Posts Tagged ‘Democratic Party’

Forget the issues: It’s all about Trump!

September 27, 2022

Three to six months ago, the conventional wisdom was that the Democratic Party was headed for disaster in the coming elections. The reason given was President Biden’s failure to cope with inflation and other serious national problems.

Now the conventional wisdom is that the Democrats have an even chance or better of holding on to their majority. Why? The change is due to the focus on Donald Trump.

Overall, many political observers and Democratic leaders think Trump-backed candidates in the Republican primaries are wackos that will be easy to defeat.

Operating on this theory, Democrats reportedly donated $53 million to Trump-backed candidates.

Here is the Washington Post’s rundown how the Democrat-backed pro-Trump candidates fared and the amounts the Democrats contributed.

WON.  Illinois Governor.  $34.5 million spent.

LOST.  Colorado U.S. Senate. $4 million spent.

LOST.  Nevada Governor.  $3.9 million spent.

WON.  New Hampshire U.S. Senate.  $3.2 million spent.

LOST.  Michigan Governor. $2 million spent.

WON.  Maryland Governor. $1.7 million spent.

LOST.  Colorado Governor.  $1.5 million spent

WON.  Pennsylvania Governor $1.2 million spent.

WON. Michigan 3rd District, U.S. House. $425,000 spent.

LOST.  Virginia 2nd District, U.S. House.  $300,000 spent.

LOST.  California 22nd District, U.S. House.  $200,000 spent.

LOST.  Colorado 8th District, U.S. House.  $250,000 spent.

WON.  New Hampshire 2nd District, U.S. House.  $100,000 spent.

Total $53,275,000.

I don’t want to overstate the significance of this.  Democrat money wasn’t necessarily the deciding factor in any of these races.  

And Trump endorsed nearly 200 candidates in all.  BBC News reported 92 percent of them won.

What the contributions reflect is that Democrats think that focusing on Trump is a winning victory strategy.

Of course this strategy could backfire.  The Clinton campaign in 2016 tried to “elevate” Trump, figuring that he would be easiest to defeat in the general election.  It didn’t work out the way they thought it would.

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Can progressives win U.S. workers’ votes? (2)

November 13, 2021

The Commonsense Solidarity poll indicates that the priorities of working-class American voters are the same as mine. Given a choice of five alternatives, they preferred the Progressive Populist option.  I do, too.

The problem is the topics the soundbite poll didn’t cover.  None of the soundbites mention the forever wars, civil liberties and voting rights, and climate change is an afterthought.  These are all fundamental problems that have to be solved if the Progressive Populist agenda is to be enacted.

Mainstream Moderate

America is better than this.  We have to stop demonizing each other based on which party we support, how much money we make or the color of our skin—it’s time to heal.  We need common sense leaders who will stick up for working people, listen to the experts, reach across the aisle and get things done.

Republican

What makes America great is the freedom of the American people.  But today, freedom is under threat from radical socialists, arrogant liberals and dangerous foreign influences.  We need strong leaders in Washington to protect conservative values and defend the Constitution against those who want destroy the greatest country in the world.

Two things are important to remember.  One is that the survey is not of a cross-section of the American public, but of the working class—defined as non-Republicans without college educations, earning less than $100,000 a year.  These are the voters whose support Democrats need to win.

The other is that poll covers the entire working class, not the “white” working class.  Poll respondents were opposed to “systemic racism”; this just wasn’t their top priority. 

I assume that, all other things being equal, working-class Americans would be in favor of winding down the wars, reining in the military and dealing with the effects of climate change, but most of them are more concerned with bread-and-butter issues.  The poll doesn’t go into that, however.

Some self-identified conservatives endorse the Republican agenda, as outlined in the soundbite, but at the same time are anti-war, pro-civil liberties and, up to a point, pro-worker, although not defenders or voting rights or action on climate change.

If I was forced to choose, I’d prefer one of them to a mainstream moderate, woke moderate or even a woke progressive who won’t stick up for peace, freedom of speech or labor rights.

LINKS

Commonsense Solidarity: How a working-class coalition can be built and maintained by Jacobin, the Center for Working-Class Politics and YouGov.

The Left Needs More Than Low-Hanging Fruit to Win by Jared Abbott for Jacobin.

Can progressives win U.S. workers’ votes?

November 10, 2021

Jacobin magazine, the YouGov polling organization and the newly organized Center for Working-Class voters did a poll to find out what progressives need to do to win working-class voters.  Here are the key takeaways.

Working class voters prefer progressive candidates who focus primarily on bread and better issues, and who frame those issues in universal terms. This is especially true outside deep blue parts of the country.

Candidates who prioritized bread-and-butter issues (jobs, health care, the economy) and who presented them in plainspoken, universalist rhetoric, performed significantly better than those who had other priorities or used other language.  This general pattern was even more dramatic in rural and small-town areas, where Democrats have struggled in recent years.

Populist, class-based progressive campaign messaging appeals to working-class voters at least as well as other varieties of Democratic messaging.

Candidates who named elites as a major cause of America’s problems, invoked anger at the status quo and celebrated the working class were well received by working class voters—even when pitted against more “moderate” strains of Democratic rhetoric.

Progressives do not need to surrender questions of social justice to win working class voters, but “woke” activist-inspired rhetoric is a liability.

Potentially Democratic working-class voters did not shy away from progressive candidates or candidates who strongly opposed racism.  But candidates who framed that opposition in highly-specialized, identity-focused language fared significantly worse than candidates who embraced either populist or mainstream language.

Working class voters prefer working-class candidates.

A candidate’s race or gender does not appear to matter much to potentially Democratic working-class voters. But candidates with upper-class backgrounds performed significantly less well than other candidates.  Class background matters.

Working-class non-voters are not automatic progressives.

We find little evidence that low-propensity voters fail to vote because they don’t see sufficiently progressive views reflected in the political platforms of mainstream Democratic candidates.

Democratic partisanship does not hurt progressive candidates.

Working-class voters prefer progressive candidates running as Democrats to candidates who stress their independence from the party.

Blue-collar workers are especially sensitive to candidate messaging—and respond even more acutely to the differences between populist and “woke” language.

Primarily manual blue-collar workers, in comparison with primarily white-collar workers, were even more drawn to candidates who stressed bread-and-butter issue, and who avoided activist rhetoric.

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Biden and the progressives

September 30, 2021

I’m not sure what to make of President Biden.  He says good things about labor rights, economic inequality, high drug prices and curbing monopoly power.  He listens to progressives and has appointed progressives to important positions in his administration.

The economic legislation he has proposed will materially benefit the majority of Americans.  More importantly, unlike Presidents Obama and Clinton, he hasn’t proposed anything that will be actively harmful, such as deregulating the finance industry or unconditionally bailing out crooked Wall Street financiers.

The question is my mind is: Does he really mean what he says?  Or is he, like Obama and Clinton, merely setting up a plausible excuse for failure?

The economic legislation he originally proposed was an omnibus bill to build needed infrastructure, invest in “human capital” and expand the welfare state.  To get it passed, he and the Democratic leaders in Congress agreed to split the infrastructure part from the welfare part, but on condition that the infrastructure bill wouldn’t be enacted unless the Build Back Better welfare bill also was enacted.

Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona were two of the Democrats who pledged to support the Build Back Better bill.  But now they’re gone back on their word and now oppose the bill.  My morning newspaper reported that President Biden is trying to find out what they would be willing to settle for.

But what is the point of negotiating with people who won’t keep their word?

If Lyndon Johnson had been President or Senate Majority Leader, Manchin and Sinema would be stripped of their committee assignments, no bills they introduced for the benefit of their states would come up for a vote and they would be cut off from support by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee—not just because they opposed their party’s program, but because they broke their word.

Another key test for President Biden is the filibuster.  A majority in the Senate has the power to change the rules so that laws can be enacted with 51 votes (or 50 plus the Vice President’s vote).  If the filibuster isn’t broken, the Democasts won’t be able to pass their voting rights act, Republican state legislatures will be able to rig the election laws and Democrats will likely lose the 2022 midterm elections.

One reasonable change in the filibuster is to restore it to its original meaning, which was unlimited debate.  Require those who want to delay a vote to go on the floor and keep talking, rather than just register their opposition and go home.  If President Biden and the Democratic leadership won’t even do that, they are not serious.

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Corporate dems oppose Medicare for all

July 1, 2021

Nina Turner, who’s running for Congress in the Democratic primary on northeast Ohio, is under attack by the corporate wing of the Democratic Party for supporting Medicare for All.

Pharmaceutical industry lobbyists are backing her main primary opponent, Shontel Brown.  So are Hillary Clinton and House Majority Whip James Clyburn, both big beneficiaries of donations from Big Pharma.

As my friend Bill Harvey says, corporate Democrats are not “moderates” or “centrists.”  Their agenda is to block the opponents of big business.

LINK

Dems Launch Proxy War on Medicare for All by David Sirota and Julia Rock for The Daily Poster.

Insurrection hysteria and civil liberties

March 5, 2021

As the Insurrection Narrative Crumbles, Democrats Cling to It More Desperately Than Ever by Glenn Greenwald.  “If the threat of ‘armed insurrectionists’ and ‘domestic terrorists’ is as great as some claim, why do they have to keep lying and peddling crude media fictions about it?”

Department of Pre-Crime: Left-Wing Protester Arrested by FBI for Being on ‘a Path to Radicalization’ by Thomas Neuberger for God’s Spies.  “We’re on the road to the next 9/11, but not in the way you think.”

House Democrats threaten right-wing cable news

February 24, 2021

House Democrats, Targeting Right-Wing Cable Outlets, Are Assaulting Press Freedoms by Glenn Greenwald.  “Democrats’ justification for silencing their adversaries online and in media — ‘they are spreading fake news and inciting extremism’ — is what despots everywhere say.”

Greenwald on the threat to freedom of speech

February 22, 2021

During the previous four years, Democratic leaders and pro-Democratic newspapers and broadcasters aligned with U.S. intelligence agencies to undermine the Trump administration. 

Now that Democrats are in power, the alliance continues.  It’s highly improbable that the Biden administration will dial down any of the covert wars now being waged by the United States.

As usual, Glenn Greenwald, who got his start as a civil liberties lawyer, has the facts.

I’m not a supporter of Donald Trump.  As one who believes in historic American ideals of freedom and democracy, I’m concerned about the large fraction of the 74 million Trump voters who endorse mob violence or believe in the crazy Q-Anon conspiracy theory.

But trying to suppress people’s basic rights is not a good way to refute their belief that there is a conspiracy to suppress their basic rights.

Also, progressives and left-wingers are naive if they think the social media crackdown is going to be limited to their enemies. 

Donald Trump was a very bad President.  I’m glad he’s no longer in office.  But I don’t believe in attacking historic constitutional liberties in the name of preventing Trump supporters from destroying historic constitutional liberties.

LINKS

Congress Escalates Pressure on Tech Giants to Censor More, Threatening the First Amendment by Glenn Greenwald.  “In their zeal for control of on-line speech, House Democrats are getting closer to the constitutional line, if they have not already crossed it.”

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The Democratic Party never was a labor party

November 28, 2020

Political scientist Thomas Ferguson is the leading U.S. expert on money in politics.  In his book, Golden Rule: the Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems, he argued that national elections are always about conflicts between different economic interests, never about conflicts between working people and business in general.

There has never been a strong U.S. labor party along the lines of the British Labor Party or French Communist Party, which is explicitly anti-capitalist and pro-labor.

Political campaigning in the United State is expensive and, paradoxically, democratic reforms such as direct election of Senators and nomination of candidates through political primaries, have made it more expensive. 

Senator Bernie Sanders tried to create an alternative financing plan based on small donors.  It was remarkable that he got as far as he did, but he was crushed in the end.

This does not mean that issues on national elections are meaningless.  Rank-and-file voters have a stake in issues such as loose money vs. tight money, public works projects vs. budget austerity, free trade vs. protectionism, monopoly vs. anti-trust policy, etc.  It is just that none of these issues get traction unless there is a business interest behind it.

Even the Populist Party of the 1890s, which sought to unite farmers, wage-earners and small-business owners against corporate monopoly, got the support of silver mining interests, based on its plan to increase silver money, and it got its strongest support in mining states.

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal never was anti-business, Ferguson said.  Organized labor did have a seat at the table of power during FDR’s administration, which is more than it had before or since, but it was never the dominant power.

Roosevelt took power in 1933 when the U.S. economy was in a state of collapse.  Many Americans, including representatives of big business, were willing to grant him the powers of a dictator.

He pushed through the National Recovery Act, aka “the first New Deal,” which attempted to stabilize the economy by organizing it as government-regulated monopolies, which prices and wages fixed by government.  The NRA failed, and also was rejected as unconstitutional.

FDR also pushed legislation for public welfare and to empower labor unions, such as the new CIO (Committee for Industrial Organization, then Congress of Industrial Organizations).  Business interests were split on this program.  They didn’t want to give high wages to their employees, but they did want their customers to have high disposable incomes.

In general, Ferguson said, labor-intensive business interests opposed the New Deal and capital-intensive industries, including the domestic oil industry, supported it.

The business community also split over free trade and protectionism.  One of FDR’s first actions was to take the U.S. off the gold standard, which meant a fall in the exchange rate for the U.S. dollar against foreign currencies.  That was bad for banks and other lenders, but good for exporters, again including the oil industry.

Roosevelt got authority to negotiate reciprocal trade agreements with individual foreign countries.  The U.S. lowered its tariffs in exchange for foreign countries lowering theirs.  Ferguson said this was highly popular among businesses that sold abroad.

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Dem war coalition prepares to assume power

November 19, 2020

The New Ruling Coalition Opposition to Afghanistan Withdrawal Shows Its Key Factions by Glenn Greenwald. “An unholy union of the national security state and the neocon-backed and corporate-funded Democratic Party are about to assume power with media-supported Internet censorship a key weapon.”

“Lambert Strether” on U.S. politics, 2016-2020

November 10, 2020

“Lambert Strether” is a contributor to the Naked Capitalism web log. Here’s his idea of how U.S. politics has changed in the past four years.  I think he’s right, and my bet is that politics will change even more in the next four years.

  • The Professional Managerial Class (PMC) attained class consciousness.
  • The PMC was and is embubbled by a domestic psyop.
  • The press replaced reporting with advocacy.
  • Election legitimacy is determined by extra-Constitutional actors.
  • “Fascism” became an empty signifier, not an analytical tool.

Read his full post to see what he means. The comment thread is good, too.

LINK

“What It Took”: The Price of Democrat Victory in 2020 by “Lambert Strether” for Naked Capitalism.  A brilliant analysis and an interesting comment thread.

Why was this election even close?

November 6, 2020

Thomas Frank, author of What’s the Matter With Kansas?, Listen, Liberal and The People, No! talks with broadcaster Paul Jay about the 2020 election and the future of the Democratic Party.  You can read a transcript on Jay’s theAnalysis.news.

What it will take to change the Democratic Party

October 8, 2020

Lawrence O’Donnell said in 2006 that you can’t influence a political party unless you’re capable of not voting for that party.  If a party doesn’t have to do anything to win your vote, it will not do anything.   This is still true.

Suppose Trump wins. What then?

September 24, 2020

Biden ahead, but Trump within reach. Source: 270towin.com

A lot is being written about what happens if President Trump loses the election and refuses to concede defeat.  But there is an equal and opposite problem outcome.

What if Trump wins by fair means or foul?  Can the Democrats accept the legitimacy of a second Trump term?

I can’t predict the outcome of the election, but here’s one outcome that’s highly possible.  Joe Biden, like Hillary Clinton, wins the popular vote, but Donald Trump wins the electoral vote, based on narrow margins in key states.

Very likely there will be disputes as to which ballots shall be counted–for example, if large numbers of mail-in ballots arrive after election day or not all the ballots are counted when thr Electoral College meets.

Disputes would be resolved by a vote in thr House of Representatives, on a one-state, one-vote basis, or by the Supreme Court.  Republicans have a majority in 28 state delegations, versus 22 for Democrats.  Republican appointees also are in a majority on the Supreme Court, and it favored the Republicans in Bush v. Gore.

Many Democrats refused to accept the legitimacy of Trump’s 2016 win.  They influenced electors to violate their pledges and then mounted failed two impeachment campaigns.

If Trump wins again, the opposition will not be limited to political maneuvering.  It will take place in the streets.  And this will be during a time of massive unemployment, bankruptcies  and already-existing civil unrest.

Back in June, a group of former government officials, campaign leaders and other notables conducted a role-playing political war game under different scenarios.

They pointed out that (1) the winner probably won’t be known on Election Night, (2) there will be plenty of opportunities for both sides to dispute the results and (3) the transition process will like be disrupted.

They played out four scenarios–an ambiguous result, a clear Biden victory, a clear Trump win and a narrow Biden win.  The most interesting part to me is the lengths to which these experienced campaigners and officials thought the Democrats would go to prevent Trump from takibg office even if he has a clear win.

In the war game, Team Biden asks for a recount in key states.  By a roll of the dice, this results in Democratic governors in two states certifying a different slate of electors than those certified by the state legislators.

Then we get to the wild stuff.  The governments of California, Oregon and Washington threaten to secede from the Union unless Congress agrees to give statehood to Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., subdivide California into five states with their own Senators, require Supreme Court justices to retire at age 70 and abolish the Electoral College.  I don’t know whether the game-players were aware that the last two would require Constitutional amendments.

It’s hard to believe such things could actually happen.  But it is striking that so many top-level people entertain these possibilities.

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The progressives surrender to the plutocracy 2

March 30, 2020

The progressives surrender to the plutocracy

March 30, 2020

Over the weekend Matt Stoller gave a blistering interview on the Jimmy Dore show blasting Bernie Sanders and other so-called progressive Democrats for voting for the so-called coronavirus economic stimulus bill.

In reality, it is a corporate bailout which gives only token assistance to ordinary Americans.  He went on to talk about the failure of the Democratic Party and the progressive movement to resist the plutocracy and the failure of the American political system as a whole.

The two of them had a lot to say that I haven’t seen or heard elsewhere.

The whole interview runs 42 minutes, which is long.  I strongly recommend you watch at least the first 10 or 15 minutes.  You may find Stoller’s impassioned, but well-informed, rant so compelling you will watch the whole thing.

Matt Stoller is a former analyst for the Senate budget committee, a fellow of something called the Open Markets Institute and author of a new book, GOLIATH: the 100-year war between monopoly power and democracy.  He has a deep understanding of economics and the legislative process.

Jimmy Dore is a stand-up comedian with no special expertise, but a willingness to make up his own mind about issues.  He ignores consensus opinion and points out obvious facts that the consensus opinion ignores.

Stoller is right to criticize the cult of personality that has grown up around Sanders.  I don’t think he gives Sanders enough credit for the movement he helped inspire, but I do think he is right to say that Sanders has been more interesting in gaining acceptance for himself and his ideas than wielding political power himself.

And I also think he is right about not pinning hopes on charismatic leaders.

Stollar thinks the Democratic Party is un-reformable as is the Republican Party.   But American election law is structured to discourage new political parties and, in any case, the greens, libertarians and other minor parties don’t have mass followings.

The only remaining option is to build a progressive movement, uniting grass-roots labor, community and civil rights groups, that will be so powerful that Democrats and Republicans will be forced to heed it.

But this could be the work of a generation, and the economic crisis, the climate crisis and the danger of nuclear war are already upon us.

So the outlook is grim.  But the future is unknowable and despair is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

As always, I invite comments, but I hope readers will watch the video before commenting.  What Matt Stoller and Jimmy Dore had to say is more interesting than my words.

LINKS

The Jimmy Dore Show – YouTube.

BIG by Matt Stoller.  His blog.

Bailouts for the Rich, the Virus for the Rest of Us by Rob Urie for Counterpunch.

The Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Is a $2 Trillion Slush Fund for Washington Cronies by Marshall Auerbach for the Independent Media Institute (via Naked Capitalism)

Democratic primary: It’s not over until it’s over

March 4, 2020

Click to enlarge.  Source: CNBC.

The Super-Tuesday primary results were a disappointment to the Bernie Sanders campaign, but the primary campaign is far from over.

We won’t know the full results until the votes in California and Maine are counted, but Vox news service reports that Joe Biden only got 60 more delegates than Sanders in Tuesday’s primary vote, and only has 57 more pledged delegates than Sanders overall. Other news services count differently.   I’ll post the full delegate count when the full results are in.

Biden will undoubtedly get the 26 delegates pledged to Pete Buttigieg and the seven pledged to Amy Klobuchar, and probably will get the 44 pledged to Mike Bloomberg.  And if no candidate gets a clear majority on the first convention ballot, he’ll undoubtedly get the 771 superdelegates who are chosen by the Democratic party establishment.

There’s no denying his advantage.  But it’s early times yet.  The Democrats have chosen 1,344 convention delegates, but there are 2,635 yet to go.

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Iowa caucus mess: maybe it’s more than stupidity

February 6, 2020

The Myth of Incompetence: DNC Scandals Are a Feature, Not a Bug by Caitlin Johnstone.

Are Clinton and Obama to blame for Trump?

February 5, 2020

Secretary of Labor Robert Reich

Robert Reich, who was Secretary of Labor during the Bill Clinton administration, is an honest man whom I respect.

When he left public service, he went back to his old job as a college professor and author.  He didn’t become a millionaire by joining corporate boards of directors or collecting consultants’ fees.

I also respect Reich, who is 4 feet 11 inches tall, for making his way in a world in which most people unconsciously take tall people more seriously than they take short people.  This is a form of prejudice I seldom think about.

He wrote an interesting article in The Guardian about how working people no longer feel represented by either the Democratic or Republican parties.

In 2015, he interviewed working people for a new book he was working on.  He’d talked to many whom he’d met 20 years before when he was in government, and many of their grown children.

Almost all of them were disillusioned with the “rigged system,” which they thought Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush represented.  The only presidential candidates they were interested in were Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.  Reich thinks they had a point.

Democrats had occupied the White House for 16 of the 24 years before Trump’s election, and in that time scored some important victories for working families: the Affordable Care Act, an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit and the Family and Medical Leave Act, for example.  I take pride in being part of a Democratic administration during that time.

But Democrats did nothing to change the vicious cycle of wealth and power that had rigged the economy for the benefit of those at the top and undermined the working class.

As Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg concluded after the 2016 election, “Democrats don’t have a ‘white working-class’ problem.  They have a ‘working class problem’ which progressives have been reluctant to address honestly or boldly.  

“The fact is that Democrats have lost support with all working-class voters across the electorate.”

In the first two years of the Bill Clinton and Barack Obama administrations, Democrats controlled both houses of Congress.  Yet both Clinton and Obama advocated free trade agreements without providing millions of blue-collar workers who consequently lost their jobs any means of getting new ones that paid at least as well.  

Clinton pushed for NAFTA and for China joining the World Trade Organization, and Obama sought to restore the “confidence” of Wall Street instead of completely overhauling the banking system.

Both stood by as corporations hammered trade unions, the backbone of the white working class. They failed to reform labor laws to allow workers to form unions with a simple up-or-down majority vote, or even to impose meaningful penalties on companies that violated labor protections.

Clinton deregulated Wall Street before the crash; Obama allowed the Street to water down attempts to re-regulate it after the crash. Obama protected Wall Street from the consequences of its gambling addiction through a giant taxpayer-funded bailout, but allowed millions of underwater homeowners to drown.

Both Clinton and Obama turned their backs on campaign finance reform. In 2008, Obama was the first presidential nominee since Richard Nixon to reject public financing in his primary and general election campaigns, and he never followed up on his re-election promise to pursue a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United vs FEC, the 2010 supreme court opinion opening wider the floodgates to big money in politics.

Although Clinton and Obama faced increasingly hostile Republican congresses, they could have rallied the working class and built a coalition to grab back power from the emerging oligarchy. Yet they chose not to. Why?

Source: The Guardian

Before I respond to Reich’s question, I want to take him to task for saying unions are the backbone of the “white working class.”  All workers, regardless of race, ethnicity or, for that matter, gender, need the protection of labor unions.

Black and Hispanic Americans are a larger percentage of union members than they are of the U.S. population as a whole.  When you use the expression “white working class,” you ignore the existence of a huge number of American wage-earners.

I don’t think Reich had bad intent, but one of the Democratic Party’s big problems is the successful Republican effort to drive a wedge between native-born white Anglo working people and black, Hispanic and immigrant working people.  It’s a mistake to use language that plays into that.

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How educated liberals alienate working people

December 31, 2019

Here’s a little thought experiment: What would happen if, by a snap of the fingers, white racism in America were to disappear?

It might be that the black and Latino working class would be voting for Trump, too. Then we Democrats would have no chance in 2020.

We often tell ourselves: “Oh, we lost the white working class because of race.”  But maybe the truth is something closer to this: “It’s only because of race that we have any part of the working class turning out for us at all.”

This is the beginning of an article by Chicago labor lawyer Thomas Geoghegan in The New Republic. His point is that that leaders of the Democratic Party and also the Washington press corps are college graduates who have little or nothing to do with mere high school graduates, even though they are the majority of Americans.

The liberal solution to economic inequality in the USA is college education for everybody.  In other words, the message of the liberal elite is: Imitate us.

This is insulting and is felt as an insult, Geoghegan said.  It also tells the majority of Americans over 30 that they are doomed.

And even if college education were universal, it wouldn’t end poverty, raise wages or cure economic inequality.  It would simply be a higher bar you have to reach in order to have any kind of economic future at all.

Geoghegan said that’s why the most astute thing that Donald Trump ever said was, “I love the uneducated.”

It wasn’t always this way.  I am old enough to remember a time when a majority of Senators and Congresspeople, not to mention President Harry Truman, had no education beyond high school.

 I was one of only two college graduates employed by the first newspaper I worked for, in 1959.  The other was the city editor, who had a degree in chemistry.

That era was certainly no utopia, but politicians lived in the same neighborhoods as their constituents and journalists lived in the same neighborhoods as their readers.

Not that education, or liberal education, is useless.  It is just that it is not a solution to problems caused by concentration and abuse of economic and political power.

By the way, exit polls showed that Donald Trump got 8 percent of the African-American vote and 29 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2016.

LINK

Educated Fools: Why Democrats still misunderstand the politics of social class by Thomas Geoghegan for The New Republic.

What impeachment would not do

September 30, 2019

Chris Hedges wrote in Truthdig last week about what impeachment would not do.

Chris Hedges

Impeaching Donald Trump would do nothing to halt the deep decay that has beset the American republic.

It would not magically restore democratic institutions.

It would not return us to the rule of law.

It would not curb the predatory appetites of the big banks, the war industry and corporations.

It would not get corporate money out of politics or end our system of legalized bribery.

It would not halt the wholesale surveillance and monitoring of the public by the security services.

It would not end the reigns of terror practiced by paramilitary police in impoverished neighborhoods or the mass incarceration of 2.3 million citizens.

It would not impede ICE from hunting down the undocumented and ripping children from their arms to pen them in cages.

It would not halt the extraction of fossil fuels and the looming ecocide.

It would not give us a press freed from the corporate mandate to turn news into burlesque for profit.

It would not end our endless and futile wars.

It would not ameliorate the hatred between the nation’s warring tribes—indeed would only exacerbate these hatreds.

Impeachment is a way for the Democratic leadership to avoid these issues.

Trump’s rhetoric, as the pressure mounts, will become ever more incendiary. He will, as he has in the past, openly incite violence against the Democratic leadership and a press he brands as “the enemy of the people.”

There is no shortage of working-class Americans who feel, with justification, deeply betrayed and manipulated by ruling elites. Their ability to make a sustainable income has been destroyed. They are trapped in decaying and dead-end communities. They see no future for themselves or their children. They view the ruling elites who sold them out with deep hostility.

Trump, however incompetent, at least expresses this rage. And he does so with a vulgarity that delights his base. I suspect they are not blind to his narcissism or even his corruption and incompetence. But he is the middle finger they flip up at all those oily politicians like the Clintons who lied to them in far more damaging ways than Trump.

LINK

The Problem With Impeachment by Chris Hedges for Truthdig.

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Congressional committee assignments are for sale

September 12, 2019

Big-money influence on Congress is nothing new.  It does back to the Gilded Age of the 19th century and before.  House Speaker New Gingrich took it a step further in the 1990s with his “pay to play” system.

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi actually has taken the process a step further.  Each Democratic congressional representative is expected to pay “dues” to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee by raising money from donors.  Each committee assignment has a specific posted price.

The political scientist Thomas Ferguson wrote about this eight years ago, and I posted about it then.  Recently Ryan Grim and Aïda Chavez of The Intercept obtained the latest posted prices.

The dues for the 2020 cycle, according to the DCCC dues document, range from $150,000 at the low level to $1,000,000 for the Speaker of the House.  The document lays out the price of particular committee assignments.

Leadership posts for the second-, third-, and fourth-ranking Democrats — currently Steny Hoyer, Jim Clyburn, and Ben Ray Luján — range from $900,000 down to $700,000.

The next tier of leadership, which includes Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, DCCC Chair Cheri Bustos, and others, costs just $575,000. Lower-ranking members of leadership owe between $400,000 and $500,000.

That’s less than the chairs of exclusive committees have to chip in. Those four — Richard Neal, chair of Ways and Means; Frank Pallone, chair of Energy and Commerce; Nita Lowey, chair of Appropriations; and Maxine Waters, chair of Financial Services — owe $600,000 each for their gavels. Neal has paid half of his dues, while Lowey and Pallone have paid just under $200,000. Waters hasn’t made any dues payments yet.

The document also lists a goal for money-raised, which it puts at $1.2 million for each of the four. The dues report claims Waters has raised just $40,500, compared to $3.3 million for Neal, $1.4 million for Pallone, and $160,400 from Lowey. (Neal, Pallone, and Lowey are facing primary challenges.)

On those so-called money committees, like Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce, even freshman members are asked to pay higher dues. That’s because those committees have jurisdiction over effectively every major industry, giving members a leg-up in demanding checks from corporations who need — or oppose — legislation before the panel. It is also valuable for industries to have committee members write letters to agencies they oversee.

Chairs of committees not lucky enough to oversee commercially prosperous industries owe just $300,000 in dues and have a listed goal of raising $300,000, compared to the money committees’ $1.2 million. Indeed, even vice chairs of money committees owe more than chairs of regular committees. Yvette Clarke, vice chair of Energy and Commerce, and Terri Sewell, vice chair of Ways and Means, owe $400,000 each. Subcommittee chairs on money panels owe as much as chairs of plebeian committees: $300,000.

An individual seat on a money committee, meanwhile, will run a member of Congress $250,000.  Sad sack rank-and-filers not privileged enough to sit on a money committee owe just $150,000.

Source: The Intercept

Democratic congressional representatives are expected do spend several hours a day on the phone, soliciting donations.  There also is a “points” system by which representatives can earn credit by supporting the party through action rather than money.

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Why the Democrats shouldn’t nominate Joe Biden

April 26, 2019

Joe Biden Is a Disaster Waiting to Happen by Branko Marcetic for Jacobin.

Joe Biden Is Hillary Clinton 2.0 – Democrats Would Be Mad to Nominate Him by Medhi Hasan for The Intercept.

Joe Biden Is a Fraud, Pure and Simple by Norman Solomon for truthdig.

Three Democrats who shouldn’t be President

April 10, 2019

Joe Biden.

Pete Buttigieg.

Kamala Harris.

Click on the links for reasons why.

Is there a real peace candidate in the race?

April 8, 2019

The Black Agenda Report carried a good article evaluating the political records of all the announced Democratic candidates on issues of war and peace.

Peace activists Medea Benjamin and Nicholas J.S. Davies wrote that Senator Bernie Sanders’ record is by far the best.  He voted against military spending bills 16 out of 19 times since 2013.

He opposes a U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and Syria and opposes military intervention in Venezuela.  He’s a leader is trying to get Congress to invoke the War Powers Act to stop U.S. support for the Saudi Arabian war against Yemen.

The biggest blot on his record is his support for the expensive and useless F-35 fighter project, in order to create jobs in Vermont.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a National Guard officer who served in Iraq, is an outspoken opponent of regime change wars and one of the few to oppose the new arms race with Russia.  But she voted in favor of military spending bills 19 out of 29 times, and has been a consistent supporter of expensive weapons systems.

Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand deserve consideration.  Warren sponsored a resolution to renounce U.S. use of nuclear weapons except as retaliation for a nuclear attack.  Gillibrand has the second-best record of opposing proposed military budgets.

The spiritual writer Marianne Williamson is the only declared candidate who wants to dismantle the military-industrial complex and transition to a peace economy.  Politically, that is a fringe position.  It is realistic only in terms of what is actually needed.

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