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To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory. – Howard Zinn

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The Democrats’ Performance as an Opposition Party? Pathetic

By Steven W. Thrasher, Guardian UK

23 July 17

ix months into Donald Trump’s term, and Democratic politician’s ability to be an opposition party is, in a word, pathetic.

When the poll came out saying that “Democrats stand for nothing more than opposing” Trump, I thought to myself, ‘If only that were true!’” But they can’t even do that well. When House Democratic Caucus chairman Joe Crowley was asked by the Associated Press just what his party’s core message was, he “hesitated” and then said, “That message is being worked on.”

It was as tone deaf (but honest) an answer as when Mother Jones writer Kevin Drum – as sycophantic a representative of the Democratic party in the punditocracy as there is – wrote about how people would have to be “crazy” not to “have a reflective disgust” of people who are homeless and mentally ill.

Considering homeless people are also disproportionately blackLGBT, disabled and, of course, poor, Drum managed to reveal the disdain the liberal elite has of wide swaths of Americans.

Indeed, many of the most powerful Democratic politicians and donors seem to hate the sick and poor almost as much as Trump does. How else to explain why Chuck Democratic Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and Representative Carolyn Maloney would party in the Hamptons with Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Kellyanne Conway and David Koch while the latter group was attempting to strip healthcare from tens of millions of people?

How else to explain that though a majority of Americans want a single payer healthcare system, an effort to achieve it in California has been killed … even though Democrats hold super majorities in their legislature and the governorship?

The Democrat’s death drive didn’t debut with Donald Trump, of course. The DNC’s inability to be an effective opposition party has been almost a decade in the making, exacerbated by their loss of over 900 legislative seats since Obama took office in 2009; Obama’s failure to prosecute Wall Street bankers after they stole nearly half the black wealth in the country; the party’s failure to develop an economic vision that was little more than Republican Lite (or, as Obama put it, 1980s moderate Republicanism); and, unfairly helping Hillary Clinton during the 2016 primaries, even though Bernie Sanders consistently polled betterthan Clinton and the political winds (fanned by Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter) have clearly moved on from neoliberal Clintonomics.

Now, consider all the ways Democrats told us that we had to support Clinton because Trump was Lucifer/Hitler Incarnate and then – when she lost – have supported Lucifer/Hitler. When the New York Times analysed how senators voted on 22 Trump nominees, “no senators voted ‘no’ on every nominee” – not even among the Democrats. Clinton’s choice for vice-president, Tim Kaine, voted for more than half of Trump’s nominees.

And while Democrats made a lot of noise about Betsy DeVos’s confirmation, Trump’s eventual Education Secretary, they hardly had a moral, intellectual or ideological basis for doing so.

For the past decade, leading Democrats like Obama, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, and Senator Cory Booker have trumpeted charter schools (and their disdain for unions, regulation and government enforcement of civil rights protections). They paved the way for the Devos-Trump education nightmare.

Then, three Democratic Senators even voted to send Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court in Trump’s first months (where he voted to kill a black man his first week on the job and has supported Trump’s Islamophobic travel ban), despite how Republican senators had just denied Obama’s nominee a hearing for a year.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York voted against 20 of 22 Trump nominees. But in “progressive” New York State, Gillibrand is joining her fellow senator Chuck Schumer (and 12 other Democratic senators around the country) to support a bipartisan bill that will make the civilized act of protesting against the Israeli occupation of Palestine a felony.

If it passes and Trump signs it, supporting the peaceful Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (or BDS, a movement quite similar to the boycotting of South African apartheid in the 1980s) could result in a million dollar fine and 20 years in prison. New York’s Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo pushed draconian state level measures regarding protesting Israel last year.

And this brings us to the most dangerous thing Democrats are doing: while some, like Congress members Ted Lieu and Maxine Waters, are at least good at yelling on Twitter about how authoritarian Trump is, too many Democratic lawmakers are actively legislating Trump’s authoritarian takeover.

They’re colluding with Trump to destroy thinking and political expression. If the BDS law passes, it’s would be a Trojan Horse to dismantle the first amendment broadly and to expand the notion of “terrorist” to include peaceful political protesters.

I was appalled (but not surprised) to see so many Democrats sign onto this bill, just as I was appalled to see that in New Jersey Assembly, a bill recently passed 76 to 0 that “mandates that school districts start teaching kids how to talk to law enforcement officers starting in kindergarten” and that children be taught “the role and responsibilities of a law enforcement official in providing for public safety; and an individual’s responsibilities to comply with a directive from a law enforcement official” – as if police violence is children’s fault. Every Democrat supported this outrage.

Both of these bills show us how quickly the Democrats, just like Republicans, are willing to see all of us as threats who need to be more quiet, less politically vocal and more violently policed.

And so, while I’m afraid of the Republicans running amok with access to nuclear weapons and the national budget, I’m also quite frightened by the Democrats’ inability to imagine a better world.

The Washington Post reported this week that 65% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents “say they are likely to vote next year, compared to 57% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents.”

Though Trump is historically unpopular for a president at this moment in his presidency, Hillary Clinton is even more unpopular – and the Democrats, unwilling or unable to move away from the nihilism and bad economics which made her their nominee and which ultimately gave us President Trump – seem unable to make gains even now.