Yep. And if you believe in progressivism, you shouldn't be confused. You should be angry. After all, we are the party of the people, not them. We know that. We're just not trying.
There are Democrats running for state-level office without websites. There are tens of thousands of Republicans around the United States taking uncontested seats for the cost of the filing fee. The rest of their money is reallocated to other Republican candidates. One Democratic state party chair told us, “If we could’ve just entered the race, the Republicans would have spent fifty to one-hundred thousand dollars protecting the seat. Instead, they sat down with no message, virtually free of charge.”
No more. Part of the reason the battle is so difficult for Democrats across this country is because we’re letting them establish the front lines of the fight. To use a war metaphor, we’ve allowing Republicans to send troops and all their resources right up to the gates of our castle, instead of making them fight for every inch of territory leading up to the castle.
Here’s the problem: we oversimplify the American people. We think of people’s political leanings as one-dimensional and linear. We paint the country red or blue, in our minds and during our strategy discussions. And it’s costing us dearly.
People’s politics are not linear. They are three-dimensional. Different regions of the United States have vastly different cultures, values and preferences. And values are not transfixed or singular. They’re complicated.
As an example, pundits and politicians often assume black voters are of one mind. That sentiment originates from when black men were first enfranchised in 1870, and political scientists began referring to “the negro vote,” now referred to as “the black vote.”
But if you view the state-by-state numbers for Bernie vs. Hillary, it’s far more complicated. Turns out that there is no "black vote" because African-Americans don't vote monolithically. Sanders did far better with black voters in Midwestern states and with younger black voters. In the South, black voters overwhelmingly went for Clinton.
That comes in part from the fact that partisan politics in the South have a strong racial element, and therefore African-Americans in the South are more likely to identify with the establishment of the Democratic party. On the other hand, the Midwestern Democratic Party of the early 1900s was less wedded to segregationist sentiments, which means that black voters from the midwest were and remain more flexible in their allegiances.
Extrapolate: Geography matters. Regional history of party matters. Culture, race, and class, in an intersectional context, matter. Age matters. There’s endless factors that all must be taken into account in order to understand political trends.
That of course applies to red states too. There are large swaths of America that we’ve given up on because they’re painted red on maps. It’s a huge mistake for Democrats. The opportunity cost resulting from this assumption is incalculable.
To top it off, we're giving up votes that would help up-ballot candidates. Anecdotally: In Georgia, Republicans ran unopposed in over half of the 180 state house elections in 2016. 98 unopposed seats for Republicans. That's not democracy. Hundreds of thousands of Democrats aren't given a candidate at all. That means Democrats don't show up to the polls, because they're not given any local choice. Had we ran a candidate in those 98 elections in Georgia, and turned out a modest 2,000 more voters in each of those districts, the state would have flipped for Hillary.
And here's the kicker: Even if we’re wrong and we cannot win any seats in these states we’ve assumed to be forever red, it’s still worth it to put pressure on Republicans in every corner and make them spend their money to retain seats. It still means they’ll have less resources to spare in purple and blue states.
We at The Resurgent Left are big believers in #50StateStrategy. We can win seats, we can help candidates up the ballot, and we can put full-court pressure on Republicans. And there's principle here: if the Republicans want any seat, at any level of government, anywhere in the United States, they should have to fight for it. That's what democracy is about. It is incumbent upon us to make them fight for it. Make them scratch and claw for county clerk seats. For school board seats. Mayor and city council. State representative.
We cannot afford to hand over seats at any level of government. No more of that. From now on, it’s full court pressure. Win or lose, it's time to give it our all.
In a 2010 documentary produced and directed by Steve Bannon called Generation Zero, a featured historian named David Kaiser discusses the concept of “turnings.” “Turnings are like the seasons — every turning is necessary,” over footage of clocks ticking, the sun rising and setting.
“Cities are founded, cities collapse. States rise, states fall.”
Throughout the documentary, Bannon repeatedly claims that America is in a “state of crisis.” Sometimes the crisis is due to debt. Sometimes it’s about immigrants. What’s more concerning is that he compares this “crisis” to the Revolutionary War and World War II, insinuating constantly that it will inevitably lead to violent conflict.
According to Bannon, America is simultaneously fighting a global existential war against “Islamic fascism” and a domestic war against socialism. He’s the personification of decades of xenophobic and white nationalist rhetoric from the right.
He's a self-identified “Leninist” who wants to “bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” And, according to David Kaiser, during their discussions, Bannon implied that the coming clash of societies would be the biggest clash the world has ever seen. He's apocalyptic, through and through.
Why should we care? Because his worldview is becoming our politics. And the Trump budget is an unmistakable reflection of it.
Its largest cuts are to the EPA and the State Department, both of which are seen by Bannonites as vestiges of a socialist order that creeped into American politics. It’s making cuts to programs like Meals on Wheels, a program that fed 2.4 million people last year, to save what amounts to tenths of pennies for the federal government. It cuts funding to PBS. It cuts most everything we liberal elites hold dear:
African Development Foundation; the Appalachian Regional Commission; the Chemical Safety Board; the Corporation for National and Community Service; the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; the Delta Regional Authority; the Denali Commission; the Institute of Museum and Library Services; the Inter-American Foundation; the U.S. Trade and Development Agency; the Legal Services Corporation; the National Endowment for the Arts; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation; the Northern Border Regional Commission; the Overseas Private Investment Corporation; the United States Institute of Peace; the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness; and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
And during relatively peaceful times on Earth, where is most of the money reallocated? Glad you asked. We’re increasing the world’s largest military budget, which is larger than the next ten largest military budgets combined, another 9%. We’re also adding a 7% increase in Homeland Security spending.
Why? Well, in part, to upgrade and build on our nuclear arsenal, since currently we only possess the ability to destroy the world five times over.
For the answer to why or what's next, look no further than the dreams of Bannon. If you were Bannon and you thought we were headed towards World War III — or you wanted World War III — would your budget be any different?
If we’re asleep at the wheel, it could be our country’s demise. It could be the demise of progress. Now is the time to wake up and #Resist.
This is written by Kipp Mueller. It may or may not reflect the positions of The Resurgent Left.
After attending the DNC winter meeting in Atlanta this past weekend, I was going to write a blog post covering some interesting moments from the event. It certainly covered the gamut — some of our party members really inspired me about our future, particularly many of our young vice-chair candidates. Others were the personification of cronyism.
So, you know. The gamut.
But the truth is there’s plenty of coverage of the DNC meeting out there. And the most poignant moment of my weekend didn’t take place in a conference room.
After a seemingly never-ending, bittersweet day of elections, most of the younger attendees went out for drinks. Yadda yadda yadda. Around 2:30 AM, I’m tipsy and making my way back to the hotel, still wearing some DNC paraphernalia.
A man approaches me. His name is Terry. He doesn’t ask for anything. Instead, he asks me how the DNC meeting went.
I gave him a cursory response — it was interesting, exhausting, etc.
He asked me, “Did you guys talk about us homeless folks at all?”
I felt paralyzed. Completely paralyzed. And he’s asking me this as I’m pulling out my key card so I can open the locked front doors of the Westin, where the DNC meeting took place.
To be fair, the weekend was mostly about picking leaders and discussing how to restructure our party and our strategy. But policy is inextricably linked to those things, which meant policy did come up quite a bit.
In fact, I heard lots of great, inspiring ideas. But I don’t think I ever heard a single reference to homelessness.
What made his question particularly poignant is something I can’t articulate sufficiently: He asked it with such sheer sincerity. 0% facetious. He was straight-faced, his tone completely genuine.
“I don’t think so.”
“Oh. Well, the shelters here make you want to stay on the street rather than be in there. So I can’t really figure out how to get off the street.”
We chatted for a bit longer. I asked him about life on the street, and he said, “You can’t really get by on the streets without alcohol or drugs. I stay away from drugs, but alcohol helps me get by. You need something to stop thinking so much about the hell you’re living in.”
Later he asks, “Did you guys talk about the gangs out here?” You can imagine my response. And his. Again, I’ve got nothin’.
And let me take a moment here to be perfectly clear: This is not a hit piece on the DNC, on Democrats, or on any of the people I met this past weekend.
I met amazing people. There were countless people at this event that have done far, far more than I have or ever will when it comes to helping the less fortunate. I met people who have dedicated their lifetimes to doing amazing work.
And after I complain about only getting four hours of perfectly comfortable sleep at the Westin, I’m flying on a plane back to my cozy apartment in San Francisco. I’ll probably pick up a latte at the airport and go on living my privileged life.
So, just so we’re clear here: I’m no martyr.
But I do believe we as a party need to bring homelessness and gang violence back into the issue scope in American politics — at the federal, state and local levels. Homelessness and gang violence are inexcusably prevalent. And we are to blame.
By the way, there’s solutions out there. Housing First has had tremendous success, and it caters to exactly what Terry had told me.
Most housing programs require that tenants kick the habit prior to moving in. Housing First gives people housing and counseling because people need the safety and security of a home in order to regather their lives.
Of course, homelessness and gang violence are both difficult because there is no single answer. Scratch the surface, and you’ll face plant into deep, systemic problems. You can’t fix gang violence without fixing our schools. Or redlining. You can’t fix homelessness without fixing criminal codes across America. Without building out a massive rehabilitation system.
Tackling these problems requires a series of federal, state and local policy changes on issues ranging from housing to education to criminal justice reform.
But JFK didn’t say we were going to the moon because he was an astrophysicist who found the answers. In fact, at the time he said it, neither he nor NASA knew whether it was possible or not.
JFK said we’d go to the moon because he believed that if we collectively put our minds to it, we could do it. And he knew that the first step to solving a problem or reaching success is bringing the goals to light. Pulling these ideas into the mainstream political and social narrative.
I truly believe future generations will wonder how we could’ve lived around homelessness and continued on with our lives. I can imagine my granddaughter asking me that question when I’m an old man and we’ve finally solved the problem (or still haven’t), millions of unnecessary deaths later.
How do we go on? My honest answer would be that we rely on a cognitive dissonance/rationalization martini.
“She’s probably just a druggie.” “Get a job.” There’s a complete lack of empathy and lack of perspective there, obviously. Lack of understanding of privilege and just how unequal things are in this country.
Obviously, people resort to these answers because blame is an easy escape. But look at a given issue statistically, and watch the fluctuations when you change policies, and you realize we are designing the outcomes. Individuals provide some anecdotes for both sides of the argument. You can find an individual who has a terribly empathetic story, and you can find another individual who’s less sympathetic.
But the reason homelessness is prevalent here and not in most other developed countries is because of a series of poor and malevolent policies, not because America somehow happens to be comprised of millions of individuals who are genetic aberrations. That’s a silly, stupid argument and you know it.
And even if you feel compelled to blame some individuals for their circumstance, if you’re justifying not helping them, you’re constructively arguing that they deserve the death penalty for their past.
Frankly, we should be ashamed of ourselves. We should be actively and constantly disgusted by homelessness in America. By how many black and latino youths die every year because they’re born in the wrong place with the wrong skin color.
We have to shed the cognitive dissonance and pithy rationalizations.
And at the very least, let’s start consistently bringing up these issues at every level of government. Presidential candidates and school board candidates should be consistently bringing up homelessness and gang violence. They should be discussing with their constituents what’s going on and how it can be solved in their communities. What can mitigate the damage.
It’s all man-made, folks. We can always tear down what we built. We can rebuild what we must.
Lest we forget, we went to the damn moon.