Free to Work, Free to Marry

E.J. Graff has a great piece on ENDA and why it matters, and this point, near the end, is one of the most important ones in it. Remember when Thomas Frank wrote “What’s the Matter with Kansas,” explaining that gay rights and abortion were the wedge issues that kept rural working-class folks voting Republican against their economic self-interest? Looks like that tide has turned. 

Unfortunately, it’s turned without Democrats turning in large numbers to economic populism—we’ve got Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren, a few members of the House, but largely Dems are still too timid to do more than mouth class war platitudes on the campaign trail and then pitch Social Security cuts and let the sequester stand.

To understand how we can see this huge shift in attitudes on so-called social issues (like marriage) while bills that would impact economic inequality (like ENDA) remain stalled even though they’re vastly more popular, we need to really look at how the Right and the Left (and the squishy Democrats in the middle) talk about economic justice, and see why Republicans have been able to appeal, not just on social issues, but to people who are feeling the squeeze in their wallets.

That’s why—you heard it here first, unless you didn’t—I’m working on a book* to discuss just that. And a whole lot more, too. 

*Proposal in the works. More info when I have it. I promise.

Posted at 11:12am and tagged with: classwar, politics, lgbt, enda, populism,.

Right now, as we pass over this particular tipping point—or bent moral arc, or whatever it might be—LGBT issues have become a wedge to use against Republicans, instead of—as has historically been the case—against Dems.

Immigration Reform Set to Boost Business, Undermine Rights - Michelle Chen - In These Times

Read. Two-tier (or more) immigration policy is probably coming, and it’s not good. 

Posted at 12:23pm and tagged with: labor, immigration, politics,.

But many lower-profile migrants have virtually no voice on the Hill. Undocumented women laboring as domestic workers in private homes, or day laborers and dishwashers paid under the table, are no less in need of relief. But under the proposals in play, they can only hope for a more limited legalization process, which might impose deep financial penalties and drag on for years (some estimates suggest up to several million could be disqualified by barriers such as minor past convictions or English-language requirements). Moreover, it’s unclear how far “comprehensive” reforms would go toward ensuring enforcement of labor protections for all—citizen and non, with or without papers—which labor activists see as a crucial step toward building a truly fair, inclusive workforce.

skepticalavenger:

Chris Howard:  America really looks like this - I was looking at the amazing 2012 election maps created by Mark Newman (Department of Physics and Center for the Study of Complex Systems, University of Michigan, http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/2012 ), and although there is a very interesting blended voting map (Most of the country is some shade of purple, a varied blend of Democrat blue and Republican red) what I really wanted was this blended map with a population density overlay. Because what really stands out is how red the nation seems to be when you do not take the voting population into account; when you do so many of those vast red mid-west blocks fade into pale pink and lavender (very low population).

So I created a new map using Mark’s blended voting map based on the actual numbers of votes for each party overlaid with population maps from Texas Tech University and other sources. 

Here’s the result—what the American political voting distribution really looks like.

Oh hey look at all those blue spots in those “red” states. This is why it makes me ridiculously angry that Democrats just abandon the South to its right-wing fate. 

I’ll be coming back to this, I’m sure. 

Posted at 8:22am and tagged with: politics, elections, voting, maps,.

skepticalavenger:


Chris Howard:  America really looks like this - I was looking at the amazing 2012 election maps created by Mark Newman (Department of Physics and Center for the Study of Complex Systems, University of Michigan, http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/2012 ), and although there is a very interesting blended voting map (Most of the country is some shade of purple, a varied blend of Democrat blue and Republican red) what I really wanted was this blended map with a population density overlay. Because what really stands out is how red the nation seems to be when you do not take the voting population into account; when you do so many of those vast red mid-west blocks fade into pale pink and lavender (very low population).
So I created a new map using Mark’s blended voting map based on the actual numbers of votes for each party overlaid with population maps from Texas Tech University and other sources. 
Here’s the result—what the American political voting distribution really looks like.


Oh hey look at all those blue spots in those “red” states. This is why it makes me ridiculously angry that Democrats just abandon the South to its right-wing fate. 
I’ll be coming back to this, I’m sure. 

Jonathan Chait on the Democrats’ Class-War Triumph — New York Magazine

I really wish the pundit class would realize that the “class war” as folks like me who put it in our blog titles know it is about much more than simple tax rates. Even Timothy Noah pointed out that fixing the massive inequality in this country won’t come from marginal tax rates alone.

That said, hell yes it’s time to raise taxes on the rich. But letting the Bush tax cuts expire was also one of Obama’s biggest applause lines back in ‘08 (hell, back to ‘07 in South Carolina, where mainstream pundits like to forget that lots of people are no fans of wealthy elites). 

Sherrod Brown could tell Jonathan Chait a few things about populist rhetoric and class war—which was the reason why, back in 2010 after I wiped the tears off my cheeks from Russ Feingold’s loss to that vapid troll Ron Johnson (who wants to mansplain economics to the brilliant Tammy Baldwin), I decided to pay close attention to what was going on in Ohio, a state where I’ve never lived and only visited a couple of times. 

Because Brown, who cited Lincoln Steffens and W.E.B. DuBois in his victory speech election night before losing his voice and ceding his space at the podium to his wife, knows that the class war isn’t just about tax rates. It’s about jobs and trade policy, about the right to collective bargaining and unions, it’s about squeezing down women’s access to abortion to keep us small and scared, and it’s about attacks on voters—campaigns for voter ID and the type of curtailing of early voting hours and access that Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted spent most of his last year on. 

And Elizabeth Warren knows a few things about class war too—she knows that it’s bailouts and bankruptcy law, foreclosures and student loans. Warren just won a blistering campaign for the Senate and she’s going to now have to wage an intra-party battle for the seat on the Banking committee that she so richly deserves (but Chuck Schumer no doubt wants to hang on to his Wall Street money and will try to block her along with many other “pro-business” Dems). 

And the aforementioned Tammy Baldwin, who along with Brown earned her populist cred showing up to support union workers and their allies as they faced attacks on collective bargaining rights. Baldwin was there when Wisconsin stormed the Capitol and kicked off a year of popular uprisings and the beginnings of a real, deep resistance to the power of the 1%. Wisconsin workers didn’t forget when it came time to vote for her. 

So yes, Jonathan Chait, I agree with you that this election was as much about class war as any in recent history. I just think that boiling it down to taxing the rich is shortsighted. We’re going to have a lot of class-war fights on our hands in the next couple of years, from Social Security to, inevitably, more attacks on unions, from the minimum wage to the still-unfixed housing crisis to the Supreme Court nominations that are probably coming to immigration and education. Pounding the podium for the expiration of the Bush tax cuts is quite literally the least Obama can do for the working class. 

Posted at 9:25am and tagged with: class war, politics, obama, elizabeth warren, sherrod brown, tammy baldwin, populism,.

But it’s not irrelevant that American voters had a chance to lay down their marker on the major social divide of our time: whether government can mitigate the skyrocketing inequality generated by the marketplace. For so many years, conservatives have endeavored to fend off such a debate by screaming “class war” at the faintest wisp of populist rhetoric. Somehow the endless repetition of the scare line inured us to the real thing. Here it was, right before our eyes: a class war, or the closest thing one might find to one in modern American history, as a presidential election. The outcome was plain. The 47 percent turned out to be the 51 percent.

About to change the focus/from the richest to the brokest…

Welcome to my new blog. 

This will the home for my miscellaneous thoughts, works-in-progress, rants and critiques of other media, in slightly more structured form than the Tumblr and Twitter where you may already follow me.

As I’ve been thinking about what to write here, I’ve been finding this song in my head. Because it’s about time we changed the focus. It’s what I do, what I work on, what I write about. 

I left my full-time job about a month ago, and so I no longer have a regular home on the Web. I stopped “blogging” a while back, but it might be time to bring it back. I find myself constantly with stories and half-stories that don’t fit anywhere, but that deserve to be told. I write about labor, social movements, economic justice, politics, populism, culture, and other things. 

So! Welcome. Enjoy the song. 

(Source: youtube.com)

Posted at 6:34pm and tagged with: classwar, politics,.