Most Republicans see nothing wrong with Trump’s collaboration with Putin–why?

It would be easy to say that the Republicans are “disloyal” to America, but I think the truth is much more complicated than that. Because the very meaning of loyalty has changed.

I remember back when the movement against the Vietnam war was in full swing, NIxon called on the “silent majority” to strike back and indeed there was a period when the majority did support the war, including some Democrats who later became “Reagan” Democrats. The silent majority regarded themselves as the patriots and many of them regarded the protesters as traitors outside the pale.

What has changed today is that the grassroots Republicans have a new definition of what it means to be an American, and hence of what patriotism, as well as loyalty, involves.

Many whites–not just the white working class but many who are college educated and in middle class jobs, as well as many small business people and farmers–have come to see THEIR America, white America, as under siege by hostile invaders: blacks, Hispanics, other nonwhite people, immigrants either undocumented or documented, the LGBT community, and women who refuse to be dominated and mistreated.

Over the eight years of Obama the lurking bigotry in the minds of Republicans turned hard and cruel–Obama became the symbolic focus of their hate, which was cynically brought to a pitch by skilled racist operatives. Now Trump’s Republican followers deeply feel that THEIR America is being taken away from them. This is far more important to them than any cerebral issue of national security, the Atlantic alliance and NATO as defined by the Washington “elite.” They want THEIR America back–the America they delude themselves into thinking they once controlled, as if the banks and the billionaires never had, or don’t still have, the upper hand.

The Christian Right feels the same way but they have a pop-theological overlay to it: They believe that not only is America being taken away from whites but it is being taken away from them AS Christians. They too want America back, they want THEIR Christian white America back, and many of them want Dominion over believers and nonbelievers alike.

So when they are told by the media “elite” that Trump is collaborating with Putin, that is not a negative thing to them. Trump is giving them what they want. And Putin is helping Trump to do it. Putin is supporting their patriotism (as they define it) by helping Republican candidates win elections. Putin is helping them keep their guns and he’s helping them outlaw abortion and gays, and he’s helping Trump stay in power. Thus many Republicans will say openly that Putin’s a great guy and others will think it privately.

Most of them are not going to change on this point. Supporting Trump and defending Trump’s collaboration with Putin is “patriotic” and “Christian.” It is the immigrants, the blacks, the gays, and the liberal women who support Planned Parenthood who are the REAL enemies of white America and of the Bible. Not some guy thousands of miles away in Moscow.

The Trump base has upended the traditional meaning of patriotism so that the Democrats and progressives, not Putin, are the true enemies of America.

Expect no help from the Republicans in taking steps to stop Russian interference in the November elections. Trump’s base will not allow it; indeed his base will regard doing so as the very OPPOSITE of protecting America.

Dan Rather said after Trump’s election that some day there will be better news. He didn’t say “soon,” he said “some day,” like we had entered an extended period of travail. But there is a window of opportunity to lessen that period. All Americans alarmed about the future of our country under Trump and his far right allies need to turn out this November (and make sure their friends and family turn out and get the ID they need not to be turned away at the polls) to help take back Congress. Likewise we should all donate to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and to groups such as the NAACP, Planned Parenthood and the labor movement that are rallying the public in support of the issues and values traditionally defended by the Democrats. And if you know people who are unable to get to the polls, either because of illness or because their boss won’t let them take time off to vote, make sure they send in a ballot by mail.

If we take advantage of this brief window of opportunity, we will have a fighting chance to take back at least the House. But this will require a turnout like never before, because the Russians and the Mercer family’s newest tech crew will be cherry picking districts for ballot deletion and the Christian Right will be mobilizing on a huge scale to kill Roe v. Wade.

If we do win back the House and make big gains on the state level, the other side will still have the White House, the Supreme Court, the Senate, the millions of assault rifle owners and the money of billionaires such as the Kochs, Mercers and Murdochs. But we’ll be able to start limiting Trump’s damage, in some policy areas, thanks to the Democrats gaining this toehold of power.

And toeholds, if they are held tenaciously (as in a rather obvious example from 1944), have a tendency to eventually burst the doors wide open.

Will the Russians help the GOP again this year? What can we do about it?

The Democratic lead in the race to control the House has lessened in recent months, and it is unclear if the Dems can mobilize core voters on a level that will compensate for the advantage the GOP has gained from recent gerrymandering and racially targeted voter suppression laws. I have a suspicion that the Christian Right, thanks to Trump’s Supreme Court picks, is going to mobilize its base this November in the most spectacular manner ever seen in midterms–the 20 percent asserting its Dominion over the 80 percent while the 1 percent laughs all the way to the bank.

As to the rest of the Trump base: even their idol’s appalling performance in Helsinki, operating like Putin’s lapdog, is unlikely to have a sobering effect. It is obvious from the performance of the crowds at recent Trump rallies that they will for the most part be unmoved by appeals to the national interest or to patriotism and the importance of the Western Alliance in the wake of Helsinki. For they have replaced national interest in their minds with the white nativist interest, patriotism with white nationalism, and the Western Alliance (insofar as they have any knowledge of the outside world) with the insurgent Putin-financed international movement known as “populism.” And most other Republicans stand and will continue to stand with Trump on the basis of an ersatz conservative ideology, desire for higher profits resulting from deregulation, or a cowardly conformism.

The race will probably be close. All Democrats should therefore be concerned that Russian government hackers will find a a way to influence the outcome in swing districts by just enough to maintain Republican House control and even help the GOP increase its majority in the Senate. Already the Russian GRU intelligence agency has attempted to hack the computers of  Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.), who is one of the chief targets of Trump and the Republicans in their fight to maintain control of the Senate.

Our intelligence community keeps warning that Russian cyber warfare in this country continues on a massive scale, but no one is doing much about it. The majority of states are expressing little concern over the possibility of new electoral attacks. And in many states there are no paper ballots, so no easy way to challenge suspicious results.

The Russians may do the hacking directly or provide cover for the Mercer family to once again use its own mercenaries with a little outside help. The hacking may eventually be discovered (or may not, as in the case of the suspected ballot machine tampering in the 2000 Presidential election) but before that the Republican candidates who benefited will be safely occupying their seats–and no one will be able to unseat them (or indict those in the United States who were involved) since the Republicans, flush from victory and continuing to control all three branches of our government, will support Trump in firing Mueller and dismantling the Russia investigation, and in dismissing questions about the November results as “fake news” or a deep-state “witch hunt.”

The GOP leaders may already anticipate that Putin will bail them out, but they don’t frame it as unpatriotic or treasonous to accept Russian support, because they think the Democrats are FAR WORSE than Putin. Same with the Christian Right, which has been allying with Russian Orthodox rightists (backed by Putin-linked oligarchs) for years.; it is more concerned with taking away a woman’s right to control her own body and the right of LGBTQ people to marry–issues more important to them than any abstract and relatively trivial (as they see it) national security or integrity of the ballot issues. For both the Republican legislators and the Christian Right fanatics, the enemy of our enemy is our friend and the Constitution is to be interpreted as whatever keeps the Trumpublicans in power.

The federal government under Trump is not going to ride to the rescue on ballot security this November. Nor will Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department. Nor will the intelligence community. And certainly not Kirstjen Nielsen’s Department of Homeland Security.

The hour is late, but perhaps not too late for the following measures:

1. The Democratic National Committee and/or civil rights groups should file suits in every state without paper ballots, demanding immediate steps to protect the integrity of the computerized elections in those states; and where a state board of elections is not moving in an aggressive manner on this danger, the plaintiffs should ask the court to appoint an outside trustee to manage the election process.

2. The DNC should encourage computer scientists and highly skilled programmers, specially those with expertise in security issues, to join in a volunteer Save the Vote Corps to help any state board of elections in protecting its computer system. (Something similar is already being done to help protect the computers of Democratic congressional candidates.) Microsoft, Google, Facebook and other tech giants should be asked to provide experts for this volunteer corps.

At the least, these measures would help us to accumulate more knowledge of the background of any suspicious results, and thus make it easier to challenge such results in the courts, in the media, and in the streets.

Addiction is not a Crime

As Schumer and Sanders promote federal legislation legalizing marijuana, the newsletter from the Eugene V. Debs Foundation appeared in my mailbox. One item in the newsletter included Debs thoughts on addiction based on his observations when he himself was in prison. It reminds us that drug addiction is not new, nor is the debate about how to treat addicts. The amount of money we have wasted over the past 40 years on the War on Drugs is itself criminal. But the number of lives destroyed is the bigger issue. If that money had been directed toward treatment and eradicating the causes of addiction, just think of how much better off America would be today.  Debs wrote the following words 100 years ago, and yet we are stuck in the same paradigm.

“One of the most harrowing aspects of the prison hospital is the drug addict whom I learned to know there in a way to compel the most vivid and shocking remembrance of him to the last of my days. It is incredible that a human being mentally and physically afflicted should be consigned by a so-called court of justice in a civilized and Christian nation to a penitentiary as a felon, there to expiate his weakness; and yet, hundreds of these unfortunates were sent to Atlanta prison while I was there, and ofttimes I had to bear witness to the horror of their torture when they were summarily separated from the drug they craved.

“Blame them as one may, how is it possible in good conscience to punish them for their awful affliction with a prison sentence as if they were common felons. They are sick people who require special treatment, and not vicious ones to be sent to the torture chamber of a prison, and it is nothing less than a reproach to society and a disgrace to our civilization that this malady is branded as a crime instead of being ministered to as an affliction, which it most assuredly is.

“It would be quite as rational and humane to send men to the penitentiary
and make them slaves of the galleys because they happened to have cancer or consumption as it is to sentence and treat them as criminals for being addicted to the use of drugs.”

Stayin’ Alive

SDUSA’S Post-Election Buffalo Conference: “Keeping The Political Revolution Alive”

SDUSA conducted its 2016 Annual Educational Conference at the Manny Fried Playhouse at Subversive Theatre entitled “Keeping the Political Revolution Alive”. This 5 hour conference was held on Saturday November 19, 2016, in collaboration with the Subversive Theater Collective. The student run TV broadcasting facility at Buffalo State College created a 9 minute video about the conference and you’ll find a link at the end of this story.

At Subversive Theatre, in the evening, they were performing the play, One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest. Comrade Mottern and I felt that the set of a makeshift mental ward was an appropriate backdrop considering the psychotic nature of the 2016 presidential election. Our original plan was to have a video of the entire conference that would be posted on this blog, shortly after the conference took place in November. However due to the heavy academic schedule of the student TV crew which recorded the conference and the Christmas-New Year recess that followed, the abridged video was only completed in February and the school discarded the original files of the entire conference to save disk space. So, unfortunately we can’t link you to the full segments of the conference.

Nevertheless, even this very truncated video gives the viewer a good idea of the favor of the conference. And two month’s into the Trump Administration, the analysis at this early post-election forum is still fresh. However, since the video doesn’t identify the speakers or who is being interviewed, here is a resume of the full conference:

The Buffalo conference under the title, “Keeping The Political Revolution Alive” was planned before the last election expecting a Hillary Clinton victory. We wanted to pressure her to follow the progressive policies that were written in the Democratic Party platform and espoused by the Bernie Sanders campaign. Instead, we awoke on the morning after Election Day to face the nightmare of Donald Trump as the new president-elect. Thus, our conference would most likely be the first public forum on the Left reacting to this devastating development for our country and the world.

The event hosted some of the biggest players in progressive politics in and around the Buffalo region. The speakers at the conference were in order of their appearance:

• Phil Rumore, President of the Buffalo Teachers Federation. Mr. Rumore discussed fair contracts for teachers, the bargaining process, and the role the American Labor Movement will play in the modern day political revolution. Mr. Rumore is an active member of the Working Families Party in WNY.

• Brian Nowak, founding member of Liberty Union Progressives, Buffalo for Bernie and DSA, Buffalo NY. Brian discussed where Liberty Union Progressives is going, key endorsements for progressive candidates and membership information. His presentation was the main highlight of the video.

• Sheldon Ranz, writer for Jewish Currents magazine. Sheldon discussed foreign policies in the Middle Eastern region and how as a Labor Zionist, and son of a Holocaust survivor, he can still support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

• Kurt “Vile” Schneiderman, Founder, Director and Playwright of Subversive Theatre Collective, Adjunct Professor at Canisius College. Kurt has taken a strong role in organizing the adjunct professors in the Buffalo area to rally for livable wages and benefits. Mr. Schneiderman discussed how to organize effectively and his role within the subversive community..

• Jim Anderson, Vice President of the Board of Directors for Citizen Action of New York, host of Conversations with Jim Anderson on WUFO AM-1080, all around activist and member of the Communication Worker’s of America. Mr. Anderson discussed campaign finance reform and his experiences as a leader for economic, racial, environmental and social justice.

• I, David Hacker, was the final and Keynote Speaker, 2nd Vice-Chair Social Democrats USA and a former Librarian for the New York Post. I discussed the modern day political issues facing our revolution, issues concerning working class Americans, and a need for a real Social Democratic Movement to keep people out of poverty for good. I also emphasized that the revived SDUSA has a supportive and empathetic democratic internal life that we believe will enable the organization to attract new members who may have been alienated from their experiences in other political organizations.

The entire forum was organized and moderated by SDUSA’s 1st Vice -Chair and former Chair of the Young Social Democrats, Michael Mottern. Comrade Mottern has been a seasoned political activist in the Buffalo area since 1999. As a result of his political activities in the region, Mike is a very active member of the Working Families Party in WNY, where he met other activists, such as the speakers appearing at the conference and from a variety of groups within the Left-wing coalition.

About the Video: On the video, the first 16 seconds is from the presentation of Phil Rumore, President of the Buffalo Teachers Federation, where he states that the election of Donald Trump as President and a Republican Congress is not a revolution, but “a counter-revolution.” Then there is a brief interview with the new Chair of Young Social Democrats, Maxwell DiNatale.on what it means to be a Social Democrat. Next is a comment from a member of the audience, DB Absher, a founding member of the Buffalo Anti-Racism Coalition. Brian Nowak,a founding member of Liberty Union Progressives is speaking next in the video. And as noted above, his remarks are highlighted throughout the video. Interspersed with Novak’s presentation are brief interviews with panelists, Sheldon Ranz and Jim Anderson.and comments of Irene Market, a member of the audience. The video concludes with closing remarks from Comrade Mottern and DiNatale.

We encourage our members throughout the country to organize similar local SDUSA conferences. Contact National Chair, Patty Friend at 661-245-5252 for guidance and suggestions on how to organize a similar event in your community.

Click here to watch the Video

 

Letter to Members & Friends who Marched on Saturday

Letter from SDUSA National Chair Patty Friend:

Congratulations and solicitation to everyone who participated in the activities of Saturday January 21st!
No matter how or what you did. From West to East and North to South (and all points in between) it was amazing. 3.3 million of us turned out all over the country. And our members, families and friends were involved all over the country.

For those of us who were able to participate, the experience was great and heartening. Needless to say, we need to keep the enthusiasm and motivation building so that this new energy can result in votes for Democrats (especially progressives Democrats) in 2017, 2018 and 2020.

The President has convened a group of labor leaders(primarily the building trades) which was announced by Sean Spicer today. We must watch and see how they might influence him, and let’s see how we might influence them. For instance, the new Administration is planning immigration, tax, and regulatory policy as we speak. And they are presumably working on their plans for revitalizing the U.S. Infrastructure.

For those of you who participated in the January 21st events, who are as smart as your phones/other computers, we hope you will write us about your experiences and/or send us your photos, or post then to our Facebook pages. In Los Angeles, for instance, in spite of impossible weather (I was actually “snowed in” for most of the weekend.) and transportation/parking problems, close to 400,000 poured into Downtown LA, and spanned a distance of miles and they came all day and into the night. Nothing like that has ever happened before.

If you have any problems or concerns regarding our Facebook pages, feel free to contact Michael Mottern. Also, I just want to let you know that we have hard cover copies of “Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda ” handbook on organizing to influence our U.S. Congress-members. If you want me to send you one, please contact me, Patty Friend, in California, and my phone number is 661-245-5252. Otherwise, look it up at IndivisibleAgainstTrump@gmail.com.

Let us know what you are thinking, doing and feeling.

Yours in Solidarity,

Patty Friend
National Chair
SDUSA