Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Benjamin Harrison, one of my favorite Presidents, mostly because of the beard.

I'll be honest, I'm fascinated by the inside baseball stuff, the pure politics.

But what's missing, at least as far as I'm aware, is a place to have a serious, respectful conversation about conservativism, the old and the new, and liberalism, (now called progressivism, I guess) the old and the new.  I'd lay it out like this:

In the old days, conservatives were cautious, sober, serious guys who were good with money and didn't see the value in getting too involved with other country's problems or affairs.  They believed in the basic goodness and decency of people and figured the less the government was involved in anything, the better things would work out in the end.

The old-school liberals, on the other hand, had a much more pessimistic view of people.  They believed that left alone, most humans would look out for their own self-interest more than they would take care of others; especially others who didn't look, sound or act like them, their family and all of their friends.  Old-time liberals held xenophobia as a basic fact of the world and believed that the government could help to blunt its more brutal results.

So, in the old days, you had Roosevelt (a patrician guy who was called a class traitor by many of the people he grew up with) shuffling the deck and dealing out the New Deal.  And making us the World's Policeman.  Liberalism run amok.  And you had Eisenhower (a guy who had spent his life on the front lines Roosevelt convinced us to advance and defend) settling things down, building the interstate highway system and generally growing things steady and slow like a retired gentleman farmer in a true conservative fashion.

But how those  two philosophies or styles or realities relate to the parties today is beyond my meager grasp, friends.

I've written elsewhere about the deep deficiencies of the modern Democratic party.  I became an independent in Clinton's second term, although I vote exclusively Democrat in national elections.  The simplest way of saying it is that the Democratic party has been co-opted by old, self-interested, rich, cautious  white men and the Republican party has been taken hostage by fundamentalist racists.  These two highly funded camps have little genuine interest in governing and no meaningful interest whatsoever in improving the basic living conditions of you, me and the poor people of our country.


Where to start?

Here, I suppose.  You got to try, anyway.

My first, tentative steps forward will be these:

Citizens  United (o, the irony of that name) is the most dangerous, short-sighted, destructive judgement in the history of the Supreme Court since the Dred Scott decision.

President Obama's stimulus package isn't working and won't work because it wasn't big enough.  They couldn't sell a billion dollar bailout (which was what was needed) so they sold what they could, knowing it was bogus.

Mitt Romney is the most ill-equipped candidate I've ever seen run for national office and that includes George McGovern and Michael Dukakis.  And he's got a real shot at winning.



  1. Not only was 'The Stimulus" (TM) not big enuf, but is was half TAX CUTS, which we all know are not stimulative. And now his big plan? Extend 98% of Bush's tax cuts for another year. Like Clinton, he takes the most palatable ideas the Rethugs have, and steals them. (See Mandate, comma, Heritage Foundation) His big plan this week to get American working? Keep Bush's tax cuts in place, while we continue to lay off teachers, firefighters, and policemen, and gut their hard-earned pensions.

    Cutting taxes on people making $999 a day while gutting the safety net in a recession is not stimulus, it's class warfare, Democratic style.

    Check out the options. On a local level Colin Beavan, AKA 'No Impact Man', is running for Ed Towns old seat. Ed Towns, for those who don't know him, was the worst of the establishment congresscritters in the most corrupt borough of the Democratic party (including the South Side), Brooklyn. In close to 30 years as a congresscritter, he never WROTE A LAW. Not one. And for decades, dems refused to run against him in the primary, in a district where Bush hit single digits.

    Well Colin, like alot of Dems, has had enough, and he is running an exciting challenge to Brooklyn corruption from the true progressive left. http://noimpactman.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8341c613853ef0168eb56bacb970c-popup

    While you're at it, check our Jill Stein, who just made Federal primary matching funds, and will be nominated this weekend as the Green Party candidate for President, coming soon to a ballot near you. Her most notable accomplishment so far me be that she wiped the floor with Romney in debates when both were running for Gov in MA a few years back. A notable Boston paper called here 'the only adult in the room', which seems like exactly what we need now.

    Colin D. Young AKA 'Green in Brooklyn'

  2. Col,
    Good to see you're still waving your Green flag.
    Can you speak to why it's so hard to establish a third party in this country? I've always respected your real commitment (meaning the actual time and effort you've spent) to the Green Party. We seem to have an historical inability to create and maintain a third way in the US. Which is weird to me.

  3. Well, there are just so many obstacles. The biggest one is the lack of proportional representation. Look at Australia, where the Green party got about 13% of the vote in 2010, got 9 members of parliament, which ended up being the balance of power, and in a deal to form a coalition government they passed the most sweeping climate chance legislation on the planet. In the U.S. 13% wouldn't even get a 3rd party candidate in the debates, set up by the bi-partisan (meaning TWO and ONLY two parties) commission on public debates. I think there should be at least one debate that includes all the candidates who are on enough ballots to theoretically win the electoral college (that is generally 5: (Dem, GOP, Grn, Lib, Const). Can you imagine the debate, and how interesting it would be? The ideas that would get exchanged? I refuse to watch any 2 candidate snoozefests this year.

    Plus, there's ballot access. In Oklahoma, Georgia, North Carolina and a couple of other states, there has never been a 3rd party candidate on the ballot - you need something like 5% of the registered voters to sign petitions, which would be like trying to get 200,000 valid signatures in NYC just to get on the ballot. In Georgia, there has never been a 3rd party candidate on the ballot for any national race (Cynthia McKinney is trying to change that by running for her old seat as a Green - we'll see)

    Then there's the media, who only care about the horse race, which is what sells newspapers, makes ratings, and more importantly in this post-Citizens United world, SELLS POLITCAL ADS. The networks and cable giants have no interest in changing a system that brings in Billions in advertising every 2 years, and 10's of Billions every 4.

    Then there's apathy. Most people just don't care enough about the political system to look beyond the two awful choices in front of them. 15% approval rating for congress, and yet every democrat I talk to says ' it's a two-party system, we're stuck with it', which is completely defeatist and completely reinforces the failed system we have. As Nader famously said, how can you spoil a system that's already spoiled?

    Finally, the Democratic party is too dependent on the same corporate interests that the GOP is - Wall Street, lawyers, drug companies, insurance companies, defense contractors, tobacco companies, etc, etc, etc. You see a few exceptions (Elizabeth Warren), and a few independents sneak through (Bernie Sanders, Angus King in Maine), but for the most part Democrats are only interested in electing democrats.

    An example - there a congressional district in Arkansas where the Democrats have completely failed to get a candidate on the ballot, despite the fact that less than 20 years ago it was a solid Dem district, and there's a strong Green candidate running in a 3 person field against the GOP incumbent and a libertarian candidate. Will the Dems endorse and work with the Rebekah Kennedy (who got more than 20% in the 2010 Arkansas Senate race against Blue Dog Mark Prior when the GOP couldn't get a candidate to run)? Of COURSE not, they'll write off that district, or even endorse the GOP candidate.

  4. Wow.
    And the powers have zero interest in changing a thing, so the people are told, explicitly or slyly, that every third-party candidate or supporter is a kook, a loser or a bomb-thrower. Usually all three. Which creates the perfect self-sustaining failure and apathy machine.
    Genius, in a very dark way.

  5. Update: The AFL-CIO has endorsed Rebekah Kennedy in the Arkansas congressional race, so some progress: http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/2af20301cfc8449b983af31eabcf6411/AR--Union-Endorsements