Yes, let’s wipe out Trump. But take neoliberal Democrats with him, too

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A new wave of left-leaning Democrats are waging a war on the party’s corporate wing

Amid an upsurge of populist energy that has alarmed the Democratic establishment, a new wave of left-leaning insurgents have been using Democratic primaries to wage a fierce war on the party’s corporate wing. And, as in past presidential primary battles, many Democratic consultants, politicians and pundits have insisted that the party must prioritize unity and resist grassroots pressure to support a more forceful progressive agenda.

Not surprisingly, much of that analysis comes from those with career stakes in the status quo. Their crude attempts to stamp out any dissent or intraparty discord negates a stark truth: liberal America’s pattern of electing corporate Democrats – rather than progressives – has been a big part of the problem that led to Trump and that continues to make America’s economic and political system a neo-feudal dystopia.

Dislodging those corporate Democrats, then, is not some counterproductive distraction – it is a critical front in the effort to actually make America great again.

More from The Guardian

Posted by Libergirl

 

 

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Abolish the Supreme Court

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Supreme Court without Anthony KennedySupreme Court without Anthony Kennedy (Photo: Screen capture

The Supreme Court as we know it is an abomination, and this is a rare issue on which Americans from across the ideological spectrum should agree.

Whether you believe that liberal, robed tyrants have jammed gay rights and abortion and all manner of social ills down the throats of the American people, or you’re outraged by this conservative Court purposefully killing campaign finance laws and gutting the Voting Rights Act, the fact that five unelected individuals with lifetime gigs that insulate them from both popular and elite opinion can veto democratically enacted legislation should be intolerable.

But the problem with this creaky, increasingly illegitimate institution goes far deeper than that, as the farcical confirmation process we’re living through with Brett Kavanaugh illustrates quite clearly. What really distorts the purpose and fairness of the Court is that it’s become ever more explicitly partisan.

As historian Jill Lepore wrote for The New York Times this week, the Constitution “was understood by its framers as a machine, a precisely constructed instrument whose measures — its separation of powers, its checks and balances — were mechanical devices, as intricate as the gears of a clock, designed to thwart tyrants, mobs and demagogues, and to prevent the forming of factions.”

“Factions,” as they were known in the 18th century, are called political parties today. We have two branches of government — Congress and the presidency — that are inherently political and unavoidably partisan. In theory, the judicial branch should be a neutral arbiter of the disputes that arise between the federal government and the states, and among the co-equal branches of government. These disputes should be adjudicated by the best, most nimble legal minds in the country rather than by justices whose judicial opinions are easily predicted by their ideological and partisan leanings.

If the system were working as designed, Brett Kavanaugh would not be a nominee. Before he lied to Congress, and years before Christine Blasey Ford came forward to allege that he attempted to rape her in the 1980s, Kavanaugh was, as Mike Tomasky wrote for The Daily Beast, “a certain kind of lawyer. He was a very political, partisan, and ideological lawyer. He was, in fact, a political operative with a J.D. degree.” As an example, Tomasky details how Kavanaugh, when he was working for Ken Starr, “spent time and taxpayer dollars engaging in political vendettas and chasing down conspiracy theories.” Peddling nonsense about Hillary Clinton having had an affair with Vince Foster, a White House aide who committed suicide and then became an object of fascination within the fever swamps of the right, should be disqualifying for such a powerful and exalted intellectual position.

We’re now suffering through Potemkin hearings in which Senators act as if everyone doesn’t know exactly how Justice Kavanaugh would rule on the issues of the day. Back in July, Charlie Savage reported for The New York Times that Kavanaugh “spent the past dozen years embracing the philosophy of the conservative legal movement as he assembled a record on the powerful federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit… on issues as diverse as abortion and gun rights to disputes over national-security policies and business regulations, Judge Kavanaugh emphasized textual limitations while frequently favoring corporations over regulators, and the government over individuals claiming rights violations.”

While a polarized, insulated Court should be intolerable for people on both the right and the left, it’s especially problematic for progressives. Republicans have lost the popular vote for president in six of the past seven contests. They know they face demographic headwinds with an increasingly diverse electorate, and as a result, they’ve put an almost manic emphasis on controlling the Court. Conservative legal groups have spent tens of millions of dollars shaping the federal judiciary; Mitch McConnell held Antonin Scalia’s seat open for over a year to keep Barack Obama from appointing a successor.

Some on the left have urged Democrats to respond to that egregious theft by packing the courts if and when they regain power. The Constitution allows it, but doing so risks an endless tit-for-tat scenario, with Republicans responding in kind whenever the pendulum swings back their way.

Term limits are probably the most frequently discussed reform for the Court. But while killing lifetime appointments is necessary, it’s also insufficient. If Justices served for, say, 10-year terms, it would lower the stakes somewhat, and perhaps usher in some comity in the process, but it wouldn’t get to the core issue of selecting justices for their ideological commitment rather than the quality of their jurisprudence or legal scholarship. (Term limits are also Constitutionally questionable, although there are potential work-arounds for that issue.)

The time has come to seriously consider the possibility of scrapping the Supreme Court as we know it, and replacing it with a different structure entirely. As those who advocate packing the courts point out, the Constitution doesn’t spell out how many justices sit on the bench. Why not create a Court with, say, 30 of the top legal thinkers in the country, from which nine or 11 or whatever number are randomly drawn to hear each case? That would diminish the power of each individual on the court, and make different groups of justices with a wider range of experience engage one another’s arguments. And we should have them serve staggered, eight- or ten-year terms, so there’s a constant flow of fresh blood and fresh thinking to the Court, and a president can’t luck into reshaping the judiciary for decades to come just because he or she happens to be in office when a couple of Justices die or can no longer soldier on.

Just as importantly, we need to take the selection process out of the hands of the major parties. The Constitution says the President “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint” justices to the highest court, and that vague division of power leaves a lot of room for innovation. We might create a large, bipartisan Senate panel made up of top legal experts – law profs, retired judges – to screen potential nominees for the quality of their scholarship and past decisions, while weeding out mediocre or unoriginal thinkers and ideological hacks, and then have the president pick judges from the cream of the crop.

In any event, we should not view the anti-democratic arrangement we have now as natural or beneficial just because it’s been with us for hundreds of years. The election of

Trump has called into question all manner of issues that had been considered settled in the United States – from the virtues of capitalism to the benefits of international trade to the value of the unwritten norms that had long been honored on Capitol Hill.

Brett Kavanaugh’s demonstrably partisan background and the circus now surrounding his confirmation illustrate that it’s past time that we take a serious shot at ridding ourselves of this iteration of the Supreme Court and replacing it with a body that fulfills the purpose for which it was originally intended.

By Joshua Holland/RawStory

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Newly Revealed Paid Speeches Leave ‘No Question Whatsoever’ That Republican Ron DeSantis Is a Racist

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New reports of recent speeches at an annual conference held by a right-wing extremist who has espoused white supremacist and Islamophobic views provide the latest evidence that Florida’s Republican gubernatorial nominee, Rep. Ron DeSantis, has supported racist groups and associated with their viewpoints in the recent past.

Ron DeSantis, Official Portrait, 113th Congress.jpg

Image: Wikipedia

The congressman, who announced Monday he was resigning from his seat to campaign full time against Democrat Andrew Gillum—the Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)-backed, African American mayor of Tallahassee—spoke four times in the last five years at the annual conferences of the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

The group’s namesake and leader is the author of a book entitled “Black Skin Privilege and the American Dream,” which promotes the notion that white Americans are the victims of a race war. He also wrote on Twitter just last month that “Black Africans enslaved black Africans” while “America freed them sacrificing 350,000 mainly white Union lives.”

More from Common Dreams

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The Republican Approach to Voter Fraud: Lie They use the fallacy of rampant cheating at the polls to make it harder for people to vote.

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He was a proud Korean War veteran. He was also black and lived in Texas. That meant that by 2013, Floyd Carrier, 86, was a prime target for the state’s voter suppression campaign, even though he was “Army strong.”
In an election that year, when he handed his Department of Veterans Affairs card to the registrar, he was turned away. No matter that he had used that ID for more than 50 years without a problem. Texas had recently passed a burdensome and unnecessary law that required voters to show a state-approved ID with a photo. His card didn’t have one.
The North Koreans couldn’t break Mr. Carrier, but voter suppression did. “I wasn’t a citizen no more,” he told a reporter last year. “I wasn’t.”
Voters across the country are now realizing that they, too, have crossed into the twilight zone: citizens of America without full citizenship rights. The right to vote is central to American democracy. “It’s preservative of all rights,” as the Supreme Court said in its 1886 ruling in Yick Wo v. Hopkins. But chipping away at access to that right has been a central electoral strategy for Republicans.

Anthony Settles, a Texas retiree, had been repeatedly blocked from the ballot box because his mother changed his last name when he was a teenager, and that 50-year-old paperwork was lost in what he described as a “bureaucratic nightmare.” After spending months looking for the wayward document, and then trying to get certified by the name he has used for more than half a century, he knew, beyond all doubt, that he had been targeted.

“The intent of this law is to suppress the vote,” Mr. Settles told a Washington Post reporter in 2016. “I feel like I’m not wanted in this state.”

That was the point. Demoralize people. Strip away their voting rights. Debase their citizenship. Dilute the diversity of voters until the electorate becomes homogeneous. Lie and say it’s because of voter fraud. But most important, do all of this in the name of saving democracy.

Rampant voter fraud does not exist. There is no epidemic of illegal voting. But the lie is so mesmerizing, it takes off like a wildfire, so that the irrational fear that someone might vote who shouldn’t means that hundreds of thousands who should can’t cast ballots, in part because of the increase in voter ID laws across the country in recent years.

The best way to understand the lie is to understand how it began: on Election Day in 2000. What happened then affects who will show up to vote in less than two months, and how confident they’ll feel when they get to the polls.

Florida’s electoral malfeasance in the 2000 vote is infamous. But that election in St. Louis was also a disaster, and it taught the Republicans an important lesson: Block people of color from polling places by any means necessary. And it showed them, point by point, how to create a voter suppression road map that is paying dividends today.

The St. Louis Board of Elections had purged some 50,000 names from the voter rolls, primarily in key Democratic precincts. And it had failed to notify the people who had just been stripped of their vote, as the law required.

So when those voters showed up to cast their ballots, they were told they were no longer registered. Besieged precinct workers couldn’t get through on the jammed phone lines to check much of anything. Some opted to send frustrated would-be voters downtown to the Board of Elections office to resolve the issue there.

This combination of poor record keeping and ill-prepared officials meant that hours and hours dissolved as the clock on Election Day wound down. When the polls were about to close, the lobby was still packed with people waiting to cast their ballots.

Democrats filed for an injunction to keep precincts open to accommodate voters who had been caught in the Board of Elections runaround. A circuit court judge agreed and ordered the polls to stay open for a few more hours.

Republicans were not having it. Senator Christopher Bond said the voting extension “represents the biggest fraud on the voters in this state and nation that we have ever seen.” Others made the case that this was just a Democratic maneuver that would result in hundreds of fraudulent votes.

Republicans filed an appeal to close the polls. A state appeals court obliged. Shortly after the circuit court’s decision, the doors slammed shut on hundreds of people waiting in lines to vote.

Then things got worse.

Missouri Republicans twisted this clear case of election board wrongdoing into a torrent of accusations against the Democrats and the overwhelmingly black residents of St. Louis. Missouri’s Republican secretary of state, Matt Blunt, called the effort to keep the polls open an attempt “to create bedlam so that election fraud could be perpetrated.” Senator Bond went further: It was a “brazen” and “shocking” effort to commit voter fraud.

It was, of course, nothing of the sort. Instead, it was an illegitimate purge of approximately 49,589 eligible voters by the Board of Elections. It was also sloppy record-keeping and bureaucratic malfeasance. But, for the Republicans, that was not the point. Rather, it was about fine-tuning a voter suppression master plan. They learned three key lessons from the bungled election.

The first lesson was that demographics were not destiny. The voting-age population was becoming less white and more African-American, Latino and Asian. In 1992, nonwhite voters made up 13 percent of the American electorate. By 2012 that figure had risen to 28 percent. That growing share of the electorate favored the Democrats. A poll by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in the late 1980s found that only one in two black Republicans thought his party cared about problems facing the black community. In the 2000 presidential election, nine in 10 black voters, 62 percent of Hispanic voters and just over half of all Asian voters backed Al Gore.

Fullstory by Carol Anderson/NYT

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Robert Reich: Trump Keeps Telling These 4 Lies About Economy

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Donald Trump is putting out four big whoppers about today’s economy. Here’s what he’s saying, and here’s the truth:
1. “Best job growth ever.” Wrong. Job growth has actually slowed. In the last 19 months of the Obama administration the economy created 3.96 million jobs. In the first 19 months of Trump’s, 3.58 million.
2. “Lowest unemployment rate ever.” Rubbish. The unemployment rate is now down to 3.9 percent. That’s good. But it doesn’t measure how many people are still too discouraged to look for work or are working part time who’d rather be working full time. The labor participation rate (percent of prime working age work who actually have jobs) has been stuck at 88.9 percent for over a year.
And the current 3.9 percent rate is hardly better than ever in history. It was 3.4 percent in 1968 under Johnson, and below 3.9 percent for much of 1951, 1952, and 1953, under Eisenhower.

The practical question is always how low the Fed will allow unemployment to fall before raising rates, for fear of inflation. In 1996, unemployment fell to 4.4 percent, but Fed Chair Alan Greenspan then raised rates. This time around, Fed Chair Janet Yellen and her successor Jerome Powell have been quite accommodating, but Powell is starting to raise rates again.
3. “Fastest economic growth in history.” Wrong again. The economy is now growing at annualized rate of 4.2 percent (that’s for the 2nd quarter). That’s not as good as the 5.1 percent and 4.9 percent achieved in 2 quarters in 2014, or the 4.7 percent in one quarter in 2011. During the Clinton years of 1997-1999, it grew by over 4.5 percent annually. Under Reagan, the recovery averaged 4.4 percent a year. Under Eisenhower, even faster.
4. “Best wages, ever.” Not even close. Today’s hourly wage has less purchasing power than it did over four decades years ago. Adjusted for inflation, the average hourly wage in January 1973 would be $23.68 today. Yet today’s actual average hourly wage is $22.73. And, of course, the lion’s share is going to the top.
Trump is having only one positive impact on the economy: His continuous P.T. Barnum lies about how good it is have improved consumer confidence. Which I suppose is good – until, like the character in the road-runner cartoons, consumers look down and realize there’s nothing under them.

By Robert Reich/truthdig

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Here’s How the Consitution Actually Defines ‘Treason’ President Trump tweeted “TREASON?” in an apparent reference to an op-ed’s author.

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In the furor over the anonymous New York Times op-ed by a Trump administration “senior official,” the word “treason” has been used by a variety of people.

President Trump tweeted “TREASON?” in an apparent reference to the op-ed’s author. Trump’s supporters have likewise used the word in attacks on the author – and the newspaper for printing it.

Trump’s opponents have likewise bandied the word about by saying that the op-ed was not “treasonous.” Instead, they say that Trump himself is guilty of “treason” by trying to obstruct the investigation into the claimed Russian interference in the 2016 election. Earlier this year, Trump opponents also claimed he committed treason at his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

As a constitutional scholar, I’d like to remind people there is a precise definition of “treason” set forth in the Constitution. None of the recent charges of treason remotely fit that definition. The claims that one side or the other have committed treason are ignorant of the law.

Nothing Worse

Treason is the only crime specifically defined in the Constitution. It is a heinous crime, the worst crime that can be committed by an American citizen. It is a betrayal of the nation and of values embodied in the American constitutional system.

It can be punished by death.

When the framers defined “treason” in Article III, Section 3, they were determined to avoid the use of “treason” as it had been used in English law to punish opponents of the king.

In English law, “treason” meant acts of disloyalty to the king. A person convicted of “treason” was not only executed, but all of his property was “attained” – or confiscated by the government.

This was not the way the crime of treason would operate in the United States, which was founded by those who had rebelled against the British king. The framers of the constitution made sure of that.

Here’s how the framers defined treason:

“Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

So, the crime of treason can only be committed by an American citizen during time of war with a foreign enemy.

The last convictions for treason took place in the wake of World War II. They included the conviction of an American citizen known as “Axis Sally” for broadcasting demoralizing propaganda to Allied forces in Europe from a radio station in Germany during World War II.

The constitutional provision also imposes stringent requirements for a conviction of treason:

“No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.”

By requiring this type of direct evidence, the framers minimized the danger of an innocent person being convicted, and prevented the possibility of a charge of treason being brought by a single person.

Third, there can be no punishment of anyone other than the person convicted of treason:

“The Congress shall have the Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.”

Ignoring the U.S. Constitution

Let’s review. In the American constitutional system, the crime of treason is specifically defined in the Constitution to be limited to acts aiding the enemy in time of war. It can only be proven by the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act. And the punishment cannot extend beyond the person convicted of treason.

For anyone from the president on down to accuse any person of “treason” for any other action – no matter how egregious and no matter how harmful to the interests of the United States that action may be – is just plain wrong.

Worse yet, it flagrantly ignores what the framers were trying to accomplish with their narrow and precise definition of treason and the safeguards surrounding any conviction for that crime.

The Constitution means what it says. Nothing else can be treason.The Conversation

By Robert A. Sedler/AlterNet

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Elections and the Illusion of Political Control

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As if on special at Metaphors-R-Us, and just in time for the primary elections, CNN published an article on fake buttons that are provided to give people the illusion of control. It seems psychologists determined that fake buttons at crosswalks, in elevators and in other public and quasi-public places convey a sense of control without the power of control. In the space between upcoming elections and the creeping realization that connected capitalists still control the country, the question is of what reform candidates can really accomplish?

Staying with the metaphor for a minute, of relevance is that these buttons are engineered illusions— they are intended to deceive. The modes of existing they are designed to facilitate— office dwelling, high-rise living and urban traffic, preceded the psychologists’ additions. The fake controls are a response to adverse reactions to these modes of living. The question left unasked is: why are people having adverse reactions to the absence of control? The follow-on question is: what are the human consequences of the distance between the illusion and real control?

The progressives running in upcoming elections seem to be decent enough people. And reflexive cynicism— say about the plausibility of reform politics, only passes for knowledge in some particularly deplorable circle of hell. With apologies, welcome to hell. National Democrat Nancy Pelosi is promising to preclude all of the irresponsible social spending on progressive programs with ‘pay-go,’ the national Democrats’ austerity-in-a-can. And the New York Times is endorsing Andrew Cuomo over Cynthia Nixon because (corrupt machine politician) Cuomo can better ‘stop Trump.’

Graph: Given the relationship of economic distribution to political power, it is a good proxy for the distribution of political power. Since the 1980s a rising proportion of national product has been shifted from working class workers to the very rich. This is the result of specific policies designed to accomplish this outcome, not nature. When national Democrats proclaim themselves to be capitalists, this is the economic distribution they support. Source: LA Times / World Inequality Database.

‘New’ Democrat Cuomo, who has governed as a Republican, would seem an odd choice to stop Trump if that were the goal. With Wall Street downstate from the governor’s mansion and Manhattan real estate serving as a money-laundering mechanism for the global looting class, Mr. Cuomo is Donald Trump’s ex-bootlick / errand person running New York’s patronage system. It is this intersection of real estate and global money laundering that made Donald Trump the titan of inheritance capitalism he is. Alas, promoting otherwise unelectable Democrats has long seemed the subtext of the ‘stop Trump’ campaign.

Economic austerity, the mantra and clarified butter of the national Democrats, is the claim that the only legitimate expenditures by the Federal government are for unnecessary wars, Wall Street bailouts and prisons. Other expenditures— for housing, education, health care, food and retirement, are burdens on our children and grandchildren. If this reads like the program of the radical right, you might be on to something. And if you don’t understand the implications for bottom-up political reform, please read on.

The institutional backdrop is that the Federal government (‘public’) and banks (‘private’) create money. State and local governments can borrow, but they are otherwise constrained by the revenues they collect. Why then would Ms. Pelosi suggest that Federal spending is constrained by revenues (via the Federal budget) when it isn’t? More broadly, why has this been Democratic Party dogma since Bill Clinton assumed office? Don’t they want for their constituents to be fed, housed, educated, healthy and retired in security? Phrased more plainly, why do they hate their constituents?

Graph: When Bill Clinton entered office as president in 1993 he immediately reneged on his campaign promise to increase social spending citing the budget deficit as the reason. Shortly thereafter (non-financial) private debt (as a percent of GDP) began to rise rapidly as government spending was replaced with bank loans. This increased profits for Wall Street until excessive private debt killed the economy in 2007.  National Democrats favor economic austerity because it increases profits for Wall Street. Source: Worldbank.

Money creation is politically important because it is a control device for social spending. How far is democratic socialism likely to get if the Federal purse strings are controlled by committed capitalists in the Federal government? Is it incidental that Ms. Pelosi is restating the national Democrats’ commitment to fiscal probity while single-payer healthcare, federally funded college education and a Federal job guarantee are being put forward as components of the progressives’ program? Lest this remain unclear, the national Democrats are telling progressives to take a hike.

Missing from progressive consciousness appears to be a plausible explanation for the national Democrats’ fiscal obsession. In olden times banks earned profits by making loans. Government spending funds public investment that could otherwise be financed through bank loans. Additionally, inflation— the alleged result of ‘excess’ public investment and / or household income, reduces the purchasing power of bank loans when they are repaid. Wall Street hates public investment almost as much as it hates inflation. National Democrats are the Party of Wall Street. Ergo, national Democrats hate public investment almost as much as they hate inflation.

Is it incidental then that the first modern President of Wall Street, Bill Clinton, introduced economic austerity to the national Democrats’ canon? It was ex-Goldman Sachs Co-Chair Robert Rubin who, as Mr. Clinton’s Treasury Secretary, explained the ‘tyranny of the bond market’ to Mr. Clinton. At the time economist John Kenneth Galbraith explained that the New Democrats’ patrons-to-be thrived on human misery. To close the circle. Wall Street thrives on human misery, national Democrats are the Party of Wall Street, ergo national Democrats thrive on human misery.

A weltanschauung was demonstrated when Barack Obama bailed out Wall Street and quickly followed up with calls for economic austerity. His quest to ‘get the banks lending again’ in the face of excessive private debt was to favor bank loans over public expenditures. The ‘lesson’ of the Great Depression was that the public expenditures of the New Deal revivified American capitalism. But why piss-off Wall Street patrons and counter IMF prognostications for ‘lesser’ countries when Wall Street can make debt-slaves of the entire populace? There is an economic logic to manufacturing human misery.

The predictable result, that a few already rich people were made richer to the outer bounds of human avarice while everyone else was stuck in a public-private partnership of engineered downward mobility, is the program that Ms. Pelosi and the national Democrats intend to move forward. The apparent calculation is that Donald Trump is so widely loathed that they can run on an austerity program and counter the reformers and democratic socialists through control of the public purse. Republicans certainly aren’t going to come to their aid by advocating public spending on social programs.

As has been commented on quite effectively elsewhere, the irony of the Democratic establishment’s support for largely white, largely male establishment candidates— see Andrew Cuomo above, against their identity-politics dream-team challengers— Ms. Nixon is female and lesbian, exposes the tactic as a fraud. The prevalent explanation— that the political stakes are too high, begs the question of why they are so high? This isn’t to claim they aren’t, but rather to ask why austerity economics is still central to the Democrats’ program given the electoral losses that have followed its implementation?

With not much implied beyond what is written, a difference between Occupy Wall Street and the #Resistance is the choice of targets. As the center of American finance capitalism, Wall Street controls American political economy. Bringing Wall Street to heel would solve a lot of social iniquities. The #Resistance poses one person, Donald Trump, as ‘the problem’ implying that getting him out of office would solve everything that needs to be solved. In fact, Wall Street and the American ruling class would still control most of what matters.

The question regarding elections is: do they change the distribution of power? Again, the Federal government and banks can create financing giving them fundamentally different levers of social control than state and local governments possess. This is a problem for bottom-up electoral strategies— the purse strings are controlled by people and groups with contrary interests and the economic power to get their way. Running on platforms that suggest otherwise is a recipe for one-term ‘insurgencies.’

It is ironic, and perhaps wholly coincidental, that insurgent groups as diverse as Occupy Wall Street and the Black Panthers were shut down when they began demonstrating that they could build (small scale, ultimately utopian) alternative institutions. Elections are intended to change the cast of characters without challenging existing institutions. This is what Nancy Pelosi is making clear through her re-statement of the Democrat’s commitment to economic austerity. And it would seem to imply that the greatest impediment to progressive programs comes from establishment Democrats.

Without changing the distribution of power, elections are the fake buttons of politics— they provide the illusion of political control without its fact. This is a central reason why I have resisted the #Resistance assertion that Donald Trump is ‘the problem’— underlying political economy is little changed between administrations. Current problems were set in motion with the ascendance of finance capitalism beginning in the 1970s. I plan to vote for the ‘insurgents’ and hope they are successful with their stated programs. Otherwise, building alternative institutions seems the more promising path.

By Rob Urie/CounterPunch

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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