Conservatives vs Progressives Can Be Summed Up As “Me vs We”

Trumpism is conservatism on steroids (plus copious amounts of snorted powdered Adderall). If one had to sum up Trumpism in one word, it’d be “me”. “Me” is the one country Donald Trump has fealty toward. Well, “Me” and Vlad Putin. But that’s not ideological fealty. Trump isn’t loyal to Putin because he believes in “Putinism”. Rather, it’s the fealty that a crime boss (Putin) demands from his underlings and capos (Trump). “Me” is the core weakness Putin holds over Trump. Putin is exploiting Trump’s absolute adoration of “Me”, Trump’s willingness to indulge “Me”, make “Me” richer even if doing it is illegal or downright treasonous.

Trumpism = Me-ism. And now, so, too do Republicanism and conservatism.

To be fair to conservatives, they do come by their Me-ism honestly. That is, it’s completely organic to who they are. Conservatives love the Libertarian notion of the “rugged individualist” — that “I alone can fix it” guy. They all see themselves as “rugged individualists”. This dovetails nicely with the conservative, institutionalist idea of religion — a neat twist that turns “Do unto others” into “Do what we say or else”. Conservatives all claim to know God’s will better than you (so you better shut up!) That’s because conservatives don’t believe IN God, they believe they ARE God. So, how could anyone be the “boss of them”?

See how that works?

Conservatives, as their names says, want to conserve. Fair enough. The next logical question: WHAT do conservatives want to “conserve”? Since one can’t conserve the future (it doesn’t exist yet), one is left conserving the present which means conserving the past since that’s what the present reflects — what’s left of the past. THAT is what conservatives want desperately to conserve — as much of the past conserved in the present as possible. Why? Was the past better?

For them, yes. Yes, it was. In the past, conservative values (white, Christian, male) dominated all conversations. “All men are created equal” didn’t mean “all men”. It didn’t mean “all people” either.

For conservatives, the past was infinitely better than they fear the future might be. Which is why they resist change. And progress. Change and progress are antithetical to conservatives and conservatism. That’s not a rap or a judgment. It’s simply a fact. It’s part of the DNA of any conservative argument — resistance to change because of a preference for how it was before.

“How it was before” is a problem for Progressives because “how it was before” was racist, bigoted, misogynist and ignorant. And it’s entirely antithetical to democracy because the majority of Americans aren’t those things. We keep voting against those things but getting the opposite result. It’s like someone was constantly getting in the way of change — of the progress toward real fairness, real justice and a truly level playing field that the majority of Americans want.

Donald Trump pointed out a basic truth that every Republican knows: when more Americans vote, they vote against Republicans and for Democrats because they don’t want what Republicans are selling. Democracy is a marketplace of ideas. In the binary marketplace that is American Democracy, more Americans want to buy Progressive ideas than conservative ideas: a vigorous social safety net, socialized medical CARE (not insurance; insurance doesn’t provide care, it’s a payment mechanism for it) that won’t bankrupt a person (or their family) just because they got sick, UBI, a healthy climate, women’s and minority rights, full LGBTQ participation in American life, a clear separation between Church and State. As Trump put it, if every American voted, Republicans would never win another election.

Exactly so, Donald, exactly so. It’s a testament to how good most Americans are. We want our individual rights respected. But we also recognize that there will always be a dynamic tension between “me” and “we”. If not everyone in the “we” is getting the same “me” treatment? Then it’s like NONE of “we” is getting the “me” treatment. We can’t be truly free until we’re ALL free. Otherwise, we’re just pretending to be “free”.

Even the nature of our protests is different. Most Progressives protests were masked and, at least, had the pandemic’s toll and impact in its head.

Conservative protests?

They’re masked when they must be but you can see “You’re not the boss of me!” burning in their eyes. They’re armed to the teeth. They’re not there to protect anything — other than the scared little boy inside them. As Kyle Rittenhouse was shooting those two UNARMED protesters to death, was he striking blows for freedom? Or was he, down deep, saying “Eff you, man, you’re not taking away whatever it is that I’m so desperately afraid of losing!”

The reason most conservatives fear “we” is because it doesn’t look like them — or what they think “me” should look like: Northern European white people. Christian. Rich.

That’s what conservatives think “American Exceptionalism” is. Them. And their money. They couldn’t be more wrong. American Exceptionalism is spelled out in our motto: “E PLURIBUS UNUM”. Out of many, one. America is the product of diversity. That’s the “PLURIBUS”. The “UNUM” isn’t a bunch of unums making one giant “unum”, it’s an unum borne of the pluribus. “We” has always been essential to the American ideal.

Our mistake thus far has been that we’ve EXCLUDED so many Americans FROM that ideal. Good thing We The People stepped in at the very last second to pluck our democracy back from the selfish, greedy, corrupt conservatives who, frankly, never had much use for it anyway.

There will always be dynamic tension between “me” and “we”. That’s not a bad thing. It’s baked in to our experiment in human self-government. Our duty is to keep the tasting spoon handy. Don’t let the mix get TOO “we” (that will undermine the “me” and we don’t want to do that either).

Maybe we need to reframe our differences. Maybe conservatism isn’t the political opposite of progressivism. Maybe conservatism is an island unto itself. What if we think of “moderation” as the political opposite of progressivism. Rather than “forward v backwards”, what if we thought of the future in terms of “forward v forward with greater deliberation”? After all, whether we like it or not, the future is coming at us. We will face problems in the future that we haven’t even considered yet.

If we don’t anticipate them — by building the future into our plans — then we’ll be caught out when the future arrives. Kinda like the Trump White House prepared America for the pandemic.

See? We are living in a live “Me v We” test tube. “Me” thinking produces sickness and death. “We” thinking does not.

Like there’s really a choice here?

Since “Republican” Now Equals “Trump”, Non-Trumpist Republicans Need To Re-Brand; I’m Here To Help

As much as they suck at governing, Republicans excel at marketing. Remember “Mission Accomplished”? The only thing “accomplished” was hanging that banner. While Americans vote with their hopes and dreams, Republicans only ever deliver smoke and mirrors. Missions UNaccomplished. Skies NOT blue. Plenty of children left behind. The words promise plenty. Too bad they’re all as hollow as Donald Trump’s heart. Hollow because corrupt — and corruption is what binds Trump to each and every Republican.

The fact is, Trump epitomizes Republicanism, its every cynical, greedy, power-mad excess cranked up to eleven. That’s why Republicans — and the republic — are now hurtling toward the mission Republicans have ALWAYS wanted to accomplish: a state of permanent minority rule. Republicans are about to learn a harsh, harsh lesson. The criminal mojo that worked for Trump his whole life is about to stop working.

For four years, every Republican benefited from the fact that Trump gets away with everything by themselves getting away with almost everything. The thing is, those around Trump did NOT get away with everything like Trump does because they’re NOT Trump. Republicans have forgotten: what worked for him would never work for anyone else. Without Trump — and his corrupt, befuddling sorcery — the backstop Republicans have grown accustomed to is gone. They just don’t realize it yet.

But Trump does. He’s even said it in private, back stage. He’s worried about going to jail and he bloody well should be. Because he IS going to jail. One way or another. And the process that puts him in jail will be as highly entertaining as it is revelatory.

We’ve forgotten ourselves how the world works when we have even a semi-functional Department of Justice — that’s how perverted our view of justice has become with Bill Barr at the DoJ’s helm. In addition to attacking the pandemic head on as they hit the ground, Team Biden also must attack corruption head on because corruption threatens the effort to attack the pandemic.

Even with some in the American news media still determined that “both sides do it”, most Americans — the majority of us — see clearly that, really, only ONE SIDE “does it”. Only one side made Donald Trump their candidate and thus their standard-bearer. Only one side made a Devil’s bargain with Russia — and Russian money — in order to win the 2016 election. Only one side has resisted oversight with religious zeal — as if they had something to hide. Only one side refuses still to acknowledge the decision We The People just made about our future leadership.

To call oneself a “Republican” now is to call oneself a “Trumpist”. That won’t change tomorrow. In fact, the fact that Republicans made themselves the Party Of Trump is going to be the brush all future political campaigns paint all future Republicans with. If they WANT to be “The Party Of Trump”, they’re good to go! Voters will understand their choice. But if a Republican wants voters to see them as something other than a Trumpist?

You can’t “call yourself” a Trumpist and not expect people to think you’re a Trumpist. Regardless of whatever nuances YOU apply to the word, the rest of us see zero nuance. We only see Trump. Ask the Coca Cola company what happens when you try to nuance “Coke” with “New”. However the Coca Cola company perceived themselves or wanted their customers to perceive them — they got the opposite. They got confusion — and then anger, resentment and customers turning to Pepsi or RC.

The “Republican” brand is about to be as dead as the “Whig” brand. The problem: we still need those people we used to call “Republicans”. Not the Trumpists, of course, the normal people. We still need their voices of moderation to counter balance ours — which are about to send the country heading hard to the left. Rest assured, whatever resistance Mitch McConnell thinks he’s going to present will be undermined by Mitch’s legal problems. He’s not going to be worried about blocking anything Joe Biden’s doing; he is going to be worried about saving his own bony, white, Treason Turtle ass.

Also — I believe we’re going to learn that all the Republican-manufactured voting machines (the voting machine manufacturers are all Republicans, Republican donors and their boards are all loaded with Republican politicians) have been padding Republican vote totals for YEARS. When a fully functioning Department of Justice begins pulling the thread of Republican Corruption, that garment will unravel faster than a Trumpian lie. We will see Trump, the Republican Party, the Republican leadership and Republicanism bare-assed naked.

Every revelation about greed, corruption, cynicism — and especially treason — will sledgehammer the Republican Brand further. By the time we get to the 2022 mid-terms, Team Biden will have 1) mitigated the worst of the pandemic, 2) eased the economic hurt most Americans are now feeling, 3) restored order and rational thinking to our political process and 4) begun to uncover whole mountains of criminal behavior. To call oneself a “Republican” while running for office would be like saying “Hey, never mind that I may be a criminal myself — since I run with criminals — vote for ME!”

In an environment where integrity and caring about the Commonweal are the norm, good people will want to be perceived as having integrity and caring.

All those good, former-Republicans are going to need a new brand to describe themselves to the American voter. I have a helpful suggestion. A real one.

The problem with calling yourselves “conservative” is that the word gives away too much. As a Progressive, my politics are all geared toward progress — toward meeting the future’s challenges head on with new, outside-the-box solutions. Conservatives are no different. Their politics are all geared toward “conserving” — just like their name says.

The question is “WHAT do conservatives want to conserve?” Obviously it can’t be the future. You can’t conserve what isn’t. Conservatives want to conserve what IS. How we are now — because it still holds on to the bits of how we WERE that conservatives REALLY want to conserve. Ask any conservative what they want to conserve and, ultimately, they’ll reveal that the thing they want to keep alive is the past.

Tradition’s important and all but — in a rapidly changing world, tradition can be dangerous because it’s based on old knowledge that new knowledge might contradict. If they try to bleed you in a hospital emergency room? Say no! Their medical text books are out of date.

And, really, these moderate Republicans aren’t conservatives anyway. Most of them are social Progressives with a Methodist’s view of money. Circumstances — a dissolving economy — are going to force Progressive solutions on us. The cash Team Biden will use to flood the economy is very much a form of Universal Basic Income. We’ll witness ourselves how cash flowing America from the bottom up works far, FAR better than trickling money down from the top ever could work. Even after we’ve wrestled the pandemic to the ground, more pandemics are coming; we have no idea what pathogens a thawing permafrost will release. In a world where we’re as healthy as the least healthy among us — it only takes one person to start a pandemic raging (hello, COVID19!), socialized medicine can’t be a pipe dream. It needs to be a fact of life.

Yes, yes, yes — what Progressives like me want to do will be expensive. Americans will pay more in taxes at the end of the day. But they’ll get something valuable for the money. And the wealthy will pay far more than they do now because they can afford to but — more importantly — because it is their obligation as citizens of this country. Don’t like the responsibility? You don’t have to be a citizen. You can take your chances with your money elsewhere.

Hey, though Trump paid virtually no taxes to America, he obligingly paid hefty taxes to China — because he feared what would happen if he DIDN’T pay his taxes to China.

See? How does the other side counter “corruption” arguments? “Be more conservative” won’t sell. How about “Let’s be more moderate”?

Moderation may not be progress’s diametric opposite (regress), but it is the perfect alternative to “Let’s Do This Now!” Moderation says “Let’s take a deep breath and make sure we’re making the right decision for the most people”. There’s nothing wrong with making Progressives bring their receipts with them. By all means — please check our work. Hell, I bet that while checking our work, these new “moderate former-Republicans” will innovate solutions that Progressives didn’t think of. Those solutions may not get Progressives everything they want but then welcome to democracy.

America is best when it’s moderates are most dynamic — when they’re taking the best ideas and knitting them together into workable solutions. And think how sensible “moderation” will sound going forward. Calling oneself “Moderate” — or “The Moderation Party” would be a bold, direct announcement of who these former Republicans are. With its mission statement baked into its name, a “Moderation Party” would be incredibly attractive to a lot of Americans.

Maybe there’s a better, sexier word than “moderate”. It won’t cut to the end of the chase like “moderate” does. Conservatives won’t go away any time soon though their numbers will dwindle as conservatism takes residual damage from Republicanism’s fall. Ironically, their voice will sound increasingly extreme, making moderation — or a “Moderation Party” that much more sane-sounding.

Please, at least take my suggestion under consideration, moderates. Call yourselves something other than “Republican”. Most of you already do call yourselves something different — “Former Republican”. Let’s find you something you can be proud to call yourselves not as a reaction but as a statement of faith and purpose.

This Progressive is happy to say out loud: We need YOU.

Fact: There Is No Conservative Solution To A Crisis Conservatism Caused

If I was to continue the alliteration, I’d say: Ka-ching!” That’s because it’s so on the money. We are in a crisis… no, we’re in a storm of crises. If only we had just one crisis to deal with this second, it’d be bad enough. But Donald Trump and the Republican Party have brought us to a place where we now face multiple crises on multiple fronts — and all because they are trying desperately to hold onto power that was never legitimately theirs.

Conservatives aren’t criminals and conservatism itself isn’t the “enemy”. Conservative greed is the enemy — as is everything that’s flowed from that greed like, say, their willingness to compromise themselves with Russia. Conservativism’s problem is it’s unsaleable to the majority of Americans. When more Americans vote, they vote for Democrats. That’s just a stone cold fact. Hell, even Donald Trump knows it. The whole point of voter suppression (up to and including hobbling the Post Office) is to stop more people from voting because of how most of them will vote.

Conservatives could have seen their diminishing place in our politics and done something respectable — like find a rock solid place in it. The truth is, progressives like me do need a counterweight if only to keep us honest. But that counterweight needs to be honest, too. And, right now, conservatism can’t claim a lick of honesty.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with capitalism. There’s everything wrong with crony capitalism. The Republican Party just proved that point for all eternity.

Crony capitalism is the conservative fix for everything. It doesn’t matter what the problem is — or whether it ever gets solved — so long as the right amount of money lands in their pocket along the way. The rich get richer while everyone else grows more impoverished, trapped and angrier. But the money that runs capitalism runs both ways.

An economy built on consumers and their confidence will die without them. More specifically, the giant corporations fattening themselves by selling products to American consumers rely on those consumers’ ability and willingness to buy. Problem 1: if those consumers are too broke to buy your products, you’re dead. Problem 2: if those consumers refuse to buy your products because they hate what you stand for, you’re deader than dead.

Here’s the tell: On April 19, 2017, Fox News canned Bill O’Reilly. At the time, O’Reilly’s “The O’Reilly Factor” was Fox News’ top-rated show and its biggest cash cow. O’Reilly wasn’t a “journalist” and didn’t have to play by “journalistic rules” (as if Fox ever has!) but his appearance on a news network gave the utter claptrap that was his stock in trade the “sheen” of news. O’Reilly allowed Fox News to have it both ways. And then, suddenly, that music stopped.

Women did it.

It’s simply a fact: women make the majority of buying decisions in American households. They do the majority of the grocery shopping. They buy the majority of the clothing for their households. They work, they run carpools, they buy cars and gasoline and because they’re now increasingly the principle earners in more and more American households, if they suddenly decide to cancel culture a product? That product will be cancelled, no going back.

All those big corporations whose products women regularly buy? They got the memo. Not wanting to be cancelled, they told the 21st Century Fox Board that they would no longer advertise their products on Bill O’Reilly’s show. They did not want their brands associated with Bill O’Reilly’s brand. For the Fox board, it wasn’t a hard decision. They fired Bill O’Reilly (for reasons they could have/should have fired him years before).

When the marketplace spoke loudly enough, the money reacted. And the marketplace reacted to the economic power of the women within it. Those women are now taking political power with two hands. I’m going to generalize here — male that I am: female biology dictates communal decision-making over unilateral decision-making. No woman would ever say “I alone can fix it” because (here I go generalizing again about women) she knows that no woman can bear and rear a child alone. It really does take at least one other person to help at some point or neither baby nor mama will survive. It really does take a village to raise a child. It takes a village to almost everything — especially in a democracy.

It’s just a stone cold fact: no one can do anything “alone”.

That’s the petard on which conservatism is now hanging itself. Their belief that they alone could “fix” it.

This absolutely a problem of conservatism’s making. Conservatism made it because they were greedy. The way out can’t possibly be more greed.

The way out isn’t some middle option either. Anything that doesn’t put the full weight and potential of the American government at the disposal of We The People has no business being in the discussion. We can smell it’s greed from here.

Even doing everything perfectly will not guarantee that we get a free ride of some kind that magically returns our lives to how they were pre-pandemic. But the results will be exponentially better than what we’re doing to ourselves now. We’re in the process of learning (playing the part of lab rats) how Universal Basic Income works — and how it bolsters and builds an economy rather than undermining it (as conservatives insist, their parsimony cranked up high). We’re learning the lesson that health insurance is not the same thing as health CARE and that literally everyone needs to be included in a universal health CARE system because (in a world where pandemics might now be regular occurrences) we can only ever be as healthy as the least healthy person among us.

Pandemics begin with one person and spread from there.

We’re learning that human decency is, in fact, more important than money. As all those corporations are learning quickly, decency must be part of everyone’s brand going forth. It’s not going to be an option.

The Black Death killed feudalism. It turned an oppressive economic system upside down — giving labor an upper hand it never had before. The result was the guilds, a growing middle class, the birth of capitalism and, finally, the industrial revolution.

We won’t know if this pandemic has the same century-long impacts. We’ll be long dead when those histories get written. But, I bet we get a taste. We’ve already gotten one.

History will judge some of us very harshly. Conservatism won’t be blamed for causing America to nearly collapse but it will be seen as being on the wrong side. I’m not sure, really, how conservatism will eventually get back on our “right” side. What will it take for us to trust their motives again? We’d be foolish to accept their claims of rehabilitation on faith.

I’m absolutely certain nothing conservatives say can help rescue America from what conservatives have done to America. I’m almost as certain conservatives can’t help rescue themselves from what they’ve done to themselves.

I hope they understand if some of us refuse to lend them a hand when they beg for one.

Since “Republican” Is Now Toxic, What Should “New” Republicans Call Themselves?

From a purely branding point of view, it really sucks to be Republicans right now.

If you’re still a card-carrying member of the GOP, think of all the awful things your brand is now co-branded with — joined at the hip and head like the most freakish conjoined twins ever: overt racism, religious extremism, self-destructive intolerance, backwoods misogyny, Bond Villain corruption and the worst kind of treason — purely cynical treason without an ounce of ideology.

Wow. Pick a side of history and it’s guaranteed the Republicans will run toward the wrong side. That’s also the Republican Brand now: being wrong about everything. But then, this isn’t news to the GOP. Whenever it was that the Koch Brothers decided to use their money to alter American politics — the Will Of The People be damned — that’s really when 2016’s coup d’etat formally began. The extreme Right Wing Money saw demographic extinction on the horizon — white guys would become such a minority that even rich guys and their money couldn’t stop them from losing power. Rich white guys weren’t having it. They got the poor white guys riled up against all those “others”.

Been there, done this. Again and again and again.

The “Republican Party” is about to check into the sarcophagus in the History Of American Political Parties Graveyard right next to the Whigs’ moldy pavilion. I hear the view sucks.

It’s a “Republican Party” as a brand is finished. Its luster won’t improve between now and November 3. In fact, I’ll wager, the worst is yet to come.

Plenty of people with living, breathing consciences have shredded their Republican Party membership cards. In the media, there’s Nicolle Wallace, David Jolley, Steve Schmidt and Jennifer Ruben among others. They’ve all vocally disassociated themselves. They, somehow, can’t comfort themselves with the tax breaks they’ve gotten while the rest of the country is betrayed.

As much as those on the left might love to have a free ride here — where everything we want becomes a wish granted — that’s as unhealthy as letting the right run riot. We know what that feels like. This isn’t a question of compromising with lunatics. We’re talking to reasonable people after all. Even when we disagreed with them vehemently, they were still reasonable people.

This blog is called “How To Live Bullshit Free”. The trick to living bullshit free is understanding that each and every one of us has a mountain of our own bullshit to deal with before we even think about looking at anyone else’s. Some of us have whole mountain ranges of bullshit in front of us. And dealing with your own bullshit isn’t a “one n done” proposition. Bullshit’s like zombies: damned hard to kill. But if you don’t deal with your bullshit, your bullshit will deal with you.

No one wants to be at bullshit’s mercy. It has none. I don’t want to be at yours and, believe me, you do not want to be at the mercy of mine.

I wouldn’t recommend “conservative” because, like “Republican”, the brand’s been destroyed by the people who swore by it. We get it — as their name says, conservatives want to conserve. The problem is what conservatives want to conserve — America circa 1850 when white Christian men (especially those with money) did what they wanted to anyone they wanted.

We’re back to the America Republicans want us to be. Sucks that it’s an America the overwhelming majority of Americans reject out of hand. Throw in a stolen election and this is why even “Conservative Party” would just result in good people dealing with bad marketing when they should be defending their ideas and ideals.

What should these good people call themselves? Normally, I’d be brimming with “helpful suggestions”. Something about this assignment fails to inspire. “Moderate Party”? Sounds dull as dishwater — like a party that hates enthusiasm about anything. “Heal America Party”? Sounds too sanctimonious already — and the moment they craft a platform, they’ll contradict themselves because someone won’t feel “healed”.

What does one call modern “people without a country”? Immigrants.

Mmmmmm… Not seeing “The Immigrant Party”. Not that there shouldn’t be one — and not that such a party (if it really spoke from the heart of the immigrant experience) wouldn’t be a welcome addition as we attempt to make our politics more reflective of us. And it’s not to say that this new party couldn’t speak to or represent people wanting to come here and be new Americans.

This new party is more diverse than that. I bet guys like Michael Steele would join it (he used to run the RNC). If it was moderate enough, I bet a fair number of conservative Democrats would check it out — and feel a fair amount of camaraderie.

The truth is, plenty of older African American voters are “conservative”. That is, they’re skeptical first. They want change but they want to make sure it’s the right change; they’re willing to be patient. They, too, might like this new party.

The same is true of Latinos and Chinese Americans and pretty much every group I can think of. It’s this diversity thing. Politics wouldn’t divide along racial lines if racism hadn’t been one of the country’s founding principles. Not that we can ever completely vent racism’s stink, but now that we’re all staring at it, we stand a better chance of not succumbing to its poison.

You see what I’m seeing here? A party as diverse on the “right” as we’ll have on the “left”.

But I still haven’t answered the question I started with: what to call them?

Maybe it’s not on us to name them. Maybe that’s something they need to do for themselves — pick a word, a short phrase, an icon — that tells us who they are. That speaks from their hearts to ours.

That’s what they’re going to need above all — the capacity to speak to the rest of us because they relate to the rest of us. This new party, I suspect, will better understand that all Americans (minus the 30% – 40% who are Trumpian) understand that we’re pulling the cart in the same direction. The differences are far less than everything we have in common.

And often, our differences are more like “framing” issues. Perspective helps those.

Whatever this new party calls itself — whatever their mission statement — I look forward to sitting down with them and getting down to the hard, serious business of fixing what Donald Trump and the Republican Party did to America.

We’ve got a mountain ahead of us.

Capitalism Doesn’t Have To Crush People — Only CRONY Capitalism Does That

Like all ideas, capitalism itself is neither good nor bad. It’s just an idea — a foundational notion of how a society might live, using capital as a motivator for innovation. Capitalism, by its nature, looks to the future. It depends on tomorrow being better than today — it needs new ideas, new inventions, new ways of doing things constantly churning in order to succeed. Money chases ideas because a good idea can make someone rich but also benefit a wide swath of humanity because capitalism has also innovated how to mass produce, market and distribute that good idea.

The trick, as always, is who is at the helm of the idea. Who’s driving it?

Capitalism plus greed — unfortunately the easiest combination of all — produces chaos and corruption and blight. Greed — the compulsive getting of money (or anything) for its own sake — though it seems to run alongside capitalism — actually is an impediment to it. Greed kills innovation. It’s rarely the greedy people who do any of the actual innovating. But damn if they’re not first in line when the money starts flowing. And damn if they don’t refuse to budge when it happens.

We associate capitalism with conservatism — the getting of huge piles of money seems like something old people, landed people, already-wealthy people, greedy people would associate with happiness. But conservatism never thinks about the future. Conservatism wants to conserve — just like it’s name says. It wants to conserve the past (what else?) and the present (because the present still contains elements of the past). Innovation poses a direct threat to that way of thinking. How could it not? Innovation innovates because it sees problems in how we do things now. How can we improve upon past ways? How can change them?

See the problem for conservatives?

The truth is, capitalism and progressivism have far more common purpose than capitalism and conservatism. Crony capitalism is greed perverting markets. It isn’t actually a form of capitalism, it’s a distortion of it.

The more fair capitalism is, the better it is — because it gives more people the chance to both innovate and benefit. That means regulating it. Over-regulation can stifle capitalism as much as corruption does — there is a fine balance. Ain’t nothing perfect in this world — not if humans are involved. Let’s stop thinking it exists.

Social democracies resting upon the Rule Of law (so that everyone is indeed treated equally before the law) and a reasonably regulated capitalism would give more people the chance to live better, happier, healthier lives.

Regulated capitalism puts more money into peoples’ hands. When more people have money — a healthy, functioning middle class — they spend that money on goods and services — the basis for a consumer driven market economy. They may even save a buck or two. Our version of capitalism here in America hasn’t done that. As we know — it’s done the opposite. The rich have gotten way richer, the poor can’t even afford to go to a hospital if they have Covid-19.

And — ironically? That fact is what makes the pandemic so much worse here in America. Our health system is a giant billboard advertising everything wrong with crony capitalism. It’s not a health CARE system, it’s a health INSURANCE system. The first question we ask anyone walking in the door isn’t “How can we fix you?”, it’s “How’re you gonna pay for this?” That’s wrong every which way you look at it.

Think of all the people who lose their houses, go bankrupt, destroy their family’s finances for generations all because they got sick. That doesn’t happen anywhere else but here. It’s because capitalism sits inside our health “care” system — where it does not belong. Capitalism can innovate myriad ways to do health CARE better, more efficiently, more effectively.

That’s if we use capitalism — this idea — as a tool. To help as many human beings around the globe as possible. Capitalism has been good for mankind. It has made life better for us as a species. We’ve prospered under it. That’s just historical fact speaking.

It’s caused profound misery too.

But — if we’re fair — little of that was capitalism’s fault.

Dear Rich Guys: Learn From History! If You Kill Off Too Many Workers, The Workers Will Control The Labor Market!

The current crop of Republicans would have felt right at home in Feudal Europe — all of them vassals to corrupt king Donald who, himself, sold out the Kingdom to the Kingdom’s chief rival, King Vlad The Impaler.

Feudalism relied on having lots of peasants to work the lord’s fields. The Black Plague gutted Europe, killing 60% of its population. In the aftermath, when it came time to plow again, there were now far fewer peasants to do the work. That was true for pretty much every lord around — they needed a hundred plebes, they had twenty. Next thing you know, the lords are fighting over laborers, trying to “grab” their neighbors’ peasants by offering them better deals. Bigger plots of land. A better percentage of whatever the peasant farmed to keep for himself and his family.

For the first time, maybe ever, labor sat atop the seesaw.

The economic system that Europe had lived under for hundreds of years disappeared virtually overnight — because the next harvest had to come in. People were starving. That change in the balance of power killed feudalism dead.

The Trump White House aches to send America “back to work” even as our numbers shoot upward alarmingly. The Trump WH’s own projections call for horrifying numbers that should make the idea of opening the country unthinkable. Yet here we are.

Trump needs to restart the economy because it’s the only argument he (thinks he) has for re-election. It was never a good argument to begin with. It’s even more laughable now. You simply can’t make people want to spend money and buy things when they’re in fear for their lives and the lives of their loved ones. You’ll bankrupt them all first.

Trump doesn’t care about killing Americans. He cares about remaining POTUS.

If he loses this election (he’s going to lose it), he’ll stop being POTUS and the moment THAT happens, his legal problems begin. And once they begin, they may never stop. And the moment Trump’s legal problems begin, so do the legal problems of everyone around him. Right now, that pretty much includes the entire Republican Party.

The Republicans aren’t working toward any grand vision here. They’re on a Permanent Minority Rule Or Bust trip. It’s all or nothing now. When they threw in with Trump, they threw in with Russia (which some of them, it turns out, had already done via Maria Buttina or the NRA). The GOP is in it to win it. There’s no other option for them.

They will go down with this ship — the SS Trump-tanic.

On the other side of this crisis — eighteen months from now, give or take — the RW will get the thing they feared most. Their greed and lust for power is now being revealed. There’s no way to pretty up what the Republicans did and are doing. But there’s also no conservative way out of this. We can only go deeper into the shit by listening to them.

We can fall into a deep, deepening depression that takes longer from which to recover.

THAT’S the conservative way out. Everybody dies except them and their money — they hope. That’s not hyperbole. What else does “There’s more to life than living” mean?

We will emerge from this far more socialized. Of necessity. We must expunge profit incentive from our health CARE system. We need to turn our health CARE system into a care system instead of the health INSURANCE system it now is. As the pandemic makes crystal clear, we are only as healthy as the least healthy person among us.

We will also emerge far more unionized. What the meat packing workers and Amazon workers and others being “essential worker-ed” into the coronavirus’ maw have to endure is horrifying and (if it’s not, it should be) illegal. The Republican Party piling on by insisting that workers refusing to work because of the threat to their lives cannot collect any benefits — in addition to being expected, it’s disgusting.

The lag time between a person’s initial infection with coronavirus and the symptoms it gave the person covid-19 can be about two weeks. Or longer. It’s like when people drink but don’t feel tipsy or happy or drunk right away. They think, “Hey, the booze didn’t work this time — what’s up with that? I better have a lot more right now!”

The issue isn’t the booze, it’s the lag time. Now, in addition to being regular drunk when the lag time finally ends, you’ll be extra drunk because of the chaser you threw down. Ah, but Republicans never learn anything. That’s because they don’t want to. What’s in it for them to learn things? They’re conservatives, remember? They want to conserve — keep things as they are now or, better yet, make them how they were back when white people ruled everything.

Conservatives always have a great sense of history — in that there’s a time in history they want us all to return to. They don’t see history as a teacher of anything. That’s why they keep repeating it.

Rush Limbaugh Is The Poster Boy For What Happens When Conservatism Crashes Into Reality

I don’t wish cancer on anyone. Not out loud anyway. Inside my head might be another story but that’s between me and me.

For years, Rush Limbaugh used his radio show to 1) pooh-pooh the harmful effects of tobacco (and cigar smoking) while advocating that his audience take up the habit BECAUSE TOBACCO COULDN’T HURT THEM and 2) tell his radio audience that marijuana (medical marijuana in particular) was bullshit.

Don’t believe me — believe Rush

Oh, the irony — she is cruel, no? It seems that the very words Rush was reading and mocking came back to take a giant, lung-sized bite out of Rush’s ass.

The question isn’t whether or not adults can do things that might be dangerous to them. So long as they understand the risks involved and so long as they don’t drag anyone else into their risky behavior with them? Go ahead — smoke ten packs a day if that floats your boat. Just don’t breathe on me, dude. And don’t feed other people the same misinformation & bullshit YOU used to make your shitty, ill-informed decision. That’s criminal — propagandizing innocent people into self-destructive behavior.

Rush has also spent his career bleating about the dangers of medical marijuana. Rush says he’s never tried it — doesn’t have to. Still, “he knows” what the experience is like — “knows” its (lack of) efficacy as a medicine. What a shame for Rush then that, as he begins a course of chemotherapy, he’s turned his nose up at a product that could actually help him. If Rush had an open mind, as the chemo did its worst to him, he’d reach for a hybrid like Girl Scout Cookies or Dutch Treat. For starters, there’s the feeling of mild euphoria — a sense that whatever life’s throwing at you, you can now handle it. Then there’s the way it alleviates nausea — something that destroys chemo patients from within. Finally, there’s the fact that cannabis gives you the munchies — and eating is essential for chemo patients to keep up their strength.

Shame Rush got cancer. He has a chance now — with the limited time he has left — to demonstrate the capacity to learn. When I faced my own mortality (I attempted suicide), it changed me profoundly. After I overcame my darkness — and the compulsion to hurt myself — I felt “born again”. I approached my life and the time I have left with renewed passion. I’ve made it my life’s work to preach what I learned.

We all need to seize the day, live our lives to their fullest. Rush Limbaugh has a golden opportunity to change his legacy from ignorant, petty racist to very good man.

Everything that came before says it won’t happen.

If I wasn’t so convinced I’d die, I’d hold my breath.

Dear Conservatives — Your Problem Is: No One (Except YOU) Wants To Conserve What YOU Want To Conserve

Want to know what a conservative wants? Look no further than their name: “CONSERVATIVE”. Conservatives want to “conserve“.

Now — ask the next logical question — “WHAT do conservatives want to CONSERVE?”

Do conservatives want to conserve the future? Of course not — you can’t conserve what doesn’t exist. Do conservatives want to conserve the present? That’s a little closer to the mark.

Yes — conservatives want to conserve what “is” — because what “is” still reflects a large measure of what “was” — and “what was” is exactly what conservatives want to conserve: WHAT WAS.

Now — ask the NEXT logical question: “What was it in the past that conservatives want to conserve?”

In America, it’s the quaint notion that America was ever a white person’s country. Yes, white people may have been the country’s political founders — but even as they crafted the country’s foundational documents, the truth about the country they were founding sat in a cultural blind spot. White men saw only their contributions, ignoring the considerable contributions coming from every other part of America’s already diverse and diversifying population.

Remember — aside from America’s native peoples — who were wiped out more by the Europeans pathogens than anything else — the real estate on which America sits belonged to no other “tribe”. By contrast, the real estate that became France or Spain or England had gone through a millennium at least of tribes slowly evolving from, say, Gauls or Visagoths or Celts into French people, Germans & British.

Just because you control the history doesn’t mean you control the Truth.

Conservative (Christian) thinking insisted that since slavery was “in the bible” it must be morally okay. What they really meant was paying fair wages to the people picking their cotton or cutting down their sugar cane would make profitability really hard. What those conservatives wanted to conserve in this case was as much money as possible.

In this instance, what conservatives wanted to “conserve” was their greedy hold on their part of America’s economy. And we made that deal. We gave slavery and slavers outsized political control over people who hated the idea of slavery.

That’s conservatism’s real problem. They’re a minority proposition in America. When more Americans vote, they vote Democratic. They vote for more progressive candidates & policies. They vote for progress & NOT conservatism.

That’s why Republicans work so hard to minimize Democracy. That’s why they suppress votes and demand voter ID laws. If Republicans thought the great mass of Americans would vote FOR them, they’d make walk-up voting as normal as breathing. But that’s not the case — so they don’t.

Moscow Mitch McConnell — whose whole mandate was to install permanent minority rule — has raised conservative corruption to a high art. Refusing to even give Merrick Garland a hearing wasn’t just another example of Mitch being a clever, cynical politician (which he absolutely is), it was Mitch asserting that only conservative goals matter — the harm done to who and what we are being utterly irrelevant.

The more “sane” conservatives will insist that conservatives don’t want to stop progress, they just want to “slow it down”.

The technical term for that is “bullshit”. Conservatives don’t want to slow America’s future down — they want to stop it dead in its tracks and reverse it. Conservatives want to live in a “golden past” that only ever existed in their own racist, misogynist, bigoted, ignorant minds.

So — the next time a conservative sits a little straighter while insisting they want what’s best for America? Be sure to laugh long and loudly at them. The America THEY think is best looks a hell of a lot like your average Antebellum cotton plantation.

Slavery epitomizes conservative values. That is what conservatives REALLY want to conserve.

It’s No Secret What Conservatives Want — It’s In Their Name: They Want To Live In The Past

I call myself a writer (regardless of what anyone else thinks) because I write. I call myself a Californian because I live in California (and an Angeleno cos I live in LA). I call myself a Progressive because I want to see humankind progress.

If I wanted humans to live in the past, I’d call myself a “conservative” since that’s what conservatives want. It’s right there in their name: “conserve-ative”. The obvious next question — what is it exactly they want to conserve? Judging by the specifics most American conservatives want to conserve? They want to conserve an idealized white Christian male dominated world that existed only in their own minds.

Mitch McConnell — one of the greatest villains to ever turtle crawl across the American stage — made it the whole point of his political career to drag America backwards via lifetime appointments of judges so conservative they think Hitler was a commie rat bastard. If he could have his way, Mitch would finish his days sipping mint juleps from the front porch of his marijuana plantation (Mitch couldn’t care less that he’s destroyed millions of lives enforcing cannabis mythology — there’s MILLIONS OF DOLLARS to be made now that it’s legal and the hypocrisy’s running like the bulls in Pamplona!) watching his slaves sweat and work and die. But Mitch won’t like what actually happens to him. He won’t like ending his days on a diet of prison food — as he will.

Conservatives despise diversity because diversity spells their doom. The more women and people of color become politically empowered, the more pure power slips away forever from conservative (white Christian male) grasp. The irony is it we gave up and let conservatives have the world they cherish, within a generation that world become so backward and upside down that THEY’D be the ones clamoring the loudest to go back to how it was — when the world was more progressive.

Think about it… Conservatives hold dearly to following laws based on the knowledge of people who thought the universe revolved around the earth and that illness was caused by evil spirits. It’s like following a map drawn by someone who’d never been to the place he was mapping — and never planned to. Conservatives will happily go wherever that map takes them — not out of audacity but out of blind loyalty

Does Anything Epitomize Conservative Thinking Better Than ‘A WALL’?

The prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump’s border wall are seen behind the border fence between Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes – RC1B258D6BC0

We stand on a precipice — one of many precipices we seem to end up standing on here in The Age Of Trump — being held hostage by Donald Trump’s campaign slogan ‘Build The Wall’. It’s absurd on it’s face. If you tried to WRITE this — as a script or a novel — you’d bomb because no one would buy it as a premise. It’s too absurd, ya see…

“Build A Wall” began its life (as most things Trumpian do) as an exercise in cynical marketing. During the 2016 campaign, Roger Stone & Sam Nunberg suggested a way to easily remind Trump to rant about ”illegal immigration”. They proposed a cheer line: “Build The Wall”. The icing: “Mexico Will Pay For It”.

‘Build A Wall’ & ‘Mexico Will Pay For It’ were never ever ever based in reality. They never ever EVER were connected to any sort of actual policy beyond pure unadulterated racism. They were mneumonics — memory devices designed for a narrow-minded, forgetful, but deeply racist OLD MAN — Donald J Trump. The wall is a metaphor for everything Trump.

It’s a metaphor for everything CONSERVATIVE, too. To call building a wall — and thinking it’s actually ‘defense’ — is Medieval. It’s more ancient than that actually but — for the sake of kindness, we’ll call it Medieval. As we learned today — Trump’s wall can be chewed through by a common saw that anyone can by at Lowe’s (shop them instead of Home Despot — the guy who owns Home Despot is a Trumpian).

Turns out the word ‘impenetrable’ & ‘wall’ don’t go together…

Donald Trump wants us to ‘buy’ that his wall is ‘impenetrable’ just because he says it is. That’s how authoritarians ‘think’. A thing is so just because I will it. The way sycophants work is they say ‘Yes, it is!’ regardless of the truth. That’s CONSERVATISM right there. Conservatism is the willingness to deny every bit of WHAT IS because you want it to be HOW I WANT IT — regardless of how inaccessible the one place is from the other.

This is Trump’s Wall – post ‘sawzall’…

Conservatives have built a metaphorical wall in their minds around a notion of ‘How It Was’. That’s what they want to CONSERVE — just as their name says. They don’t WANT to go into the future (they certainly don’t want to Progress there…), no, they want to stay in the past — in a place the they’ve CONSERVED.

The overwhelming majority of Americans don’t want to conserve what was since it was weighted so heavily against them. That would be women & People of Color & the LGBTQ Community & Immigrants to the country & Asylum seekers & Frankly, Anyone Who Isn’t White-Christian-Male. WE want what this country can BE far, far more than what it WAS.

To that end, we lend our talents, our passion, our tax dollars, our hopes. Our citizenship comes with great privileges but also awesome responsibilities. A lot of us see it as our duty — as citizens — to help steer this Nation toward the place where as many Americans as possible enjoy the fruits of our common ‘struggle’. That’s not something to conserve — it doesn’t exist yet. But it’s at the very CORE of the American Promise: Come, Give Us Your Best, Work Hard — And We Will Share Our Bounty With You As You Share Yours With Us.

That’s what Conservatives want to KEEP OUT. That’s the thing they want to WALL against. The Truth is, walls don’t keep out Human Progress. Oh, they can delay it a bit — but no wall has ever truly kept human beings captive.

Only a fool conservative would think so.