Republicans 1994 – the bigot vote

2007-Jan-21

In 1994, the Republicans effectively ended FDR’s New Deal Democratic coalition by forming a more successful coalition of their own which took votes away from the former Democratic coalition. If the Democrats want to take over again, they must do the same: break up the Republican coalition and take parts of it back into their own fold.

Here is my take on who the the Republicans got together to create the “”Republican Majority” that held the presidency, both houses of Congress, the clear majority of Supreme Court appointees, and control of a clear majority of state governorships and state houses after 1994.

First the racist bigots:

The shift in the loyalties of racist bigots from the Democratic Party to the Republican party has had immense consequences in presidential campaigns and party votes on legislation.

After the Civil War, the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln was associated with anti-slavery (and other moral issues), and white southerners associated Blacks and the Republican Party with the setbacks they suffered after the war, and for a hundred years the Solid South was solidly Democratic.

Then in 1964 President Lyndon Johnson, Democrat and Southerner, passed the Civil Rights Act, and was seen by the South as betraying them, and the Solid South and bigots from all over the country abandoned the Democratic Party and the Solid South became solid Republican, and Democratic majorities in many northern states were shaved much thinner.

Practically all openly anti-minority racist groups are solid Republican now and the consistent use of the “southern strategy” by the Republican Party guarantees that racists will remain loyal to the Republicans for the foreseeable future. They gain the southern states and the few percent of majority whites who vote racist partially nullifies the loss of minority votes in northern states.

But lest we think too highly of ourselves:

Racism (like any form of hatred) is not the inherent state of humanity but results from fear, and can be created by pitting groups against each other, as in the artificially-created competition between too many workers for too few jobs. Throughout our nation’s history, minority groups have been brought into the country, forced by the greatness of their numbers to compete against Blacks (and other minorities) to reduce the wages of both, then the new minorities have been permitted to become “white”, receive comparable wages with other whites, while Blacks remain as our permanent underclass, ready to be used to reduce wages of new arrivals with derived racism used to disguise the ultimate causation, the economic cupidity of those who will economically benefit by competition and the racism it engenders.

Unfortunately, all too many of those who purport to be “Liberals” or “Progressives” also benefit financially through reducing jobs (by downsizing or similar means) and simultaneously increasing workers through various forms of legal and illegal immigration, which results in too many workers chasing too few jobs, which results in low wages, loss of benefits and job security, and the inevitable rise of fear, hatred, and racism, misplaced thought it may be.

But those who will, once again, promote the importation of endless hordes of “cheap labor” and who will pride themselves on “opposing racism” by classifying those new minorities as “white” in a generation or so, while allowing Blacks to remain black, are just as complicit in racism as their more honest racist cousins in the Klan or the White Aryan Nation.

Opposing racism means opposing setting groups to compete agains each other economically, not just getting them to call each other by nice names.

The power of the public racists in the Republican Party will continue as long as we continue to quietly act as their enablers by supporting the elite in their eternal quest for cheap labor.

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Political Realignments

2007-Jan-21

In the United States we have a two-party, winner take all system. When Ross Perot took 19% of the popular vote in the Presidential election in 1992, he got nothing, and Bill Clinton won despite only getting 43% of the vote. So (like it or not) (especially not), in order to win elections, only the two major parties typically have any realistic chance, and any group wanting a say in the political process has to join in a coalition with either the Republicans or Democrats.

The many and varied interest groups don’t just automatically like the positions and values of the major parties, so shifting alliances can occur at any time if the groups feel they can do better with the other party, and one party or the other can form a coalition that may allow them to take control for long periods.

In the 1930s, after the Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt brought together the many disadvantaged into an alliance against the rapaciously wealthy that lasted for many decades.

Then, as the Democrats slowly began themselves to be corrupted by the corporate elite and failed to deliver value to their supporters, the coalition began to crumble, and the Republicans began to take control by developing their own coalition, first with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, and finally when the Republicans took over both houses of Congress in 1994. They got control by creating an unlikely alliance of what ought to have been disparate interest groups. But they succeeded.

If we are a group that wants our values and principles represented in the political process, we simply must understand where we fit in to the current system of political coalitions and alliances, and how we can achieve more leverage.

So….much more is coming detailing past, current, and future political coalitions…


Wealth and Survival

2007-Jan-12

General Systems Theory: Whether you are a person, a corporation, or a bacteria, what matters most is not how efficient you are every day but whether you can survive a crisis.

We all make mistakes, and likely most of us make an equivalent number of mistakes. That doesn’t matter. What matters is whether we have enough of a cushion to survive the mistakes we are certain to make. Why are so many humans today so fat? Because for most of human history the inconveniences and long-term health issue of overweight were less important than the ability to withstand a prolonged famine.

Wealth is a cushion that allows us to withstand any number of bad mistakes, which is why rich people never feel they have enough, and always want more, even if it means taking it from those with little.

A thought experiment, a game… Two people ante up a penny and flip a coin. The winner of the toss gets both pennies. When one person runs out of pennies, they die and the winner lives.

Now a slight variation…one person starts with ten pennies and the other starts with ten thousand. What happens? Right. The person with much more wealth lives while the person with little dies, no matter if the poor person makes better decisions or makes fewer mistakes or is “more responsible”. Wealth can overcome enormous differences in skill or talent.

In the real world, a rich person can literally get away with murder, while the poor might not be able to survive a few days of cold weather.

That same difference in wealth that can mean life or death, can more easily lead to the rich getting richer by using their wealth advantage to make the poor poorer. If a poor person misses a mortage or car payment because they have no cushion to protect them against adversity caused by their own mistakes or just random events, a rich person can use their cushion of wealth to get the assets of the poor for ten cents on the dollar. Over and over. Consistently. Being poor means being unable to protect yourself from those who want to take even what little you have.

Them what has, gets.


pratitya samutpada – multiple causation

2007-Jan-11

Jo Etta has a post on the Change for Missouri blog that in part asks whether the poor are to blame for their plight. The answer is, of course, “pratitya samutpada“, or multiple causation. Like nearly all human phenomena, no human situation has merely one cause. The question is in the percentages.

Any situation, whether poverty or teenage pregnancy, can be a combination of several factors such as other people having power over us, or the way the social or political system is set up which may limit our own choices, or perhaps our own unwise decisions may contribute (just how does a teenager develop wisdom anyway?), and usually will be a combination of all.

For instance, a young girl may get pregnant because a guy is able to leverage a tiny difference in power, such as a tiny five ounce metal object called a knife held to her throat. Or she may get pregnant and stay that way because society requires parental notification and so permits the guy who impregnated her (her father) to decide whether or not she is allowed to have an abortion. Or she may passively allow herself to get and stay pregnant because if she has a baby, then she will have at least someone in her life who can’t just use her and abandon her. Or all three can be true at the same time. That’s how multiple causation works.

Some people will say that if her own choices contributed even one percent for the situation, then she is totally responsible for the results. Others will say otherwise.

Same with poverty. Some person or group may start a business that undercuts prices and kills off all nearby businesses, and then uses its near monopoly to impoverish the entire community. Or our legislature may structure the legal system so that the rich can pass their wealth down to their descendents with no taxes, while the poor and middle class are required to give all their accumulated saving to hospitals or nursing homes as they lay dying, so their descendents are left with no inheritance at all and thus at a severe disadvantage. Or the poor may be that way because they made the unwise decision to fail to engage in the unethical business practices that allowed the wealthy to get that way.

See? Multiple causation. So just who is responsible when the weak get screwed by the strong?