Monday, October 15, 2018

3 Reasons that our Democracy is Failing

By Glenn Geher

Look, our democracy is broken right now. I remain convinced, even through these trying times, that democracy, writ large, remains the single-best form of governance for large human groups. But our current system is, simply, broken right now.

Many people, including myself, have been working hard to elect Democratic and Progressive officials throughout the land as a way to fix things. I understand why. But I also, after having been so close to issues of elections at all kinds of levels for so long, have become convinced that "turning our nation blue" is a Band Aid solution. It doesn't get to the core of the problem. In fact, not by a long shot.

After talking with hundreds of concerned citizens from all kinds of backgrounds over the past several years - and after running my own campaign for office - and playing a central role in the Hudson Valley Progressive movement, I have come to see the following three issues as foundational issues that, ultimately, need to be completely overhauled for us to be able to restore our democracy.

1. Campaign Finance Reform is Foundational

The amount of money poured into elections in this nation is nuts. Just nuts. Billions of dollars a year. To be able to run for congress, for instance, you have to (a) be able to take off at least a full year from whatever your job is (and, really, how many of us can do that?!?) and (b) raise close to three million dollars (and really, how many of us can do that!?!?!?!?!?). And that is just to have a shot at it. And that is just Congress. When all is said and done our current campaign finance system is structured so as to:
A. Make it so that only a small slice of Americans can really afford to run for high-level office.
B. Make it so that money speaks volumes in American politics - and any and all elected officials end up being beholden (to various degrees) to all kinds of individuals, organizations, and special interests.

Further, imagine if all of that money when to health care and education? Seriously.

If we really want to restore democracy and give every citizen equal voice, campaign finance reform must be a top-priority issue.

2. The Electoral College Should be Abolished

The electoral college is based on an antiquated America. These days, it gives an extremely disproportionate amount of power to states with very few people in them. The bottom line here is that a small group of American voters wield a disproportionately large influence on who all is running things in Washington, DC. This very idea of a small group having disproportionate influence is the antithesis of Democracy - and we all know it.

3. We Should Change the System so that Gerrymandering is Made Impossible.

Gerrymandering is a process whereby some legislative body works to draw up election-related district lines - a process that is done periodically, ostensibly based on changes in population. Elected officials famously use this process to draw lines that ultimately tip elections toward the party that is predominant in the legislative body that holds most power during the process. Districts are often drawn up in highly contorted ways so as to keep certain high-population areas in districts that need them (for the purposes of winning elections), for instance.

These days, we have math, science, and computers. Coming up with systems for drawing up district lines based on computer-generated algorithms would not really be that difficult to do. To my mind, we should enact laws to do exactly this.

Bottom Line

The three suggestions here are completely non-partisan. They are not about making the country "blue again." They are about the restoring of democracy in a nation that has a fully broken system.

One problem with making the changes suggested above is that, frankly, none of these issues is very exciting. A candidate whose main issue is to stop gerrymandering is unlikely to get many cheers at a rally compared with one whose main issue is to restore human rights, for instance.

But when you look at our system from a bird's eye view, it becomes clear that addressing the foundational issues that are demarcated here is really a primary way to effect real change when it comes to the issues that we actually care about (such as restoring human rights).

If we want to live in a nation where anyone can rise to a high-level elected office - and everyone has an equal voice when it comes to influencing our future, we better look carefully at the foundational aspects of the problem. And, as uninteresting as these issues may seem, we better start electing officials who are bent on addressing these problems that sit at the core of why and how our democracy is broken.
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Note that the views expressed herein are expressly the views of the author and are not necessarily the views of Move Forward New York as a collective entity. 

Monday, July 2, 2018


For immediate release: Move Forward New York endorses Antonio Delgado for Congress in New York's 19th congressional district.


For Immediate Release
July 2, 2018
Contact: Patricia Wilson
(845) 764-7694

Move Forward New York endorses Antonio Delgado for Congress in NY 19

Gardiner, NY — At a meeting on July 1st, Move Forward New York declared their endorsement of NY-19 Democratic candidate Antonio Delgado, following Delgado’s victory in the recent Democratic Primary.

Move Forward New York, a citizen action group committed to promoting social justice, preserving civil rights, and ensuring environmental conservation by encouraging participation in the political process on all levels through education, collaboration, and activism enthusiastically endorses Antonio Delgado for Congress, in the New York 19th congressional district.

Delgado, a Rhinebeck resident, and Schenectady native, recently won the Democratic primary. Antonio, a lawyer by trade, has also worked to inspire and empower youth, primarily through music. Delgado has spent the last year and a half, or so, traveling around the 19th congressional district, speaking to voters in a variety of forums, discussing his plans to secure universal and affordable healthcare for all, protect a woman’s right to choose, create a tax code that works for working people and the middle class, protect the environment and combat climate change, in addition to other current concerns during this time of crisis in our country. Delgado is a stark contrast to current Congressman, John Faso, who has mostly avoided major interactions with his constituents, while chiefly voting in support of the Trump Administration. Move Forward New York asks our fellow citizens to continue to become informed on the issues facing NY CD19 and believe Delgado is the clear choice to help our district, and our country, move forward.

For more information on Antonio's campaign, including how you can volunteer and/or donate, see his website here.
Antonio Delgado

And for more information on Move Forward New York, check out our website here.

About Move Forward New York

The 2016 election was excessively divisive. Further, the members of Move Forward New York have specific concerns regarding the agenda and decision-making style of the current president of our nation. Among other things, we are concerned about issues of human rights, the treatment of immigrants, the treatment of Muslims, LGBTQ equality issues, racism, issues of misogyny, possibilities of international war, possibilities of civil war, increases in terrorist actions, poor fiscal management at the federal level, adverse changes in health care, and adverse changes in education - among other things. This group, comprised of more than 2,000 dedicated individuals who are mostly from New York (and who include many first-time activists) has as its primary mission to affect US politics on multiple fronts so as to help us reclaim our nation and to help us make sure that the USA continues to serve as a safe haven for ALL people.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Here is What You Can Do with Your Thoughts and Prayers

How many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn't see? Bob Dylan

At 21 years of age, well before I was even born, Bob Dylan’s prescient mind anticipated the current mass-shooting crisis that ominously stands before us now.

There are many people in our nation today, including many of our elected officials, whose primary response to this crisis is essentially this: “What is needed now are our thoughts and prayers. Shame on anyone for trying to politicize this issue when precious lives have been lost.”

With all due respect, that is such a bunch of garbage and we all know it. It is beyond insulting. This thoughts and prayers right now thing is part of a strategy - one that tries to inflict guilt and one that clearly is designed to deflect attention from the real issue, which we all know to be gun control (at the very least this is the primary issue, and we all know it (see unequivocal evidence for this point here).

Let’s dissect “thoughts and prayers” just a bit and see how American of an idea this really is. First off, the foundation of our nation rests upon a bedrock of separation of church and state. For “prayers” to be a primary response to an event such as Parkland from any government official in our nation slaps our forefathers in the face. Separation of church and state, please. This is the United States of America!

Further, let’s think about “thoughts.” I’m a behavioral scientist by training and by profession. We divide psychological phenomena into mental states and processes (such as thoughts) on the one hand and actions or behaviors on the other. Isn’t this nation built on action? Isn’t that what the United States is all about?

The United States as a Nation of Action

If you’re following this little thought exercise, then please join me in considering the following:

How did George Washington and his revolutionary colleagues respond to unfair treatment from the the British? Was the Declaration of Independence based on the premise that colonists needed to think and pray to solve their problems? Thoughts and prayers?!?

Imagine if the primary response of the United States to Pearl Harbor was “thoughts and prayers.” Right?!

How did Martin Luther King, Jr. lead the civil rights movement. Was it all thoughts and prayers?

What was George W. Bush’s response to September 11? If I recall correctly, it involved a lot more than thoughts and prayers.

And so on.

As you can see, this thought exercise is a bi-partisan exercise - with the primary point being this: The ethos of the United States, going all the way back, is an ethos of action. That's who we are. 

Listen to the Kids of Parkland, Florida

Don’t just take my word for it.* Several of the kids who survived the nightmare in Parkland, Florida are speaking out on social media. And they are saying things like this:

“F*** you. We don’t need your thoughts and prayers. GET BETTER GUN CONTROL.” (Kyra)

“I was hiding in a closet for 2 hours. It was about guns. You weren’t there, you don’t know how it felt. Guns give these disgusting people the ability to kill other human beings. This IS about guns and this is about all about the people who had their life abruptly ended because of guns.” (Carly)

“... don’t want your condolences you f*****g piece (sic) of s**t, my friends and teachers were shot” (Sarah)

On the other hand, Tomi Lahren of Fox News tweeted the following, which captures exactly the problem I’m talking about:

“Can the Left let the families grieve for even 24 hours before they push their anti-gun and anti–gun owner agenda? My goodness. This isn’t about a gun it’s about another lunatic. #FloridaShooting.”

This tweet was not met positively across the board, to say the least. In fact, several students who were in Parkland during the horror chimed in calling this tweet out as incredibly off-target and insensitive. Sorry, Tomi. We are too smart for that kind of political sleight of hand.

It IS about Gun Control. It Just Is.

The “thoughts and prayers thing” is a red herring. It’s a “look over there” political maneuver. And we cannot stand for it. The founding fathers of our nation would be embarrassed by the “thoughts and prayers” thing - and we should be too. We can do better. As the below meme from the Resisterhood states, let’s change “thoughts and prayers” to “policy and change.” Thoughts mean little compared to action. And our nation is premised on this fact. Let’s make our forefathers proud. Let’s look this national crisis in the eye, band together, take action, and resolve it. For our shared future. 


If you're not outraged, then you're not paying attention.



If ever there was a time to become politically active and rise up, that time is now. Here is to the uprising.

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Note that the views expressed herein are expressly the views of the author and are not necessarily the views of Move Forward New York as a collective entity.