Why the election didn’t matter

Summary: The Black Agenda Report has harsh but accurate words about this week’s election. We should listen. We have a stagnant, even corrupt, politics – powered by an apathetic middle class. We have to look to the fringes for the new insights that can kickstart reform.

We need a second political party

 

Was This Really The Most Important Mid-Term Election of Our Lives?
Maybe Not.

By Bruce Dixon at the Black Agenda Report.
9 November 2018. Links and graphics added.

For an occasion so momentous, not much has changed. The 115th Congress are lame ducks and though it will be dominated by a Democratic caucus with 229 votes, eleven more than the barest majority the 116th which swears in January 2019 won’t be much different.

Its Democratic party leaders are uniformly war Democrats, devoted to the bombing of several countries, to maintaining US fleets in every ocean, over 800 US military bases in a hundred plus countries, and to keep spending more on the military than the next nine or ten countries combined. Although a good hundred Democrats in the 115th Congress have signed on to a watered down version of Medicare For All, Democratic leaders are not committed to educate the public so Democrats can use this to win in 2020, and nobody expects Nancy Pelosi and the gang to support debt forgiveness for student loans, free college tuition, rent control, a living wage tied to actual prices, reining in the frackers and oil companies, or laws that would enable workers to organize unions and protect themselves. All these are things Democratic voters want, but Democratic leaders in the new 116th Congress do not.

Existing Democrats did not just overwhelmingly approve Trump’s record military budget proposal, they heaped upon it an additional amount greater than the entire amount spent by Russia while American communities are cutting and closing public schools, libraries and community hospitals and privatizing infrastructure from crumbling roads and bridges to the Post Office and the Veterans Administration. The new Democratic House leaders are expected to be Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, both 78 years old, and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, age 79. Pelosi is in that spot because she raised $129 million for Democrats in the 2016 cycle. American legislative leaders like Pelosi in the federal Congress and Georgia’s Stacey Abrams who headed Democrats in the Georgia state House rise and fall on their ability as rainmakers, bringing in investments – I mean donations from wealthy corporate interests and individual donors, many of whom the law allows to remain anonymous. It is these big donor Democrats to whom Democratic party leaders are loyal, not to those who merely vote for Democrats.

Our Revolution, Brand New Congress, and Justice Democrats, the three nominally progressive outfits offered varying levels of technical assistance, fundraising and other help to fifty or so congressional candidates of varying strength around the country. About 30 made the general election but only seven backed by the Justice Democrats won on Tuesday. 3 of these were incumbents and the other four replaced retiring Democrats in Detroit, Boston, Minneapolis and New York City. The progressives were unable to dislodge right wing Dems in St. Louis or anyplace else, let alone win uphill battles against Republicans in districts around the country.

The DCCC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was more successful. DCC is the official bagman for receiving this corporate money and deciding which Democrats to invest it in. Back in the 2006 election cycle, the last time Democrats got control of the House, Rahm Emanuel, since then Obama chief of staff and now Chicago mayor was calling shots at DCCC. He used those corporate millions to fund blue dog primary challenges against any Democrat with the slightest public opposition to the Iraq war. Rahm Emanuel must be smiling now.

DCCC backed some three dozen congressional contenders for 2018, who conspicuously flaunted their credentials as military officers, as special operators, as “diplomats” – likely spies and the direct handlers of US sponsored torturers, mercenaries and kidnappers. Eight of the 29 seats Democrats picked up for the 116th Congress will be these CIA Democrats, as Patrick Martin at the World Socialist Web Site, which was the first to call attention to their presence named them.

And there are DCCC candidates like Democrat Lucy McBath who narrowly won in Georgia’s 6th district backed by record amounts of cash and buoyed up by the drive to elect Stacey Abrams that state’s governor. McBath is one of the many Democrats who campaigned this year with absolutely no mention of America’s global empire, with US fleets in every ocean, US bombs, drones, logistical support and blockades in dozens of countries and 800 US military bases around the world. Corporate media colluded with both Democrats and Republicans to keep any discussion of US global empire off the table this campaign season, evidently because this is something upon which they pretty much agree upon.

Can we really hold anybody’s “feet to the fire?”

In the real world, the phrase “we’ll hold their feet to the fire” is a powerful metaphor. Wouldn’t it be lovely to strap your shoeless alderman, your water commissioner, your school board member, your state senator or your member of Congress to some kind of table and crank the hot coals closer an inch at a time under searching inquiry about this or that piece of the people’s business? But it’s a fantasy, the system has never worked that way. In the real world politicians are entrepreneurs, subject only to their own consciences and political table manners. Rather than propagating the feet to the fire fantasy we’re better off looking at the factual, the actual history of the Democrats about to lead the the House in the 116th Congress. The last time Nancy’s crew got control of the House was the 2006 election.

Leading Democrats like Detroit’s John Conyers had crisscrossed the country howling for the impeachment of Cheney and Bush. Conyers’ 40 years seniority made him the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, with the power to call impeachment hearings. The red button was on his desk. But he wouldn’t push it. Conyers’ weak and cowardly excuse was “what would Fox News say?” That’s not wishful thinking, like “feet to the fire.” It’s the real history of the real Democrats who just won the House.

That’s the character of the 116th Congress, the product of what we were told was The Most Important Mid-Term Election of Our Lives. Maybe somebody lied to us about that as well.

Georgia’s gubernatorial race, which pitted a gun waving racist Republican Brian Kemp against Stacey Abrams the Democratic leader in Georgia’s state house the past seven years was, as Greg Palast has been explaining for months, stolen by Kemp and Republicans long before the polls opened this week. As Georgia’s two term secretary of state, Kemp and other Georgia Republicans have pursued a years-long death of a thousand cuts effort to shrink the number of voters likely likely to oppose Republicans. Flimsy legal pretexts were invoked to strike hundreds of thousands of Georgia voters off the rolls. Republicans repeatedly slashed the locations and hours of early voting opportunities and closed more than two hundred polling places, nearly all in Democratic leaning precincts. Kemp’s office has simply disappeared some 50,000 new registrations signed up by backers of Stacey Abrams and other Democrats, afterward saying these people could vote with the infamous provisional ballots introduced by the cynically misnamed Help America Vote Act. Georgia law allows local election officials to disregard provisional ballots unless voters re-identify themselves on the spot. Additionally Georgia’s statewide standardized voting machines are uniquely vulnerable to tampering thanks to the faith-based audit proof systems introduced in the 1990s and early 2000s when Democrats controlled the state’s legislative and executive branches, a system faithfully protected by Republicans ever since.

It took every bit of this long running chicanery to get Brian Kemp within spitting distance of his opponent, and it still might not be enough. Kemp finally resigned as GA Secretary of State the day after election day, and Abrams has not conceded defeat, insisting that a full and honest count of absentee and provisional ballots will necessitate a December 4 runoff election. Though Republicans have declared victory, the outcome of this election could hang in the balance for days or weeks. We’ll see.

Was this really “The Most Important Mid-Term Election of Our Era?
Probably not.

Like Congressional Democrats who tell us they’re really The Resistance, not the Assistance somebody lied to us here. The election just passed was serious business for sure, the people’s business mishandled, misrepresented, bought and stolen. Some who insisted it was The Most Important Mid-Term Election of The Era were innocently mistaken, frightened by Trump and the genuinely scary rise of white nationalism. In every election some are focused on their own careers which can be made broken with the outcome. And in some cases for whatever reason some people simply lied to us.

Whatever else elections, even crooked ones might be, they are also in part magical devices which can confer legitimacy, what the Chinese used to call the Mandate of Heaven upon the authorities who hold them. This is why insecure tyrants like Haiti’s Papa Doc or Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Philippines’ Ferdinand Marcos made sure they got 90, 95 or 99% of the vote. Candidates and parties in the election just past were chosen by moneyed elites. Corporate media disciplined its pollsters, reporters editorial boards and commentators to keep discussion of privatization and poverty at home and empire abroad off the table. Millions of Democrat and independent leaning voters were struck from the rolls or prevented from taking part, and federal judges have affirmed that US voters have no right to verifiable audits of elections.

The president really is a racist demagogue who wants to lock up hundreds of thousands of immigrants today, and maybe Americans tomorrow. No joke. Fascist mobs, encouraged by the NRA and smiled upon by local cops are becoming more common. Millions of Americans are mired in insurmountable debt for the crimes of trying to own homes or for seeking college educations or just for getting sick. The economy is “booming” mostly for one-percenters, not the rest of us, and a third of working age Americans are outside the formal labor market. So yeah, elections are important and all.

But anybody who tells you dancing to this crooked music is what our ancestors fought and died for is talking nonsense. Elections and voting are frequently not the most important things happening in the struggle for human liberation. And this was probably not the Most Crucial Election of All Times.

Maybe we should give the side eye to the folks who tell us that every two years.

——————————–

Two parties destroying America

Editor’s note about the two key messages

First, the essence of American politics is that each side – Left and Right – accuses the other of doing what they do. The Left accuses Trump of persecuting them. Meanwhile Leftist mobs suppress speech at American universities – and increasingly, elsewhere. Now they harass Republican officials and their families. They want massive inflows of illegal aliens – and their children – to flood the voter rolls with voters who they believe will support them {Ed.: an example from Florida this week}. Obama orders the assassination of a US citizen and approves a treaty without Senate approval (in no other democracy did one person approve it). Democrats applauded, but now condemn Trump for the lesser legal violation of appointing Matthew Whitaker as AG.

Second and perhaps more important, Dixon shows – as have many others – that our two parties represent two factions of the 1%. Both agree on the core policies of our rulers: support for Wall Street, the Military Industrial Complex, and mega-corps. For more about this, see the posts listed in the For More Info section below – and in the books recommendations that follow.

Bruce A, Dixon

About Bruce A. Dixon

“A habitual troublemaker and incorrigible activist, Bruce Dixon has been comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable since 1968.

“As a rank and file member of the Black Panther Party in 1969-1970, a 1970s rank-and-file union activist in a string of factories, plants and workplaces, a 1980s community organizer in what were then some of the nation’s poorest neighborhoods, to organizing and consulting through the 1990s Dixon has built an impressive record of service in and to the cause of human liberation.

“In 2002 he began writing articles for Black Commentator, the predecessor of this publication, and broke the first accurate analyses of the phenomena around the election of Denise Majette over Cynthia McKinney in Georgia that year.” {From the BAR’s About Page.}

In 2006, Dixon co-founded Black Agenda Report, and now serves as a managing editor. He currently resides in Marietta GA, and is a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. See his Twitter feed. See his articles at the BAR, especially these …

Black Agenda Report

About the Black Agenda Report

Founded in 2006, Black Agenda Report is your source for news, commentary and analysis from the black left since 2006. Find their weekly Black Agenda Radio program on Soundcloud, iTunes, or Stitcher.

Their “About” page gives (impressive) bios of their key staff. Also see their Twitter feed. Google suppresses Black Agenda Report in search results. Subscribing to their email updates is the only guaranteed way to see them.

Click here to donate and support their work!

For More Information

Ideas! For shopping ideas see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

Please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. For more information see all posts about politics in America, about ways to reform America’s politics, and especially these…

  1. Polarization and hot rhetoric conceal two similar political parties. Will we ever notice?
  2. Our fears are unwarranted. America is in fact well-governed,
  3. The good news: America’s politics are neither polarized nor dysfunctional. That’s also the bad news.
  4. American politics isn’t broken. It’s working just fine for the 1%.
  5. Trump is the next logical step as America becomes a plutocracy.
  6. The secret reason for America’s white-hot political rhetoric.

Useful books explaining what is happening to America

Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? by Thomas Frank.

The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted is Mike Lofgren.

"Listen, Liberal" by Thomas Frank
Available at Amazon.
"The Party is Over" by Mike Lofgren
Available at Amazon..

26 thoughts on “Why the election didn’t matter

  1. FM: “Leftist mobs suppress speech at American universities – and increasingly, elsewhere. Now they target Republican officials and their families. They want massive inflows of illegal aliens – and their children – to flood the voter rolls with voters who they believe will support them.”

    Um, FM, you’ve made some very serious allegations with with your normal level of documentation. Can you provide proof that Leftist mob are actually getting involved in speech suppression outside of university campuses? What level of Leftist leadership support targeting Republican officials and their families? Which Leftist leaders have publicly stated that they “want[s] massive inflows of illegal aliens [ – and their children – ] to flood the voter rolls?

    While I complete agree with the statement “First, the essence of American politics is that each side – Left and Right – each accuse the other of doing what they do.” and can find plenty of evidence of it. And I’ve sent messages to both parties that they cannot expect any more cash from me until they change this practice. I’ve not seen reliable sources documenting the crimes you describe.

    That, of course, does not mean that it does not exist.

    The really annoying thing about my cutting off political funding is that I’ve received letters from both Parties leadership stating (1) that I am out of touch, (2) they can’t win without doing this because of the nefarious deeds of the other party, and (3) they can’t win the elections if they don’t receive my paltry few hundred dollars. They didn’t even bother to deny they were doing it, they just annoyed that I was withholding my money and plan on blaming any future losses on me.

    1. Me: “Um, FM, you’ve made some very serious allegations with with your normal level of documentation.”

      That was supposed to read: “Um, FM, you’ve made some very serious allegations without your normal level of documentation.” I apologize for any confusion the typo might have caused.

      Also, I have just started reading that the antifa movement (whom I do not regard as actual leftists, but as thugs, but they self-identify as leftists) are planning to expand their fear campaign against legislators. So, FM, I beg you to expand your list of leftists who feel that they have justification to abuse Republican legislators.

      Finally, I’ve reached the uncomfortable conclusion that, for the good of the country, I now need to throw off my cover of quiet comments on the Internet operating under a pseudonym and enter the national newspapers editorials section. Please pray for me, I’m going to need all the protection I can get and divine intervention is unlikely to fully protect me from the unholy wrath of those who consider themselves wronged!!

      I doubt I will make a real difference but nothing good will come from me continuing to be silent any longer and my conscience will let me sleep better at night.

    2. Pluto,

      “Can you provide proof that Leftist mob are actually getting involved in speech suppression outside of university campuses?”

      Do you read the news? CBS: “‘Our Attack Is Merely A Beginning’: Vandals Smash Windows, Spray Graffiti At Metropolitan Republican Club.” These stories appear weekly. The riots last year were attempts (largely successful) to suppress far-Right events — many outside universities.

      “What level of Leftist leadership support targeting Republican officials and their families?”

      You are conflating what I said — “Leftist mobs” — with “Leftist leadership.” The latter is a category error. Ideologies do not have leaders. Organizations have leaders.

      “Which Leftist leaders have publicly stated that they “want[s] massive inflows of illegal aliens [ – and their children – ] to flood the voter rolls?”

      I guess you don’t read the news. Well, OK then.

    3. I meant to add: “There is still some chance that I can have a positive impact which is forcing me out of my silence.” before the last sentence of the next to last paragraph.

      Normally I am better at this but I’m thoroughly distracted by my decision.

    4. No, I’m serious here, FM. I followed your one link and found that it was the Antifa, which as I mentioned earlier I do not regard as a serious political organization. They are simple thugs who take advantage of circumstances to make themselves feel better through violence.

      FM: “You are conflating what I said — “Leftist mobs” — with “Leftist leadership.” The latter is a category error. Ideologies do not have leaders. Organizations have leaders.”

      No, I did not commit a category error. What I was asking was whether the Leftist leadership had supported the actions of the Leftist mobs. If you are referring to the Antifa again when you are speaking of Leftist mobs. There is a huge difference between politically unsupported actions and politically supported mobs. At the risk of throwing this conversation down a rabbit hole; I will point to the actions of the Nazi mobs in 1932-3 against the Jews which Hitler supported. Other predatory people found the Jews to be a much safer target after Hitler spoke.

      FM: ““Which Leftist leaders have publicly stated that they “want[s] massive inflows of illegal aliens [ – and their children – ] to flood the voter rolls?”

      I guess you don’t read the news. Well, OK then.”

      Again, you’re dismissing me in the middle of what I’m attempting to make a serious discussion. I’ve heard Democratic leaders talking about setting up a system to allow illegal aliens to become citizens. This is a talking point solely aimed at swaying emotions. I suspect if you grabbed a Democratic leader and asked him what sort of a plan he had in mind, he’d stare at you in befuddlement and eventually say something like “None, why do you ask?” Only he’d use at least one hundred times more words and wouldn’t be as coherent. Can you provide proof that my statements about the Democratic leaders is incorrect?

  2. In the real world politicians are entrepreneurs, subject only to their own consciences and political table manners.

    Love your skill with allusions that turn into powerful comment.

    1. John,

      “In the real world politicians are entrepreneurs, subject only to their own consciences and political table manners.”

      Politicians are subject, above all, to the voters of their jurisdictions.

    2. I don’t disagree. But as you have well documented, sheep for voters are a dream come true to our leaders, such there is truth in the quote I like, IMO.

      By the way, morally I disagree with term limits because I do believe that each election is a referendum on term limits.

  3. Ok- analysis- but it’s what many have known for years. Strong disagree on ‘wisdom is in the margins’ statement- I would have said that in 1995, but even then with strong reservation, now not at all. Besides what do you define as marginal/fringe anyway? (Sure the phrase you used in header ‘was wisdom in the Marvin’s strange)

    Happy Saturday

    1. Moesley,

      “you used in header ‘was wisdom in the Marvin’s strange)”

      What are you referring to? What “header”?

      “Strong disagree on ‘wisdom is in the margins’ statement-”

      OK. You look for new ideas in the NYT and other major media. I’ll continue to look on the fringes.

      “Besides what do you define as marginal/fringe anyway?”

      If you don’t know, well – that’s OK.

    1. Paolo,

      Thanks for posting that. It is a nice demo of journalists’ amnesia. They live in the now, which gives their writing an ignorance of history characteristic of college sophomores. I don’t know if they are that ignorant, or talk down to us because we are. One example:

      “President Donald Trump has pioneered a new politics of perpetual culture war”

      Grunwald should read about Richard Nixon. Or FDR. Or Andrew Jackson. All enlisted different kinds of “culture war” to achieve their political goals.

      The more interesting aspect of tribalism, imo, is how each side adopts tribal truths. Our leaders lie without reluctance or shame, knowing that their foes will scream “liar” and their followers will believe. Why not unknown in US politics, Bill and Hillary Clinton took this to new heights (see these classic WaPo and NYT stories – written by Bill’s allies).

      Now everybody in Washington lies, all the time. I’ve written scores of posts documenting this. There is seldom any consequence to the liars when the lies are exposed. That is, lies work. Our tribal loyalties are more important to us than truth. This makes us easy to rule.

      Changing this is high on my list of recommendations for the reform of American politics. See my posts about it.

  4. It’s a bit like Barbara Tuchmann’s verdict in The Guns Of August on the First Battle Of The Marne. The most important result is that the war will go on. Trump won’t be impeached, but then he was likely never going to be impeached anyway. He’s got more ability to shape the Supreme Court, and GInsburg isn’t going to live forever. (Maybe the Democrats will do a Weekend At Ruthie’s, and prop her up when she finally expires.) The GOP rid itself of a bunch of Never Trumpers, and, more seriously, a bunch of suburban voters, but if the Democrats spend the next two years on , Russiagate, Stormy Daniels, Trump’s tax returns, and a tranny in every bathroom, they’ll succeed in electing your choice of Trump/Pence/Haley in 2020.

    The Matrix has you, Neo. Knock knock.

  5. Ah yes, we should always remember both sides do it. One side just committed the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in US history, but the other side said something mean to Charles Murray while promoting a new book that got widespread press coverage and attention.

    One side just mailed pipe bombs and had hooligans beat up bystanders after a GOP-sanctioned event, but the other side wouldn’t let Sarah Huckabee Sanders enjoy her chicken. These things are indistinguishable to me. I’m very intelligent.

    1. Jon,

      It’s odd how you and your peers on Left and Right attribute the actions of the violent crazies to your foe’s team – but not to your own. Do you embrace as allies the Unabomber and James Hodgkinson (the 2017 shooting)?

      Also odd is attributing anti-semitism to the Right. It has been quite common on the Left in recent decades, whereas the Right has been mostly steadfast — even extreme — supporters of Israel.

      As for beating up bystanders, despite biased press coverage Leftist thugs have been quite active at that. And been the primary instigators at most political riots, showing up to suppress the speech of those they don’t like.

      Very Weimar of you. That tribal thinking is the very essence of Weimar. But I’m confident American will defeat you guys – both the flavors on the Left and Right, cousins under your different ideologies.

  6. It’d be hilarious – if it weren’t so pathetic – that sites like this slavishly praise far right anti-Semites like Bill Lind and still think they have some kind of moral high ground. Continually parroting right-wing conspiracy theories that posit a secretive cabal of Jewish academics plotting to destroy ‘Western’ culture is the kind of hateful nonsense that has encouraged attacks like the one in Pittsburgh. And as long as this kind of right-wing propaganda keeps getting promoted, there will certainly be more right-wing violence of this type though I’m sure you’ll feel very self-satisfied holding a flashlight under your chin and whispering “antifa” when it happens.

    About the broader claim that America will defeat ‘you guys’. We just saw an election where Democrats made gains in literally every Republican-leaning voting group and where left positions like Medicare for all and tuition-free state university are now supported by a wide majority of American. The most left-wing politician on the national stage is also the most popular one in the country. But hey ‘America’ according to you actually see’s the left and right as the same thing and wants tepid centrists who just got their a**es handed to them in elections. Sure thing. You’d think ‘reasonable’ republicans wouldn’t be so keen on systemic voter suppression and gerrymandering if the majority of Americans voted the way they think they should.

    1. Jon,

      What’s pitiful is that people chained to tribal truths like you see a website that presents perspectives from across the spectrum — from Marxists like Maximilian Forte and the people at Black Agenda Report to the far Right like Lind — and close your eyes and lie.

      Anyway, why not just read the Leftist sites that lie to you, lies that you applaud? Anything else upsets your mind.

  7. Although I find Dixon’s a priori claims about “racists” to be ridiculous, I can overlook them as they are part of his internal structure. Asking folks like him to reconsider is like asking a rock to stop being hard.

    I found myself agreeing to most of his analysis about WHY the election didn’t matter. (And have even more reasons not to vote).

    Never heard of him before, so thanks for that.

    1. Scott,

      Nicely said. Black Americans have been treated so poorly here, both before and after the Civil War, must make difficult what white Americans consider dispassionate rational analysis.

      Background context: this is part of my search on the fringes of America for new insights. Much of what we find there is useless, for one reason or another. I think of it as panning for gold.

    2. Scott,

      Again, nicely said. It is the great American tragedy, still in progress. A hole we can’t get out of. I doubt we can even stop digging.

      The dream of getting on a new path appears to have died with Martin Luther King Jr. I strongly recommend reading “MLK: What We Lost” by Annette Gordon-Reed in the Sept 8 issue of the NY Review of Books. It is a review of recent books on little-known but important aspects of his life.

    3. It is my contention that the peak of race relations in America was probably sometime in the mid 1980s, when the Cosby Show was the number one sitcom on TV. In order for it to reach that status, the vast majority of white Americans has to assent to the idea of a black doctor, and his lawyer wife living an upper middle class lifestyle. We all loved the show because as a nation, we were cheering them on and saying in unison “yes, this is want for you”

    4. Scott,

      I don’t know how to identify the peak of race relations, but mid-1980s to mid-1990s seems logical. There is probably survey data that would pin this down better.

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