You can’t demand change then refuse to be part of it

Since 2015, I’ve been trying to spread the message of “imperfect allies (Ds) vs actual enemies (Rs).”

I want to thank the original Tweeter for helping (I suspect unintentionally) to amplify that message.

All that one needs to do is some simple substitution, and this becomes a pointed message for all the Democratic Party’s critics on the Left.

Until 2015, I was registered Non-Affiliated for my entire adult life. That’s when I became a “Democrat of Convenience” in order to vote for Sanders in the closed PA primary. Up to that point, I had voted for Ds, Rs, and Is in my life, although never for a Republican president.

I want our political system to have more viable Parties that truly represent more viable and representative choices.

The barriers to viable third parties are too numerous – and maybe already even too well-known – to rehash here.

All that I’m offering right now is a plea to my fellow liberals and to all progressives to acknowledge that the math will not work in this election.

The only hopeful path to getting to a point in our country where more than 2 parties are viable actually begins with the utter destruction of one of them; the GOP.

The only way to do that is to vote for the one other realistic and viable alternative despite all their faults and shortcomings; the Democrats. They have proven to be receptive to change, flexible in their thinking, and malleable in their policies, often to our chagrin on the Left.

 

Yes, I agree that change is needed in the Democratic Party. That’s why I registered as a Democrat.

Yes, I agree that the lesser of two evils is still evil, but when those are the only choices available to keep the greater evil from coming to or retaining power, then I’m pleading with everyone to choose the lesser evil.

Just for now. Just for this election.

Election Day isn’t the day you send a message. You do that in all the days in between and leading up to it.

Opposed to Vote Blue No Matter Who? Then own it.

Joe Biden said he would be a target of the "Bernie Brothers" CREDIT: AFP
Joe Biden said he would be a target of the “Bernie Brothers” CREDIT: AFP

It has been so frustrating to watch the Left lose to the Right throughout my 58 years. The Right is about vile and unworkable ideas like unfettered capitalism, trickle-down economics, homophobia, xenophobia, racism, misogyny, science denial, and the list goes on.

And yet, Democratic voters have failed to outvote Republicans except in the very bluest of states. Why is that?

I know some will say it’s because Democratic politicians aren’t progressive and liberal enough; that they have abandoned the principles and values of heroes like FDR. I wish that were the only reason.

Because if it were the only reason and their reasoning was sound, it also seems reasonable to presume we’d already have President Sanders in the White House regardless of how “the establishment” conspired against him.

After all, Progressives and Liberals are too smart to be duped, yes? Progressives and Liberals are better informed because we listen to and watch truth-tellers like Jimmy Dore, right? (Clarification: Dore is an intellectually dishonest comedian-turned-pundit(?) who used to be part of the TYT propagandist cabal. He’s not someone I trust at all. He and TYT, regrettably, are shared with some frequency to a FB Group I’m in, and where this post originally appeared.)

Best of all, Progressives and Liberals outnumber everyone else and will show up in overwhelming numbers in the primaries and general to sweep our candidates into office………….. except we don’t.

Why is that? Is it a conspiracy?

Or, is it for the same reason Sanders has lost ground to Biden; we Progressives and Liberals don’t actually outnumber the rest of the rank-and-file Democrats who are voting in the primaries?

Not every Progressive, Liberal, or Democrat believes as we do, to say nothing of all the other Americans who don’t label themselves as such.

So, why do we lose?

Lately, it seems to be the internecine fighting too many of us on the LEFT insist on.

Some of us – no, let’s be real; some of *you*, my fellow Sanders supporters – still don’t seem to have learned that purity testing followed closely with attacks on everyone who doesn’t pass the test is one of the hallmarks of a cult.

Not a movement. A cult.

The last thing we need right now is the resurrection – or continuation, depending upon your point of view, I guess – of the Bernie or Bust Cult.

Trump didn’t win 2016 by himself. Puritanical voters in PA, MI, and WI won it for him by refusing to recognize the difference between an imperfect ally and an actual enemy.

I voted for Clinton. I’d do it again without hesitation if she were running against Trump.

Bernie is still my first choice, but he’s not my only choice. I’ll vote for Joe, and I’ll do it loudly and proudly if he wins the nomination because it’s the only sane, rational, and intelligent thing to do to ensure that trump loses.

Staying home, refusing to vote for the Democrat, or casting a “protest vote” are all just votes for trump. You can delude yourself into believing otherwise, but there will be two legitimate choices in November just as in every other past election. One will be trump. The other will not. It’s binary. You don’t have to like it, but there it is.

I get it. It’s cathartic, comforting, and gratifying to go around patting oneself on the back for not compromising. Just remember, there’s only one face looking back at you in the mirror, and only one face you’ll have to show when future generations ask, “What did you do to stop trump from a second term?”

I already feel sadness and pity for anyone who answers that with anything but, “I voted for the Democrat because your future was more important to me than my ego.”

As with all things, it’s your decision. No one can make it for you. No one should.

All you have to do is own it.

#TooFarLeft is misdirected outrage

There’s a difference between imperfect allies and actual enemies. Those upset with Obama need to remind themselves of this.

Obama TooFarLeft???
It has me thinking that I should cancel my email subscription to Common Dreams.
As I see it, that article isn’t news. It isn’t even good journalism.
I see it as obvious clickbait meant to rile up Sanders and Warren supporters.
I say that because other than the repeated link to the same NYT article (which is far more worth reading, and which produced the link below), all that Jon Queally ends up offering little more than a list of Tweets presumably meant to outrage the reader by channeling carefully selected outrage coming from the Twittersphere.
The more interesting question for me is why such an article even gets written?
To what end does trying to cast Obama as a villain work to anyone’s favor other than Trump’s?
In my humble opinion, casting Obama as the enemy really kind of closes the loop on this election cycle’s liberal/progressive circular firing squad.
Yes, we can and we must debate what each candidate claims to be their vision and their policies for realizing it, but casting Obama as an enemy as part of that debates makes no sense to me at all.
Yes, I agree that he wasn’t liberal and progressive enough.
Yes, he made mistakes, and yes, he advanced policies with which I disagreed. He wasn’t perfect. He wasn’t pure. No one is, but he and Biden were worlds better than McCain/Palin and Romney/Ryan, and I’m proud to say I voted for Obama and Biden twice.
Cory Booker, another oft-cast villain, summed up my sentiments really well when asked about Obama’s remarks:
“Let’s stop tearing each other down, let’s stop drawing artificial lines,” he added. “I’m tired in this election of hearing some people say, ‘Well if this person gets elected, I can’t support them,’ and then other people say, ‘If this person gets elected, I can’t support them.’ Are you kidding me?”
Omar tweetRep Ilhan Omar appears to want to pick a fight with about as classic a strawman as I’ve seen in a long time.
When did Obama say in his remarks that….
….healthcare is NOT a human right?
….he DOESN’T want future generations to live on a healthy planet?
….student debt shouldn’t be cancelled?
….he opposes a $15/hour minimum wage?
….he opposes gun reform?
….he thinks families belong in cages?
That tweet, in my view, is the height of intellectual dishonesty. It causes me to call into question what I had begun to believe was Rep Omar’s thoughtfulness, mindfulness, and authenticity.
Do I think Obama probably meant Sanders and Warren and their supporters more than Booker, Buttigieg or Biden, and their “wings” of the Democratic Party?
Yes, of course.
(But, be sure to read my Comment for a contextual analysis of Obama’s remarks.)
That, however, doesn’t excuse the mistake I think “the activist wing of the party” is making; reacting with outrage with Obama.
I can just picture lots of Democrats – actual rank-and-file Democrats who have been registered with the Party for years and decades – seeing this hashtag and asking themselves, “What the fuck? How the hell can people who call themselves progressives now be attacking Obama? How does their outrage with Obama help? How is that outrage with Obama going to get more Democratic voters to the polls so that piece of shit squatting in the White House is run out of town and, hopefully, into a prison jumpsuit?”
I’m asking those same questions.
What worries me is how this attack on Obama looks to be another example of out-of-control and inexplicable purity testing that I saw in 2016 and that I see more and more of all the time coming only really from one camp – my fellow Sanders supporters.
I really don’t see how that’s supposed to work and to what end.
I’m not saying we surrender. I’m not even saying that we have to compromise on everything, but compromise is how democracy works. No one elected leader, and no one group of voters, gets their way on everything. Not in a democracy.
Yes, we can and should stand on our principles, our values, and our desires for sweeping, meaningful, and overdue change. I just think we should do that without casting everyone who doesn’t agree 100% with us as villains.
That most certainly includes the last Democratic president.
Trump, Republican voters, and GOP politicians who are willing members of his cult are the real villains. Let’s focus our outrage at them, not on Obama.
And, we must remember this:
There’s a difference between imperfect allies and actual enemies.
We will need those imperfect allies next November.

Time to end the romance?

The reason you’re looking at this right now on a high speed network that doesn’t cost so much that only rich people could afford it can be traced to the breakup by the federal government of AT&T way back in the Stone Age of the 1980s.

I think it’s time for some more break ups, and this is why Elizabeth Warren has my attention.

Elizabeth Warren
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Scott Olso/Getty Images)

 

I was “there” in the 1980s when AT&T was broken apart. Thanks to that action, I spent a large part of my early career working for new competitors who never could have come into being without the forced breakup of AT&T’s monopoly.

In Warren, I see someone with the courage to go after rich and powerful corporations. I applaud her for that, and for making this a visible plank in her campaign.

There is a fundamental truism about monopolies that everyone should understand and that everyone should talk about when it comes to conversations about the balance between capitalism and so-called free markets, and the role of oversight and regulation government is supposed to play. That truism is this.

Monopolies are terrible for everyone except for the people who own them and run them.

Monopolies have zero incentive to innovate. Why would they invest any profits into innovation when the market has no alternative but to use their goods and services?

Monopolies have zero incentive to offer their goods and services at competitive prices. Same rhetorical question as before tells you why this is true.

Monopolies have zero incentive to be good corporate citizens. Do I need to say it again?

And, no, you don’t have choices. Choice is an illusion. Just ask George Carlin or the Merovingian.

By definition, monopolies mean you have no choice but to use whatever they offer at whatever price they choose, and in whatever manner in which they choose to operate.

Ok. Fine. You can choose not to participate at all in the market they rule, but understand this reality, too. A monopoly cannot arise unless they offer something people want or need; otherwise, no one would be in that market.

And, yes, I suppose you can choose to chuck it all and move to Alaska or Belize or some off-the-grid locale. May not be a bad idea. Hell, maybe you can even sell the rights to your own “reality” show to those empty-headed nitwits at The Discovery Channel. Watch out, Swamp Loggers.

Seriously, I hope people will think about what’s been happening when it comes to corporate power and influence, especially during conversations with people who complain about, scoff at, or mock Elizabeth Warren and people like her who are now calling for this era’s tech giants – and big banks – to be broken up.

That’s advice for my fellow tech business people, too. Put greed and every last nickle of profit as the goal aside, and think long-term and for the greater good on this.

As for politicians, Democratic Party apparatchiks, and industry groups, we can expect to hear from the likes of Rob Atkinson, the president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, and Ed Black, president of Computer and Communications Industry Association, whine and wail and gnash their teeth over Warren’s plan. They’re shills for big money; it just happens to be Big Tech Money, and not Big Oil Money or Big  Bank Money. It’s still Big Money

There are no shortage of articles on Warren and this topic. Here’s one from the Washington Post in which the aforementioned group leaders are quoted.

“Does Elizabeth Warren’s breakup plan for the tech giants mark the end of a political romance?”

Certain liberals and progressives nowadays have no shortage of litmus tests they seem to relish in applying to every candidate.

It will be interesting to see how they test for the idea of breaking up with Silicon Valley and their money.

 

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.