Trump’s #Charlottesville reaction highlights the need to stop using ‘left’ and ‘right’ to describe political spectrum

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time.”

Before I start on the theme of this article, have you ever seen a US president more obsessed with his predecessor?  It has gotten to a stage where he just throws his name into his statements without any real context.

Anyway…you have no doubt read volumes on what happened in Charlottesville and it is not my wish to delve too much further into the horrific events, at least not here.

What I want to point out is something I feel is crucial for the progressive platform to gain more followers, and it is a very simple one.

Rumour has it that human civilisation once believed premises like the earth being the centre of the universe, or at other times that it was a flat plain as opposed to a spherical planet.  Maybe such misconceptions don’t effect people’s everyday life, but then again it’s hard to have a philosophical grasp on existence when you don’t even have the fundamentals correct.

So what I’d like to challenge is the way we label political ideologies as ‘left’ and ‘right’, because it suggests some kind of balance between the two.  On the most basic level, what we call the left represents a society that is fair to everyone while the right does not.

But to properly understand where the conflict comes from you first must appreciate how it started.  Whether you believe in evolution or creation, there must have existed a time when the human race had no elitism.  Then as it became clear that certain resources were more valuable than others, some people took control of them and were selective about those with whom they were shared.

Over time those who had control over the resources got better and better at holding on to that power.  Countries with tyrannical leaders simply run roughshod over their opposition, while those which claim to be democracies use a variety of tools to make sure elections go the way of the ruling classes.

Donald Trump became president on the back of one of these tools, ie supporting a specific group of voters he felt could help get him elected; in this case middle to lower class white men who felt that the civil rights movement had somehow discriminated against them.

Because this movement provided votes for the Republican party, it is considered to be on the ‘right’.  And because the obvious racist and fascist leanings of this movement, it has become fashionable to label them as ‘alt-right’.  Even with this distinction though, the fact that it is called any kind of ‘right’ seems to lend it equal status to whatever is called the ‘left’.

As the mainstream media fully supports the left-right paradigm, the President can claim, however wrongly, that he is being fair to ‘all sides’.

What we who have been shoved on the ‘left’ of this pseudo-spectrum must do is renounce it.  A society that purports to be fair to all citizens is not half the argument.  It is the only one.   Of course we won’t all agree on how it is to be achieved, but given we believe in fairness, chances are the discussions are going to be devoid of such words as ‘fire and fury’.

Anyone who feels they have to ‘tone down’ their views to somehow ‘be fair’ and ‘not exclude the conservative opinion’ is basically validating the very argument that conservatives want.

The white men who marched on Charlottesville are bigots.  Nothing they feel was ‘taken from them’ was really theirs in the first place.  To offer them any sense of legitimacy is not being fair, it’s not being balanced.  It is turning back the clock on American society to a time when the ruling classes needed only the crudest, most basic tools to hold on to power, as opposed to the more intricate ones they use today.

Progressives need to stop allowing themselves to be defined by a scale that doesn’t really exist.

#IANWAE

 

 

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Corporate Dems vow to do things ‘better’ – let’s hope that includes listening

Whatever you might think about Donald Trump and his administration, their tenure in the White House, a shade over six months old now, has been a rollercoaster ride with something new to report each and every passing day.

The biggest drawback to this obsession with the latest Washington shenanigans is, of course, the fact that although Trump & co might provide us with easy one-liners and online memes, there is also a very serious side to the story in that we are talking about the government of the most powerful nation in the world.

It’s all very well to ridicule the man in power right now – but it’s pointless unless you can suggest a reasonable alternative.

That alternative is the broad tent that is the Democratic Party, and the 2016 campaign in particular has divided it into two distinct factions….the “corporate wing”, essentially those in the most senior positions in Washington right now, and the “progressive wing”, ie those who follow the social equity platform of the likes of Bernie Sanders.

Here is a recent quote from the Washington Post to ponder…see if you can guess which side of the Democratic tent it came from…

“When you lose to somebody who has 40 percent popularity, you don’t blame other things — Comey, Russia — you blame yourself. So what did we do wrong? People didn’t know what we stood for, just that we were against Trump. And still believe that.”

Obviously I want you to think that’s a Progressive, when in actual fact it’s one of the most senior corporate Democrats, Minority leader of the Senate Chuck Schumer.

Ever since the election, Schumer and his counterpart in the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi have been as much under attack  from their left as from their right, probably more so.  And most of it was deserved.

But there has to be a point at which even progressives realise that the Schumers and Pelosis still represent the front line of the resistance to the current terrifying incarnation of the Republican Party, and once and a while they need to be given a bit of slack, especially when they are making noises that sound like they come straight out of the Bernie Sanders playbook.

I’m not one to give the Democrat leadership too much praise – the best thing that be said about the likes of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is that at least their corporate policies aren’t as bad as their opposition.  What I would rather do is change the narrative – it’s not about how much or little we appease the wishes of the “one percent”, rather it’s about formulating policies that are fair to everyone whether it benefits the rich or not.

To promote this mindset I fully understand the need to hold big-donor politicians to account no matter what their stripes.  But what do we do when they start using slogans that reflect our agenda?

“A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future”

Of course it’s natural to be sceptical when they start to look as though they’re drinking the Bernie KoolAid.  But care must be taken to ensure healthy scepticism doesn’t morph into petulant rejection.

For now anyway, I am willing to give the likes of Schumer a chance.  After all, it can’t have been easy to keep 48 Democratic senators united against Trumpcare – you can be sure one or two of the “Blue Dogs” (more right-leaning Democrats) were courted by the GOP and none have budged.

If the Democrats really want to adopt progressive values to their platform – remember they did at their convention last year only many feared it was empty promises on paper – they need to be supported, voted for, and put under pressure when there are any signs of them failing to deliver.

After all, that’sq what being a ‘Democrat’, with a large or small d, is meant to entail.  JLP

#IANWAE

Can you dispute any of these ten points as basic human rights?

1. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE FREE.
2. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE HEALTHY.
3. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE BRILLIANT.
4. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE SAFE.
5. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE LOVED.
6. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE COURAGEOUS.
7. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE ALIVE.
8. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE TRUSTED.
9. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE EDUCATED.
10. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW YOUR RIGHTS.

What is your reaction to those ten points?

  1. Is it something like  – “Yes, they all make sense.”
  2. Or is it something like – “No, that’s bullshit.”
  3. Or is it something like – “Hmmm….tell me what the source is first?”

If it is the second one, fine.  Off you go.  You’re welcome to this site, but you probably won’t find anything you want here.

If it’s the third one, fine – here’s the source.

Now you know the source, is your answer 1 or 2?

Just a thought for the day.  Hat-tip to The Edge of Sports podcast.

Sorry we haven’t been posting much lately.  We hope to get back to it soon.  JLP

#IANWAE

Marches planned across the US pressuring Trump to release his tax returns #TaxMarch

April 15 is traditionally income tax filing day in the US.  When it falls on a Saturday, you actully have until the following Monday, but Americans across the country are using the weekend date to voice their concerns over the President’s failure to release his returns.

Throughout the campaign he switched between promising he would release his returns and stating he couldn’t because they were “under audit”.  Well this new filing can’t be audited yet so he surely has an opportunity to prove all the doubters wrong by simply showing us what he has been hiding all this time.

When we didn’t see Obama’s birth certificate, he took that to mean that he was born outside the US.  When we didn’t see Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails, he took that to mean she was engaged in criminal activity.  So using his own logic, what are we to take from his refusal to do what every presidential candiate has done for the last 40 years?

Here’s what the organisers of the “Tax March” have to say :

The Tax March is a movement gaining momentum around the country to demand transparency and fairness from our Commander-in-Chief. Throughout his campaign, Donald Trump told the American people he would release his tax returns. Despite intense public pressure, President Trump has not yet done so – breaking with 40 years of precedent in the process. His administration’s excuse? “People don’t care.”

We do care. Without seeing his tax returns, we have no idea what he’s hiding – shady business deals? Financial ties to foreign countries? Conflicts of interest? – or who his policies are really benefitting.

On April 15, we’re marching on Washington and in communities across the country to send a clear message to Donald Trump: You work for us, and we demand answers.

It will be interesting to see how the marches are covered by the mainstream media, if at all.

#IANWAE

Our favourite Progressive video of 2016

Seems a bit unfair of us to award a title like this, as there were so many candidates throughout the year from such great sources as The Young Turks, Democracy Now and The Majority Report….and let’s not forget great Irish offerings like Gemma O’Doherty’s independently-made documentary on the Mary Boyle case.

But still, we’re going to go for this one from Lee Camp (or as we call him “Geeky Jesus”) from Redacted Tonight.  In under ten minutes he brilliantly captures the misguided nature of the conservative mindset and gives us a few laughs in the process.

Cenk Ungur of @TheYoungTurks puts Tulsa shooting perfectly into #blacklivesmatter context

A while ago I tried to explain #blacklivesmatter with a post of my own.  It’s not easy when you aren’t living in the US and haven’t for a long time, but I wanted to at least try.

But if you really want to have it explained, watch the video below.  If the explanation doesn’t get you, the genuine emotion has to.  If it doesn’t, then I can’t help you any further.

Protecting not protesting & Crushing the Black Snake #NoDAPL

It may be happening thousands of miles away but there is much about the Dakota Access pipeline controversy that is of interest to Irish readers.

Two things I’d like to focus on here…first, the coverage by The Guardian.  It may be a British paper but there is so much mistrust towards national media in the US that now many are turning to them for some semblance of truth in their reporting, and they are certainly working hard to provide it.

I listen to several US progressive podcasts like Best of the Left, The Young Turks, Democracy Now etc and all have quoted the publication often affectionately known as “The Guarniad” because if its supposed reputation for frequent typos.

Back in August a piece by Iyuskin American Horse in Canyon Ball, North Dakota was published titled “‘We are protectors, not protesters’: why I’m fighting the North Dakota pipeline“.  It offers the native Americans’ side of the story.

The fact that Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the pipeline, would use the word “Dakota”, which means “friend” or “ally”, in the name of its project is disrespectful. This pipeline is a direct threat to all Dakota, Lakota and Nakota people, especially our future generations. And we are not the only ones. We know that burning this oil is changing our climate and Indigenous people all over the world are bearing the brunt of the catastrophes that causes.

The other interesting aspect of this story is that of the black snake.

Our elders have told us that if the zuzeca sape, the black snake, comes across our land, our world will end. Zuzeca has come – in the form of the Dakota Access pipeline – and so I must fight.

I have absolutely no reason not to believe that American Indians have a legend of a black snake that was going to cross their land.  But it would certainly not surprise me if the oil barons and their sympathisers who would be keen to push this pipeline through raised doubts as to the validity of the folklore.

Well all I can say is that even if they did make it up, it’s nothing compared to the amount of shite big oil corporations fabricate to get past environmental studies and judicial processes in order to get the profits flowing in their direction as quickly as possible.

Best of luck to Iyuskin American Horse and his people.  May the Black Snake be driven away from their sacred land for all eternity.

Meanwhile, we could probably do with an external journalists source focusing on Irish affairs in a similar fashion to that of the Guardian.