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Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation

Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation

Mike McCabe is the founder and president of Blue Jean Nation and author of Blue Jeans in High Places: The Coming Makeover of American Politics.
Mike wants to hear from you.
Blue Jean Nation, P.O. Box 70788, Madison, WI 53707
Email: one4all@bluejeannation.com
Phone: 608-443-6086

Blue Jean Nation "Gators don’t drain swamps"

Posted by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe is the founder and president of Blue Jean Nation and author of Blue
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 05 January 2017
in Wisconsin

donald-trumpPresident-elect Donald Trump promised to “drain the swamp” during his campaign, but his cabinet picks represent a who's who of billionaires, conservatives, and Wall Street insiders.


ALTOONA, WI - America’s president-elect famously promised to “drain the swamp.” Surrounding himself with alligators is a curious way of going about making good on that promise. Alligators like swamps.

Donald Trump hasn’t made all of his appointments yet, but the cast of characters he’s pulled together so far has more wealth between them than the poorest one-third of American households. That’s 17 men and women who have more money than 43 million families combined.

There’s oil tycoon Rex Tillerson. Trump wants Exxon Mobil’s chief executive in charge of international diplomacy as Secretary of State.

The “king of bankruptcy” Wilbur Ross is being put in line to become Commerce secretary. If Trump gets his way, Ross’s deputy at Commerce will be Todd Ricketts, the billionaire son of the billionaire founder of the brokerage firm Ameritrade.

Linda McMahon, the billionaire co-founder of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is being tabbed to head the Small Business Administration. McMahon is Trump’s biggest single political donor, having given $7.5 million to a pro-Trump super PAC, which was more than a third of the money collected by the political action committee.

Betsy DeVos, the daughter-in-law of the founder of the home care and beauty product distributor Amway Corporation (since renamed “Quixtar”), is Trump’s choice for Secretary of Education. DeVos’s brother, Erik Prince, started the shadowy soldier-for-hire company known as Blackwater. Her qualifications to oversee the nation’s schools pretty much begin and end with her family’s lavish spending to push taxpayer-funded subsidies for private and religious schools. Anyone paying careful attention to elections in Wisconsin should be familiar with DeVos’s political handiwork. Her front group known as the American Federation for Children has poured more than $5 million into Wisconsin just since 2010 to sway state legislative races and cement legislative majorities favoring privatization of education.

Then there’s Goldman Sachs.

Trump told South Carolina voters “I know the guys at Goldman Sachs” when he was trying to talk them out of supporting Texas Senator Ted Cruz. “They have total, total control over him. Just like they have total control over Hillary Clinton.”

That was then. This is now. Trump picked Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn to head up his White House National Economic Council. His choice for Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, spent 17 years working at Goldman Sachs. Trump’s chief strategist and White House counselor, Steve Bannon, started his career at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker.

Quite a crew being put to work draining the swamp. Alligators all of them.

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Blue Jean Nation 'We are better than this'

Posted by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe is the founder and president of Blue Jean Nation and author of Blue
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 13 December 2016
in Wisconsin

Franklin Delano RooseveltFDR and the greatest generation of WWII had the courage to expect freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear for the whole world. Today's Americans are just afraid.


ALTOONA, WI - In his first inaugural address, Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously told a nation facing one of America’s darkest moments that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

The resolve and emotional toughness Roosevelt called upon as the country descended into a Great Depression is conspicuously missing today. America is full of fear, largely because the nation’s very un-Roosevelt-like leaders and the mass media keep feeding us reasons to be afraid. We are told to fear for our safety. We are told to fear foreigners. We are told to fear people we think look like foreigners. We are constantly warned of predators in our midst who aim to scam us or rob us or do us physical harm. Republicans tell us to fear Democrats. Democrats tell us to fear Republicans.

For all practical purposes, our true national motto is no longer E Pluribus Unum (“Out of Many, One”) or In God We Trust. It’s more like Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid.

We are better than this. Or at least we could be.

pearl-harbor1941In a 1941 speech to Congress, Roosevelt spelled out four essential freedoms. The first was freedom of speech and expression, not just in America but “everywhere in the world.” Second, FDR spoke of the freedom of worship. He emphasized the importance of allowing every person to worship God “in his own way” and again emphasized such freedom needs to be guaranteed everywhere in the world. He chose his words carefully. To FDR’s way of thinking, religious freedom and religious tolerance went hand in hand. They were, in fact, inseparable. And for anyone to be free, everyone must be free.

Roosevelt’s third freedom was freedom from want. Roosevelt said that meant “economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants everywhere in the world.” Last but certainly not least was freedom from fear. He dreamed out loud of curtailing war-making capacity so that no nation would be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor anywhere in the world. But his words also are a timely reminder about the importance of dealing with the countless other fears and insecurities that have Americans so spooked today.

Earlier in that speech, FDR spoke of “basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems,” including “equality of opportunity for youth and for others, jobs for those who can work, security for those who need it, the ending of special privilege for the few, the preservation of civil liberties for all, and the enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living.”

In our own time, this is not too much to expect. This is not too much to aspire to. This is nothing to be afraid of.

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'Making friends with discomfort' Blue Jean Nation

Posted by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe is the founder and president of Blue Jean Nation and author of Blue
User is currently offline
on Friday, 09 December 2016
in Wisconsin

trump-ryanThose alarmed by the actions of the radical right are going to have to warm up to agitation and provocation. American now stands at a crossroads.


ALTOONA, WI - Several decades ago three young students journeyed through dusty rural California in hopes of meeting famed migrant farm worker organizer Cesar Chavez. Once they found Chavez, they sat with him and asked, “Cesar, how do you organize? ” Chavez replied, “well, first you talk to one person, then you talk to another person, then you talk to another person….”

The students assumed Chavez misunderstood their question and clarified that they wanted to know how mass movements are built. Chavez repeated, “first you talk to one person, then you talk to another.”

The key to making change is as elementary as Chavez’s secret of organizing.

It comes down to discomfort.

Comfortable people don’t move. They stay where they are because they are comfortable where they are. To make them move, they have to be made uncomfortable.

It’s like the basic law of physics . . . and object at rest will remain at rest, unless some force makes it move. A corrupt political establishment will stay corrupt and a failing political system will keep failing us, unless some force makes the powers-that-be change their ways.

That force is discomfort.

Living in interesting times is said to be the Chinese curse. The curse we’re living is uncomfortable times. Anxiety and fear about the country’s future are running high among tens of millions of Americans. With deindustrialization and economic globablization, the only thing that seems certain for the time being is uncertainty. Official reassurances that unemployment is falling and the economy is recovering mean nothing to someone who once earned $25 an hour working in a factory before that work was exported overseas and the best available replacement job pays maybe $11 or $12 an hour. For someone whose standard of living has been cut in half, claims of economic recovery are an abstraction. For them, the American Dream appears to be in the process of being downsized. And worse yet, their gut tells them their children will probably have it harder than they’ve had it.

The discomfort this reality produces has fueled a reactionary, authoritarian populism that gave rise to the Tea Party movement and paved a route to the White House for Donald Trump. Back in March, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne asked the question, “can a moderate left beat a radical right?” His question was answered on November 8.

American now stands at a crossroads. We can take a divisive, backward-looking, destructive path. Or we can choose a uniting, forward-looking, constructive route. For the moment, a large segment of the population appears to favor the former for lack of a well-defined and compelling alternative. That better road won’t be paved until people who are disturbed by the direction we’re currently traveling get uncomfortable enough to move.

Those alarmed by the actions of the radical right are going to have to warm up to agitation and provocation. They are going to have to make friends with discomfort.

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Blue Jean Nation 'Should write ’em off but can’t'

Posted by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe is the founder and president of Blue Jean Nation and author of Blue
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 30 November 2016
in Wisconsin

wisdems-flagThis country needs a Democratic Party that is both healthy and relevant, and a Republican Party with unchecked power will run our government into the ground and our country over a cliff.


ALTOONA, WI - I am one of those people who has every reason to write off the Democratic Party. But I can’t.

I am the son of non-college educated working class people. Dairy farmers. I grew up in what is now red America. That place and that upbringing made me what I am. My values were shaped by the work my family did seven days a week from before dawn to after dusk. And by barn raisings where people came from miles away to help a “neighbor” struck by the misfortune of a tornado or fire. And by Les Sturz, who came to our aid in muddy fields to help us harvest our crops only weeks after burying his father who hung himself in a shed after learning the bank was foreclosing and their farm was going to be taken from them.

They taught me the value of hard work. But they also taught me the importance of looking out for each other, and how we are all in this together. They taught me about the common good. They taught me none of us is self made. If my accomplishments ever stand out, it’s because I am standing on the shoulders of others. Of the four people who were unquestionably my most influential and impactful teachers, not a one of them had a college degree.

My dad and mom lived through the Depression and revered FDR, and that reverence made them lifelong Democratic voters. They both passed away many years ago, but while they were with us they told me so many things that now make me think they’d probably not care much for today’s Democrats if they were still living. Like so many non-college educated working class people, they’d have reasons to feel today’s Democrats look down on them and write them off.

Considering where I’m from and who brought me up, I should probably hate Democrats. But I can’t. It’s not that I don’t believe they deserve the scorn directed at them. They do. It’s not even that I choose not to hate because of how counterproductive hating is. It’s like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die, but it also is a powerful and virtually irresistible temptation and sometimes I succumb.

The reason I can’t write off Democrats the way they’ve written off so many in places like where I’m from is that I love my country and my country needs a Democratic Party that is both healthy and relevant. Today’s is neither. I believe in checks and balances, and a Republican Party with unchecked power will run our government into the ground and our country over a cliff.

Returning the Democratic Party to health and relevance will not happen until Democrats stop regularly breaking the first rule of politics and cease insulting and disrespecting people like those who were my best teachers. And regaining health and relevance also will not happen until Democrats move beyond identity politics and stop disregarding the first law of governing: What government does needs to be done for the whole of society. Everyone pays, everyone benefits.

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Blue Jean Nation 'Election was tale of 2 rules'

Posted by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe is the founder and president of Blue Jean Nation and author of Blue
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 24 November 2016
in Wisconsin

trump-clinton-debateElections are about representation, and never, ever insult the voters.


ALTOONA, WI - Never insult voters. That should be the first rule of politics.

Hillary Clinton broke that rule when said out loud that half of Donald Trump’s supporters are “deplorables” and “irredeemable.” She said what she and many of her own supporters surely believe to be true. And she probably lost the election at that very moment. Mitt Romney made the same mistake in 2012 with his “47 percent” remark when he assumed he was speaking privately to supporters who undoubtedly shared his belief that close to half of Americans are deadbeats and slackers. Breaking the first rule did him in as well.

Which brings me to what should be the second rule of politics: Elections are about representation.

Sifting through supposedly scientific exit polling data in hopes of explaining one of the biggest upsets in American political history, a mystified Washington Post reporter concluded that “people weren’t voting on issues. Like, at all.”

They usually don’t. Like, hardly ever.

Oh, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that an occasional election could become a referendum on some burning issue. But that’s not the norm. Elections aren’t generally about issues. They are about representation.

Voters are shopping for someone who represents them, someone who is saying what they are feeling. A few among us might be single-issue voters, but most of us are just looking for someone who reflects our current thinking generally speaking, and hoping those we elect will look out for our best interests. It’s simply not possible to find candidates who agree with you on every single issue. It is possible to find ones who seem to share your values and appear to be thinking what you are thinking.

Politics is about relationships. Academics try to treat it as a science, but like friendships and marriages it’s far more art than science. Issues don’t typically decide elections. Connecting with voters decides elections. Hillary Clinton lost here as well. She ran on her qualifications, her experience, her readiness for the job. The problem for her was that voters weren’t in the mood to buy what she was selling. If large numbers of voters had been more or less satisfied with the direction of the country and more or less satisfied with how our government is functioning, maybe they would have looked for a steady, seasoned hand. Maybe they would have put a premium on what Clinton offered. But tens of millions of voters were thinking America is on the wrong track and their belief in government has been badly shaken. Donald Trump’s talk of draining the swamp better reflected their thinking.

Most of those tens of millions were willing to overlook what they intensely disliked about Trump because overall he had done more to connect with them than Clinton had. They overlooked what they find distasteful about Trump not only because he said what they were thinking. It’s also what he didn’t say. He didn’t tell working class people who supported Obama in the past two elections but Trump in this one that they are irredeemable.

Democrats have been losing most elections for the past several decades, and after each beating they react with a mixture of utter bewilderment and anger directed at tens of millions of voters who are obviously (to Democrats) ignorantly voting against their own interests. Even if they don’t say it, they think it: These voters are deplorable, irredeemable.

Going forward, Democrats would do well to think long and hard about the first two rules of politics.

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