Cynical partisan politics threatens more than just democracy

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Mitch McConnell

Don’t mistake the GOP leadership’s desire to replace their more controversial politicians for an ethical desire to change the GOP’s direction. It’s nothing more than a face-lift, a cynical effort to replace those whose public comments, and behavior exposed their ideology for what it is. If you need more proof of this, add in their decision to cancel the GOP presidential primary, thus making President Donald Trump the nominee by fiat.

It’s more important to grasp the context though. They acknowledge through this that the presidency is just icing on the cake, because the real power in government is control of Congress, specifically control of the Senate—as the framers of the Constitution intended.

Cynical partisan politics on the part of Republicans has however defeated the intent of the framers solely for the sake of partisan advantage. Virtually everything the Republicans in Congress have done—and most notably the Senate—over the last decade has been done to secure their grasp on power. Mitch McConnell said as much in his speech to the Heritage Foundation on the eve of the 2010 midterm elections.

President Barack Obama succeeded in winning a second term, and managed to shepherd the affairs of the United States, and its economic recovery from the Great Recession despite Republican congressional hegemony through most of his two terms. What can only be imagined is how much might have been accomplished if the country had a Congress that was willing to work with “the executive”—as the framers of the Constitution would have referred to the office of President in the debates.

Nor has the evidence of possible criminality, and blatant unsuitability for office Trump exhibits daily moved the Senate leadership to accept that impeachment and removal from office is called for. The most revealing aspect of GOP cynicism is the fact that the party leadership is seeking only to replace incumbent candidates whose political missteps are paltry when compared to Trump’s.

Even if we can get past the cynical trope of money as the sole motive, and accept that Republicans just believe themselves to have a superior vision of what is best for the nation, their imperious motive for manipulating the body politic becomes no less insidious. This characterization becomes more than an abstract context in view of the failures of their ideologically driven policy in every aspect of American life from economic policy to social issues.

The GOP seeks to limit so many individual rights, from denying voting rights to minorities, dictating life choices for women, and the LGBTQ community to insulating corporations from accountability for the injury they cause. Their economic policies have never produced what they claimed they would. Despite ages old conservative opposition to tariffs—and liberals for that matter—congressional Republicans have failed to come out against Trump’s disastrous trade wars. Need the on-going GOP push to deny millions of people the health care they enjoy under the Affordable Care Act without so much as a proposed substitute even being mentioned.

Then there’s the all but inexplicable adulation and political support of the Christian right for someone whose life, and conduct as President proves itself daily to be the antithesis of their claim of faith—support that can only rest in Trump’s promise to pack the Courts and Supreme Court of the United States with judges that will overturn Roe v. Wade.

When addressing the failure of Republican ideology, mention should also include the obstacles they create to policy that addresses climate change, despite public recognition of the urgency in addressing the threats it poses.

At best, the accomplishment of conservative ideology is summed up as a phalanx of limits placed on individuals that resulted in income inequality, and political disempowerment. This observation is outlined in advance of a vision of what progressive policy could attain in Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz’ new book, People, Power and Profits. While this book dispels the trope of a fundamental moral failure of capitalism—instead of its malleability in the hands of unscrupulous barons—the left has yet accepted that understanding, and its companion political implications.

This is the political right’s agenda, political dominance. It’s dominance that empowers the pursuit of the vision they allude to be for the public good—through the pursuit of policy that has succeeded only in income inequality, and loss of political power since before the Industrial Revolution. Only the titles of the barons have changed. Dominance remains the motive.

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Politics, the Internet and cynicism: A recipe for failure

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LBJ on liberalsPolitics is complicated. Angst coupled with limited understanding of facts produces a textbook Dunning-Kruger effect that likely explains most of the all but incomprehensibly flawed opinion expressed in online forums. The all but certain explanation for this dynamic impedes the advancement of progressive policy lies in the same reasons that the United States falls behind some third world countries in math, and science.

The Internet feeds that dynamic by creating a sense of being informed. We can learn about events—virtually as they happen—and that wellspring of information gives people a sense of being informed. We know for a fact, in example, that President Obama had an all-of-the-above energy policy, and made Ernst Moniz—a nuclear scientist heavily invested in fracking—his energy secretary to carry out his policy. What his critics seem unaware of is how it actually worked out, and the State Department’s approval of the Keystone pipeline—before reversing the decision—added to the confusion.

What Obama’s critics don’t seem to grasp is how policy actually played out. He was a pragmatist, and understood that transitioning to renewable energy is as subject to physical realities—market forces, economic factors, and politics—as virtually any issue. Knowing the facts related to his policy statement, can provide the missing context in the criticism.

No new nukes were approved during Obama’s eight years, and only one update for an existing plant was approved. Coal was already on its way out, and the two new (clean) coal plants that were approved were never built. Few of the environmentalists who jumped to criticize him appear to have noticed that his Solyndra fiasco was a risky effort to start the ball rolling for renewables. With that knowledge, his all-inclusive State of the Union addresses should probably be understood to be an acknowledgment of the complex problems posed by transition to renewable energy that also served to keep the political right off of his back.

The point is that knowing facts is not the same as understanding them, and their primary value is their use in contradiction of misstatements of fact. That’s where the Dunning-Kreuger effect comes in. It can take years of post graduate study to be able to deconstruct events and make sense of them. Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street (WS) connection is another. The one and only WS contributor to her campaign was a perennial Democratic Party supporter that also contributed to Elizabeth Warren, and lobbies for WS reform. But they are WS, and that’s all that mattered to Clinton’s critics in 2016. And don’t forget she was married to that horrible centrist Bill Clinton, and supported his policies during his service as President.

And it’s not just limited insight on the part of online activity, and campaign tactics used to inflame that activity by Clinton’s opposition. Slate, CommonDreams, Truthout and other cynical online media entities published volumes of “exposés” filled with fact to support their cynical outlook, and Russia’s role was no more than that of a co-star in the drama. It was not just the Russians. The cast of characters included Glenn Greenwald, and dozens of other cynics who offered no real insight to the complexities of politics through which to process their facts.

The “facts” thus impeded advancement of progressive policy through presentation of acontextual fact, and thus fed the the impressions of Democratic voters, many of whom reacted with cynicism. Joe Manchin provides one of the most striking examples of the effect facts without political context has on public opinion.

First, can anyone imagine Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders winning a Senate seat in West Virginia? If you can, you need to stop smoking whatever it is you may be smoking. Manchin wins because he behaves, and tells his constituents what he feels he must to retain their support, and his value goes beyond any vote he casts. Not only does he vote the liberal line on social issues, scientific, and most others, his value lies in just being a Democratic Party member. In this capacity, he is an invaluable asset to the progressive left.

Just consider the math for a moment, and it should be clear how badly it hurt to lose our other red state Senators, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, in 2018. While every Senate seat the Democrats hold is precious, his critics lack the understanding that seats in Red States are invaluable. If for some strange reason, someone left of him could primary him, the GOP would take the seat. By the way, Warren and Sanders also tell their voters what they want to hear, whether their vision can be fulfilled or not.That’s the politics of electioneering.

Nor should we hate Manchin for voting to confirm Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, in part because his was not the deciding vote in either case. It was just something he felt he had to do to keep his seat. Moreover, he no longer supports the coal industry as he has in the past, and is working hard to revive West Virginia’s economic collapse resulting from its colonial-like dependence on a single industry.

One more reflection on politics is needed here. Most people alive today did not live through the partisan political shift that began with the 1964 Civil Rights Act. While, in the mid ’60s, it was not unreasonable to say all politicians were alike, the exodus from the Democrats to the GOP behind Strom Thurmon changed all of that by the end of the 1980s.

The two parties are polar opposites now, and lack of the contextual relevance of the shift is overshadowed by the acontextual “facts” voters read online. Their cynical impatience with the slow advance of progressive policy never considers the quarter century of Republican Party hegemony—over all but two years in the last quarter century—due in large part to the prevalence of cynicism on the left. Moreover, expression of their cynical, acontextual understanding of politics assured the GOP’s total hegemony over Congress for half of that quarter century, empowering them to block Obama’s effectiveness for six of his eight years.

Politics is complicated, far too complicated for a Democracy whose participants cynically embrace simplistic tropes without the depth of their political context. A fair analog would be to say that politics is a sinkhole that too many people perceive as a puddle, and stepping into it will drown their dreams of a progressive future.

The peril ahead

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Pelosi v trumpThink for a moment about how perilous, and fraught with obstacles our political system is. You need not get too deeply into your thoughts to know peril and obstacles await.

What is puzzling is whether those who demand that Donald Trump be impeached now have ever taken pause to consider the perils and obstacles. If so, are they indifferent to the futility, or have they just not fully thought it through? Then again, maybe they just don’t care.

The small disadvantage people have to consider first is that Pence will be the next president when Trump is impeached, tried in the Senate, and expelled from office. An added possibility to this is Pence would have enough time to demonstrate his presidential get-er-doneness. I doubt that any of that is a real consideration for Nancy Pelosi’s stewardship of the issue though.

The part of that which is a real problem—because it opens a host of other problems—is the part about “tried in the Senate.” The “host of other problems” mentioned here begin with the part about “popular support” Speaker Peolsi mentions now and again, and she will likely mention it again, because it’s a critical political consideration.

Now, it would be to everyone’s advantage if Trump could finish his term as out-going President, and land on the “Go to Jail” space on the Democracy game board. I’m not sure that Nancy is handling it with that in mind, but I’m sure she knows that the highest poll numbers put support for impeachment at 49%—with a 3% margin of error.

What all this means is impeachment would result in a stone wall at the Senate, and half the country—or more—would at least have a lower opinion of Democrats. What can I say, that’s politics!

OK, let’s imagine strong demand for Trump’s impeachment. The Speaker would no longer be constrained by concern over political back-lash, and Mitch McConnell would be compelled to convene the Senate for Trump’s trial. While it is going on, many Republican Senators will surely defend the incompetent occupying the White House, which may endanger their political future. If they are primaried out, there will be no advantage.

Meanwhile, people may soften their stand, who knows! But we should all be able to agree that peril and obstacles await. Democrats have their own internal problems to hash out.

If you recall, I used the phrase “everyone’s advantage ” above. Can we also agree that it would be to everyone’s advantage if the Democrats take control of the government? If not, it’s possible progressive policy may yet prevail if you don’t cast your protest vote for Trump again.

Bolton’s almost certainty is a foregone conclusion

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John Bolton is almost certain Iran conducted the attack on the oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, and a foiled attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil port of Yanbu. But no evidence of Iran’s involvement has been presented.

Maybe, but maybe not. Others in our military and intelligence community are not so sure. Bolton has access to intelligence not available to the public of course—but others in the region may wish to lash out at the US and its allies. Whether to provoke a war or just do what harm they can, the technology used is readily available to them, and the US has no shortage of enemies.

ISIS in example, also has reason to wish to harm Iran. Even if they had no intention of provoking a war between the US and Iran, the targets of the attacks are certainly on their enemies list. Moreover, they must realize by now that set-piece warfare is untenable.

How about President Donald Trump’s decision to relocate our Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, and his recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. In gratitude, Israel even named after Trump a new settlement in the Golan Heights. Hezbollah certainly has access to the means used in the attacks, and the Houthi rebels in Yemen did not need Iran to secure the drones and explosives used on the Saudi port.

For that matter, Israel also wants the US to attack Iran, and they are not above using covert action to provoke a war—and do so without leaving a trace that they did so. As for Bolton, he may think a war will assure his ongoing employment by bolstering Trump’s chances of reelection.

While Iran may be responsible for the attacks, their motive is questionable. Their chest thumping response to the accusations are really meaningless. What ever else anyone may think about them, it seems unlikely, so unlikely as to be insane that they would risk a convenient justification for war with the most powerful, technologically advanced military power in the world.

Whether Bolton’s very public push for war is not just more of the same one-up brinkmanship used in international disputes, the combination of his mental instability with that of his master is no small matter for concern. In any case, Bolton’s near certainty of Iran’s involvement is cause for alarm.

The problem with the far left

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Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás, the philosopher who said “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” also said of fanaticism that it was characterized by “redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim.” No truer statements could be said of the far left.

You might alternatively say that fanaticism is the fervent pursuit of a goal without consideration of the means to achieve it. The only argument against these assertions that might be valid would be to say that the far left is oblivious of its history. Insofar as the far left is responsible for the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, the failure of the occupy movement to affect change, and their role in the 2016 presidential election, the failure of their approach to political change should be obvious to even a casual observer.

The rationale used by the far left for its insistence on “purity” is central to their failure to affect progressive change, and makes their claim to the progressive mantle absurd. It becomes even more absurd when examining the record of one of their champions, Bernie Sanders. His record on gender issues and gun control provide stark examples that he falls short of having attained the purity they seek, yet they abandoned the progressive agenda to the GOP in 2010, and Donald Trump in 2016.

The far left also remains in denial of evidence that their disdain for Hillary Clinton was founded on a Russian disinformation campaign intended to discredit her for Trump’s advantage, and justify their actions on the “evidence” the disinformation provided.

On the run-up to the 2020 presidential election they are at it again, waging a campaign of character assassination against one candidate after another who may stand in Bernie Sanders’ way of becoming the Democratic Party’s nominee. The extent of their irrationality is likely best evidenced by their criticism of Joe Biden, claiming that he is too centrist to beat Trump.

If Biden is too centrist to beat Trump, it is only because the far left has again declared that they will vote for Trump if Sanders is not nominated.

Despite the irrationality of their claim that those who did not vote as they wish are responsible for them actually going so far as to vote for Trump, the far left cannot grasp the counterproductive character of their acts. How ever short of their ideal a Democratic candidate may fall, the consequent reelection of Trump—or any other Republican candidate who may win the Republican nomination—is certain to more than forestall the progressive agenda. It is a fanaticism that has lost sight of its aim.

 

Is “Democratic Socialism” a good thing?

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Democratic SocialistsDemocratic Socialism is pretty much what people want to believe it is, and that’s a problem. Actually, it presents several problems, beginning with the fact that it is not socialism. As beneficial as the proposals made in its name may be for our society, it is, at bottom, a rhetorical blunder that creates a hurdle those who call themselves Democratic Socialists must overcome. To some extent though, it is also a term behind which disenchanted millennial idealists and other poorly informed cynics have rallied.

The real socialists who believe government must take control of the means of production and distribution for social justice to flourish have nothing but disdain for Bernie Sanders, and those who have piled onto his bandwagon. “He is for reforming capitalism, not changing capitalism,” Stephen Durham, the 2012 presidential nominee of the Freedom Socialist Party, told Bloomberg. “He is really a lot closer in ideology to Hillary Clinton than he is to me.”

It’s worth noting that Durham seems to be among the few who understand what an oxymoron Democratic Socialism is. Social programs could be said to have been instituted by ruling monarchs who opened granaries during hard times, including the Egyptian and Roman empires. Throughout history, poor relief was however a function primarily of the church. In modern times, the national German social welfare system, begun in 1871, and finally nationalized in in the 1880s, under Otto von Bismarck, was on the authority of Kaiser Wilhelm II. The primary motivation of the state then was, ironically, a government scheme to erode working class support for socialism, and establish the superiority of the Prussian state over the churches.

So why do so many people seem to embrace the moniker? The answer may best be found in a review of Bernie Sanders’ political activism.

Albeit the sentiment has a long history, the cynicism Sanders embraced in his youth was a common phenomenon in the 1960s. Social justice, particularly racial equality, and many other factors—including the Vietnam war, and our government’s support for reactionary governments seen as bulwarks against international communism—had reached a crescendo. Youthful idealism thus widely embraced the notion that socialism offered a remedy for our national malaise. Those who embraced the socialist label did so as an in-your-face demonstration of their indignation against a government they saw as unresponsive to their priorities.

Considering the events of recent history, and mounting social imbalance in the world, it’s little wonder that today’s youth especially are again embracing Utopian visions of socialism as offering a solution to what they perceive as wrong with the country. They do so out of profound ignorance though. It’s not just that they understand neither socialism, nor capitalism. They are most profoundly oblivious to the political danger of calling the policies they favor socialism.

The long association of socialism with communism afforded the political right with a rhetorical weapon throughout the politics of social reform in the United States during the 20th Century. “Creeping socialism” became a thing, a thing that frightened a lot of people. In fact, the “Red Scare” frightened them so much that our government pursued communist purges in the 1920s and 1950s.

When FiveThirtyEight asked (rhetorically) whether socialism was still an effective political boogieman, they found that it was. While it serves the protesters’ sense of self, the suspicion of socialist sentiment has a long history. Early in our colonial period the socialists were known as Levellers. The Levellers, who sought only social equality, no more deserved the suspicion than today’s Democratic Socialists. The suspicion arose from their association with the Diggers, who sought redistribution of property, much as many today associate socialism with communism.

It’s worth noting what Bernie Sanders himself has said about the socialist label:

I’ve stayed away from calling myself a socialist, because I did not want to spend half my life explaining that I did not believe in the Soviet Union or in concentration camps.

All things considered, those Democrats who embraced the Democratic Socialist label have accomplished only one thing. They rode that label into office—or nearly did so. Whether they cynically sought the vote of those whose ideals exceed their grasp of politics, or their own understanding was equally limited, they have burdened themselves with the need to explain why Democratic Socialism is a good thing to those outside their circle of supporters. Some may survive their blunder, but their success in advancing the progressive agenda will be handicapped.

From a liberal perspective, the answer is of course Democratic Socialism is a good thing, but the pragmatic answer is that it is dangerous rhetorical nonsense. Consider therefore how much more sensible it would be to use another label for the liberal agenda. Since the policies proposed promise profound economic benefits that fit within the moral framework of capitalism—as it was originally perceived by Adam Smith—it would make so much more sense in every conceivable way to call it Democratic Capitalism.

Social programs are not socialism

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Adam SmithSkepticism about the political viability of the extreme left’s proposals is well founded. It’s not due to what they propose so much as their inability to understand that the policies they propose are not socialism. Nor are those social programs they claim were socialist, like Social Security, Medicare etc.

In example, Social Security was a government mandated savings program that had nothing to do with government ownership of the means of production and distribution. In fact, none of the government programs we call entitlements or welfare are socialist. The political right only argues that they are, and our current headline grabbing “socialists” don’t have the sense to cast their proposals as what they are, sound capitalist policy.

Many liberals even cast blanket aspersions against capitalism, little realizing that Adam Smith’s opus, The Wealth of Nations (short title), was a work of moral philosophy that was critical of greed, and championed raising the condition of the working poor.

So, let’s get something straight. Social programs are not socialism. They could be initiated by a monarchy if it so moved the monarch. Saying they are socialist virtually admits that the rhetorical argument of the right is true. If people better understood economics, they would be seen for what they are: A good faith effort to alleviate societal problems through Keynesian economics.

In example, the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) issued a report a few years ago on their finding that each dollar of transfer payments (PDF – SNAP) returned as much as $1.70 to the treasury, whereas tax cuts for the wealthy return only $00.70. This is capitalism at its most functional.

The reason for this is stated in the CBPP factsheet (PDF – SNAP), and has its basis in one of the central tenets related over two centuries ago in Wealth:

The liberal reward of labour, therefore, as it is the necessary effect, so it is the natural symptom of increasing national wealth. The scanty maintenance of the labouring poor, on the other hand, is the natural symptom that things are at a stand, and their starving condition, that they are going fast backwards.

Much more, I suspect, is grossly misunderstood about Adam Smith’s views. In example, he is often referred to as an economist. The flaw in this assertion is that, while numerous luminaries wrote treatises on economics at the time, none were economists. In fact, economics did not become a formalized study in universities for nearly a century following the publication of Wealth. The science of economics did not exist. Moreover, Smith was a philosopher of morality, and quite famous for his writings on the topic in The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

The time in which Smith lived further calls many aspects of conventional understanding of his writings into question. Most notably, his advocacy of laissez faire economic principle that conservative politicians are so fond of invoking when they decry government economic intervention. While they ignore the principle when government policy favors business, they invariably oppose government stimulus and “welfare” at every turn, unless they want to bring home the pork to their districts.

In Smith’s day, governments were heavily involved in their respective economies to secure the nation’s mercantilist advantage. Government did, however, not form policy favoring labor, consumers, or to address the environmental damage that the burgeoning industrial revolution was causing. In fact, industrial cities were brutal cesspools of poverty, disease, and polluted air and water, all of which were tacitly supported by government policy.

Government was, in fact, most activist in putting down labor revolts, due to the extreme violence—because labor had absolutely no other recourse. Now, it would be absurd to argue speculatively that Smith would have approved of our social programs, but no more so than to argue that he would disapprove of them. He simply had no basis for any observations on the matter. It seems reasonable to suspect that he would have seen them as counter productive, though he might have thought policy favoring a living wage reasonable.

It’s more likely though that any objection Smith had to a government mandated living wage would be due to his belief and hope that ownership would see the folly of paying poverty level wages. His economics was, after all, a moral philosophy. Greed and building personal wealth have nothing to do with Smith’s capitalist philosophical reflections on building national wealth. These are human flaws in the perception of the role of capitalism.

Is Kim Jong Un Playing Trump?

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Kim Jong Un and Donald TrumpIt’s unlikely that North Korea (DPRK) has abandoned their commitment to reunification of the Korean peninsula, and nuclear disarmament cannot serve that purpose. Recent developments, along with Donald Trump’s disturbing compulsions and unfounded claims should therefore create serious concern about how the ongoing “negotiations” will play out.

It’s a certainty that North Korea has not begun disarming, so is Kim Jong-un playing Trump for a fool, or a self-absorbed lunatic? Now, it’s unlikely that our Narcissus-in-chief will be conned by Kim Jong-un, but giving him what he wants—withdrawal of US forces—will likely play well to Trump’s mentally deficient base.

The danger is that our national embarrassment will see betraying South Korea—there is precedent—in the belief that it is the political expedient he needs to save himself from himself.

Will the psycho in the WH be deranged enough to do so? What then remains to be seen is the timing of Kim Jong-un’s attack on South Korea. Assuming that the DPRK can also hide some portion of his nuclear arsenal, what has been revealed of Trump’s “doctrine“—war is only justified if a profit is to be made—suggests that he and his base will deny responsibility. After all, who could have known Kim Jong-un would be so treacherous.

If, on the other hand, Trump were to take military action, any ensuing conflict would make it unwise to “change horses in mid stream” (pardon the cliché)! The question then will be whether the DPRK uses its nukes. It’s a safe bet they will have threatened to use them. If so, the most probable response by “Cadet Bone Spurs” will be to abandon South Korea to its fate. It will be his only political hope—and ours.

Bernie’s prescription for saving the DNC

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“Finally, if we are to succeed, we must fully appreciate Brazile’s revelations”

Had anyone else written the piece Politico published for Bernie Sanders, they might have had me until that phrase spoiled it. Somehow Bernie’s earlier approbation of that fraud’s self promoting misdirection from her own corrupt character had escaped me. Donna Brazile did as good a hit-job on the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton as her much to do about nothing diatribe could. It was fairly effective. The pseudo intellectuals seemed to swallow it whole.

Brazile can hardly be blamed. Her fall from grace was hard. Unlike Limbaugh’s fall, her downfall came at the demand of those who once admired her, and she had little to fall back on.

Brazile and BernieThat said, the single gulp needed to swallow Brazile’s hit job seems to have inspired Bernie to write a demi tome of nonsense. It demonstrates no better capacity for analysis of political issues than Brazile ever demonstrated. Oh, she was a knowledgeable talking head, but that’s about it.

That’s not to say that this article has no merit, but it does fall short of addressing the real problem with the DNC. As it is with any other organization, the operative element is political. The flaw within that are the individual ambitions of those involved solely for their personal advancement. Political organizations are especially vulnerable, because politicians need to have that dirive for self advancement.

That drive for self advancement is what helped Donald Trump win. Bernie Sanders was never truly dedicated to the advancement of his agenda. He wanted to become President, and to win at any cost. This brings us to the DNC’s first mistakes: allowing the cynical old gadfly to take a free ride on the Democratic ticket. Nor were his followers truly behind his agenda. Not only did they zealously participate in Sanders’ program of character assassination in order to differentiate their candidate, but they proudly voted for Trump, the Greens or not at all.

Like those who foreswore politics for the Occupy movement in 2010, Bernie’s followers were, like him, cynics with no real understanding of political process. They wanted what they wanted, and they wanted it now—without involvement with the political structures necessary for accomplishing their aims. They had no idea that politics does not work that way. Take the Civil Rights movement in example—or women’s suffrage. Without involvement within the political structures, there would have been no progress.

Even Bernie seems to realize this truth. Otherwise, he would not have asked to be included on the Democratic ticket—or be suggesting a fix for the DNC.

I would make the changes recommended, while seeking other issues needing redress, but I would expect any sign of success to take years—or decades. The DNC made the mistake of elevating an obscure Senator from Vermont to national prominence far beyond his due, and will need to persevere until his death—and education and maturity bring that few of his followers back who are in full control of their senses.

It might also help if Bernie stopped attacking Democrats, and confessed his role in securing a win for Trump. Then again, it might not. His core supporters ignored his call to get behind Clinton after he lost, only to be ignored or attacked for “selling out” to the “establishment.”

Is the progressive movement failing?

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Well, is the progressive movement failing? In a word, the answer is no, but it has suffered serious setbacks recently—and it could do much better than it has over the last decade.

I once wrote a zen Haiku that perfectly describes why liberal progressives have failed to dominate politics over the past decade:

Sparrows, fussing and
Fighting over nesting rights.
Starlings rob their nest.

The StruggleIt’s important to understand the distinction of “liberal progressives” used above. Liberals have not been the sole arbiters of progressive politics. Richard M. Nixon, in example, was progressive in many ways. In case you are not aware of it, he deserves credit for creating the Environmental Protection Agency, and forwarding the cause of equal rights through “affirmative action” to name two accomplishments.

There may still be a few progressive Republicans, but, if they exist, they are largely hiding in a closet that keeps out of view.

This brings us back to liberal progressives, and the reason they—despite large majorities of support for so many issues—have failed to dominate politics for so long. Though not necessarily the sole problem, the cynical left, now referred to as the alt-left, has been willing to scuttle the political aspirations of any Democrat who does not meet their expectations.

No amount of evidence, neither fact nor reason, can penetrate their cloak of self-righteous indignation over an apostate Democrat who seeks to raise the minimum wage to only $12, instead of the full $15 they demand. As columnist Molly Ivins once observed, “It’s hard to argue against cynics—they always sound smarter than optimists because they have so much evidence on their side.”

Bernie brosIn example, despite evidence of Hillary Clinton’s progressive credentials during the 2016 Democratic Primary and presidential campaign, cynics would produce a litany of shortcomings and speculative doubt—with devastating consequence. This was not a one-off incidence. It happened in 2000, giving Republicans hegemony in government through 2006, and again in 2010, which assured an uphill battle that prevented the Obama administration from accomplishing all it could.

And it’s happening again in the wake of demands for absolute submission to their demands by liberal cynics.

What the cynical left most fails to appreciate was a truth once expressed by someone who struggled hard to realize a dream that we still struggle to attain today:

Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.
~ Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Politics is an evolutionary process, not revolutionary. It never involves a cynical choice of the lesser of two evils, but a choice of the best possible outcome. Debate over issues is important, of course, but support for the progressive consensus is critical for progressivism to succeed. Without it, the starlings will continue to rob our nest.