The Voting Numbers Say We Must Organize our Communities Now!

latinovotersNew Orleans   The post-mortem on the US election continues but as more data and information becomes available some of the early guesstimates are not as compelling as they were the morning after. It’s not that they were completely wrong, but they are not right enough to point the directions forward. Over and over again it is hard to escape the conclusion that the Clinton loss does not just fall heavily on her shoulders because she was such a flawed candidate, especially since Trump was even more flawed, but points to a massive failure of organization, and not just hers, but all of ours.

Karl Rove, the political mastermind behind George W. Bush, is not a go-to nonpartisan, objective analyst on this or any election, but as a columnist for The Wall Street Journal he’s always worth a read to understand not only what Republicans are thinking, but also as a reality check that we are not drinking our own Kool-Aid. A couple of days ago he made several interesting points based on a pretty deep review of exit polls, admittedly from Fox News, but whatever.

Among them were the following:

 

· “Both candidates this year won fewer white votes – Mr. Trump 1.6 million and Mrs. Clinton 2.3 million – than four years ago.”
· “…Trump didn’t win because he greatly expanded the GOP….”
· “…Clinton lost a significant chunk of the Obama Coalition. Compared with 2012 she dropped 1.8 million African-Americans, one-million voters age 18-29, 1.8 million voters aged 30-44, 2.6 million Catholics, and nearly 4.5 million voters with family incomes of $30,000 or less.”
· “…Clinton received nearly 9.4 million Latino votes, up 180,000 from Mr. Obama’s total in 2012. But because Mr. Trump won 29% of Hispanics, up from Mr. Romney’s 27%, the president-elect won 4.2 million Latino votes, roughly 690,000 more than Mr. Romney.”
· “Only 18% of voters had a high school education or less, down from 24% last time….Trump received 12 million votes from them, 2.2 million fewer than Mr. Romney, Mrs. Clinton got 10.6 million votes, 5.8 million fewer than Mr. Obama.”
· “…Trump’s advantage among voters with some college outweighed Mrs. Clinton’s among people with four-year degrees.”

 

You get the picture. This election was won and lost among low-and-moderate income families. These are our families and the heart of base. This election was also lost by our inability to convert Trump’s blatantly racist and anti-Latino campaign into actual voter turnout in our communities. Before the election I thought that if Clinton won she owed her victory to black and brown voters. In the same way she may owe her defeat to her inability to inspire these votes and our collective failure to build effective organization.

If progressives want to win, we have to go on the offense on issues and actions. The numbers also say that even more importantly we have to go back to the neighborhoods and barrios of our communities and organize people at the grassroots in the kind of organizing that has been the hallmark of ACORN. To the degree that is not happening as broadly and deeply in the United States as it needs to in white, black, and brown communities, these families are grist for the conservative mill, and not only voting against their interest, but more powerfully not voting at all. 43% of the electorate didn’t vote in 2016 with their feet but with their butts, and just sat this one out.

Rove makes one more interesting point which is a warning to Trump and should be a wakeup call to all of us. The numbers say it wasn’t globalization and trade, but the economy, stupid, and the lack of distribution and trickle down to our base.

This is call to go into our communities and rebuild effective organization or this crisis won’t be about the next four years but an entire generation or as long as it takes for us to get back to the streets and do the work.

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Trump Military Assault Revives Vietnam and the Draft

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Vietnam War Draft Lottery

Rock Creek, Montana   One nice thing about being mostly off-the-grid for a bit is missing the daily craziness of the emerging political campaign in the United States. Reading the latest news of Donald Trump’s assault and disrespect of the Muslim parents of a fallen soldier in Iraq in 2004 was simply mind-boggling. Is there really a politician from dogcatcher to the White House who doesn’t realize that in America, no matter what our politics or views on war and peace, who doesn’t realize that we give respect to our soldiers who fall in service to our country? Yes, it turns out there is one: Donald Trump!

I can’t believe this, but I thought in 2008 with the victory of Barack Obama over John McCain, we had finally, and thankfully, left Vietnam and the issues of compulsory service at the hands of the draft behind, but now with Trump’s callousness, we are right back in the political quicksand of Southeast Asia again. I feel more like Rip Van Winkle waking up after years of sleep, than simply someone off-the-grid for 48 hours! On this Trump-created political issue, Hillary Clinton, for a change can’t say anything, and from what I can tell, equally thankfully, hasn’t said anything, because she gets a pass, since women were exempt from the draft, so no dissembling or memory lapses on her part are necessary.

Can’t say that for the Donald either. He remembers nothing. Being of Hillary and Donald’s generation, I can categorically assure everyone everywhere that it is absolutely a bald-faced lie. I could say definitively that there is no man of the Vietnam Era who doesn’t vividly recall every detail of his experience with the draft, especially how he might have ended up not serving in Vietnam. George Bush the first was the last of the World War II generation to serve as President, but from that point on we certainly are all familiar with the second George Bush’s time as perhaps a National Guard pilot, and we also heard Bill Clinton’s various stories of how he avoided the draft repeatedly and were wildly familiar with other candidates like John Kerry and John McCain and their experiences in the service.

On this score Donald Trump claims he’s clueless. He pretends he got a high number even though he had already won a series of educational exemptions and then a 1Y deferment based on a willing doctor’s note saying that he was unfit because of bone spurs, all of which occurred and put him in the clear way before the lottery was imposed by a country desperate to make the system seem fairer. Now in the dimness of his memory and perhaps the induced fog-of-war, he knows the bone spurs magically disappeared, but also can’t remember when they arrived or where they went, who the doctor might have been or whether he actually had a physical or simply left the note with the local New York City draft board.

It is way past time for Vietnam and the draft to recede as a political issue at this level, but lying and the truth are always valid concerns when we vote for a president. All of this latest Trump mess from the disrespect of Muslims and our war dead to the make believe stories about his lack of recall on the draft and how he avoided service, though he claims to have always, silently, opposed the war, seems to be vivid proof of another classic example of the breaks easily obtained by someone who was rich when the call came in for yet another US war that was a “rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight.”

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Republicans Dilemma: Can Fear and Hate Alone Win an Election?

Immigrant rights activists hold up a fabric wall to protest against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Wednesday, July 20, 2016, in Cleveland, during the third day of the Republican convention.(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Fabric wall to protest against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Wednesday, July 20, 2016, in Cleveland, during the third day of the Republican convention.(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

New Orleans   Having just returned from euro-world, I have to admit that I was surprised I wasn’t asked more questions about Donald Trump. During George W’s time, the questions were endless and strident. War does that to people. Folks brought up Trump for sure, but mostly with a smile on their face, not taking him seriously, though that would be a mistake, and in some ways not so much frightened by him as they were by Bush, but more amused at what they saw as America’s embarrassment at the hands of the crazy uncle coming out of the closet after the dignity, regardless of any disappointments, of Obama.

Now that I’m back and parsing the recent Republican National Convention, I have to ask myself, “can fear and hate alone win an election?” The answer is of course, yes, but we’ve never seen ourselves as pre-war Germany or Bosnia or Rwanda or modern Poland or Turkey after the recent coup, so it’s a stretch. Even jaded observers like myself, keep repeating a mantra to ourselves that “it can’t happen here.” But, in some ways that’s channeling our inner-Pollyanna, because it is happening here at the state level in places like Arizona, Kansas, and way too much of Texas. There’s also something that has been in the water in Wisconsin in recent years that makes you wonder what happened to that bastion of liberalism and labor strength?

Hillary Clinton to her credit is still holding the line against hate trying to position her candidacy and the Democratic Party as a more inclusive alternative for a wider demographic in the United States. There is certainly polarity. I can’t remember reading a poll like the recent one by the Wall Street Journal where a presidential candidate – in this case, Trump – literally polled zero among African-Americans. Needless to say all of his talk about building an even bigger wall between the US and Mexico has not helped his numbers get higher among Latinos either.

Talking to Randy Cunningham, a veteran community and tenant organizer and longtime activist in Cleveland, on Wade’s World was inspiring to hear about the success of peoples’ nonviolent attempts to have their voices heard by the Republicans in Cleveland over the last week. The “Wall Off Trump” action put together by unions and progressive organizations from the Working Families’ Party to Chicago’s La Gente and our old friends at the Ruckus Society, he described as very effective and lots of fun. The opening action on Monday that he and a large coalition put together pulled more between 1500 and 2000 and despite the fear mongering by the Trump team that there would be “blood in the streets.” He described the event as the largest action in Cleveland since the late 1970s and early 1980s. More positively, he believed that there may be an unexpected legacy of the RNC hate and fear mongering in Cleveland this week, and that is a resurgence of organizing and action in Cleveland.

Let’s hope that might be the result nationally of this fear-and-hate campaign. Trump thus far has no program other than “vote for me.” Clinton is matching the fear factor reportedly with a vice-presidential partner who will have some credibility there. She is still lacking a bit in what Sarah Palin famously called the “hope-y” thing that for all of the derision actually has been winning recent presidential elections.

The one thing that is certain: this is going to be a frightening several months until November!

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Please enjoy Regina Spector’s Bleeding Heart. Thank you KABF!

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Haters Going to Hide: The Trump Story Revealed

BN-ND016_IMMIGR_P_20160316182315New Orleans   There’s hardly room in the newspapers and weekly magazines these days for other news between the pulling of hair and rending of clothes by all of the pundits and data dogs about how they miscalculated the odds on the Trump nomination and their fumbling around trying to figure out the “who” of the Trump voter.  Judging by an article in Harper’s as one prominent example, the temptation is going to be to stereotype his voting base as whacko haters. 

Big, big mistake.  You can’t have a demagogue without the demos, the people, boiling with anger, and the candidate ready to meet it and move it forward.

Pew Research has also weighed in with some frightening news:  haters are not just going to hate, they’re going to hide.  Pew found that internet polls compared to telephone polling was finding another 8% or more of Trump support that was not willing to come clean talking to a semi-real person on the blower.  These are the monkey wrench folks everywhere in America who see a chance to flup the stuff up and show all of them, whoever they are, that they want to be heard and not just heard, but heeded.

Even more dangerous to my lights is that they are fired up and aren’t going to take it anymore, while Clinton supporters are on autopilot, snoring through the rallies or playing with their smartphones, while Rome is burning. 

The biggest fantasy is that Trump is going to change.  Not only is that not going to happen, but there’s every indication that behind the scenes, he’s getting high-fives and “git ‘r dones” from Republican politicians right and righter from Speaker Paul Ryan on down.  Whatever the rationale or fairytales they are telling themselves to try and put clothes on the emperor, they are almost universally in kowtow mode. 

Here’s hoping that women save us, and that Hillary actually figures out sooner rather than later how to play that card.  Reading about Trump’s private and personal interactions with women behind the scenes is a muckraker’s view of the slaughterhouse and the meat market.  Objectification is too long and dainty a word to describe the permanent, leering appraisal that seems to be Trump’s default.  This is a dirty old man!  And, he has been that way forever it seems.

Trump defines transactional politics devoid of principles of any sort.  In that sense he is the perfect representative of the modern political moment, almost startlingly transparent about the equation compared to all of the rest of the political class who try to hide the transactional nature of politics behind one artifice or another of pretense or philosophy.  As donors and opponents line up behind him, you can see the hopes for the main chance later, grifting the short game for the long. 

Sadly, there’s probably no better case study than Megyn Kelly, currently the queen of Fox News.  After being insulted in the vilest way by Trump and eviscerated by a boycott, she now props him for bringing her more attention, and exchanged her pride for an exclusive interview she hopes will propel her into the Oprah and Barbara Walters atmosphere.  She could have upped her game, instead she just signed up for the market exchange.

Here’s one thing for certain:  help America conserve water!  Take your daily shower after you read the morning papers, or you’ll have to take another one to wash off this filth before you leave the house. 

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Hey, At Least It’s Not a Popularity Contest

indexNew Orleans   With Donald Trump’s overwhelming victory in the Republican primary in Indiana, he has now driven Texas Senator Ted Cruz out of the race, and he officially threw in the towel as the numbers swamped his last chance at a path to win. Only Ohio’s Governor John Kasich continues in the race a long way back as Trump paddles more smoothly towards the convention and the delegates he needs for the nomination. Senator Bernie Sanders bested former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary in Indiana but she spent no money on the race now that the contests have become a kinder and gentler sea cruise to the nomination for her, even as Sanders continues to try and pile up his numbers even if he just waving at her as she moves out of port.

From now on, the US election is a plain and simple cage match between Trump and Clinton. We can all be sure of one thing in this election, unlike almost any other over the last several generations: this contest is definitely NOT a popularity contest. This isn’t some high school student council race for sure. Which is not to say that this election is about the issues either, at least not yet. It is mainly clear that it’s not a popularity contest, because no one seems to much like either of the two remaining candidates.

Polling indicates that we have never had two candidates seen so unfavorably, both in the 60% range, virtually ever. Polling results indicate that people don’t trust Hillary, and they are afraid of Trump. The silver lining for Democrats is that people see Trump even more unfavorably than Hillary. People are looking at the smiling faces of the two major candidates, and they are seeing fright masks.

Another set of polls found Democrats who were polled resist Trump at the 97% rate. Republicans that were polled resisted Clinton at the 92% rate. Among independents, the Wall Street Journal poll found that Clinton had dropped 15% among this group in the last four months with only 20% of independents viewing her favorably now and 65% seeing her unfavorably as well. Of course there is still some comfort because Trump comes off even worse. Sanders may have galvanized youth for example, but when it comes to Clinton versus Trump, young voters are overwhelming with Clinton.

In the six months until the election, things could get better of course, but it’s hard not to believe that they are going to get worse. So many people may be voting in November while holding their noses that election judges may have to pump air into the voting booths to keep people from fainting.

Starting from such polarized places, how will either one of them be able to effectively govern?

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How Crazy is this Women’s Card Attack?

Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton cheer at her New York primary campaign headquarters, Tuesday, April 19, 2016, in New York

Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton cheer at her New York primary campaign headquarters, Tuesday, April 19, 2016, in New York

Little Rock    Really? You have to be kidding me! In the 21st century what kind of political calculations lead someone to believe that there is gain to be had by attacking Hillary Clinton expressly on the issue that she is a woman? Unbelievable!

I mean really, if the choice is electing the first billionaire or the first woman, who can possibly believe that’s really a choice. Better to play the card than think you can get a better deal with someone trying to buy the deck, the table, and the whole casino.

Where has Donald Trump been the last 70 years? He needs to get his plane out of the clouds. Are women tough enough, geez look what Margaret Thatcher did to the United Kingdom and Indira Gandhi did to India. There’s a case to be made that – right or wrong – men are soft by comparison. Can they lead, look around, and take the measure of Germany’s Angela Merkel who is virtually holding Europe together with her bare hands.

And, yet a Republican analyst was arguing that maybe, just maybe, Trump and his people were being shrewd and trying to “Swift boat” Hillary early on the women’s issue to sow doubt now on one of her significant assets against Trump by casting a shadow on her strengths, just as Bush did to Kerry on his war record. Hillary’s advisors were both jumping up and down over Trump’s wild misogyny and trying to figure out the proper tone of response so they didn’t alienate men.

Geez, my take was different and disappointment more real. Only a day after I had argued that Hillary needed to “go big” and sew up working women’s vote everywhere with a bold proposal for government programs and increased federal support for adequate and affordable daycare and eldercare to rally women, now with Trump’s preemptive attack on her solely over her gender, basically she doesn’t have to swing hard to win the critical women’s vote, she just has to keep standing, and it’s hers.

Even more depressing is the underlying comment about American culture and the continued divide even between race and sex. There is no doubt that a huge percentage of the stubborn resistance to President Obama, both personally and politically, emanates from resistance to his race. Yet, no candidate, big or small, well-meaning or mean spirited, ever was stupid enough to attack Obama precisely. Nonetheless, there is absolutely no hesitancy to attack Hillary exclusively on her gender.

On race, we have finally drawn a line about what is beyond the pale, but on gender it’s still anything goes, the sky is the limit, and there’s no such thing as too low to go. No coding there. No dog whistles to the masses, just straight-up women hating. Explains a lot about everything from the Republicans’ perverse interest in trying to infantilize women on the issue of their bodies and babies and their fear of other orientations from the bathroom to the bedroom.

We all knew this race was not going to be pretty, but we’re now getting a grasp of how humiliating the whole affair may be to all of us as a people.

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