Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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The Promised Land…Lessons to Learn

November 11, 2008

by Bryen Yunashko

Kudos to President-Elect Barack Obama and supporters for breaking the barrier and placing the first African-Amercan President in the White House.  Since the historic election on November 4th, much has been said that the Promised Land has been reached.

‘Promised Land’ was the phrase used to lead the Jewish people to the Promised Land of Israel.  Centuries later, in the 20th century, it was used represent the symbolic leadership of African-Americans to empowerment.

But what exactly does Promised Land mean?  And did we really reach it or did we reach an important milestone on the way to the Promised Land?

In 1988, we in the Deaf Community also experienced our own Promised Land.  We took over Gallaudet University and refused to yield until the incoming hearing President of Gallaudet University was replaced by a Deaf President.  I was living in California at the time and remember the exact moment, when I was at a gas station filling up my tank when someone who knew I was Deaf came running over to tell me she had just heard on the radio that the incoming Hearing president would resign and be replaced by a Deaf President.  There were others with me at the station and we were running around jumping for joy.  What a scene we must have made for passersby who thought we were a bunch of young kooks.

This incident was just over 20 years ago already, and it still represents one of the most historic moments in our Deaf History.

But did we truly reach the Promised Land that day? No.  But we did pass an important milestone.  There was still more work to do.  However, because we passed that milestone, it became the impetus to yet another important milestone two years later.  The Americans with Disabilities Act.  Now, not only were we empowered to take charge of our destiny in 1988, we were also promoted to equal class citizenship in this country.

But we still hadn’t reached the Promised Land.   Technology held us back.  In 1992, a piece of legislation was passed to mandate that all new televisions include a built-in closed-captioning decoder chip, despite strong resistance by television manufacturers.  I still remember the quote I read by one industry lobbyist before Congress at the time.  “If Deaf people couldn’t afford to buy a decoder, what makes you think they can afford to buy a television?”  What boneheaded statements made about a cheap $5 chip, compared to the spiraling costs of televisions today without any concern by these same manufacturers about its burden to consumers.

Technology has taken a huge lurch forward in the 21st century and clearly benefitted us in the Deaf Community.  Already a close-knit community, we’ve expanded our ability to network amongst ourselves and to quickly be aware of what’s going on out there outside our world.  Information is instantaneous to any of us.  Videophones have virtually replaced all other telecommunications devices we have used and now even our relay conversations with hearing callers are near-instantaneous.

So, are we now in the Promised Land?  There’s still employers out there who discriminate against prospective Deaf hires, who become fearful because they do not understand what being Deaf means and how they would have to work with such a person.    There’s still people out there who think being deaf means you have a lowered sense of intelligence and ability to fit into society.  And there’s still many misconceptions about us that exist out there.

So, when I hear the phrase “Promised Land” repeated often over the past week, I can’t help but wonder what does it mean and did we really reach it?  A single man broke the barrier and won the job of President of the United States.  But to really prove that we’ve reached the Promised Land, America has to prove itself in the years to come.  Sadly, but truly, there will still be discrimination in the workplace, there will still be people walking the streets fearful when they know an African-American is walking behind them, there will still be persistent and negative stereotypes of African-Americans.

But Barack Obama represents the Promised Land for all of us, not just African-Americans.  The plans he has talked about represent some significant changes in how we address institutional discrimination and equality.  But they are not the perfect ultimate plans.  There’s still much work to be done.  The problems we have experienced in our society did not melt away the day Obama was elected, and they will not go away the day Obama is sworn in.

The Promised Land represents two important components to achieve the goals of the Promised Land.  One:  There needs to be a leader.  It appears today that President-Elect Obama is that leader.  Two:  There needs to be followers who march towards that goal.  And it appears we have a significant coalition to help us all march towards that goal.

Hidden in the results of the historic election day of November 4th, 2008 were two sobering obstacles.  While the Electoral College represented a huge landslide, the popular vote was separated by just 7 million votes.  Out of 119 million voters, only 7 million made the difference.  There is still a significant division of ideology in America.   Take for example, California.  The state that voted for a very liberal candidate, also voted for Proposition 8 which banned same-sex marriages in its state constitution.  How did a state vote liberally and conservatively at the same time?

But we’re not there yet, and the road still isn’t very clear yet.  How we get there, and when we get there depends on all of us as Americans coming together, regardless of your race, creed, gender, physical ability, or relgious beliefs.

But I do believe the Promised Land is within sight…

**PLEASE KEEP YOUR COMMENTS TO UNDER 250 WORDS!
Thank you- DEAF DEMOCRATS Editors

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A New Poll for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Voters!!

October 30, 2008
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THE DEMOCRATIC DELEGATE COUNT — As of May 8th, 2008

May 9, 2008

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So what does Obama need to do now?

May 8, 2008

by Bryen Yuko

There are some who feel that Barack Obama’s nomination as the Democratic Party candidate for President of the United States is all wrapped up now. Let me first mention that Obama himself has not declared himself the winner yet. In fact, this evening in a CNN interview, he stated that he doesn’t want to get ahead of himself as there are several states ahead which Hillary Clinton stands a huge chance of winning. And he called her a “formidable candidate.”

If Clinton does continue to win more primaries, then it will give the Democratic superdelegates a pause for thought.

Superdelegates… That’s the biggest problem here. The superdelegates have a unique duty to weigh in what is best for the party. They have to determine: A) what will perserve the party; B) what will best promote the goals and platform the party stands for; and C) who will be best suited to win the White House.

It is a serious quandary these superdelegates are facing. It is easy to say, “Well, the person who won the most votes gets my vote for nomination.” But remember — in the past several months, Obama, Clinton, and several other Democratic candidates were running for the party nomination, not for the highest office of the land. Running for the highest office is a completely different and separate campaign, with a completely different set of values to appeal to. In the presidential election campaign, you need to appeal to a diverse range of demographics, even to those with polarizing views. It is the crossovers that have traditionally won elections for a candidate.

Does Obama have what it takes to win the highest office? Possibly. He has amassed a large number of voters. But then again, so has Clinton. Combining all the votes garnered by both candidates makes this voting bloc a formidable challenge for Republican John McCain to beat. But when you separate these two groups, McCain stands a stronger chance. Again, the way to combat this is to appeal to crossover voters.

Many Clinton supporters have stated that if Clinton doesn’t win, they won’t vote Democratic in November. What happened here? Before the 2008 primary/caucus season began, many of us were saying we liked both candidates and that whoever won would get our vote in November. Now, we are asking ourselves, “Is this the time to vote for a different party?”

What the hell happened here? How did we end up dividing ourselves? Do Clinton supporters (including myself) really want a a Republican in the White House for yet ANOTHER FOUR YEARS??

The answer to that perplexing question lies in what is called a “mandate.” Those of you who are true political buffs know what I’m talking about. A mandate is what influences an elected official for most of their elected term. The mandate is you, the voter. Even though an elected official may be an independent thinker, he/she is still beholden to a mandate. The higher the voting percentage of a victorious election, the more powerful a mandate becomes which obliges a politician to move forth the programs he or she promised during their campaign. If a candidate wins with extremely high ratings, he/she is under a greater obligation to follow the mandate itself.

A prime example of the term “mandate” took place during Ronald Reagan’s second term as President. Typically, because a president is limited to two terms, their second term is referred to as a lame-duck presidency. They simply don’t have enough power to push through their proposed legislation because they’re no longer running for office again and thus not garnering continued popular support from their constituents. Reagan, however, was so immensely popular that even in his second term, he was able to beat back the “lame-duck syndrome” because he received a huge mandate during his landslide victory for the second presidential term.

Obama has an incredible mandate as well. He has the potential to push through a huge number of campaign promises. Possibly he could become the most effective president in history. However, I have my doubts on whether he can be effective in other areas of the Presidency.

But as this mandate grows larger and more divided, we see more people defecting from the Democratic Party in search of other candidates. I don’t believe that Obama and his followers truly see eye to eye. He wants to portray himself as a Uniter, and yet his followers have acted quite the opposite.

This Obama mandate, which consists of a large number of younger voters, has been seen disparaging other groups. Time and time again across blogs and news tickers, I see comments coming from Obama supporters that, frankly, scare the heck out of me. One of the biggest areas I see is disparaging older citizens. I have found to be bewildering and off-putting those comments against older citizens who have worked hard to contribute to this country.

I’ve also seen the same when it comes to religion, race, and so forth.

To build a stronger and more effective mandate, Obama needs to go back to his own loyal following and say, “Hey… what you guys are saying is not what I am about!” When I see comments coming from his followers that conflicts with Obama’s message, I get puzzled as to why Obama doesn’t go back to his own group and say… “Chill out already!”

And therein lies the crossover problem. As long as Obama’s mandate continues to act the way it does, and he doesn’t respond but rather follow along in order to get more votes, more of us start looking for other candidates to vote for, because we don’t feel that this group represents the core Democratic values we cherished and worked so hard to achieve over the years.

Obama has a lot of work to do in order to achieve a more cross-cultural mandate before he can win the election. I can vote comfortably for Obama as a person. I cannot comfortably and in good conscience vote for his mandate. And that is where many of us are today, and why there is this growing problem of defection.

**PLEASE KEEP YOUR COMMENTS TO UNDER 200 WORDS!
Thank you- DEAF DEMOCRATS Editors

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DEAF DEMOCRATS NOW ON CNN.COM SEARCH LIST!!

February 20, 2008

cnn LOGO

Thank you, Deaf Eyes! Thank you, Deaf Gut Checker! Thank you, Deaf Common Sense! Thank you, Deaf Eyes Maps!! Thank you, Deaf Voter Education! The list can go on and on, and this would have made a great acceptance speech at any awards ceremony! Nah, this is not the point here… The big point here is — we are now on CNN.com search list!!! Yayayayay!!

This came as a huge surprise to us today at the DEAF DEMOCRATS blog! For a while, we noticed through our blog statistics a rather unusual trend. This trend showed that our articles on delegates and superdelegates kept attracting a lot of hits. Today, we finally caught a specific lead in our blog statistics and we pursued this lead. Guess what we found? Our article on superdelegates has been placed on the CNN.com search list!! We are not sure how long our blog has been listed at CNN.com.

Still the same, we the DEAF DEMOCRATS editors consider this a huge victory! This tells us that we are now in the heart of American journalism and also that we have really broken into the American political landscape! We are TICKLED just to think that our very own Deaf Community can make a HUGE contribution like this, and that the hearing world is now benefitting from our perspective on American politics, all this within the context of our own culture and language!!

Now we need your help in making our community more visible and have more American media take note of us. You can help by going to this CNN.com search list and click on the DEAF DEMOCRATS superdelegates link!! Let’s all pitch in and push our ranking up and up on the list!!

CNN.com Search List

Let’s push the button and ROCK THE WORLD!!!

**PLEASE KEEP YOUR COMMENTS TO UNDER 200 WORDS
Thank you- DEAF DEMOCRATS Editors