Sam Smith – After we get rid of choke holds and Confederate statues we may find ourselves wondering why life still isn’t what we would like it to be. We have been raised in a society that values regulatory process, legal reform, and procedural improvements. But it is easy in such a world to forget the importance of some basic positive human traits such as cooperation, kindness, and enjoyment of others. You can’t legislate or require such things as they are the product of culture and not the law.

And so we may be left with a gap that law, analysis and procedures have failed to fill, namely how we really feel, act and think about others… and what we can do about it.

I have been aware of this throughout much of my own life thanks to such things as having five siblings who, along with my parents, taught me early that other folks don’t always see things the same way as I do. As time went on I gained four nephews and nieces from Puerto Rico, three from Scotland and would live comfortably for five decades in a Washington that was then a majority black city.

I was also an anthropology major and so came to .understand the immense, largely unspoken, power of culture. As a journalist I have been repeatedly reminded of how often culture doesn’t get reported without an event, action, or official attached to it. Thus, for example, most are not aware that 15% of marriages these days are of mixed ethnicity. Or that race is a cultural rather than a scientific thing. Or that institutions like churches and schools no longer have the moral significance they once had.

We do not need to turn our backs on law and procedures but we need to start talking and thinking more about ways we can, beyond regulation, not just get along but actually enjoy each other.

A good place to start is schools. As these institutions have slipped more towards the standards of our corporatist society, moral and personal issues – enlightened by civics and history – have drifted out of the educational agenda. How many elementary schools, for example, introduce their students to the incredible diversity of human culture? How many help their students work with others? And if competition and corporatism are the values their elders value most, where do kids learn cooperation, mediation and how to get along with those with whom you disagree? If math and spelling can be taught at this stage, why not decency and the celebration of diversity?

Years ago, I was president of a parents association at a public school in DC, about which I later wrote:

|||| A parents bulletin around that time reported 20% of the students to be native Spanish speakers. There were children whose families came from 34 countries and Puerto Rico and about 20% of the school was African American… The ethnic mix was rounded out by a commune of born-again Sikhs who lived nearby.

If all our governmental institutions were run by people as pragmatic, sensitive, intelligent and imaginative as the newly appointed principal, Pat Greer, we would live in a much happier country. For example, when the potentially difficult issue of religious celebration arose, Pat adopted the principle laid down by the theologian Reinhold Niehbur, who said once that you don’t solve the conflict between church and state by doing away with the church. And so the assembly before the year-end vacation included a traditional American Christian segment, a latino Christian portion, a Jewish presentation and, as a climax, a kid from the Sikh commune telling the legend of the sword. Everyone had a good time and Pat and I agreed not to let the ACLU know what we were up to.

I once got a call from Pat saying that she had caught two 8th graders using pot. She explained that she had called the 2nd Police District and asked them to send over an officer but that he was to do nothing but scare the hell out of the kids and then leave. Sounds good to me, I said, but of course those were the 1970s when we still naively thought teachers and principals knew more about educating kids than cops, judges, and the President.

Twenty years later, in a speech to a global cultural diversity conference in Australia, Pat Greer, who is black, explained her approach:

“John Eaton School is child-centered. That means that we value and build on the strengths that each and every child brings to our school and to our classrooms. That is especially important to us in our multicultural environment. Our learning environment builds on the heritage and background of all of our children. The result is that our students are eager, curious students, students who are focused on learning and are responsible for their own learning.”

“At another DC public school a teacher had asked the question, ‘What do people need to get along?’ A student had written, ‘cooperation’ and the teacher had crossed it out and written, ‘rules.’ In a few decades, the whole nation would try to run education that way, with lots of tests to make sure the instructions were being obeyed. But it didn’t work because it lacked the combination that on most days had made John Eaton work: competence, to be sure, but – just as important – cooperation, enthusiasm, and love.

“Our parents, teachers and staff are caring, talented, resourceful and positive role models for our students. And I am a highly visible school principal. I know each student by name and I greet them each morning when they arrive at school, and again when they go home at the end of the day. I talk to my students; I visit their classrooms; and I sometimes work with them in their classrooms. And I welcome them into my office when they want to talk to me. ..”

The curriculum at the school was affected by two impressive biases. One was a prejudice towards writing. The kids were always writing something: diaries, plays, stories, speeches, advertisements. The school clearly understood the shortest route to good writing: do it. The other emphasis was the arts, particularly drama and music, activities that require students to work well with each other. With excellent teachers and adequate time, the kids threw themselves into their projects as though Broadway rather than high school was the next step. The encouragement came right from the top – not only from the principal but from Mr. Urqhart, her administrative assistant, who – dressed in his most colorful suit – would sing a single applause-stirring number in his mellow bass voice in each of the big shows – the only adult permitted to thus intrude.

I became conscious of how serious the dramatic side of Eaton was one day as I was taking a group of 4th graders home from an event. One kid stepped carelessly into the street and a companion called her back, saying, “Be careful, you could ruin your whole life that way.’ Another added, “yeah, or even your career.” Once safely in the car, there commenced the sort of surreal debate that only the young can withstand. The topic (clearly involving the stage rather than the lesser trades) was: what is more important – your life or your career? ||||

There are plenty of police departments that could use someone like Pat Greer. While banning chokeholds is a start, we need to think about ways to reintegrate police into our communities instead of having them consider the neighborhood as a threat. Getting them out of their cars and back onto the streets is one way. Creating neighborhood commissions such as those in DC where the police can discuss problems with real citizens. Adding lawyers and social workers to each police station not just to train officers but to work with them over the problems they run into would also help.

All are partial solutions beyond the law and procedures but part of the complex and universal world of decency and cooperation. We can not just regulate ourselves out of this mess, we must learn how to share our world with others and enjoy what we discover. And if kids can learn how to do it, it’s possible we adults can as well.

Why America keeps going anyway…x

Sam Smith – I can’t think of a time when so many of America’s huge systems have so collapsed. Our scientists can’t stop a massive pandemic, long functioning major businesses are going into bankruptcy, the rest of the economy is a mess, we have the dumbest and cruelest president in our history, Congress is unproductive, our schools are closed, millions are unemployed, six decades of civil rights efforts are in shambles and the police are seen by millions as the enemy of those they were hired to protect.
And yet we keep struggling along. Obviously it’s not thanks to our massive institutions, our so-called leaders or favored principles like capitalism that keeps us going. No, it something more important, namely us.
Even in good times, we tend to underrate the importance of the ordinary citizens of America in keeping the place of that name going. For example, during political campaigns the needs of small business are rarely addressed but now, for example, we have relearned the importance of restaurants by the damage done to them by both the pandemic and the protests. At the very time that we are reviving the tales and experiences of police brutality, we read stories of police officials urging decency on everyone’s part and see pictures of individual cops hugging demonstrators, as well as officers in New Jersey, carrying a a banner that read “Standing in Solidarity,” and Santa Cruz Chief Andy Mills down on his knee with protesters.
Then there is the pandemic disaster that our scientific experts can’t decode and so has been turned over to thousands of doctors, nurses, and EMTs who have saved untold lives and mitigated illness anyway. Tens of thousands of teachers have gone on line and revamped their curricula. And even some traditional true Christian preachers have ended their silent submission to the noisy faith scammers.
Thanks to the overwhelming influence of the media we have been taught to discount the role of ordinary folk in determining the course of our country, but that doesn’t stop them from doing it. A lot of people are comparing what’s happening now to the 1968 riots that I lived through east of the US Capitol. One of the things I learned then was the strange ambivalence of such times. The slashes of violence mixed indiscriminately with the sparkle of carnival, the smoke of racial war penetrating the tranquility of a white couple’s home four and a half blocks from disaster, our strangely ordinary experiences in an extraordinary situation, — made the disorder a crazy amalgam that took weeks to sort out
I had started a neighborhood newspaper and was part of a small group of blacks and whites who had come together a few months earlier to deal with some of the community’s problems. It was all too little and too late. In the vicinity of nearby H Street some 124 commercial establishments and 52 homes were damaged. Another 21 businesses were damaged further to the south on or near 8th Street.
But even in this chaos, individuals made a difference.. During the riots, black Mayor Walter Washington had been called to the office of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, where he was told to start shooting looters. Mayor Washington refused, saying that “you can replace material goods, but you can’t replace human beings.” Hoover then said, “Well, this conversation is over.” Replied Washington, “That’s all right, I was leaving anyway.”
Not long after the riots it was Easter and three local ministers held a sunrise service outside on a charred 8th Street, refusing what Albert Camus called the sin of despair. The neighborhood had already started rebuilding itself.
Six decades later we have a president who, like Hoover, wants to shoot the looters. And again you have decent souls who know better. We can’t predict the future but we can follow Albert Camus’ advice, avoiding the sin of despair by creating new power thanks to acts and alliances of decency that even bullies can’t overturn. And remembering that regardless of whether we do something or nothing, we are all demonstrating our position and making a difference.

Easing multi-ethnic conflict by creating multi-ethnic alliances

Sam Smith – One of the great problems with the way that we approach ethnic discrimination is that we rarely discuss cures other than the condemnation of its examples. The media, for example, seldom discusses solutions. This approach is in full swing right now as can be seen in how little real police reform is being discussed and proposed. Doing away with choke holds won’t come close to solving all the problems. We seem to assume that identifying evil is its cure, which is sadly not the case.

One major exception has been Rev William Barber II who started Moral Mondays in North Carolina in 2013 and has since revived the Poor People’s Campaign.. As historian Timothy Tyson put it, Barber is “the most important progressive political leader in this state in generations,” saying that he “built a statewide interracial fusion political coalition that has not been seriously attempted since 1900.”

In order to have a well working multi ethnic society we need to discuss how to design it. Just attacking racism won’t create its alternative. Here are a few excerpts from an interview Chris Hayes did with Rev. Barber a year ago:

Rev Barber: We commissioned a study called the … Souls of Poor Folk, Auditing America 50 Years After the Poor People’s Campaign. Two or three things came up. Number one, we removed poverty out of the political discourse, worst thing we could have ever done, and race as moral issues. So you go through 26 presidential election debates in 2016, not one of them was on poverty. Not one whole debate was on poverty even though 43.5 percent of your people live in poverty and low wealth.

Number two, not one of them is about voter suppression and gerrymandering and restoring the Voting Rights Act, even though in 2016, you have less voting rights than you had in 1965 when the Voting Rights was passed on August the 6th.

That kind of anemic, weak political debate and discourse keeps us in a rut. It’s not honest… Most time if you talk about poverty, people say, “Well, there are more black people in poverty.” That’s not true. There’s more of a concentration of poverty among black people, but in raw numbers, there’s more white people in poverty.

And here’s the ugliness we’ve got to show people. The very people who engage in racist voter suppression and gerrymandering today, when they get that power, guess how they use it? To hurt mostly white people. There are 40 million more poor and low-wealth white people than there are black. People get power using race, then use the power to hurt in raw numbers. Why? Because if you take those former Confederate states, you get close to 170 electoral votes. If you can just control the 13 former Confederate states, you get 31 percent of the United States House of Representatives, and 26 members of the United States Senate.

… If I could put a pin that’s one of the mistakes that I believe of how the health care piece has been pushed. We haven’t rolled it out in the South and shown people in the South how it impacts them, and that’s why you can get a state like North Carolina blocking 500,000 people getting health care, and 346,000 of them are white. And yet people think that it’s primarily going to just minorities.

If you look at what Reconstruction was about, it was about policy. And they were able to find the linkage to show poor white people, their connection to black people, and black people their connection to white people, and how the persons that were the ones that were pushing the racism, pushing the division were actually hurting everybody. And so, you have to learn in this season to do that same kind of moral fusion.

Sam Smith – Fifteen years ago I took part in one of the most remarkable one day conferences I have ever attended. It was designed to bring progressives of different ilks together to agree on a common program. Here’s my report from the time:

In 1995, as an active member of the Green Politics Network, I joined a number of other Greens in hosting a conference of third party activists. Over a hundred showed up, ranging from one of the founders of the ancient American Labor Party to Greens, Libertarians, Perot backers, and Democratic Socialists of America. It was a recklessly dangerous idea for a Washington weekend, but Green activists John Rensenbrink, Linda Martin and Tony Affigne seemed to know what they were doing and I was happy to go along.

We established two basic rules:

o We would only discuss issues on which we might find some agreement.

o We would reach that agreement by consensus.

We broke the body into tables of ten or so, each dealing with a different topic. All policies that were proposed were written on newsprint posters. Then participants were given three color stick-on dots with their names on them. Everyone then went up to the board and placed their dots on their favorite issues (cumulative voting style, so that all three dots could, if desired, be placed on one issue). After the vote, those with only their dots on a particular issue were allowed to move them to their second choice (a la instant run-off voting) and so forth until a clear consensus of three issues emerged. This scheme not only produced a consensus, but one that was physical and visual as well as intellectual and was fun to watch.

When the various groups produced their recommendations, they were turned over to what was known as a “fishbowl negotiation.” Each small group selected a representative to negotiate for it with representatives of all the other tables. The representatives sat in a circle with those they represented behind them. Anyone could stop their representative and request a small group conference but only the representative could speak in the larger assembly. It worked remarkably well.

The small group that had the most difficulty with such techniques was comprised mainly of Marxists who had selected economics as their area of concern. One result, ironically, was that the weakest section of the final statement was that dealing with economics. On the other hand, the libertarians came to the organizers at one point and offered to leave the meeting so a full consensus could be maintained. We encouraged them to stick around, changing our own rules to accept several levels of consensus.

Despite the wide range of views present, despite the near total absence of Robert’s Rules of Order, the final document, with full consensus, called for nothing less than a major transformation. The group unanimously agreed to support proportional representation, campaign finance reform “to provide a level playing field in elections;” initiative, referendum and recall; better ballot access; the end of corporate welfare; strong environmental policies; sexual and reproductive freedom; an end to the war on drugs and treatment of addiction as a health matter rather than as a crime; a dramatic cut in military expenditures; workplace democracy and the maximum empowerment of people in their communities “consistent with fairness, social responsibilities and human rights.”

Not bad for a group ranging from one of the founders of the ancient American Labor Party to Greens, Libertarians, Perot backers and Democratic Socialists of America. It shouldn’t have worked at all, but because the rules we had used felt fair to those present, it did. By ignoring topics of obvious disagreement, we even surprised ourselves with the level of consensus.

We had also discovered the possibility of a political transformation, of moving beyond left and right. We understood that these were different times — not the thirties, not the sixties — times that required different imaginations and different risks. We had reached out and had found that we were not alone.

I have since repeatedly had the dream that national leaders of the black, latino, women’s, labor and youth communities would come together for similar discussions. You can’t create a working multi-cultural society if you don’t even sit down and talk with each other.

Confront the strong; convert the weak

Sam Smith – One of the problems I have with activism these days is that we seem to have lost both the capacity and desire to convert the weak. Too often there is a style I’ve come to think of as evangelical liberalism in which organizers and those who agree with them will be saved, but the rest will just go to hell.

Philosophy aside, this is not particularly good activism or politics. It eliminates large numbers of people whose misplaced positions and priorities are often the direct result of false propaganda by the powerful and fears for which the system provides no solution. For example, as noted here before, the currently widely used term “white privilege” can’t be expected to be received well by poor whites who number twice as many as poor blacks. And there is little sense, as Martin Luther King wanted us to hope, that some day our enemies might be our friends.

A handy alternative approach is to confront the strong for their evils, but convert the weak they have falsely convinced. One reason the latter have been fooled, for example, is because the percent of workers who belong to a labor union that might educate them towards more progressive views is one third what it was in the 1950s. In terms of influence, there is no equivalent powerful alternative to the lies and misdirection of a Donald Trump.

The decline of community is another factor working against us. There are too many who live in too small worlds that work against understanding a more decent and collective approach.

At the same time, broad as our current problems are, we tend to ignore the fact that we have made considerable progress in recent decades thanks in part to the changed minds of Americans who once favored segregation and other forms of ethnic bias. One small example from Black Demographics:

“Of the 100 largest cities in the country, 39 have had elected black mayors. In 2018, 57.1% of black mayors served in cities (over 40,000) that did not have a black majority population…. Perhaps the introduction and prevalence of the Black mayor has helped America become more comfortable with Black politicians in positions of major leadership. In 2018 there were about 32 Black Mayors of cities with populations of more than 40,000 according to our estimates.”

Or consider this story from Associated Press: “More Americans than in 2015 say police in most communities are more likely to use deadly force against a Black person than a white person, 61% today compared with 49% in 2015. Only about a third of Americans say the race of a person does not make a difference in the use of deadly force, compared with roughly half in 2015. And 65% say that police officers who cause injury or death in the course of their job are treated too leniently by the justice system, compared with 41% in 2015.”

And a recent Slate story by Priya Satia tells the tale of a a police officer in British India who “quit after five years out of a deep sense of shame, evident in his first published piece, in which the narrator, a police officer in Burma, is quietly complicit in the execution of a colonial subject… A dog is the only being that acknowledges the prisoner’s humanity, jumping up to lick his face, to the crowd’s horror.”

That police officer was a guy named George Orwell who went on to write 1984.

The point is that people do change for the better and successful activism is based on this assumption and the skills with which to achieve it.

I attribute evangelical liberalism in part to the fact that liberals are much much better educated and better off financially than was the case, say, in the New Deal or Great Society.

Take for example the case of Frances Perkins, the Roosevelt labor secretary who during her term of office, championed many aspects of the New Deal, including the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Public Works Administration, its successor the Federal Works Agency, and the labor portion of the National Industrial Recovery Act. With The Social Security Act she established unemployment benefits, pensions for the many uncovered elderly Americans, and welfare for the poorest Americans. She pushed to reduce workplace accidents and helped craft laws against child labor. Through the Fair Labor Standards Act, she established the first minimum wage and overtime laws for American workers, and defined the standard 40-hour work week. She formed governmental policy for working with labor unions and helped to alleviate strikes by way of the United States Conciliation Service.

Name any leading Democrat in the past fifty years who came close that.

In fact, the Perkins model offers a hint of what black, latino and white liberals could be doing together now. With the economic chaos that awaits the end of our lockdown, we will need to be redefining how money is created and used, instituting reforms such as a guaranteed income and more cooperatives, and providing decent places and programs for those most hardly hit by the current disaster. This provides an opportunity for progressives of all ethnicities to join in a cause of substance, and blacks and latinos could lead..

In the end, the best way to get a real progressive national movement is to confront the powerful but convert the weak


Sam Smith –The House passage of a DC statehood bill brings to mind that fifty years ago this month, I wrote an essay explaining for the first time how DC could become a state without a constitutional amendment. The plan was to reduce the size of the federal district created in the Constitution and to let the remainder become a state. This was not a novelty; after all back in 1846, Alexandria Virginia had been dropped from the federal district to satisfy that town’s pro-slavery agenda.

The total reaction to my article was that a reader sent me five dollars, asking that it be contributed to the cause if it ever got going. I thought, well there’s another one down the drain.

Then four months later, I was invited to a meeting to discuss the candidacy of Julius Hobson for non-voting delegate to Congress, a token that the federal government had thrown our way to help calm the city down.

We met in a barren church basement hall on East Capitol Street. Just a few of us, our chairs pulled in a small circle. After a while, Julius asked on what platform we thought he should run. Someone in the room mentioned the article I had written about statehood.. Julius listened, we discussed it for a few minutes and then he said, “That’s what I’m going to run on.”

Julius Hobson is probably the most underrated civil rights leader of recent time – another example of how colonies like DC not only lack power but respect for their stories.

Throughout the years of Washington’s awakening, no one individual had changed the course and the psychology of DC more than Hobson. In a city where it could be said that never had so many sold out for so little, Hobson refused to compromise. Even prospect of an early death from multiple myeloma failed to chasten the man. He described the conversation he would have with the Lord, if there turned out to be one, as Hobson presenting a bill of particulars on behalf of the oppressed people still back on earth. And he concluded, “That’s what I’d have to say to the Maker. And if the Maker doesn’t like it, to hell with him.”

Between 1960 and 1964, Julius Hobson had run more than 80 picket lines on approximately 120 retail stores in downtown DC, resulting in employment for some 5,000 blacks. He initiated campaigns that resulted in the first hiring of black bus drivers, black auto salesmen and dairy employees and directed anti-discrimination efforts against the public utilities, private apartment buildings, the Washington Hospital Center, and private business schools. In 1967, Julius Hobson won a suit that outlawed the existing rigid school track system, teacher segregation and differential distribution of budgets, books and supplies.

Our meeting in the church basement led to the creation of the DC Statehood Party which would elect a member to the city council and/or school board for 25 years. And it’s only taken a half century for the issue to come to the national fore. The current Senate clearly won’t approve it, but a Biden victory in the fall combined with a Democratic Senate could create a new state in a matter of months.


Sam Smith – In the summer of 1960, a local Washington movement formed to end the policy of segregation at Glen Echo Amusement Park. Howard University students, members of the Bannockburn community, the local NAACP, Cedar Lane Unitarian Church and the Wheaton-Kensington Democratic Club, all picketed the park on a daily basis, as well as petitioned the Montgomery County Council, (because public school buses were bringing white kids to Glen Echo to swim and taking black Montgomery County kids to the D.C.’s Francis Pool for swimming lessons.) There was a legal battle as well, which went all the way to the Supreme Court.

Your editor was a reporter for WWDC and Deadline Washington News Service at the time. In August 1960 I wrote in a letter:

“Have been covering some of the anti-segregation demonstrations around the Washington area. The results here have been hopeful. Good police work has kept violence to a minimum although the presence of neo-Nazi Lincoln Rockwell and his “troopers” doesn’t make the situation any simpler. Quite a few lunch counters have been desegregated. Glen Echo Amusement Park is resisting despite a month of picketing and a Bethesda theater is also refusing to back down.”

In February 1960, four black college students had sat down at a white-only Woolworths lunch counter in Greensboro, NC. Within two weeks, there were sit-ins in fifteen cities in five southern states and within two months they had spread to fifty four cities in nine states. In April the leaders of these protests had come together, heard a moving sermon by Martin Luther King Jr. and formed the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.

The summer I first worked for WWDC I had covered the passage of the first civil rights legislation in Congress since 1875. Now it was getting serious. By the end of June, I was covering the desegregation of lunch counters in Northern Virginia after sit-ins by groups led a Howard Divinity School student, Lawrence Harvey. Harvey [see pix] then took his troops to Glen Echo.

Although I saved few recordings from that period — tape was expensive and usually recycled — I still have the raw sounds I made that day. On it a guard and Harvey confront each other:

Are you white or colored?
Am I white or colored?
That’s correct. That’s what I want to know. Can I ask your race?
My race. I belong to the human race.
All right. This park is segregated.
I don’t understand what you mean.
It’s strictly for white people
It’s strictly for white persons?
Uh-hum. It has been for years. . .
You’re telling me that because my skin is black I can not come into your park?
Not because your skin is black. I asked you what your race was.
I would like to know why I can not come into your park.
Because the park is segregated. It is private property.
Just what class of people do you allow to come in here.
White people
So you’re saying you exclude the American Negro.
That’s right.
Who is a citizen of the United States.
That’s right.
I see.

As a biracial group marched outside with picket signs, Harvey led a group inside to sit-in at the restaurant and mount the carousel horses. The case ended up in court and less than a year later, the park opened for all.


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The Confederacy lives on

Sam Smith – The removal of Confederate statues is another reminder of a thesis I’ve pretty much kept to myself, namely that the South lost slavery and the right of succession thanks to the Civil War, but it won a lot of other things, such as the right to segregation and disproportionate control over Congress.
For example those more than 700 statues were mainly built not in the wake of the war but during the period of southern white supremacy from the 1920s to the 1960s, the so-called Jim Crow era. When I graduated from college in 1959 and went to Washington as a radio reporter, I was surprised to discover the power of Dixicrat members of Congress at the time reflected by even some of my northern friends who had come to work on the Hill developing southern accents. It became quickly clear that the south ran the place.
Thanks to the civil rights movement, we no longer talk about the confederacy save as history, but the north-south conflict can still be  found if you look closely. Take the 2016 election. Eliminate the count in the former confederacy and Hillary Clinton would have won by 35 electoral votes.
Undernews keeps a record of good and bad things happening by state and right now there isn’t a single former Confederate state in the top half of the union.
Sure, there’s been a lot of progress in the south, but we should recognize – as demonstrated by Georgia’s recent effort to suppress the black vote – that the issues that brought on the Civil War and the Jim Crow era haven’t left us yet.

A different kind of cop story

Sam Smith This is the first in an Undernews series on improving policing so we can have fewer disasters like the recent one in Minneapolis. The reaction to the murder there, as is typically true, was one of anger and condemnation. But the solutions get rarely discussed. Your editor has been involved with this issue since the 1960s when he started a newspaper in a majority black neighborhood to the east of the Capitol in Washington DC. In 1968 the community had two of the city’s four major riots. But it also had some good things like a black police officer named Isaac Fulwood.

I first met Isaac Fulwood in the 1960s when I did a feature for the Capitol East Gazette on neighborhood policing and went with Fulwood and his partner on their beat. The pair had been specifically assigned to deal with youth problems and community relations. Less than a year before the riots that would ruin much of our neighborhood, a few cops like Fulwood (along with the Recreation Department’s roving leader program) were on the streets attempting to stop trouble before it happened. But like a lot of good things back then, it was too little and too late.

Fulwood had grown up in the ‘hood, gone to high school there, knew the places, the people and its problems. In the years that followed, our paths would cross – our children being baptized together at St. Mark’s Church, being in a jury pool together and once – during a major anti-war protest at the Capitol – running into now Washington Chief of Police Ike Fulwood and getting a big bear hug, not the sort of thing that usually happened to alternative journalists during a 1960s demonstration.

I find myself thinking of Ike Fulwood and how he would have handled today’s situation so much better because he understood that there are all sort of opportunities to create a community that lessen the problems leading to the need for law enforcement. As he said to me back in 1967 as we drove by grim public housing jammed into a small site, “They never ask the police for their opinion when they build public housing.”

I noted in a story, “The police might have a few things to tell the planners about that happens when you crowd people into places like this. But the police come later, when the trouble starts.”

And of cops like Fulwood, I added, “If you spend any time with these men, you can’t help but believe – as they do – that their work is important and that it is fitting and proper for a policeman to aid in solving a community’s social problems as well as serving as its armed guard.”

After the riots, Fulwood was part of the community coming together again. For example, the Gazette reported:

||| The Fifth Precinct is planning to establish a 200-man auxiliary police reserve using local residents. Members would undergo training and work alongside regular officers. Precinct officials feel the plan will ease the police workload here and will improve police-community relations. Those interested are asked to call officers Cephas or Fulwood at 626-2375 |||

There was even a new group – the Capitol East Community Organization – whose board members included major neighborhood figures, among them police private Isaac Fulwood.

Years later the Washington Post would write an article about the now former police chief in which it noted his efforts to organize African-Americans as mentors for the city’s young men. According to the Post, eighty-two men had signed up to mentor, and 24 had been paired with a child. About 45 men had completed training and were waiting to be matched.

What I learned from Ike Fulwood was the difference it made when police officers were actually a part of the community they served. How this not only help the community but improved the officers’ policing. They were protecting and strengthening a ‘hood with which they related, not just enforcing the law in a place that was not theirs.

A few things to help get through these times

Sam Smith

Build communities – As America has become more urbanized, we have become increasingly culturally isolated from others near us. Having moved a decade ago from a near lifetime in Washington DC to a Maine town of 7,900 population, I’m conscious of some of the differences, such as when neighbors offer to pick up groceries for you during the pandemic, an emphasis on ethical behavior as a standard with which to judge others and so forth. But cities can have this too, as I learned living on Capitol Hill in DC. The important thing is to make it matter.

Follow facts, not politicians – Politics these days is based on the manipulation of information by those using it. Trump is an extreme example, but as a rule politicians are an exceedingly poor place to get the facts. If your challenge is to deal with a real problem, you want real information. Science and good journalism do a better job at this.

Don’t rely on the gradocracy to solve your problems – We now have more than 28 times as many students getting MBA degrees annually as back in the 1960s and Washington has over 80,000 lawyers. As I wrote a few years ago:

||| It was a given until recent times, that from a political point of view, understanding law or economics or business was a valuable asset but one that fell far behind social intelligence upon which successful politics relied. As my father, a lawyer who worked in the New Deal, would tell my buddies, “Go to law school, then do something else.” Roosevelt wasn’t as gracious towards the academic elites: “”I took economics courses in college for four years, and everything I was taught was wrong.”….

. A cursory examination of American business suggests that its major product has become wasted energy. And not just the physical sort. Compute all the energy loss created by corporate lawyers, Washington lobbyists, marketing consultants, CEO benefits, advertising agencies, leadership seminars, human resource supervisors, strategic planners and industry conventions and it is amazing that this country has any manufacturing base at all. We have created an economy based not on actually doing anything, but on facilitating, supervising, planning, managing, analyzing, tax advising, marketing, consulting or defending in court what might be done if we had time to do it. The few remaining truly productive companies become immediate targets for another entropic activity, the leveraged buyout and the rise of the killer hedge fund. |||

As an alternative, work on a farm or a boat – I did both as a young guy and among the things I learned that are useful in today’s environment:

· Multitasking: If you are on a farm or out on a boat, there are no end of skills that need to be blended depending on the particular day or place. You may need to be a weatherman, an accountant, a veterinarian, a navigator, a hospital corpsman or an engineer,



Have your opinion but work with those who have different ones. The historian David Hackett Fischer calls it “reciprocal liberty,” a philosophy that tolerates differences of viewpoint to encourage closer and more effective relationships.

Organize by issues as well as identity: One of the big differences between the 1960s decade of effective organizing and today is that activists are much more inclined to organize by identity rather than by issue. I learned the difference getting involved in the largely successful anti-freeway movement in DC. It was started by black and white middle class homeowners, the least likely constituencies to produce any big change. And I knew we were going to win when I went to a rally that had two speakers: Reginald Booker, a black activist who ran a group called Niggers Incorporated and a white Georgetown architect dressed in a pin striped suit whose name was Grosvenor Chapman.

It’s not a matter of either or; it’s just that cross cultural issue-oriented organizing is way down these days, perhaps encouraged by the tendency of the Internet to drive one to your own niche. But consider, for example, that among those in poverty, 21.4 million are women, 8.4 million are black, 10.5 million are Latino and 15.7 million are white. That’s 34 million Americans who have something in common.

Regard multi-cultualism as an asset for America, not just a big problem to be solved: We have too much real work ahead of us not to treat everyone decently, whatever their ethnicity or sexual category. This has been easy for me because I wasn’t all that happy with the way I was raised and early looked to other cultures for alternatives. I majored in anthropology and had four sisters and a Puerto Rican sister-in-law with four children. In high school I became a jazz musician with a plethora of black inspirations. For over two and a half decades, my office was in DC’s leading gay neighborhood. For five decades, I was part of Washington’s white minority. Thus I Iearned early and repeatedly that others weren’t all like me and that this made life more interesting. I remain stunned by how seldom and how little we celebrate cultural diversity. Yes, we have to keep fighting the unfairness, but we need to talk louder and more often about diversity is a gift and not just a problem to be solved.

Learn from cooperatives instead of corporations – In this sort of crisis, the game is not competition but cooperation. Cooperatives are the greatly underrated lessons in this. Here’s a piece on how cooperatives are dealing with this crisis.

Let’s have some songs and symbols of a new approach – As we deal with the crisis, logic and data are not enough. We need to feel like we’re building something new and better. The fact that my teenage granddaughter has a 1960s peace symbol on her bedroom door is a reminder of symbolism can thrive for decades. And we also need music that we can sing as we work our way into something better.

Even if you’re a farmer or boat captain, you can’t do it all by yourself. You learn not just to rely on others but to get along with those working for the same purpose.

Have your opinion but work with those who have different ones. The historian David Hackett Fischer calls it “reciprocal liberty,” a philosophy that tolerates differences of viewpoint to encourage closer and more effective relationships.

Organize by issues as well as identity: One of the big differences between the 1960s decade of effective organizing and today is that activists are much more inclined to organize by identity rather than by issue. I learned the difference getting involved in the largely successful anti-freeway movement in DC. It was started by black and white middle class homeowners, the least likely constituencies to produce any big change. And I knew we were going to win when I went to a rally that had two speakers: Reginald Booker, a black activist who ran a group called Niggers Incorporated and a white Georgetown architect dressed in a pin striped suit whose name was Grosvenor Chapman.

It’s not a matter of either or; it’s just that cross cultural issue-oriented organizing is way down these days, perhaps encouraged by the tendency of the Internet to drive one to your own niche. But consider, for example, that among those in poverty, 21.4 million are women, 8.4 million are black, 10.5 million are Latino and 15.7 million are white. That’s 34 million Americans who have something in common.

Regard multi-cultualism as an asset for America, not just a big problem to be solved: We have too much real work ahead of us not to treat everyone decently, whatever their ethnicity or sexual category. This has been easy for me because I wasn’t all that happy with the way I was raised and early looked to other cultures for alternatives. I majored in anthropology and had four sisters and a Puerto Rican sister-in-law with four children. In high school I became a jazz musician with a plethora of black inspirations. For over two and a half decades, my office was in DC’s leading gay neighborhood. For five decades, I was part of Washington’s white minority. Thus I Iearned early and repeatedly that others weren’t all like me and that this made life more interesting. I remain stunned by how seldom and how little we celebrate cultural diversity. Yes, we have to keep fighting the unfairness, but we need to talk louder and more often about diversity is a gift and not just a problem to be solved.

Learn from cooperatives instead of corporations – In this sort of crisis, the game is not competition but cooperation. Cooperatives are the greatly underrated lessons in this. Here’s a piece on how cooperatives are dealing with this crisis.

Let’s have some songs and symbols of a new approach – As we deal with the crisis, logic and data are not enough. We need to feel like we’re building something new and better. The fact that my teenage granddaughter has a 1960s peace symbol on her bedroom door is a reminder of symbolism can thrive for decades. And we also need music that we can sing as we work our way into something better.

The Supreme Court will decide whether America is now a dictatorship

Sam Smith – The Trump case now before the Supreme Court could be the most important decision by that body in our history. As Paul Waldman put it in the Washington Post:

It’s almost impossible to overstate how appalling the arguments by Trump’s lawyers have been. They have claimed kingly powers for the president — that while he is in office he can’t be prosecuted or even investigated. That, they say, applies to both Congress and prosecutors.

If the court rules on behalf of Trump then the only power that could be used against him would be impeachment, which is entirely dependent entirely on the politics of the Congress and not by adherence to judicial fairness or constitutional standards.

As I first suggested over 15 years ago, the first American republic is over. But we were still living in a semi-democratic society, one that has been damaged but not destroyed. With a ruling granting Trump tyrannical power, it will be fair to declare our status a dictatorship.

The collapse of American democracy started well before Trump. Here are a few of the factors that led to it:

The collapse of labor unions over the past fifty years. Unions are not only labor organizations but educational ones, helping workers understand their rights in our society. One big reason Trump lies so successfully to the working class is that so few are aligned with unions.

Television images have replaced constituent experience. Once even corrupt politicians built their base on services to constituents, but with television one needs only to have the image of doing that.

The replacement of democratic values with those corporations, aided by the large  growth in business school graduates.

A media that is no longer over half composed of those with only high school educations, now predominantly including college graduates much more closely aligned with the elite they are covering.

Thanks to the Supreme Court, the larger role in elections played by corporate and other big money sources.

The decline of history and civics being taught in American schools

The increased urbanization of our society, which has led to a decline in strong local communiTies and a rise in individual isolation.

The rise of public relations, advertising and other forms of propaganda replacing education and churches as sources of information, values and community.

Hopefully, the Supreme Court will recognize the unconstitutional danger in granting Trump a dictatorship but even so we should not minimize how close we came to destroying the heart of who we are as a nation.

Belated erratic reflections on unplanned solitude

Sam Smith – With the help of my lovely and talented wife of 53 years, I am about to begin my eighth week of unplanned solitude thanks to the coronavirus.  As with other crises, I have been so busy figuring out how to handle it pragmatically, that only in the past day or two have I found myself reflecting on its deeper meaning.

It’s a problem I have with crises. I perceive them coming on a regular basis and can suffer sleep-depriving angst just on their possibility. In fact, most of this angst is a waste of time and effort as much of what I worry about tends not to happen.

Actual crises, however, I tend to handle differently, My inner existentialism tells me to concentrate on practical choices rather than imagined outcomes. Thus I sometimes do better in a disaster than just thinking about one.

But even disasters can get boring after a while and I find myself lately mulling the inner meaning of it all. For example, the values that have been saving lives lately are a quiet but stunning challenge to much that is taught, say, at the Harvard Business School or Yale Law School. We are on this earth not to beat down other guys but to help  them and be helped in return. Living in a small town in Maine, this is just the norm but greater America has been going in another direction for some time. It is also interesting that, without much discussion, we have redefined money and how it handled, granting a trillion here or there, and not even talking about the fact that our national debt has increased five times since the 1990s without any great inflation or other predicted crises A decade ago, who would have expected the speaker of the House to be talking about a guaranteed national income?

I have also been struck by the fact that for the first time in my late life, I find my age to be an actual asset. As an 82 year old I and my peers are often considered something between non-essential to irrelevant. Thus being assigned to a house for eight weeks is not all that different. I have fewer board meetings cancelled, fewer problems to be solved, fewer challenges to present or be presented with.

Thus I was a stay-at-home long before all this happened. Add to this my life as a writer  accustomed to solitude and what’s happening now just doesn’t seem as strange to me as it does for many. Further, I was blessed by living my active years during times like the 1960s when real change occurred.

But my wife is a historian so I am constantly reminded  of how easily the past disappears. For example, my early heroes in writing were three men I called The Initials: HL Mencken, AJ Liebling and EB White. It does little good to mention them today.We live in today and today is not defined by what we did in February but we do now.

And even times we didn’t ask for and don’t like can be cribs of change. And we are all essential workers in creating this change. If an 82 year old can keep trying to do it, you can too.

Worse than a war

Sam Smith – Lots of people, including the president, are making analogies between what is happening now and a big war. But when you think about it a little deeper it becomes clear that this is bigger than a war. Consider that we already have lost more than half as many people as we did in the Vietnam War.

And unlike wars, we were stunningly unprepared for it. As I noted the other day our public health budget is 2% of our military expenses and politicians, the media and citizens don’t even talk much about it until it becomes unavoidable news. Further, this virus has done things that even going to war has avoided in the past  such as slicing  our direct contact with businesses, education, churches, arts, friends and sports.

There is another issue that we have avoided so far: what if this virus becomes a permanent part of our lives? How does that change what being human is all about? Back in March, Time Magazine ran an interview with Dr. Bruce Aylward  who  has almost 30 years experience in fighting polio, Ebola and other diseases, and now is one of the world’s top officials in charge of fighting the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s what he said on this subject:

What’s going to happen? Is this going to disappear completely? Are we going to get into a period of cyclical waves? Or are we going to end up with low level endemic disease that we have to deal with? Most people believe that that first scenario where this might disappear completely is very, very unlikely, it just transmits too easily in the human population, so more likely waves or low level disease.

A lot of that is going to depend on what we as countries, as societies, do. If we do the testing of every single case, rapid isolation of the cases, you should be able to keep cases down low. If you simply rely on the big shut down measures without finding every case, then every time you take the brakes off, it could come back in waves. So that future frankly, may be determined by us and our response as much as the virus.

We are on the edge of possibly permanently  changing the nature of what being human is. Since we have a lot of spare time, it would be w

Why isn’t public health more important to us?

Sam Smith – In recent days I’ve been reflecting on how poorly I was prepared for the current crisis by my presumed academic, economic,  political and spiritual leaders. For example, I can’t remember the possibility of a public health disaster being mentioned by any of my professors at Harvard and when I searched our own stories for some insight, I found this from 2009: “After meeting with Mr. Obama, Sen. Collins expressed concern about a number of spending provisions, including $780 million for pandemic-flu preparedness.”

We have all been trained instead to worry mainly about military invasions and economic crises.  And so we find ourselves stunningly unprepared to deal with a pandemic that has already caused in a few months 83% of the American deaths during four years of the Korean War. And even at the current height of the illness, our media and politicians are treating its economic effects as more important than the health issues themselves. Meanwhile, we spent $619 billion on our military last year as opposed to $11.9 billion for the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention despite the soon to be realized public health fatalities.  

Consider that we lose more lives from heart disease or cancer each year than we did in World War II, World War I and Vietnam put together and you get a sense of how distorted our priorities have become. On the other hand, as I wrote back in 2009, you don’t “see the newspapers running headlines every winter proclaiming ‘30,000 Geezers Dead in Seasonal Flu Outbreak,’ or the president going on TV to say that the government would stop at nothing to protect granny from this dangerous virus. The fact that these things don’t happen, I think, is proof that the older we get, the less our lives are worth in this society.” 

One reason this pandemic has finally gotten a lot of coverage is because its victims include a lot of younger folk including hospital staff . And then there’s the danger of the economy.  As Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick put it , “There are more important things than living and that’s saving this country.” In his view we were born to serve the GDP.

Of course, there are plenty of reasons why human life isn’t that important to our elite, including, for example, the Supreme Court ruling a decade ago in Citizens United that corporations could – although it didn’t use the verb – buy elections. But perhaps the current experience will teach us to pay less attention to our leaders and more to the essentials of a good life – ranging from public health to a climate in which we and other creatures can survive.

Learning laughter in Maine

Sam Smith – Long before Bert & I, I started collecting Maine humor during my summer visits. One of my sources as a boy was Walter Stowe for whom I worked on various projects.

Mr. Stowe appreciated having someone to instruct and demonstrate his immunity to poison ivy by chewing on some its leaves. He had a stock of sayings of which he never tired. He could recite a blasphemous version of the Lord’s Prayer at breakneck speed and when you asked him how much something cost, he always replied, “25 cents, two bits, two dimes and a nickel, one quartah of a dollah.” When you picked up your end of a plank, the instructions also never varied: “Head her southeast!” When you said goodbye he said, “Keep her under 60 on the curves.” And he offered this assessment of a suddenly departed brother-in-law: “That fella never was any good. Now he’s upped and died right in the middle of hay season.”

On the other hand, his assessment of Clyde Johnson was more favorable: “He’s the only man who can shingle a barn, tell a dirty story and smoke a pipe all at the same time.”

When he needed to stall while thinking of a reply, the quite short Mr. Stowe would go into a brief shuffle, observe his feet intently, pick up his dirty baseball hat and scratch his bald head, finally declaring, “Well now!” with the occasional addendum “Ain’t that somethin?”

When I introduced my future wife to Mr. Stowe and told him we were engaged, he did his shuffle and his head scratching, glanced at Kathy and then looked up at me over his little round glasses and said, “Pretty good for a girl.”

” Er, Mr. Stowe, Kathy’s from Wisconsin.”

Shuffle. Hat back on.

“Glad to meet you anyway.”

John T. Mann recalls that Mr. Stowe had told his father: “If I die afore the end of mud season, just stick me in the gravel pit ’til the road dries out and the ground thaws.”

By the time Kathy met Mr. Stowe he was very old. He made do to the end. When Mrs. Stowe forbade him to repair the roof on the grounds that a ninetysomething man shouldn’t do such things, Mr. Stowe reluctantly called a roofer, then donned his carpenter’s apron and climbed to the ridgeline where, like an aged great blue heron, he sat and supervised the operation.

Carolyn White, who spent nearly all her young summers on Wolfe’s Neck, recalls the season-end ritual in which her parents would instruct her to “go over and say goodbye to Mr. Stowe, because he may not be here when we come back next year.” Mr. Stowe lived long enough for Carolyn to repeat the ritual with her own children.

Maine’s less than pompous culture could be found everywhere, even reflected in the work of the local police department, as witnessed by a few entries in the Freeport police log from the summer of 1979:

JUNE 14 1000 PM: A barking dog was reported on Bow Street. Officer Gillespie asked the owner to quiet the dog and she said she would do her best.

JUNE 15 1008 PM: Officer Sloat received a report of a woman screaming on Pine Street. He found it was a lovers’ spat.

JUNE 17 230PM: Officer Walker attempted to locate an 8O-year-old woman on 1-95. She had had a quarrel with her husband and decided to walk . . . 300 PM: Officer Walker located the woman and assisted with the reunion.

810 AM. Officer Carter responded to a call at the Brogan residence for a dog unable to get out a pool. In the process of getting the dog out of the pool, the dog bit Officer Carter. . . . 855 AM Officer Carter went back on duty after changing his trousers at home.

Even the road signs could be fun

Big new tube
Just like Louise
You get a lot
In every squeeze
Burma Shave

Not to mention the road directions

How much further is it to Freeport? . . . About 25,000 miles the way you’re headed.

How do I get to Skowhegan? . . . Don’t you move a goddamned inch.

Where does this road go?. . . . Don’t go nowhere. Stays right here.

How do I get to Boothbay Harbor? . . . Can’t get there from here.

When you get to big Jimmy’s place down the road a piece, you’re gonna wanna take a right….. But don’t!

How do we get to Topsham? . . . Don’t rightly know . . . Well, how about Gorham then? . . . Nope, don’t know that eithah . . . You don’t seem to know much . . . Ayah, but I ain’t lost.

Do you know how to get to Waldodoro? . . .Ayah

How do you get to Bangor? . . . Well, I usually get my brother to take me

You never knew when a laugh would crop up. Once, as a teenager, I drove into a gas station, stepped out of my car into a puddle and heard someone say “How’s the watah?”

And John at R&D Automotive told me many years back that my brother had been in with his car. “He said he kept smelling gas . . . so I told him to stop it.”

Then there was the exchange at Ed Leighton’s department store:

“How ya doin?”

“You want the long story or the short one?”

“Oh hell, give me the long one.”

“Pretty good, I guess.”

At my father’s funeral I asked Billy Maybury, the undertaker how he wanted the pallbearers arranged.

“How many you got?” he asked pleasantly.

“Six,” I replied

“Three on a side.”

And then there was the time Bob Guillamette, the plumber, came to fix something. I asked him to also look at the tub he had recently installed because the water was slow to drain. He returned a couple of minutes later saying, “Christ, Sam, you’re one of the lucky ones. Most of them won’t hold water.”

Then he fixed it.

Dealing with the future by learning from the past

Sam Smith – A time of crisis like this can bring back some old values and skills that we had been taught were no longer important in a time of modern media and capitalism.

For example, what are farms’  new role in a time like this?

Beyond providing food, there’s something else to be gained from farms. Farming was built on a model that emphasized skill, cooperation and multi-tasking in a way not seen in a typical corporation. These are skills that we are going to need in a big way these days.  For example, you can own a farm, but to run it well you’re going to need help you not only pay, but respect, work well with and rely upon.

And like these times, we can not longer escape reality by clever marketing. Reality is all around us. Just like at a farm. I was taught this early in summer work  When I was 13 I helped to move a house and about the same time helped jack up a 120 foot barn to put more rocks under it. Both these incidents remain in my mind because they showed the triumph of skill over talk, a quality necessary to successful farming. Nelson Mandela, for example,  credited cattle farming rather than universities as his inspiration. Moving herds around, he explained, had taught him how to lead from behind.

The other place where I discovered skill and cooperation leading power was as an officer on a Coast Guard cutter. All 50 men on our ship, regardless of their rank, were essential to our work and while one might have more authority than others, you were still highly dependent on them, leading to a spirit of mutual assistance.

I was reminded of this with the firing of Captain Brett Crozier of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt. Like a good captain would, he put his crew first with his plea for help. The Navy Secretary, Thomas Modly – despite having once been a Navy officer himself – acted as he might in his former job as managing director of PricewaterhouseCooper – and dumped Crozier. It is worth noting that the crew cheered the captain Molby had fired.

Such qualities as skill and cooperation soar in times like these. It was a matter I addressed back in 1994, in my book Shadows of Hope:

The question we ought to be asking is not what a failing system should be doing but whether such a system can do anything except to make matters worse, all the more so by trying to do something about it. The problem is similar to that illustrated by President Eisenhower’s bumbling agriculture secretary Ezra Taft Bensen. When Bensen announced that he would be working day and night on the farm problem, another politician wisely commented, “I wish he wouldn’t. He was causing enough trouble when he was just working days.”

Ironically, we have come to our present unhappy state in no small part because of our willingness to turn over individual and communal functions to the very systems we now ask to save us.

Functions formerly performed by community, family and church have now been assumed not only by government but to an increasing but unappreciated degree by the private corporation. Consider the modern shopping mall, a common contemporary replacement for a town business district. Although these complexes clearly serve a public function (and are often built with considerable public concessions), they are in fact controlled by a single corporation…. The village square has thus been privatized….

There is also the economy that Hazel Henderson calls the counter-economy — the non-monetarized economy — which she says is “still invisible to most economists and policy makers. It is based on. . . altruism, volunteering, community and family cohesiveness, cooperation, sharing, respect for the environment and the rights of future generations, and conservation of all resources — human and natural.” The economic effect of this economy is enormous. For example, the UN’s International Labor Organization, studying the role of women in the nonmonetarized segment of the economy, has reported that women globally work 47 percent of all productive hours, but receive only ten percent of the world’s wages and own only one percent of the property.

We have been forced into a time when public relations, clever systems, corporatism and technology won’t save us. We need to rediscover some of the earlier values and techniques used in times not as purportedly clever as ours were meant to be.  We need cooperatives more than corporations, skill more than slogans, and decency over just winning.