One Week Later

The last time I posted on my blog, the county was shocked, making sense of the election results that proved all pollsters wrong. In a week, the world feels like it has been turned upside down. President Obama, to his credit, has been as gracious as he can be in his transition of power. Hillary Clinton conceded last Wednesday and has since blamed James Comey and the FBI letters for her loss. The Democrats, meanwhile, are gearing up to select a new DNC chair. So far, popular progressive Rep. Keith Ellison has tossed his name into the ring, as well as Howard Dean. So far, a lot of Dems, including Harry Reid and soon-to-be Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, have backed Ellison. In the House, meanwhile, the Democrats have delayed their leadership elections, which does not bode well for Nancy Pelosi. The Democrats are licking their wounds and ready to clean house, at least somewhat. If they want to move forward, gear up for 2018, and start winning elections again, that’s probably for the best.

To be blunt, the Democrats have few easy paths forward. In 2018, they have an enormous amount of Senate seats to defend, including some in red states. In the House, they still have a few dozen seats to flip until they win back the majority. The party is poised to be in the minority at least for the next four years. Meanwhile, it may be hard to develop a strong, progressive alternative vision to Trump because it seems likely they are going to have to fight to protect progressive gains made over the last few decades. Paul Ryan is already licking his chops about privatizing medicare and medicaid, which would unravel a large part of LBJ’s domestic legacy. In the “60 Minutes” interview that aired a few days ago, Trump warned that if Roe V. Wade is overturned, abortion rights will go back to the states and women will have to go to another state to get an abortion. The problem is that nearly 2/3 of state legislatures are in GOP control. So yes, I think the Democrats have quite a fight on their hands going forward, but if Trump’s governing is totally mismanaged, it is possible there could be another wave election, on par with 2006, which would give Democrats control of at least one branch of Congress.

Despite this, I have been amazed at how fast the left has organized. Already, there are mass protests planned for January 20 and 21, the weekend of the inauguration. The women’s march on the 21st appears to be gaining the most momentum, to the point where it already earned a story in the NYT. There are buses headed to that rally from all across the country, including in Scranton. I will be there with my partner, and we already know of a few friends joining us. Meanwhile, organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the ACLU have reported record donations since Tuesday’s results. Even locally, I have been meeting with people about what we can do in this community. This election has rattled enough people that they are wiling to fight over the next few years.

If you want to get involved, here are some easy ways:

  • Contact your  Senator and Congressman/woman. Tell them to be vigilant and NOT support any attempts by the new Trump administration to roll back women’s rights, LGBT rights, and civil rights. Tell them to NOT support any attempts to privatize the social safety net programs, namely Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
  • Contact your local Senator and Congressman/woman and tell them to pressure Trump to rescind the appointment of white nationalist/alt-right leader Steve Bannon as top adviser.
  • Make a donation, no matter how small, to organizations that work to protect women’s rights, LGBT rights,  civil rights, and immigrants.
  • Plan to attend the inauguration protests. Go to If you can’t be there, and if you can afford it, sponsor a bus seat for someone who wants to attend but can’t afford a bus seat.
  • Get involved in your community. Reach out to people that want to mobilize. There are more folks out there wanting to do something than you may imagine.




So what next?

I am writing this post a few hours before the third and final presidential debate. I watched the other debates at watch parties, surrounded by friends and other volunteers. Being around them made it easier to watch. It is likely that this debate will be the nastiest yet. Clinton is ahead in most of the swing states, and over the last two weeks or so, Trump has unveiled a new strategy: claim the election is going to be rigged. To their credit, a lot of mainstream Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, have pushed back against such claims. Trump’s claims are dangerous because they dig at the fabric of our democracy and the voting process in general. Voting should be seen as sacred, but knowing he is probably going to lose, and possibly lose big, Trump is now trying to undercut the legitimacy of our election. We have never seen anything like this in past elections.

It is now possible that the Democrats can win back the Senate and the House. The Clinton campaign is pushing into red states and now spending money in AZ, which is a virtual tie, according to latest polls, and Georgia, Texas, and Utah. It’s not likely that Clinton will win all of these states. She may not even  win any of them, but the spending could have a serious down ballot effect that benefits Democrats. Even if this turns out to be a wave election, what will the aftermath be? If Trumpism is repudiated big time at the ballot box on Nov. 8, will he go away? Will he stop having meltdowns on Twitter? Will he stop claiming the election is rigged and there is some vast conspiracy going on between the Clinton campaign and the mainstream media? Will the nastiness and xenophobic rhetoric go away, or will his supporters, who feel totally alienated by the political process, become even bolder?

I hope that the Democrats, even if they win big, take a long, hard look at what caused Trumpism in the first place. Why is it that the media mogul, or even Bernie Sanders, resonated so deeply with a chunk of the electorate? What will the Democratic Party do to address the concerns of the white working-class? This isn’t solely a U.S. issue, either. The New Yorker published a story a few weeks ago about the rise of far-right, nationalist parties in Germany, France, and Austria, caused by the Syrian refugee crisis. Here, our electorate is much broader and more diverse, so it doesn’t seem likely that Trump will win the White House. That said, his nationalist rhetoric and the concerns of his supporters need to be addressed. Clinton is going to have a massive burden to try to soothe and heal this country post-election.

My fear, however, is that the GOP may try to obstruct Democrats at every turn, like they did with Obama over the last 8 years. Already, John McCain has stated that anyone Clinton puts up for the Supreme Court will be stymied by the GOP.

Tonight, I will be watching the debate with friends and other volunteers, for the third and final time. I am ready for this election season to conclude, and I hope that Trump/Trumpism is retired to the dustbin of our history, just like McCarthy and George Wallace. The question is, what happens after election day?

Trumpism Post-Election

Since the RNC and DNC concluded a few weeks ago, Hillary Clinton has continued to maintain a lead in the polls. She  has led from anywhere to 10 to six points. Her lead has shrunk somewhat in recent polls, but it is still healthy, especially in PA, VA, and other crucial swing states. Trump has since reorganized his campaign staff, flip-flopped on immigration, and tried to reach out to black voters. So far, however, his minority outreach has moved the needled little. An article published yesterday by The Morning Consultant points out that Trump has cut into Clinton’s lead nationally, but about 79 percent of black voters plan to vote for her. Meanwhile, Trump also signifigantly trails Clinton when it comes to female voters. He lags by nine.

Since the 1960s, when LBJ, pushed by the Civil Rights movement, passed sweeping civil rights legislation, including the Voting Rights Act, black Americans have predominantly stuck with  the Democratic Party. On the one hand, Trump should get some credit for trying to broaden the GOP’s base, but as the Wall Street Journal pointed out recently in this article, Trump has mostly been making this appeal to white audiences, not in black churches or before the NAACP. When speaking about black voters, Trump does so in the context of high crime and high unemployment, as though that’s all that exists in black communities, thus feeding upon racial stereotypes held by some of his supporters.

With about 10 weeks to go until the election, it is likely the race will tighten somewhat. However, Trump’s massive deficit with black, female, and Hispanic voters will make it very difficult for him to win the general election. The question now becomes, what happens to Trumpism post-election? Trump is now trying to paint Hillary Clinton as so crocked that she’ll steal the election. Will that taint the early stages of her presidency? Will it make it more difficult for her to govern? It is likely Dems will win back the Senate and make gains in the House, but not win back the House. How will Trump’s recent depictions of her affect her ability to work with a GOP-controlled House? Will his supporters even let their GOP congressman/woman work with her, or will the unprecedented obstruction seen during the Obama presidency continue?

Furthermore, what happens to some his base? The white working-class anger over bad trade deals and a loss of manufacturing jobs is justifiable. They feel abandoned by the GOP and by the Democratic Party, who passed NAFTA and the WTO under President Bill Clinton, and meanwhile, President Obama is still pushing the TPP, which Clinton opposes. In addition, what long-term impact will Trump’s blatant race-baiting have, especially all of the comments he made about Muslims, promising to not allow them into the U.S., and Hispanic immigrants, calling them “rapists” and “drug dealers.” What does it mean that people like David Duke, former grand wizard of the KKK, said he’s been inspired by Trump to run for the Senate? Trump’s candidacy has put forth some of the ugly aspects of American history and politics, so how do we heal when this is over?

Right now, the Clinton camp has an election to win, but once it’s over, she, as well as the larger Democratic Party and the GOP, need to figure out how to heal the divisions that have worsened because of Trump’s candidacy.

Where the Revolution Goes from Here and How Bernie Lands the Plane

Following a string of victories last night in New Mexico, New Jersey, and California, Hillary Clinton made history by clinching the Democratic nomination for president. Less than a 100 years after women earned the right to vote, she became the first female presidential candidate of a major political party. Despite one’s feelings about Hillary, this moment deserves its spotlight. Following the wins, Clinton said, “It may be hard to see tonight, but we are all standing under a glass ceiling right now. But don’t worry, we’re not smashing this one…It’s the first time in our nation’s history that a woman will be a major party’s nominee.”

She also noted that her mother was born on the day that Congress passed the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. She then remarked that the first convention dedicated to women’s rights happened in the state where she stood that evening: New York, at Seneca Falls in 1848.

Browsing my social media accounts, I noticed that some Sanders supporters griped that Hillary was anointed the nominee and did no win it fairly. Putting the super delegate issue aside, Clinton had a few more million votes than Sanders, and for that matter, she earned more votes than any of the presidential nominees thus far, including Trump. The question now becomes where does the Sanders campaign go from here? Last night, he vowed to keep fighting until the convention in Philly at the end of July, and I’ve said all along that he should do so. At this point, Sanders has no chance to be the nominee, other than the very remote possibility that Hillary will be indicted over the e-mail saga. That said, Sanders’ campaign has been about remaking the Democratic Party, so that it resembles the party of FDR or LBJ rather than a party led by the DNC or Clintons. So far, Sanders has had some major successes. He got the chance to appoint five members to the DNC platform committee. Clinton appointed six, and the DNC appointed four. His picks have included African American scholar Cornel West and environmental activist Bill McKibben. On the campaign trail, he has forced Hillary to make income inequality a major part of her platform, which will most likely last through the fall, since Trump has been successful, in part, by tapping into white working-class anger. Now that the general election match-up is clear, Clinton can’t ignore the issues that Sanders made relevant.

If Sanders manages to unite the party, while continuing to push for the issues that matter to him, it is likely that he will return to the Senate as one of its most powerful members, and most likely the chair of the banking committee, if the Democrats retake the Senate, which seems likely, considering the map and Trump’s recent self-implosion over the judge remarks and Trump University scandal.

Following the age of Occupy and increasing anger directed at Wall Street, it is unlikely that the Democratic Party will continue to resemble  a party of triangulation. The financial crisis of 2008 and the bank bailouts that followed have made it impossible for the Democratic Party to not address economic inequality and the working-class anger that Trump has managed to tap into when he talks about the devastating effect of some Clinton-era policies, specifically NAFTA, and the gross effect of big money on politics.

As the convention draws closer, Bernie and his supporters need to make a $15 minimum wage, a major jobs plan, universal healthcare part, and campaign finance reform part of the platform. They should also push to rework the primary rules, even the order of states that votes and open primaries v. closed primaries.

Yes, another Clinton will is now the Democratic nominee for president in 2016, but this Clinton has made economic inequality a major part of her platform, and in doing so, she has had to address her husband’s legacy, including the loss of manufacturing that came as a result of her husband’s free trade policies. The Democratic Party is undergoing a major change, and if Bernie and his supporters seriously organize and continue what they started, it is possible policies he advocated will come to fruition. If his supporters remain engaged and come into the fold more, then perhaps next time around, a candidate like Bernie Sanders will win the nomination.

A Fractured Left

After Hillary Clinton’s double digit win in New York last night, the path for Bernie Sanders to win the Democratic nomination for president is impossible. The delegates aren’t there for him. Even more so, Clinton is ahead of him by double digits in a number of the states that vote next Tuesday, including delegate-rich Pennsylvania. I will state for the record that I have always liked Bernie Sanders. He has been preaching about money in politics for years. That said, I have been appalled by what I have seen on social media, especially after Clinton’s victory last night. The Democratic primary has turned into name calling and growing divide between Clinton and Bernie supporters. Some of his supporters feel as though she has not won any of the races legitimately, as though there is some big DNC conspiracy to ensure she’s the nominee. Meanwhile, I have seen some of his supporters declare that they will vote for Trump or Cruz because they can’t stomach voting for Clinton in the fall. This especially boggles my mind. Hillary never would have been my first choice for the Democratic nominee. That said, the Democratic bench was never going to be that deep because in the last few mid-term elections, Dems got obliterated, thus they don’t have a farm league at the state or national levels to groom into major presidential contenders, unlike the GOP, who controls majority of state legislatures, the House, and the Senate. With that said, there is a major difference between Hillary and Trump and Cruz. On women’s issues, Hillary has always been pro-choice and a supporter of equal pay. She is also more liberal on immigration than Obama. In addition, she favors a major raise in the minimum wage, to at least $12. Trump, meanwhile, runs around the country talking about a wall, banning Muslims, and punishing women for having an abortion. Cruz is even more extreme. So while Hillary may not be my first pick, I understand that the differences between she and whomever the GOP nominee will be, most likely Trump, are quite stark.

My fear right now is that this election, on the Democratic side, is going to be a redux of 1968 or 1980, when the party was so fractured that it handed the White House to the GOP. Recent polling shows that between 25-35 percent of Bernie supporters state that they won’t back Hillary Clinton if she is the nominee. Now, I will point out that in the heat of the 2008 primary between Obama and Clinton, polling showed that about half of her supporters said that they would not support him if he won the nomination. Ultimately, the party came together. However, this feels… different. Some Bernie supporters feel as though Clinton is everything wrong with the system, everything Bernie has been railing against. To them, she represents big money in politics, someone who can be bought and sold and changes positions when it is best for her to do so.

I also question if Bernie supporters will back her because some of them have no loyalties to the Democratic Party. Their man is not even a Democrat. He was always registered independent in Congress, called himself a Democratic Socialist, but caucused with the Democrats. During this campaign cycle, meanwhile, he hasn’t done much for Democrats down ballot, even though the “revolution” he speaks of would only be possible with a Congress far, far more progressive than its current make-up.

In 1968, at the height of Vietnam, the Democratic Party was split in SO many different ways. Eugene McCarthy, a socialist, ran. Bobby Kennedy ran, and establishment candidate Hubert Humphrey ran and ultimately won the nomination after Bobby Kennedy was gunned down. Humphrey ultimately lost the race to Richard Nixon, but it was one of the closest elections in our country’s history. Nixon ran on a platform of law and order and ending the Vietnam War, even though he escalated it once in power. However, after major riots, blood shed, and heads cracked with billy cubs at the Democratic Convention that summer, it’s no surprise Nixon won. The country yearned for some type of stability after a turbulent decade and an especially turbulent year. It also didn’t help that the Dem party was split so much, between three candidates initially and then two after Bobby was gunned down. In 1980, meanwhile, Ted Kennedy challenged Jimmy Carter in a primary and seriously hobbled him in the general election. As a result, Ronald Reagan was elected.

I would like to see the Bernie people get seriously engaged, long-term in the process. That means voting for Hilary if she is the nominee, but keeping pressure on her to pull her to the left and propose progressive solutions to get money out of politics, create a more stable Middle East, and create more economic equality, ideas that are central to Bernie’s campaign and his supporters. In addition, I want to see his supporters get active in grassroots activism, such as unionism and the fight for $15 campaign. I want to see them more beyond presidential politics and work to seriously remake the Democratic Party in the image of FDR, Bobby Kennedy, LBJ, and some of its other leaders of the past. That also requires working for down ballot candidates and reshaping Congress.