Trump Lives Matter?

I've already spoken about how important it is to seek to understand a frustrated part of the electorate that is now approaching 50% of the country. Simply casting them as the bad guy in some two-bit melodrama isn't going to work, and in all truth hasn't worked for the past 30 years. The rich have gotten richer, the poor have gotten poorer, and the middle class has all but disappeared. After 30 years of Reaganism, where we blame the victims of corporatism and upper-class-welfare by saying that they just aren't good enough people to get ahead in a system that is rigged against them... people stop believing the old line.

They start to realize how badly the system is broken.

They start wanting to fight the system.

But how?

You're seeing it crop up all around the country: the Dakota Pipeline protests, the Black Lives Matter movement, the Bernie Sanders movement, the Jill Stein notoriety and, yes, the Tea Party and Donald Trump. More and more people are getting more and more frustrated and desperate with a system they feel has left them behind, and promises from establishment politicians have not rung this hollow in their empty pockets since the Gilded Age. Triangulation can't work when that much-beloved 51% of the vote is no longer attainable because 51% of the country may just want to burn down the house, even if they're inside, just to make sure that rich blankety-blank in the penthouse goes up in smoke, too.

People are so, so angry. They feel they have been lied to. This isn't a question of asking if you were better off 4 years ago... it's asking if you were better off 40 years ago. And for many people right here in Fillmore County, the answer is no.

And so, Donald Trump is a protest vote. He is a protest candidate. He is a protest being staged by a part of the electorate who has seen their power diminish in the past 40 years, and they realize this might be their last chance at relevancy. And they are so desperate, so angry for feeling cheated for almost four decades that they don't care if they have to destroy the country. To them, the country is already destroyed.

Yes, there are racial elements. Yes, there are elements of ignorance. But much like Brexit, the fundamental misunderstanding comes from simply thinking they're all a bunch of dumb hillbillies who don't know how to vote "right." They are perfectly aware of how they are voting, and they don't care if it's destructive. They want change, and they have been waiting long enough.

There is still time to win this, but bold steps need to be taken. The Democratic nominee needs to make bold and unequivocal promises to the electorate, and most importantly those promises must be backed up with a very simple bargain: if I betray any of these promises and stop working for you, the vanishing middle class who are thirsty for change, don't vote for me in 2020. It's not enough to say you will resign, because these same folks don't like the VP nominee either (although, as history shows, you can replace a VP nominee). You need to be willing to sacrifice your ambition and make a bold choice to show the people you actually give a damn about them. If you don't, simply put, they won't vote for you.

At Your Service,

Doremus Jessup

Working Hard or Hardly Working?

I never thought I'd see NPR put out what was essentially a hit piece on someone who has been dead since the 1940s, but they did it. It was almost staggering to see the lack of any insight whatsoever on the part of what is supposed to be that liberal radio bastion, when ideals like full employment, weekends off, and pensions have been seen as a liberal brass rings for decades. Instead, we have publicly-funded radio telling us that we should be working more, and we should be happy about it.

But let's examine the 40-hour week, shall we? New studies are showing that not only are workers happier when they work six hour days for the same pay scale as an eight hour day, but they are also more productive. Flatly put, an 8 hour day encourages goofing off. We've all done it: you punch in to work, get to chatting with a coworker, checking the news or even just daydreaming and before you know it it's halfway to lunchtime and you're out for a coffee break. Now, what fool is going to go up to their boss and say "Chief, I'm terribly sorry, but can you please dock my pay for the last two hours? I haven't been performing anywhere near up to snuff, I'm afraid." Heck, in a country like America where productive has far outpaced compensation, we're all scrabbling for every dime we can get.

And so, we have a fundamentally broken system: people don't work as hard because they need the hours, but they're essentially wasting up to 10, 15, maybe 20 hours a week doing not-work. But no one's going to say anything about it: we've got a good thing going here, don't mess it up. If I got bumped down in pay, we'd have to give up some of the few creature comforts we actually have in this stagnant economy. And so, solidarity takes on a strange new twist: we have a largely union-less working population staging what amounts to a 20 year slowdown in work, all just to make sure we have food on the table. And, most despressingly, while we could push for less hours, better pay, and ultimately a happier and more productive workforce, 30 years of Reaganomics has taught us that the system is hopelessly rigged and that you just need to keep your head down and get as much as you can before the next boom is followed by the next bust.

This isn't any way to live, particularly in the richest, most prosperous country the world has ever seen. Get involved: support labor, support organizing, support card checks, support solidarity. If we all were to work together, we could effectively spit in the eye of the selfish, objectivist, money-grubbing and greed-uber-alles culture that has put us in this thoroughly broken situation. As Ben Franklin one said, "We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately." Who knows what the next crash in this money-mad system will do, or whether it will put you, or me, or all of us out of a job. We can't afford to wait for the noose to come around our necks, we must work to fix the broken system now!

At Your Service,

Doremus Jessup

Seek to Understand

A tisket, a tasket... Hillary Clinton's #@$% basket.

No doubt you've heard by now about Mrs. Clinton's statement about 50% of Republican nominee Donald Trump's supporters fitting into the now-famous "Basket of Deplorables." While it wasn't the best thing she could have said (and in fact just cements in the ugly, elitist snob stereotype that the upper crust of the Democratic party has been attracting since Al Gore) let's look instead at what she said afterwards the soundbyte:

“But the other basket — and I know this because I see friends from all over America here — I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”

This should have been the focus of her statement. This should have been what everyone was paying attention to. Unfortunately, the current state of broadcast media seems more akin to ambulance chasers than journalists, the leading comments got more play... which is an utter shame.

I'm not Secretary Clinton's biggest fan; far from it. Like 60% of Minnesota, I supported Bernie Sanders in the primary. However, in the above paragraph Mrs. Clinton hit on something so incredibly important and necessary for this bizarre election cycle that it bears examination. It's easy to just write off Trump supporters as all evil or all racist or all stupid... but where does that get us on the day after election day? Fellow DFLers, we must remind ourselves that this is, as of recent polling, darn near half the population of the entire United States of America. To discount them outright as misguided, sad, or uninformed is to not only sabotage any chance of meaningful dialogue, but also to destroy any chance for future compromise and teamwork.

There is a lot said by Mrs. Clinton that is true: after 30 years of triangulation, welfare reform, and trade deals, the Democratic Party is being perceived as a part of elites, and we must work to fix that. People are angry, and they would rather burn down the house with all of us inside it as long as it meant something would finally be done to address their desperation. We can't keep pretending like they don't matter. We can't keep insisting that they don't count. They are our constituency just as much as anyone else, and simply engaging in gang warfare of Red vs. Blue is what got us into this paralyzed state of government to begin with.

Sit down with people. Talk to them. Listen to them. And when it's all done, and you say you're going to work as a DFLer to make things better, actually work to make things better for everyone. If we don't, we can't call ourselves anything better than those maniacal partisans on the right. We have to be better... but that doesn't mean we have to be nice. Reality has a well-known liberal bias, and we have objective facts on our side, particularly as the unique DFL: our policies work, but there's more that we can do. We need to make sure that everyone in Minnesota understands that we are working for the betterment of ALL, not just our donors or our friends. If we wall ourselves up in our fortress and say we're not as bad as the other person in the other fortress, that doesn't make us good. It's time we start walking the walk if we're going to talk the talk.

As President John Kennedy said, "We choose to... do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard." The Democratic-Farmer-Labor party has a unique opportunity to be the truly Progressive alternative and win the votes of not just 51% of the people, but 60, 70, 80 percent. It won't be easy, it will be hard, but it's what needs to be done to continue the excellent policies of Governor Dayton and continue Minnesota's reputation as a bright, shining Star of the North in terms of prosperity, equality, and most of all, compassion.

"We all do better when we all do better."
-Paul Wellstone

At Your Service,

Doremus Jessup