Tag: Progressive Politics

GOP Control of Congress May Be the Great the Opportunity for the Democrats

George S LedyardFrom the Article:
“In the past year, 7 in 10 low-income families experienced at least one civil legal problem, according to a recent University of Chicago NORC survey done for the Legal Services Corporation. Such problems include foreclosures, domestic violence (getting a restraining order, for example), custody disputes, debt repayment or neglectful landlords. The elderly, rural residents and veterans — all core components of the Republican base — are especially well-represented in this population.”
It’s not only Medicaid that’s in danger from the GOP cuts being proposed. Legal Aid is in danger as well.
What is interesting about these budget cuts is the way they reveal a real fault line that runs through the Republican base. It turns out that while socially the base may be very “Republican” i.e. anti-foreigner & Anti-immigration, anti-LGBT & anti-gay marriage, hard core Christian & anti-Muslim, and bigoted against people of color, those very same people, often without realizing it, are very Democratic in their economic / policy attitudes.
The hard core Red States in the heartland are some of the largest recipients of Federal aid in the form social safety net support (often known as welfare). As was the case with so-called Obamacare, often these people, who are not the most sophisticated folks, don’t even understand the details of the support they get. When the find out what’s involved with cutting these GOP vilified programs they are often horrified.
In the case of Obamacare the GOP seven year propaganda effort had the majority of Americans convinced that program was the cause of all of their health care ills. But now that the GOP repeal and replace effort has people looking at the details, it turns out that almost every single element of what they say should be essential in their health care coverage was a part of he ACA and they simply didn’t understand that fact.
The nation’s poor have been relying on Federal assistance in myriad ways. Legal assistance is just another program that benefits low income people who no other means of navigating the legal environment in which all of us live. When faced with losing this support due to GOP budget cuts, the poor and working class folks who have relied on them are not happy.
In most cases these programs exist because Democrats created them and pushed them through the legislative process, sometimes with moderate GOP support and sometimes with no GOP support at all. Now that the GOP is in control of Congress and the Presidency all of these programs are in danger of being either eliminated or drastically cut. And it is the core voter base that is waking up to the fact that they’ve elected leaders who are ideologically committed to destroying the safety net upon which they depend.
This points out  a glaring reality. The Democrats have been and continue to be the political party that has consistently, since the Great Depression, championed the programs that provide a floor to poverty. Programs designed to keep our poor and working class citizens from sinking below the waves and drowning in poverty. And they have been doing an abysmal job of reminding people of that fact.
Why is it that the GOP has such a strong base of support precisely among the folks that depend on these essentially Democratic programs for their survival? One must arrive at he conclusion that, in its championing of the rights of our vulnerable minorities, women’s rights, workers rights, civil rights for minorities, LGBT rights, and diversity as a positive value, the Democrats have done a very poor job of reminding the American public that the programs upon which our nations poor and working class depend for survival, are Democratic programs.
The GOP has mastered the art of playing upon the social biases of the American heartland to convince them to vote against their own economic interests. As long as power seemed to lie in some part with the Democrats, the GOP could blame all sorts of issues on those terrible Liberals in Washington. But now, the GOP is in the position of having to own the whole thing. They control the whole government. And that is starting to wake people up. Voters in the heartland are starting to look at the proposed cuts in the GOP budget & health care bills on an item by item basis.
GOP legislators trying to create the ACA replacement are finding that, in order to keep the elements of health care coverage that the voters feel are essential, they are ending up with something that looks suspiciously like Obamacare 2.0. This is revealing a major fault line in the GOP between those who hesitate to risk losing the support of their base by seriously damaging their economic survival and the hard core ideologues who put their radical libertarian philosophy ahead of the welfare of their constituents.
It is clear that the Democratic Party must figure out how to craft a message that makes this clear to the poor and working class folks who seem to have not understood or have forgotten just what it is that the party does for them. We need to get back to the old Democratic party alliance with organized labor, develop programs designed to deal with the widening wealth / income divide, think forward by working out programs designed to help the work force transition to the jobs of the future as the robotics revolution  destroys traditional work models.
But more importantly, the Democrats need a better understanding of how to sell their program. They need a “ministry of propaganda” that understands the current  neuroscience of how voters make their decisions, how to craft a message the resonates. We  clearly are the party which has the agenda that benefits the poor and working classes economically coupled with an idealistic civil rights agenda of diversity that appeals to the educated liberal elites.
How we develop a sophisticated messaging program to “sell” that fact will determine the survival of the party in the future. The GOP control of the entire legislative process is going to create the opportunity to create a huge backlash against the GOP programs which are now transparently for the benefit of the richest oligarchs at he expense of the common man. But the Democrats have to craft the message and hammer it home. They also need some candidates that are inspiring and charismatic that can get the voters excited about the Dem agenda.
Article on the Threat to Legal Aid in the GOP Budget

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Domestic Politics “Trumps” Foreign Policy Positions

George S Ledyard“There’s no such thing as foreign policy, there is only domestic policy” – Justin Raimondo of AntiWar.com in an interview on NPR today.
In this case he was talking about Donald Trump’s recent bombing of Syria, ostensibly in response to Assad’s sarin gas attack on civilians. His take on it, and I think it makes sense, is that Trump is basically bombing Syria, in order to try to show the American people that he isn’t in bad with the Russians.
Cruise missiles SyriaInterestingly, the total flip flop from the Reagan era when the GOP was full of anti-Russian cold warriors and the Democrats, as the opposition party were obligated to oppose Reagan’s global anti Communist efforts, we now have a Republican administration which is clearly positively disposed towards Russia and an almost hysterically anti-Russian Democratic Party.Anti RussianThis creates the most amazing political conjunction. Many of the far left Progressives who supported Bernie Sanders in the 2016 campaign, seem far more focused on the perceived evils of the Democratic Party establishment, the so-called Neo-Liberals, than they are  with what the people on the ultra right are doing. So, we find these Progressives putting forth the same pro-Russia, anti-Democratic messages that the far right talk show hosts are putting out.
WikiLeaksThey question whether the Russians really did hack the DNC, they deny that the Russians intervened in the election to benefit Donald Trump, they are depicting the Syrian gas attack as a false flag operation designed to generate support for anti-Assad  forces and pressure the Russians to perhaps distance themselves from their ally.
Isn’t it rather insane that a group of people who share absolutely no agenda items in their vision of America with the GOP or the Tea Party radicals end up allied on foreign policy issues with Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin?
And the Democrats themselves, have so committed to the anti-Russian narrative that, when their arch enemy, the Great Satan, Donald Trump chooses to bomb Syria in order to convince people he isn’t in the pocket of the Russians, they end up praising his actions and actually assisting him in his attempts to appear more “Presidential”. It is actually the far right nationalists, who thought Trump was going to be an isolationist that are upset about the bombing and his flip flop on the US as a global policeman.
My point here is that the Syrian issue ends up highlighting just how irrational most folk’s foreign policy positions are. They have little or nothing to do with the realities of the political and military situation on the ground in Syria. Folks take their positions based on the interplay of political considerations here on the domestic scene.
Trump PutinTrump clearly has a serious Russian influence problem. So, he goes against his publicly stated stance as an isolationist, and bombs Syria in order to show he’s not in the pocket of the Russians. The Democrats who have suddenly become hyper anti-Russian (just since the election amazingly) have been using the Russian influence scandal to bludgeon Trump. So, when Trump actually does something that runs counter to Russia’s stated interests, the Dems end up helping to legitimize and normalize this man whom they strongly oppose. This of course totally validates Trump’s attempts at deflection.
Hillary Clinton Progressive OppositionThe far left Progressive fanatics are trying to create a movement to set up a third party. Their narrative is that the Democratic Party is compromised beyond repair. They want to split off Democratic Party support in order to grow support for their new party. This means that their major focus isn’t on resisting Trump or the Alt Right, it’s on opposing any and all Democratic efforts to appear to recover from the Hillary Clinton / DNC electoral loss. So, if the Democratic establishment is taking an anti-Russian stance in response to Trump’s clear pro-Russia agenda, the Progressives end up pursuing the same agenda as the Trump forces.
Can everyone see just how little this has anything at all due to historical, cultural, and political reality in Syria? While I am sure that in the intelligence and military communities there are educated people striving for fact based decision making. But if one is listening to the leaders of ANY of the different political factions, Tea Party, Republican, Democratic, Progressive, it doesn’t matter, you see their positions change with the wind, based on domestic political concerns and with little regard to educated and consistent foreign policy agendas.

We Are Better Than This

George S LedyardRecently, as the primary season has really heated up I have been seeing more and more posts and memes on social media that qualify as serious Hillary bashing. Of course I have grown used to that coming from the Republicans. Their ability to take an event, twist the facts and change reality a la “Willie Horton”, or the “swift boating” of John Kerry, is unmatched.
The trouble is, these scurrilous attacks are coming from my “peeps”, fellow Progressives who support Bernie Sanders. I look at the distortions, the vitriol, and I wonder “Do I even know you people? Because you sound just like the folks I thought we were all fighting against.

First of all I would say, if you aren’t sure how to behave, take your cue from the man we are supporting for President. Throughout this campaign he has manged to be forceful, passionate, powerfully motivating without getting down in the mud. He has tried to stick to the issues, has highlighted the differences between himself and Secretary Clinton, and acted like a leader who believes that the issues speak for themselves.

There is no way that Bernie Sanders would approve of this. He has asked his supporters to desist from disrupting Clinton’s campaign events while supporting their right to demonstrate. While the GOP stooped to name calling, humiliating each other’s spouses, and talking about how big their manhood was, Bernie has attacked Clinton on the issues and stayed clear of making it personal or stooping to sensationalist fictionalizing of Clinton’s record.
We are better than this. If you want to convince people to understand why Bernie is the better candidate you don’t do it by character assassination but by cogent argument. Talk about the fact that she voted for the Iraq War powers. Talk about the fact that she advocated the overthrow of the Libyan regime and how well that has turned out. There is plenty here to criticize. Talk about her past opposition to raising the minimum wage, her previous support for big international trade deals and her recent change of heart (thanks Bernie).
I am sick to death of how civil discourse has deteriorated in this country. The ultra right talk shows, the conservative bloggers, and now even their political candidates have dragged us down. We cannot and should not stoop to that same level of behavior or we just become thuggish, as they are.
An inability to unite, to create strong alliances, to compromise when required, has crippled progressive social movements for years. The present moment is a perhaps once in a lifetime concurrence of opportunities to move things forward in a big way. Let’s treat each other respectfully. By all means fight the good fight. But the folks who are supporters of Hillary Clinton will not be persuaded to change that support by childish tantrums and dishonest, alienating, and at times bullying behavior. Let’s clean up our act or we’ll have a truly disastrous election.

Why Class War?

This article was posted on my Facebook timeline. I responded but then decided I should share it via my Blog. So, read the article and then read my response below.

Know Thy Enemy: a Classier Take on Class Warfare by Sable Levy In case you didn’t know it, the ultra-rich are widely vilified—particularly within movements such as Occupy Wall Street and the political campaign of Bernie Sanders, which has captured the…Read more ›

Source: Know Thy Enemy: a Classier Take on Class Warfare – Texas Millennial Institute

George S LedyardMy Response:

Well , it all depends on what battle we are talking about. Class warfare is only one of the many battles we all are engaged in. There’s the battle between good and evil… and that can be described as existing on different levels in itself. There is the battle against evil out in the world. Rape, murder, enslavement, ethnic cleansing, and so on. This is the realm of politics, diplomacy, and the military.

There is also the battle between good and evil in ourselves. This is largely the realm of religion. It is the jihad that Islam speaks of, the battle with our lesser selves, the struggle to be good people. Or as Pogo once said, “We have met the enemy and he is us”.

Karl Marx , Class Warfare, Clas war, Social JusticeThere are lots of battles. But few of these battles are not impacted by the class battle. Marxism may not have been a great way to run an economy… Capitalism, at least in some mixed economy form, has proven to result in better economic results. But if you want to understand who is getting screwed in a society, then Marxism is pretty good about telling you that. That’s why the Right never wants the dialogue framed this way. because if people really understood how the deck is stacked against them, they’d throw those suckers out (which of course has happened a number of times in history).

Of course poor people can be both good and bad, just like rich people. Domestic abuse, rape, theft, and so on are not at all defined by class lines. Rich folks commit them just as frequently as poor folks. But if you want to understand who is more likely to get a fair trial when accused, you better understand how class divides effect that. A rich executive is likely to get a lighter sentence for a more serious crime than a poor one for a less serious crime, especially if he or she is a minority. That’s just a fact.

Militarism - Spanish American WarIf you want to understand how our military adventurism around the world affects our own society, you damned well have to consider class. The rich get richer when we fight these wars. It is the poor and working classes who fight them. That is also just plain fact. The only really democratic war in US history was WWII in which the sons of the rich, like George Bush senior, JFK, and Teddy Roosevelt III, fought out on the front lines. All of the rest of our wars were fought by the poorest of our poor, all the way back to the Revolution.

If you want to understand why, when we have already agreed that both rich and poor can be good and evil, that they each commit crimes, that neither group is more or less moral than the other, we have the largest percentage of our population imprisoned than any other country in the world and that these people are largely poor and dis-proportionally minority, well, class warfare addresses that and your model above does not at all.

Income Inequality - class warWhile it is certainly a mistake to impute some sort of Rousseau-ian romanticization to the lower classes it is also a mistake to not address the fact that any given society is largely set up to benefit the wealthiest members at the expense of the poorest members. While we should all remain cognoscente of the fact that rich folks are both good and bad, some mean well and do great things with the wealth and others are not much better than pimps and predators and do huge harm, they still tend to vote along with their own self interest.

Class-ism is almost impossible to avoid in any society. So, in any attempt to have a society which is a just society, in which equal opportunity exists for all, in which the playing field is actually close to being level, then you had better be using the class war model to evaluate what is going on because the other models for the battles we face will not tell you anything about how a society falls short of its stated values and how to go about addressing that.