Don Quinn is one American who is sick of the bullshit and decided to write a book about it. The former state senate candidate from Maryland spent a year researching the current state of America and the result is a forthcoming book entitled America: Tattered Glory. We spoke with Don via email about the ideas in his book.
What inspired you to write the book?
The inspiration for America: Tattered Glory quite simply came from an understanding that we have serious problems, and very few politicians are willing, or able, to address them. As politicians and people we spend too much time on talking points. The whole world has become about 30 second sound bites. While on the campaign trail you hear people, every day people, giving you back the talking points as if that is all anyone knows. America: Tattered Glory is a no-holds-barred, in-your-face reality of what is happening in America today. From my perspective, having run for office, I was tired of towing the PC line. We have a lot of issues that we refuse to talk about and meanwhile terrible things keep happening like one in four women being raped or a twelve year old boy being killed for playing with a toy gun. We have catchy slogans like “Make America Great Again” – what does that mean? What does it actually mean? America: Tattered Glory is a long hard look in the mirror of the land of the free and the home of the brave. What I saw shocked me, so the inspiration does not come from a positive place – it comes from the reality that the amazing ability we have to be the greatest nation on earth is in tatters.
What are the most important issues that your book draws attention to?
Somewhere along the line you and I went to sleep and woke up in an America that is no longer free. We like to talk about America, home of the free and the brave, but if you look at the underlying issues, you begin to think that maybe we are not as free as we think we are. America: Tattered Glory explores the issues that play into that. For example, I take a look at the deaths of Freddie Gray and Tamir Rice. For crying out loud, people talk about how Tamir Rice should not have had a gun or have been standing there. The same people that are trash talking Tamir Rice, a twelve year old kid, are the ones that want to carry their own guns. According to the 2nd Amendment, he had a right to carry a toy gun, pop gun or real gun, so you either throw out the 2nd Amendment altogether or admit that he was doing nothing wrong. The book also talks about the 4th amendment, civil rights and how we are still debating about whether or not to have ID when you vote. Countries like India and Iraq figured it out but we are still having these debates because at the end of the day it is all about voter suppression. The book talks about women’s rights and how 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. We cry about how terrible it is in other countries without admitting that we have had a violence against women problem for a long time. Quite frankly, it is time to take back the land of the free and become the country we were designed to be. That is the core of what the book addresses.
You’ve said that even though your book highlights the problems in America, you’re not pessimistic about our future. Why is that?
I am not pessimistic about our future for a number of reasons. The first is that we’re Americans. We have the ability to take the hardest problems and solve it. We put a man on the moon, for crying out loud. We can do anything. What is lacking in America is the will power to do it. The willpower to wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and say this is the day that I am going to fix it. I am optimistic because I believe that once we look in the mirror and truly see the problems – we can fix them. What we have to do is take off the blinders and get away from the politically correct nonsense we have been taught to believe in. We have to get beyond the talking points and solve our problems. We can do that and we have shown that we can do that over and over again. That makes me extremely optimistic about America as a whole, even though the direction we are headed in terrifies me.
You ran for political office in Annapolis. Can you tell us the details of that experience and what you took away from it.
I love running for office. I absolutely enjoy it and will do it again at some point. I was a politic novice and an outsider, called a neophyte by the Republican Party, and that is exactly what I was. I had no connections, no money and no idea that running for office meant raising oodles of money, spending it, and bashing your opponent – so I did none of that. Instead, I walked over 3,000 miles, knocking on over 20,000 doors to meet as many people in my district as I could. My focus was on the message, on the people I met and the real issues they were dealing with. That time showed me how little our politicians know about the issues and the total disconnect some of them have from the people. What I learned is that I am different because I don’t care about politics for politics sake – I care about real people and real issues. When I knocked on doors and people told me what their problems were, I became engaged in wanting to make things better. After running, I switched parties to become a democrat, primarily because of the conversations I had on the campaign trail, research for this book and my passion for issues like helping the 40 million hungry Americans needing food stamps, people like Freddie Gray dying in their youth, the epidemic of gun violence, the pollution of our environment and on and on.
Can you tell us some of the details of the scandal about your college degree that arose during your campaign?
Sure. The great college degree scandal of 2014 was literally a storm in a tea cup. Ironically, it was brought up by people on the Republican side who, after losing the primary, went on a witch hunt. Regardless, I have worked on my degree for around 8 years now. As a working father and husband I took courses when I could and as I could, getting down to needing less than a semester of credits to graduate. The university even sent me a little “you are eligible to graduate, pay the fee” reminder. I anticipated graduating in 2014 and reflected that on the Baltimore Sun survey. I should have left it off, and I suppose pride in getting to that point got the better of me. The public duly chastised me, which I deserved. But let’s stop and look at the facts for a second –
We live in a world where an elected representative believes men should have the right to grope women if they are breast feeding in public. Another state just passed a law making sex with lobbyists a “gift”. Meanwhile over 11 million people are wondering if they wake up January 2017 to their doors being kicked down by Donald Trump’s deportation squads. Eleven million kids will still face food uncertainty. Hundreds of thousands of rape kits will still be untested, and our prisons will still continue to be filled with more people than North Korea. We have real problems and my college degree “scandal” distracted from that.
Who is your target audience and why should they read this book?
If you care one iota about America or our future, you are the target audience for this book. There are people that will not read this book, including in my own family, because they believe that I am a progressive that is refusing to acknowledge the greatness of America. Make no mistake that America is a great country. It can become a better country. If you truly believe that America is a great place and we don’t have many problems or that the police shootings that are occurring are just accidental… if you believe the events in Baltimore are random events… if you believe it is okay for us to be behind in the world for education – this is not the book for you. If you believe that we are on the verge of becoming a police state (I believe we already are)…If you are looking with horror and dismay at young children being searched by the TSA and wondering what the hell happened to the land of the free…If you look at the statistics and realize that it is not India that’s the rape capital of the world – it is America…If you realize that higher education is almost beyond reach for most families and that the American dream has long been ripped away from us – then this is the book for you. If you think that you can put your hand over your heart and sing kumbaya and everything will be fine – don’t read it. But, if you know in your gut that something is wrong with my America then you need to read this book.
What would you say sets your book apart and what sets you apart as a political candidate?
The book is a punch to the gut reality check. Pick up the book and read it. If you are not pissed off by the third chapter you are not paying attention. I wrote it and it still pisses me off. We have the appearance of everything being fine and the veneer that nothing is wrong, while young men and women are dying in our streets. We have 1.6 million homeless children each year and we haven’t even talked about homeless vets or that 40 million Americans needing food stamps to eat or that gun violence is a raging epidemic. This book tells it like it is and you may not like it. Fair warning. If you are the kind of person that believes everything is good in America, you will not like this book because it will shake your reality and turn you upside down until you realize that something is wrong. That’s what this book is all about. America’s glory is in tatters. We started out as one of the greatest experiments and have dissolved into a rabid society that is on the verge of turning on itself.
As a political candidate – the first time I ran I was terribly normal because I was PC and didn’t step out of line… that candidate is gone. As I wrote America: Tattered Glory, the real me emerged and I am angry. Our children have been sold into bondage for commodities. We use our military that we spend 7.5 billion on to protect the Saudis but we protect Alaska with a fishing troll. We’ve got 40,000 troops on the Korean border and nobody on ours. Our children have been sold into slavery and will be working off this 19 trillion in debt for the rest of their lives and their children’s lives, but without jobs good enough to pay their bills. In other words, the PC candidate is gone. I’m going to be the guy that calls it like it is and that’s what sets me apart and the book apart.
What do you think are the biggest issues in the upcoming election and how does your book address them?
The biggest issues, other than the fact that we are dancing around and playing with fascism, are immigration and guns, which I deal with quite a bit in the book. Thanks to Donald Trump, we are a nation almost at war with itself over immigration. The book talks about my own experiences with immigrants and refugees and how they are a part of our society. From a national perspective, the largest single issue the book addresses, that our next president will have to deal with, is the issue of guns. We are a nation protected under a 2ndAmendment but most people take bits and pieces of that and club it together with their world view. The reality is that we are losing thousands of citizens to guns every year and if I hear “mental health issues” one more time I am going to throw up. We talk about gun violence in terms of either mental health or terrorism but no one wants to admit that a large portion of these deaths do not fall into either category. The problem is the easy access to firearms and no one is talking about the simple truth that if you have a car you have to insure it, pass a test to drive it, and license it in order to take it out. Why is it different for guns? Conservatives like to say that guns don’t kill, people kill. Sure, but take it from a veteran, someone who was given a gun and taught how to kill with it – guns are designed to kill. They are not a hammer. We need to stop with the bullshit and the ridiculous soap box arguments that get us nowhere. We need to face the reality that we have a gun violence problem. We are not the Wild Wild West and at some point we have to enter the rest of the civilized world. The next president needs to find a way to keep the spirit of the 2nd Amendment while finding a way for us to act less like barbarians. The sad part is that no one is talking about comprehensive, real world solutions. Instead, they are on their soapbox and Americans continue to die on the streets.
When and where is your book available?
Currently you can pre-order the book on KickStarter, with some nice additional rewards. I am trying to get to $1,500 in pledges, so please buy the book there. Once that is done I will publish in April and it will be available at all online retailers for a hard copy or a digital copy. Look, you need to read this book. It is an eye opener that will shock you, and hopefully once people start to read it they will realize that the time for talking has passed. We need to act if we are going to put our country on the right course. America: Tattered Glory will make a great summer read, before heading to the polls to elect the next president.