Monday, October 29, 2012

Nicholas Ruiz III And The Taming Of The Shill


Nick'n'Nancy-- two different kinds of progressives

A couple of Democratic operatives attacked Blue America last week because we endorsed Nick Ruiz last year, a longshot grassroots candidate with no money and no insider connections. They're still angry or hurt that he wouldn't hire them for his campaign. It was a relief to be attacked for trying to help Nick rather than for trying to help Lee Rogers, the other race the know-it-alls in Democratic circles have declared is "impossible." In January 2011 Ruiz became our first candidate of the cycle. The critics he wouldn't hire claimed he would turn off voters. We picked him precisely because he would inspire voters and give them hope among all the corporate whores running in both the Beltway Establishment parties.

Nick didn't win his primary and the incumbent in the district, teabagger Sandy Adams, lost hers as well. So the general election will be very different from what we envisioned at the dawn of 2011 when we first met Nick, soon after the Great Blue Dog Apocalypse that the Democratic Establishment had given us (which is what brought Sandy Adams into Congress). Nick had been an idealistic Green Party write-in candidate that year and he had just re-registered as a Democrat. One of Nick's critics once told me his hair was too long to be taken seriously. Here's what Nick told us when we began the endorsement process.
We must decide, once and for all, what sort of society defines America. We have already decided that law enforcement (i.e. the police department) is a guaranteed service for all, regardless of social or economic status. We have also decided that the fire department is a guaranteed service. Our society, rightfully so, honors both of these public features. They are freely available to all, regardless of the size of one's wallet.

Why should healthcare be any different?

Social justice in a lawful commonwealth of society demands that when a person is attacked or threatened by crime or fire, the public will come to his or her aid. And when a person is attacked or threatened by disease, should the public not do the same?

We already employ an integral non-profit, for profit and single payer scaffolding to provide healthcare services. There is no reason to believe that all of these systems may not continue to work side by side in a free society. However, it is difficult to imagine that we can continue to allow profiteering to masquerade as uncontrollable healthcare costs that must consume such a large piece of our national income. Costs will have to be controlled through regulation. What is most important now is to take that final step and declare universal access to comprehensive healthcare as a standard public service, in the same way that fire and police services are a social norm everywhere. When will America realize that it is her ethical, logical, common sense and spiritual duty to provide universal healthcare services to her people?

America must no longer accept the false narrative of scarcity and withholding when it comes to healthcare. Social justice demands that all of our people receive universal access to all of these vital basic services. It is no great nation that denies these basic human services to people. In fact, anything less is uncivilized.

Put a progressive Democrat in Congress.
So far this year Blue America has endorsed 31 candidates running for the House. Predictably an old and beloved friend of our community-- Alan Grayson-- has the most donors (1,842) and received the most money on our main page ($30,363.27). Our donors liked Nick second best. By the time he lost his primary this summer he had already gotten 1,470 donors ($12,232.88). Our community liked what he had to say all year-- even if it galled and upset the party operatives he wouldn't hire.

As far as I know, last week's missive from Nick (below) wasn't aimed at them. I'm hoping he runs again so Blue America and support him again.
What is a Progressive? Or, the Taming of the Shill

-by Nicholas Ruiz III, Ph.D

Shill culture is the operative protocol within America and the world theater today. Shill culture is the problem. It is an aberration of self-indulgence and individualism gone batshit crazy. Romney and Obama epitomize it. Romney by accident of birth and continuation of social practices learned. Obama by adaptation and personal ambition. It's not about merit, or 'meritocracy.' Merit-based logic, like capitalism, wherein the idea that one receives (or not), merits, demerits, and the like, for work that they are willing (or not) to do in the world, some thing or another that will help to sustain a livelihood-- is not novel, nor insightful. It's prehistoric, and not even of human origin, despite the social theory that coins it as anthropic.

In any event, no emancipatory refuge, no oasis of democratic virtue, will issue from practitioners of shillocracy such as these.

To be fair-- everything 'capitalizes,' or it does not live. Waiters upon tips, dolphins upon fish, fish upon smaller fish, engineers upon plans, fish upon plankton, aerobic creatures upon oxygen, squirrels upon nuts, and so on. All find 'merit' in the actions of survival and flourishment. A meritocratic existence, it may be, ontologically speaking. But then, there is something else, such as, for example-- predatory lenders capitalizing upon the poor. And yes, that last one, is the example that should give us pause. The issue there is how shall the merits and demerits be distributed, and not, categorically, whether they will be. For they will be distributed; of that fact, we can be sure-- nothing is more certain. We have the whole of world history as evidence.

But whereas in the broader animal kingdom, if a wolf takes a rabbit, few are alarmed; instead, in the world of humanity, indeed what makes us human, is that when predators thrust their will upon the unwary or weak, or incapacitated-- human society does not tolerate it. Or does it? In another example, when financial or religio-moral austerity is thrust upon billions of people worldwide for personal gain or institutional consolidation, as in Wall Street, or the Medieval Church-- does human society stop them? We seem to lose a step for every one we gain, my brothers and sisters.

Austerity is being struck upon and marched against in nearly every major country in one form or another. And when will it end? Who will decide it? Those most affected by it-- or the predators? The predators are winning. And it's because of the shills they employ to commit their acts of social and economic savagery.

Austerity will end-- when we end the culture of the shill. Like the culture of slavery-- it can and must be defeated. But the shill must be tamed.

Don't be confused. Progressives, most of which have large appetites for congratulatory adulation, can shill with the best of them. Republican, Democrat, Green, Socialist, Tea Partier and otherwise. No party or movement is safe from the culture of the shill.

Everyone loves to be loved-- but where it comes at the expense of others, we are lost. Progressivism, properly construed, seeks to allay injustice and misfortune. It is not a reward system for the conscientious or open-hearted. Try explaining that to most progressives and you'll be greeted by a blank stare. And it's not about intellectualism. Most in poverty, or oppression do not conceptualize it, or elevate it to a philosophical position. But most progressives see no 'reward' in the specific defense or understanding of the poor, or working class. No merit, as it were, in challenging the false Democratic idols that guide the progressive infrastructure. And that is the undoing of us all, because no other political position stands to stop the other side of this conversation. The conservative side that more fully embraces social Darwinism, austerity, this or that en vogue faith disposition, or politically expedient sociocultural identity, that too many progressives (and Democrats) themselves follow.

Most progressives will not sacrifice-- and that, for fear of not being 'loved' by the right group or persons, in just the same sort of way that so many children and adolescents have always despised in the sandbox, playground or high school clique. It's just that mentality, alas, that never leaves them, for the most part. And that's why progress is rarely made on the political scene. But we all know what predators and bullies really need and deserve. And again, it is the culture of the shill that prevents truly progressive reform.

Love to be loved-- but sacrifice is the hearth of the progressive project.

The world has grown tired of the punditry, incumbents and panopoly of interests that embody the culture of the shill. The world is tired of those whose practices imply that the predators can't be undone.

Aren't you?
Nick won't be on the ballot next Tuesday. He's working to help create a 21st Century, New Deal America. "Let them hear you roar-- and fear it," he tells his supporters. Democratic operatives don't like roaring. Nick is working to support progressive Democrats running for Congress across the country:

Raúl Grijalva (AZ)
Kyrsten Sinema (AZ)
Mark Takano (CA)
Lee Rogers (CA)
Jay Chen (CA)
Joe Miklosi (CO)
Alan Grayson (FL)
David Gill (IL)
Elizabeth Warren (MA)
Lance Enderle (MI)
Syed Taj (MI)
Carol Shea-Porter (NH)
Ann Kuster (NH)
Nate Shinagawa (NY)
Patsy Keever (NC)
Matt Cartwright (PA)
Aryanna Strader (PA)
Beto O'Rourke (TX)
Bernie Sanders (VT)
Wayne Powell (VA)
Sue Thorn (WV)
Rob Zerban (WI)
Tammy Baldwin (WI)

No Blue Dogs on that list and no New Dems on that list either... so we're already starting with a degree of political sophistication that has eluded almost every single progressive group in the country. And every Democratic operative I know of. Even the Progressive Caucus itself endorsed a lifelong Republican who is now claiming he's a New Dem (Patrick Murphy) and a bona fide Blue Dog (Sal Pace). Blue America stands by Nick Ruiz-- and is always happy to have the criticism of Democratic Party operatives.



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