Weiss Withdraws, Warren Wins

Senator Elizabeth Warren put another scalp on her belt yesterday as it became known that Antonio Weiss, a long-time Lazard executive, had asked the President not to re-submit his name for a high Treasury Department post. Warren, who is being urged by some progressive groups to run for the Presidency, has been leading a fight to curtail the practice of a revolving door between government jobs and Wall Street. Last month she led the fight against a Citigroup-written clause in the spending bill and called attention to the number of former Citigroup executives who have moved in and out of the Obama and earlier administrations. Last summer she was part of the effort to prevent the nomination of Lawrence Summers, a leading corporate Democrat, for Federal Reserve Chairman.

Presidential candidate or not, Warren is playing a critical role in the development of a resurgent progressive wing of the Democratic Party. With her gutsy,”take no prisoners” attitude, she is giving leadership to the activist progressive-social democratic heart of the Party, and she is also setting out a comprehensive economic program for alleviating poverty and rebuilding the middle class, as she did at the AFL-CIO Wages Summit last week. In the months ahead, Warren may give us the answer to the question “Where is Harry Truman
when we need him?”

Posted in Uncategorized by Eldon Clingan. 2 Comments

Your Chance to Support a Progressive Israel

Social Democrats USA is a proud, if critical, supporter of the State of Israel. We also believe strongly in the right of Palestinian Arabs to have their own state. Jewish members who support these principles have an opportunity to give practical effect to their views by voting for Hatikvah, the Progressive Zionist slate, in the election for the World Zionist Congress. The election begins on Tuesday, January 13th, and you can get full details at www.hatikvahslate.net.

The Hatikvah slate is a coalition of Ameinu (Labor Zionist), Partners for Progressive Israel, Habonim Dror and Hashomer Hatzair, which many of us in SDUSA consider fraternal organizations. Among the prominent delegate candidates on the Hatikvah slate are Theodore
Bikel, the actor-folksinger, Debra DeLee, the CEO of Americans for Peace Now, and Randi Weingarten, the President of the American Federation of Teachers.

Posted in Uncategorized by Eldon Clingan. 1 Comment

Warren to Keynote Live-streamed AFL- CIO Wages Summit on Wednesday

Senator Elizabeth Warren will deliver the keynote address at the AFL-CIO sponsored National Summit on Raising Wages on Wednesday, January 7th. Participants at the conference, including Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, will be discussing concrete steps to raise wages for working people and to begin reducing the gross inequality that characterizes the U.S. economy. The conference will start at 8:30 A.M. on Wednesday and will be live-streamed on computers. It can be accessed at raisingwagessummit.org.

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Education for Action

An almost universal activity of social democratic movements is education, broadly defined. We believe, sometimes implicitly, that we can build a better world by reason and that the support of the people must be gained by facts and arguments, rather than by appeals to prejudice and emotion. We believe that reasoned discussion, rather than violence, is the only way to a truly democratic society.

Social democratic education starts with the membership of the organization, and certainly that is true with SDUSA. The goal is to have every Social Democrat be fully knowledgeable and armed with information about proposals to improve the lives of Americans. This is especially important for our organization because we are small and widely scattered. Most of us work politically with progressives who are not members of SDUSA, and it is vital that a unique Social Democratic voice be heard.

SDUSA has built and is building a multi-part educational program.

The oldest part is the blog which you are now reading. On the blog are comments about current political events, news about SDUSA, “think pieces” and probably the occasional rant.
There is also an opportunity for the reader to praise, criticize or just add to the discussion. The blog reaches a larger group than the membership, and we hope that it will serve to attract new members.

Our Facebook page is doing an excellent job of calling attention to issues on the blog and on other sites. Although the nature of Facebook does not allow extended discussions, it reaches a larger audience than the membership, and, we hope, gives readers a quick view of SDUSA ideas.

SDUSA members will know that in 2014 we began publication of a monthly series of in-depth papers on such subjects as the War on Poverty, inequality, minimum wages, and problems of Social Democracy for the 21st century. These papers are primarily the work of generous individuals and progressive think tanks, who give us permission to reproduce their work. We thereby are able make available the research and conclusions of distinguished investigators of social problems. This series will continue.

Sometimes we want to get out to the membership smaller amounts of information than the monthly pamphlet series makes possible, so we started a “Short Takes” series. These 1 to 6 page papers will be published occasionally, as need requires. The first “Short Take” has gone out to the membership and is Bernie Sanders 12 point economic program.

We have started a DVD lending library that is available without cost to members. The library includes such DVDs as one on the life of Bayard Rustin and Robert Reich’s “Inequality.” Of course, members can play these at home for their own education, but we hope that they will also be used for public meetings of local progressives.

Our recent national convention determined to establish a quarterly conference call on significant issues. The first conference is tentatively planned for the middle of February and will be on the subject “Achieving Full Employment.” The conference call will give all of us the opportunity to share ideas on issues of importance to Social Democrats, as well as the chance to meet personally with other members.

Has this educational program piqued your interest? Then why not join SDUSA and participate? The form to join is on this page!

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Running Out of Roosevelt’s Steam?

When I was a small boy, I lived in a neighborhood where most houses had two pictures on the wall: a religious picture and a picture of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The area was called Packingtown, in Oklahoma City, and most of the workers who lived there, including my father, worked, when they had jobs, at the Armour and Swift meat packing plants. The people of Packingtown did not just support Franklin Roosevelt; they revered him. I learned as a child that Roosevelt personally saved my family from starvation and that his Party, the Democrats, was the champion of poor people like us.

Seventy years later some part of that simple faith is still part of me, and I think it is still part of others. Of course, today , as a sophisticated college graduate and a student of the New Deal, I know that the history is much more complicated, that the New Deal did much for working people but also had an ugly racist side. But even now, for me, a Democratic candidate has an automatic advantage because when I go to the polls, I remember Roosevelt’s 1944 Economic Bill of Rights, Harry Truman’s advocacy of national health insurance and his moves to desegregate the Army and Lyndon Johnson’s civil rights bills and war on poverty. It was that progressive- social democratic strain in the Democratic Party that won the allegiance of the packing house workers, that holds me and, I suggest, that motivates the base of the Democratic Party.

To be sure, the Democratic Party was never entirely what my emotions suggest. Until the 1960s it had a substantial racist and conservative wing. Big city political machines, which were focused on patronage, ran much of the Party. It always had plenty of the conservatives who were later called Blue Dogs, and in recent years the Party has been dominated by corporate interests. We had a Democratic President in the 1990s who prided himself on his
skill in “triangulating” between Republicans and Democrats. Our current Democratic president finds tolerable an unemployment rate in excess of 11 per cent and has looked for a “Grand Bargain” at the expense of Social Security, a keynote of the New Deal. Is it any wonder, then, that many ordinary Americans no longer feel that the Democratic Party is the party that works for their well-being? Franklin Roosevelt, I suggest, built up a head of steam that has propelled the Democratic Party for any years, but that steam is running out.

We have an important political period ahead. We in Social Democrats USA have determined to gain allies and to wage a battle for a social democratic platform for the Democratic Party. We may have a left challenger in the primaries for the presidency. If we can show the American people that the Democratic Party understands their needs and problems and that it is determined to bring help to them, we may yet restore the the Party’s progressive-social democratic heritage.

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