The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Why The American Radical Right Is Powerful And The American Left Is Meaningless

Watching “left wing” reactions to the Speaker’s election in the US House was instructive. Too many people were appalled when I pointed out that the left, the “Squad” specifically, could have done the same thing to get concessions in 2024.

If you were appalled at the idea then you are not a member of the left in any useful way.

(That statement and this post will occasion another torrent of abuse in the comments for me to throw into spam, and laugh about. If you think that after 30 years online, most of it moderating comments, you can insult me in a way I haven’t heard before, you are a fool as well as a piece of human garbage.)

You have power in electoral politics when you can deliver or deny votes and money and get people elected or un-elected. That’s the bottom line.

Usually when a House member tries to vote in a way that the party leadership doesn’t like, they are threatened with the cut off of money or votes.

Right wing Republicans have power because they can deliver votes and money. Right wing Republicans who chose to get concessions in exchange for the votes in the House Speaker election (which is an entirely democratic thing to do an in line with what the founders intended) have their own, largely small money, donor networks. They don’t need the Republican money machine. Furthermore their voters expect them to act on their stated beliefs.

The difference with the Squad is instructive. They claim to have left wing beliefs, but won’t vote them when it matter. Either they are scared of the threats made by leadership, or they don’t really believe their beliefs, or they know their supporters don’t really believe and won’t hold them to account. If you won’t do something when you have the power to do it, you don’t really believe in it.

(I am fundraising to determine how much I’ll write next year. If you value my writing and want more of it, please consider donating.)

This, by the way, is why the Netroots movement failed. For a while we had influence and were a rising power in the Democratic power.

Why? Because we could raise money from sources Democrats couldn’t; we could deliver votes and we threatened incumbents with primaries.

The Netroots lost because Obama figured out how to bypass us to get the money and votes without us and our primary threat proved weak.

The radical right has succeeded to a large extent because the institutional Republican party has not been able to bypass them and their primary threat is real. They stand a good chance of winning many primary challenges and they will make an incumbent’s life miserable if crossed.

The voters are loyal to their beliefs and, while not perfect, do have an expectation that their representatives will represent those beliefs. You may laugh at them for supporting even Trump, say, but if so you’ve missed the point: Trump gave them what they wanted most, control of the Supreme Court and an end to Roe vs. Wade. Those of you old enough will remember when Bush Jr. was forced to back down on his preferred Supreme Court nominee because she was too moderate and nominate someone acceptable to the pro-life movement.

No political movement has power if its “supporters”” do not actually vote their beliefs; donate based on their beliefs; volunteer based on their beliefs and hold their elected and un-elected representatives responsible when they violate those beliefs. (This doesn’t mean you expect reps to be perfect, but on whatever matters most — say abortion for right wingers — you hold them accountable.)

If you can be peeled off because of appeals to lesser evildom or some-such, you make your movement weak and your beliefs are worthless. Without solidarity and accountability there can be no movement which matters.

I don’t agree with radical Republicans about almost anything (except that the world and America would better off if the US interfered a lot less in other counties business). They are, essentially, my ideological enemies, though so are mainstream Democrats and Republicans.

But they have power because they have solidarity and they expect and get results from their representatives. The American left refuses to use power when it has it, and its members just want performative leftism from the likes of AOC. They don’t want or expect results and they display little solidarity, and that why for over 50 years the left in the US (and the UK) has staggered from defeat to defeat.

(There’s some conflation in this article between Republican groups, that’s unavoidable. But basically the bleeding edge, wherever it is, has been winning internal Republican party battles for about 50 years. The left edge has been losing those battles and that’s why America has become an authoritarian dumpster fire with soaring inequality which is in possible terminal collapse.)

We’ll talk a little more about real belief and the use of power soon.


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Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – January 8, 2023


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  1. marku52

    Exactly why I changed my party affiliation to Pubs this year. At least, when in power, they !Govern!. The Dems, when in power, explain why it is impossible to do anything (and invent things like Manchin/Sinema to ensure that they can’t).

    As a voter in the Pub primary, my vote might mean something. Voting for a Dem is just a waste of time. Even if elected, they won’t do anything.

  2. Ché Pasa

    “The Left…” Hmmm. For years, I’ve been intrigued with the fact that one of the long time supposed “Hard Left” sites — Daily Kos — has been utterly and completely in thrall to and obsessed with Republicans, expending almost all its resources on reporting on them, criticizing them, examining them, advising them, on and on, to the extent that there have been times when even the name of a Democrat doesn’t appear on the front page for extended periods.

    Needless to say, Leftism is nonexistent there — except for occasional attacks on it by the proprietor who apparently still suffers from PTSD due to the dirty war in El Salvador — which he blames on the Communists.

    Politics is messy. Politics is hard. And politics only now and then produces results that please more than a few. That’s the way of it when it works. But often it doesn’t work. Nobody gets what they want. So what do pols do? They change their wants.

    Right now, the chief want is for an endlessly funded defense department and security state. Even the radicals want and will vote for that. Not much else, though.

    If there were a viable political left in this country, then the arguments in favor of leftist policies would be made widely and constantly, they would be defended against the scurrilous attacks of rightists and corporatists, and their popularity would be a positive rather than negative thing as it is now.

    But as has been pointed out, the real Left in the United States has been crushed, effectively extirpated. To the extent it persists at all, it is so enervated and isolated that the general public really has no idea that any such thing ever was or could be. A handful of academics and some now very old-timers are about all that’s left of once was a vibrant Left, and what’s called “the left” or frequently “the hard left” (hawhaw) in this country is little more than the passive alternative version of the right. Not an alternative to the right.

    The Squad has had some useful ideas which they don’t stick with under the severe gaze of the Dem Party leadership, but they’ve spoken out now and then. The Radical Rs had to do basically the same thing — speak out now and then and sit down and shut up most of the time — for decades before they could actually exercise the whip hand.

    The idea that it’s better to vote for them than for Dems is… bizarre to say the least. They are terrible people for the most part who delight in bringing harm to others, particularly the weak. Those who have any semblance of human compassion or simple morality cannot vote for them. Maybe you can’t vote for Dems, either, for their faults are manifest. When you realize that neither party serves your needs and interests, and you see there is no viable Left that might do so, you eventually learn not to rely on politics and politicians at all. You find a way around them.

  3. multitude of poors

    that’s why America has become an authoritarian dumpster fire with soaring inequality which is in possible terminal collapse.

    Yep, I would only add soaring unnecessary deaths.

    I knew the moment California House Member, Silicon Valley Multi-Millionaire (as are all of the other Horrid Silicon Valley Area House Members), Ro Khanna was enlisted the Progressive Caucus was a horrid joke.

    gotta run

  4. Mel

    My own theory of Kos is that he decided to become a Democrat Party insider, and worked hard, and arrived. Now he and his site are under party discipline, and are obliged to do what they do, as much as The Squad are.

  5. StewartM

    I still can’t agree, Ian. While you’re right in that the radical right has its own big donor class (as Tony Wikret says, who was paying to bus in the insurrectionists on January 6th?) the “left” has none. In addition, I saw an interview on a news cycle pre-midterms talking about how small donations (what the “left” depends upon) had dried up (probably due to economic distress).

    The big divide in US politics is between the socially conservative elite class and the more socially liberal one. That is what our current two-party system represents.

    There is also an attitude difference. “Compromise” is not a dirty word for progressives. Minorities in a normally functioning democracy don’t have dictatorial powers, only the fascists in the R party think that they should. The R leadership could have neutered them, if they had wanted to. There was no particular reason for Kevin McCarthy not to neuter them; they hate him and his political career is over, but if he wanted to actually be speaker why not cut a deal with the Dems? The R leadership did not, probably because far-right control is what their big donor class wants.

    Finally, insofar are the R “base” is concerned, here in Appalachia I’ve been counting the number of “Trump 2020” and “Trump 2024” signs still up. That number is decreasing. Like Hitler in 1932, the neofascist movement may have peaked. However, again like Hitler in 1932, it may be yet be rescued by big money just like he was.

  6. Joan

    A friend of mine said something along the lines of, “I’m just here [in the US] because I was born here and don’t have the resources to emigrate.” What came immediately to mind was that people are quiet-quitting their own country. Maybe it is not a large enough chunk of people to matter much in the end but that stuck out to me.

  7. joe

    I would go as far as to say I believe team D and Team R are really one team with two faces. Ever since Obama gifted the bankers with a pile of presents after the 2008 debacle one can hardy say the teams are distinct. The hogs all eat at the same trough. They hang out and backslap at the same bars after showtime and probably before showtime.

  8. Purple Library Guy

    Couldn’t agree more with the original post.

    Well, I could agree one tiny smidge more. I do think that even from the very early days, what has become the MAGA right had wealthy backing. It started with talk radio and the politicization of what are now right wing churches. So the MAGA right is not by any means entirely based on small donors, and never had been. And this is a fundamental advantage right wing movements always have over left wing movements: Right wing movements by definition do not challenge the fundamental economic model and order, and so they either can find, or are created by, wealthy and powerful backers. Left wing movements by definition do challenge the fundamental economic model and order, and so they cannot find such backers–indeed, you can look at a progressive movement and immediately figure out that it is NOT left wing whatever the appearance, by finding out that it has wealthy and powerful backers.

    But you know, fundamentally the left also has weapons the right cannot have. Like, it actually proposes to do things that make real people’s lives better in ways beyond having a good time hating. This ought to create some balance, but in the Anglosphere at least it mostly doesn’t.

    One problem with most of the modern left is that it is motivated by compassion. This compassion is used as a handle to manipulate “left wing” politicians by throwing them a bone and emphasizing the consequences to some real people if they fail to take it. The MAGA right are bloody-minded and don’t give a shit what happens to people; they are willing to let the sky fall to get their way. This is due mostly to them being irrational haters, but in game theory terms it’s a powerful approach, whereas compromise to get scraps is not.

    Jeremy Corbin is a particularly sad case–a good and compassionate man, having accidentally ended up the leader of the Labor party, he proposed policies that would have been amazingly good for Britain. But he was nice and caring with his fellow Labor party leadership, who were out to eviscerate him. If he had made it clear that anyone undermining him or not getting with the program was going to be instantly out, he might be Prime Minister by now.

    But it’s clearly not impossible for the left to be hard and refuse compromise. Hugo Chavez pushed further to the left the more the right tried to nobble him; in general, Latin America seems to have a strand of leftism that’s a lot more robust–not invulnerable to capture and takeover, but more willing to push and more capable of regenerating itself when some element gets undermined.

  9. Eric Anderson

    We forget a few extremely salient points:

    1) Cognitive complexity: authoritarian personality types truly see the world in black and white terms. Study after study demonstrate people who lean left politically possess greater cognitive complexity and are thus more likely to view the world in multiple shades of gray.

    2) The big tent approach: the conservative demographic is largely monolithic, read, white and religious. Oh, and the baby boomers are still a giant segment of society. Compare the fractious, disorganized ‘left.’ Seriously, you wanna put environmentalists and trade union members under the same roof and find agreement? Riiiiiiiiiight. If one wants an example of a leadership vacuum, just take a look at Occupy. Coulda made a difference. Couldn’t coalesce.

    3) Fear: Anyone here want to take bets that if a bunch of liberals actually worked up enough courage to stage a Jan 6 type riot there would have been conservative lawmakers who stayed in the chamber with their weapons leveled ready to take target practice? Yeah. Weak tea.

    Where’s the Eugene Debs left ready to throw down? Oh yeah, watching Hamilton.

  10. Eric Anderson

    Purple Library Guy:
    “Latin America seems to have a strand of leftism that’s a lot more robust”

    Again, homogeneity. What single core idea provides the foundation to animate the left? Bernie understood this: Corporate power, corporate power, corporate power, corporate power, he said. He was derided as a simple old man by the more “nuanced” left. Everyone on the left is sooooooo much more nuanced than the person standing beside them. If you don’t believe me, just ask them. They’ll spend 4 hrs telling you about it.

  11. Greg T

    This is an excellent post. It’s why I’ve stuck with Ian for all of these years , despite the overall decline of leftist blogging and influence. . Sadly, the possibilities the Netroots offered are merely part of history now.
    As to hardball tactics deployed by the MAGA right, we”ll see if it has any practical effect. Unlike the Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives, which is essentially a PR construct,, the MAGA right is willing to fight for its principles. This isn’t true of the GOP as a whole, which is as controlled as most of the Democratic Party, and will resist the hard rights attempts to challenge it.
    But the left routinely recoils at any confrontation with establishment Democrats. Lipstick leftists like AOC advance the illusion of resistance, but can be relied upon to cave to the leadership on key issues like endless war, unlimited funding for the MIC,, big tech surveillance and a host of others.

  12. Mark Level

    I certainly agree that there is no real US “Left” politically, beyond fractured groups which are often (but not always) single-issue, & only effective on the margins, if at all. There has been some minor reformism allowed by, say, efforts to limit the insane punitive nature of the Prison Industrial Complex, partly because even right wingers realized how expensive locking up huge portions of the populace for victimless crimes (most of the “War on Drugs,” aside from Meth which of course causes a lot of violence, as does alcohol) . . . I agree with Joe that they are 1 team. I have utter contempt for the deliberately worthless, ennervated Dems, who as marku points out just make excuses about why they “can’t” even try to do anything to benefit the electorate, however like Che Pasa I would not go to the extent of joining the R group of haters & psychopath bullies. Okay, I am going to modify that a bit– I heard this morning on NPR of all places that the R’s “may” cut the War budget and how upset the Dems are about this. That specifically means the Ukraine misadventure, I assume, and in the extremely unlikely event that happens I might temporarily register as R to support an actual positive outcome. In all honesty since I moved from 1 blue state in 2021 to a new one I have not even registered to vote, since it seems a useless waste of time. I did change from D, which I had been since registering to vote in 1978, to Independent a couple years back– I think the occasion was when Obama’s “Night of Long Knives” (as Yves Smith et al call it) stole the Presidential nomination from Bernie in the 2020 primaries, though I may have left earlier. Oh, one last comment, when StewartM says the Progressives believe in “compromise” the actual words that fit is “unconditional surrender”– or one could also use “collaboration” in the sense that the Vichy government collaborated with their Deutsche friends between 1941–45.

  13. Mary Bennett

    The Old Left, as distinct from the self styled “New Left”, which coalesced amid opposition to the Vietnam War, was a serious faction which elected senators and governors and saw substantial parts of its’ program become law. The New Left was mostly a pack of ambitious sons, daughters and some grandchildren of refugees from Central Europe who wanted a way to become important quickly, because they thought they were smarter and more deserving than the dumb American WASPs. I do not exaggerate; I knew some of them. Until the victories of the so called squad, most new lefties couldn’t get elected dogcatcher in most jurisdictions. This phenomenon had extremely grave consequences for genuine social movements, such as environmentalism and the opposition to GMOs, which could no longer count on the left for allies The New Lefties , having by the mid 70s ensconced themselves in the Democratic Party, worked hard to derail Pres. Nixon’s Guaranteed Annual Income proposal, seeing in it a threat to their own job prospects. They were also among those who managed to replace reparations for slavery, which could and should have been done in the 70s, with Affirmative Action.

    I think the fundamental difficulty with this faction today is that they do not understand, and are paid not to understand, that the USA is not part of Europe. (Nor is it Easternmost China or the north of Mexico). The MAGA crowd do understand that, which is why they want no more involvement in Ukraine. Mind, I can’t stand the MAGA loudmouth grifters, and I think they have no business being allowed in public office, but when the major parties, both of them, simply don’t listen to anyone but their donors, where is a voter to turn?

  14. Eric F

    Yes, excellent post Ian!

    What we are seeing is the logical conclusion to the American experiment.
    It’s really not very complicated. The US was founded on the principles of greed and slavery, and even the founders who could claim a bit of conscience still held Mammon as their highest value.

    So now that public office is clearly for sale to the highest (marginally acceptable) bidder, should we be surprised that nobody who suggests some value other than money ever gets a voice?
    All we have are different flavors of Mammon for sale.

    Even saint FDR was just tossing a couple of bones to the rabble to calm them down.
    But do we really believe that a leftist mob doesn’t worship money (almost) as much as the plutocrats?

    Maybe that’s why so many people find the hard Right so charismatic – they have taken the bold step to diversify their lust for power into currencies other than dollars.

  15. Willy

    If you won’t do something when you have the power to do it, you don’t really believe in it.

    My comments are delivered from the viewpoint of somebody who’s felt powerless to counter sociopathic machinations from the powerful and seeks advice about what to do about it the next time.

    Brief recap: they’d feared me as being more loyal to quaint ideas like “company ethicality” and “the common good”, instead of to them personally. Yes, I could’ve gone nuclear, brought in automatic weapons or burned down their homes. But that would’ve played right into the sociopathic machniators narrative that I wasn’t somebody to be trusted by anybody. I decided instead to play the sociopathic machinators own game: to try and persuade others to join my side. But I had one helluva learning curve since the machinators had after all, been practicing power games their entire lives. They knew exactly how and where to attack a weak-minded person’s emotional weaknesses, regardless of “company ethicality” or “the common good”.

    So I try to imagine The Squad going nuclear, not with weapons or flame, but by actually holding congress hostage on behalf of their constituents. Something tells me that the thought experiment doesn’t end with The Squad giving a victory speech and the screen fading to “The End”. Something tells me that machinators will work in the shadows to manipulate weak-minded supplicants into ruining The Squad’s personal lives somehow. Our little thought experiment needs to include this possibility and consider what we might do about it.

  16. multitude of poors

    Never voted Republican, don’t ever see myself voting Democrat again in life, after my increasingly terrifying California experience for many decades, haven’t since 2008. The only way I see myself voting for a anyone of a political persuasion again is for a new Third Party; one where the first and foremost platform is human life, one that acknowledges renters and the increasing homeless as full human beings. That’s frankly never happened. At the end of the day I’d have to say Lyndon B. Johnson, despite other horrific things, at least he did something major for the impoverished in his own state and his own country. Also, to his credit he refused to run again when he might have, I could be wrong, but I sensed he felt some shame over some of his decisions.

    P.S. hope you make your target Ian, sorry I can’t donate anything.

    gotta run

  17. Mark Level

    A nice visual link here regarding what the Uniparty thinks and the (very minor) “differences”– it reinforces both Ian’s headline and the poster who noted the only actual “debates” are Culture War b.s. to divert the dumber, more passionate partisans to believe “my side” is better or more virtuous, e.g. those horrible Libs defend teh Geys, those Righties jerk off over their Guns– this meme is at least 5 years old, think I came across it on the Late Capitalism Reddit, but the Venn diagram format illustrates nicely–

  18. Mary Bennett

    This article is just one of the recent reports which detail what progressive candidates are up against:

    Rep. Katie Porter announced today she is running for the senate.

  19. Mary Bennett

    There is more on the above subject at a substack called Party Time by one Max Berger–I think I got that name right–entitled “SBF and the Injustice Democrats”.

    Here is a quote:

    “In response to the rise of the squad and the shift within the Democratic Party on Israel, long-time AIPAC ally Mark Mellman started a group called the Democratic Majority for Israel. DMFI is basically AIPAC for Corporate Democrats. Starting in 2020, Mellman raised big money from AIPAC affiliated donors to funnel into competitive primaries between progressive and corporate Democrats to stop the rise of the squad. The effort initial met with mixed results.

    “But, in the 2022 Congressional midterm primaries, DMFI eventually hit on an approach that worked. Instead of focusing exclusively on Israel, they could serve as the nexus of anti-Squad and anti-working class political spending in Democratic Party politics.

    “Lots of billionaires and corporate CEOs don’t like the idea of bartenders, principals and nurses becoming Members of Congress. Mark Mellman realized he could convince them to spend millions of dollars to stop it (and pay him hundreds of thousands of dollars along the way). “

  20. bruce wilder

    The performative “liberal-left” does not believe in their beliefs, their values, their faux ideology, the virtues they signal, because it is all bull excretions. As Harry Frankfurt famously essayed, b.s. disregards truth values — the purveyor of b.s. may want to impress or manipulate, rally the team or provoke drama, but is really unconcerned with the truth of her narrative of the moment. Is the narrative an effective deception or a realistic assessment and proof? Neither, and it matters not to the teller of the tale.

    The West, led by the U.S., has descended into a political culture of b.s. so wide and deep few appreciate the implications. One frightening implication is that objective reality and the cause-and-effect of mechanisms — physical as well as economic and social no longer figure in the calculations of our rulers, our political class. The politicians, the PR hacks, political operatives with their polls and Media contacts, the masters of disinformation in the intelligence agencies — they have completely lost the thread on how the world works in every domain. They don’t “believe” in global warming so much as they believe in encouraging some people to believe in solar panels and electric cars and other people to believe in skepticism and denialism. They do not think thru the economics of great power competition; they think Ukraine can win a war with Russia on the strength of relentless propaganda alone.

    Not-believing your “beliefs” is perfectly sensible in a world where the key to “control” and power is pure, manipulative storytelling with no reality check for facts or logic. Where people have ceased to believe in the necessary consequences of cause-and-effect, policy calculates solely on the meaning of dramatic effect. Somewhere way back stage, someone might be looking behind the curtain, chewing a handful of red pills. But, even they probably imagine themselves in a play within a play.

  21. multitude of poors

    Oops, noticed I didn’t finish a sentence in my comment above and it looks like I’d vote for Lyndon B. Johnson if he ran on a third party ticket (from his grave).

    I only wish someone with a speck of decency would even be able to run for anything, at this point. I can’t think of anyone I would support for any oncoming elections for Federal, State, County or Local Office. Particularly in California, which is infested with grifters, from top to bottom, including Katie Porter (I’m saying that as a human, and a single female).

    gotta run

  22. Ché Pasa

    So much of politics is theater, both for the nobility and for the unwashed. The pols play different roles depending on the audience, but they are role-playing more than defending and acting on their beliefs. That includes the bomb throwers.

    Their staffs and the lobbyists they serve are generally charged with coming up with the “beliefs” and whatever policy prescriptions the pol is advocating. We all know about the bills being written by ALEC and introduced-passed-signed by our numerous right wing, or just plain dumb, pols who are too busy raising funds to bother with the hard work of actually governing.

    There’s no left-wing equivalent to ALEC, and I’ve always wondered about that. Few leftish think tanks, and those that there are maintain a muted presence.

    How bizarre? Well, no. Not when the government is itself a rightish enterprise, serving the Overclass above all. What was the study a few years ago? That passed and implemented legislation at the national level is overwhelmingly favorable to the high and the mighty. That the underclass has essentially no voice at all in the government. It was briefly news at the time. And then, pffft, gone in all the tub thumping of yet another election cycle.

    And our rulers, at all levels and professing all ideologies assure us “this is the way it’s supposed to be.”

    Is it?

  23. Hart Liss

    “Watching “left wing” reactions to the Speaker’s election in the US House was instructive. Too many people were appalled when I pointed out that the left, the “Squad” specifically, could have done the same thing to get concessions in 2024.”
    100% wrong.
    Like with Dobbs, the GOP is unified on goals. The only issue amongst them is means. Nothing the extremists forced on McCarthy affects any party goal with a single exception. Indeed, the extremists’ actions vis a vis the speaker vote accelerated party goals. (*The exception is that the rise of the extremists likely makes the party’s brand yet more toxic in general elections.)
    The squad, on the other hand is antithetical to DNC positions. It does not represent the party’s interests.
    Generally, of course Ian’s right on the failure and all that re the Democrat establishment. But equating the squad with the Republican House extremists, please, no, not alike in any way that matters.
    BTW: Gotta note that the Republicans wouldn’t have a majority in the House without the let’s say own errors of the DNC/DCCC.

  24. NR

    For people here extolling the virtues of Republican “governance,” I’d just like to point out that as part of the deal McCarthy made with the radical right, one of the first things the House will be voting on is the so-called “Fair Tax Act.”

    What does the “Fair Tax Act” do? It abolishes all income taxes, payroll taxes, estate taxes, and gift taxes, and replaces them with a 23% national sales tax. It’s impossible to overstate how much this would screw over the poor and the working-class, who would see their taxes go up quite a bit, and how much of a gift it would be to the rich, who would see their taxes fall, potentially to under 1% in some cases depending on how rich they are.

    So the Republicans want to drastically cut taxes on the rich and raise them on the poor and the working-class.

    But hey, at least they “govern,” right?

  25. different clue

    @Hart Liss,

    The DNC/DCCC actions can be viewed as “errors” if one supposes they actually wanted a DemGov majority in or command of all branches. The problem is . . . they actually don’t.

    Their Prime Directive is to behead, amputate, etc. any non-Clintobamacrat which shows signs of conquering a beachhead on the edge of the Party. Their mission is to destroy every such beachhead before any non-Wall Street Democrats can break out of any such beachhead.

    Behold how the DNC/DCCC carefully defeats or deletes every non DNC/DCCC type in a primary or in an election.

    A “something better” movement-load of people may have to study the system and society to find battlefields they can win on and beachheads they can take and secure and hold. Then they can try breaking out of them.

    They would also have to be the “kind” of people who would not mind committing career suicide for themselves in order to achieve career assassination against high profile obstacles and enemies in the Mainstream Democratic Party. We would need to have a few Red Gingriches. The Prog Squad are not that kind of people. And of course the Nazi Paperclipper Deep State is always watching to spot and delete such people whenever they become visible. So that would also have to be successfully countered.

  26. Willy

    Progressives play by rules. They spend much energy trying to get others to play by rules. Others just play to win. These others laugh at the lefts attempts to get everybody to play by rules. Winning is the only virtue for them. “After all, we’re rich and you’re poor” they say. “Don’t our results speak for themselves?”

    Hint: not playing by any rules means that anything is possible. Anything.

    That’s why I make a big deal out of ridiculing them regardless of party affiliation. But since an awful lot of them are “conservatives”, I tend to usually go there. But I’m far more impressed by what I’ve seen Katie Porter (net worth $1-5M) say and do than the geriatric Feinstein (net worth $100M).

    There are actually many leftist resources out there keeping focused on these principled rule breakers. But as with good music these days, one has to expend a bit of effort to find them.

  27. different clue

    Such a movement might have to begin in the gardens and wildernesses of culture and civil society and elsewhere. But eventually it would have to conquer government and politics. Sneering defeatists who say government and politics don’t matter anyway carefully overlook how very important the Overclass and its 2 Parties consider government and politics to be, and how much effort they spent to conquer government and politics, and to keep them conquered.

    If a movement ever got entrenched deep and wide enough to be able to think about starting a party and learning how to wage political warfighting with it, they would want a serious non-frivolous name for it. Yet a catchy name too, I suppose. Many people will offer many names. In the spirit of beginning beautiful future-dream thinking , I will offer the name RASP. RASP would stand for Rescue America Survival Party. Rasp sounds suitably hostile and aggressive. Vote “rasp” to give the class enemy a barbed wire enema.

    Its just a thought . . . . .

  28. different clue


    When Leftists play with eachother, they should play by rules.

    When Leftists play with conservatives, Leftists should play without rules. If Leftists don’t agree, then let them keep weeping in their corners and ‘safe spaces’.

    As Hunter S. Thompson said after he experienced his last and final Liberal Letdown . . . ” Jesus Christ! I’ve gone about as far as I can with these goddamn waterheads.”

  29. Ché Pasa

    It’s gratifying to see so many recognizing that the Democratic Party is the US’s conservative party. Not leftist. Suppressing leftism in all its forms and permutations. Yes. It’s true. Has been true for many a long year.

    So long as there is strident media proclaiming Democrats as “hard left” and “socialists!” and “Communists!” of course, there will be a lot of folks who misperceive Democratic conservatism and passivity as wild-eyed left-wing radicalism, and who see Republican radicalism as honest, righteous defense of Truth, Justice, and the American Way.

    It’s quite a trick.

    Been going on a long time, though. And by now most pols are so used to it, they think there can’t and won’t be any other way to operate. And significant numbers of ordinary people likewise.

    Corruption suffuses the entire pageant. Corruption controls. There is no realistic change on the horizon, much less a revolution.

    Yes, the Empire will fall. They always do. Eventually. But I seriously doubt that any of us will live to see it.

  30. multitude of poors

    Re Porter, as an impoverished California renter in their sixties, I’m not impressed ; and comparing her with Feinstein is a meaningless and incredibly low bar. Porter first assumed office in January 2019, in an incredibly wealthy, Orange County, republican district, how does a Proclaimed Progressive™ achieve that?

    She strikes me as a bully striver, much like Kamala Harris, rapidly hopping from one Office™ to the next higher—constantly running and fundraising (whoah 19.8M campaign fund according to the below AP piece) for that next higher perch—using being a single female with kids as a merit badge. But, she doesn’t have anything in common with the average and impoverished single females (or impoverished males) who didn’t have banker fathers, or attend schools such as: Phillips Academy, Andover; Alma mater; Yale College (BA); Harvard University (JD):

    Katie and housing: 09/09/22 By Brian Slodysko Rep. Katie Porter’s university housing deal draws scrutiny

    WASHINGTON (AP) — In Orange County, California, where the typical house sells for $1 million, Rep. Katie Porter’s four-bedroom, three-bath residence in a leafy subdivision on the University of California Irvine campus is a bargain.

    The progressive Democrat and law professor, who has lamented the cost of housing in her district, purchased it in 2011 for $523,000, a below-market price secured through a program the university uses to lure academics who couldn’t otherwise afford to live in the affluent area. The only eligibility requirement was that she continue working for the school.

    For Porter, this version of subsidized housing has outlasted her time in the classroom, now extending nearly four years after she first took unpaid leave from her $258,000-a-year teaching job to serve in the U.S. House.

    But the ties go deeper, with at least one law school administrator, who was also a donor to her campaign, helping secure extensions of her tenure while she remained in Congress, according to university emails obtained by The Associated Press.
    Still, longtime government ethics watchdogs in Washington, including those with favorable opinions of the congresswoman, say it’s difficult squaring Porter’s housing situation with her crusading rhetoric.

    “She has a reputation for being highly ethical and requiring others to live up to that standard,” said Craig Holman, a lobbyist for the Washington-based government watchdog group Public Citizen. “Let’s hope she is not running short of her own ethics with the university.”

    A bully to her staff (you’ve got to view the visuals to appreciate this piece): 12/29/22 By Morgan Phillips Democratic Rep. Katie Porter denies firing staffer for getting COVID and implying she infected her after alleged texts from aide surfaced :

    Rep. Katie Porter denied firing a staffer for passing on Covid-19 to her after a testy text message exchange emerged that seemed to imply otherwise.

    The Twitter and Instagram account Dear White Staffers, popular for gossip on Capitol Hill, shared a text exchange between the California Democrat and a staffer with the caption:’ VIBE CHECK: Rep. Katie Porter fires staffer after both test positive for COVID. Full texts from the Congresswoman firing the staffer via text. Shared with permission from staffer.’

    Screenshots of text messages between Porter, D-Calif., and former staffer Sasha Georgiades where Porter tells Georgiades ‘you gave me Covid’ and does not acknowledge the staffer’s apology or her explanation that she had not tested for the virus because she was preoccupied with the death of a friend.

    Adding, where’s that mask Katie—standing right next to the horrid president—if you’re so concerned about Covid 19? And where’s her commentary on the ghastly amount of unnecessary deaths in California and New Yorks’ nursing facilities?

    gotta run …

  31. elkern

    “…the American Radical Right is powerful and the American Left is meaningless” because the Right is rich and well organized, while the Left is poor and disorganized.

    The two axes (money & organization) are strongly linked, in both directions.

    The Right is organized because groups of rich men have created & funded long-lasting institutions (think tanks, etc) to promote their interests, and these organizations have increased the income, wealth, and power of the men who built them (via tax cuts). The same institutions have purchased the loyalty of thousands of smart boffins, with a kind of rent-to-own scheme where people paid to write op-eds come to believe their own propaganda.

    Also, Right-wing Zillionaires mostly got rich through traditional Big Business: large organizations (mainly Manufacturing or Extractive industries) where “effective” management is rewarded by promotion ( = more money). (note: this system is declining, as “self-made” Zillionaires pass their fortunes down to their born-on-third-base children, but the point still stands: money tends to flow toward people who thrive in corporate structures).

    OTOH, the modern (American?) “Left” rejects what it views as traditional hierarchies. This is (theoretically) a Good Thing; hierarchies enforce power imbalances, and are unbearable even to insiders once they succumb to institutional sclerosis. But the Left hasn’t presented an effective alternative to hierarchy as a structure to organize people’s time and energy. By rejecting hierarchies, the (modern) Left ensures that it is incapable of maintaining cohesion of purpose – different factions will always fight about which kind of hierarchy is most important to fight against…

    Note: the Clinton Democrats (DLC, etc) have mimicked the traditional right-wing structure, mostly using NGO’s as incubators rather than Corporations, but that’s neither effective nor sustainable.

  32. different clue

    Here is a story giving just one example of how the power groups and enforcers in
    America target and kill-if-necessary any person who shows signs of effective leftist action. This should be taken account of in any effort to understand why the left is so weak. If the authorities search, hunt and kill every non-weak leftist whenever he/she emerges, the weak left will be selected for and any strong left will be selected against.

    Any wannabe-left-wing change seekers will have to figure out a way to cope with this, work around it, etc.

    Does Canada have a Nazi-Paperclipper Deep State and its thousands of wittingly or unwittingly aligned and supportive Police Departments and etc. the way America has? If not, then some of our Canadian friends may have trouble understanding why the American Left is so weak.

    But not all of them. Jeff Wells understands it. He used to write articles about it at his Rigorous Intuition 2.0 Blog. The complete form of which has been made extremely difficult to find.

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