Democratic Failure of the Democratic Party

“Many political actors around the world, similarly, think that epistocrats should rule and try to gain the emotional support of the population. Consider the slogan of the Democratic Party in the 2016 US election: ‘I’m with her.’ The Democrats were telling their own version of Plato’s salutary myth, or simple story meant to induce people to identify with a political cause.
“Democracy, instead, requires treating people as citizens – that is, as adults capable of thoughtful decisions and moral actions, rather than as children who need to be manipulated. One way to treat people as citizens is to entrust them with meaningful opportunities to participate in the political process, rather than just as beings who might show up to vote for leaders every few years.”
~Sam Haselby, Treat people as citizens

“The point of the Brazile story isn’t that the people who “rigged” the primary were afraid of losing an election. It’s that they weren’t afraid of betraying democratic principles, probably because they didn’t believe in them anymore.
“If you’re not frightened by the growing appeal of that line of thinking, you should be. There is a history of this sort of thing. And it never ends well.”
~Matt Taibbi, Why Donna Brazile’s Story Matters

Donna Brazile, acting Chair of the DNC, wrote that, “The funding arrangement with HFA and the victory fund agreement was not illegal, but it sure looked unethical. If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead. This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party’s integrity.” She is stating the obvious here and, if anything, understating it to an extreme degree.

That isn’t just unethical behavior and compromised integrity. That is blatantly undemocratic and anti-democratic, a direct attack on democracy itself. And this happened within a party leadership that hypocritically still calls themselves the Democrats, a party leadership that is still in power and still trying to eliminate the last traces of democracy. Those involved realized how damaging this could be, if it ever became fully known to the public. Even though “[t]he questionable nature of the Hillary Victory Fund was no secret during the Democratic primary,” the limited info that was revealed drew negative attention (as told by Abigail Tracy in Vanity Fair):

“As details of the arrangement emerged in the spring of 2016, the joint fund-raising effort drew a great deal of scrutiny from the Sanders camp, the Vermont senator’s supporters, and the state party committees that signed on. In July, hacked e-mails released by WikiLeaks revealed that party officials and the Clinton campaign sought to bury the particulars of the deal and tamp down criticism directed at the fund.”

After discovering the full documentation of what went on, there is no way someone then in good conscience and with moral courage could have done the following as Brazile describes her own actions:

“I urged Bernie to work as hard as he could to bring his supporters into the fold with Hillary, and to campaign with all the heart and hope he could muster. He might find some of her positions too centrist, and her coziness with the financial elites distasteful, but he knew and I knew that the alternative was a person who would put the very future of the country in peril. I knew he heard me. I knew he agreed with me, but I never in my life had felt so tiny and powerless as I did making that call.”

She felt so tiny because she had betrayed the public’s trust. And she felt powerless because she had given her power away. Are we supposed to feel sorry for her in her pitiful complaints? And why would any of us now believe anything she claims, especially about Sanders? This is the same woman who cheated for Hillary Clinton. Working for CNN, she had slipped questions to the Clinton campaign for a CNN town hall debate. Intriguingly, the Wikileaks dump showed that the email she wrote for this purpose was sent to John Podesta and Jennifer Palmieri. I had forgotten about the details and, reading it again, it now stood out to me.

Podesta, along with his brother, is a high level DNC operative and powerful lobbyist. To show how much of an insider he is, consider the email (released by Wikileaks) he sent to George Soros and other plutocrats about a meeting they had on Democratic strategy to “Control the political discourse,” in which he wrote: “Create a robust echo chamber with progressive messaging that spans from the opposition campaigns to outside groups, academic experts, and bloggers.” More recently, Podesta has been in the news because of his connection to the fiasco of Donald Trump’s cronies and the special counsel’s Russia investigation, by way of Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and Vin Weber. Podesta became a focus of the investigation because of his direct involvement in meddling with Ukranian politics, the reason Manafort and Gates are being charged for acting as unregistered foreign agents. In this activity, Podesta had meetings with Weber who is a former GOP congressman and also a powerful lobbyist.

The corruption connects corporate media to the party establishment and it crosses party lines. These kinds of well-connected figures, powerful and influential, are mercenaries deep within the party establishment and political structure. That is shown by how the two main party nominees, Clinton and Trump, were old family friends and political allies. But in politics as spectacle, all that matters is that they put on a good show so that the big biz media could play it 24/7 to increase their profits. Meanwhile, the real action happens behind the scene, which in this case was Clintonites controlling the DNC and sabotaging Sanders’ campaign.

It went beyond Hillary Clinton controlling the DNC financing by redirecting state funds into her own campaign. Brazile went on to say that, “Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings.” This seems to have included Clinton controlling, influencing, or having veto power over the party messaging, debate schedule, choice of superdelegates, and various major DNC decisions.

Brazile considered Podesta a close ally and trusted intermediary. She sent these debate questions to him, knowing he would get them to Hillary Clinton. That indicates how deep she was in this swamp of corruption. And in finding the inexcusable financial fuckery of Hillary Clinton’s control of the DNC a year before the nomination, Brazile’s immediate response was to hide this ugly truth from other Democrats and to manipulate Bernie Sanders to back the very person, Clinton, who was actively destroying the Democratic party. Now that the whole scheme is falling apart, the rats are fleeing the sinking ship.

Here is the most important part. Brazile admitted that, through Clinton’s control of the DNC, the primary was rigged or stacked in favor of Clinton and this began long before the primary. It’s not entirely new info — it’s just finally being acknowledged by an insider who knew it was true all along. And it’s not just one person saying this. A number of Democratic figures have come forward in agreement, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren but also including Gary Gensler who was the chief financial officer of Hillary’s campaign — speaking of a phone conversation Brazile had with Gensler, she explained that, “He described the party as fully under the control of Hillary’s campaign, which seemed to confirm the suspicions of the [Vermont Sen.] Bernie [Sanders] camp. The campaign had the DNC on life support, giving it money every month to meet its basic expenses, while the campaign was using the party as a fund-raising clearinghouse.”

At Law Newz, Elura Nanos writes:

“Let’s not forget—there’s a class action lawsuit proceeding against the DNC for defrauding campaign contributors who’d sent funds to support Bernie Sanders and expected him to get a fair chance at the nomination. At the heart of that lawsuit is a brazen contention by the DNC that seems even worse in light of Brazile’s statements: any assumption that the presidential nominating process was fair couldn’tbe the basis for a lawsuit, because any indications of fairness are nothing more than “purported political promises.” In other words, the DNC isn’t interested in even pretending it gave Bernie a chance.

“Perhaps the worst thing about Brazile’s revelation is its origin. This story isn’t coming from Fox or Drudge, but from someone deeply committed to furthering the interests of the Democratic party. A not-so-secret contract between Hillary and the DNC may not make Russiagate look any better, but it sure makes our democracy look a lot worse.”

For a long time now, critics on the left have been making such complaints and allegations while pointing out the facts and suspicious activity. Yet the Democratic establishment and their partisan lackeys kept lying to voters and gaslighting and trolling the political left. It’s nice that the truth has finally come out. But I’m not expecting too many apologies from the lesser evil bullshitters. I hope these chuckleheads finally understand how they were played like fools.

Hillary Clinton wasn’t the lesser evil. She was simply one of two greater evil choices. The real lesser evil was Bernie Sanders. The thing about Sanders is he is a moderate, not a radical. He is a lifelong professional politician who is willing to work with anyone in either main party to get things done. As far as public opinion goes, he is a centrist. He represents what most Americans agree about, what most Americans want. But as recent events demonstrate, he has limited capacity for fighting the hard fight. He caved into the Democratic establishment. That is what makes him a lesser evil. He is no Franklin Delano Roosevelt, not even close. Sanders, by force of personality and strength of leadership, isn’t going to be the one to usher in a new era of progressivism. But he could make for a useful ally to move us in the right direction.

The point is that I don’t see Sanders as a populist savior nor an inspiring visionary. He is the kind of politician who will only do the right thing if we the public force him to do so, which is more than Clinton would ever do since she is in the pocket of big money. Although not much of a fighter, Sanders at least is honest and actually represents the American people, in giving voice to the silent majority. We need people like him to hold the center in Washington, which would allow the actual left to maintain pressure to keep the political system from shifting right.

This is what faux democratic “lesser evil” voters were utterly clueless about. They misjudged to an extreme what Clinton and Trump symbolized in relation to what the public was demanding. The Democratic establishment and partisans have lost all credibility, their political failure having become a national shame that they will never live down. The only respectable option left for them is to admit their failure and, as the losers that they are, to get the fuck out of the way. Change is coming, like it or not, be it reform or revolution. As John F. Kennedy put it, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

For context, consider this. Polling has shown that most Americans distrust major institutions: big government, big business, and big media — the trinity of power in our society. This lack of trust doesn’t even follow an expected partisan pattern, as seen even seven years ago in an AP-NCC poll: “Only 10 percent of Republicans expressed strong confidence in state governments, despite frequent GOP demands that Washington cede more power to the states. Just 10 percent of Democrats voiced strong trust in Congress, even though their party controls it.” Public trust and confidence certainly hasn’t increased over time.

Also seen in the data is that most Americans don’t think the US is a functioning democracy nor has an actual free market and fair economy. Generally speaking, very few see the system as working well as compared to those who see it as outright broken. To emphasize this point, here is further context (APA Stress in America Survey): “More than half of Americans (59 percent) said they consider this the lowest point in U.S. history that they can remember — a figure spanning every generation, including those who lived through World War II and Vietnam, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.” The citizenry isn’t happy right now. And for good reason, as both main parties have failed them and betrayed them.

* * *

Four Viral Claims Spread by Journalists on Twitter in the Last Week Alone That Are False
by Glenn Greenwald

Viral Falsehood #1
The Clinton/DNC agreement cited by Brazile only applied to the general election, not the primary.

Viral Falsehood #2
Sanders signed the same agreement with the DNC that Clinton did.

Viral Falsehood #3
Brazile stupidly thought she could unilaterally remove Clinton as the nominee.

Viral Falsehood #4
Evidence has emerged proving that the content of WikiLeaks documents and emails was doctored.

Donna Brazile, the DNC, and Democratizing the Democrats
by Richard Eskow

The weekend was filled with claims and counter-claims, revelations and counter-revelations. Here’s what’s known as of this writing: The Clinton campaign organization, Hillary For America (HFA) ,signed a Joint Fundraising Agreement and at least one other agreement giving it significant influence over the DNC’s hiring, budget, and strategy.

Claims that the Clinton team’s authority was limited to the general election appear to be false. While the document carried a legal disclaimer to that effect, attorney Brendan Fischer of the Campaign Legal Center commented that this clause is “contradicted by the rest of the agreement.” Fischer also pointed to a provision in the agreement that, in his words, meant “Clinton controlled every communication mentioning a primary candidate.”

Clinton’s defenders argued that the Sanders team was also offered a joint fundraising deal, but it was quickly revealed that the Clinton campaign executed a separate side agreement with DNC granting it oversight powers. As NPR points out, that agreement was executed while Joe Biden was still considering a run.

Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver denies it was offered the same veto power over staff. An email from an attorney representing the DNC, Graham Wilson of Perkins Coie, states only that “DNC staff would be happy to chat with the Sanders team and come to an understanding about the best way to use … funds to prepare for the general election at the DNC.”

The September 2015 email says that “the DNC has had similar conversations with the Clinton campaign and is of course willing to do so with all.” In fact, the Clinton deal had already been signed.

Perkins Coie represented both the Clinton campaign and the DNC when that email was written.

Memo Reveals Details of Hillary Clinton-DNC Deal
by Alex Seitz-Wald

The August 26, 2015, memorandum of understanding from Clinton Campaign Manager Robby Mook to DNC CEO Amy Dacey, which supplemented a standard Joint Fundraising Agreement, more fully explains the relationship between Clinton and the DNC long before she won her party’s nomination.

In exchange for Hillary for America’s (HFA) helping the cash-strapped DNC raise money, the committee agreed “that HFA personnel will be consulted and have joint authority over strategic decisions over the staffing, budget, expenditures, and general election related communications, data, technology, analytics, and research.”

Specifically, the DNC agreed to hire a communications director from “one of two candidates previously identified as acceptable to HFA.” And while the DNC maintained “the authority to make the final decision” on senior staff it the communications, technology, and research departments, it said would it choose “between candidates acceptable to HFA.”

Read: The full memo here

Book Reveals Clinton Campaign Effectively Controlled DNC As Early As 2015
by Scott Neuman

Hillary Clinton’s campaign gained significant control over the Democratic National Committee’s finances and strategy more than a year before the election in exchange for helping the party retire lingering debt from the 2012 presidential campaign, according to a new book by a former party chairwoman. […]

Brazile’s account appears to contradict the DNC’s repeated assertions that it wasn’t favoring Clinton over Sanders and it bolsters charges from the Sanders camp that the primary itself was “rigged.”

During the campaign, Sanders had repeatedly charged that the DNC was working in league with the Clinton campaign to ensure her victory in the primary.

“The idea that the DNC was willing to take a position that helped a candidate in the midst of a primary is outrageous, and there is no justification for it,” Mark Longabaugh, a senior adviser to the Sanders campaign, was quoted in the Post as saying.

The party is over: Time for Democrats to clean house
by Douglas E. Schoen

The recent revelations by Donna Brazile that Hillary Clinton rigged the 2016 Democratic primaries through corrupt financing come as no surprise to me, especially as someone who before the election said he could not, despite longstanding ties to the Clintons, support Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.

In October 2016, I said that there would be a constitutional crisis if she were to be elected. Given the news from Brazile about rigging the primaries, the report from John Solomon of The Hill that U.S. uranium tied to an Obama era deal may actually have reached Europe, and ongoing questions about who paid for the infamous Steele dossier, there may well be a constitutional crisis even without Clinton in the Oval Office. […]

Though it is certainly important that Brazile offered these revelations about Hillary Clinton, she herself is no pillar of honesty, as previously leaked Clinton emails revealed that Brazile provided Hillary’s campaign with debate questions prior to the Democratic primary debates, which Brazile subsequently lied about when asked on television.

Above all and unequivocally so, this comportment is obscene, dishonest, and represents a level of malfeasance we have not seen before. […] There needs to be a complete and total housecleaning of the infrastructure of the Democratic Party. Ultimately, Hillary Clinton needs to go away, Bernie Sanders needs to go away, Donna Brazile needs to go away. They are all complicit. We desperately need a renewed understanding of ethics in politics. I am truly sickened by what I see today, but not just because of individual behavior, though the behavior of former Secretary of State Clinton is becoming increasingly egregious.

I am sickened by the behavior of the entire party establishment led by a former chairman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who uses dismissive ignorance as a defense of everything: “I know nothing, I know nothing, I know nothing.” Well, I know something. The body stinks from the head down, and the core itself is rotten too.

Democrats in Denial Over Brazile Allegations that Further Confirm Primary was Rigged
by Kevin Gosztola

However, what those in denial refuse to confront is that Clinton may have received more votes because citizens believed it was impossible for Sanders to win, since the news media kept reporting Clinton had so many more superdelegates than him. Plus, whether Sanders was able to overcome the impact of an unethical fundraising agreement does not change the reality that it made the primary unfair.

Hillary Rosen, a prominent Democratic Party strategist who regularly appears on CNN, insisted Democrats could not reckon with Brazile’s allegations when attention must be paid to the GOP’s tax proposals. She also misleadingly argued Brazile could not find any evidence that the system was rigged against Sanders, which is not what Brazile wrote. Brazile said she could not find any evidence to support widespread claims until she came across the joint fundraising agreement.

“The voters chose Hillary Clinton, not Bernie Sanders, and it had nothing to do with any staff person at the DNC,” Rosen asserted.

In May 2016, Rosen said, “Bernie Sanders is losing this race, and instead of taking it like a man, he’s working the ref. He’s encouraging his people to think that the system is rigged. The system he signed up for as an independent to run in a Democratic primary. This constant sort of whining and complaining about the process is just really the most harmful thing, in some ways, he could do because he’s encouraging his supporters to think that the process actually is cheating them, and they’re not.” So, Rosen has an interest in maintaining her denial of reality.

The reality is hundreds of superdelegates pledged their allegiance to Clinton before votes were cast in Iowa, a limited number of debates were scheduled to ensure voters had the least amount of exposure to Clinton opponents, the DNC and Clinton campaign falsely accused the Sanders campaign of “stealing” voter file data, and Democratic women supporting Sanders faced forms of retaliation for not supporting Clinton.

New Documents Suggest Clinton and DNC Conspired to Block Sanders from Key Voter Database
by Brian Hanley

In December 2015, just weeks before Sanders and Clinton faced off for the first caucuses in Iowa, something curious happened. The DNC cut off Sanders’ access to a critical voter database.

A software vendor, hired by the DNC, had incidentally exposed confidential voter information collected by the Clinton campaign to the Sanders campaign. The glitch and complications it caused were entirely the vendor’s fault, an independent investigation would later find.

Nevertheless, the DNC penalized Sanders for the error. The DNC leadership went as far as suspending Sanders’ access to the voter database, even though it was the DNC that had hired the company responsible for the mistake. NGP VAN, the software vendor in question, is the same vendor Guccifer 2.0 allegedly hacked to breach the DNC’s network. There were clearly vulnerabilities in the software, which Sanders had nothing to do with.

A campaign cannot function, let alone compete, without access to essential voter data. In suspending Sanders’ access, the DNC effectively crippled his campaign and deprived it of its lifeblood. Then-DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (“DWS”) alleged that such a suspension was necessary to ensure the security of the committee’s voter files. But if that were the case, if security were the concern, DWS should have cut off data access to all campaigns until the issue was resolved. Instead, she let one candidate suffer and helped another prosper.

Later, she would resign from her role as DNC chair amid growing allegations that she had rigged the primary. It should be noted that DWS also happened to serve as Clinton’s campaign co-chair in 2008.

It should also be noted that in 2008, when DWS served as Clinton’s co-chair, the two women found themselves in an eerily similar position as Senator Sanders. NGP VAN, the same software vendor that would mishandle voter data in 2015, accidentally exposed Obama’s voter data to the Clinton campaign. But the DNC didn’t take any action in ‘08. It certainly didn’t suspend anyone’s data access.

Sanders, meanwhile, had to sue the DNC before his own data access was restored. All the while, Clinton’s campaign marched ahead at full throttle while Sanders’ camp scrambled. Keep in mind, this was mere weeks before the first caucuses in Iowa. Every minute without that voter data was a minute the Sanders campaign couldn’t afford to lose.

In emails released by WikiLeaks, we later discovered that the DNC’s communications official and communications director actively conspired to undermine the Sanders campaign. Mark Paustenbach and Luis Miranda, who, as DNC leaders, were expected to be neutral, discussed exploiting the software vendor’s slip up to make Sanders look sloppy. “Wondering if there’s a good Bernie narrative for a story, which is that Bernie never ever had his act together, that his campaign was a mess,” Paustenbach wrote in an email to his communications director.

“Hurr, Durr, It’s A Conspiracy Theory!”
by Caitlin Johnstone

Brazile’s melodramatic “oh I was so grief stricken” admission that Clinton had taken over DNC operations long before becoming the party nominee is just the latest in a long series of revelations confirming things Berners have been saying for over a year now while being dismissed as conspiracy theorists by Democratic party loyalists.

This is coming straight off the back of Twitter’s admission that it hid half of all #DNCLeaks mentions in the leadup to the general election despite the fact that only two percent were considered to have come from suspicious accounts. As The Young Turks’ Michael Tracey rightly notes, people who pointed out at the time that tweets with this hashtag seemed to be hidden from view by Twitter admin “were called conspiracy freaks”. The American people were trying to communicate with each other about a very real thing that had been revealed about their democratic process, and Twitter actively worked to prevent them from doing so.

This thread goes all the way back. The thing Twitter was keeping people from discussing was the undeniable revelation in the DNC emails that the Democratic National Committee had violated the Impartiality Clause of their Charter when the DNC Chairwoman permitted a clear us-vs-them culture in the Committee, as revealed by the content of their communications. Berners were called conspiracy theorists again and again for claiming that this bias was happening, and then it was proven to have happened.

After that came the Podesta emails, proving that then-Vice Chair Brazile had served as a mole against the Sanders campaign and passed multiple debate questions in advance to Hillary Clinton, showing Clinton campaign staffers conspiring with the DNC to schedule debates and primaries in a way that benefitted Clinton, and showing blatant collusion between the Clinton campaign and the supposedly neutral news media to get Hillary into the White House. Again, any suggestion that Hillary hadn’t won the nomination fair and square got you dismissed by Clintonists as a daffy conspiracy theorist, but it was proven to be a true and legitimate grievance.

Dem Pundits Spent Yesterday Lying About DNC Primary Rigging Document
by Caitlin Johnstone

We’ve seen no indication that any similar agreement was entered into with any other candidate besides Hillary Clinton. Not from Sanders, nor from Brazile, nor from the DNC, nor from any former Clinton campaign staffers, nor from WikiLeaks. Nor could the same agreement have been made with any other candidate, since the Clinton campaign was giving itself authorities over DNC functioning which would be nonsensical if two parties had them, like that it would share authority with the DNC “over strategic decisions over the staffing, budget, expenditures, and general election related communications, data, technology, analytics, and research.”

Regarding the claim by plutocracy teat sucklings like Howard Dean that that the agreement applied only to the general election (which would make the Clinton campaign’s added control of DNC operations standard practice) and not to the primary (which would make it a violation of the DNC’s Impartiality Clause), this is pure hogwash. Firstly, the dates on the document plainly contradict this assertion, as they were set during the primary contest and scheduled to end long before Clinton became the nominee, beginning September 1, 2015 and ending March 31, 2016. The DNC convention in which Clinton became the nominee wasn’t until July 2016.

Secondly, as the Campaign Legal Center’s FEC reform specialist Brendan Fischer notes, the claim that the document is intended to focus on the general election and not the primary is directly contradicted by the rest of the document, which explicitly gave Hillary For America control of every communication which mentioned a primary candidate. The agreement was very clearly and specifically geared toward giving Clinton an advantage in the primary elections.

Journalist Mike Sainato points out that with the agreement the Hillary campaign gave itself the authority to pre-approve DNC hires, an authority it then used to wave through the hiring of DNC Communications Director Luis Miranda. Miranda, one of only two candidates Hillary For America allowed the DNC to choose from per the agreement, would later resign from his position in disgrace after the DNC leaks revealed he’d participated in a discussion about how to construct a narrative against Sanders.

Perhaps far more impactful, Tim Tagaris, former Digital Fundraising Director for the Sanders campaign, said after Brazile’s admission that without the joint fundraising agreement Clinton would have been “majorly out-raised by Bernie Sanders in the primary”.

This joint fundraising scheme was why we saw things like Clinton inviting her donor class friends to dine with her and George Clooney for a whopping $353,400 a couple in April of 2016. Such large individual donations were permitted by campaign finance law via a loophole because the money was meant to be distributed throughout state party races across the country, but according to Donna Brazile virtually all of it got funneled to the Clinton campaign.

This was all happening long before Clinton became Democratic presidential nominee in July of 2016.

Clintonites Still Denying The Primary Was Rigged Proves They’ve Never Cared About Facts
by Caitlin Johnstone

On November 2, 2007, John Podesta wrote an email to billionaires George Soros, Peter Lewis, Herb and Marion Sandler, John Sperling, and high-level millionaire Steve Bing with a detailed and structured overview of material the group had covered during a meeting they’d had in September. And if seeing the names John Podesta and George Soros in an article about a conspiracy of elites makes you roll your eyes a little, hang in there, because this one is legit.

On page two of the attachment:

“Control the political discourse. So much effort over the past few years has been focused on better coordinating, strengthening, and developing progressive institutions and leaders. Now that this enhanced infrastructure is in place — grassroots organizing; multi-issue advocacy groups; think tanks; youth outreach; faith communities; micro-targeting outfits; the netroots and blogosphere — we need to better utilize these networks to drive the content of politics through a strong “echo chamber” and message delivery system”

And on page four:

“Create a robust echo chamber with progressive messaging that spans from the opposition campaigns to outside groups, academic experts, and bloggers.”

So to recap, an elite insider of the Democratic party met with a group of powerful plutocrats to discuss how they would use their footholds in the media, the internet, academia, faith-based groups and think tanks to create “a group situation where information, ideas, and beliefs are uncritically bounced from insider to insider and amplified, while dissenting views are censored and/or ignored,” exactly like the idiocy-generating manipulation machine that conservative think tanks were inflicting upon Americans of the political right.

A Message to Democrats Who Still Support Hillary Clinton
by Rob Cotton

To the people who still support Hillary Clinton despite all of this, all I can say is that you must have a secret fondness for Donald Trump and far-right Republican governance. Unless you begin to realize that Hillary Clinton and the corrupt neoliberalism she represents are cancer and the Democratic Party needs a complete overhaul, you will keep losing to Republicans and those Republicans, down the road, will make Donald Trump seem like a pleasant memory of the past.

The damage done by Clinton and her cronies to the Democratic Party cannot be overstated. In fact, it’s quite possible that the damage is irreversible. Until and unless the Democratic Party as a whole admits its fatal error in 2016, it will see its support wane. While virtually no one on the left and center-left is happy with Trump and the direction his Republican Party are heading, the “lesser-evilism” offered by the Democratic Party is not seen as lesser enough by a critical mass of people who also happen to be the most active and energetic members of any potential Democratic Party base in future elections.

It’s time to wake up, Clinton Democrats. Your glass castle has shattered.

The DNC owes Bernie Sanders and all Dems an apology
by Brent Budowsky

The DNC owes Bernie Sanders and his supporters an apology if it signed a secret deal in 2015 that sought to fix the 2016 nominating process.

The DNC owes every Democrat and party candidates in every state an apology for failing to mobilize Democrats and better support Democratic candidates during an epic political struggle that will have gigantic impact on the nation after the 2018 midterm elections. […]

In other words, regarding the Democratic National Committee that should represent all Democrats equally and treat all candidates equally throughout presidential primaries, the fix was in before the 2016 primaries had even begun.

Two points are key:

First, the DNC has for some time been so incompetent and ineffective that any DNC-Clinton deal probably did not make much difference in the 2016 primaries.

Second, and more importantly, this DNC-Clinton deal, if it happened as Brazile suggests, was a disgraceful and unethical venture that violated a core principle of the DNC: that it should be neutral in presidential primaries between competing candidates. […]

For this, the DNC owes every Democrat across the nation a sweeping, comprehensive and humble apology.

Sanders would’ve beat Trump in 2016 — just ask Trump pollsters
by Brent Budowsky

As Democratic leaders and strategists consider how they should campaign in the crucial midterm elections of 2018, they would be wise to consider why so many polls throughout 2016 showed that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would have decisively defeated Donald Trump in a general election contest.

My view, stated throughout the 2016 campaign, was that whether one supported Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in the presidential primaries, it was vital that all Democrats fully understand why Sanders ran so far ahead of Trump in polling — usually by double digits — and markedly stronger than Clinton in match-up polling against Trump.

As reported recently in The Hill, Trump’s own pollster, Tony Fabrizio, stated flatly at a recent Harvard University Institute of Politics event that Sanders would have beaten Trump. He said Sanders would have run stronger than Clinton with lower-educated and lower-income white voters. I could not agree more, on both counts.

The real working-class hero candidate was always Sanders, not Trump, who has always been a crony capitalist pretending to be a populist. […]

America is a far more progressive nation than most pundits understand. They are waiting for the next great progressive Democratic president, whoever he or she may be. That person will lift the nation after the Trump nightmare ends and the post-Trump America begins in earnest in 2018 and 2020.

Poll: Democrats Want To Ditch Their Leaders And Move To The Left. They’re Right.
by Richard Eskow

Poll: A majority of Democrats want the party to move left and oppose its leadership
by Andrew Joyce

As Tensions Simmer, Poll Shows Majority of Democrats Want Bold Leftward Shift
by Jake Johnson

As Donald Trump’s Popularity Dwindles, Bernie Sanders’ Surges
by Michael Sainato

Universal Mobilization
by Ralph Nader

…there has long been a broad convergence of agreement between Left and Right on many issues, especially when you deal with where people live, work, spend, and raise their families.

Binary politics thrives from the few real divisions between people. The drumbeats about “our polarized society” serve the agendas of the Republican and Democratic parties as well as the plutocracy. Divide-and-rule has been the tactic of ruling groups for thousands of years. Consider instead some areas of concurrence by the Left and Right that enjoy widespread public support, some as high as 70% or more—often a decisive eyebrow raiser for members of Congress. They include opposition to crony capitalism or corporate welfare, support for excision of anti-civil liberties portions of the Patriot Act, criminal justice reform, cracking down on corporate crime against consumers, clean elections, programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, worker rights and privacy, break-up of the big New York banks that are too big to fail, a higher minimum wage, not being the world’s policeman, ridding the Defense budget of its enormous waste, revision of trade agreements, access to the courts, a Wall Street speculation tax directed to investments in public works and upgrades in communities throughout the country, shareholder power, clean air and water, stopping commercialization of childhood that undermines parental authority, and many more. In the past, despite strong corporate opposition with campaign cash, Congress handily passed the auto safety law (1966), the Freedom of Information Act amendments of 1974, the False Claims Act of 1986 and the Whistleblower Protection Act of 2013. Why? Left–Right support from back home.

US Demographics & Increasing Progressivism
Public Opinion On Government & Tea Party
Claims of US Becoming Pro-Life
Public Opinion on Tax Cuts for the Rich
Most Oppose Cutting Social Security (data)
The Court of Public Opinion: Part 1 & Part 2
Non-Identifying Environmentalists And Liberals
Environmentalist Majority
Public Opinion On Government & Tea Party
Gun Violence & Regulation (Data, Analysis, Rhetoric)
Warmongering Politicians & Progressive Public
Who Supported the Vietnam War?
Vietnam War Myths: Memory, Narrative, Rhetoric & Lies
Hillary and Honduras
The War Party Always Wins

Political Elites Disconnected From General Public
Wirthlin Effect & Symbolic Conservatism
Polarizing Effect of Perceived Polarization
Is there a balance point in a society of extremes?
Inequality Means No Center to Moderate Toward
What is the Moderate Center of a Banana Republic?
A Manifesto of Meaninglessness
What Liberalism Has Become
Confused Liberalism
Liberalism: Label vs Reality (analysis of data)
Sea Change of Public Opinion: Libertarianism, Progressivism & Socialism
Poll Answers, Stated Beliefs, Ideological Labels
Authoritarians in Authoritarianism
But Then It Was Too Late
Then What?
A Sense of Urgency

Partisanship vs Democracy
Obama’s Lack of a Legacy
The Partisan ‘Good’
Moral Failure of Partisanship and the Political Machine
Racial Polarization of Partisans
Of Dreamers and Sleepwalkers
Very Serious, Important Thoughts
Politics On My Mind: March 1-8, 2016
More Metaphors of Madness
American Populism, From Frustration to Hope
Class Divide and Communication Failure

Presidential Candidates and Voter Demographics
Data and More Data
Class Breakdown of the Campaigns
Right-Wing Politics of the Middle Class
The Comfortable Classes Remain Comfortable
Which Candidate Do the Poor Support?
MSMsplaining Poor Whites.
On Rural America: Understanding Is The Problem
It’s Time to End the Myth That Black Voters Don’t Like Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders and Civil Rights
Endless Nonsense of the Misinformed Mind
Note to Cynical Liberals and Useful Idiots
A Generation to End All Generations
Old School Progressivism
On Infrastructure and Injustice
Trump’s Populism, Something For Everyone
It’s All About Timing
“That party could find itself out of power for a generation.”
A Perfect Storm
All is Lost

American Democracy?
Protecting Elections From Democracy
Failed Democracy and the Demand for Justice
We’ve Been Here Before
From Progressivism to Neoconservatism
The Sting of the Scorpion
Investigation Hullabaloo
Democrats, Russians, and Uranium
The Complicity of Mainstream Politics and Media
Corporate Bias of ‘Mainstream’ Media

31 thoughts on “Democratic Failure of the Democratic Party

  1. It looks like there was a lot of dirt in California.

    The paragraph on Westwood, apparently a rich neighbourhood is interesting.

    It reminds one of the Jacobin article on Fairfax:

    The upper 10%ers (upper middle class) are really out of touch and servants for the rich. I think you once told me at your parking booth, usually the worst of bad customers were the wealthier ones?

    • “…usually the worst of bad customers were the wealthier ones?”

      From my experiences, I would have to wholeheartedly agree. I would also add customers at the opposite end of the spectrum are equally as bad. The sense of entitlement for the poor-minority-immigrant crowd comes from a different socio-economic place but the sense entitlement and their demands for it is the same as those at the top.

      And in the meantime, the middle-center, who don’t ask for much and don’t ask often, is squeezed to death by both sides. It is a slow invisible act of genocide that has been going on for some time and much of what we are experiencing now is a result of it.

    • The first article is great. It captures my view. It wasn’t just that Sanders had the nomination stolen from him. The issue wasn’t who ‘won’ but what was lost. The losers in all of this were democracy and the voters. Why didn’t Sanders strongly and loudly challenge this kind of obvious corruption?

      It’s the same thing that irritated me about Gore not fighting back against Bush stealing the 2000 election, especially considering he had won the election. It is dangerous when political candidates demonstrate how little they care about democracy, either in following democratic processes or in holding others accountable when democracy has been betrayed.

      I only skimmed the second article. I’ll have to read it in more detail later when I have the time. But one thing near the beginning stood out to me: “While Sanders gradually improved his standing with younger nonwhite voters, it was not enough to take the nomination.”

      I have no idea what the author is referring to. Sanders won the support of the majority of young minorities. I remember analyzing the data in immense detail and wrote numerous posts about it. What Sanders lost was older minorities and wealthier minorities (also black women, but I’m not sure about other minority women). These are important details to understand, if we want to know what happened and why.

      Yeah, I did tell you that. Upper middle class white people can be insufferable in their sense of entitlement. One of my happiest and proudest days was threatening to call the cops on a white lady in an expensive car because she refused to pay. It’s moments like that that I’m glad I’m unionized. She complained to my bosses of course, but I don’t give a shit. I ain’t going to give anyone special treatment. I’ll never forget how shocked she was when I treated her like a normal person who has to obey the rules like anyone else.

      • Several thoughts:
        1. Delivered papers for nearly a decade when I was a kid. While none of my customers were “rich”, collecting from those higher up in income always was more difficult than collecting from those with lesser incomes.
        2. Why is anyone surprised by anything Hillary and her sycophants do? She has a long, long history going back at least to her days in Arkansas of, if not illegal, certainly ethically questionable actions.
        3. My source is long gone, but I read a review of a book which claimed that without war, there would be no democracy. Going back to ancient Greece, the author showed how progress in democratic reforms and opportunity occurred after wars, never during peace. Why? The rich always strove to protect their wealth. When that wealth was threatened they needed ordinary folk to help them protect it. To get the ordinary folk to do that, they needed to offer them incentives which usually included at least rudimentary democratic reforms. More recently, one example is the GI bill after WWII which was instrumental in expanding the middle class. With war, like everything else, becoming increasingly automated, the author was concerned that fewer people are needed to conduct war and thus the need to offer democratic incentives is reduced.
        4. Most folks want to improve their economic status in life. Yet when they are especially successful in reaching that goal, we condemn it. IRS records show that the vast majority of wealthy people in the US did not become wealthy via inheritance. They worked fr it. In fact, most studies show that by the third generation, inherited wealth has been squandered or lost to poor financial management.
        5. On wealth disparity: Here’s one way of looking at it. Think of an economy as a balloon. As the balloon expands, all parts of the economy expand. Yet the distance between the top and the bottom also expands.

        • Once again, this was another comment wordpress threw in the trash. I wouldn’t take it personally. It does the same thing to other people’s comments. It seems that wordpress has more of a bad attitude than I do, as it sure throws more comments in the trash than I would.

          (1) I would clarify that not all wealthier people are irritating. There is a seeming predictable pattern of disproportionate rudeness and arrogance. Nonetheless, most people in general are perfectly fine. The genuinely insufferable assholes are rare, no matter the demographics. I don’t have problems that often which is the reason the rare problematic person stands out in my memory, such as that lady. I simply don’t treat anyone differently, no matter who they are. As a civil servant, I’m mostly civil in a perfunctorial sense. Every customer is just another transaction to process. I’ll be a bit friendly from time to time, but I typically remain in a professional mode of bureaucratic functionary. I’m not a chatty person. And even when I’m in a bad mood, I keep it to myself.

          I don’t care about everyday rudeness or unfriendliness. There is no reason to take any of it personally, as my customers aren’t my friends. I expect little from customers, other than that they obey basic rules, especially when I give clear options to an individual. To that lady, I made it clear that she pay, take and IOU, or back out of the lane to get out of the way of other customers… or refusing those three options, I’d call the police. She was all pissy and couldn’t believe that I would threaten to call the police. And the fact of the matter is I don’t threaten for I’ve called the police on a number of people over the years, when necessary. Calling the police is the last option and the lady refused all other options. What else did she expect? I guess privilege had protected her from that kind of treatment her entire life, until she met me. Ha!

          (2) I’m not surprised by any of it. What I’m sort of surprised by or, rather, what I’m disappointed by is that other people are surprised at this late in the game. None of this is new. Where have these people’s heads been securely lodged all this time that they’ve somehow missed the development over the decades of corruption and generally unethical behavior, not to mention too often blatantly anti-democratic actions?

          It’s because I was raised to be an optimist and idealist that I expect so much of people. I know quite a few well educated people, including some working in alternative media, who should know better and yet they continue to be manipulated by empty rhetoric of fear-mongering, scapegoating, etc. I find that shocking. Apparently, my level of cynicism (i.e., failed idealism, if you scratch the cynicism) has not yet met the level of depravity and dissociation in the world. Deep down in my heart and soul, I remain that kid who was raised in a faith of positive thinking religion, even if it doesn’t seem apparent to those who don’t know me well. I’m a dreamer and always will be.

          (3) I’ve heard that theory before. I’m not sure what to think of it. Obviously, democracy only develops in a society that lacks democracy when something changes the conditions to make democracy possible. Such changes have to be quite extreme to force it to happen. War is one such condition that can propitiate change. But many other conditions will do the same thing: economic depressions, revolutions, civil wars, protest movements, etc. Basically, anything that destabilizes or destroys the old order opens the door to a new order.

          I don’t see war as being special in this regard. It creates an opportunity, as does so much else. Still, an opportunity is far from an inevitability. Change happens for many diverse reasons and one never knows what will result. I would note that not all societal transformation is violent. There are non-violent revolutions and coups that lead to peaceful transitions of power and in the process create democracy, such as Portugal’s Carnation Revolution which involved not a single gun fired or a single death as the military simply refused to further defend the authoritarian regime. Also, I don’t know that conflict was involved in the formation of Athenian democracy nor in the proto-democracy of Native American tribal governments where originated the US separation of powers.

          (4) Yet most of the wealth in the US is inherited wealth. This is because, even among the wealthy, only the wealthiest fraction of a percentage has most of the wealth. The concentration of wealth has become so great that there has grown a vast disparity even between the super rich and the mere moderately rich. Sure, earning what one’s wealth is true for some rich. But if we lived in an actually functioning meritocracy, many in the lower classes would be rich and many of the rich would be poor. The wealthy, specifically the super rich, have found ways of protecting and multiplying their wealth. This is why economic inequality has grown while economic mobility has fallen and the ever more precarious middle class shrunk.

          It’s not just that the wealthier have grown more wealthy. The lives of the lower classes have simultaneously grown worse, when taking into account: inflation and decreased buying power, growing healthcare and education costs, loss of job security and good benefits (especially pensions). With increased costs of that which help people escape poverty, the economic mobility promised in the American Dream has become ever further out of reach for most Americans. So a permanent underclass of the economically segregated and ghettoized has developed.

          (5) The data shows that the majority of Americans are now some combination of unemployed and underemployed, which is to say they are not making ends meet at all or at best barely making ends meet (keep in mind that the permanently unemployed have been left uncounted since the Reagan administration and also keep in mind that most welfare recipients are the working poor with jobs that don’t pay enough to live on). This has even been seen among the professional class, such as an increasing number of public school and college teachers taking extra jobs (including prostitution) and/or becoming homeless. No one is certain how many homeless are in the US at present, since no full data is kept, but in some cities where data is kept the number of homeless has been growing.

          It goes without saying that all of what I mention doesn’t get regularly mentioned in corporate media. And when mentioned, it rarely gets fully discussed and extensively analyzed. But on occasion, it does get reported in passing, only to be forgotten again with the next distraction of political spectacle, celebrity fiasco, or whatever. Public debate is hobbled through what Noam Chomsky describes as the propaganda model of media. The gatekeepers don’t just determine what is discussed but how it is discussed, that is to say the framing and talking points allowed, the sources given voice and the sectors silenced (e.g., the study showing how surprisingly often NPR has guests from right-wing think tanks).

          For context and perspective:

          “Nearly two-thirds of Americans (63 percent) say the future of the nation is a very or somewhat significant source of stress, slightly more than perennial stressors like money (62 percent) and work (61 percent), according to the American Psychological Association’s report, “Stress in America™: The State of Our Nation”.

          “More than half of Americans (59 percent) said they consider this the lowest point in U.S. history that they can remember — a figure spanning every generation, including those who lived through World War II and Vietnam, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

          “When asked to think about the nation this year, nearly six in 10 adults (59 percent) report that the current social divisiveness causes them stress. A majority of adults from both political parties say the future of the nation is a source of stress, though the number is significantly higher for Democrats (73 percent) than for Republicans (56 percent) and independents (59 percent).”

          “The APA survey did find, however, that not everyone is feeling the same degree of anxiety. Women normally report higher levels of stress than men, though worries among both genders tend to rise or fall in tandem. This year, however, they diverged: On a 10-point scale, women reported a slight increase in stress, rising from an average 5.0 in 2016 to 5.1 in 2017, while the level for men dropped, from an average 4.6 to 4.4.

          “Racial divides also exist in reported stress. While the levels among blacks and Hispanics were lower in 2016 than the year before, they rose for both groups in 2017, to 5.2 for Hispanic adults and 5.0 for black adults. Among whites, meanwhile, the average remained the same, at 4.7.”

          “According to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook 2016, the median wealth of the world’s adults is $2,222, down from $3,248 at the end of 2007. While the rich people of the world have taken more than their share of the $35 trillion wealth gain since the recession, the world median has dropped by over $1,000!

          “There are other recent indications of rising poverty. Based again on Credit Suisse wealth data, in just seven years the world’s Gini Coefficient, the most widely accepted measure of inequality, has surged from 88.1 to 92.7. Wealth inequality BETWEEN countries has grown dramatically. It’s a stunning rise, further evidence of a world splitting into two. […]

          “China may have pulled millions “out of poverty,” but in reality they’ve gained a few dollars a day while the country has become increasingly unequal in terms of wealth. The new Chinese “middle class” has in many ways gone backwards. According to China Labor Watch, weekly working hours in Apple’s factories surpass 60 hours, much of it without compensation. Toy builders labor in the factories 11 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week, earning minimum wage, while at night ten workers share a small dormitory room that may not even have hot showers. In the factories making products for Walmart and Home Depot, there are hundreds of underpaid student workers who labor in workshops that are hot and dusty, with volatile chemicals in the air, but with few health safeguards.

          “Numerous surveys and studies have made it clear that the Chinese people, despite their nation’s unparalleled economic growth, are no happier than they were 20 years ago, and have generally experienced a loss of well-being in their daily lives.

          “It goes well beyond China. BBC journalist Paul Mason writes that the developing world middle class is characterized by life in a “chaotic mega-city, cheek-by-jowl with abject poverty and crime, crowding on to makeshift public transport systems and seeing your income leach away into the pockets of all kinds of corrupt officials..” In a review of Mike Davis’s “Planet of Slums,” urban areas are described as “horizontal spreads of unplanned squats and shantytowns, unsightly dumps of humans and waste, where child labour is the norm, child prostitution is commonplace, gangs and paramilitaries rule and there is no access to clean water or sanitation, let alone to education or democratic institutions.” And, ironically, this is caused in great part by the policies of neoliberal institutions such as the World Bank, which would have us believe that conditions are steadily getting better.

          “Conditions getting better? Only in the minds of capitalists who don’t want their comfortable lives disrupted by a rebellion among their billions of victims.”

          “There has been no growth in earned income, and income and wealth gaps have grown and are enormous. Since 1980, median household real incomes have been about flat, and the average household in the top 40% earns four times more than the average household in the bottom 60%. While they’ve experienced some growth recently, real incomes have been flat to down slightly for the average household in the bottom 60% since 1980 (while they have been up for the top 40%). Those in the top 40% now have on average 10 times as much wealth as those in the bottom 60%. That is up from six times as much in 1980.

          “Only about a third of the bottom 60% saves any of its income (in cash or financial assets). As a result, according to a recent Federal Reserve study, most people in this group would struggle to raise $400 in an emergency. […]

          “Death rates are rising and mental and physical health is deteriorating for those in the bottom 60%. For those in the bottom 60%, premature deaths are up by about 20% since 2000. The biggest contributors to that change are an increase in deaths by drugs/poisoning (up two times since 2000) and an increase in suicides (up over 50% since 2000). The odds of premature death for those in the bottom 60% between the ages of 35 and 64 are more than two times higher, compared to those in the top 40%.

          “The US is just about the only major industrialized country with flat/slightly rising death rates.

          “The top 40% spend four times more on education than the bottom 60%. This creates a self-perpetuating problem, because those at the bottom get a much worse education than those at the top.

          “The bottom 60% increasingly believe others will take advantage of them: the percentage is 49% today versus 40% in 1990.

          “While conditions for the lowest income groups have long been bad, conditions of non-college-educated whites (especially males) have deteriorated significantly over the past 30 years or so. This is the group that swung most strongly to help elect President Trump. More specifically:

          Now, the average household income for main income earners without a college degree is half that of the average college graduate.

          “The share of whites without college degrees who describe themselves as “not too happy” has doubled since 1990, from 9% to 18%, while for those with college degrees it has remained flat, at around 7%.
          Since 1980, divorce rates have more than doubled among middle-age whites without college degrees, from 11% to 23%.

          “Prime working-age white males have given up looking for work in record numbers; the number of prime-age white men without college degrees not in the labor force has increased from 7% to 15% since 1980. […]

          “The polarity in economics and living standards is contributing to greater political polarity, as reflected in the below charts.

          “It is also leading to reduced trust and confidence in government, financial institutions, and the media, which is at or near 35-year lows.”

          “Dalio also found some very useful data I had never seen before: household income adjusted to show the impact of taxes, tax credits, and government benefits. This adjustment gets closer to the resources people actually have available for living expenses, savings, and investment.

          “Splitting that data by the top 40% and bottom 60%, we see a sharply growing difference in the percentage changes since 1980. The top saw its after-tax net household income grow almost three times faster than household income for the bottom 60%, even including government transfer payments. […]

          “There is a significant difference in the income growth of the middle 40–60% segment and the bottom 40%, too, and that difference accelerated during and after the Great Recession. Think about that in the context of recent political trends.

          “You see the problem here? The bottom 60% know their own experience. Thanks to the Internet and social media, the bottom 40% are particularly aware of it and increasingly resentful.

          “Note also that the lower ranks of the top 40% are not “wealthy” by any stretch. Anyone below the 80th percentile is probably struggling to some degree.

          “Since the 1980s most of us at the top have believed that a rising tide would lift all boats. We were half-right: It has lifted all the boats but not at the same rate, and a good many boats have sprung holes and are taking on water. We’re now near the point where our differences in income and wealth are too great to ignore. […]

          “One source of considerable stress that isn’t on the list but probably should be is household debt. I talk a lot about government debt and pension debt, but for most people the more immediate concern is probably their mortgage, auto, credit-card, and student loan debt. There is a mountain of it. […]

          “The top 20%, whose incomes grew the fastest, managed to reduce their leverage. The lower groups, whose income was up slightly or flat, added large amounts of debt, with the poorest adding the most, percentagewise.

          “This data doesn’t tell us what specific kinds of debt create these leverage ratios. Maybe some of the debt is productive, like mortgages on reasonably valued homes or student debt that helps borrowers eventually raise their incomes. But I’d bet much of the money that was borrowed is simply gone with little or nothing to show for it.

          “This likely-unrecoverable debt also appears as an asset on some lender’s balance sheet. It ends up being sold as asset-backed securities, possibly to a mutual fund or pension fund near you. And it’s generally in the high-yield category, with leverage on it.

          “At the risk of repeating the obvious, debt that can’t be repaid won’t be. Somebody will eat the loss; the only question is who. Banks managed to socialize much of their losses in the last recession. I’m not sure that plan will work a second time. […]

          Related to those articles, I was reading Keith Payne’s The Broken Ladder. It was published this year. Although far from perfect, I hope it gets a wide reading by the public and gains some traction in the media.

          It is a useful book because his analysis of inequality is primarily through a lens of social science, rather than economics or politics. The author explains in great detail the real world impact inequality has on people in all aspects of their lives. The basic point was made many years ago in The Spirit Level by Richard G. Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, but Payne takes it a step further in showing the immense amount of research that has accumulated and showing how all the research connects to form a larger understanding.

          The case against inequality goes far beyond a mere moral plea for justice and fairness. Inequality makes everything more dysfunctional. This is seen most clearly in diverse social problems, but there are larger consequences starkly shown in the political sphere. If a divided country is what is wanted, there are few more effective ways to divide a population than through inequality (pp. 110-111):

          “Political scientist Nolan McCarty and his colleagues have also traced political divisions over the last century in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, formulating a measure of polarization based on how lawmakers vote, similar to the data used for Andris’s graphs. The polarization index is at its highest when all Democrats vote one way and all Republicans vote the other. Using this index, they calculated how polarized American politics has been in every Congress since 1947. Figure 4.5 shows that polarization in the House of Representatives and the Gini index of inequality have followed strikingly similar trajectories. Results for the Senate are similar. Both inequality and polarization were relatively low through the 1950s and 1960s. They then began rising in tandem in the mid-1970s and have remained on par ever since.”

          There is one point that has long stood out to me, as seen with inequality research. It isn’t limited to the problems affecting the lower classes. Even the plutocrats become divided in conflict. That is what results when inequality becomes so entrenched that it forms into a widespread culture of mistrust, anxiety, and fear. This is seen in comparing countries which many earlier books on the topic have discussed. Even the wealthiest are worse off in a high inequality society than they are in a low inequality society. Inequality increases stress-related illnesses, violent crime, and political corruption. To live amidst inequality is to constantly feel on edge. No amount of wealth, power, and privilege can protect one from that sad state of affairs. No gated community can entirely isolate one from problems that tear apart the very social fabric that society depends upon.

          Inequality is self-destructive. It has to be remedied if the worst possible consequences are to be avoided: economic collapse, government failure, inability to defend against foreign invasion, terrorism, military coup, civil war, revolution, or some combination of these. Simply devolving into an authoritarian police state and banana republic isn’t much of a better fate. But the point is that the experience of shittiness becomes pervasive even while the outward forms of civil society are maintained. It happens in ways that are hard to see from within a society because the problems become normalized according to the status quo and the ensuing epistemic closure shuts down our ability to imagine anything else. All that is experienced by most people is a general sense of worsening. They simply feel bad which leads to some combination of apathetic resignation and fearful scapegoating. This does not help to build a shared attitude of common good and cooperation, much less compassion and tolerance.

          As inequality becomes a chasm dividing the public, the center literally disappears while the once large middle class shrinks. That center is what holds civil society together, what creates a sense of a shared social order (something explained by Aristotle more than a couple of millennia ago and also explained by Adam Smith more than a couple of centuries ago). Inequality turns people against one another. This can be seen in different areas of society, such as on an airplane where people are forced into close proximity. The socioeconomic status of passengers, real or perceived, represents a microcosm of the larger society (pp. 2-4):

          “As they discovered, the odds of an air rage incident were almost four times higher in the coach section of a plane with a first-class cabin than in a plane that did not have one. Other factors mattered, too, like flight delays. But the presence of a first-class section raised the chances of a disturbance by the same amount as a nine-and-a-half-hour delay.

          “To test the idea another way, the researchers looked at how the boarding process highlights status differences. Most planes with a first-class cabin board at the front, which forces the coach passengers to trudge down the aisle, dragging their baggage past the well-heeled and the already comfortably seated. But about 15 percent of flights board in the middle or at the back of the plane, which spares the coach passengers this gauntlet. As predicted, air rage was about twice as likely on flights that boarded at the front, raising the chances of an incident by the same amount as waiting out a six-hour delay.

          “This air rage study is revealing, but not just because it illustrates how inequality drives wedges between the haves and the have-nots. What makes it fascinating to me is that incidents of rage take place even when there are no true have-nots on a flight. Since an average economy-class ticket costs several hundred dollars, few genuinely poor people can afford to travel on a modern commercial airplane. Yet even relative differences among the respectable middle-class people flying coach can create conflict and chaos. In fact, the chaos is not limited to coach: First-class flyers in the study were several times more likely to erupt in air rage when they were brought up close and personal with the rabble on front-loading planes. As Ivana Trump’s behavior can attest, when the level of inequality becomes too large to ignore, everyone starts acting strange.

          “But they do not act strange in just any old way. Inequality affects our actions and our feelings in the same systematic, predictable fashion again and again. It makes us shortsighted and prone to risky behavior, willing to sacrifice a secure future for immediate gratification. It makes us more inclined to make self-defeating decisions. It makes us believe weird things, superstitiously clinging to the world as we want it to be rather than as it is. Inequality divides us, cleaving us into camps not only of income but also of ideology and race, eroding our trust in one another. It generates stress and makes us all less healthy and less happy.

          “Picture a neighborhood full of people like the ones I’ve described above: shortsighted, irresponsible people making bad choices; mistrustful people segregated by race and by ideology; superstitious people who won’t listen to reason; people who turn to self-destructive habits as they cope with the stress and anxieties of their daily lives. These are the classic tropes of poverty and could serve as a stereotypical description of the population of any poor inner-city neighborhood or depressed rural trailer park. But as we will see in the chapters ahead, inequality can produce these tendencies even among the middle class and wealthy individuals.

          “What is also notable about the air rage study is that it illustrates that inequality is not the same as poverty, although it can feel an awful lot like it. That phenomenon is the subject of this book. Inequality makes people feel poor and act poor, even when they’re not. Inequality so mimics poverty in our minds that the United States of America, the richest and most unequal of countries, has a lot of features that better resemble a developing nation than a superpower.”

          For some historical context, Noam Chomsky is useful (“The Common Good”, The Sun magazine, November 1997):

          “Aristotle took it for granted that a democracy would be fully participatory — with the notable exception of women and slaves — and would aim to promote the common good. But he argued that, in order to achieve its goal, the democracy would have to ensure “lasting prosperity to the poor” and “moderate and sufficient property” for everyone. If there were extremes of poor and rich, or if you didn’t have lasting prosperity for everyone, Aristotle thought, then you couldn’t talk seriously about having democracy.

          “Another point Aristotle made was that if you have a perfect democracy, yet have big differences of wealth — a small number of very rich people and a large number of very poor — then the poor will use their democratic muscle to take away the property of the rich. He regarded this as unjust and offered two possible solutions. One was to reduce poverty. The other was to reduce democracy.

          “A couple of thousand years later, when our Founding Fathers were writing the Constitution, James Madison noticed the same problem, but whereas Aristotle’s preferred solution had been to reduce poverty, Madison’s was to reduce democracy. He said quite explicitly in the Constitutional Convention that, if we had a true democracy, then the poor majority would use its power to demand what nowadays we would call agrarian reform, and that couldn’t be tolerated. The primary goal of government, in Madison’s words, is “to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority.” He also pointed out that, as time went on, this problem was going to get worse, because a growing part of the population would suffer serious inequities and “secretly sigh for a more equal distribution of blessings.” He therefore designed a system that would ensure democracy didn’t function. As he put it, power would be in the hands of the “more capable set of men,” those who held “the wealth of the nation,” and the rest would be factionalized and marginalized in various ways.”

          • During 1958-61 I was a writer for a now defunct weekly magazine serving managers in metalworking industries. Didn’t fully realize it at the time, but the beginning of radical changes in the economy were beginning to surface. One reason our present day economic issues are so problematic is the birth of the digital age which made obsolete most of the reasonably decent paying work, even for people without some higher education. It is as earth-shaking as the industrial revolution without the opportunities for the less skilled. Not one of the types of work I thought about as a teenager or studied in college (1951-55) exists today. We haven’t figured out how to create jobs for those less skilled for today’s workforce demands that pay what the old jobs used to pay. Service work is not the answer.

            Another factor is that we tend to use as our benchmark our post-WWII economy which lasted in some form in some places as late as the 1980’s (about 40 years maximum). The truth is that those years were an exception, not the norm. Why? After WWII, we were the only game in town. European and Japanese industry, the primary actors in the industrial world, lay in ruins. We had no competition. The majority, educated or unskilled/semi-skilled alike, made a decent living, The world looked to the US to supply all kinds of products and food. Then we helped shattered countries rebuild their industries, sharing our technology with just about anyone who asked. Our success made us complacent. We suffered hubris. Companies were making money. Unions struck for more wages and benefits. Companies gradually gave in to their demands. Management got raises, too, for keeping peace with labor and selling lots of stuff. But as overseas companies rebuilt with our help (and money – recall the Marshall Plan), many improved on our technology. A good example is the steel industry. Foreign producers began not only to undersell US firms, thanks to cheaper labor, they also cut costs through greater efficiency because they had new, modern steel mills while US steelmakers still were operating pre-WWII mills. A book. “Homestead”, outlines what happened to US Steel and its largest mill in Pennsylvania. It gave all its money away to labor and management (now making very good wages) and didn’t hold back sufficient reserves to modernize its aging plant. It could no longer could compete. The world passed it by. It closed. And so it was with much of the US former industrial strength. Thus came the rust belt. And abandoned rural towns as agriculture consolidated to survive.

            Now, some of the countries that undercut our wages are finding themselves undercut by emerging economies. The 20th century economy is gone. We know the essence of the new economy of technology. But how will all of us be part of that? That is, I believe, the essence our our current economic malaise. Education is an imperative. But will there be enough opportunity to go around, especially for those who, for whatever reason, don’t equip themselves to be part of the new age?

          • I’d agree with much of what you wrote. I’ve written similar things many times over the years. There are many possible explanations, as the world is complex. But complacency, aided and abetted by corruption and cronyism, did play a major role.

            The US government gives away massive wealth on a regular basis: subsidies, bailouts, selling natural resources from public lands for below market prices, picking up the tab for environmental disasters corporations cause, no bid contracts, etc. Trillions of dollars disappear on a regular basis and I can promise you it ain’t trickling down. Instead, it ends up in secret offshore accounts and foreign investments.

            The basic problem is that the transnational plutocrats that rule the US could care less about the country and its citizens. Those who have the power and wealth have no interest in public investments. Other than revolution or collapse, there is no way to change this sad reality.

          • I won’t argue your basic point. But cronyism, corruption, etc. had nothing to do with the disappearance of my job as a drill pointer, my job working with hot type in the backstop of my grandad’s country weekly newspaper and hundreds of other such decent paying jobs that became history during the run-up to and the emergence of the digital age.

            Incidentally, the list above of what Americans want includes a fair number of things they think are “free” such as college. One wonders where such proponents think the money comes from. I guess they don’t. School teachers in my town complain about their salaries and property taxes, failing to realize property taxes pay their salaries. Having lost a low-skill job when the minimum wage went up, I can argue raising the minimum wage can be pointless in the long run and causes job loss for low-skill workers. I recall when the minimum wage went to 60 cents and hour. The argument in favor then is the same argument used today. If it was a valid argument, why do we still want to raise the minimum wage? Back then, unions supported upping the minimum wage because it decreased the distance between minimum wage and union pay, thus creating an argument for raising union wages to retain the magnitude of the benefit of being union over mostly non-union minimum wagers. The government is a culprit here, too. The Feds like inflation because it makes the national debt cheaper to pay off; ie, borrow a dollar worth a dollar and pay the debt with a dollar worth, for example, 90 cents. The government helps that along by printing more money, thus devaluing money in circulation. The old Gold Standard kept government more honest in that regard. The American Council of Trustees and Alumni just released its latest study of core requirements at over 1100 US public and private colleges. Only 5% require a course in basic economics. Maybe that contributes to our failure to understand how economics, under any political system, works.

          • Oops! In my last post, second paragraph, word should be “backshop of . . .paper”, not “backstop.” As noted previously, my proofing and typing skills have gone to hell in my antiquity – a deadly combination.

          • I don’t have a clear opinion on what you bring up. Capitalism brought both positives and negatives. But over time, some of the negatives have become overwhelming.

            There has been many attempts to save capitalism from itself. Labor unions always operated within the capitalist system. They didn’t seek solutions that were socialist, communist, or anarchist (e.g., anarchosyncialist worker-owned-and-operated businesses such as Mondragon Corporation). Instead, the head of labor unions work closely with management, even in the case of Germany being members on corporate boards. Likewise, progressivism was an attempt to save capitalism from itself by ensuring everyone had access to work and there basic needs were met, in order to avoid the extremes that led to fascism or communism. But we might be beyond saving capitalism from itself.

            Neoliberal globalization operates transnationally and acts independently of single nation-states or else takes control of them through inverted totalitarianism. Neither workers nor citizens have any leverage within the present global economic system because the center of power isn’t within the local government and the global scale forces workers to compete against poor people in developing countries who either are slaves or in near slave conditions. For the common person, it’s a race to the bottom.

            And capitalism can’t offer any solution to this. Raising minimum wage is a last ditch effort to reform capitalism from within capitalism, to solve the problem on the same level it was created. But such minor measures can only offer a band-aid to a gushing wound. That isn’t to say that I know what the answer is. What is clear is that we are hitting the end point of the present paradigm, whatever may be next. It’s maybe time for experimentation with entirely new systems and strategies, such as basic income.

          • Sometimes I get frustrated because I don’t make myself clear. So here’s effort #2:
            1. You said corruption, cronyism, etc. are major reasons for our economic malaise. I said I wouldn’t argue that point, but they are NOT the reasons for the jobs losses I noted. Corruption, etc. may be involved later, but advancements in technology are the reason at the outset, as is the case regarding what the digital age has done to the workforce.
            2. Surveys or a survey you note in one of your posts on this thread show that most Americans want free stuff from the government. How will the debt be paid? There is nothing free from government. That illusion dominates because most of us don’t understand basic economics. Basic points: 1. You must take in more money than you spend. 2. When supply goes up, prices go down. When supply goes down, prices go up. 3. When prices go up, discretionary spending goes down. When prices go down, discretionary sending goes up. 4. Opportunity cost. When money is spent, is the loss of future opportunity understood? How many folks manage their finances like the government?
            Illinois, for example, has obligated itself to spend more money than actuaries believe it can ever take in to meet those obligations and still function. Chicago and Connecticut are issuing collateralized bonds (the type of financial instrument that helped facilitated the 2008 collapse). What is the collateral? Future tax income. So Chicago and Connecticut, which can’t pay their debts and are raising taxes to help address that problem, are using that tax revenue to back up bonds sold to raise money to pay what existing tax revenue doesn’t cover! It’s like using one credit card to pay off the debt of another credit card. Yet the politicians responsible keep getting elected. No wonder public debt is out of control and consumer debt (and/or lack of savings) is close behind! Ben Franklin said (paraphrase) when citizens figure out how to vote themselves money, the Republic is finished. Incidentally, when states, cities or countries raise taxes beyond certain point (which involves variables), people and companies leave, resulting in a net tax loss. Example: Some years ago, Washington decided to raise money by taxing the purchase of yachts beyond the normal sales tax (a variation of tax the rich). Result: Yacht sales plummeted. A healthy US yacht industry moved overseas, yacht workers became unemployed and net tax revenues (from the yacht business and its employees) fell below what they were prior to levying the new tax. Illinois raised taxes to the point that the state had a net loss in population since the last census and businesses are leaving.
            3. But we’ll raise taxes on rich people to pay for it all! Truth is there are not enough rich people, even if their income is taxed at 100%, to make much of a dent in the national debt, let alone state debt. As I noted before, the IRS will disagree with your statement that most wealthy people are rich thanks to inheritance. Not so, it says. Most wealth is earned. And since such things were studied beginning (I think) in the 1920’s, the bulk of inherited wealth is lost by the third generation.
            Hope this is at least a little better clarification of my points.

          • WordPress appears to have put my first post of today in the trash.
            A number of points you make about the state of our people include several I planned to put in my thoughts on the whiteness issue. One that intrigues me is that years of diminishing the self-esteem of blacks excuses certain types of black behavior. But the current diminishment (clearly, however, not remotely as extreme as that imposed on blacks here) is claimed to have nothing to do with the demise of white “lower” classes. I believe the reason for that is almost religious. The Catholics, thanks to St. Augustine, came up with the idea of original sin; that is, we all carry the sin committed by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Calvin enhanced that notion in Protestantism. (Original sin is not in the theology of the Orthodox Church, the first Christian church. It believes we are born without sin and that sin is personal, not inherited as with original sin.) The current thinking of many academics, multiculturalists, civil rights activists, etc. is that if your skin is white, you are guilty of the original sin of white slave traders and masters. Curiously, blacks whose lines follow the blacks who rounded up blacks they sold to whites to be shipped into slavery do not share that original sin.

          • I don’t feel much like arguing with you. We already know each other’s positions. I can counter every point you make with endless data and links. But it wouldn’t make any difference. Each of us would continue stating our respective views. Let me just do a quick response. And I’m going to be gruff because I’m not in the mood for tolerating bullshit.

            “1. You said corruption, cronyism, etc. are major reasons for our economic malaise. I said I wouldn’t argue that point, but they are NOT the reasons for the jobs losses I noted. Corruption, etc. may be involved later, but advancements in technology are the reason at the outset, as is the case regarding what the digital age has done to the workforce.”

            It is all inseparable. We have oligarchic kleptocracy, plutocratic corporatism, inverted totalitarianism, and neoliberal globalization. What we don’t have is a functioning democracy and free market. We simply have no idea what kind of society it would be like (such as what kind of work would and would not exist), if we did have a functioning democracy and free market.

            “2. Surveys or a survey you note in one of your posts on this thread show that most Americans want free stuff from the government. How will the debt be paid? There is nothing free from government. That illusion dominates because most of us don’t understand basic economics.”

            I’d say your demonstrating a lack of understanding basic economics.

            Most Americans don’t want anything free. They simply want stop the ongoing theft of trillions of dollars of national wealth and public resources, subsidies and bailouts, etc. The plutocrats not only want free stuff but have taken over the government to give themselves free stuff. But, no, demanding the return of stolen goods is not asking for free stuff.

            Let’s stop this evil authoritarian regime first. After that, we can discuss the details about how to create a functioning democracy and free market.

            “Ben Franklin said (paraphrase) when citizens figure out how to vote themselves money, the Republic is finished.”

            The founding fathers started a revolution specifically to fight such things as plutocracy and corporatism. Maybe it’s time for another revolution.

            “3. But we’ll raise taxes on rich people to pay for it all! Truth is there are not enough rich people, even if their income is taxed at 100%, to make much of a dent in the national debt, let alone state debt. As I noted before, the IRS will disagree with your statement that most wealthy people are rich thanks to inheritance. Not so, it says. Most wealth is earned. And since such things were studied beginning (I think) in the 1920’s, the bulk of inherited wealth is lost by the third generation.”

            If you knew jack shit, you’d be more worried about how those plutocrats who control our government got rich and maintained their power.

            The single largest sector of the economy is the defense industry that is primarily funded with crony capitalist no-bid contracts. Another large sector of the economy is propped up by the government giving away natural resources off of public lands far below market costs, while using taxpayer money to build the roads for the corporations to use to take away those natural resources. Even in terms of welfare, the greatest beneficiary of this in the country isn’t the poor but Walmart whose entire business model is based on the welfare its employees receive and the welfare its stores receive from customers, without which Walmart would go out of business.

            “A number of points you make about the state of our people include several I planned to put in my thoughts on the whiteness issue. One that intrigues me is that years of diminishing the self-esteem of blacks excuses certain types of black behavior.”

            It doesn’t excuse anything. Look at the fucking facts, douche bag.

            Thousands of studies have shown the racism that exists in every aspect and at every level of our society. It’s not an excuse. It’s the reality of the world we live in, which you’d see if you pulled your head out of your ass. For example, blacks are more likely to be stopped and frisked, arrested and prosecuted, harshly punished and imprisoned for crimes that whites are more likely to commit (such as drug crimes, considering whites are more likely to carry, use, and sell illegal drugs).

            Don’t be an asshole. I won’t tolerate racism in this blog. And yes, defending a racist system is itself a racist act. Racism is an issue I refuse to debate with you or anyone else. If you can’t acknowledge reality, that is your problem… not mine. As I’ve said, racism will get you blocked. Don’t tempt me.

            “But the current diminishment (clearly, however, not remotely as extreme as that imposed on blacks here) is claimed to have nothing to do with the demise of white “lower” classes.”

            Plenty of people talk about the demise of white lower classes. I write about it all the time. Here are just a few blog posts I’ve written on the topic:

            And in my writings, I reference and quote a wide variety of works. One of the most interesting is Joe Bageant, but there are plenty of more academic writers as well. An interesting example of a specific book is Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels, and Black Power by Amy Sonnie and James Tracy.


            In one instance, the Klan provided protection to a black group during a strike that blacks and whites were organizing together. That is hard to imagine, but it happened (Kindle Locations 149-154):

            “We organized a meeting of Movement organizers, including members of the Republic of New Afrika (RNA), for the Patriots delegation. At the time, the New Orleans chapters of the Southern Conference Education Fund (SCEF) and the RNA were working together supporting a strike by pulp mill workers in Laurel, Mississippi, not far outside New Orleans. Virginia Collins , the local RNA leader and one of the organization’s founders, told the Patriots about the white and Black workers who had been enemies before the strike but were now working together. She shared that the local Klan actually provided security for the SCEF and RNA organizers when they came to hold meetings, and that sometimes they met in the Black Baptist church, sometimes in the white Baptist church.”

            One group was the Young Patriots. They were lower class white Southerners who had moved North. They all lived in a neighborhood in Chicago where poverty and unemployment was rampant. These were the poorest of the poor whites. So, just like poor blacks, they organized. But they never got the attention from the MSM. Even the middle class white activists largely ignored them. Poor Southern whites were supposed to be the bad guys, but some blacks were able to empathize. It took the Black Panthers to acknowledge these struggling whites (Kindle Locations 262-266):

            “The Young Patriots’ own chairman, William Fesperman, even let some heartfelt gratitude show in between jibes about the “pig power structure” when he explained how the Patriots came to be at the conference: “Our struggle is beyond comprehension to me sometimes and I felt for a long time [that poor whites] was forgotten … that nobody saw us. Until we met the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party and they met us and we said let’s put that theory into practice.” Summing up why they had all come to Oakland, he added, “We want to stand by our brothers, our brothers, dig?””

            Those in power don’t care about poor whites any more than they care about poor blacks. Racism sucks and should be dealt with, but we have to realize that the ignoring of poor whites is part of the racial equation of oppression. If all poverty is seen as a black thing, then the poor whites don’t have to be recognized. Poor whites with the same social problems as poor blacks can be swept under the rug. Instead, we can simply blame all social problems on blacks with the assumption that blacks are just inferior and so nothing can be done about it.

            “The current thinking of many academics, multiculturalists, civil rights activists, etc. is that if your skin is white, you are guilty of the original sin of white slave traders and masters.”

            It’s simply a fact that racism continues. And it is also a fact that even poor whites have advantages that poor blacks lack.

            That isn’t to claim that life is easy for poor whites. But it is to point out that, no matter how hard it is for poor whites, it is far worse for poor blacks. For example, studies have shown that whites with criminal records are more likely to be hired than blacks with no criminal records.

            I could list studies like this all day long. The existence and impact of racism in the US is a non-debate.

            “Curiously, blacks whose lines follow the blacks who rounded up blacks they sold to whites to be shipped into slavery do not share that original sin.”

            Don’t pretend to be ignorant. You know, as I know, that most of the blacks involved in the slave trade were in Africa. It has little to do with the black population in the US. Few American blacks descend from black ancestors who enslaved other blacks to be sold in the Western slave trade. Don’t play those games with me.

            Your testing the limits of my tolerance. If you continue with comments like this, I will permanently end our discussions. These kinds of comments are highly questionable in offering value to this blog. I can’t emphasize enough that I’m not in the mood. I’ve debated these issues more than enough for the rest of my life. If you offer one more comment like this, I’m not even going to bother to approve it and I might just block you. You are welcome to offer constructive comments, but that would require you to make informed comments. This is your last warning.

            Anyway, if these are the kinds of comments you feel compelled to leave, this blog isn’t the place for you. There are plenty of blogs out there that would welcome your comments. Unless you’re into sadomasochism, I’m not sure why you keep coming back after I rip apart your arguments again and again. Maybe we both have better ways to spend our time. I’ve tried to be tolerant with you, but it gets tiresome endlessly repeating the same debates. Ya know, if you truly think your comments are such an addition to public debate, you could always start your own blog.

          • You’ve demonstrated that you are unable and/or unwilling to discuss race without being racist. And I’ve repeatedly explained to you that I have zero tolerance toward racism.

            I realize you are an old white guy who grew up during an even more racist time of American history. Maybe you’ve internalized racism so deeply and unconsciously that you can’t help being a knee-jerk racist. Still, your unaware obliviousness is no excuse. In some ways, racism can be worse when it is neither acknowledged nor owned.

            Whatever the explanation for your racism, it is irrelevant. I simply won’t tolerate it. You’ve lost all rights to discuss race and racism in my blog. I will allow you to discuss anything else you want, for the time being. But if you even mention anything related to race, even once more, a permanent block will be immediately enforced.

            I’m sorry that it got to this point. But I warned you many times. When I say something, it is wise to take me seriously. I don’t play games.

          • I may be all those things you called me, but it is a fact that name-calling is a good way to shut down a conversation. Yes, each of us is a bit fixed in our ways, but it is clear to me that you have challenged my thinking in a positive way more than I apparently have challenged yours. On your racism charge, I’d guess I have had at least as many genuine friends (as opposed to good acquaintances) of color than you, at least as many such people in my home for socializing, probably more such people who were neighbors babysit my children and on and on including such relationships in my careers. I shall risk your additional ire by suggesting your damnations based on age, gender and skin color could be claimed as prejudicial stereotypes.

            On economics, have you ever had to meet a payroll, attempted to save jobs, not in the abstract, but on a very personal level? I have. George McGovern ran a B&B after retiring from politics. It failed. Wrote a column in which he said that experience caused him to wish he’d been in business before he went into politics because he would have been much more sympathetic toward people in business.

            You are an exceptionally bright person with a superior mind for analysis, categorizing and remembering. And you write skillfully and usually clearly. (You should write books.) That’s why I chose to comment on your blog. It demanded more of me than most blogs which tend to be simplistic and not very thought provoking, which is why I rarely blog. Your last outburst, however, made me realize my comments are a waste of my time (and ultimately yours). So to minimize your suffering from what you deem bullshit, I shall boot myself from your blog, never to return again. As you implied some time back, my passing probably will help make the world a better place! Nevertheless, I wish you well in all regards.

          • It really is simple. I don’t tolerate racism. And you were making comments only a racist would make. More importantly, you made those comments knowing I don’t tolerate racism and having been warned numerous times. So, you made a decision, for whatever reason. I realize you probably can’t help yourself. You were born into racism and internalized it. You will probably spend the rest of your life with that mentality, never understanding racism and why your comments are so harmful. It’s sad. But there is nothing I can do about it, other than to be clear about my moral standards.

            “I may be all those things you called me, but it is a fact that name-calling is a good way to shut down a conversation.”

            That was on purpose. I was shutting you down because of your racist comments.

            “Yes, each of us is a bit fixed in our ways, but it is clear to me that you have challenged my thinking in a positive way more than I apparently have challenged yours.”

            That has always been the problem. It’s always felt like I’ve engaged you more than you have engaged me. You have mostly just repeated your opinions. And that gets tiresome after a while.

            “On your racism charge, I’d guess I have had at least as many genuine friends (as opposed to good acquaintances) of color than you, at least as many such people in my home for socializing, probably more such people who were neighbors babysit my children and on and on including such relationships in my careers.”

            Many racists have black friends. The guy who killed a bunch of black people in Charleston grew up with black kids and some of them considered him a close friend. Racism have never stopped people from interacting with each other.

            “I shall risk your additional ire by suggesting your damnations based on age, gender and skin color could be claimed as prejudicial stereotypes.”

            And sometimes people act like stereotypes. Not always or not necessarily even usually. But in this case, you were acting like a stereotypical old white guy who simply doesn’t get it. I didn’t force you to act that way.

            “On economics, have you ever had to meet a payroll, attempted to save jobs, not in the abstract, but on a very personal level? I have. George McGovern ran a B&B after retiring from politics. It failed. Wrote a column in which he said that experience caused him to wish he’d been in business before he went into politics because he would have been much more sympathetic toward people in business.”

            I’m not unsympathetic to people in business. I’ve known plenty of who are business owners and managers. My dad was in business for his entire life. I have nothing against business people on principle. But I do have something against plutocracy and corporatism.

            “You are an exceptionally bright person with a superior mind for analysis, categorizing and remembering. And you write skillfully and usually clearly. (You should write books.) That’s why I chose to comment on your blog. It demanded more of me than most blogs which tend to be simplistic and not very thought provoking, which is why I rarely blog. Your last outburst, however, made me realize my comments are a waste of my time (and ultimately yours). So to minimize your suffering from what you deem bullshit, I shall boot myself from your blog, never to return again. As you implied some time back, my passing probably will help make the world a better place! Nevertheless, I wish you well in all regards.”

            I wish it could have ended better. But I sure did try. You just didn’t seem all that interested in engaging on the same level. Or else you weren’t able to do so.

          • You said that you appreciated my blog. I don’t doubt that. But it’s obvious you didn’t appreciate it enough to refrain from racist comments. You willingly chose to persist in your racism, knowing full well my response.

            There has been centuries of racism without consequences to whites. That racism continues. One thing is different now, though. Individuals are being held accountable for their racism. And it is long overdue. Racism will only end when the consequences for racists are costly enough to incentivize behavioral changes.

            That’s what just happened to you. Consequences finally caught up with you, even if only in a small way. Let’s hope this leads to some soul-searching on your part, along with increased self-awareness and more caution about your words in the future. Consider this a learning experience. There is nothing stopping you from changing your ways in what time you have left in this world. You need not end your life with racism still heavy on your heart.

            Despite my irritable rebuke, I can’t say that I entirely dislike you on a personal level. Your last comment was an attempt to be kind, even though that kindness wasn’t returned. I’m beyond the point of wanting to play nice with you. Instead of kindness toward me, I would’ve preferred for you to have shown compassion toward those more disadvantaged than you. Your racist complaints about blacks was not well received, in case you didn’t notice.

            That said, I wish you no ill will. I have zero tolerance for racism because I want a better world, even for those I disagree with. It genuinely saddens me that you didn’t want to join me in that vision.

      • I considered my posts a personal conversation between two people. The thought of them as positions for a public forum never occurred to me. So my perception apparently did not match the reality of the situation. I think your broad definition of racism prompted you to see my words in a way that did not match the reality of the situation. My comments were about folks who consider as racist any words involving race that do not match their own and ignore actions of those charged. Here are two actions of mine, among many: 1. When teaching at a college, I recruited minority students, had them in class, advised them, helped them get internships while in school and helped them gain employment upon graduation. To better address issues with which some minority students struggled, often sought advice from minority people I knew. Those students recognized my work as “empathic, honest and effective with no patronizing. (He) , , , , demands much but it pays off.” 2. At one company, I hired the first black person ever to work there. Not many hard core racists do such things, but I could be charged with being a racist and not knowing it. That could be a reason so many conversations I’ve known about race go nowhere. It certainly ended this one.

        You offered some advice in your last post. Here’s some from me: You might examine some of your own prejudices, such as those against old, white males. After all, bigotry is bigotry, no matter what the object.

        • More than irritated, I was depressed by our interaction. You and I have been in dialogue for quite a while now. But it feels like your responses never change. Ever since you first commented, you have made statements such as that, “A number of points you make about the state of our people include several I planned to put in my thoughts on the whiteness issue. One that intrigues me is that years of diminishing the self-esteem of blacks excuses certain types of black behavior.”

          When I say that is racist, I’m not using a broad definition of the term. I’m being quite specific. From my view, your comment sounds like a standard talking point out of the racist playbook. If a “race realist” said the exact same words, we’d all know he was expressing racism. Yet I realize you aren’t intentionally trying to be racist. It’s just you are expressing what you’ve absorbed over your lifetime.

          Research has shown that racism is a lot more subtle than many assumed. Even people who think of themselves as non-racist can carry a lot of racism. Studies have shown this even with well-intentioned teachers working with minority students. Also, other studies show that racism is disproportionately found to a greater degree among certain demographics: whites, older people, conservatives, authoritarians, residents of former sundown towns/suburbs, etc. My pointing out that older whites tend to have higher rates of racism is not exactly a new insight. That said, I do know some genuinely racially aware, concerned, and compassionate older white guys. They do exist, even if at a lower rate than found among other demographics.

          I’m not picking on older whites. Ya know, I’m a white guy and now in my 40s. I’m well onto becoming an old white guy. And with this in mind, I realize there are certain things I don’t understand as well as others. No matter my struggles and sufferings as a working class guy dealing with depression, I’m forced to admit that I was born with certain privileges and advantages. My life is easier than it otherwise would have been. I’ve been fortunate in so many ways and I did nothing to deserve any of it. I’ve noticed this in my interactions with employers, police, and other authority figures. I’m given the benefit of the doubt in a way minorities are less likely to experience. And so I turn my critical eye as much to my own life as to that of others.

          That is the way I am. I’m often more critical of groups I belong to and of which I’m intimately familiar. This is why I pick on liberals so much, as I’ve identified as liberal for so much of my life. My sympathies are with liberalism and so my criticisms are harshest toward liberals. For example, I’ve many times have pointed out how racism plays out in a particular way in liberal communities. I live in a majority white liberal college town, filled with more good intentions than you’re likely to find anywhere else in the country. That doesn’t stop it from having one of the highest racial disparities in drugs arrests seen in the entire country. As an older white guy, I could choose to be mostly oblivious to that reality since that is what most whites do around here; but my conscience won’t allow me to be oblivious.

          If you have gone to some effort to come to terms with the racist society you were born into, I applaud you. But that doesn’t excuse not continuing to improve. Racism is pervasive in our society, as it is pervasive in our psyches. Having good intentions toward minorities isn’t good enough. Fighting racism, not to mention other forms of oppression and injustice, must be a life long process of learning. That is what feels frustrating in our conversations. I’ve written so often about racism and how it operates in our society. Even so, your comments don’t indicate you’ve read or comprehended what I’ve written. You still act like you are immune to the racism that infects the minds of everyone else. None of us is immune. The best we can do is to understand it.

          That is why, in my responses to you, I’ve so often linked to previous posts I’ve written. The data is overwhelming. There is no evidence that, as you claimed, blacks are making excuses any more than whites like you. If you knew the data, you’d know that racism persists in every aspect of society: policing, court system, employment, housing, etc. This has been proven beyond any doubt, again and again and again (as can be found in thousands of scientific studies, academic papers, and scholarly books). There is no excuse for ignorance at this point, even as whites keep making excuses.

          Consider the concrete example of economics. The changes in the economy have been shown to hit minorities the hardest, from deindustrialization to the various recessions over the years. Few Americans know that there was a recession that hit young GenXers alone of all generations and hit the worst was GenX minorities, but much of the rest of the population (such as older whites) was mostly experiencing economic good times. That lack of awareness by older whites was a privilege for, before the economy worsened, older whites had the chance to get their foot in the door back when government-subsidized education was cheap, good jobs were prolific with on-the-job training, and socioeconomic mobility was growing.

          Plus, older whites grew up at a time when most of them were able escape the old industrial centers during deindustrialization, which left minorities concentrated in the deindustrialized inner cities with high unemployment rates (Americans forget that inner cities were once thriving areas and that, prior to deindustrialization, blacks living there had high employment rates). Racist sundown practices, redlining, and housing associations made it impossible for most blacks to escape these areas of worsening poverty along with the continuing legacies of industrial pollution. This is a large reason why to this day minorities have higher rates of lead toxicity which causes permanent brain damage, impacting not just IQ but also psychological development and behavior. Even poor whites are more likely to escape poverty by living in wealthier communities because racism hasn’t historically excluded them from housing and employment in those wealthier communities (another basic fact seen in research).

          Multiply that by a thousand other factors that have been shown to harm minorities more than whites, even poor whites. The main culprits making excuses here are whites and disproportionately older whites at that. It doesn’t matter how good are your intentions in not being racist, if you don’t understand how racism has created and continues to maintain the racial order. In a state of ignorance, genuine criticisms of this unfairness and injustice will simply look like excuse-making. And for those who fight against such racially-motivated ignorance, that is frustrating to no end.

          But I’m not interested in just attacking someone like you. You really do seem like a nice person. And I have a feeling this conversation would be better to have in person. In the end, I don’t want to ban you from my blog. I just wish there was a way for us to communicate, as I really do get tired of the same debate happening over and over with nothing ever seeming to change. I have little desire to debate. What I want is to dialogue and communicate, to listen and be heard, to speak and be understood. I’m not sure where that leaves us. Let me retract the restriction I placed upon you. I give back your rights to discuss race and racism in my blog. I don’t know. I wish I could help you understand how horrific is racism in this society. Blacks have more justified reasons to complain than you or I will likely ever be able to understand because anti-black racism simply isn’t personally and viscerally real in our lives as white guys. I’m not holding myself above you in self-righteousness. My concern is entirely focused on the racism itself or rather the problems in general, considering this is a shitty society for most of us in various ways and to various degrees.

          Along with curiosity, a major motivation for all I do is compassion. This isn’t compassion limited to a single group. Heck, I can even feel compassion for plutocrats in their clueless delusions borne out of economic segregation, sociopolitical disconnection, and demographic isolation. I’m fond of repeating that, according to research, even the super-rich are worse off in a high inequality society (for higher rates of health and social problems are found across all classes). It’s the system itself that is dysfunctional and, in a sense, we are all victims of it. This is why reform from within the system has been a failure. We can’t genuinely reform the system when our minds are trapped within the reality tunnel of the system. As a wise man once said, problems can’t be solved on the same level they were created. For us born into and surrounded by racism (like the air we breathe), it’s hard for us to genuinely imagine the world being any other way. If nothing else, I hope you understand that much.

    • I’ve seen that kind of research. But it is good to be reminded of it. And taken together, those articles offer a compelling view. As a society, why do we so often speak of the problems of poverty and so rarely speak of the problems of wealth? That is more important as inequality rises. Plenty of other research shows that the problems of inequality may be far worse than the problems of poverty or wealth taken alone.

      Wealth wouldn’t be a problem without inequality and hence without poverty. It’s only when wealth is concentrated that problems follow because it inevitably means concentrated power, authority, influence, privilege, resources, connections, opportunities, second chances, third chances, fourth chances, etc. Pretty much whenever wealth is being studied, what is being studied as well is the inequality of concentrated wealth and concentrated poverty.

      Below is yet another article along a similar line. This shows the power of perceived inequality, even when artificially constructed. At the end of the quoted part, the author states that, “There is no evidence that they continue to act in such a fashion after they stop playing that role.” That is the crux of the matter. When inequality is structural and built on rigid hierarchy, such roles become permanent social classes that people are born into and typically die never having escaped.

      “So are users learning to be ruthless capitalists when they play Monopoly? Research fellow Dr Marcus Carter says probably not, arguing that ‘despite the arguments and allegations of betrayal Monopoly is likely to cause in homes this Christmas, its morality is as unrealistic as that in Grand Theft Auto. Players are granted no moral choice whether or not to bankrupt their opponents and consequently, there is little moral involvement.’

      “On the other hand, social psychologist Paul Piff believes that Monopoly might be able to be used to expose moral codes or ethics. Piff uses rigged games, in which the rules are changed to make one player unbeatably wealthy, to reveal what he believes his earlier research has shown: that wealthier people tend to lack empathy. His studies with rigged games showed that the person given all the advantages quickly became accustomed to them and played ruthlessly, feeling little to no regard for the other less fortunate player. His conclusions supported his continued work on the so-called ‘empathy gap’, but they also reveal two things about the game: firstly, that Monopoly can be set up to simulate moral decision processes, but secondly and more importantly, that those morals are affected by the rigged circumstances of the game. In other words, how people play isn’t necessarily how they act in the real world, but it is affected by the type of player the game sets them up to become. There is no evidence that they continue to act in such a fashion after they stop playing that role.”

  2. I think that at this point, it’s clear that the so called culture war issues are little more than cover for the Democratic Party’s pro-plutocratic agenda.

    I think that at this point, the difficult tasks will be getting large numbers of people to recognize just how both parties have used the other side to play each other as the sole cause of the sole problem white the rich loot society.

    • Many have pointed out that the Republican elite use culture war issues to get votes. After they get those votes, they somehow never give social conservatives what they want, just stringing them along. Yet they always manage to push through the economic policies that serve big money.

      The same dynamic operates in the Democratic Party and leads to the same powerful interests. The two parties are puppets on a string being tugged by the same hand. More Americans seem to be finally grasping this reality. But it’s sad that the whole system has to get this bad before many are willing to admit the obvious.

      “The Democratic Party has broken with its historic conservatism, its pandering to the rich, its predilection for war, only when it has encountered rebellion from below, as in the Thirties and the Sixties.”
      ~ Howard Zinn, People’s History of the United States

      • It goes in cycles. We are in a reactionary moment. The powers that be will become increasingly authoritarian and the public will be forced into ever greater radicalism and revolt. They feed into each other. That pattern has played out for centuries.

        But I do sense that something is different this time. There are too many converging factors. Neoliberalism and neoconservatism has remade the world, even though people keep acting as if it is the same. We have never before seen this kind of inequality of wealth, power, opportunity, resources, etc. And this inequality is no longer limited to a single country or empire.

        The establishment Democrats are a symptom of these changes. They are reacting to a world they no longer control. It’s hard to know who really is in control, assuming anyone is.

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