Category Archives: Politics

Politics is the process by which representative governments are chosen. This category includes suggestions for Democratic Party campaigning and general thoughts about the political process.

What Democrats Believe

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The following is an excerpt from a longer essay. I hope it is self explanatory. I plan to link some other essays to it; it underlies much of my political thought and writing.

***

I’m going to take the liberty here to define Democratic values. I don’t speak for every Democrat, but this is a good faith effort.

Democrats believe that a good, functioning government can solve social and economic problems that cannot be solved by any other entity.

Democrats believe that, although scientists don’t know everything there is, science is the way to bet, and that betting against science is a sure fire recipe for disaster.

Democrats believe that the richest among us, the people who have benefited the very most from life in America, can help out the people who haven’t done as well, and can help fund some other public needs like a sensible, non-carbon-based nationwide transportation system.

Democrats believe that everybody has the right to a fair shake. We don’t care where you go to church, who you love, what color you are, or what your IQ is, we believe you have a right to be warm and well fed in America and should have a realistic chance to do such work as you are capable of, and make a decent living doing it. And be left alone to live in peace.

Democrats believe that if your church says you should not do something or marry somebody then you yourself should not do that. However, nobody else is obligated to what your church believes. At all. We actually don’t care. It’s not relevant to governing.

Democrats believe that when Americans get sick they have the right to go to a doctor and get the best treatment realistically available. We also understand that everybody dies sooner or later and we should help make that transformation as easy as we can for people.

We believe that, by ratifying and agreeing to our Constitution, Americans agreed join together for our common defense and to promote our general welfare. Because that’s what the Constitution says, after which it spells out some details. Republicans stopped reading after they saw the word defense.

We don’t think government is everything, but we believe that a good functioning government is necessary for a healthy and free society. We understand that everybody everywhere lives under some government. so we think we ought to make ours the very best that we can for our people.

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This Can’t Be Happening

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I am about to tell you something you already know. Pretend, when you read it, that you didn’t already know it and are just finding it out for the first time.

One of the two political “sides” or what used to be “parties” in the United States is telling almost 100% lies. They have chosen to not participate in reality as we know it.

Not Trump. The entire Republican Party, at least all I can see from here. Even the Never-Trumpers live so far off in a maze of untruth and outright fiction that one really cannot have a conversation with them. It is worse than not sharing a common language: Republicans refuse to acknowledge the existence of everyday reality. They have Alternative Facts. Their entire public position is One Hundred Percent Fiction, or close enough for the FDA.

***

Science is real. We’ve had that argument. We had it from about the 12th through 16th or 17th Centuries. That is a done deal. Denying science is one hundred percent a lie.

This is where I’m supposed to produce a convincing case for science, because of course the other side is worth rebutting.

No.

It’s bullshit. Even having the conversation is bullshit. A people cannot govern themselves when at least half of everything they are told is empirically false. It cannot be made to work. Presenting the opposing case is a waste of time and energy.

I’m pretty sure they all know they’re lying. They’re not that stupid. They just figure they’ll be dead before reality catches up with them. The young ones better not plan on getting very old. It’s here now.

***

Everybody knows tax cuts don’t balance the budget. There is no case in history where tax cuts can be shown to have improved an economy. The harder it is tried the worse it fails. Kansas tried it real hard, and it was an abject failure.

Republicans say, “We’re going to cut taxes to get this economy moving,” and everybody pretends there might be some truth to that. But everybody knows it’s a lie. They know it. Unfortunately not all the suckers on the sofas know it’s a lie. The reporters and talking heads know it. It’s just another lie. Alternative Facts were here a long time before Kellyanne Conway.

They are stealing your money. T-Bills provide an unending, streaming, upward redistribution of wealth.

Don’t say, “Trump.” Don’t say, “Fox.” I’ll bet you that for a thousand times various Mitch McConnells and Paul Ryans and Some Talking Heads say “tax cuts… get the economy going,” never once does the moderator say, “No it won’t. Everybody knows that. Kansas. We’re tired of your lies.”

I understand that politicians make rosy scenarios. I understand that politicians, try though they might, can’t make all their promises come true. Welcome to real life. What we are going through today is fundamentally different. One party is basing their entire position on a broad fabric of empirical lies. Denying arithmetic and the public record is not the moral equivalent of figuring out you have to raise taxes. No.

***

They lie about science. They lie about the economy. They lie about the debt. Every Republican in Congress knows Absolutely For Sure that no President ever spent one dime of that borrowed money. Congress spent it. Republican Congresses borrowed and spent it. We were in tolerable, although not great, shape regarding debts and deficits when Republicans took over Congress in 1995. Now our debt looks like Greece.  (OK not quite.) This really matters. Any sensible person would be at least concerned.

The Republicans borrowed it. All of it.

On purpose.

They cut taxes so they didn’t have enough income to run the government. They borrowed the difference.

This is the simplest arithmetic, written in the Congressional Record for all to see.

A people cannot govern themselves when one of the contestants for leadership bases every single concept of their program on out-and-out lies. It cannot be done.

***

Republicans run for government, get elected to govern, and still say government is terrible. The government can’t do anything. Government is an imposition on an otherwise blissfully unencumbered citizenry. Government is supposed to be Small. The Constitution Says So.

The government of the United States is huge, vast almost beyond comprehension. It could easily be the largest organization in the history of humankind. China might. One of the two is, almost for sure. Here is just a partial summary. At no time in their public presentations do Republicans acknowledge what government does, they just pick some one tiny thing and rave about how terrible it is that we don’t have Limited Government.

The proper scope and powers of government cannot be discussed with Republicans because they will not acknowledge the existence of the very entity they are both operating and denigrating. There is no agreed on factual basis from which to have a debate.

A people cannot rationally govern themselves when the choice they are offered is between reality and outright fiction.

Some Republicans – not all, but not just fringe loonies either, some people who are considered to be “reasonable” – have publicly said that it is acceptable and Constitutional for citizens to take up arms against their government. American citizens have been told this by sitting Senators and by widely heard and seen media figures. This is utter madness. The very concept is madness. There has never been a government in world history which has had a written policy that citizens could take up arms against it, and ours is not the first one, either.

Why do we have to waste so much time on bullshit, lies, fabrications, falsehoods, malarkey – these people are governing the United States of America. There is never a day when any one of them presents a predominantly factual position on anything to the citizens. What world is this?

I don’t know what to do. Anybody got any ideas?


I take a related look at this subject in the short essay here.

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The Republican Platform Debunked

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Republicans can tell you what they stand for. Ask Rick Wilson. Ana Navarro. Ask any of the Never Trumpers. I’m not talking about the obvious lunatics, I’m talking about the former, allegedly grown up, Republican Party.

Republicans, they will tell you, stand for Limited Government, Fiscal Responsibility, and Social Conservatism. And everybody nods their heads.

This entire claim is empirically, provably false. Republicans do not stand for any one of those things. Republicans have a public record.

Limited Government: The U.S. Government is a vast enterprise (details here) possibly the largest on earth. The Republican Party only specifically wants to “limit” those portions of the government which provide direct benefit to over 90% of Americans at modest cost to the other 10%. National Parks. Public Use Areas of all kinds. Safe food. Food. Shelter. Medical care. Your retirement (which you paid for). A habitable planet. That’s it. Otherwise Republicans like big government. It’s on record. The Congressional Record.

Fiscal Conservatism: The Republican Party has controlled the Congress for 18 of the past 22 years. Congress has the sole power to tax, borrow, and spend the people’s money*. During that time Republicans have established tax, spending, and borrowing policies which have created an aggregate debt which the human mind can barely comprehend. This is empirically not fiscally responsible or conservative.

*How many times have you heard that a President's budget was "dead on arrival" at Congress? Of course they control the money,and they know it.

Social Conservatism: If by Conservative you mean a society which lives according to its traditions, the increasing power of the Christian church in government is about as far as you could get from 20th Century America’s traditions. Or 19th Century. Or 18th Century. Or any other time except right around the Salem Witch Trials. Church rulings drove Blue Laws, but the legislated Christianity in America today is like never before. Possibly worse, the United States of America has paramilitary gangs in full combat garb at high security carry swaggering around our cities intimidating citizens on the streets. This is farther from traditional American society than I ever dreamed we might come. This is radical and extreme. And dangerous.

The Republican Trademark Platform is a lie.

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Negative Campaigning: The Death of Democracy

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“Negative campaigning works!” You hear it or read it if you are interested in the mechanics of politics and the people who operate it. “That’s why we do it.”

Essentially there are two ways to win an election. One, get people to vote for you. Two, get people to not vote for your opponent.

Unfortunately one of our political parties has spent the last 40 years teaching Americans to hate their government. If everybody hates the thing you’re running for it’s much harder to tell someone a positive reason to vote for you. Except, “She’s terrible. You can’t vote for her!

Think of your own life. Now imagine someone takes at least a million dollars, and often more, and hires investigators to go back over every day of your personal life, looking for anything which might be dirt, or which might even be made to sound like dirt. Your life.

Say they went back to middle school or junior high. Because they would. “Hillary was a Goldwater Girl when she was 15. She’s a flip flopper.” Yes. That really happened on national TV and all over social media. Now we’re doing it with your life.

You can hire a lot of person-on-the-street hours with a million dollars, or five, or ten. Those people look for everybody you ever met who didn’t like you. They look for everybody who called you a slut or a fag in high school, and if they’re still mad at you they get them on video.

Did you get too drunk to walk and then drive home? Good. Plan to see that on TV in every major market. 37 times a week.

Were you a butt patter? (I was. It was the 1960’s and we hadn’t heard your side yet.) Plan to see every pitiful aged remnant of the flaming foxes you knew in the parties of your youth, on TV, telling America that you sexually assaulted them on 16 separate occasions.

Did you shoplift a pair of sunglasses when you were in junior high?Headlines. Today. Nationwide.

It’s even worse if you have dared to try to help run your society, from school board through US Senator. Every  word you said in official business or campaigning for office, plus half of everything else you said during that time, is on official record and digital video. Ever say anything you wished afterward you hadn’t? Plan to hear that, every day, for the rest of your political life, any time you run for office or do anything that annoys somebody with money.

The odds are, if somebody spent, say, 7 million dollars digging up dirt on you, and 240 million dollars buying ads spreading that dirt nationwide on prime time TV and drive time radio, if you’re just a regular, mostly good person, they could make you look so bad your mother wouldn’t vote for you.

To make it better, your own party would do it too. We got rid of the bad old days where party pro’s got together and said, “Lucille looks good for the House, and Bob for the Senate, and…” picked candidates and people just went along with it. Now some old man and some old woman want to be president, and the next thing you know people supporting each of them are buying up dirt and putting it on TV. And Facebook. And Twitter.

The separate entities, the Democrats and the Republicans, the Sam campaign and the Mary campaign, don’t each have to hire their own flocks of investigators to do this. They used to, but it became so lucrative that investigators started searching out dirt on spec. Forming big multi-million dollar companies to dig dirt. Now when some campaign needs to butcher Mary’s reputation all they have to do is call one or more Opposition Research Professionals. Pretty soon if you wet your pants in second grade it will be on national TV.

None of the dollar figures I am using here are exaggerations. People really would spend that kind of money to savage your reputation and your public image if you ran for President. Maybe for Governor or Senator, depending on the state. Possibly even Representative if you’ve stumbled into a Media Frenzy Race.

Because the ads aren’t the big deal. What they really want is Free Media. If a campaign can run a really sneaky, nasty negative ad on you, they have a chance of getting all the Sunday morning TV shows to talk about it. “Did Mary really run over her neighbor’s dog over poop in her flowers? Video after these messages…”

And nobody will ever know whether you did in fact run over your neighbor’s dog out of spite or not. Fact will not be established. Even if you never drove a car, the TV station will have somebody on each side of the story. One will swear it didn’t happen. The other will swear it did. Next story.

Leaving aside for a moment the question of why anyone would run for any office anytime anywhere ever, why would anyone vote?

By the time the election rolls around everybody in the country is certain that at least one of the candidates is all the terrible things that have been reported plus more. In fact, the plus more, made up dirt industry is booming too.

Unfortunately, about half of the voters are convinced that both candidates are every bad thing that’s ever been said about them, and figure, why vote? It’s not the lesser of two evils, it’s the flip-a-coin no difference choice between two total slimeballs you wouldn’t trust in your house.

To add insult to injury, besides doing it to individual candidates they do it to political parties. Many of the people I talk to appear to be utterly convinced that both political parties are entirely corrupt and evil. Katherine Pickering Antonova, in The GOP is No Longer a Conservative Party (Huffington Post, July 25, 2017) gives the clearest definition of a political party I have ever seen: “Political parties are fundraising organizations attached to a policy platform.” A political party coalesces around a theory of government and raises money in order to get people elected and try to govern according to that theory.

If you’ve ever done, made, or attempted anything you are probably aware that theories never translate 100% into practice. So it is easy to slaughter the reputation of any political party. Almost no matter what they said they would do, it didn’t come out quite like that. So they didn’t do what they said they’d do. Liar, liar, pants on fire. And more Americans register as Independent than as either Democratic or Republican, even though Independent is technically defined as “no fundraising organization attached to no policy platform / theory of government.”

So over a third of voters hate both political parties and some unknown quantity appearing to be up around half of voters hate both candidates. Half the people don’t bother to vote. Can’t bear to vote.

The press and TV spends all the time between elections telling the American people that of all the candidates are being pushed into office for nefarious reasons by bunches of anonymous crooks called political parties, and none of them are fit to vote for anyway. Then the day after the election this same press corps looks up and says, Gee, why didn’t anybody vote? Couldn’t they see this was an important election?

Um… fellas…

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Third Parties and Independents

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In states where voters choose a party affiliation when registering, the largest single affiliation is “Independent.” More people register and identify as Independent than as either Democrat or Republican.

The largest “party” cannot participate in Congress without “caucusing” (sitting, meeting, and voting) with one of the two “smaller” parties.

The largest party cannot run candidates in most elections or get on ballots in most states.

The largest party is, in governing terms, irrelevant. The largest party does not participate in self-government in the United States.

This is bizarre.

I have a feeling that most self-identified “independents” really are either Democrats or Republicans on election day. I think that most of them vote for the same party over and over but just don’t want to have the name hung on them,  but I don’t actually know that. If this is not the case, these people’s view of governance is so different from mine that it is not likely that I could comprehend an explanation should they offer one.

I don’t know the details of registration in other states. In my state we don’t state a party preference until primary election day; we ask for a Democratic or Republican ballot to vote in the primary. So maybe some of the Independents are people who would register Green, or Libertarian, or Constitution Party, but they don’t get that choice in their states. So third party affiliation might explain some of the imbalance too. I don’t know.

But whatever the reasoning is, registering Independent is a poor fit with the American system as it has evolved.

There are many Americans who express dissatisfaction with our two party system. If, as I believe, registering as an Independent is an expression of dissatisfaction with our two party system, then more than a third of registered voters are dissatisfied. Fewer than a third are registered Republican; fewer than a third are registered Democrat. That’s our two party system. Over a third are registered Independent. That is dissatisfaction.

It may not be obvious, but every actual real republic, every openly and honestly elected government, is a two party government every day but election day. There is a majority party, and there is a minority party. That’s it. One group of elected officials controls the government. The other group of elected officials tries to keep the group in control from going off the deep end.

That’s it. Two parties. Majority, and minority. I don’t care if there are two names, three names, or twenty named parties. Except on election day there is a governing majority and everybody else.

We hold elections to choose our government. How do you want to be governed? That is the question.

Most of the people I hear talking about third parties – parties in the United States other than the Republican Party or the Democratic Party -seem to have an image in their mind of a governing party. I don’t think anyone really desires to create a party that gets, year after year, 1/10 of 1% of the vote nationwide, and 2% of the vote in their stronghold states. Why bother? No, I think people have a vision of displacing the Democrats (at least of the ones I talk to most want to displace the Democrats) and replacing them with a different second party in a two party system.

Because remember: Majority Party. Minority Party. Show me a legislature on Earth that can’t be defined in those terms, or accept them. Majority parties enact laws. Period.

OK, so what is a political party? If one were to make a serious effort to replace the Democrats what would it take? Tweets? Facebook pages? Voting for Greens? Libertarians? So far none of those approaches have shown any sign of success. They are 1/10 of 1% parties. Their voters are not attempting to elect a government.

I operate on the following principle: to produce results requires action. Laws of thermodynamics: nothing moves until energy is applied to it. So say the desired result is to replace a nationwide political party which has ballot access in 3,142 counties or county equivalents in the United States and is written by name into the rules of the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate as well as many state governments. What actions will this take?

First, a political party requires organization. A national political party requires a national organization. Humans cannot even make a grade school co-educational soccer league without creating an organizational structure. It is how we work, we herd creatures. I am confident that when we were pre-human hunter gatherers, even before we evolved into Homo (allegedly) Sapiens, we had organizational structures. Wolves have organizational structures. Coyotes do. Chimpanzees do. So let’s just agree that in order for a group of like-minded people to be a nationwide political party requires a nationwide organizational structure. This new party needs to organize 3,142 county committees. These 3,142 local committees need to work towards a common goal, electing a government. In order to communicate and share efforts they will need a nationwide umbrella organizational structure to collect and pass messages if nothing else. The most logical place to put such a headquarters would be in Washington DC, because  Washington DC is where the national government is. Once again, the stated objective is to create a governing political party.

So far we have 3,142 county offices and one national office. That won’t work. One office can’t communicate with 3,142 offices. Information going up has to be consolidated; information going out has to be distributed.There will have to be one or more intermediate layers of organization. States. Districts.

This is why armies have generals, two layers of colonels, majors, captains, two layers of lieutenants, and and four layers of non-commissioned officers between the civilian command and the troops on the line. One general can’t command a few hundred thousand soldiers directly. And those few hundred thousand soldiers are just one tiny fragment of what the new political party will have to manage, should they become the majority party.

Remember, the United States government is probably the largest organization ever created by humans. If the objective is to create a party to operate this government, that party has to be widespread and organized.

In my lifetime this is not how attempts to create a third party or independent party in the United States have gone. Some small group of people, loosely organized in a few dots on the map, picks a candidate for President. They get their candidate on the ballot in some states. They campaign ferociously, negatively, against the opposition candidate who most nearly agrees with their policies.

This is not an attempt to elect a government. This is not even a serious attempt to elect a President. This is an attempt to pass a miracle.

 

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Hating America the Republican Way

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This essay shares the first 8 paragraphs verbatim with my essay Hating America - The Social Cost.

Fewer than 1 in 5 Americans trusts their government or thinks it is a force for good.

Our own government. Self government. America’s government. The first Republic in over a thousand years, a government made up of and elected by the people, our government carried us from obscurity to world leadership in just a few generations. Now 4 out of 5 Americans hate and fear it. Why?

Because America’s governing party taught them to. The Republican Party taught Americans to hate their government.

What is America? What makes America unique? Our government.

Americans elected Republican Dwight David Eisenhower with the understanding that our system of government had saved the world from Hitler and Hirohito, from Nazism and Empire. During his presidency, all but the first two years of which were spent with Democratic Congresses, almost 3 out of every 4 Americans trusted our government and believed it had their best interests at heart.

By Lyndon Johnson’s presidency it was almost 4 out of every 5. Americans knew that our government was what made us America and what made us great.  Americans were optimistic, pleased and proud. We were on our way to the Moon. We told our government to solve some problems and it did. Unfortunately Johnson also got us into an unpopular and unsuccessful war. I can’t say that there is cause and effect, but things did get uglier from there.

Twenty-eight short years later America elected Ronald Reagan based on the proposition that that same small-r republican American government that we had worked on and believed in since our founding, the government that we fought and won a civil war to save, government of the people, by the people, and for the people, was everything that was wrong with our lives. His party has pushed that message non stop ever since.

From here there are two different directions to continue this essay.


Political Considerations  The Social Cost

The Democratic Party has, since at least the days of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, been the party of active government working to make life better for the American people. The reason Ronald Reagan told the American people to hate the government was because Democrats used government to help people. By calling out a few flaws – and of course there were flaws, there are flaws in absolutely everything – and focusing on those flaws every day, and talking about them every day, and getting more and more Americans every day to look at them, he could undermine everything the Democratic Party stood for. Democrats wanted to govern, to use government to help Americans, so Reagan said, Hate the government. Hating the Democrats was the obvious corollary.

The Democratic Party stood for the proposition that government could make people’s lives better. Democrats had spent 47 years proving it, but the improvements had become so much a part of everyday life that Americans quit noticing them and forgot where they came from. Of course we had highways; of course we had safe meat; of course the countryside was wired for electricity. Of course we had air traffic controllers looking into radar screens. Of course old people could get medical care and spend their final years under professional care if they required it. Of course veterans got medical care and disability payments. Of course we had Social Security, wasn’t it written into the Declaration of Independence? (No.) America entirely forgot that Democrats had given them all this and more.

Since the collapse of our economy in 1929 under Republican governance, Americans entrusted Democratic Congresses to legislate continued progress. From 1933 until Ronald Reagan’s inauguration Americans elected Democratic Congresses in all but two election cycles, four years. Two of those years were Eisenhower’s first two years, but it wasn’t a Republican Congress that granted Ike’s wish of an Interstate highway system from coast to coast. from Canada to Mexico. Eisenhower proposed it but Democrats made it happen.

in the depth of the Great Depression Americans looked around themselves and said, we’re in a mess. This entire country is in a mess. The only thing big enough to address that is our federal government. Democrats offered to use the government to help the people and by huge majorities the people said Yes.

The people did not have jobs. The government hired them. Paid them a living wage.

To be old was to be poor and miserable. The government created Social Security.

A handful of city people had electricity but nobody else did. The government created and partially funded Rural Electric Coops. While they were at it they dammed up the Tennessee Valley and turned it into a giant electric generating plant. Democrats led us through the greatest war in human history, and afterward they passed laws to educate, house, and care for the veterans who had fought it for us. For the first time in American (and possibly world) history, veterans too badly damaged by war to go back to work had decent medical care and a decent livelihood.

We still have things those government employees built for us; we still use them today.

For many years old people were reasonably comfortable, although today’s Republican party is undermining that every way they can. An American has to get older and older or sicker and sicker to get less and less of a livelihood after a lifetime of contributing to Social Security.

Veterans still rely on the benefits Democrats gave them then, although Republican budgets continue to whittle away at the value provided. A World War II veteran could get a college degree, could pay tuition, buy books, and find bed and board with his GI education benefits. Today that benefit will barely buy books enough for a degree; there is no need to even discuss tuition and lodging. Student veterans walk away with mountains of debt just as surely as other students.

Tens of thousands of Americans were losing life, limbs, sight, and mobility through workplace accidents. The government said, Do better, and business did.

Lake Erie died. The Cuyahoga River caught fire. 13 times. At least. Americans said, Fix that. The Democratic government did.

Deer, turkeys, wolves, and the bald eagle almost vanished from the earth, Americans said, Fix that The government did.

Children living along busy roads and highways were stunted and unable to learn. They were breathing lead with every breath. Americans said, Fix that. Democrats in Congress did.

95 years after the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment, and in direct violation of its clear language, Americans were still being denied the right to vote “…on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Americans of all races said, Fix that, and the Democratic Congress and President Lyndon Johnson did.

This may have been the beginning of the end.

Americans said, Our old people are spending our inheritances on medical care. They are impoverishing themselves just over being old and feeble. Fix that. And the Democratic Congress created Medicare.

I could go on. Americans turned to their government, over and over, and said, All over our country people are suffering, Things we value are becoming extinct. Our air and our water are not fit to breathe or drink. Fix that. Fix what you can. The Constitution says you, our government, are supposed to provide for the general welfare, Do that. And the government did.

And then Ronald Reagan said, This is terrible. When common people have live fish in their lakes and rivers, rich people make less money. When common people keep all their hands, arms, and fingers through their entire working careers profits are lower. What’s worse, very rich people have to pay large dollar amounts in taxes to make all these things possible. Government is Bad!

Only he didn’t say it like that. He laughed his charming grandfatherly actor’s chuckle and talked about welfare queens in Cadillacs. He said, “The biggest lie on earth is ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.'” People laughed and voted for him.

At the exact same time that he was saying that, Hurricane Frederick was blowing a giant hole in Alabama and Mississippi, doing more dollar damage than any other hurricane in American history. Although the agency had only been created (by a Democratic Congress) 3 months earlier, FEMA was able to provide a quarter of a billion dollars in aid and reconstruction for the victims.

FEMA, created by Democrats, came from the government to help Mississippi and Alabama. Reagan made fun of it. The voters of Mississippi and Alabams chose… him. And a Republican Congress.

And they’ve been getting slowly steadily poorer ever since.

My advice to Democrats is simple: get Americans to quit hating their government. Because until you do that you have no chance of getting elected. Telling them what you want to use government to do for them is not going to help get you elected as long as they hate and fear their government.

I have some suggestion for working on this problem. Here is one. And another. Yet another.

Still more. They’re not too different, but if you’re interested here’s another. Here is a word or two about those flaws that Reagan killed us with.

And, since Republicans do currently have control over the government, and since they have made it something to hate and fear with their policies, another look at talking about it.

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One Honest Republican

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I would like to see one honest Republican. I would like to hear one honest Republican speak. The way I would know I was listening to an honest Republican would  be by hearing her or him acknowledge that they have been in charge of Congress almost non-stop for longer than Millennial voters have been alive. All but two Houses of Representatives, four years. All but four Senates, 8 years. Since 1995. 22 years.

One honest Republican would acknowledge that the government we have today is the government Republicans created.

One honest Republican would acknowledge that the debt and deficit we have is the debt and deficit created by Republican Congresses.

One honest Republican would acknowledge that Presidents do not have the power to raise taxes, borrow, or spend money. Republican Congresses have exclusively held that power for most of the past 22 years.

One honest Republican would acknowledge that their economic system has been tried and failed. One honest Republican would acknowledge that a Republican administration joined by a Republican legislature in Kansas gave their system unbridled free rein and drove the state almost into bankruptcy. One honest Republican would acknowledge that under their economic plan, Kansas could not repair their highways or keep their schools open for the full school year.

One honest Republican would acknowledge that there is no historic evidence anywhere on Earth that tax cuts create jobs. Further, she or he would acknowledge that it has been tried, over and over, and it never worked.

One honest Republican would admit that jobs are never created because someone has money to spare, but rather are always created because someone observes an opportunity to meet some unmet need and get paid for it.

One honest Republican would admit that their policies, as enacted by themselves in Congress, have created the biggest gap between the haves and the have-nots, between the very rich and all other Americans, in our history as a nation.

One honest Republican would acknowledge that they designed and enacted the policies that made the Great Recession, and that they designed and enacted the policies that made the following “recovery” so unrewarding for the vast majority of American workers.

One honest Republican would acknowledge that the fiction of corporate personhood was created strictly to enable corporations to enter into contracts, and that it was never intended that corporate “persons” could participate in our self government and electoral system along with flesh and blood persons.

One honest Republican would take a stand that corporate persons are not citizens, and that participation in our elections is not the privilege of persons, but strictly of citizens. Real, human, flesh-and-blood citizens.

One honest Republican would acknowledge that the Affordable Care Act (ACA – Obamacare) was a market-based solution designed entirely by Republicans and first enacted in Massachusetts at the behest of Republican Mitt Romney, and that from a policy standpoint their only objection to it was that it was enacted by Democrats under President Barack Obama.

One honest Republican would acknowledge that our Constitution expressly forbids the government from enacting laws based on any particular religion’s beliefs and practices. One honest Republican would acknowledge that the United States has no more place enforcing Mosaic (Old Testament) law than Sharia law.

One honest Republican would admit that there is no justification for outlawing abortions that is not drawn directly from some religion.

One honest Republican would agree that “the free expression of religion” as guaranteed in the Constitution in no way obligates anyone but the individual believer to act according to that believer’s beliefs.

One honest Republican would acknowledge that money is not speech. One honest Republican would agree that the Constitution was written with the assumption that the words used would be understood as meaning what the dictionary said they meant, what reasonable people meant when they used those words. Money means one thing. Speech means another. Everybody knows that. One honest Republican would admit it.

One honest Republican would admit that the phrases “big government” and “small government” are absurd on the face of it. the United States Government is a vast enterprise to which millions of Americans trust their lives every single day, and it’s not going to become anything else. A partial list of what our government does can be found here.

One honest Republican would admit that the only way to operate the government without increasing debt is to levy taxes sufficient to pay the costs.

One honest Republican would admit that their party has patiently, intentionally taught the American people to hate their government without offering any alternative.

One honest Republican would acknowledge that the creation, training, and control of the Militia as referenced in the Second Amendment is clearly spelled out in Article I Section 8 of the U. S. Constitution, that said militia is not a self-organizing armed mob, and that the founders of our nation in no way intended to arm the people so they, our founders, could be murdered in the course of operating our government. One honest Republican would admit that the Second Amendment was not intended to enable mobs of armed thugs to roam our streets and threaten other citizens.

If there were one honest Republican, I wonder what his or her Republican party would stand for. Certainly none of what they push today.

How I wish we had One. Honest. Republican.

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My America

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Do you have a picture of your ideal America? I do. I’m not talking about Utopia, perfection, or magic. If you were president and people who agreed with you ran the Congress, what would you shoot for? What would your ideal, potentially achievable, America look like? Here’s a look at mine.

I assume that human beings aren’t going to change much. There will still be racist jerks, billionaires, people who spend their lives helping one another, and every other sort of person who exists today. People are a given; we are them and they are us. I’m not planning to perfect humans. No nation or government can do that.

Perfection is not attainable in any person or any thing ever in any way. This isn’t pessimism; this is truth. Wiser cultures than ours today have embraced imperfection, made it part of their art and philosophy. I accept imperfection. My America isn’t perfect; people get bad deals, systems stagger along working about as well as can be expected. There is always room for improvement. In my America, though, we pass some sweeping laws. Among the first, we declare War on Global Warming.

So here’s a description:

My America is a capitalist economy. Today’s America is less a capitalist society than a plutocratic mercantilist society, but there are still some capitalists around. Every guy with a truck full of tools and no other job is a capitalist. Some of them are better at it than others; some make a good living for all their working years. Some wind up hiring other guys to help them. Capitalism creates jobs. Capitalism allows them to take their highest value skill and earn a living with it. I approve.

My capitalist economy would have stringent anti-monopoly laws and practices. Different companies would have different owners. This is not radical; I grew up in this sort of an economy. Here in America. Republican Teddy Roosevelt looked out of the White House on an economy like we have in America today and said, Nope. That’s not free market capitalism. And he broke up the “trusts” which were the predecessors to today’s mega corporations. Any capitalist society that works bans monopolies.

The tax structure in my America would look a lot like the tax structure in the America I grew up in. Yes, I guess I am pretty conservative.

But it worked. America was prospering. We could afford to build an Interstate highway system from coast to coast, from Canada to Mexico, to every corner of the nation, through and around every city. We could afford to cover the country with radar so the commercial air travel industry could exist. We could afford to build dams and power plants and rebuild much of war-torn Europe. The more an American made, the higher his tax rate got. People at the bottom paid very little. Society basically said, OK, once you’re making thirty or forty times as much per year as your employees, you’re doing all right. We’re going to tax you for 90% of your income above that level.  And did. And America prospered.

With that tax base, my America would simultaneously undertake two vast public works projects to combat global climate change. We would build a nationwide, electric, long haul plus commuter railroad network to take the place of our current automobile-centered transportation system, and we would undertake a project to cover every parking lot and most rooftops in the entire country with solar panels, to build wind and wave generators, and to otherwise use the energy that falls upon us every day to operate our technology. Period.

You can read of these plans in more (but not excruciating) detail here (transportation) and here (solarization.)

The above changes would vastly improve the economy. There would be jobs everywhere in the country where there are people. The War on Global Warming would build a rail and solar system to every corner of the United States. These projects would employ Americans at nearly every single level of society, from laborers at the bottom, up through the vast number of skilled technicians required to wire it all up, through engineers, designers, fabricators, cooks and waitresses. The War on Global Warming would employ mail room clerks, middle managers, and high powered executives. If we were smart we’d build as much of it as possible right here, creating more jobs. We could fix most of what ails our economy with a War on Global Warming.

It is an established fact that a racist bastard with a boat, and time and money to go fishing, is less of a social problem than a broke racist bastard driving a broken down twenty year old car. Or driving a shiny new pickup truck that he owes 57 more payments on and has to sweat every one of them. Secure people, comfortable people, people with enough are almost always easier to get along with than people under stress no matter what character flaws they might have.

In my America church and state would be totally separated. Any law you want because of your religion, you can’t have it. Period. In America we don’t care what your religion is. So of course we don’t have to live by it.

That means things like abortion and gay marriage are simply not the government’s business. The only justification for regulating them is somebody’s religion, and we don’t go there. Americans are qualified to decide these issues for themselves.

In my America we would have an FCC Fairness Doctrine, and it would have teeth.

In my America anything broadcast as news would have to have a provable, empirical referent. In order to qualify for a license to broadcast news an entity would have to prove a willingness to cover events honestly and thoroughly.

All broadcast opinion would be clearly and repeatedly identified as such.

Cable or satellite television or radio would be covered under the exact same body of regulations as broadcast television radio.

In my America you could not say on television, for instance, that it is a fact that the US Government has a colony on Mars where they keep kidnapped children, unless you are prepared to take an observer from the FCC there, or provide photos, or otherwise provide real world proof. Just: no.

You may not lie any more to sell a President than you could to sell toothpaste. Or pizza. Yes, you can sell the pizzazz with the pizza, but no more snake oil. That just has to stop. Facts are facts and the FCC has an obligation to them. This is a real nation, not somebody’s plaything.

We would make a sincere effort, in my America, to make sure that everybody who was qualified to vote was able to vote. But: “qualified to vote” would mean, “Has passed the naturalization / voting test.” Otherwise, no.

Voting is selecting your government. The right to vote should not be restricted by color, gender, ability, or location. It should, however, be open to only the people who are able to understand the rules, meaning, structure, and purpose of the government they select. Otherwise it’s all voting for Prom Queen.

We would make it easy to learn. Government would be taught in schools. Adult classes would be available for free forever. You could take them over and over if you were a slow learner. For free.  Take the test over and over too, if you need to. Government and citizenship classes would be available over the internet. We would make it as easy learn how your government works as it would be to vote.

But you’d have to learn. There is no possible rational justification for allowing someone to vote when she or he does not understand the terms or purpose of the act. In order to vote, an American would have to have both the interest and the intelligence to learn what the process is all about.

In my America there would be virtually no throw away packaging or beverage containers. No plastic bags. No bags that you couldn’t bury in your garden and they would vanish.

In my America we would withdraw from our addiction to toxic chemicals. We could’t take pesticides away from farmers overnight because the mechanical and other infrastructure to farm without them no longer exists. We would have to phase them out. Capitalists would take care of the machinery problem. Usable designs have already been worked out, but I am sure they would continue to improve. If we moved at the correct speed it should not be horribly disruptive, and we might do it in time to save the bees. Even if we drive ours into extinction, once we eliminate the problem we can re-import them from Europe.

In my America everybody eats. Everybody who wants to sleeps under a roof. We don’t eliminate poverty, because in my opinion eliminating poverty is impossible, but we eliminate starving and freezing to death in your cardboard box home. We eliminate working a day job and sleeping in your car. I see tiny to very small houses tucked away in available spaces. I live by myself with a chihuahua in a house that is sixteen feet wide and twenty-four feet deep. In steps that’s about five steps by eight steps. Two rooms and a bath. Every homeless single man in the country could be comfortable in a house like this. Take the same general idea and expand for families with kids.

In my America everybody gets a few bucks every month. A guaranteed income. If you’re retarded, if you’ve got schizophrenia, if you’re just bone lazy – enough to live on, a place to live.  We can do this. America today is perilously close to Dickens’s England. We can solve these problems.

And if somebody says, No, I’d rather sleep on a park bench – then we let him. And we still provide him with enough money to eat and live. Because we are America. We’re all in this together.

Some people claim that if we do this, provide a guaranteed income and minimal housing, everybody will quit working, stay home, and live on the dole. I say baloney. Would you? Do you? I’ve got what I just described, from my Veterans’ Disability: a few bucks and a minimal house. I don’t stay home and loaf. I’m the unpaid maintenance man for the local animal shelter. I’m their groundskeeper. I teach literacy. I write. Within my limitations I work. I’m not special. Most people would rather work. It’s boring to sit around all the time. There are a few who can’t do any better. They can’t be somebody else. They are humans and so are we. We care for them.

Finally, of things I have thought about, in my America, if you’re sick, you go to the doctor and get treated. In my America there is a largely self selecting, parallel, dual system of medical care. We have nationwide single payer medicine, largely but not entirely provided by government employees in government owned facilities. For those who prefer it, and if capitalists wish to provide it, we have an insurance based, fee for service, private health care system. Citizens participate in whichever one they choose. I have an essay laying this plan out in more detail here.

It would take courage and vision to move from today’s America to mine, but it would be possible. Franklin Delano Roosevelt dragged America up out of the wreckage of the 19th Century, scattered across the landscape of the mid 20th as the Great Depression, and moved us into the 20th. Modernity. But today we are living in the wreckage of modernity. Most of the humans in America, and nearly all the bugs, animals, birds, and fish, are struggling just to survive. The planet itself is rising up against us. It is time for America to shake off the 20th Century and begin again to progress.

My America leads the way.

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No Package Deals – Why?

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The site is named No Package Deals. Nopackagedeals.com. I don’t know if you wonder why, but I’m going to tell you anyway.

Much of modern political activity, thought, and discussion is based on what I call “package deals.” You can be a Conservative, a Moderate, a Progressive. You can be Left, far Left, Centrist. You can be a Liberal or maybe a Neoliberal. These terms, and others, are tossed around as if they were definitive, but they are not. They are vague, fuzzy, poorly defined. Most people have some idea what they mean, but not that many of the ideas agree. People who claim the package “Conservative” have a better definition than people who claim most of the other packages, and they can spell it out for you, with flowing phrases like “small government” and “family values,” but there is one catch: the flowery phrases are entirely disconnected from anything they will do in office. They will take specific actions, write specific bills, vote in specific ways, and those actions will bear no resemblance to the package definition they gave you.

So when we discuss our politics in terms like these, we are not communicating actual thoughts or ideas. We are just saying, I sign on to this package, I think I know what’s in it, and if you think something different is in it we’ll just ignore that and argue about my package versus your package.

I do identify with one label. I am a Democrat. But that label has, when I use it, a specific meaning: at election time I vote for Democrats. It doesn’t tell you what I think, it tells you one thing that I do. I vote for Democrats.

My essays tell you what I think. I make no attempt to resolve what I think into a package. It is my opinion that we are at a time in our national life when the packages have failed us; we are at a time when we need to speak clearly, and specifically, about how we want to govern ourselves. Serious Americans must decide what we think our government is for, why we have it, and what we want it to do.

A nation that takes its government seriously does not elect Donald Trump as President, not even by chicanery. In a nation that takes itself seriously Donald Trump does not get some sixty million votes. In a nation that takes itself seriously, Donald Trump does not even get nominated by a potentially governing party. Maybe the Clown Triumph Party, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster Party, but not a party that actually intends to govern the nation.

The day Donald Trump was nominated for President by the Republican Party, there was no longer any question: America’s political discourse had utterly failed. We littered the landscape with undefined packages of slogans and invited the American people to run out and grab one and hang on to it as though it had some value.

Phrases like, “Fiscal Conservative” are utterly meaningless. People calling themselves Fiscal Conservatives have put our nation into incomprehensible debt. Specifically, how do you want to govern The United States?

No Package Deals.

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Democratic Campaigning 2018 / 2020

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The government is broken. Only Democrats can fix it.

That is it. That is our campaign message for the next 2 election cycles. We start it today and we don’t stop.

The government is broken. Only Democrats can fix it. We can add details from time to time, but carefully. Details confuse Americans.

Do you have a particular issue that is really important to you? Good. Think about that. Talk about it during primaries. Not during the general, that’s time for a different message.

The government is broken. Only Democrats can fix it.

A little background: Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party in 2016 had 1,568 (approximately) White Papers and Policy Statements. Donald Trump had four words: Make America Great Again.

Under those four words in the fine print he had five more: Only I can fix it.

He is President of the United States. His party controls both houses of Congress. Their campaign worked.

Yes, he had to get help from Russia, and he had to revitalize the absolute scum of America, the racists, anti-Semites, xenophobes, the greedy and the ill educated, but he is still the guy in the White House. And they still have the entire Congress.

Remember the legendary KISS? Keep It Simple, Stupid!

The government is broken. The Republican party broke it. On purpose. Only Democrats can fix it.

Do you work 60 hours a week and sleep in your car? The government is broken. Only Democrats can fix it.

Did your sister have to take bankruptcy because she got injured in a wreck and her medical insurance didn’t cover it? The government is broken. Only Democrats can fix it.

Have you been too busy scraping by to take a vacation since 1998? The government is broken. Only Democrats can fix it.

Did all the good jobs leave your state? The government is broken. Only Democrats can fix it.

Is corporate America stealing everything that isn’t nailed down? The government is broken. Only Democrats can fix it.

Did the cheap Chinese piece of shit shoes you bought at WalMart fall apart in nine days? The government is broken. Only Democrats can fix it.

Are crazy people shooting up schools, churches, bars, and public places?

The government is broken. Only Democrats can fix it.

Are Americans dying in wars all over the world forever?

The government is broken. Only Democrats can fix it.

I am dead serious here.

To make this story sell we have to do two things:

One, we have to understand that Congress runs the country, and the President is largely a figurehead, manager, and Grand Diplomat.

Two, we have to campaign like we believe it.

One thing the Republicans have done that has worked for them is focus more on electing Congresses than Presidents. Because of that they have been able to blame everything the 104th and 105th Congress screwed up on Bill Clinton. They were able to blame everything the 107th, 108th, and 109th Congresses screwed up on George W. Bush, who was an easy target. And they have managed to blame everything the 114th Congress screwed up on Barack Obama. On top of that, they were able to blame everything Barack Obama couldn’t get done under the 112th and 113th Congresses on him too, which was even easier because he still had the Senate. Not enough to break a filibuster, but he appeared to have a majority. But. Without the House nothing ever happens period.

Not since 1979 have the Democrats had a Congressional majority large enough to pass contested legislation. The last time Democrats by themselves could halt a filibuster and pass legislation was under President Jimmy Carter. During part of the 111th Congress, during President Obama’s first half term, there were enough Democrats and Indpendents together to break a filibuster if they didn’t lose one single vote. Not one.

Not, for instance, enough Democrats to get a Public Option written into the ACA.

For 16 out of the last 24 years there has been a Democrat in the White House. It’s the best thing that ever happened to Republicans. They can screw up the economy, plunge the nation into endless wars and insurmountable debt, send all the jobs overseas and all the money to the top tenth of 1%, and point at the Democratic President. “Obama’s recovery didn’t create any wage growth!”

Yeah. No joke. For exactly two of those 24 years, Democrats could pass Democratic legislation.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt couldn’t have accomplished one single thing under circumstances like these.

Presidents do not run the country. Congress runs the country. Don’t just nod your head. Internalize that fact. It is the most important fact in American electoral politics.

Once you realize that the mess we are in is entirely of Republican making, every part of it, every detail in every way on every day, and that they did it by controlling Congress, you can begin to campaign to solve the problem.

The government is broken. Only Democrats can fix it. Everything, every single thing that makes Americans miserable, Republicans did that. The broke the government on purpose. Only Democrats can fix it.

Elect us.

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