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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Conservatism Is Officially Dead - R.I.P.

Category: GOP Politics
Posted: 09/02/17 12:04

by Dave Mindeman

Let's make the declaration. Conservatism is officially dead. We no longer have to deal with the flag waving...the references to Constitutional governance... the ideas of smaller government...the caps on spending.

All of it..every last piece...has died.

Part of the demise is Donald Trump. The Republican capitulation to a government devoid of integrity is one thing. But conservatism lost its way long before that. It sold out to Christian conservatives. It winked and nodded to the alt-right. It acquiesced to foreign policy Neo-Cons. It all took its toll.

Let's look back at the 11 Reagan Principles of Conservatism that came from a book by Paul Kengor in 2014 - as outlined in the American Spectator.

1. Freedom - A loosely defined word. It's definition has been usurped by flag waving nationalism. The Tea Party. And extreme libertarianism. Freedom is important except when it comes to gays...to immigrants...to choice.

2. Faith - Faith has been extorted into a Christian only totalitarianism. Faith is a moral principle; but outside of the Christian faith - morals do not exist. The Family values of the Reagan area are now Trump values today. They are NOT the same thing.

3. Family - Conservatism trusted the family, but then began to use its own definitions. Single parent families were welfare baggage. Gay families are considered an abomination. Only anti-choice advocates need apply.

4. Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life - The pro-lifers of the Reagan area have morphed into Trump lemmings. And the ALEC organization has used abortion legislation to punish rather than promote. Human life is sacred except when it comes to war and capital punishment. And quality of life is degraded by poverty and discriminatory legal status.

5. American Exceptionalism - This was a Reagan hallmark. America would prevail in all things, because America was an exceptional, moral world power. But in the era of Trump, America is not exceptional. It is reviled and in chaos. The words of America are not trusted and are even viewed with suspicion.

6. The Founders Wisdom and Vision - The principles of the Constitution would always be upheld in conservative ideas. But once again, it is Trump that stretches the credulity of that idea. The Constitutional framers considered America a welcoming country - we no longer are. The flawed, slave owning founders still believed in equality (in a somewhat limited sense) - but even that limited equality has been eroded by Trump ideas on race and sexual orientation. And the founders believed in majority rule - and even that has been manipulated by gerry mandering and Citizens United.

7. Lower Taxes - Even Reagan's firm belief in lowering taxes was qualified by balancing budgets. Conservatism know longer recognizes the balanced budget idea. Current absurdity talks of massive tax cuts in the face of a boondoggle border wall and the need of South Texas. You cannot balance a budget by massively reducing revenue and increasing spending.

8. Limited Government - This is still the rally point for conservatism; but just cancelling regulations is not an answer to anything if people are poisoned and the air quality is compromised. Is government limited under Trump? Is he being challenged on conservative principles? And how would Reagan react to a President that adds to his personal fortune via government payments to his company? Would Reagan build a stupid wall? Would Reagan have staff and advisers that use their position for personal gain? A President who believes that only his opinion matters is not going to promote limited government.

9. Peace Through Strength - Trump tells us that he follows this principle, but strength is not a matter of building up the military. You can spend the money to do that without question. But if our diplomacy is compromised because the President is not respected and has lowered our standing in the world - then our strength has been weakened as well. No amount of military hardware can make up for that.

10. Anti-Communism - Even though communism as a method of control in a country has been defeated. Its totalitarian remnants still remain. Can you imagine Reagan standing by while Trump cozies up to Putin? Can a true conservative even fathom that?

11. Belief in the Individual - Reagan didn't believe that he alone can fix anything. He believed in each individual American controlling or working to control his or her own destiny. Donald Trump does not believe in the destiny of every individual in American. He only believes in those who agree with him. Only he can fix it. Only he and his ideas can prevail. Everything else is "fake news".

Conservatism is dead. Those principles are dead. No matter how many times they are verbalized - Trump has destroyed all of it.

And if true conservatives still really believed in those principles themselves then you would think they would fight for them. That they would challenge what the Republican Party has become. That they would never capitulate to such an obviously flawed and unprincipled President.

Conservatism is no longer even on life support. It is dead.

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False Equivalencies - Stop It

Category: GOP Politics
Posted: 08/25/17 23:07

by Dave Mindeman

I get very tired of false equivalencies.

The 2016 election was full of them. And we continue to deal with the fallout and damage even now.

Here are just a few of them:

1. Money in Politics

Hillary Clinton was reviled for taking money from Wall Street banks as compensation for speeches. Bernie supporters railed against this as if it never happened before and as if Republicans don't do far worse. Republicans reinforced the story line and hacked e-mails offered more fodder via the DNC.

An examination of her donors reveals that the Hillary campaign itself got 3.9% of its total funds from Wall Street. And if you include SuperPacs it comes to 7.2%. Not insignificant, but hardly the stuff of Koch Bros and Sheldon Adelson legend. If you look only at Jeb Bush's PAC Right to Rise - 27% of the funds in that PAC came from Wall Street.

Yes, Bernie took very little from Wall Street. Very little. And if his model could be duplicated some where, it would make all of us very happy - but that is not happening. However, singling out Clinton in the money gambit problem is a little disingenuous. Especially since she was so willing to share funding with House and Senate candidates. Bernie could not do that with his own funds.

No, Citizens United is a boon for one Party - the Republican Party. Millionaires and Billionaires (especially Billionaires), funnel unlimited amounts of money into pro-Republican candidates, PACs, and the Party itself. Republicans give faint lip service to the problem of money in politics while Democrats, all Democrats - even the so called "corporate" Democrats- are more than willing to support an amendment to get rid of the Citizens United loophole. Beating up Democrats on corporate greed is just plain counterproductive...and frankly worsens our problem.

2. Qualifications Ignored

I would hope that the election of Donald Trump will end this ridiculous idea that we do not want experience in elected office. Please end it. We passed up the most qualified person who ever sought the office of President....and she won her primary against probably the second most qualified person to seek the office. But with experience comes baggage. Experience has history. Experience gives definition. Still, to embrace the idea that private sector novices can govern effectively is crazy - and Trump proves the point. I would hope that proof is definitive. Trump is wrecking our government. And counterintuitively, I am sure there are a number of people who feel that wrecking the government is exactly what they voted for. Still, looking at the reality of what happens in that regard must be sobering, even to them.

3. Minimizing the Russian Intervention

There is also a false equivalency in how much damage the Russians caused in interfering with our democratic process. Too many people minimize it as a minor issue. A problem that didn't make a difference. I didn't think too much of it at first either, but the revelations that keep coming forward get more and more alarming as times goes by. Republicans and Democrats blame the losing campaign in nearly every instance, but the idea that this election was stolen is gaining evidence. It was always strange that a candidate could get nearly 3 million more votes and a full 2 percentage points advantage - and still lose the electoral college...especially by nearly 70 electoral votes. It is a statistical anomaly. But the anomaly was getting help. Help from hackers who colluded with a campaign for advantage. Robot accounts spewing out propaganda across a social network that reaches every person and home in the country. Attempted hacking of voter data bases - with a success rate still unknown. False news feeds that satiated the appetite of candidate supporters in opposition to the Clinton campaign. On both Dem and Repub sides. And Russian revelations of money laundering funneling foreign money into political operatives. The evidence is getting too big to ignore.

4. Environmental Concerns

And then there is the climate topics where facts are simply ignored and regulatory disdain wins the day. Corporations have been known to ignore the health and quality of life of this country's citizens in order to promote the pursuit of profit. Greed wins the day and a better example cannot be found in how we treat Mother Earth. The Trump administration has ignored all fact based data. They discredit it, they hide it, they ignore it. The EPA gets gutted. And fossil fuel subsidies continue to increase. It is more than a false equivalency - it is an ignorant gutting of science itself. We no longer have facts vs. denial...we have facts vs. willful destruction.

5. Future of Transportation

Another false equivalency is that transportation is a problem of too little asphalt and too many trains. Adding lanes seldom solves traffic congestion. Buses can help but they wear the roads down as well. Trains are a necessary alternative of the future. They move more people. They are more environmentally sound. They have lower maintenance costs. And the business community supports it fully. Yet, we, especially in Minnesota, have one Party who thinks the future generations do not need choices. That they do not deserve their preferred methods of transport. That we need more roads, more and bigger trucks, and more wasted gas sitting in traffic jams. This is NOT an either/or question. We need roads - we need transit. We can do both. We always could, but we have one Party obstructing our future.

These false equivalencies are not based on facts. They are based on emotion and political strategy. That is not a way to govern.

False equivalencies have given us Trump - NO MORE OF THAT. NO MORE.
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Big Money Is A Problem Of Republicans In Charge

Category: GOP Politics
Posted: 08/09/17 07:18, Edited: 08/09/17 07:34

by Dave Mindeman

For those of you who think that Democrats are the issue when it comes to big money in politics, please read this....

The Congressional House appropriations bill includes riders that would further pare back campaign finance rules via the following:

The riders attached to the appropriations bill take aim at how the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Federal Election Commission (FEC) enforce campaign finance law.

In the case of the two aimed at the IRS and the SEC, Republicans are seeking to keep the agency from increasing transparency. The politicians behind these measures want to make sure the IRS never cracks down on the wealthy interest that are anonymously passing money through tax exempt non profit groups -- groups that are only allowed to hide the names of their donors under the assumption that they won't get involved in politics. This is a clear flouting of tax law, but the IRS has been slow to act -- and one of these riders aims to ensure that it never will.

The SEC-related rider would make sure that that agency -- Washington's top cop on the financial beat -- never forces corporations to disclose to their shareholders when they are using their money to fund political candidates or causes.

Finally -- in good congressional form -- the rider aimed at the FEC is both the most complicated and, according to watchdog groups who have been sounding the alarm, the most insidious. At the moment, only one trade association at a time can ask the employees of a corporation for money. The rider would bar the FEC from enforcing this rule in 2018, allowing every trade association under the sun to receive money from a given corporation during that year.

Should this rider become law, these specialty PACs would be free to solicit donations from a drastically expanded pool of potential donors, and corporate executives would be permitted to give contributions to multiple trade associations, increasing the disparity between large-dollar donors and the vast majority of Americans.

The first priority in regards to getting big money out of politics is to get a Democratic Congress back in Washington. That, unfortunately, may mean that we need Democratic candidates who can raise enough funds to compete - right now - and win, so that we can reverse some of these "rules" that keep this money in the dark and keep the faucet opened ever wider.

Elect Democrats and then hold them accountable. We will never get accountability on this issue with Republicans holding power.
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