Takeaways from the election

Buckle-up friends, it’s going to be a hairy ride.

Start with Day One for President Trump (gotta get used to saying that). He will need to be up-and-at-’em no later than 12:01 am, for during his campaign he promised to get oodles of big stuff done on his very first day in office, including: “Repeal Obamacare;” Begin working on impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall;” Meet with Homeland security officials and generals to begin securing the Southern border; Fix the Department of Veterans Affairs; “Repeal every single Obama executive order;” Suspend Syrian refugee resettlement; “Get rid of gun-free zones in schools;” “End the war on coal;” “Defend the unborn;” “Start taking care of… our military;” And convene top generals and inform them they have 30 days to come up with a plan to stop ISIS.

Good grief! Americans have actually put a xenophobic-misogynous-racist-nativist-narcissistic blowhard in the Oval Office. Has our country gone right-wing? Or completely nuts?

No. Trump was not elected on issues, but on anger – a deep seething fury that the economic and political elite themselves have created by knocking down the working-class majority, then callously stepping over them as if they didn’t exist. Exit polls revealed that most Trump voters don’t think he’s any more honest than Hillary Clinton (only 38 percent of all voters had a favorable opinion of him, with only a third saying he was qualified to be president). Also, his own voters disagree with much of his agenda (especially his grandiose wall across the Mexican border).

But his core message – “The system is rigged” by and for the elites – came through loud and clear to them, so they grabbed him like a big Bois-D’arc stick to whap the whole establishment upside its collective head.

The major message from voters was, “We want change.” The Donald was the one most likely to shake things up (or blow things up), while Clinton clearly was the candidate of the status quo. As a West Texas farmer told me several years ago, “status quo” is Latin for “The mess we’re in,” so change voters, including those who would normally side with Democrats, cast their ballot for the Republican.

Indeed, on specific issues, voters around the country supported very progressive changes offered to them in a variety of ballot initiatives:

  • All four states that had minimum wage increases on the ballot passed them – Arizona (59 percent for it), Colorado (55 percent), Maine (55 percent), and Washington (60 percent). Plus, a South Dakota proposal to lower its minimum wage was rejected by 71 percent of voters.
  • Two states had initiatives calling for a constitutional amendment to repeal the Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision that has allowed unlimited corporate cash to flood into our elections – California (53 percent for it) and Washington (64 percent “yes”). Also, 52 percent voted for campaign finance reform that will provide public funding of elections there.
  • A Minnesota initiative to take away the power of state lawmakers to set their own salaries, instead creating a bipartisan citizens council to consider any increases, won a whopping 77 percent approval.

In addition, many solidly-progressive “firsts” were elected on Tuesday, such as the first Indian-American woman in Congress (Pramila Jayapal of Washington), the first Latina US senator (Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada), first Indian-Black woman elected to US Senate (Kamala Harris of California), and first openly-LGBT governor (Kate Brown of Oregon), Stephanie Murphy (of Florida)is the first Vietnamese-American woman elected to Congress, Ilhan Omar (of Minnesota) is the first Somali-American Muslim woman elected to state legislature, and Sam Park (of Georgia) became the first openly gay state legislator there.

Trump is in the White House, but the takeaway from voters in this election is a mandate for progressive economic populism and more diversity among public officials.

On police violence and #BlackLivesMatter

#BlackLivesMatter

When people hear me talk about populism, some folks think I’m talking about the racist, xenophobic, angry things that get branded as populism. True populism is about bringing people up, not tearing them down. True populism is multiracial and transracial. The #BlackLivesMatter movement is about acknowledging the brutal, painful injustices our Black sisters and brothers have endured and are continuing to endure. When we talk about #BlackLivesMatter, some people hear that we don’t think “all” lives matter. Supporting #BlackLivesMatter, especially in the face of these killings by police officers, doesn’t mean that no one else matters. It means that we white people haven’t done justice by our brethren of color, and it’s time that we step up to the plate. All of us. Together.

Hightower’s statement on Brexit: This isn’t populism!

Yet again, the political and media establishment (excuse the redundancy) misconstrue “populism” as an ignorant and bigoted political fringe. The working-class people of Great Britain have every right to be upset and frustrated with their government: austerity and corporate cronyism, just as it has here in the US, has brought people to their knees. But with ‪#‎Brexit‬, they’ve been bamboozled into believing that their troubles lie with immigrants and EU fees, not with their own elite– the aloof bosses, bankers, big shots, bastards, and bullshitters who think they are the top dogs and the rest of us are fire hydrants. Want to understand what real populism is? Check out this introduction we’ve got over at the Hightower Lowdown:

All of these (and more) have added up to an enthronement of the rich and the normalization of inequity. They threaten to squeeze the life out of America’s core values of democracy, equality, and justice.

But there is a medicine to fight this disease, a powerful antidote deeply entwined with our nation’s history: populism—a political doctrine rooted in the rebellious spirit and commitment to the common good of ordinary, grassroots Americans. Time and again throughout our country’s history, populist rebellions have been sparked when ordinary folks were being run over by abusive concentrations of power. And so it is today: hundreds of thousands of Americans—young and old, white and black and brown—are again speaking up and standing against the armed robbery of the people’s rights and the grand theft of the American Dream. That is populism.

Hightower’s statement after meeting with Bernie Sanders and the surrogates

Presidential campaigns end on Election Day--revolutions don't!

About 20 of us spent 4 hours or so talking with Bernie Sanders about BernieNext, not looking back, but at how far this grassroots populist movement has come in only 15 months. Everyone there is very excited about continuing the rebellion into congressional and local elections and issue campaigns next year, 2018, 2020 and beyond. This year’s phenomenal achievements are only the start. Presidential campaigns end on Election Day–revolutions don’t!

Obama resorts to government by sucker punch

Int'l govts controlling US trade? Sorry, classified.
Ed, please call home! Edward Snowden, that is: Come quickly, your country needs you.

Once again, the American people are being victimized by a hush-hush blanket of official secrecy, rhetorical dodges, and outright lies. This time it’s not about wholesale spying on us by our own government, but a wholesale assault on our jobs, environment, health, and even our people’s sovereignty by a cabal of global corporations and the Obama administration.

Their weapon is a scheme hidden inside a scam called TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The scam is that the TPP is nothing but another free trade deal – albeit a whopper of a deal that ties our economy to Brunei, Vietnam, and 9 other nations around the Pacific Rim. But of the 29 chapters in this deal, only five are about tariffs.

The real deal is in the 24 other chapters that create a supranational scheme of exclusive, unelected, secretive tribunals that corporations from any TPP nation can use to challenge and overturn our local, state, and national laws. All a corporate power has to do to win in these closed tribunal proceedings is to show that one of our laws or regulations might reduce its future profits.

This is big stuff, amounting to the enthronement of a global corporate oligarchy over us. Yet, it’s been negotiated among the trade officials of the 12 countries in strict secrecy. Even members of Congress have been shut out – but some 600 corporate executives have been allowed inside to shape the “partnership.”

Now that Obama and his corporate team are ready spring it on us and ram it through Congress, he arranged a briefing to woo House Democrats. But he classified it as a secret session, meaning the lawmakers can’t tell the people anything they learn.

A gag order on Congress? Holy Thomas Paine! The only reason Obama is desperate to hide his oligarchic scheme is because the people would overwhelmingly oppose it. So he’s resorting to government by sucker punch. It’s cowardly… and disgraceful.

Tell your Congresscritter what you think of this gag order TODAY.

Election 2014: The rise of a stealth oligarchy

A stunning surprise coming out of this year’s elections is that the most dominant contenders were not glad-handing braggarts, but the least likely of participants: Shy people.

That’s strange, since running for office these days is assumed to be an ego game, attracting the loudest of self-promoters. But the big winners on Tuesday were a group that actually campaigned anonymously, not even whispering their names to the voters.

Indeed, these were not the candidates listed on your ballot, but shadow candidates that are not even people. They are corporations that have been empowered by the Frankenstein-majority on our Supreme Court to exercise the political rights of us real human-type persons. Only they’ve been endowed with far more political power than you and me, for the Court decreed that these corporate ‘persons’ can spend unlimited amounts of their shareholders’ money on TV ads and other campaign tools to elect or defeat whomever they choose — without disclosing their names to voters.

What we have here is the rise of a stealth oligarchy in America. These politically shy corporations are pumping untold millions of dollars out of their practically bottomless corporate treasuries to elect Congress-critters, governors, and ultimately presidents who will serve their narrow special interests at the expense of the public interest. You would know these cagey corporate campaigners, for they are major brand names from Big Oil, Big Food, Big Pharma, etc. Normally, they’re not at all timid about promoting themselves, but — shhhh — they don’t want us to have any inkling that they’re running surreptitious, multimillion-dollar campaigns that have become a deciding factor in who holds public office in America.

One reason they hide their names is that they run overwhelmingly negative campaigns, degrading our so-called political discourse with the most disgusting, mendacious, and vitriolic smears against the opponents of the corporate-friendly candidates they hope to elect. They would never want such slime attached to their corporate brands, for it would anger and repel their customers, employees, and shareholders. That’s why their lawyers pushed the Supreme Court so hard to let them do their repugnant politicking, yet not have to be accountable for it.

Another reason that corporations want to “vote” in our elections without showing their identities is that honest disclosure would tarnish their favored candidates as shameless corporate toadies. If ExxonMobil had to reveal that it put up $50,000 or $100,000 or more to elect Bob Bogus from Bogullusa to Congress, voters would surely suspect that Bob was going to back Exxon’s plan to frack their community. With the legalization of secrete campaigns, however, Exxon can hitch Bob to its wagon without voters even knowing.

We’re about to see this formula of secret money = election = bad policy in action. Just in terms of campaign donations it disclosed, Wall Street put more money than ever into this year’s elections, and a bigger portion of that than ever went to Republicans. We don’t know how much dark money the banksters donated to the GOP because, obviously, the donors can keep that their little secret. But we do know that the new Republican Congress has gleefully declared Wall Street deform one of its top priorities.

Following the greed-fueled financial meltdown of 2008, reformers passed the Dodd-Frank bill, imposing modest restrictions on Wall Street’s reckless speculation and setting up a new consumer watchdog to protect people from predatory financial greed. Even though both reforms have proven beneficial, and even no GOP candidate dared to promise voters that “I’ll kill those protections and unleash the arrogant greedmeisters on your again” — that’s exactly what the Republican majority will now vote to do.

The message of this election is that money matters — it matters more than what We The People want lawmakers to do, or not do. At the very least, shouldn’t we be told the truth about who’s buying what with their massive, self-serving political spending?
How ironic that cynical lawmakers demand that us commoners show our picture on an official “voter ID” card in order to be allowed to cast a ballot, yet they allow enormously rich corporations to buy our elections (and, therefore, our public policies) without showing a “Donor ID” card. If you’re wondering who’s in charge, there it is.

To battle oligarchic rule-by-money, connect with Public Citizen: www.citizen.org.

Help Texans Help Texas!

Dear Fellow Agitators,

I write to you with great news coming out of my great state of Texas. A strong, intelligent, trailblazing populist candidate is running for Texas Lieutenant Governor: Leticia Van de Putte.

In addition to serving as state senator, she’s the mother to six children, grandmother to six grandchildren and a practicing pharmacist, so Leticia knows how to get things done. Leticia is a smart, tough, scrappy, tenacious populist who fights for our workers, our children, our small business owners, our teachers, our veterans, and our elderly — and that drives the uber-conservative contingent of this great state crazy. Her far-right-wing opponent is backed by Big Money and wants to punish the working people of Texas by, among other things, raising the state’s sales tax to 20 percent.

Whether it’s $10, $50 or $100, every penny counts and is very much appreciated by Leticia and her hardworking, dedicated campaign staff. You can donate here.

Leticia’s importance goes beyond winning this powerful office: she’s blazing the trail for a new, progressive Texas. Texas plays a big role in our national politics, and Leticia winning a statewide office would mean big things for Democrats at the national level. Please consider donating to her campaign. Her opponent may have the Fat Cats, but she has us alley cats — and there’s a lot more of us than them.