Words Of Wisdom

One of the insights that comes with age is the recognition that nothing is ever perfect. That recognition is particularly applicable to politics, which is by its very nature combative, messy and endlessly contested.

There is no perfect candidate. No perfect president. No perfect system.

That being the case, I found a recent column from Buzzfeed absolutely “on point.” It was titled “What To Do If You Hate The Democratic Nominee.” It began

After the 2016 election, you promised yourself you’d do everything you can to beat Trump in 2020. You marched and protested, knocked doors in the midterms, wrote postcards to voters, donated to anyone whose video caught your eye, and maybe even got caught up in some ridiculous social media squabbles.

Now the time has finally come. The 2020 election is here, and the Democratic primary is very slowly narrowing, with only a handful of candidates remaining. You’ve been preparing for this for three years, and yet: When you look at the possibilities, you’re deflated. Or maybe you feel it more viscerally: You cannot stomach the idea of casting a ballot for ______, let alone knocking a door for them or giving them money. You know you have a moral responsibility to act, but there is simply no way you can do it on behalf of ________.

Don’t worry. There is another, equally important, way to make a difference this November that won’t require you to fake it through a canvassing shift: Go local.

With your time, money, attention, and most importantly, your vote, you can help beat Trump and build sustainable power for Democrats without ever saying the Democratic nominee’s name.

As the article points out, within an hour of almost every American zip code, there’s an election where a Democrat not running for President can use your help. In some of those states (think Kentucky), your help can really make a difference.

Those down-ballot elections, from Statehouse to “district attorneys, school board, county clerks, tax collector, judges, justices of the peace, and library boards” are incredibly important–more than the lack of media attention might suggest.

Go knock doors for those state and local candidates. Your energy will yield dividends — because the voter contact you do will make a difference for the entire ticket: young people and communities of color, especially, who often feel dismissed or ignored by national candidates, can be more directly energized by local issues and candidates. And at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter which Democratic campaign gets someone to the polls as long as they get there

What about your money–assuming you have some to contribute? Given Citizens United and the prevalence of dark money (which is spent on behalf of even the most anti-money ticket), It probably wouldn’t make all that much difference to the Presidential nominee anyway. But it will matter to candidates for city council and your local statehouse. A lot.

Take whatever money you’d budgeted for beating Trump, and split it in down the middle. Give half of it to local candidates who catch your eye. Give the other half to an organization (or a few) that will exist past Election Day 2020…. Give to organizations that do deep relationship-building in states that a presidential campaign is never going to organize in because the Electoral College doesn’t incentivize it. If you can afford to, make your donation recurring and plan to let it run into 2021.

So what about that Presidential vote? Should you work for those local candidates and then refuse to vote for President? Or write in someone you’d prefer? That’s your right, after all.

But especially if you’re a person with any kind of privilege, you have a responsibility to think beyond your self-interest. This election is about the most vulnerable among us who need you to be an ally.

This election is also for the soul of America.

Every vote against Donald Trump is a vote against racism, misogyny, autocracy and incompetence. No matter how much you dislike the eventual candidate, no matter how imperfect he (we know it will be a “he”)is, he will be immeasurably better than the mentally-ill criminal who daily disgraces the Oval Office.


  1. The dynamics of primaries is an intense process we learn to navigate as candidates turn on one another who is best to defeat the incumbent in The Oval Office. It gets ugly long before it gets better. I look forward to the campaign after party conventions to hear and witness candidates in a forum when it is no longer necessary to harp about him or her, but what we all can become as a nation. Biden will need to mastermind this shift by revealing his succession plan of younger competent trustworthy leadership that will dominate his administration. We now know proof positive the incumbent is not capable of moving from his own imagined aura. Biden demonstrates capacity to champion strong compassionate leadership to build a competent team. As Clyburn said, we prefer to see a sermon than hear one.


    Well; maybe you will listen to Buzzfeed and Sheila Kennedy if you won’t listen to this old, deaf, disabled, high school dropout with a GED:

    “Don’t worry. There is another, equally important, way to make a difference this November that won’t require you to fake it through a canvassing shift: Go local.”

    Vote Blue No Matter Who in the upcoming Primary Election in this red state of Indiana.

  3. And…you can do both if you agree with the D presidential candidate. I’ve said for two years, if not more, that Mitch McConnell may surpass T on the evil scale. I’ve volunteered to work in KY with the Amy ground game. And, I’ll vote for the D candidate.

  4. Good advice, but the last paragraph seems ambiguous to me. Not every vote against Trump is effective. Only if it is cast for the Democratic candidate. A third party vote, or a write-in for whomever you really prefer is a vote for Trump.

  5. Sheila writes, “But especially if you’re a person with any kind of privilege, you have a responsibility to think beyond your self-interest. This election is about the most vulnerable among us who need you to be an ally.”

    Well then, I would recommend voting for the President and Vice President offered by the Socialist Equity Party – USA.

    Neither of the two capitalist-controlled parties gives a damn about the vulnerable. Pay very close attention to where Trump/Congress aims the “economic stimulus” package. Not what the media says, but where the actual proceeds of the package benefits.

    COVID-19 is about to exploit the falsity of American Exceptionalism in a significant way. The difference in state-run leadership will also be exploited. Hoosiers will become envious of their neighboring states.

  6. Pascal; THANK YOU! But have you tried to convince any of those 3rd and 4th party and write-in voters that they helped get Trump APPOINTED? They don’t even seem to be aware that none of those candidates ever win the presidency or that they are voting for candidates with one issue as their campaign foundation.

  7. Due to the lack of civic education and the considerable efforts in some states to make voting more difficult there is evidence that many people, especially minorities and young people, don’t vote because they don’t know how to navigate the process. Anything you can do to work with local groups targeting this issue will also bear benefits – those folks are, likely as not, to vote blue.

  8. Those hoping for a revolution must certainly realize by now that there won’t be one this year and it’s not due to chicanery by the DNC, an organization that can barely tie its own shoelaces, yet still manages to get blamed for deviousness well beyond its demonstrated capability. It is due to the will of Democratic voters in the several states that have held primary elections. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not happy about the choices left to us, an old white gaffe machine or an old white haranguer, but no one can convince me that either one wouldn’t be a thousand times better than the orange menace.

    But we have to know by now that nobody does anything alone. Of even greater importance than the Presidency is the Senate. We must turn the Senate blue or we will pay a heavier price than any of us can imagine with a judiciary that clings to party lines rather than the law and the Constitution.

    As JoAnn has rightly noted many times, even further down the ballot, we get to elections that will impact other things more directly. Your state legislature will control the drawing of new Congressional districts (I’d call Gerrymandering by its name, but nobody pronounces it correctly). Should it take a 2-1 margin for Democrats to beat Republicans? That’s where we’re heading. Your local and county elections will have more daily impact on your life than any of the others. How do you want to live?

  9. Todd,

    You are wrong about the two major parties….again.

    Yes, getting local Democrats in office is at least as important as defeating Trump. Even if we voted in a Democratic Senate, it wouldn’t be veto-proof if Trump was reelected. So, the two efforts are intertwined…if we’re going to save the Republic from a bunch of cowardly, raving lunatics.

  10. This quote is from “A Citizen’s Guide to Beating Donald Trump” by David Plouffe.
    “Please, please, do not waste vital energy and time worrying about events we do not control, or spinning our wheels trying to overanalyze and bed wet about all the stuff that will happen every day before election night. There is only one fact that you need to focus on now: our candidate will be infinitely preferable to the incumbent, and electing her or him will be up to each of us.”
    I support what you’re all saying about down ballet but….

  11. If we vote in a Democratic man (it won’t be a woman) and he is bad medicine he cannot be worse than the fetid piece of protoplasm who now graces (?) the Oval Office. My daughters and I agree that we would vote for a ham sandwich over Trump. My candidate (Liz) has lost and I am voting for Biden, but should he somehow lose to Bernie I will vote for Bernie, considering, uh, the horrid alternative. 25, anybody?

  12. “But we have to know by now that nobody does anything alone. Of even greater importance than the Presidency is the Senate. We must turn the Senate blue or we will pay a heavier price than any of us can imagine with a judiciary that clings to party lines rather than the law and the Constitution.”

    The above statement applies to Indiana and all of the districts , even where there is no opposition candidate on the ballot, for local and state offices. The possibility exists that the state could lose a Congressional district office if the census is not fully funded and, more importantly, completed by every resident. Note I did not say citizen. Re-electing the super-majority will mean more of the same tone-deaf arrogance we currently have in office, likely to draw any new district lines.

    I agree with Peggy about the Presidential candidates and her conclusion about the choices offered.

    At the local level, we need to push back locally, demand some response to the questions of how federal policies and leadership (or lack thereof) effect local and state offices, and whether the officeholder is a party hack or a representative of ALL their constituents. Maybe even ask whether they have a conscience at all about voting the party line instead of for the public good.

    As an elderly person with underlying health issues as well as a spouse who is especially vulnerable, we are staying home as much as possible, avoiding crowds and taking every precaution we can. Please do the same, if not for yourself then for those of us who have severely compromised immune systems. Thank you all. Stay well.

  13. Sheila – Thank you for, as usual, excellent advice. We can make a huge difference locally. Door-to-door canvassing is good for the cause and for the canvasser.

  14. john,

    Add this to your electronic bible:


    Fragment or abbreviation of a proverbial phrase (“They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind”) from the Book of Hosea, in the Hebrew Bible (Hosea 8-7).

  15. “But we have to know by now that nobody does anything alone. Of even greater importance than the Presidency is the Senate. We must turn the Senate blue or we will pay a heavier price than any of us can imagine with a judiciary that clings to party lines rather than the law and the Constitution. ”

    The above statement applies to the local and state elections as well. The General Assembly draws districts at the state level. And, as we have just witnessed, they vote for the party’s financial benefit to insure they stay in power. The census is the basis for the redistricting. If the census is not fully funded and completed by all residents (note, I did not say citizens), the state could lose a Congressional district as well as federal dollars so necessary for infrastructure and public services.

    We need to urge everyone to vote all the way down the ballot. Ask candidates if they are going to represent ALL of their constituents, not just party and money. Push back when they are evasive about national administrative leadership (or lack thereof). VOTE and urge everyone you know in your immediate circle of friends, family, associates and community to get registered/ verify accurate registration.

    As an older person with underlying health conditions and a spouse with a severely compromised immune system, please do everything you can to stay healthy not just for yourself but for the rest of us. Thank you all. Stay well.

  16. Marv – If Trump decides that we are not to have an election (assuming COVID-19 hasn’t imprisoned all of us) the pitchforks in the street may morph into AR-15s. This affront to our basic understanding of what our democracy stands for cannot go unaddressed. Bunker Hill time, anybody?

  17. Oh Marv

    What did you have to go do that for, LOL!?!?

    That’s an interesting Scripture, it really refers to reprobatic behavior! How they had deceived themselves and abandoned their God, and how they will reap what they sow, because what they sow is dishonest and deceitful.

    Kind of like this morning, the stock market had to trip the circuit breaker so to speak because it was falling off a cliff. Trump said that this virus is a quick spreader, well, I would imagine Trump knows a quick spreader when he sees one or here’s one, LOL, no one can spread it like him!

    Our friend in Italy Liliana Palombo, she said how there are bodies stacked up like cordwood at the hospitals. Because you’re such an influx to the emergency room’s, people are dying from other illnesses because they’re trying to save the youngest and the strongest 1st. So people are dying from heart attacks, strokes, diabetes/insulin shock, lack of cancer treatment and such. The dishonesty of this administration cannot be lied away like all of the other shenanigans they pulled! Because when all of these people start dying, when the hospitals are packed to the gills, when people are lined up down the hallways and in the lobbies for triage, there will be no hiding, there will be a reckoning, reaping the whirlwind!

    Throwing the burden on the average working Joe, saying that they would like to stop contributions to social security and Medicare so people can keep that money, I guarantee, people will die from that because they’re going to be cut off from the only financial support they have. With no contributions, these social programs will dry up completely! But hey, they been trying to dismantle the social programs for a long time, they might feel they can get away with it now and blame it on this crisis.

    We currently give the oil companies billions upon billions of dollars in tax cuts, now they want to give them even more? The middle-class taxpayer is once again hung out to dry, and they’ll stay hung out to dry, get rid of the middle class, and you lose your opposition. Then we’re back to the caste system, right where they want us to be. Watch and see if Trump doesn’t declare martial law, he’s already declaring a state of emergency, the next step will stop the elections! I think, this was actually commented on a few weeks ago on this blog.

    Psychology Today magazine describes some who exploit people’s trust as “predators” who “use charm and chameleon-like coloration to deceive and manipulate those around them and damage their lives.” The perpetrator of a hoax always blame others to deceive the gullible and are able to continue on with their maleficent conduct! An example of this was Arthur Conan Doyle who believed the girls who saw fairies and took pictures of them, it was an obvious hoax, but he wanted to believe so badly, he deceived himself! This is not unlike what’s happening today.

    Who really knows what the future holds or what is in store, I just have faith and trust history will repeat itself until the dynamics will not allow that to happen. We might be getting close to that dynamic precipice!

    And, just for reference, The Hebrew word ruʹach, often rendered “spirit,” can also denote air in motion, wind. (Ecclesiastes 1:6) Other Hebrew terms and expressions may be translated “storm wind” (Hosea 8:7), “tempest,” “whirling tempest” (Jeremiah 25:32; 23:19), “tempestuous wind,” and “windstorm”( Psalms 148:8; 2nd Kings 2:11). Although at John 3:8 pneuʹma (generally translated “spirit”) means “wind,” the Greek term aʹne·mos is the more frequently used designation for wind. (Matthew 7:25, 27; 11:7; John 6:18) “The breezy part “Hebrew, ruʹach” of the day” apparently referred to the evening hours just before sunset, when refreshing cool breezes commonly arise in the region where the garden of Eden is thought to have been.​ (Genesis 3:8)

    The figurative use of wind makes sense because you can feel it but cannot see it. Just like King Solomon Lamenting on the works of his hands were like striving after the wind, that’s brought out in the 1st and 2nd chapters of Ecclesiastes. Wind can also mean empty words and empty hopes, this is brought out in Job the 15th and 16th chapters.

    I hope all is well Marv!

  18. I’m still a vote for blue no matter who guy and I have never been nor ever expect to be again a single party or issue voter.

    The logic is simple. Republicans need a clear message about how grave their 2016 transgressions were . The relative quality differences among the various Democrat candidates pales in comparison.

    The Democrat Primary choices define who has the best chances of beating their Republican competitors and that’s who I will vote for.

  19. john,

    Our only chance is to attack the Virus of the Mind which allowed Trump to gain the Presidency. Nothing else will work at this LATE point in time.

  20. So, today when I asked a group in a weekly indoor music jam to suspend it for a while, I got mostly praise; however, one chap who is battling cancer managed to link the pandemic to politics. Had to happen! Most likely wrong TV channel. I reminded him that the coronavirus carried a lot of information but nary a D nor an R. Indoors, close quarters, a handshake or a hug with someone who flies big planes all over the world? And you’re willing to jam with him in an enclosed room? Risky stuff, so most are backing away for a while. He may be jammin’ all alone!

  21. Just to remind folks, this ‘stuff’ has been going on for a while! Nixon really got going on the sick bird thing (illegal acts), then Reagan fed the party the ‘Monkey Brains’, and turned the Republicans into the snacilbupeR. Now they’re almost to the bottom of the top right of the circle, and headed straight into the ground! The only thing I can add is: I surely hope they don’t take the rest of us along for the impending crash! (As if we could avoid it!)

  22. “This election is also for the soul of America.”

    It most certainly is, probably more right now than it has been since the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the height of The Great Depression. It is imperative that Trump is defeated and if we didn’t have enough reasons already for making that judgement his horrid speech last night should have been the rest of the icing on the cake. He is inept, his government is inept and us electing anyone else will buy us much needed time to put this country back on some semblance of an even footing as it takes on the many challenges we face, many of which were made infinitely worse by having this very wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  23. Sheila – I have to agree with you and JoAnn. I decided last year that working to get a new Representative in the 5th District would almost certainly have a “reverse coattail” in helping the Democratic Presidential candidate, while the reverse was not necessarily the case. That is where I had been planning to put my effort (and will if I make it out of exile in Maryland).

    Pascal, you are so right. Voting against Trump means voting for the Democrat. I remember Nixon and the carnage of Vietnam. We must “vote blue” if we want to be rid of Trump.

    Todd – I admire your dedication to the cause, but I will also remind you that a good part of the raison d’etre of the Democratic Socialists was a belief that they were tired of being “right” and wanted to be effective, and they recognized that we live in a nation that has a two party system. They reasoned that influencing the Democratic Party was the logical way to go. Johnson’s War on Poverty (effective or not) was their idea. Before them, “liberal” academics at the University of Michigan’s conflict resolution center (can’t remember its official name) convinced candidate John Kennedy to propose the creation of a Peace Corps on the steps of the Student Union building.

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