Posts Tagged Elections
Read this: During this primary season I have had many conversations with friends and acquaintances regarding the Hillary vs Bernie dilemma. In many cases that individual will explain why they are supporting Hillary, while at the same time admitting that they actually support almost every policy position of Sanders. There are many rationalizations for this, but often the main ones seem to be: electability, the ability to get things done and of course the desire to have a woman in the White House. These are valid concerns and I try not to attack these justifications, because I have been there. I understand. After all, as part of this web site name suggests, I too am guilty. But I think these are like one side of a coin and wonder what could the other side look like. For me the time has come, if not well past, to stop that “safe” way and stubbornly strive for what is needed, really reach for the stars, because while we are being careful, safe and patient, the players on the other side have been aggressively subverting and eliminating any semblance of progress toward equality and fairness “We The People” had accomplished. And of course we can’t forget that other question: What are we leaving for future generations?
Rather than giving more of my argument on the Bernie vs Hillary debate I will point to someone else’s comments. Read the rest of this entry »
My thoughts: I have been a Bernie Sanders supporter from day one. I have to admit I was not real optomistic and that says more about me than Bernie. After all, I have been listening to him for years and have always been impressed. Whether it was seeing him give the speech I would like to have given on the Senate floor, seeing him bluntly say it like it is on some TV news show or listening to him on Thom Hartman’s weekly “Lunch With Bernie”, he has continually represented, the left, the powerless, the voiceless and most of all – ME. I feel he represent the real heart of democracy. I think this is what many of us liberals, progressives or whatever we call ourselves think as we watch Bernie’s campaign slowly gain momentum.
We are all wondering “could it really happen?” Talking with friends, most tend to cling to the predictions of the media. He won’t have enough, even if he gets in he wouldn’t be able accomplish anything, blah, blah, blah. I start to lose my cool and these conversations frustrates the @#&# out of me. When someone has cancer do we just say give up and die? Most people want to analyze politics like it is a business, or a sport or some other thing easily reduced to statistics and analytics. After an election this often appears to be true and with the massive influence of various streams of propaganda, often pushed by our major networks, it is amazing it ever varies from any predictable, statistical outcome. But the funny thing is, it sometimes does and often the really important changes happen like this. A recent example was the change nationally regarding marriage equality. That was never supposed to happen, or at least not for a long time, but it did and it happened very rapidly.
The article below from The Nation Magazine, by John Nichols recaps some recent victories by the Sanders campaign as he narrows the gap with Hillary Clinton. It is largely told from the positive perspective of the Sanders campaign and why not? The rest of the media sure ain’t gonna give that view. Really big and important changes probably don’t follow normal patterns. They kind of gain a life of their own and then “We The People” wake up a little bit and say “Yeah”, “That’s Right”, “Go”. We start to pay attention. We stop, watch and listen. Kind of like the little bird that perched on Bernie’s podium up in Washington the other night. I guess it heard something interesting and took a little listen – short though it was.
I sure hope that symbolism is valid and not lost on us as a nation.
Read this: So what is a “progressive” anyway? Today’s democratic primary has degraded into a fight over who is a progressive and who isn’t. What happened to discussions of needed social policy changes? I must admit my own idea of a progressive is probably a bit more populist than I sometimes realize. Most of us have some type of preconception and are often unaware of how off that may be. Like Hillary and Bernie, that doesn’t stop us from plodding forward with those misconceptions.
In the article below a The Nation Magazine team (Kim Phillips-Fein, Charles Postel, Robert Greene II and Michael Kazin) combine to explore the progressive debate between Hillary and Bernie, trying to put it in a more comprehensive perspective. Terms need to be reviewed occasionally and this may allow us all to clarify our understanding of “progressive” since it appears to be such a weapon in this presidential race. I for one am very happy it has become a focal point in many discussions. A group called the American Values Project worked hard to come up with a comprehensive definition of “progressive” that many different groups could agree on, called Progressive Thinking: A Synthesis of Progressive Values, Beliefs, and Positions. The second link below describes this in detail, but basically says: “As the handbook states, the central progressive message is one of fairness and equality:
Our approach is simple to summarize and is built upon the ideas of generations of progressives from Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Barack Obama: everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does his or her fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules. As progressives, we believe that everyone deserves a fair shot at a decent, fulfilling, and economically secure life. We believe that everyone should do his or her fair share to build this life through education and hard work and through active participation in public life. And we believe that everyone should play by the same set of rules with no special privileges for the well-connected or wealthy.
The Nation article’s authors describe “progressivism” as a complex group of movements, often with a common thread, but sometimes including movements (Jim Crow laws of the South) that many of us don’t like being associated with. Different times saw different causes and sometimes different groups were the primary players. ” Today, the term mostly offers a way of talking about left politics without using the word “liberal” (with its unpopular top-down connotations, and its history of critique by the right) or—even worse—the word left.” Sometimes key players included actions in their movements we find apauling today. “The presidencies of Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, showed why drawing boundaries around a Progressive tradition can be a hazardous undertaking. Roosevelt attacked the outsized role of corporate power, and called for a national system of health insurance and for pensions for retirees. Yet Roosevelt also had good friends on Wall Street, betrayed African Americans’ civil rights, and was an ardent imperialist and warmonger. Wilson presided over such watershed reforms as the income tax, the Federal Reserve Act, the direct election of senators, and the extension of suffrage to women. Yet Wilson was also a white supremacist who oversaw the segregation of government offices in Washington, and whose “war to make the world safe for democracy” did not accomplish its stated goal, to say the least.”
No, a static definition is not readily available and The Nation article gives many more examples. ” Both Sanders and Clinton have their Progressive Era heroes,” but where they actually fit is complicated. As evidenced by coverage of the Democratic primary and for some reason the south plays a very disproportional role in this. Michael Kazin sums things up for The Nation article like this (and I paraphrase here):
- “Hillary Clinton is best described as a liberal. Like liberals from Woodrow Wilson to Franklin Roosevelt to Lyndon Johnson, Clinton wants to use the federal government to improve the lives of the majority of Americans … What she really cares about is shrewd, effective governance … she wants the United States to be the dominant power in the world, so she doesn’t question the massive sums spent on the military and on the other branches of the national-security state.”
- “Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, is a leftist … resembling his hero, Eugene V. Debs—the Socialist who ran five quixotic races for president, the last time, in 1920, from a prison cell … identifying with ‘revolution’ (as a movement) … but Bernie really means it. He is perpetually on the attack against undue power and misused privilege, armed with an unvarnished class-conscious message that, until the emergence of Occupy Wall Street, had long been absent from the public square. He advocates policies he knows even a Congress controlled by Democrats would be quite unlikely to implement. Except for increasing aid to veterans, he seems cold toward every part of the military establishment.”
The positive thing that has happened in this primary is that both Democratic candidates are discussing “progressive” ideas and professing to be a “progressive” (whatever they may mean by that). Many of the right ideas (emphasizing fairness and equality) are being discussed and this hasn’t happened for a long time. Read the entire article for a better feel for the different perspectives presented.
Read this: Election after election we liberals / progressives frequently find ourselves “shaking …(our) heads in dismay as yet another mean-spirited red-state Republican manages to defeat the Democrat by essentially promising to make his own constituents’ lives more miserable. Afterwards we all intone the familiar refrain which boils down to ‘these people don’t know any better’.” Well the article linked below from The Daily KOS, by Dartagnan examines this specific dilemma and comes to conclusions that Democrats / liberals / progressives need to pay attention to. It seems the Republicans figured this out quite a while ago and have taken advantage.
Dartagnan cites Alec MacGillis, who covers politics for ProPublica, wondering the same thing, then ” took a tour through deep red America, asking the same questions”. This is what he found:
- “[T]he people who most rely on the safety-net programs secured by Democrats are, by and large, not voting against their own interests by electing Republicans. Rather, they are not voting, period.”
- “The people in these communities who are voting Republican in larger proportions are those who are a notch or two up the economic ladder …(a resentment) in part, a reaction against what they perceive, among those below them on the economic ladder, as a growing dependency on the safety net”
Read the whole article to get a much more complete idea. Seems we liberals need to really take note and find aways to expand a lightly taped potential base.
Watch these: Along with “a network of partners”, Say No to Big Money and People For the American Way have come up with an innovative way to allow citizens to express themselves regarding the Citizens United decision and other tactics which retard democracy in the United States. As their website says, they have created a
“‘$64,000 Democracy For All Video Challenge,’ a contest seeking to tap into the creative potential of Americans of all political stripes with short videos in support of a constitutional amendment to overturn cases like Citizens United and get big money out of politics. The goal is two-fold: to encourage activists and filmmakers, both brand-new and experienced, to create videos highlighting the need for money in politics reform, and to use those videos to inspire action in support of the Democracy For All Amendment.”
Judges for the $25,000 grand prize will be:
- Michael Moore: Academy Award winning documentarian
- Norman Lear: legendary television producer and cofounder of People For the American Way
- Kathleen Turner: advocate and Academy Award-nominated actress
- Dolores Huerta: civil rights activist and cofounder of United Farm Workers
- Kelly Nyks: award-winning documentary filmmaker
- Stacey Reiss: Emmy Award-winning television news producer
- Ginna Green: managing director for money in politics and fair courts at nonprofit communications firm ReThink Media.
Take a look at the films already submitted on the link below. I think you will enjoy many of them and it is interesting to see the perspective of individual creators. You might even want to get involved or make a donation.
| Sign the petition: This petition by The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (BoldProgressives.org) once again gives us a means to speak out to ensure that future president appointments protect citizens and not corporations. This is not legislation but a promise by presidential candidates. “Legislation is important. But our next president can significantly reform Wall Street — and restore accountability — by choosing the right people to appoint … What we need now is for presidential candidates to make crystal clear promises about specific government appointees and positions — and for them to make Wall Street reform and accountability central to their campaigns.” This petition is supported by Elizabeth Warrne, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Mark O’Malley. Please join other progressives by signing the petition.