When Democrats speak of defunding the police, they are saying it is time to have a closer look at how we might be more fiscally responsible in our support of law enforcement. When police department surplus funds are identified, those funds should be considered for redirection to funding programs addressing mental health and economic needs and those promoting community stability. Even the police agree that a healthier community will mean less crime over the long run. Police are now expected to respond to everything whether or not it is criminal in nature. I remember a time when "fiscally responsible" Republicans would have agreed with more efficient use of taxpayer monies. Unfortunately, that time passed during the George W. Bush administration when the defunding of America began in earnest with $1.6 trillion in tax cuts that led, along with an unnecessary war and Wall Street greed and illegal practices, to the Great Recession of 2008. After Obama's eight-year struggle, he successfully overcame the recession. Trump, when elected, immediately passed another tax cut amounting to $1.5 trillion. Bush and Trump defunded America by about $3.1 trillion just through tax cuts, most of which went to the wealthy and corporate America. Republicans were silent about the huge transfer of wealth. That lost revenue could have gone to states to benefit public services like education, mental health services and public infrastructure. It makes much more sense to use some of the funds directed to law enforcement to address the social and mental health problems underlying the need for police action.
Imagine your reaction if TV news broadcast video emanating from an African country that showed predominately white protesters rising up to get their decades-old story told. Imagine your empathy and understanding when you hear of unarmed white men being killed and killed and killed by black police — when non-lethal force would have been sufficient. Imagine your disgust when you’re told that white communities are less safe from COVID, more vulnerable to economic ravages and underserved by banks, law enforcement and elected officials.
Racism is alive in today’s America. Ignoring it does not help. By remaining silent and uninvolved, we become complicit and tolerant. The problem is systemic and widespread. Though subtle and many times difficult to identify, racism erodes the very fabric of a free and democratic society. Racism undermines the very notion of “we’re all in this together."
I’m not at all condoning violence. Destruction of property and life is abhorrent and counterproductive to carrying the message. Please keep in mind, 99.9% of the protesters are angry but peaceful. Their voice needs to be heard, their grievances are real and important. Their pain is deep and old and excruciating. Please see yourself in them, please put yourself in their shoes, please realize they are us and we are them! Please speak out whenever you encounter racism — whether from our president, friends, family or law enforcement!
I've been following the current debate surrounding universal vote-by-mail here in Arizona and across the country. Those in favor cite the need for social distancing in the COVID-19 era. The travesty in the recent Wisconsin primary where voters were required to leave their homes and stand in line for hours to vote in lousy weather and during a pandemic is unacceptable.
The GOP seems to have put forward two arguments for blocking any forward-thinking legislation:
1. Republicans purport that mail-in ballots are subject to fraud. They invoke this premise with no valid supporting evidence. The recent claims about California are based on voter rolls containing names of deceased or moved voters. While those names are on the rolls and should be purged, there is no evidence that any of those people actually voted.
Oregon has had over 100 million vote-by-mail ballots cast over several years with a total of 12 ballots found to be miscast. The only widespread voter issue was in a North Carolina congressional district perpetrated by Republicans in 2016; that election was overturned by the courts.
2. Republicans believe that vote-by-mail balloting will increase voter turnout and hurt GOP chances of winning. This, I believe, is the real reason behind GOP efforts to block pro vote-by-mail legislation for the upcoming election. Their fear of losing the election because of increased voter turnout was clearly voiced by President Trump and has been echoed by several Arizona GOP state legislators.
The American spirit of democracy was once: "I may not agree with what you say but I'll fight to the death to defend your right to express it." That spirit does not exist in the party of Trump. Today's Republican Party wants to suppress voter turnout to protect their control and hang on to power. COVID-19 is not the only threat to