrity of the overall law. Examples: Don’t leave out trans people from your employment and accommodations non-discrimination bills. Don’t leave exceptions to your death penalty bans. Don’t create loopholes against reproductive freedom (e.g. Hyde). Stop passing bills with giant gaping holes in them just to help some people, when in doing so you’ll make it harder to go back for those you left behind.

This is not a case against compromise. This is a case for understanding how compromise should function at a systemic level. This is a case for making compromise work for you in the long-term, instead of the short-term at the expense of the longer view.

Incremental compromises, when needed, should move everyone forward, not just some. It is a massive political misunderstanding to think that it’s better to establish protections and programs for some people, instead of for all people. Making laws for everyone, without carve-outs, is both consistent with the principles of equality before the law as well as politically more sound, within both the voting public and among legislators themselves.

If it’s politically hard to pass reforms and protections for some people, it’s obviously going to be even harder to do it later for a smaller subset you left out. It is easier (and morally better) to pass laws that protect & help everyone, even if you have to wait, than to sell out some of our society so that others of us are helped.

This is the principle of true solidarity: We all sacrifice a little bit longer so that we’re stronger together and no one has to sacrifice/suffer alone for our advances.

Watching Egypt’s revolution die

Arsenal Bolt: Quick updates on the news stories we’re following.

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Germany’s Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom – an NGO dedicated to promoting liberalization of governments and markets – recently announced it was closing its longstanding Egypt office, citing unsustainable pressure from the illiberal environment of the current military-backed government. Ronald Meinardus, now directing the South Asia office in New Delhi but formerly directing FNFF’s Egypt office, reflects in The Globalist on his experience watching the revolution die:

Never, on the other hand, will I forget the images of the massacre at Rabaa Al Adawiya where, in a blood bath, Egypt’s military ended all democratic experiments in the Arab world’s biggest nation.
[…]
One of my biggest frustrations was that long time Arab friends and partners would publicly argue that their part of the world was neither ready nor suitable for liberal ideas and practices. Many of these people would support authoritarian rule, arguing it was by far better than giving space to the Islamists, whom they saw as the biggest threat.

The announcement of the closure of the regional office of the liberal Foundation in Cairo coincides with the fifth anniversary of what used to be termed Egypt’s Revolution of January 25.
[…]
Future chroniclers without ideological blinders will note that Egyptians enjoyed most freedoms under the brief rule of the Muslim Brothers who, not by chance, won every single democratic election they were allowed to participate in.

 

French collateral damage

I believe (based on extensive previous evidence) that Burkina Faso would not be getting attacked by Al Qaeda were it not for France’s selfish decision in 2014 to deploy counterterrorism troops to the country indefinitely (and to put them up regularly at the hotel that was attacked on Friday). Burkina Faso is extremely poor and fragile, but it’s working hard to secure its fledgling democracy. Burkina Faso doesn’t bother anyone or get involved in these matters, but France used its influence to meddle and endanger everyone there. This is spreading terror, not containing it.

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Accommodating less visible disabilities in our courtrooms

In today’s Governor’s Council hearing for a nominee to the Family Court, an important issue came up, which is one I’m always very mindful of: Courtroom approaches to handling mental differences, particularly for people on the autism spectrum. As I note on my campaign website, “We must also guarantee that our courts themselves are accessible and accommodating to all varieties of disabilities, including physical and mental challenges that may or may not be visible.”

There’s still a long way to go on accommodating physical disabilities that are plainly visible, but their visibility has also contributed to progress on that front. We haven’t had as much progress on less visible things. It’s critical that our judges exercise flexibility, restraint, and understanding in dealing with adults and children with autism in the courtroom. “Unusual” or “disruptive” behavior isn’t always disrespectful, and sometimes judges need to work around it, rather than trying to control it. Courtrooms are very stressful environments for everyone, but they can definitely be overwhelming to people who aren’t neurotypical (especially for children), and it’s important to make provisions for that.

Millennial Massachusetts: The 27 percent

Notes from the campaign trail

As of 2012 Census data, 27.4% of ‪‎Massachusetts‬ residents were born after 1980 and before 2001. No other generation held a bigger share of the population. Yet in 2016, there are zero ‪Millennials‬ on the Governor’s Council. There are just a handful in the legislature. If we win this campaign, we’ll take just one of the eight Council seats and bring a strong voice for the issues our generation cares about – because everyone will benefit from that. I would also become the highest-ranking Millennial in a Massachusetts constitutional office, and I would work to help other young progressives bring their long-term vision to government all over the state.

Bundy recap: Our past coverage

Trying to remember what the deal is with the Bundy clan that has now seized a National Wildlife Refuge building in rural Oregon? We covered it several times on this site and our radio show. Here’s our best of:


Arsenal For Democracy Radio – Background Discussion on Bundy Ranch Standoff:
Part 1 – Move Your Cows, Bundy – AFD 81


#MoveYourCows, Bundy
AFD Radio: April 21, 2014
No shock there: Bundy a raging racist
Alt-history novelists have got nothing on Cliven Bundy
Vegas attack was domestic terrorism, tied to Bundy standoff
AFD Radio: June 9, 2014 – Should right-wing violence in America be considered terrorism? Should terrorism be treated differently from other crimes?
Op-ed | American Unexceptionalism & The Republic
Your New Nevada Assembly Speaker…

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“Religious pluralism, one of the foundations of American democracy”

For some reason last night I was reminded of this August 2010 post my co-founder Nate wrote about the Islamic community center proposed for Lower Manhattan and all the hysteria surrounding it. I re-read it and kept thinking about it in the context of the widespread fear in the past year.
It still holds true:

I definitely understand that 9/11 was a traumatic experience for all Americans and New Yorkers especially. And because the terrorists attacks were carried out in the name of Islam, it is not at all surprising that some Americans would feel uneasy about other members of that religion. But the pain of that day should not blind us to the fact that Islam is the second largest religion in the world and the vast majority of its followers are not terrorists and do not wish to kill innocent Americans. Our prejudices, not matter how understandable they may be, should not allow us to deny fundamental rights to other Americans.

In this case, having the government prevent the mosque would violate both the religious rights and property rights of the Cordoba Initiative (they own the building and are mostly free to do whatever they choose with it). Maybe the Cordoba Initiative could choose to stir less controversy and outrage by building the mosque somewhere else. But if they want to build the mosque there, they have the right to. Don’t like it? Too bad, we live in a free country.

This all brings me back to another point I have touched on several times before: every time we compromise our fundamental rights in the name of fighting “terrorism,” we are in fact advancing the terrorist cause. Religious pluralism, one of the foundations of American democracy, is antithetical to the jihadist ideology and when we compromise our ideals we create an America less free and more like the nation Al Qaeda would like to create.

Read the rest…