DSA in the News
Black Friday Protest
0. DSA News
Abolish the New Jim Crow
Statement on the 2014 Elections
Slow Food December 4
The Finance Economy Can Kill You
A Short History of Killer Cops Let Off the Hook
2. Democratic Socialism
Not a Conspiracy Doesn't Mean Unplanned
The Strange Death of Co-Operative England
Bringing Cooperation to the Academy
Events of Interest
0. DSA News
DSA in the News
Democracy for All Amendment
'Tis the Season
November Jobs Report
2. Ars Politica
You Take From the People"
by Alexander James Franklin
3. Democratic Socialism
Cities and Unions
Events of Interest
0. DSA News
On Normalizing Relations with Cuba
Toward an Intersectional Left
Socialist International Council
For Chicago DSA Members
Illinois' Fiscal Cliff
Events of Interest
for Fair Trade
by Tom Broderick
There is no doubt that international
trade agreements are difficult to digest. Even more so when they
are crafted by corporate advisors behind closed doors with the
public and our elected Congressional Representatives kept at
bay. So members of the Greater
Oak Park chapter of Democratic Socialists of America wrote
a referendum asking Oak Park voters to urge our Village government
to declare Oak Park a Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Zone.
After the polls closed on November 4th
and the votes were tallied, the referendum passed 12,139 to 4,376.
More than 73% of the voters supported the referendum.
The reason we pursued the referendum
was to allow for public education about the Trans-Pacific
Partnership (TPP) and Fast
Track authority, even if only in Oak Park. Chicago DSA is
a member of the Illinois Fair
Trade Coalition (IFTC) . The IFTC is solely concerned with
fighting trade agreements like the TPP. Oak Park may have been
the only community in the U.S. with a referendum on the TPP,
but the Berkeley, California, City Council recently declared
Berkeley a TPP/TAFTA Free Zone by a nearly unanimous vote.
We launched a letter writing campaign,
with letters by different individuals highlighting various problems
with the TPP and Fast Track. These were published in our local
newspapers over the seven months leading up to the election.
We took part in a Village fair to distribute
literature featuring the referendum text and additional information
with references for those who might want more information. We
did a post card mailing to more than 500 Oak Park residents.
We reached out to our IFTC allies and others, including area
congregations, asking them to promote our referendum. We handed
out literature at our local farmers market and distributed more
at some of our public rapid transit stations.
During the outreach, more than one person
questioned what the citizens of Oak Park or the Village Board
could do about the TPP. The Village Board can do little more
than pass a symbolic resolution should they so choose. If the
U.S. Government passes the TPP or any of the other massive deals
being fashioned outside the view of the public, any stand taken
by the Village would be moot. In addition to the TPP, current
deals include the Trans-Atlantic
Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), also known as the Transatlantic
Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trade
In Services Agreement (TISA).
What can make a difference is stopping
Fast Track. This is a procedure where our elected Congressional
Representatives cede their traditional authority over international
trade deals to the Executive Branch. This process only goes back
to the time of President Nixon, where trade deals focused on
tariffs and quotas. The above mentioned trade deals go far beyond
quotas and tariffs. Many of our current Congressional Representatives
don't have a frame of reference prior to Fast Track.
Stopping Fast Track is key to derailing
the TPP and the other trade bill monstrosities. Unfortunately
the result of the recent election makes stopping Fast Track and
thus the TPP more difficult. There was concern that Republican
Speaker of the House, John Boehner would to try to push Fast
Track authorization through the House during the lame duck session.
While possible, I think it unlikely since the next Congress will
have Republicans in control of both the House and Senate.
More than 150 Democratic Representatives
signed a "Dear Colleague" letter stating their opposition
to Fast Track. Twenty-two Republic Representatives signed a separate
"Dear Colleague" letter expressing the same sentiment.
The House is where the fight is. Although Fast Track authorization
may not come up during the lame duck session, the fight against
it must be fully waged.
Senate President Harry Reid (D-NV) previously
announced that he had no intention of calling for a vote on Fast
Track authorization. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is likely
to assume leadership of the Senate in the next session. Immediately
after the election, Sen. McConnell, Rep. Boehner and President
Obama were each talking about how Congress and the White House
could work together. Surely the three of them are salivating
over the possibility of compromise (sic).
Fast Track Authorization and the neo-liberal
trade deals: TPP, TAFTA/TTIP, and TISA fit that agenda. They
are all anti-democratic. They all are about enhancing the wealth
and power of an elite segment of global society.
Earlier I wrote about the "Dear
Colleague" letters opposing Fast Track. Eight Illinois Democratic
Representatives signed on to that letter. They are: Bobby L.
Rush (202 225 4372); Robin Kelly (202 225 0773); Daniel Lipinski
(202 225 5701); Luis Gutierrez (202 225 8203); Danny K. Davis
(202 225 5006); Jan Schakowsky (202 225 2111); William Enyart
(202 225 5661, a lame duck but call anyway) and Cheri Bustos
(202 225 5905).
If one of these is your Representative,
please call them in their DC office and ask to speak with the
person who deals with international trade. Tell them to thank
your Representative for signing the DeLauro/Miller letter opposing
Fast Track Legislation. As important, tell them that you oppose
the TPP. Just because they signed the DeLauro/Miller letter,
they may not have taken a public position against the TPP. My
Representative, Danny Davis, signed the DeLauro/Miller letter
but has taken no public position against the TPP.
Four Illinois Democrats refused to sign
the DeLauro/Miller letter. They are Mike Quigley (202 225 4061);
Tammy Duckworth (202 225 3711); Brad Schneider (202 225 4835,
a lame duck but call anyway), and Bill Foster (202 225 3515).
If one of these is your Representative, please call their DC
office and ask to speak to the person who deals with international
trade. Please do this as soon as you can during the lame duck
session. Tell them you oppose the undemocratic nature of Fast
Track authority and the TPP negotiation process and you'd like
your Representative to know this. Members of Chicago DSA should
have received a post card asking you to make this call, but our
newsletter goes to some people who are not members.
There are six Republican Representatives
in Illinois. They are Peter Roskam (202 225 4561); Rodney Davis
(202 225 2371); Randy Hultgren (202 225 2976); John Shimkus (202
225 5271); Adam Kinzinger (202 225 3635); and Aaron Schock (202
225 6201). If one of these is your Representative, follow the
instructions given after the four Democrats listed directly above.
Finally, Rep. Schneider was beaten by
Robert Dold in the 10th Congressional District and Rep. Enyart
was beaten by Mike Bost in the 12th Congressional District. Dold
and Bost should be contacted by constituents as well. Start beating
the drum now. The phone number for Dold's campaign office is
847 380 7605. Bost is currently an Illinois Congressman. His
phone number in Springfield is 217 782 0387.
Something to consider: In 2003, the
state of Maine created the Maine Jobs, Trade and Democracy Act
(Public Law 2003, Chapter 699). The act created the Citizen Trade
Policy Commission with a mission "to assess and monitor
the legal and economic impacts of trade agreements on our state
and local laws, working conditions and the business environment;
to provide a mechanism for citizens and Legislators to voice
their concerns and recommendations; and to make policy recommendations
designed to protect Maine's jobs, business environment and laws
from any negative impact of trade agreements." Seems a lot
more democratic than Fast Track and the TPP.
Dance-Away Lover and the Tragedy of the Obama Presidency
by Will Kelley
The mid-term elections of 2014 make
one thing clear: for the Obama presidency it's all over but the
shouting. This is not the conclusion of a frustrated idealist
upset over the way Obama used the rhetoric of liberalism during
the 2008 campaign then immediately turned into a moderate once
he was elected. That was nothing more than the approach used
by Clinton in 1992, and anyone who bothered to look at the policy
proposals could see Obama was going to govern as an Eisenhower
Republican. The problem is that he indeed tried to turn himself
into Dwight Eisenhower at a time when the nation needed an FDR.
He made his goal clear in 2008 when the discussion turned around
"finding common ground" and being "post-partisan."
The problem is that Obama, through this framing device, let the
whole world know what he had become. He set himself forth as
a suitor, with Republicans as the potential bride-to-be.
But when Obama set out to woo the Republicans they saw him coming
and knew just what to do next: they turned themselves into the
Dance-Away Lover. And proceeded to lead him on a merry chase.
The basic goal of the Republicans, ever
since the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan, has been the same.
Whenever they have power, fight as hard as possible to reverse
the successes of 20th Century liberalism. When not in power dig
in the heels, pound the fists, use red-faced self-righteous anger,
lie, and hope to destroy the other side. They do not see Democrats
as opponents in a game called "governing," but as enemies
with whom they are at war. The goal is to destroy their enemies.
Whenever the Republicans are out of power, then, their method
is to dig in, resist any erosion of their positions, and wait
until they have a chance to take power again.
The Republicans followed the policy
of destructive obstructionism with great success in the Clinton
Administration, stumbling only when they overplayed their hand
by trying to have Clinton convicted and removed from office by
Congress. But their ability to position themselves in the political
rhetoric of the nation succeeded so well that, in 2001, a rank
incompetent was able to take office and hold it for eight years.
With the mounting crises of 2006-2008
it looked like the Republicans were in trouble. But when Obama
announced his desire to woo the Republicans with his post-partisan
centrism they knew just what to do. If he were to be the suitor,
they would become the Dance-Away Lover. And make sure he never
Anyone who came of age during the "Me
Generation" probably heard of the Dance-Away Lover at least
once. Social psychologists coined the term to describe one of
the "romantic roles" a person could take in a love
relationship. The Dance-Away Lover always offers the prospect
of a satisfying, committed relationship -- if only the person
in pursuit would work a little harder. The idea is for the Dance-Away
Lover to appear available and interested, but always dance just
out of reach of the suitor. Then the Dance-Away Lover affects
sad disappointment over the way things turned out. It is not
the fault of the Dance-Away Lover that no relationship has been
established, no deal has been struck. Rather, it is the fault
of shortcomings on the part of the suitor. If only the suitor
would try a little harder, though, perhaps this time
everything will turn out fine. (See The Dance-Away Lover --
And Other Roles We Play in Love, Sex, and Marriage, by Daniel
Goldstine, Katherine Larner, Shirley Zuckerman and Hilary Goldstine;
William Morrow and Company, 1977.)
So as Obama ardently, sincerely sought
mutual agreement with the Republicans, they became the Dance-Away
Lover and led him on dance that has yet to end. They always look
interested in a deal -- then dance away at the last minute, feigning
bitter disappointment over the way things turned out. By adopting
this role they successfully pulled the policies of the Obama
administration farther and farther to the right without any concessions
on their part. (See Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the
U.S. House of Representatives, by Robert Draper, Free Press,
2012; and It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American
Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism,
by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein, Basic Books, 2012.)
The crazy thing is that, like the cartoon
character Charlie Brown, who always falls for Lucy's offer of
a chance for a football to kick, the Obama administration never
seems to have caught on to what is going on and never adjusted
their strategy to respond to the way the Republicans positioned
themselves. It was always, 'Now that the Republicans see they
can't have a successful government without working with us, they
will be willing to take the had we have extended to them and
work together to solve the problems of the nation.' Or, 'Now
that the Republicans see Obama will be president for the next
four years, they will be willing to take the had we have extended
to them and work together to solve the problems of the nation.'
That's bullshit, as can be seen from the way Republicans continued
to position themselves through their political rhetoric. Still,
over and over, the Obama administration believed their own BS.
They believed it in 2011, then repeated it after the election
of 2012. The results of believing their own bullshit can now
be seen in the 2014 mid-term elections.
Oh, sure, since the 2012 election Obama
has emerged from time to time to pull out the same liberal rhetoric
that served him well through 2008. But by now everyone knows
it's just talk. "Assad must go" -- but he's still there.
'By the end of the summer I will change immigration policy through
executive action' -- but, sorry about that. Didn't happen. And
every time the administration appears to be all talk and no follow-through
it erodes the effectiveness of the rhetoric itself. By now his
words must seem hollow even to those who were counting on him
to take the modest steps left to him once he had followed the
Republicans down their dance-path.
So there you have him; the sincere suitor,
all dressed up, a fixed smile on his face, hand out in an offer
of post-partisan friendship, but with nowhere to go. The Republicans
have fun slapping down his hand, again, and again, and again.
But Obama is unable to move from his stance lest someone on the
Republican side snarl, pounce, then condemn him as "partisan"
and therefore unworthy of further discussions.
The Republicans have Obama right where
they want him. Immobile until they can put someone else into
the presidency in 2016. As long as he remains the suitor, and
they the Dance-Away Lover, this is how things will remain.
And that's a tragedy.
the Elections, the Politics of Phantasmagoria and Insecurity
by Bill Barclay
On November 7th, three days after the
2014 midterm elections, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released
its Employment Situation Report for October 2014. The
numbers are simple and not dramatically different from those
that Chicago Political Economy
Group (CPEG) has analyzed for the past several months.
First, about 214,000 new jobs were created,
continuing the string of net private job creation to 56 months,
a new record.
Second, leisure and hospitality, health
care and social assistance, retail trade and temporary help services
-- in that order -- accounted for almost 3 of every 5 new jobs
in October. Over the past year these four job categories accounted
for almost half of all new jobs.
Third, the unemployment rate dropped
slightly to 5.8%.
Fourth, the labor force participation
rate remains very low at 62.8% although the employment/population
ratio has risen by 1% over the past year.
Fifth, looking over the longer time
span, the "Obama economy" has, to date generated more
than 4.5 million new jobs vs the "Bush economy" new
job creation of 1.5 million.
Sixth, although not part of the jobs
report analysis, federal deficit is below 2% of GDP -- lower
than the 40 year average.
Few of the voters in the 2014 elections
could have told you any of the foregoing -- and some would have
vehemently denied at least the last two points.
Why, in the face of reality -- or at
least some facets of reality -- did the Republicans do so well
(the Democrats do so poorly)?
Jobs and the Politics of Voting
There are doubtless multiple strands
that link the jobs trends to the voting patterns of the 2014
election. I think the two most important are the politics
of phantasmagoria and the politics of uncertainty.
an exhibition of optical effects and illusions; a constantly
shifting complex succession of things seen or imagined.
Phantasmagoria describes a situation
in which illusion dominates reality -- there may, of course,
be contesting illusions. That is the goal of political campaigns
-- to make my illusion define your reality. And the RepubliCONs
did well by this criterion.
The politics of insecurity can be captured
from one question in the exit polls: over 70% of voters in the
2014 elections cited concerns about the economy as the most important
factor in their vote. Almost 70% of these voters cast Republican
ballots. Most of these voters would probably echo my DSA friend
who said, in response to the facts of job growth and growth in
the larger economy over the past few years, that he hasn't experienced
any economic recovery and hasn't seen any gains to himself or
the people he know from the "recovery."
I think both the success of the politics
of phantasmagoria and the core of the politics of insecurity
are rooted in the possibility that is increasingly finding a
hearing: that the US -- and much of the rest of the wealthy world
-- is facing a political economy of secular stagnation. In such
an economy the prospects for getting ahead, for bettering the
lot of one's parents, for the growth lifts all boats mantra to
have some semblance to reality, are called into question. According
to Thomas Piketty, this political economic path also results
in increased concentration of wealth and income and poses a serious
challenge to the future of democracy. Certainly the (un)natural
marriage between capitalism and democracy becomes problematic.
There is not the space here to consider
the many facets of this debate and the political implications
of such an economic path. It is, however, important to insist
on one point: secular stagnation is not an economic inevitability,
not the result of some immutable economic law. If the US -- or
Western Europe -- go down this path, it is the result of policy
choices, both those made and those not made.
Here I will return to the CPEG jobs
analysis and emphasize a point often overlooked in that proposal.
Our analysis was driven not simply by the need for an extensive
public sector jobs program because of growth in unemployment.
It was based on two fundamental propositions:
First, that the US political economy
is structurally unable to generate enough jobs to insure anything
like full employment; and
Second, that a jobs program should therefore
be designed in a manner that seeks to transform the existing
It was based on these two propositions
that the CPEG argued for living wage jobs to all willing
and able to work and that this was only achievable by use of
social market policies that drew upon and expanded the resources
and role of the public sector. Such a program requires a social
(public) definition of the work that needs to be done and thus
the jobs that should be created. The criterion must be social
utility, not private gain. The result is a vibrant public sector
that begins to define economic growth and offers desirable employment
alternatives to low wage private sector jobs.
Failing this task, there will likely
be continued election to election swings in the US with mounting
distance between the desires of the electorate and the policies
of the elected. One early and, admittedly, small indication of
this pattern: consider the passage of measures such as increased
minimum wage and paid sick leave and the defeat of anti-abortion
measures in states that elected officials whose political positions
and preferences are in conflict with these substantive proposals.
compiled by Bob Roman
DSA in the News
Resist Rikers is demanding reforms of
the New York prison. CBS'
coverage of a demonstration organized by Resist Rikers shortly
after the election did not mention DSA, but our signs were featured
in the accompanying photo.
The Oak Park referenda on the Trans
Pacific Partnership and on gun control resulted in news items
mentioning DSA. One item in the Chicago
Tribune ("Oak Parkers vote to reject international trade
agreement" by Stephanie K. Baer 11/5/14; the link may or
may not work) quoted Tom Broderick as GOPDSA co-chair. The Wednesday
Journal article covered both the TPP question and the universal
background check for gun purchases question. The article quotes
Broderick and identifies him as co-chair of GOPDSA. Sandra Shimon
is also mentioned in connection with the gun control measure
but is not identified as GOPDSA co-chair. Broderick later wrote
an op-ed for the Wednesday
Journal on the Trans Pacific Partnership that, in passing,
claimed the TPP referendum as a GOPDSA project.
Former Congressman Lane Evans was never
a DSA member though he spoke at the 1985
Thomas - Debs Dinner. His obituary in the Quad-Cities Dispatch
- Argus mentioned DSA in connection with political attacks
on Evans that backfired: his "popularity only seemed to
In support of the Oak Park TPP referendum,
Chicago DSA did a targetted mailing to voters in the township.
DSA raised over $600 for the Illinois
Fair Trade Coalition at a reception in the Third Unitarian
Church in far western Chicago on October 18. Independently of
the Coalition, DSA members also joined others in pressing Representative
Brad Schneider (10th CD) to oppose Fast Track legislation. This
was a bit ticklish as some folks were inclined to view any criticism
as a threat to his re-election. In fact, in phone banking, postcards,
leafleting, and guerrilla theater, the Fast Track was not presented
as an issue by which to choose a candidate. Schneider did lose,
Fair trade rather than free trade has
been a Chicago DSA priority for a long time. We have quite a
library of material on the issue, including some ideas about
just what a fair trade agreement might look like. You can find
a linked bibliography of our involvement HERE.
Black Friday Protest
Walmart will be the target of protest
actions around the country on November 28: "Black Friday",
the big shopping day after Thanksgiving. The object is to demand
a $15/hour living wage and full time hours for Walmart "associates".
There are at least eight actions planned for the Chicago metropolitan
area and each are a bit different, depending on the organizing
entity. For more information, CLICK
Upcoming Events of Interest
here are not necessarily endorsed by Chicago DSA but should
be of interest to DSA members, friends and other lefties.