Hey, America — There’s A New Boss In Town — It’s The “African-American Vote”

Common wisdom (often more common than wise) has whispered for a while now that African Americans were the core constituency of the Democratic Party. Don’t have them behind you (on a national level)? You aren’t going far.

Yesterday, that bit of common wisdom looked unnaturally wise. Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign went from zero to hero almost entirely on the strength of the African-American vote. As a voting block, African Americans didn’t just flex their muscle, they demonstrated just how powerful a muscle they wield. Now, let’s be clear — African Americans don’t get on the phone with each other to discuss how they’re all going to vote. Jews don’t do it either. Neither do Latinos or any voting block (except Bernie Bros apparently and Republicans). African Americans — though not voting “as a group”, voted as a group of individuals with a common experience: American politics at their expense.

As a group, African Americans have a very particular history. As a group, Jews have a very particular history. That history imprints upon a group in myriad ways, most of them very subtle — but definitive. When you cannot automatically trust the political system you have no choice but to participate in, you approach it a little differently than someone who’s always benefited from that system. White people get to take our system’s inequalities for granted one way. People Of Color get to take them for granted the other way.

African American voters are pragmatic through and through. There’s one thing that, as a group, they’re aspirational towards like no other (because it touches them so completely): social justice. When you’ve never actually gotten to experience what everyone else has taken for granted — the thing that gives them monumental advantages over you — you recognize that before you can have anything else, FIRST, you must have THAT.

You must have social justice in order to have a remote shot at all the other things you deserve — same as everyone else.

Donald Trump has made it clear as can be that one of his biggest missions is to reverse, undo, destroy or shit on EVERYTHING Barack Obama accomplished as president. Trump has billboarded his racism from the get-go. Birtherism should have been the end of Trumpism. We should never have gotten to “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy-grabbing”. A decent Republican Party would have made racist birtherism anathema to them.

They didn’t. Because decency died in them long, long ago. The people now calling themselves “the Republican Party” share philosophy (though not name) with the Dixiecrats. I recommend historian Heather Cox Richardson’s excellent “To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party” which explains how the Republican Party — at its founding — were a lot more like contemporary Democrats than contemporary Republicans. Names mean a lot less than core philosophy.

The modern Republican Party is very much the Dixiecrat Party — Nixon’s Southern Strategy come back to life as a ravenous Christo-fascist hate-zombie who knows the demographics bode poorly for white, Christian, male power. Southern-sympathizing white, Christian male power. What African Americans know — we’re still fighting the Civil War. And we’re still fighting the Civil War because we let slavery in the door.

Rather, we didn’t kick it out upon the nation’s founding. We compromised with something you cannot compromise with and maintain your integrity. You cannot say “All men are created equal” while owning other “men”. You can’t.

African Americans have lived and died on the crux of that matter. As a group, they did not ask to be here. Once here, they did not want to BE here. Once that choice was taken away — to have their old lives back — they wanted to survive the inhumanity being inflicted upon them. The stolen labor. The stolen children. The stolen lives and property and dignity and even history.

Poll taxes and voter ID laws are all ways racists try to stop African Americans from voting. On one side of this equation are all those people TRYING to stop people of color from voting. On the other side are people of color who just want to exercise their right to vote. It’s kind of organic that those people of color would therefore — on a regular basis — vote differently than the people trying to suppress their vote. ‘

Back in Lincoln’s day, that would have meant massive turnout for Republicans — the Party of Lincoln.

But the two parties have swapped names — that’s really what’s happened here. The Party of Lincoln has morphed into modern Democrats while the Confederacy has morphed into the Republican Party. When African Americans turn out en masse — as they did yesterday for Joe Biden — it has actual historical significance. While speaking as individuals — with the same righteous indignation in their hearts and the same pragmatism in their heads — also African Americans spoke as a group. They brought Joe Biden’s presidential run back from the dead not because they dislike Bernie Sanders (or anything Bernie stands for) but because 300 years of group experience has taught them that whatever serves social justice best — that is how they must vote.

I say all this as a socialist. I was thrilled to attend Bernie Sanders’ first campaign rally here in LA in 2016. I took my son even (he was 17 — and has, since, become a bit of a Bernie Bro — in his “Bernie Or Bust” thinking). I aspire to everything Bernie aspires to. But, I’m pragmatic, too. And there’s reality. I have to live in it — so must Bernie.

I trust that, should he not win the nomination, Bernie Sanders will do what he said he would and back whoever the Democratic nominee is. But what of the most ardent Bernie followers — the ones ( like my son) who have said they won’t vote if Bernie isn’t atop the Democratic ticket? I hate to say this (son — ya listening?) Taking your ball and going home is such a White Guy thing to do.

For real.

If you really want social justice — and social justice is the foundational idea on which Social Democracy and socialism is based (that and economic justice — but, it’s the social justice that demands the economic justice not the other way around) — then you, at least, have to look at how African American voters voted yesterday. They chose Biden because they see the clearest path toward social justice.

If we make the 2020 Presidential campaign an epic battle between Good — social justice — and Evil — All Things Trump — we will win that battle hands down, going away and by a mile. We have, on our team, a group with a great nose for social justice. They’ve pointed us clearly in one direction.

Hey, White People — let’s start listening for a change.

Dear Pundit Class — You Don’t Get Why Bernie Is Succeeding Because You Still Think Everything’s “Politics”

Say what you will about Bernie Sanders, one thing he is — consistent. I think of myself as a socialist — well, a social democrat in the European sense. That’s what Bernie Sanders is, too. A social democrat who believes government’s biggest responsibility (outside of defending us from outside harm) is to level the playing field so that as many citizens as possible can realize their full potential — which will benefit us all in myriad ways.

Democratic socialism is very aspirational. It wants something better than what is. Will it cost more than what we’re doing now? It depends on how you total it all up.

The average middle class American — even with a half-way decent employee-provided health INSURANCE plan — still spends a small fortune out of pocket to get the actual health CARE they need. And nothing in their insurance will save them if they get really, REALLY sick and blow past the insurance coverage’s caps. Hello, bankruptcy. When that average middle class American’s kid gets out of college or university (they’ll need a degree still to compete both here and abroad), they’ve got a whole mountain range of debt to get past before their lives can really begin.

Those are two examples of what we currently think is “acceptable”. Funny thing? Most other modern, industrialized, democratic countries? They don’t agree.

One of the things that never gets mentioned in the apples to kumquats comparisons we get of democratic socialism vs what we have now is that although Europeans pay more in taxes than we do, they GET a whole lot of things that they WANT & NEED in return. Things they can point at. Things that they know make their lives better.

Reminder — no one in a country with that boogeyman “socialized medicine” ever goes bankrupt or loses their family home because they or someone they love dared to get sick.

My opposition to that isn’t “political”, it’s moral. Our system is flat out IMMORAL. Fight me on that — I double dog dare ya.

The idea of giving every one of our children either a (public) college education or technical training “for free” (it’s paid for by tax dollars) isn’t a political idea, it’s a philosophy: we educate our children because it makes US better & smarter as a society. Billing ourselves exorbitantly to accomplish that is stupid on steroids.

That’s why other countries don’t do it. That’s why other countries are competing better than we are. We think it’s all about money and politics.

For us, it is. For all those European Democratic Socialists? It’s a philosophy.

The notion of the “rugged individual” is a fabulous fiction. A very MALE fiction at that. Rugged individuals “alone can fix it”, right?

Bullshit. Even as a philosophy — that’s bullshit. But, ironically, in order to make that philosophy a reality “I alone can fix it” — you have to get political. Because THAT’S a philosophy no one believes and no one (with a brain) will buy. So you have to turn to politics — manipulation (that’s the goal of politics — to manipulate towards an end) — in order to have your way.

Our pundit class still thinks the House Democrats impeached Donald Trump because of politics. That was not the case. Though the Democrats are, indeed, a different political party — and were acting as a group — what motivated them was NOT politics. Yes, Democrats oppose Trump on political grounds, but the actions the Democrats were citing were violations of the law and the Constitution. They weren’t reacting politically, they were reacting patriotically. Not the same things.

Keep in mind — if it’s so that Russia impacted the OUTCOME of election 2016 in in any way (and we KNOW that Republicans not only accepted MILLIONS from Russia into their campaign accounts but handed Russia proprietary polling data on top of it all) then we have to ask — for real — whether we can accept the outcome of an election that was neither free nor fair. Worse — the election’s outcome was Russia’s desired outcome. They put their choice into the White House and have had full control of him ever since.

Between now and the election, Trump’s Russia problem will not go away — no matter what Bill Barr does or tries to do. There will never be a day when Trump gets good news on that front — unless it’s Bill Barr successfully obstructing justice. The PR horse is out of that barn and it’s not coming back.

Our pundit class — like the news media that feeds them — still can’t get the idea that Trump isn’t a normal POTUS out of their heads. They can’t get it INTO their heads that lies and truth don’t have equal weight. When a person lies to you, you IGNORE what they say. You don’t ask “But, what if that’s true…?” because it ISN’T true. It was NEVER true.

You’ve just wasted your time — and our time — running down a rabbit hole you should have avoided. Because it was complete bullshit. A person (a reporter even) who calls out a lie in real time, isn’t acting politically. They’re calling a lie a lie.

Can Bernie accomplish everything he says he wants for America? Probably not. But aspirationally, it’s a far better direction than where Donald Trump and the Republican Party want to take us — permanent minority rule. At least Bernie’s version of America doesn’t divide the way Trump’s America does.

At the end of the day, what Bernie’s really selling — it’s what Obama sold — is HOPE. Hope for something better than what is (and aiming for the middle of the road is aiming for a slightly better version of what is). Bernie’s not selling “Hope Adjacent”, he’s selling full on Hope — while Trump sells the diametric opposite.

Ya see, Pundits — it ain’t about politics. It IS about philosophy, And it is about darkness vs light.

If you don’t think even the dumbest Democrat on the planet can sell that? You’re blinded by politics.

Fear Of The Word “Socialist” Is Soooooo 1950

Conservatives want to live in the past. It says so — right in their name: they want to CONSERVE. Considering as you can’t “conserve” the future, all you can conserve is the present — which owes pretty much everything to the past.

Progressives — for comparison’s sake — want to PROGRESS — just like THEIR name says. Considering as one can’t “progress” into the past or the present, Progressives have no interest in conserving the past; they’re too busy dealing with the inevitability of the future and problem-solving accordingly.

Back in the 1950’s, communism and socialism were terrifying concepts. They were the villains to our shining white knight of Democracy (even though, ironically, at home, racism was still making a mockery of those democratic ideals). Unfortunately, we’ve been selling crony capitalism as capitalism — undermining the integrity of our own argument while getting fat off the graft. All those years, while we were painting socialism as the worst evil imaginable, we were turning capitalism into that very same thing.

Ask a real socialist if Bernie Sanders is a “socialist” and you’ll get a sorta-kinda nod. Bernie’s “socialist adjacent” at best. He’s a Democratic Socialist. Similar but very different in key ways — the ways that explain why “socialist” doesn’t carry the same terror it used to. Lots of Western Europe operates under Democratic Socialism. The government acts as not so much “safety net” as “leveler of the playing field”.

That’s really the point of Democratic Socialism — to give as many people as possible the greatest possible chance to thrive and give back to the system that nurtured them. Would our taxes be higher to pay for all the “giveaways” We The People would receive? Yes, of course. But the caveat is — you’d be getting something palpable that you already pay for — out of pocket. If you compare what you’re spending now (between premiums, co-pays, deductibles & other uncovered expenses) to have medical CARE (not medical INSURANCE — those are NOT the same things) vs what you’d spend out of pocket from a system that took a piece of your tax dollars and gave you full medical CARE that didn’t cost you another penny — you might not feel so resentful about paying the taxes. You’re getting something.

And — when you compare apples to apples — you’re getting it for less money and — this is key — without the possibility that getting sick could bankrupt your family for a generation. Nobody in any of those “socialist” European countries ever loses everything because they got cancer. Is socialized, single-payer medicine perfect? NOTHING is perfect. Stop asking for something you don’t ask our current system to be.

As Bernie went into the Nevada Caucuses, the “conventional wisdom” being burped out by the TV punditry insisted that the powerful Culinary Union — having fought long and hard for its very good health care PLAN (that’s insurance, not actual care, mind you — it’s ACCESS to care) — would never vote for Bernie Sanders and his Medicare For All with no private insurance allowed. Well, that’s not what happened. Plenty of those union members voted FOR Bernie — despite the fact that “socialism” would mean they’d lose their very good health PLAN in favor of health CARE that would duplicate what THEY have and give that same level of care to EVERYONE.

So — all those union members — people who think COLLECTIVELY (like Socialists) appreciated that thinking collectively means Medicare For All is better for more people and should therefore be what we do. It’s the “un-greedy” choice. Those union members didn’t fear the word “socialist” or the idea that they were voting for “socialism”. Neither do all the young voters coming into the system.

Young voters have been notoriously unreliable. They’ve never been taught any sort of civic pride. Hell — we don’t even celebrate voting. Instead of making Election Day the National Holiday it should be, we make it “Tuesday” — another working day. Can’t get to the polls? So what.

I don’t care, frankly, why we did that in the past. We don’t live by an agricultural schedule anymore. That’s why daylight savings time is now absurd. But, hey — conservatism, amiright? It clutches onto the past with bizarre dedication.

Young voters are pissed off. They’re cynical and that’s all our fault. They can’t afford to live in the world we made for them. But Democratic Socialism levels the playing field — for them and for the rest of us, too. It levels the playing field for women and people of color. It levels the playing field for Latinos — which is why, as a group, they seem to be taking Bernie’s message — and Democratic Socialism — to their hearts.

Moderate Democrats — and cable news punditry — are determined that a Democratic Socialist could not possibly beat Donald Trump because Trump will hurl the word “socialist” at them. If this was 1950 and Joe McCarthy was on the come, yeah — they’d be absolutely right: be afraid, be VERY afraid. But it’s not.

Western Europe is not communist or socialist per se. By virtually every metric, Northern Europeans (the most Democratically Socialist) are far happier than Americans, living happier, healthier, LONGER lives. They don’t fear bankruptcy because they got sick. They know their children will be educated through college. They know, come retirement, they won’t end up on the street or struggling to get by. Yes, they may not get to be quite as rugged an individual as a libertarian, but then the libertarian isn’t actually a rugged individual to begin with. He’s a little boy with no taste in literature who wants to believe that “he alone can fix it”.

And, why does an authoritarian traitor falsely screaming the word “socialist” have any more heft than a Democratic Socialist calling an authoritarian an authoritarian? If our MSM truly reported a level playing field FROM a level playing field, they’d be shouting from the rooftops that fascists & monarchists & authoritarian bullies have taken over the Republican Party and are trying to force their horrible version of permanent minority rule down the majority’s unwilling throat. By any measure, what the GOP is doing is corrupt and a thousand times more dangerous than anything any Democratic Socialist could imagine.

Democrats — even the Democratic Socialists — do not march in lock step. It’s just not something Democrats do or even think of. If we did, we’d be Republicans. We are still exactly as Will Rogers described us in the early 20th century — “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat”.

We rely on our reach across the breadth of Americans. Diversity is the key to our success. Hell, diversity is American Exceptionalism. And Bernie Sanders’ growing popularity — across the breadth of “Americans” drives home another point the pundits have forgotten: how advertising works.

The people terrified of the word “socialist” think Trump advertising fear of socialism can’t possibly compete with Democratic Socialists “advertising” what “socialism” really is. It’s a lot like “ACA vs ObamaCare”. If you ask Trumpanistas if they like O-care — of course they don’t. But don’t you dare take their ACA away from them.

Ummmmm… okay. Democratic socialism by any other name is still wanted by a lot more Americans want than conservatives, moderate dems — and our MSM — realize.

Will Bernie Sanders be the Democratic nominee? Who the hell knows. This story still has a kajillion twists and turns to it. But, could that Democratic nominee be a Democratic Socialist? Yeah. They could. And they can win in November — in sufficient numbers and with sufficient enthusiasm — to overcome all the myriad ways the Republicans are already cheating.

Dear American News Media: This Is NOT A Time For Neutrality; YOU Are One Of Trump’s Main Targets

I think of 95% of our news media as being like the inhabitants of Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941 — about a half hour before the Japanese Imperial Fleet kicked their Sunday morning out of bed. The Japanese didn’t just “fall from the sky” though, of course, that’s what they did. To get to that patch of Hawaiian sky, the Japanese had to plan extensively going back months and years (as a contingency). They had to assemble all that equipment, the manpower, the supply chains to back it all up and then pull the trigger on it.

The Japanese Navy took weeks to get from port to where it could assemble for attack (having moved cautiously to avoid giving away the surprise). In a very real sense, a

The point — in a very real sense, a state of war existed in Japan’s mind long before it existed in ours. We were going to be victimized. Americans were going to die. Yet, had we known (and there are debates as to whether we did or not), and had we been able to “do” something (show enough force sailing toward Japan to dissuade them from their adventure), who knows where the world would be now.

But we did get attacked. We did get surprised — in large part because we took the world for granted. We took it for granted that Japan would never attack us. We took for granted that, if they did, the consequences would be negligible. We took for granted that we were safe in a very dangerous world.

Our news media take an awful lot for granted too. They’ve normalized things that should never EVER have been normalized. The moment they stop squawking about “Mexicans are rapists” and “Pussy-grabbing”, they normalized it. In the aftermath, if whatever Trump said didn’t top that? Who cared. He’s said worse. And if he DID top it — welcome to the NEW “normal”.

Our press still don’t realize yet how much they’ve done that.

We’ll remind them repeatedly when this is done.

One of the “journalists” who staggers me the most is NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell. This award-winning journalist (that staggers me even more!) brings not an iota of perspective to her “reporting”. She will faithfully repeat whatever Trump or his spokespeople say — without contextualizing it ever. If the president said it, Kelly O’s thinking goes, it’s my job to repeat it accurately.

Ah, but what if we live in Trump World — you know, the world we actually live in — where the president in question has been verifiably accused of lying over 13,000 times. What if the context instead was: “This president — who’s fealty to the truth is dubious at best — just said this…”? Granted the language is a little fancy-assed but the point is good. A man notorious for lying repeatedly wants you to believe something he’s saying — because he needs you to.

Trump needs the Kelly O’s to repeat back what he says without them pointing out it’s bullshit. Every time Kelly O does exactly that, Donald Trump has gotten away with more lies and lying. I wonder… if, one day, Trump came out to the White House lawn and told the assembled reporters — Kelly O’Donnell included — that Kelly O eats puppies for breakfast, would Kelly O blithely repeat it — because that’s what Trump said and her job is to report it without “getting involved” in the story?

Would Kelly O make an exception — knowing for a fact that she DOESN’T eat puppies for breakfast and, personally, finds the idea disgusting? Would she muster the nerve to hold up her hand and say to Trump “Now, hold on here, Mister President, I know for a fact that I do not eat puppies for breakfast, having given up he habit years ago. Either you are mis-informed or you’re a liar, take your pick.”

Mmmmm, no, I can’t hear Kelly O rising to the occasion to defend herself. That would mean she inserted herself into the story — and Kelly O would never do that — not even to defend the truth. About herself.

The media keep framing Bernie Sanders through Trump’s lens — “he’s a socialist” (as if being a socialist was in fact a terrible thing — never mind corporate socialism). Do they ever — to level the playing field — frame Trump the way Democrats will likely frame him — as an authoritarian criminal? As a rapist? As corruption with legs?

No? How about as “Co-Conspirator Number One”? That IS supported by evidence.

I guess all those mediocre “journalists” figure they’ll survive the purges that are sure to follow Trump “winning” another election. They’re even more delusional than usual. Trump will want them to be all Kelly O all the time — a steno pool masquerading as an open mic. Poor them. They don’t grasp how terribly expendable they are.

I hope they get a good bunk at the gulag. I hope they’re not counting on it though.