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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 08:49 PM
Number of posts: 65,105

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“The future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic toward common problems and their fellow man alike, timid and fearful in the face of new ideas and bold projects. Rather, it will belong to those who can blend passion, reason, and courage in a personal commitment to the ideals and great enterprises of American society. It will belong to those who see that wisdom can only emerge from the clash of contending views, the passionate expression of deep and hostile beliefs. Plato said, ‘A life without criticism is not worth living’.”
-- Robert F. Kennedy

One of the most important -- and encouraging -- parts of the recent Democratic primary debate was when Senator Bernie Sanders said that he wants to institute major changes in our party. He spoke about increasing the registration and participation of two groups in particular: working class Americans, and young people.

The working class target audience includes both those who do not participate in politics, and those who vote against their best interests. Young people are a population that historically does not engage in large numbers, unless there are inspirational candidate with inspirational campaigns. These simple truths indicate that the party’s establishment has failed to expand the Democratic Party’s base in a way that would result in our being able to win far more elected offices -- from school boards to the White House -- than we have in recent decades.

The best current illustration for this tension between what the Democratic Party currently is, versus what its true potential is, can be found in the campaigns of the two primary contenders. The Clinton campaign sincerely believes that Hillary is the best candidate, because they are convinced that the establishment will continue to remain the same, with corporations exercising near-full control of the economic-political-social reality of our nation. The Sanders campaign sincerely believes that Bernie is the best candidate, because he represents the manner in which “we, the people” are supposed to experience economic-political-social power.

It is not surprising that those who have run the Democratic Party for years would be suspicious of “new” people coming in, and saying that things are going to be different. Yet, unless they want things to remain just the same, then change is necessary. Thus, it’s no surprise that the establishment wing of the party has some resentment towards those advocating change -- for that change not only implies power-sharing, it demands it.

Those with the most power -- which today translates to the most money and the most comfortable positions -- have the most resentment towards the concept of change. They would be happy to have millions of new registered voters, so long as those votes were cast to maintain and reinforce their comfortable positions. But, as soon as new ideas and bold projects are proposed, they will fight against it. Indeed, the stronger the advocacy for change is, the harder the establishment will fight it …..often harder than they fight their republican opposition.

The new ideas and bold projects that Bernie Sanders proposes do not frighten me. I’ve been a registered Democrat my entire adult life. I’ve voted for the Democratic candidate in virtually every presidential election. Many of the things that Bernie advocates aren’t “new” -- such as free public education. Even the concept of “socialism.” And that’s not limited to Social Security.

My maternal grandfather was a patriotic American. Indeed, I have a copy of a photograph of him on Parris Island, where he was a DI, which used to be on the cover of a Marine Corps training manual. He fought in WW2, both in Europe and the Asian theater. The injuries he sustained impacted him for the rest of his life.

My grandfather worked in construction, including as a stone-cutter. He cut the stone that the Statue of Liberty now sits upon. He also drove heavy equipment, and was among the millions of citizens who helped build modern America.

He and my grandmother loved politics, and were Democrats. Yet, in their workplaces (Grandma worked in a factory in Binghamton, NY), both were union activists. More, both were socialists. In their day, there wasn’t any conflict, at the grass roots level, between being a Democrat, union, and a socialist activist. In fact, they went hand-in-hand, as offering the best chance of enhancing the quality of life in America.

I can, of course, only speculate: but I think if Grandpa was around today, he’d be campaigning for Bernie Sanders.

Thanks for reading my rants!
H2O Man

Debating the Debate

There was a lot of excitement going into last night’s Democratic primary debate, and it certainly lived up to its billing. In my opinion, it ranked with the most important and impressive debates in the history of primary and general election debates. The supporters of each candidate, obviously, are convinced that their candidate won. The corporate media is busy putting their spin on it.

More important, of course, is how the general public views the debate. This will determine how it is eventually recorded in the history books. While I like both Sanders and Clinton, I have endorsed Bernie; hence, my opinion is subjective. Also, because so little time has passed since last night’s debate ended, what I have to say at this time is little more than first impressions.

As I’ve noted before, being a man of remarkably little insight or intelligence, I am convinced that all of life imitates the great sport of boxing. I am able to recognize that my engaging in over 300 amateur bouts -- not to mention the thousands of rounds of sparring in training -- may well have had a damaging impact upon my gray cells. So this is but the ramblings of an old pug, who appreciated watching two professionals competing at the highest level last night.

A two hour debate between the two highest-ranking contenders for the Democratic nomination was equivalent to a 15-round title fight. Anyone who insists that either candidate won each and every round can be quickly dismissed, for they do not have an opinion, but rather, a bias. Both candidates had strengths that allowed them to do better in different parts of the contest.

I thought that both Rachel Maddow and Chuck Todd did a good job of moderating. I’ve long enjoyed Rachel’s show, and in the past year, have come to have great respect for her. I cannot honestly say that I enjoy or respect Chuck. I was concerned beforehand, that both moderators might favor Ms. Clinton; I was glad to see both take an even-handed approach. This definitely added to the high quality of the contest.

There were unforced errors on both sides. The use of the pre-packaged “artful smear” line came across uncomfortably. Answering a question on Afghanistan by continuing with the answer you asked for time to address on ISIS was not the best option. While these are not fatal mistakes for either campaign, they do show the near impossibility of having a flawless performance in a title fight.

But even the greatest fighters in boxing’s history -- Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Muhammad Ali -- rarely won all 15 rounds in their toughest bouts. Likewise, when there are two capable politicians debating at a brisk pace wasn’t completely one-sided, by any means. But I thought that Bernie had the better night, by a good bit.

I felt that Bernie won the first third of the debate, and that this was magnified by some of Hillary’s complaints against the Sanders campaign, including Bernie specifically. I think that his tone was far more “presidential.” Hillary hit her stride in the second third of the debate, specifically on foreign policy. And Bernie won the final third, with Hillary being damaged by her response to Chuck Todd regarding the release of the transcripts from her speeches to Wall Street.

As always, there are three groups that campaigns consider: those who support you; those who oppose you; and the undecided. Thus, you try to inspire your supporters; not deeply offend the opposition’s supporters; and win the undecided. This basic formula applies to both the Sanders and Clinton campaigns.

Obviously, on DU:GDP, there are distinct groups that support each of the candidates, and very few undecided voters. In real life, so to speak, there are groups fully committed to each candidate; however, there is a larger group of undecided voters, as well as some in each camp who may change their minds before voting. There is a lot of time left in the primary season, and what national polls might suggest today is not likely to remain a constant.

Based upon this debate, I believe the nation is being exposed to some realities that are not often discussed in national politics. And that is a good thing.

H2O Man

A Quick Historic Fact

There have been discussion, on DU:GDP and in the media, about what it means to win a primary or caucus. This is the result of the extremely close Iowa contest. On the cable news shows, I’ve seen some focus on the difference between “winning” and being “victorious” in such an event.

People use the 1968 example of Senator Eugene McCarthy’s surprising showing in the New Hampshire primary. I noted tonight that a couple people say that people are confused, when they say that McCarthy won. Indeed, McCarthy won 41.9% of the votes, against 50% for President Johnson. In this sense, LBJ definitely won.

However, there was another very important measure: of the 24 New Hampshire delegates, Senator McCarthy won 20 of them. And that is why people, such as myself, say that McCarthy “won” that primary. More, he was victorious.

H2O Man

We Dissent/ Unfinished Business

“It is not enough to allow dissent. We must demand it. For there is much to dissent from.

“We dissent from the fact that millions are trapped in poverty while the nation grows rich.

“We dissent from the conditions and hatreds which deny a full life to our fellow citizens because of the color of their skin.

“We dissent from the monstrous absurdity of a world where nations stand poised to destroy one another, and man must kill their fellow man.

“We dissent from the sight of most of mankind living in poverty, stricken by disease, threatened by hunger and doomed to an early death after a life of unremitting labor.

“We dissent from cities which blunt our senses and turn the ordinary acts of daily life into a painful struggle.

“We dissent from the willful, heedless destruction of natural pleasure and beauty.

“We dissent from all these structures -- of technology and society itself -- which strip from the individual the dignity and warmth of sharing in the common tasks of his community and his nation.”
-- Senator Robert F. Kennedy

I can only speak for myself. I’ve met both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, and like them both. I believe that they are both good and sincere individuals, who honestly believe that they could accomplish the most good for the people of this nation. Still, I support the Sanders campaign. My support for Sanders does not include any dislike of, or disrespect for, Ms. Clinton.

Rather, it is because Bernie Sanders represents the values that have influenced my thinking and behavior throughout the decades of my being involved in social-political activism. When people in the media or the republican party call Sanders’s positions “unrealistic” or “pipe dreams,” I dissent.

Last year, the Pope visited the United States. He spoke about the need for social justice. The concepts he spoke of were much the same as those detailed by Senator Robert Kennedy fifty years ago. It would be easy to dismiss them as unrealistic and pipe dreams. But we also learned that the Pope played a central role in discussions between officials in the United States, and in two of our nation’s “enemies” -- Cuba and Iran. And, as we have seen, these dialogues resulted in very real advances …..advances in some of the very things that Senator Kennedy had spoken of.

These are the same values that America’s greatest prophet, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., fought for. King began his public career struggling for Civil Rights. By the mid-1960s, he expanded his ministry to emphasis economic justice. He understood that there could not be social justice domestically, if the US continued its military approach to foreign affairs. That’s just as true today, as it was in 1968.

The Sanders campaign offers those of us who share these values the best opportunity to advance them. For some of us, they are our ethics; for others, our religious beliefs; and for others, our spiritual reality. Some of us are old, others young; we are male and female; black, brown, red, yellow, and white; we are citizens who believe that Aristotle was correct when he said, “The true nature of anything is what it becomes at its highest.”

We want America to reach its true nature.

“Come, my friends. ‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.”
-- Alfred, Lord Tennyson

H2O Man


“I’m flexible. As was stated earlier, all of the countries that are emerging today from under the shackles of colonialism are turning towards socialism. I don’t think it’s an accident.”
-- Malcolm X

“In my opinion, the younger generation of whites, blacks, browns, whatever else there is, you’re living in a time of revolution, a time when there’s got to be change. People in power have misused it, and now there has to be a change, and a better world has to be built.”
-- Malcolm X

“America is the only country in history in a position to bring about a revolution without violence and bloodshed.”
-- Malcolm X

In my opinion, we could benefit from an open and honest discussion of the concepts of political revolution, socialism, and the role of young people in social-political activism. I think it would be good for everyone who wants to make advances in social justice in this country. It has the potential to promote understanding between members of the Clinton and Sanders campaigns, regarding beliefs, values, and tactics. While we might not agree on everything -- including which candidate we support in the primaries -- there is a real chance that some common ground will come into view. Equally important, it may help prevent our differences in opinions and values from further dividing us.

H2O Man

The Long Road

“It’s the long road that has no turning.”
-- Irish proverb

I found last night’s caucus in Iowa to be very positive. And I’m not talking so much about the two individual candidates -- Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders -- as about their campaigns, and the Democrats actively involved in them. This includes those at the grass roots, in particular, as well as those running things at the state and national level.

Several things came into sharper focus last night. The most obvious is that either candidate can win the party’s nomination. Six months ago, no one seriously doubted that Clinton had that ability. But a heck of a lot of people had their doubts about Sanders. While there are still going to be some people who honestly do not think Bernie can win the nomination -- they are overwhelmingly Clinton supporters -- their numbers have dropped significantly in recent weeks.

This is, of course, part of the process. Contested presidential primaries rarely look the same at the beginning, the middle, and the end. Those changes which we see taking place within individual state’s primaries provide insight into how the general election may unfold, for all presidential elections involve state-by-state strategies.

As we’ve seen, outside influences, such as the news media, attempt to frame the contests in both the republican and Democratic primaries very differently today, than they did six months ago. Those with agendas may maintain a consistent end-goal, but even they must adjust their tactics. And it’s important to keep in mind that other, non-US interests can have interests in the election outcome -- be it corporations, nation-states, etc -- to an extent that there are attempts to influence the American public. This includes friends and enemies.

Another thing that should be clearer today is that no matter which candidate the Democratic Party nominates, that candidate will need the active support of a substantial percentage of the other candidate’s supporters, to win in November. “Bitterness contaminates the vessel which contains it” is as true for campaigns, as for individuals. The more that people -- from the grass roots to the campaign heads -- allow negative emotions to infect their thinking and behavior during the primaries, the more difficult it becomes to unite people in the fall.

That does not mean that the primary process is a series of gentle events. If we look at an example of people at the grass roots level -- say, the discussions on DU:GDP -- it is obvious that there are not only serious differences in opinion, but there are distinct differences in deeply-rooted values among many community members. By no coincidence, these reflect the differences of opinion and values that are found in the state and national campaigns -- and even the candidates.

Those differences are of great importance. They need to be a central focus of each candidate’s campaign, and certainly in the candidates’ debates. They will determine the outcome of the primary contest. And yet, it will be equally important that we not lose sight of those things we all have in common.

That’s as difficult as it is important. About ten minutes ago, on MSNBC, Chris Matthews interviewed Hillary Clinton. He was absolutely focused on his dismay that Bernie Sanders spoke of a “political revolution” last night. Obviously, Bernie has been talking about exactly that -- a political revolution -- since he entered the primaries. It was the combination of Bernie’s performance in the Iowa caucus, and the crowd’s reaction to the words “political revolution,” that has Chris unusually upset. Old-timers on DU know that I like Mr. Matthews; I’m not attacking him here, just showing a long-time establishment Democrat’s reaction to the Sanders’s campaign.

This reaction is, quite simply, his concerns about -- and fears of -- those who support Bernie Sanders. It’s the concerns and fears that establishment Democrats have about those of us who support Bernie Sanders. It includes “socialists,” young adults, leftists, and people the establishment views as inhabiting the fringes of the party. However, if Clinton does win the nomination, the establishment will want the support of these same people -- in fact, they know that they could lose in November without them.

Both the Clinton and the Sanders campaigns include segments of the coalition that elected Barack Obama in 2008, and re-elected him in 2012. Neither has enough of that coalition to insure a November victory. Both campaigns also have supporters who were not part of the Obama coalition. But, again, it’s not enough to insure a victory in the general election.

All of this would seem to indicate that at the Democratic National Convention, no matter if Bernie or Hillary gets the nod, the other candidate -- and their campaign -- is going to be in a position to insist upon certain demands. The degree to which the winning team responses to those demands is likely to exercise great influence on how the “losing” campaign -- especially those at the grass roots -- responds in the fall.

I’ve purposely avoided addressing the two candidates’ strengths and weaknesses in this essay -- not because they aren’t important, but because I wanted to make the above points first. I suspect that everyone else has made their own decisions on the candidates as individuals, as evidenced by the OP/threads on this forum. This OP isn’t an attempt to change anyone’s mind on that. Rather, it is to try to add some context to the process that we now find ourselves in.

This is an important chapter in our nation’s history. We owe it to ourselves to keep an open mind. And, of course, to fight very hard for what we believe in.

H2O Man

Tonight's events are fascinating!

I think that it's pretty exciting, no matter if you favor Hillary or Bernie! This is good for the Democratic Party.

The republican results are odd. And this is good for the Democratic Party.

The Constant Struggle

“Constant Struggle -- that’s what America is all about. Is it not?”
-- Rubin “Hurricane” Carter; 1976

Democratic presidential primary contests remind me of championship bouts. Today’s event in Iowa is the first round in a long and difficult fight. Somewhere around the time that the late night becomes tomorrow morning, we should have an inkling of the official score of this evening’s round. And, by the time the sun comes up, the supporters of each of the three Democratic candidates will be interpreting the results in the most favorable light for their candidate.

I am hoping that the most important factor will be that there was a huge turn-out. Obviously, this should include young adults, especially those who will take advantage of this, their first opportunity to participate in a presidential primary. But I think that it is equally important that those people who have hesitated to participate in the past come out tonight, and make their voices heard.

Still, although I live in New York State, my exposure to people between the ages of 18 and 25 has been particularly encouraging. The vast majority of these young adults support Senator Bernie Sanders. More, they are fully aware that his message goes far beyond the need to win the nomination and the fall election: Sanders is calling for the transformation of American society.

I am impressed that these young adults are invested in working with their parents and grandparents to bring about that transformation; this is distinct from the infamous “generation gap” that created so much tension in, say, 1968 and ‘72. Indeed, this is an important part of the transformation that is beginning today, and is most visible in the primary season in the Sanders’s campaign.

Good luck to all three candidates. I intend that sincerely, although I do not subscribe to concepts such as “luck” or “coincidence.” It’s all about hard work and dedication, of being as fully prepared as one can be. And it is apparent to me that each of the three Democratic candidates is far better prepared to serve as president than any of the republican candidates.

Because I am convinced that Bernie Sanders is the most capable of leading in the transformation of our nation …..in the struggle for social justice …..on the path to higher ground …..I am hoping that he “wins” tonight. Regardless of the exact numbers, it is still but the first round of a long and difficult fight.

Constant Struggle: but that’s what true democracy is all about -- is it not?

H2O Man
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