Democracy Works, Or: What A Funny Joke I Just Told

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s upset primary victory over old guard Democrat Joe Crowley got fired me up. Ocasio-Cortez is under 30, a woman of color, someone with strong left ideological convictions who presented herself as-is to the voters of her district – and the electorate welcomed her with with open arms! She’s proof positive that democracy isn’t always easy, but it can work from time to time.

So why are we talking about her more than two weeks later, with months to go before the 2018 midterms? It’s not anything she’s done, It’s what Crowley hasn’t:

As the New York Times explains, Crowley received the endorsement of the Working Families Party, a group of labor unions and activists that has also backed New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s primary challenger, Cynthia Nixon. But after Ocasio-Cortez’s primary win, Bill Lipton, the state director of the Working Families Party, reached out to Crowley’s team and asked that he vacate the line. Crowley, however, declined. This means he’ll remain on the ballot, which is certainly a curious decision to make!

It’s not like Crowley’s disregard for what voters have clearly said they want is an aberration. Allow me to diagnose Democrats’ real problem: Democrats. When the party had a presidential candidate that excited people, they buried him. Given a choice between the possibility of peace with North Korea and the threat of nuclear war, they put on their tattered hawk costumes and squawk. When Republicans want to further cut funding to social programs, they do their best impression of a fainting goat. The gerontocratic leadership have “sensibly” caved on so many issues there’s a crater where their beliefs used to be.

If the cryptkeepers of the Democratic Party refuse to stop standing against social progress, they may one day finding themselves standing against a wall instead. They’ll be provided with free blindfolds.

My Prison Nightmare

Life’s unfair. You know it, I know it, every respectable white, middle-aged man in a business suit knows it. If life was fair, I would have been better at converting .pdfs. If life was fair, my perfectly legitimate business in the former Soviet Union wouldn’t be tarred as “shady business dealings” by liberal media scumbags. If life was fair, the federal judge would have seen Mueller’s witch hunt for what it is and dismissed the case against me.

But that’s not the world we live in. Dark forces have turned me into another statistic of America’s carceral system. Like Nelson Mandela, I’m a political prisoner. My suffering is exquisite.

For those of you who have never been on the inside, brace yourself: I’ll describe – in nightmarish detail – the prison hellscape I’m forced to endure.

I’ve been sequestered in a private, self-contained living unit. My captors say it’s bigger than the other cells, but I think they’re strategically lying to make themselves look good in my tell-all book. Guess what, assholes? It won’t work. Not until you remove the bars from my windows.

I have my own bathroom, but the warden refused my request to have a bidet installed. To add insult to injury, the toilet paper they supplied me is one-ply. One ply?! Does man’s inhumanity to man know no bounds?

The water pressure in my personal shower is lackluster at best.

I can come and go as I please between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 10 p.m., but they won’t let me leave prison grounds. Not even when I offer to have a sizable sum anonymously transferred to their bank accounts via an untraceable third party!

Most painfully of all, they gave me my own telephone, but I’m paranoid Witch Hunter Bob is listening in. I haven’t called any of my Russian oligarch friends in weeks. I have to communicate with them using an encrypted email service instead. Somebody get me out of here!

This is my darkest hour, but I’m certain I’ll overcome adversity and leave the joint more powerful than ever. I’m even thinking about getting a prison tattoo, if the warden will allow Mister Cartoon to bring in his full tat rig. I’m thinking… crying eagle on my chest?

 

 

 

This past weekend’s Families Belong Together demonstrations against Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policies brought huge numbers of protesters out into the streets all around the United States for the fourth time this year. But what exactly does all the marching do, and how will it help the resistance win?

There have now been well over 20,000 protests since Trump took office, according to data from the Crowd Counting Consortium, involving some 15 million participants, in every corner of the country. Until the Women’s Marches that kicked off the resistance in January 2017, the country had almost never witnessed coordinated protests in more than 200 locations in a single day; over the last year and half, the resistance has broken this record time and time again. On 30 June, people marched against family separation and detention in more than 750 communities, from big cities like Chicago and Los Angeles to tiny towns like Antler, North Dakota, where 15 of the town’s 28 inhabitants turned out to take a stand.

The numbers are impressive, but if anyone thinks that mobilizations like these will miraculously lead Donald Trump to do an about-face on any of his policies, they are in for a disappointment: change typically doesn’t happen that way.

Mass marches in America, no matter how large, have almost never worked as short-term pressure tactics. Yes, the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act followed on the heels of the historic 1963 March on Washington, where Dr Martin Luther King Jr delivered his legendary I Have a Dream speech, but the influence of the march on the legislative victories was an indirect one.

Mass marches function first and foremost as movement-building tactics, giving people an immediate bodily sense of being part of something larger than themselves, a palpable experience of collective power. They’re an antidote to despair, countering the sense of paralysis that can come all too easily when the news is as demoralizing as it has been. When marches are effective, it’s because they feed into longer-term strategies, strengthening people’s willingness to undertake the other kinds of work that produce concrete change.

Until recently, the principal strategy of the grassroots resistance to Trump has been an electoral one: building toward the midterm elections, in the hope of electing a wave of progressives in November. At marches all around the country last weekend, people chanted “Vote, vote, vote!” and many participants redoubled their commitment to the essential but unglamorous work of making that happen.

After her stunning upset victory last week in a New York Democratic primary, progressive candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reminded people of the labor-intensive door-to-door outreach it took to win, posting photographs on Twitter of her worn-out first pair of campaign shoes and writing: “Respect the hustle.”

The horrors of forced family separation and the looming battle over the next supreme court nominee are leading many groups and individuals to realize that a second kind of strategy is needed as well, a civil resistance strategy based on wide-scale non-cooperation, the kind that has been used all around the world to counter authoritarian regimes.

—LA Kauffman, Dear resistance: marching is not enough

How Does One Celebrate The Fourth During These Trying Times?

It’s a dismal time to be an American. Following revelations all but the most casual observers are painfully aware of, our national morale has plummeted to a historic low. A new Gallup poll shows only 47% of us are “extremely proud” to be an American. Giving people the option of saying they’re “extremely proud” is patently ridiculous – Gallup might as well have asked Americans if they “super into” pizza or think having sex is “the best”, but a record low is a record low.

This presents something of a conundrum regarding the appropriate way to celebrate the Fourth of July. Unlike Loyalty Day, we can’t tell you what to do and say or how to feel (loyal). It’s a personal choice, like abortion or which crazy, made-up deity you’re super into. But we have three sensible suggestions to make your Fourth just, like, the best.

  1. Burn an American flag instead of waving it.
  2. Get some summer reading in! I recommend Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA by Tim Weiner. If you’d prefer something briefer, try The Declaration of Independence, a historical document that continues to bewilder some of the less civically literate among us.
  3. Drink until you can’t feel anything, thus avoiding the shame of being an American in 2018.

Have an acceptable day away from the crushing weight of wage slavery!