BIDEN/HARRIS WON – NOW WHAT?

By Jason Sibert and Patty Friend 

Opponents of President Donald Trump have every right to be happy about the election of Joe Biden to the office of President of the United States.  Biden flipped Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Georgia. The Joe Biden/Kamala Harris ticket ran close in Florida and North Carolina and did better than the Clinton/Kaine ticket in various states. Mr. Biden won the popular vote by three percentage points and will most likely win it by about around six million votes. The Democratic Party picked up two seats in the Senate on election day and maintained control of the house. Grassroots organizing for the Democratic Party was at an all-time high. It put together an even larger coalition than the Barack Obama coalition and there was a huge effort to turn out the vote, even in a time when Covid-19 was ravaging the country.

Congratulations to all of those who worked to elect Joe Biden President and Kamala Harris Vice-President. Some worked to turn out the vote, gave each other rides to the polls, and worked for change with a lot of energy to turn back the tide of Trumpism. Biden has made commitments to turn back Trump-era rules via executive order. We support the Grassroots Law Project’s Federal Policy Plan, and we want Biden to move forward on climate change, criminal justice reform, and comprehensive immigration reform, ext.  Biden must also be pushed on healthcare, housing, childcare, eldercare, and research and development.   

Now for the bad news: the Democrats failed to seize control of the Senate, and the party lost seats in the House of Representatives. It’s sad to see infighting in the party as to why it didn’t do better in many races. The bickering is counterproductive – here’s why: the United States has a large diverse culture with many races, religions, political ideologies, two major political parties, several third parties and many people who are apolitical. The center-left side of the political spectrum must work to bring the country together with an economic agenda that fights poverty and expands the middle class. Expanded Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, other forms of health insurance, expanded collective bargaining and workplace representation, and affordable housing should be at the top of the agenda. Social democrats must also stand for civil rights for nonwhites, women, and gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgendered Americans. We must also fight for the legalization of undocumented immigrants. While we support our brothers and sisters in the progressive wing of the party – we will always have Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s back –  we must also recognize the fact that not all Democrats are progressive and not all progressive Democrats can beat Republicans just anywhere in this country. 

Party infighting does our cause no good! Bernie Sanders can win a statewide election in Vermont and AOC can win in a congressional district in New York City. However, Mark Kelley can win in a state like Arizona and Conner Lamb can win in a district that includes Pittsburg and the surrounding suburbs. While the energy of the Democratic Party is certainly with the progressives, party supporters must realize what a diverse country we are and that different candidates win in different parts of the country. For instance, former Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill lost her race in 2018 by five points in 2018 and Democratic statewide candidates lost by 17 points in 2020. (Let us not forget that 55 percent of women voted for Donald Trump). Progressives have pushed their ideas in the realm of the Democratic Party and have made policy proposals like Medicare for all, a substantially higher minimum wage, and expanded collective bargaining rights a part of the national discussion. Progressives should try to push the moderates in their direction on those issues and many more. If the two sides win together, then Americans would benefit. The Socialist Party of America included people of many different views when it was able to make a minor dent in the electoral system in the days of Eugene Debs, as there were revolutionary Marxists, sewer socialists, and people of other stripes active then. If we want to see the progressive dream come to life, we must stand in solidarity and work together like our lives depend upon it – just as we have done in 2020!   

These simple ideas must be pushed forward in the weeks, months, and years ahead. In less than a year, we will have more elections and a midterm election in 2022. Donald Trump has already said he might run again in 2024. The former president is likely to be a force in American politics in the years to come. Right-wing media is locked and loaded, so let’s put up a united front in opposition to Trumpism!

Let’s not forget the upcoming Senate elections in January. If Mitch McConnell remains in control of the Senate, our entire progressive agenda is in peril.   Again, we must commit ourselves to working for the Democrats as if our lives depend upon it! To find out how to become involved in the Georgia Senate Races, link to the Georgia Democratic Party – https://www.georgiademocrat.org/take-action/ 

Jason Sibert is the executive director of the Peace Economy Project in St Louis. 

Patty Friend is the National Chair of Social Democrats USA.

“NOBODY PUTS LENIN IN A CORNER!”

by Michael Mottern

Movie Review: Red Dawn –> “How a Kid of the Cold War can teach an entire class on this historic action film starring that Dirty Dancing duo, Patrick Swayze & Jennifer Gray, plus Charlie Sheen and countless other recognizable stars.”

Red Dawn, the 1984 version, is one of my all-time favorite action movies. As a “Kid of the Cold War,” this movie seemed very realistic for its time, and after watching it with my grandmother when I was six (or maybe seven), I now hope it didn’t bring back bad memories from her past. She. after all, was smack dab in the middle of it, as a 7-year-old during the Soviet invasion of Estonia in 1940, the beginning of Stalin’s regime in the Baltic after the Hitler-Stalin Pact ended. 

The film is very good, not because it’s done well or even made with a high budget ($17 million to be exact). However as Charlie Blakemore, a social liberal buddy of mine from Dartmouth Film School told me when I was in high school, the film was “b*******!!”. Charlie, an intellectual, a film critic, and a person with a bias who did not have a personal connection with the Soviet Union like I did, tend to think in ways opposite from me, although none of us are like old Cold Warriors like my father.  Charlie, like most social liberals, is not overly concerned about the issues of the Cold War and the awesome power of the Soviet Union and the million dollar question of the movie: could the Russian motherland with the help of the Cuban and Nicaraguan armies actually invade the US? That by far is well conceived, especially in the brief historical introduction before the famous parachute scene. With the help of a good soundtrack, Red Dawn comes ‘parachuting’ into our living rooms with a genuine Russian invasion that comes across as very realistic. 

After Gorbachev (a reformer) came to power, US/Soviet tension started to fizzle away. But in 1983-84 because of the US and Soviet nuclear arsenal, the Doomsday Clock was closer to midnight, so Red Dawn was the perfect film for the US and Hollywood at that time. Not because of the lack of historical evidence, but the fact that it was all too real by 1984 standards. When talking to Marxists,  neo-Marxist and some social liberals like Charlie, they all immediately say the same thing: “Well it never happened…” The fact that any such invasion didn’t happen is by far a miracle unto itself, considering what could have happened during the Cuban Missile Crisis and in West Berlin during the Cold War. We saw it in the hawkish policies of Reagan administration in the early years of the 1980s, when Reagan remilitarized Western Europe with nuclear weapons in West Germany. 

When I say I could teach an entire class on this film, it’s not about the cinematography but about the historical realism of it – the introduction of the movie is a real treat! The beginning of the movie starts with a pretty cool soundtrack, and an introduction that reads like cold war manuscript. The movie’s intro:

1. “Soviet Union suffers from the worst famine in 75 years.” 

2. “Labor riots and food shortages in Poland.” 

3. “Cuban and Nicaraguan armies reach troop strengths up to 500,000.”

4. “Mexico plunges into revolution.” 

5. “Greens take over parliament in Western Germany and demands all US missiles withdraw from European soil.” 

6. “NATO dissolves! United States stands alone.”

Other than the part about the Greens taking over Parliament in Germany and NATO dissolving, the introduction sounded very historically accurate and in some parts very scary and familiar. The US was hated in Nicaragua due to its backing of the Somoza dynasty, with the Sandanistas subsequently turning to the Soviets. In Germany, as we know, the Berlin Wall came tumbling down and the Solidarity union arose in Poland.

Directed by John Milius, I give the movie an A+ for historical accuracy, and award it 4 stars out of 5 as a great action film!! I would refer it to all my friends and family. The movie is rated PG-13 and because of violence may not be suitable for younger viewers

Michael Mottern is Vice Chair of Social Democrats USA.

TURKEY AND NATO

By Jason Sibert and Patty Friend  

The essence of social democracy is the idea that citizens must take control of their lives through democratic systems.  Social democrats believe in the extension of democracy into the economic realm via labor unions, social insurance, social welfare programs, public ownership in a handful of areas and the regulation of business.

The democratic world currently faces challenges from authoritarian and totalitarian systems the world over. One of these problems is Turkey. Their current leader, Recep Erdogan, represents a tendency that some call authoritarian democracy – a semi-democratic form of government where a faction wins power democratically and then uses its power to undermine segments of democratic rule. Turkey currently belongs to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), but there is a powerful argument to be made that it does not belong there.  Former French Socialist President Francois Hollande said Turkey should be stripped of membership since it attacked Kurdish militias in Syria. The Kurds were a strong ally (fighting forces) in the war against the Islamic State. In our country, even US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called for bipartisan sanctions and a suspension of Turkey’s membership in NATO.  

Matters are not as simple as kicking Turkey out.  While many multilateral institutions allow for the suspension of wayward members, NATO has no such rules. However, some NATO. members have put diplomatic pressure on wayward members at times. One way to expel Turkey would be to look toward the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, an international agreement regulating treaties between states. Although the 1969 treaty was never ratified by our nation, we usually follow at least some of it as customary law. The Vienna Convention codifies several standards of international law. NATO member states at the organization’s 70th anniversary in 2018 reinforced the ideas behind Vienna: democracy, the rule of law and human rights.  If Turkey is in violation of the Vienna Convention – and it is – then it can be expelled from NATO.  

One must look at Turkey’s other alliances. The country is in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization with Russia (a NATO opponent), China and Iran. Turkey recently purchased a missile system from Russia! The Jerusalem Post reported on this provocative transaction. Turkey is also in possession of several nuclear warheads that should not be in the hands of such an anti-democratic, anti-Western, and anti-American power. It is acting like a power that is purely pursing its own interest at the expense of some of its allies because it is trying to create a modern-day version of the Ottoman Empire. While Turkey said it was opposed to Islamic State during the fight against it, Turkish customs officials let ISIS fighters cross the border into Syria throughout that very fight. Turkish intelligence also gave support to ISIS, who was fighting the Turks’ nemesis – the Kurds. Turkey both wants to be a NATO member because it wants to be a part of a powerful economic block and also be able strike out at enemies at any time with impunity. Even under Erdogan’s Islamist government, Turkey has no intention of living in the Dark Ages like the Taliban in Afghanistan; at the same time, the country wants to be able to pursue its interests by other means.  

There seems to be no end to Turkey’s current destructive behavior. It currently backs Azerbaijan in its war against Armenia. The war is deadlier than it would ordinarily be because of Turkey’s involvement, making it harder for diplomacy to resolve the conflict. Turkey’s behavior is partially motivated by ethnic hatred of the Kurds and the Armenians and religious bigotry against Arab Christians. Erdogan aims for the ethnic cleansing of all that he hates.  

There is a segment of Turkey that does not agree with Erdogan. His Law and Justice Party was dealt a string of defeats in municipal elections in 2019. At one time, Turkey applied for European Union membership, as a portion of the country looks to the West. Until such time as a legitimate democratic opposition party/coalition comes to power, Turkey should be expelled from NATO in the good name of the form of government known as the democratic republic.

Jason Sibert is the executive director of the Peace Economy Project in St Louis.  

Patty Friend is the National Chair of Social Democrats USA.

COUNTDOWN TO NOVEMBER

By Patty Friend and Jason Sibert

The results of the 2020 election will have an impact not only on our country but also on our way of life as a democratic republic. 

The right-wing populism of Donald Trump has counterparts in leaders such as Recep Erdogan in Turkey, Viktor Orban in Hungry, Andrzej Duda in Poland, Narendra Modi in India, Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, and Vladimir Putin in Russia. The People’s Republic of China under Xi Jinping represents an even more strident form of authoritarianism. Authoritarian leaders don’t want democracies to succeed in other parts of the world because they don’t want a swell of opinion favorable to democracy in their own countries. Some, such as Trump, Putin and Netanyahu, take a more active role in supporting authoritarian parties and leaders around the world to prevent more positive examples of democracy elsewhere.  

Social democrats believe in the validity of elections, the separation of powers, civil liberties, and anything else associated with the democratic way of life. Authoritarianism militates against all of these concepts. Social democrats also believe in expanding the democratic promise into the economic realm through the promotion of social insurance, social welfare programs, the right to form a labor union, regulation of business, and the efficient delivery of public services. This vision is also threatened if the democratic experiment goes by the wayside.  

Support for the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris ticket is a necessary precondition for social democrats. Social Democrats USA has endorsed the ticket. While parts Joe Biden’s record is problematic for us, he certainly does not represent a core threat to our democratic republic like a second Trump Administration. In a democratic republic, we would have the right to push Biden to fulfill some of his progressive campaign promises like expanding Medicare coverage down to 60 years-of-age, expanding Medicaid, raising the minimum wage, and expanding collective bargaining rights. If he fails to work on those promises, then we can take action. 

But in the meantime, there are actions on these related matters that can taken before Election Day:

THE CENSUS: With all of the media attention on November’s election, it’s easy to forget how important the census really is.  The 2020 census will impact congressional districting. Heavily populated areas must be counted correctly if we are to be a true democratic republic. A correct count on the census will ensure that both urban and rural areas are counted. The Republican Party has been playing the gerrymandering game for some time and ensuring that those who live in urban areas are not correctly represented. The Democrats would have a larger majority in the House of Representatives if it were not for gerrymandering.  

Social Democrats USA supports the census and encourages everyone to sign up and be counted. As the name suggests, social democrats believe in a social form of democracy. We believe in the right to vote, be represented, as well as a wide variety of civil liberties, but social democrats also believe the free market should be tamed by quality delivery of public services, social insurance, social welfare programs, the right to unionize, and quality regulation of business.  

Social democratic ideas poll well with the public in general, but there is much support for these ideas in urban areas. Therefore, it’s important that as many people as possible register for the census as possible. We support the effort to extend the census field operation all over the country through Oct. 31 in opposition to the Donald Trump Administration’s efforts to cut it short. EVERYONE, DO YOUR DUTY TO GET COUNTED AND CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES AND DEMAND THE EXTENSION OF THE CENSUS FIELD OPERATION TO OCT. 31.  

THE SUPREME COURT: The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has received much media attention and generated a lot of political fallout. Ginsburg was a supporter of abortion rights and gender equality. As of the writing of this story, President Donald Trump will nominate Amy Coney Barrett, an opponent of abortion rights. However, it doesn’t really matter if it’s Barrett or anyone else – Trump will appoint a reactionary judge. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is determined to put a judge on the seat, despite blocking the nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016.  

Social democrats should be proactive in this fight. McConnell has the legal right to nominate a justice, and we have the right to oppose that nominee! Social democrats care about the right to choice, civil rights for people of color, the GLBTQ community, voting rights, the right to form a union, and several other issues. Barrett will be opposed on those issues we care about. Social Democrats USA urges putting off the naming of a new justice until after the election.  

SDUSA members, and others who enjoy the media produced by our organization, should consider it a duty to vote for Biden/Harris in November.  This is a team effort!

Patty Friend is the National Chair of Social Democrats USA.

Jason Sibert is the Executive Director of the Peace Economy Project in St Louis.  

IN KANSAS, A VOTE FOR CHOICE

By Michael Mottern

The untimely death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the swift nomination of anti-choice jurist Amy Coney Barrett by President Trump to replace Ginsburg has endangered Roe v Wade as never before. If Barrett is confirmed prior to Election Day, as is likely, she will be the decisive vote on the Supreme Court needed to overturn Wade, thereby ending the constitutional right that women have had since 1973 to terminate their pregnancies in consultation with their physicians.

Places in the US that have been starving for pro-choice representation will be especially hard hit. For instance, the constituents of Kansas’ 37th State House District have been poorly served by seven-term incumbent Stan Frownfelter, an adamantly anti-abortion neo-liberal Democrat who has used his stature as the #2 State House Democrat to campaign successfully against reproductive freedom for women.  Last April, Aaron Coleman declared his candidacy in the Democratic primary against Frownfelter. As a dishwasher and a student at Johnson County Community College, Coleman reflects the working class constituency of his district. He is a pro-choice Democrat and a Berniecrat. Among other reasons, that is why Social Democrats USA (SDUSA) endorsed him to better represent the 37th District.  And, as it turns out, he won the primary in a close race.

But then, the contest took an unusual turn which caused it to gain a national spotlight. It emerged in the press that Coleman had endured a difficult family life – one brother had committed suicide; he himself had been diagnosed with PTSD as a child – but also that, as a young teenager,  he had subjected three girls in middle school to various forms of cyberbullying (phone stalking, fat shaming, revenge porn). While he had apologized to them and offered to make amends at that time, the new publicity plus his father’s being admitted to the hospital compelled him to drop out of the race.

Coleman urged anyone in his district with a platform identical to his to take up the fight against Frownfelter, but two days passed and no one seriously took up the challenge. To his surprise, several women who had voted for him urged him to get back into the race, and he did just that. But what would prompt these women to push for Coleman like that, knowing what he did to those girls years earlier? Because, while 13 is an unlucky number, Stan Frownfelter has elevated that to an art form. Since 2007, he has taken these 13 actions on the following anti-abortion bills in Kansas, all of which passed:

  • Voted for HB 2006 (2007) Legal Status of an Unborn Child/Fetus
  • Voted for the Mah Amendment (2008) Abortion Reporting Requirements
  • Voted for SB 389 (2008) Partial Birth / Late-Term Abortion Law Amendments
  • Voted for SB 238 (2009) Pre-Abortion Notification Requirement Amendment
  • Voted for HB 2206 (2009) Partial Birth / Late Term Abortion Reporting Requirements
  • Voted for SB 218 (2009) Partial-Birth / Late-Term Abortion Law Amendments
  • Voted for HB 2115 (2010) Late-term / Partial Birth Abortion Reporting Requirements
  • Voted for HB 2218 (2011) Abortion Requirements
  • Voted for HB 2035 (2011) Amending Statures Regulating Abortion
  • Voted for SB 36 (2011) Licensing of Abortion Clinics
  • Voted for HB 2075 (2011) Prohibiting insurance coverage of abortion.
  • Voted for SB 95 (2015) Prohibiting D & E abortion.
  • Has not apologized for or made amends for any of the above votes.

Given the instincts of his female supporters and what is at stake nationally, Social Democrats USA endorses Democratic nominee Aaron Coleman for the Kansas State House of Representatives, District 37 on November 3. While his political record of achievement is scant – he just turned 20 – it is promising. Last January, Coleman was named precinct committeeman for his district and was formally elected to a two-year term in August.  In that time, he has appointed four pro-choice Democrats to his precinct committee. He has enthusiastically endorsed the Biden/Harris presidential ticket while Frownfelter, now running against Coleman as a write-in candidate supported by the Kansas Democratic political establishment, has not endorsed the ticket, even at this late date.        

Aaron Coleman is a member of SDUSA. So, some advice for Comrade Coleman: if you are elected, you don’t have to reach out, but as a statesmanlike gesture, you should convene an atonement summit to which the women that you cyberbullied as teenagers would be invited. They could introduce constructive proposals that you could act on in your capacity as State House representative, the fulfillment of which would demonstrate that your apologies to them were sincere and that you have indeed made amends. 

Michael Mottern is Vice-Chair of Social Democrats USA.