Monday, October 24, 2016 at 07:33PM
Tom Hayden's passing at age 76 is a personal landmark for me. He was an intellectual and political mentor to me though we never met.
I first encountered his analysis of US politics in reading essays by him in Studies on the Left - my first copy borrowed from my political science professor Robert Fluno at Whitman in his senior seminar. I think Bob was bemused by my left wing politics. As the "campus Marxist" among frat dominated Whitman peers whose politics veered to the Right it was an eye opening journal that made me realize I wasn't alone. "This land was my land" too as Woody and later Dylan would celebrate in their lyrics.
I then migrated to grad school at the U of Minnesota to study with Mulford Q. Sibley, an iconic socialist/pacifist professor and renowned scholar of political philosophy. At the U of M my "academic" flirtation in ultra conservative Walla Walla with radical social thought became "actionable" with my involvement in the anti-war movement as it morphed into the Clean for Gene (McCarthy movement) and upon MLK's assassination with the civil rights movement in the Twin Cities.
But the intellectual foundation was the Port Huron Statement written largely by Hayden which called for "participatory democracy" - something that sounded very radical at the time but has become a centerpiece of progressive politics since that time be the issue urban renewal now morphed into gentrification, Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter. Hayden's ideas along with Saul Alinsky inspired a president and would be president to be a "community organizers."
Hayden along with elder statesmen on the Left who I met over the years - AJ Muste, Eugene Genovese, Staughten Lynd, Michael Harrington, Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, Charles Hamilton, Sam Brown, William Sloan Coffin and William Appleman Williams (the editor of Studies on the Left) - gave this Democratic Socialist aid and comfort well before The Bern came onto the public stage in 2016.
But Hayden unlike many of his then youthful "radical" brethren plowed a pathway from protest politics to elective politics - while continuing "the struggle" to a more perfect union. I've followed a similar trajectory from "academic" radical to "community activist." It was a personal disappointment that despite trying I was never able to get Hayden to the stage of the McCall Forum he was simply too busy changing the world...
Rest in peace Tom - ya done good!
Monday, October 17, 2016 at 02:10PM
Trumpism – the Poison of Political Polarization
"I think the only means of true political change will come from people working outside of that [two-party electoral] system to undermine it, and subvert it, and weaken it, and destroy it; not try to work within it to change it." - Glenn Greenwald
"I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." - Grover Norquist
Such Apostates from democratic politics are intent on subverting the keystone of democracy - the peaceful transition of power via the election process.
Seen in this light it explains the strange and serendipitous alliance Trump and Putin. The politics of anti-politics makes for strange bed-fellows...
Only by connecting these dots can one deconstruct the bizarre twists and turns of the 2016 presidential campaign as it devolves into a PT Barnum-like circus show beyond any Reality TV writer’s capacity to envision.
It began with 17 GOP candidates who Donald Trump ran over like a MAC truck using invective and vulgarity to defeat in a political demolition derby.
The mass media’s complicity in enabling Trumpism is also notable. They gave the circus its oxygen by covering Trump’s every word no matter how surreal it was. In the new social media age the "salacious is in" and the "news fit to print" is out.
The media provided no filter to distinguish the sensational from the real. There was no substantive discussion about issues like climate change, foreign policy or income inequality.
The contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders was sedate almost sanitized compared to overblown rhetoric in the GOP. Both kept to their talking points.
But Sanders became a one trick pony harping at Wall Street and pandering to college students by calling for free tuition. Sanders was Trumpized.
When the race became a two-person contest between The Donald and Hillary – the poison and polarization of our politics got worse moving into the salacious.
At the GOP convention and now the latter days of the campaign Trump has rallied his troops by the call to “jail her” playing out his version of the Spanish Inquisition.
Any hope for civility in this campaign has been stillborn by Trumpism – the appeal to racism, xenophobia and sexism – the hallmark of Right Wing authoritarianism.
But it would be a mistake to put the entire blame for the devolution of American politics in Trump’s “smallish” but groping hands. The origins of Trumpism go back to McCarthyism.
Right wing authoritarianism has echoes in the ghosts of the KKK, the No Nothings, the Palmer Raids of early 20th century American politics. But Trumpism takes it up a notch.
Anyone who has read Robert Penn Warren’s All the King's Men - Wikipedia, the free... can understand the neo-fascist dynamic in play this election season.
Each of Trumpism’s predecessors had significant grass roots support from the lumpen proletariat but never close 40% plus of the American voting public…
This suggests we are in a “critical” election cycle where our politics are being realigned as we watch and/or participate in the sideshow. Assuming Trump loses will this venom last?
It will continue into a new Clinton administration. Just as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the GOP will wage a “holy war” against another new Democratic president.
Why is this poison so viral? It stems from the legacy of Barry Goldwater’s campaign in 1964 where he said in his acceptance speech as the GOP nominee –
Ronald Reagan upped the anti-government animus in his 1980 inaugural address by saying that government is not the solution – “government is the problem.”
This set the stage for the party of Lincoln to retreat from Lincoln’s and Teddy Roosevelt’s conception of government framed by Lincoln to whit that -
“…The legitimate object of government, is to do for the people whatever they need to have done, but which they can not do, at all, or can not do, so well, for themselves…”
This retreat from GOP tradition of the Eisenhower and even Nixon eras has been accelerated by the Tea Party and the Radical Evangelical Right.
The arrogant neo-con establishment GOP has been marginalized by a more radicalized GOP animated by its pro-life and fundamentalist Christian beliefs now co-opted by Trumpism.
The authoritarian Right genie is out of the bottle created by neo-cons of the Bush II era and their super PAÇ allies. It’s been replaced by a Trump-Putin-Assange axis.
Assange an anarchist wants to destroy American government, Trump wants to play Il Duche in his reality TV version of the USA and Putin wants to make Russia “great again.”
Each of these actors with their rabble of deplorables if successful would transform our Republic into a tyranny. Their marriage of convenience is frightening.
Their actions pose a threat to realign our politics from a system of checks and balances to one of permanent polarization and gridlock. Our best hope is to defeat Trumpism soundly.
As Trump continues to unravel before our eyes – the chances of an historic defeat of the politics of fear and paranoia seem more likely. But the genie is out of the bottle.
Facing a resounding electoral defeat will the Republican Party return to its Eisenhower roots or will Grand Old Party emerge as a permanent minority party captured by the radical Right?
My fear is the latter scenario. I don’t think the authoritarians can be put back in the bottle because they have become the grassroots shock troops of the GOP.
As Lenin said in 1917 constructing his own revolution – “all power to the Soviets.” But this led to a civil war then to Stalinism. So much for the great revolution!
The break between the “corporatist” and country club bourbon GOP and the I’m pissed off as hell lumpen proletariat Tea Party elements of the GOP are irreconcilable.
The 2016 election could bring about a major realignment within the GOP split by two factions which no longer share a common vision. This may be the enduring legacy of Donald Trump.
Like his Atlantic City casinos Trump can build them but eventually everything he puts his smallish hands on goes into bankruptcy. But like the Pied Piper Trump constantly reinvents himself…
The Democrats face a similar challenge reconciling the remnant of the old guard bread and butter labor wing of the party with it’s litmus test progressive wing composed of racial minorities, pro-choice women, LGTB and others on the Left.
The Left has divisions too - notable in the frenzied '60s - the Weathermen, the Black Panthers and more recently Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter. As Will Rogers said - "I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat."
But winning the presidency to continue the Obama legacy and getting back at least the Senate will float all boats in the party for now until 2020 comes along and the party faces an insurgency on the Left in a post-Bern era.
My Canadian Connection has sent me two articles from our neighbor to the north which echo this analysis. For the record, I've had these missives for weeks and did not read them fully until after I penned this post... Great minds thinking alike? LOL...
Stay tuned… Keep a light on for us, just in case "s..." happens! 'It's not over 'til it's over....' Yogi Berra
Monday, October 17, 2016 at 10:14AM
Arizona's major newspaper, The Arizona Republic, dared to endorse Hillary Clinton for president. It's a first time endorsement of a Democratic candidate for POTUS.
Read the story below to see the vile and threatening reaction from some of its readers, it illustrates the poisonous atmosphere of hate that Donald Trump has created this year.
Donald Trump stealing a line from Bernie Sanders claims that the election is 'rigged' - a claim that was bogus when Bernie uttered it and even more ludicrous now. In many of the open primaries and caucuses independents were able to vote. Such open primaries helped fuel The Bern and The Donald campaigns by appealing to independents and cross-over voters registered as Ds or Rs.
Trump latest rigged claim is to attack the media for focusing attention on his own words sexist words and actions. For Trump there is no such thing as bad news. He's mastered the game of the "big lies" knowing that the more he says things no matter how outrageous the media will cover him. As they say in headline news land "if it bleeds it leads." The reality TV star has turned free media into a cottage industry by "feeding the beast" - mass media.
"The medium is the message" is a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan meaning that the form is more important than the content. McLuhan proposes that a medium itself, not the content it carries, should be the focus of study. McLuhan states that "a light bulb creates an environment by its mere presence." Social media is now that light bulb.
The editorial cartoon below gives one a clear view of how The Donald sees the Constitution and the peaceful transition to power... I illustrates TD is a "clear and present danger" to America.
Thursday, October 13, 2016 at 12:43PM
By Marc Volavka – guest editorial post
I’ve been doing my own self-evaluation, and pondering, of the upcoming election. Belonging to several “social media” outlets, including Facebook, I have become more and more astounded at how truly polarized we are.
My “Never Hillary” friends have surprised me at how willing they are to accept, and re-tweet/re-post absolute garbage. But my “Never Trump” friends have become more and more strident, and vulgar, in their position.
This is the sign that we are not getting out of the political “deadlock” we are in any time soon.
The Trump strategy is now abundantly clear—fire up his base; and depress Democratic and Independent turnout. After the latest tape release regarding his sexual assaults; and his Sunday night performance; it’s the only political strategy he has left. Will it work? I hope not.
None-the-less, as more and more of the Clinton/Podesta emails are leaked; those of us who have been trying to ignore the Clinton’s mantra of “triangulate”; are getting more and more concerned.
I will fully admit that, after the almost perfect convention that Hill and the Dem’s could have run; this Bernie supporter/voter/contributor let his guard down---let his “heart” over-rule his political instincts. The polls immediately after the D convention clearly demonstrated I wasn’t the only one. I fully embraced the “I’m with her.” mantra...
My political instincts and my own “sniff test” are now back in balance. Am I shocked by any of the issues that are raised by the leaked emails?? No, not at all. Just back into the honest reality that what we have here are two, deeply flawed, candidates; neither of which should be the Presidential candidate of our two major parties.
Am I changing my position on whom I support, or who I will vote for? No. Period.
To me, the choice is still clear. Trump is a racist. He is a misogynist. He is an Islamophobe. And he has certainly sexually assaulted women. He is the best example of “a rich kid who thinks he’s ‘entitled’ to anything he wants”.
But, sadly, my vote is now back into the “lesser of two evils” category. If Gary Johnson hadn’t shown himself to be “legalize pot’s” worst advocate/example...I might have been willing to consider voting 3rd party. Wouldn’t be the first time for me! (lol) But, he’s amply demonstrated that, next to Donald Trump himself; he’s the 2nd most uniquely UN-qualified candidate running for President...
If “the Donald” would be willing to actually accept and follow his truly “expert” political advisors—and focus exclusively on Hill’s emails; her destruction of them; her clear avoidance of Congressional subpoenas; her two-faced messages to Wall Street; her actions related to contributions given to the Clinton Foundation while Secretary of state---he’d be far more likely to be in a dead heat.
The best thing those of us who think of ourselves as “progressive”; and aren’t afraid to be labeled as “liberals”, have going for us is that “the Donald” is, now, more about getting revenge within the Republican world, than actually winning an election. In his own words; he’s been “un-shackled”.
We now have a realistic chance to take back the Senate. And if he persists in this strategy, we have a real chance of taking back the House as well. That alone convinces me that a Hillary vote is still the right vote.
For those of my friends who don’t understand how I could even write these words; given who Donald Trump is, in his heart and soul; I say this: Bill Clinton’s actions (not just words) equal Donald Trump’s. I had 4 opportunities to vote for Bill Clinton as President—two primaries and two general elections. He got my vote 1 time. And Hillary's actions in defending him back then can now be seen (if you are a cynic) as her own political calculation of “triangulation”—how do I move forward?
I say this, not trying to denigrate the honest, personal pain; humiliation; betrayal; Hillary felt at the time. I say this NOT as a judgment about her personal decision to stay with, and fight for, her marriage. She was trying to make the best decision she could; not solely about HER, but considering having a 13-year-old daughter, and a marriage--and certainly mixed feelings--about truly “loving” the man she married. (I know this pain personally).
But, of all the ‘crap’ that the release of Podesta’s emails raise—the one that I can not ignore is the relationship between the Clinton Foundation and her actions when Secretary of State vis-à-vis Haiti and awarding contracts.
Notwithstanding...Donald Trump scares me. Period.
He is unfit to be President. Period!
He fails the most basic tests of morality or character. He is a racist. He is a misogynist. He is an Islamophobe. And I believe there is ample evidence that he and Putin (Wiki leaks) are in ‘co-hoots’.
(Not to mention the **SNIFF** **SNIFF** **SNIF**--Coke user??)
That should give any American patriot, pause...
I will vote for Hillary on Nov. 8th. I will do so, without hesitation, despite my own belief that she has flaws that would, in almost any “intellectual” debate; disqualify her for my vote.
I will, however, not do so with any joy...but with an honest conviction that I want to leave humanity (read that: my niece; my nephew; his wife; and my ‘adopted’ daughter of 13) a world they can still impact positively. A President Clinton can be held accountable.
I don’t want Trump’s fingers on the nuclear trigger, or, for that matter, anywhere else!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Marc is a dear and close friend. I think his analysis and his conclusions are persuasive. But I’d add that the danger Trump’s candidacy poses is to risk putting power in the hands of a demagogue – a would be dictator who shows signs of being mentally unhinged. Trump poses a “clear and present danger to our democracy we’ve never experienced. Sadly we will be dealing with the after shocks of his candidacy for decades.