CNN -- NYT -- HuffP -- NPR -- Politico -- Muchrock -- BBC -- WashT -- Fox -- Reuters -- WaPo

James Grandone / Opinion

 

Rebuilding in Madison County



By James Grandone
Commentary
___________


The Madison Co. Administration Building
    EDWARDSVILLE - 11/20/2020 - “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades” is a song by one-hit-wonder Timbuk 3 in 1986. To hear the heads of the Republican and Democratic parties talk about the future, they both have their Ray-Bans on.
    I spoke with Ray Wesley, chairman of the Madison County Republican Party (@GOPMADISONCOUNTY) and Randy Harris, newly minted chairman of the Madison County Democratic Party (@MadcoDems) after the 2020 general election. Both were optimistic about the future prospects of their party in coming elections and both cited shortcomings and strengths. But they had very different messages.

    Wesley’s Republicans are coming off a heady success at the county level that saw President Donald Trump win handily with more than 75,000 votes against former Vice President Joe Biden who got just below 57,000 votes. Countywide offices saw similar results and the party took most of the open positions at the county board level as well.

    Harris attributes the loss to the media and the national headlines. “People just came out and voted for Trump.” Democrats are looking to the future and plan to “reorganize, reach out and message” to attract the blue-collar workers the party has lost starting in the 2010 election and going forward.

    “We put out a very good, robust message around issues important to local Democrats,” said Harris. “It’s all about how we’re going to help the blue-collar workers who get up and go to work every day.”

   Wesley’s party’s message was simple: fiscally conservative philosophy coupled with lower taxes and less government. “We are the No. 1 taxed state in the country, and we are trying to save every dollar for taxpayers.” I think Californians would take exception to that statement, but there it is.

    Harris is skeptical about the Republicans’ tax-cutting and wants to know what services will be eliminated when the revenue isn’t there to pay for them. To him, it’s a quality of life issue. His point is well made, in that many of the services that Madison County residents enjoy are the same amenities that attract young families to live here.

    The Republican leader emphasizes cutting the budget, lowering the tax levy and maintaining services.

   “We want less government, lower taxes and to protect the integrity of taxpayers’ money, “Wesley said.

   To back that up, he said that when he was first elected to the county board in 2016, the tax bill for the county was “around 10 to 11 percent and today, it’s around seven percent.”

    Both parties’ arguments are compelling. People want the services but don’t want to pay the property taxes that are needed to support them.

    From a political point of view, the Democrats are facing an uphill battle for the hearts and minds of the blue-collar worker whose interests they say they represent but who feel the tax pinch, as well as the headwind of a national media that has had Trump in the news every day since he was elected. While Republicans, as Wesley said, are going to settle into their new offices and not disappoint the voters who put their confidence in them.

    Both say they are optimistic but that there is a lot of work ahead in building their organizations.

 ------------------

Jim Grandone
Jim Grandone is a long-time resident of Edwardsville, Ill. He was the architect of the 'East County...If You Only Knew' marketing campaign promoting the Metro East to businesses in St. Louis in the 1990s. Grandone holds a BA in political science from the University of Illinois at Springfield and was a Coro Fellow and serves on a variety of boards. He lives in Leclaire with his wife, Mary.

 
Reprinted with permission. This article originally ran in the 
Edwardsville Intelligencer
 

 

How Do You Know 

What You Know?

 
By James Grandone
Commentary
____________
 

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - 10/29/2020 - How do you get your information about politics, COVID-19 and local events? If you get most of it from friends and family, where do they get it?

Most likely the answer is from the media, either print or broadcast news or online news sources. I get mine from news aggregators online. They scour all the major news outlets and publish the most important stories every day from primary news sources, such as major daily newspapers, network news and cable news networks.

We cannot keep up with all the news because we can’t be everywhere news happens. That is the function of reporters.

Often news drives policy in Washington, D.C., state capitols and city halls. Politicians and our reactions to the news influence the formulation of public policy.

Most of the time, news outlets just report what is being debated in deliberative bodies like Congress and state legislatures. But what if the news outlets made policy directly by telling politicians what to support and what to oppose?

That is how Fox News Channel operates, according to a new book by CNN Media Correspondent Brian Stelter, “HOAX: Donald Trump, Fox News and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth.”

In a review of the book in The New Republic, Stelter says it was the late Roger Ailes who convinced Trump to do a weekly call in to Fox & Friends program. Rather than ask Trump what his position was on the day’s topics, Ailes told Trump what to say on the program.

These positions became Trump’s positions and contributed to his positions on issues and his fixation on news ratings in determining his actions as president. By the way, Fox does not have many reporters and gets most of its “news” from online news publications, including the right-wing conservative Breitbart and The Drudge Report. Makes sense. This affects the national divide in the United States over policy issues like gun control, Black Lives Matter and other controversial subjects. Fox has a very loyal following, and so does Trump. In most polling, it would seem that Trump has a solid 30 percent support, which comprises his “base.” Where does his base get their news? From Fox News Channel programming. Research has shown that a full 34 percent of voters get their news from Fox News Channel. Where does Trump get his position on issues? Fox News Channel and, in particular, his buddy Sean Hannity. See the circle?

The rest of us get our news from what is commonly called “mainstream news outlets.” They are staffed by journalists and reporters who adhere to standards of objectivity and fairness as best they can. Journalists who write news, rather than commentary, strive to present a story looking at all sides of an issue, rather than supporting an ideological point of view, like Fox News Channel. Local newspapers, such as The Intelligencer, often serve as the sole source of local news. The “I” recognizes that people have many options for national and world news and have chosen to be the best source for local news. It is a niche for other community newspapers to consider filling. So, it’s important to really think about what you know and how you know it. If you don’t watch television news or read newspapers and get most of your information from family and friends, from where do they get their information?

I think we should try to formulate our opinions based on all the information available. Then we can make a rational decision about voting for the best-qualified candidate.

 ------------------

Jim Grandone
Jim Grandone is a long-time resident of Edwardsville, Ill. He was the architect of the 'East County...If You Only Knew' marketing campaign promoting the Metro East to businesses in St. Louis in the 1990s. Grandone holds a BA in political science from the University of Illinois at Springfield and was a Coro Fellow and serves on a variety of boards. He lives in Leclaire with his wife, Mary.

 
Reprinted with permission. This article originally ran in the 
Edwardsville Intelligencer


 

Conventions Reveal Stark

 Difference Between 

Candidates, Parties

Voters Asked To Choose Between Competition Visions

 
By James Grandone 
Commentary
______________ 

   There is a difference between political parties and if you think there is not, you have not been paying attention.

Jim Grandone

    We once had a two-party system in the U.S.A. I know because I studied it at the University of Illinois Springfield where I graduated with a B.A. in political science. Grand theories were expounded about how people chose one party or the other. It was, however, fairly predictable how the result of one or the other party would govern, but both were moderately liberal or conservative. Until Reagan, that is. Reagan said government is the problem and from then on, one party ran against government and its regulations on business and perceived assaults on personal freedom.

   In August, we had two political party conventions, or rather one political party convention and a four-day Trump rally. The Democrats adopted a party platform, while the Republicans adopted an oath of loyalty to Trump. A party platform is designed to tell voters how a party plans to govern for the next four years.

   The Democrats adopted a 92-page comprehensive document that addresses healthcare, climate change, racial injustice and falls short of endorsing the Green New Deal and Medicare for all.

   The Republicans adopted a one-page resolution. The Trump campaign announced a 50-bullet-point document titled “Fighting for You.” As part of the pledges in the document, the campaign included holding China accountable for allowing the novel coronavirus to spread around the world, a manned mission to Mars and “Getting Allies to Pay their Fair Share.”

   The contrast is stark. Democrats are looking to a future of ideas that will improve individual lives while Republicans are recycling their 2016 platform.

   But the most important change is that the Republican Party is now the Trump Party. It stands for whatever the president says it does. This is not a positive development for the republic or the Republican Party. It is the stuff of “Cult of Personality,” not representative democracy.

   Trump has shown himself to be light on intellectual discourse and heavy on impulse. It is an authoritarian style of governance that he has exhibited and the GOP has adopted whole.

   In contrast, the Democratic Party has taken on the difficult issues that affect working men and women. Issues like the minimum wage increase, healthcare access and the environment. Broad initiatives that represent real ideas. As President Kennedy said 60 years ago, Democrats are choosing to do these things “not because they are easy, but because they are hard …”

   We see in the Democratic Platform a road map for the next four years in terms of domestic policy and international relations. It is a contract between a party and a people, rather than a resolution to support the policies of one man, whatever he chooses them to be at the moment.

   America has suffered in its reputation internationally because we are not perceived as dependable by our allies and our adversaries. This presidency has alienated our allies around the world and our global leadership has been lost because of it. Domestically, we have suffered not only because COVID-19 has ravaged our people but because it could have turned out differently with better leadership. The same is true with racial injustice and the immigrant situation on the southern border.

   So, it is clear that one party wants to forge ahead into the future with a plan that is transparent and clearly understandable, while another party is comfortable with government by impulse with no clear idea of what it stands for.

   This year, we are being asked to decide between those conflicting visions. Choose wisely.

 ------------------

Jim Grandone is a long-time resident of Edwardsville, Ill. He was the architect of the 'East County...If You Only Knew' marketing campaign promoting the Metro East to businesses in St. Louis in the 1990s. Grandone holds a BA in political science from the University of Illinois at Springfield and was a Coro Fellow and serves on a variety of boards. He lives in Leclaire with his wife, Mary.

------------------


(Reprinted with permission. This article originally ran in the Edwardsville Intelligencer)
Posted on RP News, Sept 15, 2020

Be Careful What You Wish For

Some Thoughts on the Upcoming Election

 
By James Grandone
Columnist
________________

   I’ve spent many years being involved in campaign management and have managed, created campaign strategies or been press secretary for 13 campaigns ranging from presidential and congressional to local tax referendums with an 85 percent win rate. So, I think I would share some thoughts on the upcoming election. And while I am proscribed from endorsing any candidates in this newspaper’s column, I can present facts from which you can derive your own opinion.

Jim Grandone

   This year, the presidential campaign seems to focus on likeability, that elusive term that can only be measured by approval ratings.

   As far as likability, neither Trump nor Clinton were exactly loved in 2016. According to the Washington Post in 2016, Trump’s 61 percent unfavorable score was the worst in presidential polling history, while Clinton’s 52 percent unfavorable was the second worst.

   In this year’s election, according to Gallup’s July survey, Trump’s approval rating is 41 percent. In the most recent Gallup poll in May, Biden’s approval rating stood at 53 percent.

   In terms of qualifications, you have Trump who has been President for more than three years and Biden who served in Congress and as Vice President for many more years. One could conclude Biden has the advantage and he may well win the popular vote in a landslide. But that may not be enough to become the 46th President of the United States.

   In fact, a handful of states this year including, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida and Pennsylvania, hold the fate of both candidates, according to Dan Balz with the Washington Post. The Electoral College, a relic from the 18th Century, will decide who will be president and the race is close. Some would call that a Tyranny of the Minority.

   Should we do away with the Electoral College? Several national organizations are fighting to do just that this year. What if Biden wins the popular vote in a landslide and loses in the Electoral College?

   Democracy is good, but we are reminded that the Tyranny of the Majority is also quite real. In fact, to win a majority for president, it would only require a handful of big states, such as California, Florida, New York, Illinois and Texas, to elect the president without the electoral college and they are heavily Democratic. What about the rest of the states? Would winning only require campaigns in the top five states? How would that affect national policy? Would politicians pander to those states at the expense of the other 45? Nothing is simple in politics.

   There’s an old saying in politics and life, “Be careful what you wish for.”

 ------------------

Jim Grandone is a long-time resident of Edwardsville, Ill. He was the architect of the 'East County...If You Only Knew' marketing campaign promoting the Metro East to businesses in St. Louis in the 1990s. Grandone holds a BA in political science from the University of Illinois at Springfield and was a Coro Fellow and serves on a variety of boards. He lives in Leclaire with his wife, Mary.

------------------

(Reprinted with permission. This article originally ran in the Edwardsville Intelligencer)
Posted on RP News, Aug 17, 2020


We Have To Talk

About Racism With Each Other

By Jim Grandone
Columnist
   ------------------------------  

Am I a racist?

White. Male. Pushing 65. Your typical Trump voter demographic.

Except, I am not a Trump supporter. I support Black Lives Matter. After all, I am considered a liberal on the political spectrum. Doesn’t matter. That doesn’t absolve me from being a racist.

You see racism is insidious. It is both visible and invisible. You can watch the news and see the obvious racist action in the streets of our cities. Confederate and Nazi flags counter protesting BLM events. 

Jim Grandone

You can see it in the eyes of the self-appointed militia parading around with the AR 15s. The invisible part hides in the halls of power and the human resources departments at corporations.    

Try as I might, I want to understand other cultures beyond the movies and the music and entertainers. But I don’t. I probably never will. My closest experience was a graduate fellowship with 11 others at the Coro Leadership Center in St. Louis where my trainer was African American from Compton, Calif., and I was a minority. But that’s another story.

The reasons I am probably racist are legion. I was raised in a white neighborhood. Went to an all-white private school until high school. My friends are all white. So, my orientation is white. It isn’t by design. Or is it?

Most people think of white people who hate black people when they think of racists. The KKK. White Supremacists. But that is where the insidious part comes into play. You see, you don’t have to hate black people or Asians or Latinos to be racist. It’s in everyday privilege that racism occurs and is virtually undetectable. It happens in the hiring process where previous experience is required. How does a member of a minority get that experience? It’s that degree and the first hire that determines access to careers. Are those doors really open?

You may wonder why a white, privileged American male, pushing 65 is talking about racism to a predominantly white audience? It is because we have to talk about racism with each other. That is where it begins. It does no good telling minorities that you are their ally if you aren’t willing to call out racism among the white people with which you associate. It does not change anything in the structure of society if we don’t confront racism when we see it.

So, what that comes down to is systemic racism. And it has got to stop.

------------------

Jim Grandone is a long-time resident of Edwardsville, Ill. He was the architect of the 'East County...If You Only Knew' marketing campaign promoting the Metro East to businesses in St. Louis in the 1990s. Grandone holds a BA in political science from the University of Illinois at Springfield and was a Coro Fellow and serves on a variety of boards. He lives in Leclaire with his wife, Mary.

------------------
(Reprinted with permission. This article originally ran in the Edwardsville Intelligencer)
Posted on RP News, Aug 4, 2020