Dear Conservatives: Thank You For Making Democratic Socialism Inevitable

A thousand years of great explainer videos couldn’t have done what a couple of months in Coronavirus World did: compellingly and undeniably make the case for democratic socialism over crony capitalism.

Make no mistake: crony capitalism brought us here. Conservatism brought us here. The two are flip sides of the same corrupt coin. We have only just begun to feel the hurt coronavirus and covid-19 are going to put on us. We’re the Whack-A-Mole who’s just stuck his head out. We haven’t gotten hit yet so we must be good, right?

At the end of the day, the “joke” will be on conservatism. There is literally no “conservative” way out of this mess. None.

If we force everyone back to work in some ignorant stab at “herd immunity”, we’ll sacrifice millions of people with no guarantee that, as the virus mutates (viruses are very good at mutating and quickly), that herd immunity will carry on. We don’t even know for sure whether people who survive covid-19 and develop covid-19 antibodies become genuinely immune. We think they might. But we don’t have a whole lot of data yet.

But then, conservatism doesn’t put much stock in data. Too much data equals too much information and too much information undermines the credibility of all their bullshit — which was never based on data. Conservatism wants to live in the past. Not a real past, but an idealized past where everything was good for them and less good for everyone else. The playing field conservatism dreams of is tilted horribly in their favor.

That is why conservatives always look askance at too many facts & figures. Climate science is good example. It’s expensive to deal with. It’ll be more expensive if we don’t, says science. Day traders that they are, conservatives will point at the bottom line as if it were a person. We can’t hurt money’s feelings, they say. What they mean is THEIR money. We can’t impact THEIR money — even if THEIR money is killing everyone else.

Conservatives don’t care if millions of Americans get sick and die with no real access to health care. Their in it for the for-profit insurance companies and the for-profit hospitals and the for-profit pharmaceutical companies. While we’re here — no one (repeat NO ONE) loves their “health insurance”. Health INSURANCE is not health CARE. Insurance companies have inserted themselves into our relationships with our health care providers as GATE KEEPERS. We don’t need any stinking gate keepers.

The gate keeper here has segmented the world of health care providers into people we’re allowed to see (cos they have a contract with them that pays an agreed upon price) vs providers we’re NOT allowed to see (unless we want to pay retail-retail entirely out-of-pocket). Other countries don’t have this problem. They don’t have doctors they can see and doctors they can’t — because the gate keeper says so.

Other countries don’t pay premiums (the cost of their health care is built into their taxes — they will absolutely pay more in taxes but the peace of mind alone in knowing you can never go bankrupt and lose everything just because you get sick more than makes up for the difference. In fact, socialized medicine is less expensive overall — by a lot — with far, far better outcomes.

In America, we pay more to get far less and think we’re effin’ brilliant. No, we are not.

But, again, that’s how conservatives “think”. They can’t back up “ours is the best health care system in the world” with data, so they go with “cos I said” instead. They think it therefore it must be.

There’s no conservative way out of here. Good thing there are Progressive ways out. If we had Progressive leadership at the start of this fiasco, the response would have been entirely different (Bill De Blasio’s lead-from-behind “leadership” notwithstanding). We would have followed the science wherever it took and whatever it advised us to do.

That would have put us in lockdown sooner — with all the same economic issues. But, Progressive leadership would have made staying at home a no-brainer by giving everyone a UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME for the duration of their inability to make a living. We would have already been well on the road to socialized medicine — a single payer, medicare for all environment where everyone gets solid health care regardless of who they are, what they earn or who they love. That would have prevented the hesitation anyone had to USE the health CARE part of the system (the non-insurance part).

Progressives recognize that we are only as healthy as the least healthy person among us. I know — pretty Jesus-y. Do unto others and everything.

Progressives also would have federalized our response to the virus — using the federal government the way its supposed to be used — organize our various strengths into a unified strength, not like a mob boss keeping his underlings guessing.

Though we didn’t start out solving this progressively, we will, in the end. Or we won’t survive at all.

We Are About To Enter A Laboratory — Our Lives Are About To Prove That Socialized Democracy Is Better For People Than Crony Capitalism

I can’t help being an optimist — even in the worst of times ( like now).

What’s about to slam into us… I fear we’re not doing it justice. We’re still underselling how hard it’s going to hit us and how.

But that’s where I see silver lining. For starters — we can actually see what having human

Looming Lessons From A Pandemic — Money Won’t Save You; Community However Will

It’s definitely premature to say “here’s what we’ve learned from living through a pandemic…”. But a few lessons are already crystal clear. They’ll only get crystal clearer.

For starters: in a real crisis — like a pandemic — the flow of accurate information is essential. Screw with that? You just made the pandemic exponentially worse. People can’t judge how best to protect themselves, their families and their communities when the information coming at them is bogus or worse. It’s like we’re all trapped inside a building that’s on fire. One exit leads to safety. The other doesn’t — and our current leaders keep insisting that 1) there’s no fire but 2) if there is, run to toward that “other” door — the one that leads AWAY from safety.

Government should not be some foreign, faceless nemesis. In essence, it’s US. We are our own government — that’s the whole point of democracy. It has been a deeply cynical right wing talking point that government is to blame for all our ills. No, actually, GREED is to blame for most of our ills. Ignorance, racism, bigotry and (especially) misogyny account for the rest.

As the coronavirus keeps proving to us, pathogens couldn’t care less how famous we are, how rich we are, how special we are. Viruses need human cells in order to reproduce. They use us like a cheap sex hotel — only to take over the whole hotel once they start having sex in it. Throwing money at it won’t stop it.

Ironically — community will stop it. Provided we keep our distance from our community for a while. But the point of the exercise is to keep the community safe — which means we have to acknowledge that our community is automatically more important than any one individual in it. That’s an important distinction to make — especially going forward.

The Pandemic of 2020 has brought the human world to a virtual stand-still. Our economies — tied together as they are — are about to experience something unprecedented. We’re about to become cash-starved as our incomes stop while our expenses don’t. To survive this — we’re going to have to look each other in the eye and say “people matter more than money does”.

Because Trump’s crony-capitalism has gutted so much of the government we built to protect us — or, at least, create a structured framework in which we can work — we’ll HAVE TO rely on ourselves to survive this. We won’t be able to do what China did — live in our homes like prison cells until we’re told we can go out again. It’s just not in our nature. But — as China is proving — it’s the only way to stop Kovid-19 from spreading.

And until we stop the coronavirus from spreading, we can’t do anything to stop it. Good thing China’s now offering test kits. We need em.

The other Big Lesson we should already be taking from Pandemic 2020 — a for-profit health “care” system will fail everyone using it. Because not everyone can afford to be in the system, a huge chunk of us are unhealthy. Pathogens fly past expensive walls. A pathogen that takes root in a homeless encampment on Spring Street in Downtown Los Angeles can take out whole blocks of rich Beverly Hills residents just like “that”.

We don’t, at present, have a health CARE system, we have a health INSURANCE system. Not the same thing. When anyone walks in the door, our system’s first question isn’t “How can we fix you?”, it’s “How’re you gonna pay for this?”

There’s a reason no other industrialized country does it our way: it’s stupid. It’s inhumane. And, in the face of a pandemic — it’s actually self-destructive.

Humans will see the Pandemic of 2020 as one of those epic events that took over the planet — like a world war. Ironically, the pandemic will have to share space with the OTHER epic event taking over our planet right now — the successful cyber war Russia has waged and still IS waging against America.

The reason the Pandemic of 2020 will be so extraordinarily terrible for the United States is because Donald Trump is president. And Donald Trump is president because Vladimir Putin MADE him president.

Just like in HG Wells’ “War Of The Worlds” — where a humble pathogen takes out the Martians that none of earth’s armies can put a dent in — a germ (okay — a virus) will take down the monster — in our case, Donald Trump. Covid-19 will do what the Truth could not.

Here’s a prediction — and it’s based on the lessons the Pandemic has already taught us — in the Pandemic’s aftermath, America will head to the left. Health care in America will come socialized — made a fact of life by the pandemic. To pay for that health care, Americans will have to rethink their taxes — how much they pay, yes, but more importantly, how much they GET for their taxes.

Social democracy is coming to America — riding on the back of the coronavirus. The rich won’t like it much — until they realize how, when all boats rise on the tide, theirs rises even higher. The rest of us? Well, our boats will be rising on the tide, right? That tide is our community. The one that’s always been there for us.

The one we’ll need to be there for us now.

Damn Right There’s A “Rough Beast Slouching Towards Bethlehem To Be Born” — It’s Republicanism & Permanent Minority Rule!

Just like Trump’s election caused people to seek therapy in droves (that’s a fact — it really, really did!), it caused people trying to articulate what this experience is like to pick up William Butler Yeats’ “The Second Coming”. Bits and pieces of the poem are now part of the vernacular —

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

Or —

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

And then there’s the “icon” —

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Yeats was writing — in 1919 (when he published the poem) about Europe after World War I. “Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world” — which was the context for the best lacking all conviction while the worst, full of passionate intensity, won the day. What Yeats doesn’t answer — though he seems to have an inkling — what exactly IS that “rough beast”, its “hour come round at last”, slouching toward its second coming in a metaphorical Bethlehem?

The seeds of World War II were firmly planted in the result of World War I. And World War I was, in most every way, the death knell of Old Europe. Power was shifting from the hands of the continent’s royal families (they’re all related by blood one way or another) to more democratically-run governments that relied more on the people for their right to govern than because they king said they could. Political ideas like communism were morphing from the abstract into the real with violent consequences. Anarchism seemed a viable alternative to the supposed “order” since that “order” had led everyone into the most catastrophic war ever.

Yeats was writing about a world totally in transition from one thing into another. The problem — what will that “another” become?

We’re in transition too — the whole world. The social democratic order we all took for granted is under assault by backward-thinking greed monsters who can’t bear sharing any of the power or any of the money. If asked directly, the majority of Americans have no desire whatsoever to live in a fascist state. Given a choice between that and a “socialist state” where — while they may not get to be quite as rugged an individual (if your rugged individualism screws with other peoples’ right to live their lives to the fullest, your rugged individualism needs to be curtailed — sorry), most Americans would opt for a country where everyone got to vote, everyone got health CARE (not health INSURANCE) so that going broke cos you got sick was an impossibility, and where everyone got educated or trained to the best of their ability — for “free” (meaning our tax dollars pay for it) because the smarter and better trained our work force and innovators are, the better we’ll solve our collective problems and continue to thrive collectively.

Kinda the opposite of what we’re doing now — while insisting our way must be better, the data be damned.

I don’t know that Yeats anticipated fascism’s rise. Extreme right wing nationalism was very much in the mix in Europe. It was in Ireland. And England. He could have been referring to the Bolshevik Revolution that blew through Russia in 1917, two years before Yeats published his poem.

If ever a man fit the bill “rough beast”, it’s Donald Trump. And the thing causing all those desert birds to flap around so indignantly is the thing that will “be born” when the rough beast finally slouches all the way to Bethlehem — authoritarianism. Permanent minority rule.

Make no mistake. We are living through a coup d’etat. The Republican Party — recognizing their eventual demographic irrelevance — made an actual power grab. They didn’t see themselves working with Trump at first. That part looks like an “improv” born of changing circumstances and tons of Russian Kompromat. We still don’t know what’s contained in all the stolen RNC emails — yes, the DNC’s emails weren’t the only ones Russia stole.

We don’t know, for instance, what caused Lindsey Graham to go from the ultimate Never Trumper to a man who could tell us in great detail what Donald Trump’s ejaculate tastes like. That’s metaphorical, of course. I think…

I wonder — if William Butler Yeats could experience a “second coming” — if Yeats could look around at our world in the context of his poem — what would he say? What would he think?

What would he write?

I’m going to go out on a limb here. I bet Yeats would write: “Didn’t any of you idiots read my damned poem?”

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.