[Below] "We (the public, journalists and some lawmakers) have focused more on the cost of the package than its contents — even though our society is all but starved of supports that other first-world nations take for granted....
"Child care and other types of home care are historically undervalued and underpaid fields. Women make up the majority of unpaid caretakers of the elderly. As for paid home health-care workers, 90 percent are female. Democrats' proposals would also benefit those who receive home services via Medicaid — more than two-thirds of such recipients are women.
"Our society takes women's underpaid or free labor for granted. 'Other countries have social safety nets. The U.S. has women,' as sociologist Jessica Calarco puts it."
Opinion: "Debate over which Democratic proposals to invest in shortchanges our needs." By Helaine Olen, Washington Post, October 18, 2021
[Below] "Sen. Joe Manchin III is very worried about the cost of passing President Biden's agenda. But what about the cost of not passing it?
"The West Virginia Democrat is making new demands that could badly impair our ability to combat child poverty and global warming, by shrinking two key components of the multi-trillion-dollar reconciliation bill.
"Manchin's new moves reveal the folly of arbitrary centrism. This posture is essentially that any effort to restrain liberal governance is an inherent good, with no serious acknowledgement required of the real-world trade offs it entails."
Opinion: "Joe Manchin's ugly new demands expose the absurdity of arbitrary centrism." By Greg Sargent, Washington Post, October 18, 2021
[Below] FASCISM: "Fascism only took power in a few countries, but in interwar Europe every country had fascist movements, denouncing liberal democracies and attacking communists and Jews. Understanding their allure is just as relevant today."
Opinion: "The 'Thrill' of Fascism: Explaining the Brutality, Hatred and Powerful Appeal of the Radical Right." By Roland Clark, Haaretz, October 18, 2021
[Below] "For the life of me, I can't see how it helps middle-of-the-road Democrats in swing districts to do less to help beleaguered households with child-care and elder-care costs, or less to expand health coverage and to beef up Medicare benefits, or less to contain the obvious and dangerous warming of our planet.
"Nor is it good for any Democrat to have these priorities set off against each other in a legislative cage match. Those whose programs are lost or gutted will feel very bruised.
"Finally, shouldn't Democrats be eager to bypass Senate filibuster rules as quickly as possible to stop the GOP-led attacks being leveled against democratic elections in states across our nation?...
"...'Republican senators have not represented a majority of the population since 1999 — yet, from 2003 to 2007 and again from 2015 to 2021, Republicans had a majority of members of the Senate itself. That means that, for 10 years, Republican senators were passing bills — and not passing others — on behalf of a minority of Americans....'"
Opinion: "Our system is biased against reform. Get used to it, Democrats." By E.J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post, October 17, 2021
[Below] SUPREME COURT: "Expectations were low when President Biden appointed an ideologically diverse commission to consider reforms to the Supreme Court. Inherent in a commission composed of legal scholars is the desire to reach consensus and to avoid worsening partisan rancor. Ideally, we would have gotten recommendations such as 'Justices should not go to partisan settings to deny they are hacks,' or 'Nominees should not accuse an entire party of a conspiracy to prevent his confirmation.'
"That is not to be. And, in fact, what is clear from the commission's release of a draft report is that institutional changes cannot spare us from hyperpartisan appointees who lack self-awareness and honesty about their innate partisan biases.
"The commission nevertheless offers some sage observations...."
Opinion: "Biden's Supreme Court commission has good ideas. But the court's problems run deeper." By Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, October 17, 2021
[Below] SUPREME COURT: "The draft report, while long on critiques of court-packing, failed to address the root of the high court's predicament—the confirmation process itself."
"The White House Report on Supreme Court Reform Made a Glaring Omission." By Matt Ford, The New Republic, October 15, 2021
[Below] SUPREME COURT: "If he wants the public to see the Court as apolitical, he should try meeting that standard himself."
From the article:
"The term shadow docket was coined by a former Roberts clerk six years ago; it is not an invention of Alito’s Lügenpresse. The negative connotations it has more recently assumed are entirely a product of the Court’s selective use of the mechanism to make sweeping decisions and deliver rapid victories to right-wing causes.
"The Supreme Court is making greater use of emergency orders in that it is issuing them more frequently, in more significant and lasting ways, and with outcomes that favor the right. This is not a matter of opinion; it is statistical fact....
"It would be wrong to say that Roe has been overturned, but it is beyond dispute to say that its protections are no longer in effect in Texas. In a word, it has been nullified....
"The justices’ claims to be apolitical are belied by the decades of advocacy by the conservative legal movement and oceans of cash that it has spent to put them on the Court...."
"By Attacking Me, Justice Alito Proved My Point." By Adam Serwer, The Atlantic, October 12, 2021
[Below] MESSAGING: "...two bigger, related problems for Democrats. What we say doesn’t matter much...because our voters aren’t hearing it.
"First, the Right-Wing media ecosystem, defined by Fox and powered by Facebook, consistently drowns out Democratic messaging. The Right-Wing defines the four corners of the political conversation....
"The second problem is this: while Republicans spent decades building a massive media operation to deliver their messaging directly to their voters, Democrats continue to rely on the traditional media as the primary means of distribution. This is a real problem....
"In other words, the success of any Democratic messaging depends on the whims of mainstream media executives like Jeff Zucker [president of CNN Worldwide, oversees CNN, CNN International, HLN, and CNN Digital] and Dean Baquet [executive editor of The New York Times]. The challenges of adhering to this old model of communication are present every single day....
"Democrats are talking about the popular details of Biden’s plan, but the messaging is not reaching the people we need it to reach because the people carrying the message do not share our interests...."
"Popular-ism and the Democratic Messaging Deficit." By Dan Pfeiffer, Messagebox, October 12, 2021
[Below] MESSAGING: "What Shor gets wrong
"1. The conflicted voters in the middle who toggle between the two parties — and thus the voters who determine elections — are not 'moderate.' They are low-information voters who are not paying attention....
"The core for the conflicted middle is not ideology, but who they see as like them and on their side, versus hostile to them and a threat. If there’s stability in their voting patterns, it’s the stability of identity rather than ideology.
"2. Democratic messages fail to persuade conflicted voters when they center on policy issues. These voters are not able to make heads or tails of policy debates, especially because the opposition Republican messaging consistently claims to be seeking the same end goals.... They will instead use identity issues as a proxy for whom to trust.
"3. Democratic messages alienate voters when they are predicated on a sense of identity that voters do not share....
"4. ...The fundamental challenge for Democrats is to develop a unified, effective response to the intense polarization around race intentionally driven by Trump and boosted by the interlocking elements of the rightwing propaganda machine.
"...Shor 'and those who agree with him argue that Democrats need to try to avoid talking about race and immigration.' This is Shor’s most dangerous piece of advice to Democrats....
"...Shor is making the same mistake leaders of the Democratic Party have made for decades: to jump from the insight that attacking racism as a white problem backfires with most voters (true) to the unsupported/seemingly unshakeable article of faith that Democrats should largely stop talking about racism (false).
"The GOP has made racial identity the main driver of political polarization since 1970.... The best evidence calls for a new approach that reframes racism as a tool of division that threatens all racial groups."
"Shor is mainly wrong about racism (which is to say, about electoral politics)." By Ian Haney Lopez, October 11, 2021
[Below] "NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim October 11, 2021, as Indigenous Peoples’ Day."
"A Proclamation on Indigenous Peoples' Day, 2021." The White House, October 8, 2021
"A Proclamation on Columbus Day, 2021." The White House, October 8, 2021
||[Below] DEMOCRACY: "Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, talks with Rachel Maddow about the findings published in an interim report on the investigation into Donald Trump's abuse of the Justice Department for the purpose of trying to overturn his 2020 election loss."
| "Senate Report Exposes 'A Mini Attempted Coup d'état' Within The DOJ Under Trump." MSNBC, YouTube, October 7, 2021|
"'Stunning distortion of DOJ’s authority': Here are 6 key findings in Senate Judiciary's report on Trump election interference." By Meaghan Ellis, AlterNet, October 7, 2021
NEW! [Below] STUDENT LOANS: "Including the borrowers eligible for immediate forgiveness under these actions, the Biden-Harris Administration has now approved more than $11.5 billion in loan cancellation for over 580,000 borrowers."
"U.S. Department of Education Announces Transformational Changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, Will Put Over 550,000 Public Service Workers Closer to Loan Forgiveness." U.S. Department of Education, October 6, 2021
"In certain situations, you can have your federal student loans forgiven, canceled, or discharged. Learn more about the types of forgiveness and whether you qualify due to your job or other circumstances.
"Student Loan Forgiveness."
||[Below] DEMOCRACY: "Fiona Hill, former White House adviser on Russia and author of the newly released 'There is Nothing For You Here,' talks about the concerning parallels between the strain on democracy in the United States in the wake of Donald Trump's presidency and withering of honest democratic principles in post-Soviet Russia.
"'Russia is America's Ghost of Christmas Future, a harbinger of things to come.... For me, watching Trump's disorganized but deadly serious attempt at a coup unfold over the course of 2020, the clearest and most unmistakable parallels were with Russia.'"
| "Russia's Eroded Democracy Seen As Cautionary Tale For U.S. After Trump." MSNBC, YouTube, October 5, 2021|
NEW! [Below] "Many discussions of hope veer toward the saccharine, and speak to a desire for catharsis. Even the most jaded observers of world affairs can find it difficult not to catch their breath at the moment of suspense, hoping for good to triumph over evil and deliver a happy ending. For some, discussions of hope are attached to notions of a radical political vision for the future, while for others hope is a political slogan used to motivate the masses. Some people uphold hope as a form of liberal faith in progress, while for others still hope expresses faith in God and life after death.
"Arendt breaks with these narratives. Throughout much of her work, she argues that hope is a dangerous barrier to acting courageously in dark times....
"For Arendt, the emergence of totalitarianism in the middle of the 20th century meant that one could no longer count on common sense or human decency, moral norms or ethical imperatives. The law mandated mass murder and could not be looked to for guidance on how to act. The tradition of Western political thought broke, and Plato’s axiom — that it is better to suffer harm than to do harm — was reversed. The most basic human experiences, such as love, loss, desire, fear, hope and loneliness, were instrumentalised by fascist propaganda to sway the masses...."
"When hope is a hindrance: For Hannah Arendt, hope is a dangerous barrier to courageous action. In dark times, the miracle that saves the world is to act." By Samantha Rose Hill, Aeon essays, October 4, 2021
"Hannah Arendt" (1906-1975). Wikipedia, accessed 10/9/2021
[Below] The savvy journalist’s view of politics is based in part on the assumption that ideologues are problematic — they’re inflexible, they’re impractical, they care more about purity than that most noble of objectives, Getting Things Done.
"Centrists and moderates, on the other hand, supposedly understand the real world and are willing to work with others to solve problems. Which is why, for instance, a bipartisan group of House centrists named themselves the Problem Solvers Caucus.
"But what if all those ideas are backward? What if it’s the ideologues who are able to get things done, and it’s the centrists who stand in the way of solving problems while they knuckle under to special interests who don’t have the welfare of the country at heart?...
"...from where centrists sit, the status quo is not so bad. Yes, there are things to be concerned about and problems to be solved, but it’s nothing that gets their blood boiling....
"That general lack of urgency about addressing issues may be one reason that the Problem Solvers Caucus, which was formed in 2017, can’t say it has actually solved any problems....
"Which brings us to another characteristic of centrists that they don’t share with ideologues: They’re much more susceptible to influence by special interests, whose primary goal is often to keep change from happening.
"While a lack of ideological rigidity is often portrayed as a virtue, it’s also just the kind of open-mindedness corporate lobbyists are looking for....
Opinion: "What if everything we think about centrists and ideologues is wrong?" By Paul Waldman, Washington Post, October 1, 2021
[Below] "At a time when communities who have long been silenced in the U.S. are finding their voices and learning to see themselves, the language of identity has become an important part of the conversation around social justice. This debate over naming and identity and what to call oneself is, in many ways, a generational rite of passage on the path to gaining greater political power."
"Different names, unifying power: Hispanic, Latino, Latinx." By Fola Onifade, democracyincolor.com, September 30, 2021
[Below] "African American burial grounds and remains have exposed deep conflicts over inheritance and representation."
From the article:
"The movement to save Black cemeteries has been growing for decades, led by Black women...who have families to care for and work full-time jobs but volunteer countless hours and formidable organizing skills looking after the dead and upending American history....
"Underneath America lies an apartheid of the departed. Violence done to the living is usually done to their dead, who are dug up, mowed down, and built on. In the Jim Crow South, Black people paid taxes that went to building and erecting Confederate monuments. They buried their own dead with the help of mutual-aid societies, fraternal organizations, and insurance policies. Cemeteries work on something like a pyramid scheme: payments for new plots cover the cost of maintaining old ones. "Perpetual care" is, everywhere, notional, but that notion relies on an accumulation of capital that decades of disenfranchisement and discrimination have made impossible in many Black communities, even as racial terror also drove millions of people from the South during the Great Migration, leaving their ancestors behind....
"In an interview Toni Morrison gave in 1989, she explained why she'd written 'Beloved,' a novel whose title is an epitaph. 'There is no place that you and I can go to think about or not think about, to summon the presences of, or recollect the absences of slaves,' she said. No marker or plaque, no museum or statue. 'There's not even a tree scored, an initial that I can visit, or you can visit, in Charleston or Savannah or New York or Providence or better still on the banks of the Mississippi.' Three decades after 'Beloved,' people everywhere are tending to markers."
"When Black History Is Unearthed, Who Gets to Speak for the Dead?" By Jill Leport, The New Yorker, September 27, 2021
[Below] LATINOS: "But the difficult reality is that major social movements and powerful political alliances between ethnic groups do not arise simply because progressives wish that they would. They emerge because the very distinct historical experiences of different ethnic groups convince them to set aside their differences and work together in unity....
"In contrast, although both African Americans and Latinos suffered racial prejudice and discrimination, their historical experience since the 1960’s has been quite distinct and has shaped their political consciousness in profoundly different ways....
"...today the fact that Latino support for Trump actually increased in 2020 has profoundly shaken the 'natural Democrats' assumption...."
"Democrats: Let's Face Reality—The Term 'People of Color' Doesn't Describe a Political Coalition That Actually Exists." By Andrew Levison, The Democratic Strategist, September 23, 2021
NEW! [Below] HEALTHCARE: "For Scott Atlas, as for Republican governors like Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott, Tate Reeves, and Kay Ivey, the human cost of our shredded public health system is a feature, not a bug."
From the article: "The recent attacks on public health, the willingness on the part of Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott, Tate Reeves, Kay Ivey to defy standard public health practice—even as they see their constituents suffer—has its roots in a deep ideological commitment. This isn’t about the CDC’s shifting mask guidance, or about the belated acknowledgement of airborne transmission of the virus. This isn’t what matters to these leaders. And it’s simply willful ignorance to suggest that 'bad communication' is at the root of what is happening now. As Naomi Klein notes, every catastrophe is an opportunity.
"The pandemic has enabled these leaders to pursue policies they have wanted to push way before SARS-COV-2 had entered the scene. As the poet Anne Sexton said of self-destruction in another context: 'Suicides have a special language. Like carpenters they want to know which tools. They never ask why build.' The GOP is looking for ways to undermine access to health care, public health regulations and programs—the whole already-frayed safety net."
"Herd Immunity: Covid Deaths Devouring the South Are No Accident." By Gregg Gonsalves, The Nation, September 22, 2021
NEW! [Below] "'This is an area where the distinction between a religious and ethical objection and a political and policy objection will get really fuzzy really quickly, and that’s going to put employers in a very difficult position,' says Jamie Prenkert, professor of business law at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business in Bloomington.
"'The courts have been pretty clear that the religious exemption process can apply to non-theistic ethical or moral objections, but not to policy or political objections,' Professor Prenkert says. 'But depending on how people voice those objections, that becomes a very difficult line to draw.'"
"Vaccine mandates: How sincere is a 'sincerely held belief'?" By Harry Bruinius, Christian Science Monitor, September 20, 2021
[Below] GLOBAL WARMING/CLIMATE CHANGE: "...a new landmark study in The Lancet Planetary Health, released on a pre-publication basis on September 14, is the largest and most international-in-scope to demonstrate the immense psychological toll the climate crisis is wreaking on young people across the world. It is also the first study to suggest a link between the complex feelings related to ecological and climate crises — such as despair, hurt and grief — to a sense of anger, confusion or abandonment regarding government action, or inaction, in the face of the climate emergency, which is swiftly worsening before young people’s eyes.
"Youth Climate Anxiety Is Skyrocketing — and Government Inaction Is to Blame." By Leanna First-Arai, Truthout, September 16, 2021
[Below] "After considering the For the People Act this past summer, Senator Joe Manchin, along with other key Senate Democrats, used the August recess to draft a long-awaited revision of the landmark voting rights bill.
"The Freedom to Vote Act, introduced this morning, reveals a surprisingly good voting rights bill. It reflects a sobriety and understanding of the challenges facing voters that is worthy of its lofty name. It is not just a reformulation of the prior For the People Act, but in many places, it is an improvement."
"My Thoughts on Manchin's Compromise Bill." By Marc Elias, Democracy Docket, September 14, 2021
[Below] FREEDOM: "...the freedoms of those who would refuse vaccines or decline to wear masks when exercised, in effect, impinge on the freedoms of others.
"This is a well-trodden area of political theory. It’s the difference between so-called 'positive freedom' or liberty — that is, the government giving us the freedom to choose a course of action — and 'negative freedom' or liberty — which is the absence of obstacles or barriers, which might be erected by others exercising their own freedoms.
"Political theorist Isaiah Berlin reflected upon the difference in 1958 in 'The Two Concepts of Liberty.' He described the difference as being between 'the freedom which consists in being one’s own master, and the freedom which consists in not being prevented from choosing as I do by other men.'
"Berlin noted that political philosophers have long said that freedom 'could not, as things were, be unlimited, because if it were, it would entail a state in which all men could boundlessly interfere with all other men.'
"...the concept that fighting the pandemic via governmental regulations might actually aid freedom has been largely and puzzlingly missing from the debate over Biden’s new policy."
"Biden, mandates and the other freedom — from the coronavirus." By Aaron Blake, Washington Post, September 13, 2021
"Isaiah Berlin: Two Concepts of Liberty." 1969 (archived copy)
[Below] "Medicare Advantage is a massive, trillion-dollar rip-off, of the federal government and of taxpayers, and of many of the people buying the so-called Advantage plans.
"It's also one of the most effective ways that insurance companies could try to kill Medicare For All, since about a third of all people who think they're on Medicare are actually on these privatized plans instead.
"Nearly from its beginning, Medicare has allowed private companies to offer plans that essentially compete with it, but they were an obscure corner of the market and didn't really take off until the Bush administration and Republicans in Congress rolled out the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003. This was the GOP's (and a few corporatist Democrats') big chance to finally privatize Medicare, albeit one bite at a time....
"Medicare Advantage plans are not Medicare. They're private health insurance most often offered by the big for-profit insurance companies (although some nonprofits participate, particularly the larger HMOs), and the rules they must live by are considerably looser than those for Medicare."
"It's time to end the Medicare Advantage scam." By Thom Hartmann, Independent Media Institute, September 10, 2021
[Below] "In the case of labor rights, the PRO Act, which stands for Protecting the Right to Organize, narrowly passed the House on a party-line vote, but has no chance of gaining 60 votes in the Senate as freestanding legislation. However, the rule that Congress passed on August 24, authorizing Congress to proceed with a reconciliation measure that could spend up to $3.5 trillion, also explicitly authorized several pro-union provisions, using Congress’s power to tax, spend, or levy fines....
"Doing voting rights via reconciliation would be a heavier lift. In principle, the strategy would be similar—come up with fines or outlays that make voting rights fit under reconciliation. Two law professors, Jonathan Gould and Nicholas Stephanopoulos, recently provided a menu of such strategies in a piece for The Atlantic: Give citizens a financial incentive to vote; provide funding to states that enact pro-democracy reforms; provide federal money to counties and towns for election administration; use public funding of campaigns to crowd out PACs.
"This makes sense. But since the House and Senate leaders, balancing multiple political trade-offs, did not explicitly put voting rights into the rule covering the specifics of reconciliation, it seems a political long shot."
"Voting Rights and Labor Rights: The Two Sleepers in Budget Reconciliation." By Robert Kuttner, The American Prospect, September 10, 2021
[Below] "Attorney General Merrick Garland has the power, under federal civil rights laws, to go after any vigilantes who employ the Texas law to seek bounties from abortion providers or others who help women obtain abortions....
"...Section 242 of the federal criminal code makes it a crime for those who, 'under color of law,' willfully deprive individuals 'of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States....'
"...Section 241 of the federal criminal code makes it an even more serious crime for 'two or more persons' to agree to 'oppress, threaten, or intimidate' anyone 'in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same.' This crime may be committed even by individuals not found to be acting “under color of law” but as purely private vigilantes, as long as they’re acting in concert with others.
Opinion: "What the Justice Department Should Do to Stop the Texas Abortion Law." By Laurence H. Tribe, The Washington Post, September 6, 2021
[Below] SUPREME COURT, SHADOW DOCKET: "...the shadow docket is 'where the justices hand down largely unsigned short opinions without going through standard hearings, deliberations, and transparency.' Traditionally, it's mostly upholding lower court orders or emergency petitions that aren't especially controversial. But this court, controlled by Chief Justice John Roberts, has started to use the shadow docket to issue far-right rulings under the radar, avoiding the press coverage that more traditional rulings get...."
"The Supreme Court's latest salvo exposes the trick John Roberts has played on the country." By Amanda Marcotte, Salon, September 1, 2021
[Below] ABORTION: "A recent friend-of-the-court filing in that case [expected to be argued this fall at the U.S. Supreme Court, known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization] implicitly claims that biology – and therefore biologists – can tell when human life begins. The filing then goes on to claim explicitly that a vast majority of biologists agree on which particular point in fetal development actually marks the beginning of a human life.
"Neither of those claims is true."
"When human life begins is a question of politics – not biology." Sahotra Sarkar, The Conversation, September 1, 2021
[Below] This article is an interview with the author of a document listed earlier on this page. That document goes into more detail (than the article immediately below) on why the spread of false information; statements containing false, illogical or unlikely representations; and statements containing blatant falsehoods are perceived to give a group purveying them an advantage in inter-group conflicts.
"A social scientist's terrifying new theory: Fake news and conspiracy theories as an evolutionary strategy." By Paul Rosenberg, Salon, August 8, 2021
[Below] SUPREME COURT, INDEPENDENT STATE LEGISLATURE DOCTRINE: "But there has been a subtle shift in how Trump and his allies have talked about the supposed 'rigging' of the 2020 election in a way that will make such claims more appealing to the conservative judges and politicians that held the line last time around. Come 2024, crass and boorish unsubstantiated claims of stealing are likely to give way to arcane legal arguments about the awesome power of state legislatures to run elections as they see fit. ...[E]xpect white-shoe lawyers with Federalist Society bona fides to argue next time about application of the 'independent state legislature' doctrine in an attempt to turn any Republican presidential defeat into victory....
"So how does this argument work? Article II of the Constitution of the United States provides that state legislatures get to set the 'manner' for choosing presidential elections. Similarly, Article I, section 4 gives the state 'legislature' the power to set the time, place, and manner for conducting congressional elections, subject to congressional override. In practice, these clauses have been understood as allowing the legislature to set the ground rules for conducting the election, which are then subject to normal state processes: election administrators fix the details for administering the vote, state courts interpret the meaning of state election rules, and sometimes judges and officials decide when state rules violate state constitutional rights to vote....
"Republicans challenged that extension [by the Pennsylvia Supreme Court of the deadline for certain ballots to arrive], arguing that the U.S. Constitution makes the legislature supreme, even if the state legislature would otherwise be violating the state constitution as determined by the state supreme court. This is the 'independent state legislature' doctrine because it proposes that the legislature is supreme against all other actors that might run elections. This is a wacky theory of legislative power, but it is one that four Supreme Court justices (Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas) expressed support for in various opinions during the 2020 elections, and it echoes an alternative argument that former Chief Justice William Rehnquist, joined by Justice Thomas and former Justice Antonin Scalia, made in the Bush v. Gore case ending the 2000 election and handing victory to Republican George W. Bush.
"Justice Alito thought enough of the argument in the 2020 Pennsylvania case to order ballots arriving in Pennsylvania in the three days after Election Day to be set aside for possible exclusion from the count. Fortunately, there were only about 10,000 such ballots, and they did not determine the outcome of the presidential race (Biden won there by about 80,000 votes.)
"The 2020 fight over the independent state legislature doctrine was a close call. It would not be at all surprising to see at least five or perhaps all six conservative justices embrace the argument next time it comes before the court in a timely way."
"Trump Is Planning a Much More Respectable Coup Next Time." By Richard L. Hasen, Slate, August 7, 2021
[Below] SUPREME COURT, INDEPENDENT STATE LEGISLATURE DOCTRINE: "Like many conservatives of her generation, Cleta Mitchell was galvanized by the disputed 2000 election, in which George W. Bush and Al Gore battled for weeks over the outcome in Florida. She repeatedly spoke out on behalf of Bush, who won the state by only five hundred and thirty-seven votes. A dispute over recounts ended up at the Supreme Court.
"Few people noticed at the time, but in that case, Bush v. Gore, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, along with Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, hinted at a radical reading of the Constitution that, two decades later, undergirds many of the court challenges on behalf of Trump. In a concurring opinion, the Justices argued that state legislatures have the plenary power to run elections and can even pass laws giving themselves the right to appoint electors. Today, the so-called Independent Legislature Doctrine has informed Trump and the right’s attempts to use Republican-dominated state legislatures to overrule the popular will. Nathaniel Persily, an election-law expert at Stanford, told me, 'It’s giving intellectual respectability to an otherwise insane, anti-democratic argument....'
"It’s a surprisingly short leap from making accusations of voter fraud to calling for the nullification of a supposedly tainted election. The Public Interest Legal Foundation, a group funded by the Bradley Foundation, is leading the way....
"More than a year before the 2020 election, Cleta Mitchell and her allies sensed political peril for Trump and began reviewing strategies to help keep him in office. According to a leaked video of an address that she gave in May, 2019, to the Council for National Policy, a secretive conservative society, she warned that Democrats were successfully registering what she sarcastically referred to as 'the disenfranchised.' She continued, 'They know that if they target certain communities and they can get them registered and get them to the polls, then those groups . . . will vote ninety per cent, ninety-five per cent for Democrats.'
"One possible countermove was for conservative state legislators to reëngineer the way the Electoral College has worked for more than a hundred years, in essence by invoking the Independent Legislature Doctrine. The Constitution gives states the authority to choose their Presidential electors 'in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.' Since the late nineteenth century, states have delegated that authority to the popular vote. But, arguably, the Constitution permits state legislatures to take this authority back. Legislators could argue that an election had been compromised by irregularities or fraud, forcing them to intervene.
"...After the election, [Shawnna Bolick, a Republican state representative from Phoenix,] signed a resolution demanding that Congress block the certification of Biden’s victory and award Arizona’s electors to Trump. Then, early this year, Bolick introduced a bill proposing a radical reading of Article II of the Constitution, along the lines of the Independent Legislature Doctrine. It would enable a majority of the Arizona legislature to override the popular vote if it found fault with the outcome, and dictate the state’s Electoral College votes itself—anytime up until Inauguration Day....
"Bolick has since announced her candidacy for secretary of state in Arizona. Her husband, Clint Bolick, is an Arizona Supreme Court justice and a leader in right-wing legal circles. Clarence Thomas, one of the three U.S. Supreme Court Justices who signed on to the concurring opinion in Bush v. Gore laying out the Independent Legislature Doctrine, is the godfather of one of Clint Bolick’s sons. If Shawnna Bolick wins her race, she will oversee future elections in the state. And, if the Supreme Court faces another case in which arguments about the Independent Legislature Doctrine come into play, there may now be enough conservative Justices to agree with Thomas that there are circumstances under which legislatures, not voters, could have the final word in American elections...."
"The Big Money Behind the Big Lie." By Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, August 2, 2021
NEW! [Below] SUPREME COURT EXPANSION: The article below also contains a chart of "The Worst Decisions of the Roberts Court."
From the article:
"The U.S. Supreme Court is not a democratic institution. It consists of nine unelected elite lawyers armed with the tools and techniques of judicial review. They, not 'the People,' often get the last word on vital questions of social, economic, and even political policy.
"Whether this is a smart way to run a democracy has largely been a moot point since the court declared in Marbury v. Madison (1803) that it had the authority to find acts of Congress unconstitutional. The big question today, as always, is whether the court can operate in a politically neutral manner and stay above the partisan fray while discharging its awesome power....
"...on July 1, just before the court broke for summer recess, ...the release of a stunning 6-3 majority opinion written by Alito in the case of Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee...tore another gaping hole in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and signaled that the panel's rightwing ideologues were fully in control.
"The court also handed down another ideologically tinged decision on July 1 with a 6-3 majority opinion written by Roberts in Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta. The decision struck down a California regulation that requires registered charities and nonprofits to disclose the identities of major donors (those contributing more than $5,000). Americans for Prosperity is a tax-exempt organization long linked to the Koch brothers. Critics of the decision charge that it will open the door to more 'dark money' in elections.
"The damage caused by the Roberts Court to democratic norms and values runs deep. Harvard Law School professor Michael Klarman summed up the panel's cumulative record under Roberts's stewardship in an essay published last February in The Atlantic...."
"The day the Supreme Court showed its disturbing new face."; By Bill Blum, The Progressive, August 2, 2021 (Posted on AlterNet)
[Below] UNIONS: "Even if they don’t realize it, all workers protected under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) have rights. Workers have the right to form or join a union, to negotiate with employers over the terms and conditions for employment, and to be protected from being fired or demoted for attempting to unionize, having union discussions at work, or going on strike. Regardless of the workplace, when employees band together to unionize and fight for their rights, it can change the nature of an industry....
"But despite the positive effect it can have on employees, unionizing isn’t always easy, and recent court rulings, aggressive anti-union campaigns, old tropes about union corruption, and stereotypes about union workers have made it even more challenging...."
"Not sure if joining a union is right for you? Here are some things to consider." By Carolyn Copeland for Prism Reports, Daily Kos, July 23, 2021
[Below] SUPREME COURT, VOTING RIGHTS: "The Supreme Court isn’t even pretending that it’s bound by legal texts in its voting rights cases."
"How America lost its commitment to the right to vote." By Ian Millhiser, Vox, July 21, 2021
[Below] SUPREME COURT, VOTING RIGHTS: The Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court has already spoken, in past decisions, as have some of his conservative colleagues. This author says that, essentially, they will support "states rights"—the right of states to suppress voting rights as they please—over equal voting rights. There IS a solution....
"The John Lewis Voting Rights Act is a valuable piece of legislation. So is the For the People Act. Both are destined to fail in front of the Supreme Court."
"The Democrats Are Bungling Voting Rights—but Not in the Way You Think." By Elie Mystal, The Nation, July 21, 2021
NEW! [Below] MESSAGING: "Political labels tell a story about politicians or constituent groups. Unfortunately, the media and even progressive activists often use the wrong label. The audience, as a result, gets the story wrong...."
"Don't Say Nationalist, Populist or Authoritarian." Public Leadership Institute, July 14, 2021
NEW! [Below] SUPREME COURT, VOTING RIGHTS: "Brnovich v. DNC is a bad opinion for voting rights. It’s also much better than could have been expected from a 6-3 conservative SCOTUS."
"The Supreme Court leaves the Voting Rights Act alive — but only barely." By Ian Millhiser, July 1, 2021
||[Below] "Rep. Tim Ryan tells Lawrence O’Donnell that he now supports eliminating the filibuster rule in the Senate after Republicans showed 'they don’t want to work with us' to pass voting rights, infrastructure or any priorities of Biden’s agenda: 'We’ve got to get rid of this archaic rule that’s stopping us from making the progress we need to make… America can’t wait any longer.'"
|"Rep. Tim Ryan: We Must Get Rid Of The Senate Filibuster." YouTube, June 23, 2021
||[Below] "U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Mark Milley, said on Wednesday that it was important for military personnel to study critical race theory, after Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz questioned Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin about the controversial school of thought during a House Armed Services Committee hearing."
|"General Mark Milley hits back at uproar over critical race theory." YouTube, June 23, 2021
||[Below] "At least 25 states have taken action to ban the teaching of critical race theory. It comes as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) compared CRT to the Ku Klux Klan. NBC’s Mehdi Hasan spoke to one of the co-founders of the theory, Kimberlé Crenshaw, about what Republicans are getting wrong about her work."
|"The Truth About 'Critical Race Theory': Co-Founder Breaks Down GOP Gaslighting." YouTube, June 21, 2021
[Below] "A novel idea for House Democrats to thwart Joe Manchin: Sue the Senate all the way to the Supreme Court."
"Let’s Take the Filibuster to Court." By Thomas Geoghegan, The New Republic, June 14, 2021
[Below] LANGUAGE, MESSAGING: "After every election, Democrats seem to talk about how they failed to craft a clear message. So how about bombarding people with a new kind of campaign ad?"
"What does the Democratic Party stand for? What do voters think the Democratic Party stands for? How can Democrats communicate to voters that they actually do stand for things...?
"...The two analyses [linked in the article] agree on one key point: The Democratic Party failed to define itself, and what it is for, in the mind of much of the electorate. The reports diverge in an interesting way on the topic of how Republicans brand Democrats....
"...In the progressive view, conservative propaganda is something in the air that true swing voters (as opposed to dedicated conservatives) largely tune out. In the Third Way view, it is incumbent on Democrats (and, implicitly, Democratic supporters) to avoid doing or saying things that might provoke the bear.... Neither side really asks how Democrats expect to perform a task that Republicans have mastered: actually reaching marginal voters with these messages at all."
"Here’s an Idea for Liberals: Propaganda." By Alex Pareene, The New Republic, June 12, 2021
[Below] "We, the undersigned, are scholars of democracy who have watched the recent deterioration of U.S. elections and liberal democracy with growing alarm. Specifically, we have watched with deep concern as Republican-led state legislatures across the country have in recent months proposed or implemented what we consider radical changes to core electoral procedures in response to unproven and intentionally destructive allegations of a stolen election. Collectively, these initiatives are transforming several states into political systems that no longer meet the minimum conditions for free and fair elections. Hence, our entire democracy is now at risk."
"Statement of Concern: The Threats to American Democracy and the Need for National Voting and Election Administration Standards." New America, June 1, 2021
[Below] "People have been manipulated to think that beliefs needn’t change in response to evidence, making us more susceptible to conspiracy theories, science denial and extremism."
From the article:
"...The GOP now trades almost exclusively in manufactured bogeymen. 'Death panels,' 'feminazis,' and the 'war on Christmas' are obvious ploys, but fearmongering is now the defining feature of American conservatism. Socialists aim to destroy our way of life. The government is planning to seize your guns. Secularists will steal your freedom to worship. Gays will destroy the institution of marriage. BLM protesters will burn down your neighborhood. Cognitive scientists call what Republican strategists do 'amygdala hijacking,' after the brain module that responds to fear.
"But brains manipulated in this way lose the capacity for reasoned reflection...."
"The Cause of America’s Post-Truth Predicament." By Andy Normal, Scientific American, May 18, 2021
[Below] Is there a strategy for getting the For the People Act (S. 1) passed in the U.S. Senate, to make it effective for 2022 elections?
"A timeline for the For the People Act." Indivisible, May 15, 2021
[Below] CRITICAL RACE THEORY: "It's a concept that's been around for decades and that seeks to understand and address inequality and racism in the US. The term also has become politicized....
"To get a deeper understanding of what critical race theory is -- and isn't -- we talked to one of the scholars behind it.
"Critical race theory recognizes that systemic racism is part of American society and challenges the beliefs that allow it to flourish.
"'Critical race theory is a practice. It's an approach to grappling with a history of White supremacy that rejects the belief that what's in the past is in the past, and that the laws and systems that grow from that past are detached from it....'"
"What critical race theory is -- and isn't." By Faith Karimi, CNN, Updated Monday, May 10, 2021.
"Critical Race Theory." By Wikipedia, accessed May 13, 2021
"A Lesson on Critical Race Theory." by Janel George, American Bar Association, January 12, 2021
[Below] LANGUAGE, MESSAGING: President Biden's remarks as prepared for delivery are below. This is the transcript provided by the White House. Also below are Adobe PDF and Microsoft Word copies of the speech, which you can mark up with appropriate software.
"Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by President Biden — Address to a Joint Session of Congress." White House, April 28, 2021 (Adobe PDF copy archived here.) (Microsoft Word copy archived here.)
NEW! [Below] LANGUAGE, MESSAGING: "James Carville on the state of Democratic politics."
"Wokeness is a problem and we all know it." By Sean Illing, vox.com, April 27, 2021
[Below] "...Care work, too, is infrastructure, as many left-wing economists, organizers, and advocates have argued for years. Republicans seem to believe that physical infrastructure simply appears, as if a giant hand descends from the sky and builds a road by itself. Construction isn’t sorcery — people have to build things, and those people need other people to care for their children, teach them, and look after relatives while they’re building that road. There is no giant hand. There are no robots, either. Workers are human beings, with human requirements. Society cannot function without care work or the laborers who perform it. A collective good, care work is a collective responsibility too. The only question remaining is the law. Will it pay for care work, or not?...
"...The GOP doesn’t have a plan because it doesn’t think care work matters. They don’t value the people who perform it. When members of the party rail against the elites, and fashion themselves champions of the worker, they aren’t talking about low-income Black women who take care of the elderly. They aren’t even referring to the archetypal white man in a hard hat. That man has a family, and that family has needs. They’re thinking of themselves, and their own families, because they have the means to pay for care. Most Americans aren’t so fortunate...."
"The GOP’s Barebones America." By Sarah Jones, Intelligencer, April 16, 2021
[Below] "The restrictions across the Northeast are relics of the urban Democratic machines, which preferred to mobilize their voters precinct by precinct on Election Day rather than give reformers a lengthier window to rally opposition. Democrats who have won election after election in states such as New York, Delaware, Connecticut, and Rhode Island have had little incentive to change the rules that helped them win.
"The party has been more concerned with expanding access to the polls in places where it has struggled to obtain and keep power (although it’s not clear whether Democrats’ assumptions about the impact voting laws have on turnout are correct). In Congress, Democrats are prioritizing legislation called the For the People Act, or H.R. 1, which seeks to curb GOP efforts to suppress voting...."
"The Blue States That Make It Hardest to Vote." By Russell Berman, The Atlantic, April 15, 2021
[Below] GEORGIA REDISTRICTING (GERRYMANDERING): "Later this year, Georgia’s General Assembly will convene for a special session to redraw the boundaries of the state’s legislative and congressional districts based on data from the 2020 census....
"For the next several months, the Georgia News Lab and GPB News will bring you data and stories about Georgia’s demographic and political changes over the past decade — before final numbers and maps are created. This reporting recipe will outline what data we are using, provide highlights of the redistricting process and explain what to expect from your lawmakers."
"Reporting Recipe: How To Be A Redistricting Watchdog." By Stephen Fowler, David Armstrong, and Isaiah Poritz , GPB News, April 15, 2021
[Below] LABOR: "Earlier today the National Labor Relations Board announced the results of the vote on whether workers at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Ala., would join a union. The vote was 738 in favor to 1,798 against. It’s bad news, but it doesn’t mean workers in future Amazon campaigns won’t or can’t win. They can. The results were not surprising, however, for reasons that have more to do with the approach used in the campaign itself than any other factor....
"Three factors weigh heavily in any unionization election: the outrageously vicious behavior of employers—some of it illegal, most fully legal—including harassing and intimidating workers, and telling bold lies (which, outside of countries with openly repressive governments, is unique to the United States); the strategies and tactics used in the campaign by the organizers; and the broader social-political context in which the union election is being held."
"Blowout in Bessemer: A Postmortem on the Amazon Campaign." By Jane McAlevey, The Nation, April 9, 2021
[Below] "With their opposition to President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan, Republicans are doubling down on a core bet they’ve made for his presidency: that the GOP can maintain support among its key constituencies while fighting programs that would provide those voters with tangible economic assistance." (rural voters)
"The GOP Is Voting Against Its Base." By Ronald Brownstein, The Atlantic, April 9, 2021
NEW! [Below] "It’s become something of a trend in recent decades for Republicans, who don’t think government can work, to spend their years in power breaking it in order to fulfill their own prophecy; it then falls to Democrats to spend their years in power fixing what Republicans destroyed....
"Where the clean-up effort gets complicated is around the laws and norms we’ve set up to keep our system functioning. While previous Republican administrations tried to break government, Donald Trump tried to break democracy. He did this boldly and brazenly, by attacking elections, and he did it less boldly but no less brazenly, by working alongside Mitch McConnell to take over the unelected branch of government that sets the rules for all the others: the federal judiciary. That branch is now stuffed with conservative ideologues masquerading as jurists.
"When Trump took office in 2017, he inherited 108 federal judicial vacancies, thanks to McConnell’s systematic obstruction of Obama’s judicial nominees. During the next four years, he appointed 226 judges, including three US Supreme Court justices, 54 US court of appeals judges, and 174 US district court judges. Those judges represent just over a quarter of the federal bench and helped flip entire federal courts of appeals...."
"Can Biden Fix the Courts That Trump Broke?" By Elie Mystal, The Nation, April 7, 2021
[Below] "Economic Innovation Group think tank offers tools that introduce 'geographic inequality' into the national conversation and bring rural America’s economic distress to the forefront."
"Commentary: Which Think Tanks Think About Rural America?" By Joe Belden, The Daily Yonder, April 7, 2021
NEW! [Below] "Sectarian politics will only be defeated through a long-term commitment to equal dignity and rights for all people."
"Liberals Must Rebuild Their Intellectual Infrastructure." By John Halpin, March 31, 2021
[Below] "Biden has only months to enact change, and his legacy will be defined by whether he saved voting rights from Republican assault."
"The Most Important Thing Democrats Can Do With Their Power Is Protect the Vote." By Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, March 24, 2021
[Below] "Democrats did the work, Republicans didn’t—and that says a lot about the two parties."
"The Real Reason Republicans Couldn’t Kill Obamacare." By Jonathan Cohn, The Atlantic, March 22, 2021
[Below] "Like Lyndon B. Johnson, McConnell is a master of the Senate. But although Johnson often used his mastery to pass important bills, McConnell uses his to kill them—while simultaneously generating outrage that yields considerable benefits for his party. McConnell possesses a rare understanding of mass psychology and knows that the American political system is unusually opaque to voters. Not only does the United States have multiple branches and levels of government, but voters elect their representatives in Congress separately from the president.... In this complex system, determining who has done what can be like figuring out a mystery novel. The filibuster, an arcane procedure that prevents those who seem to be in charge from actually passing the legislation they want, only deepens the mystery.
"The upshot is that party accountability in the American system mostly centers on the president. Even in midterm elections, when the president isn’t on the ballot, dissatisfied voters tend to punish the president’s party at the polls. This has a certain logic: Figuring out who is president is easy. So is deciding whether you like what you think the president is doing. By contrast, a strikingly large share of voters struggle to identify their representatives in Congress, or even which party controls the House or the Senate.... In this context, voters are unlikely to punish a minority party wielding the filibuster—and, indeed, are far more likely to punish a president and a president’s party for policy failures caused by the filibuster, even if it is wielded by the other party."
"Why McConnell Gets Away With Filibustering." By Jacob S. Hacker (Political scientist at Yale) and Paul Pierson (Political scientist at UC Berkeley), March 21, 2021
[Below] "...you can't let the threat of possible future bad stuff prevent you from doing good stuff when you have the power to do it.... By any measure, Democrats will come out well ahead, because we are the party that wants to enact progressive change and Republicans are the party that wants to stop stuff. We simply have more things that we can get passed in the next two years that will move the ball down the field and provide us a lot of insurance against the bad things Republicans might possibly do in the future."
"Joe Manchin's filibuster demands might end up making Republican obstruction even worse." By Igor Derysh, Salon, March 20, 2021
[Below] "The filibuster is no cornerstone of senatorial greatness. It is an accident that has spun out of control."
"The Filibuster's Ugly History and Why It Must Be Scrapped." By Sean Wilentz, Rolling Stone, March 16, 2021
NEW! [Below] "The synecdoche problem is just this: when people consistently advocate for a particular group, they come to believe that they know what’s best for that group, can speak for that group, or just literally are that group. The constant advocacy creates a sense of identification that deludes the advocate. They become incapable of seeing that their point of view is not universally shared, or even broadly shared, by the people who make up that group...."
"the Synecdoche Problem." By Freddie deBoer, March 8, 2021
[Below] "...Four months after America last went to the polls, Democrats are still refining their autopsies of the 2020 race and already governing with an eye toward the 2022 midterms. Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, Republicans are trying to figure out just how firm Donald Trump’s grip on their party really is — and debating whether that grip should be stronger or weaker.
"To gain some insight into these matters, Intelligencer turned to our favorite socialist proponent of ruthlessly poll-driven campaigning, David Shor. A veteran of the 2012 Obama campaign, Shor is currently head of data science at OpenLabs, a progressive nonprofit. We spoke with him last week about how his analysis of the 2020 election has changed since November, what Democrats need to do to keep Congress after 2022, and why he thinks the Trump era was great for the Republican Party (in strictly electoral terms)."
"David Shor on Why Trump Was Good for the GOP and How Dems Can Win in 2022." By Eric Levitz, New York Magazine (Intelligencer), March 3, 2021
NEW! [Below] ORGANIZING. "Though Care in Action is not affiliated with Stacey Abrams, who has been widely credited with turning Georgia blue, its work is a direct extension of Democrats’ decade-long effort to reshape the state by organizing voters of color. 'What it takes to win in Georgia is a multiracial coalition,' says Rep. Nikema Williams, who served as Care in Action’s deputy director in 2018 and now holds the US House seat formerly held by Rep. John Lewis. And just as that coalition did not come together overnight, it also drew upon generations of organizing by Black domestic workers." (Care in Action; Ai-jen Poo; National Domestic Workers Alliance; National Domestic Workers Union--NDWU)
"How a Legacy of Organizing Among Domestic Workers Helped Turn Georgia Blue." By Becca Andrews, Mother Jones, March-April 2021 issue
[Below] "Next Tuesday [March 2], the Supreme Court will hear two cases that could shred much of what remains of the right to be free from racial discrimination at the polls. The defendants’ arguments in two consolidated cases, Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee and Arizona Republican Party v. Democratic National Committee, are some of the most aggressive attacks on the right to vote to reach the Supreme Court in the post-Jim Crow era....
"The most important question in the DNC cases isn’t whether these two particular Arizona laws will be upheld or stuck down, but whether the Court will announce a legal rule that guts one of America’s most important civil rights laws. And there is reason to fear that it will. The Supreme Court doesn’t just have a 6-3 Republican majority; it’s a majority that includes several justices who’ve shown a great deal of hostility toward voting rights generally and the Voting Rights Act in particular."
"The Supreme Court is about to hear two cases that could destroy what remains of the Voting Rights Act." By Ian Millhiser, Vox, February 23, 2021
NEW! [Below] MESSAGING. "The evidence shows we all lose when society's overwhelmed by white resentment and win when we organize across our differences."
"Opinion: The Way Out of America's Zero-Sum Thinking on Race and Wealth." By Heather C. McGhee, New York Times, February 13, 2021
[Below] "These data underscore the extent to which black voters are not a monolith and cannot be assumed to belong to the Democrats simply on the basis of racial justice advocacy and rhetoric. In the end, the loyalty of black voters will likely depend on the ability of the Democrats to provide material improvements in their lives, particularly for those in working class and poor communities."
"The Black Vote Was Good But Not Great for the Democrats in 2020." By Ruy Teixeira, The Liberal Patriot, February 12, 2021
NEW! [Below] "... America has lacked a dominant party since the downfall of the New Deal coalition at the end of the 1960s; the partisan standoff has lasted longer than any such period in history and shows no sign of ending.
"What can Democratic politicians and activists do to gain the upper hand in electoral combat? How might they become, again, a force that can win consistently, govern effectively, and help bring about the more egalitarian and climate-friendly society Biden and Kamala Harris advocated on the virtual campaign trail?
"Like most adherents of left egalitarian politics, I believe the only path to such a future lies in adopting a populist program about jobs, income, health care, and other material necessities, while making a transition to a sustainable economy. And Democrats have to convey their goals in language that a majority of Americans can understand and endorse.
"But any realistic discussion of such a strategy must begin by acknowledging the structural impediments to its success....
"Then there’s the problem of big money...."
"How the Democratic Party Can Create a Majoritarian Coalition." By Michael Kazin, The New Republic, February 11, 2021 (archive copy)
[Below] "Former President Donald Trump has blamed the election results on unfounded claims of fraud and malfeasance. But at the top levels of his campaign, a detailed autopsy report that circulated among his political aides paints a far different — and more critical — portrait of what led to his defeat.
"The post-mortem, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO [see below], says the former president suffered from voter perception that he wasn’t honest or trustworthy and that he was crushed by disapproval of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. And while Trump spread baseless accusations of ballot-stuffing in heavily Black cities, the report notes that he was done in by hemorrhaging support from white voters.
"The 27-page report, which was written by Trump chief pollster Tony Fabrizio, shows how Trump advisers were privately reckoning with his loss even as the former president and many of his supporters engaged in a conspiracy theory-fueled effort to overturn the election. The autopsy was completed in December 2020 and distributed to Trump’s top political advisers just before President Joe Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration."
"Trump pollster's campaign autopsy paints damning picture of defeat." By Alex Isenstadt, POLITICO, February 1, 2021
[Below] This analysis of exit polls from the 2020 Presidential election, "which was written by Trump chief pollster Tony Fabrizio, shows how Trump advisers were privately reckoning with his loss even as the former president and many of his supporters engaged in a conspiracy theory-fueled effort to overturn the election. The autopsy was completed in December 2020 and distributed to Trump’s top political advisers just before President Joe Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration."
"Post Election Exit Poll Analysis, 10 Key Target States." Prepared by Fabrizio, Lee & Associates, December 2020 (archived copy)
[Below] MESSAGING — "Seventy-five years later, Orwell’s basic criticisms of political writing remain valid. And the consequences of misused political language for democracy are growing as poor language helps to fuel declining trust, rising polarization, and partisan gridlock. Without agreement on what is going on in the country, or even how to describe it, Americans and their political leaders will face difficulties forging collective action to overcome our biggest challenges, most importantly on the pandemic and economic crisis.
The left and the right in American politics today both have their own problems on this front that fall into three main categories that Orwell might recognize...."
"On the Uses and Abuses of Political Language." By John Halpin, The Liberal Patriot, February 1, 2021
"Politics and the English Language." By George Orwell, April 1946
[Below] "Despite signs of growing support for unions, workers face formidable barriers to organizing and winning improvements in workplace standards, especially in Southern states. In his first days in office, President Biden took a number of steps advocated by union leaders, including personnel changes in key agencies and a handful of pro-labor executive orders.
"But the real test of the new administration's commitment to labor will come on the legislative front, where Democrats have proposed sweeping reforms to the country's labor laws — measures that grassroots activists agree could transform the climate for workers and unions in the South."
"A new day for labor in the South?" By Chris Kromm, Facing South, January 29, 2021 (See also Resources—Progressive Legislation: Labor Unions - H.R.2474 - Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2019).
NEW! [Below] "How to make the Senate functional without forcing Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin to go back on their word"
"Fine, Keep the Filibuster. Kill the 60-Vote Requirement Instead." By Alex Pareene, The New Republic, January 27, 2021
NEW! [Below] DISINFORMATION, MESSAGING — "...Together, these streams of disinformation have undermined trust in public-serving institutions and even our democracy as a whole.
"Disinformation like this has been effective in part because it preys on the raw emotion of fear. In moments of heightened uncertainty, disinformation offers easy scapegoats and appeals to a primal 'us versus them' mentality. Disinformation also depends on old and often racialized narratives to gain traction in people’s minds and in the public debate. For example, false claims of voter fraud piggyback off of old narratives about government corruption and Black and brown criminality. 'Plandemic' disinformation relies upon anti-Asian and anti-communist narratives. Because of this, we need to combat disinformation not only at the level of social media posts, news articles, and communications platforms, but also at the broader level of narrative strategy."
"Defanging Disinformation: 6 Action Steps Nonprofits Can Take." By Jen Soriano, Hermelinda Cortés, and Joseph Phelan, NPQ (Nonprofit Quarterly), January 26, 2021
NEW! [Below] "There are a few reasons conspiracy theories are so “sticky” once they’re in someone’s head. First, conspiracy theorists are far more likely to have a Manichaean worldview, meaning they interpret everything as a battle between good and evil. That makes it harder for dispassionate evidence-based arguments to break through....
"Second, those who seek to debunk conspiracy theories are precisely the people that true believers distrust. If someone believes the media is controlled by sinister but unseen puppet masters, fact checks from CNN will never convince them they’re wrong....
"Third, these organized mass delusions are designed to resist debunking. When Armageddon fails to materialize on a precise date predicted by a cult leader, believers often chalk it up to miscalculation and simply pick a new date. The same is often true for conspiracy theories....
"But while political science and psychology have effectively demonstrated the cognitive biases that cause such deranged beliefs to stick, there’s a crucial dimension that isn’t getting enough attention. Conspiracy theories, for too many people, are fun. That’s particularly true because groups such as QAnon have developed into robust online communities in which believers forge digital friendships. Our mental image of tinfoil-hat-wearing loners isolated in dark basements is outdated. Modern conspiracy movements such as QAnon, are thriving in church groups and yoga classes. They’re social. And that means that deprogramming is that much harder...."
"Opinion: Why is it so hard to deprogram Trumpian conspiracy theorists?" By Brian Klaas, Washington Post, January 25, 2021
[Below] "After Black voters propelled Joe Biden to the White House, the new president faces the dual challenges of reversing an economic downturn that has devastated communities of color while also addressing decades of racial economic disparity.
"Black Americans want President Biden to narrow systemic racial inequalities that have left them trailing Whites on every economic measure, gaps that are worsening amid the coronavirus recession."
"The Trump economy left Black Americans behind. Here’s how they want Biden to narrow the gaps." By Tracy Jan, Washington Post, January 22, 2021
[Below] "Rural communities provide much of the food and energy that fuel our lives. They are made up of people who, after decades of exploitative resource extraction and neglect, need strong connective infrastructure and opportunities to pursue regional prosperity. A lack of investment in broadband, schools, jobs, sustainable farms, hospitals, roads and even the U.S. Postal Service has increasingly driven rural voters to seek change from national politics. And this sharp hunger for change gave Trump’s promises to disrupt the status quo particular appeal in rural areas.
"Metropolitan stakeholders often complain that the Electoral College and U.S. Senate give less populous states disproportionate power nationally. Yet that power has not steered enough resources, infrastructure investment and jobs to rural America for communities to survive and thrive...."
"5 ways Biden can help rural America thrive and bridge the rural-urban divide." By Ann Eisenberg, Jessica A. Shoemaker, Lisa R. Pruitt, The Conversation, January 21, 2021
[Below] SOCIAL MEDIA — "How Thousands of Americans Were Convinced to Storm the Capitol—and What Comes Next"
"...in the days since [the Capitol insurrection], researchers who study online dynamics and radicalization have been piecing together the chain of events and working to understand how the attack might have been prevented. Echo chambers, networked activism, hyperpartisan media, and peer-to-peer misinformation are not going anywhere. U.S. policymakers and social media companies must therefore seek to comprehend and address the forces at work, particularly those that appear likely to become persistent threats."
"The Insurrection Hiding in Plain Sight." By Renee DiResta and Alex Stamos, Foreign Affairs, January 14, 2021
[Below] SOCIAL MEDIA — How do we know what we "know"? Conventional media at least had editors who we could identify and complain to when they said something questionable. Social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), by current law, can't be held responsible for what's said by the millions of people using their platforms, and the platforms are interactive—their computer algorithms see what we're reading and direct us to similar material, amplifying what we've read whatever its quality or intent, to keep us "hooked."
"Social media platforms helped radicalize the crowd that stormed the Capitol, banning Trump won't solve the bigger problem."
"Banning Trump isn't Enough." By Dan Pfeiffer, The Message Box, January 10, 2021
[Below] Polling, for all of its shortcomings, may help to describe dominant characteristics of people by their political identity. This can help to guide messaging: "A significant number of Americans believe misinformation about the origins of the coronavirus and the recent presidential election, as well as conspiracy theories like QAnon, according to a new NPR/Ipsos poll."
"Even If It's 'Bonkers,' Poll Finds Many Believe QAnon And Other Conspiracy Theories." By Joel Rose, NPR, December 30, 2020
[Below] "It wasn’t because voters were turned off by leftist sloganeering but because Dems failed to inspire their own base—and the data prove it."
"Centrist Dems Are Wrong About November’s Losses." By Steve Phillips, The Nation, December 21, 2020
[Below] The number of Black registered voters in Georgia increased by about 130,000 between Oct. 11, 2016, and Oct. 5, 2020, the largest increase among all major racial and ethnic groups, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Georgia Secretary of State’s Office data.
"Black, Latino and Asian Americans have been key to Georgia’s registered voter growth since 2016." Pew Research Center, December 21, 2020
[Below] Black eligible voters in Georgia have played a significant role in driving the growth of the state’s electorate over the past two decades. Between 2000 and 2019, Georgia’s eligible voter population grew by 1.9 million, with nearly half of this increase attributed to growth in the state’s Black voting population, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of new census data.
"Black eligible voters have accounted for nearly half of Georgia electorate’s growth since 2000." Pew Research Center, December 15, 2020
[Below] "For about a decade, voters have been more favorable to Democratic positions on health care, climate, immigration, taxes, and gun safety. Yet, the public support for our policy agenda has not translated into commensurate political support especially in redder states.
"Historically, the Republican Party has been less popular than the Democratic Party - although neither party is adored. But Republicans have generally been more popular than their policies. The Republican policy agenda is incredibly unpopular. Voters oppose cuts to Social Security and Medicare, cutting taxes for the wealthy, and allowing corporations to melt the planet and poison people for profit.
"The fact that Democrats are the more party popular and have a more a popular agenda, but struggle to win enough elections to implement that agenda is a source of great frustration.
"Our party is better liked and trusted than the Republicans. We have won the popular vote in seven of the previous eight elections. Yet, our political power comes nowhere near matching our popularity. Why is this? Because our electoral system is inherently biased against Democrats. The Electoral College and Senate give massively disproportionate power to the GOP’s shrinking base of white non-college educated voters....
"Up until the moment the Electoral College is abolished and/or we add a half dozen states to the Union, Democrats will be playing a lot of the game in Republican territory. Therefore, Democratic politicians need to win over more voters that are inherently skeptical of the Democratic Party. We need to improve perceptions of the brand...."
"The Democratic Brand in 2020 and Beyond." By Dan Pfeiffer, The Message Box, December 8, 2020
[Below] The first link below is an overview of the longer article in the second link.
"As Pandemic Soars to Deadly New Heights, 'Conservative Ideology Itself' Blamed for Disastrous US Response." By Jake Johnson, Common Dreams, December 3, 2020
"It’s Not Just Trump: COVID-19 Is The Test That Conservatism Was Built To Fail." By Michael Linden and Sammi Aibinder, TPM, November 30, 2020
[Below] “The election has shattered the Democratic illusion that demography is destiny. A far-right nativism can appeal to many voters (including those of Hispanic and African-American ethnicity) who were assumed to be part of an emerging left-of-center consensus…. Trump, win or lose, doesn’t merely have a post-November 3 afterlife. As a political force he has never been anything but an afterlife. One of the reasons there cannot be a postmortem on Trumpism is that Trumpism is postmortem.
“Its core appeal is necromantic. It promised to make a buried world rise again: coal mines would reopen in West Virginia, lost car plants would return to Detroit. Good, secure, unionized muscle jobs would come back. The unquestionable privilege of being white and male and native would be restored. Trump did not manage to do any of this, of course. But, in a sense, that very failure keeps the promise pure, unadulterated by the complexities of reality….
“…What Trump stumbled on was that the solution to the [Republican] party’s chronic inability to win a majority of voters in presidential elections was to stop trying and instead to embrace and enforce minority rule. This possibility is built into the American system. The electoral college, the massive imbalance in representation in the Senate, the ability to gerrymander congressional districts, voter suppression, and the politicization of the Supreme Court—these methods for imposing on the majority the will of the minority have always been available. Trump transformed them from tactical tools to permanent, strategic necessities.
“As we are now seeing, the difference for a democracy is existential…. A program of consolidating the means by which a minority can gain and retain power must try to institutionalize itself, to become so embedded that it can withstand the majority’s anger. To do that, it must not merely evade the consequences of losing the popular vote in this or that election. It must, insofar as it can, make those elections irrelevant.
“This is the most important thing to understand about the postmortem Republican Party. The logic is not that a permanently minority party may move toward authoritarianism but that it must. Holding power against the wishes of most citizens is an innately despotic act. From 2016 onward, the GOP has become not so much the RINO Party, Republican in name only. It is the RIP party, repressive in perpetuity. When Trump said on Fox & Friends at the end of March that Democrats want ‘levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again,’ he was openly redefining the meaning of the vote. Voting, in this formulation, is something to be ‘agreed to’—or not—by Trump himself. Democracy is no longer rooted in the consent of the governed, but in the contingent permission of the indispensable leader.
“In all the noise of the 2020 election, it was easy to miss the signal that was not being sent. The incumbent president made no effort even to go through the motions of presenting a future open to deliberation by citizens. He had no policy agenda for a second term—the GOP merely readopted its platform from 2016, without even bothering to delete its multiple attacks on ‘the current president.’ Why? Because arguments about policy are the vestiges of a notion that Trump has killed off: the idea that an election is a contest for the support, or at least the consent, of a majority of voters. Such arguments implicitly concede the possibility that there is another, equally legitimate choice. That is precisely what the posthumous Republican Party cannot and does not accept.”
"Democracy's Afterlife: Trump, the GOP, and the rise of zombie politics." By Fintan O'Toole, The New York Review, December 3, 2020 issue
[Below] "I’m the chair of the local Democratic Party in a Wisconsin county that Donald Trump won. It wasn’t for a lack of progressive organizing. It was because national Democrats have failed communities like mine."
Opinion: "Why Democrats Keep Losing Rural Counties Like Mine." By Bill Hogseth, POLITICO, December 1, 2020
[Below] "The 2020 presidential election shows that, more than ever, the Democratic Party has become the party of educated voters. For the next four years, Republicans will play up that divide to expand their own base."
"Why Republicans Want to Make Class, Not Race, the New Political Fault Line." By Ken Stern, Vanity Fair - Hive, November 30, 2020
[Below] "The moderate Republican is a myth. For all the Lincoln Project’s assertions that it would peel away Republican voters, the president actually secured a larger share of the Republican vote than he did in 2016. Some 94% of Republicans looked back on the debacles and racism of the last four years and concluded that they wanted more. This is not a delusion; it is the core of the Republican party. Biden would like to frame his presidency as a return to normality after the Trumpian exception. The reality, however, is that Trump doesn’t represent something new; it emerges from the long shadow that white supremacy cast over American history."
"Why Biden shouldn't extend an olive branch to Republicans." By Joshua Craze and Ainsley LeSure, The Guardian (UK), November 26, 2020
[Below] "Expecting 2008, Democrats got 2016 again, an unnervingly close election that Joe Biden appears to have won by razor-thin margins in a few states....
"...But what happened in the seven major Texas border counties whose population of 2.6 million is 90 per cent Mexican in origin (Tejanos)? The national party has many neglected or abandoned constituencies, including Puerto Rico, Indian Country and Appalachia, but southern Texas has a unique strategic significance.....
"As the fantasy of great gains in Texas dissipated, Democrats were stunned to discover that a high turnout had instead propelled a Trump surge along the border.....
"...As Congressman Filemón Vela (Brownsville) was quoted as saying in the Valley Morning Star, a Harlingen newspaper, ‘I think there was no Democratic national organisational effort in South Texas and the results showed. The visits are nice, but without a planned media and grassroots strategy you just can’t sway voters. When you take voters for granted like national Democrats have done in South Texas for forty years, there are consequences to pay.’"
"Rio Grande Valley Republicans." By Mike Davis, London Review of Books, November 19, 2020
NEW! [Below] RELATIONAL ORGANIZING. "The pandemic wrecked traditional campaigning. Relational organizing stands to reinvent it."
"The first thing relational organizing evangelists say is that their approach is nothing new. Word-of-mouth and community-based activism were the backbone of the civil rights, women’s rights, farmworkers’, and labor movements. Political parties once had their own local networking machines, for better or worse, facilitated by free holiday turkeys, reliable snowplowing, and government jobs for somebody’s nephew. But in the second half of the 20th century, just as more Americans gained access to the ballot box, campaigns turned to consumer-based approaches like television advertising, and mass marketing became the primary way politicians reached voters."
"Community-based groups already steeped in organizing have been quicker to use the strategy than candidates have. Political campaigns are often cautious, risk averse, and shaped by what’s worked before. With high stakes and limited resources, innovation is constrained. So while Democratic candidates have taken note of relational organizing, few, including Joe Biden, have fully embraced it. To the dismay of organizers who believe the resources of a presidential campaign could be harnessed to engage Americans on a transformative scale, his campaign’s strategies skew toward the conventional. 'We’re in the fight right now for the soul of our democracy,' says Paschall, 'and more digital ads and more television isn’t the answer.'"
"The Secret to Beating Trump Lies With You and Your Friends." By Pema Levy, Mother Jones, November+December 2020 Issue
[Below] "'The true power and possibility of this project is not onscreen,' explains executive producer Naomi Klein. 'That resides in the movement of movements that is fighting for this vision of radical repair every day.'"
"'Years of Repair': New Animated Film Imagines the Future to Come Inspired by a Vision of Justice and the Common Good." Common Dreams, October 3, 2020
[Below] "Beneath the dreary furor of the partisan wars, most Americans agree on fundamental issues facing the country. Large majorities say that government should ensure some form of universal health care, that it should do more to mitigate global warming, that the rich should pay higher taxes, that racial inequality is a significant problem, that workers should have the right to join unions, that immigrants are a good thing for American life, that the federal government is plagued by corruption. These majorities have remained strong for years. The readiness, the demand for action, is new."
"Make America Again." By George Packer, The Atlantic, October 2020 issue.
[Below] "In his book The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution, legal scholar and public policy analyst Ganesh Sitaraman writes the following: 'When it is used today, ‘progressive’ is not usually thought of as describing someone with a coherent worldview or philosophy. Instead, it is generally thought of as a term to describe those who prefer not to be called ‘liberal,’ those who are on the far left side of the political spectrum, or those who are part of a conglomeration of center-left groups in American politics.
"...Sitaraman is telling us the word progressive, which has become virtually ubiquitous in contemporary American political discourse, is effectively meaningless: A word that carries several different and conflicting meanings has, essentially, no real meaning...."
"How to Make Progressivism Mean Something Again: A Message to the American left." By Win McCormack, Res Publica column, The New Republic, October 2020
NEW! [Below] Abstract: "Truth is commonly viewed as the first casualty of war. As such the current circulation of fake news, conspiracy theories and other hostile political rumors is not a unique phenomenon but merely another example of how people are motivated to dispend with truth in situations of conflict. In this chapter, we theorize about the potentially evolved roots of this motivation and outline the structure of the underlying psychology. Specifically, we focus on how the occurrence of intergroup conflict throughout human evolutionary history has built psychological motivations into the human mind to spread information that
(a) mobilize the ingroup against the outgroup,
(b) facilitate the coordination of attention within the group and
(c) signal commitment to the group to fellow ingroup members.
In all these instances, we argue, human psychology is designed to select information that accomplishes these goals most efficiently rather than to select information on the basis of its veracity. Accordingly, we hypothesize that humans in specific instances are psychologically prepared to prioritize misinformation over truth."
From the article: "...three ways in which falsehoods can serve adaptive functions. First, the spread of false information can facilitate the coordination of groups because such information more strongly can send the key signal that it is time to "go!". Second, statements containing false, illogical or unlikely representations can serve as enhanced signals of group commitment because such representations can be a signal of awareness of group-specific representations and exclusive commitment to the group. Third, statements containing blatant falsehoods can function as signals of dominance."
"The Evolutionary Psychology of Conflict and the Functions of Falsehood." PsyArXiv Preprints, August 29, 2020