Thursday, August 20, 2020

Is The Tent So Big That The Party Has Become Meaningless As Anything MoreThan A Vehicle To Save The Country From Trump?


Can you see who's driving the truck in this Nancy Ohanian drawing?

In 1945, when the legislation that finally became Medicare twenty years later in 1965, was first seriously pushed by Harry Truman, it was Medicare for All. It covered all Americans' doctor visits, hospital visits, laboratory services, dental care and nursing services. The Democrats had just won 20 more seats in the House and controlled it 242-191; Sam Rayburn was speaker. The Senate consisted of 58 Democrats (+ one Progressive) and just 37 Republicans. 3 more GOP incumbents had been defeated-- including unabashed fascist Gerald Nye (R-ND). But Medicare failed. Why? The Republican wing of the Democratic Party, which very much controlled the Congress and was always happy to work with the Republicans to stop progressive legislation. It finally passed-- albeit horribly watered down-- in 1965 because the 1964 blue wave gave the Democrats a net of 37 new seats and massive 295 to 140 seat majority. In the Senate, there were 68 Democrats and 32 Republicans. The new President, Lyndon Johnson, used his massive mandate, to push Medicare through, the Republican wing of the party unable to muster the strength to work with the GOP to stop it.

But, unfortunately, the Republican wing of the Democratic Party wasn't dead, just laying low. When Obamacare came to a vote, the filthy, corrupt Blue Dogs and New Dems and fellow travelers were at it again-- killing, for example-- the public option. The Republican wing of the party whines and scratches and kicks and threatens anytime anything remotely progressive is brought up. I've been told by half a dozen congressional Democrats that their conference-- and some mention our country as well-- would be better off if Anthony Brindisi, a detestable whiny Blue Dog from New York, is defeated in November since all he ever does is work against even modestly progressive proposals from inside the party.

The Blue Dogs and New Dems like Brindisi-- there are over 100 of them, though just one or two as bad as him-- continue to crap on the Democratic brand to such an extent that many people don't know what the Democratic Party even stands for any more. Is the future of the party with AOC, Andy Levin and Pramila Jayapal-- who are all sailing to smooth reelections-- or with Brindisi, Joe Cunningham and Kendra Horn, who are all in danger of losing... and in the midst of a massive anti-red wave?

Goal ThermometerThe progressive Democrat, taking on Trumpist yes-man Ken Calvert in Riverside County is Liam O'Mara, a history professor. This morning he told me that "We win elections when we stand for something, not when we stand against something. Hope and belief are what motivate the kind of voters open to our messages. It saddens me that after all the work out there on voter psychology, we still need to scream at establishment Democrats who think fear of Trump is a good election strategy. Should we fear Trump? Absolutely. The man is a menace, and his ideology will finish off this country quicker than any other. But few voters will ever know enough of why they should worry, and most of those are already our voters. To rebuild this country-- to move past not only Trump but Trumpism-- we need to tackle the real issues and win over undecided voters, and that means presenting a positive vision of where we could go as a society. Is the Democratic party a big tent? Sure. Does that mean we roll over for a regressive agenda and stop dreaming? Only if the goal is more Trumps in our future. For myself, I say we get back in the trenches and win the war of ideas. Voters can and will listen if you come at them openly, honestly, and present a compelling vision for their future. Pretending that all we need to do is yell 'Orange Man Bad!' and expect people in the middle to stick with us is the height of hubris. If we want those voters in our corner, we need to tell them why."

"Crooked Ken Calvert," O'Mara continued, "is trying to win his race with two things: money and fear. He's going to suck in as much dirty cash as ever, and spend it to call me a radical hippie commie God-hating son-of-a-bitch terrorist anarchist-- whatever he thinks will stick. I'd rather spend time talking about what we could do if we had a government that gave a crap about human welfare, civil rights, and a thriving economy. I'll continue to show that my policies will save the voters money, raise their standard of living, and drain that damned swamp in DC. And I'm going to hope enough listen so we can keep building a government of the people, by the people, and for the people."

Yesterday, yet another life-long Republican, former Bucks County Congressman Charlie Dent, endorsed Biden, not because he necessarily believes in much of anything that has to do with Democratic values; it's just that he recognizes the existential danger Trump-- and his party-- have put the country in. The current congressman from Dent's old district, Brian Fitzpatrick (R), refuses to say whether he'll vote for Biden or Trump, and not a single current member of the House-- all of whom face the voters in November-- has come out against Trump. All cowards. You want them in the Democratic Party? One big party? No! One big union? Yes! Who do you feel solidarity with? Tonight billionaire Republican Michael Bloomberg addresses the boring, unwatchable Democratic Convention, which will surely cause the already horrifyingly ratings to further plummet.

Also yesterday the Washington Post published a piece by Marc Fisher, William Wan and Jeff Stein noting-- in the midst of a convention where this should be clear-- that some Biden voters are wondering what the party stands for beyond just dumping Trump. They introduced voter in Georgia who "has had it with Trump," but who wants fundamental change and told them she found the convention "very disappointing, a kind of People magazine personal interest story. I’m not voting for a roommate. It’s very easy to show a lot of people’s faces, but that doesn’t tell anybody what you’re going to do for working-class people... [M]aybe I’ll just stay home. Last time, I gritted my teeth and voted for Hillary Clinton, and I really don’t know if I can do that again for another corporate Democrat."
In opinion surveys and dozens of interviews, Democrats see a nation adrift, a people in pain. Together, they yearn for hope and inspiration. They want to be able to trust again-- trust their leaders, institutions and their fellow Americans. Yet like the country as a whole, they fall into sharply divided factions with decidedly different perspectives on what needs to be done and who ought to do it.

...The pandemic, Black Lives Matter and the protests have made it obvious to everyone that we’re in such a tough situation because everyone in the country is not equally protected,” said David Sinaiko, who teaches theater and English at a high school in Marin County north of San Francisco.

Sinaiko has three children in their 20s, and “they’re all dying to see what the future of the Democratic Party will look like,” he said. “So it’s really disappointing that they have their convention and it’s Hillary and Bill Clinton speaking again. The Clintons represent something young people are eager to move on from-- economic policies that created this vast inequality in the country.”

...For the many Americans who don’t follow politics closely, this week is the first major opportunity to see what the Democrats stand for. In Portland, Ore., Andrea Haack hopes the convention will clarify whether the Democratic message is primarily one of relief from Trump or is an assertion that issues such as health care, homelessness, immigration and police reform must be addressed.

Haack, a 45-year-old staffer at Portland State University, grew up believing politics was a tool for change.

“I’m a typical Portland person,” she said. “I wear lots of black. I’m tattooed everywhere. And of course I protest.” She’s been to dozens of marches since high school-- for gay rights, against President George W. Bush, for labor unions.

Haack believes it will be necessary to keep protesting under a Democratic president, to assure that the issues she cares about stay front and center, but she worries that putting too much emphasis on difficult issues during the campaign might backfire.

“The anti-Trump message might work better to pull in right-of-center people, but the policy positions are what are important to people already left-leaning,” Haack said. “How do you thread that needle? I honestly don’t know. Because, to be honest, I don’t know very many Republicans, so I don’t know what would appeal to them.”

Democrats don’t agree on what policies will get the country back on track, but many are united in their craving for a sense of belonging and for a rekindling of the trust they once had in the system and in each other.

Many cited the divide over how to address the coronavirus crisis-- the wildly different attitudes toward wearing masks, opening stores or holding school in-person-- as evidence that too many Americans no longer trust their neighbors, medical and scientific experts or government authorities.

Fifty-seven percent of Americans said in a Pew Research Center poll earlier this year that people mostly look out only for themselves, a number that didn’t vary much according by party affiliation.

Celia Sgroi, a retired city judge in Oswego, NY, near the Canadian border, wants the convention to restore her faith in America. The party’s previous two White House occupants won with messages of hope-- Clinton’s “man from Hope” campaign and Barack Obama’s “hope and change” theme-- and Sgroi now seeks a similar approach from the man who would be the country’s oldest president ever.

“I’m not proud of being American anymore,” she lamented. “I never had the feeling like I do now that people in the world are absolutely disgusted with us. I want a vision for the country, for what I used to think of as America-- a leader in education, science and technology, a country that helps others.”

The country needs an emotional boost, Sgroi said, and so does she.

“I watch MSNBC a couple hours every night, and lately the tone has been ‘We’re all going to die,’ ” she said. “I can’t take much more of that. I don’t want to be hanging black crepe all the time. What I need from the convention is the tiniest sense of hope.”

For three years, Sgroi, 71, has felt as if she were in a waking nightmare.

“I’d like to be able to sleep again,” she said. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woken up in the middle of night with my mind racing about Trump policies.” Children in cages, bullying, lying, denigrating nicknames for everyone-- “he’s come to be too much of a negative influence in my life, and he’s everywhere. I want him out of my life.”

...At 15, Dhruvak Mirani is already a veteran of several political campaigns; the junior at Glenelg High School in Howard County, Md., sent tens of thousands of texts on behalf of Sanders before he dropped out of the race.

Mirani shifted his support to Biden, if reluctantly. “Look, Joe Biden is a far better alternative than Trump, but it’s not what a lot of people like me were looking for,” he said.

The teen is casting his eye beyond this fall, hoping that the convention will signal what might come after Biden. “I’m curious how long the progressive wing will be okay supporting mainstream centrist candidates that keep undermining progressive movement,” Mirani said. “The primary goal right now is to get Trump out. But what happens after that?”

Levi Bradford, a third-year student at the University of Florida law school, doesn’t want to wait for his party to change.

“I’m kind of conflicted,” said the 25-year-old from Sarasota. “I want them to send a message that we’re all on the same team, and we’re going to get this guy out of office. But at the same time, I want them to recognize that this is not the ideal ticket for a lot of us. I feel like, once we get Trump out of office, that’s great, we’re taking down a demagogue. But how are they actually planning to really revamp the party so it’s more representative of minority voters?”
Goal ThermometerState Rep. Jon Hoadley is running for the southwest Michigan seat held by Trump bootlick Fred Upton. "From the beginning," Hoadley told me this morning, "my work has been about advocating for people, and that's exactly why I'm running for Congress. I have a reputation as a state legislator as someone who will work with everyone but never lose sight of progressive values. That means making the case for why the old way of doing things isn't working for working people. The real issues facing our families - fighting to get healthy instead of fighting with insurance companies, the ability to trust the water coming out of the faucet, calling out racism and discrimination-- requires leadership. While Congressman Upton may talk the talk on bipartisanship, it's not lost on anyone that during the first two years of Trump's Administration Upton voted for his agenda 96% of the time. We need folks who will take on the challenge of tough policy changes that benefit our communities and working families, and I'm ready to take on that challenge."

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At 6:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "Democrats" and the Republicans coming to support Biden aren't coming to save the country from Trump. They are trying to keep We the People quiet and peaceful so that we don't rise up angry and end neoliberal corporatist rule.

At 8:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Biden had picked Tammy Baldwin as VP instead of Kamala Harris, I would feel a lot better about his chances. Figure he's going to flip MI regardless. Baldwin would almost certainly put him over the top in Wisconsin. The focus would then come down to PA, where Biden should at least outperform Clinton.

At 10:41 PM, Blogger paul lukasiak said...

The answer to your question is "yes". And the Democratic Party is getting worse, not better.

Watching the convention over the first three days, I was actually working up some enthusiasm for helping the Dems win big in November. Then I saw the news that Pelosi had endorsed Joey With the Good Hair over reliable, principled progressive (and INCUMBENT) Ed Markey. And now I'm outraged.

I'll still crawl through broken glass laced with tetanus laden rusty tacks and fire ants to vote against Donald Trump in November. But don't ask me to tell anyone that things will get better with Democrats like Nancy Pelosi in charge of the House -- because all I can say is that, under Biden, things won't be as bad as under Trump.

And I suspect that this viewpoint will be shared extensively among real progressives. They know that the democratic party is completely corrupt -- and that Pelosi is thoroughly worthless. And we're most likely to see repeat of 2010 in another two years, as Biden, Pelosi, and Schumer betray the American people in favor of their corporate sponsors.


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