Friday, June 30, 2017

First Person Rants

We at Mixed Meters love rants.  By "we" of course I mean me, David Ocker, who single-handedly writes every word of this blog with his two bare hands.  Personally I really hate it when he mixes first person writing with third person.  I'm sure you agree.

Anyway, as I was saying, we adore good rants, especially political rants.   There's an awful lot to rant about nowadays, don't you know, but good clean progressive ranting still seems quite rare.  I guess all the real energy in the Democratic Party is going into normalizing our so-called president or raising wads of money for losing candidates in Congressional by-elections.  Since I don't have the time or energy to write my own rants at the moment, I'd like to share a two good ones I found online.

Rant one is from a comedian named Lee Camp.   Never heard of him.  His bio says he wrote for the Onion so he must have a firm grip on reality.  In this piece his target is the so-called debate on health care.  He strongly emphasizes the "so-called" angle.  The rant title is "Here's why there's no legitimate debate about healthcare in this country."  Go read the whole thing.  Here's a quote.
Sure, there are red-faced politicians screaming about one make-believe side or the other, but that doesn’t mean there’s a legitimate debate.  In order for there to be a debate, there needs to exist two sides that – if argued well – could seem to hold merit.  But that’s nowhere to be found in the current healthcare debate.  Instead there are two sides, both of which are disingenuous, both of which are corrupted by big money, both of which are hardly even SIDES;  instead they’re two separate spots in the center of whatever proverbial thing we’re picturing having sides.  (I’m picturing a duck.  Not sure why.)
As we at Mixed Meters always say, if the U.S. wanted health care for its citizens we'd pass single-payer.   Instead, the politcos are keeping extra busy trying to decide whether to maintain Obamacare as corporate welfare for insurance companies or to just give the richest people in the country a direct tax break.

For good measures, here's another quote:
We are debating between two horrific, criminal versions of healthcare designed to make people rich off of the pain and suffering of every American.  Yes, Obamacare is better.  Yes, Trumpcare is worse.  Yes, I don’t care.  By acting like this is a legitimate debate, we are subconsciously solidifying cultural hegemony for the idea that healthcare should be something exploited for profit.  It should not.  Stop dignifying that thought process.

The health care debate, of course, is far from over.  It's like the war in Afghanistan or the Arab-Israeli conflict.  None of these will have definitive resolutions during my lifetime.  On-going stalemates have become incredibly prevalent in American politics.  That's why I think it's wise to take the long view.

Few politicians in America are as qualified to give the long-view as Ralph Nader.   Today's Ralph rant is called "Ralph Nader: The Democrats Are Unable To Defend The U.S. From The 'Most Vicious' Republican Party In History".  It's an interview in The Intercept which sets the scene so:
The Democratic Party is at its lowest ebb in the memory of everyone now alive. It’s lost the White House and both houses of Congress.  On the state level it’s weaker than at any time since 1920.  And so far in 2017 Democrats have gone 0 for 4 in special elections to replace Republican members of Congress who joined the Trump administration.
How did it come to this?  One person the Democratic Party is not going to ask, but perhaps should, is legendary consumer advocate and three-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader.

How, according to Nader, did the Dems lose their way?  Here's some excerpts:
I’m going to give you millstones around the Democratic Party neck that are milestones.  The first big one was in 1979.  Tony Coelho, who was a congressman from California, and who ran the House Democratic Campaign treasure chest, convinced the Democrats that they should bid for corporate money, corporate PACs, that they could raise a lot of money.  Why leave it up to Republicans and simply rely on the dwindling labor union base for money, when you had a huge honeypot in the corporate area?
The second millstone is that they didn’t know how to deal with Reagan. And the Republicans took note.  That means a soft tone, smiling … You can say terrible things and do terrible things as long as you have [that] type of presentation. [Democrats] were still thinking Republican conservatives were dull, stupid, and humorless.  They didn’t adjust.
Raising money from Wall Street, from the drug companies, from health insurance companies, the energy companies, kept [Democrats] from their main contrasting advantage over the Republicans, which is, in FDR’s parlance, “The Democratic Party is the party of working families, Republicans are the party of the rich.”  That flipped it completely and left the Democrats extremely vulnerable.

In the course of the interview Nader lists multiple millstones that serve as milestones in the demise of the Democrats.  I can't list them all.  Go read it.
The Democrats began the process of message preceding policy.  No — policy precedes message.  That means they kept saying how bad the Republicans are. They campaigned not by saying, look how good we are, we’re going to bring you full Medicare [for all], we’re going to crack down on corporate crime against workers and consumers and the environment, stealing, lying, cheating you.  We’re going to get you a living wage.  We’re going to get a lean defense, a better defense, and get some of this money and start rebuilding your schools and bridges and water and sewage systems and libraries and clinics.
Instead of saying that, they campaign by saying “Can you believe how bad the Republicans are?”  Now once they say that, they trap their progressive wing, because their progressive wing is the only segment that’s going to change the party to be a more formidable opponent. Because they say to their progressive wing, “You’ve got nowhere to go, get off our back.”

Notice that Nader gives a list of things the Dems should be talking about.  Medicare for all.  Infrastructure.  Living wage.  Consumer protections against corporate malfeasance.  Democratic leaders don't actually talk about such positive things.  Instead they talk about how bad Trump and his cronies are, about Trump's tweets, about Russia's election interference.  Hey, I don't call the Democrats "my second least favorite political party" without a good reason.

A couple last Nader quotes (or read the article here):
Republicans, when they lose they fight over ideas, however horrific they are.  Tea Party ideas, libertarian ideas, staid Republican ideas.  They fight.  But the Democrats want uniformity, they want to shut people up.  So they have the most deficient transition of all.  They have the transition of Nancy Pelosi to Nancy Pelosi, four-time loser against the worst Republican Party in the Republican Party’s history.
There are some people who think the Democratic Party can be reformed from within by changing the personnel.  I say good luck to that.  What’s happened in the last twenty years?  They’ve gotten more entrenched. Get rid of Pelosi, you get Steny Hoyer.  You get rid of Harry Reid, you get [Charles] Schumer. Good luck.
Unfortunately, to put it in one phrase, the Democrats are unable to defend the United States of America from the most vicious, ignorant, corporate-indentured, militaristic, anti-union, anti-consumer, anti-environment, anti-posterity [Republican Party] in history.

Let us close this month with a view of American politics by my favorite political ranter from across the pond, Jonathan Pie.  If you don't want to face the facts about the Democratic party, an anti-Trump rant might help you normalize the Trump administration a little more.

Here's a quick quote just to give you the flavor:

It’s not funny any more.   It’s gone beyond being able to take the piss.  It’s all very well me being able to go Ohhhh, he looks like beer-battered sheep bollock with, instead of hair, a whole damp shredded wheat biscuit on his head.  You know.  He is that.  But also he’s also clearly a tyrant.  A despot.  A tin-pot despot with shredded wheat for hair.

P.S.  If you're one of those trogs who still blames Ralph Nader for George W.'s election in 2000, here's the link for you.  Also, we at Mixed Meters always say "I'd like to thank you for reading to the end."


synthetic said...

Well no one knows more about losing democratic presidential elections than Ralph Nader!

synthetic said...

That article breezes by the fact that that Nader cost Gore Florida, and hence the election. I doubt the Nader votes would have split 50/50 to the two candidates. It would not have gone to the supreme court had there not been such a thin margin in Florida. – Trog

David Ocker said...

The Florida election argument has many well worn grooves. This is the point at which I suggest that Al Gore would have been president if he had managed to carry his own home state.

ericnp said...

What is FOX News? it's just a parade of propaganda isn't it? - Lee Camp

Unknown said...

Hi David,

Haven't read all of your blogs, so I may be repeating another reason for the November Surprise. Hillary (who may have treated Sanders unfairly, d'ya think?) pounded the final nail in her coffin with "My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders". Middle America wasn't ready for that. Just my observation - I try to stay aloof from politics.

I try to dwell on the brilliance of humans rather than their failings. Like people I've known who invent "Twerpy the Nerd", or 12-year -old piano students who improvise with abandon. Or maybe treasures like Debussy's "Nocturnes", or Albeniz' "Iberia".

L' chaim.

David Ocker said...

Thanks for the cool comment Steve. Nice to hear from you. I haven't been in touch with Twerpy much lately. I think he's having health problems in his old age after getting punched in the stomach all those times.