Why I am Supporting Bernie Sanders – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
02.08.2020

Why I am Supporting Bernie Sanders

With all of our eyes on the presidential campaign, and the nominating process in the Democratic Party, with all of the interested parties taking up positions and staking out ground in loosely organized “caucuses,” such as the so-called “progressive-caucus,” we have to be mindful of the fact that there is a lot more at stake in 2020 than the presidency.

We need a Democratic president to sign Democratic bills into law, but if we seriously hope to get any of our bills to the signing desk, we need to keep control of the House of Representatives, we need to increase the majority of the democratic caucus in the House and we need to take control of the Senate, we need to send Mitch McConnel packing.

This is why it matters who we pick for our standard bearer.

Even if we lost the presidency, taking control of the Senate would put more power behind progressive causes and give us more effective oversight over the executive branch. We need a candidate who can generate that enthusiasm and get people to the polls, and we need to stick together.

It is not just the presidency that is on the line in this election, it is Congress, and it is not just the 2020 Congress that is on the line, it is the make up of Congress for the next five elections.

The most important thing the legislature will do in the next congress is redistricting, following the apportionment of Congressional seats after the census. If we are serious about pursuing our progressive agenda for the long term, we must control this process. If we want the government to respond to the will of the majority on any number of things: from taxation to gun control, from executive oversight to a woman’s right to choose, from criminal justice reform to the War Powers Act, from…you name the issue, if we want to be governed by the will of the majority we must control this process.

The apportionment of electoral college votes follows the apportionment of congressional districts. We cannot eliminate the electoral college unless we are able to pass constitutional amendments, I will address these numerical challenges shortly.

If we want to see more equitable representation of the majority in the electoral college right now then we must control congressional apportionment and redistricting. If we have simple majorities in congress, and a democratic president who is willing to act, we can make the apportionment process fairer. Even if we don’t have a president willing to change the apportionment laws in US Code Title 2, simple majorities in congress will help us to create congressional districts that represent the people on a more equitable basis.

Keep this in mind, until we get the number of votes in congress, in the House and the Senate, and in State Houses across the country, unless we get a sufficient number of Governors and a President willing to pass a constitutional amendment there won’t be any constitutional amendments and the struggle for justice and equality will have to take place through the legislative process.

There are two ways to amend the constitution: the process either requires that two thirds of the members of both houses of congress vote to approve it, and then it must be ratified by two thirds of the states, or that two thirds of the states call for a constitutional assembly to amend the constitution in which proposed amendments must be ratified by three fourths of the states.

People talk about passing constitutional amendments all the time, but this is a very difficult process and if want to see it happen, to do this we would need:

1. 290 votes in the House of Representatives, the house is currently divided 233D to 197R, there is one independent (who typically votes with the republicans, and there are four seats currently vacant.
2. 67 votes in the Senate, the Senate is currently divided between the democratic and republican caucuses 53R to 47D (this includes independents who caucus with the party most closely aligned to their values) with a tying vote going to the republican voce president.
3. 34 States to ratify, State governments are currently divided between democrats and republicans 26R to 24D, while their legislatures are divided 67R to 37D

These numbers represent the numerical hurdles the people would have to cross in order to affect enduring changes to the structure of our democracy. We cannot pin our hopes on this, it is pie in the sky thinking.

If we intend to do this then we are back to where we began this essay, the absolute need to control the redistricting process after the census, we must have a willingness to change congressional apportionment if we win both chambers of congress and the presidency in November.

We must elect a president who is willing to sign into law enforceable provisions to restrain presidential power, to enforce the authority of congress to engage in oversight, and to reshape the federal judiciary including the addition of justices to the Supreme Court.

We are in a precarious time, and we must hold together, we cannot attack each other with broad labels intended to vilify one another, we cannot afford to pit so-called democratic socialists against so-called corporate democrats, so-called liberal progressives against so-called pragmatic progressives. There is too much at stake to allow ourselves to be divided this way.

We have to resist it.

I know a lot of people who like to pretend that both parties are the same, and they may have a point, but here is the truth: it is not the parties that are the same, the Democratic party and the Republican Party have radically different platforms.

It is the politicians who are the same, because it is the nature of these politicians, regardless of what side of the political spectrum they are on, it is in their nature to be feckless, cowardly, deceptive, ego-maniacs those are the unifying characteristics of all politicians.

This is not to say that they completely unreliable, that they do not love their families, or that they are all wicked people, but it is to recognize that the power of high office attracts the highly corruptible.

There are two tasks in front of us right now, as voters who care about our liberal and progressive causes, as people who ant to see the Voting Rights Act reinstated and expanded, who want to see structural changes to our representative democracy that takes big money out of politics and returns power to the people, who want to see a woman’s right to equal pay, equal treatment under the law and the right of self-determination to be protected, who want to enforce the separation between Church and State, if we want to curb the rise of white nationalists and domestic terrorists; the first thing we have to do is hold together through the next nine months, and we have to bring more people into the voting process, we have to these things thoughtfully, carefully and deliberately, even if the party does not nominate the candidate we prefer.

With that being said, when I look at the field of candidates running for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, when I look at the size and strength of their respective coalition’s, when I weigh them against each other, I have to conclude that our best bet is to support the candidacy of Bernie Sanders, not because I support all of his ideas, though I am in favor of most of them, it is because he is steady, his support is steady, his message is good, his vision is good for America, and if we all get behind him we will win.

Plans and Policies, Policies and Plans – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
07.06.2019

Plans and Policies, Policies and Plans

I do not have any problem calling myself a Democrat.

I believe in party politics because we are weaker when we are separated from one another, united we stand…or so the story goes, as house divided against itself cannot stand.

My people on the liberal and progressive side of the political divide are about to start choosing sides, and in so doing they will put all of their hopes for social justice, a new economy, dignity in the workplace, they will put it all on the table for a gaggle of robber-barons to steal from them.

We are about to start demanding policies and plans, we are going to scrutinize each candidates record, and try to make some determination of whether or not they are worthy of our vote.

Maybe a candidate will emerge who is sensitive enough to our social concerns, and if they have a blemished record, maybe they will be cogent enough to apologize, make amends, declare the wrongness of their former positions, and bright enough to move forward.

Maybe we, the voters, will be patient enough to let them.

Maybe not.

We the voters, seem to be in more of a mood to separate the wheat from chaff, set the latter on fore, at the risk of burning the party down.

Some of my friends would never condescend to even think of themselves as democrats, they lie to themselves and anyone who will listen, pretending that there is no difference between the Republicans and Democrats. They base this on the right observation that all politicians are corrupt, all politicians lie and all politicians compromise.

Because of their astute observations they tear at the base of progressivism and liberalism, by refusing to participate and encouraging other to do the same. They are small minded and they should be shamed.

Many many more of us are going to begin to take sides and choose candidates that they believe best articulate plans and policies for the way forward.

Policies and plans will not win us this election, they never have and they never will win anything. Even if the candidate with the best plans wins, those policies will not survive to become law, not in the way they were promised, not in the way they were conceived.

As Democrats, as progressives, as liberal thinkers know this, we have to stop demanding that people apologize for the past, and we have to stop pretending that a good policy initiative will win the day.

We have to put the best speaker, the most charismatic leader into the driver’s seat, and that person does not need to do much more than promise to beat trump, to unseat Mc Connel, to send Lindsay Graham home, to keep the house of representatives, to win back the senate and to control the redistricting process coming out of the next census.

We need a leader, people believe in leaders. Nothing less than a leader will win us the election, promises of health care reform will not win us the election, promises of student loan reform will not win us the election, promises of immigration reform will not win us the election, promises of criminal justice reform will not win us the election.

People want those things, I want those things, but we vote for people, not plans and policies.

Let’ put our energy behind the strongest person, and not tear the others down. Let’s keep the whole team in the game, and move the party forward to an electoral victory.

Anything short of that will be a disaster.

Cognitive Dissonance, A Reprisal – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
12.22.2018

Cognitive Dissonance, A Reprisal
Politics is a nasty business, and a foolish one.

My Democratic Party is poised to enter another cycle of self-destruction, another cycle of finger pointing and purity tests, of driving ideological wedges between constituencies, and internecine conflict.

One month after a solid victory in the House of Representatives, in state houses and gubernatorial seats across the nation, the first straw polls for the 2020 presidential election are coming in and the camps are dividing.

A friend of mine posted an article published by the Guardian, to his Facebook page, the article digs into the voting record of Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke, calling out his history of voting for Republican legislation, and asking the question; “Does he deserve our support?”

I trust the Guardian, it is a reputable news service. I don’t have an issue with the article, I do have an issue with the divisive headline.

Other reporters are sharing the news that, as Beto O’Rourke makes strong appearances in these early polls, the political machinery of the so-called progressive caucus, the “Bernie Bros” and others, are seeking to tarnish his luster.

They want to bring him down.

It is politics and I know that. It is the same old self-serving non-sense that drove deep wedges into the Democratic constituency in the last cycle. It is as if we did not learn anything.

The same gang of supposed super-liberals have already spent a lot of energy tearing down Corey Booker for some votes he took supporting pharmaceutical companies.

Duvall Patrick, of Massachusetts won’t even get into the race on account of his connections to Wall Street and private equity firms.

If these super idealogues have paid any attention to the reporting on the havoc Russia caused in the 2016 election, they would stop with the nonsense, and let the field sort itself out.

The Democratic Party needs a galvanizing candidate, someone capable of turning out the vote, of exciting the masses, we do not need to live through the tired old passion play of the Bernie Sanders acolytes, the Elizabeth Warren fanatics, the Joe Biden fans.

We don’t need a repeat of the Jill Stein betrayal, and that is exactly what these articles by the Guardian, the posting and the sharing and the sensationalizing of them is meant to do.

Let me be clear, I am not coming out for Beto O’Rourke, not at this stage in the game, but shame on anyone who is trying to tear him down this early in the process.

I would like to see what Jerry Brown plans to do in the 2020 race, and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and I want to hear more from Kamala Harris too.

My hope is this; wherever you fall on the spectrum of left wing politics; whether you are a wing nut or a corrupt-corporate-centrist, you are prepared to tell the world that anyone of our candidates, no matter how flawed they might be (and they are all deeply flawed individuals or they would not be in politics in the first place), no matter what their ideological issues are, they are better than that criminal currently occupying the Oval Office, as better than that white haired imp serving as Vice President, and better than anyone else the right wing could ever put on their ticket.

All Politics is Local – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
07.28.2018

All Politics is Local
The next general election is about one hundred days away.

Already the cracks are appearing between so-called traditional democrats and the so-called progressive wing.

Remember, all politics is local. What sells in the Bronx, may not sell in Branson. What passive for common sense in Minnesota, is different than Idaho, Colorado, Arizona.

All politics is local, Tip O’Niel said, former speaker of the house, local races will be won or lost on the ground.

Political activists and part time enthusiasts must be mindful of the stakes. It is vital that we take control of congress this year.

We must, we absolutely must put the brakes on the Trump agenda, investigate him, and take control of government through the power of the purse.

We must, we absolutely must hold on to this power through 2020, and expand it, because that is when redistricting occurs.

And we must win the white house at the same time.

In the modern era, in the twenty-four hour news cycle, we have a tendency to nationalize everything, we have to resist this temptation.

The liberal idealism of the progressive wing cannot become the standard by which we measure good politics. Neither can resistance to it become. We cannot afford to be isolated from one another, alienated from one another.

The future of the Democratic party is Urban, Intellectual, and Muti-racial, we cannot lose sight of that, but we need more than that, right now we need a super majority, in congress and in state houses across the country. We need to win those seats and we need to hold them, for more than a cycle or two.

We need to cooperate with one another to do that, because this bird ain’t gonna’ fly with broken wings.
I am not suggesting that we return to the mistakes of the past, where we pander to white working class men; un-educated, anti-intellectual, rural poor. That demographic is lost to the Democratic Party, and we do not want them back.

We want a super-majority in congress, to get that we must be respectful of one another, and be ready to compromise.

We have to be willing to argue for our ideals, without insisting on them. In the democratic caucus we have to practice the art of persuasion, not coercion, and we cannot be derisive of those who do not mark each and every box on the ideological checklist as we do.

Voting for HIllary, Part One – Editorial, The Week in Review – Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

01.30.2015

Voting for Hillary, Part One

I did a couple of things this week that I have never done before.

  1. I made a financial contribution to a political campaign.
  2. I committed to caucus for a candidate.

I took these steps in support of Hillary Clinton. I have been a vocal supporter of hers for many years, since I was first introduced to her, in her role as First Lady of the United States.

I favored the high profile role she played in the first Clinton administration. I was both disturbed and amused by the reaction the conservative talkers had toward her in those early years. Rush Limbaugh coined the term “feminazi,” in relation to her; in order to spread paranoia, and mistrust of her agenda, but not just of her agenda…they were afraid of her.

The conservative movement in American politics is afraid of women, of a woman’s independence, of a woman’s intelligence, and of a woman’s perspective on the world. This is not to overlook the fact that there are women in positions of leadership in the conservative movement, both in and apart from public office, but those women only succeed insofar as they are willing to undermine efforts to strengthen and support the role of women in our society, to undermine public policy in regards, to pay, health, privacy and self-determination.

In the twenty-four years since she became First Lady, through her eight years as Senator from New York, and her term as Secretary of State; those conservative talkers have relentlessly kept up their attacks on Hillary, and have succeeded in shaping the public perception of her in such a negative light, that the majority of the country sees her as “dishonest,” without being able to say exactly why (or exactly why she differs from any other politician for this quality). This is true even among those who support her candidacy for President of the United States.

I reject the efforts of conservative talkers to shape my view of this strong, intelligent, powerful, intellectual woman.

I support Hillary’s candidacy because I believe that she, and the team she will bring with her to the White House, have a better chance to advance the liberal and progressive vision for the future of our country than any other candidate. I believe she will protect the advances made by President Obama, and she will add to them. This belief is rooted in the notion that it requires more than talking points, more than speech making to enact the kinds of legislation that will be required to advance that vision. It requires a President that is not only willing to compromise, but able to do so in a manner that is adept.

On a more fundamental level I support her candidacy because I believe that it is time for a woman to hold the highest office in the land

Hillary is the right woman, at this time, to take on that burden.