Daily Prompt

Summer 2014 Will Be Remembered by Pharrell’s “Happy”

Pharrell Williams "Happy"

(Photo Credit: Digital Spy)

When we look back 20 years from now, we will define Summer 2014 by Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.” “Happy” is the hit track from Williams’ second album, Girl (2014), and the Despicable Me 2 (2013) soundtrack.  The song calls each individual to love being who he or she really is.  It’s becoming increasingly more lucid where we are right now in the postmodern epoch is a time when too many individuals suffer from psychic fragmentation.  Too many people have become so focused on being what others want them to be that they don’t even know who they really are any longer—it’s possible they never even gave themselves a chance to learn who they really are. With the release of “Happy,” Williams offers a valuable counter-narrative to the dominant American narrative that says who you really are isn’t good enough, and to be good enough you need to be someone you aren’t.

The challenge to the status quo “Happy” presents begins with the song’s ingenious author, Pharrell Williams.  Although we’re living in a time when people highly embrace flashy phenomena they hope will make them standout, Williams finds peace in simple elegance.  He knows how to make simple clothing, clothing that’s not flashy, refreshingly elegant.  When we see Mr. Williams, we’re witnessing a human being who has been liberated from the postmodern impulse to be someone he’s not.  “Happy” has given us an opportunity to experience the true substance that composes Pharrell.  Through his amazingly successful song, music fans are provided with a powerful alternative to the prevalent fear countless individuals have about loving who they truly are.

“Happy” has been #1 on the Billboard Top 100 and #1 on music charts in 19 countries.  Even with this song’s great success and wide popularity, it does not seem to have had any meaningful impact on changing America’s fascination with the superficial over the substantial.  One of the primary reasons for this could be how distracted we can get with hot beats that make us dance.  Unfortunately, we too often don’t want to reflect on why these beats make us want to dance in the first place. If we would engage more closely with the positive messages of “Happy,” it’s possible for us to move closer to understanding the value of diversity, and we might even start cherishing diversity.  This will require us to move past the hot beats and the dancing those beats promote and develop into a more reflective people.  Critical reflection enable us to see how Pharrell’s song can be employed as a vehicle to engender a massive wave of camaraderie and harmony among sundry people across the nation and globe who are presently divided.

For the real power of the song to be unleashed, it will take intellectuals, scholars, activists, community leaders, religious leaders, politicians, teachers, and many others to muster the courage to host nationwide forums, lectures, debates, and etc. where substantive discourse can take place about the song and how its messages can be used to instigate change in America and across the world.

Music has the ability to transform lives, to transform nations.

Even though Williams’ song may not produce the type of critical discourse across the nation and globe it merits, the song’s staying power will give us an opportunity to heed its vital messages even 20 years from now.  When we take a moment to envision a nation and world that mirrors the one offered by the music video for “Happy,” we begin to acknowledge how priceless the song is.  The song helps us to realize that our differences should unite us instead of divide us.  “Happy” seems to suggest that our differences shouldn’t cause us to lose sight of our universal longing for happiness.

History will inevitably mark Summer 2014 as a watershed moment in world history when “Happy” caused people to think seriously about the importance of simply being themselves.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Leaders Aren’t Afraid to Standout in a Crowd

Effective Leaders

(Photo Credit: The Grio)

Effective leaders aren’t afraid to standout in a crowd and say something that many, most, or all people will oppose.  Being a true leader isn’t about winning a popularity contest or winning Miss Congeniality; it’s about doing and saying what you feel is truly right.  Unfortunately, too many of those we call “leaders” in the postmodern epoch aren’t authentic leaders.  This has led to numerous milquetoast individuals being considered leaders by many Americans.  We have to stop considering people leaders simply because they have a special title and/or they’re always on television.  A simple public presence doesn’t make a person a leader.

Before you consider someone a leader, be sure he or she is leading.  When a person is leading, he or she is making a real difference in the lives of people.  Don’t cheapen what it means to be an effective leader by calling those who are attention-seekers leaders.  A clear difference exists between attention-seekers and leaders who aren’t afraid to stand out in a crowd.  An effective leader isn’t going to have fear of receiving backlash about saying and doing things that will cause people to be unsettled and unnerved.  Many people need to be unsettled and unnerved about the things they believe, say, and do.

People will respect you when you’re willing to say and do the right things, even when saying and doing the right things are difficult to accept.  This doesn’t mean that people will like you or that you will become popular, however.

To be an effective leader, one has to have a commitment to saying and doing substantive things.  An authentic leader has a record of accomplishment, which includes getting things done for others.  If you’re a vain person, you’re certainly not a leader.

Effective organizational leaders don’t worry about who gets the credit for accomplishments. They highlight how it was the team responsible for the accomplishments—not themselves.  People will be able to tell when you don’t have the ability to lead an organization; therefore, you cannot fake genuine leadership.  An effective leader understands that he or she needs to employ the talents of those around him or her.  Being a leader doesn’t mean you know everything.  In fact, a leader acknowledges that he or she doesn’t know everything.

Let’s make a commitment to stop crowning people as leaders who aren’t leaders.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Comedians Shouldn’t Joke about People with Disabilities

Bill Maher

(Photo Credit: New York Daily News)

If a comedian truly has talent, he or she does not have to attempt to get laughs at the expense of people with disabilities.  While there’s nothing wrong with being a controversial comedian, one should have enough decency not to disparage individuals with disabilities by exploiting their shortcomings.  With numerous other things and people comedians can use to generate laughs, individuals with disabilities should be off limits.  It’s quite insensitive to mock people with disabilities.  Comedy fans should openly and vociferously express their disapproval of comedians who tell vicious jokes about individuals with disabilities, especially children with disabilities.

When people continue to support comedians who take advantage of those with disabilities, they’re complicit in the wickedness of those comedians.  We have to criticize the comedians who do this and those who support them.

Effective comedy is uplifting and does not take advantage of the vulnerable.  It’s okay to use race, gender, sexuality, and other things that can be controversial to use in comedy, but just be respectful when engaging those things.  One can never employ individuals with disabilities in comedy in a way that’s going to be respectful.  Individuals with disabilities should simply be left out of comedy—period.

Reckless arrogance governs those comedians who insist on exploiting people with disabilities.  It’s mean-spirited to attack those who have disabilities during comedic performances.  Comedians who feel the need to lambast individuals with disabilities need to work on ameliorating their craft and engendering new material.  When comedians resort to using individuals with disabilities in their comedic performances, this reveals their lack of comedic prowess.  When a comedian has authentic talent, he or she never even thinks about speaking negatively about people with disabilities. 

Jokes about people with disabilities are simply not funny—they are sinister.

We have to question if some comedians have any decency.

Let’s begin to boycott the shows, performances, and events of those comedians who maliciously attack individuals with disabilities.  One of the most powerful ways we can get comedians to stop saying ugly things about people with disabilities is to hurt them in their wallets and purses.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison                

What Bores Me? Reading Freshly Pressed on WordPress

WordPress Blogging

(Photo Credit: Freelance Folder)

WordPress showcases a number of blogs each day on Freshly Pressed, but there is a conspicuous lack of diversity in the bloggers featured.  When one examines the bloggers that WordPress staff members elect to feature on Freshly Pressed, those bloggers are overwhelmingly White.  One hardly ever finds a Black or other racial and ethnic minority blogger being featured on Freshly Pressed, and this is quite unfortunate, considering numerous minority bloggers using WordPress deserve to be featured.  One of the fundamental reasons why many minority bloggers aren’t being featured on Freshly Pressed is WordPress has a staff deficient in diversity, especially when it comes to staff members who curate Freshly Pressed.

If one reads Freshly Pressed, he or she may come away with the idea that most of the really good or great bloggers using WordPress are White.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Since I’m penning this piece about the dearth of racial diversity in those featured on Freshly Pressed, WordPress staff members will never select me.  If WordPress staff members never elect to feature me, I will be fine with their decision.  I have a highly successful blog and a large readership.  I will survive.  Unfortunately, many minority bloggers, especially Black bloggers, using WordPress need to and deserve to be showcased on Freshly Pressed.  A number of successful Black bloggers use WordPress and have been nominated and/or won awards for their blogs, but WordPress continues to ignore the success of their blogs.

One has to wonder if WordPress really even cares about Black bloggers, their blogs, and the issues that matter to them.

Freshly Pressed is becoming increasingly boring to read.  While WordPress staff members can assert that there are multifarious topics curated on Freshly Pressed, they cannot point to a significant number of those sundry topics being composed by minority bloggers.

As a means of demonstrating that they’re not biased to minority bloggers, I would recommend that WordPress staff members put me on its staff as a Curator.  I don’t need or desire to be paid.  I certainly have the qualifications to be a successful Curator and have an academic and professional record, which includes being extensively published, that would offer some much needed diversity to the WordPress staff.

While I very much love WordPress and posit that it’s the best blogging platform available, the way in which blogs are being curated for Freshly Pressed is unfair and unappealing to many minority bloggers.  It’s my hope that WordPress will begin to feature a tremendous number of minority bloggers on Freshly Pressed.

Many minority bloggers simply see Freshly Pressed as a boring showcase of blogs.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. Cornel West’s Courage Should Make You Proud

Dr. Cornel West

(Photo Credit: MTV)

Too many milquetoast Americans, especially Blacks, lack the courage to offer a substantive critique of President Obama.  With the national unemployment rate for Black people being 13.5%, one would think that more Blacks would be propounding their criticisms of President Obama’s poor record of creating jobs.  In many predominantly Black cities across the country, Black unemployment is twice as high as it is nationally.  Although one may not always agree with Dr. Cornel West, former distinguished professor of African American Studies at Princeton University and now Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary, one has to be proud of the courage he shows in his passionate criticisms of President Obama and his policies.

Dr. West’s accomplishments, brilliance, and academic work will forever make him one of the most important persons in American history.  He’s one of the greatest minds in world history.  Dr. West is one of the leading public intellectuals of our time.  As a responsible and effective public intellectual, Dr. Cornel West understands that he has a duty to speak truth to power.  He’s never been afraid to say and do things that might unsettle, unnerve, and unhouse people.

While many question the motivations of his vehement criticisms of Obama, the focus should be more on engaging in a discourse about the criticisms he proffers.  People who don’t want to enter into a conversation about his potent critiques of Obama simply desire to dismiss him as being bitter because Obama didn’t invite him to his first inauguration or first inaugural ball.  Well, after sponsoring and attending over 75 campaign events—many were located in brutally cold places—for President Obama, one would like to think that Dr. West would’ve received an invitation.  Dr. West has repeatedly stated that he’s not bothered by such an inane matter as not receiving an invitation.

One has to be proud of him for mustering the courage to take on some of the prominent liberals that have been given platforms by MSNBC to advocate for President Obama.  Dr. West asserts that MSNBC is a “rent-a-negro” network; that is, a liberal network that gives Black faces (e.g. Al Sharpton and Dr. Melissa Harris Perry) their own shows and/or allows them to make frequent appearances on other people’s shows in exchange for their puppy-dog loyalty to President Obama.  One person who is a stanch liberal and who has been friends with Dr. Cornel West is Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.  Dr. Dyson appears regularly on MSNBC and is a strong supporter and defender of Obama.  Dr. West contends that Dr. Dyson has “sold his soul for a mess of Obama pottage.”  Before Dr. Dyson became a frequent contributor on MSNBC, he was willing to critique Obama.  Now, he cannot find enough ways to praise Obama.

Dr. Cornel West’s record reflects a serious commitment to racial minorities, working people, and the poor.  He will not allow himself to be placed on the market for sale, as others have done for Obama.  West hasn’t let his black skin prevent him from criticizing President Obama appropriately.  Dr. West gives President Obama credit when he deserves it, but he’s never afraid to hold him accountable for horrible policy choices and his inattentiveness to the needs of poor and working people.

Dr. West has been on a “Poverty Tour” across the nation raising attention and support for the needs of the poor.  The poor is the only group in America without lobbyists in Washington, D.C.  West hopes to make the poor visible to President Obama and America.  His work to ameliorate the lives of poor people in America should be applauded and supported.

It’s not popular to be Black and say things in opposition to President Obama, but Dr. Cornel West isn’t willing to submit to the pressure of staying popular.  He’s working to hold President Obama, a man who has tremendous power, accountable to all Americans, especially the most vulnerable people in America: the poor.  For this, he should make us all proud.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

An Introduction to American Life and Culture in 2013

American Life and Culture

(Photo Credit: Neighborhood Love)

America is the most exceptional nation in the world.  This country continues to become more diverse: people across the world live in this nation.  From its inception, America has been a nation of immigrants and that tradition continues.  This is the only county where you can be the son of a former slave and become the President of the United States.  The diverse people from all parts of the world who live in America are responsible for diverse nature of American life and culture.

Making money seems to consume the thoughts, practices, and activities of most Americans in 2013.  Even when people are attempting to engage in activities that are creative, most of them strive to connect their innovative acts to ways to make a profit.  Any effort to introduce American life and culture in 2013, therefore, has to offer an understanding of the increasing power and importance of capitalism.

A close examination of American popular culture helps to illuminate what American life and culture is like in 2013.  When we examine television during this particular time, one finds a significant amount of variety.  One has an opportunity to witness things that are crass, such as Love & Hip Hop Atlanta and The Real Housewives of Atlanta, to valuable shows, such as Mad Men and Scandal.

Unfortunately, the federal government has not increased support for the arts, but average Americans have found innovative ways to keep engagement in the arts alive and well.  At higher education institutions across the nation, one can see how we have some of the greatest people involved in the arts than at any period of time in American history.

We have grown too divided as a nation.  We think in terms of “red states” and “blue states” and not simply the United States.  Our state and national elected officials have caused too many Americans to have a next election mindset, and this has led to numerous things not getting done.

One tremendously positive aspect about American life and culture in 2013 is there’s a burgeoning longing for innovation.  Although this longing for innovation is heavily centered on the profit motive, there’s hope that we can start thinking more about innovation outside of a capitalistic logic.  At this time, it’s becoming more difficult to differentiate creativity and capitalism.  There was a time in America when there were more artists who created things for the pure love of their craft.  Too many artists now are concerned about producing commodities—not art.  When we look at some current films, we see how they play into the profit motive by being imitations of events and people, such as White House Down, instead of striving to develop novel alternatives to the current way people behave and think in 2013.

While America is the most exceptional nation on the planet, American life and culture needs to discontinue being so self-indulgent and money focused.  With such diverse people in America, one has to remain hopeful about the potential innovations that can emerge.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Self-aggrandizing Help

Selfishness

(Photo Credit: The Cheap Place)

Even though we’re still early in the 21st century, it’s increasingly becoming a century saturated with pervasive selfishness.  One of the most frustrating things about the great selfishness I’ve witnessed in the present century is how many people will “help” people just to get people to praise them.  Numerous people pretend to provide others with genuine help but they’re really camouflaging their real dominant motivation: self-aggrandizement.  How can one tell when someone isn’t genuine about the help they offer to others?  One of the ostensible ways to discern deceitful help is to take an opportunity to witness a person in action assisting others.  When a person isn’t truly committed to helping others, he or she will pass off much of the work to others to help the people he or she is supposed to aid—while taking full credit for the results and the work itself.

Too often people are more interested in posting on Facebook and Twitter what they do for people than they are in investing the necessary time to improve the people they’re aiding.  Most authentic providers of support don’t even privately and publicly promulgate what they do for others.  When you’re a natural supporter of people, you don’t need any public credit.  The appreciation and gratitude you receive from those you help should always be sufficient.

One of the primary reasons why I love the 1950s – 1970s is these are decades in the 20th century where people were truly committed to helping one another.  They understood the conditions of Jim Crow demanded they work together to assist one another in engendering the change necessary to break the back of Jim Crow.  I’m not nostalgic about these aforementioned decades—just pointing out that my true selfless spirit is a more apt fit for those decades than it is for this century’s reckless selfishness.

Those who are phony supporters and helpers of others will try to defend themselves against those who are willing to expose their treachery by arguing that the exposers are really the ones who don’t provide authentic support and aid to others.  True providers of authentic help and support have people who are willing to express their gratitude about their help and support.   They don’t have to go to others to complete the unfinished work that phony supporters and helpers didn’t desire to do.  You will, therefore, never be able to mar the record of a genuine helper.

The bible addresses those who give for the wrong reasons as being purposeless and unrewarded by God.  The only people feeling empty about their giving are the ones who aren’t committed to being real givers.  If you’re going to help others, help them.  Don’t waste people’s time by using them as just statistics you parade around to glorify yourself.  One of the chief reasons why self-aggrandizing people want others to see them as true givers is they’re overcompensating for myriad things they lack.  Being falsely perceived as a true giver is a way to blind people from the reality that one isn’t what he or she presents himself or herself to be.

Remove all of the facades and genuinely help people.  Resist the growing impulse in the 21 century to be recklessly selfish.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison                

Paula Deen and the “N” Word

Paul Deen's "N" Word Use

(Photo Credit: NPR)

The recent controversy surrounding Paula Deen’s use of the “N” word has evinced, as Randall Kennedy puts it, “the strange career of a troublesome word.”  The “N” word is arguably the most incendiary, insensitive, and hateful word someone can use.  When one considers that this word was employed during the American institution of slavery to characterize Black people as being less than human, it becomes not only a mean-spirited, racist and degrading term, but also a term used to maintain the power structure of slavery and Jim Crow.  A recent legal deposition revealed that Paul Deen has used the “N” word in the past, specifically as part of her desire to construct a “very southern style” wedding for her brother that would include a “whole entire wait staff” of “middle-aged black men.”

Deen’s use of the “N” word is deeply problematic for many reasons, including the overt racist history and ideology of the word.  If there was one word many people could ban, it would be the “N” word.  I would love for us to be able to magically eviscerate its history, power, and ideology.  Unfortunately, this is only possible in Science Fiction literature and films.  We have to deal directly with this word because it’s an important part of America’s past and present history.  To attempt to avoid engaging critically with this word is to be self-victimized by historical amnesia, disengagement from history, and vexing colorblindness.

Paula Deen’s use of the “N” word is inexcusable.  She fully understands the racist history and ideology of this word.  I’m not prepared, however, to call this woman a racist.  From what I have observed and know about her, she seems to be a nice lady.  In America, we use many hateful terms that we don’t necessarily attach genuine hate to—we just use them.  When many Black people use the “N” word and its various derivatives, they’re not using the words with hate—they’re just using the words.  Should we excuse them for their use of the “N” word?  No.

What this controversy exposes is a problem of nostalgia for the pre-Civil War South.  While I can understand why many White southerners can find some phenomena about the pre-Civil War South to be desirable, those nostalgic longings need to show empathy for this time period being a brutal and murderous period for Blacks.  It’s not like Deen is unaware of the racist and discriminatory history of the pre-Civil War South.  In Postmodernism or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, Fredric Jameson contends that one of the most problematic things about postmodernism, the historical and cultural moment in which we reside, is it has a problem with writing its own history because it depends on nostalgia rather than reality.  Deen’s nostalgia blinds her from being fully sensitive to America’s horrid racist and discriminatory history.  Mrs. Deen’s nostalgia causes America’s racist history to the rise to the surface for the nation to contemplate.  If one is going to engage in nostalgia for the past, he or she should be responsible about the full history of the longed for past.

I’m a fan of Paula Deen’s cooking, recipes, and personality.  Her poor choice of language, however, I cannot and will not support.  While Americans enjoy the freedom of speech (and all speech is not constitutionally protected), they also have to accept the responsibilities of their speech.  I posit that The Food Network should have let the market determine if Mrs. Deen should be fired—not simply make a decision based on immediate reactions in the mainstream media to aspects of the reported legal deposition.

Even though I don’t normally agree with Roland Martin (and we’ve exchanged words in the past on Twitter when I contended that he often makes many inconsequential statements on Twitter), I agree with him in part when he argues that Black people cannot be angry with Paula Deen because they use the word so often.  Yes, Blacks and Whites need to stop using the word.  If the word is so offensive to Blacks, then they should discontinue using it.  The fundamental defect in Martin’s argument, however, is his conflation of Deen’s use of the “N” word with the way in which numerous Blacks use it.  When many Blacks primarily use the word, it comes from a non-racist and non-disparaging context.  The context of Deen’s use of the word is at a minimum disparaging.  If she didn’t want to have to be accountable for her words, then she shouldn’t have used them.

Paula Deen should be evaluated by her body of work.  Too often we judge and define people by the one or two mistakes they make, instead of considering the many great things they have done and accomplished.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Being Normal Means Being Yourself

Be Yourself(Photo Credit: Tumblr )

When being “normal” is defined as being yourself, then what could possibly be wrong with being normal?  Nothing!  The reason why I choose to define being normal as being yourself is you first learn how to be your normal self; that is, the person who you really are.  People in the postmodern epoch are fervently concerned with trying to be “different.”  Unfortunately, their efforts to try to be different cause them to become people alien to their authentic self.

In “What White Publishers Won’t Print,” Zora Neale Hurston writes, “Difference is misreading of sameness, but it must be represented in order to be erased.  The resistance to finding out that the other is the same springs out of the reluctance to admit that the same is other.”  Many people’s efforts to appear to be different take them away from realizing the full power and potential of being who they really are.  One shouldn’t feel compelled to attempt to be different—you’re already different when you’re born.  When you try to be different, you’re really just attempting to be like everyone else; you’re striving for societal and peer acceptance, which many believe it requires doing the same things others are doing to maintain their cool pose.

Dr. Cornel West says, “Too many young folk have addiction to superficial things and not enough conviction for substantial things like justice, truth and love.”  While Dr. West’s statement is profound without any modifications, I contend that it’s not only young people who “have an addiction to superficial things and not enough conviction for substantial things like justice, truth, and loves,” but also a tremendous number of adults embrace the superficial over the substantial.  Many grown 20 to 50 year old men and women are still uncomfortable being themselves, so they elect to adopt identities they feel society will adore.  These identities are masked by their pronouncements that they’re “different.”  They say they’re different to protect themselves from charges that they’re not being themselves.  If you genuinely desire to be different, then simply be who you are—do and say what comes natural.

Being normal is not being average.  Living a false image of being different is average; in fact, it’s below average.

Resist the postmodern American impulse to be who society says you have to be.  It’s okay to be who you are.  You will find that you will live a happier life when you make the choice to be who you really are.

Are you really able to tell someone who you really are?

There’s nothing wrong with improving yourself, but you should never deny yourself the opportunity to experience the true freedom to live life without limitations, borders and boundaries.

Be happy.  Be free.  Be you.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Bipartisanship in Crisis

Barack Obama(Photo Credit: The Daily Beast)

We’re currently situated in a political milieu where Democrats and Republicans are more focused on the next election than on meeting the real needs of the American people.  Many Democrats and Republicans find it more important to advance their political careers than to improve education, pass legislation that will help to create jobs for the unemployed, extend affordable healthcare to the uninsured, and etc.  Of course, there are legitimate times when Democrats and Republicans must stand for their core principles and values and be unwilling to sacrifice those principles and values, but this shouldn’t be the case on nearly every critical issue important to their constituents.  The majority of Americans elected politicians to do things that are going to ameliorate their lives; they didn’t elect them to fuss and fight each day.

Too many people are experiencing abject poverty for Democrats and Republicans to become complacent with their bickering.  It’s time for them to deliver positive results for the people who elected them.  When you’re not sure where your next meal is going to come from, you don’t really care if the Republicans are going to take the Senate in 2014 or will Hillary Clinton run for President in 2016; you simply want your elected leaders to improve your life.

The American people must increase the intensity of their demands for their elected leaders to move beyond simple partisanship and pass legislation that’s going to make America a better place to live and work.

What happened to the national discourse about jobs?  Why aren’t we having a national discourse about jobs anymore? 

While the scandals going on in Washington, D.C. are essential to investigate and discuss, Democrats and Republicans must make the economy, specifically job creation, their top priority.  People who are unemployed deserve to have a Congress and President seriously concerned about getting them a job.  Finding some bipartisan solutions to creating jobs does not have to be an overly partisan undertaking. 

Most Americans have some level of sympathy for the poor.  Poor people, however, need more than sympathy—they need meaningful voices in Washington, D.C. representing their interests.  Unfortunately, poor people don’t have the resources to lobby members of Congress.  This is where clear thinking and decent Americans, both Democrats and Republicans, can come together to place pressure on their elected officials to make the poor a priority.  America has a moral responsibility to ensure the poor are well-served.

We have an opportunity to force our elected officials to embrace bipartisanship: vote those out who aren’t willing to reach across the political aisle to enact legislation that enhances the lives of all Americans—not just the lives of the well-to-do and well-connected.  Many Democrats and Republicans are guilty of catering to the well-to-do and well-connected.  The American people have the power to throw these types of politicians out of office—just vote them out!  When we use our voting power as true political power, we can command the change we long to see.

Bipartisanship does not have to be in crisis.  We can use our voting power as our chief political power to demand that it always be valued.  Too many politicians in Washington, D.C. aren’t concentrating on governing.  Governing requires compromise.  The midterm elections are coming in 2014.  This presents the first real opportunity to communicate vociferously that we want a Congress that works for us.  Let’s elect people who hear us and who genuinely believe we matter.  We, the American people, hold the future of bipartisanship in our hands.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison