Sunday, March 22, 2020

Catching Up

Another day in the Idea Lab, the basement office where I find myself “Ridin’ the Storm Out” as REO did so many years ago.

For those with an interest in left politics, I have some additional reading recommendations.

A Party With Socialists In It: A History of the Labor Left by Simon Hannah with a foreword by John McDonnell(!). This book offers an engaging exploration of the Labour Party, from its founding to the Corbyn era, and how the “Broad Church” has navigated the tension between its various factions and tendencies while both in and out of government.   The inclusion of Jeremy Corbyn’s quotation of Shelley’s “The Masque of Anarchy” was pleasing grace note near the conclusion of this accessible work. 

Coming in the mail:  Ralph Miliband’s Parliamentary Socialism. This classic examines the challenges and opportunities facing socialists within the Labour Party.  As the Party is currently winding its way through a leadership election (and thus the fundamental question of, which way forward?), this is an opportune moment for a review of the Labour Party and how it has dealt with more radical ideas and policy proposals.

Turning stateside, I am very much looking forward to the April 28 release of Meagan Day’s and Micah Uetricht’s Bigger Than Bernie:  How We Go from the Sanders Campaign to Democratic Socialism. Day is a staff writer at Jacobin and Uetricht is an assistant editor at Jacobin and an In These Times contributing editor.  Regardless of how the contest for the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination turns out, there is a movement out there that is larger than any single person.  This work promises to offer a “road map” forward.  Seems like a must-read for those interested in alternatives to barbarism.   

In solidarity.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

A marathon, not a sprint

When considering the quest to secure the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, it is important to bear in mind the historical record.

In 1980, after losing several early states, Senator Teddy Kennedy’s campaign rallied to pull off wins in a number of late March, April, and June primaries and caucuses.  President Jimmy Carter achieved victories in 36 states compared to 12 for the Senator from Massachusetts.  Going into the convention, Carter led Kennedy by a delegate count of 2,129.02 to 1,150.48.  Carter went on to be re-nominated before losing the general election. Kennedy’s efforts, although unsuccessful, served as a reminder that the progressive flame had not been vanquished in an era when the New Deal coalition was stumbling towards its full collapse.

In 1984, Senator Gary Hart captured a few early states before former Vice President Walter Mondale rattled off a string of victories in March and April.  Hart mounted a comeback, with wins in several Midwestern and western states in May and June. Hart ended up winning 26 states compared to 22 for Mondale. While securing 35.9% of the popular vote, slightly behind Mondale’s 38.3%, Hart (like Kennedy) stayed in the fight through the last primaries and caucuses although he trailed Mondale in the pre-convention delegate tally (1,929 to 1,164).

In 1988, after 13 wins and garnering more than 6.9 million votes in the primaries and caucuses (compared to slightly over 10 million for the eventual nominee, Governor Mike Dukakis) the Reverend Jesse Jackson took his campaign to the convention – where he claimed 1,023 delegates (whereas Dukakis went in with 1,792 delegates).

And in 1992, despite winning only 6 states, 596 delegates, and 20.2% of the popular vote, Governor Jerry Brown did not end his campaign until the convention, where Governor Bill Clinton (37 states, 3,372 delegates, and 52.0% of the popular vote) obtained the Democratic Party’s nomination.

In short, with Senator Bernie Sanders currently trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in the popular vote by a 30.7% - 37.7% margin, and an estimated delegate deficit of only roughly 140, with many contests and delegates up for grabs in the weeks and months ahead, there is no need at all for anyone in Senator Sanders’ position to end their campaign at this juncture.

The March 15th debate should be one for the ages.

In solidarity.

Monday, March 9, 2020

A Predictable Calamity

None of us are getting out of this decade alive…would have been the lead sentence of this post.  But I thought I would put on what you would call a happy face (in your mind, you should hear these words as if read aloud by Adam Driver as Kylo Ren from the SNL Undercover Boss sketch).

Coronavirus, a plunging stock market, que sera sera.

On a more life-affirming note, I was, as no one says, punch-pleased at how well the Candidate Meet and Greet turned out at the Alphabets Montessori School in Elkridge on Saturday.  The event was co-hosted by several sponsors, including Forward Maryland.  Thirteen Board of Education candidates along with various well-wishers, hangers-on, groupies, entourages and, most importantly, voters attended this Very Special Event.

I had the opportunity to speak with every candidate, including one who seemingly forgot how to make eye contact when I greeted them by name at their table.  Interestingly, I spent the most time chatting with D5 office-seekers. I will likely be writing a separate piece on District 5, but that will follow later in March.

I met for the first time Antonia Barkley Watts, a very strong candidate for D2, and I had a good conversation with Jolene Mosley from D3.

Let’s turn to D4.

This blog is not doing formal endorsements anymore. I thought the trope was a little tired, so it has been re-tired, at least through the April primary.

That said, as a District 4 resident, I am voting for Jen Mallo.  While toughness, historically, has generally not been perceived to be an essential candidate attribute for BoE races…it is clear that the upcoming Board of Education will need folks who can step up and make difficult decisions. When Superintendent Martirano’s original proposal segued from formal recommendation to non-starter, Mallo (and Chao Wu separately) developed their own alternatives in an effort to find a solution to the redistricting impasse. While it should not have been the role of the Board to come up with such options, this is where the Board found itself.  I appreciate the courage of those who were willing to stake out a position, knowing they would face opposition, and attempt to find the most equitable solution for all of Howard County’s public school students.  While not perfect, but then, who among us are, it is my devastatingly accurate and humble opinion that Mallo’s voice is the one most needed for the Howard County Board of Education from District 4.

If you need me today, I will spreading sunshine all over the mf’ing place.

In solidarity.