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.

Hating America the Republican Way

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

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

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 every time structural racism raised its ugly head it would be eliminated. We can’t prevent humans from being hateful, but we don’t have to give their hate recognition under law. All jobs, all schools, all neighborhoods, all elections, all opportunities would be available to American residents without reference to skin color, ethnic background, religion or gender. People would be paid equally for equal work. The guaranteed annual income (mentioned below) would be equal for all people, period.

Yes, there would be flaws in implementation. There are flaws in everything, and racism is stubborn in America. There would be no excuses, and flaws, when found, would be fixed.

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?

The site is named No Package Deals. 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

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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His Call for Hillary’s Assassination


This essay was originally published on 20 September 2016, in a previous incarnation of No Package Deals. I am republishing it on the current incarnation as of June 29th, 2017. I hope it helps people remember how we got where we are.

On September 16th, 2016, Donald J. Trump made a clear specific call for his followers to attack and disarm Hillary Clinton’s Secret Service detail. He warned them that it would be very dangerous. This is the plain meaning of the words he said in the order he said them. He did not literally call on them to kill Secretary Clinton, he just said that after they disarmed her guards we would see what would happen. He did literally say to them twice, in separate pronouncements, “Take their guns.”

Donald J. Trump said, in public in front of recording devices and a human audience, in part:

“Take their guns away, she doesn’t want guns. Take their, let’s see what happens to her. Take their guns away, okay? It’ll be very dangerous.”

Although this speech was widely reported on television and in newspapers, few if any reported his exact words. Such reporting as there was mostly focused on his first paragraph, where he said he thought her guard detail should disarm.  I have not seen any acknowledgement that in his second paragraph the clear meaning of his words was that listeners, presumably his followers, should disarm her Secret Service detail.  But that is exactly what he said, in no uncertain terms.

Following is the text of his speech, as transcribed by me from a video available on YouTube. There is a break in the video, a jump as typically occurs when something is cut out of a video clip during editing. I have not been able to find a copy of the video which appears to continue in unbroken stream without an editing break. This is the full text of the video clip.

“While my opponent slanders you (pause) as deplorable and irredeemable (shakes head while audience boos) boy that second word is tough, you don’t hear that as much, but that means you’re never gonna come back, folks (arms out, pitying) and I know you’re gonna come back, we’re gonna come back so strong (points out into audience) we’re gonna be so strong…

“Now you know she’s very much against the Second Amendment, she wants to destroy your Second Amendment; guns, guns, guns, right. I think what we should do is she goes around with armed bodyguards like you have never seen before. I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons, they should disarm, right, right? I think they should disarm. Immediately, what do you think? (points toward audience) Yes, yeah.

“Take their guns away, she doesn’t want guns. Take their, let’s see what happens to her. Take their guns away, okay? It’ll be very dangerous.”

I invite you to observe exactly what Trump has done here. In two paragraphs he has given two different messages. That’s why we have paragraphs. So we can continue in the same topic but change concept.

In the first paragraph he says he thinks “they” (presumably her guards) should disarm. But that’s not all he says, even in that paragraph. He says, “…she wants to destroy your Second Amendment…” Hillary has never said or implied she wanted to “destroy” the Second Amendment, and no President has that power anyway.  It’s all in the Constitution, how amendments are made. Hillary calls for universal background checks; she calls for keeping people on terrorist watch lists from buying guns. Most people pass backgound checks already, why not everybody else? People who can’t pass background checks are the ones we don’t want running around with guns.  A “good guy with a gun” can pass a background check. Many gun owners agree with her. Trump, though, has a standard lie he tells about Hillary and the Second Amendment. So he tells that lie.  His crowd knows it like when a band plays their hit, and they boo. Then just sort of out of the clear blue sky he says, “Guns! Guns. Guns.” Or maybe he doesn’t punch it quite this hard, maybe he just says, “Guns, guns, guns.” As he says it he waves his right arm, starting with it upright at mid body, then dropping it to the horizontal, no not like drawing a gun, not exactly, a time or two.   He leans pretty hard on those words in his speech; their inclusion in the sentence right there is very strange. Their meaning is for the emotions, not for the mind. Get the boys thinking, “guns, guns, guns,” and after that comes, “…what we should do…” Not, what they should do, although he goes on to say exactly what “they” (her guard detail) should do. So in that paragraph it is fuzzy whether he is talking about what “we” (his followers) should do, or what “they” (her guard detail) should do. Whomever he thinks should do it, the recommended action is that her guards should disarm immediately. “…her bodyguards should drop all weapons, they should disarm, right? Right?”

OK, say I’m carrying a gun in my pocket. I’ve been taking a few million bucks to the bank, or maybe guarding a presidential candidate.  When I get home from work, do I “drop all weapons?” Doesn’t that strike you as a bit extreme?  When I disarmed before coming home from Vietnam I handed somebody my rifle.  Heck, I don’t even remember who.  That is to disarm.  “Drop all weapons”?

Then he delivers this instruction:

“Take their guns away, she doesn’t want guns. Take their, let’s see what happens to her. Take their guns away, okay? It’ll be very dangerous.”

Public speaking is performance art, and few dispute that Donald Trump is a master.  He has accomplished a great deal through his skill as a public speaker and performer. People like myself tend to sneer and jeer at his mangled sentences and his blithe disregard for internal contradictions, but I’m an obscure hick in the sticks and he is the presidential nominee of what was and still might be one of the world’s most powerful political parties. I’ve got a few bucks in the bank and he is, if not a billionaire, at least broke at the very highest level. So he is doing something right. And that thing he is doing right is talking, in arenas and on television. Donald Trump is the Rolling Stones of public speaking: 70 years old and still at the top of his game. He has a large number of heavily armed people who are proud to proclaim their loyalty to and belief in him, and he just told them to take away the guns from Hillary’s Secret Service detail.

I read the text of his words for two or three days before I ever watched the video. I was horrified by reading it.  As far as I could tell the electronic media weren’t too concerned.  Donald “joked”, they told us. Donald “hinted”.  Donald, we were told, said her guards should disarm.  The usual authoritative voices told us he said her Secret Service guards should lay their guns down. That is not what he said.  

He didn’t “joke” and he didn’t “hint.” And he emphatically did not say the Secret Service should “lay their weapons down.” He said, “Drop all weapons.” He spoke simple sentences, simple words in the imperative voice.  If I was in combat and my commanding officer pointed at somebody and said to me, “Take their guns away,” I would either take their guns away or die trying.

Yes, he did say they should disarm, but not in an orderly, lay aside your guns way. They should drop all guns. He mixed “we” with “they” in his listeners’ ears. After he said that part he did not stop talking or change the subject.  “Drop all weapons” was near the beginning, not at the end. He started there, and then he said, “Take their guns away.  It will be very dangerous.”  Of course it’s dangerous. Taking guns away from people is inherently dangerous. That is why I said “…or die trying.”  I meant that literally. In war you do something or die trying. Donald said, Do this. He didn’t quite say, Or die trying. But he warned them it will be very dangerous.

I don’t routinely watch videos of things; I don’t own a television.  In this case it appeared to me that I had drawn significantly different conclusions from reading a transcript than people who watched the speech had, so I watched the video to see if I could understand the difference. It is widely accepted that people speaking can communicate more powerfully than the written word, and that television is more powerful than radio. Maybe he had somehow hidden his meaning in his delivery.

Watching it was worse. The performance was more horrifying than the transcribed text.  He didn’t disguise his meaning at all. This speech was given, during a presidential campaign, in my home country. Nobody went to jail. I invite you to watch it again above. The part I highlight above starts at about 55 seconds.

Notice his delivery. Watch his head, how he turns it to the side, lowers his voice, then points at them… speaks another few words… looks at them… raises his voice, projects into the microphone as he says, “Take their guns away.” Then he fades, “she doesn’t want guns.” Then he looks Right At Them, he turns on that Donald Trump Magic Thing, and he raises his voice higher. “Take their guns away, okay.” Long blink, eyes closed, turns his head. More softly now. “It’ll be very dangerous.” And that’s the end of the speech.

Could any other person make this speech in public right now in the United States of America without immediate legal repercussions?

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Democratic Campaigning 2

As I said in Democratic Campaigning 1, Republicans have managed to convince most Americans that if the Federal Government tries to do anything for the people’s benefit, individual voters will wind up getting screwed. How have they been able to accomplish this?

As is often the case, they were able to take a molehill of truth and advertise it into a mountain of belief. Marketing and advertising are beyond the scope of this essay save to note that merchants will spend 5 million dollars without batting an eye to put 30 seconds of their message before all the Americans who watch the Super Bowl. I take this as proof that advertising works.

I address elsewhere what I think our message should be. In this essay I will address instead that molehill of truth that laid us open to the belief, utterly devastating to Democratic Party electoral success, that the government is more likely to screw everyday Americans than to help them.

Humans often think the way to solve a problem is by prohibiting people from doing this or that thing, and by forcing them to do this or that other thing. Two sure ways to annoy people is to tell them what they must do and what they must not do. “Eat your spinach” has never been that popular. In fact, it rates right up there with “Don’t eat that doughnut.”

Have you ever heard the phrase “Nanny state”? Did it sound like a good thing to you?

Take for example the Affordable Care Act, ACA. Obamacare.

Just for starters, it’s not even a Democratic idea. We stole it from Republicans. It shouldn’t be called Obamacare; it should be called Romneycare. Or HeritageCare. Governor Mitt started with a “market based” system from a Republican think tank and got it enacted in Massachusetts before Barack Obama ever became President. Poor innocent President Obama thought if he got a Republican health care solution enacted by a fractious Democratic Congress the Republicans would have the honor and decency to accept their own idea as the law of the land. Unfortunately he was President in a dishonorable age so it didn’t work out that way.

The basis of the Heritage Foundation’s health care plan was textbook Corporate Nanny State: all Americans would be forced to purchase health insurance from for-profit corporations. Since said corporations would have a steady income stream from healthy young people they would be able to operate at a profit while simultaneously paying their executives multi-million dollar annual salaries and providing care for the ill and aging portions of the population.

This forced private market transaction would be enforced by tax penalties for anyone who didn’t knuckle under.

In return for the having the government force all Americans to buy their product whether they wanted to or not, the insurance companies would agree to actually provide a decent level of care for the sick, even the already sick.

Leaving aside the various tricks, traps, and implementation failures, how could the Democratic Party be surprised when this made a huge number of Americans angry?

If you don’t buy something expensive that you don’t think you need and don’t particularly want, the government is going to tax you extra. But if or when you get sick or hurt you’ll be glad you’ve got it.

Marketing brilliance, this. Eat. Your. Spinach.

I propose that, instead, the Democratic Congress and Democratic President should have gotten together and passed a bill providing free health care for all who wanted it, and left the for-profit health industry entirely alone to sink or swim on its own.

Millions of Americans believe that they can get better care by paying for it than the government could give them for free. Let them.

Millions of Americans can’t get any care at all by paying for it because they don’t have enough money. Care for them.

No spinach unless you want it. You want that doughnut, eat the doughnut.

We are, after all, not Europe. We don’t have to do it Europe’s way. We brag about our freedom: let Americans choose.

I lay this idea out in more detail here, in an essay I call O’Jeffy Care.

Or look at global warming. If you didn’t know better you’d think that absolutely the only way to fix global warming is by taxing carbon emissions at a high enough rate to be painful, under the theory that to avoid the pain people will figure out ways to quit emitting so much carbon.

Pardon me, but this is stupid beyond words. No wonder so many Americans “don’t believe in” global warming. They’re not entirely stupid. You have already told them that admitting that global warming exists is going to cost them money.

Then you wonder why they won’t vote for you.

I have some ideas for dealing with global warming, None of them include taxes on people trying to get to work in the morning. I lay them out in broad terms here and here.

In broad terms, as Democrats we need to look to our roots with Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Make people’s lives easier through government. Make it voluntary. FDR didn’t tell people that absolutely had to go to the WPA or the CCC. He offered the services to them in terms they could see were to their benefit. He did require them to participate in Social Security, but that tax was not used as a punitive device.

The two major recent Democratic tax ideas have been punitive. Buy insurance or we’ll punish you with taxes. Emit carbon and we’ll punish you with taxes.

And we wonder why Republicans can convince people that taxes are punitive.

There is, as we say out here in the sticks, more than one way to skin a cat. (No, don’t ask me. I have no idea why anybody would ever want to skin a cat.)

We have to do one major thing for Americans: use government to solve their problems. We have to do it in one particular way: so it doesn’t hurt them.

My ideas aren’t the only ideas, but any idea which can be summed up as “Eat your spinach,” needs to be put on the back burner. We can do this better.

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Addressing Global Warming

Tackling global warming is a war level, survival level event. Our military knows this. Everyone with a lick of sense knows it. A Democratic administration and Congress could address the problem at a level appropriate to the existential threat we face.

I am ashamed that the United States is, temporarily at least, not part of the Paris Agreement. However, I think we could realistically exceed the Paris goals, and I think we must. I think global energy accumulation, the process normally known as global warming or climate change, is already worse than you have been told, not because somebody is lying to you but because most serious researchers have careful, prove-that-twice, intellectually conservative mindsets. I have an untested theory that climate researchers have overlooked a growing reservoir of added energy which can’t be measured with a thermometer. If I’m right we have less time than the worst estimate you have seen. And if it’s not as bad as I think, but we do all we can anyway, we lose nothing except some money. We will have a vastly less destructive society than before. It’s OK.

The gases which capture increasing measures of solar energy in the earth’s systems come primarily from generating electricity and from transporting people and objects from place to place. Power and transportation. There are lesser causes which I will not address here.

Power generation

Power generation is the number one source of energy-capturing gases. Step 1 for addressing this would be to cover every roof, and roof every parking lot, in the United States with solar panels. The spaces are already dead. Nothing additional has to die or get destroyed. There are approximately a zillion acres of roofs and parking lots.  We could turn waste space into productive space. Parking lots would come to be shady in the summer and dry in the rain. What’s not to like?

I mean this literally. Every roof, or at least every roof with an east, west, or south facing exposure. Pretty much every roof. Private homes. Commercial buildings. Schools and governments. I would exempt churches as long as they’d promise not to use any electricity. Every parking lot. Individual parking places where possible. Yes, at taxpayer expense, if need be. This is war. You just can’t see the bullets.

I don’t care how far from the equator these roofs and parking lots are, or how cloudy. I’d do it in the Pacific Northwest. For crying out loud, I’m talking rooftops and parking lots. Solar panels run for free, for a long time. After amortizing the energy required to produce and install them, any output greater than zero would be a net gain. And I bet before we got them all up somebody would have figured out how to capture more power under clouds than we are now. Geeze, you can get a sunburn under clouds. People are clever. They’ll figure out a way to catch that energy.

There would be a curve while production ramped up on solar panels, but this is war. Think of the production of tanks and aircraft during World War II. We need to get cracking: the world is about to put us in our place. We are running a hundred miles an hour; the bridge is out.

I don’t know if solar panels everywhere we could possibly put them plus other renewable processes would generate enough electricity to meet our needs, but I know this for absolute sure: It would get us a lot closer than we are now. If we chased it from both sides, renewable generation and energy efficiency / waste reduction, I bet we could break even before it was all over.

Just one example: Parking lot lights. I can see Kansas City, Excelsior Springs, and Richmond, MO from here at night. 50 miles away, 15 miles away, and 5 miles away respectively. The light I see is wasted energy produced by wasting other energy. It is provably, emprirically wasted energy: there is no human being alive who obtains any benefit from sending that light out where I can see it. Waste. All that energy contributes to warming the planet we live on. It’s time to get smart.

The Solarization Project will require skillful, physically capable workers everywhere in the country where there are roofs or parking lots. In other words, everywhere people live. There will be more work for blue-collar workers than all the unemployed or underemployed blue collar people in the country. Miners, just to take one currently popular example, are almost all physically strong and have high mechanical aptitude, appreciably higher than the general population according to recent research I saw, A nationwide solar installation project could easily put every unemployed miner in the country to work mining sunshine and still go on advertising for help.  Finding enough workers will be a limiting factor in how fast we can accomplish this.

We’ve had worse problems.

Needless to say, a distributed renewable generation system will require a distributed smart grid to handle it. That’s OK too. Our existing grid is a mishmash of new, old, and drooping down gravel roads on locust poles. There are probably as many underemployed geeks in the country as there are underemployed ladder jockeys. They can design the new grid and build the physical plant for it. If we’re halfway smart we’ll design it inside a virtual capsule which makes it more robust and hack resistant.

It seems inevitable that a nationwide project at the outer limits of established technology would attract inventive people and spur invention and manufacturing of peripheral improvements to the technology. I would expect widespread economic growth and activity to accompany any serious attempt to halt or drastically reduce global climate change.

Although I have only spoken so far of solar, we already have wind generation at work, and room to increase it. I have mixed feelings about wind; I dislike covering wild lands with windmills. Windmills require vastly more maintenance than solar systems. However, humans build things. Seeing windmills dotted across the prairies and mountain ridges would beat dying because the overheated ecosystem could no longer feed us. The same reasoning applies to tide generation.

I don’t even know what or how many other power production systems are in development or running in somebody’s garage right now today. I suspect there are some. The government should aid and evaluate such research. Remember, we are at war with our own past ignorance here; it is reasonable to spend some money.

Obviously, power storage technology would evolve. It already is. We can almost surely store power better than we do now, but we’ve got means available to us today that will work for a long time. We should encourage and assist with invention but don’t have to wait for it. This isn’t some Clean Coal Chimera. We can do this with off the shelf technology.

There is a sizable amount of energy storage research and development going on. If inventors were pretty sure that somebody was going to get rich thinking up the better battery or pump-back system, I bet they’d be right. Somebody would. The need is there.


Second to energy generation, transportation is a major source of the energy-capturing gases we are adding to our atmosphere. In addition to pollution and global warming gases, our current transportation system is an amazing combination of wasteful of space, energy, and time; deadly and injurious to users; and a source of war and conflict worldwide.

Heat engines – internal combustion engines, whether they burn gasoline, diesel, natural gas, hydrogen, whatever – are inherently inefficient. Typical engine efficiencies in modern cars are in the 25% range. Finely tuned racing engines approach 50%. The largest and most efficient diesel engine in the world peaks at 51.7% thermal efficiency.

Electric motors routinely run at above 80% efficiency. Well designed applications often exceed 95% efficient.

Any sensible transportation system would rely on electric rail for long distance transportation and electric local vehicles for short hop and local transportation.

I lay out such a system, and some thoughts about getting there from where we are, in my essay Rational Transportation.

Global climate change / stored energy increase is the biggest problem in human history. Humankind literally must figure out a way to reduce the net increase of energy-storing molecules in the atmosphere to zero. Zero net increase. Can we do that? I’m not sure. The closer we get, though, the longer we can hope to keep civilization. We need to put absolutely all we can think of toward solving this problem.

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Plutocracy – Oligarchy

The United States of America has been taken over by the same people who run Russia.

I used to think that meant: Russians.

The longer I watch the clearer it becomes: Not exactly Russians, although there are a lot of Russians in the bunch.  Worldwide Plutarchs and Oligarchs. Putin may be First Among Equals, but there are a lot of Americans in there too. They have no nation. Look at the news. Rex Tillerson was some kind of Hero of The Russian Federation already years ago. The Trump and Kuchner families are all over central Eurasia. Vladimir Putin chose our President. I can’t even remember which American Oligarch ran the bank on Cyprus where Russia and Exxon and all those folks trade money, but he’s in Trump’s cabinet.

They are all one international cooperative. They have taken over the United States.

It was already grim before Citizen’s United, but that was the beginning of the end.

They have taken over and they don’t care who knows it. Who are “They?” Well, I just named a couple of them, but overall, they are the top one percent of the top one percent, the ultra-billionaires of the entire world and their necessary agents, bagmen, organizers, and spies. They are Russians, Arabs, Israelis, Americans, Europeans – especially but not exclusively Eastern Europeans – and they do business with each other.

Their primary tool of conquest has been propaganda distributed by the various communications media, focused and directed through the use of data mining.

Is it organized crime? Yes. No. They are so rich the term hardly applies. If they need somebody dead somebody dies. The laws of the various nations where they live and travel are minor inconveniences to be ignored or gotten around. But they don’t think of themselves as mobsters. They’re just businessmen. They dislike the idea of government because by its very nature government puts limits on what they can take and what they can do. And they don’t tolerate limits.

Since a quick glance at human history shows government to be inevitable, the best solution for them is to take it over and cripple all its otherwise normal functions.

There is no question but what the Koch Brothers are involved, even though they haven’t been very loud lately. They’re Kansas boys; they don’t strut around like some blowhard New Yorker trying to escape Queens. They like to be left alone in the background.

One assumes Sheldon Adelson. He’s a small, quiet, international gambling magnate. Whether gambling is legal or not it attracts the same folks. The same individuals, even.

You know at least some of the agents and bagmen too. Manafort. Prince. Stone. Page. Cohen.

Mitch McConnell manages the local branch. He is Governor of the United States of America under the authority of the Plutocracy. The Trump family works for him, except they’re batshit crazy so nobody knows for sure what they might do when.

There is no pretense whatsoever that the United States government is the republic of old, meaning 1980. I mean, look at Congress. Listen to what they say, watch what they do. Then read a newspaper from 1976. Or from the middle of Watergate, say 1973. Or from the brutal early Vietnam War years, 1968, 1969, 1970. Both parties of Congress made a serious attempt to convince the voters they cared about the country. I suspect that many of them did.

There is no such pretense today. Oh, they tell a few lies, but they’re sneering at us. Refusing entirely, in advance, to seat anyone a President might nominate to the  Supreme Court for a quarter of his term? Not ever. Senators writing a bill in secret? No. Not in the United States. They are not pretending.

The Contempt the 115th Congress shows for the American People and our Constitution is mind boggling. The nation has been conquered.

Follow political reporting. Campaign reporting, It’s all about who has the most money, who collected the most money last week, last month, Everybody knows that these offices are bought and sold. Marketing experts can tell you what a vote costs and then go buy it for you. Every campaign is The Most Expensive Campaign for [this office] Ever!

Nobody ever says, How come a job that pays $174,000 a year turns some obscure high school wrestling coach into a multi-millionaire? It didn’t come out of his paycheck. And how come a multi-millionaire Congressman still has to suck up to billionaires to keep that cushy job?


  1.  government by the wealthy

  2.  a controlling class of the wealthy


  1.  government by the few The corporation is ruled by oligarchy.

  2.  a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes a military oligarchy was established in the country; also :  a group exercising such control An oligarchy ruled the nation.

  3.  an organization under oligarchic control That country is an oligarchy.

(Definitions courtesy of the good folks at

Can we force, and win, elections against the Plutocracy / Oligarchy? I don’t know.

If we do win elections, can we throw the grip of the Plutocracy / Oligarchy off our party, off the Democratic Party? I don’t know. They like Democrats less but they still keep a short leash on most of them in case they might win an election somewhere.

It’s an uphill battle, my friends. It will require plans at the “You do this, she does that,” level. Specifics. It will require, more than any one other thing, a clear, focused message put everywhere every day.  Even then it will be a hell of a battle.

You up for it?

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Democratic Campaigning 1

If political campaigning were building a house, the Democratic Party today would be at the stage where we paint the exterior and put up the drapes.

Unfortunately, we haven’t built a foundation. The house isn’t there. Too many of us haven’t noticed. It appears, in particular, that our leadership and various factions have not noticed.

My number one personal project right now is an attempt to get the Democratic Party, the whole United States Democratic Party, to shift mental gears and approach the public differently than we have been. We have to build a foundation. We have to campaign on that foundation.

We are getting beat. Most of the time. Almost everywhere. I have tried to express this in ways that will get the Party’s attention, but I have so far failed.

Rick Wilson, @therickwilson, Certified American Republican v 2.0 (post Reagan, pre Trump) has given me another tool. His words:

“Democrats are not good at campaigns. They’re good at some things in campaigns, but not holistically. In the last decade, we took over 1,000 offices from the Democrats, not because of voter suppression or redistricting, or other excuses.”

The Big Secret of 2018, Daily Beast, 06/01/2017

He also says,

The Democrats can’t beat something with nothing, and almost any plan beats no plan every time.”

But in that one he’s wrong. We’ve got plans. We’re drowning in our plans.

In the last decade they took over 1,000 offices from us. That doesn’t mean they won a thousand more elections than we did. It’s much worse than that. In the last decade Republicans won elections for 1,000 governing positions that we used to win but can’t win any more. And after they won those positions they kept them through subsequent elections.

It might appear from this that the Republicans ran over a thousand campaigns better than we did, but that’s not it, not at all. Republicans ran one big campaign better than we ran a thousand little ones.

Republicans campaign on one set of foundation concepts. We try to match and defeat that with ten thousand plans. We talk about the drapes and paint. Their foundation trumps our drapes and paint most of the time, most places.

Of course the house needs drapes and paint. I’m not arguing with anybody about civil rights, racial equality, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, urban rights, rural rights, working class rights, handicapped rights… I’m certainly not arguing about keeping the air breathable and the water drinkable. I entirely agree that people who work for a living ought to have a decent life, to be able to buy a modest house and a reliable car. I agree that people who are not able to work for a living ought also to have a decent life. All those messages are not working. They do not define our foundation. What is our foundation as a party?

All those things we want to do, what do they have in common? What ties them together into a common thread?

They are government actions. We want our government to address problems that bother everyday Americans. We want a government that works.

The message we are competing with is, “Government can’t do anything right and if it tries it will screw you.”

Right now today a majority of voters over a majority of America believe that government can’t do anything, shouldn’t be allowed to try, and will screw them if it does. It is a bald faced lie. Our Federal government has worked every time we’ve tried it. We can prove it. But we’ve got to talk about it. Until we make voters believe that government can help them we won’t get the chance to prove it.

Good government has made Americans’ lives better since the beginning. Lousy government fails to do that. The reason so many Americans’ lives suck today is because Republicans are lousy at government. Period. That’s it.

Government is the referee in the game of life. No American would want to see a Super Bowl without a ref even though they’ll yell at him. It’s ok to yell at the government, too, but they’re necessary to make the game fair. Right now it’s not.

Among other immediately obvious things that government brought us and still operates today: Interstate Highways. The GPS in your smartphone. The water Americans in the Desert Southwest drink and shower in. The water that made the farms in California’s Central Valley possible. The industrial waterways that haul America’s biggest most valuable freight for the least money. Space flight. Radar and Air Traffic Control for absolutely every commercial flight in the country every day. The Internet. Don’t try to tell me that the government can’t do anything.

We must hammer on the fact that the only reason the government can’t do anything right anymore is because the people running it don’t want it to. And Republicans are running it. Government can make your personal life better, no matter where you are in America. Let us show you how.

To do that we have to remind Americans about every fifteen minutes that Congress runs the country. Because Republican Congresses have been hiding behind Democratic Presidents since Newt Gingrich declared war on civilization. They’ve done an incredible amount of damage.

Whatever your personal pet issue is, if you are a Democrat or any American who is tired of being governed by Republicans, that issue can best be solved or addressed by government. So hold the thought of your issue, and focus on taking back the government. And the way to do that is to talk about governing in the broadest, why-what-how sense. Because, yes, that is what the Republicans talk about. They tell people that if Democrats get elected America will have a functioning government and it will ruin everybody’s life.

We have to sell one idea: having a functioning government will make your life better. Having a crippled government makes your life worse. Then we let the Republicans convince people that we’ll create a functioning government.

This topic continues here

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