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!