Saturday, August 15, 2015

#BlackLivesMatter ? Good

In light of recent events, it seems appropriate for my white-upper-middle-class-male ass to educate some fellow white people, specifically White Progressives™.

So let me break it down from a historical perspective. Depending on how specific you get, there are like five groups of people on the Left in the US, and right now two of those groups are getting loud at each other. Here it is from least liberal to most liberal:

Name/ Catch-Phrase/ Goal/ Methods/ Voting since 1992
1) Marginal Voter/ "Better safe than sorry"/Make the safest choice/ Gut feel & friends/ Votes Dem or Rep
2) Neo-liberal/ "Gays are OK"/ Economic Growth/ Advertising & donations/ Votes Dem or Rep
3) Progressive/ "Be the change"/Social Justice/ Advocacy & participation/ Votes Dem
4) Radical/  "People power"/ Social Transformation/ Organizing & civil disobedience/ Votes 3rd Party or Dem
5) Revolutionary/ "Burn it down"/ Transform Discourse/ Agitation & direct action/ Doesn't Vote

It shouldn't be hard to see where I'm going with this. I've ignored the race dimension of the above to recognize that there are people of all races that fall into the above. But if you were to find an African American group that fits roughly into category 5 above, the revolutionary, they would probably identify more with themes of Black Nationalism and Black Liberation. They would probably be interested in actively disrupting the complacent elements of society in order to bring attention to their cause. They would be aggressively engaging the conversation with those elements as to how their claims are valid in an effort to alter the goals of the Left broadly. They would not be interested in even third party politics, since political parties corrupt and the system of US politics has never and will never deliver the change necessary to liberate the people from state sponsored (racially motivated) physical and economic violence.

They would look something like #BlackLivesMatter, and they would be an absolutely necessary and kick ass component of the American Left. It would also cause conflict with anyone who didn't share the strategy choice of "breaking rules" in order to force an issue or get a result directly. This is why you see people in groups 3 and 4 (progressives and radicals) getting livid that group 5 (revolutionaries) is making the preferred Presidential candidate of groups 3 and 4 temporarily look less than perfect.

But it is entirely short sighted to attack #BlackLivesMatter. The furthest I would go would be to offer a suggestion for better, more effective disruption, but I won't even do that because I don't think they need to hear from me. Their goals are different enough from mine that anything I suggest to avoid alienating needed White Progressives™ at the polls misses their point: fuck your election, we're dying in the streets.

And this is where I think the parts of the Left that still want to play the electoral game need to realize the power and needed energy that #BlackLivesMatter brings to the Left. It is a movement, and the left always needs more movements. Movements get you real change after the election happens. Without movements, all you have a place-holders in DC preventing the GOP from nominating (more) fascists to the Supreme Court. Without movements, people forget that they have the power to make changes even when the elites aren't asking them their opinion (i.e. even when they aren't voting).

For a long time, the American Left has been getting it's ass kicked. Since Reagan, we really haven't had a backbone, a core. Why? Because Reagan pursued the Southern Strategy like a boss and took group 1 (marginal voters), 2 (neb-liberals), and even some in group 3 (progressives) above; AND the left turned away from the black community in order to try to win white votes; sadly, Blacks bore the brunt of Reagan's urban destruction policies. So the US left wandered into Clinton's camp in 1992 feeling like the only way to win elections was to appeal to moderate Republicans (the GOP had to behave like moderate Dems in the 50s and 60s, too). So the Left lost its spine because the Democratic party abandoned its base as being too radical and politically unappealing to White Moderates. It went for individual "be the change" type policies instead of social programs that "unite the people". It's rhetoric shifted from social transformation to social justice - from changing how we do things in the US to making how we do them more efficient.

Now, the Millennial generation wants none of that efficiency crap, we want a new direction. So you've got Bernie Sanders absolutely destroying it out there, with a "unite the people" message, directly alienating some neb-liberals without, paradoxically, alienating marginal voters due to the GOP's utter insanity. So for those of us who want Bernie Sanders to win, we need to realize that the ideological base of the Left in this country is the #BlackLivesMatter movement, not the #FightForFifteen movement (though that's it's political base), and that we can't win an election without the ideological base being ready to take on inconsistencies in the political base's message of justice. Otherwise, you get someone like Hillary, who is basically a Democrat now only because she is liberal on "social issues" like abortion, believes in climate change, and wants to restore the Voting Rights Act. Clinton can get away with her triangulation crap because there's nothing more forcefully progressive being said, and so her obvious failings are not hounded out of the party's platform.

Without #BlackLivesMatter, Bernie probably wouldn't have a platform to address violence against the Black community. He's a better candidate now, and we will be a better country if he is president, because of #BlackLivesMatter.

So, everyone out there who wants to complain about how Bernie is being interrupted needs to realize first and foremost that the people interrupting him are very likely playing a more sophisticated game than you are, and that your job should be to listen. Only through listening and learning will people who want Bernie to win be able to turn the energy of the base into electoral victory.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Biden? Good.

Upshot: Bernie brings new people to the polls, Biden only snipes from Hillary's existing pool of support, and Biden is a better alternative to Hillary anyway giving Bernie supporters another person to caucus for if they see themselves losing on election day in their state.

Since I'm a null hypothesis and frequentist freak, lets just assume an even split between the three. I don't see why that's a bad idea, simply because we know well that Bernie is solidly at 1/3 in the primary electorate. I don't expect the hard left to abandon the only real Democrat (who isn't a real Democrat) in the race. That leave 2/3 of the voters left.

I don't think Biden will run except to win; and thus he will not simply attack Bernie - that's O-Malley's job - he'll go after Hillary since she's got the most fruit and it's hanging pretty low. He's not trying to be VP or just set up Hillary... she doesn't need him to take votes from Bernie, since O'Malley is already trying to do that. And really, if Biden enters, I don't think the 100+ people I saw at the July 29th organizing event in Boulder or the 4000+ people at Denver University are going to peel over to Biden. His base is boomer males, not activists. Hillary's is boomer females. Bernie's is Millenials. I bet on my generation :)

Given that Biden will try to win, the biggest slice of voters are undecideds (don't want Clinton, don't know of alternative) and Hillary. He takes the undecideds because he's got name recognition and isn't Hillary. Some that support Hillary now over Sanders (or no one, since they only know about Hillary) migrate to Biden because he's mainstream, male, and isn't dynastic (ignore that he's VP).

So that, I think, makes the 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 split at least reasonable. That story holds (ok, so that was kinda Bayesian... never mind...) and I'm sticking to it!

What did I just say? That we know nothing at this point?

Exactly. And if Biden is going to come in, my basic hypothesis is that he's going to take votes from Hillary, make even more people bail from her sinking ship, and leave her with less than 35% in the polls. She'll be a zombie, and the money will go to Biden, who will fight with Bernie with each around 35-40%. Biden and Hillary could team up to try to take down Bernie, but I think that would backfire unless Bernie's organizing teams fail miserably to capitalize on the underdog, man of the people angle. And like I said, I think Biden beats Hillary outright. I know I would vote for him over her, as would most male Democrats and Democrats who don't like dynasties or Hillary for whatever myriad reason. Basically, Biden is good because even if Bernie looses, we can switch over and caucus for Biden and get Hillary out of US political office (hopefully) for good.

I like the Bernie v Biden match. Mostly because Bernie has such an organizing head start on him, and no matter who Bernie was running against they would have more money. Biden doesn't command the gender card either, and while he's great on TV and in Debates compared to Hillary, his charm can only motivate so much of the voting public... he's ultimately not substantively different from Hillary or any of the other establishment candidates. And since Bernie has made this about taking on the big dogs, so what if another big dog enters the fight?

The more paid liars for the 1% on stage with Bernie, the stronger a contrast he presents, the stronger he becomes.

The establishment is few. We are many. The more people they put in front of us to try to confuse us the more they divide the establishment and unite the people.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Bernie Sanders is Electable

No citations because I'm lazy.

Basically 45% of the country will vote for any Dem and another 45% sill vote for any Rep. This is my experience and I don't expect this to change. Who gets the majority of the 10% on either side of 50% is likely to be the person who seems the least risky choice. Does anyone on the GOP side seem less risky than Bernie Sanders?

That is why when you poll Virginia voters on head-to-head, Bernie is neck and neck with the GOP nominees at 40%... in Virginia, the state that gave us Loving v. Virginia. So about 20% aren't sure yet, and that's because there hasn't really been a campaign. BUT GET THIS: 80% of the voting public is pretty sure what they are going to do. It's the middle that isn't sure, and it's the middle that is least motivated by labels like "socialist" and the most concerned about bread and butter issues that I don't expect any GOP nominee to connect on.

Another way to see this. 50% of the country is ideologically conservative but 67% is liberal on policy. About 25% are both, so about 25% of the conservatives are never going to agree to progressive policy, but the other 25% will listen on the specifics. Add to that the fact that 50% of the country would vote for a socialist right now, without having seen Bernie do any campaigning or hearing his platform. This implies that, nationally, Bernie is entirely electable; all he has to do is convince older people that the GOP is going to take their social security and medicare away (they are, and he will) and he will carve out the margin of "conservative" voters (also: he's a white male who is OK with guns).

A final way to see that Bernie is electable. Every story in the mainstream press about Bernie sanders talks about the crowds, but no one talks about the year and a half or so he spent traveling the country talking to people in every state about a potential presidential run. He said early on that he would run a 50-state, people-organized strategy to win. He is going to collect a decent amount of money to run this kind of campaign, he is 30% of the way to his goal after his first quarter. None of the inside-the-beltway people will understand this as a viable option for running a campaign; generate a groundswell of primary voters and caucus goers, secure the nomination, and then appeal with specific solutions for broad problems and neutralize the culture wars.

But for the media, you need money, endorsements, and their approval. Bernie has none of those three according to them. But actually, he has plenty of money to do what he needs to do to get people to turn out and vote for him. It's incredibly cheap now to organize people, and many of Obama's campaign staff are now working for Bernie. They know how to do this. And he has the trust of the people, which is the biggest endorsement in politics you can get in politics. 2:1 ratio of trust for Bernie to Clinton. That's huge. Finally, he doesn't need mainstream media approval: I don't know many people under 40 who give a shit about cable news and I certainly don't think people over 40 are really enthused about the media's opinion these days. If Bernie can flip it against the media, encourage the underdog narrative, he can overcome this problem. He doesn't need their approval so much as he needs to be able to manipulate them. And he's spent a lot of time as a Senator going on TV and going to bat for the left, and he isn't persona non grata. Once he gets into the debates, I predict he starts to do much, much better than the press ever anticipated.

Basically, Bernie is the real deal and Democrats who want a real progressive shouldn't shy away from supporting him over Hillary, who will give us another 8 years of the same BS we've had since the 80s. Bernie offers us a safety valve for capitalism, a real safety net for a new century and a chance to get our democracy back from the corrupting influence of huge sums of cash. We should take his offer. It might be the only time we get a chance to push for real change in our political and economic system. If Hillary or any GOP nominee wins, we will see no effort to reform money in politics and a future where it will be even harder for the people to elect someone who puts them first instead of corporate profits.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Polis Votes for Fast Track (b/c he's not a Democrat)

polis on three issues that come to mind where he has totally betrayed workers and the community he serves:

education - neoliberal, against workers and anti-community
makes a lot of noise about social issues in education and is part of the "school reform" agenda
supports diploma-mill higher-education policies and embraces goverment guaranteed charter profits in k-12

fracking - neoliberal, against workers and anti-community
takes liberal stance at federal level because that won't go anywhere
where he could have made a difference in Colorado he absorbed the grass roots energy and snuffed it

trade/jobs - neoliberal, against workers and anti-community
makes bold rhetorical claims about the tough worker support he will demand
votes for fast track bill without any worker support

b/c he is an agent of the elite.

should we expect anything different from a tech industry elitist advised by Arthur Laffer?

he has to go.

who will primary this tool of the rich?