Friday, November 18, 2016

Street Fight

What now? That's the question that millions on the left are asking. For some the answer is to take to the streets or organize rallies or talk about the popular vote or try to overturn or undermine the results of a fairly contested election or hide their head in the sand and refuse to admit what happened last week. None of these actions is going to either change the results of the election or help the Democrats in the next presidential election. 

We on the left (and I certainly include myself in that group), along with the media made a critical mistake when dealing with president elect Trump. We got caught up in the cult of personality. We made the mistake of attacking the person with the belief that the majority of Americans would agree with us that he was un-electable. What we didn't realize is that we got in to a knife fight with a samurai warrior. President elect Trump played the media and the left like a concert pianist. Every attack on him only served to give him more exposure and helped spread his message of being an "outsider". The attitude from the left provided the platform for him to turn his campaign into a crusade. A crusade that spoke to the disaffected in the Midwest in just enough numbers to allow him to defeat an under performing Hillary Clinton. 

The problem right now is that the left is currently continuing along that same path. The protests do nothing to change the outcome of the election. The calls to change the rules of the election after it has already been contested just sound like sour grapes. These kinds of acts only confirm the feelings of those who felt that the Left was hypocritical. We continue to be amazed that our idea of America is radically different from reality. We on the left became very smug in the thought that we had moved beyond the point where an appeal to an entirely white audience could carry the day. We were too busy basking in the post racial glow of Barack Obama to realize that outside of the major population centers, this country is awash in a sea of red. The Republicans control the majority of state legislatures, Governors, school boards, judges, sheriffs and dog catchers across the country. In fact outside of the presidency and the coasts, the post racial utopia is a fantasy.

We still live in the same country that repeatedly sent avowed racists Jesse Helms and Strom Thrumond back to senate, basically until they died. We live in a country where you can get killed for being the wrong color, in the wrong place at the wrong time. We live in a country where state officials would rather go to prison than allow gay people to get married. We live in a country where you get a national following by questioning the birth place of the President. We live in a country where the color of your skin, your gender, your sexual preference can give you an unearned advantage. We all live in the real world and perhaps this election result will finally allow the rose colored glasses to be left behind. 

We on the left became so complacent because of the echo chamber that we limit ourselves to. I remember Carl Rove being flabbergasted that Mitt Romney had lost Ohio and the election because he had been assured by this people that the opposite would be true. The Right and Left have become so insular that they only believe their perceived reality. They have demonized the opposition to the point of being unable to accept that there is merit in any argument on the other side. We have lost the ability to engage in civil discourse to the point that we limit ourselves to one viewpoint. How many facebook friends were lost because of this election? Screaming LIES! RACIST! KILLER! CRIMINAL! SEXIST! ABUSER!, has gotten us nowhere. We are and for the foreseeable future will be, a divided nation. 

So the questions remains, what now? With this election, the Republican message and appeal has been laid bare. There is no longer the ability to claim a lineage to Lincoln. The word compassion is no longer part of their brand. They threw their hat in with their candidate and they are what he says they are. They have finally gone all in on the strategy that presented itself when LBJ pushed the civil rights agenda. They pushed all their chips in and white America responded with an electoral victory. Their path is clear. It's a bright white line that runs through the middle of America. 

The Democrats response should be equally as clear. They can no longer pretend to be based in the center. White America has seen your center and raised you whatever the hell president elect Trump is. The response on the left should be to go all in as well. The secondary causes of the Democratic party need to become their primary causes. Clearly laying out a reality based plan to help those hardest hit by globalization lost out to empty promises of greatness and wealth. The biggest factor in this years election was not a surge in voting from the Right, but a complacency and lack of inspiration from the voters on the Left. 

The Democratic base will naturally grow at a faster rate than it will for the Republicans as we become a less white nation. The pundits talk about Texas and Georgia becoming pink then blue states in the next three presidential cycles. That is all well and good, but I'm fairly sure that the democrats do not want to wait until 2028 to take the White House back. First of all the Left loves diversity, so the era of the dynasties and white males is over. No more Clintons or Kennedys or Cuomos or Roosevelts for that matter. The past is dead and gone. And unfortunately white males just don't inspire the most loyal of democratic voters. Bernie Sanders was great at inspiring the young and the left, but his rallies had the same color spectrum as Donald Trump's did. So to start we need new candidates. The Castro brothers, Corey Booker, Duval Patrick and Kristen Gillibrand are just a few of the faces who should be out front for the party going forward. Sorry, Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders, Nancy Pelosi and Elizabeth Warren. Your day has come and gone. You can still help the cause, but not in service of your own ambitions. 

Next step is the platform. Equal pay, abortion, immigration rights, civil rights, gay rights, environmental protection, affordable college tuition/student debt and universal health care should now become the primary calling cards of the democratic party. I do understand that these have always been part of the agenda of the party, but they now should become the rallying cries to inspire it's voters. The economic agenda should remain the same, but apparently talking about it does nothing to get some democrats to come out and vote. We continue to experience an unprecedented period of continued job growth. The unemployment rate has decreased significantly and increasing the minimum wage was a significant part of the 2016 platform. None of these things inspired democrats or moved the needle among right leaning independents or republicans during this election. The resources utilized in trying to attract the white rural middle class was significant and the return was minimal. The democratic party has muted its appeal to its most loyal and consistent voters in the false hope of attracting white republicans. This is fools gold and needs to stop immediately. The middle of the road is where dreams go to die.

I think this election result makes the third step one which is already underway which I call realistic enthusiasm. Complacency is the enemy of victory. The democrats have to be realistic about what is a winnable state and what is not. They also have to make sure that they spend the resources and time needed to secure a win. And that amount is equal to all the money you have. Ending a campaign with money left over is a waste. Spend it all and get the boots on the ground to help get the vote out. In fact we already know that the republicans are going to get 60 million votes or so in a general election. We know this because that is the number they've gotten in the last three elections. The so called midwest blue wall came crumbling down by a mere 100,000 votes. Time spent wooing anything other than your base is time lost. The democrats have the votes, they just need to be realistic in targeting and messaging to reverse those losses.

That is the big picture, three step process for the democrats to get back to presidency. Candidate/Platform/Realistic Enthusiasm. So what do we on the Left do for the next two years while we wait for 2018? We fight for what we believe in. We fight President Trump over every policy that doesn't fit our agenda. We fight every political and judicial appointment that doesn't meet our standards. We fight with our words and deeds and votes. We fight with a new understanding of our opposition. We fight knowing what this country is capable of. I'll say it again, complacency is the enemy of victory. I'm going to end with something I wrote a while back.

We fight because " the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope". We fight because senior citizens should have not have to chose between food and medicine. We fight because American Individualism is not an open invitation to social Darwinism. We fight because Gay and Lesbian are not dirty words. We fight because we believe that all men are created equal. We fight because we believe that people should be judged by the content of their character. We fight because having tens of thousands of people die each year because of a lack of affordable health care is morally unacceptable. We fight because having thousands of children go hungry in the richest nation on the planet is morally reprehensible. We fight because every child deserves access to an education that will prepare them to compete in the global economy. We fight because torture committed in our name is still torture. We fight because everyone should have the right to marry who they chose. We fight because we only have one planet. We fight because diversity makes us stronger, not weaker. We fight because the status quo is unacceptable. We fight because a lie repeated often enough must not be permitted to become the truth. We fight because women deserve to paid the same as men. We fight because our veterans deserve to be treated with respect they have earned. We fight because the expenditure for the Iraq war could have paid for health care for every man, woman and child in the country who cannot afford it. We fight because the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. We fight because the forces massed against us never take a day off. We fight because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. We fight because as FDR put it, at the height of the Depression,

"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of the those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little".

 Never stop fighting 'til the fight is done. 


SJ said...

Bravo Mycue23.

Mycue23 said...

I'm still waiting on you, SJ.

SJ said...

My dear friend, I'm not sure I have much to say in all honestly. You've covered this very well from most of the important angles since election night, especially the actual election numbers which dispel the current hand wringing over some "new" fanatical racist right emerging or a new populist right wave picking up from Europe's recent events and somehow multiplying into a persistently-winning majority.
In this piece you've made a very clear, "boogey-man" free argument about what needs to be focused on now if one still believes in government's ability and state's power to improve the lives of the citizens it taxes and governs (I still do.) What remains for all of us to do is very simple, -keep voting your conscience. The "opposition" did, and to them go a great deal of influence over the next 4 years.
People in every district in the country just need to get out and vote and stop making excuses. -We need to all vote, every single time, and actually make a thoughtful choice.
Right now everybody is scared of everybody and that's just irrational. Donald Trump is the President. -But aren't we still the actual country? Aren't we still "the people?"
...As Alan Moore said through the mouth of his fictional patriot V:
“People shouldn't be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.”
-and maybe they would be, if we'd all just get out and vote.

Beach Bum said...

I have to echo SJ, this was a brilliant post.

Hindsight being what it is, Hillary's lack of a real economic message played right into Donald's tiny-ass hands. Personally, I'm still dealing with the basic concept that unless the bastard is impeached, Trump will be president until 2020. No offense to Hillary, because I supported her during the primaries, but like you said it's best the Old Guard go into retirement and make room for new, younger blood.

The thin silver lining I'm holding onto until we can hopefully even the playing field somewhat in 2018 is that Trump's promises of bring back the old jobs to the Rust Belt states isn't going to happen. While the laws of economics are not as harden as the ones in physics, I just don't see old type factory jobs rushing back to Pennsylvania, Ohio, and the other states that have suffered because of trade deals and globalization. Given the after-election interviews I seen from now underemployed blue collar workers is that actually believe Trump's shit.

Then there is the fact that if Donald starts screwing around with established trade deals he could set off a trade war and cause some of the 40 million Americans whose jobs depend on exports to lose their livelihood.

SJ said...

@beachbum —you're right. I could see Trump setting off something crazy with China for one. I mean the guy isn't exactly known for paying off his debts, I can't imagine what his policy arcs are going look like over the next four years.
I wish somebody, ---anybody from any party, would take bringing back even 50% of manufacturing back to the rust belt and other parts of the country as a hard goal. Some percentage of Apple's factory work on phones and computers should have to return to the U.S. -they're not more complicated than cars and we still build those here.

Mycue23 said...

Those rust belt folks will continue to vote against their own self interest. It doesn't matter if the republicans are a total shit storm. George W. was at the helm when the global economy was almost destroyed. That disaster hit those people the hardest. So what did they do? They voted for someone with no plan to help them. They are still buying that tax cut, trickle down, deregulation nonsense. It doesn't matter that it leads to disaster (see Kansas), they don't care that the democrats are the ones trying to get the minimum wage raised, they don't care what actual policies are in place to help them. Their Gods are Fox news and the 2nd amendment. We may not be in a post racial society, but we certainly are in a post truth society.
It would take massive subsidies from the gov't in order to bring those manufacturing jobs back here. I'm fairly confident that this administration has no desire to do that. They should, but as we know, they actually don't give a shit about people in the rust belt. "keep your guns while we make rich people richer and ignore the needs of the poor", might as well be their slogan. But it works every election cycle.

SJ said...

@Mycue23, -true on all points, but sometimes you have to help particular sectors of the economy in depressed regions even though those people have their heads on backwards (I'm no innocent in this conversation -Remember when I said we should let the auto industry just fail ten years ago?)
We have to stabilize those parts of the country because they are becoming true wastelands, in other contexts certain towns could qualify for state of emergency help. They didn't do this to themselves, their economies were packed up and sold away by corporations, and they were told "to adapt" which frankly just means move to another town to find another job. I wrote to another friend about it before the election, but the loss of entire economies in regions along with the destruction/consolidation of all the S&Ls that happened decades ago have kept huge swathes of the midwest in a weird twilight in which they were expected to be a part of the exploding service and retail economies, that they themselves could not afford to patronize as customers, and even that sliver of opportunity for a walmart job is also again disappearing into the gaping maw of Amazon and ecommerce.
I guess what I mean to say is, I really believe we have to return some percentage of manufacturing back to those regions, as well as local independent banking, or resign ourselves to watch these regions disappear over time (Read portions of North Dakota), and we'll come to resemble the Russian Federation more and more - a massive country with a handful of mega cities but huge areas of subsistence farmers. -SJ

Mycue23 said...

@SJ - I hear you, my friend. I'm just not sure what the answer is. In order to get those jobs back, we'd be talking about gov't welfare on a massive scale. I know how much the people in the middle of the country hate welfare. Perhaps if it benefited them, they would have a different attitude. Now the gov't is great at giving subsidies to big companies, but those seldom benefit the average working man or woman. The big oil companies take those massive tax breaks and put that right in the profit column. We would not only have to provide massive tax breaks and subsidies to companies to entice them to return, but we would also have to regulate how the money was spent. It's a lot of regulation for a party that believes less regulation and less interference in business decisions. Of course if we lower the minimum wage, then we could get some of those jobs back. As Chris Rock said, "the minimum wage just means that if I could pay you less, I would".
The problem with that is that the rust belt folks expect the high paying, lifelong job with retirement benefits to return. What we could get back are subsistence level jobs at best. Would they be willing to accept that? I doubt it and therein lies the catch. They want the jobs that allowed their grandparents to live the american dream and those just don't exist anymore. Unions would help, but according to most of those people, unions are part of the problem (see Wisconsin as an example). The world has changed and the part of the "make america great again" slogan that made the most sense to those people is a figment of their imagination. That "go to work for 40 years at the same job/buy a house/send my kids to school and retire with a pension life" that they so desperately want back, is unfortunately gone forever. They would rather hold on to the fantasy that Donald Trump can somehow turn the clock back on globalization than face the reality that currently exists. I guess the democrats could get into the business of lying to them as well, but that doesn't help anyone.
It's a shit storm and I really don't have any answers for it. Or at least any good answers.

Mycue23 said...

@Beach - Thanks for stopping by. I can't tell how much I appreciate your blog. No idea where you find the time for all that writing, but keep it up. It gives me hope that one day I'll get back to doing something creative.