ENDORSEMENT: TAMIE WILSON FOR CONGRESS

SDUSA endorsee Democratic Congressional candidate Tamie Wilson

By Jason Sibert and Patty Friend

Social Democrats USA, an organization with a much richer history than the size of our membership rolls would suggest, stands strong for the values of the democratic republic and in opposition to the march of authoritarianism in our country and around the world. In this struggle, it is very important that our organization endorse candidates that stand for the values of liberal democracy. However, standing for the ideas of liberal democracy is just one step in the right direction; our organization stands behind candidates that support the movement of democracy into our economy – or social democracy. This should be no surprise considering our name and history.

Tamie Wilson is a Democratic candidate for office in the Fourth Congressional District in Ohio (including but not limited to Columbus and its environs). She worked for more than twenty years in the sales profession in one capacity or another, developing the necessary skills of argumentation, consensus building, and persuasion.  She has worked as a public relations director for different real estate companies, and is currently self- employed as a consultant in marketing and public relations.

 As a biracial woman who was abused in her younger years she has a special sense of empathy for marginalized people which led to work as a community activist.  She describes herself as a pragmatic problem solver and a progressive Democrat.  She is enthusiastic and charismatic. She is a self-described “strategic thinker” who is dedicated to working on the problems that plague her community, and she is well known for doing just that.

Wilson stands for women’s rights, as she endorses equal work for equal pay and takes a hard line against domestic violence. She also stands for increased funding for education (to invest in children). Wilson is of mixed-race ancestry; she wants the civil rights revolution to continue to make gains. In addition, she wants to expand affordable healthcare, supports family farmers, is an advocate of veterans, and wants our government to fight the opioid crisis. Wilson also wants to place our government on the side of the disabled, the elderly, and affordable college education. The candidate supports the right to bear arms but also supports safety measures on firearms, and she supports the fight against global warming, and advocates fair taxation. Her support for voting rights sets her apart from many of our political opponents that want to restrict the franchise.

She will be running against one of the far right’s leaders in the U.S   Congress, Jim Jordan, a leader in the January 6 insurrection.  Apparently, Republicans outnumber Democrats two-to-one in this district, and the Jordan machine is formidable.  But it’s about time that the Democrats forced him to have to fight for his seat, and it’s also high time that he must answer for his covering up the sexual abuse committed by a team doctor toward students of the Ohio State University wrestling team.

Ohio is poised to take off economically with the new manufacturing and research and development plants that the Intel Corporation is committed to building and growing.  Democrats have a real chance to take House seats as well as Rob Portman’s Senate seat. Let’s hope that the stars align for Tamie Wilson.  Any financial support you give is appreciated!

Website: Tamie Wilson for US Congress | Tamie Wilson | Ohio

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

Patty Friend is the National Chair of Social Democrats USA.

NATO: Friend or Foe?

[Editor’s Note:  While SDUSA both condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and opposed the proposed use of no-fly zones to deal with Russia’s military, there are several issues on which our leadership is divided: should we support military aid to the Ukraine, and should NATO’s role in the invasion lead us to support its abolition? This is the first in a series of thoughts on these issues.]

By Michael Mottern

When far Left organizations such as the Trotskyists of the Fourth International look at NATO, they automatically think of imperialists. But my background gives me a different perspective.  Coming from a military family, both my great-grandfathers were officers in the Estonian National Army. My mother’s father served in the Pacific and snuck into the Navy when he was 14 using a falsified birth certificate, and my father’s father served in Texas as a corporal in the US Army Air Corps, later to be named the US Air Force.

My father was an NCO enlisted man in NATO operations serving with his helicopter squadron in the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean, on board the USS America visiting Dubrovnik, Croatia in 1977 under Joseph Tito’s neutral Communist regime in the former Yugoslavia. Both there and in Brunswick, Maine, as an anti-submarine warfare specialist, he was at the radar for several hours of the day on his P3 Orion airplane, monitoring Russian submarines that were carrying ballistic missiles. My father’s squadron played its role as a successful anti-Soviet submarine deterrent.

Estonia was independent in 1918 and taken over by the USSR in 1940, when my great-grandfather was arrested and sent off to a Soviet gulag in Siberia where he eventually died. Communism was always a hot-button issue in my family; my grandmother’s father was arrested by the KGB in 1940 and the Red Army came to arrest her the next day but she and her family foiled them, escaping across the Volga River (unfortunately with the German army). In 1989 Soviet tanks greatly outnumbered those of the NATO alliance; it was thought that there would be a war of attrition with Germany after the Berlin Wall came tumbling down, but that never happened.

From its inception in 1949, the operating theory behind the NATO alliance has been that if you attack one member, you attack them all. Since the Warsaw Pact nations had the advantage in military hardware, this theory seemed to be an effective deterrent, bolstered by the more technologically advanced NATO tanks. But the theory was never fully put into practice in the European theater.

When Greece and Turkey joined NATO in 1952, they were mostly peaceful until Turkey’s recent turn toward fundamentalism. My friends in the Western New York Peace Center in Buffalo oppose NATO expansion because of developments like that. But for most of NATO’s 70-year history, it’s been a force for peace and deterrence when filled with social democracies. NATO’s mistake was taking troops out of West Germany and bringing them to places like Baghdad, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. That enabled oil wars, with consumers getting cheaper gas and the American public getting a 7 trillion dollar price tag for Iraq and Afghanistan. Because of the oil wars, peace and stability declined in Central Europe and left Putin pointing fingers at us for what we did wrong in Iraq.

The only people pumped up for NATO expansion are those who reside in or bordering the Baltic: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Finland. All have ties with the former Russian Empire or the former Soviet Union, and with the current criminal invasion of the Ukraine, they’re more gung-ho for NATO than ever before. Estonia’s status as a NATO member has served as a big deterrent against Russian intervention and my family, for one, has been able to breathe a heavy sigh of relief!

Michael Mottern is first vice chair of Social Democrats USA.

SDUSA CONDEMNS THE INVASION OF UKRAINE

The National Executive Committee of Social Democrats USA released the following statement on March 16:

As authorized by Vladimir Putin, Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine that began on February 24 is a violation of international law and constitutes a series of war crimes. Social Democrats USA both condemns unequivocally these actions and Putin’s vision of Great Russian imperialism that drives them, and fully supports the sovereignty of Ukraine and the right of Ukraine to defend itself.

Social Democrats USA opposes the use of no-fly zones since these would only increase the likelihood of direct armed confrontation between the US and Russia. Instead, we support the calls of Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressional Representative Ilhan Omar for targeted sanctions to be applied to Russia as the best way to get it to halt its invasion and to withdraw entirely from Ukraine.

Let this invasion remind us that all human beings who experience terror and destruction deserve equitable and fair treatment from the world. Racism and xenophobia must not determine who has access to humanitarian aid and refugee resettlement. World leaders must condemn all perpetrators of war and terror, no matter their affiliation, and we must seek to aid all victims of war and terror.

THE REVIVAL OF SEWER SOCIALISM

By Jason Sibert

One thing that is sorely lacking in politics these days is the political party that functions as a membership-based organization. Be they Democratic, Republican, or other, the populace isn’t as involved as members as was common in the past. This involvement has been replaced by the way you vote, the media you consume, or what’s going on with your social media friends.

There are membership-based organizations in existence that are trying to impact politics –  the Democratic Socialists of America, Sierra Club, Consumers Union, and of course, Social Democrats USA. However, they lack the membership numbers on the scale of the components of the New Deal coalition – the labor unions and the farm organizations (National Farmers’ Union and Farm Bureau).  The old urban bosses (like former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley) didn’t run membership-based organizations, but they did solve problems for the people they represented, big city residents. Then there were also membership-based religious organizations; Martin Luther King wasn’t just a civil rights leader who was involved in social justice issues of all kinds, he was also a religious leader. Let’s not forget the involvement of Jewish rabbis in the civil rights movement or of the Roman Catholic clergy in the labor movement. Secularization hit religious organizations, a variety of factors hit the labor movement (the decline of blue-collar work, moving union factories overseas where there are few if any unions, and plum hostility from employers), and the big city bosses faded away in the years after World War II when more Americans lived in suburbs. Today’s big city mayors aren’t urban bosses in any sense of the word. The farm organizations faded with fewer Americans farming.

However, there’s still a need for our political system to perform for the people it represents. We’ve seen a revival of a political school known as sewer socialism as of late, and it could be a school of politics that delivers for residents of various municipalities – big city, suburb, exurban, and small town. Let’s look at what sewer socialism meant historically. Writer Joel Kotkin, in his piece “Sewer Socialism.” (Los Angeles Times, 9/12/2004) stated that the industrial revolution presented challenges to cities, and Socialist Party mayors rose to the challenge. These were mayors who cleaned up disease-ridden environments with new publicly-owned sanitation systems and municipally-owned water and power systems. They also developed parks and improved education systems. Kotkin points out that Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley practiced sewer socialism in the 1980’s with his dedication to the city’s airport and seaports.   Another example of sewer socialism would be Houston under former Mayor Bob Lanier. His administration focused on improving neighborhoods by enhancing public safety and constructing new roads, lighting, and sewers. In turn, this laid the groundwork for private sector economic development.

In early 20th century, Milwaukee, Wisc. Mayors such as Emil Seidel and Daniel Hoan, Bridgeport, Conn. Mayor Jasper McLevy (mayor from 1933 to 1957), and Mayor James Mauer of Reading, Penn. all represented sewer socialism in their respective cities. Much of the time sewer socialists represented the right-wing of the Socialist Party. Former Socialist Presidential Candidate Norman Thomas felt they only paid lip service to the cause of Socialism. However, there are exceptions, Milwaukee’s Frank Zeidler served as mayor from 1948 to 1960. He was on the left-wing of the party, but his office didn’t allow him to nationalize steel companies, banks, and other capital-intensive industries. He ran for president in 1976 on the Socialist Party USA ticket and embraced nationalization. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders practiced sewer socialism as mayor of Burlington, Vt. from 1981 to 1989. He was more left wing then than he is now, but like Zeidler, he had limited powers as a mayor.  

Sewer socialism was a good government movement. Sewer socialists ran efficient administrations because every dollar that was saved could be poured into better services for residents. Such should be the mantra for a modern sewer socialism which will serve recent immigrants, service workers (retail, restaurant, healthcare, and hotels and motels), and all other urban and small-town residents in the lower-to-middle income spectrum. There are already examples of a new, budding sewer socialism. Cities like Chicago, Minneapolis, Buffalo, Seattle, and New York City have had a groundswell of progressive politics in recent years that has projected socialist candidates into city council and other local elected offices. Writer Jordan Fraade spoke of the rise of a contemporary sewer socialism in his story “Bring Back the Sewer Socialists:” (Slate.com, July 27, 2021): “ (New York City mayoral candidate) Kathryn Garcia,came within one percentage point during ranked choice voting of winning the Democratic primary for mayor. Garcia was a lifelong civil servant whose pitch to voters was almost entirely about her own competence and managerial skill; she promised to “get shit done,” a wry nod to her past in sanitation and sewage. Her policy positions were mostly moderate, but her message contained a kernel that the city’s progressive left can adapt and make its own after a disappointing showing in the mayoral race. The most electorally successful leftists in U.S. history ran and governed on this very kernel—the belief that delivering basic services, building public works, and running a functional local government are inseparable from what it means to govern from the left in a major city.” Garcia, who also offered a climate platform and free childcare for parents, came from nowhere and ran a competitive campaign, and this means her ideas have appeal.

There are potentials for a modern-day sewer socialism beyond what has been mentioned so far. Passing municipal minimum wages, higher than the federal minimum wage, would help service workers. There have been attempts around the country, but sometimes the state governments step in and make municipal minimum wages illegal. Supporting housing cooperatives would be another idea, as affordable housing is a problem in urban America, especially for service workers. Housing coops represent a form of housing that makes the occupants actual owners, not the government, although city governments could facilitate housing coops with funding. Hoan created the first public housing project in Milwaukee as mayor. Building public hospitals might be another cause. Public hospitals would represent a cheap way for city residents to obtain expensive operations, although it would be unlikely that they could enter the primary care business. Perhaps residents of surrounding municipalities could be treated for a slightly more expensive rate. Perhaps paid family leave, sick leave, and personal days should also be on the agenda. We could build social insurance funds through taxation of those that benefit.

Big cities have experienced somewhat of a comeback as of late with St. Louis, Cleveland, Detroit and Baltimore the only ones who have not experienced population growth since the 1980’s. Some of this has to due with the liberalizing of our country’s immigration laws in the 1960’s, and immigrants having revived big city neighborhoods. Big cities have also become home to what urbanist Richard Florida calls “the creative class” in his book “The Rise of the Creative Class.” The creative class includes computer hardware and software workers, artists, scientists, writers, editors, fashion designers, media types (screenwriters, actors, producers, playwrights, musicians, record producers), artisans of all stripes, and anybody else that works in a creative field. While these things have helped cities generate revenues, they have also gentrified cities to the point where they are not affordable for the service class.

That is not to say that creative types have not done cities a lot of good, and Florida’s three T’s – technology, talent, and tolerance – aren’t bad things. However, mayors should not go overboard in making major cosmetic changes to cities to attract “the creative class,” as this has happened since Florida’s book was published in 2002. Those creative activities will come on their own. On the other hand, research and development is a pillar of technological creativity, and something the private sector sometimes doesn’t want to invest in because there’s no telling when it will turn a profit. A sewer socialist could support research and development. Some funding for the arts is also desirable, but sewer socialists should not put all their eggs in one basket.

The Democratic Party faces an uncertain future with the very idea of a democratic republic being subverted through attacks on voting rights, the gerrymandering of congressional districts, attempts to nab state presidential delegations away from voters, and the appeal of authoritarian politics to some in the populace. Embracing sewer socialism, now more than ever, can build a farm team for higher offices and save our republic.

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

ENVIRONMENTALISM IN THE 21ST CENTURY

By Michael Mottern

When thinking about the world’s climate catastrophe, I am reminded of what Michael Harrington declared at the start of the “The Twilight of Capitalism”: “Capitalism is in crisis!” According to its scientific definition, global warming is a shift in the poles, a cold front of weather patterns around Europe and North America. When the cold front moves South (slowly creating a second Ice Age) that is directly linked to climate change with more severe weather patterns. Everyone from moderate Republican agricultural persons to members of the scientific community are issuing dire warnings, especially when it affects our crops directly. But that’s the scientific definition, not what the cult of Trump followers say it is:  a hoax along with Covid-19 regulations and the school board hysteria!

It is also said that nobody knows severe weather better than hunters and anglers because they are constantly exposed to the elements both in the woods and at sea, and because of the change in weather patterns, hunting is not as good as it used to be. Ever since 1996, I’ve noticed the weather was slowly changing, depending less on my snow gear and more on my rain attire. I remember when my father said one Thanksgiving, “We have to turn back. We don’t have the gear for this severe weather!” If it’s not heavily snowing, the rain is getting more severe when I hunt. Anglers are saying the same thing in Canada because of global warming. In Wood Buffalo National Park, a Canadian reserve populated by wood bison hunted by wolves, there is a nearby gas company that encroaches onto the bison’s habitat and adds to global warming by spewing large smokestacks of carbon into the air.

Climate change is probably the most important issue as the Earth stands today in crisis! So when we read Michael Harrington’s “The Twilight of Capitalism” let us remember how Harrington was calling for intervention on behalf of the people by the government like the government intervened on behalf of the steel industry and the coal industry. How has it intervened? By subsidizing corporations and serving the public with ultimatums when the climate is in peril, and the public then has to flip the bill for the cleanup, especially when it comes to factory farming, hog waste runoff seeping into our water system and carbon polluting the air. After the recent Brussels Climate Summit, we have to think about the environment first and foremost so that our generations of children can have the future with a cleaner environment that is safe and not hijacked by corporations and greed.

So what has SDUSA been up to lately about this? First, we passed a resolution a few years back referring to a caucus called “Hunters for Regulation & Environmental Protection”, dedicated to the preservation of the environment, gun regulation, indigenous rights, and helping out with ethical farming practices. Helping farmers that help the environment! Second, after SDUSA chartered its new chapter in Houston, Texas, our social democratic comrades there are planning a new climate emergency conference via Zoom, in order that we can give more importance to conservation, the environment and the weather!

Michael Mottern is the first vice-chair of Social Democrats USA.