To liberals and progressives: know the difference between imperfect allies and actual enemies

Calling out bad Democrats and illiberal liberals is fine. Confusing imperfect allies with actual enemies is just mystifying and inexcusable.

Such has been and continues to be the case with some on the left.

Despite the stranglehold that Republicans have at every level of government, some on the left are doubling-down on the inexplicable idea that the way to reform the Democratic Party is not by joining it in order to move it to the left from the inside, but instead to remain outside of it and demanding purity and fealty first before they will grace the Party with their ideas, their efforts, and their votes.

That makes absolutely no sense to me.

For the record, I’m a life-long liberal. Until 2015, I was registered Non-Partisan. I registered as a Democrat that year solely for the purpose of voting for Sanders in the closed PA Democratic primary.

Let me be clear. I believe it’s fine – and necessary – to call out “bad” Democrats. I’ve been doing it for most of my life. There’s plenty of recent evidence in this blog site. Just search for words like ‘liberal’ and ‘Democrats’. You’ll see.

But to my fellow lefties who can’t seem to hate Democrats enough, let me say that for you to go on demanding from the outside that the Democratic Party change to your liking while also criticizing the idea that liberals and progressives should join the Party in order to actually change it from within is not only illogical, it puts you into a category of people who can’t seem to tell the difference between an imperfect friend and an actual enemy.

Democrats are not the enemy. No, they are not perfect. No one is, but they are the only major Party that represents progressive and liberal ideas and policies. No, not enough and not strongly enough for some, including me, but they do represent them.

When it comes to discerning friend from foe, don’t take my word or the word of someone on Facebook. Look up your favorite antagonist at GovTrack.us to see what bills they sponsor and support, how they vote, and where they are on the ideological spectrum.

Here’s the chart for recent Angry Buster target, Cory Booker.

Cory Booker

That grey dot on the extreme left is you-know-who. That’s right, no one is left of Sanders.

That doesn’t make everyone else in blue an enemy.

So, I ask anyone who thinks they can change the Democratic Party from the outside these questions.

What if all the “calling out” actually did force out present-day bad Democrats, what then? Let’s say you get your wish. Who replaces them if not members of the Party?

And, seriously, do you expect all the rank-and-file members and all the leaders to simply throw up their hands, fall to their knees, and exclaim, “Hallelujah, you are right! We are evil and wrong and bad. We abdicate! The Party is yours! Thank you for saving us!”

It just makes no logical sense to go on believing that somehow the Democratic Party will change if only enough people outside of the Party screech long enough and loud enough about how terrible the Democrats are.

I’ll add this. It requires an ego that rivals Trump’s to think that all that screeching will eventually convince enough people to also join up in throwing away their votes in battleground states because that “sends a message” to Democrats to be more like them, or else.

I have bad news for those folks.

No political party cares what 1% of the total electorate thinks.

The Democrats aren’t trying to figure out how to win 100% of the 1% who voted for Stein. They’re trying to figure out how to win more of the overall electorate in districts and states where it matters.

So, here’s my advice to the Greens, liberals, and angry Busters who hate Democrats and the Democratic Party:
If you want the Democratic Party to change, become part of it; otherwise, you’re leaving the Party to those who are part of it, and they’re going to go on without you and your ideas.

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Parties, primaries, processes, and paying for democracy

This article from April by Ezra Klein in Vox, “This presidential campaign is developing a legitimacy problem,” is worth reading even though it’s now July.

Bernie future

The videos with it were helpful, too. I especially liked the explanation about why we don’t have a single day for primaries – something I’ve always wondered about.

Seems to me that issue rests at the feet of this anachronistic idea called state’s rights. To the point about a lack of national standards made by a friend of mine, when political parties in 52 jurisdictions get to make up their own rules, why would we expect anything but chaos, corruption, and questionable outcomes? I think we need national standards like single-day primaries and the ‘retirement’ of caucuses – another anachronistic idea that serves to exclude more Americans than it includes.

Tax Status of Parties and the Cost of Elections

I found this article, “Tax-Exempt Political Parties Have Money and Resources to Keep Elections Rigged,” from IVN while researching the question of the tax status of political parties. It’s from 2014. Political parties are, according to IVN, non-profit 527s, not for-profit corporations. Perhaps there was a time when they were for-profit? I’m asking because I don’t know.

Another point made in this IVN piece that I hadn’t really considered before is just the straight-up “operational” costs to have polling places.

Candice Nelson, a professor with American University’s government department, balks when asked whether states should do anything to restrict funding, tax-exempt or not.

“[I]t costs money to put on elections — to have a voting booth and have a place to go and vote,” Nelson said. “I don’t think it’s unreasonable for states to pay for the funding of those elections.”

The quote got me thinking about the costs that go into making it possible for us to cast our vote, and that includes campaigning and primaries.

It does cost money, and I do see elections as a function of the public sector that benefits the public good. I think the process should be funded by taxpayers, even those who choose not to participate. That’s their choice. (I’ll get to open vs closed primaries next.)

What I am totally against is privatizing anything that has to do with our electoral process, and that includes how political parties are funded, how campaigns are funded, and how the electoral process itself is funded. Privatizing any (more!) of that would, it seems to me, only strengthen the grip of power those with all the money have already over us and our politicians.

IVN t-shirtPublic service announcement:
I’d like to encourage everyone to kick a few bucks to IVN as I just did and have done in the past. I have the t-shirt to prove it.  😉

Primaries

As for open vs closed primaries, I admit to being more for closed primaries under the current process because I tend to think that a party’s members should be the people who choose who represents their party. This is where I’m admittedly not aligned 100% with IVN.

I don’t see primaries as the election. I see primaries as the means by which parties choose whom they wish to represent them. While IVN’s arguments do hold up that, for all intents-and-purposes under the present system, primaries serve in a big way as proxies for the actual election, they are not, in my mind, actually that. Here’s why.

Some people I know will tell you that they plan to cast their vote outside the two parties in November because they don’t like either candidate. If that’s the course they choose to follow because their candidate didn’t get enough support within a respective party, then they still have that as their prerogative.

I also think under the current system that closed primaries are the best way to keep people from rigging the outcomes even more perversely than is claimed that they are today. Democrats don’t want Republicans showing up to cast a ballot in the Democratic primary, and vice versa, just as Greens and Libertarians probably don’t want Democrats and Republicans despoiling their selection processes.

For a really interesting review of primaries in the U.S., see this Wikipedia page, Primary elections in the United States. Per this page, there are only 11 states that have closed primaries.

Now, as I see it, if we had single-day open primaries, then I think these problems are mostly solved. Bear in mind that nothing is perfect; however, under this scenario, everyone can vote, they all do so on the same day so crossing-over is reduced, and unaffiliated voters can participate but, as in any election, only a single vote gets cast. I’d also turn this whole electoral process, primary and general, into instant-runoff voting so that a second, third, and even fourth choice actually has a chance to win.

What I am absolutely all for is more parties. Figuring out how to fund parties seems like the thorniest problem to resolve. I don’t claim to have any answers. I sometimes think publicly funded elections are the best way to go, but then the question becomes how to distribute public funds to the parties? Is it relative and based on size of membership, or is it a flat amount? Then it feels like we’re right back to the question of party membership and open vs closed primaries.

Why have parties at all?

I think it’s human nature. We are not individuals. We are social animals who instinctively, emotionally, and for all kinds of practical reasons need each other to survive. As such, we’re going to coalesce into groups, and groups tend to take positions for or against all sorts of things based on what the group’s individuals collectively want, need, and believe. I think this “for or against” human tendency explains a lot about why there are only two major parties with lots of less popular and less populated parties who haven’t gotten traction. Most people don’t want to be in a group with little to no power and influence.

There’s no question that our political system is clearly broken and rigged to favor the present duopoly. I firmly believe that we need a different way of running our campaign, electoral, and political processes. As those who know me know, I’ve been advocating for years for ideas like the American Anti-Corruption Act and for the work that the people like Represent.Us and MayDay.us are doing on this issue. I support them along with the Independent Voter Network, and hope that everyone reading this will, too.

The system is not rigged, and it’s not stupid.

What part of this is untrue? Hint: Nothing.

“In this sense, there’s nothing “rigged” about the race for the Democratic nomination: both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton were aware of the lay of the land in advance; both understood what it would take to succeed; both created game plans based on the existing rules, and both recognized that those rules, some of which were established years in advance, would remain unaltered once the process began in earnest.”

Bernie in cali

My fellow Sanders supporters would undoubtedly have a different take had he won, but this incessant whining about how the DNC and DWS and HRC and everyone who’s not a Berner stole it from him is really becoming unbecoming.

Add to that now how some are going on the attack against Elizabeth Warren, and I begin to worry that some of my fellow liberals are next going to be talking about moving to Gayana to start their own perfect and pure society where the non-believers are not welcome.

Look. Sanders, like me, was a “Democrat of Convenience” this year. The system wasn’t rigged against him. He knew – I presume that he knew – precisely what it was going in. That’s why it’s so disingenuous for us – or him – to complain that it worked against him.

OF COURSE IT WORKED AGAINST HIM! BERNIE IS NOT A DEMOCRAT!

To all my fellow Sanders supporters, please stop acting surprised or outraged that the party elite and more of its members preferred someone who has been a Democrat for a long, long time. Don’t get me wrong. Bernie’s incredible success is a testament to our understanding of the issues and the work that went into supporting him that took him as far as he got. HE ALMOST WON. THAT IS AMAZING!

But, just because he got this close but didn’t win doesn’t mean the victory was stolen from him. More DEMOCRATS and more Democratic party apparatchiks known as superdelegates wanted Hillary. WHY IS THAT COMING AS A SURPRISE?

Some of us joined the party just so that we could vote for Bernie. Many, it seems, demanded to be allowed in as uninvited guests to their ‘party.’ No matter how we came to this ‘revolution,’ lets salvage our dignity and let’s preserve the awareness we and his campaign have raised on so many vitally important issues by now acting like rational adults instead of party crashers upset that we weren’t treated better or didn’t get to hear only the music we wanted.

I think Bernie did the smart thing to run as a Democrat, and I think he would make a much better president than the other two, but I will disagree with him about open primaries.

Democrats – card-carrying members – are the only people who should pick who their party nominee will be. Same goes for Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, and The Rent’s Too Damn High parties.

You want to be part of the nominating process and have your voice heard? Join the club, and know their rules. Want to be part of the changes to rules and processes you don’t like? Same answer.

It’s time to have the maturity to acknowledge that Bernie is not the Democratic party’s nominee. It’s time to act like we do understand the issues and the importance of this election. It’s time to put hurt feelings from real (or imagined) insults aside and do what’s best for this country.

Most of all, let’s not squander all the political capital Bernie and we have by acting out of spite, malice, or anger. In other words, like sore losers.

Oh. One last thing. Elizabeth Warren is not a sell-out and she’s not the enemy. To anyone who thinks so, one-way flights this Friday from San Fran to Georgetown, Guyana, are going for about $750 on Expedia. Have a nice flight.

Bernie or Busters: Are you prepared to own it?

I admire the passion of Bernie or Busters, but I don’t think that they’re being very strategic or very pragmatic. What I think they’re being is ideological.

This friendly criticism is coming from a guy who had been registered Non-Partisan for the first 36 years of his eligibility. It wasn’t until Bernie decided he was going to be a “Democrat of convenience” that I decided to join him. I’ve always voted in elections, and now I’m registered as a Democrat solely so that I can vote for Sanders in the closed PA primary on April 26th; a primary that, as of today, FiveThirtyEight gives Bernie only a 7% chance of winning.

That doesn’t deter me. He’s still my first choice, but he’s not my only choice. And, this is where I part company with the Bernie or Bust crowd.

So, to be clear, I admire you Bernie or Busters for the strength of your convictions. I’m a Democrat today because I share the belief that Sanders is the best candidate to be president. Still, I can’t help getting the sense that you’re not all thinking this Bernie-or-Bust idea all the way through to its logical conclusion.

 

Votes Don’t Lie

I will say that your position would be more understandable if Bernie had been and was continuing to win state after state by landslides but still wasn’t getting the superdelegates. He and we would have all the proof needed that he had overwhelming popular support, and to deny him the nomination over some lack of superdelegates would be a travesty.

Clearly, that’s not what is happening.

Don’t we have to remember that caucuses and primaries are how party members and where allowed, independents, get to have their say? If that’s true, then so far there are fewer voters saying they want Bernie. It’s not over yet, but that reality cannot be denied. And, please spare us the conspiracy theories. If more people loved Bernie the way we do, it wouldn’t matter when debates were scheduled or how many superdelegates were committed to Hillary before this even got started. We’d be showing up in greater numbers and carrying Bernie to landslide victories.

The importance of New York, BTW, can’t be overstated. The rest of April is a run of blue states. Not to put too fine a point on it, but don’t Sanders supporters either have to show up or shut up? Is the adult thing to do to just take our ball and go home because we lost?

 

Bernie’s promise and your quandary

I believe that Bernie is true to his word. So the question for the B-or-Bers is what if he stays true to his promise and asks you to support Hillary? What then?

 

I think if he asks us to vote for her and we don’t, then I think it’s also fair to ask just how much of a Sanders supporter we really were? I suppose we can just ignore him, but what does that really say about our support for the man and what he stands for?

More to the point, what do you do then in November? Flip Bernie the proverbial finger and stay home, write him in, vote for Jill Stein? What? What do you do to stay true to Bernie other than to do what he asks?

Look, vote your conscience if you feel you must, but take it from someone who has done so and voted third party in the past. That’s not going to put Sanders in the White House. Why not? See the above. He simply doesn’t have enough popular support even if every single one of us voting in primaries and showing up in caucuses wrote his name in.

Who’s winning, where, and why it matters

And lest we forget, presidents are elected by an Electoral College.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/election-map-2012/president/
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/election-map-2012/president/

If you look at which states went for Obama in 2012 and then compare which of those states have already gone to which candidate through the Democratic nomination process…..

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/2016_democratic_nomination_map.html
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/2016_democratic_nomination_map.html

….you find that Hillary has won some important Democratic states, including the top 3 states in terms of blue Electoral Collage votes so far; FL (29), IL (20), and OH (18).

She also leads Bernie overall in the Obama Blue State “EC vote count,” 103 to 72.
As the table below shows and as of today, FiveThirtyEight gives her a 99% chance of winning New York (29 ECVs) and a 93% chance of winning PA (20). Those two alone added to the states she has already won and could be expected to win again in the general election get her to 56% of the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House.
State-by-state
All this to say, that it’s not just how many popular votes a candidate gets, it matters a great deal in which states they get them. Hillary is clearly winning both the popular Democratic vote and in the Blue Electoral College states where it counts, too.

 

We’re all responsible for the choices we make

Finally, I think it’s important for B-or-Bers to appreciate this.

 

You will be held accountable come November.

 

My fellow liberals can debate all day the effect that Nader’s 2.7% had in the lead up to the corrupt SCOTUS decision that stole the election from Gore in 2000, but if you’re angling to “punish” Hillary, Debbie Wasserman Schultz,  and the DNC, just understand and own the fact that you are knowingly and willingly helping Trump or Cruz to win the White House.

You cannot get around that fact. If you’re comfortable with that then, by all means, own it and vote your conscience, but also know this reality: the Democratic Party didn’t become the Green Party 16 years ago when disaffected Democrats voted for Nader, and I’ll lay money that you won’t get much more than 2% to 3% this time, either.

No matter what you think, the DNC won’t change just because some small number of “Democrats of convenience” make the same mistake their predecessors did.

That kind of thinking is how we ended up with W. Do you really, really want to have to answer future generations when they ask how you could consciously be part of the reason Trump or Cruz occupied the White House?

Call it a guilt trip if you like. Call it the lesser of two evils. Call it having to hold your nose to pick the less offensive bowl of shit. Just be real about it.

Cruz or Trump can only win if Democrats refuse to stay united.

This isn’t politics as usual. It’s not even about conviction or belief or ideology.

It’s math. If we can’t carry Sanders to the nomination, then we must understand and accept responsibility for the undeniable fact that every vote not cast for whomever the Democrat is is a vote cast for the Republican.

Staying home, writing in Sanders, or voting for a third party will not change that. What will change it is for more people like Sanders to start running for their local school boards, town councils, mayors, state houses, and as members of Congress. If you think ensuring a Cruz or Trump presidency is the pathway for finally energizing more people in the Sanders mold, I submit to you that you are fooling yourself, and even if that were true, the ends would not justify those means. It must be understood that either Trump or Cruz as president is too terrible an idea to allow to come to fruition.

So, as bad as Hillary is; as much as you might hate her; as much as you justifiably point out that she’s a corporatist and not a Democrat in the mold of FDR, we all need to remember that, “….on her worst day, Hillary Clinton will be an infinitely better candidate and president than the Republican candidate on his best day.”

So said Bernie.

Republican voters: You have more in common with #Sanders than you probably want to admit

Are you in an income category that will see a tax increase under Sanders’ proposals?

How many people do you know personally who would have their taxes raised?

Sanders Income Tax Plan

The question of which income group can and should be paying more, both in real dollars and percentage of their incomes, for all of society’s benefits is the wealthy.

Why them? Because the wealthy in America are actually the greatest socialists to ever live, and no amount of failed Republican rhetoric about trickle-down economics or the amoral lies of libertarian Objectivism will change this reality.

Only voting for people like Sanders will.

Corporatism is Capitalist Socialism

Think about it.

Everything that happens in the present-day and so-called capitalist system we live in is designed to not just “trickle up” but to flood the wealthy with greater and greater advantage and wealth.

Besides Wall Street’s insane ability to privatize all their gains while socializing their losses; besides polluters who can freely pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere without bearing any of the expense for what the pollution does; besides the hundreds of billions that are spent annually from federal coffers on subsidies and contracts to some of the biggest and richest corporations ever seen on the planet; the everyday occurrences that also make them socialists include all of the benefits they get from a system that is set up to actually make their wealth even possible.

  • Publicly funded infrastructure
  • Local services like police, fire, emergency medical services, snow removal, garbage collection, public libraries, etc., etc.
  • Public schools and universities
  • Social service programs that their workers – sadly, more and more of our fellow citizens – need just to survive, forget about growing and thriving

How does this happen?

Because too many Americans have been duped into believing they are Republicans and insist on voting against themselves and the rest of us by voting mostly for corporatist Republicans who pass ALEC-written laws that benefit the already rich and powerful.

You’re Not a Temporarily Embarrassed Millionaire, You’re a Socialist

The rich and powerful have had it too good for too long and at our expense.

It’s about time we all wised up and started electing people like Sanders who will tilt the field back in our favor.

Not to a level field. Tilted to our favor.

The “level playing field” where one’s lot in life is supposedly determined solely by their desire and tenacity and hard work is a ridiculous and juvenile Objectivist myth perpetrated by libertarians who love to believe that Americans are not socialists by nature but actually just “temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”

I call out libertarianism in particular because, generally speaking, it is an especially abhorrent and selfish form of corporatism which happens to form the foundation of modern-day Republican social and economic policy.

True believers will try to deny their history. History won’t let them, and neither will I.

History shows without question that what rich and powerful men – and with still rare exceptions in the 21st century, it’s white men of privilege – left unchecked will operate with wanton disregard for anything resembling what it means to be a human being living in a modern and civil society. They are sociopaths, and why some people outside of their gated communities and exclusive country clubs would decide to worship them for their cutthroat Objectivism and for their hoarding of wealth and power is one of today’s great social and political mysteries.

Far Past the Time to Raise Taxes on the Rich

The rich and powerful exist only as a result of our labor. If the economy was limited to only the transactions and consumption of the richest 1%, how long could it actually last?

Spend the next few minutes listening to venture capitalist, Nick Hanauer, if you don’t believe me, or Sanders, or Robert Reich, or anyone who understands even the simplest concepts of how our economy works.

The rich and powerful rule over us untouched only because too many of you in the 99-percent insist on voting for Republicans which is, at the very least, a vote against your own economic self-interests and the economic interests of all of the rest of us.

That’s why I’m supporting Bernie Sanders.

For the first time in my 50+ years, I feel like there’s someone I can vote for who is willing to talk about raising taxes on the rich and who is willing to say to all of us that,

The issue of wealth and income inequality is the great moral issue of our time, it is the great economic issue of our time, and it is the great political issue of our time.”

So, I get it. It’s easy to understand why you’d be a libertarian or a Republican and against Sanders if you make (or inherited!) a lot of money.

What’s impossible to understand is why you’d consider yourself to be a libertarian or a Republican if you don’t have a lot of money.

Trapped by the Kochtopus

It’s important to be aware of and to avoid being trapped in the tentacles of the Kochtopus and their libertarian empire.

If you’ve never heard of the Kochtopus, then please spend some time making a close examination of the tentacles of Kochtopus so you’ll understand just how far-reaching a single wealthy family like the Kochs are influencing everything around you; from the media, to think tanks, to academia, to legislators and judges, and more. If anyone can find a similar beast that exists on the left, I’d like to see it. (Cue the George Soros haters.)

Wake Up Call

Look. It’s time for everyone making $250K or less to wake up and to stop pretending you’re a temporarily embarrassed millionaire, or a Republican, or even a libertarian.

You’re not, and you likely never will be.

If you make less than the $400K+, which is what it takes to be a One-percenter, and you still call yourself a libertarian or a Republican, then you’ve been duped.

You may not realize, but what you actually are is a corporatist. You’re on the wrong side. You’re supporting people like the Koch brothers, the Waltons, and Wall Streeters who wouldn’t cross the street to piss on you if you were on fire. (Crass, I know, but I think it makes the point, don’t you?)

What you are is one of us.

You’re a 99-percenter.

And, you are far more likely to benefit from a tax increase on the wealthy to fund policies and programs that tilt the field in favor of middle class and poor Americans than you are to find yourself among the whiny One-Percenter “socialists” who will just have to find a way to go on living with one less house in the Hamptons and one less yacht to water ski behind.

Come on. Just be real. Five minutes at Sanders’ campaign site will convince you that you have way more in common with the vision and policies of Bernie Sanders than any other candidate. (To my fellow progressives, liberals, and Democrats, that includes Hillary, too, btw.)

We are all democratic socialists. We all should be supporting Sanders. We should be caucusing for him and voting for him in the primaries. He’s the only one who seems to care about all of us outside the One-Percenters, and that’s ok. The One-Percenters will be fine no matter what. It’s all of the rest of us that we should be thinking about now.