The Conservative ‘Family Values’ Myth & Bernie

The Conservative ‘Family Values’ Myth & Bernie

I would like to address the notion of ‘family values’ as a Conservative hallmark.  This is one of the largest myths that serves the GOP.  The term family values has been assigned as a core issue for the Republican party but the truth is that it has a never been one of their cornerstones.  In fact being Republican means you are positioned against family freedom, opportunity, and are being pigeon-holed into a support system of antiquated family values that have no place in modern society.

When the GOP discusses ‘Family Values’ they mean only one thing; controlling your family’s values.  They want to control the definition of what your family is and force you into a narrow contradictory Republican ideology that is defined by their frequently anti-family platform.

The GOP platform is not in support of empowering families to have better lives.  They wish to limit the choices and freedom of families.  They wish to put their boots on the necks of women’s choices and rights.  And they seek to deny and limit the definition of what makes up an American family.

The War Against Women:

GOP or Taliban

Republicans do not wish to grow and do what is is right for our American women.  Republicans stood firm against equal pay for women.  They stood firm against allowing women to have access to birth control in all places of employment.  They deny mothers twelve weeks of paid maternity leave.  And they seek to deny women the chance to make their own choices when they are raped.


Republicans allow only one sort of marriage in their narrow definition of family and they seek to define all families according to the standards they set.  But since when has that become the trademark of a free society?  Where do families get to make their own choices about what is right for them?

The role of Government in regards to families should be one to empower all families to make their own free choices for their children, their lives, and what they choose to define as their own personal set of ‘family values’.

Republicans are quick to jump on anyone who does not meet their standards and support their ‘family values’ platform.  The Republicans would have you believe that Bernie Sanders is some anti-family socialist and mad villain.


The truth is that Bernie Sanders is a champion of the family.  Sanders is a champion and pioneer for working class Americans in general; he seeks to strengthen the backbone of the poor and middle classes which make up a majority of our American families.  You need to look no further than actual legislation this socialist has championed in order to understand who in this 2016 election will empower families:

Bernie Sanders:

  • Cosponsored Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s FAMILY Act, which would guarantee every employee twelve weeks of paid family and medical leave. This program would be funded through an insurance program, the way Social Security is today. Workers would pay into it with every paycheck, at the price of roughly one cup of coffee per week.
  • Introduced legislation requiring employers to provide at least 10 days of paid vacation per year, as is done in almost every other developed country in the world.
  • Cosponsored Sen. Patty Murray’s Healthy Families Act, which would guarantee seven days of paid sick leave per year for American workers
  • Supported the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009


Not only is Senator Sanders championing women’s rights like equal pay, empowering them to making choices about their body, and letting them determine what happens to them when they are raped; he is also looking to empower the American family with opportunities to grow and succeed.

Bernie wants to give everyone the opportunity to attend a public university without amassing debt.   Parents and children alike searching for opportunities are being held down by student loan debt and Bernie is seeking to help families by giving them equal access to education.

Bernie wants to target our staggering  youth unemployment rates.  Currently one-third of white and Hispanic youth and fifty percent of African-Americans are unemployed and searching for work.  Bernie Sanders introduced the ‘Employ Young Americans Now Act’ to provide $5.5 billion to help employ and train one million young Americans between the ages of 16 and 24.

Bernie is also seeking to upgrade our American infrastructure and introduced legislation that spends $1 trillion over 5 years to modernize our country’s physical infrastructure.  This would create 13 million jobs for American families and it would provide better roads, bridges, and important infrastructure that will benefit American families for generations to follow.

There is a fundamental difference between the GOP and Bernie’s platform.  The GOP wants to define and limit the definition of family to a dated and anti-American set of values while simultaneously denying women an equal opportunity in our society.  The GOP wants to force down our free throats the definition of what a family MUST be under no exceptions.  The GOP wishes to empower billionaires while letting the majority of the American families suffer as they lose money, jobs, and their voice in their own government.

Bernie Sanders is standing against the tide.  He is holding the banner of American families and will do so as a matter of a principle with or without us.  Senator Sanders is trying to start a revolution that will allow us to take control of our own families while providing us with every opportunity to be successful, safe, and in control of our own destinies as we participate in the American Dream.

Bernie Sanders stands for Family Values.  So do I.  I hope you’ll join us.




How I Respond to Three Common Questions/Comments when Campaigning for Bernie Sanders

How I Respond to Three Common Questions/Comments when Campaigning for Bernie Sanders

As I talk about Senator Sanders and his 2016 campaign there are a few archetypes of responses I get and here is how I answer when faced with three of the main reactions:

The ‘Conservative’ Reaction

  1. Bernie Sanders is a Socialist/Communist!


When I get this reaction I generally let the individual vent and express their feelings.  Then I ask them if they have grandparents that need social security or medicare.  I’ll ask them if they have ever been unemployed and needed unemployment insurance.

I ask them if they ever had to call 911 for an emergency or if they knew someone who needed help for a fire.  I ask them if they have ever enjoyed a family vacation out of state and have driven on the highway to help provide their family with a wonderful experience.

  • It’s important to explain that socialism is used as a scare word but it is not pure Stalin communism.  Socialism is a means in which the government takes money and helps use it to better the lives of all of us.  Socialism allows us to travel and in the cases of emergency it allows us to have safety in times of crisis.  Socialism is what allowed the brave first responders on 9/11 to run into the towers and save so many lives.  Socialism is what keeps out country safe and runs our military.

I explain how Senator Sanders is trusted in Vermont and that he has served the American Government for decades and he is a man who believes in the working class of American people (who are struggling).  I explain that Bernie is not as much socialist as he is a man who fights for the rights and the future of the American people within the American political system.  He stands firm in his beliefs just as many heroes of our nation have done in the past he is not afraid to be honest about who he is and what he believes; even at the cost of his own ambition.

I then discuss how Bernie wants to make all lives better by taking back America from the banks and elites that have robbed the common American voter of their power.  I talk about how Bernie was strong enough to stand against the Iraq War (and in the minority) and that he /fights/ to restore the /democratic/ process for the people and seeks a revolution to empower American voters in their own national discourse.

Minority Reactions:

2. Who the hell is Bernie Sanders?

This is an opportunity I love.  Because when confronted with this issue I first smile and know I have my greatest opportunity for spreading the word about why I support Bernie Sanders in his campaign.

I begin by talking about Bernie Sanders Civil Rights records.  I talk about how even as a young man Bernie was principled enough to be a member of CORE and SNCC and I explain the importance of these two groups in the fight for equality.  I talk about how he was there for the March on Washington and that he has been a champion of equality from the start and he has carried that banner through his entire political career.

I describe how Bernie as a young man was arrested for protesting and distributing flyers against police brutality against African-Americans.

I then talk about his current plan to fight racial inequality which is a far cry more than /ANY/ other politician in this election.

You can read more about how I feel about Bernie and Civil Rights here:

Or just go to his website and read his plan for yourself:

When I find that the person I’m talking to is a Hillary Clinton supporter I point this out:


The Apathetic Citizen

3. I Don’t Care About Politics

With political science in my college teaching background and as a man who fully believes in the power of the vote this reaction spontaneously breaks my heart.  And I lament this response because I know that we as people can improve the lives of the majority of our country just by participation.

This answer to apathy is one I would encourage you to give straight from your heart.  For me I talk about the wealth income gap.  I discuss how I do not want my children to have little chance for success in their lives as the power of the elite in our country grows continuously through decisions like Citizens United.  I describe my personal story and relate it to why participation in this election is absolutely imperative for me — and why I fight for what I believe in.  I describe how I tie apathy to the same as culpability when facing the problems we have today in our American society.  And I describe how I cannot sit down passively while my country is sold to the highest bidder.

For you I encourage you to reach into what drives you to engage in these conversations.  Use your knowledge and passion to give your own testimony on why we must rise up and form a political revolution in this nation.  And be honest and sincere.

And to close in these dialogues I discuss my passion and energy and why I put so much into a politician that I also believe is honest and sincere.  I describe Bernie’s policies on his donors and how he refuses against his own political interest to fund his campaign and sell himself in order to ‘win’.  And I tell them how I feel that Bernie Sanders is a genuine man with a compassionate heart and a love of the American people.


Thank you,

David Estridge

Bernies Sanders and the Importance of the Supreme Court in 2016

Bernies Sanders and the Importance of the Supreme Court in 2016

I would like to take a moment and write about the importance of the 2016 election and why it is imperative Bernie Sanders should warrant your consideration for the presidency.

One of the central issue about this election should be the Citizens United v. FEC (2010) ruling.

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled in Citizens United and declared that for-profit, non-profit, labor unions, and associations (PAC & Super PACS) are protected by the first amendment.  This ruling empowered these entities to funnel money into elections at a rate that mutes the common voter and quite frankly disemboweled the majority of the American people of their voting power.


So what did it do?

To put it simply Citizens United allowed the insertion of limitless spending on elections by corporate entities and the rich elites.  This spending has become crucial and it has made it vital for serious candidates to subsidize their chance of winning by earning the favor of the big money in politics.  As a byproduct the voice of the common American citizen that is essential in a representative form of government has become less influential.  To put it bluntly we as the bottom 99% cannot afford and spend enough to have a majority voice in our own political discourse.

Naturally these entities that have invaded our national discourse are doing so in order to promote their values.  And when it comes to the values of corporations and the rich this equates to furthering their wealth gains at an increase in the wealth gap and a marginalization of the poor and middle classes.  When huge money becomes crucial in politics it allows these entities to buy candidates who are desperate to curry their favor as a necessity to achieve victory in their campaigns.

Just take a look below at the increase of spending by non-disclosing groups in our election process.  Only the candidates receiving this money know the source and what deals were cut to acquire this.  The transparency in our elections has evaporated and money has become the big motivator in American elections at the expense of public sentiment.


So why do you keep hearing about the Koch brothers and their influence in American politics?

This is simple and needs very little explanation just look at the graph below:


If you are a politician you can try and woo the finicky American voter.  Or you can buy your election and be beholden to a rising Oligarchy of the rich American elite who will fund your victory and buy your principles.  Now more than ever our politicians are tied to banks, elite rich entities, and are working against the self-interest of the American people.

So why is Bernie Sanders different?

Bernie’s fight is one for the American people.  His campaign is based on taking the money and the rich out of politics and restoring the voice and power of American workers.  Don’t believe me?  Just look at the difference between Bernie and Hillary below in terms of who funds them.  Bernie won’t take money that buys his voice unless that influence is one towards increasing the power of the American worker:


So what can Bernie do?

The reality is that post Citizens United it will be exceptionally difficult to force legislative change.  Corporations and the elite will fight tooth and nail (Meaning they will outspend us) to keep their influence and to stay the course of directing us on a path to being the world’s largest Oligarchy.  This means that Congress will be difficult to uproot from their current course because the weight of money in the election process is staggering.

That leaves the Supreme Court:


Bernie has stated that he will not appoint any Supreme Court nominee that does not pass a litmus test to overturn the Citizens United ruling.  This means that in a court that is evenly split is absolutely crucial to replace justices who would stand firm against giving corporations and entities the right to free speech and the ability to buy our local and national elections.  This is the quickest path to change and to reverse the people and worker crushing course that has been forced upon us by the initial Citizens United decision.

So what are the chances?

Odds are given the current age and the fact that the current conservative justices have been waiting for Obama’s tenure to end that Bernie would assign one pivotal nominee in the next four years. There have 160 nominations to the Supreme Court in our national history. Of these nominations 7 didn’t want the job. Reducing the number to 153 viable nominations to the Court; John Tyler failed 8 nominations and is taken as a statistical anomaly because of the circumstances of his unfavorable rise to the presidency after the death of Harrison during his tenure in office. That takes the overall number down to 145 viable nominations. Of these 124 have been confirmed; Sanders can send nominee after nominee and he will eventually get one through. But the default rate of nominee appointment (and Citizens United is not a landmark objectionable issue compared to the historical issues of Slavery and Abortion) adjusted for circumstances is 86%.

I will take an 86% chance to save this country I love from Oligarchy any day of the week.  In fact I will fight, campaign, and go door to door to struggle for this change.  I urge you to join me in supporting Bernie Sanders for President in 2016.


Gerrymandering: Stealing the Power of Voting One District at a Time

Gerrymandering:  Stealing the Power of Voting One District at a Time

So what is gerrymandering?

Gerrymandering is where politicians go in and manipulate electoral boundaries in order to achieve a favorable result for a party.

What does this do?

This allows a party to artificially manipulate their constituents into promoting their party and entrenching their power in that district.  Gerrymandering marginalizes minority voices within a community and robs the American people of their opportunity to express their diversity.  It limits the power of voting and stifles the democratic process at all levels.

Gerrymandering is often used along racial and ethnic lines.

Why do parties do this?

Politicians serve their self-interests.  Gerrymandering can give rise to career politicians at all political levels by squelching opposing sentiment.  The process also limits the ability for voters to push issues that matter to the people and muzzles dissent from constituents by marginalizing their political influence.  Politicians know that minority communities and their voting patterns are a threat and they seek to limit the opportunity for community and district driven change.

Here is an academic example of gerrymandering:


Here is a real world example of gerrymandering:


So how is this legal?

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 made it illegal for gerrymandering with the intent of removing voting discrimination based on race and ethnicity.  The Supreme Court in two cases (Shaw v Reno & Miller v Johnson) has ruled that gerrymandering cannot be conducted using only racial data.

But some states as a matter of policy and as a bi-partisan practice gerrymander together.  While other states simply allow the dominant party to wreak their self-interest on the voting public with impunity.  While the Federal government can intervene it is hard given the current legal criteria to successfully show legal discrimination in the gerrymandering process.

Gerrymandering is not simply a left or right issue.  It is a process that limits the diversity and the power of voting for the American people.  By its very nature gerrymandering is anti-democratic and it is an example of an entrenched American practice that disenfranchises citizens from their right to vote.

The movement to end Gerrymandering is frequently championed by liberals since minorities frequently favor democrats over republicans. Bernie Sanders champions an end to gerrymandering and recently Lawerence Lessig has introduced the idea of running as a referendum candidate (a president who resigns after pushing reform as a one issue candidate) in order to address voting rights issues and gerrymandering.

Likely though an end to gerrymandering will need to come from the courts in a stern ruling.  Appointing liberal justices is the best and most likely way to end this frequently discriminating practice.

Thank you,

David Estridge

My thoughts on Bernie Sander’s proposal for free Public College Education

My thoughts on Bernie Sander’s proposal for free Public College Education

I wanted to express my opinion on making higher education free to everyone in the United States. This is a goal of Bernie Sanders that I wholeheartedly support.

The amount required to increase our educational spending to cover the remaining tuition costs of college is 62.6 billion dollars according to the Department of Education’s 2012 report. This sounds like a lot of money but compared to our GDP and what we have spent on wars or subsidizing already astronomically rich corporations this is not at all an unfeasible issues to tackle.

For example we averaged spending 665 million dollars a day for the war in Iraq. Free college education for our nation on the other hand would cost just one fourth of that amount.

But how can we fund it?

We could simply pay for universal education for all Americans by cutting corporate subsidies by 60%. I believe there is something wrong when we could make the choice between giving rich corporations 273 million dollars a day versus the cost of educating our own people for 171 million dollars a day.



Sometimes you do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. College tuition is out of control and college debt has now surpassed all other forms of debt in our nation. Education should never be an impossible dream and burden. Education should be something we strive for as a national identity in order to better ourselves and the lives of those who come after us.

Poverty is one of the largest hurdles to overcome when it comes to college education. Private high school student graduates enroll in college at an 85% rate while poor schools enroll at nearly 35% less than their more affluent counterparts. This gap widens when you are poor and a minority.

According to the census data 21% of African-American 30 year olds had a college degree versus 38% of whites at the same age. According to 1970 data this gap was 10% and has widened by 7% as Caucasians have outpaced African-Americans in their level of education attainment. Currently 6.3% of African-American men are enrolled in college while 4.7% are in prison.

Many students who are poor or are in the middle class that do make it to college are then entrapped in overwhelming student loan debt. The debt amassed in the current system of college education is staggering. Current student loan debt stands at 1.3 trillion dollars in the nation. More student loan debt is owed than either in credit cards or auto loans. Almost 1 out of every 5 Americans will default on their student loan debt.

America is supposed to be a land of opportunity. Free education evens the playing field and allows for a better future for our country. More importantly it stands as a testimony to the great will of this country and our aspirations for each other. We once dreamed of going to the moon and through some of the brightest minds in our history we got there. Imagine the things we could achieve if everyone had an opportunity to equal education.

Again, sometimes you do the right thing because it is the right thing to do.

I believe universal education is the right thing to do.

Corporate Welfare: A Glimpse into the Inane

Corporate Welfare: A Glimpse into the Inane

I wanted to take this opportunity to discuss the concept of corporate welfare.

I am going to start by introducing a case study by the Americans for Tax Fairness on Wal-Marts’ massive employee dependence on the American tax payer for welfare.

According to the study Wal-Mart’s employment practices force its 1.4 million workers on average to depend on $4,416 of welfare every year. This means that we the American people spend 6.2 billion dollars every year to pay for Wal-Mart’s choice to not give its employees living wages and opportunities. This assistance comes in the form of food stamps, Medicaid, and in subsidized housing.

The huge contradiction that makes this form of corporate welfare even more UNBEARABLE is that Wal-Mart released its own numbers that estimate it handles 18% of the nation’s food stamp market; for a profit of 13.5 billion dollars per year.

Next I point you to this tidbit:

The Walton family that owns Wal-Mart has just as much wealth equal to the bottom 42% of our country. Wal-Mart last year according to Forbes made 33 billion dollars. That means if Wal-Mart paid just enough for its employees to come off welfare it would have still earned 26.8 billion dollars in 2014. Paying a living wage for Wal-Mart or simply subsidizing the amount their employees take in welfare would still leave the company a tremendous profit. It’s simply a matter of corporate greed and unethical employment policies that created this situation.

Walmart and Corporate Welfare

Keep in mind this information is just a case study on Wal-Mart. It is estimated we spend 100 billion dollars a year of taxpayer money in order to subsidize grossly rich corporations and their purposeful policies that force our neighbors, parents, and community to barely subsist.

How did this happen?

I point you again to the research I did on the corporate income tax rate and the wealth disparity in this country. As corporations have become wealthier they have gained more influence in this country. This has allowed them to control our government and to insert disproportionate financial and political influence in rigging the government system in their own favor.

As the wealthiest Americans have gained a hugely disproportionate share of the wealth the rise of an elite class of billionaires has come to power in the nation.

A Princeton and Northwestern University study was published that shows how the elite wealthy have more policy influence than the bottom majority of our country. The elites achieve policies at a much higher rate (up to 35%) as their support for an issue increases. The average citizen adoption rate of policy stays flat even as the percent of the population that favors a particular issue increases among the people. This means that it doesn’t really matter how much we as a people desire (there are obvious exceptions of course) a change in our government or support a political issue. The government simply does not serve the will of the majority (the people). Only the elites can truly influence and use their influence to force policy change in our country and this occurs at nearly the double the rate of our own aspirations. This gap continues to widen as the monetary influence of the rich oligarchy in this nation expands.

Policy Power of the Rich

Couple the above data with the Citizens United decision and this problem is compounded as corporations can now funnel money and influence into our political trajectory. This will only lead to the further marginalization of the voice of the vast majority of the American people.

The inane reality that we as an American people are truly paying from our rapidly dwindling share of the nation’s wealth to subsidize richest people in our country is astonishing. The longer we let corporations and billionaires entrench themselves financially and politically in our government the more this problem will compound.

What is the answer?

Well for starters this is where I will plug Bernie Sanders. Senator Sanders is campaigning hard for an end to Citizens United. Any justice he appoints to the Supreme Court will have to past a litmus test to overturn the landmark decision that empowered corporations to effectively become ‘people’ and contribute to our political discourse.

Secondly Bernie wants to create a living wage of fifteen dollars an hour. This will go a long way just by itself to end corporate welfare. Bernie will champion an end to corporate welfare as a matter of policy. He will expand social security for our elderly who are struggling to provide for themselves.

He will continue by raising the corporate and top tax rates in order to shift some power and opportunity back into the middle and lower classes. He will expand education opportunity in the form of free public college education to the people.

My thoughts:

Look at the direction and growing wealth and income inequality gap in this country. Consider what will happen as the rich keep at their current pace of taking up larger shares of the nation’s wealth. The inevitable outcome is an oligarchy of power and a muting of the democracy that all Americans prize so much.

This issue is truly not a left or right issue in my estimation. It is one of such national importance that it is a crisis of identity for our way of governance.

We as a people are empowered to reverse the course of our political and economic reality. We must rise to the occasion; apathy is never the answer and holds just as much fault and blame in our current national direction.

I encourage everyone to express themselves politically. Even if you utterly disagree with everything I have discussed above. It is essential in a representative democracy to keep the voice of the people strong and active.

For me (personally) I want to ensure this nation is a strong one that will be vibrant place of equality and one full of opportunity for my children and to the generations that follow. I don’t want to be idle and culpable; so I participate.

Help people vote. Grab some voter registration cards. Dialogue. Debate. It is the absolute very least we can do. And all it takes is a desire to help this nation be a better place for all of us.

Thank you,

Commentary on the Growing Wealth/Income Disparity in America

Commentary on the Growing Wealth/Income Disparity in America

I was pondering the question of Individual and Corporate tax rates historically as they compare to the question of income inequality in terms of historical trends.

My Process:

I wanted to see in a generic manner if I could find and track the Individual and Corporate income taxes as they relate to a % of our Gross Domestic Product historically.

The first set of data I compiled was sourced from the Tax Policy Center to get the historical information in regards to corporate and individual percentages of the GDP for each tax year. I then created a chart to observe the trend.

Next I sourced the Congressional Budget Office to find the share of wealth as it relates to the top 1% and the bottom 90%. I set these as a secondary chart to overlay and sync up (on the years) where I had available data beginning in 1979.


Individual Income Taxes as a % of Gross Domestic Product have risen while corporate taxes have fallen dramatically.

When you tie in the data from the top 1% you see that the rich have outpaced and gained at the expense of the bottom 90% in their share of the wealth in our country.

The alarming thing is that since 1986 this change has become exponentially expedited. There are two landmark moments I would like to point out where we see extremes in these trends:


1986: Tax Reform Act of 1986

This was Reagan’s trickle-down economics at its finest. The top tax rate for individuals was lowered from 50% to 28% while the bottom rate was raised from 11% to 15%. You can see the results clear as day.

2007-2008: U.S. Collapse of Real Estate / Too Big to Fail

This is the lingering impact of the real estate crises where our banks selfishly sacrificed our security and welfare for their own greed. This is the low point and where we see the peak of financial collusion and greed by the wealthy.


My findings are simply this… that politics do matter. The majority of the country is suffering from decades of shifting the tax burden off of business and onto the backs of the lower classes. If you don’t think elections matter look again; the backs of the American common man were broken upon the rocks of business/rich favoring strategy and action.

The failed policies of trickle-down economics triggered a shift in the already unfavorable trend line and the subsequent rise and influence of banks has expedited the wealth income disparity in our country. This has caused historic difference in the wealth between the classes. With recent Supreme Court decisions (Citizens United) the growing influence of the rich is bludgeoning its way at an unprecedented rate into American politics.

We as a people are losing our clout both at home and within our own society. Changing overall tax policy and banking approaches requires serious measures of reform and commitment. And there is a great challenge ahead with so very few politicians willing to tackle this gloomy fiscal reality. The fact is that Americans are on a crash course for even worse wealth inequality. Supporting a system of banks that are too large to fail and putting the tax burden on the backs of the poor and diminishing middle class is only a self-interested drive by the rich to entrench and tighten their grasp on the throat of American freedom and opportunity.

I beg you to educate yourselves on these great freedom eroding blunders. And to choose a candidate that favors your view. Look at donor lists to see who is buying your candidates voice. If the top donors are the rich or banks; you can get a good idea of what your vote means.

Politics and elections do matter and they can shape our lives and the lives of those who come after us.

Thank you,
David Estridge