There is no pressure

I've been struck by the huge amount of whining from Republican lawmakers in the past several weeks. It typically goes like this. Trump or one of his hit-men puts in a telephone call to some bureaucrat somewhere and the bureaucrat caves. Then everybody circles their wagons to have the "pressure" conversation. "That administrator is under a lot of pressure from the President," pundits say. "It's terrible."

To which I say, bullshit.

Here's the truth: No one can put pressure on anyone else unless they're holding a gun to their head or something similar. Short of that, succumbing to pressure is just weakness of character and cowardice. It works like this. I call on the phone and lean hard on you to get you to do what I want. I coax, cajole, guilt-trip, threaten, whatever. I really, really, really want you do go along with me. I do my best to brow-beat you into going along.

What do you do? You have a couple of options. You can cave to my wishes and then say you were "pressured" into something you didn't want to do. You blame me because you don't have the spine to take responsibility for your cowardice. And it's easy to get the people around you to go along with your pity party. It's not your fault. The devil make you do it.

Or you can tell me to fuck off and then do what you really think is right.


Pressure is not something done to you (again, unless there's a gun to your head). It's something you feel -- or don't feel -- based on what someone else does or says. You are always, always, always, free to disregard what you might think of as pressure. You are always free to behave with integrity. It's your choice.

Might feeling "pressure" put you in a difficult position? Of course it might. We all find ourselves in difficult positions from time to time, occasionally with dire consequences. You could lose a job or find yourself on the outs with a group of friends. Indeed, that thing some call "peer pressure" is one of the most common illusions of pressure people feel. But it's not real. You are always free to make your own choices and ignore what others want you to do.

Blaming their actions on outside pressure is one of the most despicable behaviors I see in elected officials. Republicans, in particular, are always fretting about what Trump wants them to do. From time to time an elected Republican ignores Trump's wishes (as they seem to be doing in Michigan), but for the most part, they swallow their integrity, remain silent, and enable the asshole to be exactly the asshole they've learned to fear.

Cowards, one and all.



Speaking of pressure

I insist that you agree with this:

Hi. My name is James, and I’m a new Democrat. I believe that having a good society means finding the right balance of freedom and fairness. It’s not easy or simple. But it’s what we need to do.

In the past, some Democrats may have pushed too far in the direction of fairness – and maybe not far enough in terms of freedom. I’m reclaiming that word. Freedom. It’s our first principle.

For example, many well-meaning people are against the right to die. They think suicide is wrong and that people should not be allowed to kill themselves. New Democrats think people should have the right to die if they want.

Affirmative action is another area where the pursuit of fairness may be getting in the way of freedom. The goal of affirmative action is commendable, but the method isn’t working any more. We have to find a different way to make sure people have equal opportunity for jobs and public services. This will require some new thinking, and I confess I don’t have the answer yet.

Abortion is another area of political conflict. Some people say they want to be “fair” to non-viable fetuses and they are trampling the rights of women to choose whether they want to be mothers or not. That’s wrong.

I support the right to bear arms. However, fairness dictates that people not be allowed to have, for example, weapons of mass destruction like hand grenades and missiles.

Public education is an area where finding balance is getting harder. Our best shot is to make sure every student has access to equal opportunities. That may mean making more and different opportunities available – as long as no student or group gets penalized by getting less funding than other students or groups.

Finally, I have some thoughts about religion. I was raised as a Southern Baptist, where I came to believe many tenets of contemporary worship. Then I lost my faith. Which “me” was the right one? The believer or the non-believer? That’s totally up to me. You may never impose your religion on me using the levers of government.

It’s been my experience that Republicans don’t much like fairness. They’re all over freedom, but they don’t mind seeing their pals dominate others. They support guys like Trump being able to get away paying no taxes, while mindlessly penalizing middle class families. They want to make sure whatever advantage they have is maintained without the slightest concern for fairness.

New Democrats recognize that society benefits when we balance as much freedom as possible with enough fairness to keep the ship of state on an even keel. It’s not easy. It takes adults engaging with one another in good faith. That’s what New Democrats stand for.