Sunday, October 8, 2017

MORNING PETE: The End of the Two-Part System

Today's NYTimes article, "The ‘Resistance,’ Raising Big Money, Upends Liberal Politics," while being a rather boring article about funding of left-leaning American political groups, brought to mind something I wrote last November in the week following Trump's election:
I believe there's a good chance that our two-party system with all of its electoral flaws is actually beginning to crumble and that by 2020, there will be at least six more-or-less viable political parties (3 on the right and 3 on the left) running candidates in local, state, and federal elections.
I think we will soon see that this election and its aftermath will lead to significant fractures in both major parties, thus making room for an electorally-viable third party (a progressive party that addresses the concerns of the working class, non-whites, immigrants, LGBT, etc.) and probably a fourth party, which, depending on which faction ends up with the Republican party mantle, would be either a business-friendly moderate-conservative party (Paul Ryan & John Kasich) or a nationalist/populist/evangelical fear mongering party (the Trump crew, Ted Cruz).
In addition, I believe there will be a number of small non-electorally-viable parties siphoning off popular votes in many states, making the third and fourth parties even more likely to pick up electoral votes with pluralities hovering around 30%: Libertarian, Green, Alt-Right, Socialist-Worker, and all kinds of local parties like Liberty Union in VT or Secessionist in Texas or Marijuana in states that haven’t legalized it, etc.
On the right, the current Republican Party with its truly strange strange bedfellows, will fracture into 4 parties as follows:
- Libertarians who voted for Trump and who in some cases may have supported Bernie in the Democratic primaries will return to their own activist Libertarian Party led by Rand Paul and sans psuedo-Libertarians Bill Weld and Gary Johnson; neither Republican nor Democratic, the Libertarian Party won’t be organized enough to win many elections even at local levels, but they could win enough of the popular vote in some states to affect the electoral college outcome (provided the electoral system remains as is with winner-take all in 48 out of 50 states).
- Nationalist/Populist/White Supremacist elements will coalesce around Steve Bannon in a Far/Alt Right alliance The USA Party?) that with hate-radio and Breitbart propaganda will win a substantial number of local and district races in the south and prairie states, but will make little headway in state-wide or national races.
- Evangelicals and other social conservatives (anti-abortion, anti-marriage equality, anti-LGBTQ) will coalesce into a strong Conservative Party; with President Mike Pence running for re-election (having succeeded Trump after he resigns in a huff), along with VP candidate Ted Cruz the Conservatives will do quite well in a number of Senate, House, Governor, and state legislatative races; nationally, they could also win quite a few electoral pluralities.
- What is left of the Republican Party is a fiscally conservative/socially moderate alliance led by Paul Ryan and John Kasich; this would be the strongest party in the country at the state level (Senate, House, Governor, Legislatures), but, ironically, one of the smaller of the national Republican splinters, winning fewer electoral pluralities than the evangelical/social conservative Party.
On the left, the soulless and corrupt Democratic party will continue to fragment as follows:
- Progressives (like me) will become totally fed up with the DNC and back a Progressive Party, led by Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren, but with younger candidates; they will be supported by savvy progressive organizations like DFA and so win numerous senate, house, and legislative seats, but, being pragmatists, they will hold their noses and vote for the Democratic Party candidate for President (see last paragraph below).
- Totally disgusted young people, Black Lives Matter Activists, Immigrants, Workers/Family Party, Green Party members, Socialist Labor Party, anarchists, and other people on the farther-left will focus on local races and drop out of national politics altogether, causing far fewer young people and older independents to vote for the Democratic candidate for president.
- The largest and most successful national party will be the liberal/centrist/corporatist Democratic Party led by Clintonites and Obama-allies, funded by liberal hedge fund managers and Silicon Valley. They will win the Presidency narrowly by electoral votes, but their plurality will far outpace all other splinters from either former major party. They will do far worse in local and state elections (including House and Senate elections), so that President Cuomo (having beaten out Joe Biden and a dozen much younger liberals like Corey Booker in the Democratic Party primaries) will need to wheel and deal behind closed doors with other former Democrats (Sens. Warren and Sanders, for example), Progressive Party House members, and relatively moderate conservative Republicans (Collins, Murkowski, Graham, Grassley, Kasich). [He’ll be good at that… the behind closed doors part.]
I'd love to hear some reactions to this "prediction."

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

MORNING PETE: Can the Democratic Party save itself and, in so doing, save our country?

I just read the most encouraging/discouraging op-ed piece in the today's NYT, entitled 
The Real Civil War in the Democratic Party, written by Lee Drutman, author of a report done for the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group, entitled Political Divisions in 2016 and Beyond: Tensions Between and Within the Two Parties.
I found it to be encouraging because, I thought it identified ways that the Democratic Party could change that would save it and, possibly our country. 
I found it to be discouraging because I am skeptical that the corporatist Clintonite Democrats who still rule the party will allow these needed changes to take place.
I recommend that you, at least, read the NYT piece and, if you're so inclined, you might want to read some or all of the much longer report, which includes a cogent analysis of both political parties and the hazards they (and our country) face.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

MORNING PETE: Reading Frederick Douglass's "The Meaning of July 4th for the Negro"

Therese and I just returned from the Worcester, VT 4th of July celebrations, which included a community reading of one of Frederick Douglass's most famous orations, The Meaning of July 4th for the Negro, a speech he delivered in Rochester, New York on July 5, 1852 and which is being read in 30 communities across Vermont over the first two weeks of this July, sponsored by the Vermont Humanities Council and a number of other civic organizations.

It was a moving and sobering experience reading this prescient speech aloud with dozens of white Vermonters. The most famous lines of this speech are, as follows:

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.
If you haven't read or heard the speech read, here are some links that you might want to consult:
1. The text of the complete speech (we read a version that was shortened for commemorative readings like the one we did.)
2. A video of Morgan Freeman reading a short segment of the speech
3. Dear white people: Frederick Douglass explains the Trump resistance in "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July? an essay by Chauncey DeVega (Includes a video of Trump famously appearing to think Frederick Douglass was still alive.)

Monday, July 3, 2017

MORNING PETE: Let them know we are watching the damage they are doing to the American people and will hold them accountable

...please, please do NOT let this sideshow [Trump's temper tantrums over the Russian investigation] distract you from the far more important damage being done by the Republicans in Congress and in local governments to our country ...
Now, let me add to this a plea to also be vigilant about the damage being done to the country by Trump's cabinet and other high-level appointees, particularly Scott Pruitt, Trump's dangerously effective head of the EPA and Jeff Sessions, Trump's heartless Attorney General. 

And let them all know (by phone, email, snail mail, and contributions to organizations fighting these actions in court and in congress) that we are watching everything they're doing and will hold them accountable at the ballot box and in the courts.

In order to track the damage these Trump appointees (as well as congress) are doing on a daily basis, I strongly recommend that you check in on Moyers & Company's thoroughly-researched, unbearably-revealing daily column While He Was Tweeting which is 
tracking the rule changes, rollbacks, executive orders, agency moves and the legislation that are underway as the president, his team (and often, the media) are distracted by the five ongoing Russia investigations and the various legal cases surrounding the Trump administration. 
As Moyers & Company adds,
Those are important, too — but we wanted to create a special series that looks at the changes being wrought in Washington that will affect us all, perhaps for decades.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

MORNING PETE: This is no time to let up on stopping TrumpCare

Although it seems to be getting clearer to all that the current TrumpCare/RyanCare/McConnellCare bills are not going to pass in their current forms, don't underestimate the deviousness of the congressional leadership or the cluelessness of Trump to come up with some kind of bill that will repeal the ACA and/or weaken it to the point where it will die and/or replace it with a "compromise" that will fool many voters into believing that it will preserve their health insurance and, so, get just enough Republican (and probably even some Democratic) votes to pass.
So here's a suggested action: send the story below (and any others like it that you come across), which movingly illustrates the potential human cost of repealing the ACA to the staffers of every person in congress (with a special note to your own congresspersons), urging them to read the article(s) and consult their consciences before repealing the ACA and replacing it with a substitute that do irreparable harm to the most vulnerable in our society.

Supplemental benefits for millions of recipients, many of them disabled, would be at risk under Republican proposals to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

MORNING PETE: Think Global and National, Act Local

A number of people have asked me whether and, if so, when I’d get back to my Morning Pete Postings. So, let me answer that question and, in doing so, explain why I’ve been pretty silent since mid-March when we left for a month long trip to China, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

Basically, over the past 2 months, I’ve been absorbed with time-consuming personal & family affairs and local political activity. The former, sometimes referred to as “life interferes,” is what prevents many people from devoting much time to the latter. It is also one of the main reasons that so few Americans vote or attend local meetings or have the time to devote to really understanding issues that may affect them.

For the working-poor, especially people who are struggling to get a college degree and/or job certification while supporting a family, this is especially true.  Yet, it is a fact that too many Republican politicians refuse to acknowledge and that too many populist Trump supporters have been blinded to by their fears of their own vulnerability to the myriad demands of life.

Here in Vermont, we are fortunate to have elected representatives (Senators Sanders and Leahy, Representative Welch, and a legislature both houses of which are controlled by Democrats and Progressives) who, by and large, are concerned with the well-being of the most vulnerable in our state. Even our Republican Governor and a number of other elected Republican officials (especially at the local town level) are moderates on most such issues .

Nevertheless, there is much that could be improved in Vermont, and because our state is so small, we have a unique opportunity to affect change here relatively quickly and, in doing so, perhaps act as an inspiration to people in other states.

Thus, over the past several months, my wife (Therese Mageau) and I have been directly involved in a number of actions with several different, but closely coordinated Vermont organizations, including Rights and Democracy (RAD), a Vermont and New Hampshire-based, multi-issue, grassroots organization, “building a political movement, based on the values of our communities.” Through RAD, we have been involved in the following activities:
  • Migrant Justice, marching 13 miles from the State House in Montpelier to Ben & Jerry's Headquarters for “Milk with Dignity,” a campaign being led by Vermont-based Migrant Justice, to hold Ben & Jerry’s accountable to implement the ground-breaking agreement they previously signed, requiring their suppliers to provide a living wage and humane living and work conditions for their dairy workers. The goal is that implementation of this agreement may, in turn, serve as a model for other migrant workers around the country in a wide range of agricultural sectors.
  • Health Care, supporting the Vermont Workers’ Center, Planned Parenthood, and Vermont Health Care for All in pressing for a single-payer health care system in Vermont, while at the same time opposing the national Republican effort to deprive tens of millions of the most vulnerable in our country to the right to have adequate health care.
  • Racial Justice, working with Vermont-based Justice for All to to address issues of systemic and institutional racism in Vermont with a specific focus on bias-free policing in Vermont through implementation of the recently signed bill (H. 308) establishing a Racial Justice Oversight Board. This may seem odd to anyone who knows that Vermont has a relatively small, non-white population, but, in fact, Vermont has one of the highest per-capita rates of police stops, arrests and incarceration of non-whites in the country.
  • Economic Justice, working as part of a broad-coalition of organizations, pressing for $15 minimum wage along with paid family and medical leave legislation, mobilizing against “Right to Work” union-busting legislation, and preventing worker misclassification (e.g., Walmart et al classifying people as part-time or outside contractors in order to avoid paying for benefits, unemployment taxes, and disability insurance).
  • Environmental Justice, a RAD initiative to develop “an open, democratic approach to creating sustainable, livable communities that give residents a greater say in determining their future.” In Vermont and New Hampshire, we are already experiencing the divisiveness of wind generator and solar farm installations by corporate energy companies, pitting neighbor against neighbor, while the large energy companies reap the profits.
  • Criminal Justice Reform, another RAD initiative, “to engage in political campaigns against elected DAs who send people to prison rather than utilizing community reparation and rehabilitation.” This, again, may serve as an inspiration to other states around our country, which has the highest rate of incarceration per capita in the world.

All politics is local.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


To all my Trump-hating, Trump-fearing friends: Look, I know how satisfying, delicious, and yes, even entertaining it is to see Trump getting what he deserves. 

BUT, please, please do NOT let this sideshow distract you from the far more important damage being done by the Republicans in Congress and in local governments to our country and tens of millions of people--- women, poor people, immigrants (including those who are here completely legally), people of color, Muslims and people who might "look like" Muslims, the middle-class, consumers, union members, pensioners, people on fixed incomes, and, of course, all of us who live in this country and around the world. 

Please put your time, energy, and emotions into real and effective efforts to address these clear and present dangers: 

If they are on the right side of an issues, thank them for all they're doing and urge them on to do more; if they're on the wrong side, tell them we're watching and will hold them accountable at the ballot box.

That means the DNC, DCCC and all the other Ds, as well as their disguises as ANTI-REPUBLICAN or ANTI-TRUMP NEWS FLASHES or PETITIONS or INDIVIDUAL CANDIDATES (including ones you might really like such as Elizabeth Warren or Al Franken who aren't even running now) or SUBGROUPS or phony POLLS), telling them to STOP asking you for MONEY, MONEY, MONEY and instead SHOW US IN WORDS AND DEEDS how they're going to:
- stop what the Republicans are doing
- back strong progressive candidates
- and get rid of the centrist cronies whose actions have brought us President Trump, a Republican majority in the Senate, continued lopsided majority in the House, and additional losses at all levels of state and local government. 


As Republicans plan to vote on a health care bill that they won’t even allow the public to see, one that reportedly will take away pre-existing condition protections for tens…

Finally, just so you understand how distracting the focus on Trump is: 

... about all the damage being done by Republicans at any and all levels of government. However many articles may be out there (and I doubt there are many) are being totally buried by TRUMP articles in the search engines of the web.