Tuesday, February 14, 2017

CALLING ALL IOWA ACTIVISTS



As I write this, the Iowa Republicans are ramming through a new Koch Brothers/ALEC sponsored Collective Begging Bill, stripping 180,000 public sector workers of their accrued rights of the last half century. Koch's shills will do it despite unprecedented opposition from Iowans and nearly ZERO public support.
As Iowans, now is not the time to surrender. Now is the time to organize! I encourage Iowa activists who may be demoralized by the Koch Brothers attack, to JOIN ME at the organizing meeting above. I am not a Teamster member. This is NOT a Teamsters only meeting. It is for ALL Iowa activists desiring to come together and form something new to demand our rights and wrest political power back from ALEC, KOCH, and their bought and paid for shills in the Statehouse. 
This did not happen overnight. The corporate raiders have been working to usurp power from average Iowans for years. But the time has come for all of us to fight back in a more organized way. We can do way better than the lesser of two evils spiral we have been stuck in. 
In the words of John L. Lewis, 
Let the workers organize!
Let the toilers assemble!
Let their crystalized voice
Proclaim their injustices
And demand their privileges,
And let all thoughtful citizens sustain them,
For the future of Labor IS the
future of America!
Community activists, political activists, labor activists, and concerned citizens are all invited to attend and help plan a vision for a future where every Iowan's voice is respected at the statehouse again. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Iowa Labor War 3 - D-DAY


At the Iowa capitol building yesterday, hundreds of educators from all across the state rallied against attacks on Iowa workers and Iowa schools prior to marching in a line that surrounded the entire complex.
 
Meanwhile, several cowardly Republican legislators simply chose not to show up at their own regularly scheduled town hall meetings this weekend, apparently afraid to face constituents and answer directly for their bills that are an assault on 180,000 Iowa working families.
 
Those that did at least face the music and show up to their own forums were greeted with a few extra faces in the crowd than their usual twenty or thirty town hall attendees on a given weekend. GIVE IT A LISTEN, ALL THE WAY THROUGH...
 
 
For Iowa's workers, and the cowardly Republican Legislators who skulked away from their own town hall meetings, TODAY is D-DAY. We anticipate thousands of workers to descend upon the Iowa Capitol today between 4:30pm and 8:00pm, take back the people's house, and demand that our voices be heard.
 
We will be inside the capitol supporting speakers giving public input to legislators, and we will be outside raising hell when there is no more room beneath the capitol dome for us all. Because this day marks the beginning of a new chapter in Iowa. Where the working class states loudly and clearly that an injury to ANY one of us, is an injury to ALL of us.
 
Union, non-union, minimum wage worker, and manager, the unemployed, the underemployed, and the small independent business owner. NONE of us have anything in common with the Koch Brothers or ALEC, and NONE OF US stand to benefit or gain from these continued attacks on our wages, our pensions, our healthcare, our classrooms, or our communities. It must stop NOW.
 
 
IOWA STATE CAPITOL BUILDING
D-DAY Monday, February 13, 2017
4:30pm - 8:00pm

Saturday, February 11, 2017

IOWA LABOR WAR 2: GOP SPAMS ALEC BS


As a humble rural Iowa blogger reporting on union busting efforts by state Republicans, I was flattered when I opened my comment spam box early Saturday morning to discover a comment from one of the spearheads of this anti-worker legislation, Republican Speaker of the Iowa House, Linda Upmeyer.
 
 
At first, I wondered why Representative Upmeyer's very important message was in my comment spam box. But then I remembered that I had changed the settings on my blog to detect copy and pasted spam, as well as BS. As it turns out, her message would probably fit into either category. Because what Linda sent to me was the exact same BS ALEC talking points that Republicans have been spewing all day at town halls all over Iowa. Which brings me to another point about ALEC.
 
 

No. Not that ALEC from Saturday Night Live. I am referring to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). This ALEC is a conglomerate of almost every megacorporation you can think of, and they teamed up years ago with the Koch Brothers and have bought and paid for almost every Republican (as well as many Democratic) legislators in every statehouse in the country. ALEC claims to be all about helping the little guys, but in reality, they are all about the profits of the major corporations and super-rich who fund them.
 
And, because they shell out billions of dollars to get their shills elected, and shills aren't known for being particularly bright, ALEC is kind enough to provide them with "model" bills, so their shills won't even have to write their own legislation. That's why the Iowa Union Busting bills are eerily similar to the Wisconsin ones. And it's also where all of the BS talking points probably come from.
 
I should mention for full disclosure here, that Speaker of the Iowa House, Linda Upmeyer, has served as the National Chair of ALEC. If you would like to know more about Rep. Upmeyer, I can tell you that her bio says she got her BS in nursing, but these days I think she gets most of her BS from ALEC. If you would like to know more about ALEC, please check out these links:  
 
 
While there simply isn't enough room on this here interweb thingy to post EVERY word of EVERY spammed, copied and pasted comment, I will share some of the highlights from ALEC's, errr... I mean, Rep. Upmeyer's comments, and why I call BS on them.
 
ALEC/UPMEYER: "This provides school districts with the certainty they need to begin planning their budgets for next school year."
 
WHY I CALL BS: The existing collective bargaining laws provide timelines that mandate bargaining be completed before the budgets are set. I would know. I used to bargain some of them.
 
ALEC/UPMEYER: "We value our public employees and the work they do in their communities."
 
WHY I CALL BS: ALEC Republicans have demeaned public educators and public servants for decades, blaming them for everything under the sun while teachers struggle to make ends meet and use their own money and hold fund raisers to get basic supplies for their classrooms. While they have untold hundreds of millions to doll out in corporate welfare, ALEC Republicans can just never quite seem to find the money to adequately fund public education.
 
ALEC/UPMEYER: "...many Des Moines union executives are resorting to fear mongering in an attempt to scare workers over what this bill actually does."
 
WHY I CALL BS: This bill screws over educators. Educators. They have read the entire bill for themselves (probably unlike many Republicans who had it handed to them by ALEC).
 
ALEC'UPMEYER: "It doesn’t repeal the right to collectively bargain for government employees."
 
WHY I CALL BS: It ABSOLUTELY repeals the right to collectively bargain on almost every single subject. The only thing left is wages, and even that is extremely limited and can NEVER be higher than 3%. Ever. In fact, out of the tens of thousands of state, county, city and university employees, the ONLY workers excluded from having all of their rights stripped away are cops and firemen, just like in Wisconsin. Why? Because ALEC thinks it would look bad if they screwed over heroes, and ALEC Republicans who send their kids to private schools don't think there is anything heroic about public educators, or any other public servant.
 
ALEC/UPMEYER: "It doesn’t affect pensions in any way. It doesn’t take away health insurance."
 
WHY I CALL BS: The bill takes away the right to bargain over both of these issues. Iowa's public employees have had to struggle with rising costs of insurance just like everyone else. They pay more out pocket just like you do. This bill makes it so changes are no longer a subject of bargaining. It means the state could just get rid of the pension altogether and have individual 401k accounts instead (another ALEC wet dream to move all of our retirement savings into individual 401k style accounts that financial firms and money managers can get their grubby paws on to manage at much higher rates). And it means that every public employee in Iowa could wake up to having a shiny new health plan with a gazillion dollar out of pocket premium, and a deductible and copays to match.
 
ALEC/UPMEYER: "Another provision that I’m really excited about is the opportunity for schools to reward their best and brightest teachers."
 
WHY I CALL BS: This bill, like Wisconsin's, is designed to lower wages and benefits for all non-heroic public employees. Period. While I am sure that ALEC UPMEYER probably really is excited about it, nobody else is. No one elected them for this crap. They did not campaign on a platform of screwing workers. They sold Iowans a bill of goods to get elected, and now they are only representing ALEC. 
 
 
Those were just a few of the highlights. I wish I had room for more, but hopefully ALEC UPMEYER can find somewhere else to sell their BS in the radical left wing media outlets (75% of ALL media in the U.S. is owned by about 8 Republicans). And before you go to the barn to find your pitchforks and light the torches and come out after me for being so mean spirited, know this...

We, the working classes of this nation, are not engaged in a casual discussion about minor political differences anymore. THIS BILL, and THIS LEGISLATOR, and the corporations she represents, are literally trying to take food off of the table of working families. They are literally trying to rob workers of their hard earned pensions, slash their wages, and strip them of their rights to bargain, to grieve when wronged, and every other right we have accrued as a working class over the last 150 years.
 
There is an absolute class war being waged on workers in this nation. This IS NOT about getting even with some imagined union fat cat in Washington DC. This is about protecting the teachers and janitors and bus drivers and city workers and state road crews and 911 operators and every other "non-heroic" dedicated public servant in this state.
 
But even more than just those workers, THIS FIGHT is about drawing a clear line in the sand and saying NO MORE. No more looting of the pensions and wages and benefits and rights we have earned, one company and one group and one union and one state at a time. We, the people, aren't going to tolerate it any more. An injury to ANY one of us, is truly an injury to ALL of us.
 
And while ALEC UPMEYER and other Statehouse Republicans are busying themselves union busting and stealing food from the plate of working families, they are using pieces like this one, to act surprised and injured and hurt. Today, these very same corporate shills are whining publicly about a union lobbyist who accidentally sent an email referring to some of them as "douches." And one legislator was even referred to as "cute, but still a douche." To hear Republican legislators talk today, they are almost beyond words with shock and horror by this supposed outrage and affront to all that is decent about humanity.
 
Allow me to help put this into perspective. These very same people just elected a President of the United States who brags about grabbing women by the p&ssy, and being able to shoot people in the face, and mocks disabled people, etc., etc., etc. And, in my humble opinion, if you can elect someone like that and then act so afflicted by something like this... you probably really are genuinely an actual douche.
 
If you have ANY further questions regarding ALEC UPMEYER's message today or her BS degree, you may feel free to contact her directly here:
 
ALEC UPMEYER: " please let me know your thoughts. You can reach me at linda.upmeyer@legis.iowa.gov or (515) 281-3521."
 
And from the Iowa House Republicans Website:
 
Linda Upmeyer
1811 N 8th Street
Clear Lake, Iowa 50428 
Phone: (641) 357.8807


WHAT YOU CAN DO:

1) If you are an Iowa resident, PLEASE contact your legislators in the house and senate immediately and often. You may find them here: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislators/find
 
2) If you are ANYWHERE in the vicinity of Des Moines on Monday, February 13th after 4:30pm, PLEASE come and join us in support of public employees at the State Capitol. 4:30pm - 8:00pm INSIDE IF YOU CAN GET IN THERE. RALLY OUTSIDE IF YOU CAN'T!!!
 
3) Share this on social media with ANYONE who may be in or around Iowa. We NEED your help and support.
 
This is Wisconsin all over again, folks. And our sitting governor has been appointed as Trump's man in China, so he will sign this crap and ride off into the sunset.  
 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Labor WAR Brewing in Iowa


The title says it all. The Koch Brothers, ALEC, and all of their Republican puppets have chosen Iowa as the next battleground in their war on the working classes.
 
Statehouse Republicans looking to one up Wisconsin Legislation, have introduced HF 291 and SF 213 to gut the public sector rights of collective bargaining. The proposals as written strip workers of ALL mandatory subjects of bargaining, except for wages. But wages too, are restricted to cost of living, or 3%, whichever is LESS.
 
If the bills pass as expected, public workers will LOSE grievance procedures, seniority rights, bargaining over healthcare, pension, sick pay, vacation pay, and working conditions. Dues deduction from payroll will be gone, and labor unions will be REQUIRED to re-certify their bargaining units at the expiration of every contract, and many entities only bargain one year agreements.
 
Republicans have even openly admitted that the only reason for not outright repeal of the entire Chapter 20 is to maintain the provision outlawing the right to strike by public employees.  
 
 
At the Iowa capitol complex, things have already begun to heat up as workers have begun to descend upon the building. This Sunday, February 12th, Teachers from across Iowa intend to rally at 2pm at the state capitol, with the largest planned event to follow on Monday, February 13th at around 4:30pm in anticipation of public input from 6:00-8:00pm.
 
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
 
1) If you are an Iowa resident, PLEASE contact your legislators in the house and senate immediately and often. You may find them here: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislators/find
 
2) If you are ANYWHERE in the vicinity of Des Moines on Monday, February 13th after 4:00pm, PLEASE come and join us in support of public employees at the State Capitol.
 
3) Share this on social media with ANYONE who may be in or around Iowa. We NEED your help and support.
 
This is Wisconsin all over again, folks. And our sitting governor has been appointed as Trump's man in China, so he will sign this crap and ride off into the sunset.
 
We can ill afford to sit idle by and continue to allow them to pick off unions one by one, to pick off retirements one by one, and strip workers of rights, one by one. The Republicans in Iowa, with complete control and bought and paid for by ALEC and the Koch Brothers, are working tirelessly to ram this through and not give anyone an opportunity to fight it. This will all be over in a week.
 
The next few days will be our only chance to stop the hatchet job on half a century worth of collective bargaining law and gains. If there is anyone you can call to rile, rile them today.
 
For Iowa public employees about to lose your rights, please know that this is your last chance to make a stand for your livelihood. If you are waiting for your union to do something about it, you need to think again. YOU ARE THE UNION. And if this thing passes, I can assure you that in short order, you won't have a job, or benefits, worth keeping anyhow. Thousands of Iowa workers and union members will be behind you, but YOU must lead the way.
 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Shannon and Sari's Sandwich Serendipity Story


A while back some local union officers I know (Shannon & Sari) were raising funds to help the Water Protectors out in North Dakota. I had just been discussing the Water Protectors with some other union staffers who wanted to go out and join the protest. But since they were from warmer climates, I strongly advised them against it. Because nothing can prepare southerners for North Dakota cold in the winter time if you have never experienced it before. It can be dangerous cold. And I was afraid we might only be making things worse by showing up unprepared. So, instead I sent some cash to the Standing Rock Sioux, and made a small contribution to Sari's effort so she could help out as well.
 
All this week, I have been working with Shannon and Sari, to visit various locations represented by their local union. The very last stop on my list was in Fargo. It is cold in Fargo. Ridiculously cold. And the last few days in this part of the country has had me re-evaluating my choices in life, walking out in the morning to be blasted by cold wind that penetrates your clothes and stings your face and makes every body part you have ever injured ache.
 
If it sounds like I am whining, it's because I am totally whining. And this morning when I walked outside into that cold wind I stepped right off the edge of the sidewalk and slammed into the ground. I should add that I am not a small man... or a particularly young man. While not quite in danger of breaking a hip yet, I am of the age where I don't exactly spring back up. I pulled myself to my feet and looked around for witnesses, relieved when I saw none, and assessed my injuries. Yes... it looked a lot like the picture above.
 
My pants were ruined. My knee and palm were scuffed on one side. On the other, my wrist and ankle and elbow were all slightly sprained and my back hurt even more than usual. Oh yeah... and did I mention it was cold outside?
 
I hobbled back up to the room and thought about cancelling my meeting today. But that's not what union people do. Union people press on. They endure. They get through it. So, I changed my pants and limped out to the car.
 
I was having a luncheon today on behalf of Shannon and Sari's local union. There are about twenty people at the location, so I went and picked up nine foot long sandwiches and had them cut in half. So all told, I went in with 18 sandwiches. 
 
Inside the building no one was there. The office was nearly empty. Apparently, most of the folks were smarter than I was and opted to stay inside today, and the people who did come to see me were gluten-free. The end result was I left with 17 sandwiches. 17. That's a lot. When I do it right, I end up with 2 or 3 leftover. Enough to give to a security guard or buy some goodwill with a manager. But not 17. It's a ridiculous number. I have, a few times in the past, missed the mark to that extent and found homes for the food at a homeless shelter or a woman's shelter or the like, but those are getting are harder to come by and most of them just don't accept ready-made food like that any more. 
 
I was literally standing outside a gas station smoking a cigarette and pondering my dilemma about what good I could do on behalf of this local union with 17 leftover sandwiches when I looked up and saw them. There, at the gas pumps was a van with 12 people crammed inside of it. The ones in the very back were sitting on the floor. And behind the van was a car with another 5. 17. The men who got out to pump fuel looked homeless. They wore layers upon layers of dirty clothes, and long slicker trench coats that had clearly seen better days.
 
The men pumping gas were two big Indians and they went in the station. I thought about it, and by the looks of the rag tag bunch in the van, they looked like people who could use a sandwich. I walked over and knocked on the passenger's window. He startled and rolled it down only slightly, unsure of the giant scary looking white guy who was staring back in at him.
 
"Do you guys want a sandwich?" I asked. "I have a lot of sandwiches."
 
His eyes brightened. He smiled and jumped out of the van. I walked him to my car and gave him the bags with the sandwiches in them. He told me they were Water Protectors, all of them. They had just been to court and released from jail and were on their way back out to stand up for their rights, their lands, their water, and their people. They had not eaten. All were hungry and it was a long way back to the fight.
 
He passed out all of the sandwiches to people who smiled and waved and shouted thank you when they got one. Then he came back, fist bumped me and gave me a big hug and thanked all the union people who have helped them along the way. And then they left. Drove off, back out into the relentless wind and cold to be sprayed with water cannons and beaten with clubs and arrested and who knows what else. Whatever the case, they were at least going out with a sandwich in their bellies. Fuel for their internal fires for just a bit.
 
And that is why we all press on and why we keep putting one foot in front of the other and fighting for what we believe in through it all. Because just when you want to give up and quit, something happens that reminds you why you do it, and you see people who are giving more than you, and doing more, and working harder, and it inspires you.
 
And while Shannon and Sari and I just thought we were doing our one thing, everything came together, almost accidentally, and almost serendipitously, for me to be right there, right when they needed us. 17 sandwiches. 17 warriors. Thank you, ladies, for putting me right where I needed to be, right when I needed to be there.  
 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Class Warfare & M&M's


I made this meme today, because setting all of the craziness aside from the past few weeks, this really is what it all boils down to. Reports now reinforce this; that the eight (8) wealthiest individuals have the equivalent wealth of 50% of the rest of the earth's entire population.
 
At this point, it really is true, that the only way for these wealth hoarders to grow their wealth, is by reducing the wealth of the rest of us. It is no accident that workers are laid off, or plants closed so stock holders and corporate executives can make record earnings in a single year or quarter. It is no coincidence that American healthcare costs skyrocket every year, while pharmaceutical and insurance CEO's and stockholders pocket billions of dollars. Neither is it a coincidence that the wealthy have targeted our last bastion of real wealth for the working classes, in the form of our pensions and our social security benefits.
 
 
The same owning classes are not only personally appalled by any worker's demands for higher wages, or benefits they have been promised AND already earned, but somehow manage to divide the working classes by shifting the blame to the workers themselves. And it almost always works.
 


Imagine that instead of money or wealth, that we were talking about m&m's. I know, this is a stupid analogy, but I love m&m's, so humor me. You are a hard working average American family, and you have a pile of m&m's that you have busted your ass to accumulate. It isn't much, but it is yours. You earned it. You only want enough m&m's to take care of yourself and your family, have a few m&m's to enjoy in your golden years, and maybe a couple to give to your children when you die. That's it. That's all you want.
 
 
But then, across town there is some family with only one m&m. They need more m&m's just to get to where you are. There is a constant m&m crisis at their house, and it seems like their aren't enough m&m's in the whole world to go around.
 
 
And then there is this asshole. His dad left him enough m&m's to fill six Olympic swimming pools. It is more m&m's than he could ever eat. His grandchildren and great grandchildren could swim in their m&m piles for their entire lives. But, it isn't enough for him. It is never enough. Never. He ALWAYS wants more.
 
He looks out at the world from atop his mountain of m&m's and sees there are only two ways to get more. He can make more m&m's, and he can take the ones that we have. That's it. That's what he must do, and he will stop at absolutely nothing to do it.
 
 
He uses some of his m&m's to buy off politicians and get rights to things that belong to a nation and a world and all of the people in it. Timber rights. Mineral rights. Oil rights.
 


He strips the land of all of its wealth and makes more m&m's. He says it is good for the economy, and good for jobs and good for workers, and he is hailed as a respectable hero in a capitalist system.
 
 
He sends men deep into the ground to pull out anything of monetary value. Anything that will get him more. He does not care how many men will die in the process. He sees these men as only an inconvenience standing in the way of profit, not unlike so much brush and overburden he has cleared away. And he is hailed as a respectable hero in a capitalist system.
 
 
And when he is through, the water will be unfit to drink. The air will be unsuitable to breathe. The men and women he employed will be unemployed again. And so many people will suffer for the want of the most basic necessities of life. He will add more m&m's to his pile, and shrug and walk away from it all. And none of it was ever his to begin with. Not the m&m's. Not the land. Not the trees. Not the minerals. Not the oil. Not the labor. None of it. It is the wealth and labor of the entire world, hoarded by the collective few to the grave detriment of us all. And he is hailed as a respectable hero in a capitalist system.   
 
Then he turns his sights to what little m&m's we have, even though in this process, he ran away with a million more m&m's for every one that we got. He had promised there would m&m's in our retirement years if only we went into that ground for him, or cut those trees for him, or entered that data for him. He promised or bargained and owed us for our labor. But he found that he could keep those m&m's too. He could have a little more if we had less. So, he took them. He cheated us out of them. Through markets and through company sales, and through pension thefts and privatization schemes, he got those too and wants ever more.
 
 
He is smart though. He is savvy. He knows that he can't keep this up, because he has so much and the masses have so very little. So, he uses some of his m&m's to give to churches. Religious leaders go out and say that he is good and righteous, and their church is good and righteous, and more righteous than every other church and religion. And the people are divided and awaiting unlimited m&m's in some fantastical afterlife where subservience and labor here and now is richly rewarded.
 
 
 
And he gives more m&m's to buy television shows and news networks and newspapers and radio stations and politicians. They say that he is good and righteous, and blame the world's woes on those with just that one m&m. They tell the people that were it not for those Have Not souls wanting more, that there would plenty. His aim is always to divide us. Through belief. Through religion. Through race. Through minor economic differences.
 
 
There are countless books and television shows praising Him. No matter that he pays his employees minimum wages and provides no benefits to a thousand workers while living like a king and producing nothing. LOOK at how he gives $10,000 to a few at the end of the show! Or LOOK that he has given a million dollars to some charity! No matter how many have labored and suffered to earn him a thousand times that amount. He is a savior! Isn't this what Jesus would look like?
 
 
He has made himself into a cult of personality. His children are the envy of all of ours. They are like Gods and Goddesses. Kings and Queens. There is nothing they cannot buy. No one they cannot influence. And then...
 
 
Their cult of personality purchased influence ascends beyond simply controlling our highest officials, to becoming them. And would be heroes of the working classes (union officials) stand in line for the opportunity to beg him for crumbs. Just a few m&m's for us, they say, and we'll look the other way about everything else.
 
 
And all of it was generously made possible by each and every one of us. Because the misogyny, the racism, the angst against immigrants, the terror of fret that some Have Not might be benefiting from OUR m&m's somehow, has all led right up to the here and now.
 
 
There is no real division between the aims of the owning classes. Their aim is ONLY to get more at ANY cost. And we have descended to a place where traditional political discourse and our political system may be near irreparably broken.
 
When everything is a lie. When every news story is suspect. When no one is a credible witness. When truth no longer matters. When wrong is right, and right is suspect. Can it really be a "democracy" any more? If the only thing you know is what I tell you, can you ever make a real choice about the opposition?
 
And is there even a real difference between our political "choices" when both are rich, both are overwhelmed with moneys from wealthy donors who will have their ears, and no one from the lower economic classes are ever even included in the dialogue beyond a few town hall election events?
 

 
No one knows what the future is going to bring. There are some of us that are even beginning to wonder if the nation, and the world, will not be forever changed by just one presidential term. And many would like us to believe that our future lies solely in the next election cycle. 
 
I disagree. In this Lesser of Two Evils political world, isn't it time we all started investing in something better? For all of us? Not sure what that is? Me neither entirely. But I do know this for an absolute fact. ANYTHING better for the rest of us, and the future of our world, will depend upon our ability to recognize that our differences are few and minor when compared to the wealthiest classes. 
 
The fate of the family earning $180,000 per year is tied by fate to the success or failure of the family earning $30,000 per year because we are all wage earners, our futures dictated by the whims and desires of those who only seek to relieve us all of our burdensome m&m holdings. With Him, we share absolutely nothing in common.   


 
 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

American Fascism. No, Really. This Time We Mean It.


"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."   -Sinclair Lewis, 1935-
 
 
“When and if fascism comes to America it will not be labeled ‘made in Germany’; it will not be marked with a swastika; it will not even be called fascism; it will be called, of course, ‘Americanism'” –An uncredited New York Times reporter covering Halford E. Luccock in an article published September 12, 1938-

Fascism:   a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic (ruling with unlimited authority) government headed by a dictatorial leader.
 
Fascism. It's one of those words that crybaby lefties seemingly like to throw around every time they don't get their way, right? For the most part, that is true. Both parties have made it a staple to overreact to everything the other side does. Every election cycle is touted as the "most important election of our lifetimes" and the other side winning is always the end of the world as we know it. When the Democrats win anything, we are told the "free" world will be plunged into a socialist abyss. When the Republicans win, we say we have elected fascists hell bent on the complete dominance of the lower classes.   
 
We have said these things so frequently they fail to hold any meaning. Both major political parties have spent decades crying wolf about the other party, instead of building effective platforms and impacting peoples everyday lives in a local, meaningful way. It is exactly like the guy at the office who underperforms and focuses what little energy he does put forth toward demeaning the people around him in an effort to make himself look good by default. You know this person? Well, guess what? We have just allowed him to demean his way right into the oval office.
 
 
Trump has no policies, no plans, no legitimate ideas, and no experience in governing. And yet he was elected (sort of) on a platform of making America great again. Meaning, of course, absolutely nothing. The entire Republican Party is lining up behind him in almost lockstep. Once again people on the left are calling this fascism. In fact, the only discernible difference between this and any other election, is that this time, it happens to be totally true.
 
Consider the following list of 14 historical indicators of fascism compiled by fascist regime historian and scholar, Lawrence Britt:
 

  1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism
  2. Disdain for the importance of human rights
  3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause
  4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism
  5. Rampant sexism
  6. A controlled mass media
  7. Obsession with national security
  8. Religion and ruling elite tied together
  9. Power of corporations protected
  10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated
  11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts
  12. Obsession with crime and punishment
  13. Rampant cronyism and corruption
  14. Fraudulent elections

We could truthfully argue that Trump & Company are the living embodiment of most of these points already, with stated intents to live up to the other points after actually assuming office. It should also be noted that the list above was compiled by its author long before Trump entered the world stage as a political figure. In many ways, it almost seems as though Trump may have been aware of the list's existence, and made it a goal to try and meet and/or exceed all of its prerequisites. 

Even more disturbing is that the rise of fascism is not just a phenomenon unique to just Trump. A few days ago, in North Carolina, Republican Legislators made an unprecedented move to usurp the power of the newly elected Democratic Governor.  In a special session directly following the election results, the legislators rammed through bills aimed at dramatically limiting the power of the executive branch in the state.

While many people argue the move is grossly unconstitutional and will ultimately be overturned, let us be cognizant of the fact that the partisan State and U.S. Supreme Court justices will interpret the constitution however they deem necessary to advance the cause of their respective parties at that moment. Constitution be damned.

The message is clearer now than ever. We have moved from the gerrymandering of minorities and working class neighborhoods to the outright denial of the vote through stricter voting eligibility laws. When votes do actually manage to get cast, the results are misplaced as mysteriously occurred at rural minority and inner city polling locations. Where votes are cast and allowed to be counted, there now comes a move to ensure that the people's rightfully elected candidates are denied their lawful powers of governance.

If you put all of this greatness into a barrel and mix it up with some good old fashioned Americanism, and just a pinch of Russian hacking and election rigging, what you get is a tried and true recipe for the rise of true fascism. We are, right now, in this moment, the people who history will look back upon judgmentally and ask why in the hell we allowed it all to happen. Why, they will ask, didn't those people do anything to stop it?


This is not about Democrats or Republicans any more. This is no longer about just organized labor. It is not about only civil rights. The fight we are in today is the fight to guarantee the most basic of freedoms for all future generations of Americans. In the course of a decade or so, we have managed to descend from a place where too many people felt discouraged about, or disenfranchised by, our two party system, to an era when our very democracy is under siege and the checks and balances written into the constitution are in threat of being summarily tossed out the window.   

We, the people, cannot stand idle by and simply wait for the next election cycle with our fingers crossed, hoping to somehow elect someone to fix it. There is too much at stake now and we can no longer simply content ourselves to rely solely upon an apparently completely broken system to fix itself.

Whatever we do, we had better start organizing for it yesterday with like minded individuals and groups in our communities, because close Trump Advisor, Newt Gingerich is already calling for a new "House Committee on Un-American Activities," and if that takes shape in any form, we can reasonably expect (based on history) to have boots kicking in the doors of anyone having this sort of conversation in the future.

No, Really. The fight is here. The struggle is real. The time for action is now. When the Republicans go low, the Democrats can go high. Whatever. But when the nation goes to the far-right, we must push back with far-left, people powered alternatives. People want alternatives to the status quo. It is up to the left to genuinely provide them with some now.