Trump will be elected?

Huffington Post published an article by Michael Rosenblun: Donald Trump Is Going To Be Elected. See also Trump shatters GOP records with small donors.

The American people will be losers no matter who wins the POTUS election . The problem, and therefore the solution, lies in the perceived understanding and emotions of those same American people. Transforming them is not an easy task. My advice, work for and support legislative and congressional candidates who have progressive values. Locally, we have Joe Pakootas:

If there is hope for Clinton, it is to create a reverse coattail effect. Pushing harder on POTUS and statewide races will not help district candidates much.

At the national and state level, the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign aren’t even in the right ballpark. They are in denial or ignorance about the actual state of the American economy and have adopted so many aspects of the GOP’s voodoo economics they have sheathed their best weapon. For example, it is hard to provide hope of achieving anything on climate change, and thus make it an effective issue, if you limit yourself to neoliberal responses.

Not that the Greens or Libertarians are doing any better. Stein is running against the Dem Party, which will make some folks feel good but is not a path to winning or growing the Greens to major status. Johnson is being fundamentally dishonest in saying he agrees substantially with Bernie. Neither is a solution.

George Lakoff has a longer piece that offers good advice. Yet, as he says himself, “More than half a million people have read my books, and Google Scholar reports that scholars writing in scholarly journals have cited my works well over 100,000 times. Yet you will probably not read what I have to say in the NY Times, nor hear it from your favorite political commentators. You will also not hear it from Democratic candidates or party strategists.”

We could have just nominated Bernie. Lakoff doesn’t mention him, but he was pretty much following Lakoff’s script for progressive victory, while Clinton’s campaign is hardwired in the other direction.

• Go positive with YOUR vision (“we have to be realistic” is not a vision, saying “Trump’s vision is evil” simply spreads and reinforces it),
• Focus on VALUES (neither neo-liberalism nor liberal interventionism is a progressive value set),
• Stay out of shouting matches and name calling (above all, avoid calling the voters names, “basket of deplorables” indeed).
• Prioritize human freedom issues over identity issues (Her identity as a woman is played as a major asset by her campaign).

Should progressives vote for Hillary if she wins the nomination?

My statement on the discussion of whether or not to vote for Clinton should Bernie not win the Democratic nomination and the many permutations of that discussion:

I support the values embodied in the Democratic Party’s Washington State Platform (and many other state and local platforms, and quite a bit of what winds up in the national platform, although small-d democracy in the party ends at the state lines.). I need to see more than a blue t-shirt with a “D” on it to support a candidate, I need to see CREDIBLE support (a track record, not just lip service) of those values from any candidate I work for or even vote for.

The primary problem with the party has been that we’ve not held our elected Dems accountable to those values and as a result working Americans have been sold out to the corporate tools of the wealthy power elite. (The GOP has always wanted to return us to the Gilded Age, they only started succeeding when many elected Dems stopped fighting back in the late 1970s.) An organized movement to change this started after the 2004 Democratic convention, Bernie’s candidacy sprang from it and has advanced it more than many thought possible.

This is a movement, and as such, it is more than one man. Bernie is incredibly principled and politically astute. But, as he repeatedly says, this is about US not him. In our system, political parties perform many valuable functions. That the Democratic Party has been slacking on upholding its values and performing interest aggregation among its members (among other things) and selling out working Americans is not an indictment of the party system, it is an indictment of the too many rank-and-file Democrats and others who share the values the party supposedly stands for thinking that someone else will do the work to make it accountable. As my friend Anita said in the thread this was written for— learn the rules and start playing. There are plenty of folks already inside the party who need your help and will hold the door open for you.

If Bernie is not on the general election ballot the pertinent question is not which sell out or no chance message candidate you will vote for, but what will you do to advance those values and ensure that 2016 is the last Presidential election where there is a Democratic candidate that does not support working class Americans. But not a single delegate has been committed at this point (super delegates are by definition uncommitted, so getting worked up over them is counter-productive), so at this point every ounce of effort should be going to ensure that Bernie wins the Democratic nomination.

Bernie Sanders and Foreign Policy

Bernie’s statement on regime change never being a good idea, and mentioning Guatemala, Mossadegh, and Allende is heading toward the vision of what we actually need to do. End our imperial foreign policy, start closing our military bases overseas, focus on our domestic problems. Whether it’s a winning issue with a majority of the public is another matter. They have been quite literally scared out of their wits with a decade of BS propaganda about the “evildoers,” and on and on. Older voters got the Cold War BS. It’s hard to both educate and win in the same campaign. That’s why he’s focused on domestic economic issues, a broad consensus that working families are being screwed already exists.

When foreign policy comes up, IMO, he should frame talk about pulling back within the first 150 years of American foreign policy, not the more recent anti-imperialist strain of criticism that has been effectively marginalized by the corporate war mongers. Avoid foreign entanglements, spread democracy abroad by be a shining example here at home. In that vein, he needs to bring up his opposition to the USA PATRIOT Act and domestic spying more too. Clinton is very vulnerable there.

Saying that we need to have a discussion about why the American military is being used around the world to protect our supposed “commercial interests” when those commercial interests increasingly consider themselves global corporations, not American ones, might also prove useful. They ship our jobs overseas, they invest overseas, they offshore their profits, they avoid US taxes, but without the US military, the global casino economy and resource extraction racket they’ve created is vulnerable.

The nation is progressive!

Once again, our nation, which largely holds progressive values has not shown them at the ballot box. Our party’s message and messaging, campaign techniques, and ability to deliver on its (vague) promises must all be called into question.

Exit polling done Tuesday revealed that even among the (largely GOP-favoring) voters “A stunning 64 percent said they believe America’s economy ‘favors the wealthy.’ ”

Polling done the week before once again showed that the “middle” is vastly overrated. Of seven options on taxation- “Just over two-thirds — 67 percent — opted for the three options that involved raising taxes on the rich. Only 22 percent chose any of the conservative tax options.” That leaves only 11% (the truly befuddled) in the “middle.”

The article includes a link to the the Oct. 28 NY Times article, “Nothing in Moderation.” that describes the polling more fully.…/peasants-still-have-their-pitchforks/

New research from Berkeley political scientists gave Americans a choice of seven policy options on taxes, with the first three all involving raising taxes on the rich and the last three all involving options that would cut the taxes rich people pay. Americans overwhelmingly chose the first three options. (Photo: Darya Mead/Flickr/cc)

Reflections on the 2014 election

GWB was the best thing for organizing on our side in many years. He forced everyone to get together in opposition. As soon as he was gone, we started splintering. But he’s NOT gone, he was always just a front man. The folks behind him are still there, working as hard as ever against most of us.

We refuse to plan or operate in unison or strategically. When we have a chance to make progress, we immediately divide up start squabbling over details or are diverted to work on feel good proposals that do not alter the basic situation one iota.

The need at the moment has not changed one bit. Unify to oppose the neoliberal economic concentration scheme based on austerity and the denial of human rights for working folks, racism, xenophobia, militarization and the destruction of the planet. If you think you can walk away from this fight and somehow not be affected, you are mistaken.

The percentage of their racist base varied, but everywhere in our nation, the Right’s job was made easier by the prevailing racism that was activated by our having a black president. The exit poll interviews I heard out of Kentucky were abysmal. Here in Stevens county it is no longer even below the surface for about a quarter of the population. Obama’s refusal to act anything like what one might expect from a black president has done nothing to defuse this, and in fact, made the Right’s job easier by deactivating our voter base. Their endless supply of campaign cash easily layered on top of this to manufacture consent for economic self-destruction among a majority of the voters even in areas such as Kansas, which are in economic free fall, or in WA-05, most of which hasn’t seen economic prosperity in thirty years or more.

There was an impressive start at a new level of organization within the local party and campaigns. Instead of people walking away discouraged, we need to continue to do more of it. There are Spokane city races that are crucial coming up next year. Statewide, the Democratic party is for the first time ever embarking on a modest campaign to activate its member base to hold its elected officials accountable to its platform and not to Boeing, Microsoft, and Wall Street. I have a feeling that party leaders will be surprised by how willing and ready the rank-and-file will be to send this message. Despite their victories, there are huge rifts within the GOP and there are many people who’ve been voting Republican that are ready to hear a new message.

I can attest that many local voters who cast their ballot for McMoRo did not do so out of any great affirmative feeling for her, quite the opposite, they are at best vaguely uneasy. But they’d never heard of Joe Pakootas and vote for the devil they know. We will not reach and educate these voters by calling them, mailing them a nice postcard, or knocking on their door right before an election. We will never have the money to even try to reach them through the media. Effective organizing is not technology driven, it cannot be accomplished quickly, easily, and efficiently. It is messy and non-linear and it requires two-way communication over a period of time. It must start today if we want to see less dismal results in the future

Is Thomas Frank's pessimism about the Democrats premature?

In the Salon article The matter with Kansas now: The Tea Party, the 1 percent and delusional Democrats,  Thomas Frank writes:

It wasn’t until several years later that I began to understand what a fascinating, upside-down extravaganza it was to see the right eat its way through the good sense of the nation.

While the above quote is a good description, I think Frank is a little off the mark with this essay, as he was with “What’s the Matter With Kansas.” (His best book is “The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Ruined Government, Enriched Themselves, and Beggared the Nation.”) While the subtitle nails the solution: “Economic populism’s the answer,” in the text he leaves the impression that it cannot happen.

The Populists I admire from history, and the members of the working class I got to know in my community and my family as i was growing up, never once ceded that the elites were their “betters.” The farmers of 100 years ago weren’t the dumb hicks portrayed in Hee Haw, that portrayal was itself part of the right-wing attack. The very idea that some wet-behind-the-ears punk with an MBA could run a company better than someone who’d worked their way up the ladder would have been ridiculous to someone from before WWII. And it turned out, it was ridiculous. They didn’t reject education and ability, but they knew it required more than an alphabet behind your name. They could smell bullshit a mile away. And most knew damn well that the malefactors of great wealth were not on their side.

Now the Republican base, despite the application of a cynical Tea Party veneer by the Koch brothers, falls for clowns like Huckabee, Brownback, and Santorum, careerist imbeciles like McMorris Rodgers and a hundred like her in Congress, ideological buffoons like Paul (father or son), Ryan, and Cruz. But this has not been a spontaneous occurrence. It was carefully orchestrated with lots of money, the most sophisticated PR and psychology, and an innovative method of organizing. Joe Bageant’s book, “Deer Hunting With Jesus,” provides a good description of how this works in one rural Virginia town, a sort of “What’s the Matter With Winchester, Virginia?”

Too much of the Democratic side of the aisle (especially in its political leadership) has never understood the irony of the title, “The Best and the Brightest.” They now look at the post war years as longingly as the Right, if for different reasons, and have gone on to permanently confuse credentials with ability. The broad prosperity that sprung from bottom-up economic advances is gone now but the inequities of our culture have stubbornly hung on. We are also still burdened with the problems that sprung from throwing our Republic in the dustbin in favor of Empire and a National Security State. Burdened too with a political death wish that up until now at least, has led to discarding and excluding real leaders who tell the truth in favor of hacks that want a share of the pie the other side has been carving up so efficiently.

Frank is accurate in his description of the Democratic party’s national leaders: “These days, the big thinkers of the Democratic Party have concluded that they can safely ignore the things I described. … There is no need to resolve the dilemmas I outlined in “Kansas,” no need to win back working-class voters or solve wrenching economic problems. In fact, there is no need to lift a finger to do much of anything, since vast, impersonal demographic forces are what rescued them from the trap I identified. ”

But Frank’s pessimism about the Democratic Party is perhaps premature. Those holding those views at the top are looking increasingly like dinosaurs. The little mammals scurrying around in the underbrush are growing more bold. The same year Frank wrote “Kansas,” the futility and failure of the Kerry campaign against the most insane administration in American history launched a new progressive movement. Ten years later we are starting to see the fruits of the slow organization that has taken place. The very centerpiece of the neoliberal globalist agenda at the moment, the Trans Pacific Partnership, seems to be foundering on a Democratic rock. A majority of Democrats in the House voted against the trillion dollar corporate Farm Bill with $9 billion in cuts to Food Stamps. As far back as 2008 Obama recognized the wisdom of running on a progressive message, his problem was he thought he didn’t have to deliver on it. But now Occupy and its reverberations has put “Income Inequality” on the lips of the president. Yes there are demographic changes too. But above all there is a population that is sinking into economic despair. Their olfactory sense seems to be returning and they are wondering, “What’s that smell?” Very slowly they are waking up to the fact that the sides are still the same.

Nothing is preordained at this point. Nor will anything be easy, about the only thing we’ve been working effectively at is digging our hole deeper. Continuing the awakening will take lots more hard work organizing. But now is not the time to stop pushing, the rock is starting to roll.

On choosing a party chair : it's not just about electing Democrats

I’ve posted this on the facebook page Candidate Forum for Election of Chair of Washington State Democrats and am posting it here as well. I hope a candidate will emerge that wants to make the party live up to its potential.

• We need a candidate [to replace departing state chair Dwight Pelz] who will articulate our party’s message effectively and forcefully. It is time to end the accommodation of Reaganism and to make that point clearly every time we are offered a microphone. Individual campaigns cannot be expected to engage in transformational politics, that is the party’s job, and it is a role that it has abdicated, while the GOP has embraced it. We need to move the Overton Window to the left, and we need a chair who understands how to do that. Our seeming disdain to forcefully oppose (with more than a resolution against) initiatives based on a right-wing viewpoint- such as Top Two and all of Eyman’s- is just one way we have fallen short.

• Another role the party has not been doing as well as it can is interest aggregation. We need to bring the interest groups that make up our party together and forge a positive vision of a future that will benefit all. Hammer out our differences, embrace our shared values, and go forward TOGETHER. One big obstacle to this is the lack of faith different groups have that the party can actually accomplish much. Which brings me to my final and most important point.

• The biggest failing of our party is clearly in its inability to hold elected Democrats accountable to our platform and values. Sen Feinstein’s recent statements along the lines that she “knows better” than us rabble are truly disgusting but not as much of an outlier as we’d like to believe. One of the biggest assets our party has is that the rank-and-file DO embrace those values, yet we continually disappoint them. Many have already left, and many disaffected young people (a HUGE potential asset) avoid us because of what may be the biggest problem we face, even bigger than Reaganism, the idea that “There is no difference between the parties.” My friend Mark Dudzik, who headed the Labor Party upon Tony Mazzochi’s passing a decade ago, is now doing his utmost to work for labor and single-payer health care within our party. He heads Labor for Single Payer, and co-chairs PDA’s “Healthcare for All” issue team. His (along with Katherine Isaac’s) analysis of whether it is time for another try at a Labor party, “Labor Party Time? Not Yet,” is a long, but educational read. This is part of what he has to say under the heading of “Reform the Democratic Party,” and it hits the nail on the head.

 … neither of the two major parties has a structure that would hold them accountable to a living, breathing constituency. Rather, the parties exist in the ether as a series of unaccountable relationships between funders, candidates, and interest groups. Instead of accountability to masses of voters, and especially since the rise of neoliberalism, the overriding allegiance is to a globalized capitalism whose interests trump all other concerns. …

While I do not think it will be a simple process to rein in our unaccountable officials, we really have no choice. Our base will NOT stand for the Democratic Party becoming the moderate Republicans of 40 years ago, nor would they survive it. It is not just labor that will revolt.

I think an excellent first step would be creation of a statewide Legislative Action Committee. It would provide a means to activate and build our grassroots base. We have many good elected official now, this would enable us to identify them to our base and provide them more help. We have many that are falling short of the mark and making it impossible to achieve the kinds of victories that could flip red areas of our state (and I am not just talking about Tom and Sheldon). A significant expansion and activation of our base is a prerequisite to any change from money-oriented campaigns to people-oriented campaigns.

I will be looking for a candidate for chair who understands the importance of this and will work to make it happen. In our state charter, the first two reasons for the party’s existence are:
1. Adopt and promote statements of policy to serve as standards for Democratic elected officials and goals for the people of the state.
2. Nominate and assist in the election of Democratic candidates at all levels who support the goals of the Party.

It’s not just about “electing Democrats.” We have to be able to tell the difference.

On Inslee's claim that no new taxes are needed to fund education

According to Inslee: No new taxes needed to fund education,

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee said Friday the state doesn’t need new taxes to fulfill its education funding obligations, even though Gov. Chris Gregoire says new revenue has to be considered.

Inslee said that he is focused on raising the state’s revenue by encouraging economic growth.

“That is the driving engine of revenue growth for state government,” Inslee said. “The foundational aspect of education funding for the state is getting 288,000 people back to work.”

But relying on economic growth is a non-starter. It requires no call for sacrifices and so is politically palatable to those who still have something to lose. Some development may be possible but growth? Not without tradeoffs that will cost more. Rekindled growth was the idea behind gutting SEPA and GMA. We’ll unleash those fabulous developers and they’ll save us by building more housing developments and office complexes. Or those wonderful agribusiness executives will export more crops (and the water and soil to grow them) at huge profit to themselves, while the taxpayers make the farmers whole. Or Boeing will build refueling tankers for bomber death planes to kill people 5,000 miles away and airliners to fly all the important folks around.

Hard to prosper politically if you call on the big money boys to make sacrifices. They think they’ll survive what’s coming just fine, and they don’t give a rat’s ass about the rest of us. The top one-hundreth of 1% of the population (less than 30,000 individuals nationwide, proportionately, about 600 in Washington) funds about a quarter of all political donations. The rest of the top 1% gives a huge chunk of the rest. Those $10 and $100 contributions don’t add up to much. Especially if given to candidates using them to buy TV ads.

It’s hard to find anything good to say about Washington’s tax system and Gregoire doesn’t redeem herself by calling for new taxes on her way out the door. What passes for our side has bought into so much crap for so long they’ve reinforced the GOP theme that taxes are too high and they must be slashed. Our budget and our revenue are not really on the table at all every biennium. We have so much dedicated funding that 80% of the budget isn”t on the table, and of course, neither are tax increases so long as they require a 2/3 supermajority.

Washington’s state and local taxes are low and dropping whether measured per capita or as a share of income. Taxes are not too high in Washington, we’ve slipped to 29th in terms of income and 31st in per capita terms. politicians need to start saying our total taxes are low, but the wrong people are paying them.

They are borne disproportionately by the poorest Washingtonians. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy updated their state-by-state analysis of state and local taxes in 2009. “Who Pays: A Distributional Analysis of the Tax Systems in All 50 States,” 3rd Edition, once again shows Washington as 50th out of 50 states in having the most regressive state and local taxes.

A flip through the report shows that many states (such as Vermont, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Missouri, Kansas, Idaho, Colorado, California), have relatively flat state and local tax rates across all income groups, in the 8% to 9% of income range. Washington’s rates for its poorest quintile are 17.3%. Going upwards from there, 4th- 12.7%, 3rd- 11.2%, 2nd- 9.5%. These 80% of the people need their taxes lowered.

The top quintile is broken into three groups, and the rate continues to decline as income goes up-

.81 to .95 pay 7.6%—these folks need a small tax increase

.96 to .99 pay 5.5%—these folks need a 50% tax increase

Top 1% pay 2.6%—these folks need their taxes quadrupled.

And that would leave us with a relatively flat system, not a progressive one, which is the goal of our platform. Total revenue needs to increase so as to adequately fund K-20 education without the need for M&O levies, and a single-payer health care system under an ACA waiver. I dare say we could find some cuts in agency administration, corporate welfare, and oppressive law enforcement.

I-1098 would only have made the barest of beginnings to fix this problem, yet it was opposed by many “Democrats,” and not pushed very vigorously by many others. Increasing “sin” taxes to raise revenue just makes things more regressive. Although the poor supposedly have the option of avoiding them, alcohol and nicotine, in the short run are cheaper than, and substitute for, access to actual health care, especially mental health care. Nibbling at the edges of this problem will accomplish nothing. We need to drastically reduce sales tax, provide real property tax relief to low-income folks through a homestead exemption (state constitutional amendment required), and institute a broad-based, progressive income tax to raise 40 to 60% of the states revenue.

“Everyone has to pay their fair share” must become the dominant message on tax policy in Washington. This message will never resonate with the elites who currently fund campaigns. It is unlikely the marginalized, disaffected voters needed to win on this sort of platform can be reached through mass media advertising. (Obama’s  “Change you can believe in” did just that, then he pulled the football away, leaving us in worse political shape than before his campaign). Direct grassroots organizing is required. Our party is not geared to do it and is highly resistant to the very idea. So highly resistant, they will mobilize resources AGAINST candidates that attempt to do it (like recruiting corporate democrats who call themselves progressive to run against them). The unions are no longer sufficient to do it, although there are signs they are at least trying in some cases. Occupy is a hopeful sign, but there is significant pushback against attempts to actually achieve political goals and resistance to help from experienced political types in shortening their learning curves.

I have no illusion that enough new progressives and occupiers will file for PCO in May to enable us to redirect the party apparatus significantly. A shame, because that is the most cost- and labor-effective way to get going. That leaves us with the organizing equivalent of house-to-house fighting. One thing we’re thinking about out here in the boonies is acting to accumulate food resources so we can feed people as an organizing tool. As we go forward reaping the rewards of electing candidates who promise that growth will solve our problems for us, I expect food to be in increasingly short supply.