Hot August Political Thoughts

Currently, we arguably live in an Oligarchy – A form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small number of people. These people might be distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, education, corporate, religious or military control. Examples: The Russian Federation, the United States of America.
-Wikipedia

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

A 2014 Study by Martin Gilens, Professor of Politics at Princeton University, and Benjamin I. Page, Gordon S. Fulcher Professor of Decision Making at Northwestern University, Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens, analyzed nearly 1,800 policies enacted by the US government between 1981 and 2002, and compared them to the expressed preferences of the American public as opposed to wealthy Americans and large special interest groups. It found that wealthy individuals and organizations representing business interests have substantial political influence, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little to none. Gilens and Page apply the concept of “civil oligarchy” as used by Jeffrey Winters with respect to the US. Winters has posited a comparative theory of “oligarchy” in which the wealthiest citizens – even in a “civil oligarchy” like the United States – dominate policy concerning crucial issues of wealth- and income-protection. -Wikipedia

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

Political power must be wrestled from the American Oligarchy and it will use every bit of its immense power, including control of corporate media, to maintain its domination. The Oligarchy will not leave meekly and gently in the night. Anyone who thinks this will be easy, or quickly done, is seriously misguided, naïve, or delusional. This a war, not a battle, albeit a just cause for those taking the Oligarchy on.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

There are 244 million Americans of voting age. Some 81 percent of us, about 198 million, are women, millennials, or persons of color. Of the remaining 46 million of us who are white males over the age of 35, a decent number are progressive to moderate in their political leanings. Absent a military coup, the eventual demise of the Oligarchy is spelled out in these demographics, if the American People open their eyes and exercise their power in a concerted, sustained, effective manner.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

Every political candidate should earn the votes of Progressives through ethical behavior, demonstrated consistency, policy positions that are the closest approximation of voter values and views, demonstrated good judgement, and by running a campaign in a manner that demonstrates respect for voters, an ability to listen, and a recognition that maintaining the status quo in terms of those with extraordinary wealth and/or corporate influence over all levels of government has all but destroyed our Democracy and turned it into an Oligarchy is unacceptable.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

There is absolutely no moral, social, or political equivalency between voting for Donald Trump or voting for Hillary Clinton. Nada. Zilch. None.

I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton. Far from it. She is a product of and the embodiment of the Oligarchy. Let me be blunt: She and her Husband have received over $200 million of influence and access payments masquerading as speaking fees and control a massive self-promotion vehicle supported by $Billions that represents itself as a charitable foundation but spends the vast percentage of its budget on administrative overhead and promoting the Clintons.

Clinton is functionally a Pro-Choice Moderate Republican who will extend the control of the Oligarchy over economic policies for four years and will have to be constantly thwarted by an engaged electorate to prevent us from entering into further needless wars. Progressives will have to push, cajole, embarrass, and hem in Clinton – a hard but manageable task – to minimize negative impacts on the working class and our shrinking middle class. It will be a difficult four years with many suffering but the nation and the planet will survive.

Trump is a textbook case of someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a Sociopath, Bat Shit Crazy, suffering from the onset of Dementia, or some combination thereof. It is clear his decision-making in matters of virtually any policy topic is irrational, ego driven, and inconsistent. If he ran our economy like he ran his businesses, he would start a trade war, a Second Great Depression, and quite possibly a third World War. His instability, racism, misogyny, and xenophobia would be a cataclysmically divisive force likely not seen in our nation since our Civil War 150 years ago and potentially result in America becoming a pariah nation. His Climate Change Denial will push us to the edge of environmental extinction.

The best we can hope for if Donald Trump is elected is a quick impeachment and removal. Unfortunately, if Trump were removed from office, he’d be replaced by one of the most rightwing politicians in America – Mike Pence (Planned Parenthood rating of 0%, NARAL Pro-Choice America 0%, National Farmers Union 11%, Sierra Club 0%, American Library Association 0%, National Association of Manufacturers 100%, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights 0%, Human Right Campaign 0%, Americans for Democratic Action 0%, ACLU 0%, NAACP 5%, American Conservative Union Lifetime Score 99%, Alliance for Retired Americans Lifetime Score 3%, League of Conservation Voter Lifetime Score 4%, American Wilderness Coalition 0%, American Association of University Women 0%, AFL-CIO Lifetime Score 5%, AFSCME Lifetime Score 2%, Source: VoteSmart.org).

At the worse, we could see an attempted or successful Military Coup or the Start of World War Three. There is no way Donald Trump should have access to nuclear launch codes. Seriously.

Hillary Clinton is a temporary barrier to Progressives defeating the American Oligarchy. Donald Trump is an immediate existential threat to the survival of our nation and planet. They are not equivalent. It is not a close call. Trump must never be elected President.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

We would have been even worse off if it were not for Bernie Sanders and what I would call “The Great Awakening.” A little known, Independent Socialist Senator from the state ranking 49th in population started a national movement that engaged America’s largest Generation (Millennials), generated 13 million votes, made income inequality a widely recognized issue, propelled public awareness of the existential threat of Climate Change, and shook the Oligarchy and Political establishment to its core. Bernie and the Progressive Movement have at least temporarily pushed Clinton towards the left on important economic, social, trade, and environmental issues. Bernie achieved far more success than he or most of those of who are his supporters could have thought truly possible at the onset of his campaign. To his great credit and to the equally great discredit of virtually every other nationally prominent progressive politician in the country, he did what they were too cowardly to do: took on the Clinton Political Machine, Democratic Party power structure, Corporate Media, and the American Oligarchy for the Democratic Presidential Nomination. Amazingly, Bernie almost won – earing 46 percent of pledged delegates. Arguably, in a straight-up and fair nominating process, Sanders would have won.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

Of course, the 2016 Democratic Presidential nominating process was not straight-up and fair. The 2016 Democratic Presidential Nominating Process was the most overtly manipulative, unethical, corrupt process in modern American Political History. The integrity of the nominating process of two-thirds of Democratic State Parties was shattered by fundraising arrangements with the Clinton Campaign. The Democratic National Committee was essentially a completely controlled and biased appendage of the Clinton Campaign.

Corporate Media essentially parroted Clinton Campaign speaking points from start to finish. Future historians will write that 2016 was the year Corporate Media completely forsook responsible journalism and engaged in wholesale and totally slanted propaganda to maximize profits and help determine a Presidential Race’s outcome. Murrow, Cronkite, Chancellor, Huntley, Brinkley, and Jennings are, no doubt, spinning in their respective graves.

Millions were prevented from exercising their franchise in a purposeful, underhanded, systematic manner. Ongoing investigations and law suits may very well prove actual vote rigging and miscounts in any number of states. Multiple academic researchers have reviewed primary election data and concluded that the results could only been achieved thru widespread vote fraud. Cal-Berkley and Stanford Studies placed the odds that Hillary Clinton won without widespread fraud at only 1 chance in 77 Billion (http://alexanderhiggins.com/stanford-berkley-study-1-77-bi…/).

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

So, what are our options in 2016? We have four candidates who will possess the theoretical possibility of being elected President of the United States this November in that they will each be on enough States’ ballots to win 270 Electoral College Votes and the Presidency.
The “Democratic Party Nominee”, Hillary Clinton, is functionally a Pro-Choice Moderate Republican with militaristic tendencies, who is the clear choice of the Oligarchy.

The “Republican Party Nominee”, Donald Trump, as previously stated, is a textbook case of someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a Sociopath, Bat Shit Crazy, suffering from the onset of Dementia, or some combination thereof. If elected, he has the serious potential to involve us in a constitutional crisis, internal strife not seen since the Civil War, a Major Economic Depression, or even a Third World War or a Military Coup to prevent such a war. A recent poll found one fifth of Republican voters want Trump to drop out.
The Libertarian Party Nominee, Gary Johnson, is a former Republican Governor of New Mexico and was also the 2012 Libertarian Presidential Nominee. Johnson received about one million votes for President in 2012. Johnson’s average support in recent polls in a four-way race is 8.3% (Source: Real Clear Politics, average of Rasmussen Reports, Reuters/Ipsos, Bloomberg, Economist/YouGov, Monmouth, NBC News/SM, ABC News/Washington Post Polls, conducted 8/1/16 – 8/10/16)).

The Green Party Nominee, Jill Stein, is a Medical Doctor and was also the 2012 Green Party Presidential Nominee. Stein received about 470,00 votes for President in 2012. Stein’s average support in recent polls in a four-way race is 3% (Source: Real Clear Politics, average of Rasmussen Reports, Reuters/Ipsos, Bloomberg, Economist/YouGov, Monmouth, NBC News/SM, ABC News/Washington Post Polls, conducted 8/1/16 – 8/10/16).

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

What are Libertarians? They frequently describe themselves as “Socially Liberal and Fiscally Conservative. I think that is half right – they are Fiscally Conservative but they are not consistently liberals on Social Issues. Critics label Libertarians as “Republicans who smoke pot.” Author Christopher Hitchens acerbically described Libertarians this way: “I have always found it quaint and rather touching that there is a movement in the U.S. that thinks Americans are not yet selfish enough.” Libertarians are secularized Republicans without the Far Right “Christian” moralistic bullshit, in my humble opinion. David Koch, yes, one of those Koch Brothers, net worth $44.2 Billion, was the 1980 Libertarian Vice Presidential nominee. Koch is hardly a progressive on any issue.

The 2016 Libertarian Platform calls “for the repeal of the income tax” and the abolishment of “all federal programs and services not required under the U.S. Constitution.” Their platform also indicates “an employer should have the right to recognize or refuse to recognize a union…” and supports “restoring and reviving a free market health care system…” and “phase out the current government-sponsored Social Security system and transition to a private voluntary system. The proper and most effective source of help for the poor is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.” Libertarians “oppose all government control of energy pricing, allocation, and production…” and “favor free-market banking, with unrestricted competition among banks and depository institutions of all types.” Libertarians maintain “Free markets and property rights stimulate the technological innovations and behavioral changes required to protect our environment and ecosystems.” Rather Darwinian and survival of the fittest, these Libertarians, but they’ll let folks smoke pot.
This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!
The Green Party really isn’t a National Political Party at all yet – it’s more of a shell of a Presidential Candidate nominating process with fragmentary cells of supporters lightly scattered about the country and wrapped around a progressive and enlightened political platform reminiscent of a 21st Century version of Roosevelt’s New Deal. Think of what the Democratic Party Platform would look like to a progressive without any corporate warping and distortion and you’d probably have something that would look very much like the Green Party Platform. The Green Party is basically a philosophical pure version of the Democratic Party in terms of ideology, if the Democratic Party didn’t have any meaningful infrastructure and was free of all the corporate bullshit, bad influences, tremendous policy warping resulting from said bullshit and influences.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

The “Ten Key Values” of the Green Party Are Grassroots Democracy, Social Justice and Equal Opportunity, Ecological Wisdom, Non-Violence, Decentralization, Community Based Economics, Feminism and Gender Equity, Respect for Diversity, Personal and Global Responsibility, and Future Focus and Sustainability. The Green Party Platform includes “A Call to Action”, a Preamble, the “Ten Key Values” and detailed sections on “Democracy”, “Social Justice”, “Ecological Sustainability”, and “Economic Justice and Sustainability.” Most members of the “Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party” and certainly “Berniecrats” would be very comfortable with the 2016 Green Party Platform.
This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

The times, they are a changing, and the Green Party may quickly start to transition from a noble concept to a functional political party with an influx of Sanders Supporters abandoning the Democratic Party. Some observers frequently opine that most Sanders supporters will vote for Clinton. Others say Berniecrats are flocking to Jill Stein and the Green Party. Who is right? Well, maybe, in a way, both.

The nuance that most observers seem to miss is that tens of thousands of Sanders activists, the folks who did the grassroots organizing for Bernie, are indeed moving to support Stein and the Green Party. The movement of hardcore activists from the Sanders Campaign to the Green Party isn’t uniform or evenly distributed, but it is significant.

This isn’t to say that Berniecrats are leaving the Democratic Party in masse – they aren’t. Here in Washington State, the majority of incoming Precinct Committee Officers (PCO’s) could accurately be labelled Berniecrats. In my home county, home to the State Capital of Olympia, two thirds of incoming PCO’s are Berniecrats.

Nationally, Senator Sanders and his supporters are creating multiple organizations, including “Our Revolution”, a National Network of Sanders Activists who likely will heavily influence and frequently run Democratic Party Organizations for years to come. Bernie may have been denied the nomination in 2016 but the Movement he catalyzed and changing demographics are converging in a manner that likely will mean Progressives will regain control of much of the Democratic Party in the near future.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

But the Democrats likely won’t be the only Progressive Political Party of consequence in America in the near future. The rise of the Green Party, powered by the influx of former Sanders supporters, is imminent.

Will the “Berning of the Greens” be enough to turn the Green Party into a full-fledged, functional Third Party in less than three months? No. Could the Green Party be a full-fledged, functional Third Party in 2020? Yes, but only if they do some serious organizing and get their collective shit together about building slates of candidates for local, state, and federal offices across the country.

The Green Party’s biggest weakness is that it has been almost exclusively focused the Presidential Elections, only recruiting and running candidates for lower tier races in a very limited number of jurisdictions in a small number of states. This has got change if the Greens want to be taken seriously. People want their pot holes fixed, safe neighborhoods, good schools, and dependable public services. The old saying that “All Politics are local.” Is mostly true and the Green Party and its membership needs to show it can get voters’ garbage picked up and run cities and states before it will be trusted by most folks with leading the Free World and controlling the Nuclear Launch Codes, regardless of how wonderfully progressive they are. For an American Political Party to be viewed as credible in a nation with 321 million citizens and a $19 Trillion economy, it must not only think globally, it must act locally and be able to govern effectively in all the myriad and mundane ways citizens expect. I’m being real here.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

I see a certain irony, and a whole lot of Karma, in that if Bernie had won the Democratic Nomination, it would have revitalized and democratized the Democratic Party, likely locked in Millennials, the largest generation in history, into strongly voting Democratic for decades, diminished the significance of the Green Party, and hastened the demise of the Republican Party as a relevant factor in Presidential Contests. Control and domination, not fair play and party building, were more important to the Corporate Wing of the Democratic Party. Consequently, the Democratic Party has alienated, in some cases permanently, large numbers of Millennial activists and other Bernie Supporters and the Green Party has an opportunity to achieve a level of national political relevance that has so far eluded it.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

If you’ve read this far, you are probably wondering if this is where Joe says which candidate for President everyone should vote for. God knows damn near every person on Facebook with an opinion on the subject has been telling everyone else who they should support. I’m not going to do that. The reality is if you’re old enough to vote, you’re old enough to make up your own mind and 99 percent of voters are going to go thru whatever decision processes they use and do just that. My circle of friends and family is large enough that some will vote for each of the four main Presidential candidates and I’m not going to like or love any of them any more or any less based on who they vote for. If the Creator, Evolution, or the quantum chance of our being in this portion of the Multiverse made free will possible for our species, the rest of us ought to do the same for each other.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

I will share who I’m voting for and my reasoning: readers may agree, disagree, or ignore as they wish.

To place my decision in context, in 38 years of voting, I’ve only knowingly voted for a Republican for any public office once in my entire life and I’ve regretted that vote for almost four decades and tried to make amends for that vote. I have voted in nine Presidential Elections in my life and nine times, I voted for the Democratic Candidate. In the language of politics, I am referred to as a “Strong Democrat” and a “Perfect Voter” (vote every election).

Unless there appears to be chance that Donald Trump might actually carry Washington State and it’s 12 Electoral College Votes, something highly unlikely, given all available political information, Washington’s voting history, and current polling data, I am planning on voting for Democratic candidates for all other elective offices and for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, for President of the United States of America.

Donald Trump would be an existential threat to the nation and planet. To avoid that risk, I would force myself to vote for the Oligarchy’s candidate and a functionally Pro-Choice Moderate Republican with militaristic tendencies, Hillary Clinton, if Trump were leading or within striking distance of Clinton in Washington when it was time to cast my ballot.
Absent the possibility of a Trump win in Washington State, I will vote for the candidate who, imperfect as she may be, presents both the opportunity to vote for my progressive values and beliefs and the opportunity to send a message to the Oligarchy. I will vote for Jill Stein.

Let me be blunt, the Oligarchy will win this round in the battle for our future and Hillary Clinton will become the next President of the United States. No objective review of the available evidence and polling data would suggest otherwise. Even the Republican oriented Rasmussen Reports is projecting Hillary Clinton at 348 Electoral College Votes, well above the 270 needed to win the Presidency.

For Jill Stein to have had a chance to win in 2016, she would have had to have most or all of Sanders Supporters pivot their support to her and that clearly didn’t happen. If she had surged above 10 percent in the polls after the Democratic Convention, and progressed to rise to force her inclusion in the Presidential Debates, stellar debate performances on her part would have changed the political equation and she would have had a chance to be truly competitive. That didn’t happen and Stein won’t win in 2016.

However, short of a dramatic change in the polls that indicate Trump could take Washington State, I won’t validate the blatant, systematic manipulation and corruption of the Presidential nomination process by the Democratic Power Structure, Corporations, and Corporate Media with a vote for Hillary Clinton. Absent the existential threat of a Trump victory, I won’t go there.

I will cast a vote for Stein to support the germinating seed that is the Green Party in 2016 and I will work within the local Democratic Party, where Berniecrats have a clear majority, to progressively shape local and state Democratic politics, candidates, and campaigns. Call this an Inside/Outside Strategy.

The Second American Revolution continues. We Progressives need to play the long game to defeat the Oligarchy and generate a rebirth of true Democracy. Success will not occur in one election cycle – neither did getting to the point we are at as a nation. With persistence, hard work, and sustained effort, we will get to a point where we defeat the Oligarchy and have two National Progressive Political Parties, a revitalized Democratic Party and a vibrant, fulling formed Green Party. This is Our Revolution. Stand Up, Speak out, Fight On.

This is Our Revolution. Yes, We Can! Si Se Puede!

The Divided Left revisited

The Divided Left in America is a major problem, and it’s come to fore in the discussions on social media about whether Bernie should run as an independent and about whether Bernie supporters should work within the Democratic Party.

Progressive Democrats are desperately trying to reform the Democratic Party but lack numbers. As a result the corporate Dems win. Greens,Socialists and others further to the left flee the Democratic Party and support candidates like Ralph Nader, Jill Stein, and Rocky Anderson. Nationally, these third party candidates win maybe a few percent of the votes and fail to organize effective political organizations. For example, they don’t typically have statewide candidates.

In short, angry Dems flee the Democratic Party, allowing the corporatists and hawks to win. In contrast, angry conservatives take over the GOP and push it further to the right.

In local races, candidates like Kshama Sawant can win a city like Seattle. But statewide (e.g., in the suburbs) they are perceived as too radical by most people. (Bernie Sanders is more of a social democrat than a democratic socialist; he harmed his chances by calling himself a socialist. Noam Chomsky and others agree with this view.)

I understand that working within the Democratic Party is difficult, dirty, unpleasant work. Whoever said the Revolution would be pleasant?

Still, I’m not condemning those people who flee the Democratic Party. I understand why they do it. The leadership is corrupted. This is clear nationally. Statewide, Inslee voted to give $8.7 billion to Boeing, and he allowed the charter schools bill to become law. In my LD (41st) there are many good Dems but the LD allows our legislators to betray us: Tana Senn and Judy Clibborn both voted for Steve Litzow’s (R, 41 LD) charter schools bill, despite the fact that the state Supreme Court ruled charter schools are unconstitutional; despite the fact that McCleary isn’t yet funded; and despite the fact the the state party platform says “We oppose charter schools.” Many (most?) of the 41st LD Dem PCOs are pissed, but the LD leadership treats me like a dangerous outsider. They also disliked my criticisms of Hillary’s hawkishness.

The PDA pursues an inside-outside strategy that allows people to work but within and outside of the Democratic Party. That’s perhaps necessary but it’s not ideal.

Anyway, any ideas for uniting the left? For years I have been promoting the idea of a shared media platform where people post articles and discuss things. Progressives and socialists are supposed to believe in cooperation for the common good. Fact is: people don’t work together too well.

Hey, all you Bernie supporters who attended the caucuses, take over the Party!

The surprise overwhelming win by Bernie Sanders in the Washington State Democratic caucus was due, I surmise, to the participation of young people who had never before gotten involved.    I know in my precinct there were a surprising number of young people I had never seen before.   I am eager to see hard data about whether my theory is true.

Regardless of whether Bernie wins the nomination, we need these young people to reinvigorate the party and push it to the left.  This is the sort of peaceful political revolution that Bernie Sanders has been calling for.

Angry conservatives take over the GOP.  Angry progressives too often flee the Democratic Party.  This election represents a chance to fix that fundamental flaw in liberal politics in America.

The Republican scam, and the Democrats' unwillingness to oppose it

Last night I was listening to AM talk radio, and a Republican candidate was promoting the following conservative narrative: “Yes, there is terrible wealth inequality, and it’s due to government waste, corruption and regulations. We need to slash taxes and get rid of regulations so that the middle class can have jobs and thrive.  Government is a taker. We need more freedom.”  The candidate also talked about the preciousness of life.

Likewise, at a political event in Nevada recently, Marc Rubio told the audience that the notion that “big government is good for the people who are trying to make it” is a “lie.” He said, “When the government dominates the economy, the people that can afford to influence the government — they win. And everybody else is stuck.” (source: November 30, 2015 edition of the New Yorker)

There is some truth to Rubio’s statements, and the conservative narrative is plausible enough to dupe lots of people.

Yet it’s a big scam.

The scam goes like this. Conservatives corrupt and starve government so it performs poorly. They make sure it serves the 1%. They wage almost constant war. They allow corporations to ship profits and jobs overseas. They oppose regulations that might rein in Wall Street, even as they decry Wall Street greed and the bailouts. They under-fund the IRS and regulatory agencies. They promote regressive taxation which unfairly burdens the middle class.  Then they argue that taxes are too high and government is wasteful and corrupt. They use the failures of government to justify cutting taxes and maintaining tax loopholes for the rich. When progressives try to fix the system, they accuse progressives of wanting to raise peoples’ taxes.

The scam works — it’s rather brilliant — and our task is to expose it and promote an alternative vision in which government serves everyone, not just the 1%.

Scam Alert!

The solution to the corruption of government isn’t to throw in the towel and give up on government. The solution is to fix the system so it’s not rigged.

But we have a tiny voice, and the corporate-backed Republicans have most of the money and an effective noise machine.  There aren’t enough progressive rich people willing to fund an alternative, lefty media empire. And most Democratic politicians choose to ignore the problems of fair taxation and government corruption. They allow Republicans to frame the issues.

At a recent King County Dems Legislative Action Committee meeting I asked state House majority leader Pat Sullivan what he’d do to educate the voters so that they stop voting for Tim Eyman’s anti-tax initiatives and for Republican candidates.   I want Sullivan and the rest of the Democratic Party leadership — including Governor Inslee and ex-Governors Gregoire, Locke, and Lowery — to boldly take the lead in educating the public about taxes and government.

But Sullivan said that it’s not his job to educate the public.  The voters won’t listen to him.

I think the politicians run away from the issue because they think (know?) that they’ll get slaughtered at the polls if they talk about taxes.

Moreover, there are enough corporate, triangulating politicians within the Democratic Party to muddy the waters and make it unclear which party can be trusted. Bill Clinton dismantled Glass-Steagall, supported NAFTA and said “The era of big government is over.” President Obama surrounded himself with Wall Street cronies and promoted a health care plan designed by the Heritage Foundation to enrich insurance companies. Governor Inslee gave an $8.7 billion tax break to Boeing. Democrat Ross Hunter took the lead in arranging tax breaks for Microsoft.

Meanwhile, Republicans control the U.S. House, the Senate, and the Supreme Court, and they’ve taken over a large majority of state legislatures. In Washington State Republicans control the state Senate and are two seats away from controlling the state House.

Who will step up and promote the pro-government, fair taxation message people need to hear? How can we strengthen the hand of progressives in the Democratic Party?

Clearly, Bernie Sanders has been effective at getting parts of this message out to the public. Perhaps the movement he inspires will succeed at starting to fix the corruption. My only fear is that his calling himself a socialist might limit his effectiveness. The ironic thing is: he’s probably not even a socialist! He’s a social democrat. See Bernie Sanders is a social democrat, not a socialist. Dwight Eisenhower was more of a socialist than Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders is a Social Democrat, not a Democratic Socialist

[Note: this article’s former title was: “The conservative scam: a plausible narrative that enriches the 1%”.]

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.

Breaking News! Washington State Democratic Party Progressive Caucus Endorses Bernie Sanders for President of the United States!

On July 11, 2015, the Washington State Democratic Party Progressive Caucus held a special meeting for the purpose of considering an endorsement of Senator Bernie Sanders for President of the United States. Members of the Progressive Caucus, including members from legislative districts and congressional districts all over Washington state, voted unanimously in favor of the endorsement. Delegates of the Washington State Democratic Party to the Democratic Party National Convention will be selected at Precinct Caucus in March 2016. We urge all progressives to attend your local precinct caucus and vote for Bernie Sanders to be the nominee of the Democratic Party for President of the United States. For more information on how you can become a delegate for Bernie and/or help others become delegates for Bernie, visit the following web page.
http://washingtonforberniesanders.com/how-to-become-a-delegate-for-bernie-sandersBernie Sanders is our best hope to restore our democracy and rebuild our economy. Join our campaign and help us help Bernie win here in Washington state.

wa and bernie

Why are the Dems losing in the budget and transportation negotiations in Olympia?

Sunday I attended a meeting of the Legislative Action Committee of the King County Democrats.  Representative Tana Senn of the 41st LD spoke, followed by Senator Cyrus Habib of the 48th LD.

During discussion of the budget it became clear that there is unlikely to be a capital gains tax. Nor will Governor Inslee get the carbon pricing plan that is central to his advocacy for clean energy.

Tann Sennhabib

Furthermore, the transportation plan agreed to in the senate contains an obnoxious “poison pill” according to which funding for public transit and bike lanes would be cut if carbon pricing is later instituted.

Negotiations on the budget seem to be favoring the Republicans.

Yesterday I got email from Jaxon Ravens, the state Dem chair:

If Senator Andy Hill and the State Senate GOP don’t come to the table and work with Democrats to strike a deal on our budget, then 25,000 workers — about half of the state’s workers — will be sent pink slips. Important services like state parks and supervision of former inmates will be shuttered.

Democrats are doing their part to reach a deal. Governor Inslee and House Democrats have dropped key parts of their initial proposal, like a capital gains tax. Their compromise goes 77 percent of the way toward filling the gap between the initial budget proposals.

State Senate Republicans? They’ve budged only 2 percent.

Basically, the message I hear from the legislators and from Ravens is that the Republicans out-maneuvered the Democrats.  By various budgetary gimmicks, unreasonable projections, and postponements, and thanks to an increase in revenue due to economic growth, the Republicans get to maintain their “no new taxes” pledge. The Democrats fail to raise revenue, fix our regressive tax system, or make clear progress on clean energy and transportation.

On the topic of transportation, Habib said that the senators chosen to negotiate with the Republicans were Senator Steve Hobbs and Senator Marko Liias.   Habib said the pair agreed to the Republicans’ transportation plan and left the other Democrats on the committee in a quandary.   The infamous “poison pill” in the plan  was anathema to many Democrats. But it was hard to reject the recommendation of the “bipartisan” leaders.

And the Republicans were able to split Democratic constituencies: the Senate transportation plan has decent support for public transportation but is bad on carbon and climate change.  Public transportation advocates and many mayors and cities councils are thus happy with the plan, while environmentalists are mostly opposed.

The Republicans even get to trumpet their plan to lower college tuition by 25%, though Tana Senn pointed out the reductions exclude community colleges and are paid for by eliminating scholarships and by lowering pay for faculty. (See GOP proposal to slash college tuition puts House, Senate at odds.)

So it seems the Republicans are winning.

Negotiations aren’t finished, and maybe the Republicans will be forced to agree to eliminate some tax exemptions (e.g., for oil).  Habib said Republicans already have been forced to agree to cost of living adjustments for teachers and other pay raises for state workers.  But the Republicans seem willing, perhaps eager, to shut down state government to get their way. Is the reason they keep winning just that they’re unscrupulous?

Habib said the Dems didn’t sell their tax increases well to the public. He gave the analogy of shopping for clothes. If you walk into a store the salesman doesn’t start off asking you to give him $100 up front. Instead, he shows you a nice shirt, tempts you, and says, “Isn’t it nice?”     The Dems should have held a carrot in front of the public and said, for example, “If you want decreased class sizes, as the voters approved in the ballot initiative I-1135, then we can fund it by raising taxes on the rich.”

Republicans raise taxes on the poor and the middle class

In fact, the Republican talking point that there are “no new taxes” is mostly empty rhetoric, because the Republicans have agreed to raise taxes — on the middle class and the poor. The Senate transportation plan raises the regressive gas tax.  But even Habib at one point in the meeting repeated the Republican talking point that they passed a budget that didn’t raise taxes. I repeatedly said to Habib and Senn that the Dems need to emphasize the fact the Republicans do want to raise taxes.  Habib said that it’s not smart for Dems to oppose tax increases, even if the taxes are regressive, because the state needs revenue.

Habib pointed out that businesses were in favor of the increase in the gas tax, because without good transportation infrastructure their businesses will suffer, but they don’t want to pay for it.

So, the Dems were out-maneuvered and allowed the Republicans to control the messaging. Republicans are also spending money on media ads touting their budget. Understandably, Dems didn’t want to spend money on counter-ads, because they can’t afford it.    The GOP has deep-pocketed benefactors.

But I suspect there’s another reason the Dems keep losing:  the system is rigged. One of the two Democratic senators chosen to negotiate with the Republicans on the transportation package is a centrist/corporate Dem, Steve Hobbs.  Hobbs  is a long time Road Kill caucus member.  The other Democratic negotiator, Marko Liias, used to be quite progressive (see Who’s progressive in the Washington State House?) but in recent years has moved to the right. (“Liias voted against the budget because it did not include the continuation of tax incentives that benefits technology companies. ” source; and Liias was a sponsor of the Money Tree bill that would have aided the loan shark industry source).

And the person chosen to lead the budget negotiations in the House is Ross Hunter, who is also a centrist Democrat and who has been a leader in promoting tax breaks for his former employer, Microsoft.

Governor Inslee, on the other hand, took the lead in pushing for the $8.7 billion in tax breaks for Boeing.

Corporate Dems dominate the Democratic Party nationally; hence the many sellouts of the Obama presidency, including the selection of Senator Max Baucus as the lead Senate negotiator for the Affordable Care Act and the apparent success of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Were the Dems just out-maneuvered by the clever and ruthless Republicans?   Or is the deck stacked in Olympia against progressive policies, the way it’s stacked in D.C.?

Let’s hope the Republicans are forced to eliminate some major tax breaks. But don’t hold your breath.