Author Archives: Robert Warden

I Have a Dream Part 1: It Starts With a Dream.

Written by Robert Warden

Now that I have discussed various ways in which Republicans have pursued, and largely achieved at this time, their political objectives — of attaining and holding onto power, of deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy, of increasing the size of our military while decreasing the rest of government, of rigging the Supreme Court and other courts in their favor — I wish to turn my attention to progressive strategy.

Conservatives have clearly had shared strategies to accomplish their goals, as is well documented. They have big money, think tanks and economic and political get togethers where they have discussed strategy which has been implemented over the years, apparently putting the less well funded and less well organized progressives at a serious disadvantage. But what we progressives lack in money and organizaation, we abound with in intelligence, moral fortitude and numbers.

Getting progressives to go the same direction politically has been compared to herding cats. We tend to go every which way, pursuing our own interests of the moment like cats. That isn’t entirely true, however. We do have common ground in opposing economic unfairness, oligarchy, unearned privilege, social injustice, and warmongering, among other things, and endorsing enlightened policies which are designed to prevent these problems from occurring. In fact, polls and studies show that many people, if not a majority, who identify with conservatives and vote for Republicans, want some of these same things such as economic fairness, reduced wealth inequality, and a meritocracy in which birth status and social position are not the determinants of success. We have numbers on our side, big time. Not only are most Americans more on the progressive side of the spectrum (certainly compared to current national politics), but we even have working class conservatives on our side economically in principle, even if they actually vote for Republicans against their own economic interests.

My Dream

My political dream, or in other words objectives, policy wise are something that I have described before, but it has been several years since then. I think the way I envision humanity’s future is something that will resonate with other progressives in general, and there is broad agreement although I may have somewhat of a more psychological perspective than most, and maybe a few unusual ideas whose practicality I am unsure of.

A good place to start would be to say that I want a democratic socialist society. But that is only a beginning. What I envision, as much as we might aspire to be like them, is not for the U.S. to become another democratic socialist nation in the mold of scandanavian or other democratic socialist governments which currently exist. No, democratic socialism itself needs to evolve.

First, I envision a United States of more democracy, not the less that we have been getting. I see an America in particular, with higher voting rates, citizen initiated propositions, and easier ways to vote.

Second, I see a nation in which we reign in capitalism. We need reasonable regulation and monopoly prevention, but I suspect that won’t be enough in the long term.

I see an America in which we have a guaranteed income or some kind of vouchers for all citizens in good standing so that people have their basic needs met.

I see an America which encourages peoples’ interests and lets people work for themselves if they wish instead of having to be hired by large corporations or entities which dictate the terms of good standing to their employees. I see a society in which virtually all adults have productive activities that they enjoy, and which enhance their sense of fulfillment and actualization as well as creativity.

Aside from self-starter projects, I envision an America in which worker co-ops become the norm and individually owned corporations fade from prominence, perhaps even being outlawed eventually.

I see a nation of very high upper end tax rates which serve not only to fund needed programs, but prevent the overaccumlation of wealth, and perhaps even a stipulation of an upper limit to wealth accumulation.

Also, I envision a United States in which corporations are made to pay (even if it puts them out of business) for their “externalities,” that is, the damage that they cause to the environment, harm to people, etc.

Socially, I see a nation of racial and gender harmony, where all people are treated fairly — a world where all forms of discrimination and sexual abuse are taken seriously and are duly prosecuted under the law (but that shouldn’t need to happen very often in an enlightened society).

I see a United States in which all peoples’ have equal access to education, economic and political opportunities.

I see a nation where people are encouraged to have as much education as they wish, and it is all provided free for the students.

Likewise, healthcare access will be simple, easy and cheap, without long forms to fill out or having to sort through numerous competing “health plans” by for profit insurers.

Politically, I see a nation where the Republican Party and their agenda are relegated to a permanent, irrelevant, minority status, to be replaced by more progressive parties or factions. I also envision election reforms including the overturning of Citizens United, to be replaced by publicly funded elections, with modifications such as instant runoffs or voting by party preference instead of individual candidates (at least for some positions), that will give other political parties greater access to election success and poltiical power.

On the global front, I see a world of international cooperation and peace, not among wealthy big shots who want to buy the world off, but among its citizens through both personal contacts and through international organizations such as the United Nations, as well as among governments.

I envision a world which addresses as a community, the health of our environment, including new technologies and lifestyle modifications to ameliorate global warming or other climate changes, and also to address pollution problems and habitat destruction. Our future well being as a species can only be as good as our environment and ecosystem. We need to do much better than we have, and the cooperation needs to occur on a global basis. We can only sustain ourselves in the long term if we build a sustainable future, by working with nature rather than against nature as a species.

In fact, all of the above, even when I mention the United States, I envision for the entire world. I in fact absentmindedly typed “world” numerous times above when I meant to apply it to United States politics. However, since we are focusing on United States politics here, I think it is appropriate to make objectives regarding our nation’s politics first, and consider the international political picture subsequent to that.

I may have missed a few issues, but this is the general outline of where I wish to see our politics heading in the future.

Once a vision of the future is established, however, the crucial question is how to achieve it. Personally, I think having a vision or set of goals is crucial to progress. Knowing what we want gives us the goals that we wish to attain, and helps us outline the parameters of our efforts.

Subsequent posts will go into detail about ideas to achieve our objectives. The first, most obvious one, is how to approach this year’s midterm elections. However, it starts before that, with the primaries, and nominating and supporting as many progressives as possible to run in this fall’s election. I will discuss this in more detail next time.

Republican Rigging Part 35: It’s Not Just Russia.

Written by Robert Warden

I feel that it’s time to wrap up this series of posts and start a new one on long term progressive strategy, unless some new form of system rigging comes to my attention. But before I finish, I want to discuss one more topic, that of the globalization of election interference. We all know that the United States has been guilty of political interference in many other nations’ elections and political events. Nobody is trying to excuse this. In fact, perhaps it has gotten to a point where all of us who aren’t power mongers or financial kingpins are political victims of international political intrigue, and the United States bears much of the blame for that. However, from what I have discovered, so does Russia. These two nations are probably the world leaders in election interference. Yet, many other nations are involved, as well.

The feeling that I get is that political power figures and even financial power players have been trying to steer politics globally, with varying degrees of success, and sometimes at cross purposes. For them, it’s a high stakes game that leaves the rest of us out of the process except as voters to be won over or protesters and activists to either be suppressed or applauded. But since the core of the political and financial power structure is self-serving and loathe to cede power even for the sake of progress and the greater good, the power players mostly are working against the common cause of the greater good. Sure, technological progress is welcome, but only for those who pay for it. Progress on social equality is welcomed by some too, but frankly, I find social progress to be hopelessly stunted as long as people lack fair representation in government and continue to be mired in ever increasing economically unfair inequality. Read more

Republican Rigging Part 31: Discouraging Immigration Part 2

Courtesy International Business Times

Written by Robert Warden

Earlier, I wrote about how Republicans have been attempting to deport immigrants or prevent people from coming to the United States in the first place by imposing strict immigration laws.

More recently, another of the Republican Party’s never-ending attempts to rig the system in their favor has developed, which involves reducing the number of natualalized U.S. citizens as well as denying non-citizens from having political rights as residents of the United States. This tactic, as you may have heard, is simply asking residents their nation of citizenship on the 2020 census.

This question, if approved, will work for Republicans in two ways, helping them further tilt the system in their favor. First, the long term consequence, may be to discourage immigration to the United States, as non-citizens will likely feel intimidated by the requirement to reveal citizenship status. This is a long term goal of Republicans, who not only tend to dislike immigrants (based on the fact that immigrant bashers tend to be Republicans), but also know that immigrants tend to vote for Democrats, giving Republicans further incentive to discourage immigration. In the short term, this may not affect voting much at all, but ultimately, it does have a significant effect on voting and politics.

The second reason, is that congressional districting may be based on the number of citizens present if Repubicans get their way, instead of the current practice of basing congressional districts on total population, regardless of citizenship, so that actual districts have approximately equal numbers of residents overall. If Republicans are successful in changing this policy, non-citizens will not count at all in determining congressional districts; only the number of actual U.S. citizens will count. This change would also favor “red states” which usually have fewer non citizens, over “blue states” such as California, where large numbers of non citizens reside.

In addition, as the following article in New York Magazine mentions, research indicates that the inclusion of the citizenship question would cause a considerable undercount of non-citizens in the census (http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/03/trumps-census-change-could-boost-the-gop-for-years-to-come.html). As I also wrote about earlier in this series, there is already a major problem regarding the undercounting of children and minorities in the U.S. census, along with overcounting wealthy, white people who may have more than one residence. To top off the problems created by the use of this citizenship question, it potentially could be used to prevent non citizens from using social services, keeping them exlusively for U.S. citizens — something which as liberals and humanitarians, we need to oppose.

Is the citizenship question in the 2020 census a done deal? Fortunately it is not a done deal. The article in New York Magazine, for instance, mentions that Eric Holder is planning to sue the current administration to keep it from going ahead with the citizenship question in the census. Just from my limited observation, it appears that even somewhat conservative judges are often sympathetic toward civil rights issues and tend to judge against attempts to restrict civil rights. Thus, there may be a good chance of stopping this latest undue influence attempt by the GOP. We need to oppose this egregious and discriminatory example of America First/Americans First, and support legal efforts to stop this census question from going forward. I believe our chances of winning this battle are good, especially with the key allies such as former Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder on our side — but it’s not going to be easy and by no means is it a sure win for our side.

Read more

Republican Rigging Part 30: The Party of the Wealthy

You know who I am talking about here, and it’s definitely not the Democrats or the Green Party. There is an aspect of campaign finance which has been largely ignored in recent years, probably due to the focus on Superpacs and “dark money.” However, even if those were eliminated, Republicans would still have an unfair advantage. The reason is that their individual donors tend to be richer those Democratic donors, and thus donate larger sums of money.

The best article that I found explaining this is one by Philip Bump in the Washington Post, from 2014. (I am certain that his conclusions are just as valid now as they were then.) He begins by mentioning that both parties rely mostly on donations from corporate interests and wealthy individuals, but then he said the comparison ends there. Bump includes several graphs in his article. The key one for the present purpose is the last one, which shows the average amount of individual donations to Republicans versus Democrats. If I am reading this correctly, the average donation to Democrats is barely measureable on the graph (probably $27 LOL). However, the average Republican individual donor, donates about $90,000 dollars! I presume that number is skewed by certain very wealthy individuals, but nonetheless it is a HUGE difference. Because of this massive difference, Republicans have been raising much more money overall from individual donors than did Democrats, even though there are far more people who donate to Democrats. Read more

Republican Rigging Part 29: Superpacs

Written by Robert Warden

The term “Superpac” sounds to me like something out of a video game, but it’s not. It’s something out of a political influence game instead — a way of raising larger sums of campaign money than would otherwise be possible. To my surprise, the existence of Superpacs according to Open Secrets, is traced to a Supreme Court decision in July, 2010 called Speechnow.Org versus Federal Election Commission, not to Citizens United. The thread of Supreme Court decisions giving more power to corporations and big money interests in influencing elections is much longer than I had realized. Moreover, Superpac money, as it turns out, can also be “Dark Money,” even though Superpacs are required to disclose their sources. As it turns out, some of their sources (which they disclose), may themselves be Dark Money sources, as the following article by the Sunlight Foundation explains (https://sunlightfoundation.com/2015/10/30/the-difference-between-super-pacs-and-dark-money-groups/). Read more
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