General, Politics

After the 2021 Off Year Elections

The 2021 off-year elections showed the continuing appeal of American nationalist themes previously exhibited in on the congressional side of the 2020 elections.  However, the divisive methods of appealing to this pride resulted in close races where almost all the victors won narrowly.  The use of emotional dog-whistles like critical race theory or former President Trumps’ responsibility for the January 6 insurrection obscures the issues that we must face to truly build a strong America.

As I mentioned in this previous post, we have been in such politically divisive days before and survived to renew our civil political culture. In post-Civil War 19th century politics, the real social and economic dislocations caused by the Industrial Revolution were obscured by campaigns about the tangential issues of alcohol temperance, religion, and responsibility for the Civil War, or “Rum, Romanism & Rebellion” as it was called by one observer.  Similar red herrings are used by today’s political propagandists to distract us from the real issues. The modern equivalent of “Rum” is the abortion and other social issues, which distract us from discussing the real crises faced by today’s families attempting to raise moral and successful children. Instead of warnings about the supposed religious threat of Romanism, we now focus on woke politics, critical race theory and other ethnic grievances rather than improving the education of our children to insure they can compete in the world workforce. Finally, the constant harping over the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol enables our leaders to avoid addressing the sources of the extremism on both sides that justifies political violence (see the section “Political Violence” in this previous post).

Two years ago, this website was started to cut through these emotional dog- whistles used by extremists on both sides by highlighting the real issues that weaken the America and its people in a age of rising nationalism elsewhere. I believed the way Theodore Roosevelt guided us out of the political abyss of the late 19th century was a model for curing the fevered politics of these times.   He, like us all, was never perfect in his actions, (see this post), but he was a pioneer of his time on them. Over the next year and in preparation for the next election, we will continue to help you identify the true issues facing America and act on them. For example, we will develop a new American Nationalist Voting Index you can use to evaluate your local congressional candidates in the upcoming 2022 elections. There will also be some changes in the structure of the website, including a new subscription service that will deliver website posts right to your e-mail box. 

Thank you for your attention and support for the website. It is my goal to continue to inform you on how you can preserve a strong America and the American Dream.    

Uncategorized

Happy Birthday, Theodore Roosevelt!

Theodore Roosevelt’s remarkable life started 163 years ago in New York City, making him one of the few presidents to be born and raised in a major American city. He overcame childhood asthma with vigorous exercise and began his political career as a crusading reform Republican in the New York Legislature. The death of his first wife drove him to the North Dakota badlands, where his courage and stamina were forged in the crucible of the Old West. Even there, Roosevelt continued his habit of reading a book a day to stimulate his mind as well. Returning to New York, he became New York City Police Commissioner and worked to clean up the corruption in the department. His leadership and bravery with the Rough Riders propelled a political career and philosophy of national service that is a model for us in these difficult days.

In short, TR was a badass not just in his behavior, but also in his challenging and visionary leadership in public policy. Let us all remember him on this day and strive to hold our current leaders to the same level of courage and national commitment on behalf of America!

Coronavirus, Domestic Policy

Protecting America and Its Workers

[With] the recent discoveries of physicians and neurologists, engineers and economists, the public can formulate minimum occupational standards below which, demonstrably, work can be prosecuted only at a human deficit. [We] hold that all industrial conditions which fall below such standards should come within the scope of governmental action and controlled in the same way that subnormal sanitary conditions are subject to public regulation and for the same reason – because they threaten the general welfare.

Theodore Roosevelt, Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech at Progressive Party Convention, August 6, 1912

Hospitals at crisis care levels. Children increasingly infected and hospitalized by the new Delta COVID-19 variant. States forcing businesses to assume the risk of employee and customer infections due to masking prohibitions. 

President Biden’s vaccination plan attempts to address these new threats from the coronavirus pandemic. Americans are understandably weary of all of the restrictions and frustrated by the failure of our federal and state governments to develop a clear path out of them. The way to examine the necessity of the plan is to ask three questions:

  1. Is it a good idea?
  2. Is it legal?
  3. Is there a better way to do it?

Is it a good idea?

As I said in my post Wasting America’s Moment, the vaccination program is an effective and uniquely American response to the pandemic. Vaccinations significantly reduce the likelihood of hospitalization and eliminate the risk of death not only for recipients, but also potentially for the unvaccinated. They are also our best way to achieve a return to normality in life by allowing business and government to reopen by lessening their liability for workers compensation and customer liability.  The toll on our children should also concern us and supports a masking mandate in at least elementary schools.

Is it legal?

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1974 grants the Federal government the power to regulate workplace safety to reduce workplace hazards, including illnesses.  This law has existed for over three decades and it’s legality has repeatedly been upheld.  In particular, section 6 (c)(1) gives the President through the Department of Labor’ Occupational Safety the right to issue Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) when employees are exposed to “grave danger from exposure to substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful or from new hazards, and (B) that such emergency standard is necessary to protect employees from such danger.  29 U.S.C. § 655(c)(1). This cannot be done by mere executive order.  The proposed ETS must be reviewed by an advisory committee, drafted and then published in the Federal Register.  While it becomes immediately effective at upon publication, it expires after six months if not renewed through the usual notice and comment procedure under the federal Administrative Procedure Act. See this description of the process on OSHA’s website.

Thus, it will be at least a week before any rule or mandate is adopted. Based on the statement from the White House, the rule will allow employees to escape the vaccination requirements through weekly negative COVID-19 testing. Many other issues will need to be addressed and the President has met with business and labor leaders to begin to resolve them.  They will also be hashed out by the advisory committee.

Is there a better way do it?

The new emergency standard is unique since it will apply not just to certain industries, but to to almost every type of workplace in the nation.  Imposing a mandate of this breadth should be the province of the Congress, not an administrative agency.  Acting through legislation instead of an OSHA rulemaking would have allowed the administration to include measures that are outside of the agency’s power, such as providing federal financial support for the small number of employees who may suffer adverse reactions to the vaccine.  Even more importantly, it would have forced Republicans and Democrats in Congress to confront the issues, both specious and valid, about our pandemic response.  Such a debate would have exposed the weaknesses in both the anti-vaxxer and permanent lockdown camps, which may be why both sides want to avoid it. The eventual result would not fully satisfy either the Dr. Anthony Faucis or Rep. Marjorie Green’s of the world, but it might satisfy the average American trying to run his or her life in a responsible and caring manner. 

Nevertheless, we appear to be stuck with the OSHA emergency standard as the only likely method of spurring vaccinations and stopping the surge in the current Delta variant of COVID-19. If opponents want to be helpful, they will start demanding that the Biden Administration set a clear metric for when vaccination and masking mandates will end. What number they pick – whether it is cases, hospitalization rates or death rates – matters less than the simple courageous act of making a decision and setting a goal for the American people to rally around. Only then will we move beyond irresponsible political rhetoric and see the light at the end of this dark tunnel.