Opinion: Will Move to Purge Ohio Voting Rolls Kickstart Congressional Action?

Fifty-two years ago this week, John Lewis of Georgia was a young activist, not the Democratic congressman he is today. Yet he got a warmer welcome from the then-president of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, than from today’s occupant of the White House.

On the Twitter feed of the longtime member of the U.S. House of Representatives, you can see a picture celebrating that time a few decades ago, when, with Democratic and Republican support, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed and then signed.

Lewis was one of those who suffered arrests and shed blood to make it so. You might think that at 77 years of age, he has earned the right to relax just a little. But instead of celebrating progress made, he has to ignore occasional insults from President Donald Trump and some of his congressional colleagues, while refighting a version of that same fight for voting rights.

Every day there is that reminder, whether it is a Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, stacked with a rogue’s gallery of folks with a history of searching for nonexistent hordes of fraudulent voters, or news that Trump’s Justice Department has joined Ohio’s campaign to purge its voter rolls.

How many in Congress will stand with their colleague and other leaders to strengthen rather than dilute the power of that defining law from 52 years ago? How many will stand with a president who asked minority communities to support him — “what do you have to lose” was both question and challenge — with a grab bag of policies that illustrates exactly what his statements meant?

Opinion: Trump’s Ratings Hold Steady, but Is He Losing Key Groups He Needs to Stay on Top?

“You’re fired!” was the reality show refrain of the now president of the United States, Donald Trump. So when, on the campaign trail, candidate Trump said, “I alone can fix it,” with “it” meaning whatever was ailing the country and each one of its citizens, it was easy to for someone looking for answers to transfer his my-way-or-the-highway TV decisiveness to Oval Office success.

Could “The Apprentice” boss have bought into his own hype on the way to the White House, forgetting the behind-the-scenes writers and producers, and the reality of life after the director yells, “Cut”?

Opinion: ‘Values’ Are Relative When Rooting for Your Political Team

In his wary optimism after the U.S. Senate voted to proceed with debate on dismantling President Barack Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act and replacing it with, well, something, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he and his supporters were “not out here to spike the football.”

In this case, the cliched sports metaphor fit.

Politics, more than ever, has come to resemble a depressingly repetitive sporting event: Judging an idea’s worth depends on which team supports it. And the opposing team is — always the New England Patriots.

Opinion: For Whom and What Do Faith Leaders Pray?

Were their prayers answered?

White — most of them, anyway — evangelicals, recently photographed laying hands on President Donald Trump perhaps were praying that the proposed Senate health care bill, the one estimates predicted would result in millions losing care or Medicaid coverage, would fail.

And it did.

Or maybe not. Who knows what a person prays for in his or her heart?

Opinion: Demanding Dignity From Leaders Comes With a Complicated History

The room — 14 feet, 8 inches wide and 13 feet long — has no windows. It had been a restroom at the Monticello home of Thomas Jefferson in Virginia. But now, the small room adjacent to Jefferson’s, the one historians believe once belonged to Sally Hemings, will be restored and given its due, as will the enslaved woman who evidence indicates was the mother of six children of the third president of the United States.

As the current president, Donald Trump, is often lambasted for lowering the dignity and honor of the office, the news coming out of Monticello — where the role of its enslaved people is belatedly a part of the historical presentation to visitors — is a bracing reminder that our leaders have always been flawed. Founding Father Jefferson wrote stirring words of equality while owning fellow human beings.

Opinion: Democracy — With Big Brother in the Voting Booth

Some Americans believe in small government — until they don’t.

Remember the conservative mantra, “government is the problem?” Well, toss out that way of thinking for a group of leaders — some elected, some appointed — who want to create a complicated new arm of government bureaucracy, one that reaches into how and how often a person votes and sucks up a chunk of your Social Security number for good measure. And we’re paying for this?

Some Americans believe in small government — until they don’t. Remember the conservative mantra, “government is the problem?” Well, toss out that way of thinking for a group of leaders — some elected, some appointed — who want to create a complicated new arm of government bureaucracy, one that reaches into how and how often a person votes and sucks up a chunk of your Social Security number for good measure. And we’re paying for this?

Opinion: The Politics of Drug Policy

It’s an intractable issue in the news daily, so the proposed, much-debated and now-delayed Senate Republican health care bill had to do something to answer the opioid addiction crisis in America. Add to that the basic political realization that in many of the states that supported Donald Trump and Republicans, a high percentage of people are hurting — to turn a blind eye would be a problem for America and for the GOP on many levels.

Many fear the Senate bill is not enough to meet a challenge that is intertwined with unemployment, the economy and more. Though, at least — and some would label it the very least — the uncertain yet compassionate reaction contrasts with the harsh strategy the Justice Department has laid out for other low-level drug offenders.

So while establishing a drug policy in America, one that would fight the disease of addiction as well as the crime and violence that arise from the drug business, our lawmakers and leaders would seem to be setting up a strategy of contradiction

Opinion: Of Shakespearean Lessons and Art That Makes Us Think

When Barack Obama burst onto the national stage and consciousness with his eloquent speech of unity at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, listeners delighted at its deliberate thoughtfulness — the flip side of the George W. Bush “everyman” style. (And yes, that the polished orator was the child raised without a father and the other had a lineage of political privilege was part of the irony and appeal of the shiny, new package.)

President Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, was, as everyone knows, the opposite of all that — a man of immediate reaction and few, sometimes incoherent and contradictory words, often strung together in 140 characters or less. Those who favored this new style eventually read the former’s quality of reflection as indecision, and compared President Obama, often unfavorably, to “Hamlet.”

All references to William Shakespeare are by design, as we again seem to be debating the relevance of the long-dead playwright, courtesy of a Public Theater production of his “Julius Caesar.”

Donald Trump — the Affirmative Action President and His Enablers

House Speaker Paul Ryan offered the excuse “He’s just new to this” for Donald Trump after former FBI chief James Comey’s testimony that the president has done and said things that were inappropriate, even if they don’t turn out to be illegal. It sounded like something you would say in defense of a toddler who dives face-first into the birthday cake because he hasn’t yet learned what a fork is for.

President Trump is that guy — and it’s a guy 99 percent of the time — who doesn’t bother to read the book but tries to bluff his way through the oral report. Sometimes that guy is funny. When he is in a position to weaken long-held European alliances, jeopardize troops on a base in the Middle East or shred America’s safety net as well as ethical guidelines set by the founders in the U.S. Constitution, no one should be laughing. A “gentleman’s C” won’t cut it when so much is at stake.

 

Opinion: What Exactly Do Republicans Believe in Besides Trump?

When my parents were good Republicans — my mother a party activist, in fact — the label meant something entirely different than it does today.

It was the party of Lincoln, imagine that, and the GOP tolerated differences with a tent that was indeed big. You could be pro-civil rights and fiscally conservative, a working-class African-American family in Maryland, then, as now, a mostly blue state, and there was someone such as Republican Sen. Charles Mathias. With his streak of independence and loyalty to principle, he could represent you, your party and even those who didn’t vote for him.

But what does the GOP stand for in 2017? The answer, of course, is President Donald Trump, a man who changes positions and then contradicts himself.