Biden will almost certainly bring us together, he won’t blame, point fingers or ridicule. He will reassure, comfort, heal and most importantly he will listen to experts & science. For now, that may be more than enough. But…
Before I address the But…, I want to alert you to an action at post offices throughout the nation tomorrow at 11am and an interesting KSFR interview with Democratic State Senate candidate Harold Pope. Info on both are offered after we address the But….
Thoughts On Joe Biden, the Democratic Party &
the Task at Hand
But while that empathy and soothing tone may be more than enough for November, we face existential threats from the climate crisis; if you are poor you face existential threats every day that you teeter on the edge of homelessness; and if you live in communities of color systemic racism has been an existential threat for centuries. Addressing these challenges requires far more than a reassuring tone.
But first things first. We need to elect Joe Biden president of the United States on November 3, so that on January 20, 2021 we can begin the hard work of addressing the political, social, health and economic systems that have failed us.
Yesterday, I expressed my concerns that there were too many signs that the Democratic Party was continuing down a familiar path, one which is altogether too cozy with corporate lobbyists and, in part due to the influence of those corporate lobbyists, insufficiently bold in its platform and policies. And those systemic racial, economic and environmental injustices will never be addressed until the Democratic Party turns its back on big business and turns its face to the people and its attention to preserving the planet, not corporate profits.
The convention offered a collage of faces that look like America and a medley of songs that sound like America, but while that may comfort us …indeed it did, they do not cover up the other signs that the Democratic Party is still willing to offer subsidies to the extractive industry and is unwilling to face down Wall St. And so the Democratic Party does need reform and it needs to hear from people who aren’t afraid of making “good trouble.”
But first things first. We need to elect Joe Biden president of the United States on November 3, so that on January 20, 2021 we can begin the hard work of democratizing the Democratic Party.
So yesterday I voiced concerns about the convention and the Democratic Party and several readers bridled, suggesting that this was not the time for what some felt was divisive rhetoric. Others suggested that progressives hadn’t earned a larger part of the stage, as we hadn’t achieved the level of support for our policies or enough political power to demand more of the stage. I’d like to consider these points, as I found great merit in both critiques.
Several readers noted that the reason that we didn’t ‘t hear more from the left during the convention is that the left simply does not have the power to force its way onto the stage and to insist on platform planks that resonate with us. And to that I say: You are 100% correct. While Sanders’ 2016 campaign certainly first awoke and then inspired millions, even after 5 years of campaigning, Sanders never really achieved much more than 30-40% in any Democratic primary.
To lead the formation and implementation of progressive policy or to lead the ticket, we need far more than the support of 30% of the Democratic Party. So to those who noted this, be assured that Retake will be devoting significant work focused on laying out an array of progressive policies that could begin to address the climate catastrophe, economic injustice and systemic racism and then to work with others to expand the base of political power to achieve those policies.
But first things first. We need to elect Joe Biden president of the United States on November 3, so that on January 20, 2021 we will be operating in a political environment in which we are not constantly battling lunacy, distracting tweets, and executive orders.
There were also other comments that pointed out that no matter how disappointed we may be by what I described as a dispiriting lack of vision coming from the Democratic Party, this is no time for throwing anyone or anything under the bus.
Rest assured, Retake is 100% committed to doing all it can to ensure a Biden landslide, hence our Election Strategy page with ways in which all of you can play a part in that campaign. This is no time for quarreling about policy, it is time to remove Trump from office. Period. Hard Stop.
But we must also recognize that we are a hurting nation, in need of transformation and that while the hurt we feel now may be compounded by COVID and further compounded by Donald Trump, systemic racism and economic inequity extends back generations, indeed centuries. COVID has laid bare the degree to which our economic, political, social, and health systems fail to serve the vast majority of Americans and communities of color have long fared worst of all. But COVID, nor Trump created those systems of injustice.
But it is abundantly clear that until COVID is under control, the country has neither the bandwidth nor the resources to substantially address the climate crisis, economic injustice or systemic racism.
And what is also abundantly clear, is the nation will never be able to address COVID or any systemic challenges until it addresses a third existential threat: Donald Trump. Each passing day his tweets and rants become more deluded. And under his leadership not only have we failed to address COVID, the climate crisis or systemic racism, but we have become a nation at war with itself in which disagreements are not negotiated, where it is acceptable to stand so much on principle that you can walk away from the table and take a month vacation without negotiating a COVID relief package….while millions of Americans teeter on the verge of homelessness.
This failure of leadership is entirely unacceptable and while our nation has been divided before, the degree to which we are today is due to two factors that can be addressed in November: Donald Trump’s failed leadership and the GOP’s craven cowering to his bullying.
In closing, I want to note that while the speeches from Michelle Obama, Barack Obama, Kamala Harris and Joe Biden did not offer a detailed road map to a better future, they offered a very clear commitment to the kind of reconciliation and healing that this nation desperately needs as a pre-existing condition for any thoughtful policy debate. I felt reassured that the decades Joe Biden has spent working bipartisan deals is precisely the kind of experience and skill that is needed right now. I have no doubts, I will be disappointed with many of the deals that result, but they will be much better than the failure to provide relief for those out of work and at risk of homelessness. And, as noted early, the progressive wing has not achieved the base of power to expect more. So for now:
First things first. We need to elect Joe Biden president of the United States on November 3, so that on January 20, 2021 we can begin the hard work ahead, and so we can begin to at least try to heal our differences as a people.
In solidarity & hope,
Paul & Roxanne
Santa Fe Supports the Postal Service
Having said that, it may also serve to motivate the dispirited, if they can see a vision for something more, something to advocate for on a national and state level within the Democratic Party.
WHEN:Saturday, August 22 at 11 a.m. The USPS is under attack by the political appointees who are removing high tech sorting machines and mailboxes. People are not getting the medications on time, small businesses are not getting deliveries, customers are not getting their orders. Soon, your mailed-in ballot may not arrive in time to be counted. Let’s join this nationwide demonstration of support for the USPS — which was created in the US Constitution. We are proactive and peaceful in our support. The actual address is available once you register. Thank you for registering so we have a good estimate and so you can receive updates.
Directions: We will meet in front of the downtown post office. MASKS and SOCIAL DISTANCING are required. There is on-street parking and in the city garage across the street.SIGN UP TO ATTEND
Retake Conversation Harold Pope on KSFR, 101.1 FM and Streaming at KSFR.org. Saturday, August 22, 8:30 am – 9 am. I spoke with Harold Pope Democratic candidate for the New Mexico State Senate, challenging incumbent Senator Sander Rue in Senate District 23 in Albuquerque. The Pope campaign is one of Retake Our Democracy’s six MUST WIN campaigns, so listen in and find out why.
Categories: Election, Political Reform & National Politics, Uncategorized
Thank you Paul for reframing this discussion. I add my voice to those who believe this is not the time for nitpicking the convention or Party platform, which is the most progressive platform the Democrats have ever put forward. Let’s put the “Buts” aside and focus on defeating Trump; all-in, and unified. When that is accomplished we can push for more.
In truth we are “only” 30%, but that also means WE ARE 1/3 of the DNC. It has taken us lots of hard work to get people to understand how this system works and support our agenda from the inside. That work doesn’t stop here. As Paul said, we can now show people what those changes might look like and reinforce the importance of electing those who will not simply round-file our bills. We all know that whatever we get from Biden-Harris will be far better than the current alternative.
The other GOOD NEWS is Bernie and Elizabeth and many other great Progressives will be there to move things along. And they might get some additional help, too. I am anxious to see who the Senate might choose as the new Majority Leader. Dare I hope for Elizabeth?
But I have a question for you, Paul. How do we actually get our voices heard by candidates like Biden. Sure we try to amplify our volume in petitions and mass actions, but that only raises the volume as a whole. I want to tell Joe and Kamala WHY they need to give consideration to Universal Health Care (for example). It seems a good time for them to hear from many individuals who have cogent points for their consideration beyond the familiar sound of the voices from our lobbyists. Not only is there no where to send an email that they might actually see, but there must be millions to be sorted through. Are written letters any better? There are many articles I read in media that I think: How can I get this or that candidate to read this?
The second part of that question is: would they listen? Do they only respect the opinions of “professionals” (lobbyists, business reps, college chancellors, union leaders, etc)? They think they know what we think because of surveys and media reports and those lobbyists. Do they? I know “they have people for that.” When I hear Biden talk about no universal health care, I want to scream “But Joe….” Is our voice truly only the ballot box?
Some very good questions as relates to really being heard. At the NM Senate and House Rep level I think there are ways. I was thinking of calling Ben Ray about something else and I will ask him these questions.
As if we need more motivation to act… H. and I were watching a video, made sometime last winter, in which Joe Biden stopped his entourage to talk with a little boy who has a stuttering speech impediment. Biden’s compassion and enthusiasm to help the youngster were, we believe, genuine. (Biden himself has overcome a stuttering problem.)
H. cried when we saw this. We both said: “Trump would have ridiculed the child!”
It’s been almost four years of bile, hatred, and spewed vitriol from a man who is pathetically undeveloped.
What a refreshing thing to see a public person show compassion.
I understand these comments and agree with most of them. But I want to stress that these terrible things have been going on since Reagan was elected. He started the modern attack on government. The Republicans have simply been cementing his legacy. So what does that matter? Systemic means what it says. Any policy proposal that doesn’t have a systems component is a non-starter. A waste of time. Progressives, I’m sorry to say, are the only ones who get it. So this 77-year-old, who would love to get out of this country but instead will stay and fight, believes that we should always walk away from compromise. When asked why, give your most cogent reply. Educate. That isn’t dogmatism, it’s idealism, and I am proud of mine.
I love your comment, Fred. I didn’t say I would compromise, I said that whatever compromises the Biden administration creates will be infinitely better than anything we could have hoped for from Trump. Retake will devote considerable effort to promoting precisely the systems reform you describe. Indeed, we have 20 members of new Transformation Study Group working away at systems solutions in 15 different policy areas. And Roxanne is always saying that our most important role is to EDUCATE. Be well.
I agree with those expressing concerns about the “but . . ” stance. I do not think this is the time for it. I will work as hard as anyone on gaining further traction and maintaining momentum for strong progressive direction and on the difficult work of the “after times” presented so powerfully in Eddie Glaude Jr.’s new book Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and it’s Urgent Lessons for Our Own. For now, I firmly believe it is “all hands on deck” for Biden and Harris and for the possibility of avoiding the utter destruction of any semblance of democracy. Yes, we are, as Glaude puts it, “suffering through yet another terrible cycle in the tragic history of America,” a history in which both Republicans and Democrats have at critical junctures ‘doubled down’ on the historic ugliness of this society and its racist core. Yet I am hopeful that we are at a moment of reflection and action that can “bring forth a new country.” We can be aware of this and prepare for the interrogation of the great lies of American racism without using any of our collective breath for the ‘yes, but’ utterances that can divide us.
A couple of comments on “How to get your voices heard?”
The short answer is pretty simple: Get candidates who share your views elected. This will prove to any doubters that progressives aren’t a tiny minority of noisy activists, but that many of their views are shared by a majority in the population.
Probably the most powerful message that the progressive movement in New Mexico has ever sent to the establishment wasn’t from protests, emails, radio shows, blogs or petitions. It was all the work done to get rid of the Senate DINO’s (Pappen, Smith, et al) in the last primary.
If anyone in the NM state senate didn’t take the progressive movement seriously before, believe me, they do now, and any of the people and organizations that worked on those campaigns (such as Retake Our Democracy) is going to be listened to.
All the work that goes into winning elections is, for the most part, an unglamorous grind – recruiting campaign workers, fund raising, manning phone banks, knocking on doors, etc. It’s not good enough to just out-think the opposition, you have to out-work them too.
You don’t change the shape of the political landscape overnight, but if you lose heart just because one election didn’t turn out the way you wanted, that landscape will never be changed.