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Lake County Republicans Raffle Assault Rifle to Finance Campaigns

By Lee Goodman, organizer, Peaceful Communities

Less than two weeks after the shooting massacre in Las Vegas, the Lake County Republican Party raffled off an assault rifle and other guns in order to raise money for their campaigns. More than 100 outraged residents showed up in the Village of Kildeer on very short notice to protest this grotesquely insensitive disregard for public safety. When a reporter asked whether the protest was partisan, my response was “No.” I explained that if the Democratic Party had held a similar event, I and many others would be at that protest, too. But, I added, the Democratic Party in our area does not give guns out to whoever holds a winning ticket, and I feel confident that it never will. The Democratic Party is in touch with the desires of the vast majority of Americans here and all over our country who want fewer guns in circulation and more effective laws to prevent gun violence.

Immediately after the worst mass shooting in recent history, the White House and the NRA were quick to say that we should not talk about solving the problems that guns cause in America. They said that it would be politicizing the tragedy. But their own Republican Party had no hesitation to go ahead with its gun raffle to raise money for political campaigns. Despite a public clamor to cancel the raffle, they persisted. The chairman of the Lake County Republicans told reporters that he believed, as the NRA does, that there is no way to prevent shootings.

In the Trump era, many Republican voters like to pretend that they are more moderate than their party is. But the leadership of the Republican Party in Lake County has, by their intransigence on the issue of guns, shown that it is solidly aligned with the anti-social policies their party promotes at the national level. It would have been easy to cancel the Lake County raffle, but they refused.

Some people question the value of protests. In this instance, the protest attracted the attention of virtually all area news outlets. The result was that the Republican Party had to publicly answer for its actions, on the record. Voters who care about the damage guns are doing to our country now have the facts, and they can be expected to hold accountable all Lake County Republican candidates, because all of these candidates are benefiting from and supporting a party that auctions off guns like carnival prizes.

Trump vs. the Constitution

By Dr. Laurence D. Schiller, Dean, Tenth Dems University

On Sunday afternoon, September 17, Tenth Dems University presented Trump vs. the Constitution, a lecture by Martin H. Redish, Louis and Harriet Ancel Professor of Law and Public Policy, Northwestern University School of Law.  Hosted by Lake Forest College, the event, which aptly fell on Constitution Day, drew a near capacity crowd of more than 150. Constitution Day commemorates the signing of the U.S. Constitution 230 years ago, on September 17, 1787.

Professor Redish began with a list of what he termed  six “methods of tyranny,” which he reviewed against the actions of President Donald Trump:

  1. INTIMIDATION OF THE PRESS
  2. INTIMIDATION OF THE JUDICIARY
  3. CLOUDING THE TRUTH
  4. PORTRAYING THE LEADER AS SAVIOR
  5. APPROVAL OF AUTHORITARIAN LEADERS AND INTEREST GROUPS
  6. SCAPEGOATING OF VULNERABLE MINORITIES

The professor then turned to the reasons why he is cautiously optimistic that our democracy will survive this presidency as he closely examined the U.S. Constitution’s safeguards against tyranny.

As Professor Redish reminded the audience, our Constitution was constructed specifically to prevent the rise of tyranny. The founders understood that an executive is necessary for the practical implementation and enforcement of the laws that the legislature enacts and for overseeing the military, but they also recognized that the history of previous republics shows that the greatest threat of tyranny comes from that branch of government. So they devised a well thought-out governmental structure that would rein in the executive.  In addition, they created federalism, our system of reserving some powers of government to the states.

With reference to The Federalist Papers, Professor Redish ticked off some of the specific characteristics of what he called the American Constitutional structure as tyranny avoidance:

First, unlike the British from whom America’s founders had just successfully broken, the founders created a written constitution that could not be interpreted or neglected on the whim of King or Parliament.

Second, because they basically did not trust anyone not to seek absolute power, the founders created three co-equal, separate, branches of government.  Each branch would have defined functions that would act as a check on one another:  Congress legislates and controls appropriations; the President executes and enforces the laws passed by Congress, spending the funds Congress appropriates.  The President also manages foreign policy but only Congress can declare war. And the ultimate check on presidential power is the independent federal judiciary.  Insulated from politics by lifetime tenure, federal judges can nullify laws or executive actions that violate the Constitution. As Chief Justice John Marshall wrote in Marbury v. Madison (1803), the Constitution is a check on the political branches, without which there would be no stopping their accumulation of power. Ever.

Third, Article 5 of the Constitution allows for the amendment of the Constitution but only by means that require super majorities. This prevents tyranny by the simple majority. Neither the President, the Congress, the states, nor the people by themselves can change the Constitution and the protections it gives.

Fourth, protections for individuals are written into the first eight amendments to the Constitution, which, with the next two, we call the Bill of Rights. Unlike the British unwritten constitution, these rights are stipulated in black and white. And our independent judiciary protects these individual rights from the executive and legislative branches’ excesses.

Fifth, while the states are subordinate to the federal government, they are yet autonomous in that they have rights that may not be overridden nor subsumed by the power of the federal government. This provides yet another check on the potential tyranny of the center of power. So, for example, the Trump Election Commission could not constitutionally control the process of elections, because this power resides with the states. Still, the federal government, as it did in 1964 with the Voting Rights Act, may legislate to ensure that no state deprives anyone of the right to vote on the basis of race.

Professor Redish concluded his talk with more specific examples of Trumpian threats to these constitutional protections, including the Muslim ban and disrespect of the judiciary.  For example, in Professor Redish’s view the pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio threatens the power of the judiciary, because Arpaio’s crime, that Trump’s pardon excused, was to defy a court order that he cease engaging in specific unconstitutional activities.  Professor Redish’s New York Times op-ed on this topic can be accessed at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/24/opinion/trump-arpaio-pardon-arizona-sheriff.html?mcubz=0&_r=0

The afternoon ended with a lively question and answer session.

 

Tenth Dems Founding Chair Lauren Beth Gash Honored with Democratic Party Builder Award in Springfield

Tenth Dems Founding Chair Honored by Statewide Democrats

By Randi Kugler

Attending the annual Illinois Democratic County Chairmen’s Association (IDCCA) brunch on Thursday, August 17, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield was truly a wonderful and exhilarating experience.  This brunch is usually the year’s largest gathering of Illinois Democrats; this year’s crowd of more than 1800 set a new record. And the highlight for me was when our Founding Chair and former State Representative Lauren Beth Gash accepted the Party Builder Award.  This annual award recognized Lauren’s efforts to build Tenth Dems, Democratic township organizations, and other Democratic infrastructure that do grassroots politics, knock on doors, register voters, and get voters to the polls; the types of activities that help Democrats win on Election Day!

Hon. Lauren Beth Gash addresses the record crowd while accepting the Democratic Party Builder Award from the Illinois Democratic County Chairmen’s Association.

Accepting this prestigious honor, Lauren talked about Tenth Dems, and you can watch her give her speech here. Lauren noted that Tenth Dems recruits, energizes, and empowers volunteers who do the not-always-glamorous but highly consequential work of grassroots politics like organizing phone banks and canvasses, deploying an election protection team of attorneys to polling places, hosting expungement and sealing seminars, presenting knowledgeable speakers on a variety of political issues and also arranging informal discussions of such issues, sponsoring training for deputy voter registrars, showcasing local high school student authors in an annual poetry and prose contest, and much, much more.

Along with the rest of the Tenth Dems team, I am so proud of Lauren, a leader who has helped build a solid Democratic infrastructure in a once-red part of Illinois and a person who inspires with her passion and skill.

In addition to Lauren, speakers at the brunch included Keynoter Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota; Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth; and several Illinois elected officials.  All of the Democratic candidates for Governor of Illinois also attended the brunch.

I found the speeches to be inspiring and empowering as speaker after speaker reaffirmed our Democratic values. We are united and dedicated in working together to fight the good fight. All commented on President Trump’s failure to provide moral leadership and several said they were sickened by his lack of integrity in not calling what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, truly what it was—a rally of white nationalists and supremacists with intent to incite and cause havoc.

The Illinois Democratic County Chairs Association, a most important statewide organization for Democrats, was formed over 50 years ago to support the values of the Democratic Party through grassroots organizing at the local level. Their Democrats’ To Do List consists of expanding health care, investing in public schools, protecting reproductive rights, ensuring a living wage, fighting for organized labor, guarding civil rights, and electing a Democratic Governor of Illinois.

I am so proud to call myself a Democrat!  And I am especially proud to be a part of Tenth Dems!

A Night of Social Justice Songs

By Kasia Kondracki

This has been a year of resisting and persisting for us all. A great deal of what is needed to be an activist and a change agent is to keep going, keep pushing yourself to give more and do more for the greater good. Many of us around the 10th Congressional District are resisting by supporting the local domestic violence shelter or homeless shelter, growing fresh produce for the local food bank, volunteering in an environmental rights campaign, collecting school supplies for a drive, rescuing animals from abuse, petitioning our government, even testifying before the EPA.

But another part of the giving is to never give up hope. And that’s when self-care is needed. Sometimes, self-care comes in the form of taking a break to put on music that speaks to you and to sing and dance and be joyfully surrounded by others who, like you, are resisting and persisting.

Last Saturday, August 5th, I pulled into the parking lot down a winding road in Gurnee lined with midwestern wildflowers.  The glass entrance of the Lake County Federation of Teachers building framed a warmly lit room of people standing and clapping and dancing on a starry summer night singing Social Justice songs together.

What are Social Justice Songs? I had emailed back in confusion at the initial invitation. Well, Tenth Dems had created a playlist of songs—inspired by Bernie and Hillary delegates who came together during the 2016 convention to sing these kinds of songs–that express Democratic values and have resonated over the years.  –“Give Peace a Chance” by John Lennon, “Every Praise” by Hezekiah Walker, “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers, songs about Rosa Parks, songs of the labor movement, folk songs from the early and mid-20th century–songs that have shaped our character as a country and which remind us all that we are in this together. Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, gospel, Peter, Paul, & Mary, Broadway—all reflecting Democratic values of inclusiveness and social justice.

The crowd was diverse in race, religious background, income level, physical abilities, age, and richness of vocal tone. When I walked in, three preschoolers were dancing with youthful abandon alongside women who had seen the feminist movement of the sixties. Some people were relaxing over pizza together, listening to a group of gospel singers, and reading the song lyrics projected onto a screen at the front of the room.

This was a night of solidarity, and I’m thankful to all those who organized it.

Tenth Dems is grateful to Andy Chusid, who organized this event, and to Olivia Love, a 2016 Bernie delegate, and Lauren Beth Gash, a 2016 Hillary delegate, who inspired it.

See photos from this event by Steve Rosenzweig at https://www.facebook.com/pg/TenthDems/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1539016309454518

President Trump May Have Stage Four Malignant Narcissism

By Steven Gan

The afternoon of Saturday, July 29th, I was watching one of my favorite CNN news analysis hosts, Michael Smerconish. Having followed him for a couple of years, I find his commentary to be insightful and his interaction with guests to always be civil, polite, and informative.

On his program that day (https://goo.gl/3GdJJi) were two psychiatrists, Drs. John Gartner and Prudence Gourguechon, who were discussing whether psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals should be able to voice their personal opinions on the mental health status of public figures, specifically focusing on Donald Trump. The discussion centered on the medical and legal appropriateness of giving a broad opinion of a public figure’s mental well-being, or lack thereof, without the opportunity to make a complete diagnosis.

This was a topic of discussion because recently the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA) emailed its members stating that the APsaA no longer stands by the “Goldwater Rule,” that only on a personal basis can its members opine on public figures’ mental health. The “Goldwater Rule,” the informal name given to Section 7 in the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Principles of Medical Ethics, says that it is unethical for mental health professionals to give a professional opinion about public figures they have not examined in person, and from whom they have not obtained consent to discuss their mental health in public statements. The rule was named after 1964 presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, and it arose from an article published in 1964 in Fact Magazine, “The Unconscious of a Conservative: A Special Issue on the Mind of Barry Goldwater.” The magazine had asked some 1800 psychiatrists whether Senator Goldwater was fit to be President of the United States and published the results. Goldwater later sued the editor of the magazine for libel and eventually won $75,000 in compensatory damages.  But today many mental health professionals believe that the Goldwater Rule unreasonably limits their ability to speak out about important issues—like the mental health of a sitting president. Such sentiments apparently inspired the APsaA’s email disavowing adherence to the Goldwater Rule.

During the discussion with Smerconish, Dr. John Gartner opined that Donald Trump had “malignant narcissism” and implied it was at a “stage four” level. In hearing the term “malignant narcissism,” I thought Gartner was only being colorful in describing another one of President Trump’s personal deficiencies, like noting that Trump personifies “crass materialism.” It was said so quickly, I didn’t give it much thought, since day in and day out we are besieged with Trump’s mind-boggling antics on every political, mental, and emotional level.

Strangely, though, later that night when I was watching Law & Order, in one courtroom scene a psychiatrist testified that the defendant suffered from “severe malignant narcissism.

Now I had heard this term twice in less than10 hours, so I decided to look it up on Wikipedia. Here’s what I found:

“Malignant narcissism is a psychological syndrome comprising an extreme mix of narcissism, antisocial personality disorder, aggression, and sadism. Often grandiose, and always ready to raise hostility levels, the malignant narcissist undermines organizations in which they are involved, and dehumanizes the people with whom they associate.

When we think of the countless statements and tweets containing Trump’s nonstop bragging, boasting, attacks, name-calling, threats, uncontrolled anger, lies, delusions, and fantastical accomplishments, does this definition not describe our president to a T?

Dr. Gartner is one of 27 psychiatrists who have contributed to a new book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump (https://goo.gl/DjS7tt). The book should help us understand more about our president’s psychological condition. And, in view of the six months of this historically dysfunctional, chaotic, and out of the universe president and his administration, the book promises to be a best-seller.