The BlueGrassRoots Hosts Thomas Frank In Central Kentucky

One of the progressives endorsed by Blue America who already won his primary is Hank Linderman, head of the Kentucky Democratic Party's rural caucus. He is also very active with BlueGrassRoots, a collective of activists that he co-founded, They held their first conference at the end of May and their keynote speaker wasThomas Frank. His presentation covered much of his last 2 books, Listen, Liberal and The People, No-- "meaning," Hank told me yesterday, "lots of tough love for Democrats, from a Democrat. One of Thomas’ central points is that Republicans get away with their fake populism because Democrats won’t offer a credible alternative. In truth, both parties need to change. When I say to Kentuckians, 'You know, neither one of our parties is doing a great job for the people,' I get 100% agreement-- Republican, Democrat, black, white, young, old, rich, poor, all genders. Neither party is connected to the people! And let’s face it, Republicans want no advice from Democrats, and vice versa. This means, fixing the Republican Party is a Republican problem. Fixing the Democratic Party is up to us. And, it will be tough to change these parties where they are strong. So, Kentucky is the perfect place to start this work."

That’s what we in BlueGrassRoots are doing-- we want to connect Democrats to their grassroots. Democrats have their backs against the wall here, our state is the 2nd or 3rd most Republican state in the nation, 40 of the seats in the state legislature are unchallenged this cycle. It’s here that Democrats should be willing to take some chances and change things up. Two of the changes we are proposing are: to reconnect Democrats with working people. This was our traditional base until NAFTA. Next, Democrats need to make rural and small-town America a priority. This group is over represented in Congress, something Republicans figured out long ago.
The conference was held at Rough River Lodge, we had 70 Democratic activists and office holders show up from all over the state, it was a huge success. “This is the most hopeful I have been in years” was said more than once. We are aiming to do more events, ideally in other locations.
As far as my campaign goes, I will be speaking with as many Republicans as possible. They like the idea of a working person being in Congress, and they like my approach to dealing with division. We treat each other with respect, and even if we disagree here and there, we become friends. There is hope for Democrats in rural and small town America, thanks for the help you all are sending.

You can help Hank's congressional race-- a true excercize in party building-- right here on an ActBlue page dedicated to progressives running in districts Trump won.

The Commonwealth Is Stuck On BIG Government Thanks To Escalating Corporate Profit Margins

-by Kris O'Daniel

The Kentucky Bluegrass state has turned hot red. A significant change from the fifties and sixties when the middle class in all of the US represented the American dream and was bluer. Hard work paid off. The lifestyle and comfort associated with the middle living used to impress other democracies. Everything was “bigger” in the US. That comfort is no longer attainable on a middle-class income. The quality of life has gone down.

The middle now identifies with Rand Paul and Mitch McConnel’s effective claim that “big government” is bad and must be eliminated. But under their rein, Kentucky has fed off the federal government for years. Their policies have instead increased, not decreased, public expense.

  • For every dollar Kentucky paid to the federal government in 2020, we received $3.16 without Covid relief. The highest in the country! In 2020 KY received $14,300 per capita versus the US average of $3.900. That is about 30% of our GDP.

  • All states have public spending to maintain transport networks, roads, and bridges, ensure public order and safety, people in jail, monitor public health and clean water, and educate children. But Kentucky has almost doubled Health Care and Social Assistance in the past 20 years to over 250.000 employees. A hidden diabetic epidemic, respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses, obesity, and mental health weigh in heavily.

Democrats’ struggle: They have a disconnect; how did they lose the middle they built?

If you were looking for answers, you didn’t need to listen to “Meet the Press” or “Fox News” on April 29. You could drive to Falls of Rough, Kentucky, where “The BlueGrassRoots” hosted their first conference. Thomas Frank, the author of “Listen Liberal” and other bestsellers, was invited as the keynote speaker:

Thomas Frank: “What happened to the value we lost? The great middle class of 1965 disappeared. In a time of growing abundance, with GDP growth at 6.5% and widely shared Medicare bills. The wealthiest owned just one billion. Thirty-five percent of workers were organized in Unions, and taxes were high for those who made earnings.”

  • Back then, in 1950-1960, when the middle class knew of comfort, the federal corporate tax was around 50%, and the economy grew at an annual average rate of 3.9%. But in the following decades, the corporate tax was lowered to 35%, and the economy only grew around 1.8% on average. Now, the federal corporate tax is 21% percent, and in several states, corporations pay zero in corporate income taxes.

  • Following the Covid recession, the corporate profits margin of a product’s price increased from a typical 11% to 54%, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Labor's share went down from the typical 62% to 8%.

Thomas Frank: “Fast forward to 2021. Low taxes, 6% are organized in Unions, five times the prescription drugs, sky rising death of despair, 16 mega multibillion-dollar billionaires, and 84% of new jobs are in the service sector (health care and restaurants). It’s an undoing of civilization and all about the well-being of the top. It’s the downfall of the affluent society.”

  • Today, the “top” are States with larger financial markets, like Connecticut and New Jersey, or the many more educated metropolitan regions where wealth tends to concentrate. Those are also the areas injecting revenue into the federal government that help us pay the bills. Mostly this is blue territory.

  • Kentucky is a top net beneficiary of federal funds because our revenue from income tax and social security is much too little to cover our bills. Corporate tax revenue is negligible.

Thomas Frank: “Republicans who worshipped the corporate sector made it easy to go abroad, with that severe domestic job loss and more tax cuts. Long summer of corporate love. Suddenly monopolies were harmless, and blue-collar unions were dangerous. Why are democrats not out there organizing their discontent?”

  • The corporate welfare is hurting the local communities. There’s little return to society on their profits, destroying state and local economic balances.

  • Rand and Mitch still advocate for coal jobs! As a doctor, Rand should create jobs that make people healthy, not sick, and land people on welfare. Coal country should have been left as prosperous rural communities, not depleted and depressed.

“Democrats have distanced themselves from who they used to represent. Bill Clinton, the flower of meritocracy: what you earn depends on what you learn. You get what you deserve, what you did in school! Democrats became the class party, not the US!”

  • Most democracies will show that education is an aid in a better bottom line for all. This is how you create comfort and trust and build better health, a long-term process. But society must include all.

Thomas Frank: “How to build a liberal movement? It’s about addition, not a substitution, about economic development to appeal to the economic interest of the working class and mobilize the CEO. For whom does America exist? Billionaires, technocrats. Blue-collar workers are not visible. Opportunities are unlimited.”

Kentucky must wean itself from federal funds and demand big corporations invest in rural communities. Democrats are learning too well that a state-led by Mitch McConnel and Rand Paul is a state entirely depending on federal money and BIG government!

Blue-collar labor must be recognized again, and hard work must pay off. The truth is rough, and Falls of Rough was an excellent place to digest it.

The BluegrassRoots was one initiative to state: We are all one nation under GOD. Finding common ground must be the answer.