“When politicians today invoke terrorism they are speaking, of course, of an actual danger. But when they try to train us to surrender freedom in the name of safety, we should be on our guard. There is no necessary tradeoff between the two. Sometimes we do indeed gain one by losing the other, and sometimes not. People who assure you that you can only gain security at the price of liberty usually want to deny you both.” – Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny, From #17
“Orwell’s fears about the spread of totalitarianism were…those of a man who believed in…a kind of freedom which is found more often in America than it is in Britain…He was…very well aware of the fact that if America also succumbed to the totalitarian wave then there would be nothing left but to die fighting…he was clear also that his overview of what was really happening that he sent to (the Partisan Review in) America was valid, (but) was not…about to get on to a ship and go there, as so many intellectuals did. Orwell could see the way things were and wanted to stay and fight to protect what he believed in…he did not (in 1940 and 1941) simply reject brotherhood, pacifism and fellow-travelling (Stalinists): he fought a war against it and was never forgiven for doing so.” – W.J. West, The Larger Evils: Nineteen Eighty Four, The Truth Behind the Satire, 1992
“The problems Republicans have on the issue of court expansion is the same they have on the debt, opposition to dictators, free trade, character, personal responsibility. Having lied about each, they have no moral standing on any. You made that deal with Trump. Now you live with it.” – Stuart Stevens, 10/10/20
“…whenever people ask me what I’d most like to change about the white working class, I say, ‘The feeling that our choices don’t matter.’” – J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy
“Trump isn’t an aberration of the Republican Party; he is the Republican Party in a purified form.” – Stuart Stevens, It Was All A Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump, 2020
“Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colors. And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him…And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colors…And they took, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it…and sold Joseph…for twenty pieces of silver…And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh’s, and captain of the guard.” – Genesis 37: 3, 4, 23, 24, 28, 36
“The American dream isn’t a fad whose time has come and gone. It is a promise of life that transcends fashion… This is because the basic things that we need to live stable prosperous lives really don’t change.” – Judge Aaron Jaffe of Illinois
“No one, no matter how rich, can buy dignity; but anyone, no matter how poor, can achieve it by fighting for it; for themselves, and for others.” – Chicago Dog
Once upon a time, between (Primary Election) February 22 and April 12, 1983, I had the exhilarating experience of being a minor cog in the wheel of Harold Washington’s rainbow coalition that elected Chicago’s first Black Mayor, the practical inspiration for Barack Obama to become America’s first Black President. I had three separate roles in the run up to General Election Day: Membership on the multi-racial committee for Harold at my University on Chicago’s North Side, a hotbed of activity for his candidacy; liaison and advance man for the campaign on the North West Side; and Election Day Coordinator for the 41st Ward, one of three or four of the most racist white enclaves in the city. It was a blast!
In my second capacity, we set up a Northwest Side (Wards 36, 38, 41, 45) Washington campaign office near the key intersection of Elston, Montrose and Pulaski, for the smattering of voters we figured would stealthily visit us, unbeknownst to their spouses or families. A Chicago policeman dropped in and asked – not in antagonism, but in astonishment — if we were trying to get ourselves killed. His job, after all, was to protect citizens, racial do-gooders included, and he was much relieved to be told that we had no intention of putting up Washington posters in the windows. We, like he, were there to “serve and protect” democracy, as well as community.
We knew the territory, and we had a precursor to Nate Silver and Steve Kornacki, number cruncher extraordinaire, Ted Loda, on loan from the employees union, AFSCME, and State Representative (IL) Mike Holewinski (later Deputy Mayor under Harold), the only Polish politician to back Washington at that time. Ted figured, on the basis of our visitors, that we’d get about 20 votes per precinct, or 8-9% from the four Wards, in an election where every vote mattered. He was fairly close, though a little on the optimistic side. Actual percentages from the final count (David Fremon, Chicago Politics Ward by Ward, Bloomington, IN: Indiana U. Press, 1988) were: 36th Ward – 5%, 38th Ward – 6%, 41st Ward – 7%, 45th Ward – 7%. Fortunately, turnout, as much as percentage, was the game that year.
More of these wonderful experiences in a major multi-racial victory are in Ch. 7 of a book I published (Judge Aaron Jaffe: Reforming Illinois; A Progressive Tackles State Government, 1970-2015, Bloomington, IN: Author House, 2016) on retail progressive politics in Illinois – not an optimistic year for tolerant democracy, of course. Nevertheless, it was great to compare that smaller scale victory of 1983 with larger democratic rainbows achieved in 2008, 2012, and on the crest of a blue tsunami in 2020. I shared my thoughts and anticipation with my KGB animal friends, as we watch Trump Republicans twist in the wind of the approaching hurricane of voter resentments.
High Plains Reader: Do media “get” that old white guy, Joe Biden, is presiding over a multi-racial coalition, just like Barack Obama and Harold Washington before him? They report that a turnout election removes “apathy” from Republican’s stacked deck of dirty tricks to be played against Democrats. But do they get that “Joy to the Polls” reflects an exuberant celebration of a democracy that finally accepts people of color at the very top as a normal state of things?
Putin: It doesn’t matter whether they are saying it in those exact words; they are, at least, reporting it. It was really a black man, Congressman Jim Clyburn (D-SC), who figured out that Jim Crow Republicans in the guise of the Tea Party or Donald Trump, could only be brought down in 2020 by a white working class guy who had always been on the side of people of color, regardless of what Legislative horrors he may have endured, rather than abetted, during the organized push backs against the Civil Rights advancements of the 1960s and 1970s.
Jim Crow XV: Any advancement of democracy that included women and people of color has always been anathema to the likes of President Trump or Senator Moscow Mitch (McConnell, R-KY). It’s just been getting harder and harder for them to lie about it successfully. Trump’s lying about Covid-19 was the last straw. It not only exposed inequalities in income for white folks, it smeared America’s hypocrisy towards black and brown folks in your face for the world to see.
Mr. Crying Wolf: Then the blatant killings of George Floyd and Brionna Taylor exposed Republican lies about racial and economic inequity that could not be denied, even by whites.
Ms. Recovering Republican Lap Dog: It’s amusing, as well as depressing and aggravating, that, even after the Women’s March of January 21, 2017, Trump still thinks he’s God’s gift to suburban women, pining to be liberated from “rapists of color” by the Rapist-in-Chief.
Rasputin: Until now, Trump could always afford his illusions of freedom, license, and bigotries, because of oligarchs who funded them, starting with his father, and culminating with the dark money boys at home and dictators abroad. He figures he’ll get bailed out some way or the other, even if he loses the election. Nothing in his 74 years has proven otherwise.
Mr. Swamp Fox: Unfortunately for their illusions of freedom, however, Trump supporters court their own doom by supporting malefactors of wealth completely indifferent to their fates. They think that going mask-less is a sign of independence, like driving drunk or without a seat belt.
Chicago Dog: Utterly dependent upon Government programs like Social Security, Interstate highways, the U.S. Postal Service, Medicaid, Medicare, Police and Fire Departments, these myopic ones, tragically, have voted for a cynical Republicanism since 1980 that seeks to destroy these functions of orderly government in the service of obscene profits for a few. All in the name of an imagined control of their own destiny, without the cooperation of others.
Señor Perro: These “self-imagined haves” will not change their voting patterns easily, until and unless they see that the “have-nots” in a rainbow coalition are not as big a threat to them as the “real haves,” in a lily white “Confederacy of Great Wealth,” like the dark forces behind Trump. They have to be outvoted by massive turnouts of “have-nots” who believe that their votes matter. That’s why former President Obama is urging black voters who turned out for him in 2008 at a 60% level of eligible voters, to turn out for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in 2020 at 80% or more.
HPR: This happened in Chicago on April 12, 1983 for Harold Washington. As area coordinator for the 41st Ward, I was clocking a 70 to 75 percent turnout in all of its virtually all-white precincts by Noon; while local radio was informing me that voter turnout in the black Wards on the West and South Sides was headed for above 95%. Ballgame! We didn’t have the Cha Cha Slide working for us, but the same “Joy to the Polls” aspect that celebrates the rite of voting in 2020, was clear weeks afterwards on the Northeastern Illinois U. campus in 1983, as black students proudly sported their blue and white “Harold Washington for Mayor” campaign buttons.
Chicago Dog: Harold Washington pioneered in showing white communities the lack of rancor among leaders of color, as did Barack Obama, as President. But the roots of American racism go deep. They can only be overcome by a blue tsunami of turnout for the Biden/Harris rainbow.
Putin: The work of professional basketball, baseball, and football leadership is instructive. Taking a page out of former House Speaker Tip O’Neill’s “all politics is local” book, NBA Champion LeBron James is organizing a massive turnout in black communities to affect elections down to the level of State, County and City governments, as well as disposing of Donald Trump and Moscow Mitch McConnell’s Senate Majority.
Rasputin: Similar efforts are taking place with local Latin American leadership, Asians and other minorities’ leadership; women’s groups nationwide, in cities, suburbs, and rural areas. If Trump’s law breaking Postmaster, Louis DeJoy, could have kept voters in the swing states from getting their mailed absentee ballots in the first place, the Donald might have had a shot, but it’s too late even for that colossal betrayal of public health and safety to succeed.
Lena: Now, long lines of voters, holding their completed ballots to be deposited in drop boxes, plus hoards of early voters, show that the Democratic Party ground game is up to the voter suppression tactics of a tyrant. It is a war of course, albeit by ballots more than bullets; and there will be casualties, even mortal ones. Yet, for now, one of those casualties will not be democracy itself; the good Lord, and stubborn local adherents to the rule of law and “regular order,” willing.
Mr. Crying Wolf: Rabid reactionary pundit Pat Buchannan’s phrase, “nattering nabobs of negativism” now applies, not falsely to liberals trying to make the U.S. a fairer place, but, more accurately to reactionary pundits like George Will and Peggy Noonan, sniffing at Democratic VP candidate Kamala Harris for daring to dance in the rain, while singing the praises of government that would support all of its people, not just the richest and snottiest.
Prudence Possum: I am impressed with the manifesto smuggled into the D.C. swamp by organizers of the creatures most feared by incumbent Republicans; aroused, taxpaying citizens:
A Reckoning With “Divine Right of Money Bags”…………………………..…..Chicago Dog
Vote! As a last resort to save your life;
And first commitment to a brighter day;
That forces of reaction, who hold sway,
Would keep from you, in bold and bitter strife.
Republicans today are led by men
And women who resent that you exist
For more than just to serve their basest twist,
Or whim; despite your dreams they scarcely ‘ken.
The royalty of money bags is not
A new thing in the tale of evil done;
To oft confound the many; By the few
Who dare to think that we forgot
A Patriot’s Dream of: Out of Many One!
So vote to build democracy anew!