Opinion | Does It Matter Who the Democrats Choose? – The New York Times

In terms of actual policy, probably not very much.

Source: Opinion | Does It Matter Who the Democrats Choose? – The New York Times

Here is a prominent liberal economist’s view of the Democratic primary candidates.

It’s true that Sanders enthusiasts believe that they can rally a hidden majority of Americans around an aggressively populist agenda, and in so doing also push Congress into going along. But we had a test in the midterm elections: Progressives ran a number of candidates in Trump districts, and if even one of them had won they would have claimed vindication for their faith in transformative populism. But none did; the sweeping Democratic victory came entirely from moderates running conventional campaigns.

The usual take on this progressive setback is that it raises questions about Sanders’s electability. But it also has a very different implication: Moderates worried about a radical presidency should cool it. A President Sanders wouldn’t be especially radical in practice.

Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President | The Nation

He has proven that he can connect and build trust across race, class, and party lines.

Source: Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President | The Nation

A few weeks ago, I got to watch Bernie Sanders at a health care town hall meeting on a Saturday morning in New Hampshire. He walked into a room of some 100 people, mostly middle- and working-class. After introducing himself and thanking those who were there, he asked people to share how they pay for health care. He listened closely to their stories and made sure he got everybody’s name. One woman, representing a family of four, described her $800-a-month premium and $12,000-a-year deductible. Another woman was worried that a big health disaster would happen early in the year, because she couldn’t pay her $7,000-a-year deductible out of pocket.

Sanders then used those stories to illustrate how we currently pay for health care; why it represents waste, greed, and cruelty; and why we should switch to Medicare for All, which would enable us to cut out the insurance companies’ profits and bureaucracy. The room shifted from angry and skeptical to hopeful.

As I watched him, I realized that what makes Sanders unique isn’t his democratic socialism; it is his preternatural political abilities. People were riveted as he spoke and as he listened. He has extreme focus, compassion, and respect for those he disagrees with and is painstakingly honest and direct. He has been in politics for decades and has heard thousands of stories, but he was able to be totally present in that room, listening to those particular stories. A thin teenager bravely stood up to ask him a question about cancer research and revealed that she has brain cancer. I wept; so did many others in the room. When Sanders bowed his head briefly, then gave her a smile and warm hug, there was no doubt about his sincerity.

This ability of his to connect and to build trust—which he has proved he can do across race, class, and party lines—will translate into the two things I care about the most: beating Donald Trump and overcoming the corruption and dysfunction of our political system so we can have a more equal, fair, thriving democracy.

Forget the 2016 stereotype: Bernie has developed an extraordinary cross-race and cross-class coalition. He is leading in the polls among Latino voters (a recent poll showed him winning 32 percent of Latino support in California); his support among African Americans is second only to Joe Biden’s; and he is leading Biden by 12 percentage points among African Americans under 35. The top Sanders donors are teachers, Walmart workers, and Amazon workers. Among people under 50, he is the clear leader. And his supporters are very enthusiastic. This broad, committed coalition will matter enormously in the fall, when Facebook is infested with lies, Trump’s campaign is pushing misinformation, and foreign and corporate actors are trying to twist people into nihilism and hatred.

Some of the hardest people to convince on Sanders are those who believe in his policies the most—older progressive voters. Because they are so heartbroken and beaten down by decades of fearful politics, they have decided they should settle for something less. Sanders is impossible, they think. Unelectable. They remember the Cold War and fear the word “socialism.” Young people (by the way, under 40 isn’t that young) don’t have the same reaction. The truth is that if we settle for something less, too many people may stay home. Sanders is giving people a vision to fight for, and though they know it won’t be easy, they are ready for the fight.

So if you’re on the fence, I want you to feel confident that if you support Bernie, he will not let you down in a fierce general election. I have watched him over the last 30 years, and his political abilities are among the most underrated in the country. In 2006 he won a Senate seat, held by Republicans for generations, with a whopping 65 percent of the vote, the same year a Republican won the governor’s race with 57 percent. When I ran for Congress, a professional communications adviser made me watch Sanders answer questions on Fox News over and over because of his unique ability to refocus questions on what matters to listeners and not get distracted.

As the mayor of Burlington, Vermont, he won over the business community and created a flourishing city by being direct, by having a vision, and by engaging people in the community who are usually ignored. He was an effective congressman who brought community health centers to underserved communities. I remember talking to an octogenarian Republican in 1994 who supported him because he was independent and talked about stuff that mattered in people’s daily lives.

Sanders is uniquely ready to beat Trump because he embodies the opposite of Trumpism. Whereas Trump lies, Sanders tells the truth. Whereas Trump distracts, Sanders stays focused. Whereas Trump divides, Sanders unites us. When Sanders talks about the greed of big corporations, he is helping people see that the real enemy of working people is big money, not one another. That’s a fighting message but also a message of love—one so many people are ready to hear.

Source: Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President | The Nation

Why I Support Elizabeth Warren for President | The Nation

She has demonstrated her ability to win elections, and offers a far more detailed and plausible approach to governing.

Source: Why I Support Elizabeth Warren for President | The Nation

Of the four top-tier candidates still chasing the Democratic nomination, only Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders offer bold realignment as core to their campaigns. Joe Biden—for me, and I’m guessing perhaps for you—is the too-accommodating conciliator, while Pete Buttigieg, though immensely talented, is too young, too corporate, and without experience at the national or even state level.

In my view, Warren offers a far more plausible and more detailed case for how the next president must run the government once in office. Her “I’ve got a plan for that” is actually true: She and her staff tapped first-class teams of advisers from nationwide networks of progressive lawyers, economists, techies, educators, medical and military personnel, and environmentalists. In each of her plans, she has adroitly analyzed key issues (in readable, nontechnical language) and stated what her administration would do to address them. Whether you support her or someone else (or haven’t yet made up your mind), it’s well worth taking the time to pull a few of Warren’s plans off her website: Big Tech, Big Money, Washington corruption, affordable housing, and student loan debt relief are just a few of the topics on offer. Read what she’s actually proposing to do, not just in principle or as distant goals but with a clear road map that anchors each plan in legislation and executive action.

Warren has also been consistently effective in helping elect other Democrats—allies a president will desperately need. In 2018 alone, she raised $8 million for congressional candidates, then personally called all 172 of them to offer her support and went on to meet with 61 of them face-to-face to lay out how to best deploy that support. She firmly grasps the reality the media’s relentless, monocular focus on the presidential race misses: that in order to deliver bold change, the next president will need a Congress that shares (rather than checkmates) an agenda with the White House. She also understands—and here’s where her law school years really show—the critical importance of putting in place a federal judiciary vastly different from the one that has been appointed since this president took office.

Her opposition to Wall Street’s endless predations has also been consistent, courageous, and persuasive—and tied directly to her recognition that 40 years of growing income and wealth inequality won’t be reversed without the reregulation of finance. She has taken on not just bankers but also fellow Democrats, including Larry Summers, Tim Geithner, and, by implication, President Obama himself when he prioritized saving too-big-to-fail banks rather than stopping foreclosures on the homes of 10 million families. She played public and behind-the-scenes roles in crafting the still-unused powers of the Dodd-Frank Act to tame Wall Street and in creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Washington’s first new (and under the Democrats, demonstrably effective) regulator since the New Deal.

In her skill and dedication campaigning for other candidates; in doggedly shepherding tough, controversial bills through Congress; and in constructing a significant federal agency from scratch, Warren has demonstrated her ability to both win elections and govern.

Just as important, in weaving together support across the Democrats’ diverse constituencies, she has shown herself to embody not just the prophetic but also the complex and very human mix of emotions most of us feel: indignation, empathy, hope, openness—the deep, abiding yearning to turn America in a new direction. Time and again on the campaign trail, Warren has stunned audiences with her warmth and affection. In her September appearance at Washington Square in New York City, she was an inspired teacher but nobody’s schoolmarm.

Her personal story—of rising from poverty in Oklahoma, of juggling young motherhood with her studies, of translating academic research into policy and laws that have tangibly improved the lives of millions—offers us insights into her character, history, motivations, and goals that resonate well beyond ultrablue voters and precincts. I firmly believe she is the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump.

Let me conclude, however, by talking not about Senator Warren but about you and me. This winter and spring, campaign hard for your candidate. Talk with your family, friends, and neighbors; use your social media to expand your advocacy. Knock on doors and call voters you don’t know. Sign petitions. Affix bumper stickers. Wear buttons. Keep a record of what you’ve done and a calendar of what you’re going to do between now and November.

This is an election in which voter turnout may be as crucial as the votes themselves. I hope Elizabeth Warren is our next president, but more important, I want to be sure Donald Trump isn’t. The next time you’re asked which candidate you support this year, consider responding, “I will support the nominee of the Democratic Party 100 percent.” Any of the Democrats running—any—would be a far better president than the one we have now.

Source: Why I Support Elizabeth Warren for President | The Nation

The Big Ask of Black Voters: Trust the Government – The New York Times

Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg are trying to woo older black voters with policy. Those policies may be why they’re struggling to win their support.

Source: The Big Ask of Black Voters: Trust the Government – The New York Times

DANVILLE, Va. — Ten minutes into a small community meeting between black farmers from Southern Virginia and regional campaign staff for Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, an aide took the floor.

He was the only white person to speak in a room of older black voters seated in an old beauty salon. He stood, delivering an off-the-cuff pitch for Ms. Warren’s plan to help rural black America: proposals for new access to funding for black farmers, and to address discrimination in the United States Department of Agriculture. She understood the challenges black farmers faced, he said.

But he was cut off midsentence, before he could finish his appeal for their support. Instead, the black farmers had a message for him, and for Ms. Warren’s campaign. Plans and rhetoric are one thing, but to trust a candidate to deliver — or the government at all — is entirely another.

In a community all too familiar with legal discrimination and unequal access to public services, believing in “big, structural change,” as Ms. Warren likes to call it, is a gamble.

“No disrespect,” called out Lauren Hudson, a 62-year-old hemp farmer, “but there’s a whole different avenue when we go for funding versus when a white family goes for funding.”

How Socialists Can Govern | Dissent Magazine

What the left can do with governing power depends on a combination of timing, the level of organization and mobilization of its base, and resource constraints.

Bill Fletcher, Jr.

Source: How Socialists Can Govern | Dissent Magazine Winter 2020

Bernie Sanders’s presidential primary run in 2016 saw 13 million people vote for a democratic socialist. Two years later, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s underdog, grassroots-driven victory against one of Congress’s most powerful Democrats shook the political establishment. Combined with the election of Donald Trump, these two campaigns reignited interest in something many on the left had shied away from for the better part of a century: electoral power.

But what is electoral power? Many political theorists distinguish between “state power” and “governing power.” The “state”—as described here—is not simply a series of apparatuses but instead the representation of the balance of class forces, with a hegemonic bloc—made up of institutions like the police, Congress, and the Federal Reserve—looking out for the long-term interests of the dominant class—in our case, the 1 percent. There are different fractions in the 1 percent with interests that sometimes diverge. They might receive differing degrees of support from the state and sometimes have stronger relationships with one party over another. Overall, the capitalist state looks out for the long-term interests of capital rather than the particular interests of any one capitalist.

“Seizing state power” is therefore a process of fundamentally altering the balance of class forces and creating a new hegemonic bloc that moves us away from capitalism. Winning state power involves the domination and, over time, deconstruction and replacement of capitalist institutions.

“Governing power” is something altogether different—effectively, progressives or leftists winning political office within the context of a capitalist state. They may be elected to positions of leadership, but they do not control the state apparatuses and do not have the mandate or strength to carry out a full and thoroughgoing process of social transformation.

This might look like winning a mayor’s or governor’s office. This is also the situation Sanders or any other left-leaning candidate is likely to walk into should they make it to the White House. More crucially, this is the situation that has faced countless left-leaning politicians in the United States and abroad who have tried to make inroads toward a consistent democracy, let alone democratic socialism, at the local, state, and even federal level.

That governing power has been so difficult to achieve and exercise has led many on the left in United States to fear it, and not without reason. Domestically and internationally, there have been many examples of significant challenges faced by a left that has gained governing power only to become corrupted or checkmated. But too many have taken the wrong lesson from this history and fallen back on empty rhetoric to articulate a path to power: first, describe a list of capitalism’s atrocities; …

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Rochester Area Youth Rally For Peace in the Middle East

WHO: Rochester area youth

WHAT: Rally for Peace in the Middle East

WHEN: 4:00 PM on Thursday, January 9th, 2020

WHERE: Federal Building (100 State St., Rochester, NY)


Hridesh Singh | [email protected] | (585) 975-9591

Alyssa Hoadley | [email protected] | (585) 469-5143

Rochester Area Youth Rally For Peace in the Middle East

    Local youth activists, supported by local organizations, will hold a rally for “Peace in the Middle East” on Thursday, January 9th, 2020 outside of 100 State St., Rochester, NY. The rally comes in response to U.S. President Donald Trump approving the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and deploying over 3,500 U.S. troops to the region earlier this week.

    In addition to calling for the immediate recall of the recently deployed troops, the student organizers call on Rep. Joseph Morelle (D-NY), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to support the legislation submitted by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that pushes to block any funding for a war with Iran. These students view that a war with Iran would put thousands of American and Iranian lives at risk and further destabilize the region already fraught with violence.

This was the decade the US’s self-serving myths fell apart | Aziz Rana | Opinion | The Guardian

Alas, there is no real turning back. Trump’s rise was in many ways the product of fundamental failures within the old consensus, of which Obama himself was a critical part. And for this reason, there is only one path forward for the US – a politics of genuine transformation. This means nothing less than democratic changes to the electoral process, the economy and the political-legal order more broadly. There are clearly incipient moves in this direction, from the Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren campaigns to the activists involved with the Movement for Black Lives, the minimum wage campaign Fight for $15, the so-called Moral Mondays movement and the Democratic Socialists of America, to name just a few. The upcoming decade therefore will be shaped by real political struggle. For the sake of the country, one hopes that some version of nostalgia will not win out.

Source: This was the decade the US’s self-serving myths fell apart | Aziz Rana | Opinion | The Guardian

Trump’s holiday menu: handouts for billionaires, hunger for the poor | Bernie Sanders and Rashida Tlaib | Opinion | The Guardian

Republicans defend cuts to food stamps by saying that keeping people hungry will make them work harder. But we know this is just about cruelty

“Defending already inadequate benefits is not enough. Ultimately, we must make a choice as a society: will we tolerate the insatiable greed and cruelty of the billionaire class, whose control over our political system lets them take food out of the mouths of hungry school kids? Or do we build a humane, equitable society that ends poverty, hunger, and homelessness – and allows everyone to live with dignity?

As the new year approaches, let us commit to fighting for a government and an economy that works for the overwhelming majority of the people. That is how we will make food security a human right in America.”

Source: Trump’s holiday menu: handouts for billionaires, hunger for the poor | Bernie Sanders and Rashida Tlaib | Opinion | The Guardian

Have You Heard? Pete Buttigieg Is Really Smart

Source: Jacobin 04.01.2019 Have You Heard? Pete Buttigieg Is Really Smart

By Liza Featherstone

The recent craze for Pete Buttigieg — multilingual Rhodes Scholar and all-around smart guy — is just the latest incarnation of the meritocratic cult of “smartness.” It’s social Darwinism for elite liberals.

This notion of “smart” allows elites to recast inequality as meritocracy. In this narrative, you’re rich because you did well in high school and went to Princeton, not because capitalism has taken something from someone else and given it to you. Yet the culture of smart is not all smugness; it also contains a heavy dose of fear. The PMC understands that while it’s fun to brag about having a kid like BOOTedgeedge, it’s not optional (like, say, having a pet that can do weird tricks, a cat that can use a human toilet, for instance). In the neoliberal order, if you’re not born into the top 0.1 percent, you have to be “smart” and unusually talented and motivated, otherwise you will not only lose what privileges you have, but possibly not even survive. As New York Times columnist Tom Friedman once gleefully proclaimed, “Average is over.”

Diane Ravitch on Pete Buttigieg’s Troubled Education Record

I’ve come to the conclusion that, on K–12 education, Pete Buttigieg is a stealth corporate reformer.

Source: Jacobin 11.18.2019 Diane Ravitch on Pete Buttigieg’s Troubled Education Record

Mayor Pete may have many things going for him, but his education agenda is not one of them. If he were president, he would continue the failed Bush-Obama agenda.

If he runs against Trump, I will, of course, support him and vote for him. I will vote for anyone who wins the Democratic nomination.

But not in the primaries.

I am willing to change course if Mayor Pete makes clear that he supports fully public schools that are accountable to an elected school board and that he would eliminate the federal Charter Schools Program, created by the Clinton administration in 1994 and funded with $6 million to help jump-start new charters. That program has grown into a $440 million slush fund for corporate charter chains, which is far from its original purpose. There is a long time from now until the primaries, and I will keep an open mind.

Bernie Wants You to Own More of the Means of Production

Source: Jacobin 10.14.2019  Bernie Wants You to Own More of the Means of Production

Bernie Sanders released a proposal today that would gradually shift 20 percent of corporate equity into funds owned and controlled by the workers in each company. The plan, which would apply to all publicly-traded companies and large closely-held companies, would move 2 percent of corporate stock into worker funds each year for a decade. Once the shares are transferred into the funds, workers would begin receiving dividends and have the ability to exercise the voting rights of the shares, including the right to vote on corporate board elections and on shareholder resolutions.

Sanders’s plan is by far the most radical worker ownership proposal put forward by a presidential candidate in recent memory. By last count, the market value of publicly-traded domestic companies stood at $35.6 trillion. This means that the Sanders plan would shift at least $7.1 trillion of corporate equity into worker funds by gradually diluting the value of previously-issued corporate stock.

Those who stand to “lose” from the proposal are the incumbent owners of corporate equity, which are overwhelmingly affluent people. At present, the top 10 percent of families own around 86.4 percent of corporate equities and mutual fund shares, with the top one percent owning 52 percent by themselves. Closely-held businesses, which will also be affected by the scheme if they are large enough, have similarly concentrated ownership, with the top 10 percent of families owning 87.5 percent of private business equity and the top one percent of families owning 57.5 percent of it.

Of course, these incumbent owners will not actually lose anything in an absolute sense. The average historical return of the US stock market has been 9.8 percent per year, while the average return of the last 10 years has been just over 13 percent. The effect of the two percent share issuances is to knock the total rate of return down by two percentage points, meaning that incumbent owners still get richer year-over-year, just less so than they would absent the Sanders plan.

The Sanders proposal largely mirrors an idea first presented by Mathew Lawrence that was recently adopted by Jeremy Corbyn and the UK Labour Party. In the Labour Party version of the plan, large UK corporations are required to transfer one percent of corporate equity into “Inclusive Ownership Funds” (IOFs) for ten years, which would effectively shift 10 percent of corporate equity into worker funds. As in Sanders’s plan, UK workers would receive dividends from the IOFs and exercise the voting rights of the equity owned by the funds.

Both the Sanders and Corbyn plans are rooted in a longer market socialist tradition most commonly associated with the Swedish labor movement and Swedish labor economist Rudolf Meidner. Meidner’s 1978 book laid out a plan that would have used similar share issuances (often called “share levies” or “scrip taxes”) to gradually bring Swedish corporations under the ownership of sector funds controlled by unions and communities. A policy based on Meidner’s plan was successfully implemented in the 1980s but the unrelated electoral defeat of the Swedish Social Democratic Party in the 1991 elections caused the policy to be scrapped before reaching its full potential.

Wall Street Doesn’t Believe Elizabeth Warren Is Serious About Medicare for All

Is Elizabeth Warren’s Medicare-for-All phase-in plan a shrewd, realistic tactical move to win a public health system — or a bait and switch to play to M4A’s popularity without actually fighting for it? Wall Street thinks it’s the latter.

Source: Wall Street Doesn’t Believe Elizabeth Warren Is Serious About Medicare for All

People on the Left have been debating Elizabeth Warren’s health plan since it was released a couple of weeks ago — “realistic” or a ruse? I vote ruse, but I don’t want to make that argument myself right now. Instead, I’ll allow a research note from Barclays, which found its way into my inbox, do that work.

Here’s the opening paragraph of the report, by Barclays analyst Steven Valiquette:

Compared to her previous hardline stance on M4A, the new plan represents a significant change in tone, in our view. Not only does the transition plan push out the legislative agenda for M4A (potentially to year 3), but it also tacitly acknowledges the practical and political resistance of pushing too much change too quickly. In fact, we think Warren’s plan was carefully crafted to appease both progressive and moderate Democrats, and may afford her flexibility to pivot on health care issues throughout the Democratic primaries. All said, her near-term plan seems much closer to more moderate proposals endorsed by Biden and Buttigieg; and as such the “pivot” catalyzed HC

Services stocks on Fri with MCOs [managed care organizations] leading the way (+5% vs S&P 500 up 0.8%).

Health-care stocks rallied on the release of Warren’s plan, meaning that Wall Street — which isn’t always right, but does have some skill in decoding political bullshit — sees her plan as political bullshit.

Warren’s defenders say the scheme, to start with a “moderate” Dem plan and wait three years to push for the full program, is politically realistic, given congressional and other political constraints on ambitious social programs. That argument never made sense to me. If the success of the Right over the last few decades has taught us anything, it’s that going for maximalist demands gets results. You might have to make some concessions along the way, but you get some wins and also push the political center of gravity in your direction. If you start out already compromised, you won’t get anywhere.

Why the Left Needs Liberals | Dissent Magazine

Every reform era came about, in the main, when left-wing movements compelled liberal politicians to back some of their key demands and then collaborated with those lawmakers against their common foes.

Source: Why the Left Needs Liberals | Dissent Magazine

“Keeping a broad Democratic coalition intact does not require remaining silent about the limits of liberal ideas or the dependence of office-holders on donations from the ultra-wealthy. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have shifted the policies of the party leftward by challenging the cautious, foolishly “bipartisan” approach followed by the last two nominees. But neither will be elected in 2020 if they, or their most ardent followers, spend their time bashing liberals they must have on their side. This summer, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez showed how to balance principle and political realism when she first criticized Pelosi for scorning the Green New Deal and then took a meeting with her, after which the congresswoman from New York announced, “I think the speaker respects the fact that we’re coming together as a party and a community.”

“Warren Is Essentially the Leader of the Party”: Inside Pelosi’s Impeachment Cave—And a Democratic Power Shift | Vanity Fair

The attempt to impeach Trump could easily turn into another Democratic debacle, and Warren could be damaged by the fallout. And she’s also still a long way from winning any actual primaries, let alone the 2020 nomination; her primary opponents will surely step up their claims that Warren is not electable. Tuesday’s events, though, are a defining moment in her favor, and they mark a shift in the party’s power structure. “Pelosi is the highest-ranking elected Democrat, and Biden is still on top in many polls,” a national Democratic strategist says. “But Warren is essentially the leader of the party now.”

Source: “Warren Is Essentially the Leader of the Party”: Inside Pelosi’s Impeachment Cave—And a Democratic Power Shift | Vanity Fair

Elizabeth Warren’s New York City Speech Was a Progressive Politics Power Play | Teen Vogue

Warren’s speech before a massive crowd came the same day as an endorsement from the Working Families Party, highlighting her primary competition with Bernie Sanders.

“Though they don’t use the language of “political revolution” that Sanders does, it seems to be exactly how Working Families Party is helping Warren pitch her campaign: As a revolutionary force to upend politics as usual in favor of a system where rich people pay higher taxes, health care is a human right, and working people regain some of the control they’ve lost in Washington. It is, as several others have noted, a vision that is remarkably similar to Sanders’s.

Source: Elizabeth Warren’s New York City Speech Was a Progressive Politics Power Play | Teen Vogue

Pete Buttigieg Was Rising. Then Came South Bend’s Policing Crisis. – The New York Times

Source: Pete Buttigieg Was Rising. Then Came South Bend’s Policing Crisis. – The New York Times

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — On a Tuesday in March, just after Pete Buttigieg began to catch fire with Democrats nationally, he flew home for his final State of the City address.

Mr. Buttigieg, the two-term mayor, drew more than 40 rounds of applause as he described the “comeback decade” in South Bend, pointing to new businesses and apartments downtown and the demolition of hundreds of blighted houses.

He had far less to say about his city’s police department: He devoted nearly as much time to it as he did to South Bend’s “smart sewers.”

But out of the spotlight, public safety was about to get worse. Reports of violent crime increased nearly 18 percent during the first seven months of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018. The number of people being shot has also risen markedly this year, after dropping last year. The city’s violent crime rate is double the average for American cities its size.

A spotlight on the people reshaping our politics. A conversation with voters across the country. And a guiding hand through the endless news cycle, telling you what you really need to know.

Policing problems in South Bend came to national attention on June 16, when a white sergeant fatally shot a 54-year-old black resident, Eric Logan. The officer’s body camera was not turned on, which was widely seen as a sign of lax standards in the department. Mr. Buttigieg found himself flying home again, regularly, to face the fury of some black citizens and the frustrations of many others.

It is the great paradox of Mr. Buttigieg’s presidential candidacy: His record on public safety and policing, once largely a footnote in his political biography, has overshadowed his economic record in South Bend, which he had spent years developing as a calling card for higher office.

“When he came in, the goal was to help turn the city around. That had nothing to do with the police department,” said Kareemah Fowler, until recently the South Bend city clerk.

Read more at Source: Pete Buttigieg Was Rising. Then Came South Bend’s Policing Crisis. – The New York Times

Labour’s economic policies: can socialists support them? – from here to there

This blog presents a view of what socialism would be like by explaining how capitalism works. Ian Wright is British and his examples focus on Britain, but thinking about capitalism and socialism is international. You may not agree with this analysis, but you will be stimulated by it. JEB

Criteria for judgement

To judge the 2017 [Labour Party] manifesto we first should reflect on what it means for a economic policy to be essentially pro-socialist or pro-capitalist.

In theory, the crucial difference between these two political ideologies can be reduced to something extremely simple.

Socialists oppose capitalist exploitation, which occurs when production is organised in firms that have two classes of members: those that own it — and take profit — and those that work for it — and take a wage. Capitalist property rights allow the owners to distribute the firm’s profit to themselves regardless of whether they supply any capital or labour to production.

Yes, owners typically supply initial capital to get businesses started. But initial investments are always eventually paid off, if firms are viable.

And yes, owners may continue to supply their labour in management roles. But supplying labour need only be compensated by a wage, not profit.

The crucial point is that capitalist owners take profits merely in virtue of paper ownership (i.e. by fiat encoded in legal property rights). We can see this especially clearly where firms are entirely profitable and self-financing with absentee owners who extract profits.

But, as we all know, profit is created by actually doing some work, not by simply owning. The very same firm output, which gets sold in the market for a profit, could be produced without the input of capitalist owners and without compensating them.

So capitalists get something for nothing. They get profit for contributing zero to production. And an important consequence of this social fact is that a worker’s wage is never a fair exchange for the value they create.

In summary, under capitalist property rights, workers make, while capitalists take.

Source: Labour’s economic policies: can socialists support them? – from here to there

Democratic socialist revolution comes to a crossroads

  • Gregory Krieg, CNN

…”Ideology repeatedly clashed with electoral pragmatism during this year’s convention, which veered between a giddy celebration of the group’s previously unfathomable successes, delegates’ passage of Green New Deal and open borders initiatives, and painful deliberations over how to harness its new power.

Two votes during the first 24 hours of the gathering put those questions on display. The first asked what to do in the event Sanders fails to win the Democratic nomination; the second considered imposing a litmus test on candidates seeking DSA’s national endorsement.

The results were, in effect, a split decision.

On Friday, delegates narrowly passed a proposal that will prevent DSA from backing anyone but Sanders in the next presidential race. The argument in favor was simple: DSA is a socialist organization and risked spoiling its authority on the left by publicly backing — as Andrew Sernatinger, a delegate from Wisconsin, argued — “a candidate that is a neoliberal that is not what we are for.”

… “The resolution to create a “litmus test” for national endorsements, which are filtered up from the local chapters, failed narrowly on Saturday after an organizer from the host state made an impassioned plea to the delegates.

The proposed 14-point questionnaire was mostly uncontroversial, at least to any candidate who would seek DSA’s support, asking whether they support single-payer “Medicare for All,” universal tuition-free child care and the Green New Deal. But the deal breaker, ultimately, was its requirement that candidates declare themselves “democratic socialists” — a designation the Georgia-based delegate warned would “cut our legs out from under us in the South.”

Source: Democratic socialist revolution comes to a crossroads – WKBT

Philosopher Slavoj Žižek thinks Trump is in a Perverse Way good For U.S.; Americans Disagree


(Informed Comment) – In the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, noted philosopher and culture critic Slavoj Žižek  said in an interview with Channel 4 News in UK that if he had been a US citizen, he would have voted for Donald Trump. Even though Trump “€œhorrifies”€ him, Hillary Clinton was the “€œtrue danger” because “€œshe stands for this absolute inertia pretending to be socially progressive.”€ Presumably, a Clinton victory would have betrayed or co-opted progressive supporters, and that would have eventually deepened alienation among the electorate, leading to further political stagnation. He claimed that a Trump win, on the He claimed that a Trump win, on the other hand, would force “… both big parties … to return to basics, rethink themselves, and maybe some things can happen there. [I]t will be a kind of big awakening.” In other words, an unorthodox politician like Trump, whose major talents lie in creating deep fear and posing existential threats, would unwittingly engender a radical reaction, injecting a much-needed energy into the body politic. This would fuel real social change in ways that Clinton—or a standard Republican candidate—never could.

Source: Philosopher Slavoj Žižek thinks Trump is in a Perverse Way good For U.S.; Americans Disagree

Two Paths for Millennial Politics

The important issue today isn’t what the world has done to millennials. It’s what millennials are going to do next—and where they’ll look for leadership.

Source: Two Paths for Millennial Politics

Whither millennials, socialism or democratic capitalism, Obama style?

“As he [Bhaskar Sunkara] argues in his new book, The Socialist Manifesto, “we will probably only be driven down the path to socialism by practical necessity.” It’s the kind of pragmatic tone that readers have come to expect from the thirty-year-old founder of Jacobin. Where Buttigieg wants to make moderation seem radical, Sunkara is out to make radicalism seem moderate. And if Buttigieg offers an updated version of the Obama model, The Socialist Manifesto suggests one path for an evolving left. “

Read the source: Two Paths for Millennial Politics