The New Year begins with calls to address the fallout of what can fairly be described as the great political earthquake of 2016. Yes, let’s do act with newfound determination to make things better, but let’s also make an investment of time and effort to think before we act.
Next week, there are two fantastic opportunities to immerse in thoughtfulness that informs efforts to create the kind of healthy, productive society we want in the Valley. On Tuesday, the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust will host an installment of its Thought Leaders Series with a focus on “Advancing Resilience in Arts and Culture: The Value of Cross-Sector Partnerships.” The forum at the Beus Center for Law and Society in downtown Phoenix is open to the public.
As a Piper Trust thought leader, Chris Ronayne, president of University Circle in Cleveland, an innovative square mile of urban development that features universities, hospitals, museums, parks, restaurants and residential spaces, will share lessons learned about creating a resilient community that has become a destination point for living, working and playing.
On Thursday at South Mountain Community College, the Arizona Community Foundation, the Center for the Future of Arizona and the Girl Scouts–Arizona Cactus-Pine Council will host a conversation with Robert Putnam, author of the fantastic book Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, which dug deeply into the perils of the growing opportunity gap among young people in the United States. The book published in 2015 speaks to the dangers of unequal opportunity, and it proved to be a fascinating precursor to some of what transpired in the national election.
While we ramp up resolve in 2017 to fix what clearly is broken and to protect programs and values we fear are under assault, let’s embrace fundamental change in our approaches to building up society. Let’s listen and learn before we act.
I’ve been floating in the center space that William A. Galston and William Kristol write about for a long time. Those who occupy center left and center right are often accused by those on the far left and far right as being fence-sitters, of having no core values. That’s offensively dismissive.
Those in the center can fairly be accused of sitting on the sidelines while the partisan left and the right duke it out. That’s been a mistake and we see the lack of good governance that results.
I love this in the duo’s Viewpoints column:
“The basic institutions and principles of liberal democracy are under assault. Many of us who are defenders of this distinctive form of self-government have tended to take for granted widespread agreement on these principles; we have had confidence in the strength of these institutions. This is a complacency we can no longer afford. …
Opportunity, security, accountability, ingenuity — these are the pillars of a New Center. We do not know what policies a New Center will yield. Nor can we predict what institutional form or even party alignment it will take.
But the alternative to a coherent and effective New Center is a degree of public discontent that could end by undermining democratic self-government itself. ”
The photo with the Business Insider article, “A small town in Ohio holds clues to Trump victory,” shows the North and Main street sign. I had a wonderful childhood on North Street where Mom and Dad built a home more than 60 years ago.
The small town’s history has interesting twists and turns. It was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Quakers had a lot to do with that.
In Mom’s youth, there was a movie theater. It was segregated. Blacks had to sit in the balcony. Decades later her brother would become mayor.
Mom tells of the time some of her kin and their friends crashed a Klan rally. Whatever happened that night made it so my generation didn’t have to deal with that, at least not until I was in high school and some out-of-towner grand wizard threatened to hold a rally. My friends, mostly white, told me not to worry about it. The rally never happened.
There were several churches back in the day when the town was booming at about 1,000 people. Dad championed ecumenical services. Pastors delivered sermons at our church. Dad took the pulpit in theirs.
The town is surrounded by beautiful farmland. Fathers’ hard work in steel mills and coal mines put a lot of kids through college.
It’s a different place today. It has taken a turn for the worse. I’m so sorry about that.
Supporting a national campaign
The Be Kind People Project, a Phoenix-based nonprofit organization, launched its national Be Kind America campaign in October 2016. JDD Specialties provided communication support and helped implement the initiative.
How John McCain can condemn Donald Trump for outrageous statements, such as those leveled at the Gold Star Khan family, but still endorse the Republican nominee for president is a fair question that’s easy to answer. It’s because he’s walked in Trump’s shoes and lived triumphantly as a politician to benefit from it.
Arizona’s senior senator and the 2008 Republican nominee for president knows a thing or two about saying stupid, incredibly cruel things, often about people who deserve better. McCain also knows it doesn’t take much for voters, especially political party faithful, to forgive, forget and elect. McCain has benefitted from Arizona voter magnanimity for 34 years as a U.S. representative and senator.
“Cynicism is a refuge for cowards.”
— Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia
Cynicism as a scourge of civic engagement is a familiar theme of Cory Booker’s speeches. The highly quoted riff in his speech Monday at the Democratic convention is particularly on point in this long, bitter, depressing political season.
“Cynicism is a refuge for cowards.” Booker is right. But Tom Wolfe’s words in The Bonfire of the Vanities also speak directly to 2016 American democracy when he described cynicism as “a cowardly form of superiority.”
My list of things I wish I had said grew a lot this week — a week that from start to finish was full of highlights of a world seemingly gone mad. Relief from despair comes from hearing and reading words that struck a chord.
George W. Bush, David Brooks, Charles Cooke and Bryan Stevenson were on point with these gems that make sense and give hope.
Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown is a profile in courage. He is so grounded in reality. I’ve enjoyed watching him lead. What he said about the impossible demands placed on police officers as quoted in the New York Times is truth in boldface. We have so much work to do.
“Every societal failure, we put it off on the cops to solve. Not enough mental health funding, let the cop handle it. Not enough drug addiction funding, let’s give it to the cops. Here in Dallas we got a loose dog problem. Let’s have the cops chase loose dogs. Schools fail, give it to the cops. Seventy percent of the African-American community is being raised by single women. Let’s give it to the cops to solve that as well.”
“Policing was never meant to solve all those problems,” he said.
I think Mom’s cardiologist nearly had heart attack during her checkup.
Mom and Doc always chitchat during visits, usually about his growing up in Detroit in the ’60s and their shared appreciation of Sam Cooke.
But then Donald Trump’s name came up and I chimed in. I challenged his assertion that “there’s no way, NO WAY” Trump wins the election. When I mentioned “Brexit” and the populist similarities in U.S. politics, the usually laid-back jazz-lover got flushed and started scooting his little wheeled doctor’s stool in a back-and-forth motion.
“It’s not going to happen. Never. NEVER,” Doc said. “I’ll get you any bottle of wine you want if he wins.”
(Written by JDD Specialties for Terry Benelli, executive director of LISC Phoenix.)
Eskwel uma angkyahkya LISC.
“Thank you, it’s good you all came here today to the LISC event,” White Spider Girl said in Hopi language. What followed her greeting at a March 22 gathering of LISC executive directors in downtown Phoenix was a brief, compelling account in English of the 99-year history of the Phoenix Indian School site three miles away.
At the end of the boarding school story of tragedy and triumph, White Spider Girl, also known as Patty Talahongva, community development manager at Native American Connections, smiled and said she wished she had a drum roll for the exciting news she would share publicly for the first time: City-financed construction begins immediately to restore the historic Phoenix Indian School music building. Native culture will activate the public space in the spring of 2017.
Expect drumming and so much more.
Call to action
In 2016, the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust joined the list of satisfied JDD Specialties’ clients. The trust uses JDD Specialties as an independent contractor for writing, including news releases and guest columns.
Two great passages from David Brooks’ “Not Trump, Not Ever” column.
“Moreover, many in the media, especially me, did not understand how (Republican voters) would express their alienation. We expected Trump to fizzle because we were not socially intermingled with his supporters and did not listen carefully enough. For me, it’s a lesson that I have to change the way I do my job if I’m going to report accurately on this country.”
“Donald Trump is an affront to basic standards of honesty, virtue and citizenship. He pollutes the atmosphere in which our children are raised. He has already shredded the unspoken rules of political civility that make conversation possible. In his savage regime, public life is just a dog-eat-dog war of all against all.”
Presidential elections give voters an opportunity to have their say. Their choice in leaders says a lot, and it’s tradition to respect the message. This year is no different. Primary election voters are who they say they are. In 2016, we’re struggling to respect the clear message that rejects any notion of appealing to what Abraham Lincoln called the “better angels of our nature.”
Championing a cause
JDD Specialties helped the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust with a multipronged effort to promote public support for the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center whose 22-year existence is threatened by a new neighbor’s complaints. Preserving endangered Mexican gray wolves is among the accredited sanctuary’s noble deeds. JDD Specialties wrote the Pulliam Trust news release that informed media coverage of the issue; a guest column that provided some inspiration for an editorial and an “advertorial” that encouraged donations to the center.(Photo by Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center.)
My dad enlisted in the Navy in the early 1950s. He chose to serve a country that at the time still allowed Jim Crow to thrive. It was before Brown v. Board of Education and before the civil rights movement forced the nation by law to live up to its founding ideals for all citizens.
We never talked much about his Navy days, but I suspect he believed he served a country that, while deeply and tragically flawed, was the best in the world. I share that belief today.
Thank you, veterans, for stepping up and standing firm, even in days of doubt, struggle, disappointment and disrespect.
Let’s not mince words about the suspect in the massacre at Emanuel AME Church. He is a terrorist of the worst kind - the domestic variety that this nation knows so well.
Nine people were gunned down Wednesday night at a Bible study inside the historic church in Charleston, S.C. The attack ignites again the uniquely American debates about guns, violence and racism.
But this attack at this church in this day and age does so much more than that. At least it should. (Full disclosure: The African Methodist Episcopal Church is dear to my family. My grandfather was a presiding elder in the AME Ohio conference. All three of his sons, including my father, were ordained ministers. At least one cousin in my generation carries on the Dokes tradition.)
“Make it snappy” takes on new meaning when writing “Quick Hits,” brief comments by Arizona Republic editorial board members featured at the top of the Opinions page. You must reach a point quickly and it has to pop.
Here is a sample of what I said in 2014.