Sen. Nina Turner in the Washington Post: Working people — Black, Brown and White families making under $100,000, along with the vast majority of young people — delivered Biden his victory. Not only did they vote for him in overwhelming numbers, they also knocked on doors, made calls and carried out the hard work of democracy during a pandemic. These voters are the heart and the future of a massive progressive movement inside and outside of the Democratic Party, and it is to them that Joe Biden and Kamala D. Harris must answer. A warning for Biden: In the midst of overlapping national crises, his administration has a critical window to deliver for the working people and young people who got him elected. If he fails to meet the moment — if he seeks instead to return us to a “normalcy” marked by corporate handouts and extreme inequality — then the next Trump might be far more dangerous than the one we just defeated. We can see hints of this already in the way voters of color — perennially taken for granted by the Democratic Party — shifted marginally toward Trump in 2020. Though they still carried Biden to victory by a 46-point margin, the lesson is clear: The Democratic Party ignores its base at its own peril. Young people in particular showed up this year in historic numbers, increasing their turnout by eight percentage points. This generation is the most racially diverse generation in the history of our country and the most progressive.
By Elizabeth Warren on Common Dreams, https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/11/12/2020s-lesson-clear-bold-policies-improve-peoples-lives-are-broadly-popular
Progressive ballot initiatives won across the country. Florida became the eighth state to pass a $15 minimum wage. Arizona voted to increase taxes on the wealthy to fund public schools. Multiple states — red and blue — passed ballot measures to legalize marijuana. And Colorado said yes to 12 weeks of paid family leave.
The lesson is clear. Bold policies to improve opportunity for all Americans are broadly popular. Voters recognize that these reforms are necessary to fix what is broken in our nation.
Now, Democrats need to deliver for the American people — those who voted for us, those who did not, and those who were too disenchanted or disenfranchised to vote. We need to deliver, even as Republican leaders can’t acknowledge the election outcome and plan to grind Congress to a halt.
The good news is there are lots of big changes that a Biden-Harris administration can achieve through executive orders and agency action on day one. The president-elect has already committed to reentering the Paris Climate Accord, reinstating DACA and ending the travel ban against certain Muslim countries. Here are more bold steps the new administration can take using existing legal authority.
- Cancel billions of dollars in student loan debt, giving tens of millions of Americans an immediate financial boost and helping to close the racial wealth gap. This is the single most effective executive action available to provide massive consumer-driver stimulus.
- Lower drug prices for millions by producing key drugs like insulin, naloxone, hepatitis C drugs and EpiPens at low costs using existing compulsory licensing authority that allows the federal government to bypass patents for pressing public health needs.
- Issue enforceable OSHA health and safety standards for covid-19 so giant companies don’t escape accountability for workplace conditions that expose workers to serious harm and even death.
- Raise the minimum wage for all federal contractors to $15 an hour.
- Center racial equity by building on Biden and Harris’s commitment to establish a Racial and Ethnic Disparities Task Force by collecting and reporting covid-19 data and reviewing racial disparities in pandemic funding.
- Declare the climate crisis a national emergency to start marshaling resources toward addressing this challenge.
- Restore balance and competition by prioritizing strong anti-monopoly protections and enforcement.
Finally, a Biden-Harris administration can begin to rebuild trust in government by issuing the strongest ethics and anti-corruption standards for executive branch personnel ever. Biden has already embraced aggressive steps, and with a single order, he can padlock the revolving door between jobs in government and industry, reduce the influence of lobbyists, and eliminate conflicts of interest.
These proposals are broadly popular among all voters. Even so, we know that Washington insiders and their establishment allies are ready to declare that unity and consensus mean turning over the governing keys to giant corporations and their lobbyists — the exact opposite of what voters want. Democrats must resist this pressure. Acquiescing to an unpopular and timid agenda that further entrenches the wealthy and the well-connected will lead us to more division, more anger, more inequality and an even bigger hole to climb out of.
Instead of allowing insiders to hijack the message sent by voters in both parties, we should listen to those voters and deliver real solutions to the problems we face. Doing so won’t just strengthen the Democratic Party. It will strengthen America.
Elizabeth Warren is US Senator representing Massachusetts.
Biden Needs to Deliver to the Working People Who Delivered for Him
Nina Turner November 8, 2020 Washington Post
Nina Turner is a former Ohio state senator and a co-chair for Sen. Bernie Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign.
As the dust settles, pundits, political operatives and party insiders are already swarming to tell the story of what really happened in 2020. They’ll zero in on the smallest margins, the most unlikely Trump-to-Biden swing voters, the affluent white suburbanites. But that’s not the story of this election.
The exit polls are still being finalized, but as of now they show that working people — Black, Brown and White families making under $100,000, along with the vast majority of young people — delivered Biden his victory. Not only did they vote for him in overwhelming numbers, they also knocked on doors, made calls and carried out the hard work of democracy during a pandemic. These voters are the heart and the future of a massive progressive movement inside and outside of the Democratic Party, and it is to them that Joe Biden and Kamala D. Harris must answer.
Trump has been a disaster for poor and working people, so they used voting as a tool to fight back. Hammered by a government by, of and for the one percent, brutalized by covid-19 inaction and economic disaster, pummeled with racist rhetoric and white supremacist violence, the people have delivered a rebuke to President Trump. But the result was also a warning for Biden: In the midst of overlapping national crises, his administration has a critical window to deliver for the working people and young people who got him elected. If he fails to meet the moment — if he seeks instead to return us to a “normalcy” marked by corporate handouts and extreme inequality — then the next Trump might be far more dangerous than the one we just defeated. We can see hints of this already in the way voters of color — perennially taken for granted by the Democratic Party — shifted marginally toward Trump in 2020. Though they still carried Biden to victory by a 46-point margin, the lesson is clear: The Democratic Party ignores its base at its own peril.
After all, it was working people’s organizations that had millions of conversations with voters this year. It was not the political operatives at the Lincoln Project or the Third Way who knocked the doors, who spoke to the voters, who heard their concerns. It was laid-off union members in South Phoenix; African American community organizers in Kenosha, Wis.; Latinx zoomers in Reading, Pa. None of us intend to let the far-right of the Democratic coalition claim a mandate for status-quo politics.
This goes for Wall St. Democrats as well as Never-Trump Republicans. The latter in particular spent decades using dog-whistle racist appeals and inflaming culture-war fights to throw red meat to their base. We’re glad they finally had their “come-to-Jesus” moment, but that doesn’t mean we are going to invite them to take the pulpit. The people who should lead our country forward are the people who have been building the country all along: the multiracial working class who have helped carry this country through a pandemic and now demand real reform.
Young people in particular showed up this year in historic numbers, increasing their turnout by eight percentage points. This generation is the most racially diverse generation in the history of our country and the most progressive. That’s no surprise: Their future hangs in the balance — economically, politically and environmentally. They turned out this year in force more to defeat the unique threat of Trump than out of love for Biden or the Democratic Party. Biden and Democrats in Congress now have an opportunity to win a generation’s long-term loyalty, but only if they deliver the big changes young Americans demand.
That means passing a Green New Deal to lift our economy out of recession, create millions of jobs and address the climate crisis head-on. It means passing Medicare-for-all to prevent thousands of Americans from dying (or going bankrupt) due to covid-19 and other illnesses. It means making the wealthy pay their share of taxes and reversing the massive tax giveaway that was Trump’s crowning legislative achievement. And it means electoral reform to ensure our government actually reflects the will of the majority.
Nina Turner is former Ohio state senator, founding president of Our Revolution, and served as national co-chair of the Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign. Follow her on Twitter: @NinaTurner
By Jim Hightower, Nov 2020, Common Dreams
Trump’s nonstop assaults on workplace safety—direct life-and-death threats to millions of people in America’s workplaces. Trump and his appointees have done the following:
— Eliminated the Fair Pay and Safe Workplace rule requiring federal contractors to follow safety and labor laws.
— Repealed requirements that corporations maintain accurate injury records.
— Commanded by executive order that agencies repeal two worker protections for every new one they adopt.
— Directed all agencies to identify existing worker safeguards that can be labeled “burdensome” to industry and, therefore, are subject to repeal.
“This abominable governmental performance comes, of course, at the behest of our gilded president’s corporate peers—the CEOs and lobbyists who keep demanding that the financial ‘burden’ of worker safety be removed from their multibillion-dollar balance sheets.”
— Withdrew more than a dozen rules protecting mineworkers from major hazards such as explosive coal dust and mining chemicals.
— Halted implementation of an Obama-era rule requiring hospitals and nursing homes to adopt plans, provide staff training and stockpile equipment (respirators, masks, etc.) to protect health workers and patients from future outbreaks of airborne infectious diseases—yes, like COVID-19.
— Abandoned an Obama initiative meant to protect workers from deadly lung disease caused by silica dust (created when “engineered stone” is fabricated and cut to make imitation marble and granite).
— Scorned the importance of workplace safety by pointedly failing throughout his tenure to put anyone in charge of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA.
— Gutted OSHA’s enforcement ability by reducing its number of safety and health inspectors to the lowest level in its 49-year history. (There are so few inspectors now that it would take the agency 165 years to visit every U.S. workplace just once.) Meanwhile, 14 workers are killed on the job each day, and up to 5 million are injured each year.
This abominable governmental performance comes, of course, at the behest of our gilded president’s corporate peers—the CEOs and lobbyists who keep demanding that the financial “burden” of worker safety be removed from their multibillion-dollar balance sheets. To gauge Trump’s deep empathy for protecting profits over lives, just look at the three men he’s chosen to preside over the Labor Department, the one agency specifically intended to stand up for working stiffs.
Choice No. 1: Andrew Puzder, former CEO of the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. chains. Puzder was notorious for exploiting low-wage fast-food workers. He has a rap sheet of employee abuses so ugly that even the GOP-controlled Senate gagged, refusing to confirm him.
Choice No. 2: Alex Acosta, a longtime Republican partisan and legal activist for corporate interests. He lasted barely two years in the Trump maelstrom. He was nominally forced to resign over the disclosure that, as a Florida prosecutor, he had cut a sweetheart deal for infamous pedophile and sex trafficker Jeffery Epstein. Insiders say, however, that Acosta’s real sin in Trump’s eyes was not moving fast enough to kill worker protections enacted by Obama.
Choice No. 3: Eugene Scalia. Finally, a year ago, Trump got the kind of deregulatory wrecking ball he wanted as labor chief. Son of Antonin Scalia, the late, ultra-right Supreme Court justice—Eugene is a virulent anti-worker lawyer who had become Corporate America’s go-to attack dog in legal fights. From Boeing to Walmart, he defended blue-chip giants in cases of sexual harassment, union busting, stealing tips, killing workers and a litany of other abuses. (He even argued that UPS workers—not the corporation—should pay for essential workplace safety equipment.)
AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka called Scalia’s appointment “insulting” and “dangerous.” Sure enough, this “labor” secretary has served as a tool for corporate interests to pry loose labor protections. Most recently, he’s been a pompom-waving cheerleader for cutting off working people’s unemployment benefits in order to force them back into COVID-19-infested jobs. “We want workers to work, not become dependent on the unemployment system,” he babbled in April, apparently considering collecting unemployment benefits worse than death. What about his statutory duty to protect worker interests? His aides pointed to a poster Scalia’s agency had released suggesting steps corporations can take to help employees avoid infection—”can take,” not “must take.” Seriously, a poster!
Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow. Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be – consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks.
The Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex Is Fascism
This Veterans Day, if you wish to honor the troops and humanity as a whole, vow to break with or challenge the MIC.byChristian Sorensen
“When war profits those in authority—the founding tenet of the MIC—peace is off the table and official enemies abound,” writes Sorensen. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)
The military-industrial-congressional complex (MIC) is the insulated triangle consisting of the Pentagon, the decision-making headquarters of the U.S. military; the war industry, the corporations that sell goods and services to the U.S. military establishment and allied governments and regimes; and Capitol Hill, the elected representatives who fund it all and pass legislation abetting war. In concept and practice, the military-industrial-congressional complex is fascism.
“Peace is not an option. Not even in presidential debates, which instead are fora to flex, glorify the military, and threaten hyped-up enemies.”
Under fascism, the capitalist economy is deeply intertwined with government. The war industry floods the Pentagon’s civilian offices with corporate executives (e.g. Mark Esper, Secretary of Defense; Ellen Lord, Undersecretary for Acquisition & Sustainment; Ryan McCarthy, Secretary of the Army). It recruits retired generals and admirals (e.g. Joseph Dunford at Lockheed Martin, Jim Mattis at General Dynamics, James Winnefeld at Raytheon) to leverage their knowledge for profit. It spreads its production facilities across all 50 states. Indeed, the MIC’s very fuel is the federal budget. And, most markedly, the war industry assumes control of jobs once carried out by uniformed troops.
Under fascism, authority is concentrated in a dictator or a dictatorship that rotates figureheads. The United States’ one-party, two-faction system exemplifies the latter. The war industry’s lobbying of Congress and funding of Congressional campaigns (particularly politicians who serve on Armed Services, Appropriations, Intelligence, and Foreign Affairs committees) lock both factions into a belligerent foreign policy through which war corporations accrue fantastic riches. Furthermore, the war industry funds and runs pressure groups (e.g. NDIA, AIA, AUSA), which, in addition to administering arms fairs, generally badger Congress. Members of Congress, for their part, profit off of war. Executive policies and congressional legislation is often written by corporate lobbyists or crafted and implemented without public input. Presidents from both political factions ascend to authority within this fascist system and conform to a war-first foreign policy, as exemplified by all presidents since the 1947 National Security Act. Peace is not an option. Not even in presidential debates, which instead are fora to flex, glorify the military, and threaten hyped-up enemies.
“Under fascism, the state violently and systematically dismantles progressive and radical Left political parties.”
Under fascism, politics exalts the nation above all else and accretes a centralized autocratic government. Congress abstains from its constitutional mandate to declare and end wars, deferring instead to the Executive branch on such matters. As the nation is exalted, political discourse is dumbed down across the board, as professor and author Leo Panitch has noted. Knee-jerk vitriol replaces measured debate or discussion. Vapid slogans defend armed bureaucracies, foregrounding class-conscious challengers as savage anti-Americans. The war industry sets the broader boundaries of acceptable discourse by funding think tanks (whose primary purpose is the issuance of information amenable to donors’ bottom line) and corporate media, keeping the narrative pro-war.
Career militants—such as former Acting CIA Director Mike Morell at CBS, former CIA Director John Brennan at MSNBC, and retired General Jack Keane at FoxNews—steer the discourse regarding foreign policy. The former chief of propaganda at the U.S. Agency for Global Media, John Lansing, now runs NPR. A private equity firm owns Sightline Media Group, which runs most major military-oriented publications, such as Defense News and C4ISRNet. When war profits those in authority—the founding tenet of the MIC—peace is off the table and official enemies abound. Fascism’s need for scapegoats overlaps perfectly with the war industry’s need to manufacture and hype enemies in order to profit from the ensuing wars. Arabs, Persians, and Muslims have been the official bad guy for decades now, simultaneously serving as the pretext for overseas military action and domestic surveillance, and against which the ruling class funnels the working class’ socioeconomic distress.
“The fascist system then draws support from chunks of a white working class that lives precariously (due to bipartisan abuse and imposition of neoliberal economic policies outsourcing jobs and automating the rest).”
Under fascism, the state violently and systematically dismantles progressive and radical Left political parties. Such eradication of organized progressive movements has been a defining trend in the United States over the past hundred years. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was largely founded to do just that, performing quite well. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also operates against political progressives and Left radicals. (Notably, the war industry carries out a large part of DHS’ workload, further imbricating capitalist profit with government activity.) The rare rebel who damages the infrastructure of war corporations is locked up. Charismatic leaders able to galvanize working-class opposition to capitalism and war (e.g. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Fred Hampton) are targeted as subversives by government agencies, and ultimately assassinated under various circumstances.
People of color, long denied even a taste of democratic pretense, are policed intensely by overmilitarized local and state law enforcement that are armed by the war industry. They are then stuffed at disproportionate rates into the prison system where they’re used as cheap labor. (Federal Prison Industries, a corporation owned by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons, makes a lot of light gear and clothing for the military.) The Commission on Presidential Debates doesn’t even allow non-corporate parties to participate, effectively banning anti-war discourse. Organized labor is dismantled piece by piece, helping corporate criminals, to the working class’ detriment. The fascist system then draws support from chunks of a white working class that lives precariously (due to bipartisan abuse and imposition of neoliberal economic policies outsourcing jobs and automating the rest). An invasive surveillance state and armed bureaucracies at the federal, state, and local level protect the status quo.
Fascism, the brutal fusion of corporate might with government authority, is the MIC. Democracy will be out of reach until working people recognize their enemy and addresses the MIC. This means dismantling the war industry and converting factory output to meet human need instead of war profiteering. This Veterans Day, if you wish to honor the troops and humanity as a whole, vow to break with or challenge the MIC. Do your part, and help create a better world for all.
Christian Sorensen is a novelist, military analyst, and independent journalist mainly focused on war profiteering within the military-industrial complex. An Air Force veteran, he is the author of the recently published book, Understanding the War Industry. Mr. Sorensen is also a senior fellow at the Eisenhower Media Network (EMN), an organization of independent veteran military and national security experts.
November 12, 2020byBoston Globe
Don’t Underestimate Where Trump’s Election Lies Could Take the United States
Clinging to power by claiming you are the victim of internal enemies is a very dangerous tactic. By Timothy Snyder
A supporter of President Trump unfurled an American flag while demonstrating Tuesday outside of a building where votes were being counted in Philadelphia (Photo: MARK MAKELA/GETTY)
When you lose, it is good and healthy to know why. In the First World War, the conflict that defined our modern world, the Germans lost because of the overwhelming force assembled by their enemies on the Western Front. After the Americans entered the war, German defeat was a matter of time. Yet German commanders found it convenient instead to speak of a “stab in the back” by leftists and Jews. This big lie was a problem for the new German democracy that was created after the war, since it suggested that the major political party, the Social Democrats, and a national minority, the Jews, were outside the national community. The lie was taken up by the Nazis, and it became a central element of their version of history after they took power. The blame was elsewhere.
It is always tempting to blame defeat on others. Yet for a national leader to do so and to inject a big lie into the system puts democracy at great risk. Excluding others from the national community makes democracy impossible in principle, and refusing to accept defeat makes it impossible in practice. What we face now in the United States is a new, American incarnation of the old falsehood: that Donald Trump’s defeat was not what it seems, that votes were stolen from him by internal enemies — by a left-wing party. “Where it mattered, they stole what they had to steal,” he tweets. He claims that his votes were all “Legal Votes,” as if by definition those for his opponent were not.
Underestimating Donald Trump is a mistake that people should not go on making. Laughing at him will not make him go away. If it did, he would have vanished decades ago. Nor will longstanding norms about how presidents behave make him go away. He is an actor and will stick to his lines: It was all a fraud, and he won “by a lot.” He was never defeated, goes the story; he was a victim of a conspiracy. This stab-in-the-back myth could become a permanent feature of American politics, so long as Trump has a bullhorn, be it on Fox or on RT (formerly Russia Today) — or, though Democrats might find this unthinkable, as an unelected president remaining in power.
After all, a claim that an election was illegitimate is a claim to remaining in power. A coup is under way, and the number of participants is not shrinking but growing. Few leading Republicans have acknowledged that the race is over. Important ones, such as Mitch McConnell and Mike Pompeo, appear to be on the side of the coup. We might like to think that this is all some strategy to find the president an exit ramp. But perhaps that is wishful thinking. The transition office refuses to begin its work. The secretary of defense, who did not want the army attacking civilians, was fired. The Department of Justice, exceeding its traditional mandate, has authorized investigations of the vote count. The talk shows on Fox this week contradict the news released by Fox last week. Republican lawmakers find ever new verbal formulations that directly or indirectly support Trump’s claims. The longer this goes on, the greater the danger to the Republic.
What Trump is saying is false, and Republican politicians know it. If the votes against the president were fraudulent, then Republican wins in the House and Senate were also fraudulent: The votes were on the same ballots. Yet conspiracy theories, such as the stab in the back, have a force that goes beyond logic. They push away from a world of evidence and toward a world of fears. Psychological research suggests that citizens are especially vulnerable to conspiracy theories at the time of elections. Trump understands this, which is why his delivery of conspiracy theory is full of capital letters and bereft of facts. He knows better than to try to prove anything. His ally Newt Gingrich reaches for the worst when he blames a wealthy Jew for something that did not happen in the first place.
History shows where this can go. If people believe an election has been stolen, that makes the new president a usurper. In Poland in 1922, a close election brought a centrist candidate to the presidency. Decried by the right in the press as an agent of the Jews, he was assassinated after two weeks in office. Even if the effect is not so immediate, the lingering effect of a myth of victimhood, of the idea of a stab in the back, can be profound. The German myth of a stab in the back did not doom German democracy immediately. But the conspiracy theory did help Nazis make their case that some Germans were not truly members of the nation and that a truly national government could not be democratic.
Democracy can be buried in a big lie. Of course, the end of democracy in America would take an American form. In 2020 Trump acknowledged openly what has been increasingly clear for decades: The Republican Party aims not so much to win elections as to game them. This strategy has its temptations: The more you care about suppressing votes, the less you care about what voters want. And the less you care about voters want, the closer you move to authoritarianism. Trump has taken the next logical step: Try to disenfranchise voters not only before but after elections.
The results of the 2020 elections could be read to mean that Republicans can fight and win on the issues. Reading the results as fraudulent instead will take Republicans, and the country, on a very different journey, through a cloud of magical thinking toward violence.
If you have been stabbed in the back, then everything is permitted. Claiming that a fair election was foul is preparation for an election that is foul. If you convince your voters that the other side has cheated, you are promising them that you yourself will cheat next time. Having bent the rules, you then have to break them. History shows the danger in the familiar example of Hitler. When politicians break democracy, as conservatives in Weimar Germany did in the early 1930s, they are wrong to think that they will control what happens next. Someone else will emerge who is better adapted to the chaos and who will wield it in ways that they neither want nor expect. The myth of victimhood comes home and claims its victims.
This is no time to mince words. In the interest of the Republic and of their own party, Republicans should accept the results.
Timothy Snyder, a professor of history at Yale University, is the author of “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From the Twentieth Century” and, most recently, “Our Malady: Lessons in Liberty From a Hospital Diary.” Follow him on Twitter @TimothyDSnyder.