News & Events

February 13, 2019
Controlling the Conversation

Last week, not long after President Trump delivered his State of the Union Address, a brilliant video appeared online. Unfortunately, today I couldn’t find it anywhere on the Internet so I can’t steer you to it.

The clever video featured quick cuts of Donald Trump saying certain words in his SOTU Address, again and again. If I remember correctly, he used such words as “terrorists,” “criminals,” and “border security” a number of times. Those cuts of Trump saying his scary words were interspersed with a silent Trump, backed only by the sound of crickets, as the names of other issues appeared on the screen that in reality are much more urgent for the security and survival of our nation. 

That short video revealed what a sham this year’s Address really was -- what little substance it actually contained.

President Trump spent his valuable time in front of Congress and the nation basically playing to his base of support, a minority of Americans. He painted refugees at our southern border as national security threats. He announced a virtual “total victory” against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. He portrayed Iran as a continuing nuclear threat. He claimed he was personally responsible for preventing almost certain nuclear war with North Korea. And he decried proposals to develop “Medicare for all,” declaring that as long as he was President, the United States would never become “a socialist country.” 

If you look at those statements with any knowledge of actual facts, you can see that Trump spent most of his 82 minutes talking about things that are far from the most pressing issues facing the United States. In fact, some of them aren’t really issues at all. 

What Trump avoided addressing are the real issues that are crying out for leadership from Congress and the President. He said not one word about the continuing erosion of our quality of life caused by gun violence and the irrational laxness of our gun laws. He made no mention of the ever-widening gap between America’s wealthiest individuals and everyone else (which ironically includes his MAGA support base). He had all of Congress seated in front of him but made no reference to the budget deficit that has dangerously deepened. He stayed away from mentioning the crippling debt college students must take on to get an education. And worst of all, President Trump ignored the existential threat of climate change, a reality that is going to clobber future generations on our planet in ways they can't even imagine.

I admit that I’m no doubt repeating things you already know. But I’ve mentioned these giant “gaps” in Trump’s Address for a reason. In the days since he noticeably stayed away from so many important issues, I’ve been bothered by what has happened. -- Nothing. You would think that the President’s avoidance of subjects that affect every American would receive attention. You’d expect more mention in mainstream media. And you’d hope that the general population would pick up on the President’s flight from true leadership.

But after Donald Trump’s anemic SOTU presentation, what subject has dominated the news in the days since he spoke? – The same subject that dominated the week before that, money for the wall and the fear of another government shutdown. (Yes, the Virginia “blackface controversy” did get a lot of attention. But the wall and the shutdown threat still remained top of mind.) 

And why? Because it makes no difference if the president is a wise person or a fool, when any American president speaks, it is news. And in today’s 24/7 media world the demand for headlines is a round-the-clock thing. As Teddy Roosevelt said, the presidency gives the person holding that office a “bully pulpit.” (You wonder what he would have done with twitter.) Today, we have a president who knows (at least so far) he can change the nation’s conversation with just his cell phone, his thumbs, and his Tweets.

What I observed in the past week just reinforced that view. However, things may be about to change. The new Democratic controlled House may now be in a position, on occasion, to guide the national discussion toward reality-based issues that actually do need to be addressed. Last November’s victories made that a possibility. But looking at this most recent example of how much power the American president has over controlling the national conversation, you can see why winning the White House in 2020 is something we should all take very seriously.

Nels Howard
NTD Member since 1973

New Trier Democrats' Events
Thursday, February 21, 2019: New Trier Democrats’ Winter Networking Pop-Up

When : Thursday, February 21, 2019 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm
What : Let’s get together and talk politics! New Trier Democrats invite you to join us for drinks, mingling and conversation. Here’s a great opportunity to network with like-minded people in our area and form connections with other Dems and activists. Drinks will be available for purchase. This event is not a fundraiser – It’s just an opportunity to have fun and meet other area Dems as well as some of our local representatives.
Other Events of Interest
This Sunday, February 17, 2019: Lunar New Year Celebration with Josina Morita

When : Sunday, February 17, 2019 from 3:00pm to 5:00pm
Where : Oakton Community Center, 4701 Oakton St., Skokie
What : Celebrate the Asian Lunar New Year with Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) Commissioner Josina Morita. Canned goods and diaper donations are welcome. All proceeds benefit the Niles Township Food Pantry. For more information or to RSVP,  register online contact Lily Kim at 312-685-8655 or email
Tuesday, February 19, 2019: Brad Schneider Environment and Climate Change Round Table

When : Tuesday, February 19, 2019 from 1:00pm to 2:30pm
Where : Lakefront Park, 71 Nippersink Blvd., Fox Lake
What : This is the first of four sessions in Congressman Brad Schneider’s “New Congress Listening Tour.” Panelists will discuss climate change and its environmental impact to local communities within Illinois’ 10th District. Panelists include: Fox Lake Mayor Donny Schmidt; Fox Lake Stormwater and Flooding staff; Kate Evasic, Project Manager of Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) and Representative of the Union of Concerned Scientists. For additional information and to RSVP,  register online .
Tuesday & Thursday, February 19 & 21, 2019: Affordable Housing 101 Sessions

When : Tuesday, February 19, 2019 from 1:00pm to 2:30pm and Thursday, February 21, 2019 from 9:30pm to 11:00am
Where : Tuesday, February 19 session will be at McGaw YMCA, 1000 Grove St., Evanston; the Thursday, February 21 session will be at Connections for the Homeless, 2121 Dewey Ave., Evanston
What : Joining Forces for Affordable Housing is offering sessions to learn more about Affordable Housing. From their website: “Are you spending too much of your income on housing? Are you concerned about what more affordable housing might mean for your neighborhood?Do you believe that the lack of affordable housing is causing people to leave our community? Come learn about the causes of the housing crisis and what you can do to advocate for change.”  Register online .
Wednesday, February 20, 2019: Brad Schneider Health Care Round Table

When : Wednesday, February 20, 2019 from 3:00pm to 4:30pm
Where : Oakton Community College, Room 1610 DP, 1600 E. Golf Rd., Des Plaines
What : This is the second of four sessions in Congressman Brad Schneider’s “New Congress Listening Tour.”  Panelists will discuss workforce development in the health care industry from the standpoint of students and professionals. Panelists: Amanda Pabon, Health Professions Education Consortium (HPEC), Program Manager at Rosalind Franklin University; Dr. Bruce Neimeyer, Vice President for University Planning at Rosalind Franklin University; Robert (Bob) Sompolski, Dean of STEM & Health Careers at Oakton Community College; Heath Students from Oakton Community College. For additional information or to RSVP,  register online .
Thursday, February 21, 2019: Rally in Support of HR1

When : Thursday, February 21, 2019 at 11:45am
Where : Rep. Jan Schakowsky’s Office, 5533 N. Broadway, Chicago
What : Join  Public Citizen  and the Democratic Coalition for Democracy at IL-9 U.S. House Rep Jan Schakowsky’s Chicago office to support  H.R. 1 . Introduced by House Democrats on January 3rd, the bill is designed to restore the Voting Rights Act, make voter registration easier, and increase voter empowerment, among other goals. Indivisible National has published a  “quick sheet”  on H.R. 1 and how to support it. Bring signs and posters!
Thursday, February 21, 2019: Brad Schneider Gun Violence Round Table

When : Thursday, February 21, 2019 from 6:00pm to 7:30pm
Where : Patty Turner Center, 375 Elm St., Deerfield
What : This is the third of four sessions in Congressman Brad Schneider’s “New Congress Listening Tour.” Panelists will discuss gun violence prevention and the legislative landscape at the local, state and federal level. Panelists: Mayor Harriet Rosenthal, Village of Deerfield; Alicia Schemel, State Legislative Lead for Mom’s Demand Action; Sara Knizhnik, Organizer at IL Coalition on Handgun Violence. For additional information or to RSVP,  register online .
Friday, February 22, 2019: Brad Schneider Immigration Round Table

When : Friday, February 22, 2019 from 2:30pm to 3:30pm
Where : The Community Center, 914 8th St., Waukegan
What : This is the last of four sessions in Congressman Brad Schneider’s “New Congress Listening Tour.”  Panelists will discuss immigration and access to education. Panelists: C. Myra Gaytan-Morales, Ph.D., Assistant Dean for Academic Services & Programs at University Center of Lake County; Ivan Hernandez-Arizmendi, Licensed Personal Banker II at First Midwest, DACA recipient; Jeff Hollenstein, Lead Teacher with the NCCHS Career Pathways Program at North Chicago Community High School; Mary Elena Jones, Founder and Executive Director of HACES. For additional information or to RSVP,  register online .
Tuesday, February 26, 2019: Indivisible Evanston February Meeting

When : Tuesday, February 26, 2019 from 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Where : Lorraine G. Morton Civic Center, Parasol Room, 2100 Ridge Ave., Evanston
What : Indivisible Evanston is holding its monthly meeting. They are in the process of nailing down speakers related to their 3 core issues/working groups: Election Integrity, Climate Change, and Healthcare.
Sunday, March 3, 2019: PFLAG Trans Youth and Family Summit

When : Sunday, March 3, 2019 from 9:00am to 1:30pm
Where : 3080 West Lake Ave., Glenview
What : PFLAG Youth Services Pride Youth Program presents a gathering for trans and gender expansive youth and family members. The event includes workshops, activities and lunch.
Friday, March 15, 2019: ACLU 2019 Annual Lunch

When : Friday, March 15, 2019, 11:00 Registration and Reception; 12:00 to 1:30 Lunch and Program
Where : Hilton Chicago International Ballroom, 720 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago
What : The annual Chicago luncheon of The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). This year’s guest speaker is Vanita Gupta, former attorney at the ACLU and NAACP, and leader in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division under President Obama.  Purchase your tickets here .
Saturday, March 30, 2019: Personal PAC’s Spinning for Choice Fundraiser

When : Saturday, March 30, 2019 from 1:00pm to 2:00pm
Where : SALT Fitness Chicago, 1714 N. Damen Avenue, Chicago
What : Unique and entertaining fitness fundraiser encourages supporters of choice to join fellow spin enthusiasts to protect reproductive rights for the women of Illinois.  Please use this link to register .
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