Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Pragmatic Left: Critics of the Democratic Party Come in From the Cold, Greens Get the Cold Shoulder - Michelle Goldberg

Greens will sometimes justify these runs as movement-building tools, but they never seem to actually build a movement.... 
The new generation of left-wing activists, by contrast [to the Green Party], is good at self-multiplication. The Democratic Socialists of America [DSA] alone has done more to build left political power since the 2016 election than the Green Party did in the 18 years after Nader helped elect George W. Bush.
In truth, there’s nothing surprising about left-wing candidates losing their primaries. The happy surprise is how many are winning. Unsexy as it sounds, the real story of progressive politics right now is the steady accumulation of victories — some small, some major — thanks to a welcome and unaccustomed outbreak of left-wing pragmatism.
... Michelle Goldberg, The Pragmatic Left Is Winning, NYT, Aug. 9, 2018
I don't always read Michelle Goldberg. She worked for The American Prospect as columnist for The Daily Beast, Slate, and The New York Times. She is a former senior writer for The Nation magazine. Does she carry a grudge against the Greens because Hillary lost?

Her point about the Democratic Socialists of America in contrast to the Green Party, which has built little and wasted resources on national campaigns that could have been used to build grassroots is one I agree with. And I voted Green in a bunch of elections.

I see constant reminders on social media of the DSA's incredible level of activity on so many fronts - the venture into Democratic Party politics is only a sliver.

Goldberg brings some perspective to the move to the left within the Democratic Party and also from critics of the Dem Party on the left of the party that have worked for change outside the Party. Since Trump won many have come to the conclusion that changing the Dem Party is the only pragmatic way to effect change from below at the grass roots.

The left has been ineffective at working at the grass roots - my feeling is that many leftists are theorists and unable to talk to people outside their bubbles - nor do they really want to despite the essence of socialism is organizing the working class. Most leftists have eschewed the American political system as hopelessly corrupt and a waste of time. But given the alternatives, over the past year we have seen people begin to change their minds -- and I may be one of them.

Not unexpected, given Goldberg's politics and political connections to the progressive wing of the Dems, is her take-down of the Green Party, which has been competing with the Dems and all too often being the reason Republicans have won. See the recent race in Ohio where a Trump endorsee won by a sliver due to the Green Party vote of .05 per cent

Did Democrats lose Ohio election because of spoiler Green Party candidate who says his ancestors were aliens?

And here's more good news for Trump:

Joe Manchik has said he'll continue fighting for votes in the November elections
Manchik: "The people calling me a spoiler are just fools. They think I’m stealing votes from the Democratic Party. Well guess what? They’re stealing votes from me!"
While Greens refute charges that they put George Bush and Trump in power (they say most of their voters would not have voted for Dems anyway), the Greens have faced vilification from center and  from segments of the left that had also been critical of the Dems but have decided to get more involved to force them to the left. Contrast the Greens who compete with the Dem party and the Democratic Socialists, most of whom are critical of the Dem Party but are using the election structures to push it left and are embedding themselves in the roots.

Inside the DSA there is some criticism from segments of the Marxist-Leninist left that this venture is hopeless -- that what is needed is an independent third party.

The Pragmatic Left Is Winning
For once, Democrats are not in disarray.


Monday, August 13, 2018

School Scope: On The Importance of The Wave, Local News, Socialism, Capitalism and More

My column in The Wave this past Friday - August 10, 2018

School Scope: On The Importance of The Wave, Local News, Socialism, Capitalism and More
By Norm Scott

The gutting of the Daily News has raised the issue of the assault on print publications, exacerbated by the Trump tariff on Canadian paper (not an accident) which has raised costs and other assaults on weakening the press with constant attacks financially on their ability to cover news and also attacks on the integrity of the press. Now I too have always been skeptical of the way some of the press covers the news. I assume all coverage has some bias and try to read a balanced variety so I can make my own decisions. But if you watch Fox or read the right wing press it is clear we are living in different universes.

The Daily News story has been viewed as the coming end of local coverage. We are left with the Post which is Fix news and the Times which doesn’t devote major resources to local coverage. Recently we have also heard of smaller local papers under attack. In Maryland a guy with a grudge shot up a local paper’s newsroom, killing five people. In California we hear of a local paper that was bought by its former editor and his wife, both avid Trump and right wing supporters. Fears in that community are that they will be getting a barrage of biased coverage.

Even more local papers have been bought up by chains. Most people who can afford to own a newspaper are generally wealthier than the population in general and thus tend to be more conservative, so coverage of the left and liberal causes, despite the right wing’s branding of the press as biased left, does not get covered adequately.

Independent papers like The Wave are increasingly important to communities like Rockaway and I give them credit for heroically trying to cover the Rockaways as extensively as possible with very limited resources. And for being willing to give people like me the opportunity to offer alternative views from the left. Here’s hoping that our local independent newspaper can maintain its ability to offer us this service that is disappearing from so many places in this nation and around the world.

As I’ve been trying to point out, there are many brands of liberals, Democrats and socialists. Remember, the Democratic Party was the party of slavery and the Dixiecrats ruled the party even in the Franklin Roosevelt years, only going Republican when Lyndon Johnson pushed through the Civil Rights Act in the mid 1960s. There are also many brands of socialists. We think of socialists as communists – the Soviet Union, China, Cuba and even Venezuela. Given that we are seeing mainstream articles and columns even in the NY Times about capitalism and socialism, I will continues to explore these issues in portions of my upcoming summer columns, in addition to resuming education coverage in the fall.

So in this spirit, let me give you a homework assignment for next week: Is a Democratic Socialist Really a Socialist?

Norm does his homework every day at ednotesonline.com

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Did the DNC Pass a Perez Resolution Reversing Ban on Donations From Fossil Fuel PACs? -- Common Dreams

Just two months after the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was celebrated by environmentalists for banning donations from fossil fuel companies, it voted 30-2 on Friday to adopt a resolution from Chair Tom Perez that critics said effectively reverses the ban and represents "an absolute failure by the DNC."... Common Dreams
A good chunk of the socialist left despises the Democratic Party and believes working within the party is a dead end. Stories like this helps them make a case. I have been tilting back and forth myself -- paint me confused -- which is why I am reading all sides and posting various points of view --- I just don't want to be trapped in a left bubble.
Whenever you think it's safe to jump back into the fight for the Democratic Party you read a story like this. I still think there are not currently any realistic alternatives than to put leftward pressure on the party from below. But despite tilting left, the center is strong with money being a major factor. Changing the party at the top will not be easy -- but from below, maybe. Right now electoral politics is the game and will a blue wave sweep the party and if so how does that play in the nation as a whole?
Oh -- NY Times columnist David Brooks just said on Meet the Press "How will the Democrats manage to screw it up this time because they always do?" Then he said as long as they don't swing too far left -- and he says other than a few places, they haven't. [More about this soon where the NY Times columnist Michelle Goldberg makes the opposite case - that the left is making important inroads.]
Is this a screw up or a smart move? I think making the left enraged will not help the Dems. I mean they can try to snare the more progressive Republicans but this is a short term solution. I just don't see how to bridge the distance between so many disparate points of view even if the uniting factor is despising Trump.

On the other hand, the DNC is claiming it is not a reversal so is this a bit of distorted reporting?
DNC Passes Perez Resolution Reversing Ban on Donations From Fossil Fuel PACs
Published on
Activists immediately denounced the measure, which "also recommits the party to an 'all of the above' energy stance."
Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair Tom Perez was elected to his current role at a meeting in February of 2017. (Photo: Edward Kimmel/Flickr/cc)

The Huffington Post's Alexander Kaufman tweeted Friday:

UPDATE: resolution passed in a 30-to-2 vote.

from DNC epic: “After hearing concerns from Labor that this was an attack on workers, this resolution acknowledges the generous contributions of workers, including those in energy, who organize and donate to Democratic candidates.”

Read the entire CD story here:

In an email to me, a DNC spokeswoman disputed the characterization in my story, saying "it's not a reversal."
But the resolution opens the door donations from fossil fuel “employers’ political action committees" and nods to “forward-looking employers” that are “powering America’s all-of-the-above energy economy."
  • Molly Kelly, a former New Hampshire state lawmaker running for governor, just put out a statement condemning the DNC resolution.

    Saturday, August 11, 2018

    Examining The Upcoming Teacher Strike in Los Angeles

    Caputo-Pearl and the rest of the UTLA leadership want to regenerate in Los Angeles what teachers did in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona last spring.... Mike Antonucci, EIA, LA School Report
    Solidarity with a potential strike in LA in October will be a key priority for MORE in the fall... Peter Lamphere, MORE listserve
    Posted: 01 Aug 2018 06:38 AM PDT
    The other school employee unions in the Los Angeles Unified School District are settling contracts and going home happy. But not United Teachers Los Angeles. UTLA has wanted an occasion for a strike for two years, and it isn’t going to let anything stand in the way. I think I even know exactly when it will be.
    Get the details at LA School Report.
    Posted: 08 Aug 2018 07:02 AM PDT
    Last week I predicted UTLA will go on strike. This week I predict the authorization will be more than 90%.
    Read why at LA School Report.
    There's a lot of excitement over the potential LA teacher strike, which would bring red state type action to biggest blue state and to the 2nd largest school system in the nation. UTLA leader Alex Caputo-Pearl, whom I first met 9 years ago, is organizing on many levels.

    Mike A. comes at things from an anti-union perspective but does report accurately while also looking to punch as many holes as he can to burst the bubble.

    In the interest of providing wide coverage I will be posting more from Antonucci whose analysis is always interesting.

    Here are two views of the coming strike in Los Angeles. One from the UTLA and the always useful view from the right from Mike Antonucci, who has been writing extensively about the upcoming strike which he predicts will take place in October.

    Friday, August 10, 2018

    Fallout: Nysut/uft Backs anti-union pro-charter slug Alcantara endorsement over Robert Jackson

    I maintain that Eva Moskowitz alone has cost the UFT more union jobs - and dues - than Janus ever will. For our union to support darlings of hedge fund charter supporters (Paul Tudor Jones, Hedge Funds, Charter Schools, and the IDC), is outrageous.

    NYSUT/UFT supporting pro-charter and IDC traitor Alcantara (against pro-teacher stalwart Robert Jackson) is akin to giving Janus himself an award.

    When I posted about the endorsements a follower in twitter -- a fairly young teacher, tweeted back:
    Glad I pulled my cope money. They went with the moderate over the progressive in pretty much every race. They will never learn.
    Arthur makes the same point at NYC Educator on the NYSUT/UFT endorsements today. The headline says it all: NYSUT Endorses, Having Learned Nothing from Trump or Janus.
    [The] UFT is the big dog in NYSUT, and I don't believe NYSUT does anything of significance without our approval. That said, I'm struck senseless by our opposition to education hero Robert Jackson. Jackson stood with us through CFE. CFE was a lawsuit under which we won lower class sizes. It's never been enforced, even though the city came up with a plan to do so that was approved by the state. Jackson is running against Marisol Alcantara, who caucused with IDC
    What is more dangerous to teachers and ultimately anti-union and will cost more jobs - and more dues, the Janus decision or the the anti-union charter school expansion? If the UFT had mobilized the membership to stop charters we might be in a very different position. But they wanted to play in the ed deform game themselves.

    The comment justifying the Alcantara endorsement from a likely Unity slug on my recent post, NYSUT/UFT State Endorsements - Endorse IDC Alcantrara, Stab Robert Jackson in the Back - Again, is indicative of the kind of narrow thinking the people running our union engage in.
    Alcantara was instrumental in passing the law that will minimize the effects of the Janus decision, which imposes a right to work regime on all public sector employees, including teachers. As a union, stopping freeloaders is critical if UFT and NYSUT will continue to thrive. This was the highest priority of the union, and she delivered. That and she voted in line with UFT and NYSUT's positions. If the charter school people want to give her money, so what, if she always ends up voting with the UFT and NYSUT. That is just them investing badly... 
    WTF, justifying their endorsement. The charter schools investing in Alcantara badly or the UFT investing its endorsement badly and sending a message to future supporters that they will knife them in the back like they are doing to Robert Jackson? (I just sent Jackson a donation.)

    More good stuff from Arthur's post:
    Alcanatara....lists an Eva Moskowitz PAC as one of her top donors. Another is NYSUT Vote-Cope. Why the hell are we giving a dime to someone who supports a great enemy of New York City's schoolchildren, parents and teachers? How on earth can we turn against Robert Jackson for someone like that?
    NYSUT made a great point of saying they opposed Senators who supported charter expansion. How does support from Moskowitz not translate into supporting charter expansion? Eva Moskowitz eats charter expansion for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and we're supporting someone who takes her money. It's not a coincidence, NYSUT endorsers, that Alcantara called for a lifting of the charter cap. It's outrageous that we're putting resources behind someone like that. How do you think that will go over at the next COPE drive?
    Arthur does a great job collecting for COPE in his school. COPE is not union dues and even those who hold their noses and stay in the union may not like the smell of endorsing an IDG pro-charter slug.

    I posted the comment on a listserve and a retired UFT member commented:
    The Writer... must think we are all idiots. Robert Jackson would’ve voted to do the same thing and minimize the impact of Janus. What Robert Jackson would not have done for the last four years is organize with the Republicans and stop all kinds of good legislation and school funding from going through. The UFT and NYSUT looks ridiculous opposing Robert Jackson.
    The writer says if the charter school supporters, meaning the hedge fund community, want to give her money so what.  Really? those are the people who support Eva Moscowitz and her horrible agenda. If the UFT keeps this up they will have trouble convincing members to voluntarily signed up to pay dues.
    That Robert Jackson is the victim is incredible.  There are few people who have done more for education than Robert.
    Alcantara won last time when the seat was unoccupied, the opposition was split and people didn't know how bad she would be. There is a lot of activity and fund raising for Jackson.  But the hedge funders are pouring money in.  The real estate interests, biggest power player in NYS, also likes having a Republican senate.
    If you know people in the 31, that runs from the west 30 along the river all the way to the top of the Bronx and maybe into Westchester, tell them about Robert Jackson.
    Janus vs the people who voted to have di Blasio pay rent for charters or offer them space in public schools, which ends up undermining the school? Which is doing more to weaken the union?

    Thursday, August 9, 2018

    Socialism and Socialists in the Press; Another Young Hispanic socialist, Julia Salazar

    In one of the [Bushwick's] storefront’s Gothic windows, someone has taped up a recent cover of the New York Times Sunday Review section. “Millennial Socialists Are Coming,” reads the headline, while beneath it a metal placard nailed to the building’s facade cautions visitors striding through the parlor’s entryway to “Watch Your Step.”... Peter Rugh, The Indypendent, The Next Big Socialist Win 
    The Independent has a story on Julia Salazar, 27 years old and a
    democratic socialist, running for state assembly in Brooklyn against the candidate who is out of the old Vito Lopez empire - so she may have a tougher go than Ocasio-Cortez did -- her older male opponent is also Hispanic.

    This district covers the area where I spent most of my teaching career -- I'm thinking of going up there to help out. I still sort of know the politics -- the young candidate has a more uphill battle in that she is going up against the machine but it is also run by Hispanics. But she has the growing DSA machine working for her:

    Peter Rugh's story is a must read for its insights into the left and the DSA methods.
    The Next Big Socialist Win (in North Brooklyn)
    Julia Salazar wants to put working-class demands front and center in Albany. But first, she has to defeat a wily old party boss.
    Peter Rugh Aug 7
    Issue 238

    First there was Ocasio-Cortez, now it's Julia Salazar running an energetic campaign across North Brooklyn to become the first openly socialist New York state legislator in decades.

    FOX was crowing about the losses of long-shot candidates endorsed by the new socialist wing of the Democratic Party let by Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders. But the game is in its earliest stages.

    Every day I seem to read a reference in the NY Times to socialism or stories talking about capitalism.

    Bernie Sanders certainly has raised the issue, but he was presented as an outlier and just an old lefty grouch. Then came the Ocasio-Cortez victory in the Dem Party primary that shook both conservatives and liberals - that a 28-year old would openly declare herself a socialist. Then came Cynthia Nixon and even de Blasio jumping on the bandwagon. Who's next, Cuomo?

    After almost 8 decades of red scares and witch hunts, it's safe for socialists to go back in the water. But watch the intense attacks to come from both the right, center and even the left, especially from the left wing purists who disparage Bernie and Ocasio-Cortez for not being "authentic" socialists ---- in future posts we will get into the differences between the social democrats and the Marxist-Lenists and its various wings from the Trotskyists to other sects. For those of you who ask what does this have to do with the UFT? Well, a lot, but I'll keep you in suspense.

    Peter Rugh, author of our lead story here (I did a long interview with him for an ed story he was doing and found him so knowledgeable), makes this point:
    the fact that a high-profile candidate like Nixon would embrace ideas that once elicited visions of Stalinism in American minds indicates how far socialism has risen in the public’s estimation and how much political clout DSA is garnering. But the organization’s growth and electoral success have also posed new strategic challenges.
    Peter goes on to talk about the isolation of socialists in this country and part of the reasons why -- these little competing sectarian grouplets which all think they are the only ones with the answers. 
    Banished from the mainstream political arena in the United States, Marxism has survived — barely — through two main poles of activity. One, in academia; the other, through small grouplets whose members, never numbering more than a few hundred, tout a near-unified political outlook and attract recruits in ones and twos through social-movement activism.
    By avoiding engaging in the mainstream political arena -- mostly by disparaging the Democratic Party -- which does deserve its share of disparagement - but then attacking those on the left who venture forth and at times feel they have to shave back their positions. That affects the purists on the left.
    Socialism has thereby avoided sullying itself with the form of political activity Americans engage in most: the two-party electoral process. It has maintained its ideological purity while managing to be awesomely irrelevant.
    He could be talking about how MORE is organizing. Rugh does not neglect the dangers of working in the Dem party:
    Not that fears of engaging with the Democratic Party aren’t well founded. It has a way of vacuuming up social movements’ energy and subverting the outcomes activists are fighting for.

    DSA is an attempting a new method of electoral engagement... In addition to his role as a co-leader of DSA’s local New York chapter, Younus helps train DSA activists across the country in basic campaign organizing. Canvassing is covered, obviously, but also communications, social media, research, district analysis and resource allocation. “The goal is to strip away the power of the consultant class,” he said. “There’s this idea that there are keepers of secret information, but really, that information should be democratized and shouldn’t cost absurd sums of money. Candidates who truly represent the communities they are coming from should have access to that, their campaigns should have access to that and grassroots activists especially should have access to that, so that they can be engaged at this level and not need millions of dollars to do it.”
    I will be publishing left wing attacks on people who work with the Democratic Party -- I've been called an opportunist for even bringing it up

    Here are some of the stories I am collating for those of you who have missed them -- they are tied together by  my own weird logic.


    Here's another DSA endorsed candidate who will probably be in the House with Ocasio-Cortez --- things are looking interesting

    Detroit: Rashida Tlaib Just Won An Election That’ll Likely Make Her The First Muslim Woman In Congress

    Tlaib raised more money than her Democratic competitors, and won the endorsement of the Detroit Free Press. She was also backed by a host of organizations on the left, including the Sanders-aligned Our Revolution and Greater Detroit Democratic Socialists of America, which identifies Tlaib as a member.


    I posted this before (https://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/2018/08/can-pro-coal-democrat-in-west-virginia.html) but wanted to include it in this list.

    This is counter article on a center Dem who had been in the military and then went into teaching and was a leader of the teacher strikes and a hero to many other teachers. He also voted for Trump but now regrets it. This is the other side of the "let's everyone go left" even if the district is 97% white and conservative.

    Can a Pro-Coal Democrat in West Virginia Carve a Path for His Party ...

    Jul 17, 2018 - He has built support in a deep red coal-country district by riding a wave ... are focused almost exclusively on flipping seats in suburban districts, ...

    Then look at this review from last Friday's NY Times Arts:

    Review: In ‘Prairie Trilogy,’ All-American Stories of Socialism
    What does it mean to be a socialist in America, and why do people get so angry, and angrily terrified, when some Americans espouse socialism as a fairer system than the one in place? These questions have been coming up more frequently in recent years, prompted by the rhetoric and policy propositions of the recent presidential hopeful Senator Bernie Sanders and the ascendance of younger politicians, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the congressional candidate from New York who is unabashedly aligned with the Democratic Socialists of America.
    You may find an engaging answer to at least the first of the above questions in “Prairie Trilogy,” a collection of three short documentaries made between 1977 and 1980 and directed by the regional filmmakers John Hanson and Rob Nilsson. Now playing in New York in restored form, the movies are companion pieces to Mr. Hanson and Mr. Nilsson’s 1978 feature “Northern Lights,” a fictionalized tale of the real North Dakota labor union called the Nonpartisan League, which formed about a half a decade before America’s involvement in World War I.


    NYSUT/UFT State Endorsements - Endorse IDC Alcantrara, Stab Robert Jackson in the Back - Again

    Hard to understand NYSUT endorsement of IDC Alcantara not only b/c of Robert Jackson’s stellar education record but also b/c Alcantara is one of the biggest recipients of donations from the charter lobby incl the billionaires boys club Waltons, Daniel Loeb, etc. etc. .....
    Paul Tudor Jones, Hedge Funds, Charter Schools, an..

    When Cuomo "brokered" the "return" of the IDC to the Dems he began twisting the arms of the unions and others to support them against challengers....
    There has been no one more loyal to teachers, parents and students than Robert Jackson and many of us appreciate it (I just sent him a 100 bucks). But not the UFT or their clones in NYSUT.

    I published a few pieces including  a letter from the dissident Ex Bd members urging them to not endorse any IDC backstabbers.
    Here are the NYSUT endorsements including Marisol Alcantara vs Robert Jackson.

    They did endorse Zelnor Myrie against IDC Jesse Hamilton.

    There were no endorsements in the Biaggi/Klein, Ramos/Peralta, Robinson or Liu/Avella races.

    They endorsed Gounardes over Barkan to face Marty Golden.  Dilan over Salazaz.

    There are 4 races where they did not endorse plus nothing on the gubernatorial primary while endorsing Letitia James and Thomas DiNapoli.

    Wednesday, August 8, 2018

    Can a Pro-Coal Democrat in West Virginia Carve a Path for His Party? - NY Times

     Mr. Ojeda’s apparent surge has prompted comparisons to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the populist Democrat from the Bronx who knocked off a senior member of the House leadership in a primary. But Mr. Ojeda is not a leftist candidate: he does not want to abolish ICE or provide Medicare for all. He is pro-coal, while denouncing how coal companies stripped the state’s resources and left none of the wealth behind. He supports a public option to buy into Medicare and a pathway to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants, but he opposes universal background checks for gun buyers. And like 73 percent of voters in his district, he voted for Donald J. Trump in 2016. It is a choice he now regrets.... NYT, July 17, 2018
    I've been trying to post pieces on both sides of the Democratic Party divide. Go Left or Go center and even right - blue dog. The left says this is Hillary territory and a loser. In West Virginia districts like this the idea of going left may be a sure loser. But when you are bringing back unions you are framing a left argument in terms people can understand - where left and right working class can unite. I was immediately caught by the opening:
    The woman in the Grateful Dead T-shirt approached the man in combat boots with the military haircut.
    “Are you … ?” she asked hesitantly.
    “Ojeda,” he confirmed.
    “Thank you!” the woman gushed. “I’m a teacher.”
    Richard Ojeda, who became the political face of a statewide teachers’ strike in West Virginia, posed for a selfie with the woman, Jennifer Renne, who teaches middle-school math.

    An outspoken populist, Mr. Ojeda is running for Congress on a wave of labor activism thanks to voters like Ms. Renne, and he is doing surprisingly well as a Democrat in a district that President Trump won by nearly 50 points. Some Democrats see in him a model for how they can win in Middle American places where their party used to prevail, but has been decimated in the Trump era.
    Ojeda would be anathema to many on the left, but the left has been overjoyed at the West Virginia teacher movement, so I see him as part of a unifying factor between left and center and even right -- he and many of the red state teachers did vote for Trump. If we see a resurgence of the Dem Party in areas where they were turned to waste, even if it is not left, is that a bad thing? Some on the left think it is but I will get to that another time.

    Imagine Ojeda and Ocasio-Cortez in Congress together. I bet that would work.

    Can a Pro-Coal Democrat in West Virginia Carve a Path for His Party?

    Richard Ojeda, a Democrat running for Congress, campaigned in Logan, W.Va., in early July. He has built support in a deep red coal-country district by riding a wave of labor activism sparked by a successful statewide teachers’ strike.CreditAndrew Spear for The New York Times

    Tuesday, August 7, 2018

    Reflecting on the Legacy of Congressman Ron Dellums: A True People’s Warrior

    Ron Dellums, the son of a longshoreman who became one of America’s best-known black congressmen, a California Democrat with a left-wing agenda that put civil rights and programs for people ahead of weapons systems and warfare, died early Monday at his home in Washington.  -- NY Times, July 30, 2018
    I didn't know all that much about Ron Dellums until I read the NY Times Obit and was impressed in every way with him as a politician.

    Ron Dellums, 82, Dies; Unrelenting in Congress, He Upheld Left’s Ideals

    What I liked is that he put butter ahead of guns and managed to affect people over time. And he knew the value of unions, unlike his neo-liberal Democrats. Read the full obit here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/30/obituaries/ron-dellums-forceful-liberal-in-congress-for-27-years-dies-at-82.html

    Michael Fiorillo also tapped into the Dellums story with this link:
    Robert Scheer, a great radical journalist, reflects on the the legacy of the great Ron Dellums (whose uncle was a legendary West Coast leader of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters), who died on Monday.

    Usually I post a bunch of excerpts but I want to get outside and breathe some non-air conditioned air and smoke some pipe bowls. So maybe some additions later. We need more Dellums.

    Saturday, August 4, 2018

    Ed Notes Exploration: Can the Democratic Party Be Reformed - Part 2 - The Left Should Commandeer Red State Democratic Parties

    It’s remarkably difficult to do left-wing politics in cities. The economic growth we’ve seen over the previous several decades has largely been concentrated in them....
    When the left goes after the Clintonites in blue cities, it is going after them in the places where they are strongest. The story is different in the red states. In the 2016 primaries, Bernie Sanders won 22 states. The bulk of these are very white, very red, and have small urban populations. In many of them, the Democrats have a negligible presence in statehouses:..
    By contrast, if you go into a primary in a state where the Democratic Party has a negligible presence and where the demographics already favour Sanders-style campaigns, the chance of successful entry is much higher. Clintonite Democratic opponents in these primaries are likely to be less professional. They will be less politically skilled, less well-connected, and possess inferior resources. These are the places where the left can easily begin to displace Clintonites from the Democratic Party ballot line.
    --- Benjamin Studebaker
    A follow-up to Part 1 (Ed Notes Exploration: Can the Democratic Party Be Reformed, and If Not, What Are the Options? - Part 1)
    with another blog by Benjamin Studebaker.

    Another interesting find from Michael Fiorillo who says:
    If you think about it, his thesis may correlate/ be supported by the red state teacher strikes...
    Studebaker offers some ideas -- that there are possibilities in red states with a progressive program ---I'm not so sure but why not? He says with the Dem Party so weak in these states they are ripe for a takeover by the left. I wonder whether the Democratic Socialists (DSA) are active in these states. I did hear of some action in the teacher movement.

    A wing of the left absolutely rejects moves to work within the Dem party or reform it, holding out the everlasting wish for a labor party. by posting Studebaker articles it doesn't necessarily mean I agree with them but am offering them up for further review. My basic tenet at this point is that looking at the landscape it is hard to go along with the claim that there is little difference between the parties unless you come from the position that both of them support capitalism. Maybe long-term capitalism is coming down but right now I'm interested in the short term, ie. Can NYCHA be fixed and how?  We can't wait for the end of capitalism - an active base in the Democratic Party might be able to force changes. I don't see any other option that make an attempt to reform the party.

    And with a recent activation of a left wing in the Dem Party and groups like DSA supporting some candidates (as opposed to the Greens which runs its own candidates -- and has failed to build enough of a base - compare them to the organizational work being done by DSA.)


    Friday, August 3, 2018

    Ed Notes Exploration: Can the Democratic Party Be Reformed, and If Not, What Are the Options? - Part 1

    There is a part of the left which believes the Democratic Party is beyond hope. They think it’s too corrupt, too beholden to rich people and corporations, and that it’s a waste of time and energy to try to change it. Even in articles which express support for running progressive and democratic socialist candidates on the Democratic Party ballot line, concessions are routinely made to this faction. Jacobin recently ran an interview with Seth Ackerman, in which Ackerman advises the left to run candidates as Democrats, provided those candidates are beholden to outside activist groups. But even this piece is far too pessimistic about the prospects for penetrating the Democratic Party.
    The Democratic Party can be captured and transformed through the primary system, and it’s time more people explicitly and unapologetically say so. The left has underutilised the 2018 election cycle because too many people don’t yet understand this. We could have Sanders-style primary challengers in many more races in 2020 if, you know, folks would actually try. We don’t need to reform the electoral system, we don’t need an American Labour Party, we don’t even need campaign finance reform (though of course it would be nice)–we just need people to run for stuff and support those who do.....
    Progressives and democratic socialists have embraced pessimism about capturing the Democratic Party as a shibboleth–you aren’t really left-wing unless you don’t believe in it. Many of them refuse to even try to do it. This is why it’s taken two years since Bernie Sanders’ run for president (and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory in New York) for many people on the left to even begin debating the point. 
    Benjamin Studebaker, If Deng Xiaoping could Capture China’s Communist Party, You Can Capture the Democratic Party
    I'm not sure how apt this analogy is and I'm not sure I agree with him and will be exploring this issue in the upcoming series of posts but Studebaker, has some interesting blogs focusing on reforming the Dem Party sent out by Michael Fiorillo and I will be posting some other pieces from him. Here is another interesting piece arguing against proportional rep - which I have been in favor of: The American Two Party System is Actually Pretty Great -

    I want to debate strategies for reforming the Party not necessarily into a social democratic party but at the very least take us back to the New Deal.

    The NY Times has been doing a lot of pieces on this - even today --The Democratic Party Picked an Odd Time to Have an Identity Crisis

    Then there is this from a wing of socialism - there are many wings.
    How on Earth do you have so many Democrat/Green opportunists on your contacts --- A response to my raising questions on a FB thread of a certain brand of socialist (there are too many brands to count.)
    Yes Virginia, if you are not in on this particular little socialist bubble you are an opportunist. I've seen a hell of a lot of socialists be as opportunistic as could be. And then there are the purists who toe the same line their entire lives. I asked these people if as I social democrat like Bernie I was in the club and received no response. I guess not.

    I consider myself a leftist but am so annoyed at so much of the left - I made the mistake of commenting on that thread and most of what I said was ignored while I received lectures. If you don't agree you are shunned. A lot of the left lives in a bubble which prevents them from being able to really be able to talk to the majority of people they supposedly would be working to bring the ideas of socialism to light (I think I come from a place that these people should be working to win over). If I challenge socialists who are teachers about the failure of the left to really organize in NYC schools, I get excuses. Most of them don't seem to have any real relationships outside their political world. I should invite them to Thanksgiving or Passover.

    Since I consider myself on the cusp of being some form of socialist, but also since the 2016 election, I feel we have to take a shot at turning the Democratic Party into something viable enough to take us to at the very least an FDR/New Deal type of reform. Not far enough and we need to keep fighting for more but finding a path to that is murky. Bubble socialists don't have any murk. They have the answers and they do not include the Democratic or Green Party. I'll get into where these factions of socialist are coming from as I sort more of it out in future articles.

    So, I've been engaged in inner political conflict over the direction of the Democratic Party - hope for reform or hope for extinction. I was leaning toward the latter. At least until the 2016 election. I often vote for left-leaning 3rd parties in presidential elections -- locally we don't have much choice for a 3rd party. I was very disappointed in Democratic presidents like Carter, Clinton and Obama - all fundamentally anti-unions and worker. But Republicans have been a horror story.

    So where do we go? There are always calls for a 3rd party. The Greens? They have had a very hard time building infrastructure and basically and up siphoning votes from Democrats, though they claim they get them from both parties. Will Democratic Socialists (DSA) turn into a wished for 3rd party on the left instead of the Greens?

    See what Studebaker has to say.