Tag Archives: progressive politics

Keeping Politics Weird

17keepaustinweirdtshirtLondon   Going to Austin, Texas from time to time, you still see bumper stickers and window signs in this huge, boomtown that still say, “Keep Austin Weird.” At least with politics there’s no need for a bumper sticker, because these days it seems all about making sure politics is weird.

In the United Kingdom, the Conservative ruling party is claiming there is a constitutional crisis because the largely honorific, unelected House of Lords rather than being content with their sinecures and titles actually straightened their backs for the first time in 100 years and refused to go along with tax credit cuts for the working poor which would have hit millions for a loss of about $1200 per year. Lords are not just to the manor borne but include Labor lords and Liberal-Democrat lords and they teamed up for a bit of pushback getting headlines for something other than spending their expense money at massage parlors and the like. The Conservatives may modify the cuts or delay them somewhat and also may just back the House of Lords with more Lords to fatten their majority and put off another faux crisis like this for another century.

Meanwhile on the other side of the pond we have Donald Trump reduced to begging the crowd in Iowa to push his polling numbers back to the top and pretending he went to public high school with the rest of us by shouting in the Republican debate that Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio really don’t like each other. The one thing that Trump has contributed to the Republican primaries thus far is total admission that political primaries are in fact exactly the same as high school student council popularity contests. It was a surprise to find that Governor Chris Christie from New Jersey is still running for president. Same for Senator Rand Paul and Governor Bobby Jindal, but hey, let’s keep politics weird.

Meanwhile over here, I will fly out of Heathrow and leave the discussion of the splits in the Labour Party and its civil war over the election of Jeremy Corbyn, a harder left leader than many expected after a drubbing of the party’s former leader in the recent election that has left the party reeling. Somehow the former leader, Ed Milliband, turned up at a training of sorts offered by a UK community organizing group, and US-based Industrial Areas Foundation community organizer, Arnie Graf, was quoted in the New Statesman crowing about the fact that Milliband would have done better to have gone to the training before he was blown away in a curious exercise of kicking sand in his face after having claimed to help him previously. Arnie then took shots at Corbyn and his supporters, Vermont’s Senator Bernie Sanders, and progressives in general proving mainly that he was either having a very bad day and was caught by a reporter in the middle of it or has suddenly become even older and crankier than Bernie himself.

And, then to make sure Hillary is anointed by Democrats rather than loved by them and isolating progressives’ hopes for the future even more, she made it clear she was still committed capital punishment come hell or high water, just wanted a kinder and gentler path to the electric chair. Soon there will be a bumper sticker on her car saying, Keep Politics Weird, as well.


Political Spoilers from the Left

campaign1Baltimore  Ok, the Tea Party is full of known whacks.   We all know that.  We can all agree that they were dead as a doornail as a mass-based organization.  Recently, they staged a series of rallies during the recess that had to be scrubbed, because nobody came.  Everyone agrees that they are totally off the chain in threatening even to shutdown the entire federal government soon in their obsessive fixation with the evils of Obamacare, yet somehow they continue to drive the Republicans crazy and push them farther and farther to the right.  How do they manage to do so much of this with so little?   I think part of their answer is simply that unlike the left, they are willing to be spoilers on the right.

            Tea people are now running in Republican primaries in Kentucky, South Carolina, and Tennessee for example.   Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority leader from Kentucky, can’t be confused with a moderate and Alexander and Graham might only be seen as moderates in the polarization of contemporary politics.  Yet, the willingness of Tea people to run against them is chilling to the Republicans, and of course the fact that Tea people are also running against sitting Democrats in Louisiana, Colorado, and North Dakota and for open seats in Georgia, Iowa, and South Dakota, also sends a clear message.  These races move votes and legislation to the right, win, lose, or draw.

            Yet we are still unwilling to challenge even conservative Democrats from the left for fear of being spoilers, despite the abundant evidence of how successful the strategy continues to be for the Tea Party.  It seems that the Achilles heel for liberals, unlike the Tea Party people, is that they are unafraid of losing or being embarrassed, while too many potential challengers from the left want to be guaranteed victory before running rather than embracing the Tea Party and Mao’s maxim of “dare to struggle, dare to win.”   I’m heartened by Bill de Blasio’s race for Mayor in New York City, where he is unabashedly willing to parade his principles and is seeing them resonate.  I’m rooting for Wendy Davis in Texas to begin rebuilding a base from the left, rather than ceding this great state and its people to the right. 

            I’ll probably vote for Mary Landrieu again when she runs in Louisiana.   I always have.  Nonetheless, I will always cherish the day I met with her on a mission from SEIU and then President Stern several campaigns ago to deliver the message that no contributions would be coming to her campaign form the union, because “if we wanted to give to Republicans, we would donate to them directly.”  But, despite the fact that I will vote for Mary again in the general election, I would love to see a left challenger in the primaries to move some of her votes farther away from the oil and gas empire, the shot-to-kill gunners, and some of the others. 

            It seems clear that we have to have candidates that speak to us and our issues, even though we may lose a lot of elections before we win as many as we will, and that means embracing our inner-Tea Party and being willing to sometimes spoil, even if a moderate or conservative Democrat might lose, in order to finally see victory for progressive politics and politicians in the future.