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Showing posts with label DFL. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DFL. Show all posts

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Reassessing the Constituency of the Democratic Party



Editorial, The Week in Review – Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
02.04.2017

For nearly the entire twentieth century the Democratic Party has been identified with labor unions, farmers, the working class, the marginalized and the poor.
In my home state, Minnesota, the Democratic Party is known as the DFL, Democratic Farmer Laborer Party, just to make this more connection with its constituency more explicit.
For the last fifty to sixty years the Democratic Party has also been known for its commitment to human rights, civil rights, the rights of minorities, and the rights of women.
Just about thirty years ago, with the election of Bill Clinton, the Democratic Party began to shift. It developed favorable relationships with banking, promoting big business and multi-nationalism, democrats became “free-traders.”
The Democratic party has, for the most part, retained the loyalty of Labor unions through this transformation, even though some of those trading policies significantly hurt the American manufacturing sector. As free trade expanded, many jobs left the United States for Foreign markets. Whole communities dissolved, and faded away.
On the macro scale, our trade policies have been good for the United States. We are exporting more goods. Jobs have been created in other sectors to make up for the jobs we lost. Employment is up, inflation is down, wealth is up…but the wealth gap has grown.
Most economists, those without an axe to grind, will tell you that those policies have been neutral, but that is small comfort to those who have had to rearrange their lives because their jobs and their homes and their town disappeared.
In the last couple of election cycles many democrats have suffered at the poles. One thing you hear from the critics is that democrats no longer know how to speak to their constituency, they need to re-establish their relationship with the unions, the laborers, and the farmers. The Democrats need to recover their ability to speak to the working class, to rural Americans.
I am calling this logic into question.
Democrats need to be the party of the majority/minorities, whether there are laborers, chefs, farmers, servers, artists, doctors, lawyers, or bankers.
Democrats need to be the party of women, no matter where they live.
Democrats need to be the party of science, of criminal justice reform, of civil rights.
Democrats can forget about the white rural factory worker, the white rural factory farmer, the protectionist, English language only, NRA member.
We do not need them, we do not need to twist ourselves into knots trying to speak their language.
Republicans began to master the art of getting that constituency to vote against their self interest in the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s. Through the Christian right, and now the Tea Party, that group is lost to us.
I watched my own father, a Republican, become the president of his union, just so that he could tear it apart, weaken it, and make it ineffectual. There are many unions that remain the natural allies of the democrat party, but there are many other unions who have been co-opted by the right, and actually work against the interests of their membership.
All of these relationships need to be run through a gamut of discernment.
Teachers unions, nurses unions, hospitality sector unions, the unions of educated para-professionals, skilled labor, and artists, these are the unions we need to support. We need to support the unions with higher concentrations, of women and the majority/minorities that is the future of America.
The Democratic Party must give up the prospect of trying to bring in the no-nothings of the right wing, the climate change deniers, the evolutionary science deniers, those who believe that America is a Christian nation, those who want to control the bodies of women.
That constituency is lost to us.
Our new constituency is urban, intellectual, artistic, technological, and professional.
Embrace it.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Voting – Heart vs. Head - Editorial, The Week in Review – Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

03.05.2016

Voting – Heart vs. Head

I went to my caucuses last Tuesday night. I showed up to vote for Hillary, and I did, as I said I would. I am proud to have done so, proud to be casting this vote for the person I expect will be the first woman to hold the office of the president.

The caucus site was disorganized. There were three different precincts voting at Jefferson Elementary, and there was not much clarity about where you were supposed to go. However, once I figured that out, matters proceeded in an orderly fashion.

I was expecting something different from what I experienced. I thought there would be a period to persuade and convince the other voters, but there was not.

I showed up; received my ballot, marked it and put it in a box. Many people left after that point. Fewer than one-hundred, of six-hundred stuck around. I did.

I listened to the organizers, tell us the rules of the caucus. They went over the agenda. We elected people to committees. I was elected as a delegate to the endorsing convention for DFL Senate District 61.

I listened as a number of ballot resolutions were introduced by various party activities. Most of the measures I supported. There were some that I was disinterested in. There was one that I spoke against. The measure I spoke against passed, and I was the only person opposed to it. It was a call for a constitutional amendment to reform campaign financing, the issue that was articulated seemed that it could be gotten too much sooner through the normal legislative process, or through the courts; than through the more onerous, and more dubious process of a constitutional amendment.

There was little, actual opposition, to any of the resolutions that were offered, though I sensed that there were real opposition that simply went unspoken.

Many of the resolutions had a “daydreaming” quality, “pie in the sky” realism.

It set me to thinking about some of the conversations I have had about my support for Hillary.
My precinct went for Bernie at a rate of about 4 to 1 (a little better). Minnesota went for Bernie in the final count. Here in my neighborhood, at my job, and among my friends I have definitely felt like I was in the minority.

When asked about my support; my response begins with this: “I have always supported Hillary Clinton. She is smart and capable, and will prove to be an effective manager of government.

“While I agree with the idealism that Bernie Sanders expresses, I do not believe that idealism and politics should mix.”

This seems counter-intuitive to most of the people I have spoken with.

There is a well-established, but uncritical norm; vote for the candidate you like, for the candidate you believe is right. Vote for the candidate that speaks to your heart, for the one that make you feel good.

The slogan of the sanders campaign is not: Understand the Bern, analyze it, asses it, and know it. The slogan is Feel the Bern.

 Feel it.

I am not suggesting that we should not feel good about our votes, but feelings are more easily moved than reason, more easily preyed upon, and more easily misdirected.

While the appeal to idealism may articulate the place we want our society to be, when that appeal is fueled by the power of emotions it does not leave any room to negotiate, or compromise with those on the other side of the table.

Idealism is too easily transformed into fundamentalism, the uncritical sense of empowerment based on the belief that you are right.

Fundamental-idealism is a powerful force. It can motivate a lot of people, but it also brings out an ugly and even violent aspect of our human nature. This is true wherever the arrow of your idealism is pointing.

I have heard a lot of my sisters and brothers on the left side of the political spectrum tell me:

If Bernie loses they will sit out the election.

They will never vote for Hillary.

Hillary is no different than a republican.

Republicans and democrats are the same, that’s why we need a socialist.

Hillary is evil and she must be stopped.

This is the place that fundamental-idealism brings us to in our politics. This is the power of the heart over the head.

We suffer the machinations of the fundamentalists on the other side of the spectrum all the time. They have taken over the republican party. Their idealism has led them to name corporations as people, to curtain the voting rights act, to fear the immigrant, to religious intolerance, and too many other atrocious principles to articulate.


Though I am predisposed to supporting the agenda from the left wing, tyranny can also flow from those good intentions, but it will only flow from that idealism if it uncritical and fundamentalistic.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Voting for Hillary Part IV - Editorial, The Week in Review – Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

02.27.2016

Voting for Hillary Part IV

As a supporter of Hillary (HRC), I can tell you that it was gratifying to watch the results come in from yesterday primary in South Carolina. Even though I am not anticipating it, I hope my DFL friends who are planning to caucus on Tuesday I hope we can show the same good sense. I am going to be up at Jefferson Elementary Tuesday night, March 1st; making the case.

I support HRC, it is not that I don’t think Senator Sanders (BS), has good ideas; I do. I share his ideals, but I think, as many of you have heard me say, that HRC has a much better chance of advancing the progressive agenda than BS does.

This is why I think HRC will get more traction for her agenda than BS will be able to do:

The republican establishment has been playing a long con, for the past eight years, by refusing to cooperate with Obama. They thought they could keep both social policy, and economic progress stagnant, and that this would do enough damage to the democratic brand that America would abandon both President Obama and his allies in congress. President Obama was able to get some things done, like the ACA, in the first two years, when the democratic party had control of both chambers of congress. However, in 2010 the democrats lost the House of Representatives, and the obstruction set in, and the long con began.

This gamesmanship did not work out quite the way they planned, President Obama was reelected, but the republicans did gain control of the Senate, and so they doubled down on their strategy for his second term; thinking that if things were held at a standstill the election this year, in 2016, would be viewed as a referendum on the Democratic Party and they would be able to sweep in. It was a big gamble, and the results of the 2014 election indicated that it might be working, the republicans strengthened their hand that year, and yet the con is not complete, and the risks are still risky, because the big money behind the Republican Party establishment, wants more than anything to make money. They want 4% or 5% economic growth, not 1% or 2%. They want the prime lending rate at 1% or 2% not 0%, or 0.25% which it is now.

The way I see the last eight years is that those interests basically accepted the notion of having a weak U.S. economy, one in which they were still making money, still performing better than the rest of the world (by just sitting on their capitol), with the hope that at the end of it they would have both houses of congress, the executive branch, and the Supreme Court all wrapped up. That is the con, but it did not quite work.

The economy performed better than expected. The stock market performed better than expected, the rest of the world did much worse than expected. At the moment, the U.S. economy is benefitting from the global slow down. The recent slowdown in China only benefits us, it hurts the stock market short term, it generated some uncertainty and instability, but it will help us in the longer term, because investment dollars will move away from those markets, into ours due to the long term stability that the United States provides. Furthermore, beyond those economic considerations, that long con that the republican establishment played forced the establishment to coddle the most rightwing elements of their party, and now establishment has been completely undermined by their ideological clowns, and they are on the verge losing control of it to an upstart named Donald Trump.

Here is the deal, those republican economic interests are not going to triple down on that bet. They will not play the con any longer if their gambit does not pay off. Those economic interests who are sitting on (as much or more than) two-trillion dollars in capitol, are going to free up that capitol, and return to investing it in the U.S., in our work force, in technology, in industry and in infrastructure development. Securing that capital investment, cooperatively (not by coercion), is the key to economic development and prosperity in American for the next several decades. But they will only play ball, if they have someone in office that will play ball with them. HRC will work with them.

For many of my friends, the fact that HRC will work with these interest groups is reason enough not to support her. I respect that, but I contend that it is short sighted. We want that capital investment in America, we can get to it much faster if we deal with them, than we can if the plan is to change the tax structure first, and take it from them. HRC will be able to make a deal in the short term, but only if they get some concessions. HRC will be able to cut an infrastructure deal, BS will not. This is true regarding the rest of their proposed agendas; HRC will be able to make deals and get some things done and BS will not. I am not going to put forward a long list of what HRC will be able to do that BS won’t, because that one example (on infrastructure) summarizes my argument and my point of view, and I think you can extrapolate my rationale from there.

I am certain that if Hillary puts out a reasonable plan for growth and the Republican leadership refuses to play ball, there will be some party switching, republicans will defect, and the leadership will get some marching orders from those economic interest groups; they will be told to play ball, those economic powers do not want another four or eight years of weak growth.


BS however, he will not get that consideration, because he either will not compromise, or he will not compromise enough. The strength of his idealism, will become his ideological weakness, he will not compromise enough. His idealism will have him come off looking like the crazy person at the bargaining table, and they will drive him out as a failure in four years, while at the same time holding on to the other channels of power. The republicans will triple down on their bet then, and the great con game will continue.