The Four Percenters: Bernie Derangement Syndrome is the New “Kill the Bill.”

Back in the 2009/2010 era, someone reading liberal blogs could be forgiven for thinking that the Democratic Party was sharply divided over whether to pass the Affordable Care Act. In reality, Obamacare was overwhelmingly popular among Democrats, with large majorities of them across the ideological spectrum, including left-wing single-payer advocates who had criticisms of the package, strongly supporting its passage. But that was not how it looked in the liberal blogosphere. “Kill the Bill” progressives were greatly overrepresented online.

Today, Senator Bernie Sanders is the most popular figure in the Democratic Party. A whopping four percent of Democratic respondents had an unfavorable opinion of Sanders. He has become the most prominent voice of the anti-Trump opposition, and the most sought-after endorsement among Democratic candidates. But online, leftover hostility from the 2016 primary from Clinton supporters is surprisingly common. Once again, a reader without outside knowledge could conclude that Sanders was a divisive figure in the party. In my experience, the most angry anti-Sanders voices come from the most left-leaning Clinton devotees – which is to say, the people who needed to violate their own ideological and policy principles the most in order to take her side.

Bernie Derangement Syndrome is self-loathing turned outward. It’s victims are few in number and at war with themselves. Don’t sweat the Four Percenters.


The Cawley Stadium Site

You know, if Lowell’s Board of Parks were to lift the open-space restrictions on the lots near Cawley Stadium to allow the Cawley Option for the new Lowell High School to go forward in the decision-making process, and the City ultimately decided to keep Lowell High downtown, that would produce an excellent opportunity to address a serious issue that has been plaguing Lowell for decades: the severe imbalance among neighborhoods in the location of affordable housing units.

Occasionally, the Planning Board is tasked with reviewing a proposed change to the zoning map. Almost always, this is at the behest of some developer or property owner who wants to build something that is not allowed under current zoning. Every time, the process involves the applicant showing the plans for the wonderful project he intends to build. The Chairman then has to explain to the assembled multitudes that a zoning change is not a project permit, and that changing the zoning wouldn’t mean that the applicant can only build the project presented at the meeting. The owner of a rezoned parcel would have the right to develop all sorts of buildings and uses that are allowed under the proposed zoning. The initial intent behind the request to rezone provides no guarantee that the project as presented will be built.

And so, every time this happens, we have an applicant and a public who came to talk about what they think about the project, while the Board discusses the merits of this residential zone vs. that commercial zone, keeping in mind the full range of possibilities that are allowed under both.

It might be wise for the Board of Parks and the City Council to think in similar terms here. The removal of the Article 97 restrictions is not a choice between open space and a new high school. It’s a choice between open space and ???.

Who Is Not Supporting Whom? Establishment Democrats Skip the March on Mississippi While Sanders Leads the Charge

In this season of protest against the fascist politics of Donald Trump, we have seen a great deal of cross-pollination among progressive groups with different focuses. Pro-immigrant groups at the women’s march, women in pink hats at rallies in support of public schools, school teachers at the airports to fight the Muslim ban.

All of which makes the relative silence surrounding the March on Mississippi noteworthy. In case you missed it, which is likely unless you were actively looking, pro-union progressives have joined auto workers at a Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi in support of their campaign to unionize a Nissan assembly plant. Nissan has over 40 assembly plants globally, all of which are unionized, except for three located in the American South (of course). Last Saturday’s rally saw Senator Bernie Sanders, former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams, actor Danny Glover, NAACP President Cornell Williams Brooks, and Sierra Club President Aaron Mair join forces with local leaders such as the Mississippi NAACP chapter, Representative Bennie Thompson (the areas’s representative in Congress), and organizers from the plant to support the civil rights of Nissan’s employee, including their right to collective bargaining.

Yet where were the national Democrats? They weren’t in Mississippi, that’s for sure. They weren’t even on their Twitter accounts offering their support for the marchers – an odd omission, given how eager they are to lend their support to so many other marches. What is it about unionization and class issues that made this march so overlooked?

In the aftermath of the Democrats’ loss in the 2016 election, two schools of thought emerged about the party’s future. One side, loudly advocated by Senator Sanders and his supporters, argued for a strong economic populist message, and criticized the Clinton campaign for lacking one. The party’s losses of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan, produced by defections of white working class voters to Trump, demonstrated a need to reconnect with working people. The other side responded (hold onto your hats!) by denouncing a call for a greater emphasis on economic populism as racist and sexist and an abandonment of the issues of women, racial/ethnic minorities, and gender minorities. They claimed than any effort to solidify the party’s standing among white working class voters would necessarily mean abandoning other aspects of social justice progressivism, and even pandering to the racist impulses of the median Trump voter. The Sanders faction, you see, was abandoning traditionally-oppressed groups. The Sanders faction, unsurprisingly, rejected this interpretation, insisted on our commitment to anti-racist and anti-sexist politics, and questioned whether the opposition to a greater emphasis on class issues was actually the result of…well…opposition to economic populism and class issues.

You don’t hear that smear from Clintonistas very often anymore, because the argument was always bunk, and events have proven it to be bunk. The Berniacs whose desire to connect with all working-class voters was supposedly going to make them pander to white racists became passionate supporters of making an African-American Muslim who had once been a supporter of Louis Farrakhan the Chair of the Democratic National Committee. (Because, you see, we’re so determined not offend racists). Last Saturday, the most prominent members of the Sanders faction joined with the NAACP to support a majority-black unionization movement, everyone arguing strenuously about the connection between the civil rights of minorities and the economic standing of workers.

So why weren’t the national Democrats with the workers in Mississippi? Why is it only the Sanders wing that went to Canton?

There is a wing of the Democratic Party that believes that race gets you into heaven; that gender gets you into heaven; that ethnicity and religion and LGBT get you into heaven; but being poor? Being under the boot of the bosses? That’s just not the sort of thing they worry their heads about. When pressed, such as when faced with the possibility of a strong populist becoming DNC Chair, they are willing to back a carefully-vetted labor supporter like Tom Perez. That is a good thing, btw, that they feel the need to do that when pressed.

So…we need to keep pressing. If Bernie Sanders had actually supported muting the party’s message of racial and gender equality in order to appeal to white racists, he would have deserved all the criticism he received this winter. The same principle needs to apply to those Democrats who go silent on issues of class and union organizing in order to avoid offending the Wall Street/Silicon Valley donors. They  need to hear that their silence is not acceptable.

The whole party ought to be behind, loudly behind, the workers in Canton. They’re not, and we should remember who was, and who wasn’t.

Hey, You Put Goose Sauce on My Gander!

People who spent the 2016 Democratic primary accusing progressives who supported Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden over Hillary Clinton of being motivated by a desire to have a white, male nominee want you to know that it is very, very unfair to speculate on the motives of the people who drafted Tom Perez into the DNC race after a Bernie Sanders supporter, who is African-American, very progressive, and Muslim, started to emerge as the consensus candidate.

The Left Should Root for the Success of DNC Chair Tom Perez

Good piece in The Nation, which remains an excellent source for all things not-Russia.

Tom Perez is not his backers. Tom Perez is not the people who recruited him into the race. Tom Perez is more than the role he played in this DNC race (stalking horse for an establishment determined to stop the candidate preferred by the left). Tom Perez is an individual with an impressive record fighting for, and achieving, the things progressives value so highly. If his record seems to make him an odd choice to play Clintonite water-carrier, the history of his recruitment backs up that impression. The Democratic establishment, which initially tried to recruit Joe Biden and Jennifer Granholm), settled for Tom Perez after their preferred candidates begged off, because they recognized that the sort of party hack centrist (Hi, Tim Kaine!) that they would have preferred would not have stood a chance in the post-Hillary Democratic Party. Tom Perez represents the first time the corporate establishment of the Democratic Party has had to settle for a “half a loaf” outcome in a fight with the left. Think about all of those times progressives have complained about such a dilemma, and how victories by “lesser of two evil” candidates have been interpreted as evidence of the predominance of the “evil” side. Well, in 2016, the shoe is on the other foot, and that should give every progressive Democrat hope and optimism for the future.

While the justification for his candidacy may have been to lock out the party’s progressive wing, Perez himself has done very little to suggest that her has any interest in fighting that battle as Chair. His first action as DNC Chair was to appoint Keith Ellison to the Deputy position. Though this action is only the start of the process of incorporating the Sanders left into the party, it is not a bad opening bid. We will have to see where Perez goes from here, but it is worth keeping an open mind. As the history of Perez’ interactions with movement-progressives demonstrates (including an interesting episode involving Keith Ellison), he is someone with whom we can work.

Progressives should keep an open mind. Hold Perez accountable when there is cause, certainly. Pressure him, sure, because Lord knows he will be facing pressure from the centrist, big donor side. But there is  no call at this point for treating him, personally, as the enemy.