“Think what a better world it would be if we all-the whole world-had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess. And it is still true, no matter how old you are-when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.” Robert Fulghum
It seems like some issues in American politics never go away, they just change their context. One such issue is the question of Immigration Policy.
This election year we hear the Republican candidate spewing racial stereotypes and absurd solutions to the problem of illegal immigration. While members of his own party have condemned his statements, the truth is that for the last eight years their own stand on illegal immigrants has not been that much different than his. Before the Great Recession of 2008, moreover, they positively welcomed “undocumented” immigrants because, they said, “we can’t get Americans to do hard work” and similar excuses for allowing cheap unskilled labor to undercut the American worker.
Conversely, the Democratic Party has embraced illegal immigrants–supposedly–even as President Obama has deported more illegal immigrants than his predecessors combined. To be sure, some humane immigration policies have been temporarily put in place by the present POTUS, but this is like putting a topical anesthetic on the skin to cure an internal tumor.
The truth is, many American blue collar workers have seen their good paying jobs disappear over the years, only to be replaced by low wage, no benefit jobs. Americans are not lazy, nor they unwilling to do hard work; they simply want to be paid a decent wage, something the multinational corporations who run our government and who are writing the international “Free” Trade deals that continue to ship whole factories overseas don’t want. What most working class Americans don’t understand is that each wave of illegal immigrants flooding into our country are the byproducts of these phony trade deals, which are neither free, nor even much about trade. NAFTA spurred a flood of illegal Mexican workers, displaced by the deal, who came north seeking work; CAFTA did the same thing to Central Americans, also desperate for work at any price. Nothing spurs ethnic animosity like the perception that these new arrivals are here to take your already substandard paying job.
The moral philosopher and humorist, Robert Fulghum, once observed that “All I Really Need to Know, I learned in Kindergarten.” Consider, if you will, the game of Musical Chairs; every time the music stops, everyone scrambles for a chair and someone ALWAYS LOSES. Then another chair is taken away and the music starts again; again and again, the music stops and another chair is taken away, until only one person wins. Do you all remember how many fights and arguments broke out over that game? I do. Our “rigged” economy is very much like that game of Musical Chairs. So, yes, a lot of working class Americans are bigoted against immigrants, legal or illegal, because they blame them for the loss of their once prosperous and affluent lifestyle, without ever stopping to think who it is that is really manipulating the music and the chairs.
What has all this got to do with Ambrose Bierce? Actually, precious little; but in the late nineteenth century many “real Americans” were also concerned about immigration and worried that the furriners were going to ruin our country. Having delved into Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce’s life and works for over six years as I worked on my current book, whenever I see a current political issue heatedly debated, it naturally reminds me of something Bierce said or did. For you edification, therefore, I present Bierce’s take on immigration:
“America has issued a general invitation. Whether that may have been judicious or not is not for them to say who have accepted it. If we keep open house, we do not need, neither will we tolerate, an intimation from a guest that the company is not sufficiently select.” In other words, only Native Americans have a right to complain about more recent immigrants.” AGB
Things have changed greatly from the day Bierce uttered his observation, but I would aver that his words still contain much wisdom.
The question of what is the purpose of a political convention may seem a trifle simplistic to modern media pundits, but as three generations of teachers—and Democrats—in my family were want to say, there are no stupid questions; just stupid answers. So to all the politically savvy “experts” in the media and the Democratic political establishment nationwide, I recommend that you seriously consider—or reconsider—your own answer to this question, as well as my own answer below.
For a number of years, the presidential convention has simply been one giant publicity event, a raucous but essentially meaningless cheerleading rally for the pre-anointed candidate of the respective political party. We now have a prolonged and incredibly expensive process for selecting a presidential candidate, a process which is neither designed to choose the best possible person for the job, nor even the most electable candidate; and if the current Democratic Presidential nominating process is any guide, it is also not reflective of the wishes of the rank and file members of that political party, but the cynical will of a small circle of political bosses and their financial handlers.
Traditionally, the purpose of a presidential political convention has been to select a candidate; how the candidate was chosen has varied over the years, but in essence the convention was the medium through which this was done. Caucus, primary or smoke filled room have all been methods for selecting a suitable candidate; but the purpose has always been to choose the best person for the job, not to acquiesce to the political operative most acceptable to the billionaire class.
Since the late 1970’s, the leadership of the Democratic Party—the party of Jefferson and Jackson, the party of the common man, the working man—has transformed it into a “me too” party, mimicking the Republican Party, perhaps a little less austere and still giving lip service to American workers but in fact undermining them at every turn, but has been gradually abandoning the values of FDR and the New Deal, the very programs and values that had made the Democratic Party the dominant political party for half a century; the programs and policies that had not only reformed a broken economic system, but ushered in an era of unprecedented prosperity for most Americans.
Mind you, the wealthy also benefited from the economic programs of the New Deal, since we are a consumer economy and the more money American workers have, the more they spend.
The reverse, however, is not true: giving the wealthy undeserved tax breaks and various “corporate welfare” schemes to not result in wealth trickling down to the American worker. They never have and never will: Trickle Down economics, or whatever label you rebrand it with, is a proven failure and just a con to rob the middle class of their wealth and transfer it to the top 1%. What is a billion dollars in political contributions when it will return you in 100 billion in tax breaks, government subsidies and assorted outsourcing and off-shoring schemes?
Bernie Sanders portrays himself as a “Democratic Socialist” and that is fine if he wishes to characterize his solid New Deal derived programs and policies in those terms. Perhaps all these years the Democratic Party should have been more forthright to the American people about all those “socialistic” programs which created wealth and prosperity in this country. Those programs, and a strong Union movement, created the record postwar prosperity we enjoyed between 1945 and into the 1970’s. Perhaps then the Repugnican NeoCons would never have gotten to first base with their vile economic voodoo even in the Republican Party.
Now both the GOP NeoCons and the DINO Democrat NeoLibs are attacking Social Security and Medicare as “entitlement programs” that need to be cut to balance the budget. Even Ronald Reagan laid it out in simple terms that, while Social Security is technically in the Federal Budget, it DOES NOT contribute to the deficit; it is fully funded by the American people and their employers. YES IT IS AN ENTITLEMENT: YOU ARE ENTITLED TO THAT MONEY BECAUSE YOU PAID INTO IT YOUR ENTIRE WORKING LIFE, NOT THE BILLIONAIRES! However, every American should be aware that over the years Social Security has been raided by the Republicans and some Dems as a giant slush fund to finance Billionaire tax cuts and otherwise unfunded wars (like Hillary’s Iraq War). So, no Social Security is not “going broke” but the Billionaires and their Congressional toadies have been stealing from the till and need to put the money back,
Hillary Clinton is a DINO—a Democrat In Name Only—and she and her fillandering husband have worked very hard to transform the Democratic Party in the Republican Light Party. Even many progressives in the party—and they are fewer every year—are largely afraid to cross the Clinton Crime Family or run too strongly against the NeoLiberal lies that the Clinton organization has made the new party dogma.
The Democratic Party needs to get back to its roots; nominate Bernie Sanders, move heaven and earth to get money out of politics and push through financial reforms and all the regulations that were put in place after the “free market” bankrupted America. The only reason these safeguards were removed was because of sheer greed. During World War II, FDR proposed a Second Bill of Rights, also known as the Economic Bill of Rights. Call it Socialism if you wish—but bear in mind the Pilgrims and the Puritans were socialists too and they never heard of Karl Marx.
Needless to say, all the phony trade treaties like NAFTA, the TPP and the upcoming TTIP and some 45 or so other scams to benefit multi-national corporations all need to be repealed and renegotiated into FAIR TRADE plans, where corporations are excluded and American workers benefited. Then, and only then, can this nation come back from the precipice and begin to return to a prosperous and just society.
Unless the Democratic Natonal Convention in July does its true duty and nominate Bernie Sanders as their standard bearer, our nation is headed for an even bigger financial collapse than we experienced in 2008. Hillary Clinton is a large part of the problem—her and the Republican NeoCons—and it is hard to say which would be worse, her or Trunp. If Hillary is nominated, there is a strong chance the Democratic Party will go down to defeat; if she wins, it is almost certain she will be impeached. Whatever vestige of Democracy we have is on the verge of disappearance. The Democratic Convention can reverse this dangerous situation, but not if it nominates the worst candidate they have had since the era of Boss Tweed.
It is apparently harder to rig caucus results than primaries, since they are based on people actually showing up and registering their views on the condidates. Hence Bernie Sanders Easter Saturday Sweep.
Washington and Alaska have gone solidly for Bernie Sanders, fulfilling expectations that, once the Dems got over canvassing the solid South, the weight of popular opinion would shift inexorably to the Sanders campaign.
Of course, as usual, the corporate media have done their best to downplay the results and keep emphasizing Hillary Clinton’s lead, but the truth is that without her political machine manufacturing false wins through electronic hacking, she would not now be the frontrunner, even with the deep South solidly behind her. Discrepancies between exit polls and electronic vote tallies in Massachusetts, Illinois, Missouri and now massive vote rigging in Arizona, have all put a cloud over the Democratic Party’s establishment and their stop-at-nothing to get Wall Street Hillary as their standard bearer.
Despite all the Republican bellyaching over Trump, the truth is that the other GOP candidates in the clown car are no better and when he takes the candidacy (or else) like good little clones all the party stalwarts and mindless voters will line up behind Umpa Lumpa Trumpa and vote for him. In contrast, the Democrats pin all their hopes on a record turn-out to overcome the Republicans vote suppression tactics. But while that strategy will work with Bernie Sanders at the helm, Hillary Clinton simply cannot generate the enthusiasm and idealism necessary to succeed.
The Democratic Party abandoned the rural states and abandoned the blue collar workers and let the Republicans savage Unions for decades; Gays got marriage equality thanks to the Ultra-Conservative Supreme Court (think about that one for a minute) and so they will not turn out in large numbers; there is no Black Hope running for the White House, so don’t expect the kind of turnout among them that we saw in 2008 and in the deep South, where Hillary did so well in the primaries, it is guaranteed that the GOP will keep as many Blacks from voting as possible.
Yes, Hillary will get the party stalwarts, some of them; she will get the aging 70’s women’s libbers who will vote for her because simply because of her gender and ignore her Wall Street connections and her support of Honduran murders squads. But millennial women and progressive females who seem to be paying close attention to what the candidates really stand for and will do, are going to vote for Sanders in large numbers but are unlikely to turn out for Goldwater Girl.
The Corporate Media wants us to believe it is a done deal with Wall Street Hillary (CNN’s parent company is one of her biggest contributors, surprise, surprise) but perhaps a higher power has different ideas about the 2016 Election, as witnessed at the Sanders Rally recently in Portland: Sanders Portland Rally. We shall see.
Since the Reagan Era, the Democratic Party, despite having once been the standard bearer of the basic values of the New Deal, has continually failed to live up to anything remotely resembling its responsibility to the American public. The reasons for this have been obvious for some time, yet the party establishment continues to turn a blind eye to its own fundamental flaws.
The fundamental changes began in the late sixties, in particular with the 1968 Democratic Convention. That event was a disaster for the New Deal Democrats in a number of ways. First off, the convention marked the last gasp of the Democratic Party Dixiecrats.
Ever since FDR there had been an uneasy coalition of Southern Democrats, who espoused white supremacy but remained with the party for the benefits that the New Deal conferred on the South: rural electrification, the TVA, Federal road programs and other perks of being part of party which promoted national recovery; all this outweighed its increasingly progressive stands regarding its tilt towards civil rights for Southern Democrats. Also, the Democratic Party wasn’t the hated party of Lincoln—in essence they continued to vote Democratic because they were legacy voters. But when the party began seating integrated delegations for certain Southern states, the Segregationist wing finally walked out of the Democratic Party—and walked straight into the Republican Party. Since that time GOP has continued to use “dog whistle” politics to rally racists to their party, without overtly espousing racism.
Once upon a time, the Republicans had also benefited from their own legacy voting block—African Americans. For generations, the GOP was still the party of Lincoln to African Americans, even though the party had sold them out in 1876 to Southern whites, promising to end Reconstruction in order to retain the presidency. Then, in 1927, a massive flood of the Mississippi River inundated large parts of the deep South: 27,000 square miles of land was inundated up to a depth of 30 feet. 200,000 Blacks were flooded out of their homes and lived in relief camps for long stretches of time. While Whites and Blacks alike were affected, Blacks were neglected by the white leadership of the South. The Republicans made promises to African Americans to help them recover from the widespread destruction of their homes and livelihood, but many of the promises made by President Herbert Hoover to Blacks were broken. This caused widespread disillusion among a core constituency of legacy voters of the GOP and Hoover lost to FDR in 1932. From 1932 onward, Blacks began voting Democratic—not initially because the Democrats were all that much better, but because the Republicans had abandoned them. As time went on, however, the Democratic Party sided more and more with African Americans needs and wants.
Today we see a Democratic Party which, like the GOP of the 1920’s, has neglected and abandoned not one, but several of its core constituencies. In the 1980’s blue collar workers began voting Republican—the so-called Reagan Democrats—not because the Republicans were doing all that much more for them, but because the Democrats had taken them for granted and were doing nothing to secure their loyalty with positive programs. Worse still, many Democrats, seeing the perceived ideological success of the Reagan presidency, decided to abandon the ideals of the New Deal and started cozying up to the big money of Wall Street and started promoting anti-labor, job killing programs such as NAFTA (thanks for nothing Bill Clinton). These so-called Neo Liberals retained the superficial trappings of the party: nominal support of civil rights, paying lip service to women’s rights, and the preservation of Social Security and Medicare, if half-heartedly. But more and more, Neo-Liberals have been anything but liberal and more and more the docile lap-dogs of Wall Street banks. In effect, they have turned the Democratic Party into what has been dubbed “Republican Light” and as more than one political pundit has observed, why should voters turn out for a watered down Republican agenda, when they can simply vote for the real thing?
Americans of African Descent turned out for Obama in 2008 and 2012 in record numbers, largely based on his race, but also for his promises of real economic change. In 2008 Obama promised all Americans a fundamental change in the way politics would be done in DC; the Republicans vowed to block him at every turn. Sadly, the Republicans have largely succeeded, while most of Obama’s promises have been broken.
Even when he had a majority in Congress, President Obama did next to nothing to pursue the Progressive promises he had made to the American people. His political opponents labeled him a “radical leftist” and socialist, but in truth, Obama proved to be yet another Neo-Liberal, yet another Wall Street Democrat. To be sure, he passed some healthcare reforms; but it was the program first proposed by the Conservative Heritage Foundation—basically Romney care writ large.
On other fronts, Obama proved himself even less progressive and less reformist: his appointee for Attorney General was a Wall Street lawyer who refused to prosecute any of the criminal actions of the banksters and corporate thieves who nearly brought about world fiscal collapse. His Secretary of Education, it also turns out, was a big promoter of privatization of public schools—something which enriches private corporations at public expense and leaves public education worse off than if nothing had been done.
With Obama no longer around to turn out the Black vote, unless the Dems can offer solid economic and political reasons for them to go to the polls, it is likely African Americans will sit out the 2016 elections. Hillary Clinton has the endorsement of many Black leaders, true; but her Neo-Liberal policies will do nothing to help African Americans and may well prove very harmful to them economically.
Democrats of this Neo-Liberal stink tank school put great faith in demographics; they look at the growing numbers of Hispanics and other minorities and assume that these ethnic groups will automatically vote Democratic in coming election cycles. This is a delusion; if you do not give them a reason to support your party they will not go out and vote. The Neo Liberals want to have their corporate cake and get to eat it as well. They are so very, very, wrong.
Just as Blacks deserted the Republicans because the party had abandoned them, the majority of middle class Americans, as well as all those minority demographic groups Neo Liberals assume will vote their way, are at the very least likely to stay home and allow the reactionaries of the newer, uglier GOP to continue to rule. Sadly, many adherents to the Tea Party who call themselves Conservative don’t understand that the party they serve is out to savage their own Social Security, Medicare and VA benefits; by the time they wake to their mistake, it may well prove too late to undo. So it is very important for some alternative to the reactionary right to be presented to voters, and so far the Democratic Party has failed dismally at that task. If all the Dems can offer is the same old Neo-Liberal lies such as Goldwater Girl Hillary offers, the party has only a marginal chance of winning the White House and no chance of taking back Congress to actually get things done.
The future of the Democratic Party—if there is one—lies with listening to the voices of insurgents such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. People of all backgrounds, races and age groups are flocking to Bernie Sanders’ banner, not because he is particularly charismatic or charming—he is not—but because of the policies and issues he espouses. Bernie Sanders policies are not radically new, far from it; they are a basic reaffirmation of the New Deal agenda and its Progressive predecessors, adapted for the modern day. This is what voters are responding too and will turn out in record numbers for; not the failed policies that have transferred the wealth of the middle class to the 1% who seek to turn our nation into an oligarchy.
So long as the Dems remain wedded to Wall Street and economic abominations such as the TPP, the party will fail. Eventually, if both parties continue to kowtow to the Wall Street oligarchs, the banksters, and the neo-fascist Koch suckers, new parties will arise to replace them. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing after all.