Is the progressive movement failing?

Tags

, , , ,

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.

Advertisements

Why does the GOP really want to repeal Obamacare?

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

republican death panelInitially, Republicans (GOPers) may only have feared that the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) would become a popular political coup on the part of Democrats. The monumental lies GOPers used to discredit Obamacare’s value, and repeated attempts to kill the act before its value to the public became obvious, 54 in all, suggest a deeper truth behind their efforts. Adding further to that perception of a deeper truth is the extent to which their dishonesty extends to their own plan (TrumpCare). Moreover, their frenzied effort to push it through—now that the GOP again enjoys legislative hegemony—suggests that the more rational GOPers hope to cash-in on the glory. They suffer from healthcare envy.

Their healthcare envy has two main obstacles though—and one potentially lethal consequence.

The two obstacles are the opposition to TrumpCare from Democrats, as well as the reactionary right within the GOP, both of which want to kill the legislation. The Democrats of course enjoy the feather in their cap represented by Obamacare’s successes, despite it’s shortfalls. The reactionaries may fear the backlash once the flaws in TrumpCare become evident, but pin their objections to TrumpCare principally on what they see as budget-busting costs.

The potentially lethal consequence is that TrumpCare might pass. It’s unimaginable that the legislation’s proponents are unaware of its inadequacies as a replacement for Obamacare. The growing popularity of Obama’s signature healthcare plan, despite the GOP’s negative spin, is hard to deny.

The shortcomings of TrumpCare begin with the issue of coverage for pre-existing conditions. While Obamacare forbade higher premiums and denial of coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, the GOP plan allows “premium rates that do consider the buyer’s health.” It also allows employers who provided insurance only due to the mandate to withhold coverage from employees not already enrolled.

While eliminating the mandates will be a boon for those with no reason for concern over the “affordability” of healthcare, the wealthy, while driving the cost of healthcare up for those already paying high premiums—the very people Paul Ryan uses to deride Obamacare in his deceptive spin on TrumpCare.

Gopers make no mention of any of the great successes of Obamacare. Nor do they mention that their bill shifts significant costs onto the states—many of which are already struggling to balance their budgets. Oh, they tout their “tax credits” as helping keep healthcare affordable, but must surely know it’s a lie.

Even our Dissembler-in-Chief, Donald Trump, has steadily walked back his pledge to repeal, then repeal and replace Obamacare. We may never know whether he is aware of the wave of evidence of Obamacare’s success and popularity, and truly believes it will collapse in utter failure. His “performance” as President should make anyone who has paid attention expect that he will spin the events in such a way that he is insulated from the ramifications of any eventuality.

The Gopers in Congress may not be so fortunate. If TrumpCare fails, they will have to deal with the more irrational segment of their constituency. If it passes, they will have to deal with those hurt by their success.

The GOP missed it’s opportunity after they defeated Hillary Clinton’s efforts to create a universal healthcare program in 1993. They even had a plan proposed by their own Heritage Foundation that was very nearly like that of Obamacare. Had they not been blind to the persistence of the call for universal healthcare, they would have been spared the long term anxiety over their healthcare envy—and the effort they put into repealing it over the past nine years could instead have been put into accomplishing something for the betterment of the people they claim to represent.

The definition of stupidity

Tags

, , , ,

A new threat to any hope of furthering a progressive agenda is organizing. To the rational observer, the only realistic promise they, the organizers of WeWillReplaceYou, and the cynics they attract offer is the historic failure that liberal extremists have given us time after time.

483208412-real-estate-tycoon-donald-trump-flashes-the-thumbs-up-jpg-crop-promo-xlarge2Those liberals and progressives who subscribe to liberal political pages on Facebook are familiar with the aphorism to the effect that “doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results is the definition of stupidity.” Little do too many of them realize how that aphorism applies to them. Like the Tea Party “idiots” they despise, such are the liberal extremists who identify with the Occupy movement, and candidacy of Bernie Sanders for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

Among the more remarkable bits of evidence of the stupidity of those cynics who have self-anointed themselves to hold Democrats whom they perceive as wayward accountable is that they seem to have little or no understanding of the most basic elements of the political process, let alone the nuances. Then too, the smug rejection of what they believe to be a choice between “lesser of two evils” is both outdated and childishly absurd.

The example of just one “wayward” Democrat further illustrates the foolishly unthinking approach of these childishly cynical extremists. Joe Manchin, A Democratic Senator from West Virginia, is among the Red State Democrats at risk to lose his office in 2018. Now, in addition to being a target of the GOP—along with several other “wayward” Democrats—he will have to weather an assault from WeWillReplaceYou for his position on President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch.

Realistically, there is little hope that they will mount a successful challenge to Manchin’s run for the Democratic ticket in 2018. The mindless viciousness of these cynics is however fully capable of assuring that his Republican challenger wins—in the same way their ilk so damaged the character of Hillary Clinton that they assured the election of Donald Trump.

Common sense dictates that any success on the part of WeWillReplaceYou will assure their overall failure to accomplish anything worthwhile. Every Democrat they trash to the point that they lose their seat to a Republican will be another victory that locks-in GOP hegemony for years to come. The only “revolution” likely to bring about the change they seek is too unbearable for most of us to contemplate—and very probably will not accomplish what they want.

Our political system has been one of progress and set-back, a slow evolutionary process that took four score and seven years to free so many Americans whose civil rights were not affirmed for another century, and well over a century to empower women. If the cynicism of WeWillReplaceYou becomes as infectious as the #NeverHillary movement, it will be decades at best before there is any hope of reversing the damage they did—perhaps even centuries if the Republicans further delay dealing with issues like climate change.

Bernie and his bots are responsible for Trump’s election

Tags

, , , ,

Despite all the evidence and simple logic that Bernie Sanders and his supporters (bots) own the responsibility for the Election of Donald Trump, most—if not all—deny their culpability. Whether due to shame at the realization, smug self-righteousness, or the latent delusion of Bernie’s viability had he been nominated instead of Hillary Clinton is not clear. What is clear is that they lack the pragmatism to understand democratic politics.

unabashed ignoranceAmong the surest indicators that they lack the capacity is illustrated by their universal disdain for any choice that constitutes what they call “the lesser of two evils.” It is an expression of their “Puritanical” absolutism that has made the 21st Century a disaster from the beginning to the present. The truth that they are incapable of understanding is the pragmatic outlook that their choices are always which of the candidates promise the greatest possible good—which includes consideration of the candidate’s chances of winning.

When seeking a scapegoat to justify their superior sense of morality, they generally revert to conspiracy theory. He lost, they claim, due to some imagined—and totally unconfirmed—treachery on the part of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). In fact, not only was Bernie’s campaign the only campaign to engage in illegal subterfuge—the hacking of Clinton’s database on the DNC computer—but his bots so lacked the most basic understanding of the political process that they failed to win the nomination for him!

abandon shipThen, albeit Bernie encouraged them to back Clinton, his core bots either abandoned voting at all, or voted third party. Many did so while assuming their purity of purpose, and expressing their disdain for Bernie’s betrayal of their revolution. Whether they were thus directly responsible for Trump’s win is a moot point in consideration to the extent to which they had damaged Clinton’s brand during the primaries. The combination of increased third party votes and decreased turnout for Democrats carried the Electoral vote for Trump.

The simple facts are that Hillary Clinton did not deserve the attacks the liberal purists levied against her, and the American public deserved a more thoughtful approach to selecting a candidate than the character assassination in which Bernie and his bots engaged. Then, basic logic escaped their self-righteous pretensions of ideological purity.

Revolution or Evolution: How is ‘change’ best attained?

Tags

, , ,

grito

September 16, 1810. Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Roman Catholic priest, raises the “grito,” the pronunciamiento of the Mexican War of Independence.

Recently, I have read a lot of sheer nonsense about Bernie Sanders’ revolution based on a lot of Hopey-Hopeyness—and devoid of political reality. We heard the same kind of dribble about the “Occupy” movement—which accomplished only a slightly less deleterious outcome in 2010 than Sanders did with his revolution.

Poorly informed, self-centered, liberal cynics do not a revolution make. The “autonomous” movements redressing racial tensions and other on-going issues aside, the setback to the progressive movement due to Sanders and his horde of “gimme what I want, or else” cynics will take a decade to correct back to the point prior to the 2016 election—and untold election cycles thereafter to overcome.

Progressive politics requires a pragmatic mindset, the ability to accept that progress comes slowly—and only through acceptance that give and take are inseparable. As Martin Luther King put it, “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”

Progress will be made only through an evolution of humanity’s sensibilities, not through revolution, which must be sudden, and violent. Even if Bernie’s “revolutionaries” took up arms, they would be less effective than Miguel Hidalgo’s “Grito.” Trump’s presidency would have to be much worse than anyone imagines before the middle class follows Sanders’ grito.

Worse yet, successful revolutions have seldom resulted in meeting the Revolutionary’s expectations. Don’t for a moment declare the US an exception. Serious violence erupted during the ratification process after 1787, and we had an even more serious disagreement erupt in 1861.

Anyone who is serious about affecting “change” should first learn enough about history and politics to realize that the change they seek cannot be attained by “punishing” those who stand with them for that change—but support another candidate they believe more capable of bringing that change about. Sigh, if only people did not have to be rational beings to serve their best interests when they participate in politics.

A friend was asked whether he voted for ‘the asshole or the liar.’

Tags

, , , , ,

Hillary ClintonThe title pretty well sums up what appears to be the proximate cause of Hillary Clinton’s stunning defeat by Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential election—albeit the media has not yet done a definitive analysis (though one comes close) of the reason for the emerging consensus conclusion for her loss. The one that has addressed the why of the why she lost is an admittedly snarky satire by Marty Rudoy, opinion journalist, and political satirist at HuffPo and American News X.

There was of course not a single factor for the low turnout. One comment on an article critical of the political insiders’ failure to recognize the direction the election was turning struck me as astute: “HRC was a boring speaker running a boring, timid campaign. The 42-point laundry list “plan” she kept trotting out resonates with no one. People need a short list of high profile things you’re going to do, delivered with conviction. Trump did that.”

My reply was in agreement, and I added my “greatest complaint is how she addressed the charge of a “war on coal,” something that resonates “hugely” in PA, OH, WV, and KY—PA and OH being the most critical. Her response was to declare that she would “take care of the coal miners.” The fact is that the “war on coal” mantra is a siren song, used by dishonest politicians who know it’s not the EPA, but the inability of coal to compete in the market—and the people in coal mining areas better realize that and look toward the future to rebuild their economic base.”

While inspiration is important, this last point—the failure to adequately address the economic concerns of an entire region—ignored James Carville’s 1992 observation that “it’s the economy, stupid.” Doing so undoubtedly cost Clinton votes in those battleground states that Trump won. None of it truly explains the low Democratic voter turnout.

The most likely answer to explain why Clinton experienced so low a turnout can likely be found in the question of why did her overall approval rating fall from 49% in May 2015 to 39% by early June 2016. Most strikingly of all is that her approval had fallen to between 32% and 24% among male voters by mid October. Yes, FBI Director James Comey’s “October Surprise” may have had some effect, but the media reported a rebound when Comey announced nothing new had been found.

Emailgate was after all a primarily Republican issue—but we know how badly the media and polls botched their analyses, so no firm conclusion can be made there, albeit the electorate was already predisposed to react to negativity. Something else was at play though.

That something else is Bernie Sanders and his supporters. Oh, they deny culpability, saying instead that Clinton’s supporters are to blame for not nominating Bernie. The fact is that Bernie lost due to his failure to realize that the electorate to which he was appealing was not competent to meet his “call to arms.”

The worst failing of his supporters was not that they failed to nominate Bernie—whose radical extremism would all but certainly have ended in his defeat in November—it was the degree to which they created uncertainty about her credibility among Democrats and independent voters. Clinton mentioned it herself in the first debate, objecting to Bernie’s use of disinformation and innuendo to attack her.

But it was not just the Berniebros commenting on social media and the comments sections of medial outlets. The media outlets themselves seemed to have it in for Clinton.

This is not the first time that the cynical left threw the election into the lap of the Republican Party. The real tragedy is not so much that the “revolution” has once again been postponed. It’s that the cynical left lacks the capacity to own up to the reality that they are their own worst enemies. They cannot shake the belief that they are noble warriors who reject the choice between the lesser of two evils, and come to the realization that their choices are always a matter of the greatest possible good!

Debt-free college, boon or boondoggle?

Tags

Is debt-free college for all a boon or boondoggle? A quick reference to data on graduation rates provides all that is needed to see that, barring other considerations, it’s hard to reconcile the waste with the gain. Then there’s the matter of how little such a program would contribute to income inequality if measures are taken to prevent the waste.

debt-free collegeThe first and most striking fact is that graduation rates, on average, are a miserable 60 percent after six years enrollment in a four year college program. The next fact requires a bit more thought. The rates are as low as they are due to colleges with “open admissions policies” having graduation rates of only sixty percent of the average—a miserable 36 percent!

Given the speculation that affordability is among the factors affecting the drop-out rate, extrapolating from the data that this factor is most relevant in those institutions with high standards for admission suggests that this factor is not relevant to the issue. After all, it would be cured” by the program.

One word, profitability, played the most significant role in the institutions with the lowest performance. Those most reliant on profit were the worst performing. Do not allow the cynicism that must immediately come to mind following this revelation distract you from the fact that all colleges and universities operate as businesses. Even state funded colleges and universities must generate revenue to operate.

OK, now let’s get skeptical if not entirely cynical: It should not take too much of a stretch of the imagination to accept that revenue flows are more important than the success of their students in for-profit institutions with open admissions policies. Stretching your imagination just a tiny bit more, it seems reasonable to suspect that these institutions have the most to gain by taking no measure to be more selective in their admission policies.

Getting downright cynical about it, it does not seem unreasonable to suspect that such institutions will do their best to maximize the revenue stream from a debt-free college program. They need do nothing of course to benefit from the boost in enrollment they receive from instituting a debt-free college policy. Thereafter, loosening their performance requirements seems a logical possibility.

It seems unlikely that no one has thought of this twist in the issue of debt-free college, and equally unlikely that such a policy would get enacted into legislation without some academic performance standard being requisite for participation. If it is not done at the institutional level, it will need to be done at the individual level. Otherwise, the idea seems too widely unpalatable that 40 percent of the revenue raised for the program from taxes on investors’ transactions would be wasted—or provide an unearned revenue stream for an unscrupulous “education” institution.

Unfortunately, the structural inequality that has affected minorities will all but assure no meaningful gain among minorities from debt-free college without “affirmative action” policies that also address the needs of minority students for remedial education. Debt-free college can be a boon—but it won’t be easy.

The great tragedy of Bernie Sanders’ loss

Tags

, , , , ,

The great tragedy of Bernie Sanders’ loss in the 2016 primary is not that he lost, but something that resulted from the level of cynicism to which his campaign rose in his overly ambitious effort to win. In effect, it assured that the revolution would at the least be indefinitely postponed—and possibly postponed for generations to come.

bernedoout BernieThere can be little doubt that his loss assures that those political irrelevants who emerged from the shadows of the far left will again retreat back into the darkness from which they shout infantile epithets about the status quo. What remains uncertain is whether his cynicism was so infectious that Donald Trump might win the presidency. It has happened under less acrimonious circumstances.

Even without that ominous possibility, just a modicum of pragmatism on the part of the far left which kept them in the fray would go a long way to keeping the dream of revolution alive. As martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”

Had the same attitude permeated past revolutions, the Union might have given up after Bull Run. Texans might have given up after the fall of the Alamo. The colonists might have given up after Washington was defeated on Long Island.

For all it’s apparent obstacles to progress, the democratic institutions of our governmental system provide those who engage in politics with the power needed to affect change—for better or worse—and those who take no part in politics simply resign themselves to live under what ever favors the victor allows them.

Politicians receive no “mandate” from those who do not support them, and the decision not to vote, or to shun the victor in the Democratic primary is a decision to be irrelevant to any hope of revolution—until some future generation is level-headed enough to efffect real change. This is the reality of realpolitik in America’s political system.

The “revolutionaries” who assured the failure of Sanders’ “revolution”

Tags

, , , ,

Berned out rallyIt goes without question that Bernie Sanders thought he could turn out the hordes of malcontents lurking in the shadows of our political system, but he erred on three counts. First, he seemed to believe he could win over the malcontents from the right as well as the left. Not only does such a delusion clearly demonstrate how little he understands about the electorate, but it brings his qualifications for office into question—as do the other two errors.

He also miscalculated the depth of cynicism that runs through the socialists and anarchists skulking in their mothers’ basements—the kind of liberals who more often finds the expression of their ideology covered by the media in the storefronts destroyed during riots. His third error was what appears to be an assumption that those who came out for him were savvy enough that they did not need to be led by the hand.

While Bernie’s campaign Web site did mention his revolutionaries need to register as Democrats—somewhere deep within his encouragement that they register to vote—Bernie failed to mention this factor in every public appearance. Instead, he and his drones resorted to their more typical political posture of grousing about the consequent outcome after the fact.

Let us not leave this to be regarded as a criticism of Sanders alone. It demonstrates just how unqualified his supporters are to vet a presidential candidate. There is no real distinction in this between the supporters who were not registered and registered as independents, and supporters who were long-time registered indies in states with closed primaries. Both are equally ignorant.

Registering as an independent voter to make a political statement is not just stupid. It is delusional. Like it or not, the two party system is fairly well entrenched, and all someone who registers as an indie can hope is that someone will notice that they are not fully satisfied with either main party.

You can bet that politicians take notice of the preferences of indie voters after general elections, but they do not usually consider their demands when shaping platforms. Indies need to face the fact that they are irrelevant to primary campaigns—except for the event of some spoiler like Bernie, possibly. Registered indies really need to step back from their smug assumptions about being an indie, and get in touch with the political reality of the democratic process.

When Tip O’Neill said, “all politics is local,” he did not intend that his remark be taken literally. Rather, he intended to stress the importance of involvement in politics at every level. Indies generally know whether they are liberal or conservative, and registering with the party, Democratic or Republican, that most represents their ideological stance will assure that they have a say in who is nominated.

You see, registering as a Democrat or Republican does not restrict anyone from voting for the Green Party or Nazi Party candidate, but it does give you a say in who will be nominated by the party most likely to win the general election.

 

Is Bernie Sanders damaging the Democratic brand beyond recovery?

Tags

, , , ,

angry bernie

A little skepticism is a healthy thing, while cynicism too often proves self-destructive. A recent article by NBC foreshadowing the example of Bernie Sanders’ run for the Democratic nomination provides an object lesson on this point—and grimly augurs what increasingly looks like prophesy by Benjamin Franklin, whose closing statement was read to those gathered on the last day of the Constitutional Convention:

In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other. I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution. For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views.

Before any of Sanders’ supporters lock onto the term “corruption” to twist it into their narrative, they need to know that it’s meaning in the late 16th Century was far more general. While it included what many understand it to mean today, the meaning then ranged from being so “dillitary” that one did not participate in societal issues to the gamut of moral failings.

The article reports on the decade-long trend of the growth in numbers of voters who identify as independent voters. With the possible exception of the 2000 Presidential election, the most significant impact this trend has had is in general elections, and states with open primaries and caucuses. While the facts are not yet in, analysis of the 2016 primaries may find another impact. If Sanders’ supporters who were registered independents did not register as Democrats in states with closed primaries, that failure may have cost him the nomination.

Among many other comments by his supporters that I have become aware of through involvement on social media, the following suggests the real possibility that Sanders’ loss was due to the extreme cynicism and political ineptitude of his supporters, and that it may continue to frustrate the cynical left:

As soon as this election cycle is over, there will be a giant sucking sound, as half the members of the Democratic Party will reregister [sic] as Independents. They really screwed themselves for a single person’s insatiable appetite to win at all costs, even at the expense of the party. The DNC will have been sacrificed at the alter of the Clintons’ greed.

While the article makes no effort to associate the trend with a cause, I will. The media has widely reported on the dissatisfaction with the “status quo” on the left and right, and avoided labeling it for what it is, cynicism. If, as some speculate, Donald Trump represents the cynical malcontents of the right, the harm done may be a temporary setback for the Republicans. After all, the GOP establishment has tried to distance itself from him. The damage done by Bernie Sanders may however be long-term.

Having little that truly recommends him for the office of President, Sanders has had to rely on trashing his opponent. In doing so, he has also lashed out against the Democratic brand in general, and drawn untold numbers of Democrats into his cynical ideology. Politics is too nuanced to reduce to the “they are all alike” view expressed by him and those of his ilk. The fact that history refutes their view seems to escape their awareness as well.

Perhaps the problem lies with the fact that few people are exposed to more than sound-bites, and may not have the attention-span for research or study in any depth. Perhaps the observation that millennials were for the most part “educated to the test,” and lack critical thinking skills explains their failure. What ever the reason, there is no denying that cynicism is easy, much easier to embrace than reasoned thought—and an obstacle to understanding that “they” are no longer alike.

Effectively, Sanders’ supporters have been corrupted. The extent to which they have been corrupted and will no longer be effective in helping further the liberalization of the Democratic brand—or weakened it to allow the right to again gain control of government at every level—remains to be seen.