Today, a lumbering, generally incapacitated Senate, filled with elderly men and women barely able to think clearly, and notable for an inability to get much accomplished even on the best of days, took up an attempt to debate a bill to amend the Voting Rights Act (of 1965), to insure that Americans have the right to vote. It failed. I don't mean the bill failed; I mean the attempt to begin a debate failed. The Republicans-- all but one of them-- voted against having a debate and, even though there were more members who wanted it (51) than opposed it (49)... well, that's the way the Senate is rigged, not by the constitution, by conservatives. And conservatives in both parties are keeping it that way by refusing to consider filibuster reform.
New York Congressman Mondaire Jones knew what to expect from the Senate but he was still frustrated and pissed off... and sent this statement to his constituents in Westchester and Rockland counties, calling out the culprits by name:
There is no bipartisan path to saving our democracy in the face of the Republican assault on the right to vote. That was made clear in June when every Republican Senator voted to block the For the People Act, in October when every Republican Senator voted to block the Freedom to Vote Act, and once again today.
The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, as it was passed in the House, is critical to protecting the sacred right to vote. I’m especially proud that it includes my bill with Rep. Ruben Gallego, the Inclusive Elections Act, which would restore Section 2 by enabling voters to challenge laws that make it harder for people of color and linguistic minorities to vote.
After months of delay, obstruction, and pointless capitulation, Senator Manchin has identified just a single Republican willing to support a watered-down version of this vital legislation-- far short of the ten Senators needed to overcome the Jim Crow filibuster.
In this moment, we cannot allow the performative desire for bipartisanship to outweigh the critical need to save our democracy. The only path to meaningfully advancing this bill, or any other piece of voting rights legislation, is clear and has been for months: the Senate must, at the very least, make an exception to the filibuster for issues related to our constitutional rights and pass democracy-saving legislation with a simple majority vote.
That’s why I was the first member of Congress to call on President Biden to publicly support filibuster reform, and why I reiterate that call once again today. If we’re going to save our democracy, we need him to finally treat this crisis with the urgency it demands. With each day that he declines to use the full weight of his office to prevail upon Senators Manchin and Sinema to support filibuster reform, our democracy, and our country, fall further into crisis
An old friend of mine from the music business, Bob Lefsetz, writes a widely-read music industry newsletter that occasionally veers into politics. Today, following the pre-midterms debacle, was one of those days. But he doesn't sound anything like the garden variety politics pundits who were all over the topic today. He starts off talking about how Democrats compare the GOP to the North Vietnamese and the Taliban, probably a bad idea to begin with-- not for Bob, for the Dems. He reminds his readers how demonized the North Vietnamese and, more recently, the Taliban were and how "the domino theory said they must be defended against [them], otherwise Communism would march down the country and spread even further and… AND WHAT? the younger generation began to ask. They were shipped halfway across the world WHY? Once they thought about it, it didn’t make sense to them. Meanwhile, when America pulled its troops the North ran over the South nearly as fast as the Taliban recaptured Afghanistan. You see the South, just like the lauded Afghani troops, just didn’t care that much, they were supported by those American dollars, and once they were gone, so was their will to fight with all their heart and might, and the North Vietnamese took over."
So, Republicans want an America that no longer exists, and they’re doing their best to make sure they get it. And if they can’t, which they can’t, progress moves forward, they’re going to do their best to put the brakes on change. Democrats? They just don’t care that much and they’re in disarray to boot.
That’s right, the Republicans are united. Together. They all hew to the same line, march to the same beat. Look at how they’ve all lined up behind Trump. They know it’s about defeating the enemy, the Democrats, they put their individual needs to the side in pursuit of mass victory. And they seem to be damn good at it.
So on the left there is complaint of misinformation, disinformation. But first and foremost, the right is not privy to this analysis. Like in North Vietnam, the message is controlled, in today’s internet world it cannot penetrate. So facts are irrelevant, it’s team ball, 24/7, and it turns out the right needs victory more than the left, it never gives up, it stays on message, it never sleeps. Meanwhile, the left shrugs.
Let’s see, the left… The supposed “big tent.” Well, the left counts on minorities to get them elected, but then ignores them. It doesn’t deliver what is promised. And then these same minorities stop showing up. They’re doing the heavy lifting, like the Blacks in Georgia, and then when victory is secured they barely get lip-service. And you wonder why minorities stop voting. Hell, if it weren’t for Trump, do you think everybody would have been so fired up about going to the polls last year?
Yes, on seemingly every metric, the Democrats are the majority. Even their principles are the majority. Again and again this is revealed, the people want gun control, health care, so many programs. But the Republicans don’t give them to them. The philosophy is different, you’re on your own, it’s your responsibility. I mean who wants to pay for the takers anyway? And all of the right in D.C. is afraid to cross Grover Norquist, taxes are anathema, even the collection of taxes is anathema, the IRS has been hobbled to the point where you can cheat and get away with it, your odds of being audited are incredibly low, and just about the same as those of a poor person. Furthermore, believing in an old America that does not exist, i.e. the American Dream, every poor person on the right doesn’t want higher taxes, because they plan to be rich, this is the hope that’s keeping them alive.
Yes, the switch has flipped. Now a lot of the rich are Democrats and the poor blue collar workers are Republicans. Because the Democrats stopped looking out for them. And if they’re ever coming back, it’ll be years, they’re now embedded on the right.
And every time the Democrats have a victory based on change, they move to the center, alienating those with hope. So why should those on the left continue to show up and vote, why should they care?
The right’s way of life is threatened 24/7, that’s what they believe. Meanwhile, everybody on the left accepts reality and goes to sleep.
Now don’t tell me about the activists on the left. They get shot by the party powers. Like AOC. Irrelevant of whether you believe in her positions, name one other elected official on the left who is speaking to the youth, NAME ONE! It’s the right that has young players, with an endless farm team.
And if you look the wrong way, you’re excoriated and after being pilloried you’re removed on the left, like Al Franken. Meanwhile, Matt Gaetz is still in office. As is Marjorie Taylor Greene. Greene’s main complaint against Liz Cheney…SHE’S DISLOYAL! Where’s the loyalty on the left, let’s ask Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. Cheney is loyal to democracy, at the risk of her elected position. Manchin and Sinema are loyal to their donors, their pocketbook, and care not a whit about the team, so the team loses.
As for the woke… It seems Democrats care more about trans people than they do poor people, and people of color. Only the Democrats could come up with a moniker that its members reject, i.e. Latinx. The left is so busy hewing to an inane line that they’ve lost touch with the mainstream public. You can want national health care, support a ton of Bernie Sanders’s policies, yet still be angry about trigger warnings and the rest of the ridiculousness emanating from college campuses. Rationality has left the building. But the point here is not reality, but MESSAGING! The left gets labeled and then accepts the label. The right is fighting a war, the left is fighting amongst itself.
I’m not going to even bother to delve deeply into the issues, the point here is the battle. The right is truly convinced that the left is coming for its way of life. The left? Well, they look around and think things are pretty good, and when an issue arrives… NOW they’re concerned about the makeup of the Supreme Court, where were they when Hillary Clinton was the last line of defense here?
The Democrats only show up when it’s too late. They can’t seem to be energized before that. And who are you going to believe anyway. The right is all about true believers. The left is all about compromise with mealy-mouthed candidates who no one can believe in but the fat cats that support them.
And the right is playing the long game. The Federalist Society. The focus on control of state governments. You don’t win on the first day, you can’t just show up every two or four years for elections. And what is going to make you show up anyway?
As for social tropes… That’s what people care about, that’s what energizes them. Trans people in their bathrooms. Bad books in schools. Progress always wins, IN TIME! After all, gay people can get married and marijuana is legal in so many states, but… That’s not the game, the real game is ginning up some issue to make sure people get energized and vote Republican, next time there’s just another issue.
Meanwhile, those on the left who do care have no idea what is truly going on with the right. They’ve excised both their Republican friends and Republican media. They look around and think everything is okay. Everybody they know is on the same page. Or the trouble is in red states, or other places that don’t affect them. But authoritarianism never sleeps, just like rust.
Yes, the right wants someone to make it right, to keep the trains running on time, if not the post office. Then again, they want the trains gone too, at least government support for them. But they’re willing to sacrifice so much, even their vaunted freedom, so immigrants don’t cross the border and darkies don’t move into their neighborhood and take power. If it takes a strongman to achieve this, so be it.
Does democracy hang in the balance?
It does. But try convincing the rank and file voter, who can’t make ends meet. They’re looking at today, maybe tomorrow, but the long view is out of their purview, beyond their vision, their goal is just to live that long, to be housed and fed, never mind shot along the way in unsafe neighborhoods that the right keep crowing about and the left can’t seem to improve.
So even if you’re motivated, it’s hard to believe in the left. We want vision, a march forward, not more of the same. Terry McAuliffe was a flawed candidate. Then again, the left specializes in this, running compromise candidates who no one can believe in. Forget the agenda, can I at least believe in those who are running? Nothing seems to get done in D.C. anyway. How is it the flaw in moving forward is the rogue Manchin and Sinema when the real enemy is the block on the right who won’t participate in government, who refuse to even investigate 1/6? Talk about messaging, talk about controlling the dialogue.
So this is the way it is folks. The Republicans need it more and will do anything and everything to get what they want. They’re even challenging the underlying game. Meanwhile, those on the left believe in an era of government from half a century ago, which is long gone.
There’s no way Biden wins in 2024. And if he doesn’t run, and he probably won’t, there’s no way in hell Kamala Harris can win. I can’t think of a single person to nominate. Trump is on his way to victory. Whether he keeps his hand on the scale or not. It’s hiding in plain sight but those on the left refuse to see it, refuse to believe it can happen, deny the deleterious effects like Jews in Germany.
When do you freak out? The Democrats are like lobsters in a pot. Not even complaining their space is restricted, that they’ve been caught and are no longer in the ocean, and oblivious as the temperature goes up and they’re slowly cooked. Once upon a time they were raw, but self-interest and disinterest allowed them to cede ground slowly and then…
This is how you lose a democracy, slowly, and then all at once.
But I’m not trying to scare you. It’s the unreachable I’m trying to scare. They’re just too somnambulant, down their pleasure pathways on the internet, to be paying attention, to truly get it. Wouldn’t you like to have an enemy like this? The Republicans are hoovering up adherents while the left is in total disarray, no legendary leaders, not even a coherent agenda, not even the ability to enact change.
North Vietnam won.
As did the Taliban.
Because they wanted it that much. They needed it that much. It was all they thought about 24/7.
Just like the Republicans.
Mostly Lefsetz writes about music but, as you can see, he's damn refreshing when he takes on politics as well. Think about signing up for his newsletter, especially if you're up for hearing about the music biz.