Our large attendance at the February 12 LBKDC luncheon enjoyed a timely and stimulating presentation on the Rise of Populism by Gary Massel. Board member Robert Gary introduced Massel, who has a Ph.D in Physics, and held various high level positions in the federal government Departments of Health and Human Services and Defense before a successful career in private industry. In the early 1970s he was a member of the first Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) support staff. He currently teaches foreign policy at the LBK Education Center.
Gary Massel started by describing a “Populist” as a political leader who sees society in a simple way, divided into two opposing groups - the common people, and the corrupt “liberal elite”. The Populist leader claims to represent the will of the people. Massel told us that the rise of populism poses a threat to the world order that has existed since World War II and has produced significant gains in economic growth, reductions in global poverty, and peace between the major powers.
So, what are the principal drivers of the growth of populism and how does the current U.S. administration compare with other populist governments?
There are two types of democracy, liberal and illiberal. In a liberal democracy citizens choose their government and that government guarantees the protection of individual rights as is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. In an illiberal democracy citizens choose their government, but that government does not then support the institutions and personal freedoms that ensure the government remains responsive to the people.Read more
State Gun Control
Nation Gun Control
Last week was huge for gun violence prevention, with the House passing both the Background Check Bill (HR8) and the Charleston Loophole Bill (HR1112). Rep. Vern Buchanan did not vote in favor of the latter, but we continue to encourage you to thank him for being one of eight Republicans who crossed the aisle and voted in favor of HR8. His contact numbers are (941) 951-6643 in Sarasota, (941) 747-9081 in Bradenton and (202) 225-5015 in Washington. Rep. Greg Steube voted “no” on both bills, so if you’d like to tell him you disapprove, his numbers are (941) 575-9101 in Punta Gorda and (202) 225-5792 in Washington.
Now, on to the Senate, where you are encouraged to call three people and tell them you back S42, the Senate version of the background check bill: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has said he will not bring the bills to the floor; and our two Florida senators, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott. Remind them that there have been far too many mass shootings, single homicides, accidental shootings and suicides in this country and background checks are bound to stop some of them. While you’re at it, thank Sen. Rubio for filing a bill for national ERPOs (extreme risk prevention orders) on the national level. And tell McConnell that 97 percent of Americans support background checks and he owes it to all of us to let the bill be heard.
McConnell’s DC office: (202) 224-2541 (you can also contact him by going to www.mcconnell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=contact.
Rubio’s DC office: (202) 224-304. His Tampa office: (813) 853-1099.
Scott’s DC Office: (202) 224-5274. His Tallahassee office: (850) 942-8415
Board member Robert Gary introduced David Houle, by quoting Spanish educator Miguel de Unamuno who said, “We should try to be the parents of our future rather than the offspring of our past.” Known as The CEO’s Futurist, our speaker has spoken to or advised 4,000+ CEOs and business owners in the past eleven years, and has published several books including Entering the Shift Age and The New Health Age.
Given our unease with the Trump Administration, our uncertainty as to who should lead our party going into the 2020 election, and the issues that we should emphasize, Houle’s presentation, “A Look at the Future of the Democratic Party Through the 2020 Election and Beyond” was eagerly anticipated by an overflow crowd.
“I am a Democrat, I grew up in Chicago with a love of politics and early-on was smitten with John F. Kennedy.” Houle became a futurist in 2007 after a successful 20-year career in the media and entertainment, working at NBC, CBS, MTV, Nickelodeon, and CNN Headline News.
He predicted that the Democratic Party on a national level is set-up to be dominant through 2028 provided that we do not become preoccupied with the past including the 2018 elections. The Republican Party is focused on the past and obstructionism. Democrats must convince the public that their leaders can deal with enormous challenges that lay ahead.
Forecasting who our Presidential candidate will be at this point is a “fools errand”. Who would have predicted, for example, well before the 2008 convention, that Senator Barack Obama, a black man, with little experience, and with a Muslim name, would be the 2008 candidate for the Democrats?
The Democratic Party should stay away from attacking Donald Trump, which Houle referred to as “small ball.” He quoted Wayne Gretzky who, when asked why he was the greatest hockey player in history answered: “I skate to where the puck is going to be.”
We need to rethink what it means to be Progressive. Democrats should focus on the issues that will be critical in 2020, 2022 and 2024. To do this we must be analytical, disciplined and prepared to take risks. For example, despite our preoccupation with a growing aging population, the youth vote is critical. By 2020 millennials will be a large part of the electorate, and thus demographics favor the Democrats if we can get the youth vote to the polls. Houle told us that the 18-34 age-group voter turnout was very high in those states where marijuana legalization was on the ballot.
Our global economy is fragile and will continue to be so going into the next election and beyond. There is $270 trillion in debt in the global economy, which is larger than it was in 2008, before the last major recession. The voting public is and will continue to be very sensitive to economic issues. Voters will be looking for a candidate who they trust to turn around a recession, should one occur.
The Democratic Party does not have a clear position on immigration, a huge challenge worldwide. A position based on “We are a nation of immigrants” is not sufficient. By 2025 immigration will be much greater than it is today, stimulated by world climate problems, population growth and conflicts between nations. Houle asked, “How would we deal with five to ten million climate change refugees?” Climate change refugees from Syria have already flocked into North America and Europe. As the numbers of immigrants grow, will we continue to be a nation open to immigrants? We must have immigration laws that reflect this future reality. The development of these laws will not be easy and voters are likely to be very divided on the solutions.
So, which of our candidates is prepared to deal with the global economy, geopolitical challenges, health care, climate change and the myriad of problems facing our nation and the world over the next decade? Who is prepared to take on the international "bad dudes" such as exist in China, Iran, North Korea and Russia? Democrats should be the party to begin the discussion of 21st century thought. The Republicans are not prepared to do this.
Going forward, the Democrats must be The Vision Party.
Information about Futurist David Houle
The Longboat Key Democratic Club Received An Appreciation Award At The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast
On January 21, 2019 the Longboat Key Democratic Club was recognized at the 40th annual awards breakfast honoring the Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Junior. The award was in recognition of our club's many years of dedication to the Newtown community in Sarasota. The award was presented by the Sarasota Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Committee.
THE LONGBOAT KEY DEMOCRATIC CLUB has a longstanding partnership with the Newtown Community. During this past election, many members of the Club canvassed in the area and began to develop personal friendships. When asked how we might strengthen our partnership, it was suggested that we organize a group to take a trolley ride and learn about the history of the area. Friendships continued to deepened with a much greater understanding and admiration of the way contributions of residents of Newtown have made Sarasota what it is today. See Board Member Becky van der Bogert's has written a description of the tour here.
Our leader, Vicki Oldham, began the tour by informing us about the Newtown Conservation Historic District project that involved the writing of a report about the history of the area. The first part of the tour took us through Overtown which was the first African American community in Sarasota. This area is now known as The Rosemary District. We learned that the community was developed because of the restrictions put on African Americans about visiting the stores in Sarasota and the “Sundown Laws” which kept anyone African American from most parts of Sarasota before sunrise or after sundown.
We then disembarked from the trolley to offer libation to the grave of Reverend Lewis Colson, the first free African American to settle in Sarasota in 1884. He and his wife were credited with establishing the first African American Church where he served as their minister. As we stood watching Vicki pour libation on his grave and hearing of his struggles and the obstacles he’d met, his courage and resilience were brought home to us. We were no longer hearing stories in a textbook, but we were truly experiencing Newtown coming alive.
Boarding the trolley again I could feel a palpable sadness and need to reflect on what we’d experienced. Just then one of our leaders, Troy, broke out in spiritual songs such as Jacob’s Ladder and Wade in the Water. Our sadness was lifted as we became a joyous community. We were experiencing something together that was bigger than ourselves.
We then passed the first African American hotel constructed in 1925 to house visiting musicians and African American travelers who weren’t allowed to stay in other Sarasota hotels. The hotel was appropriately named the Colson Hotel.
As we approached Newtown we heard about the migration from Overtown that has become prime real estate for developers. There are two opposing versions of why this migration happened. One is that it was a “gentrification” project precipitated by some who feared having the black community so close to the town and the other is that there were many opportunities in Newtown such as the ability to own homes and a vision of a better life. With the entrepreneurial spirit, many African American businesses were founded and thrived in Newtown.Read more
Philip Kotler Presented on the Weaknesses of U.S. Capitalism and Democracy at our December 13 Luncheon
To our surprise and delight we had a greater than expected attendance at our December 13 luncheon. Our speaker was Philip Kotler, PhD, who Board Member Robert Gary introduced as the Father of Modern Marketing. Dr. Kotler is the Professor Emeritus of International Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He is the author of over 150 published articles and 60 books, including Democracy in Decline: Rebuilding its Future. Dr. Kotler shared his views on several problems facing our nation including the questions of whether capitalism in our democracy is working. He also shared his insights about the value proposition that the Democratic Party should adopt going into the 2020 elections.
The title of Dr. Kotler’s presentation was Great Inequality of Income is a Threat to Democracy. The main shortcomings of American capitalism, he says, are growing income and wealth inequality, low wages and high consumer debt, huge educational debt for graduates of colleges and professional schools, together with high executive pay, uncurbed growth of monopoly, oligopoly and financial capitalism. American Democracy is plagued by voter suppression, low voter literacy, and gerrymandering. Our two political parties are polarized and gridlocked. He pointed out that U. S. voter turnout is disappointingly low (55% in 2012) compared to other free countries and our voters and our voters are mostly uninformed.
Capitalism is corrupting our Democracy, he said. A U.S. politician seeking election must start with $1 million and attract many wealthy donors if he/she is to continue running. Kotler advocates shorter election campaigns financed by the government.
Rather than focusing on criticizing the current administration, Dr. Kotler made a strong argument that the Democratic Party should stay proactive, positive and work hard to improve our Democracy and our capitalism. The Common Good should be our value proposition going forward. The Common Good insists on excellent basic education and health coverage in our society, and expects businesses to have a societal purpose. The Common Good should be served by an active government and an active nonprofit sector.
The theme of The Common Good should drive the selection of the next Democratic candidate for President. Some of our major political stands going forward should be reducing the growing income and wealth gap, transitioning our health system to Medicare for All, allocating money to fix deteriorating infrastructure, revising gerrymandered districts, reducing education debt, improving gun control policy and reducing poverty and hunger.
Our Democracy can also be improved by fixing our government. We should have term limits, perhaps 24 years, for the House of Representatives, the Senate and The Supreme Court.
In short, Dr. Kotler says “Let’s Save Democracy and Make it Work for More People”.
Dr. Kotler’s presentation was followed by a lively question and answer period where we, among other things, explored the qualities for some of the potential 2020 candidates. The presentation was very well received and the discussion that followed was lively.
Judge Marvin Morse has been a genuine and distinguished lifetime Democrat. He has served with honor and distinction as a member and President of the Longboat Key Democratic Club. He has retired from active service this year. We are proud and greatly appreciate his extraordinary participation and service to our Club. He has made a positive and significant difference. Here, in his own words, is his story.