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.

Is It A “Stupid Question” To Ask “What’s Up With America’s Love Affair With Stupid”?

Not A Revelation: Stupid plays very well in America. I don’t mean we like to laugh at stupid people (everyone loves laughing at stupid people except the stupid people themselves), I mean we we like it when stupid people laugh at us.

We must like it; we keep setting ourselves up for it to happen

American politics has an actual history of stupid people proudly proclaiming how stupid they are — the whole point being how stupid they are. The “Know Nothing” movement was an actual thing started by a bunch of nativists in 1855. When it started, “I know nothing” was the intended response to any and all questions (especially as they pertained to the group’s rabid anti-Catholic xenophobia).

Know-nothingism touched something deep in American racism.

Later on, Dixiecrats — State’s rights Democrats (modern Republicans) — took up the Know-Nothing banner and waved it proudly. Racists like Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms extended the subjects about which they “knew nothing” to pretty much everything. Republicans turned “knowing-nothingism” into a battering ram of legislative ignorance, bad faith and racist claptrap.

Jump cut to today. It’s the “know nothing” attitude — the I don’t give a crap about the facts, I only care about what I want — at the core of a rip tide of anti-abortion legislation. It’s not a love of science seizing the nation, it’s a love of scientific ignorance. Feelings over Facts. Foolishness over everything else.

We are letting stupidity — and stupid people — dictate not only policy but “morality”. Stupid people have stupid morality. Even if well-meaning, stupid people unloosing their stupid upon the world never works out well for the world. Do anti-vaxxers think pathogens like measles and polio give a shit what they think?

Could the Right To Life movement be more blatantly stupid (in addition to dishonest, hypocritical and misogynistic)? You can’t sell stupid with facts. You can only “sell it” (cram it down the Nation’s unwilling throat) by saying it louder and longer. That’s always stupidity’s goal — to outlast you. It’s the only weapon on its tool belt after all…

What is Donald Trump if not Stupidity on Steroids?

Every pronouncement he built his reputation and base on was based on stupidity — and relied on other peoples’ stupidity to take off. It relied on the American news media’s willingness to spread that stupid like fertilizer. And, boy, did they! What makes Donald Trump’s lies so painful isn’t that they’re lies, it’s that they’re so damned STUPID. He must think WE’RE stupid when he says them.

That Donald Trump is STILL president makes the case that, indeed, we ARE stupid. We’re so stupid we’ll let our own rules trip us up — while we try to stop from stupidly going down the road to chaos, corruption and authoritarianism.

Worse than our love affair with stupid however, is America’s almost palpable hatred for smart people. The word “elite” really means “educated”… or “articulate”… or “thoughtful”. In other words, “not stupid”. Republicans love calling Democrats and Progressives “elite” — by which they mean “not stupid”.

Back in the 1950’s the Democrats twice put Adlai Stevenson up to run against Dwight Eisenhower. It was a thankless task — running against the War Hero who’d just won the Second World War in most Americans’ eyes. What Republicans relied on however — to beat down Stevenson — was his intelligence. Republicans called Stevenson “egghead” because his being well-read, well-informed and capable of critical thinking apparently made him less of a public servant to their way of “thinking”.

Oh, irony… poor, irony.

Where does that come from, I wonder, America’s virulent — persistent — anti-intellectualism? I don’t think it’s a coincidence that so many religions have been created here. A religion is a fantastical answer to a practical question — why are we here? But, whereas a science-thinking person starts to answer it by establishing first what they can prove with facts, a religionista doesn’t bother with facts (because facts can only confuse them or screw them up).

A religionista’s answer (to anything) doesn’t have to have a basis in reality.

I’m biased, I guess. That sounds painfully stupid. Never mind asking what could possibly go wrong, I want to know what could possibly go right?