Thursday, September 27, 2012

If It Ain’t Broke, I Can’t Fix It


Recently, I was tweeted that I was really the racist for suggesting in my tweets that racism is a problem in American politics.  Considering the source of the tweets, I forwent a reply.  To paraphrase Robert Kiyosaki, ‘Arguing with an idiot, makes two idiots’.  However, these tweets rekindled my desire to understand how a society so couched in racism, fails to realize it. 
Following the great black migration to the north in the 1950s, it used to be said by some blacks, having encountered the cloaked racism in the north, that at least in the south white people were “up front” with their racism.  Some thought, that lacking the KKK, voter intimidations, Jim Crow laws, beatings and lynching of black men, this was a benign racism compared to the racism they had experienced in the south.   They could achieved some measure of security for themselves and their families in moving north, but they soon became aware that the racism would impact their longer term struggle for economic dignity, and if they strayed out of their designated parts of the city, their very lives.
As compared to the overt racism of the South in the 50’s, the relative safety of the North’s more covert racism was a welcomed change.  What the new arrivals soon discovered that racism in the north was so covert, most northern whites didn’t think it even existed, making it even more difficult to fight.  In the South you knew who your enemy was, and they reminded you daily that you were definitely theirs’.  In the North, while that determination was no less easy for blacks, their white counterparts were clueless as to how they could possibly be considered racist, even if blacks had to stay out of their neighborhoods for fear of their very lives.
Over 50 years later, I think back to November 2008.  While I never uttered the phase “post-racial America”, I’m afraid I might have been na├»ve to think that America had turned a corner on race.  What I learned since is it wasn’t a corner we turned; it was a “U-turn” instead. They are still clueless.  You can’t fix something that you don’t even think is broke.

The election of the first black President of the United States should have announced to the world that America was moving beyond race.  It should have been a source of great pride, that a descendant of slaves could, a century and a half later, be President.  What America has said instead to the world and America, how dare a black man presume to even think he should, or even could hold the highest office in America. 
 

Electorates, Base to Base


It is long past the time for the Democratic Party to embrace its true electoral base, that portion of the 99%, not so encumbered by racism that they are incapable of voting their own interest.  I suspect that the Democratic Party will find that there are a lot of us out there.  While what constitutes the majority of the progressive movement is to the left of our previous (and present) "centrist" presidents, the extreme left is essentially held at bay.  However, the Republican Party has been high jacked by, and has embraced, its extreme right and true electoral base, perhaps irrevocably.

Their fears of a "socialist" or far left leaning Democratic president has never been warranted, and certainly was not realized in the election of President Obama.  In my opinion, President Obama is slightly right of President Clinton.

This is a nation that hasn't seen a real progressive presidential administration since FDR.  At best, what America has seen, over the last few generations, were a series of "centrist" presidents from both parties, ironically with the exception of Presidents Johnson and Reagan.  We even had a Republican president who warned us of the emergence of the "Military-Industrial Complex".

It was President Johnson's aggressive support of Civil Rights legislation and his "War on Poverty", both inextricably bound by race, that set the stage for the election of President Reagan, with his war on "welfare".  What followed, were the conservative presidential appointments to the Supreme Court (which led directly the Supreme Court’s appointment of George W. Bush as President of the United States in 2000).  The right’s assaults on social safety nets only became worse, and for a Democrat to be elected president, the furthest "left" he (or she) could be was "center-right".  And for the most part they were.

Even still, the rightwing threw everything they could at President Clinton.  While they failed on one level, and Clinton was re-elected, they succeeded on another.  They set the stage for George W. Bush, and the ascension of far right conservative ideals.  Mobilized and financed by rightwing billionaires, coached by the likes of Karl Rove and Grover Norquist, these far right ideals so impacts the poor and middle class, they have to lie about their true agenda, and lie about the progressive agenda.
Bush further seeded the Supreme Court with even more right wing biased appointments.  Thus, came the Supreme Court’s “Citizen’s United’ decision, giving corporations personhood and, as such, the freedom of speech.   In this decision, the Supreme Court said they leveled the playing ground between unions and corporations.  Corporations, with billions of dollars in resources, could now compete with the unions with its hundreds of thousands of dollars in resources.  This, along with the voter suppression tactics implemented in many states, is designed to solidify conservative ideology in American governance. 
While the far rightwing ideals gained purchase, partly because they were camouflaged (albeit thinly), by far, what the far right's battle with Clinton lacked was an important element that would propel them into national prominence and influence, RACE.

Mainstream Media and the False Equivalency Thing


Mainstream Media; there is no equivalency, in neither tactics nor extremes, of the progressive movement to those of today’s right wing conservative movement.  That the mainstream media continues to contend that an equivalency exists should be shameful to an industry that professes to pursue truth.  “Fair and Balanced Treatment of the News” can’t be the goal, if truth is the casualty.
That America has to look to a HBO show, “The Newsroom”, to be exposed to truth inspired news coverage, should be a source of great shame in the TV news industry.  If it wasn’t for MSNBC, news agency pursuit of facts would be a wash, and just the purview of fiction. 
It seems to me that the only real last bastion of the pursuit of truth is the “print media”, with its declining, or perhaps evolving, influence.  While “print media” is in no way absent of ideological bias, it seems to be populated by more journalists actually interested in getting the real story, rather than just getting a story conforming to their own ideology.  Venerable organs of conservative though, such as the New York Times and the Washington Times are often the source of journalism that produces stories that are often in stark contrast to newspaper’s editorial ideological leanings.  With the exception of MSNBC and PBS there are really no other comparable analogs in TV mainstream media. 
Then, there are those roundtable political discussions shows like “Meet the Press”, “Face the Nation”. These shows are, for the most part travesties, paying only minimal lip service to pursuit of truth or facts, when comments that are contrary to prevailing known or accepted facts, made by guest (of either ideological perspective) aren’t aggressively scrutinized by their host.  If lies and misinformation facts can be repeated often enough without rebuttal, they become indistinguishable from actual facts to those less inclined to fact check.  That can be a lot of us in our busy schedules.  We depend on, we need a mainstream media that is dedicated to ascertaining, and delivering, the facts.
True democracy can only flourish in an environment of transparency.  That environment can’t exist where its news media, under the banner of “fair and balance news”, issues commentary that an equivalency of tactics or extremes exist at both ends of the ideological spectrums, where none exist.  Transparency in government or proposed governance can only exist in a country where its news media, unencumbered by its owners, pursues the truth.  News, is otherwise just propaganda, however slight or benign its intent.

From The ACA To Obamacare: The Legacy of President Barak H. Obama

   
When I first began this post, I was thinking that President Obama's 2012 campaign's recent adoption of the, previously derisive, term "Obamacare", was a coup, and that the President was finally taking credit for, and ownership of, his signature piece of legislation.  I still believe this.  I also thought that "Obamacare", because of the actual inclusion of the President's name, would be a fitting legacy that would follow his presidency through the annals of history.
 
As legacies go, I thought, with President Obama's name on it, it would be like the legacies of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "New Deal" or President Lyndon B. Johnson's "War on Poverty" on steroids.  As history rolls on, these legacies become disassociated from presidential name that authored these great legislative triumphs, for large portions of Americans, save historians.
 
On further reflection, it became appearent that fully adopting "Obamacare" versus "The Affordable Care Act (ACA)" may be a double edged sword.  Yes, it would forever associate President Obama with this monumental legislative achievement, but it could also provide a big bullseye for future congressional legislators who feel more empowered to take aim at taking down "Obamacare" more so than trying to shoot down "The Affordable Care Act".  While a fitting lagacy for President Obama, it may render the "ACA" more vunerable to attack, at least in the short term.
 
If re-elected, I would suggest the President's administration make a very subtle shift from the use of the term "Obamacare" to just "The Affordable Care Act" "ACA".  "The Affordable Care Act" will still be one of President Obama's legacies, but subject to disassociation in the flow of time, as is the case of my next suggestion.
 
President Obama does need his own lagacy byline, like FDR's "New Deal" or LBJ's "War On Poverty".  While a "war on poverty" is certainly in order now, as it was for LBJ, however because of the nature of what's wrong in America is so broad, so should the concept moniker for the President Obama's game plan.  Actually, because President Roosevelt encountered similar issues, the "New Deal" was broader, and very apt, concept.  However, I wouldn't recommend "New Deal V 2.0".
 
What America needs is a Way Forward, a movement from Republican policies, and the ideology of conservatives at large, that benefit the few at the expense of the many.  We need a Way Forward that restores the belief that one's vote does, in fact, count.  We need a Way Forward to a progressive tax system, that once existed.  We need a Way Forward to a once thriving middle class.  The Way Forward is creating strict chipped in stone, and fully transparent, election campaign financing.
 
But The Way Forward to all the above can't happen, unless we restore the confidence of Americans in the legislative processes of its government.  The Way Forward should eliminate, or severely restrict the use of "filibustering". Until this one item alone is fully addressed, the continous gridlock that plagues our congressional legislative process, will continue to erode the confidence of Americans in their government.  The Way Forward is depoliticizing the electoral machinery. The entire electoral system should be completely independent of all political parties. This absolutely insane, and contributes greatly to voter apathy!
 
The Way Forward should include work to eliminate of "electoral districts gerrymandering", and the "electoral college".  These last two, are tools of divisiveness, not of unification, and cannot exist in a truly democratic society.  These are just easily accessed tools of ideological gamemanship, with the American people caught in the middle, and the true casualty.  It is painfully appearent to me that it is time for an up or down of a "simple majority" vote by the true legislative representatives of the people who's re-election will become more and more contingent on their actual service to the people.
 
This isn't the ramblings a naive progressive, or of a progressive, slipping slowly into the wishy-washyness of centrism, or independent voterism.  No, I'm about as progressive as they come.  I don't believe that there is any such thing as "compassionate" or "liberal" conservative, and I certainly don't believe that there is such thing as "progressive conservative", as one tweep describes himself.  That's a oxymoron if ever there was one.  What I feel is that we live in extraordinary political times, where for the first time in memory in which the the Republican Party, stripped of its obfuscatory facade, the two parties are extraordinaryly delineated. 
 
The fact is, for the above proposals to work, this party delineation is extremely important.  The revelation of the Republican's true agenda and benefactors, has availed the Democratic Party with easily acceptable values to rally behind.  But, to truly go down The Way Forward, ALL members of the Democratic Party must believe in, and subscribe to, well defined Democratic Party values.  Only, then can a true choice between the two parties exist. Then, maybe America and the Democratic Party can afford, and maybe benifit from, experimenting with a "let the chips fall where they may" concept.  The "tyranny of the (simple) majority" should never be able to abrogate constitutionally given rights.
 
Already a part of President Obama's 2012 re-election campaign, it's not a big leap to what America needs is, "The Way Forward".