Bernie Sanders op-ed: Where will the Democrats go from here?

❝ Millions of Americans registered a protest vote on Tuesday, expressing their fierce opposition to an economic and political system that puts wealthy and corporate interests over their own. I strongly supported Hillary Clinton, campaigned hard on her behalf, and believed she was the right choice on Election Day. But Donald J. Trump won the White House because his campaign rhetoric successfully tapped into a very real and justified anger, an anger that many traditional Democrats feel.

❝ I am saddened, but not surprised, by the outcome. It is no shock to me that millions of people who voted for Mr. Trump did so because they are sick and tired of the economic, political and media status quo.

There’s a big chunk of analysis in the middle – RTFA.

I don’t agree with it all; but, of all the elected office-holders in the Democratic Party, Bernie is one of the few worth listening to.

❝ …I will…provide a series of reforms to reinvigorate the Democratic Party. I believe strongly that the party must break loose from its corporate establishment ties and, once again, become a grass-roots party of working people, the elderly and the poor. We must open the doors of the party to welcome in the idealism and energy of young people and all Americans who are fighting for economic, social, racial and environmental justice. We must have the courage to take on the greed and power of Wall Street, the drug companies, the insurance companies and the fossil fuel industry.

❝ When my presidential campaign came to an end, I pledged to my supporters that the political revolution would continue. And now, more than ever, that must happen. We are the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. When we stand together and don’t let demagogues divide us up by race, gender or national origin, there is nothing we cannot accomplish. We must go forward, not backward.

This applies to all Americans of good will, not just Democrats but people looking for structural change and willing to participate actively in seeking that change. The whiners belong to Trump. Conscience belongs to Bernie.

Democrats considered the working class as core constituents — years ago!

❝ What has happened in America should not be seen as a victory for hatefulness over decency. It is more accurately understood as a repudiation of the American power structure.

At the core of that structure are the political leaders of both parties, their political operatives, and fundraisers; the major media, centered in New York and Washington DC; the country’s biggest corporations, their top executives, and Washington lobbyists and trade associations; the biggest Wall Street banks, their top officers, traders, hedge-fund and private-equity managers, and their lackeys in Washington; and the wealthy individuals who invest directly in politics…

What happened?

❝ The power structure of America wrote off Sanders as an aberration, and, until recently, didn’t take Trump seriously. A respected political insider recently told me most Americans were largely content with the status quo. “The economy is in good shape,” he said. “Most Americans are better off than they’ve been in years.”

Recent economic indicators may be up, but those indicators don’t reflect the insecurity most Americans continue to feel, nor the seeming arbitrariness and unfairness they experience. Nor do the major indicators show the linkages many Americans see between wealth and power, stagnant or declining real wages, soaring CEO pay, and the undermining of democracy by big money.

❝ Median family income is lower now than it was 16 years ago, adjusted for inflation. Workers without college degrees – the old working class – have fallen furthest. Most economic gains, meanwhile, have gone to the top. These gains have translated into political power to elicit bank bailouts, corporate subsidies, special tax loopholes, favorable trade deals and increasing market power without interference by anti-monopoly enforcement – all of which have further reduced wages and pulled up profits.

Wealth, power and crony capitalism fit together. Americans know a takeover has occurred, and they blame the establishment for it.

❝ The Democratic party once represented the working class. But over the last three decades the party has been taken over by Washington-based fundraisers, bundlers, analysts, and pollsters who have focused instead on raising campaign money from corporate and Wall Street executives and getting votes from upper middle-class households in “swing” suburbs…

Democrats have occupied the White House for 16 of the last 24 years, and for four of those years had control of both houses of Congress. But in that time they failed to reverse the decline in working-class wages and economic security. Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama ardently pushed for free trade agreements without providing millions of blue-collar workers who thereby lost their jobs means of getting new ones that paid at least as well…

❝ Now Americans have rebelled by supporting someone who wants to fortify America against foreigners as well as foreign-made goods. The power structure understandably fears that Trump’s isolationism will stymie economic growth. But most Americans couldn’t care less about growth because for years they have received few of its benefits, while suffering most of its burdens in the forms of lost jobs and lower wages.

The power structure is shocked by the outcome of the 2016 election because it has cut itself off from the lives of most Americans. Perhaps it also doesn’t wish to understand, because that would mean acknowledging its role in enabling the presidency of Donald Trump.

Yes, I’m older than Robert Reich. Definitely more cynical. I’ve been watching the process he describes since the Truman Administration. Hypocrites like Hubert Humphrey helped found the Americans for Democratic Action as an antidote to progressive and class-conscious activism. Ain’t nothing quite like class collaboration to get your heart pumping – if your political life is dedicated to 2-party folderol over class confrontation and warfare.

Other than that – I agree with his analysis. My criticism is more of timeline and details.

I’m still a working class guy from a New England factory town. I went to work in a shithole factory when I was 17 years old – when Democrats were falling over each other to prove to Joe McCarthy, the Republican Party and America’s media barons they could red-bait with the worst of them. It took the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement, to shove Dems into class consciousness, sort of, again. What Reich describes is the second sellout in my lifetime.

Ferguson: Black Town, White Power


Click to enlargeScott Olson/Getty

Back in 1876, the city of St. Louis made a fateful decision. Tired of providing services to the outlying areas, the city cordoned itself off, separating from St. Louis County. It’s a decision the city came to regret. Most Rust Belt cities have bled population since the 1960s, but few have been as badly damaged as St. Louis City, which since 1970 has lost almost as much of its population as Detroit.

This exodus has left a ring of mostly middle-class suburbs around an urban core plagued by entrenched poverty. White flight from the city mostly ended in the 1980s; since then, blacks have left the inner city for suburbs such as Ferguson in the area of St. Louis County known as North County.

Ferguson’s demographics have shifted rapidly: in 1990, it was 74 percent white and 25 percent black; in 2000, 52 percent black and 45 percent white; by 2010, 67 percent black and 29 percent white.

By contrast, consider the city: After decades of methodically building political power, blacks in St. Louis City elected a black mayor in 1993 and black aldermen or alderwomen in nearly half the city’s wards, and hold two of three seats on the powerful Board of Estimate and Apportionment, which must approve all city contracts. Well-established churches, Democratic ward organizations and other civic institutions mobilize voters in black wards. But because blacks have reached the suburbs in significant numbers only over the past 15 years or so, fewer suburban black communities have deeply ingrained civic organizations.

That helps explain why majority-black Ferguson has a virtually all-white power structure: a white mayor; a school board with six white members and one Hispanic, which recently suspended a highly regarded young black superintendent who then resigned; a City Council with just one black member; and a 6 percent black police force.

Jeff Smith begins and ends the article as published pushing for consolidation of these artificial suburbs. He believes this will benefits residents economically as well as politically. White power over Black workingclass transforms into Green Power for everyone.

I lived through that whole discussion middling days in the civil rights movement and all it produced was a few Black bureaucrats, damned little Green for everyone else.

Meanwhile, Mike suggested the Washington POST analysis of the same topic – where a troika of authors found the realpolitik included unintended consequences in a tag team with racism. A solid piece of research, sound data.

Neither article explained the perceived role of the Democratic Party, differences between St, Louis City and North County suburbs like Ferguson – but, since Smith’s article points out the racist history of municipal and local craft unions, continued exclusion of Black workers, white-dominated political campaigns they sponsor, it seems as likely to me that outside of the city of St. Louis the Democrat Party functions like Reagan populists. Perfectly willing to accept the racist status quo.

Voters in Ferguson have two alternatives. They can go the route apparently embraced by Black voters in St. Louis and fight for a decade or so for a grassroots effort which ends up with a Democratic Party organization mirroring the population – or they can organize an independent party that reaches out to Progressives to unite in bringing grassroots representation to Ferguson.

Both highways have the same tough obstacles to overcome – starting with the inevitable unsophisticated American voters. Both strategies risk demagogues who never can pass up a populist chance to be The Leader. But, over these past fifteen years, ain’t anyone else getting off their rusty dusty to change the white power structure in Ferguson. At least, not so’s you’d notice.

Thanks, Mike

Seeking overwhelming choices in electoral politics


Matthew Dowd [right] talking to a Republican who will never leave the past

One big way I have changed is how I look at politics, governing and, ultimately, all relationships. In the past I was very adept when I worked in campaigns on both sides of the aisle in coming up with strategies and tactics that would provide a candidate or a legislative effort with just enough votes to win. We call it the 51 percent effort. You figure out the coalition to just barely win, then create the campaign to achieve that. And this is what is employed in most instances in nearly every campaign and legislative effort.

And it is these 51 percent campaigns that have helped contribute to a very divided and polarized country. I have remorse over my own involvement in them. Today I believe our country needs something more, and something very different. We need to design campaigns and policy efforts that will receive overwhelming support…

These 51 percent campaigns have contributed to a lack of governing ability by politicians from the White House to state houses around the country. Without real mandates or without having run campaigns targeted at a huge majority, leaders are left with very little room for error and political capital. So many leaders are faced with 49% of the voters totally out of sync with their leadership, and they have difficult time governing, floundering throughout their terms…

And turning to our personal lives, I have come to the same conclusion that we shouldn’t settle for bare majorities in the choices we make in life. In the few big decisions we get to make in this world from who we choose as partners or companions to the work we do, we should strive to make decisions that are from a place of overwhelming joy. We shouldn’t be putting together a balance-sheet approach to these decisions that, when calculated, barely get us in the positive direction.

I disagree with half of Matthew Dowd’s analysis. Yes, I agree about the 51% – not about why we are where we are.

The essentials of his analysis presumes both halves of our shoddy two-party-limited electoral system are equally interested in moving living standards forward as a nation. That hasn’t been the case in decades. The decline began with the adoption of the Southern Strategy by Nixon and the Republican Party.

Before that, the racist vote in the United States belonged to the Democrats. It was an inheritance that traveled a convoluted path from the Civil War up into the start of FDR’s New Deal. Nixon saw the Democrats were becoming an instrument of equal opportunity. And he realized he could fire the coals of racism and take the electoral loyalty of disaffected whites over to the party that didn’t care at all about their economic lot – but, would feed on their ignorance and hatred.

Time passes and regardless of success and failure, the progressive movement ain’t going away. Building a better life on Earth is still the most natural way to live. And, so, the equally natural reaction of that class of people profiting from bigotry and hatred has been to fight the most stubborn retreat in American history.

As I would expect of someone who lives like the old-fashioned Christians I grew up with, Matthew Dowd also applies his philosophy to the non-political side of his life. Frankly, that works pretty well. Get folks away from the ideology they’ve been sold to govern the political side of their lives and humanity takes hold on its own. An important conclusion he draws from his own experience. For that he deserves respect and praise.

Karl Rove says ideological purity isn’t the best measure for GOP – he’d stick with lies!

Struggling to resuscitate the beleaguered GOP’s fortunes and finances in a solidly blue state, California Republicans received blunt advice this weekend from Republican strategist Karl Rove: “Get off your ass…”

…Rove said Republicans have grown too “comfortable talking to each other,” and they have failed to grow the party beyond its core of older white voters. Nearly 70 percent of the nation’s two fastest-growing demographics – Latinos and Asian Americans – supported Democrats in 2012.

What Rove wants – and the Tea Party bubbas reject – is coming up with more and better lies. Not only the usual agitprop of fairy dust economics; but, plain and simple denial of racism and bigotry should be sufficient – he thinks – to fool American voters.

There is soul-searching going on in every corner of the convention, which drew more than 1,000 party activists. The party confronts historically low voter registration in California – just 29 percent of state voters are registered Republicans, compared with nearly 44 percent who are Democrats. An additional 1 in 5 California voters now registers with no party preference – a growing number that threatens to turn the GOP into a minor party. Republicans hold no major statewide offices in California and are the minority party in both chambers of the state Legislature. From this position of weakness, the state GOP is also saddled with a debt that incoming chair Jim Brulte said could be as high as $800,000…

Jerrie Libby, a party delegate from Sutter County and a Tea Party organizer, watched Rove’s address wearing a red Tea Party T-shirt, which she called “a silent protest” against Rove’s efforts to back establishment candidates over grassroots favorites…

“I want to tell him, ‘Karl, we are all conservatives. Stop bashing us,’ ” said Libby, a retired teacher and almond farmer. “We are eating our own in this party…”

Continue reading

Obama gets four more years – of dealing with Republican losers!

Heading off to bed, right now. In the morning, I’ll review what has been achieved.

The very old Party-formerly-known-as-Republican sounds like nothing will change. Karl Rove won’t let Mitt Romney concede the election – proving the neocons are still in charge of the money, the tea party in charge of religious ideology.

But, President Obama has sufficient electoral votes right now – and will have more than enough by tomorrow morning – and even more when all the crap and legitimate problems [as well] are sorted in a couple of weeks. The same holds true for the popular vote.

CNN’s John King did a fine analysis that I hope they don’t hide – on young people, minorities, women, people with better than a high school education all voting for Obama. As an earlier post characterized it, Republicans and Romney relied on angry old white men – and got 72% of that demographic. Not enough anymore. A demographic that continues to diminish in political power and deserves to.

Something I figured out fifty-three years ago when I left the Republican Party. I was an angry young white guy then. Now, I’m an angry old white guy; but, what makes me angry is the same: bigotry, racism, sexism, superstitious people afraid to learn, to study, to change, people who turn their back on history, science, knowledge accumulated over centuries. The Democrats don’t have any enormous edge on all of that; but, they’ll listen to people like me once in a while. The Republicans would rather stop me from voting, from talking.

See you in the morning. Still another couple of scheduled posts coming before then.

Catholic Bishop says Democratic Party “intrinsically evil”


Photojournalist Matt Roth took this photo at a seminar on exorcism led by Paprocki

A Roman Catholic bishop from Springfield, Ill., who has called the Democratic Party platform “intrinsically evil,” challenged the likes of Sen. Roy Blunt and U.S. Rep. Todd Akin on Sunday to be more like Sir Thomas More, who was beheaded in 1535 after being convicted for treason.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki, preaching at the annual Red Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, told the lawmakers in a crowd of lawyers and judges that More, in his day, was roughly the equivalent to White House chief of staff, secretary of state and chief justice of the Supreme Court — all at once.

But More sacrificed his wealth and career on his religious conviction. He refused to accept King Henry VIII as head of the Church of England. More sided with Rome on that issue…

Paprocki is one of the architects of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ campaign against the mandate by the administration of President Barack Obama that religiously affiliated institutions, such as universities and hospitals, must soon include free birth control coverage in their employee health coverage…

In addition to Missouri Republicans Blunt and Akin, other dignitaries in attendance included state Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, and Ann Wagner, of Ballwin, a longtime GOP leader and former U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg…

Paprocki drew headlines in September when he wrote that the Democratic Party platform is “intrinsically evil” for its protection of abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage and that one’s soul could be in jeopardy depending on your vote.

“My job is not to tell you for whom you should vote. But I do have a duty to speak out on moral issues,” he wrote in the Sept. 23 letter…”You need to think and pray very carefully about your vote, because a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy.”

No moral complicity for most of our wars, of course.

I don’t expect Catholic Bishops to suddenly leap up and publicly embrace democracy, freedom of thought and constitutional separation of state and church – though I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of that church’s membership accepts those ideas as easily as ignoring the rules about contraception.

In a period with religions and their flunkeys in politics embracing confrontation over our constitutional freedoms, I think it’s important to keep the issue in the public eye. We certainly can’t count on our politicians to take the responsibility.

Grassroots grumbles about a primary challenge to Obama


Secretary Robert Gates heading home from Afghanistan, once again
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

President Obama’s compromise with Republicans on extending tax cuts for the wealthy, which his self-described progressive critics see as a profound betrayal, is bound to intensify a debate that has been bubbling up on liberal blogs and e-mail lists in recent weeks — whether or not the president who embodied “hope and change” in 2008 should face a primary challenge in 2012…

Just last weekend, three liberal writers made the case for taking on Mr. Obama in 2012. Michael Lerner, longtime editor of Tikkun magazine, argued in The Washington Post that a primary represented a “real way to save the Obama presidency,” by forcing Mr. Obama to move leftward. Robert Kuttner, co-founder of The American Prospect and one of the party’s most scathing populist voices, issued a similar call on The Huffington Post, suggesting Iowa as the ideal incubator.

On the same site, Clarence B. Jones, a one-time confidant of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., suggested that liberals should break with Mr. Obama now, just as Dr. King and others did with Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968. “It is not easy to consider challenging the first African-American to be elected president of the United States,” Mr. Jones wrote. “But, regrettably, I believe the time has come to do this.”

Meanwhile, in Iowa, a group known as the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, originally founded to aid Democratic Congressional candidates in 2010, has started broadcasting an advertisement that shows Mr. Obama, in 2008, promising to reverse the tax cuts for the most affluent Americans. The group isn’t advocating a primary challenge just yet — but then, the choice of Iowa as a market seems intended to send a pretty clear warning to the White House.

On issue after issue, when the public is on his side, this president just refuses to fight,” says Adam Green, the group’s co-founder. “At this point, the strategy is to shame him into fighting.”

All of this would have seemed unthinkable in 2008, when Mr. Obama’s red-white-and-blue visage seemed omnipresent on campuses and along city streets, a symbol to many of liberalism reborn. That, of course, was before the abandonment of “card-check” legislation for unions and of the so-called public option in health care, the escalation in Afghanistan and the formation of the deficit-reduction commission…

Draft Hillary!

And how did someone at the TIMES manage to write a piece like this without mentioning Hillary?

Political tremors in Tokyo – Hatoyama resigns


Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s resignation after just eight months in office has triggered shock across Japan and raised new doubts about the country’s political stability. The fact that a U.S. military base figured centrally in his decision has also generated concerns about the damage to the crucial relationship with Washington under his government.

Hatoyama pointed to two factors in his decision. The first was his inability to fulfill his campaign promise to relocate the U.S. military’s Futenma Marine Air Station on Okinawa…

Perhaps more surprising was the role of a political scandal. In Hatoyama’s announcement, he also asked the party’s secretary general, Ichiro Ozawa, to resign with him…

Perhaps as important is the DPJ’s foreign and security policy vision. The U.S.-Japan alliance and the management of forty thousand U.S. troops in Japan created opportunity for opposition party critique of the old-fashioned LDP approach of solving problems behind closed doors. Public tolerance for this approach was growing thin, particularly in Okinawa where the bulk of U.S. forces are concentrated. In its rise to power, the DPJ took aim at some of these oversight practices. Likewise, it took aim at some of the allegations that “secret agreements” with Washington ran counter to government statements on nuclear weapons transit and other sensitive issues…

What remains to be seen is how the Democratic Party of Japan internalizes the lessons learned over the past eight months as Japan’s governing party and what the legacy of Hatoyama’s resignation will be. In Tokyo, there is also concern that the first effort to govern by the DPJ so badly bruised the bilateral relationship with Washington–particularly with President Barack Obama, a president that many think shared so much of the DPJ’s own goals.

The CFR doesn’t confront the Democratic Party’s unwillingness to address secret agreements, obvious and unpublished restrictions on Japan’s freedom to manage their own political life.

There isn’t any populist army marching on the streets of Japan calling in unison for an end to American governance over portions of foreign policy – other than that last election. But, that vote rejected a half-century of sidekick politics.

Wars of national liberation have been fought over as much.

Democrats lag behind the electorate on Gay Rights – NSS!


Iraq veteran, Lt. Dan Choi, an Arabic-speaking specialist – dismissed for coming out
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

On Monday, 250 gay leaders are to join Mr. Obama in the East Room to commemorate publicly the 40th anniversary of the birth of the modern gay rights movement: a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York. By contrast, the first time gay leaders were invited to the White House, in March 1977, they met a midlevel aide on a Saturday when the press and President Jimmy Carter were nowhere in sight.

The conflicting signals from the White House about its commitment to gay issues reflect a broader paradox: even as cultural acceptance of homosexuality increases across the country, the politics of gay rights remains full of crosscurrents.

It is reflected in the surge of gay men and lesbians on television and in public office, and in polls measuring a steady rise in support for gay rights measures. Despite approval in California of a ballot measure banning same-sex marriage, it has been authorized in six states.

Yet if the culture is moving on, national politics is not, or at least not as rapidly. Mr. Obama has yet to fulfill a campaign promise to repeal the policy barring openly gay people from serving in the military. The prospects that Congress will ever send him a bill overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, appear dim. An effort to extend hate-crime legislation to include gay victims has produced a bitter backlash in some quarters: Senator Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina, sent a letter to clerics in his state arguing that it would be destructive to “faith, families and freedom.”

America is changing more quickly than the government,” said Linda Ketner, a gay Democrat from South Carolina who came within four percentage points of winning a Congressional seat in November. “They are lagging behind the crowd. But if I remember my poli sci from college, isn’t that the way it always works?”

Of course it is. Doesn’t make the politicians smell any better.

You expect the party of the “Southern Strategy”, the deliberate decision by the Republican Party to become the official party of bigotry – to prate all the trite reactionary pap about faith, families and freedom. Even though their quota of sleazeballs more than qualifies them as the leading hypocrites this side of Jim Bakker.

You should not be surprised if the party of Harry Truman – who included universal health care in his platform – until he was elected, the party of LBJ who said “we shall overcome” while leaving the FBI alone to maintain a perfect record of zero prosecutions for racist murders for decades – you should not be surprised by Democrats joining other bigots in lame excuses directed mostly to the lobbyists holding open that big green trick bag.

Do I think Obama still might turn around the clock of history and lead the United States to a place of ethical leadership in the world? My answer is a resounding “uh, I hope so”. But, that’s what I said a year or so ago.