1. I generally agree with Elizabeth Warren and like the idea of her being the nominee, but I don’t agree with her claim that the biggest problem in Washington is corruption. It’s a problem for sure, but the biggest of our problems at this moment is Trump, Trump, and more Trump. We can’t get to the former if we don’t defeat the latter.

2. Medicare for All and to a lesser degree a Green New Deal were front and center in the Democratic Party presidential debate. But I couldn’t help but think that I’m glad the election is more than a year out. Why? Because there’s still much “splaining” to do before the general public embraces either demand at a gut level or the candidates who espouse them. Clever slogans and the enthusiasm aren’t enough in the present political circumstances, to make them a reality or to win next year, especially when Trump and his acolytes in Congress and the media have turned lying and demagogy into an art form and congenital habit.

3. It is easy to feel despair and anger at the daily torrent of racism coming from Trump. But despair and anger, while understandable, have to be turned into active resistance. And one thing each of us — and especially those of us who are white —- can do is engage other white people, strangers as well as friends, in conversation over Trump’s racism.

 4. The conflation of Medicare for All with socialism is problematic. A socialist society would surely provide such heath care, but it isn’t peculiar to socialism. Such care, each with its own particular wrinkles, is provided in several major capitalist countries now. I have some tactical worries about Medicare for All in this election cycle, but I don’t agree with some of its critics who in a maneuver to shut down discussion of it (and other progressive measures for that matter) paint them as socialist and thus preemptively beyond the bounds of acceptable discourse. I can only think that in their minds a robust public sector and the universal provision of public goods, which, ipso facto, entails some restrictions on capitalist profit making, constitutes socialism and they don’t like it. Again a socialist society, which turns on substantive democracy and fulsome equality, would enact in short order such measures, but such measures aren’t necessarily peculiar to socialism.
5. I’m reading a history of the U.S. spanning from the War of 1812 to the end of war with Mexico in 1848. The author, Daniel Howe, quotes another historian, John Murrin, who writes that white yeoman farmers who acquired land by dispossession and force during this time were the “beneficiaries of catastrophe.” That this social process and social class were considered the backbone of Jeffersonian democracy tells us much about the limitations, contradictions and racialized nature of that vision and practice. Murrin’s observation also reminds me that Marx’s “primitive accumulation of capital” was much more than a moment at the dawn of capitalism’s pre-history. Instead, it stretched out over decades, even centuries, and was in its many iterations catastrophic for Native and enslaved peoples. Some writers, David Harvey for one, in fact, see it as a contemporaneous process, especially in the Global South.
6. I wonder if historical memory has drained the abolitionist movement (or should I say movements) of their strategic depth and tactical flexibility. I sometimes get the impression that the movement in memory is nothing more than the practice of moral suasion and electoral abstentionism. But that is hardly the case. The movement had many tendencies and wings, many of which embraced strategic and tactical understandings that were far more complex and nuanced, including the necessity of electoral participation and broadly constructed alliances. Many Black abolitionists were in this camp. I mention this not only to complicate a little bit the abolitionist movement(s), but also because it has some contemporary relevance.