Imperfect allies versus actual enemies

(This is a redacted post from a Facebook Group I’m in. It was the OP’s comments and a few that followed that inspired this response from me.)

Thanks for your post, Lenard. It got me thinking. (This is pretty long. Sorry.)

Hillary - he is nuts meme

 
I don’t know if you mean this literally, Lenard, but you seem to be stating that the DNC picks a president’s running mate. I suspect they have some influence with the candidate. Such decisions are rarely – and shouldn’t be – made in a vacuum solely by the candidate. Ultimately, though, it is the candidate’s decision to make, so chastising the DNC for not putting Bernie on the ticket, with apologies, makes very little sense.
 
That said, having him on the ticket got me thinking.
 
How and why would having Sanders as Clinton’s VP have changed the outcome?
 
Did leaving him off exasperate voter apathy and disillusionment?
 
Perhaps, but turnout in 2016 according to FairVote (https://www.fairvote.org/voter_turnout#voter_turnout_101) was actually pretty good comparatively speaking.
 
That’s not to say that this country doesn’t have a problem with apathy as evidenced by the United States of Apathy (https://www.citylab.com/life/2018/11/voter-turnout-midterm-election-statistics-map/574939/), but we should remember that Trump lost the general by 3 million. That’s a wide margin even if only 60% of eligible voters voted.
 
We also mustn’t forget that he only won the EC thanks to 77,000 voters in PA, MI, and WI.
 
Which leads me to this question; would those 77,000 have voted for Clinton with Bernie as VP?
 
Seems unlikely to me thanks in no small part to the hate on both the Right and on the Left for Hillary, the latter thanks in no small measure to die-hard Sanders supporters who then refused to vote the way Sanders asked them to, and that was for Hillary.
 
So, if we do conclude and concede that turnout would have been even greater for Hillary across the board but especially in the battleground states with Bernie on the ticket, does this mean that “Sanders voters” in those places who refused to join me as a Sanders supporter in voting for Clinton are now taking responsibility for Trump?
 
Seriously, if you call yourself a liberal or progressive or Sanders supporter, and you didn’t vote for Clinton as Bernie asked – begged – us to do, for whom did you vote, why, and will you do it again?
 
The reality was there were two choices in 2016. Two.
 
One was Trump and the other wasn’t.
 
We all knew and understood that. It’s simply intellectually dishonest to argue otherwise.
 
I get that if you live in a “safely” blue state like CA, you feel safe voting for Jill or Rocky or whomever, but that safety is afforded you only because the vast majority of your neighbors are doing what they believe and they know they must do. This isn’t an insult, it’s just how I see it nowadays. Voting your conscious is all well and good, until it isn’t for anyone but you.
 
Now the big question. Are some Sanders supporters becoming cultists? It seems so to me.
 
Look, I’m a Sanders supporter. What worries me is what I’m seeing in other FB groups that are total hardcore pro-Sanders Groups.
 
Their demand of the DNC distills down to this: “Give us Sanders, or you’ll get more scorched earth.”
 
This raises three questions for me.
 
1. Do they think the DNC controls who runs for office?
 
2. Whom do they think they’re hurting by refusing to vote for the Democrat on the ballot?
 
3. Why would anyone take conscious actions to perpetuate what we have now with Trump in office?
 
The answers I come to are framed by what starts to look to me as the same basic thinking as Trump’s cult, and that starts with making demands for change without understanding how things work. The second is to willfully decide to vote against oneself and everyone else without regard for the adverse affects just so they can pat themselves on the back for “winning” while putting someone they love into power as self-affirmation that they’re right and everyone else is wrong.
 
This is how Trump’s cult behaves. It’s as if they thought he would take office, wave a magic wand, and everything he – and they – wanted would become real. Well, I can’t help looking at many of my fellow Sanders supporters and concluding they believe the same would be true with Sanders in the White House. We all know that’s not how politics or our form of government works.
 
As for the DNC’s role in all of this, I have to say it’s childish to keep demanding that the DNC give us what we want or we’ll punish them at the polls.
 
Who is it that gets punished?
 
Is it the rich and powerful at the top? That would be silly and naive to believe.
 
Is it the Democratic politician who loses the election? Do you mean the people who are our best, albeit imperfect, allies but who aren’t actual enemies like Republican candidates? They’ll go back to doing whatever it is they were doing, or they’ll get a job on K Street, or whatever, but they’ll be fine. You aren’t “hurting” them, either.
 
No, the people who are hurt when Democrats lose and Republicans win are everyone outside the One Percent, and especially those who aren’t cisgender, white, evangelical, men.
 
We on the Left need to stop being our own worst enemies. We need to stop talking about the DNC as if it were a cabal of evil scientists building candidates out of corporatist Democratic body parts in a lab. Real people decide whether or not to run for office. Those real people must decide to run as Democrats or Republicans, Greens or Libertarians, or as Independents.
 
(Yes, here it comes.)
 
Sanders – for all the love and respect I have for him – is NOT a Democrat. If he were perfectly true to his stated beliefs, he would’ve run as an Independent. No one is perfect.
 
That’s why I suggest that we and he should stop pretending he’s a Democrat. I’d respect the hardcore Sanders-supporting Democratic Party haters more if they started calling Bernie out for being a Democrat of Convenience. After all, many of them refused to follow his advice to vote for Hillary, so shouldn’t they be attacking him for that and his convenient relationship with the DNC? Shouldn’t they be demanding that he run as an Independent? I’ll guess we’ll know soon enough.
 
I think we on the Left should be more supportive of the Democratic Party. I think we should vote for Democrats because they are clearly our strongest, albeit imperfect, allies against the actual enemies of Trump and the GOP. No, the Dems aren’t perfect. No one is, but they are exponentially stronger than any other Party other than the GOP.
 
Something else to remember about 2016 is that Bernie lost the primary in a race that wasn’t close.
 
The lesson to be learned is NOT that the DNC wasn’t supportive enough of him. I sometimes get the sense that many of my fellow Sanders supporters actually believe the DNC capable of stealing 3 million primary votes. Yes, yes, she had the superdelagates locked up early, and Nevada, and yada yada yada, but all I’ll say to all of that is that Sanders wasn’t a Democrat until it was convenient for him to register as one. What the hell did he and we expect, a loving embrace from the rank-and-file members and the leaders of a Party he has spent almost as much of his career pillorying as he has Republicans?
 
Again, if Bernie’s going to be a voice of independence from corrupt Parties, than he should run independent of them.
 
In my view, this is the absolute most important thing to remember about the primary: More people chose Hillary over Bernie. That’s how the system works.
 
So, if the Democratic candidates on your ballot aren’t liberal or progressive enough for you, then run for office yourself, but let’s stop this arsonist’s strategy of wanting to burn down the Democratic Party because the people who choose to operate within it and who choose to run as representatives of it aren’t pure enough for us. If that’s how you feel, then join the Party, run for office, and change it from the inside; otherwise, what makes you think you should have a voice in how the Party operates and who runs under its banner? Talk about privilege.
 
And, if you’re left with another choice in 2020 that doesn’t include Sanders and you vote for anyone but the Democrat at least have the courage to publicly own it. I see precious few Sanders supporters who claim to despise the Democratic Party with the courage to reveal for whom they did cast their vote. I’m proud to say that I registered for the first time in my life as a Democrat so that I could vote for Bernie in the closed PA primary. I’m just as proud to say that I voted for Hillary.
 
No one is perfect. My view is that the Left needs to find a way to coalesce and to stop being our own worst enemies by constantly fighting intra-movement purity battles. Yes, the Democratic Party should be more Liberal with a capital “L”, but how does attacking it or refusing to work with and within it lead to the change you want? It doesn’t.
 
I think that we must remember that the Left has a lot of imperfect friends and allies in the Democratic Party.
 

We have none in the Republican Party.

What Costco has to teach the 99-percenters who think they’re Republicans

It’s not complicated. Every retailer, restaurant, and corporation in America can do what Costco is doing, but they don’t.

Costco

Why is that?

I think it’s because the people who own and run these businesses refuse to look beyond next quarter’s financial statements. Their thought processes, their vision, and their values don’t include ways to share their wealth with their workers.

They are greedy, selfish, sons-of-bitches who want us to think that’s just how capitalism works.

That also seems to be how today’s conservatives who are outside the 1% think, too. What other explanation can there be for why they think they are Republicans?

Conservatives Don’t Seem to Understand Reality

Costco clearly has leaders, a board of directors, and shareholders who are visionary and courageous enough to implement ethical and moral business strategies that are profitable AND which include a more equitable distribution of those profits to workers in the form of livable wages.

Contrast that with the lies we’re told by Wall Street, by Big Business shills like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Restaurant Association and the National Federation of Independent Business, by libertarian mythologists like Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute, and by Republican politicians who keep claiming that trickle-down economics works, that we should abolish a minimum wage and leave compensation to market forces, and that government interference and over-reach are stifling business and our economy.

How is it that conservatives don’t get that all of that is, of course, complete and total bullshit?

How is it that conservatives who make less than $340,000.00 – what it takes to be in the 1% – insist on voting for Republicans and their failed policies which have ALWAYS been designed to benefit the rich and powerful first and foremost?

Liberals: Time to “Welcome Their Hatred”

We need leaders like Bernie Sanders who welcome the hatred of Wall Street and Big Money.

Compare Bernie

 

We need people like Lawrence Lessig as politicians who represent us and who are willing and eager to confront Big Money for their lies and their failures.

 

As individuals, we also must welcome the hatred of the rich and powerful. We need to find the courage to band together. We need to shine light on the fact that conservatism and Republican policy is to blame for where we are now as a nation and as a society.

More than anything, we liberals need to stop surrendering to the all-too-common liberal weakness of always wanting to find compromise.

No more compromises. It’s how we got to this sorry state of affairs. We let conservatives move the center further and further to the right by acquiescing to their demands and our own desire to avoid confrontation and conflict.

No more.

Liberals didn’t elect Reagan and two Bushes. Liberals didn’t cause banks to fail. Liberals didn’t demand that government shrink and corporations become less and less regulated. Liberals didn’t funnel all of the recovery and wealth to only the absolute richest among us.

We liberals need to continue to point out these and all the inconvenient truths that stem from conservatism (and its absurdly juvenile and greed-driven stepbrother, libetarianism).

Our fellow citizens who self-identify as conservatives need to hear from us whether they want to or not. They need to hear the truth; that they are also part of the ever-shrinking middle class and the ever-growing class of working poor.

They need to hear from us liberals that they are wrong – plain and dead wrong – for voting for ANY Republican anywhere and at any level of government.

They need to keep hearing it. Conservative (and much of libertarian) ideology that informs and drives Republican policies have unequivocally been proven to be dead wrong for everyone on every issue, and that includes economic issues. That is true, of course, for everyone except for the rich and powerful.

The Parties Are NOT The Same

It’s pretty simple and absolutely obvious. The GOP is the party of big business and the rich.

For those who are tempted to trot out the b.s. false equivalence that, “Both parties are the same,” save it. As far as I’m concerned, you’re second in line as the greatest obstacle to making real progress in this country. You give Republicans cover, and you need to stop it.

Number one on the list of obstacles are actually those Americans living in households with adjusted gross incomes of less than $340,000.00 per year who insist that they are Republicans and who vote for Republicans. I have news for them. They are not in the 1%. The conservatives in the 99% mean precisely nothing to Republicans except as useful fools who can be counted on to vote for them.

Organized Labor Is the Path to Prosperity

It’s absolutely stunning that conservatives aren’t banding together with the rest of us in the middle class in support of organized labor. History proves that stronger unions are the path to better and higher standards of living for everyone.

It bears repeating.

If you make less than 340-grand and think unions are somehow the problem and Republicans are the answer, then you not only don’t understand reality, you’re the biggest obstacle to prosperity we have right now in America.

So, how about it, conservatives?

How about you wake up and stop voting against yourselves and the rest of us?

You’ll thank yourself and, more importantly, so will future generations.

95 percent

——

Additional Reading:

Strengthen Unions

Wealth Inequality in America

Top 1 percent: How much do they earn?

Capital Eye Opener, March 8: The Fight Over Minimum Wage, and Rand’s Partisan Appeal

New Poll Shows Overwhelming Support for Major Minimum Wage Increase

Activists Around the US Fight to Raise the Minimum Wage

 

Politicians are cowards. More than that, they are cowardly followers. So are we.

I recently received this in an email from a friend.

Brilliant! Anger is the only way. You have won me over.  This is America.  American’s <sic> respond emotionally.  We have to rile them up against the right.  But if Democrats aren’t up for it, then who?

Who’s up for it? I think it’s up to us to be the ones who are up for it. It’s up to each of us to lead.

All this country needs is for rational people to stand up and take the fight to the extremist conservatives, to the tea party, and to the Republican Party. Their ideology and, hence, their politics have become morally, ethically, and economically bankrupt. Why should there be any room, willingness, or appetite for compromise from the middle or the left? That’s how we’ve gotten to where we are now.

No more talk of middle grounds for me.

No more talk of compromise.

No more pretending that “both sides” are equally at fault. That’s bullshit and, frankly, it always has been.

Conservatism in all its current flavors is the problem. If more independents, if more liberals, and if more progressives would just speak that fact out loud, with force and with passion at every occasion, then more and more silent but rational people would find the courage to do the same. I’m convinced of it.

I say it again. Politicians are cowards. More than that, they are cowardly followers.

If more liberals and progressives took the fight to conservatives then more and more of the cowards in the Democratic Party would follow us. We’d have more and more people like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren winning elections and representing us.

And, if the cowards in the Democratic Party refused to follow our lead, then we’d simply (and finally!) lead in new 3rd and 4th and 5th directions. In fact, we ought to be doing that now.

Personal side note: According to ISideWith.com, I align the most with Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, at 66%. A close second is Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party at 64%. Barack Obama was third at 60%. As for Party affiliation, it was a tie at 94% alignment with both the Green and the Democratic Parties. Those who know me won’t be surprised to see that I am left of both of them on the party axis chart.

My party grid from www.ISideWith.com
My party grid from http://www.ISideWith.com

None of the changes we need to make to our political and governance systems are likely to ever happen as long as there are only two all-powerful parties.

They and the Big Money that controls them will, of course, oppose more choices. That’s why the grassroots “war” must be waged on the first winnable “front.” As soon as we “politically destroy” one party, the other will finally have to acknowledge OUR power as We The People. They will know they are left with only two choices: to follow our lead and take our direction, or to risk finding themselves in the political graveyard with the first casualty.

I am committed to a strategy of “politically destroying” today’s version of conservatism and the Republican Party. The central tactic in that strategy is to continue to reveal them for what they are; the traceable and factual source of most of our problems, from economic to social to geo-political.

No, of course they are not solely to blame, but they are MORE to blame for our troubles than the Democrats. As such, they must be the first to go.

It’s time we liberals and progressives (and even you centrists) stopped being cowards. It’s time we took the fight directly and forcefully to the extremist conservatives controlling today’s GOP.

Spend the next eight minutes watching HBO’s Newsroom opening clip. It’s fiction. I know that. That’s the shame of it.

It should be the speech every rational American launches into when someone asks who’s up for leading the change we need. It’s us.

Have We Not Learned That Bigger Is Not Better When It Comes to Banking?

10 largest banks

How can this be a good thing?

The very people who legally crashed our economy – and those who did it illegally and still haven’t gone to jail – and have kept their bonuses are now even bigger than before.

This is when our government needs to – HAS TO – step in and say….

“You are a danger to the rest of society. You are no longer going to operate in this manner. You have abused the rights and privileges afforded to you in the law, and now the law is changing. You will be broken up, and you will be regulated such that your actions cannot threaten the global economy and the financial well-being of all of the rest of us ever again.”

If there was ever an industry that has repeatedly proven that it is populated with and largely led by people incapable of policing themselves, it’s the financial services industry. This isn’t a personal attack. It’s just the facts, and it’s just history.

There can’t be opportunity and protection without a balance between the private sector and the government. There is no balance today. The scales have been tipping for far too long toward Big Money. This is why it’s so important that we strike at the root of all of our problems – money in politics.

Caseyoncampaigning

We must change campaign finance laws in order to get the influence of Big Money out of our political processes and out of the halls of government. It’s the only way we can expect to have any influence as ordinary citizens over our elected officials.

What can we do? Plenty.

Join up with other concerned citizens who have come together to make their voices heard.

Here are some of my favorites. Please feel free to share this and to add others.

 

https://movetoamend.org/
https://movetoamend.org/
http://anticorruptionact.org/
Join the fight. Become a Citizen Co-Sponsor of the American Anti-Corruption Act at http://bit.ly/CitizenCoSponsor
http://www.wolf-pac.com/
http://www.wolf-pac.com/
https://represent.us/
https://represent.us/
Support MAYDAY.US Together we can end the corruption of money in politics. Pledge now: https://mayday.us/pledge
Support MAYDAY.US Together we can end the corruption of money in politics. Pledge now: https://mayday.us/pledge

The Tea Party and Move On: Finding Common Ground? No, Not Where It Matters

This was an interesting conversation. (The audio kicks in correctly at 1:30, so be patient)

First, I applaud the idea of not losing sight of the fact that we’re all human beings. As National Tea Party Patriots co-founder and Citizens for Self Governance founder, Mark Meckler, points out toward the end of the conversation, we shouldn’t objectify each other. I agree, and I humbly admit that I need to keep reminding myself about that.

He and Joan Blades, the co-founder of MoveOn and MomsRising.org, say they agree that there’s common ground on the PROBLEM of crony capitalism.

Unfortunately, it seems that we can add the SOLUTION of campaign finance reform to the list of things that are NOT common ground.

If you don’t want to listen to the whole discussion, go to the 38:50 mark. Listen to the question asked plus the one that follows. Listen to what Meckler says in response to both.

He says that he, like Lawrence Lessig, wants an Article V convention to amend the Constitution. He says he wants it, however, for completely different reasons than Lessig.

Meckler blames crony capitalism not on the people, corporations, and organizations buying our government today. He blames it on the size of government. He posits that private money is basically being driven by self-interest. He says they are motivated to corrupt government because government is so big and so ubiquitous that private money can hardly be blamed for wanting to influence it. This becomes especially apparent when the conversation turns to his belief in the “rational actor theory” and to a basic investment and business principle: return on investment.

He says (and I’m paraphrasing) that if we just shrink government – and I assume he means primarily the federal government – that we’ll see less corruption because the incentives for big money interests to funnel millions and even billions of dollars into the coffers of our elected officials will be diminished because the returns will be smaller.

This sounds to me like he’s exonerating Big Money. He seems to be saying that the government is just too big and too tempting a place not to “invest” in because the returns from those investments are just too attractive to resist.

That is a stunning position to take. It strikes me as blaming the victim instead of the criminal, and it reveals how Meckler presumably distinguishes between right and wrong.

Meckler also says that reforming campaign finance laws is futile. He says the money will just go further underground. So like David Brooks, Meckler doesn’t see the need to reform our campaign finance laws. And while he doesn’t make the distinction, one must conclude that Meckler thinks it’s futile regardless of the size of government.

Which brings me to the question I struggle with endlessly when it comes to finding common ground.

It’s what I call “the morning after” quandary. Now that we have common ground on the PROBLEM, what about the SOLUTION?

Let’s assume for a minute that everyone agrees that crony capitalism is a problem – the problem – that needs to be solved. Great. We now have common ground from which to work.

Now let’s assume we agree that the required action is to get 2/3 of the states to call for an Article V convention to amend the Constitution. We’re not at the solution yet, mind you, but we’ve agreed on an action.

Now here’s where principles, purposes, and goals begin to diverge.

People like Lawrence Lessig (and Move To Amend, Wolf-PAC, I, and lots of others) want to amend the Constitution to reverse Citizens United and McCutcheon in order to get big money and its corrupting influence out of government no matter the size of government.

Lessig (along with Represent.Us and lots of us) also want to significantly reform campaign finance laws through legislation like the American Anti-Corruption Act.

Mark Meckler disagrees. He says so himself.

So, we all work together to get to an Article V convention only to find ourselves in opposition as to what amendments are needed. Some of us want to take the corrupting money out of government, while others want to shrink government and its role in overseeing and regulating how that money is made.

It’s the morning after.

How am I supposed to consider Meckler an ally if we’re this far apart? Hasn’t there been enough conversation and debate yet to come to conclusions with certainty on both the problems and the solutions?

Meckler disagrees with Lessig. That’s his prerogative. Perhaps the question to ask is, “Which of them knows more about the fundamentals of the problems and which one of them has the solutions that will benefit the most Americans?”

They both can’t be right when they’re this far apart.

Joan Blades deserves only our admiration and respect for her approach and her work. She’s an inspiration. But, I’m getting more than a little tired of the left always being the ones who must listen and who must keep moving to the right just to try to find some kind of center or common ground. It’s time for the right to move to their left.

Bernie Sanders recently reminded us about just how radical the right and the GOP have become since the days when Charles Koch was a Libertarian vice presidential candidate who criticized Ronald Reagan for being too liberal. The dangerous ideas and ideology espoused back then have evolved into mainstream conservative and Republican dogma.

Meckler strikes me as simply a kinder, gentler face on it, and I hope people will see and understand that.

Agreeing on the problem is great, but it isn’t enough. There also has to be agreement on how to solve the problem; otherwise, the cure could easily end up being worse than the disease.

As for open dialog and civility, I’d be glad to have a living room conversation with Mark Meckler. He seems from the video to be a nice enough guy. I’d be happy to sit on his deck, have some wine, and look out over his neighbor’s vineyard.

Until the invitation arrives, I’ll just keep doing what I can to support people like Lawrence Lessig who are far more qualified to understand the problems and to know how to solve them than Mark Meckler.