Don’t Mourn, Organize!

I am as sad today as I have ever been about the state of our nation.  But luckily for me I am a student of history, and I recall the dying words of Joe Hill, an organizer from the early 20th century:

 “Don’t mourn, organize!”

Let his words carry you forward as we send these cretins packing.

Mobilized is a site dedicated to building the foundation for a better society.  One that is more fair to all life, human and otherwise.  And so we have made efforts to avoid politics and focus on offering solutions here.  Yet to build a proper foundation, one must always clear away obstacles and level the ground.  It’s sadly the case in the United States of America, and many other countries, that the ground is littered with pebbles, stones, and giant chunks of granite.  So it falls to me to take a moment to get out a backhoe, and work to remove the obstacles.  Which is why I am today taking on the bums who seek to destroy citizens rights to Privacy and Bodily Autonomy.
We saw them pervert the legal process to take away women’s rights and we know from their own words that they intend to do far more harm to the public.  Those goals, if enacted, would also prevent Mobilized from achieving any of its’ goals.  That’s why, with apologies, I am making this essay very, very partisan and nakedly political.

A couple of points to ponder –
  • I note that on Friday evening, I took lots of video footage of the protest rallies that erupted after Roe v. Wade was overturned unjustly.  One reel is simply 8 minutes of protestors marching.  At about 50 people for every 10 seconds, that rate indicates  thousands were in attendance.  There was, as well, a totally different rally at the Federal Courthouse… and one that had spontaneously closed Market St. before all 3 groups converged around 7pm.
  • I mention the crowd size to note – – that’s far larger than the size of the crowd that attacked the Capitol on 1-6-21 yet  not one personal went to jail yesterday. Non-violent civil disobedience works.
  • In contrast, some hate-filled bigot ran his monster truck into the protestors in Iowa yesterday.  The Christo-Fascists resort to violence as their first choice nowadays.  There is no need to stoop to their level.
So, reader, you are not alone.  Once again, America is under threat from Theocratic wannabe dictators, and once again we shall defeat them.
What to do?  Well the most obvious thing is to utterly defeat the GOP in the Senate and in the House.  Every one of us should be taking every extra bit of time and/or money we have and putting it towards that goal.  But that’s just one option.  Here I am compiling some stuff I wrote earlier:
FLOOD. THE. ZONE.
  • Biden can act, now: Send federalized government doctors to all 50 states to solely perform abortions.  Setup free clinics on Federal Lands in each Gilead-State.  Let the GQP howl and piss and tie the bastards up forcing them to file endless lawsuits.
  • The Congress can act, now: Pass the 49-years late codification of RvW into law.  At a minimum put these f**kers on record, force them to vote publicly.  End the filibuster and pass it anyhow.  Also pass Universal Healthcare, so that women could actually afford to have kids and not even need abortions.
  •  The DC administration can act, now: 38 states have ratified the ERA, it is a goddamn constitutional amendment already.  It solely needs the bureaucrats to do the final steps to make it a law.  The Congress has no role in that, cannot oppose it in any way because their role has been done for years.  The states finished ratifying it 2+ years ago, so the only hurdle remaining is recording it into the record.  Once complete, the entire argument of SCOTUS vanishes.
  •  States can act too: California Governor Newsom isn’t the only sane governor.  Expect more to step up to make access become easier.
  •  Pack the courts.  Add 8 more justices, for a total of 17: 13 to match the existing Judicial Districts, and 4 At-Large.  Fight tooth and nail to get them installed, don’t settle for anything less than 13 total.  We have for the entirety of our Republic had courts packed with right-wing reactionaries who only on occasion did the right thing by the public.  Enough of that, it’s time for a court that is not in thrall to the rich and powerful.  Our Democratic Experiment demands it.
  •  “Two can play at this game.”  If the government is going to deny the right of Privacy to 1/2 the population, it’s time for the other half to know how that feels.  Mandatory vasectomies for any male under 30 years old.  Viagra is banned, even by prescription, unless under direct visual in person supervision of a doctor.  The user is not allowed to choose the doctor.

 

 

It may be too pessimistic to call this week’s events the last hurrah for democracy or the idea of self-governance.  But it is surely the Democratic Party’s last chance to do something or face oblivion.  We have waited 50 years for them to be anything other than milquetoast water carriers for the rich and powerful.  They have talked a good game but have not delivered since the New Deal 8 decades ago.  So yes, this next year is make or break for them. It’s time to accomplish the reversal of this intrusion into the privacy of hundreds of millions of citizens – – and doing so will be the bare minimum required to protect the Republic.

We know from the history of Weimar Germany and other places that this nascent Theocratic power grab can evolve rapidly into full-on Fascism, and so it’s easy to feel like this is America’s last chance to stop them.  All I can do is point out that most likely it’s not. Several times before, we faced this threat and defeated it… starting with those hate-filled goons with belt buckles on their hats who infected the soil of Plymouth Rock centuries ago.  The Declaration of Independence and our Constitution repudiated their delusions, just as all of England and Europe had done when they booted them in the first place.  The fact that 6 partisan hacks on the SCOTUS share those delusions is unfortunate, but it’s not one that cannot be overcome.  In very short order, we may well be exiling these Neo-Pilgrim goons too.

Now I’m passing the pen over to a dear friend, who can put this moment in a deeper context.  They are a lesbian who has been involved in this fight since the early 1980’s. “…let’s be clear, the white European heteronormative patriarchy is just doing what they do best…making their issues the problem of the oppressed.  Like racism, which they’ve made the problem of POCs, women having unregulated pleasure is a man’s problem and we should be targeting their reproductive “rights”.  But as someone who has never fit in for any number of reasons, I know for every one of them, there’s two of me and if you’re lucky, you can survive together while just being careful – of where you go and what you reveal.  Privacy is not a right, it’s a craft.” – anonymous commenter

So, it’s time to get in the streets, to gum up the works, and to force change via non-violent civil disobedience.  I’ve already begun, you know, because I went down to the demonstration, to get my fair share of abuse….

 

The Will Of The People

“With charity for none and malice for all.”

Those would have to be the words Abraham Lincoln would use, revising his timeless 2nd inaugural speech to describe what has become of the Republican party he helped to establish.

The will of the people, that’s what the VOTE is.  The more people that vote, the more participation exists in a democracy and as a result, the outcome more accurately reflects the will of the people.  It’s elementary and there’s ample evidence that Republican politicians understand that fully.

The one true utterance to flow from the foul mouth of Donald Trump is this: “Republicans would never be elected if it was easier to vote.” Oops, as they say… “from the mouth of babes.”

In fact, as far back as 1980 Paul Weyrich, an influential conservative Republican, observed, “I don’t want everybody to vote. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.” Justin Clark, a top Trump election adviser knew this, quoted admitting  to influential Republicans in Wisconsin that the party has “traditionally” relied on voter suppression to compete in battleground states.  ‘Nuff said.

Intent is actually so easy to establish. Democratic legislation, such as Hr1 protects voting rights and makes it easier to vote.  Just read it.  Republicans on the other hand are obsessed with “election security” a thinly veiled “1984-speak” describing their numerous offerings, over 200 newly-proposed laws by Republican controlled state legislatures restricting voting rights in their home states.  Here’s a riddle for you.  What does bottled water have to do with election security?  The obvious answer is nothing, but to Republican politicians in Georgia, it is everything.   They have proposed to make it illegal to hand bottled water to voters waiting in long lines at the polls to vote.  Now you have to ask, “just what kind of monster would deny voting American citizens water?”  Georgia Republicans, obviously.

What’s so amazing about the time we live in is that even in our wildest imagination could any of us have guessed that it would get any worse, expecting that we had seen it all and there were no dark surprises remaining. But alas, not to be.  After January 6th it seemed we had bottomed out, but let’s not be fooled.  It’s just the set-up for chapter two.

If Republicans support free and fair elections, then why is it that in Oklahoma and Arizona pending GOP legislation would allow the state to cut voters out of the process entirely and allow their state legislature to appoint the electors? Is this the Republican version of a Democracy with ultimate election security?  “Leave it to us to tell you what you want.”

I think Republican politicians have watched too many reruns of “Father Knows Best,” which we may never see again given its patriarchal bent, but I am quite sure exists in a secret Republican underground cave used to store such national treasures, that they might gain ancient knowledge from the “wise ones” regarding the family values they lost sight of so very long ago.

So I’ll leave you with what might be the very last intelligent words of a certified Republican. I doubt that any of these fools have read it recently, lest a wave of shame overcome them.

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”

Abraham Lincoln, March 4, 1865

Everyone has a plan

What They’re Saying:

“Everyone has a plan; until they get punched in the face.” – Mike Tyson.

The Big Picture:

Yet these treason weasels (and the police enablers who literally let them into the Capitol) building had no plan.

They had no plan.  They had only rage.  Inchoate rage.  And they were used as patsys by Donald Trump and his henchmen.  It is they who will now be crucified, while likely the true ringleaders might escape scot-free.

Oh sure, they had evil intents: we know that some had hefty weapons, handcuffs, etc… so if possible they surely would have taken hostages and killed a few.  But that’s not a plan, that’s wish-fulfillment.

For The Record:

Let’s talk about hostages, and rage, and such matters.  I do not often discuss the fact that as a 10 year old boy my family and I were forced to flee the city of Isfahan, Iran because the revolution came to our city.  Am from small-town Ohio, but we were there due to my father’s job-posting.

I saw inchoate rage, up close and personal.  In hindsight, I now know we left at a time when things had not yet gotten ‘very bad’.  Even so, there was chaos, people being shot down like dogs in the street, massive throngs of people battling overmatched cops.  You might say that it made a lasting impression on me, that day when I realized that every single thing I took for granted was instantly gone.  School teachers were suddenly powerless.  Parents and other grownups too were removed from their perch of authority and forced to become like everyone else: a scared little mortal running for their lives.  The vehicle we escaped in was just our plain old ordinary school bus, but someone had clumsily and hastily ‘up-armored’ it with sheet metal and slits for windows.  As an adult, I look back and realize that A) that effort was probably totally useless, and B) I guess I lived out “Mad Max”; a few years early.

Back to the present moment: on Jan. 6th my reaction was not surprise, not fear, it was “Oh; not this sh** again…..”  You see, the vast majority of Revolutionaries in late 1970’s Iran did not in any way desire for a theocratic government, led by sociopathic bearded old dudes in robes.  Far from it – they were trying to toss out an evil tyrant, and get themselves some democracy.  And so they spread rage, and rage was a useful tool to bring down the ‘old guard’.  Eventually hostages were taken at the US Embassy, and you likely know that the crisis took more than a year to get peacefully resolved.

For most Americans, the story ends right there.  Put a bow on it, our folks came home.  But go do some reading, because of course the story wasn’t over back in Iran.  Almost without exception, the leaders of the revolution who sought justice and democracy were very surprised to find themselves put up against a wall and shot by the Ayatollahs, the folks who swept in at the end and hijacked the entire revolution.  Those b*stards are still in power, much to the dismay of the general population.  The point: All those folks who used Rage as a tool were patsys.  Useful idiots, and expendable.

So it is with the “Meal Team Six” traitors who tried their hardest to prevent the peaceful transition of power.  Only because they were so stupid and inept did they fail.  Only because they never had a plan.  Not because our vaunted military was on the job.  Not because our President was feeling especially bound by his oath of office that day.  Now, once again, as with the common folks in Iran who got ground into dust, as with Lee Harvey Oswald, as with Lenin and Stalin’s many victims, and so many other useful idiots over the past few thousand years, they are chum in the water, so that the real instigators can go merrily on.

Not this time.  We have a constitution, it was damn near gang-raped this week.  It’s time for the true ringleaders to pay.  We know their names, we know their addresses.  One, obviously, resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.  Start there.

Your musical selection this week was a toughie.  No surprise, eh?  Runner up was Black Sabbath’s “The Mob Rules”; but in the end, we have to hand this one to the hippies.  Because, ‘we’d all like to see the plan’


#childrenofliberty
“Ceterum censeo, delenda est Trumpo” (In conclusion, Trump must be removed.)

Table Stakes (And the Big Picture)

The Big Picture:  So many obstacles exist to true progress that most days many activists I know want to bang their head against a wall, or give up, or worse.  But it’s not so bad as all that, and in fact we have some advantages that were not even options for change-makers of generations ago.  Let’s begin by running some ‘cocktail napkin’ numbers, to make sense of the last few months in politics.

  • There are at least 330 million Americans right now.  Of those, ⅔ were able to vote in 2020.  That’s @218 million potential voters.
  • We had @144 million actual voters in the 2020 fall election.
  • Of those voters, @72 million chose Trump.
  • So here’s the real math: 2/3 of the total population of America can vote.  Of those, only 2/3 did vote in 2020.  Of those, 1/2 voted for Trump.  So that’s actually only about 20% of the whole who support him and his nefarious views.  That makes our job far easier – there are not nearly as many ‘hearts and minds’ we need to reach in this nation, as it may appear on the surface. 

For the Record: As noted in previous essays, there are always obstacles, and there are never enough dedicated folks, seemingly, to get the job done.  Yet over and over throughout the last 15,000 years, change has come to societies and the long arc has actually been in a direction of more justice, more fairness, and less oppression.  So clearly we simply need to keep on doing our work, and fret less about the long term.

Our mass media has done a bang-up job of making nearly everyone feel isolated, powerless, and flawed.  These are of course lies, and you should go right ahead and ignore the mass media.  The problems we face are merely the ‘table stakes’, and we can surely play our hand into a winning one.  We surely do NOT have to overcome half of the entire population wanting to calcify society as it was in the 1950’s.  Far from it.  But don’t take it from me, let’s go to one of our great recent philosophers…

What they’re saying: “One of the basic ideas of our culture is that people are fundamentally no good, that people are greedy, cruel, and vicious to the core: That is our nature, so get used to if, folks.  Get as much as you can, then get really good locks for your doors.  

I want to change that basic attitude.  Not only is the world a sacred place, but we belong in it.  We’re not alien monsters here.  We should stop perceiving ourselves in that way and begin to reevaluate our place in the greater community.  The view of this culture is that we are vicious beings, but still infinitely better than every other creature on this planet.  They are worthless beings we can kill off at will. 

I’m proposing that we all belong to a community of life.  We are no better or worse than other creatures.  We have to begin to think of ourselves as members of the world community, rather than as rulers of the planet.” – Daniel Quinn, interviewed by W. Bradford Swift in The Sun Magazine, December 1997 

Next steps: There is a shift coming.  I once thought it would be in a far distant future, but now I see that folks are agitating for it in nearly every city on the planet.  Reactionary leaders, cowed by fear and distaste for sharing their imaginary power, are doing rather a lot to crush / co-opt / belittle these forces.  That’s a pity but also should be encouraging to you – the fact that they can no longer ignore these efforts is in itself a telling victory for the progressives.  The shift can happen soon, within a generation or less, if we press our advantage. 

 


Go deeper: links and sources

Elsewhere on this site, I have posted many book reviews and other links, naturally I encourage you to study them in your free time.  

I do get a bit of heat since most of those recommendations are from the 20th century.  Well in fact I do keep current, it’s merely that I’m trying to work in order, and there is much to share.  However, this book is allowed to jump the line: Soft Landing, by Don Shepherd.  (2020, published by SaveTheWorld, Inc.)

Soft Landing lays out 3 major ways we can tell when the shift will have truly occurred – If we have succeeded in providing for the basic needs of every person on the planet, if we have stopped cutting down our forests and destroying the planet’s ecosystems, and if we have reversed our polluting ways.  In clear and amiable ways, he goes into some detail for doing so.  As well, (much ignored but crucial to overcoming our obstacles), the last ⅓ of the book goes into the current mess of our planet-wide financial system, and how we can ‘un-rig’ it in a reasonable time frame.  I do believe it is as if this fellow read his Quinn, Derrick Jensen and his Naomi Klein texts, and tried mightily to synthesize a readable and accessible version that won’t scare away the curious and the motivated-but-uneducated.  In that, I feel he has succeeded.  

And if you will indulge me, here’s another from that distant time of 2001… After Dachau by Daniel Quinn, (Context Books).  Since I quoted him above, it seems okay to mention one of his fiction tales.  In it, we see how life would be if society had indeed calcified in about 1956, and also no other cultures were allowed to exist.  Spoiler alert – it’s not pretty.  Also, it doesn’t get to be the last word.  As he always did in his fiction and non fiction works, the seeds of hope sprouted against the greatest odds.  We too, are about to see those seeds sprouting.  

Finally, we go out on a high note: the incomparable singer John McCutcheon and his story song “Well may the world go.”  Enjoy.  

“It’s not about eliminating anyone, it’s about welcoming people in!”

 

Sabotaging Democracy

Donald Trump once said, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” Of course that precludes that the target of his marksmanship was not a Republican.  Today, as all of 5th Avenue boards its windows in advance of the election results, it might be more correct to say, “I could shoot-up 5th Avenue and not lose any voters.”

It cannot be ignored that the hateful utterances of Donald Trump have gutted the once proud Republican party and turned them into impotent hypocrites willing to destroy the very fabric of democracy rooted in free and fair elections.  What started decades ago as political  “dirty tricks” has devolved into a barrage of attempts to suppress the Democratic vote through work-arounds, quasi-legal means, and unintended loopholes in states’ legislation that was not designed to protect the rights of voting citizens but merely to organize election procedures. The Trump administration and his zealot apostles in state government have thrown everything into the mix to suppress the vote, up to and including hindering the ability of the Postal Service to deliver the mail (read ballots) in a timely manner and the elimination of ballot boxes to deposit mail-in ballots.  Nothing could be more obvious.  We all know this to be true, even the most hard-hearted Republicans.

But the magnitude of their hate can only be measured by the infection they have openly spread, as manifested by Trump’s base proudly participating in their movement to thwart democracy at any cost.  When a roving band of vigilante vehicles adorned in Trump flags, surrounds a Biden campaign bus, forcing it to abort campaign  rallies and appearances; When fleets of vehicles jam highways, surface roads and bridges bringing traffic to a halt, it cannot be seen as a show of strength but rather, it betrays their weakness, a loss of confidence in their bully leader to win an election on merit rather than by sabotaging the system.

 

 

 

 

Singing to the Choir

Some forty-five years ago, I was newly married and welcomed into my new, extended family. Not long after that over dinner with the family, I was witness to a remarkable conversation. I listened in disbelief as a surprising story unfolded. Purported to be a story of faith, it was told by an intelligent young woman who had recently emerged as deeply religious in a fundamentalist sort of way, devoted to Jesus and strictly dogmatized by a literal interpretation of the Bible.
 
She told of a day when she was running very late for work. Driving on busy Chicago streets, there were many intersections between her house and her job, all with traffic lights. Realizing that she would never make it on time if she stopped for each of the red lights, she decided to do the only thing that might remedy her problem–run all the lights from home to work. She reasoned that Jesus would protect her. It was a matter of faith. So, as she approached each traffic light she recited a short prayer and without looking left or right, drove at full speed through the intersection. She repeated this process at every intersection until she arrive safely at her jobsite. Relishing her success, having proven her faith as she did not arrive late, she enthusiastically told the story to the family whose embarrassed laughter at her folly filled the room. It never occurred to her that she had put the lives of others in extreme danger, that at any moment she could end the lives of mothers and children on the way to day-care, or seniors on the way to the doctor, or young college grads on their way to their first job, innocents all, unaware of her distorted belief system and false sense of priorities. Let us not confuse faith with a belief system.
 
In the age of the Corona-virus, as the United States reports over 50,000 new infections each day, a daily total more than the Wuhan province total for the entire pandemic period, the evidence of our collective folly should be sufficiently apparent. Too many people have ignored the restrictions imposed or recommended, and prioritized their personal objectives over regard for the safety of others. They refuse to wear a mask. They ignore lockdowns. They do not observe social distancing. Governors of states such as Florida and many of the Southern States, have opened up their states too early and have allowed large congregations of people to assemble with dire consequences. In one instance a Texas choir of one hundred people singing to Mike Pence had one Covid-19 infected member singing with them. That one instance proved severely disastrous as it spread that infection to 87 others in the choir. At Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Herman Cain, approximately the same age as the Donald, was infected. A person of his age has a 20% chance of dying from the infection. Whose folly will it be to tell this story enthusiastically? A battle for lives of innocents has deteriorated into a political struggle for the minds of the faithful, the uninformed and misinformed 40% who will determine how we all will live the next four years, that is, if we live at all.
 
The virus has created a unique political pendulum regarding the coming election. Margins in states like Florida are so thin that Trump cannot afford to lose any support, yet his lack of an effective policy regarding the pandemic is culling Republican voters form the Florida rolls by converting them to deceased statistics. And the same can be said of Texas, Arizona, Alaska, and many other “Red” states. Red both on political and pandemic maps, his lack of policy is thinning living voters, particularly the virus susceptible seniors who have blindly supported him. Not so smart, Donald.
 
On the other hand, the GOP slather at the possibility that the virus will affect Democratic voter turnout, with long lines and fear of contagion. To amplify this problem, they have attacked mail-in ballots and even gone so far as to try and defund the post-office, so as to put the assassin’s double-tapped headshot into the body of the Democratic voter. Is this what freedom looks like today?
 
It’s clear what we have to do. Let’s get to it.

Referendum

I’m not a very good Quaker.

I’m just not.  Partly it’s because I became an atheist; and partly because I firmly believe that there is a time and place for everything under the sun.  I have been a constant disappointment to those who tried to instill their pacifist beliefs in me.

Well, most of those beliefs.  I still believe in fairness, in equality, and work to use peace over violence whenever possible.  And I sure do believe in the Quaker tradition of Shunning those who have acted poorly.  In that tradition folks who act far outside of the cultural norms are told by the members that they’ll be ignored until they changed their ways.  It’s quiet, effective, and pretty much unstoppable when done right.  No one alive wants to feel cut off and alone.  It has a centuries-old success rate for getting ‘bad actors’ to rethink what they are doing and improve their position in communities.  So to those who are calling out and publicly shaming the accomplices and apologists for the Fascist Trump regime, I say “right on”.

The devil is in the details.  There’s no need to use violence, in fact it’s usually counter-productive.  And shouting is a form of violence.  So when you see one of these bootlickers, all you need do is stand up, speak your peace, and turn your back on them.  If enough folks around you do this, they’ll be gone with all due haste.  They will get the message, and have no ‘ammunition’ to use against you later.  You can take the moral high ground AND get them to change their ways.

We who believe that this nation is meant to be a nation of immigrants are Liberty’s Children.  And while have been largely silent until recently, we vastly outnumber those who use bigotry and hatred.  It is now time to stand up, speak out, and turn away from these cretins.

All cruelty springs from weakness” – Seneca

Force is the weapon of the weak.  It should be avoided.  Right now Trump and his henchmen are succumbing to protests and shaming – the border separation outcry proved that.  Those tactics work.  Yet the day may come when, (like in World War II), these neo-Nazis will prove that they only respond to force.  In my darker moments I fear that day will come in months, not years.  That day may also be when all you ‘2nd Amendment’ folks will finally do what you’ve promised: stand up and defend the Republic from tyranny.  Why on earth the decades long suppression of votes, the locking children in cages, and the ongoing looting of our treasury haven’t inspired you to act yet is a mystery to me, but we’ll save that discussion for another day.

America was founded to be a beacon against unchecked power.  We haven’t always lived up to that ideal, but it’s been the core of our beliefs since 1776.  Our nation is under attack, daily, from a mostly incompetent but wholly evil and well funded oligarchy.  Now is the time to oppose them, by making their lives miserable and speaking out wherever you encounter them; while you still have a voice.
Register to vote.  Verify your registration.  Make damn sure that you get at least 5 others registered to vote before November.  Find the time to precinct-walk for a candidate near you.  Do more.

Get up, stand up, vote.

Punish the treasonous GOP – vote them out from every office in the land.  It no longer matters who’s emails got hacked, or which plan for the economy is best.  There is only one question on the ballot: will we still have a representative democracy or not?  And the GOP has made it clear beyond measure they stand only for the rich and the bigots.  They presently stand against the founding principles that so many have died to protect.
Your answer must be to vote them out, everywhere.  So that we can still BE debating these things in a generation.  Now is the time for all good people to protect our home, our nation, our Republic.
You are a Child of Liberty. You know what to do.
#childrenofliberty

You Know You Like Vanilla

 
The media is all lit up this morning, on fire about Jill Biden’s support for husband Joe who has widened his lead in the polls to double digits. He’s pounding the “ I can beat Trump drum,” as if how to win the next election is a binary choice. It’s so much more than that.
 
The trouble is that current polling asks the wrong question, “what is more important? A candidate that can beat Trump, or a candidate whose policies agree with my own?” Asked this way, the answer will always be a candidate that can beat Trump. If I was asked this question, I would answer the same way, but I will nevertheless surely vote for the candidate whose ideas and policies most align with my own. Let’s not forget that in recent head to head polls involving the top Dems vs. Trump, every one of them beats Trump with a significant margin.
 
The trouble is that the Democratic primary is the Baskin Robins of elections. Too many flavors, all good, all satisfying. Do I try the black raspberry chocolate chip or the sea salt caramel or just play it safe with vanilla? I wish they maybe had vanilla bean, but all they offer is plain vanilla. I know I’ll like that. I’ve had it before, but is it what I crave, same old, same old?
 
Democracy is like a successful marriage. Decisions are made along the lines of the lowest common denominator that places security over risk. Should we put our money in savings where we get a 2% return, or take a risk in the stock market where we might see a 20% return? What we seek may not be what is best for us, but what we can agree on. What we are seeking in a primary election is not the best candidate or the best policies but to identify our lowest common denominator. We all want so much more, but we are being asked to settle for what we believe we can get. “You can’t always get what you want, but you get what you need.” So goes the refrain of the Rolling Stones song of the same title. Trouble is, Biden is not what I want or what I need.
 

The Biden Factor Part 3, The Barometer Rises

Photo by Jeff Roberson

The first polls are in on Biden’s effect on the Democratic lineup since he announced his candidacy. Not unexpected, he has risen to a whopping 39%.  Impressive, but as I said in my previous blog, this should be taken only as a barometer of the electorate’s thirst for Trump blood.

 

Oh sure, there are other factors pro and con to consider: a positive association with all that is good about the Obama administration, against a voting record in the senate that Bernie has rightly highlighted as being on the wrong side of history, but neither accounts for the 39% popularity poll in the face of the wave of progressive candidates with exciting policy proposals.

 

Over time we will see this polling blip fade away, as Biden draws fire away from the other candidates and weathers the full assault of Trump’s wrath. Speaking on Bill Maher’s Realtime HBO show, John Avlon aptly quoted an old Joke… “what’s the difference between a liberal and a cannibal? Cannibals don’t eat their own.”  Obama highlights one dimension to this potential problem referring to the “circular firing squad,”  but he’s referring to the candidates themselves not the electorate who easily tires and shifts allegiance. To be sure Democrats will rally around whoever emerges the winner, but Biden poses a problem for the voters, who while they have a strong taste for Trump blood have moved away from middle-of-the-road, tepid policies and demand substantial progressive change, bold action,  not just a new figurehead.  Got’ta love Biden, but we may find him to be a divider like Hillary was. Progressives don’t want a corporatist and Biden’s support of the credit card companies located in Delaware, home of his Senatorial seat, will not bode well in the end for him while his limp, half-hearted telephone apology to Anita hill still rings like a cracked bell for women and minorities.

 

Bernie supporters will not give up.  We all wanted a woman president in 2016, but Hillary was a flawed candidate and Elizabeth Warren knew better than to divide the vote by tossing herself in the ring. Bernie could have won, should have won, so if not now, when?  A Bernie/Warren ticket or a Warren/Bernie ticket is a show stopper. Think about it.

 

Party Alignment In Today’s Swamp

 

Many years ago, I had the good fortune to spend some significant time in the Atchafalaya Swamp in Louisiana.  As anyone who has ever visited the swamp can tell you, it is a thing of immense beauty, and therein lies its danger. The swamp is a delicate ecosystem and is home to many varieties of interdependent species.  Beneath the surface reflections of the deep-rooted cypress trees on the glistening swamp waters lurk venomous snakes and hungry alligators, while gliding effortlessly above are elegant heron and a variety of migratory birds.

Now as I look around at our political swamp, I am beginning to see something unusual just beneath the surface reflections that distract and obstruct a clear view of the depths below.  It’s an early sign as campaign season begins, but it’s a telling one, and while there are not enough samples to determine if this is a national trend, I am sure it means something significant.

Two candidates in Ohio are running campaign ads devoid of party affiliation.  Aftab Pureval, the 35-year-old Democratic Party candidate for Congress, and Mike Dewine, the seasoned Republican candidate for Governor, are each running ads that address their performance in past official positions rather than align themselves with the strategy of their parties. Furthermore, nowhere in these spots is there any identification with their respective parties, not one spoken word, not a single graphic, text or reference. They are each running a campaign based on their own merits hoping to break free from the current political climate and avoid the Trump factor, the most uncertain and divisive element in polling today’s voters.

Republican reaction to Trump is as unpredictable as the path of a hurricane.  Even in “Red States” candidates are uncertain as to whether to align with Trump or not.  His endorsement could mean a solid victory or spell a certain death, such is his influence. On the Democratic side, party leadership fears a potential voter backlash for attacking Trump and are walking on the eggshells of his broken administration, avoiding the obvious corruption and misdeeds lest they be forced to defend their position that the quacking duck is indeed a duck.

It would be too easy to view these departures from party line as cowardly, but in truth, even their respective parties have no clear party line. No, rather I see their strategy as an act of pragmatic independence and political courage, each standing on their own merits. You don’t have to reach deep into the shallow swamp to find mud to throw.  That candidates should choose to stay close to the surface is a commendable lesson, even if it is the only one that even by default makes any sense.

 

 

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