Category Archives: Robert Warden

I Have a Dream Part 6: U.S. Spells Us, Not Me

Written by Robert Warden

As we approach the highly anticipated midterm elections, I think it is fair to say that a common sentiment among progressives is that we need a sense of unity; we need mass action in order to achieve our political goals, which a large turnout by progressives for the midterms would signify. This in fact appears to be happening, based on voter enthusiasm and early voting numbers. However, the opposition appears to be fairly motivated too, and they are accustomed to voting in unison with each other. Fortunately, there are more of us than there are of them.

Meanwhile, as we contemplate this election, I wish to turn some attention to cultural issues which I believe are negatively impacting our politics and thus need to be changed. For several years, I have been aware of an international scale which measures the individualism versus collectivism of various nations around the world, and that the United States, as expected, ranks very high on individualism. I recently revisited this data (which I think have been updated), and found that indeed, the United States ranks the most individualistic of all nations. Frankly, this is another #1 that I wish the United States would not be credited with. Interestingly, one of my good Facebook friends is the daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, and it turns out that Guatemala ranks highest in collectivism — that is, lowest in individualism. It must seem rather odd to grow up among one subculture that is such a polar opposite of the dominant, surrounding culture. As Brenda said, Americans take individualism too far. Here is the post showing how different nations rank on Individualism versus Collectivism (http://clearlycultural.com/geert-hofstede-cultural-dimensions/individualism/). The United States has an individualism score of 91, while that of Guatemala is only 6. In fact, most nations on the list have a score considerably below that of the United States. Another interesting observation, is that English speaking nations tend to have very high individualism scores. I speculate that being at the forefront of the industrial revolution and colonizing far-flung parts of the world may play a role in that, but I do not know of any evidence to support that idea. Read more

Have a Dream Part 5: It Starts with a Bang, not a Whimper

“Democracy is coming to the USA,
It’s coming through a crack in the wall”

— Leonard Cohen, song quotes, song lyrics from “Democracy”

Written by Robert Warden

 

Robert Warden

Dissatisfaction with politics in the United States has been growing for a long time. So has dissatisfaction with most institutions, government or otherwise; Gallup polls clearly show this to be the case.

When faced with a declining middle class and a sense of being able to resolve chronic problems such as violence, war, homelessness, mental health issues, addictions, broken families, or increasing wealth disparities, the public is faced with the question: Where do we go from here? Sadly, enough people in key states sought the answer in Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign; furthermore, the right wing Obama backlash had given Republicans majorities in both chambers of Congress, which the 2016 election did not reverse although (contrary to what many people seem to believe), Democrats reduced Republican majorities in that election.

“Electing” (with an asterisk) Trump was the political equivalent of hiring the fox to guard the henhouse, or perhaps I should say the largest alligator to “drain the swamp.” However, it seems pretty clear now that Democrats and other progressives are quite fired up emotionally over this election. Meanwhile, Republicans are trying to motivate their base, and apparently with some success. The way it’s looking, turnout will probably be higher than it has been in any recent midterm election — and that is generally good news for Democrats. However, I still run into people who have barely heard of or not even heard of Brett Kavanaugh (or his evil twin, Bart O’ Kavanaugh who keeps doing nasty things to people). There is a substantial percentage of the population who are basically politically illiterate and uninvolved. This is something that needs to change. I can’t offer a quick solution to the problem of voter apathy or ignorance, but I can state the obvious, which is that talking to people about our political situation can only help to make people think a little more seriously about politics. Read more

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

« Older Entries