Democracy


#628

That’s a great article, thanks for sharing!

I definitely think there’s value in considering the meaning of our constitution and how we might rewrite it. I just don’t think we have any mechanism for actually doing the rewriting (that wouldn’t end in a complete and total clusterfuck).

Maybe this educator’s approach would bring us to a more civil form of public discourse eventually, but I expect us to be under about 13’ of seawater by the time that would come around.

I’m depressed. Having a hard time visualizing positive change. I probably do need a constitution cafe, just for my mental health, if nothing else.


#629

i was in a dark place yesterday, and am in a dark place today. reading this was helpful as a reminder of how to cause small change in the world:


#630

That was fantastic, thank you! Shared with my friends.


#631

Economic reform is also key here. If the underlying distribution of wealth isn’t at least somewhat egalitarian, a Representative government will only represent a few, and will eventually become a shell of itself, with real power dispersed beyond the reach of peaceful reform. That’s already happening.

One of my major frustrations with mainstream Democratic representatives is their (deliberate?) obtuseness on this issue. They’ve never read a good book on Roman history.


#632

I’m with you… trying to lighten up but it ain’t easy sometimes! Music helps… though middle-later radiohead is feeling a little too reflective of real life :wink:


#634

Jeez I dont even know… my first thought is that what we have is pretty good, we just need to tweak things so that people like me are more well represented… which is of course exactly the wrong answer haha.

Playing within the same basic framework (president, house, senate, supremes) some things that jump out would be term limits coupled with a lengthy time in which ex-politicians are forbidden from doing lobbying or other political work, public funding of elections, a nonpartisan way of creating congressional districts, elimination of the electoral college (this is minor), eliminate citizenship for non-human entities (corporations, PACs) with regards to political speech.

I have no idea how to address this structurally or constitutionally but ultimately a goal should be not to see people in power as “scumbag politicians” but “respectable civil servants” - this of course requires them to fill these rolls, though. Getting money out of it as much as possible seems like a good goal. Or perhaps rather than supreme court justices being selected at almost random points in a highly partisan fashion they should serve max 12 year terms and be chosen by like week long civil service tests like old school dynastic China. First two years of their terms is just learning, no cases. Or fuck it, go the other way, and have one of the chambers’ members chosen via a lottery system from a pool of regular random ass folk (the old pick a name out of the phonebook selection method). Pay them a handsome salary and forbid them from working in politics again after their term is up. I’m kidding and know there are tons of reasons why these ideas are idiotic but it’s we got creative!


#635

the news has been so impossibly dark lately. though i share many of your opinions that electoral politics are bullshit, the news about Ocasio-Cortez is heartening. i’m embarrassed to admit that it has taken this long for me to feel like i have to do something.

has anyone else joined their local DSA chapter? what has that experience been like? i have zero experience with political action, but i feel like that might be a good place to start.


#636

I joined the national group and pay dues and occasionally donate. I participated in a couple of the organizing meetings for STL DSA as the chapter formed – but I didn’t keep going because social anxiety made it difficult to show up, and even more to participate.

Being organizing meetnigs, a lot of it was setting the priorities and strategy for the local chapter as well as determining meeting places, officers, by-laws etc.


#637

tough for me to post about political issues on the internet, but like most in this thread i was extremely disheartened by all the news of the news coming out of the court this week and for kennedy to hand his seat THIS administration really blew my mind. i fumbled around the internet looking for hot takes about why this wasn’t the worst possible non-human-rights-abuse-related scenario for a trump presidency and found nothing.

but i did find an op ed by howard zinn written a bit over a decade ago after bush got a couple justices in the court. obviously there is a lot of criticism of zinn from many circles but after reading it i was struck by how much i needed to hear it. hopefully others can get something out of it as well.

The Constitution gave no rights to working people: no right to work less than twelve hours a day, no right to a living wage, no right to safe working conditions. Workers had to organize, go on strike, defy the law, the courts, the police, create a great movement which won the eight-hour day, and caused such commotion that Congress was forced to pass a minimum wage law, and Social Security, and unemployment insurance.

The Brown decision on school desegregation did not come from a sudden realization of the Supreme Court that this is what the Fourteenth Amendment called for. After all, it was the same Fourteenth Amendment that had been cited in the Plessy case upholding racial segregation. It was the initiative of brave families in the South–along with the fear by the government, obsessed with the Cold War, that it was losing the hearts and minds of colored people all over the world–that brought a sudden enlightenment to the Court.

The Supreme Court in 1883 had interpreted the Fourteenth Amendment so that nongovernmental institutions hotels, restaurants, etc.-could bar black people. But after the sit-ins and arrests of thousands of black people in the South in the early Sixties, the right to public accommodations was quietly given constitutional sanction in 1964 by the Court. It now interpreted the interstate commerce clause, whose wording had not changed since 1787, to mean that places of public accommodation could be regulated by Congressional action and be prohibited from discriminating.

Soon this would include barbershops, and I suggest it takes an ingenious interpretation to include barbershops in interstate commerce.

The right of a woman to an abortion did not depend on the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. It was won before that decision, all over the country, by grassroots agitation that forced states to recognize the right. If the American people, who by a great majority favor that right, insist on it, act on it, no Supreme Court decision can take it away.

The rights of working people, of women, of black people have not depended on decisions of the courts. Like the other branches of the political system, the courts have recognized these rights only after citizens have engaged in direct action powerful enough to win these rights for themselves.


#638

Thank you. I needed that.


#639

In the long term Zinn’s prognosis is correct. But we are already in a situation. At least ten years of grassroots agitation on the right has led us to this point.

In the short term the federal court system was all that stood in the way of E.O. 13769 and 13780.


The court system was able to act swiftly on both. Now it is less likely they will do so, or at least more likely their actions will be very temporary.

So the court system does matter, and especially so now.


#640

You’re right; I think we all agree that it matters a lot! I do appreciate Zinn’s old thoughts and those new ones that I see various places and try hard to think myself, though. We’ve made it this far, through horrors previously unimaginable. We’re not going down yet.

Not to say that there won’t be real, harmful, tragically unjust and avoidable actions taken by powerful people, of course! But we’ve already come through plenty and we can find the strength to struggle against the ones to come.


#641


#642

I’ve been meaning to join my local DSA chapter for the past few months but haven’t had a chance. Work is slowing down though so I’m going to change that. As far as the constitution goes, I agree with @addamm that the foundation is good but it absolutely needs to be updated, even just from a linguistic standpoint. This podcast is a really solid listen and talks about that in regard to the second amendment in particular: https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/radiolab-presents-more-perfect-gun-show/


#643

@ypxkap thank you for the thoughtful comments, I hope this analysis proves true.

@Abarsotti thanks for the link. I’m a regular wnyc listener and had downloaded an episode of More Perfect but never listened… I think in a very failed attempt to balance the politics/news/etc in my life with more art and positivity. I’m all in on negativity at this point now though, so maybe I’ll give it another shot :wink: I think that episode might be the one for me too as I often think about how insane (to me) the right’s interpretation of the 2nd amendment is.


#644

Far better to run as Democrats and change the party from within, while of course retaining a separate platform. You get not only the funding infrastructure but the ability to affect matters immediately, in Congress as well as at local and state levels.

Taking a long view, say 150 years, D and R don’t mean much in themselves other than to reflect currently prevailing ideological divisions. I doubt, for instance, that the early 20th century Southern Democrat would find much empathy among liberals today.

Even what “liberal” and “conservative” mean tend to shift around. For instance, few today would associate liberalism with “classical liberalism” (now ironically called “neoliberalism”). At the same time, a Burkean conservatism that recognizes our finitude and hence our duty to care for what we have been given, to cultivate it and let it come into its own, rather than to master it and shape it narcissistically in our own image, finds its strongest echoes in the modern Green movement with its call to “conserve” our environment and its lifeworld.

So if we see the D party as something that’s always in flux, and we appreciate the current moment as one of crisis or fundamental change, why not help the party along to its next destination, where it can be most relevant again? The DSA can and should retain itself as an informal wing. Likewise, the Greens should reorganize similarly and hopefully along the way get rid of narcissistic losers like Stein. One can join both, or either, or yet something else, maybe something new can emerge. The nice thing is then all of these different groups can supply candidates that provide diverse perspectives while at the same time unifying around some very general common goals.

This is all a bit hypothetical – right now the DSA does seem the only game in town in terms of actually affecting things, so I’d tend to look there until another association has really proven itself. Of course the most pressing problem is what to do about the DNC, and they don’t seem to be learning from anything, just rearranging chairs on the Titanic.


#645

I think this is very pragmatic and acknowledges the reality of the Electoral College, while also leaving room for ideological diversity that can be contributed by third parties.

Let the Democratic Party be an umbrella for a coalition of smaller upstart parties on the left.


#646

I wish they would consolidate at least a little. There’s DSA, Our Revolution, Justice Democrats, Brand New Congress, Socialist Alternative, probably others.

Some of these organizations have different aims and methods of course, but in a few cases I’d be hard pressed to identify any difference aside from who writes the emails. It makes me wonder how much effort is being duplicated.


#647

This is what I want the DSA to become: a coalition of organizations bound by a common liberatory ethos. Though I agree with you and @ht73 that running as Dems is the best bet at the moment given the extreme urgency surrounding pretty much every issue of the last 50 years.

I just don’t have a lot of trust in the DNC. ‘Not a lot of’ meaning less than none. But yessss, some recent events signal that could be starting to change. We shall see.


#648

Unfortunately we have some structural obstacles in the way of using any 3rd party for the POTUS race. We are absolutely stuck with the Democrats for that one. (If necessary I can try to explain why the Electoral College makes this necessary, but hopefully you already know.)

Given that fact, seems to make sense to make the best of it and reshape the party to reflect its constituents. To me, this would look like a DSA/green/progressive coalition.