Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Work the States, Pack The Court

So, as my friend Paul Levy says, Facebook is the gateway drug for Twitter.  A few months ago I started tweeting, as I mentioned before, and although it doesn't seem like being addicted, I don't get withdrawal, it is definitely a source of excitement.

What does that mean for this blog?  I've kind of wavered thinking about that, but I'm thinking that it should/could be a source of enrichment.  Twitter could be front line skirmishing, and Budd's Blog could be deeper (or at least less compressed) reflecting and ruminating back at headquarters.  Get it - "head quarters?"  It's all in the head?  I guess that's not such a linguistic insight, haircutters and marijuana shops having already discovered the double entendre.

So, SCOTUS.  You have to hand it to the Republicans.  They may be an insidious self-aggrandizing lying scumbag of a party, but they sure can use their money and their energies to advance their undemocratic designs on retaining control of the USA for the moneyed and the white.  As opposed to the Democrats, who I think could be fairly portrayed as "hapless."  Trump captures the party for White Nationalists and the official Democratic response is "A Better Way."  "Hapless" is the kindest description one can find.  Michael Avenatti has launched feelers for a presidential campaign and is asked why he's doing it.  He answers, "Who's better?  The career politicians?"  Which is precisely the point.  It might be faut de mieux, but when you come down to it, it's a question of choices of real possibilities, and the Clintons -- I'm increasingly angry with them and how they have smothered the party for decades, although everyone just does his or her best, I know -- and the octogenarians (Diane Feinstein running at 85 is execrable in her selfishness, as is Nancy Pelosi in her arrogance and heavy-handedness) have derailed a party by smothering the younger potential leaders.  "Smother."  That's the word that keeps recurring to me.  A smothered party.  Smothered both from without and from within.

The Federalists capture SCOTUS.  What to do?  What to do?  Will the whole country retreat to Calvin Coolidge days?  No abortion (talk about words, how did they manage to make "anti-abortion" into "pro-life?"), no healthcare, no one-person-one-vote?  Are we doomed to 30 years of Five Horsemen or more of Reaction?

No.  Hardly.  Lose a round, come back stronger the next.  All the roiling has to lead to a wave, or several waves, a tide, major blowback, a volcano of suppressed desire and rage and I'm not going to take it anymore.  It has to happen, and it will happen.  Let them ride high, let them think their capture is permanent and decisive for a generation.  It isn't.

What to do?  Mobilize.  We still have the vote.  People can vote, after all, and voting and winning should lead to more voting and winning.  Really, that's what it takes.  If you're not part of the solution, Nancy and Diane, at least get out of the way.  It will come from below, and believe me, it will come.

While the national scene will be one of resistance when the House is captured, and maybe the Senate even - it's possible - the positives should come from the state level.  Our Federal system has great strengths, even if we got there by compromises, and even if It came from facts on the ground in 1787, rather than a great theoretical plan.  What we have now is dysfunctional democracy, where smaller and more rural areas have disproportionate influence in government.  But the Federal system makes it possible for states to act independently, and it's even true that the rightward turn centrally could lead to more freedom to act peripherally, this time in an anti-racist state's rights movement.

The urban and "progressive" states -- that word has been captured by a political program, and I'm struggling to find something more generic, help me here -- can undertake programs on their own in health, environment, education, information and communication, civil rights and liberties, everything but foreign relations and defense although who knows what the future holds.  Imagine a Medicare For All type program adopted by 12 or 13 states acting collectively, representing more than half the American population, and pooling funding and administration, a nation within a nation.  Why not?  It would be legal.  If other states wanted to join, they would have to apply!  And they could tell the poor states (the "takers," from a tax and redistribute point of view) to deal with it, if they want to join they have to meet democratic standards, redistrict by non-partisan committee, meet minimum funding levels for various endeavors, take the positive aspects of the EU.

They could adopt in common programs for cap-and-trade, or carbon taxes, on public financing of trade and higher education -- and in most situations wouldn't need to do more than pass the same model system independently, and wouldn't need to fund it collectively.  Embody the "Laboratories of democracy" insight of Justice Brandeis in New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann:"a state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country."

That's the positive side, in the states.  What about the Feds, and what about what I started out saying, that I've been spewing on Twitter?  The central government is still a positive force, despite our current setbacks and the imminent capture of SCOTUS.  It's a point of resistance for the moment.  Rather than taxing your attention span further, dear reader, let me simply cite a recent tweet and response for what to do about the takeover.  As Avenotti says, you have to be active, and the Democrats have to stop bringing a cap gun to a real gun fight - I can't even dignify their actions as a knife.  I'd say about SCOTUS, stop the deification!  Stop the reverence.  It's a political capture by the Republican Party.  They started it by nominating Bork, Thomas, et al.  Formally, we would term them assholes.  Really, these are insidious men -- all men, all Catholic men with the Catholic arrogance of dogma brought to the public realm, and not only attitude, but actual policies.  So, screw it!  There is no alternative to fighting back.  Here it is in compact form:

18h18 hours ago
However you might feel about the eventual SCOTUS nominee, court packing is a truly, monumentally terrible idea. I'm shocked it has gained this much steam. We cannot and will not defend our institutions by destroying them.
Disagree. 9 justices is a norm, not a law. So many norms are being violated re court, are we really going to put up with violation of norms of decency and equal voting, by respecting the one norm that the Republicans have left unbroken?

Budd Shenkin

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