Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What do we do now?

Matt Taibbi interviews Bernie Sanders in the new Rolling Stone. They talk about a lot of stuff but Bernie's most crucial message here is about doing politics in a way that connects with rather than manipulates people. What that means first and foremost is talking to voters instead of to donors.
President Obama talked after the election about winning Iowa by going into counties even if the demographics didn't "dictate" success there. This seemed to be a criticism that the party had decided to ignore big parts of the country.

I talked about that in the book. That's exactly what we did. We had 101 rallies in that small state. That's grassroots democracy. You speak to three-quarters of the people who end up voting for you. In New Hampshire, we had just a zillion meetings – far more people came out to our meetings. If you had the time to do that around the country, the world becomes different. The assessment has got to be that not only did we lose the White House to the least-popular candidate in perhaps the history of America, certainly in modern history, but we've lost the Senate, we've lost the House, we've lost two-thirds of the governors' chairs in this country. We've lost 900 seats in state legislatures throughout the country in the last eight years. Maybe it might be time to reassess?

Is there any way to read that except as a massive repudiation of Democrats?

No. I can't see how any objective person can. It speaks to what I just mentioned; we cannot spend our entire life – I didn't, but others do – raising money from wealthy people, listening to their needs. We've got to be out in union halls, we've got to be out in veterans' halls, and we've got to be talking to working people, and we've got to stand up and fight for them.
Go outside. Talk to people. Stop relying on corporate media infrastructure and Big Data to deliver a finely tailored message to a neatly carved out set of demographic cohorts. Do something real. Or, if you are Donald Trump, at least appear to do that which is the next best thing.
With Trump, was there a moment during the past year when you went from thinking "This is a joke" to "This is real!" Or did you realize right away that it was serious?

I didn't realize right away. I didn't know much about him. What I believed and he believed is that the central part of your campaign should be rallies. Why is that? Because it's not only the ability to communicate with large numbers of people and get media attention as a result of that, but when 20,000 people sit in an arena or stadium and they look around and they say, "We're all on the same team together," that creates a kind of energy.

He understood that. When I started seeing him bring these large turnouts of working-class people, I knew that that was real, you know? What politics passes for now is somebody goes on Meet the Press and they do well: "Oh, this guy is brilliant, wonderful." No one cares about Meet the Press. But that you can go out and bring out many, many thousands of people who are supporting your campaign – that is real stuff. When I began to see that, I said, "This guy is a real candidate." Who could do it? Jeb Bush couldn't do that. Marco Rubio couldn't do it. [Trump] was clearly striking a nerve and a chord that other candidates weren't.

So did you, though.

That is absolutely right. Surely did.
What is going on in your neighborhood?  What is going on in your city?  Are your concerns being met?  Are your problems being addressed?  If the answer is no, then what can you do about it?
Sharika Evans grew up working in fast food. But, she said, the minimum wages she's received — at $7.25 an hour — are not enough to support a family, her health care, utilities and her bills, Evans said she was fired from the McDonald's on Canal Street following a Fight For $15 protest at the restaurant earlier this year. She held the doors open to protesters.

Around 5 p.m. Nov. 29, more than 100 service workers and supporters marched, with a brass band, from Armstrong Park on Rampart Street to Canal Street near the McDonald's between Royal and Bourbon streets. Protesters blocked car and streetcar traffic in all directions for nearly an hour and linked arms, demanding $15 an hour and the ability to unionize. Six people sitting at the intersection were arrested but released with citations for obstructing street traffic.

"The pay we get doesn't reflect the work we put into it," Evans told Gambit.

Wanda, a Walmart employee, told a growing crowd at Armstrong Park that "people shouldn't have to be poor so other people can be rich."

Co-organized by Service Employees International Union, a national Fight For $15 movement launched in 2012 as dozens of fast food workers staged walk outs across New York City, and actions have spread throughout the U.S., with large protests and rallies (and arrests) on Nov. 29. The movement made significant strides helping service workers in hospitals and schools earn higher wages through collective bargaining. But in 2016, following the election of president-elect Donald Trump, the Fight For $15 prepares for the undoing of labor agreements that would likely prevent fast food workers from organizing.
Maybe that's an uphill battle. But it always is. And maybe the eventual result is ultimately as uninspiring as Atrios describes here.  I think it probably is.  But what else is there to do?  

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