Two is One, and One is None
I love me some Democratic Values. I truly do. The fights for social justice, racial and economic equality, women’s reproductive rights, equal pay, and many more are important because they are simply the right thing to do. When the colonies declared independence from Great Britain (which, let’s be honest, wasn’t that ‘Great’ if a bunch of farmers could beat them), it was because we looked at our situation and said “There is something inherently not fair about taxation without representation.” Now, we white people also owned slaves at the time, so our moral compasses weren’t exactly infallible. However, the root argument remains to this day, and has become a core tenet of the Democratic Party: We fight for things because they are the right thing to do.
Unfortunately, everyone doesn’t agree with us about what is right. There are people who believe that people don’t deserve healthcare (they do), or who believe that America is a true meritocracy (it isn’t), or who believe that not everyone should be able to exercise their franchise (they should). With these people, we often find ourselves digging in our heels to argue the points of what is right or wrong with the issues, resulting in a stalemate instead of an understanding or a changing of minds. On top of that, we find ourselves sticking to a rigid purity test that disallows for maneuverability in our efforts to make a case for our ideas.
We have an opportunity moving forward to, without stopping our argument for what is morally just, bring the so-called “Socially Liberal, Fiscally Conservative” Republican (they don’t actually exist, but I’ll get to that later) into the Democratic Party without moving to the right.
Let me give an example:
Over the summer, this video went viral. It showed a Utah nurse named Alex Wubbels being assaulted by an officer who was upset that she was following the law. Outraged ensued (Note: I don’t want to make light of the situation, but I would also like to point out that while being illegally assaulted by an officer, Wubbels wobbled, but she didn’t fall down. #Respect) .
Criminal justice reform is a critical issue for Democrats. We need to fix how we prosecute people, how we jail people, and how our police forces interact with our communities, especially those of color and the LGBTQ+ community. Why? Well, it’s the right thing to do. We need a justice system that works fairly for all people. Unfortunately, some of those “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” people (who again, don’t actually exist) aren’t all that into the idea of doing something just because it’s the right thing to do (if they even believe it’s the right thing to do, although there is an argument to be made that they don’t know what they are talking about because they call themselves social liberal and fiscally conservative which, I promise, doesn’t exist and we’ll get to, just please calm down).
About a week ago, it was announced that the Utah nurse settled with the Salt Lake City Police Department for $500,000, and the officer in question was fired and his watch officer demoted two ranks.
That is $500,000 worth of taxpayer money being paid to someone because a police officer got too angry. One bad cop cost the Salt Lake City taxpayers half a million dollars. For some context, that’s the same amount spent by the City in recent solar installations on government facilities. Seven governmental buildings now meet somewhere between 17% and 92% of their energy needs with solar energy, and so could seven more if not for a police officer who really just needed to take a few deep breaths and calm down. Maybe try a Xanax.
This issue is widespread, and it costs taxpayers dearly. Over the past five years, New York City taxpayers have shelled out $837.5 million dollars in settled state and federal cases, with the fiscal year 2016 alone costing taxpayers $228.5 million in police misconduct lawsuits. That money could pay for a little over 60% of New York’s entire budget for its Libraries.
That. Is. Insane.
We should not be afraid to say that we believe in police reform and social justice because it is the right thing to do, but we should also tout it because it is financially prudent for us to make those changes. Police settlement cases make up a small amount of an unmeasured financial burden on our communities that comes from a lack of reform. This same reasoning can be applied to issues both big and small. Take health care. The traditional democratic argument is that, as one of the richest and most developed nations in the world, we have enough money to provide healthcare to all of our citizens, so we should. But, we can just as easily make the argument that, by combatting health issues before they take root, preventative medicine minimizes the drain chronic illness puts on Medicaid and Medicare — and saves us all money. Similarly, look at an issue like the cost of running your local government buildings. Instead of making solar panel installation just about climate change, we can argue that installing solar panels on governmental buildings pays for itself in short order and reduces the amount of money needed to run our government. It’s a win-win situation. And while this sounds a bit like extrapolation of a few small data points, we should feel confident in making a multi-faceted arguments for our policies. We should feel confident saying, “Want your taxes cut without raising the deficit? Support liberal policies.”
These are winning arguments. Heck, the $1.1 million cost from a police department whistleblower case in New Jersey recently spurred a 92-year-old WWII Veteran to run for mayor of his township… AND WIN! His platform? More transparency, and lower taxes.
There is a saying in the military that “two is one, and one is none.” It preaches the importance of redundancy in the field. If you have one knife and you lose it, without a backup its as if you had no knife in the first place. We should apply the same logic to how we argue for our policies. In short, we have to make arguments that win over different people. They aren’t going to be the same for every constituent, and we shouldn’t be afraid to attack an issue from more than one side. We shouldn’t stop talking about the morality of our policies, but bringing in a secondary argument might get people to the polls who really just want a few more dollars in their pockets and better communities for themselves and their neighbors.
With all this talk of politics, you probably forgot that there’s music in these things! Check out the playlist below, which started coming together in mid-October, and has really just been waiting for me to put some words on the screen. Enjoy!
1. Cringe — Matt Maeson
I promised I would get to it later, so here it is: It is impossible to call yourself a socially liberal and fiscally conservative person. You may think that‘s because being liberal inherently means you’re supportive of the social safety net and that costs money, which while true, isn’t the real reason. It’s because being fiscally conservative means seeing the long term payoffs of your actions, not just the short term repercussions. I don’t know about you, but nearly a billion dollars over five years because we’re afraid to clean up our police force seems not so fiscally conservative. But that’s just me.
2. Something for Your M.I.N.D. — Superorganism
If you want something for YOUR mind (see what I did there?), spend a bit of time going through this website: http://budget.council.nyc. It is a fantastically interesting interactive look at where your tax dollars in New York City go. There are insanely detailed breakdowns if you do a deep dive, and I’ve spent a good hour on the site already.
3. Sober Up (feat. Rivers Cuomo)
4. Here Comes the Feeling — Until the Ribbon Breaks
I work in advertising for the moment, which means some stuff comes across my twitter feed that occasionally has to do with marketing and the ad world at large. And, oh boy, do I have thoughts about it…
This guy is dumb, and that is a stupid motto. This kind of adored-by-LinkedIn crap gets passed around by people who have no substance in their thoughts because they think it sounds great. So, we’re going to break it down a bit, because righteous indignation is kind of my brand.
Let’s start with the so-called motto. “I wake up each morning and just hope I can be useful.” Sounds like something I would tell my high school girlfriend’s parents to make sure they’d like me. It worked, because they did, but that’s not the point. It’s a motto that means nothing without adding some context. So let us add some context.
The source of this quote is Mark Pritchard, the head of marketing at Proctor & Gamble. Proctor & Gamble is a consumer goods corporation that recorded $2.5 billion in profits in the third quarter of this past year. Pritchard, according to an AdWeek article from early September, holds control over a $2.4 billion annual advertising budget for P&G. While I couldn’t find Pritchard’s salary, the Group President for Global Health Care division, Steven D. Bishop, got $5.1 million dollars in compensation for the 2017 fiscal year according to the proxy statement that P&G made to the SEC. This likely means that Pritchard is getting, at the least, a seven-figure salary to work at P&G. That money may help explain why he wakes up every day and hopes to “be useful.” But that isn’t all.
Proctor & Gamble is known mostly for its household brands like Bounty, Crest, and Tide. It’s less well known for buying palm oil from a supplier named Wilmar International that uses forced child labor in it’s production processes, a practice revealed in an Amnesty International study from November of last year. So while P&G does make and sell the quicker picker upper, it seems their quickest picker uppers are 8 to 14-year-old forced laborers in Indonesia.
I’m not blaming Mark Pritchard for this. I’m not blaming this guy from Twitter for this. But when you say stupid shit like “I wake up each morning and just hope I can be useful,” maybe you should add the context of “for my company” or “for my coworkers” instead of saying broad, platitude-y bullshit. Because, Mark Pritchard, you sure as hell aren’t being helpful to those kids in Indonesia by waking up every morning to help make this shit.
5. No Roots — Alice Merton
I really can’t decide whether I actually like this song.
6. Let Me Go (feat. Florida Georgia Line & watt) — Hailee Steinfeld & Alesso
7. Outta Sight / Dark Lavender Interlude — DRAM
8. Mirror (feat. Bruno Mars) — Lil Wayne
In the midst of writing this piece, the Washington Post article about Roy Moore came out. It’s pretty fucking disgusting, alleging with 5 different on the record sources that he sexually molested multiple teenagers when he was in his 30s, including a 14 year old. Fuck that guy. We should toss him into a cell and throw away the key.
9. For You — James TW
10. Fear is Like a Forest — Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile
The favorite this week. I’ve played this song countless times. Check out the full album, “Lotta Sea Lice”, especially killer tracks like “Outta the Woodwork” and “On Script.”
David Cutler is a Brooklyn-based writer and designer, currently working in advertising. For more of his hastily typed thoughts, follow him on Twitter at @davidwbcutler, or here on Medium at @davidwbcutler.