Monday, May 30, 2016

A Sanders Post Nomination Reader

Senator Sanders' Influence Following the Nomination
Putting progressive ideas where they will count.

It is no secret that MeanMesa has "dared to dream" during the Sanders campaign, but it is now time to face facts. We've pretty clearly lost another election. Ms. Clinton is set to "test her sword" in the contest with Trump, and facing the odds for her victory in November is already plenty intimidating.

It is as if every Democratic Party strategist has intentionally ignored the polling which shows the prospect of Sanders defeating the GOP higher than the prospect of Hillary accomplishing it. While this is hair raising -- not to mention agonizingly painful, it is entirely consistent with the dangerously out of date, cynical Democratic Party machine with which we have become so comfortably accustomed.

At the beginning of the Sanders campaign the hackneyed simile of the media "mouth junk experts" was that Sanders' influence would move Hillary to the left. That happened to a certain extent, but now, as Clinton's nomination victory looks imminent, the conversation has migrated to speculation about Sanders' influence at the convention and beyond.

The Senator has amassed an impressive number of votes and delegates. These will provide significant inertia for his efforts to direct the Democratic Party platform in progressive directions, but MeanMesa remains unimpressed with the possibility that this alone will actually change much. Party platforms rapidly take the role of seedy living room furniture quickly hidden under an old Persian rug when company is expected.

"That couch was in Aunt Martha's apartment before she moved into assisted living.  
She had cats."

Well, relax.

Sanders has big plans for using the political inertia he's garnered during his campaign. In fact MeanMesa, considering these proposals, has a strangely optimistic sensation. Yes, expectations for the second Clinton Presidency may be as seedy as Aunt Martha's couch, but this is a true exception amid what will probably be the vastly uninspiring equilibrium of President "not Trump."

Take a few minutes to read through this article from American Prospect. [The entire article is presented here. The site is labeled American Prospect [Long form]. It is a bit long for SHORT CURRENT ESSAYS, but it is well worth the time required to read through it. Visit the original five-point-plan-sanders. All photographs are from the original article.]

A Five-Point Plan for Sanders

Bernie Sanders supporters are still convinced that he can win the Democratic nomination, but at this point they would do better to help him build a progressive legacy.
May 25, 2016

When Bernie Sanders announced a year ago that he was running for president, few of his supporters—and probably not even Sanders himself—expected that he would actually win. It appeared that Sanders, like his hero Eugene Debs—who ran for president five times in the early 1900s on the Socialist Party ticket—was running mainly to inject progressive issues into the national debate and to help build a movement for radical change.

Debs never captured more than 6 percent of the popular vote (in 1912), but his campaigns played an important role in shaping Americans’ views. In the 1912 presidential race, Democratic candidate Woodrow Wilson (the eventually winner) and Progressive Party candidate Theodore Roosevelt co-opted many of Debs’s ideas. Congress eventually adopted some of the planks of the Socialist Party’s 1912 platform, including the minimum wage, child labor laws, women’s suffrage, Social Security, unemployment insurance, occupational health and safety laws, and the creation of the Labor Department.
So in “Debsian” terms, Sanders has already won. His attacks on the “billionaire class” have resonated with the American people. Far more than Hillary Clinton, he has tapped and channeled Americans’ anger over rising inequality, declining living standards, and the disproportionate political influence of big business and the super-rich. Although he calls himself a democratic socialist, Sanders is really championing a new New Deal—an American version of European social democracy. 
And polls reveal that a majority of Americans agree with his policy agenda for challenging the political and business establishment. One CNN poll found that 71 percent of Americans—including 84 percent of Democrats, 74 percent of independents and 51 percent of Republicans—believe that our economic system unfairly favors the wealthy. Another poll by CBS and The New York Times found that 63 percent of Americans favor increasing taxes on wealthy Americans and large corporations to help reduce income inequality. Indeed, poll after poll has also showed that large majorities of Americans favor a campaign-finance overhaul, stricter Wall Street regulations, government-mandated paid family leave, and a federal minimum wage increase to $15 an hour by 2020.
Sanders has pushed Hillary Clinton—a liberal on domestic social issues, a centrist on taxes and business regulations, a sometime foreign policy hawk, and a less-than-ardent progressive—to the left. Indeed, the Democrats’ presidential primary has largely been fought on Sanders’s terms. His priorities—increasing the minimum wage, toughening Wall Street regulations, expanding Medicare and providing free public higher education, combating unemployment (particularly high among African Americans), paid family leave, and ending the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels—have dominated the debates and pushed Clinton to adopt milder versions of his proposals. (In some areas, such as police racism, our biased criminal justice system, and mass incarceration, Clinton has taken the lead and Sanders has followed suit)
Bernie Sanders speaks to young people at Creative Visions,
an organization founded by former Des Moines School Board
member and current State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad.
In one year, Sanders has gone from being a relatively invisible senator from a small state—an outsider in the upper chamber and in mainstream politics, not even a registered Democrat—to being a political force to be reckoned with. Along with Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts, he now leads the Democratic Party’s progressive wing.
Nevertheless, in the last few weeks it has become clear that Sanders will not be the Democratic Party’s nominee for president. In states that have already held primaries, Clinton has gained 12,989,134 (57 percent) of the votes compared with 9,957,889 votes (43 percent) for Sanders. In the delegate count, Clinton is beating Sanders 1,772 (54 percent) to 1,498 (46 percent). Sanders ran a remarkable campaign, but he’s come up short.
Ardent Sanders supporters who still believe that he has a chance to capture the nomination are simply wrong. Even if Sanders beats Clinton in all the remaining primaries (Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, California, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Dakota, New Mexico, and the District of Columbia), he won’t have enough delegates to garner the nomination at the party’s Philadelphia convention. That reality requires Clinton and Sanders to recognize that they—and their supporters—need one another. It also begs the question: What should Sanders do? How can he build on his popularity and success in this year’s campaign to further his goal of transforming American society and politics?
This plan gives the many liberals and progressives who have “felt the Bern” a road map.
Step One

Between now and the convention, Sanders should fight to the end to get as many delegates as possible. Voters in the remaining primaries—all of which save the June 14 Washington, D.C., contest will be held on June 7—have the right to vote for Sanders or Clinton. Americans deserve to see how much support Sanders has for his progressive agenda. Moreover, having a competitive race with a large Democratic turnout is particularly important in California, which follows an unusual system in which the two candidates with the most primary votes, regardless of party, advance to the general election. Democratic registration in California has been surging, so a strong turnout by Sanders supporters could shut out Republicans from the run-offs for U.S. Senate and some tight congressional contests, and help guarantee more Democratic victories in November.
Between now and the June primaries, Sanders should stop criticizing the Democratic National Committee and Hillary personally and return to focusing on policy issues.  After those primaries, he should negotiate a truce with Clinton. In exchange for Sanders suspending his campaign and endorsing Clinton before the Democratic convention, the two Democrats should agree on a strategy that gives Sanders and his followers a significant voice at the convention, during the fight against Trump, and in the run-up to the next Clinton administration.
Step Two

At the convention and through Election Day, Sanders will surely remain on the public stage. He will certainly get  a prime-time speaking role at the Democratic convention, where he can reiterate his attacks on the nation’s economic and social injustices, attack Trump, and strongly endorse Clinton.
He should also use his leverage to shape the party’s platform on issues like Wall Street reform, the minimum wage, skyrocketing college tuition, and paid family leave, and insist that Clinton incorporate some of his key policy ideas into her campaign stump speeches.  One sign that Clinton and DNC chair Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz are taking heed of Sanders’s insurgency is the appointment this week of a majority of progressives to the party’s platform committee. They include AFSCME’s Paul Booth, former EMILY’s List head Wendy Sherman and Neera Tanden of the Center for American Progress. Also on the committee are House Democrats Luis Guttierez, of Illinois, Barbara Lee of California, and Maryland’s Elijah Cummings, along with Ohio State Representative Alicia Reece, all stalwart progressives. They join Sanders’s nominees Cornel West, House Democrat Keith Ellison of Minnesota, environment activist Bill McKibben, Arab American leader James Zogby, and Native American White House aide Deborah Parker. (Unfortunately missing from the committee are any progressive economists.)
Sanders has predicted that the convention could get “messy,” explaining that “that’s what democracy is about.” But Sanders should discourage his supporters from disrupting the convention inside and outside the hall. If his followers want to protest, there are plenty of targets in Philadelphia—big banks, insurance companies, McDonald’s, Walmart stores—where they can rally against the billionaire class. A prime target for protesters would be Verizon, where they could join the picket lines of employees who have been on strike since April.
When the convention is over, Sanders should energetically campaign for Clinton in key swing states and for progressive Democrats running for Congress in close races, in order to increase turnout among his supporters. He should make sure that his key staff members land posts on Clinton’s campaign and those of Democratic candidates in battleground races. These aides can help mobilize Sanders’s volunteers and followers to support Clinton. Also in this window, Sanders should escalate his attacks on Trump and remind his supporters of the damage that a Trump presidency would do to the country and to the progressive agenda.

Florida Representative and DNC Chairwoman 
Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Step Three

After Election Day, once Clinton has won the White House and the Democrats have recaptured the Senate, Sanders will be in a strong position to reshape the agenda of both the Democratic Party and the nation. New York Senator Charles Schumer, a liberal on social issues but a strong ally of Wall Street, may well be the Senate’s next majority leader. To balance the party’s leadership, Sanders should push for a progressive to replace Wasserman Schultz as head of the DNC. Strong candidates include such popular legislators as Senators Jeff Merkley of Oregon (the only Senate member to endorse Sanders), and Dick Durbin of Illinois, and House members Karen Bass and Xavier Becerra (both of California), Keith Ellison of Minnesota, and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois. The party’s next chair could also come from the ranks of such respected political veterans as Democracy Alliance head Gara LaMarche, Common Cause Director Miles Rapoport, or even billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer. (Full disclosure: Rapoport serves on theProspect’s board.)

Step Four

After January, when the new president and Congress take office, Sanders will become chair of the powerful Senate Budget Committee—assuming Democrats retake the upper chamber, as predicted. In that position, Sanders can influence federal budget, tax, and regulatory policy to advance a progressive agenda around financial reform, anti-poverty initiatives, health care, environmental sustainability, affordable housing, Social Security, labor law reform, workplace safety, paid family leave, and even campaign-finance reform, immigration reform, and the military budget.
Sanders will be in a strong position to reshape the agenda of both the Democratic Party and the nation.
One of his perks in that post will be to fill the committee’s staff with experts from universities and such progressive think tanks as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Center for American Progress, the Economic Policy Institute, the National Employment Law Project, and the Center for Economic and Policy Research. He will also be able to hold public hearings—in Washington, D.C., but also in cities around the country—on a wide range of issues. Hearings provide opportunities for ordinary Americans as well as experts to make their voices heard, gain media attention, and advance a progressive agenda. They can serve as forums that can help support grassroots activists.
Sanders could also work with progressive think tanks and activist groups to create a “shadow cabinet” of experts on the left to parallel Clinton’s cabinet picks. This Sanders circle could issue regular reports on what the major federal executive agencies could be doing to advance an economic and social justice agenda, much as the Heritage Foundation’s Mandate for Leadership reports became the blueprint for the Reagan Revolution.

Step Five

Through the 2018 midterm elections and beyond, Sanders can help build the “grassroots political revolution” without which, as he has said throughout his campaign, there is little hope for transformational change. Sanders’s campaign success has been fueled by the many grassroots insurgencies that in recent years have challenged the political and economic establishment. These include Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, Fight for $15, campus campaigns to divest from fossil fuels and slash student debt, and crusades for women’s health care access, marriage equality, and gun safety. Sanders’s campaign helped give voice to these activists and their issues. They fed his campaign and were fed by it.
Many progressive politicians have promised to transform their electoral campaigns into ongoing movement operations, but few have had the patience or resources to do so. Many of Jessie Jackson’s supporters hoped that his presidential efforts in 1984 and 1988 would evolve into a permanent Rainbow Coalition of progressive activists, but it didn’t happen.  After Obama won his brilliantly-executed 2008 campaign—built by an army of seasoned political and community organizers who trained hundreds of thousands of volunteers in the art of activism—he created the nonprofit now known as Organizing for Action (OFA).
OFA has not lived up to its early promise, in large part because Obama made it an arm of the DNC in a bid to build support for his legislative agenda.
Many of the organizers who worked on that campaign went to work for OFA, hoping to build an infrastructure to keep campaign volunteers involved in issue battles in between election cycles. But OFA has not lived up to its early promise, in large part because Obama made it an arm of the DNC in a bid to build support for his legislative agenda.
Occasionally, however, the candidate and the movement forge ahead beyond the campaign.  After the writer Upton Sinclair narrowly lost his 1934 bid to become California governor on a radical End Poverty in California (EPIC) platform, his followers built a statewide movement through EPIC clubs that revitalized the state’s Democratic Party into an effective political operation over the next several decades. Similarly, Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, a former political science professor and community organizer, took seriously his responsibility to turn his electoral support into a broad statewide progressive movement. After he died in a tragic plane crash in 2002 while running for a third term, his supporters launched several organizations—including Wellstone Action, the Alliance for a Better Minnesota, and Minnesotans for a Fair Economy—to mobilize Minnesotans around issues and help recruit, train, and elect progressives to office.
Ever since Sanders first announced his plan to run for president, many journalists and activists have looked for signals that he was making plans, once the election was over, to transform his campaign into that “grassroots political revolution” he’s been calling for. Not surprisingly, during the campaign Sanders and his top advisers have focused almost entirely on winning votes and delegates. But early on, some of his key operatives were already thinking about the longer term. 
Next month, some progressive leaders inside and outside the Sanders campaign will convene a three-day meeting in Chicago for what they are calling a People’s Summit to strategize about how to build on the Sanders campaign over the long haul. Neither Sanders nor his aides have agreed on what a post-campaign operation would look like. But many understand that Sanders is in a unique position to use his influence and fundraising ability to build an organization or network to mobilize his supporters that, in the short term, can push President Clinton and the Democrats in Congress to the left on key issues like the minimum wage, health-care reform, Supreme Court nominees, and Wall Street regulation, and, in the longer term, can become an ongoing force for progressive change.
Can Sanders sustain the momentum of his campaign into the marshy terrain of movement-building? He has the capacity to raise money from the millions of people who helped him collect more than $200 million for his campaign. He has an unprecedentedly large list of volunteers who could form the basis of an ongoing organization. How many will want to participate in or contribute to a Sanders-led movement is anybody’s guess. How Sanders deploys these lists, and how he will connect with the many existing progressive groups—unions, environmental groups, community organizing networks, and others—is another open question.
Election campaigns have a set of rules, and a predictable beginning, middle, and end, that helps bring people together for a common goal—electing a candidate on a particular date.  Movements are more complicated. The American progressive movement is a diverse mosaic with many groups that compete for attention and funding. They work on many different issues. Some are more willing than others to participate in coalitions, agree on a common set of issue priorities, and forge compromises on legislation. Some are reluctant to endorse candidates or get involved in election campaigns. Many of the activists affiliated with these groups came together to support Sanders, but there is no guarantee that they won’t go their own ways after Election Day.
As the mayor of Burlington, Vermont, for eight years (1981-89), Sanders helped build a political coalition that not only adopted progressive laws and helped build progressive institutions but also stayed in power for three decades after he left office to run for Congress. In the House and Senate, however, Sanders been known as more of a gadfly than a coalition-builder.
But even as a figurehead, Sanders can play an important role in strengthening the left. Sanders can select a number of key issues and work closely with unions and other groups that are already working on those causes. He can be their champion and give them more visibility. He can show up at their meetings and rallies and support their causes. He can raise money to support existing local, statewide, and national groups—like National People’s Action, Planned Parenthood, MoveOn, the Center for Popular Democracy, the Sierra Club, Black Lives Matter, United We Dream, and many others—that recruit and train people in the skills of citizen activism and campaign mechanics, and that help elect progressive Democrats to local, state, and national office. 
Going into the 2018 midterm elections, and beyond, Sanders can focus attention on helping a select group of progressive Democrats win primary battles and support their campaigns against Republicans running for local and state offices as well as Congress. In that way, he can help groups build and train a “farm team” of progressive candidates to run for myriad offices, laying the groundwork for expanding the progressive caucuses in the House and Senate.
As part of this inside/outside strategy, Sanders could work with progressive activist groups and his progressive Senate and House colleagues to identify a few key legislative priorities to build multi-year campaigns around these issues. He and his network can convene an annual “Feel the Bern” conference (and some state-level summits as well) to bring together the many strands of the progressive movement, highlight their commonalities, celebrate their victories, showcase their leaders, organizers, and candidates, and identify the key battles on the horizon.
In “Debsian” terms, Bernie Sanders has already won.
Socialist presidential candidate Eugene Debs in 1921.
This five-point plan will likely meet with resistance from some Sanders supporters who argue passionately that he can still win the Democratic nomination. Sanders’s string of primary wins has made the notion of a President Sanders begin to seem at least plausible. His favorability ratings have consistently exceeded Clinton’s. He has shown that he can raise significant sums from millions of small-dollar contributors without relying on Wall Street, corporate America, and the super-rich to bankroll his campaign. He has attracted huge crowds and recruited large numbers of volunteers in blue and red states alike. He has surprised many skeptics with his knowledge of policy details and his first-rate performances at Democratic debates.
Indeed, it is remarkable how well Sanders has done despite what he and his supporters have justifiably called a “rigged” system. His backers are correct that some of the party’s rules—regarding the debate schedule, super-delegates, and other matters, many of them mishandled by Wasserman Schultz, the transparently pro-Clinton chair of the Democratic National Committee—put Sanders at a disadvantage.
Sanders’s enthusiasts hope that they can persuade enough super-delegates to switch their loyalties away from Clinton. Their main argument is that Sanders has a better chance than Clinton to beat Trump. In a race once regarded as a coronation for Clinton, recent polls of registered voters show her in a statistical dead heat against Trump. Sanders, by contrast, who enjoys much higher favorability ratings than Clinton, bests Trump, 54 percent to 39 percent, in a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
Of course, Sanders has not yet been subjected to the kind of opposition media campaign that he would certainly face were he the nominee. Slate’s Michelle Goldberg noted in February that Republicans were already salivating about how they would excavate the radical speeches and writings from Sanders’s past, seek to discredit him as an unpatriotic Marxist ideologue, and exploit “his youthful opposition to the CIA and his anti-military leanings” if he were to win the nomination. Republicans would not only paint Sanders as an extreme “tax and spend” liberal but also try to transform him, in the public’s imagination, into a supporter of Fidel Castro, Daniel Ortega, and Mao Tse-tung. This assault may not work with under-40 voters for whom the Cold War is a distant memory and who associate socialism with Scandinavia, not Cuba or China. But such attacks could certainly weaken many undecided voters’ support for Sanders.
By contrast, most Americans already know Clinton’s vulnerabilities since she’s been in the public arena for decades. This accounts for her low favorability ratings, but it also somewhat inoculates her from GOP efforts to further destroy her support. And Clinton is likely to win a surge in Democratic and independent support once she wins the nomination, just as Republicans began rallying behind Trump once he became his party’s presumptive nominee.
And the “Sanders or bust” crowd is playing into Trump’s hands. Some even say they won’t support or vote for Clinton if she wins the Democratic nomination, arguing that she and Trump are equally undesirable—two sides of America’s corrupt corporate-dominated political system. The media have exaggerated the number and ferocity of Sanderistas who hold these views, but if enough Sanders followers refuse to vote for Clinton, it could help Trump win in several key battleground states like Colorado, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Florida, and possibly hand Trump the White House.
Some Clinton supporters—particularly among pundits and journalists—have also turned nasty, taking to the blogosphere and talk shows to trash Sanders’s ideas and to attack his most zealous enthusiasts as sexist, racist, and rude. But Clinton knows she needs Sanders’s supporters to win the White House, which is why she has adopted watered-down versions of Sanders’s agenda and why she has tread lightly in criticizing Sanders—at least publicly.
Sanders himself recognizes that his primary goal of making America a more humane and fair society will be made much more difficult if Trump becomes the nation’s president.  Despite his differences with Clinton over policy issues, Sanders—as both a politician and a leader of a social insurgency—knows that his movement’s ability to influence the nation’s political culture and public policy will be much greater with her, rather than Trump, in the White House.
Electing Clinton will not produce the “political revolution” that Bernie has been calling for.  Indeed, he acknowledged that even if he won the White House, little would change without a significant grassroots movement to mobilize Americans to challenge corporate America’s disproportionate influence on our political life. Sanders’s supporters don’t want to give up on his election, but they may end up with something more lasting in the end—a generation-long movement. The five-point plan is a good place to start.
A Note From MeanMesa

I will publish a follow up for this post in a day or two. Sanders' plan is extremely important -- one of the most aggressive reaffirmations to American democracy in decades. Watch this space.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Fond Farewell to the 2 Party System

Well, how about just a quick "see you later?"
A quick burial at sea should fill the bill.
You know -- it's just like saying "good bye" to the polio virus...

When it comes around to "admiring" the 2 party system, even the well weathered MeanMesa has to admit a bit of gastric disorder. Anyone this old has already seen plenty of absolutely toxic 2 party politics in all these years, but this latest plunge to the "dark side" leaves even these old bones in a state of, well, toxic shock.

First, we should clear up an important point.

This post is not about the specific outrages of the Clinton - Sanders primary sparring match. Further, this post has very little to say about the Murdoch-Trump phenomenon. This post is about the whole thing, that is, about the most fundamental questions: 

Why do we still have a two party system?
Why we are still conducting elections as if it were 1802?

These are definitely questions which merit the "attention of our moment." This tattered relic of America's past is poised to do some shocking, permanent damage -- even more than it has caused so far.

We've seen plenty of evidence that this day was coming. Following our historical, American "habit" of stubbornly ignoring everything that can possibly be ignored for as long as it can possibly be ignored, we citizens have clearly missed the boat on this one. In the frigidly cold view of hindsight, we now realize that we have indulgently stuck ourselves in a black hole where technology doesn't exist and where no political problem can possibly ever differ even to the slightest degree from something we have already handled a century ago.

John Paul Jones wearing the
...uh...latest style? 
Both of these fantasies are revealing their existential danger to us now. Facing this squarely, we can either don our old wool tricorner hats and go down with the ship, or we can finally grow up enough to acknowledge that what we've been doing is killing our Republic. Further, what has been inflicted on the democracy stretches much farther afield than the commission of election felonies in primaries or red state gimmicks to suppress votes regionally.

When MeanMesa refers to "growing up," the idea is a big one -- a very big one. In fact the scale of the required changes to our fundamentals of governance is, most likely, of such a massive scope that we will simply never be able to accomplish it. MeanMesa suspects that, given the shockingly low "being qualities" presently manifested in our largely illiterate population, we will not even be capable of beginning such a project. Future history will draw the conclusion as to whether or not this particular weakness of spirit was the primary cause of the ignoble end of the United States.

All this dark narrative would simply be depressing and pointless if MeanMesa failed to suggest some remedy for our national peril. We clearly need a few good ideas.

We HAVE To Do It This Way Because
We Have A Two Party System, Right?
I mean, everyone KNOWS that, right?
Golly. There is not a single example anywhere of anyone doing it any other way, right?

The two party system offered a solution to the universally perpetual mistrust Americans have had since the days of the autocratic Monarch before the Revolutionary War. Reflecting on the rhetoric being mouthed even now, centuries later, in the current campaign, it's clear that the "trust no one" idea remains a "real vote getter."

While superficial observers might write this off as merely evidence of simply a pervasive fear that some one or some group might be conspiring to harm them, MeanMesa takes an even more cynical view. This distrust is the predictable product of humiliation avoidance. More than fearing the prospect of actually being harmed by these embellished villains, codependent Americans' greater fear is that of being humiliated by placing trust and being tricked.

While all this might sound innocent enough if it were no more than a minor, curious social attribute, this wide spread obsession became the foundation element in Rupert Murdoch's business plan. Since then the Americans too absorbed to simply quit listening to the FOX drivel have been running in constant circles like puppets with their hair on fire. This is the pit from which Trump emerged. There is little difference between Trump's inebriating crowd tricks and Murdoch's.

So, as Americans look to the "adversarial checks and balances" of the two party political system to steer themselves clear of the threat of being humiliated, vast hordes of them have become understandably shaken to now find themselves unwilling participants in the contemporary ruse of such an adversarial contest in which the election of either contestant would still be humiliating. In other words there is no longer the possibility of later saying: "Boy Howdy. This would have been even worse if we had elected that other candidate."

It has become unavoidably clear that the primary election process just finishing was so "jiggled" -- by the media, by ancient, labyrinthine "rules," by crooked red state governments, by political insiders and party elites -- as to already be humiliating. The electoral system has been laid bare, and the resulting picture is not pretty.

Importantly, more Americans than ever are now painfully aware of the delirious, parasitic chaos permanently embedded in this mechanism and how it has been employed to control the outcome of election after election. After having a good look at this, they are disgusted. Unhappily, because most Americans have only studied "civics" from textbooks approved by the Texas Board of Education, they have no idea about how to remedy the situation.

Let's All Give a Big Welcome to the
 New American Parliament!
Do we finally face the unthinkable dilemma of being locked into having two parties
when hardly anyone wants either one. Is this a problem "begging for a solution?"

Okay, we're dreaming.

Dreaming. [image]
We are living through an era of one historical irony after another. Reagan obliterated any possible legitimacy to his thinly disguised "conservatism," ushering in crushing wealth redistribution, economic collapse and embarrassing, poorly schemed, illegal "back room deals."

The Bushes, fraught with bad habits, while trying to pathetically reaffirm US obedience to the sacred "free market" model, ushered in a wide acceptance of socialism as the new US economic model. Contrary to dozens of previous "party platforms," the modern Republican reactionaries are inebriating themselves as they paralyze the economy, destroy unions and impose Dominionist biblical lunacy on personal freedoms.

Most recently we see the desperate machinations of the political parties which had always labeled themselves as the precise Constitutional machine which had protected and sustained the "representative" part of our "representative democracy." The visible avarice driving both of them has now irrevocably "entered under the light."

Still works great! [image]
So, what's to be done?

Is it time to visit some museum's warehouse to recover a few of those old guillotines? Happily, the raw obsessions currently masquerading as "patriotic love of democracy" in the lurching behavior of the heavily soiled paragons of the old "two party system" have already completed most of the work for us. The behavior of all the parties to the charade during the "campaigns" this time around has taken care of the necessary "rabble rousing" quite handily. [Under more normal conditions there would have been speeches to be made, crowds to incite, riots to conduct and so on before we could get to the "off with their heads" part. In this case what was intended as simply more of the same has infuriated millions of prospective citizen voters.]

In this modern, Dystopian world of blind civil authority, it is probably against the law for MeanMesa to offer any details more explicit than these. Nonetheless, history offers plenty of great "narratives" about exactly what is required to "take our country back," By way of a warning to all those complicit in this electoral scheme, unlike the stumbling tea baggers, the demographic now "all juiced up" by outrages of this latest encounter is notably far more competent when it comes to setting things right.

Unfortunately, the current system is set up in a way which prevents us from ever having an actual vote on changing it. Anyone questioning its ability to "defend itself" against all efforts to change it need look no farther than the network television "reporting" of today's "news."

What About Changing Our Ways
While We Still Can?
A few details of what would be needed to become "parliamentary"

At this point there may be no shortage of visitors who would quite readily agree with the idea of a "government transformation" from the existing two party system to a much more representative parliamentary system. However, the US government is an unabashed corporate model. The people in Washington who are pretending to be "representatives" of the people are, actually, of course only "representatives" to "represent" the interests of certain people -- the particular ones able and willing to pay for their "representative favors."

 What will we run into if the parliamentary idea begins to "gain traction?" We can presume at least a "short list" of the difficulties we should anticipate.

1. Bribing the Congress

Nothing, absolutely nothing, can even be considered under the suffocating grip of the Republicans. "Writing a letter" to one's Congressman is a laughable figment of the distant past. In modern times every possible new legislation requires a lobbyist -- with a check book -- to bring it to Washington. There are no Congressmen, lobbyists or lobbyist bosses who could have even a single iota of interest in changing the Washington machine. It is far too profitable for them just the way it is. No progressive interest with sufficient wealth to "persuade" the Congress to consider a Constitutional amendment is interested in promoting such a change.

2. A Lack of Statesmen and Statesmanship

If by some fluke of chance such a proposal advanced to an actual Constitutional Convention, MeanMesa sees very few presently empowered leaders with the capacity to undertake such a risky task. Think for a moment. Have you seen many of the current crop of politicians -- from either side -- competent to write, negotiate and promote such a drastic change?

It might be tempting to cite specific examples of failed statesmanship here, but to do so would cloud MeanMesa's point. Granted, it would be easy enough to specify a few public failings and foibles, but the point is that there are very few exceptions to this general claim. In Fourth Way conversations we refer to the "quality of one's being." 

3. The Stubborn Political Hacks and Party Bosses

It would be easy enough to list the pathetic performance of the officially castrated RNC along with the seemingly endless stream of electoral peccadilloes which surfaced in the DNC's concerted efforts to skew its primaries. However, as we collect political hacks and party elites with a "net more widely cast," we find ourselves adding media pundits, talk show hosts, disgraced ex-public officials and office holders such as Cheney and Romney.

The machine producing the propaganda is legion. These waves carry a single message: "Stay the same. Change nothing. Fear any deviation." and most importantly, every one of these messages places the blame "somewhere useful" to keep the charade advancing.

4. The Extremely Well Fed Oligarchs

One could imagine that there is some existential limit as to how much wealth a typical oligarch must control. There isn't. The obsession for more wealth which drive these trust fund billionaires so cruelly is devoid of any limit. With very few exceptions these "pockets of dynastic wealth" have had no connection whatsoever to "principled virtues" such as hard work, innovation, competition or even any cases of particular industrial efficiency. 

Those billionaires are rich from receiving the gifts or a grateful Congress whether in the form of legislative advantages, insider trading or outright looting of the General Fund. No one luxuriating in such prosperity can be expected to voluntarily "limit his take."

5. Begging the Supremes to Allow a Change

The Supremes would have to come to a state in which they became willing to lose their current death grip on government policy. Granted, there is, in fact, a sizable bunch presently relying on the Court for the advantages which maintain them in the ruling class, but there are more -- millions more -- Americans who now consider the Court an irrelevant laughing stock.

The American "man on the street" voter hasn't seen anything from the Supremes -- beyond a few cunningly deceptive "gifts" -- for decades. A vast majority of the Supremes' rulings elicit no more than a shaken head from Americans, Americans who long ago learned not to expect anything worthwhile from them. The billionaires own the Court and exclusively receive a great return on their investment.

The Advantages of Being Parliamentary
It may not be "roses, simply roses," but it could help -- right away.

Perhaps the greatest advantage of the parliamentary system is that we would no longer be limited to choices from one of two parties with politicians who were equally unresponsive. When sentiments reached an all time low -- just as they are now in the United States -- additional parties arise and become available.

Currently, when a "third party" presents itself as an alternative in the US electoral system, eyes roll, sideways glances begin and then voters sigh stoically. The path for one of these "third" parties is a very difficult one. The two existing parties have managed to "corral" the largest donors, leaving a "third" party aspirant trying to raise enough money to even appear on the ballot in most states.

The American media dispatches such attempts as mere curiosities -- nothing seriously challenging the well placed players in the two party system.

Importantly, when the reactionary side of one or both of the two parties in a two party system decides to obstruct absolutely everything proposed by the other side, the government's ability to function in even the simplest way evaporates. Negotiation "across the aisle" is considered treason or heresy. The "winner take all" mentality inevitably progresses to something dismally similar to what we have now.

Even the most fundamental responsibilities of the government become impossible in these conditions. Roads are not repaired, bridges are not replaced, flood control levees are dilapidated -- the agonizing list goes on and on while the elected of the two party system become even more intransigent. No matter how disgusted or disgruntled the electorate might become, there are no champions. The two parties of such a system dedicate themselves to obstructing their counterparts rather than representing the voters and tax payers who, at least theoretically, are relying upon them to operate the country.

The flexibility of the parliamentary system presents the constant incentive to serve the citizens. When one of the parties in such a parliamentary structure begins to routinely ignore the needs of the electorate, a new player can emerge quite quickly. Of course this serves to offer what citizens and voters want, but the mere threat of such a new addition inspires those already in office to work to avoid the new competition.

In the two party system voters are stranded with the single choice of returning to one unresponsive political machine or the other while the "offerings" remain unchanged.

Finally, although the process receives little attention from those trapped in the US "two party" strangle hold, when governments are formed in parliamentary structures the agreements are negotiated between parties which actually represent constituents. The resulting product might be messy, but even the minority players have sent the message of their interests "loud and clear" to those in power. "Represent us, or we will be there in the next election."

Unhappily, in the United States such a message is routinely ignored completely. The Congress has demonstrated over and over again -- almost no one there cares what Americans think. We see this almost daily. Public opinion polls paint one picture, and the Congress does something else -- for someone else.

Time's up.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Strange Face of 21st Century Democracy

The Perils of Proceeding Without a Name
US oligarchs are attempting to imitate the tiger that changed its stripes.
[It's understandable that they don't wish to continue in their present image...]

History is littered with exciting anecdotes describing the transition from one form of governance to the next. Some of these accounts are a record of years or decades filled with unrest or unrealized ambitions, but others, usually with much briefer time spans, record events which unfolded rapidly -- and usually quite violently.

In each case "once the smoke cleared," the rubble had been tidied up, the dead had been buried and a "fresh, sparkling" new name was painstakingly coined to "identify" whatever had emerged from the transition. Of course both these "alterations" themselves and the "sparkling" new name were far more palatable as "matured" historical concepts than in the immediate reality of what had actually "happened on the ground."

In most cases these "high born struggles of conflicting ideals" were, when viewed in the cold light of day, painful episodes of mass chaos where thousands or millions of cases of "getting even" unfolded in the bloody wreckage once the stopper had been removed from the bottle. No matter. In the end happy destiny rose from the blood and ashes to provide "absolutely every fact" required to justify the next generation of history texts [even if  they bore a "not a too accurate" account of the events], and that is also, of course, history books written by the victors.

There are plenty of exquisitely painful examples. 

The Reich movement transformed Germany into a war hungry national socialist state. Hungry Russians rejected Nicholas' gold plated sink faucets and transitioned the country from a Czarist autocracy into the USSR. More recently, Ukraine, Thailand, Arab states, Serbia, Egypt and a dozen others have violently abandoned the "old thing" and adopted a "new thing." Each of these transformations included more than a few violent missteps along the way.

However, and it is an important point for this post, these transitions all emerged from the blood, dust and wreckage to embrace a new name, that is, there were already names handily awaiting what emerged from the process. The particular bunch of the involved parties who managed to scratch and claw their way up to the top of these brand new, blood soaked things which had been created had names already prepared for them, too, names such as the NAZIs or the Soviets.

In no time newspaper reporters and other "experts" on such matters were able to refer to the NAZIs or the Soviets, and everyone who read their newspapers knew not only exactly what they meant but also had a pretty good idea about what they intended to do -- all this because of these shiny new names.

In the United States, the Russian Federation and a good number of "quieter" countries, the parameters and players in the modern types of transition are freshly empowered oligarchs who are, predictably, validating their machinations as necessary measures to "unleash free enterprise," "unfetter the captains of industry" or simply to obliterate troublesome, profit gobbling laws and regulations. Historically, raw, parasitic oligarchies are usually not christened with the formal name "oligarchy" until much later, decades after they have actually "conquered" their host economies.

Nonetheless, once the establishment of these oligarchies has been completely accomplished, the name, "oligarchy," is all ready on hand to name such amazing "new things" the moment they have been created. Of course, right up to the very last moment prior to the full "live birth" of such dynasties of avarice, the official  new title necessarily remains obscured. This is not too much the case in the US where education has faltered to the extent that 98% of the newly created "servant class" has no idea what such a word might even mean.

This post is about the latest form of such "transitions" or "take overs." This introduction is necessary because this most modern bunch...has no name! Worse, it also lacks any particular "validating" principle or mission which might, more or less, automatically provide even the foggiest insight into its intentions.

Well, yes. Now that we're here, we would all like some sort of "forward glimpse" of what we can expect from "rule by party elites." After all, the take over and transition of our post-democracy government is, apparently, now complete.

The history written to describe this episode will leave students wondering "Wait! Why did they do THAT? This is so confusing that I can only hope that this isn't on the test!"

The History of Screwing Over 
Constitutional Elections for Fun and Profit
Not much has changed except that the myth
 that they weren't always screwed over is now collapsing.

We're Americans, so if we do it, it's democracy, right?
(Don't start with the "divine right" stuff until she passes out.)
We can quite confidently count on US political seasons to "bring out the worst" in us. The stakes are high, and the system through which the decisions will be made is leakier than the beer keg after a shoot out at a cowboy bar.

The part of the US Constitution which sets the structure for elections, although really dated, did a fairly good job of designing the process and explaining how it was to be done. What it has morphed into through the years is a grisly mix of shockingly outdated measures to accommodate the technology of the 1700's and a relentless deluge of annual intercessions in favor of everything from comforting desolated ex-slave owners to modern industrialists with a penchant for dumping their pollution into rivers providing drinking water.

Since the Constitution was originally written there has been a constant stream of chicanery, deceit and other Constitutional mischief made in efforts to twist the thing into something which could be looted. This effort has exploded into a "sperm frenzy" in the last few years as the emboldened oligarchs have finally felt safe publicly displayed their insane sociopathy. This began to surface quite openly after they purchased majority control of the Congress and the Supremes. Now that one of their staunchest, most dependable servants on the Court has dropped dead, they are panicked with the prospect of losing the rather vast profits they've enjoyed to date.

Bilderberg Group - Logan Act Violations
Don't worry about us, we own the DOJ. [image]
Still, in the past, the Owners of the Republican Party have all been creepy but identifiable billionaires as they gathered for a quick one in the bar downstairs from their annual Bilderberg Conferences. US voters are grudgingly accustomed to the expectation that these well heeled, not particularly stable, trust fund children will, in fact, probably decide the outcome of the next election -- except for the White House. "Loading the dice" for the Presidential election has, at least until recently, been too visible and too risky. [This is, obviously, changing -- in both Parties.]

These rich ones have always concluded previously that meddling with democracy while everyone was watching simply exposed them to an unacceptable level of danger. As for conducting such sabotage on the Constitutional system "from behind the curtains," however, the ROI [return on investment] for such schemes easily outweighed the risks. This is not an exaggeration. The visible parts of this "return on the George W. Bush investment" saw $600 billion dollars flow into the pockets of the 400 top income earners in the country during that disastrous 8 years.

For the mathematically challenged, $600 Bn is $100 Bn more than half a trillion.

This time around is apparently going to be even worse. The Koch brothers have already announced their plan to "invest" $900 million in the 2016 race in the pursuit of electing a Republican President.

[The brothers -- their father financed the John Birch Society and the Heritage Foundation -- while quite comfortable with a crack pot religious Dominionist such as Rafael Cruz, aren't quite reactionary enough to back the Trumpy. Perhaps they'll just have to go shopping and buy something else with their $900 million. Perhaps, say, Argentina.]

Now, Eat the Nice Dog Food
No Need To Bother Voting
It's Time For democratic Rule By the "Party Elites"
Crushing democracy from behind the curtain
[The lower case "d" is necessary because both parties are hard at it.]

No, no, no.
All this voting only confuses things. Plus, elections

 cost money. Right now,we clearly
need to focus on our "gift" list. [image]

Party Elites. Who are they? 
Where'd they come from?

Don't worry. This is the way we always do it.
And besides, we promise that they're definitely not oligarchs, okay? So just relax.

Let's take a look at exactly what is confronting the Republic, that is, voter registration "mysteries" in numerous US states. This has become necessary because both sides of this 2016 election are vaporizing the democratic process before our very eyes.

When MeanMesa states that "both Parties are hard at this electoral mischief," don't assume that it is simply another case of overly dramatic geriatric rambling. They are. They REALLY are.

1. The Republican Party elite are planning to trash the democratic process during the Republican National Convention.

With the previously troubling "Voters Rights Act" nicely trashed by the oligarchs' men in Supreme Black, and unlimited cash intervention in elections ruled to be a "free speech right" by the same Supremes, 2016 really, REALLY is going to amount to a drunk in the clown car headed for the well lubricated political whore house of looted money and power. Don't be shocked. It's basically been this way for most of the time since Reagan.

In the 31 states currently suffering under GOP control, there has been a similar systematic attack on voter enfranchisement by every possible method -- restrictive voter identification requirements at polling places, extensive gerrymandering of Congressional election districts and suspiciously targeted purges of non-GOP voter registration records.

It's "yesterday's news" that sold out Republican candidates can't even come close to holding their own in national election, and that all the anti-democracy moves by these red state governments, actually, amount to an embarrassing display of frantic political desperation. In the US it is widely assumed that most of these red state governments were only able to gain control with the "generous" contributions to state campaigns by the Republican Party's billionaire Owners. A few million dollar "contributions" funneled through ALEC to state level GOP candidates can usually deliver an election.

The Republicans discovered that state legislatures and governors' mansions can be purchased at a bargain price in the US.

Even today, Republican "policies" are being exposed by these red state basket cases -- in bankrupt Kansas, in violently bankrupt Louisiana, in the festering wreckage of anti-union Wisconsin and elsewhere. These examples alone should present an essentially insurmountable political obstacle to the Party's ambitions for national office.

Nonetheless, the GOP "elites" are publicly exposing their now quite insatiable appetite for even more wealth. Terrified with the prospect of nominating Trump and, hence, utterly losing the 2016 Presidential race, the billionaires in charge are now laying out their scheme to sabotage the nominating process at the GOP National Convention.

Happily, even though this scheme of theirs could have a variety of final outcomes at the Convention, none of the specific outcomes contained in that list of possibilities even remotely portends an optimistic result. The billionaires in charge are, apparently, so incredibly out of touch with current attitude of the Party's foot soldiers that they are still assuming Trumpy's already unstable followers -- even after they have watched these aristocratic power brokers from the hated Republican establishment ignore the electoral results of Trump's primary victories -- will simply calm down and eat the dog food.

If the GOP base were more educated or more informed, this Convention subterfuge might prove to be sufficiently outrageous and incendiary to actually even initiate some sort of civil war -- Duck Dynasty-style, of course. Don't count on. The GOP's expendable, brain modified foot soldiers are now lining up in hordes to head for the polling stations to elect The Donald.

2. The Democratic Party elites are also planning to trash the democratic process during the Democratic National Convention

The Democratic Party "danced with this devil" at the Chicago Convention in 1968 -- with politically disastrous results. [MeanMesa was there -- in the streets.] The "burning question of the day" concerned the conflict between Democratic primary victors solidly proposing an end to the Vietnam War and Democratic Party elites just as firmly committed to continuing with the wildly profitable southeast Asian "meat grinder." There had already been tens of thousands of Americans killed by this time, and no end was in sight. Neither was there any sign of progress, making the question quite political.

In this case the Democratic Party elites -- after effortlessly dumping the anti-war primary victors at the 1968 Convention -- shoe horned pro-war Hubert Humphrey into the nomination even though he had not won a single delegate in the Party's primaries or caucuses. The results were so explosively destructive that the Democratic Party modified their nominating rules within months after losing the election.

Unhappily, these labyrinthine modifications were essentially only cosmetic. For the 2016 contest the arcane "rules" provided Bill Clinton with every sort of dirty trick needed to secure the nomination for his wife -- and once again place him in the Oval Office.

Even though it would require cleverly subverting the safeguards installed after 1968, the Democratic Party elites are already scheming to guarantee the nomination of Ms. Clinton -- probably regardless of the primary election cycle's outcomes. Although the progressive media is focusing on the Convention nominating mischief made possible by the Party's poorly lit, ultra-fickle and ultra-sinister "super delegates," there has been plenty of mischief already inflicted upon the primary outcomes.

These shadowy super delegates are, indeed, ultra-fickle and ultra-sinister, and they are that way by design. They represent the last "fortification" of the Party elites to retain control of the nominating process, and they are hardly the product of an innocent oversight -- the provisions in the Democratic Party nominating process which created them were originally written in 1968 with precisely this future situation in mind.

Still, MeanMesa is seeing a much wider and much more sinister "Party Elite" scheme unfolding in state primaries. In case you're not up with the latest progressive reporting, what went on with the Democratic primary in Arizona and Nevada is an excellent case in point. It is evidence of a "multi-pronged," albeit regulation conformable, political attack on what is, at least cosmetically, a representative process. It seems that even the previously credible 538 is now in on the scheme. Have a look at Hillary's claim to have 3 million more primary votes than Sanders: Counting Up Sanders' Votes - Hillary Style.

Fighting For Air in The Democracy's Election
Yes, it's rigged, and, yes, you lose.
The new rule: No dreaming allowed.

As democracy loving Americans we've probably lost this one, but the dreams of the Democratic Primary voters were not crushed in time by the Clinton dog food salesmen. Don't be discouraged. When the American dreams are left to mature with the scars and bruises added, it marks a dangerous time for the political dinosaurs.

Of course this mischief isn't limited to the Clinton machine on the Democratic Party side of things. The wholly owned Republicans simply take care of this same dirty business in the cold light of day. Afterward, standing among the dung they've just created from the old democracy, the billionaire owners of the Republican Party aren't even embarrassed, but this time, they do seem a little concerned. 

However, the Democratic Party's meat handed involvement in skewing primary election results in favor of Bill's wife are becoming as equally "difficult to ignore" as the proverbial red headed step child. Of course this animosity is most visible between supporters for the respective candidates, but the electoral mischief referenced here has been occurring as a rather shockingly brazen conspiracy undertaken by the "old style" Clinton loyalists and orchestrated by "someone" situated extremely close to the Clinton campaign. 

[MeanMesa cannot avoid the almost automatic impulse to direct this suspicion to powerful DNC Chair, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. She was Clinton's campaign manager back in the Clinton/Obama contest. Debbie had already been placed squarely on the "usual suspects" list when the DNC forbade candidates from debating in unsanctioned debates and intentionally scheduled the official, sanctioned debates for the darkest, loneliest, late weekend hours offering hardly any television viewers -- all of which benefited the Clinton campaign unfairly.]

When we cool off enough to have a glimpse at the big picture of the 2016 election, we see two very likely, equally unappealing candidates with roughly equal "unfavorable ratings" in the 60's to 70's. Before you resign yourself to a stoic groan, try to remember. This is a democracy. That means that we theoretically elect leaders whom we want -- that is, leaders who are popular because we think they would be effective, successful Presidents.

Most Americans are disgusted with the conduct of the paralytic government we have now. Yet, we seem doggedly determined to continue with an almost exact replica of the current catastrophe.

Don't bet on a high voter turn out for this one. We CAN bet on this, though. The lower the general election turn out, the more likely that Donald Trump will be our next President. The lunatics are already planning to show up at the polls.

And, here's a secret.

All those nameless delegates who are preparing to deliver the respective nominations are thinly disguised tools of the same oligarchs who are already firmly in charge of running everything.