Category Archives: Vote

Early Voting, Long Lines, and Voter Suppression

November 3rd, Election Day in America, is rapidly approaching. However, early in-person voting has started in several states across the country and there are some concerning issues already coming to light this election year.

Videos by voters have been circulating on social media sites such as Twitter, showing extremely long lines and long waiting periods. The state of Georgia in particular had several videos circulating around with people claiming it took 11 hours to cast their vote. While big voter turnout numbers alone are not necessarily a bad sign, the long lines speak to something darker: a lack of adequate polling locations, a gutting of the U.S. postal service, and voter suppression.

Of course, it’s not the first time voter suppression has occurred in a major election, and it likely won’t be the last unless more active efforts are made to combat voter suppression and we demand better from our leaders.

Hiding in Plain Sight

It’s fair to wonder: what exactly is voter suppression? It’s not as if we are given a handbook on it when we register to vote and it’s often left out of political debates — but voter suppression tactics have been around nearly as long as voting itself. They have ranged from literacy tests to what we’re seeing now in Texas, with Governor Greg Abbott restricting the number of locations in each county where voters can drop off their mail-in ballots before the election.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was created to help combat voter suppression and while it is regarded as a significant change in voting rights, like most legislation created decades ago, it fails to cover modern voter suppression tactics and problems. Of course, provisions to the act have been created over the years, but it’s proving to still not be enough to completely stop voter suppression tactics.

One modern-day issue that has prevented who knows how many votes are more restrictive voting laws. Half of the states in the United States have strict photo ID requirements, limited early voting, and tough voter registration restrictions. These restrictions significantly affect POC, senior citizens, those with disabilities, and college students. And that’s not by mistake.

Voter suppression makes it difficult for people to pass legislation that actually benefits them as well as vote against the things that would directly harm their livelihood. And the people creating and utilizing these voter suppression tactics know that. Look at North Dakota, for example.

In 2018, the state passed a new voter ID law that required voters to have a current residential street address printed on their ID. This directly impacted the Native Americans living in North Dakota on rural tribal reservations as they typically use a P.O. box due to their homes being too remote for the Post Office to deliver mail. With this new law in place though, tribal IDs with P.O. boxes were no longer considered a valid voter ID.

While it is hard to say if this new law was directly responsible for the outcome of the North Dakota 2018 elections, it is worth noting that Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp lost her seat in Congress to her Republican challenger, Kevin Cramer.

More Than a Tweet

How can we start tackling this issue in an effective way? One option could be social media. While social media won’t change our voting rights laws outright, it can serve as a powerful tool to help spread awareness of this problem. Being active on social media and educating others about voter suppression is a start that could ultimately lead to real change.

Social media activism, as those at Maryville University put it, can promote social justice. They explain, “The use of social media to uplift voices and stories, create awareness, and build and strengthen relationships creates a space for organizations, activists, and citizens to demand justice.” A few examples of how social media can be used to combat issues such as voter suppression include:

  • Platforming Lived Experiences: Social media has a long and wide reach across the globe and as such, is able to amplify and share the issues impacting people. For minorities and underrepresented communities, social media might be the only way to have their voices heard and get their story out into the public’s eye. We’ve seen it already with the Black Lives Matter and MeToo movement, but there are certainly more issues social media can help tackle, including voter suppression.
  • Coordinating Community Responses: Not only is it important to bring awareness to social justice issues through social media, but it can also be a useful tool for creating online communities where people are able to find support and come together to fight against the issues that affect their lives.
  • Sharing Pictures and Videos: With most people now walking around 24/7 with a camera in their pocket, it’s a lot easier to record and document real-life examples of injustices and other concerns. Moreover, it’s a lot easier to share those videos and pictures thanks to social media platforms, meaning more people can see with their own eyes what is happening in the world and their communities.

Of course, social media can also be used as a harmful tool in the wrong hands. There are some who still struggle with digital literacy, meaning conspiracy theories, edited content, and outright lies can also be massively shared amongst communities. And while there are those who can tell if a video or post is credible or not, there are still a number of people who aren’t familiar with the online world and aren’t able to discern fact from lies.

Unfortunately, social media activism really only benefits those who have access to the online world. So, while it is an extremely helpful tool, it can still be limiting and should be used in addition to other concerted efforts.

Changing Our Perspective

Voters who deal with problems such as long lines and long wait times often get labeled as enthusiastic and committed to their civic duty. While that is certainly true, many voters don’t have the ability to wait in line all day to cast their vote — and they shouldn’t have to. Furthermore, by sharing “inspiring” stories of those who wait in line for hours on end, it puts voter suppression tactics in a more positive light rather than exposing it for what it is.

In order to start enacting change within our voting rights, we need to change our perspective. It should not be difficult to vote. As Americans, it is our right to vote and those who make an active effort to stop certain people from exercising their civic duty need to be held responsible. With the right tools, motivation, and determined efforts it is possible to rewrite the discriminatory voting system we know today.

The post Early Voting, Long Lines, and Voter Suppression first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Memories of Voter Suppression

Back in July 1962, when, according to Donald Trump, America was “great,” I was in the Deep South, working to register Black voters.  It was a near-hopeless project, given the mass disenfranchisement of the region’s Black population that was enforced by Southern law and an occasional dose of white terrorism.

It all started in the fall of 1961, the beginning of my senior year at Columbia College.  My roommate (Mike Weinberg) and I, both white, had joined the campus chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and participated in a few of its New York City projects.  The real action, though, was in the turbulent South, swept by sit-ins and Freedom Rides that demanded an end to racial discrimination and, especially, the right to vote.

On an evening in the spring of 1962, Ronnie Moore, a Black CORE Southern field secretary, brought the news of the Southern freedom struggle to our Columbia CORE meeting.  Having headed up desegregation efforts in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Ronnie and three other students at Southern University, a historically Black institution, were out on bail on “criminal anarchy” charges.  The laws under which they were charged and imprisoned, which provided for a penalty of ten years at hard labor and a hefty fine, dated back to the state’s early twentieth century repression of union organizing among Black and white timber workers.

Stirred by what Ronnie told us, Mike and I went up to him after his talk and asked him how we could help the cause.  Looking us in the eyes, he said, smiling: “What are you boys doing this summer?”  In reply, we explained that, inspired by Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, we would be driving around the country.  “Any chance that you’ll get to Baton Rouge?” he asked.  “We could manage it,” we said.  “Well, do it,” he remarked, adding: “Maybe we could arrange to get you arrested!”  We all had a good laugh about that.

That July, as Mike and I drove along Louisiana roads enveloped in an atmosphere of racial segregation, racist remarks, and unbearably hot and steamy weather, the venture no longer seemed quite as amusing.  Nor, after arriving in Baton Rouge, was it easy to find Ronnie, for the Congress of Racial Equality wasn’t listed in the phone book.  But we did find a Committee on Registration Education, and figured that, with the same acronym, that must be his group.  It was.  The state authorities had obtained a court order to shut down its predecessor.

When we arrived at CORE’s tiny office, Ronnie was delighted to see us and, together with his coworkers, took us to an all-Black hangout for coffee.  In his view, and ours, the only safe people in the South were Black.  As for local whites, we considered them all actual or potential Nazis, and stayed clear of them and their institutions.  Whether they would stay clear of us remained uncertain.  Mike and I slept on the Moore family’s entry hall floor, where local residents had been known to fire bullets into it through the front screen door.

Although most of the voter registration campaign Mike and I worked on in Baton Rouge was rather mundane, one evening was particularly exciting. At dinner time, Ronnie suggested that we drive over to Southern University, from which he and the other CORE activists had been expelled for their “crimes.” As we entered the all-Black dining hall, students started yelling: “It’s Ronnie!  It’s Ronnie!”  Hundreds of students swiveled around and cheers rent the air.  Leaping onto one of the tables, Ronnie made an impassioned speech about the freedom struggle and, then, announced that he had brought with him two movement supporters from the North.  “Get up here, Larry and Mike!”  So we jumped up there, too, and did our best to deliver strong messages of solidarity.  We had just about finished when someone rushed in, warning that the campus security police were on their way and that we had better get out of there fast!  We did while students ran interference for us.

One day, Ronnie suggested that Mike and I drive him to Jackson, Mississippi, where a region-wide CORE-SNCC conclave would be held at the local Freedom House. Accordingly, after dinner, we hit the road through northern Louisiana (where a local gas station operator threatened to kill us) and, then, through Mississippi to Jackson.  Here, in an abandoned building taken over by the movement and around which police cars circled menacingly, we joined dozens of CORE and SNCC activists from the Deep South.  At night, they had lengthy political discussions, in which they expressed their bitterness toward the Kennedy administration for its failure to back civil rights legislation or to protect movement activists from racist violence.

During the days, Mike and I joined Luvaughn Brown, a Black activist recently incarcerated at the county prison farm, going door to door in a Black Jackson neighborhood and encouraging its residents to register to vote.  This was a tough job because people feared retaliation if they dared to exercise their voting rights and, also, because they would almost certainly be rejected. At the time, Mississippi used a “literacy test” to determine if a citizen was qualified to vote. A voting registrar would ask a potential registrant to define the meaning of a section in the lengthy state constitution.  If you were Black, the registrar announced that you had failed the test; if you were white, you passed.

Voter registration work was not only frustrating, but exceptionally dangerous.  The following summer, Medgar Evers, head of the local NAACP, was murdered in Jackson by a white supremacist for his leadership in a voter registration campaign. The next June, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner—participants in the Mississippi Freedom Summer voter registration project—met a similar fate.  Although rattled by our fairly brief Southern venture, Mike and I escaped with our lives, as did Ronnie.

Mike and I kept in touch, and were delighted when Congress responded to the scandal of Southern voter suppression with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which outlawed the discriminatory voting practices of the past and established federal oversight of any new voting procedures in the offending states.

Imagine, then, our sense of sorrow, mingled with disgust, when, in 2013, by a 5-4 vote, the Republican-dominated U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act.  This opened the door for numerous Republican-controlled state governments—many but not all Southern—to implement mass purges of their voter rolls, closure of polling places in minority neighborhoods, government ID requirements, felony disenfranchisement, and other barriers that deprived millions of Americans of the right to vote.

I wonder how Republican leaders can live with themselves when they betray the most basic principle of democracy.  Of all the things they have done during their time in power, this is surely one of the most despicable.

The post Memories of Voter Suppression first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Time for the Democrats and Republicans to Merge and Open up the Field to Real Leftist Parties

Now is the time for the two most disgraced parties in America to unite, and join together to fight the good fight for Wall Street, war mongering, and maintaining an America that’s the pity of the world. With so many Republican standard bearers and war mongers rallying around Joe Biden, becoming one single party is the logical trajectory. Let the Democrats be the ‘liberal’ wing of the Capitalist Party. They can push their weak social issues but on issues of discrediting and undermining everything from the postal service, health care, housing, social justice and everything that’s Black Lives Matter, they are in sync with the Republicans.

This fake dichotomy has been going on for far too long, creating an illusion of choice in America. Maybe this is an exception because it’s a referendum on Donald Trump, not on a Republican president. How many times in the past are so many Americans still unsure for whom to vote for as late as October? Since 1992, 100 days out the range of undecideds and 3rd Party supporters has been from 3.4% during Obama’s re-election to 22.1%, Clinton’s first run. With over 100 million actually voting, even 3.4 is a large number. In all these elections, if so many can’t decide which of the two parties to vote for, one must ask either, one, are they stupid? or two, are they smarter than everyone else that they can’t distinguish the two?

Looking at this most recent match up, we see how Biden and Trump are aligned on so many crucial issues, from opposing universal health care, supporting fracking and other life threatening environmental policies, financing the military and our empire to even levels the military doesn’t ask for, to massive incarcerations of people of color and the poor, to Israeli apartheid, to school vouchers and taking money away from public education. Did I miss anything? Sure, dozens of other issues they agree on.

The problems facing our electoral democracy (almost an oxymoron) are immense.  Both parties control each state and with that, they control the election process: Who can vote? What party can vote? What party can even be recognized and legitimized? Another problem is what will make up an anti-capitalist party? The Green Party is eco-socialist but horribly dysfunctional and since Nader’s 2.74% in 2000, the Greens have not gone over that mark. With its emphasis on decentralization, there is neither national unity nor discipline within the Greens. The party nominated Howie Hawkins but the Green Party of Alaska is putting up Jesse Ventura for its ballot. If the party had any discipline, Alaska’s Green Party would be excommunicated. And that they had for nominations for president individuals whose only asset is that their mothers would vote for them, with little or no organization behind them and inability to raise the measly required amount shows another level of not just dysfunction but a lack of respect for the very office they’re seeking.

There’s the DSA, but as long as they’re tied to the Democratic Party they will never be a voice for the people disenfranchised by the big two. Best of luck should go to the Movement for A People’s Party. Their platform is out of Sanders’s first run in 2016. It hits many, but not all the basic themes of a conservative leftist party: higher tax rate for the wealthy, pro-union, transparent elections, restorative justice, free (paid by taxes) services that are bankrupting Americans right now, etc. Their foreign policy is to attack our empire, support diplomacy rather than militarism, but is weak on Palestinian rights, as it calls for a two-state solution.

It is a shame that they don’t come out and say they, too, like the Green Party, are eco-socialist, or even an acknowledgement of socialism as a guiding principle, even if they adopt many of its positions. This is the 21st century. Most in this country who fear Communism or Socialism are already tied to the Republicans in particular and even the Old Guard of the Democratic Party fears it. Just look how Russophobia enveloped their entire psyche during Trump’s first three and a half years, and Russia isn’t even a socialist country anymore.

About the same number of eligible voters who vote, don’t. Like the undecided, many don’t see a difference between the two and more importantly, they don’t see how either represents their interests or that voting changes anything. This is untapped political wealth. We make it difficult for people to vote, having it on a work day and not having it as a national holiday. Voter suppression is rampant in both parties. Polling places are designed to discourage voting as they are often limited in high turnout areas. In some countries, voting is mandatory. Doubt that that would go over well here, though.

The failure of our 2-party system is why we have Trump, and Biden as the antidote. Even something simple like universal rank choice voting would be an improvement and would stave off demands on the system, but each party believes in their own exceptionalism to push for something more ‘democratic’. In 2016 the two most despised politicians in America ran against each other, after Cruz dropped out. Clinton was the only person who could lose to Trump. And now, it’s almost possible to say that Trump is the only person who could lose to Biden. If things are that bad, a real opposition party is needed. What is disappearing now is the power of voter shaming. For so many, voting for Biden is a Sophie’s Choice. And yet for so many others they will not be falling into that trap this time of the lesser evil. Americans who have been voting for ‘change’ since after Reagan might finally be waking up to the reality of what the two parties represent. It’s not likely that a true leftist party would ever be a majority, as the D/R Party would still dominate for generations. But with a real choice given to voters, along with Greens, Libertarians, and any other party, we could also see a more diverse political landscape, even with a possibility of moving to a parliamentarian system of representation.

The post Time for the Democrats and Republicans to Merge and Open up the Field to Real Leftist Parties first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Now is the Time for a Second Party

Third Party Blues

Today, who is a Democrat? Who is a Republican? Is there really a difference?

It is no secret that the current electoral system in the United States is rigged. The two hegemonic capitalist parties have made it nearly impossible for other parties to participate in elections. The first hurdle is simply to gather sufficient signatures to get on the ballot. A national candidate is obliged to go through this daunting procedure in each state. Furthermore, each state has its own rules for ballot access.

During the 2016 electoral cycle, for example, the third largest party in the United States, the Green Party, spent $800,000 to get on the ballot in nearly all the states. Their electoral success was sufficient to gain a ballot position for the 2020 cycle in twenty-one states. They are currently pushing their Sisyphean rock up in the remaining states with a guarantee that they will have to do it again in 2024.

After all of this effort, the Greens garnered about 1% of the vote and the furor of ignorant Democrats, who blamed them for Hillary Clinton’s loss. The Greens are not why she lost, but they are a convenient target for those not gullible enough to swallow the Russian interference excuse.

Not only have the capitalist parties stymied attempts by other parties to get on the ballot, but they, or at least the Democrats (it’s not clear how Trump became the Republican candidate) strictly control who can become their presidential candidate. Bernie Sanders decided to make two presidential bids through the Democratic Party apparatus. It was a good choice for one major reason: under current circumstances had he run as an independent or on, say, the Green Party ticket, nobody would have heard what he had to say. He would never have filled auditoria and stadia to overflowing. He would never have made social democratic policies the focus of the Democratic Party primaries and given hope to tens of millions of citizens. But he never had a chance of becoming the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate.

I realized from May 2015 that Sanders hadn’t a chance of winning the nomination, not because he couldn’t win enough delegates, but because the Democratic Party would make sure, by whatever means necessary, that he couldn’t win enough delegates. The reason for my assessment was that the capitalist class in the United States, and the rest of the world, was in no mood to accept improved living standards for the American working class. In a climate where NAFTA had been in effect since the Clinton administration, millions of industrial jobs were being moved to cheap-labor countries, the New Deal had been under capitalist attack since its inception, and there had already been two major recessions in the 21st Century, what could possibly motivate the capitalist class to offer concessions to the working class?

So, what is to be done? There is no room for a third party to seriously contest the capitalist monopoly. There is not even room for a third party to join the Big Two. We live with a system that excludes by its very nature and by subterfuge a viable third party. However, there is a way out.

First party split—From Whigs to Republicans

Did you know that in the early years of the Republic the two parties were the Democrats and the Whigs? Then, within a very short period the Whig Party disappeared and was replaced by the GOP. Presto! Party A dies and is rapidly replaced by brand new Party B. That seems to be the only way that a new party can become a contender in the American system.

Here, in brief, is what happened. In 1852, when the question of slavery and the creation of new slave states was a heated issue, the Whig Party split. The pro-slavery faction migrated to the Democratic Party, which represented the slave owners. In 1854 the anti-slavery faction and others went on to form the GOP. During the remainder of the 50s the GOP won elections, and in 1860 it captured the presidency under Abraham Lincoln.

The essential thing to understand is that before 1852 there were two hegemonic capitalist parties. The United States was in the early stages of becoming an industrial power, having been essentially agrarian since its beginnings. The Democratic Party, founded by southern planter Thomas Jefferson, by and large protected the planters’ interests. The Whigs, on the other hand, were a mixed bag, based largely in the northern states, which were not as wealthy as the South. However, that is where the Industrial Revolution was making inroads, much to the consternation of the planters.

The planters’ capital was tied up in slaves, who produced their wealth, and land that the slaves worked. The emerging northern industrial capitalists, however, needed free wage labor – free in the sense of being available to work when there were orders and unemployed when there weren’t. The industrialists had no intention of feeding and housing the working-class year in and year out whether there was work or not. Furthermore, the North had a labor shortage. The last thing the northern industrialists wanted was for additional states entering the Union to be allowed to use slave labor.

Under the pressure of the slavery issue, the Whig Party split essentially along regional lines: southern Whigs found a comfortable new home in the Democratic Party. Northern Whigs were left with a rump party, with no ability to contest an election against the Democrats. That is where the brand-new GOP came on the scene.

Prospects for a New Second Party: Can History Repeat Itself?

Let’s return, now, to the current situation. Sanders’ 2016 primary campaign made it apparent that a significant segment of the electorate was delighted to vote for progressive candidates, who were winning elections up and down the ballot. These candidates were often running as Democrats and gaining seats in everything from city councils to Congress. The group-think was that the progressives would take over the Democratic Party and make it into a party of the people. I realized that the Democratic Party would not allow a takeover or even a significant change of course. The Democratic Party, just like the Republican Party, belongs to capitalists, just as does almost everything else in the country.

The DNC had already settled interloper Sanders’ hash, and long before that had turned the wave of progressives that entered the party in the 60s and 70s into tame cattle. I refer to the Black and Progressive Caucuses. Here’s the deal: if you want to have influence, such as important chairmanships, you have to toe the party line. If you don’t want a DNC-approved candidate to primary you and you do want support for your re-election campaigns, you toe the party line. Buckle under or disappear.

My hypothesis was that the upsurge of interest in progressive policy would split the Democratic Party like the Whigs in 1852. It made no sense to create a third party – the American political system isn’t big enough to contain it and the hegemonic capitalist parties. However, it might be possible to kill the Democratic Party by drawing the viable elements into a new party with a progressive program. The remaining rump Democratic establishment would have nowhere to go but the Republican Party.

Currently, a new organization, the Movement for a People’s Party, was attempting to build a broad coalition to form the organic base for a third party. It still exists but doesn’t seem to be very successful. Trump has frightened so many otherwise well-meaning people that they can’t think about anything else but getting rid of him. They would gladly vote for Lucifer to replace Satan in Hell and voting for a third party feels too risky.

So, my hypothesis had the migration going in the wrong direction. In recent weeks we have seen lots of “Republicans for Biden” activity with the support of establishment Republicans and their donors. Wall Street is pitching Biden and abandoning support for Trump. But the icing on the cake is that four Republicans were featured speakers at the Democratic National Convention, and that the progressives were frozen out. AOC got 60 seconds. Sanders got a sadly capitulatory keynote address.

How do we get there from here?

The GOP and Democratic establishments have always agreed on the big issues of empire and wealth distribution. They have lost their party to Trump, but all he inherits is the lunatic fringe base, which has no money to maintain the party’s infrastructure. This base will disintegrate when Trump leaves office.

So, it looks like the GOP establishment is migrating to the Democratic Party and bringing their big donors with them. Progressives can no longer pretend that they have any power within the Democratic Party. By the same token, if Trump is re-elected, his second term will be hemmed in by the massed might of the capitalists, who can stymie every move he makes.

The US will soon have an official one-party regime, the Democratic-Republican Party. That leaves us the opening we need in which to create our own party, a real opponent to the capitalists who have, up until now, held a monopoly on power. Our party won’t just be an electoral vehicle. As long as the capitalists control the country, there is little that working-class people can win through elections. In this conjuncture, where the third major economic collapse of the century coincides with a major pandemic, people are angry and ready to move at the least spark. The George Floyd uprising won’t be the last, and every uprising that follows it will provide larger and larger populations experienced in mass non-violent civil disobedience. That will be the environment for creating a mass party of the people and for ridding ourselves of an oligarchy whose time has passed.

Our party’s leadership will rise from among the leaders of converging movements of mass civil disobedience. In particular, movements for rent relief, debt relief and $15 an hour, BLM, and workers and teachers refusing to sacrifice their lives to COVID-19 will spark action from other sectors of the working-class. These movements will shut down the capitalists’ drive to return to “normal”. The new party’s program will be the demands that arise from these movements. It will achieve its ends the way successful revolutions achieve theirs: replacing the current rulers with our own selves, eliminating the middlemen, and reducing the capitalist class to working for us.

Today, the capitalist parties have no mass memberships. They only have employees who work for private corporations like the DNC. The citizenry can choose a fictitious affiliation with one of those parties at voter registration, but ordinary citizens have no say in how the parties function or who the candidates will be. Candidates used to be chosen in smoke-filled rooms; today they are chosen in smoke-and-mirrors primaries.

A people’s party should differentiate itself clearly from the phony parties. Party membership should be based on formal agreement with the party’s goals and a decision from a membership committee. Card carrying is an honorable party tradition that demonstrates the member’s commitment to the party. Dues cement the commitment and provide the essential money to maintain and grow the machine.

The time is ripe to form a party of the people. In the meantime, watch for a purge of progressive Democrats in the near future.

First published in Socialist Planning Beyond Capitalism

The post Now is the Time for a Second Party first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The “Lesser-Evil” Syndrome: Noam Chomsky’s Fall Into Self-Contradiction

In a recent interview Noam Chomsky declared that there “was a big difference” between Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon in the 1968 presidential elections, a difference “you could count in several million corpses in Indochina.” But, Chomsky added, “a lot of the young people on the left said, “I’m not going to vote for Humphrey. He’s a corporate Democrat. I can’t sully my hands on that. So I won’t vote.” In effect, said Chomsky, this meant that they “help[ed] Nixon win,” and more specifically, they “help[ed] kill a couple million people in Indochina, plus a lot of other (bad) things.”1

In other words, Humphrey was the lesser evil in 1968.

Twenty years ago, speaking with David Barsamian of Alternative Radio about the very same elections, Chomsky said the opposite:

I could not bring myself to vote for Humphrey. I did not vote for Nixon. But my feeling at the time, and in retrospect I think it’s probably correct, was that a Nixon victory was probably marginally beneficial in winding down the Indochina wars, probably faster than the Democrats would have. It was horrendous, but maybe less horrible than it would have been.2

In short, Nixon was the lesser evil in 1968.

Houston, we’ve got a problem.

In the 1960s Chomsky occasionally voted for Republican candidates if they opposed the Vietnam War, but as the GOP turned increasingly reactionary he voted more and more for Democrats, which habit he considers morally obligatory for anyone on the political left. This has proven to be a tough sell, however, since the Democrats are not so much the lesser evil as they are the more effective evil.3 Precisely because of their (false) reputation for being more humane than Republicans, they can act more viciously than the GOP (Clinton ending welfare “as we know it,” for example) at times, and this is, in fact, their assigned role. Furthermore, as an opposition party the GOP is formidable, while the Democrats are pussycats, rolling over for everything a Republican president wants, often conceding even more than is asked for (Pentagon spending, for example). The focus of “opposition” since 2017 (laughably referred to as “the resistance”) has been Trump’s insulting tweets and boundless vulgarity, not his right-wing policies, which are allowed to advance unimpeded.

In short, no matter whether or how we cast our ballots, policy is insulated from voter preferences and keeps moving to the right. Nevertheless, Chomsky takes leftists who abstain or vote third party (in swing states) to task for failing to carry out what he considers to be a straightforward exercise in damage mitigation.

“It’s very frustrating,” he says, that “this is constantly happening,”4; i.e., that some on the left refuse to vote according to a simple lesser evil formula. Unfortunately, Chomsky doesn’t even recognize that he has been unable to keep his story straight as to which side actually is the lesser evil, in spite of the allegedly “big difference” between the two corporate parties. In fact, this year he goes even further and says – try not to laugh – the difference (between Biden and Trump) is not merely big, but colossal.

Though he’s mentally absent much of the time, even Biden has more sense of political reality than that, promising rich donors just last year that “nothing would fundamentally change” in a Biden administration. But Chomsky wants us to be impressed by a slate of disingenuous Sanders-Biden position papers crafted for vote-harvesting purposes, rather than Biden’s devastating dedication to “more effective evil” politics extending back over forty years.

Chomsky well knows the emptiness of electoral politics under capitalism. Through the years he has advanced a scathing indictment of U.S. elections, saying that they are really more “public relations extravaganzas” than ideological contests, that they therefore mean very little, especially at the national level; that he himself votes “less and less” at that level; that the system is not generating issues that resonate with the public; that there really can’t be said to be any political parties, but only “candidate-producing organizations” driven by marketing concerns; that the quadrennial farce that plays out at the presidential level is worth no more than “five minutes time,” and that only to determine which candidate represents the greater threat, in order to vote against him; and that, in view of all this, we should reserve our main political energy for vastly more important work, such as popular education, union organizing, and cultural resistance/transformation.

Nevertheless, in recent years, the significance of voting has loomed large in Chomsky’s mind: he warned that failure to vote for Hillary Clinton was a “big mistake,” that allowing Trump to win could be “the death knell of the species,” and that the 2020 elections are the “most important in human history.” This represents an escalation of election year hype, which in previous cycles has modestly urged us to “vote or die” in “the most important elections in our lifetimes.” By 2024, we may have to resort to the “most important elections in the history of the universe.” In any case, what’s noteworthy is Chomsky’s juxtaposition: voting is both trivial and urgent, likely to determine the fate of the earth and not worth more than a few minutes of our attention. Are these assumptions really reconcilable?

Probably not. If it is really true that we are at a “tipping point” vis-à-vis global warming, then it does not make sense to spend the vast majority of our political energy working for the long-term goal of transforming the U.S. into a country where a decent person could live without shame. Far better to throw ourselves unreservedly into the circus campaign to elect Biden now, in order to insure ourselves the time to deal with longer term matters later. But many Bernie Sanders voters will not do this, to say nothing of those farther left, and even Chomsky is not recommending it (though a Chomsky lesser-evil editorial IS being used as a campaign ad for Biden).5

Chomsky favors an independent political party in principle. “I think it is important the building of a political party which could enter the political arena and represent the population, and not just business interests.”6  However, he favors a “safe states” strategy in determining how to cast ballots whenever an independent left candidate faces off against the capitalist duopoly, which virtually guarantees failure. The reasons why are captured well by journalist Matt Taibbi, who offered an evaluation of the safe states approach back in 2004 when David Cobb of the Greens ran “against” George W. Bush and John Kerry:

For those of you who didn’t follow this story Cobb snatched the Green Party nomination away from (Ralph) Nader last week largely through his embrace of the so-called safe states strategy, known affectionately in political circles as the ‘crack suicide squad’ approach to campaigning. In this scenario Mr. Cobb agrees in advance to refrain from campaigning in any state where the Greens might have a chance to affect the outcome of the Bush-Kerry race. Bravely, however, he condescends to campaign balls-out in any state where a vote for the Greens doesn’t matter. 7

In other words, all the left’s energy was directed towards not influencing the outcome. Though he hardly needed to, Taibbi explained the absurdity:

…This is the kind of politics you get when you raise a generation of people who don’t understand the difference between brand identification and ideological conviction. Much the same way that Burger King and McDonald’s are scrambling to figure out a way that you can be on the Atkins diet and still spend your money at their vile, ass-inflating restaurants, Cobb and his party basically figured out a way that Nation subscribers can wear Green this fall and still keep their friends. They have turned politics into a shoe and a handbag, a conquered market demographic.8

The last part is key to all the rest. In a fake democracy voting means lining up with your assigned market demographic, not electing leaders, much less determining policies. As Taibbi jokes:

Vote Green – elect Kerry! Lose weight – drink Low-Carb Coca Cola! It’s the same thing, on many different levels. Because both decisions really boil down to the same compromise: trying to fit an instinct to reject corporate consumer culture into the ruling paradigm of corporate consumer culture.”9

Rejection by affirmation – touché. Taibbi rubbed the point in for effect:

Logic dictates: if you want to lose weight, the way to do that is not to drink the right kind of Coca Cola. The way to do it is to not drink Coca Cola. It doesn’t take a genius to figure this out, but it is apparently beyond the grasp of most Greens.9

And, as always, there was a lot more to reject:

Similarly, if you don’t believe in things like corporate personhood, if you are against the war in Iraq, if you are against the scourge of corporate money in politics, if you are in favor of a reduction in military spending, if you want to abolish the WTO and NAFTA, if you want to end the export of arms, if you want to break up media monopolies, if you want to get Channel 1 out of public schools, if you want to end the targeting of children by corporate advertisers – if you believe any of these things, or more to the point, if they are embedded in your party platform, then you can’t vote for either the Republicans or the Democrats, because they’re united against you all the way down the line.10

Updating to 2020, we can say that if you are against funneling trillions of dollars to banks and other mega-corporations, while tens of millions of Americans face homelessness and coronavirus with little or no income and no health insurance, then you can’t vote for either Republicans or Democrats, because they are united behind such policies all the way down the line. (For the record, the GOP was initially less stingy on direct cash payments than the Democrats, and the lone vote against the CARES Act, a multi-trillion dollar give-away to the rich, was Republican Thomas Massie’s. But the differences are slight).

Nonetheless, Taibbi concedes there is a logic to the “anybody but ________” idea (Bush, Trump, etc.):

I understand the logic . . . it is a rationally defensible position, one that makes sense on some primitive level. What does not make sense here is why the burden of ‘anybody but _________’ should fall on the Green Party. The burden really rests with the Democrats. If they want to end the Green Party problem, then those votes are there for the taking. All the Democrats have to do is renounce the WTO and NAFTA, create a universal health care system, and slash the defense budget, putting the proceeds into education and health care. Among other things.10

Sixteen years later, the Democrats have still done none of those things, and Taibbi’s main point is more valid than ever: the burden of anybody but Trump (i.e., any blue will do) should not fall on the Green Party or Bernie Sanders supporters, to say nothing of those farther left. (Or, more accurately, those farther down the wealth pyramid.) Over forty percent of the electorate – the poorest part of the wealth pyramid – never vote for president, because it’s a foregone conclusion that they will continue to be brutally exploited no matter which wing of the duopoly wins a given election. What possible sense does it make to tell them that they should care more about electing Biden than the Democratic Party itself does? The Democrats know perfectly well they are widely detested by the working class, but they get to share power even when they lose; the poor get nothing either way. That’s why they don’t turn out. The job of the rest of us is to define and deliver on a politics that alleviates their plight and makes it worth their while to vote, not tell them they have a moral duty to kiss the boot crushing their neck.

Why do the Democrats refuse to adopt policies that induce their base to vote? Taibbi stresses the obvious:

They’re too addicted to corporate money. They’re money junkies. And as anyone who’s had any experience with junkies will tell you, junkies cannot be trusted. They’ll say anything you want them to say about going straight, but at the critical moment, they’ll still steal your television and shoot it right into their arms.10

Obviously, offering to help a junkie desperate for a fix is sheer folly:

The only way to deal with a junkie is to change your phone number or, if you ever find him in your house, chain him to a radiator. . . . the one thing you can’t do is keep giving him that one last chance. That only guarantees that he will come back again very soon, covered with mysterious bruises and needing 200 bucks to pay for – tchya, right – a hepatitis shot.11

The political version of this story is even uglier, notes Taibbi:

Shit, just look at what’s happened since the last election. The junkies got kicked out of office, which ought to have been a wake-up call, and what did they do? They went out and almost unanimously voted for the Patriot Act, the No Child Left Behind Act, and two wars. . . .  And now here they come four years later, and they say: ‘We need all your votes right now or we’re fucked.’ Am I the only one laughing?12

Two economic collapses, five more wars, and a pandemic later, and everyone’s well beyond laughing, but there’s still a lot of puking over what the Obama/HRC junkies have been up to since they left office: establishing an entire propaganda industry blaming the village idiot for everything from bad breath to jock itch, relentlessly pushing slimy, red-baiting charges about (imaginary) Russian collusion with Trump, squandering impeachment on an equally worthless Ukrainegate diversion, and preventing desperately needed change by successfully rigging elections against their own democratic base, which is what produced president Trump in the first place.

In short: we can vote for Trump, or for what produced Trump, guaranteeing a president worse than Trump in short order.

Taibbi concedes there’s a method to this Democratic madness:

I also understand the Democrats’ point of view. I used to take a lot of drugs, too. And when you take a lot of drugs, absolutely nothing matters except getting off. In the quest for drugs, any kind of behavior is excusable. . . . .That’s junkie morality. That’s why from the Democrats’ point of view it makes perfect sense to nominate a gazillionaire, missile-humping aristocrat who’ll have more corporate logos pasted on him than a NASCAR driver when he gets into office (John Kerry). What’s the difference? We got off! Why is everybody complaining?12

Right, and in 2020 it makes perfect sense for the Democrats to nominate a senile, prison-humping pimp for billionaires, who tortures the poor with fees and penalties while exporting the job base and railroading a generation of desperate black and brown people into jail on petty or trumped-up charges, not to mention drowns the Middle East in an ocean of blood on ludicrous WMD pretexts. And that’s just for starters.

But the any-blue-will-do rationale makes no sense for the Green Party (or any independent workers party), says Taibbi, because “If you’re going to suck a cock in a train-station lavatory, you ought to at least get something for it.” True, but the logic of “safe states” doesn’t allow for this, so in 2004 “the Greens [were] going to roll over for John Kerry, and in the best-case-scenario all they [were] going to get for it [was] another insane trade agreement, more troops in Iraq, more corporate handouts, and another my-dog-ate-my-homework health care fiasco.”12

As it turned out, they actually got a worst-case scenario: the Greens rolled over for Kerry, Kerry bent over for Bush, and the American people were left bleeding badly from the anus, the usual outcome of “democratic” elections administered by capital. At the moment, everyone seems certain that Dementia Joe has the 2020 race locked up, but whether he does or not is far less important than our will to fight the crackpot logic that says we have “no choice” but to keep submitting to this abuse.

It simply doesn’t matter that lesser evil logic makes a crude kind of sense, because it just aggravates the damage it is intended to mitigate. Taibbi reminds us that it’s the system that requires bad candidates that should be our real concern:

Yes, ________ is a moron and a monster (Bush, Trump, etc.) and it would be better if he were not around. But America’s political problems are bigger than ________. The real problem in American politics is the rule of calculation and money over principle, and until this problem is fixed, the _________s of the world will always be with us. The Greens used to offer a solution. They’ve now become part of the problem.13

Exactly. In a fake democracy voting for corporate candidates just legitimizes our servitude. That’s the problem. Of course, Chomsky has always advocated committing our major political energy outside electoral politics, forming and expanding social movements that can bring pressure to bear on the elite political system to make democratic concessions. And on this basis he rates the two Bernie Sanders runs for the presidency a success, because the Sanders-Biden task forces have now, Chomsky says, crafted the most democratic policy positions since FDR (not coincidentally, the last president before the creation of the National Security State). In other words, Sanders is moving Biden to the left.

This is nonsense, of course, as there is nothing binding in position papers, and the Sanders campaign has already surrendered whatever leverage it had by giving unqualified endorsement to Biden in advance.  Obviously, the DNC loathes the New Deal policy positions favored by Sanders, which is why they torpedoed his campaign – twice. And now we’re to believe they’re going to make concessions to the agenda they just defeated? Why would they do that? In the midst of a pandemic, they refuse even to concede on Medicare For All, much to the amazement of the rest of the developed world, which implemented one or another version of single payer national health insurance decades ago.

As Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC (former senior advisor to Senator Daniel Moynihan) points out, pressure from the left is irrelevant to Democrats:

If you want to pull the major party that is closest to the way you’re thinking to what you’re thinking, you must, you must show them that you’re capable of not voting for them. If you don’t show them you’re capable of not voting for them, they don’t have to listen to you. I promise you that. I worked within the Democratic Party. I didn’t listen, or have to listen, to anything on the left while I was working with the Democratic Party, because the left had nowhere to go.”14

That’s the voice of experience, not advocacy.

Unfortunately, the advocates of so-called damage mitigation voting show a marked tendency to insult those who recognize that reflexively voting Democrat just aggravates the “nowhere to go” problem. For example, Chomsky dismisses the efforts of Bernie Sanders supporters who refuse to vote for Biden as “go[ing] off and sulk[ing] somewhere,”15 when, in fact, they have formed the Movement For a People’s Party, and are currently engaged in a host of popular actions to extend the $600 a week federal subsidy to the unemployed and help tens of millions of working people avoid being thrown into the street in the middle of a pandemic. That would seem to qualify as an example of popular grassroots organizing for positive change, which Chomsky ordinarily favors, but apparently not in this case.

In any event, those who feel moved to support “Lunchbox Joe” and the Biden/J. P. Morgan/Bain Capital/Noam Chomsky National Liberation Front should certainly feel free to do so. Our corporate-administered electoral choices are truly awful, and voting is a deeply personal matter.

As for Joe Biden, what can one say? Following the highly rational strategy of keeping his mental disintegration out of public view, he emerges only rarely from his basement, usually to take his Corvette for a spin, or confirm that he hasn’t the faintest clue as to his own whereabouts or what day of the week it might be.

But on the burning issue of coronavirus, at least, which has sent Donald Trump’s poll numbers plummeting into the dirt, he has the best thought out plan his keen presidential mind is capable of:

“Get things into place where there are shortages of.”16

Truer words were never spoken: any blue will do.

  1. WowFEST: Lockdown Presents Noam Chomsky “A Letter From America,” You Tube, July 14, 2020.
  2. Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian, “Propaganda and the Public Mind,” (South End, 2001) p. 136.
  3. This term is borrowed from Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report. See his debate with Michael Eric Dyson on Democracy Now, September 7, 2012.
  4. Chomksy, WowFEST, “A Letter From America.”
  5. A Message to the Swing States from Noam Chomsky: “VoteTrumpOut“.
  6. Noam Chomsky, “Understanding Power,” (New Press, 2002) p. 194. For fuller discussion, see pps. 333-7.
  7. Matt Taibbi, “Spanking The Elephant – Dispatches From The Dumb Season,” (Three Rivers Press, 2005) p. 202.
  8. Taibbi, Ibnid, p. 202.
  9. Taibbi, Ibid, p. 202.
  10. Taibbi, Ibid, p. 203.
  11. Taibbi, Ibid, p. 203-4.
  12. Taibbi, Ibid, p. 204.
  13. Taibbi, Ibid, p. 204-5.
  14. O’Donnell video clip, Jimmy Dore Show, August, 8, 2020.
  15. Chomsky, WowFEST interview July 14, 2020.
  16. Saagar Enjeti, “Rising,” April 10, 2020.

Lost at Sea: Left Liberals Have No Party

I wrote this article over four years ago in 2016 for the purpose of challenging left liberals to face the fact that they have no party. In re-reading it today, everything I said in the original article remains true. In fact, the Democratic Party has leaned even further to the right over the last four years.

In the face of uprisings of protesting the police killing of George Floyd and many other black Americans, the Democratic Party has done nothing. Even worse, in the face of these uprisings the Democratic Party candidate for president has named a vice-president who might be labelled the Queen of Prosecutions. Kamala Harris would be one of the first to prosecute the very blacks who are part of the uprising.

The only thing I want to add to this article is to define left liberal more precisely. The old liberals of the Enlightenment were committed to a constitution under law. They were against monarchies, for tolerance of divergent views and for separation of church and state. Left liberals during the FDR era have the following characteristics:

  • They were for Keynesian economic policies which admit that free market capitalism does not work and has to be monitored by state policies.
  • They supported what I call the “matriarchal” state. This means robust free public education, pensions and unemployment insurance. In the 1960s food stamps were added, and today universal healthcare. They also supported building mass transportation systems and building and repairing roads and bridges.
  • They were active in their support of science and technology. They believed science was the best way to understand the world and that building technologies would make life easier and better for most people.
  • They supported the existence of the military as a defensive measure only. They did not believe in imperial wars or overthrowing other governments.
  • They recognized and supported unions, which allowed for collective bargaining and strikes in support of the working class.
  • They made a distinction between communism and fascism. For example, liberals like John Dewey and Bertrand Russell actively gave the Soviet Union a chance before rejecting it.
  • Left liberals were committed to being more inclusive economically in relation to gender and race.

Most people I know who consider themselves liberal support all or most of these points, though they might not be able to articulate them all. Yet they ignore the fact that the Democratic Party, in practice, for the last 50 years, has little or nothing to do with any of these.


Lost at Sea

Within the periphery of the circles in which I travel, people do not actively defend what it means to be a member of the Democratic Party. They come on much stronger when they say they are against the Republican Party. And why not? The Republican Party is the party of old money, inheritance, white supremacy and fundamentalist Christianity. Republicans and their followers are up front about it and don’t apologize. By implication, a Democrat is supposed to be opposed to such extremes. But what Democrats are for is simply left implied, and dissolves into a mist before the end of the conversation.

The case of the relationship between liberals and conservatives is pretty much similar. Long before political parties, the conservatives were considered to be the Party of Order, proudly supporting class, race and gender hierarchies, while proudly supporting obedience to authority and respecting tradition. In the time of French Revolution, to be liberal also meant taking a firm stand by opposing conservatives. But today, in the United States, to be liberal seems to be a weak program: more toleration, less inequality and less openness to experiment.

Above all, to be a Democrat or a liberal means you are not extreme. In fact, liberals have abandoned so many of the traditions they once fought for historically that the socialist movement has, unfortunately, taken over the causes of liberals ranging from state intervention in the economy, to raising the minimum wage, and introducing single payer healthcare as if this were the core of socialism. The fact that Bernie Sanders can claim to be a “democratic socialist”, promoting a program that is not even the equal of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s liberalism, demonstrates the failure of liberalism to defend its own best heritage.

Academic socialist leftists add more confusion to the mix by blithely calling the economic and political organization in the United States “neo-liberal” as if this term explained everything. The term neoliberal does not describe the state of the economy very well. It is not simply a return to Adam Smith’s economic liberalism. More importantly, liberalism is primarily a political stance that has undergone at least eight changes in the last 220 years. The fact that the general public has no understanding of this term, “neo-liberal”, doesn’t seem to phase these academics. The term does little to help the public understand the slide of liberalism into a morass.

Just as the Democratic Party and liberalism have allowed themselves to be defined by the Republican Party on the one hand and the conservatives on the other, the same fate has occurred in the case of what democracy is. During the 1920’s and 1930’s there was genuine concern that the American and Europe masses of people did not seem to act as democratically as Alexander Tocqueville had imagined. A few political theorists started asking questions about the political structure of electoral politics because so many people didn’t seem to show much of an interest in the candidates or the way issues were framed. But a not-so-funny thing happened to most political scientists in the 1930’s, at least in the United States. Instead of challenging the set-up of these electoral processes, political scientists turned outward, put on their best anti-communist face and instead invented the term “totalitarianism” to describe both fascism and Stalinism. The term totalitarian was toned down during World War II because the Soviets were on the side of the U.S., but the term “totalitarian” returned with a vengeance after the war to describe communist societies.

In the late 1940’s political scientists abandoned the very serious study of the problems of democracy, which were pointed out by left liberals like philosopher John Dewey, cultural critic Upton Sinclair and historian Charles Beard in the twenties and thirties. Instead they accepted a new right wing, elitist theory of democracy first championed by Joseph Schumpeter. Democracy was all about voting for the circulation of elites.

To sum up, in the case of Democratic Party, the political tradition of liberals and democratic theory the pattern is the same. All three words in practice have slid to the center right of the political spectrum. This rightward slide has occurred behind the scenes because it they have been contrasted favorably with the extreme right — Republican Party, conservative elites or fascists. The Democratic Party, liberals and elite democratic theory have also been favorably compared to the extreme left — communism. In fact, a Cold War Liberal like Daniel Bell could even dissolve the term liberal altogether in the book The End of Ideology. Arthur Schlesinger Jr. would write a book called The Vital Center. Liberals for him were synonymous with centrists.

My Claim

What I’m going to argue is that the best of the left wing liberal tradition is worth preserving and, as Ralph Nader might say, has nothing in common with the Democratic Party. The practice and politics of the Democratic Party is not liberal and never has been. Left-wing liberals have to face the fact they have no party.

A Whirlwind Tour of Liberalism

It is safe to say that what it means to be liberal has had different political meanings in different historical periods. According to political philosopher Stephen Holmes, in the glory days of the French Revolution, being liberal meant being against monarchies and aristocratic privilege. Liberals were militant against the church, claiming it was corrupt and filled with superstition, even as they defended religious tolerance. Liberals were opposed to censorship, and promoted freedom of assembly. They defended free trade against monopolistic trading companies before the working class and poor were driven into the mines and factories as industrial capitalism showed its full face.

In the early 19th century liberalism became entangled with the industrial revolution and moved towards the center of the political spectrum. Liberalism leaned right in the second half of the 19th century, buying into philosopher Herbert Spencer’s concept of “rugged individualism” and then slid into bed with social Darwinism. The early part of 20th century liberalism started moving left again with the progressive movement in the United States. For a while, some liberals were even open to hearing the communist case, with philosophers Bertrand Russell and John Dewey being sympathetic for a while.

Then in the 1930’s, catalyzed by the Great Depression, liberalism came to grips with the fact that free market capitalism wasn’t working and it embraced the economic policies of John Maynard Keynes. After World War II, Cold War liberals turned rightward, embracing the ideology of the Cold War. The Civil Rights and the anti-war movements of the 60’s drove liberalism leftward again in the form of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.

As the growth rate of the capitalist economy slowed in the late 1960’s and the early 1970s, left liberalism slid rightward and has never recovered. For at least since the late 1970’s what has stood for liberalism was defined by neo-conservatives in the early 1980s and by right wing Democrats in the late 1980’s (the Democratic Leadership Council)

It’s not as if liberals are alone in using words that have little relation to a concrete policy. As many of us know, much fraternal blood has been spilled for well over 250 years between social democrats, Marxist Leninists, council communists and anarchists over what socialism should and shouldn’t be. But at least we socialists understand that in the United States, we simply have no party. Left liberals are still in denial.

Is the Democratic Party Left Liberal?

Back in the days of the French Revolution, no liberal government would put up with monarchies, even if they existed in other countries. For a short while after the French Revolution, the French government unsuccessfully tried to destabilize monarchies in other countries. Today Democratic presidents have no problems meeting with kings or queens and hammering out diplomatic agreements with them. Claiming to be a “democracy” it forms alliances with states that would be condemned as ultra-royalists 200 years ago.

Neither does the Democratic Party have any problems with inherited wealth. We see no bills in Congress coming from Democrats seeking to abolish inheritance or tax the inheritance of many of its members. These days, members of the Democratic Party do not attack the Catholic Church for its wealth or call for the jailing of priests for child molestation. Separation of church and state? How many Democrats are there who don’t support the religious theocracy of Israel?

Protection of free speech? No Democratic presidents had any trouble with raiding homes (the Palmer Raids), McCarthy witch-hunts, or involvement with the CIA and its anti-communist operations. As for free market policy, the Democratic Party has ignored what the best of liberals understood 80 years ago — a free market doesn’t work very well. Drone warfare, militarization of the police: these wouldn’t be problems for left liberals of the Enlightenment?

The Republican Party is my class enemy. But sometimes I respect my enemies. Republicans form in clear tendencies, they fight, undermine each other and violate virtually every one of Aristotle’s fallacies. However, one thing I admire is that they don’t swear allegiance to each other before, during or after the primaries the way Bernie Sanders has done to Hillary.

How obvious does it have to be that the left liberals have no party? Is the coming genuflection of Bernie Sanders to the neo-con in waiting, Queen Hillary, not enough to convince you? The Democratic Party stands for nothing but capitalism — before and during the primaries. It does what it has done for as long as I can remember: it presents a boogeyman Republican — whether it be Trump, McCain, Bush or whoever else. It then defends itself not by the sweet dreams it promises to deliver, but the Republican nightmares it promises to forestall.

Why Bother Writing About Left Liberals?

I do not make these criticisms because I hope that if left liberals build a “Tea Party of the Left” that I would join. We socialists have our own work to do. I consider the pessimism of the Frankfurt School, structuralism, post-structuralism and the nihilist and relativist posings of postmodernism as a 50 year embarrassment, and it is these folks who blithely paint right, center and left liberalism with the same brush. I think the ideas, programs and skepticism of John Stuart Mill, Bertrand Russell and John Dewey are just as relevant today as they were at the time they were written. Anyone who thinks these left liberals are worth defending should have nothing to do with the Democratic Party.

Neither do I think that liberals and socialists are ultimately “on the same side” as the term “progressive” seems to imply. Liberals are closer to conservatives than liberals are to left socialists because both liberals and conservatives are committed to capitalism. In the long run, left socialists and left liberals will differ. But in the short run, it would be good to have a left liberal party for company while we hopefully build our revolutionary socialist party.

One last way to make my point is by naming names. I trust Ralph Nader more than I trust Bernie Sanders, Noam Chomsky or Cornel West. Ralph Nader is a straight up New Deal Liberal. He knows the Democratic Party is the graveyard for left liberals. Neither does he play games with the term “socialism”. He is against it and he says so. On the other hand, while I see little or no difference between Bernie Sanders’ program and anything Ralph Nader proposes, Bernie insists on calling his New Deal program “democratic socialism” — and he joins the Democratic Party to implement it! Why would I trust that? Then there are the Left Gatekeepers who are also untrustworthy. Noam Chomsky writes about workers’ councils between elections then every four years tells us to vote for a Democrat. Cornell West talks about democratic socialism, yet he too, instructs us to vote for a Democrat when push turns to shove.

Why doesn’t the socialist left have a party? We have good reasons. Socialist organizations were crushed in the 40’s and 50 in the US by corporations, Cold War liberals, and spy agencies. In addition, to the extent that the socialist parties are really a party of the poor, working class and some middle class, building a party costs money, is time consuming and takes years. Most of us have little time and not much money.

But what excuse do left liberals have? Most left liberals are upper middle class. They have the resources to build a party. Why don’t they? What keeps left liberals from pouring resources into the Green Party, which has always been at least truly left liberal? Clearly the number of people in the United States who are for Bernie Sanders convinces me that the population would welcome such a party. For decades surveys have shown that Americans say there should be more than two parties. What is the hold-up? It’s past time.


I can imagine those who support the “lesser of two evils” telling me “you are undermining us, and weakening our commitment to Biden and Harris” and this article will help deliver the election to Trump. I am completely cynical that I can convince any of the “Vote Blue No Matter Who” folks to not vote at all or vote for the Green Party. Your minds are made up. My only point is to say to you:

  • Your support of the Democratic Party has nothing to do with being liberal.
  • After the election if you want to rebuild liberalism get out of the Democratic Party and build your own party.

A Machiavellian Fiasco: How ‘Centrist’ Gantz Resurrected Netanyahu, Israel’s Right

It was intended to be a Machiavellian move, but the decision by Benny Gantz, leader of Israel’s Kahol Lavan (Blue and White) coalition, to join a Benjamin Netanyahu-led government is likely to destabilize the political fabric of Israeli society for years to come.

In a surprising move, Gantz has entered into precarious political compromises, whereby he would become the Speaker of the Israeli Knesset (Parliament), as a prelude to the formation of a national unity government which will include the ruling Likud party and Blue and White.

The move, however, proved disastrous.

As soon as Gantz declared his intentions to join hands with Netanyahu, thus throwing the discredited Prime Minister a lifeline, the Blue and White coalition quickly disintegrated.

Blue and White has stood on shaky ground since its formation to contest the April 2019 general elections. The leaders of the coalition, Gantz (Israeli Resilience Party), Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid), and Moshe Ya’alon (Telem) seem largely unified, not by a common ideological foundation, but by their sheer hatred of Netanyahu and burning desire to oust him.

Netanyahu is Israel’s longest-serving Prime Minister, with his terms in office linked to an era of nepotism and corruption. Over time, Netanyahu has turned whatever semblance of democracy his country enjoyed into a personal and family affair. In his constant readiness to concede to his extreme right-wing government coalition partners to ensure his own political survival, Netanyahu offered his country little by way of a viable political vision.

For many years, Netanyahu’s enemies did little to counterbalance the Prime Minister’s excesses. While Netanyahu succeeded in wooing Israel’s right-wing constituency, Israel’s so-called left dwindled to represent, at times, a mere margin of error in Israeli elections and opinion polls.

A telling example is the most recent poll conducted by Israel’s Channel 12 earlier this month. According to the results, if Israelis were to vote in a general election on the day of the polling, the country’s historic Labour Party (which founded Israel in 1948) would fail to garner a single seat at the Knesset.

In retrospect, Gantz and his allies had no other option but to brand themselves as ‘centrists’. On forming their coalition a year ago, they aimed to appeal to various groups of disgruntled Israelis: right-wing voters disenchanted with the political deadlock and economic inequality; leftists, who have lost faith in the traditional left’s ability to resurrect itself as a strong oppositional force and the remnants of independent and centrist voters.

Gantz and his allies’ calculations proved to have merit, as Israeli voters came out on three different elections in less than one year to breathe life into what once seemed like an impossible mission: ousting Netanyahu.

In the last March elections, Blue and White has won 33 seats in the Knesset, certainly not enough to form a coalition on their own, but enough to build a relatively stable coalition that would seize control of the Knesset and, ultimately, form a government.

For the first time in years, it seemed that Netanyahu’s political career was over, and that the Prime Minister, who is facing serious corruption charges, will see his day in court, if not prison.

But Gantz faced a dilemma, which eventually resulted into his seemingly erratic decision to form a national unity government with Netanyahu.

To form a government that excludes the Likud, Blue and White would have been forced to include the third-largest political force in the Knesset, the Arab parties which are united under the umbrella of the Joint List.

Despite the Joint List’s willingness to join Gantz’s precarious coalition (which would have included some of the most notorious anti-Arab and racist political figures in Israel, like Yisrael Beiteinu, Avigdor Lieberman), Gantz did everything in his power to avoid that possibility.

Racism in Israel is at its worst, and any political concessions made to Arab parties would have been considered by many Israelis as a betrayal to the ‘Jewish identity of the State’ as enshrined in the chauvinistic ‘Nation-State Law’ of July 2018.

Masquerading his decision as a concession that is compelled by the coronavirus pandemic, Gantz agreed to form an emergency national government with Netanyahu, which excludes the Arab Joint List.

On March 26, Gantz nominated himself for the position of the Speaker of the Knesset, replacing the abruptly resigned former Likud Speaker, Yuli Edelstein, setting the stage for negotiations with Netanyahu’s Likud regarding the structure of the new government.

Whether Gantz had anticipated the fallout of his decision or not is irrelevant because, consciously, he opted to make a deal with the devil rather than being the Israeli Jewish politician who has paved the road for Israel’s Arab community to be part of the country’s decision-making.

Everything that Gantz has worked for – three consecutive elections and the desperate attempt at carving up a centrist political narrative in a country inclining more to the right – have all come crashing down. Yesh Atid and Telem, two of the three main pillars in the Blue and White, officially filed for, and were granted, permission from the Knesset Arrangement Committee to break away from Gantz’s faction.

Unsurprisingly, if elections were to be held in Israel now, Gantz’s party would win a measly 19 seats – compared with the Likud’s growing popularity of 40 seats.

With the balance of power finally shifting in his favour, Netanyahu has toughened his political stance, insisting on playing a role in the appointment of judges (thus protecting himself from future prosecution), and on his right to block any High Court of Justice decision of disqualifying him from serving as a Prime Minister.

After failing to reach an agreement, the task of forming the government has been transferred to the Knesset. A failure to do so within 21 days would take the country to a fourth election, one that the Likud and their allies are sure to win, and this time decisively so.

It is ironic that the person who resurrected Israel’s political ‘center’ is the same one who eventually destroyed it. By doing so, Gantz has granted Netanyahu a new lease on life and, consequently, strengthened the Israeli right’s grip on power for years to come.

2020 Election Year Is An Opportunity For Transformational Change If We Embrace Our Power

Although we do not tie our organizing to the election cycle, the 2020 election is an opportunity for the people to set the agenda for the 2020s. We need to show that whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden are elected, the people will rule from below. We need to build our power to demand the transformational we need.

We are living in an opportune time, as has existed previously in the United States when many of the issues people have fought for have come to the forefront, but the two parties disregarded the people. Similar to the abolition movement in the 19th century and the progressive/socialist movement in the early 20th century, this is our moment in the 21st century for systemic changes that fundamentally alter our healthcare system, economy, foreign policy, environmental policy and more.

As Kali Akuno of Cooperation Jackson said in our recent Clearing the FOG interview (available Monday), the right-wing is using this time to push through their agenda of corporate bailouts, deregulation, and worker exploitation. If the left doesn’t organize and counter this, the country will continue on its current destructive path. The changes we want won’t come from the top. Both corporate duopoly candidate’s priorities are the wealthy investor class and big business. We are going to have to organize and mobilize for the necessities of the people from below.

Join our May Day General Strike Call on Wednesday, April 29 at 7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific to learn how to participate in the general strike from home. Click here to register.

Don’t Fall For The Illusion Of Democracy, Create Change

The reality that democracy is an illusion in the United States has been made much clearer in the 2020 election cycle. While Democratic voters supported the Sanders reformist agenda, Democratic elites, including the DNC and the Obama and Clinton teams, and members of the Progressive Caucus organized to stop Sanders and make Biden the likely nominee despite his terrible nearly 50-year political history of corporatism and militarism and his current incompetence.

Many people still feel trapped in the endless cycle of “lesser evil” voting that has driven a race to the bottom in the United States. Voting for either of the corporate parties reinforces their corporate-militaristic agendas and takes away the people’s power to force changes. Voters are taken for granted by both major parties who know their scare tactics work.

If there was any question, the handling of the current health and economic crises clearly demonstrates the duopoly does not work for us. As trillion dollars lifelines are thrown to big business and finance, people lack health care, protection of their homes from eviction, food, worker rights, and financial support. All of these could be provided easily and are being provided to people in other countries, many of which are poorer than the US.

Taiwan, China, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, to name a few, are responding to the pandemic effectively while the US is failing. They have public health systems with health workers and doctors embedded in communities. They are able to go door-to-door to check on people and provide advice, testing, and treatment. In the US, COVID-19 has become a top killer, killing more people each week than cancer, and nearly as many as heart disease, the two highest causes of deaths. These mass deaths are occurring at a time when the economy is virtually closed. If it were open, there would be hundreds of thousands, if not more than a million deaths.

The contradiction has never been clearer. The government does not serve the people, especially the working class, it serves the wealth-class. We will not vote our way out of these crises. However, we can learn from previous movements that had significant impacts on power holders.

Huey Long threatened a third party challenge against FDR in the 1936 presidential race. This helped pushed the enactment of the New Deal.

Lessons From History

This is not the first time in history where the two dominant parties have been out-of-touch with the necessities of the people. In those times, political movements organized and led from below by doing two things: (1) building mass social movements, and (2) putting the movement’s issues on the political agenda through third party campaigns.

Although third party campaigns cannot win in the manipulated presidential election, even without winning, third parties combined with movements have transformed the nation. Understanding how social transformation occurs is critical for those who feel trapped in the duopoly system. We discuss this in more depth in the sixth class of the Popular Resistance School. In our mirage democracy, voting doesn’t have much impact because the outcome of the election is predetermined in most states due to the Electoral College.

From the colonial era to the Civil War one of the most extreme forms of capitalism – owning people as property – dominated US politics. The founders of the country, slaveholders and businessmen, protected their valuable slave property by drafting a property rights constitution. This was reinforced by the two parties, the Whigs and Democrats, who prohibited discussion of the abolition of slavery in Congress. Chattel slavery was the most valuable business of the era — more than railroads, banking, and industry combined.

Throughout that time, there was a movement to end slavery. By the time the country was formed, Vermont had abolished slavery. Abolitionists kept struggling through protests, slave revolts, writing, and speeches. With Westward expansion, the contradiction of slavery escalated as the debate became whether new states would be slave states or free.

Abolitionists decided to enter electoral politics. They formed new anti-slavery parties and ran a series of candidates including former president Martin Van Buren, with the Free Soil Party in 1848, and former President Millard Fillmore, with the American Party in 1856. Like third party candidates today, abolitionists were called “spoilers,” but they persisted. The Whigs weakened to virtually disappearing and the Democrats divided. As a result, Abraham Lincoln won a four-way race with 38 percent of the vote and ‘ended slavery’, the first third-party president elected in US history

In other cases, third parties won without winning the presidential election by putting the issues of social movements into the national debate. This is how we achieved the 8-hour work-day, ending child labor, women’s voting rights, breaking up monopolies, gaining union rights, the minimum wage, unemployment, worker’s compensation, and massive public works projects as well as retirement security and more. The entire New Deal was built on the platforms of  the Progressive Party and Socialist Party in 1912 and 1928.

FDR did not come into office advocating the New Deal. It was political movements like the Bonus March of 1932  and 1936 that led to people receiving federal support. There were also protests by farmers and strikes by workers during his presidency. And, there was the threat of a third-party challenge by Huey Long on the Share Our Wealth ticket, which had thousands of chapters across the country. All of this pushed FDR away from his concern about deficits to massive spending on the New Deal before the 1936 election.

In the 1940s, as the union movement continued and the civil rights movement grew, the Progressive Party with Henry Wallace, FDR’s vice president, urged the end of Jim Crow laws and segregation in the South, the advancement of women’s rights, the continuation of many New Deal policies including national health insurance and unemployment benefits, the expansion of the welfare system, and the nationalization of the energy industry, among others.

In this century, it was Ralph Nader in 2000 who first advocated single-payer, Medicare for all. Jill Stein ran on the Green New Deal in both her Green Party campaigns, after Howie Hawkins, the current leading candidate in the Green Party in 2020, advocated for a Green New Deal in a gubernatorial run in 2010. Every Green since Nader has criticized corporatism, the wealth divide, and Wall Street corruption as well as never-ending wars and US imperialism. All of these issues are advocated for by social movements and now have majority support. They are on the national agenda.

General Strike protests in Oakland (From CNN)

Building Popular Power in 2020

The quadruple threats of the pandemic, economic collapse, climate crisis, and nuclear war have changed the national dialogue.  Institutionalized racism is being acknowledged as black and brown people are disproportionately contracting COVID-19 and dying from it. Worker exploitation is starkly visible as essential workers are underpaid, lack paid sick leave and are mistreated with inadequate job safety. The fragile debt-riddled economy is evident as food lines grow with a record 22 million newly unemployed in the last month.

Many groups, including Popular Resistance, are urging a campaign of general strikes. A coalition has called for a general strike beginning on May 1 and has made specific demands. People are sharing information about how to conduct a general strike so people know what it takes and how a general strike would look.  Even before COVID-19, in the last two years, there were record numbers of strikes and now a wave of wildcat strikes is evolving.

Organizers of the general strike campaign are using the hashtags #GeneralStrike2020, #Coronastrike, #MayDay2020, and #StrikeForOurLives. There are many ways people can participate whether they are currently employed or not. If people refuse to pay their debts or rent, the financial system will collapse. And there are ways people can connect to the strike from home through social media.

Join our May Day General Strike Call on Wednesday, April 29 at 7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific to learn how to participate in the general strike from home. Click here to register.

People have power. We need to make the General Strike a campaign that continues throughout the 2020s. It needs to become the US version of the Yellow Vest movement. And, the strike can evolve with new disruptive tactics that force whoever is elected president to address the people’s issues.

This election, there is only one left-progressive candidate who will be on most ballots across the country, the leading Green candidate Howie Hawkins. If his campaign is heard, the agenda of the movement will be elevated. He is making progress to achieving federal matching funds, which would greatly amplify him and his strategy to unite the left will strengthen the challenge against the two parties.  Gloria La Riva is another left candidate running with the Party for Socialism and Liberation and Jeff Mackler is running with Socialist Action. Both will be on the ballot in some states. All three of these candidates are putting forward the agenda of the popular movement. We need to build a left party from the grassroots up. The two Wall Street-funded parties need to be challenged by a party that puts the planet and people first.

The Democrats have insulted progressives for years with corporate candidates because they think progressive-left voters have nowhere else to go. They need to see that voters have an alternative and are withholding their votes. They also need to see us building an alternative that is aligned with popular movements for economic, racial and environmental justice as well as peace.

There are more thought leaders standing up to the Democrats in 2020. This includes Krystal Ball of Hill TV’s Rising who has repeatedly criticized Biden and has not endorsed him, as has Sander’s press secretary Briahna Joy Gray. and the executive director of Justice Democrats, Alexandra Rojas. Multiple new media outlets including the host of the largest podcast in the nation, Joe Rogan, and podcasts with hundreds of thousands of listeners like Chapo Trap HouseKyle Kulinski and Jimmy Dore have all criticized Biden and said that they are unlikely to support him. The new media reaches millions of people and is challenging the old media narrative of pushing voters to ‘hold their nose’ and vote for unacceptable candidates.

Saying we ‘will not go along with your charade’ tells the political elites that people have minds of their own and will not be manipulated into voting for candidates who they know will sell out the people on behalf of the wealthy. Combining that with an ongoing campaign of general strikes in 2020 and beyond will show the political and economic elites that the people are taking power. The only path to victory is for people to organize and show we are not afraid to take action. It is time to embrace our power, not fear it.

Billionaire “Job Creators” and the Keyboard Revolutionaries Who Enable Their Candidates

Capitalism’s “invisible hand” gives us the middle finger with ever more contempt these days.

With the national unemployment rate soaring to Depression-era levels and beyond, the self-proclaimed “job creators” of our glorious free-market paradise are now drowning in gluttonous excess from sucking the tit of the “Nanny State” they allegedly abhor. While workers are prohibited from working by shelter-in-place orders, the private owners of what should be public assets get trillions of taxpayer dollars through the Federal Reserve, which they will use to buy up everything they don’t already own at depressed, pandemic era prices. Then when foreclosures begin to soar they’ll buy up the distressed properties for a song. In other words, we’re paying them with our own money to kick us out of our homes.

Meanwhile, the great dissident intellectual Noam Chomsky and friends (Mike Albert, Norman Solomon, Barbara Ehrenreich etc.) urge us not to vote for the Green Party this November, except in places where the vote won’t have any effect on the outcome (the states where either Trump or Biden are sure to win). These keyboard revolutionaries regard themselves as the vanguard of popular rebellion, but a key fact seems to have escaped their attention: Trump is a threat to elites; Biden isn’t. Which is why so many Rust Belt workers took a chance on Trump in 2016. In other words, American workers are much more fed up with the system than Chomsky and his political friends are. Change will come from them, not keyboard revolutionaries.

Though Chomsky regularly reminds his audiences that trying to predict the future is hopeless, that we can’t even predict tomorrow’s weather, let alone complex political trends, he nevertheless regards his judgment as infallible in determining how we should vote! But as John Dewey used to say, individuals know better than experts “where the shoe pinches, the troubles they suffer from,” a quote Chomsky is well aware of, as he cites it himself. Who the hell are we to tell people how they should vote? Or run their political campaigns?

Of course, Chomsky counters that the Greens have themselves stated that they want to see Trump defeated “as much as anyone,” and on that basis he counsels a “safe states” strategy; i.e., voting Green in the 40 states where the outcome is a foregone conclusion, but not in the 10 states that are “in play,” that is, where it can’t be safely predicted whether Trump or Biden will win. Here Chomsky is correct that the Greens are not as eager as he is to see Trump defeated, but there is no reason they should be. Again, Biden poses no threat to the establishment, and is so out of it mentally that he frequently lapses into outright gibberish. It took him six days to come out with a video in response to the corona virus crisis, one in which he appeared in a darkened basement with a confused look in his eyes mumbling incoherently to the effect that the government should do something about medical shortages. Duh.

On other occasions he has said that poor kids are just as capable as white kids of high achievement, and that parents should turn on the record player at night so that they can learn new words. His record is so appalling and his gaffes so prolific that his handlers carefully shield him from all but the most limited public contact, and even then can’t prevent him from snapping at voters or mangling his syntax to the point of random babbling. Even Barack Obama was reluctant to support him.

In short, it is not at all obvious that Trump is the greater evil. On the issues, Trump is slightly worse than Biden, but also more prone to sparking massive popular resistance, while Biden is clearly suffering cognitive disintegration whereas Trump is not.  Furthermore, the Democrats in opposition are a fake resistance, while the Republicans (during a Democratic presidency) are an actual resistance. So the choice between Biden and Trump is all too much like “Sophie’s Choice” in the movie starring Meryl Streep, in which Nazi guards force a terrified Polish mother to choose which of her two children shall live and which shall die. She makes the choice – perhaps “rationally” – and ends up committing suicide. We as a nation will, too, if we continue to take such choices seriously.

In 2016, the Republican base recognized Trump was a threat to the establishment and voted him into office, in spite of a tsunami of articulate opinion saying it couldn’t be done. In 2020, elite fear-mongering divided the Democratic base, insuring that it failed to nominate Bernie Sanders, a different and better kind of threat to the establishment. Polls show that Sanders’ signature issue – Medicare For All  – captures a substantial majority even among Biden voters, and in fact his New Deal politics are very popular across the American population. A successful elite campaign to falsely convince everyone that “other people don’t think like me” is the only reason he won’t be the party nominee.

To an electorate already drowning in manipulative fear, Chomsky and friends recommend we adopt a “rational” fear – terror actually – of Trump, on the pretext that he is destroying the world with his indifference to climate change. Though this is a possible outcome, it is far from a certain one, and it cannot plausibly be blamed on a single person in any case.  Simply put, the claim that a vote for Trump invites “global catastrophe” is alarmism, not analysis.

We are in the midst of a global catastrophe right now with COVID 19, but Chomsky himself properly credits four decades of bi-partisan profiteering, not just Donald Trump. And if the profit system is the problem, it is difficult to see how voting Democrat helps, as not one of them voted against the recent multi-trillion dollar give-away to Wall Street – not AOC, not Bernie Sanders, not Rashida Tlaib, not Ilhan Omar, not Tulsi Gabbard. And those are the best Democrats, far superior to Joe Biden. The lone opponent of the greatest financial heist in history was Republican Thomas Massie, who called for a quorom and a formal vote on the package that passed by voice vote.

Clearly there are no “safe states”: all the states are always “in play,” and are currently bleeding badly from the anus.

Chomsky’s fear-mongering contrasts sharply with what he advised vis-a-vis nuclear weapons in the 1980s, another issue that portends massive and possibly terminal self-destruction. Back then he correctly pointed out that the Nuclear Freeze’s obsession with giving detailed descriptions of the massively destructive consequences of dropping nuclear bombs on human cities was intellectually insulting and politically paralyzing, preventing the change it hoped to foster. The correctness of this view has been confirmed by events, as the Nuclear Freeze was ultimately absorbed into official arms control efforts, and forty years later the world is closer to nuclear war than ever.

So why should we repeat the mistake today, spreading apocalyptic visions of total destruction via climate change? No reason that a sensible person should embrace. After all, the only prediction we can safely make about climate change is that electing either Biden or Trump will make our current bad situation considerably worse. The only electoral result that could make it better would be one that put the Green Party platform in power, an outcome that will never be achieved if Green voters feel compelled to vote for candidates bought by the fossil fuel industry.

We need to stop the incantations of “existential threat” and “special danger” about Trump. He isn’t Hitler. He doesn’t believe in the genetic superiority of white people. And he at least hasn’t started any new wars during his 38 months in office, which is unlikely to have been the case with Hillary Clinton. What’s different about him is his eagerness to insult rather than utter focus-group tested banalities, but this carries no policy implications. So where is the argument that Trump has dramatically deviated from the plutocratic policies embraced by both establishment parties?

“Real solutions require Trump out of office,” chorus Chomsky and friends, just as they did about Mitt Romney, George W. Bush, John McCain and Ronald Reagan. No. Real solutions require a society committed to real solutions. As long as profiteers run the government, this is impossible.

Apparently, Chomsky and friends are for radical change every day except election day.

Democracy – Not!!

As I listened to some Trump Administration crony recently drone on about “American democracy” I recalled with sarcastic irony President Obama in Cuba lecturing Raul Castro on democracy. At the same time Republican officials in the State of Arizona and several other states were working to block as much citizen access to the voting booth as possible. There is nothing new here. When it comes to promoting “democracy” around the world the United States Government has a pretty dreadful record. Our role in assisting the overthrow of elected governments is on-going. Be it Iran in 1953 to Honduras under Obama and Clinton. As usual not a whisper from the corporate media. As pointed out by political theorists “media” is simply the propaganda vehicle for the dominant ideology.

The democratic republic established by our constitution in 1789 muddles along as a shadow of what it aspired to be. We are not a democracy. We have become an oligarchy (i.e., rule by the rich). Many Americans blame “Citizens United”, the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing bribery in our political system. The court has blessed a corrupt system making a mockery of democracy and gave the green light to the rich to buy politicians at every level of government. In a real democracy money does not count as freedom of speech.

Take a look at how we “elect” the President of the United States. We know from the 2000 election the people don’t elect the president. Something called the “electoral college” does — using the total number of Representatives and Senators from each state and at times the perverted legal logic of the U.S. Supreme Court! Clinton received three million more votes than Trump in 2016 but Trump is “elected” under a system designed to give slave holders more power when the constitution was ratified in 1789.

How about Congress? For starters take the United States Senate. Consider Wyoming has fewer than a million people while California has nearly 40 million. Both states have two Senators – would anyone in their right mind call that equal representation or democracy? I think not! Additionally California has one of the ten largest economies in the world while Wyoming ranks down there with the third world.

Twenty-five million more citizens voted for Democratic Senate candidates in the last election yet the Republicans have more U.S. Senators and legislative control. Thanks to Senate rules and the filibuster Senators coming from states making up only 27 percent of the total population of the country can kill any legislation. And do the math on how low population state U.S. Senators effect the electoral vote. One hundred of those votes for president are totally unrepresentative of the people. This is how it works out when low population states vote one way and a majority of the population goes another. California senators represent people and Wyoming – cattle! How does a majority prevail in such an undemocratic system? The answer is that it doesn’t and it is getting worse by the day.

Consider the House of “Representatives” — so called! Thanks to Republican gerrymandering of congressional districts in 2010, millions more Americans voted for Democratic candidates as their congress person only to have the Republicans take control of the House! Now good old Democratic Party incompetence can be blamed for some of this problem. The National Democratic Party was asleep at the switch in 2011 when the Republicans redrew districts guaranteeing their candidate would win. Take the State of Pennsylvania – Congressional Democratic candidates won over 100,000 more votes than Republican candidates statewide but fewer than one-third of the congressional seats.

And this was repeated all over the country. The Democrats took control of the House of Representatives in 2018 only because they increased their popular vote by almost 10 percent over the Republicans and they need to do better in 2020 to keep the House and retake the Senate. Trump and Republicans don’t care about majority voting. That is why they put all their effort into their right-wing base in the states that gave them a minority victory in 2016.

Take a moment to review our “democracy”, shall we? A congress that does not even begin to represent a majority of the people; a campaign “contribution” system that operates on bribery; a media owned by a half dozen corporations only concerned with profits and a professional military (opposed by the founding fathers) has replaced a citizen army. We have more people in prison than any other western country — we torture suspects. Election laws are written so only two parties have a chance at being elected. The constitutional right of the working class to join a union (First Amendment Freedom of Association and industrial democracy) is gone.