That is Patriotism!

images60J1LHN8

By Atiba Madyun

You’ve heard by now, that Rudy Giuliani who led NYC through 9/11, said that President Barack Obama is unpatriotic and doesn’t believe in America.  This led me to wonder, how do you define the President of the United States as unpatriotic?

How is a President, who led the nation out of its worst recession since the Great Depression, from double digit unemployment to 5.7%, unpatriotic?  How do you call the President unpatriotic, when he made the decision that led to our troops killing the mastermind of 9/11?

Mr. Giuliani’s comments were given on the heels of President Obama’s speech at the White House Summit on Countering Extremism.  In his speech, he referred to ISIL and other terrorists as “violent extremists” instead of linking terrorism directly to Islam.

As an American, raised in a Muslim family, I appreciated the President distinctly differentiating between violent extremists and Islam even when, some inside the White House wanted the President to link Islam with extremism. Instead, the President said to the nation and the World that, “We are not at war with Islam.  We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”

Imagine what the world would be like if a man like Giuliani was President, perverting the issue for political reasons?  It would divide us as a nation and separate us from other good Muslims in the world.  That would be irresponsible and unpatriotic.

Mr. Giuliani, the President is the leader of all Americans.  He has a responsibility to protect Americans here and abroad.  Had he done what you wanted him to, it would have added fuel to the fire and helped ISIL recruit even more people.

I am glad the President didn’t cave to hysteria and Islamaphobia.  Instead, he called on the entire world and religious community, in particular Muslim clerics to work together to combat “violent extremism.”

It scares me to think of a world where Giuliani or someone like him was President.  There is a reason you failed to secure the GOP nomination.  A President’s tone in this day and age has to be patriotic and resonate with the American majority.

Last month, when President Obama gave the annual State of the Union address, I was appalled when members of my party, the GOP failed to stand and applaud when the President said that the “State of the Union is strong.”  This was unpatriotic Mr. Giuliani, but we didn’t hear you call out the party!

Lines are drawn by Democrats and Republicans, as if we were at war with one another.  This week, the GOP is threatening to shut down the government over the President’s executive actions on immigration. Patriotism should always rise above partisan divide.  That’s why we came together when our nation was attacked on 9/11.

This nation is 150 years removed from slavery, an institution that nearly tore our nation apart.  It took the life of one of our most beloved Presidents.  Today, a majority of Americans are coming together around issues that we used to be far apart on.  Mr. Giuliani, it should be unpatriotic to be against raising the minimum wage.  It should be unpatriotic to close pathways to prosperity for many, so that a few can succeed.

I see things every day that show the President’s love for this nation.  It can be seen in his manner and decisions to make America a better place for his children and all children.   Is that not patriotic?

Our nation is on a better course than it was six years ago.  At times, I have questioned the President’s leadership and policies.  But, I have never questioned his patriotism.  As an American, it is my patriotic duty to voice concern, just as it is my duty to vote and give whoever is the President, an opportunity to lead and succeed.  Today, six years into his Presidency, with no more campaigns to run, he is free to lead his way and I like what I see!

In light of violent extremism, Mr. Giuliani, I wholeheartedly appreciate the President’s decision to take out this enemy.  To do this successfully, he will need to build a large coalition.  I believe him when he says, we will defeat them.  So we should give the President a chance and if he is wrong, then come back and criticize that, but not his patriotism.

His record as Commander in Chief has earned him that privilege.  The President is doing his patriotic duty, by seeking ways to destroy an enemy like ISIL, without putting more young men and women in harm’s way, as we did in the last decade.  Isn’t that patriotic and commendable?

Our President has ushered in affordable healthcare for millions of uninsured Americans.  He seeks policies that provide greater mobility for the middle class.  Why?  Because he knows that this will strengthen the economic stability of our nation.  Leveling the playing field, so that every American has an opportunity to prosper in the world’s richest nation is good for our national security and it is patriotic!

Mr. Giuliani, we are grateful for the leadership you displayed on September 11, 2001.  We would be more grateful if you did one more patriotic thing.  Get out of the way.  Let our nation, fulfill its destiny and the course our nation’s founders set us on, to become a more perfect union for, WE THE PEOPLE. That is patriotism!

Atiba Atiba Madyun is the President of The Madyun Group (TMG), a Public Affairs firm based in Washington, D.C. and creator of Cognitive Relevance (CR) and Party Politics (PP).

State of the Union Priorities: A Path Forward

Image

By Atiba Madyun

This week, I attended a White House briefing on the President’s initiatives addressed in his State of the Union address.  His staff spoke on Cradle to Career education initiatives, My Brother’s Keeper, criminal justice reform, minimum wage and family sick leave.  They emphasized a sense of urgency and that the President has 22 months left to move an agenda focused on strengthening the middle class and investing in America’s future.

On education, the President believes no young person’s zip code should determine his/her future.  While the nation has its highest high school graduation rate ever (80%), it can link its high school dropout rate to 1,300 of the Nation’s schools. Therefore, the President has a new national goal to prepare the next generation(s) for high quality education and a bright future.

To achieve these new goals, it will require greater participation and accountability.  Like the old African proverb, It Takes a Village to raise a child, every child’s grandparents, parents, communities and schools should work collaboratively in this effort.  The President wants to increase America’s rank in providing high quality Pre-K access to high risk children.  Currently, according to Early Education for All, the U.S. ranks 28th out of 38 industrial nations that provide Pre-K and “the achievement gap between low-income children and their affluent peers is growing.[i]

By creating better pathways, students will have a better chance to graduate high school putting them on a pathway to college and enhanced career choices. To close the access gap, we have to address cost and make college more affordable for students that work hard and get good grades.  Opening access and making the first two years of community college free is a way to help students attain a higher education without going deep into debt before starting their career.

Increasing the minimum wage will help many Americans including some college students.  In 2017, 7 million Americans will benefit from minimum wage increases.[ii]  Making family sick leave available so employees working full time get at least seven days of sick leave a year makes sense for the employee and employer.  It can help businesses maintain low turnover while allowing employees to stay home when they are sick so they don’t get coworkers sick.  It also helps employees care for sick loved ones during episodes of illness.

Additionally, protecting and promoting family values also leads to success for America’s youth.  Each day, an average of eight children and teens are killed by guns.  Last year, we heard one too many stories of young men killed by police officers that set off a firestorm of protests.

Recognizing that too many young men are off track, the President one year ago this month, introduced My Brother’s Keeper (MBK).  Later in the year, a month after Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri, the President issued a challenge to cities, towns and tribes to become “MBK Communities” to implement coherent cradle to college and career strategy to improve outcomes for young people.  It addresses serious concerns in the African American, Hispanic and Native American tribal community.

MBK is seeking to find ways to save young people from a pathway that leads to prison. These are tied to his initiatives for education.  As early as pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, some 4 and 5 year olds have been suspended for negative behavior that can be typical of a child who is developing social-emotional skills. This is not how we should be supporting young children in their early years.  Data shows the nation’s greatest challenges dropout rates, crime, health-care costs, competing in the global marketplace – can be met by focusing on the development of all children, beginning at birth.

The President asserts a child’s future should not be predetermined by his/her zip code.  The Ounce of Prevention Fund research shows that at-risk children who don’t receive a high-quality early childhood education are[iii]:

  • 25% more likely to drop out of school
  • 40% more likely to become a teen parent
  • 50% more likely to be placed in special education
  • 60% more likely to never attend college
  • 70% more likely to be arrested for a violent crime

Early childhood programs are the most cost-effective way to ensure the healthy development of children in poverty and offer the greatest returns to society.In DC, where Pre-K is offered in every elementary school, Councilmember David Grosso recognized this and introduced legislation to positively address this growing trend to protect our 4 and 5 year olds and find better ways to promote positive social and emotional development.

MBK can be a vital instrument in impacting the lives of young American men.  To sustain and create greater opportunities, it is securing corporate, advocacy and community partners to better engage young men.  It is identifying long term solutions to their growth and prosperity in American society.  And all of the President’s cabinet agencies with focus on domestic policy are engaged in this effort.  More importantly, the President has expressed his and the First Lady’s commitment to work on MBK long after they leave the White House.

Mandatory sentencing laws have hurt families for too long.  The President’s staff and the Justice Department are looking for better ways to address re-entry, so that people can re-enter society better equipped to find employment, stay out of prison and empower them with the right to vote.  His Task Force on 21st Century Policing is looking at how billions of dollars are being spent in the militarization of police departments.  Body cameras and collaborative reform are great.  Here is not only a need, but an excellent opportunity on Capitol Hill for bipartisan support.

What the Administration and Congress might also consider is a national database to track the number of times police officers fire their weapons, injure and kill as well as kill unarmed individuals.  While body cameras are a great first step, it is vital to have policy guidelines defining when an officer turns them on and who views the footage.

As Americans, we can study the President’s proposals and look at like a shareholder of a company would.  Whether it is increasing the minimum wage, creating seamless pathways to attaining higher education, protecting our young men and law enforcement officials, providing greater upward mobility opportunities, they all look to strengthen our nation and our economy.  That’s a win-win as an American shareholder and a great way to invest in America’s future!

Atiba

Atiba Madyun is the President of The Madyun Group, a Public Affairs firm based in Washington, DC.

Learn more about My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) www.whitehouse.gov/MBK or visit www.mbk.org.

[i] Early Education for All –  http://www.strategiesforchildren.org/docs_research/14_International.pdf

 [ii] The White House – www.whitehouse.gov/raise-the-wage

 [iii] Ounce of Prevention Fund – http://www.ounceofprevention.org/about/why-early-childhood-investments-work.php

Swagger!

SOTU

By Atiba Madyun

Did you see the President get “jiggy” with Republicans last night?  If you missed it, you missed a speech blended in off the cuff entertainment, as the President highlighted his Administration’s agenda.

Republicans sat when the President said the “The State of the Union is strong” instead of standing with the Democratic minority as is the customary tradition.  At one point, Republicans sat silent as the President looked in their direction saying with a smile and a wink, “this is good news people.”

When he said “I have no more campaigns to run,” Republicans clapped. He responded on cue and off script, “I know because I won them both.” (Click to view).   Democrats erupted with cheering so loud, it seemed they were in the majority.

Calm and loose as quarterback Russell Wilson leading his team last Sunday to a late game winning touchdown, Obama with swagger and confidence laid out an agenda for “middle class economics.”

He jabbed at Republicans on the minimum wage debate “to everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it. If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise.”

The President talked about tax relief for the middle class, jobs for veterans, affordable child care for working parents, equal pay for women, paid sick leave and two years of free college tuition to those who work get good grades and work hard.

His swagger gave the impression that he is not a lame duck and will not go silently into the night.  He ended his speech with a unifying message “My fellow Americans, we too are a strong, tight-knit family. We, too, have made it through some hard times. Fifteen years into this new century, we have picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and begun again the work of remaking America.”

The President assured us that he is working to turn the page and complete the job he started six years ago.  We can sit on the sideline and wait two years for another President to take office. Or we can come together, regardless of political party and work with the President and pressure Congress on both sides to work together.  Which will you be?

View the President’s #SOTU speech here.

Read the President’s #SOTU speech here.

Atiba Madyun is President of The Madyun Group (TMG) a Public Affairs firm based in Washington, DC.

A 4th Quarter To Remember…..

Comeback

“Don’t call this a comeback. I’ve been here for years!”

“My Presidency is entering the fourth quarter. Interesting stuff happens in the fourth quarter.” President Barack Obama

This is the fourth quarter of President Obama’s presidency and tonight’s State of the Union (SOTU) address will be the most important of his Presidency. Based on his activity the past two weeks, we see a roadmap that might work his last two years in office.

Tonight, the President will focus on his achievements and they are significant.  The nation’s economy is stronger and we are better off than we were six years ago!  There have been over 50 months of consistent job growth. The stock market is soaring at historic highs.  Now, he can refocus our attention on education and income inequality proposals that will strengthen the middle class.

He can highlight why he signed executive orders addressing immigration reform, family leave & minimum wage for federal contractors and opening relations with Cuba.  With a contentious Republican Congress opposed to everything the President puts forward, tonight’s SOTU address and events planned tomorrow and Thursday should help the President share his agenda.

The past few weeks, the President and the White House have used social media and speeches to reengage and reenergize Americans. He has met with Americans across the country to put forward proposals that can strengthen the middle class and build on the progress made creating jobs and growing our economy.  (Watch the President discuss increasing broadband speed )

It is important that these things to work to reenergize his base and to get more Americans onboard because as President, Obama has failed to draw large audiences for the SOTU.  His largest audience was 48 million in 2010 and lowest was 33.3 million last year.  Based on Nielson ratings, past Presidents Clinton and Bush drew over 50 million viewers at least once for their State of the Union addresses. 

What these numbers don’t show are who watch on social media or wait for media analysis. The President’s Administration may be more connected to a younger demographic than past presidents, as was evident in his 2008 election and reelection in 2012. 

Events like tomorrow’s Big Block of Cheese Day, where participants ask questions of White House administration officials on social media using hashtag #AskTheWH can only enhance his reach and access to wider audiences. Thursday’s YouTube Interview with President Obama is another opportunity for the President to expand his reach along with numerous WH conference calls with stakeholders hours and days after the SOTU.

That’s why the President’s speech is important. It frames his message on healthcare, climate control, free community college tuition, broadband, net neutrality, the killing of unarmed Americans and killing of police officers, community policing strategies, the economy, taxes, terrorism abroad, job growth, income inequality and immigration.  All important American issues that we can move with FORWARD with him.

How he engages the support of millions of Americans to fulfill his campaign promise to strengthen the middle class leaving no American behind is important tonight and help him finish strong.

Two years passes fast.  The President is reenergized and appears, whether I or you agree or disagree with his executive actions, with the leadership and energy needed to help him finish strong.  It is great to see this fourth quarter push that reminds of the Seattle Seahawks improbable comeback this past Sunday.  They won by giving it all they had even when many like myself thought the game was over when it 16-0 at the half.  Now they are in the Super Bowl because they never quit. 

If the President continues this course and reenergizes his base the sky’s the limit.  If he communicates his plan effectively, I like his chances to finish his Presidency and this fourth quarter in a way that will forever be remembered!

Click here to view Road to SOTU: President’s Policy Proposals to Help All Americans and how to participate Wednesday in Big Block of Cheese Day and Thursday’s YouTube Interview with President Obama