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Now Comes the Hard Part

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/11/08/now-comes-hard-part

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This is just a dumb take:

“The real resistance to change will come from within because, by the interests of great wealth, things are going exceedingly well. We are approaching feudal-levels of income and wealth inequality and oligarchic concentrations of political power.”

Republicans control the Senate and stacked courts with Lochner Era judges. The Trump administration operated a skewed census count that’s likely to take seats from blue states to favor rural states, with the support of Trump courts. Worse, they will control redistricting and will move to make voting harder, not easier. It’s Jim Crow minitorian rule we are facing; they have won one popular vote margin in presidential contests in two decades now.

Why push fiction? Why wish cast? Elliot Morris projects that Democrats, to take the House going forward, may have to win by upwards of 6-7% of the vote. The more progressives refuse to face this squarely, the less likely progressive policy outcomes will get close to realized. We are in a boatload of trouble and it’s because Republicans have engineered minority rule in multiple states.

At this point, I see zero difference in these sorts of claims and those by northern Republicans who thought their southern state problems in the 1890s were due to a non-embrace of gold currency by their cohorts.

Are we gonna see an effort by the Dems to clean up the many fascistic policies/politics implemented by the trump administration, such as ICE separation of immigrant children from their parents, or the Muslim ban that has xenophobia written all over.
We better see an effort by the Dems.
Or, this ain’t a Democracy…

“Why rock the boat? Just issue more platitudes, pablum, pontification, and pacification”.

Biden has indicated that he wants to work in a bipartisan way with Republicans. That’s a clear indicator that he has no intention of rocking the boat.

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Biden is doing the following things that are within his power per reports:

-Re-sign onto the Paris climate accords

-Repeal the ban on immigration from Muslim countries

-DACA

-Rejoin the WHO

Also look for him to reverse the EO reclassifying non-political positions into political ones, which makes people easier to fire, and to utilize the unexpended Coronavirus relief money for more testing, tracing, and PPE.

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Is this author naive thinking Bidens interests are much different than Pelosi’s corporate interests?

"This is the real obstacle Biden/Harris will face in delivering effective recovery for the American nation and the American people."

In other words, Biden/Harris will simply slap some putty and paint over the holes Trump & Co. left behind, and when they fail to “improve” the (un)Affordable Care Act, or upgrade our country’s rotting infrastructure, or outlaw “dark money” PACs, they’ll just do what Democratic leadership always does - blame it on their GOP “opponents”.

You really need to read Bob Moser’s American Prospect piece, “Power to the Person”, from last March. Our greatest enemy is that from within.

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The Dems need to take on four centers of entrenched power: the weapons industry (by de-militarizing); the healthcare industry (Medicare for All); the fossil fuel industry (Green New Deal); and the finance industry (state banks). And they need to claw back just a few of the trillions of dollars that have been sluiced to the very wealthy over the past four decades through regressive tax cuts and corporate giveaways. These five means contain more than enough money to totally rebuild the economy into one that is productive, efficient, competitive, and that works for all Americans. But they do fundamentally restructure the distribution of wealth and power in our society. What do you think is the chance they will do any of them?

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Given the Dem’s current “leadership”, about the same as winning the Lottery.

We desperately need another party.

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“The Dems need to take on four centers of entrenched power:…”

Why would dems bite the hand that feeds them?

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His is a take shared by many other writers and probably most of the readers and commenters at Common Dreams. Call it dumb if you like, but even moderate progressives here in the U.S. and across the globe are all of the same opinion.

To deny that the Democratic establishment has been willing participants in the actions that have contributed to the great disparities in wealth, income and power which have steadily increased regardless of which Party has held the balance of power is denialism of the worst kind.

The same with the insistence that all these problems owe to the GOP. That ignores both that the Dems have capitulated needlessly and failed to use all their powers when the opposition held the other house or the Presidency, etc., and that even when they held both Congress and the White House such measures deteriorated.

But I expect nothing more than this kind of blind partisanship from the blindly partisan.

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Thanks for coming to the comment threads. Much appreciate the inclusion of establishment corporate Democrats as a key part of the problem. Of course, Biden and Harris are both establishment corporate Democrats so it is unlikely they will willingly engage in the approach you outline.

Very happy you include the Green New Deal in your comment. i logged in to point out (with astonishment) that you made no mention of climate or ecology in your column. This has to be co-equal at the top of any agenda. Time is so far past short, having lost four years under Trump, with 2019 spewing a record 37 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, and over half of all emissions in human history coming in just the two decades of this century. And completely irrespective of climate disruption, a mass extinction is underway and ecosystems are teetering on the brink of collapse.

We need a powerful focus on restoring ecological balance to inform all other political work.

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You have a near-perfect record of never accepting any fundamental critique of your focus on political minutia. But, here goes another critique.

You’ve heard of Gilens and Page, the researchers who concluded that common people have effectively zero influence over public policy at the national level. Here’s a quick sum up of their findings:


“Average citizens have no detectable influence at all,” sums up Page, “upon federal policy.”

Who does have influence?

“If you look at affluent people,” says Page, “they get what they want almost all the time.”


There’s a new piece of research, just published, that does a different kind of analysis of Gilens and Page’s data. Here’s a clip, from today’s column by Sam Pizzigati on this new research (my bolding for emphasis):


Gilens and Page, for instance, locate real influence over public policy within the ranks of the most affluent 10 percent, but suggest that opinions in this top tenth most probably reflect attitudes within the ranks of the top 1 or 2 percent.

McGuire and Delahunt go further. Their research moves our focus from what our richest have on their minds to what they’re doing with what they have in their wallets. They see “the transfer of large amounts of money to policy makers from the wealthiest sources focused intensely on particular policies” as the “lodestar variable” for understanding how our policy makers make policy.

Opinions among America’s influencers, concurs Ferguson, amount to “noisy” byproducts from the mobilization of big money, what we get from big money’s “comet-like trail of social networks, subsidized op eds, subservient think tanks, and journalists seeking applause and better positions.” Our democracy has become, in Ferguson’s phrase, an “affluent authoritarianism.”

“McGuire and Delahunt’s reassessment of the [Gilens] data makes it much easier to see how far from reality ideas that average voters drive politics really are,” Ferguson goes on to note. “To make progress on understanding the mainsprings of actually existing democratic systems like the United States, the fixation on public opinion has to change.”

And who has the power to make that change, to shift our nation’s political dialogue off winsome narratives about America as democracy’s eternal fountainhead? On this key question, our most serious researchers — on the presence and absence of democracy in contemporary American life — seem to agree. Only mass mobilizations can beat back mobilizations of big money.

“I’d like people to see,” says Ben Page, “that things can change — because, in fact, things did change in the United States, in two big waves of political action, the first during the Populist and Progressive period that started in the late 19th century, the second in the New Deal era.”


i would add, that the vast sense of political disillusion felt by most in the USA – which feeds the declining membership in both duopoly parties, generates the huge bloc of non-voters, and creates the widespread disgust and lack of faith in the corporate Democrratic Party leadership, while providing the feedstock for the growth of Trumpism among the disillusioned – is directly traceable to the fact - fact - that common citizens, and elections, have no discernable influence over public policy.

So KC, maybe you will respond to this, and let us know: How do we confront the entrenched power of big money to get whatever it wants in our “democracy”?

Here’s the Pizzigati piece if you want to read it: ~https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/11/08/2020-election-triumph-democracy-hold-hosannas

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Thanks to @Robert_Freeman for dropping by. You show class by doing so, imho. I hope you get some ephemeral glimmer of respect from us Commoners in return. Also thanks for starting right off where Biden sensibly says he’s starting. Believe it or don’t, some commentators (Jonathan Cook comes to mind) exercise their literary prognostication app around here while forgetting all about impending epidemiological realities – which change more than everything (again, imho).

Disease is the most obvious problem we need to fix. What was once a pandemic is on the verge of becoming a hyper-demic. More than 100,000 new cases are being reported every day. In several Midwest and Great Plains states, positivity rates are approaching 50%, meaning that half of the population has Covid-19.

I’ve been closely monitoring positivity as reported by Johns Hopkins. Their weekly averages are annoyingly volatile, while their monthly averages lack currency, so I average their averages in the following ranking of compiled state-outbreak stats:

STATE COVID-19 OUTBREAKS

Ranking is based on Johns Hopkins’ test-positivity factored with “per-capita newcases” & “immediate mortality” – the ratio of totals on hand for deaths and cases.

>                        JH       per-capita    immed
>                    positivity    newcases   mortality
>                        %            %           %
>  1. South Dakota      48.1        108.5        0.98
>  2. Iowa              39.4         64.5        0.71
>  3. North Dakota      13.4        131.6        1.14
>  4. Wyoming           30.7         59.8        0.74
>  5. Idaho             34.5         50.8        0.70
>  6. Montana           19.5         71.9        1.12
>  7. Kansas            31.8         40.0        0.98
>  8. Wisconsin         14.5         73.8        0.72
>  9. Utah              15.7         53.8        0.33
> 10. Nebraska          11.3         61.5        0.55
> 11. Alabama           19.7         27.9        1.10
> 12. Missouri          12.0         40.9        1.19
> 13. Minnesota         10.0         44.8        0.73
> 14. Illinois           9.1         48.2        0.79
> 15. Arkansas          11.0         35.2        1.80
> 16. Indiana            9.6         41.1        1.08
> 17. Mississippi       14.8         26.1        1.59
> 18. Tennessee          9.9         34.1        1.30
> 19. New Mexico         8.1         37.5        1.00
> 20. Oklahoma           9.8         30.9        0.97
> 21. Nevada            10.6         28.9        0.83
> 22. Colorado           8.2         34.2        0.55
> 23. Michigan           8.4         30.9        0.87
> 24. Pennsylvania      13.6         16.7        1.18
> 25. Texas              9.6         21.4        1.33
> 26. Arizona           11.7         16.9        1.26
> 27. Ohio               7.5         25.8        0.65
> 28. Kentucky           5.3         33.1        0.74
> 29. North Carolina     6.2         21.2        1.35
> 30. Rhode Island       3.4         35.3        0.87
> 31. Florida            6.3         18.3        1.63
> 32. South Carolina     5.8         20.0        1.52
> 33. Georgia            7.1         14.1        2.01
> 34. West Virginia      5.1         20.2        1.29
> 35. Oregon             9.4         11.6        0.96
> 36. Alaska             2.4         45.2        0.21
> 37. Virginia           6.5         14.3        0.97
> 38. Delaware           4.2         16.3        1.24
> 39. Connecticut        3.8         19.2        0.79
> 40. Louisiana          4.6         11.9        2.46
> 41. New Jersey         4.2         17.1        0.60
> 42. Washington         4.7         11.6        1.01
> 43. Maryland           3.3         13.9        0.89
> 44. Massachusetts      1.8         17.0        1.61
> 45. California         3.4         11.0        1.14
> 46. New Hampshire      2.4          9.0        1.04
> 47. D.C.               1.6         10.5        1.02
> 48. Hawaii             2.3          6.5        1.72
> 49. New York           1.6         10.2        0.85
> 50. Maine              1.4          5.8        0.45
> 51. Vermont            0.5          2.9        0.30