Bernie in the NY Times

Yesterday I read Bernie Sanders’ op-ed in the NY Times. To write, as he does, that the vote across the Midwest was a “protest vote,” and leave it at that, is shocking. But, as much as I appreciate what he has done as a presidential candidate in the primary and then supporter of Hillary in the general election, I’m not completely surprised by his characterization. This isn’t, after all, the first time that his “class politics” have come up wanting in my opinion.

When Trump throws particular sections of the working class and their communities under the bus, as he did in the campaign, and will more than likely do in his presidency, no one, including Bernie, should do anything to dignify or give legitimacy to the white workers who helped elect him. But in attaching “protest” to their vote,” Bernie does exactly that. It would be fairer to characterize their vote as “scabbing,” but that wouldn’t be helpful either. At least one has to ask why Trump’s brazen politics and rhetoric of hate didn’t, to use the words of Detroit Pistons basketball coach, Stan Van Gundy, immediately “disqualify” him to be president, no matter what else he said, in the moral and political calculus of white workers in the Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, and other battleground states?

“Them versus Us,” especially in our country, isn’t class politics, if it doesn’t include at its core an understanding of other forms of oppression experienced by particular sections of the working class and their communities – people of color, women, immigrants, LGBQT – along with a readiness to resist these oppressions by the entire working class. And this applies with special force to those sections of the working class who aren’t the object of such oppressions, or who even gain relative advantage over their class brothers and sisters because of them.

Lenin, who is out of favor these days, insisted more than any Marxist in the last century – and probably this – that the struggle against oppression in its various forms (or, as he would sometimes write, the struggle for democratic rights and equality of every section of the working class and people) is an indispensable training school for the formation of a mature and class consciousness working class and the bedrock of working class unity. It also is, he would argue, the adhesive of strategic alliances and wider forms of unity. And absent that any hope of a better and brighter future is wishful thinking.

Thus anything that back benches this terrain of struggle, especially now when the assembling of the most diverse (including Democrats and their elected leaders) and united coalition is absolutely imperative and urgent, is a mistake of the highest order. The barbarians, after all, are no longer at the gate, but occupying the fortress from the federal government on down and expect them to move quickly.


September 1, 1939 meets November 8, 2016

I first read this poem by W.H. Auden, titled “September 1, 1939,” nearly 50 years ago, while attending a small catholic college in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Those were pre-political years for me, but still it resonated. Since then I have dug it up now and then for a little enjoyment as well as inspiration. But today the poem touches me in a deeply existential way, and I’m sure that needs no explanation. Here is the last stanza:

“Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.”


Krugman on what lies ahead

Krugman gives a pretty gloomy picture of what this election has wrought. And it strikes me as pretty much on the money, as he usually is. I would quickly add, as I wrote in an earlier post, that only a broad and expanding coalition, including the Democratic Party at all levels (this, by the way, shouldn’t prevent a CONTINUATION of the debate in the Democratic Party over the its direction and character) stands any chance to muster the power to block this impending and far reaching right wing surge. If history is any guide, the forms of resistance will be many, varied, and mass, and not everyone in this diverse coalition will sing the same song or make the same demands or employ the same forms of struggle. But regardless of where we find ourselves and what song we sing in this discordant chorus of resistance, it seems obvious to me anyway that each of us should realize maximum unity is imperative if we are to see some light at the other end of what looks like a very dark and long tunnel we are entering. Our vision can reach for the stars, and it should. Big dreams and high hopes are essential to every human endeavor. But we also have to realize that we are on the defensive for the foreseeable future and that the seemingly stuffy and unsexy halls of Congress will be the site in the late winter and spring – the first 100 days – where this counterrevolution of the right (no exaggeration here) will begin at accelerated speed and take on flesh in the form of enacted laws that strip tens of millions in red and blue states alike of their rights and freedoms, gut the social safety net, and scale back living standards of all but the wealthiest. Not everyone will be affected the same way; some, and especially people of color, immigrants, the poor, women, and LBGQT will disproportionately feel the harshness of this assault. But few will escape its reach and the pain it inflicts. Again only a coalition that has the capacity to find common ground as well as reach out to the nearly 60 million people who voted for Hillary Clinton, and, in time, to a section of Trump supporters whose illusions and hopes crumble in the face of a harsh reality, can hope to bend back the arc of history towards justice, democracy, and human decency.

Stan Van Gundy on the indecency of Trump

An amazing interview of Detroit Piston Basketball coach – Stan Van Gundy. Really worth listening to. Go Stan, Go Pistons.

A Working Class Revolt Against the Elites – Not!

If the elections and their results were a “working class revolt against the elites'” in Washington and Wall Street, as some of varied political dispositions are suggesting, it was a revolt that was poorly conceived, demographically limited, filled with millions of no shows, and came to a miserable end. Moreover, it will soon, unless resisted, exact an awful revenge against its protagonists and the many many more workers and people who had the good class and democratic sense to vote for the very courageous and resilient Hilary Clinton who offered a program of bottom-up economic renewal and fairness, equality, and decency. Indeed, unless a broad and ever expanding people’s coalition takes shape quickly, and includes every wing of the Democratic Party, this misbegotten revolt will bring in its train in the late winter and spring of next year, a nasty counterrevolution the likes of which we have NEVER seen – not even in the Reagan or George W Bush years. Calls for “a war in the Democratic Party” are a fool’s errand at this moment no matter the source or the intentions, no matter how radical sounding. Will post a longer comment on this as well as other aspects of the elections on my blog tomorrow.

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