I live in an apartment complex in a town of about 75,000 people, right across the street from San Francisco Bay. It’s a nice place to live, and the scenery is astonishingly beautiful.
We have two shared laundry units in the complex, and this morning, when I went down to move some laundry from the washers to the dryers, I saw that somebody had left a mess of powdered laundry detergent all over the floor.
My initial reaction was to get upset with whoever had been so irresponsible as to leave such a mess for someone else to clean up. Aren’t we all taught, at some point in our lives, that if you make a mess, you should clean it up yourself?
Then I turned my thoughts to more practical considerations. It was only 9:30, and the complex office doesn’t open until 11, so it wasn’t going to get cleaned up anytime soon. And sometimes, when I am moving the laundry from the washers to the dryers, I inadvertently drop an occasional item on the floor. I realized that the only way this situation was going to get any better, for me or for anyone using the laundry room for the next couple hours, was if I went back to my apartment, grabbed a broom and dustpan, and cleaned the mess up myself.
Was it fair, or right, that I had to clean up somebody else’s mess so that I wouldn’t have to deal with it? No. It wasn’t fair, and it wasn’t right. But I realized I could either complain about somebody else shirking his or her responsibility, and still have the powder all over the floor, or I could clean it up myself. Those were the only options.
And then I thought about this situation as a metaphor for community and country, and I thought about all the homeless people I see on the streets of San Francisco five days a week when I commute to and from the city. No doubt many of these people are just unlucky, and no doubt many of them have issues they can’t cope with. And certainly, there must be some among them who are just too lazy to take care of themselves. No doubt, there are those among them who were shipped here from Nevada, where state budget decisions have led to a phenomenon called “Greyhound Therapy.” No, this doesn’t mean giving the mentally ill kindly service animals for their benefit. It refers to putting mental patients on a bus and shipping them off to San Francisco, where some might find help, but others inevitably end up on the streets. In the latter two cases, we have examples of people refusing to clean up their own messes.
And many of us see these people and see “lazy, irresponsible drunks/drug addicts,” and gripe about how they need to take responsibility for themselves. Maybe there are some who could or should. But in the meantime, while we complain, they continue to be in the streets, and this is bad for everybody—both for them and for the rest of us. While we bitch and moan about the “takers,” we also abdicate responsibility for our communities.
It doesn’t have to be that way. We can make a better society, if we are willing to get past what’s “fair” or “right” and just see a problem and take steps to solve it.
And it doesn’t have to be partisan either. The state of Utah, dominated by the Republican Party for generations, has all but ended chronic homelessness by essentially giving housing to the chronically homeless, no questions asked. By so doing, the state has saved itself many of the myriad costs associated with homelessness.
Sometimes, the only way to improve your own life, your relationships, your community, your society, your country, is to recognize that being part of a community—part of being alive and connected to other human beings—means that sometimes you’re going to have to clean up other people’s messes. To do otherwise is to cut off your nose to spite your face.
So let’s all pick up that broom and get to work.
Tonight’s Republican debate was an embarrassing spectacle. It made me embarrassed, ashamed and humiliated for my country. I think it shames America before the world that so many Americans can support people who behave so childishly. Anyone who could vote for a candidate who engages in schoolyard taunts on a presidential debate stage — and here I’m talking specifically about Donald Trump and secondarily Marco Rubio — has no respect for the presidency or America’s image before the world community. If you can watch Trump allude to the size of his penis tonight and think he should be our nation’s face to the world, I really don’t even know what to say to that.
I don’t agree with Ted Cruz on anything and would hope he never becomes president. But he generally behaved like an adult tonight, for which I will give him grudging credit. It is sad that merely not acting like a child deserves special mention.
Regarding John Kasich, I don’t agree with him on very much either, but he’s the only candidate on that stage who wouldn’t cause me to seriously consider emigrating if he became president. He at least behaved with the dignity and respect I would consider minimal requirements to lead a nation.
As to who won and who lost, hell, who can say? I joked on Twitter tonight that nothing could sway Trump’s followers and that if he walked over and set Kasich on fire, they’d cheer. I might have been half-joking on that one. Nothing has hurt him so far. Tonight was certainly his lowest, worst and most disgusting performance, but I’m not convinced it’ll cost him any support.
Cruz didn’t do anything to hurt himself and probably remains the leading challenger to Trump.
I thought Kasich was the most presidential and he handled himself well, but he’s so far behind, I don’t know how much good it will do him. I expect he probably will at least win Ohio in 12 days, which might keep him alive, and right now, that’s the name of the game.
Rubio diminishes himself every day, and tonight was no exception. I don’t think he helped himself at all, and I expect he’ll continue to swoon. I doubt he takes Florida in 12 days.
I’m not sure there were any winners tonight, but I can say without any doubt whatsoever that America lost.
If anything became crystal clear tonight, it’s the stark diversity divide between Bernie Sanders‘ supporters and Hillary Clinton‘s supporters. Her big wins in the South tonight demonstrated that her shellacking of Sanders among black voters in South Carolina on Saturday was no fluke.
The one constant throughout the Democratic primaries and caucuses so far has been that the fewer black voters a state or portion of a state has, the more Clinton struggles. She barely won Iowa, got clobbered in New Hampshire, and got clobbered tonight in Minnesota, Colorado, Oklahoma and Vermont, but absolutely destroyed Sanders in Texas, Georgia, Virginia, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas. And while Massachusetts is pretty white, it’s more diverse than Iowa or New Hampshire; the small percentage of Massachusetts voters who are black very well could have been the difference for her in that state tonight. Clinton won the cities; Sanders won the lily-white rural areas.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Any candidate who cannot win a significant number of votes in diverse communities cannot win the Democratic nomination. There is no way to put together a coalition in the Democratic Party that doesn’t include voters of color. If Sanders can’t start making serious inroads into communities of color very soon, he has no chance of reversing his fortunes.
The Republican establishment took it on the chin once again tonight, as the big winners were Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Marco Rubio finally got his first victory in Minnesota, but he desperately needed a win in Virginia and couldn’t get it. John Kasich might eke out a win in Vermont (still not called as of 11:25 Eastern), but with only 16 delegates, it won’t count for much.
Trump remains in very solid shape to win the GOP nomination, and Cruz has reestablished himself as Trump’s chief competition. Rubio comes out of tonight looking weaker than ever. Both Rubio and Kasich will come out of Super Tuesday with, at most, one win apiece. That’s enough to keep them alive for their own home state primaries in Florida and Ohio, respectively, two weeks from tonight, but they’re going to have to start winning in some other places to be viable contenders.
One potential YUUUUGE weakness for Trump that emerged tonight: look at his numbers in Minnesota, where he is running a distant third. He also lost Iowa. The results thus far during the primary season indicate that Trump is not particularly strong in the Midwest. This might not cost him the nomination, but it certainly could lose him the general election in November; of all the nation’s different regions, the Midwest is the “swing” region that determines elections.
But that’s down the road. Right now, there’s no reason at all to think that Trump is not still the favorite on the Republican side.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton did herself a huge favor by winning Massachusetts. If Bernie Sanders had won Massachusetts, he would have gotten out of tonight winning all five of his target states and fighting Clinton to a near draw in the number of states won. Even considering the fact that she’ll come out of tonight with a huge delegate lead (by virtue of her crushing victories in the South), if Sanders had won five of 11 states, it would have been a big hit to Clinton in terms of perception. Winning a key state right in Sanders’s backyard was a big win for Clinton.
In short, nothing changed tonight. Trump and Clinton are still well ahead in their respective races, and there is going to have to be a major change in the trajectory of either race to change that fact.