We The People Get The Government We Deserve

The giant, soul-sucking irony that’s haunted America since it became democracy’s Fuller Brush Man is how terrible we are at practicing the democracy we’re selling. In our defense, we dropped from the womb a great idea poorly executed. Just because this country’s founders founded a great nation doesn’t make them infallible. As “All men are created equal” proves, America’s founding fathers did not believe for two seconds that “all men are created equal” and by “all men”, they meant ALL MEN and only men. As I said — a great idea, poorly executed. In defense of the men who founded our government (if not necessarily our country), they did build in mechanisms for change. They recognized that democracy, by its nature, is dynamic. In time, that very dynamism expanded America’s idea of which “men are created equal”; then, finally, we understood “all men” to mean “every single damned one of us, women included”.

It only took us 134 years to apply democracy to more than half the population.

My dad (a surgeon) used to wish that the whole world was ruled by a benevolent dictator — and he’d be that benevolent dictator. He was a healer by nature so, of course, he could imagine a dictatorship that way. But, my dad was responding to how challenging it can be to live in a democratic republic. Winston Churchill agreed. “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all others” is how he put it. The very real problem with democracy is its core strength: its fungibility. Whatever the will of the people is, that’s where democracy will go. Well, that’s the theory anyway.

In a sense, the other real problem with democracy is that it’s a contact sport. That’s only a problem if you don’t know it’s a contact sport. It is a problem because too few Americans either don’t know that democracy’s a contact sport or don’t care. At least, that was how it’s been up till recent times. Ever since Andrew Johnson ended Reconstruction before it even really began, Black voter suppression has been an accepted political tactic here in America. No one can honestly say they didn’t know it was happening. That is, white people — with all of their rights intact including their right to vote — can’t say that they didn’t know that their fellow Black citizens were being deprived of their rights, especially their right to vote.

That’s 245 years (we’re still doing it today!) of white people knowing Black people (and brown people too) were being openly discouraged to vote. That is not how democracy works.

Let’s be brutally honest with ourselves, America — white people are the greatest hinderance to democracy in America. No other group thinks suppressing votes is kosher. No other group does it. Black people don’t do it to white people. Brown people don’t do it to white people. Asian people don’t do it to white people. Only white people do it — to others. My point: the root cause of anti-democratic behavior in America is RACISM. Pure and simple.

The Republican Party took to Trump because he was the logical end point of all their corruption. The Republican Party, for all its rhetoric, has evolved organically into the White Peoples’ Party. They are “the party of Lincoln” in name only (I refer you to Heather Cox Richardson’s brilliant “To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party”). Think of them like a Four Seasons Hotel property that got taken over by slumlords. Just because it says “Four Seasons” outside doesn’t make a Four Seasons inside. It matters who owns the joint.

Hopefully, historians will be able to pinpoint a moment where the right wing money — the Koch Brothers in particular — saw the demographic handwriting on the wall. White hegemony was going to succumb to a rapidly diversifying American population much more rapidly than expected. A very real decision got made to do something about that. Ideas were formulated. Significant monies were spent for a very specific purpose: to extend minority white power as far into the future as possible,. Better yet, convert this minority power into permanent white minority rule. The one big obstacle: American democracy.

The RW money understands the world — at least America — in realpolitik terms. They have no ideology other than money and power. Whatever it takes to get and keep those two things, they will do. There are no messy emotions about it. No rules or laws to worry over — those can be steamrolled easily because white people are white people. Quick side note: To white people in America, only about a third of Americans truly qualify as “white people”. The rest of us — from whatever corner of Europe or the rest of the world we came from — we could only ever be “white adjacent” at best, “the other” at worst. And, to white people, being “the other” means you don’t deserve shit. That includes the right to vote. Back to business: the RW money, understanding America in their way, saw that the executive branch — even with the Electoral College’s perversely tilted playing field perversely tilted toward them — was gone. If not for “Bush v Gore” and overt, treasonous cheating, neither George W. Bush nor Donald Trump would have been president. Joe Biden beat Trump by more than seven million popular votes. Personally, I’d stick a pin in Trump’s vote tally. I want a full and thorough investigation into the ES&S and Diebold companies and their electronic voting machines BEFORE signing off on anything about election 2016.

The RW money knew the presidency was gone. They couldn’t ever count on the House of Representatives because of the two year churn. The House, by its nature, is mercurial and — in a Big Picture sense — unpredictable and impossible to control. The Senate, on the other hand — that, the RW money believed, could be made permanently Republican. Conservatives had already tilted the Senate far, far away from democracy by over-representing white, rural conservatives and under-representing diverse urbanites. Not especially democratic, that. Why do you suppose there are two Dakotas — cos there were too many Dakotans for one? Why do you think there are so many minimally populated western states (Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Montana) that all share the same political outlook? It’s the same reason Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and Washington, DC aren’t states.

The Georgia special election that put Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in the Senate shocked the living crap out of the Republican Party. It should have been a wake up call; ironically, it was — just in the wrong direction. The Republicans didn’t like more Georgians turning out to vote. That’s why the first thing they did in response was to make that impossible. The Right Wing money’s gamble on the Senate may yet come a crapper.

The weapon the RW money planned to wield to get them past democracy to permanent minority rule was the judiciary. The RW money turned its lonely eyes to Mitch McConnell. To their credit, they couldn’t have chosen a better, more corrupt servant to do their anti-democratic bidding. Mitch denied Obama 128 lifetime federal bench appointments — the very same appointments Mitch then moved heaven and earth to fill with vile, racist, corrupt judges chosen by the Heritage Foundation. Chosen by the Kochs.

Mitch denied Merrick Garland so much as a hearing then slammed Amy Barrett down our throats with mere hours to go before Trump’s term ended.

Get the feeling America sucks at democracy?

The thing is, we don’t have to suck at it. There are Americans who understand how our democracy is supposed to work. Black women have suffered more at the hands of America’s bullshit version of democracy than any other group. And yet, as a group, they’ve maintained both a love for American ideals and a loyalty to what American democracy could be. We get to experience the flower of that love and loyalty every time a dynamic political force of nature like Stacey Abrams speaks. Or Maxine Waters. Or Kamala Harris. Black women have been the true keepers of American democracy’s flame. Their devotion has spread. It undergirds the very wokeness the American voting public feels and is feeling right now. And, indeed, more Americans are committed to what America should be than ever before.

More Americans are willing to engage in the contact sport that is American democracy.

But, as I said, this “thing of ours”, our democracy, it’s flawed because the men who wrote it up were flawed and we haven’t had time yet to fix all the flaws. Racism has built countless fail safes into the system — designed impediments to actual democracy. California is about to face one as we vote to recall Governor Gavin Newsome because Republicans are desperate to turn very blue California back into the very red California it used to be. Before it diversified so successfully. Hey — another side note — California’s diversity is key to its being the 6th largest economy in the world. The systemic flaws are what sustain systemic racism to to this day.

It will take a concerted, fully focused offense to overcome what Republicans are doing — last gasp Hail Mary that it is. Even as the GOP pushes America toward a Germanic, fascist authoritarianism (ironically, Hitler based his fascist vision on American racism), it faces an obstacle Hitler didn’t. In fact, the American right faces something no other authoritarian wannabe has had to deal with: DIVERSITY.

Though there were plenty of “good Germans” — the Nazi Party represented a minority of Germans — something in the German national character (and there is one — it’s the product of a thousand years of the various Germanic tribes fusing into “Germany”) wants to follow the rules even if they don’t like them. By the same token, the French Vichy government that ran France with Germany’s approval was no anomaly. French loyalties have flipped and flopped for a thousand years depending on which side was winning the war coming at them. The Swiss have always been icily neutral toward the rest of Europe.

Stalin could murder millions of Russians with impunity because mass murder by the political leadership was a longstanding tradition in Russia.

Here in America though, no one except Native Americans have any kind of extended history. We’re all recent arrivals relatively speaking. All those people arriving from all those different places have no history whatsoever with marching in lockstep with each other. Most of them? They couldn’t march in lockstep with people back home. People marching in lock step is why most of those people left home and came to America. It will be far, far harder to get a diverse American population to go along with minority rule authoritarianism than anyone imagines.

That is precisely why the right wing fights so hard to destroy any semblance of democracy.

Even if the right got every last bit of its current wet dream and every anti-democratic voting law stood, in time — and not much time — Americans would rise up and refuse to go along with this fascist bullshit. Let’s hope we don’t go down that road; we don’t have to.

We need to show up and vote, for one thing. Which we’ll do. But, we also need our elected leaders to stand up for democracy itself. To get themselves bloodied if that’s what it takes.

Because democracy is a contact sport.

We Have To Stop Telling Ourselves Republicans Get Away With Things When WE’RE The Ones LETTING THEM Get Away With Things

Republicans having to bend democracy to its will is not a new thing. They’ve been doing it ever since it dawned on them that a rapidly diversifying America had already ended their cultural hegemony. You don’t suppress your own voters, right? You suppress the other guy’s — because they won’t vote for you. Political parties gerrymander Congressional districts in order to pick their voters before voters have a chance to pick them. If Republicans thought they could win elections based on the strength of their ideas, they’d happily win that way. But they can’t. So, they do everything they can to circumvent the majority. Until that majority actually does something to stop them, they’ll persist — like the pathogen they are inside our body politic.

We The People are a majority. Let’s start with that fact. Election after election after election, the MAJORITY of Americans vote AGAINST Republicans and Republican policies. Republicans have not in any way spoken for a majority of Americans since 1996. Keep in mind, our system does not reflect a level playing field. There are reasons we have 50 states today and not 51 or 52. There are reasons we have TWO Dakotas (and it ain’t because there were too many Dakotans for one Dakota), two Virginias, two Carolinas. Democratic Senators — there are 50 — represent 41.5 million more Americans than Republican Senators!

If Republicans were pushing America toward some ideological goal, it would be one thing. In the old days, they used to pretend that that’s what they were doing. Travel writer Stuart Stevens has been involved in Republican politics since the early 1990’s. Growing up in Mississippi in the 1960’s, Stevens saw the Democrats as “Good ol’ boy segregationists” which is exactly what the Southern Democrats/Dixiecrats were. That’s why he joined the GOP. But, Nixon’s “southern strategy” incorporated the racist Dixiecrats into the GOP. He finished the swap historian Heather Cox Richardson describes in her excellent “To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party”. The names “Democrat” and “Republican” are almost meaningless in an historical sense. If you were to read the “Party of Lincoln’s” foundational documents, you’d swear you were reading something the modern Democratic Party put forward.

Understanding that bit of history helps explain modern Republicans and modern Republicanism. As Stevens himself puts it in his book “It Was All A Lie”, Ever since Reagan, Republicans have been deliberately and knowingly pedaling a lie to America — about themselves but also about us. About America. Republicans recognized post Reaganism that their hold on American culture was doomed. The demographics said so. Not just the demographics of who was coming to America, but the demographics of who had been in America for a long time already — and was suddenly realizing the power of their vote. The dirty, dirty secret Stevens gives up: Republicans knew the culture war was lost before they declared it on the rest of America. The whole point of the exercise was to seize power in whatever way they could — and then old onto it for dear life.

Republicans regard the rest of us cynically but their survival instincts aren’t wrong. If they could just tweak those instincts away from unilateralism and toward power-sharing, they might yet survive. Ah, but Republicans are all schoolyard bullies by nature. And there is the fact that they’ve committed treason in order to attain power and retain power. They’ve thrown their lot in with treason; there’ll be no coming back from that. That, absolutely, is one thing both sides don’t do.

The first wrong idea we have to let go of is that Republicans get away with everything. Yes, in the past, they mostly have. But then there was Watergate and Iran-Contra — two episodes where Republican corruption became so overwhelming we finally did something to corral it. So, we DO have it in us to put our foot down and say “Enough!” The second wrong idea we need to disabuse ourselves of is that we can pick and choose what parts of the rule of law to follow. That’s exactly how one breaks the rule of law. For the rule of law to work correctly, it must be applied evenly to everyone or people begin to think the rule of law doesn’t apply to them. That brings us to the third wrong idea — that whatever the rule of law is, it doesn’t apply to us. It absolutely does.

If we started thinking of our situation from the rule of law’s point of view, we’d dismiss the idea of Republicans getting away with any thing completely out of hand. The Universe cannot work that way because the rule of law can’t. That’s how WE The People need to think of the Universe and the rule of law. The rule of law is our arbitrator. And our arbitrator demands satisfaction when anyone stops playing by the rules.

For four years, the Department of Justice was corrupted by a racist, international crime syndicate and its enablers. Republicans are already ruing the fact that Merrick Garland now heads the Department of Justice instead of occupying a SCOTUS seat. Garland’s steadfastness as a level-headed prosecutor has already condemned them. Garland has said out loud that he intends to investigate all the corruption of the past four years because THAT is what the American People demand of their “top cop”. Once Garland’s DoJ begins pulling Republican corruption threads, it won’t take long for the entire Republican Corruption Sweater to fall apart in a massive, stinking, corrupt heap.

The fact is, Donald Trump will NOT get away with this. We have to stop thinking it might not happen. Rather, We The People need to think it can’t NOT happen. That way, were it not to, we’d come at it from the proper place: it should have happened & we still want it to. Were Trump to get away with what he’s done to us, we need to be willing to shut America down until that situation gets rectified. In a sense, we’ll have zero choice. Were Trump to get away with what he’s done, it would mean the American experiment is indeed over. Democracy has lost while treason and corruption have triumphed.

The only way that becomes reality is if we let it.

Question: Is Liz Cheney Or Marjorie Taylor Green The “Real” Republican Party? Better Question: Who Cares?

Yesterday, the Republican House membership met behind closed doors to choose which direction to point their party toward: old school Republicanism (that pretends it wants small government & more freedom for the individual) or utter chaos. On the surface, chaos won with a standing ovation. But, when they took the vote using secret ballots? Conventionality won. Uh oh — that means more than a few of those standing and applauding chaos were lying. Who could possibly have seen that coming?

Republicans — true to their whiteness — love exclusivity. When it comes to being a Republican — or an American or a Christian — Republicans tend to see themselves as the epitome. They are the true faith and all not like them are apostates. In their minds, they are the ideal members of a any club of which they are a member. What are we poor outsiders to make of it then when TWO white, Christian Republicans claim THEY represent “the true faith” and the other does not?”

Belonging — and not belonging — are very important concepts to Republicans. It’s a characteristic that sets them apart from Democrats. When you allow for diversity, you also have to allow for all the different ways that different people are. “Belonging” to the group becomes more nuanced because how you demonstrate your “belonging to the group” will reflect who you are and why you have chosen to belong to the group. Democrats can’t march in lockstep the way Republicans do. Ironically, Republicans spout their love for the individual over the group but, really, what they love is the individual’s ability to make money in whatever way he wants to. While getting rich however, that individual better do what the group tells him to do. Or he won’t be in the group anymore.

These same Republicans — who will tell you who the real Republicans are — will also tell you who the real Christians and the real Americans are too. It’s them, of course. “Real” Christians (them) see Jesus as the “Do Unto Others” Happy Meal McMascot misrepresenting a church menu of crushing, judgmental “Do What We Say Or Else” dogma. They do the same thing with patriotism. Americans look like them. Anyone else is a pretender. They’re good enough to fight and die as volunteers in our army but letting them vote — now, that’s going just a little too far.

The “modern” Republican Party — if we use the party’s foundational documents as a guide (I highly recommend Heather Cox Richardson’s excellent “To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party” to guide you) — are not Republicans. The Party of Lincoln — just going by its own principles — has swapped names with the Democrats. Abe Lincoln, if he were to rise from the dead, would NOT join the modern Republican Party; he wouldn’t recognize them as “Republicans”. But then, if Jesus were to pull of the same magic trick — and rise from the dead for real — he wouldn’t hang out with most people who call themselves “Christians”. Jesus would be baffled, to begin with, that there even are Christians. To him, any followers would be Jews since Jews are the only people he ever preached to — or expected to preach to. Jews even back then did not proselytize.

But, Republicans proselytize. They insist THEY are “the good news” — haven’t you heard? They proselytize their patriotism the exact same way. And their party loyalty.

Asking “who’s a better Republican” is exactly like asking “who’s a better pirate?” Honestly? Who the hell cares? A pox on all their pirate ships!

The GOP Is Soooooo Pro-Slavery, They’re Actively Trying To Bring It BACK!

Wanna talk the bitterest of irony? “The Party of Lincoln” isn’t just some “fellow traveler” with slavery. The Republicans are the Bond Villain convinced he can make it rain. The GOP makes no bones about how racist it is. The overwhelming whiteness of its membership isn’t a bug, it’s the whole point. The Right White money — think the Kochs & Mercers — have steered their party toward a visible horizon — permanent minority rule. Between gerrymandering and massive voter suppression tactics, Republicans have created a host of bizarre “looking glass worlds” like Michigan and Pennsylvania where the structure of government has been so perverted that Democrats have to vote in far larger numbers than Republicans (more than twice Republican turnout) just to level the playing field. Can anyone say “poll tax”? Seen as a whole (hell, seen even in parts!), the Republican Party is actively engaged in a project that — had they succeeded (they won’t now) — would have returned America to a country where slavery exists. This time though, it wouldn’t just be Black people in chains. What America did to Black people was a perverse dry run for what the GOP STILL has in mind — the enslavement of everyone not them IN America.

Being Jewish, I know what it’s like to be looked at as if I was a cockroach. What do I mean by that? The first step in legitimizing the idea of genocide in someone’s head is you stop seeing the people you want to genocide as “people”. I use the word “cockroach” because — except from people who study cockroaches — we all understand that visceral feeling produced at the mere idea of “cockroach”. That’s how racists feel about Black people — and brown people and “yellow” people (a color descriptor I honestly do not get) and Jewish people. They are one thing, all the rest of us are quite another. We can be useful. We can even be profitable. But we are always, always, ALWAYS expendable.

At its bottom line, slavery is stolen labor. Forcing people — against their will — to work for free — doing work they do not want to do: slavery. Here in America, cotton and sugar cane became cash crops. Problem: both were labor intensive to farm and harvest. If one had to pay all the laborers a fair wage, one might not make a whole lot of money growing those crops. BUT — if one could get all that expensive labor for FREE, well then — one COULD farm those crops and make a shitload of money. Of course, nothing’s entirely free — one still has to house, clothe and feed slaves. That’s cash out. So — business being just math — one needs to cost-benefit analyze what it costs to have a slave versus the money one can make from that slave. Judging by how slavery proliferated in America — and how vociferously slavers fought to KEEP slavery in America — slavery must have been one rock solid business model.

America justified slavery — to itself — because it was good for business. That’s a stone cold fact. Some Americans even held up their Bibles to back up how righteous it was, too. Slavery was good for business AND sanctified by God. Anyone NOT wanting slavery, was… well — cockroaches come to mind.

As historian Heather Cox Richardson has pointed out in her book “To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party”, with America, you have to be careful about political labeling. Something strange happened in America — but then, racism makes strange things happen. The Republican Party Abraham Lincoln felt kinship with and joined because it was anti-slavery — has switched places with the party it opposed: the Democrats. Forget labels! Back then, people calling themselves “Southern Democrats” were pro-slavery. When the country split apart to engage in civil war with itself, the Republicans were understood to be anti-slavery and the Democrats pro-slavery.

Woodrow Wilson — one of the most racist presidents we’ve ever had (though we consider him “New Jersey” because he was at Princeton, Wilson was born in Alabama) — was a Democrat. By contrast, one of Wilson’s predecessors — Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican — was progressive in myriad ways (he was an early environmentalist). By the time Warren Harding became POTUS, the Republican Party was no longer the set of ideals the party was founded on. Perversely, they were now officially the party they used to run against.

When Richard Nixon adopted his “southern strategy”, he was simply formalizing what everyone already knew: Republican success in the future needed to tie itself to racism. The longer Republicans could keep racism alive, the longer they could hold onto power. That’s the “southern strategy”. It all hinges on the lingering embers of Confederate sympathy — and we all know what the Confederacy’s founding principle was: SLAVERY. If you get weepy in any way, shape or form when you see a Confederate flag? It means you like slavery.

Now, “liking slavery” is one thing. Doing something about it — like fomenting an insurrection? That’s a whole lot of lines crossed where there’s no going back.

It’s not a coincidence that, historically, southern Democrats (modern Republicans) worked diligently to keep Black people from voting. Hey, remember that “3/5 of a man” idea — it’s because Southerners knew sorta-kinda how many Black slaves they held. If those people were counted as “citizens”, white southerners would soon be shit outta luck and in the minority! Doesn’t take a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows, as they say — or a racist to see himself in the minority. The Civil Was was all about keeping slaves slaves.

The South may have lost the war but, damn if they didn’t win the peace that followed. The South literally rewrote the narrative. Look at every seceding state’s “Here’s why we’re seceding!” document. Not a single one mentions “states’ rights”. Not a one. But slavery? C’mon now — if you can read, you can see The Truth. The southern states rebelled and left the union over slavery. When the war ended, their desire for slavery did not. Southern sympathy killed Reconstruction dead. America might be a very different country today if Reconstruction had rolled out as intended. Instead, the sons of the Confederacy legitimized their lingering racism by changing the narrative completely. Suddenly, their treason wasn’t about slavery, it was about something fundamental to the American ideal: rights — states’ rights!

Suddenly, traitors like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were being celebrated by America — as heroes FFS! We got it into our heads that a murderous, rebellious battle cry — the “Rebel yell” — was fun, funny, profitable. Oy, America — OY!

The New South just announced itself in Georgia. The Democrats won there because Black people have returned. They will not be bamboozled or cheated out of their rights and their wealth this time. The South will be better for it. It already is.

Make no mistake — Republican racism won’t stop of its own accord. We will have to physically stop it. We will have to remain vigilant. These embers of hate can rekindle just like that. We need to see the Republicans clearly for what they are and what their mission is. When the Biden Administration and the Democrats put forward their $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package, they arrived at the number by putting pencil to paper and calculating what We The People would NEED. As Joe Biden himself has put it it — we shouldn’t be afraid of spending too much, we should be afraid of spending too little.

And yet — the 10 Republicans who approached Biden with their own proposal didn’t have that problem in mind. They pitched a package one-third as big. We KNOW why Team Biden pitched their number — math. Why did the Republicans pitch the number they pitched? Careful — if you get too close, you’ll find that number smells oddly like shit — because the Republicans pulled it from their asses. There WAS and IS no basis for the Republicans’ number. It’s just a number that’s less than what the Democrats want — and what the Democrats want is to alleviate the suffering of ordinary Americans.

What do the Republicans want? If we had anything like a “news media”, they’d be circling that question like sharks drawn to fresh blood. Surely the GOP has a particular reason for denying so many Americans help. Surely they have some “organizing principle” around which they’re drawing their wagons… They don’t actually. That’s the point. They don’t have a point!

The reason not to give people the relief they need is the same reason you want to keep the minimum wage at — say it together — “slave wages”. People too poor to adequately feed themselves should have just enough energy to work for their next paycheck. Whether they live or die — not relevant — because every one of those cogs is replaceable. Cogs or cockroaches — it’s all the same thing. The closer you can get those working for you to work for nothing — and that is how Republicans would love to have it — the closer you get back to literal slavery.

But, let’s be real — the dynamics of a “company town” are the dynamics of slavery. It’s feudalism. It’s a practice conservative business owners have pined for. Not-so-funny funny thing? The Black Death killed half of Europe. It also killed feudalism. Pandemics can change things on a fundamental level. Bubonic plague created a labor vacuum. Too few workers made work more valuable. Vassals, formerly obligated to till their masters’ fields now had a choice. They “could” do what their masters needed — but they could also tend the fields of the lord next door — because he was willing to pay a cash premium to make sure his crops didn’t rot in his fields before they could be harvested.

The plague empowered workers and economic change by disempowering the slavers. This pandemic’s empowering the perennial political underclass — but also by disempowering slavers.

This time, America could get it right. Because Black people are taking so much more of the political power (power long overdue them!) alongside women in general and other people of color, we have the will to finally level this playing field the way it should have been leveled at the start. Slavery cannot produce greatness of any kind because it automatically disrespects the labor required to produce work. Only by treating labor fairly — paying it what it deserves to be paid — can we achieve the freedom we talk about. Freedom after all isn’t just everyone getting to do whatever the hell they want.

That’s a silly, ten year old’s idea of freedom — “You’re not the boss of me” — you know, “Libertarianism”. Freedom comes with awesome responsibilities. It’s a package deal, sorry. Don’t want the responsibilities? Don’t take the benefits. Part of being free is making sure EVERYONE has the same level of freedom. That requires everyone having the same opportunity. That requires everyone gets the same access to a good education, the same good, comprehensive health CARE (not insurance, care), the same treatment under the law. That takes work and vigilance.

The Republican Party now freely admits: they have no interest in democracy. Not enough people want to vote for their “ideas” (such as they are) to make democracy practical for them. Now, cheating, on the other hand — that’s just necessity now. America simply does not want the Republicans’ vision for America — or for them. Who wants to be a slave?

The Filibuster Is One More Way SLAVERY Continues To Torment America — It HAS TO GO!

It almost always sucks when an unintended consequence punches far above its weight and delivers a knockout blow. That’s the filibuster. This bizarre tactic gives one person — one US Senator — the ability to stop what the majority wants in its tracks. In the 1960’s, Southern Democrats (now known as Republicans — as Heather Cox Richardson writes in her excellent “To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party” our two parties, the Democrats and Republicans have, in essence, switched names since the Republican Party’s founding in the 1850’s) used the filibuster to block passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Back then, filibusterers were made to actually filibuster. The Senate’s Racist Coalition had to filibuster for 75 hours straight including a 14-hour and 13 minute address by Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia (before Byrd had his “come to Jesus” moment and repented his racist ways). The filibuster failed when the Senate invoked cloture for only the second time since 1927. The filibuster is antithetical to democratic governance — that’s why it’s the tool-of-choice of racists.

The filibuster has to go. Screw its giving the minority a voice against a hostile majority. That bullshit celebration of the “rugged individual” standing heroically against the forces of evil is actually a lone racist stemming the tide of equality. Or a handful of racists as with the Southern Democrats. It’s the few holding sway over the many. In America, that always means rich, Christian white men having power far beyond what they’re entitled to. That the filibuster still exists is a quirk of American politics and history. It arises from an accommodation made in 1806 to Aaron Burr — then the Vice President — before he left office. It was never intended to be used for ordinary business; (this is from Wikipedia: “a small number of super-majority requirements were explicitly included in [the Constitution], including conviction on impeachment charges (2/3 of Senate), expelling a member of Congress (2/3 of the chamber in question), overriding presidential vetoes (2/3 of both Houses), ratifying treaties (2/3 of Senate) and proposing constitutional amendments (2/3 of both Houses) — see the Wikipedia article “Filibuster In The US Senate” for footnotes and sources).

By 1846, the Senate tired of even casual abuse of the filibuster “rules” such as they were. This “addition by subtraction” was regularly bringing the Senate and its business to a dead stop while one Senator dead set on having HIS way, got up on his little pegs and spewed until either he got his way or 2/3 of the Senate (finally!) told him to shut the hell up already. Not the point of the exercise.

In the 1970’s, the Senate — trying to have it both ways — voted to keep the filibuster alive but make it more “practical” to apply: just what WAS NOT needed. Now, instead of having to actually get up in the Senate and speak for as long as they possibly could, Senators could now “threaten” to filibuster — and get all the benefits of a filibuster’s obstruction without having to any of the heavy lifting of actually filibustering. How white guy of them!

The fear is that destruction of the filibuster will make most every Senatorial decision a simple majority proposition. That proposition scares conservatives more than it does Progressives.

Let’s remind ourselves — the Senate, like the Electoral College, is, by nature and design unfair. The EC stands between each American voter and the president they vote for. We only pretend to vote for president; the Electoral College is the actual mechanism that picks a POTUS. And make no mistake — the EC exists solely to soothe the furrowed brows of slavers. There has always been dynamic tension in America between the populated, diverse cities — Blue America — and the unpopulated, white-ruled rural parts — Red America. On a map, all that red ink represents real estate way more than it does any people who might live on it.

Imagine a presidential campaign where voters in Ohio or Florida didn’t have the potential to literally decide a presidential contest for the whole country. Think of the undue but very real political weight this gives voters in one state over another — almost always rural over urban. Candidates chase “undecided voters” in specific states because their eye’s on the EC. That’s why they’ll go to diners in Iowa and listen to farmers like they were sages. Hey, they might indeed be very bright people with smart things to say. But how they vote should have far less impact on my life than it does just as how I vote should have less impact on theirs.

That the farmer’s vote matters more than mine at present — that’s a problem. The Senate’s design exacerbates it. Again, by design, rural voters get hyper-represented while urban voters get hypo-represented. Wyoming’s 445,000 voters get two US Senators. Same goes for California’s 45 MILLION voters. Each Wyomingite has a far better chance of getting their Senator on the phone — and doing what THEY need than any Californian does (unless they’re super rich). So, a sheep rancher in Wyoming stands a better shot at seeing his needs legislated than a Black single mom in Los Angeles who’s struggling to pay her bills. Such is equality in a system designed to deliver the opposite.

Fixing the Senate is a Big Job that will take a super majority of Democrats to accomplish. Don’t pooh-pooh the possibility. In “normal times”, the coming off year election in 2022 (and why the hell is anyone thinking about THAT already?) would advantage the party OUT OF power because the party IN POWER screwed up. But — cue the “Breaking News” banner — these aren’t “normal times”. The first job the Democrats now controlling the reins of power must accomplish is to undo as much of the damage Trump did as possible. That’s not the Democrats being political. That’s the Democrats GOVERNING.

Our news media — drunk off their asses on the “Both Sides Do It” kool aid — have convinced themselves and half of America that anything anyone does is motivated first by politics. This isn’t just cynical, it’s flat out wrong. They now think that both sides behave the same way and for the exact same reasons. Oy. Just… oy. Before the Democrats can even think about putting forward their “socialist wet dreams”, they FIRST have to solve the pandemic. Do that, they can solve the economy. In between all of that, the Democrats have to deal with the fact that the GOP just sponsored a coup d’etat against the rest of us.

And, on top of THAT, the Democrats have to deal with the fact that the entire Republican Party either participated in multiple acts of treason or stood by while treason and traitors threatened America. Countries that allow traitors to walk free will not be countries for very much longer. The traitors will see to it.

Right now, Mitch McConnell — our Treason Turtle MINORITY LEADER — is attempting to keep the filibuster alive both to protect racism but also to protect the traitors in his party. The fact that racists, bigots and seditionists would benefit — well, to Mitch, that’s all just icing. Odds are, if Mitch McConnell is FOR something? That something is rotten. Or Mitch is doing it for rotten reasons.

Repeat: the filibuster has to go. The people defending it have to disabused of their bullshit excuses (history, fairness, the tyranny of the majority) and made to fess up: they are standing in the majority’s way mostly because they’re racist — and keeping racism alive in America is more important to them than almost anything.

So – Let’s Say We DO Have A Second American Civil War — Here’s What Might Happen

Fact: on the day he resigned the presidency because of Watergate, Richard Nixon still drew a 29% approval rating. Though it was Republicans who literally went to the White House and told Nixon it was over, a huge chunk of their party membership didn’t agree.

They wanted Nixon’s lawlessness to continue.

Another fact: more than a third of America (Nixon’s base plus a little more) have no interest in representative democracy and never have. They’ve never celebrated our great experiment in self government, they’ve despised it because they’ve always known that democracy would stamp an end date on white, Christian male rule. White, Christian men all by themselves can’t breed enough to keep up with America’s diversifying population. That’s why so many of them hole up in the woods or go full desert rat so their paranoia and racism can run wild.

As historian Heather Cox Richardson describes in her book How The South Won The Civil War, though the Confederacy surrendered at Appomattox — and its army ceased to be — it still went on to win the Peace that followed the war by getting ahold of the narrative. A war fought specifically because of slavery became a war fought over “states’ rights”. Traitors became great generals fighting for a grand but lost cause. The antebellum world — repugnant because of its reliance upon slaves and slavery — became romanticized in our popular culture. In fact popular culture — books, movies — took up the mantle of “The Glorious South” and made the racism upholding it all acceptable.

That’s a pretty good result for the side that got crushed.

Lincoln’s successor — Andrew Johnson — began undermining Reconstruction as soon as it began. Had he not done that, our history might have been very different. We might have mitigated some of the hurt caused by slavery. Instead, we doubled down on institutional racism and, in very many ways, kept the Civil War going albeit deep in our national psyche. The ripple effects haunt us constantly.

As hard as Trump and the GOP want to make voting, it looks like the numbers will simply overwhelm them. Whereas no one was looking for Trump’s cheating in 2016, in this election, he’s made it a feature — so everyone’s looking at it. Never mind that it’s insane to equate a win via cheating with a legitimate win. Trump and the Republicans have managed to offend just about everyone who isn’t a white male Christian (or the women playing beta dog to them). The reason they need to curtail the vote is because the vote will be so massive — and so massively against them. It should be so massive that even flipping votes on voting machines won’t help: the difference will be too vast. Flipping vote tallies that far apart wouldn’t even pass a Republican’s smell test.

This isn’t about the Democrats winning, it’s about winning by a staggering margin. That’s why, despite the positive polling, no one can let up. It is a numbers game. And we may not know for certain on November 3 who won. We may not know officially for a week or more — because all those mail-in ballots must be counted. Trump and the Republicans will begin their Civil War right there and then.

Remember — Trump needs to be POTUS for the rest of his life. The second he stops being president? He’ll be indicted — at the very least by the SDNY where Trump remains the “unindicted co-conspirator” in the Michael Cohen case. Now that we know that Rod Rosenstein prevented both the FBI and Team Mueller from investigating Trump’s relationship with Russia — there’ll be that too. There’ll be civil suits flying from everywhere at Trump. He’ll spend more on lawyers than some countries do on electricity.

Trump can’t and won’t accept defeat. Here in the real world, he will pay for his crimes. One way or another — especially once we’ve wrested control of the presidency, the Senate and the Department of Justice from corrupt Republican control — every last bit of Republican malfeasance and treason will be investigated, tried and punished.

But, let’s pretend for a moment that Trump and his Republican pals take over a big chunk of real estate — threatening a lengthy, violent conflict. In the end, the United States of America cedes the Trumpian States of America Wyoming, Idaho, Montana and the Dakotas. As a kind of “house warming” gift, we put up Trump’s wall for him.

As our view of Trump and his corrupt pals disappears behind that wall, we’ll start a clock running — to see, over time, which version of America prospers and thrives and which doesn’t. Will the United States of America do better — with its belief in e pluribus unum? Or will The Trumpian States of America “Be Best” — proving that a cult-of-personality-worshipping population, their heads filled with magical thinking and white rage can operate like an actual country.

Personally, I give the TSA about six months before things begin falling apart. The brain drain they suffered at the experiment’s start has left them with fantasists & sycophants to solve all their problems. Trump having succumbed to one of his various physical ailments, the TSA is now broken up into fiefdoms run by Ivanka, Junior and even Barron. He and Tiffany have had to team up to avoid getting eaten by their siblings. Another fiefdom is run by Mitch McConnell and the remnants of the Republican Party.

Mitch lives in a castle. He doesn’t care what’s happening outside of it. Same goes for every other Republican muckety-muck. They cashed out. The country doesn’t make anything that anyone wants so the cash flow’s mostly negative (hey — they do have a little mineral wealth and Mount Rushmore driving their “tourism industry”!) The great natural wonders aren’t so great or natural anymore — since plundering them was considered de rigeur.

Life in the TSA is cheap and nasty. It’s mostly white people in-breeding more of that “white superiority that isn’t”. Religion has replaced science in the classroom. Parsimony has replaced every ounce of Christian charity. It’s a dog-eat-dog world where everyone’s just another flavor of Alpo.

Meanwhile, across the border, life is hard still because it will take a while to undo the profound, systemic damage Trump caused. But, the damage made systemic change both necessary and easier. Ironically, conservative fear of socialism has created the very “socialized” America that scared them and in record time.

Health CARE is now a right of everyone in America. UBI is a fact of life as is either a fully-paid-for college education or whatever training program someone needs to fully prepare their skill sets. Our bottom line will have shifted from money to people.

That’s renewed the world’s view of America as the place where innovation happens. All those great minds are now turning to climate change and how to mitigate it. Slowly, we turn to face all our other problems too. Removing the racists from our population has definitely helped our racism problem — but everyone has the potential to be racist. It’s hard-wired into us (the potential). We still have to teach ourselves to combat it every single day.

The result? A dynamic country filled with hope and promise. An America way closer to living up to its ideals than ever before.

And then one day, there’s a knock at the door. It’s stragglers fleeing the TSA, looking for asylum.

Behind them, we see more stragglers — looking hungry, fearful and hopeless. The good news? Our strong, prosperous version of America can help them. And will.

When we get to the end of THAT Civil War — the one that ends with our banging economy and their whimpering — I hope we have the good sense to get our historians writing. This time, in addition to winning the war, let’s win the damned peace.

At least let’s make our movie version of what happened better than theirs. Not that it will be hard.

The Cruel, Cruel Truth About Conservatives: They’re All CRUEL

The faces of conservatism. What, do ya suppose, these young monsters want to “conserve”?

What’s in a name? Everything. Want to know what conservatives really, really want? It’s right there in their names: conservatives want to CONSERVE.

Now ask “what?”. WHAT do conservatives want to conserve?

You can’t conserve the future — it doesn’t exist.

But, you can control the present, in a sense. You can do things to keep present circumstances from changing. Well, you can do things to keep what humans do from changing. As we all know, we can’t really do much to keep our environment from changing. Not now, anyway, we’ve already set the worst in motion. Conservatives don’t give a flying fig about that. That’s the future — and they intend for the future to be exactly like the past.

Conservatives are always trying to jam square pegs through round holes. They aren’t the actual square pegs or the round holes — they’re just the ones trying to make them all fit together regardless of how much they don’t fit, never have and never will. That’s the basic operating principle of conservatism — you ignore the situation on the ground in favor of the one in your head. Your goal — make the one on the ground match the one in your head.

Funny thing? It never does. Conservatives never achieve their goal — of turning back the clock. Consequently, fewer and fewer people want to do what conservatives want (thus white America’s conundrum).

Conservatives want other people to behave themselves even as they don’t. They want other people to follow the law — even as they break it. They want other people to do what they say — just because they say.

Conservatives are almost always “religious” — in the sense that they say they believe in “God”. And they do. They believe THEY are “God” — and, as with the imaginary “God” of the Abrahamic texts, conservatives who believe they are God also believe that God-like Magic flows from them: what they say goes! Cos “God” said it.

And who is going to say no to “God”?

Down deep, conservatism demands bullying to have its way. How can it not? It keeps telling people what it wants them to do — but they say “no, thanks — we’d rather do it differently”. Conservatives should have taken their ball and gone home.

They didn’t.

Instead, they decided to change the rules of the game without telling anybody. In fact, they stopped playing the game entirely. They plotted with another neighborhood bully — guy named Vladimir — to start a whole new game — their game. How were they going to get us to quit our game and play theirs? Well, it wasn’t going to be by calmly explaining the rules to us — and selling us legitimately on why their game was better than our game.

Because their game sucks unless you’re them. We were never going to want to play their game.

Which meant bullying us instead. Cheating any way they could — like bullies.

There’s not a single thing Republicans have done since Donald Trump became president that doesn’t reek of cruelty. Hell — there’s not a single thing Republicans have done since… Lincoln? — that didn’t reek of cruelty. But, let’s remind ourselves: Lincoln’s Republican Party is not the contemporary Republican Party. As Heather Cox Richardson’s excellent To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party points out, in virtually every way, the modern Republican and Democratic parties have switched names with the Republican and Democratic parties of Lincoln’s time.

Republicans have always treasured treasure over human life. It’s just a stone cold fact — if money is your “god”, then greed is your mantra and cruelty is the nature of your faith.

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.