Tag Archives: Bernie Sanders

The Democratic Presidential Field & The Democratic Agenda

5050391_011019-cc-ap-possible-2020-dems-social-imgThis year, it seems like every week another candidate announces his or her bid for the Democratic nomination.

UnknownBernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Corey Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, Pete Buttigieg, John Hickenlooper – and maybe Scranton Joe Biden

I say come one — come all!

Let there be a robust, upbeat competition for the Democratic nomination.

VIXFV2FORVCZLLASFYVF6EHGQILet there be a robust, upbeat dialogue about the Democratic agenda.

First and foremost, let’s define the Green New Deal— and then extol its virtues. We need a visionary agenda as ambitious as FDR’s bold antidote to the Great Depression.

This country (and our world) needs another spasm of liberal advancement like Kennedy and Johnson shepherded in the mid-1960s. In fact, a new Voting Rights Act is needed to overcome the damage done by the Roberts Supreme Court. When more American citizens vote it’s better for progressives.

694940094001_6016070216001_6016070379001-vsDemocrats! Progressives! Young folks who don’t relate to political labels!

We need a comprehensive progressive vision for reversing climate change, modernizing our national infrastructure and addressing criminal justice reform, equal rights, economic justice, fair taxation and voting rights – not to mention universal health care!

Let’s see which candidate embraces such an agenda.

Let’s see which candidate stands on an inspiring, revolutionary platform.

And let’s see which candidate can sell it to the American people.

US-POLITICS-ELECTION-HARRIS-VOTEBut, for *@#! sake, let’s not fall into the “Are Democrats moving too far to the left?” trap! Let’s not defend ourselves against charges of “Socialism.” Instead, let’s ask whether people like Social Security and Medicare – not to mention the Interstate Highway System.

The fact is that progressive Democratic reforms reflect mainstream American values. Most Americans want to see human beings survive – and, hopefully, thrive! That’s why tackling climate change is Job #1.

FILES-US-POLITICS-VOTE-TRUMP-BIDENProvided Democratic candidates are in ideological agreement, our 2020 ticket must balance race, gender, age and geography. And so far, I must say — I’m delighted with the casting pool.

Other than the fact that at least one woman must be on the ticket — and someoneon the ticket should notbe a white person — there’s plenty of time and room for any of the contenders to define a progressive agenda, inspire us and fire our imaginations.

Like Obama, a Democratic winner must motivate young folk, women, people of color, principled professionals and working families. Without the enthusiastic support of all these American voters, we don’t stand a chance.

6pZz_T3l_400x400That means American sanity doesn’t stand a chance.

Humanity doesn’t stand a chance.

So, come on Democrats!

We may differ on how we get there. But, despite our internecine disagreements — let’s not give the right wing anything to exploit.

Democratic candidates should promote their progressivism proudly. And they should put it in historical context.

ows_153920112233316FDR’s progressive New Deal” saved mid-century America from the Great Depression, won World War II — and saved worldwide Capitalism.

Democrats running for President or any other office must educate voters on the millionaire tax rates under Republican President and World War Two hero, Dwight Eisenhower. Ike’s highest marginal income tax rate was 91% — during the years that built the great American middle class. Taxing the rich works.

john-hickenlooper-speaks-onstage-at-conversations-about-news-photo-1129660942-1553170112The American people know these things in their bones. (At least the majority of us do.) And we’ll vote in overwhelming numbers for a progressive, forward-looking agenda.

And I haven’t even mentioned the Great Orange Disaster. Leave him to Mueller and Congress.

Democrats must embrace the Green New Deal and an Agenda for a Great American Future.

But, most of all, we must get out and vote for a DEMOCRAT in 2020!

The GOP has proven itself unworthy of governing this still promising country.

MarijuanaCollage

6 Comments

Filed under History, Politics, Uncategorized

Let’s Throw Some Healing Water On The Sanders vs. Clinton Flame Wars.

Flame banner jpegTrumpAs the Donald Trump Traveling Faux Populist Political Circus winds its way rightward into a merry, malevolent maelstrom of venom, vitriol and violence, I must tear my gaze from that cable news-abetted car wreck for just a moment to address a caustic and cancerous growth on the left.

I freely admit that I spend way too much time nursing my political jones by surfing Daily Kos, Talking Points Memo and The Huffington Post, among other sites. I find that the website articles and diaries about the 2016 Presidential election provide valuable perspective that can’t be gleaned from the shallow, repetitive and all-too-predictable TV news outlets — obsessed as they are with endless horse race prognostication.

Snarky back and forthBut when I drill down into the comment sections on sites like Kos, TPM and HuffPost, I’m increasingly concerned about the alarming tendency of progressives to snatch defeat from the jaws of potential electoral victory. Even as The Donald is torching the Republican establishment and blasting its electoral hopes to smithereens, many liberal Democrats and progressives seem intent on setting their own house ablaze.H is a liar

asshat 2Reading the comments on progressive, left-leaning websites reveals an ongoing, self-destructive flame war between passionate supporters of the leading Democratic candidates, Senator Bernie Sanders and Secretary Hillary Clinton.

H not fit for Prez 2It’s a disturbing fraternal fight, as “Bernie-bots” and “Clintonites” make critical mistakes of both an historical and politically practical nature.

06firstdraft-bernie-sanders-tmagArticleI’ll state right now that I support Bernie Sanders and his damn near revolutionary economic and social agenda. I would love to see him win the Democratic Party’s nomination. I can also state without equivocation that, should Bernie fail to win the nomination, I will support Hillary Clinton against whoever emerges from the GOP primary scrum.

That said, I’m no political Pollyanna. I know all too well that after a bruising primary fight it’s not always easy for a party to sing “Kumbaya” and come together. Just imagine how hard that will be for the Republicans this year. As I type this, Marco Rubio and John Kasich are both backing off their pledge to back Trump if he’s nominated.

2780922f-17d4-4a76-ab9a-a1fc65761d8dThat’s why I hate to hear Sanders backers say they’ll never vote for Hillary – and vice versa. Standing on principal is one thing: political suicide is another. Progressives should – and must – do better. That’s the practical part of my argument.

When a Hillary supporter sits out the general election because Bernie won the nomination (and vice versa), he or she may as well pull the lever for Trump or Cruz. That’s the reality of our nation’s current two-party system. (Until, of course, Trump fails to become the GOP nominee and launches his own Quixotic third-party bid.)

As I read them, there are two major threads in the Sanders vs. Clinton commentaries. Both are flawed.

Hope & Bernie jpegHillary Clinton, her surrogates, and many of her supporters in the blogosphere flame wars make the essential mistake of criticizing Senator Sanders and his supporters for their idealism. Rather than appeal to that beautiful, energized idealism with a message that can inspire young people and encourage frustrated but hopeful older progressives, Clinton and her campaigners too often drone on about being “practical” and “incremental” and chastise Bernie’s enthused base for wanting “pie-in-the-sky”.

Too many Clintonites view the Bernie-bots as callow youth, lacking the world-weary wisdom that Hillary has gained through her decades of experience. All too often, Hillary and her backers trot out the same stale arguments and dismissive language that the GOP has always used to denigrate progressive policy goals for education, health care and social services — saying that Bernie is “giving things away for free” and “buying votes with free stuff.”

newdealjpegIt’s sad to hear Democrats using Republican talking points. And it’s especially demoralizing to hear avowed liberals still using “socialist” and “Democratic Socialism” as dirty words. I would have thought that FDR’s New Deal would have ended that kind of talk. Wouldn’t it be better for those of us on the left to take advantage of Bernie’s candidacy to erase the stigma attached to “socialism”? It’s clearly not a dirty word to millions of young progressives – and 57-year old liberals like me.

$_35Bernie Sanders is running an aspirational campaign – much like candidate Obama did during his first run to the White House. Hillary and her base make a mistake when they dump on the dreamers. If we don’t reach beyond our grasp, we’ll never know how far we can go.

Take health care, for instance. Had Democrats aspired to a higher goal and put single payer on the table at the outset of the Senate negotiations – we might have done a lot better. We might have controlled the rapacious health insurance industry even more. We’ll never know because Democratic negotiators (in league with insurance companies) took a “practical” and “incremental” approach. Doubtless, Obamacare is far better than what we had before – but it might have been much better. As Bernie would say, “Just sayin’…”

H.pngAs for Bernie’s online legions, I’m often disappointed to hear shallow attacks on Hillary that betray a startling lack of historical knowledge. The worst of these is the constant charge that Hillary is a member of “the oligarchy” and therefore she can never truly represent progressive ideals and policies.

However, while it’s entirely appropriate to debate whether Bernie’s small-donor funded campaign makes him less beholden to special interests than Hillary’s financial support from Wall Street and big donors – it’s breathtaking historical naiveté to think that a member of the oligarchy cannot represent progressive, liberal interests.

1000509261001_1628429998001_BIO-Biography-13-World-Leaders-Franklin-D-Roosevelt-SFGet out your history books, Bernie-bots, and look up President Theodore Roosevelt, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

All three of these guys were members of the American oligarchy: born to very wealthy families, landed, connected, and raised in comfort and privilege. But what did they do?

GTY_theodore_roosevelt_sk_141229Teddy Roosevelt took on “the robber barons” of his time and broke up the Gilded Age corporate monopolies that dominated the American economy at the turn-of-the-century. They called this son of the oligarchy “The Trust Buster”.

In an economic situation much like that which led to the Great Recession of 2007, Teddy Roosevelt believed that Wall Street was acting unwisely. While greedy Wall Street financiers were living high off the hog, the working classes were getting the shaft. If cutting wages increased corporate profits — just do it! TR saw that this blatant exploitation of the masses could ignite a violent revolution: the kind that was roiling Europe. So in 1902, he launched an attack on the captains of industry, including JP Morgan, putting teeth into enforcement of the Sherman Antitrust Act.

1895155_origTeddy’s legendary battle against corporate greed and arrogance makes the 2010 Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act look very pale, indeed.

And then, of course, there was TR’s foundational work in environmental conservation and the growth of our great National Parks. Think he didn’t take on big mining, ranching and timber-cutting interests to preserve those awesome wilderness landscapes for the public?

78319-004-545F8CDD.jpg.pagespeed.ce.Q0DmgOlFcyFranklin Delano Roosevelt was also a member of the oligarchy. Both of his parents were members of wealthy old New York families on the social register – related by blood or marriage to 11 other former presidents: John Adams, James Madison, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Benjamin Harrison, William H. Taft and, of course, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR’s fifth cousin. Now, that’s oligarchy for you.

fdr1But, did FDR’s wealth and connections make him the enemy of progressive values? Do I have to explain how he saved the nation after three successive Republican administrations drove America into the Great Depression? In that Herculean effort, FDR practically invented modern American liberalism with his New Deal – ambitious, progressive programs like the WPA, the Civilian Conservation Corps and that little thing called Social Security.

FDR was a Democratic giant, a champion of American progressive values – and a member of the oligarchy.

john-f-kennedyJFK was no FDR – but he was a progressive in his time, founding the Peace Corps and helping to advance the cause of civil rights and voting rights. Another son of great wealth and privilege, John F Kennedy may have been an oligarch, but he inspired a generation of young progressives – including Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.Young B&H

So, let’s keep everything in perspective, my lefty compatriots. Keep your eyes on the electoral prize.

Douse the flame wars.Stop bashing

Let’s keep the contest for the Democratic nomination honest and respectful — with an informed appreciation for the role of liberal values in American politics, past, present and future.

At some point this summer, we’ll all need to come together.

7 Comments

Filed under History, Politics, Uncategorized

The Democratic Contest Begins…

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 30: U.S. Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-VT) speaks on his agenda for America during a news conference on Capitol Hill April 30, 2015 in Washington, DC. Sen. Sanders sent out an e-mail earlier to announce that he will run for U.S. president. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

150310151059-02-hillary-clinton-speech-0310-super-169

Whether you support former First Lady, New York Senator, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Vermont Senator (and gasp!) self-avowed Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders, there is no doubt that the vote in the Michigan Democratic Primary has turned the 2016 Presidential nominating contest into a hotly contested race.

michiganTonight’s results from the great state of Michigan haven’t changed my mind. I’ve always loved me some Bernie Sanders. (I still remember “Brunch with Bernie” on Thom Hartman’s radio show – and all of his appearances on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC program.)

To be sure, I’m feeling the Bern all the way to the Democratic Convention. But if Hillary somehow ultimately prevails in the delegate count – I’m 100% with her against whatever monstrosity the GOP nominates: whether it’s Trump or Cruz or some lousy, GOP establishment option they manage to cobble together at a brokered (okay, “open”) convention.Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 9.31.37 PM

So, my progressive friends – this was a great night.

Those of us who are progressive Democrats are in a great position. Bernie Sanders is leading in the right direction. If Hillary Clinton hopes to compete for the Democratic nomination, she must embrace Bernie’s populist, idealistic, progressive platform – and outflank him on the left.

Either way, we win.Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 9.39.07 PM

Go ahead, GOP. Give us Trump or Cruz.

Can’t wait.

1 Comment

Filed under History, Politics

You Know The Candidates – Now Meet The Can’t-idates!

Banner 1Banner 2Banner 3As crazy as the 2016 Presidential election cycle has been, my friend Craig Tomashoff’s new book proves that it’s actually crazier than you realize.

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 9.38.30 AMIn an election year that features a billionaire tycoon/reality show star at the top of the GOP polls — The Can’t-idates: Running For President When Nobody Knows Your Name introduces us to a cast of candidates whose kookiness trumps Trump.

Craig has spent much of the past year getting to know the people he calls “The Can’t-idates” — some of the wildest dreamers and iconoclasts that have ever (somehow) gotten their names on a Presidential ballot. Can’t-idates like Pamela Pinkney Butts…

imrs.phpVermin Supreme…

…and Sydney’s Voluptuous Buttocks.

The folks in Craig’s book are definitely not contenders – unless they’re contending for the title of Most Improbable Candidacy of 2016. (A title that, come to think of it, The Donald has already locked up.)

But whatever their chances, whatever their motivations, the author treats all his “Can’t-idates” with dignity and respect — allowing them to tell their stories and reveal themselves in an entertaining and enlightening way.

IMG_3794You can get your copy of the book – and meet the author — at a book-signing party on Friday, March 25 at 7 pm at Book Soup in West Hollywood, CA. Craig assures me that daughter-made cookies will be provided, and that he will be happy to personally describe what it feels like to have Ted Cruz hug you, be interviewed with a pig, and stand five feet away from Donald Trump — not necessarily in that order.

For the book-signing, RSVP to ctomashoff@gmail.com or at this link.

More information on the book is available here.

The following are some excerpts from Craig’s press release…

Usera.Still002This country has long craved a non-politician who would campaign for president, a freewheeling dreamer not bound by conventional political wisdom. Who cares that, other than the need for oxygen to stay alive, Trump has little in common with most of his supporters? They still perceive him to be the only candidate bold enough to buck the system they despise. The thing is, he’s not. As you will learn in The Can’t-idates: Running For President When Nobody Knows Your Name, there are a lot of real real people campaigning to be Commander in Chief. If only somebody would listen to them…

2a90584Pundits also like to complain that our political system just produces the same old faces, yet they’re ignoring the hundreds of candidates who file every four years to run for president. The 2016 election has already produced more than double the number of “citizen candidates” than the 2012 election did – nearly 1,300 compared to 500.

So what keeps these people clinging against all odds to the ultimate American Dream? The Can’t-idates: Running For President When Nobody Knows Your Name has the amazing, inspiring and sometimes amusing answers.

To research this new book, award-winning journalist Craig Tomashoff spoke with more than 100 ordinary Americans attempting to accomplish the extraordinary – get elected to the highest office in the land without any political experience whatsoever. Out of those interviews, he found 15 unforgettable citizens who are running for the highest office in the land not just to make their country a better place. They’re also doing it to find something that’s been missing from their personal lives.

IMG_4011

No, that’s not Sydney’s Voluptuous Buttocks. It’s that woman who ran Hewlett-Packard into the ground.

Tomashoff traveled 10,000 miles in three weeks to meet these 15 people. There’s Harley Brown, the Hell’s Angel in Idaho whose job used to be informing military families that they’re loved ones had died. Until God told him to run. There’s Josh Usera, the ex-MMA fighter from South Dakota, who hopes his campaign will redeem his hometown reputation after several brushes with the law. And there’s Vermin Supreme, the Massachusetts political prankster who is back for a seventh run at the White House by promising free candy and ponies in exchange for votes.

The Can’t-idates: Running For President When Nobody Knows Your Name offers a lively, loving look at a collection of misfits, ne’er-do-wells and American dreamers who still believe in something the rest of us have long since forgotten.

People.Cantidates

 

3 Comments

Filed under Comedy, History, Politics, Uncategorized

Vote for Bernie (& Hillary, Too!)

635501804068694446-2016IowaCaucus-720x163Iowa Banner 2Iowa Banner 3Tonight, Americans will begin the process of choosing their next President when voters across the state of Iowa gather to participate in a strange democratic ritual known as the Iowa Caucuses.

iowa-county-mapRepublicans and Democrats (and Independents joining one of the two major parties for the night) will get the electoral ball rolling just as a major winter storm threatens to keep them from congregating in large numbers at the 1,681 caucuses across the state.

I understand there will also be one Democratic telecaucus. I have no idea what a “telecaucus” is. (Sounds like a dinosaur.) I’m surprised I haven’t heard Rachel Maddow try to explain it to me dozens of times in the past two weeks.

For the Republicans, the caucus is a relatively simple affair: show up, register your vote, and go home to your warm hearth and home.

web1_0_no_image_title_151Democrats, however, will play an oddball game of musical chairs – herding themselves into “Presidential preference groups” supporting the candidate of their choice. Candidates who don’t garner the support of at least 15 percent of the folks in the room are no longer “viable” and their supporters can either “acquire people into their group to become viable” — or switch chairs and join another viable candidate’s herd. Sort of like a Midwestern political mating ritual.

screen-shot-2016-01-31-at-8-31-17-pmThen, in order to determine which candidate has won the most delegates at the caucus, the Democratic Party of Iowa uses this simple equation:

“(Attendees in preference group × Total delegates the caucus elects) ÷ Total number of eligible attendees = Delegates for group to elect”

Math was never my favorite subject, but I’m sure Iowa Democratic Party officials will eventually determine who came out on top in the Iowa Caucuses – and then the Presidential pageant will move on to New Hampshire and beyond.

bernie_2It’s my hope that Senator Bernie Sanders will emerge from the Iowa Caucuses with a victory – and that he’ll score another win in New Hampshire. I’ve been listening to Bernie for years, and I like his vote against the Iraq War, his passion for advancing the interests of the poor and middle class, and his refusal to accept Wall Street greed and rapacity.

I hope Bernie continues to mount a positive, uplifting and inspiring state-by-state primary challenge. I want to see him come to the convention with a ton of delegates. I’d love to see him become the Democratic nominee.

And I think Senator Sanders will mop the floor with Donald Trump or Ted Cruz or anyone else the Republicans serve up. (Plus, it’ll be fun to keep watching Larry David’s Bernie imitation on SNL.)

081815_otr_panelBut if Bernie doesn’t win the nomination – I will happily support Hillary Clinton.

And every progressive in America should do the same.

Alas, I’m starting to hear the same kind of “cut off your nose to spite your face” foolishness among some liberal friends about how they just can’t support Hillary. They’ll sit this one out if Bernie isn’t the nominee. Or they’ll vote third party. Yeah. Just like the Naderites couldn’t support Al Gore, spouting the nonsense that “both parties are the same.”

300px-2000aWe can thank such high-minded yet unimaginative progressives for the slim electoral margin that gave the GOP the White House in 2000 and the 8-year fiasco that was George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Don’t believe it? Here’s a quick history lesson. Bush won with 271 electoral votes. Gore had 266. New Hampshire was worth 4 electoral votes.

And here’s what happened in New Hampshire:NH

Do the math. If the progressives backing Nader had voted for Gore — Gore would’ve taken the Presidency 270-267.

Both parties are the same? Really?

140416_POL_BarackObama.jpg.CROP.promo-mediumlargeDo my well-meaning pro-Bernie/anti-Hillary progressive friends actually believe that Al Gore and George W. Bush are both climate change deniers? That President Obama and George W. Bush are the same on LGBT issues, a woman’s right to choose, and voting rights? Do they really feel that President Hillary Clinton and President Cruz or Trump will make appoint the same type of Justices to the Supreme Court? I could go on and on.

bernie-sandersI love me some Bernie Sanders. I really do. But if you think there’s no real difference between the Republican and Democratic parties then show me a self-avowed Socialist running in GOP primaries and calling for a political revolution in a GOP debate?

Senator Bernie Sander is not only welcome in the Democratic Party – he has a puncher’s chance of winning the Democratic nomination for President. And I hope he does.

But if he doesn’t – I’ll be a happy warrior for Hillary.

Let’s keep the “progress” in progressive.

2 Comments

Filed under History, Politics, Uncategorized