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Category Archives: Liberal
Posted: October 16, 2019 at 4:59 pm
Demand Justices list evokes a similar set of prospective Supreme Court nominees released by Trump in the fall of 2016.
Demand Justices list evokes a similar set of prospective Supreme Court nominees released by Donald Trump in the fall of 2016. But the differences are more illuminating than the similarities. For one, Trumps list arose in a starkly different political context. As a candidate, the president broke with GOP orthodoxy on multiple fronts. He denounced free-trade agreements in favor of tariffs and protectionism, castigated past Republican leaders for entangling the U.S. in overseas wars, and pledged to reject cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Trump, unlike Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz, wasnt a product of the conservative establishment. At one point in his life, he was a pro-choice Democrat.
Even as rank-and-file GOP voters largely flocked to Trumps banner, conservative elites and donors saw danger. They had spent four decades building a movement to reshape the federal judiciary in their own image, nurturing a cadre of originalist lawyers and jurists to serve in it. Antonin Scalias sudden death in 2016 threatened to upend that project. If Hillary Clinton had won, her nominee to replace him would have almost certainly given the courts liberals their first five-justice majority since the 1960s. And even if Trump somehow won, conservative legal figures worried that his ideological flexibility and self-professed willingness to strike deals would leave them empty-handed.
Trumps 2016 shortlists amounted to a Faustian bargain of sorts between him and the conservative legal movement. In exchange for their support and influence, he would pledge to use the lists as a guide when naming future Supreme Court justices. For Trump, it was an easy deal to make. He had already promised to appoint judges in Scalias mold and often warned his supporters of Clintons potential nominees. In practical terms, this arrangementgave some conservatives adegree of cover when endorsing him. Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who had pointedly refused to back Trump at the partys convention that summer, used the list to justify his endorsement in September.
These internal dynamics arent really at play for liberals. There is no real fear that Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, or Bernie Sanders would name someone to Justice Stephen Breyers right to the high court if given the chance. There is also currently no Supreme Court vacancy to force the issue to the top of the national agenda. And as BuzzFeeds Zoe Tillman noted last month, there used to be a fundamental difference in how the two parties approached the subject. Democratic candidates and voters tended to focus on the issues that come before the court, such as abortion, gun control, and LGBT rights. Republicans, by comparison, typically focus on control of the courts as both an end and a means.
That gap is fading fast in the Trump era. Thanks to Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, there is now a reliable conservative majority on the Supreme Court for the first time in more than a half-century, and it will likely persist for at least a generation. That majority owes its existence to a fractious sequence of events: Mitch McConnells blockade of Merrick Garland, Trumps victory despite losing the popular vote, and Kavanaughs corrosive confirmation battle. As a result, Democratic presidential candidates are now openly weighing court-packing as a potential remedy to a Supreme Court that they increasingly view as illegitimate. (Ive previously argued against that option and proposed a healthier solution.)
Posted: at 4:59 pm
The following is a preview from the forthcoming print issue of Jacobin, on populism. Subscribe to Jacobin today and get it when its released in November!
October 2040: an exhausted nation readies itself for the third and final presidential debate of a grueling campaign season. Across Americas living rooms, bars, basement shelters, and prisons, augmented reality devices light up with images of the two contenders.
First-term California governor Malia Obama, vaulted to the Democratic nomination after her heroic response to the devastating Central Valley flood of 39, introduces her Green Forward agenda. This ambitious plan, developed in partnership with Harvard University and the Bezos Foundation, aims to relocate 20 million workers from environmental and economic brownfields to productive metropolitan cores, where they can apply for federal grants, providing the displaced with access to education and skills training, along with civic engagement and entrepreneurship programs.
The proposal brings a throaty sneer from Republican president Allen Jones, the retired professional wrestling star formerly known as A.J. Styles. The elite wants to make you move to Portland, Oregon, and eat plastic hamburgers in a cubicle until you die, he says, referring to the citys recent ordinance banning the consumption of animal products. In contrast, Jones pledges to protect Judeo-Christian values by building the largest military drone fleet in world history, implanting microchips in illegal immigrants (just stamp em!), creating a million new American jobs in ocean-floor mineral mining, and cutting taxes.
As the debate ends, pundits remark that the country is more polarized than ever. Earlier in the campaign, Joness son Ajay, a freshman congressman from Georgia, made headlines by performing his fathers signature move, the Styles Clash, on longtime Texas senator Beto ORourke; images of bleeding Beto have featured prominently in campaign ads on both sides. But it is not clear how many Americans are really paying attention. One hundred and thirty million people sat out the last election, including a record share of lower-income and working-class voters. Even as wealth and income inequality soar to new highs, experts predict that less than a quarter of Americans without college degrees will cast a ballot in 2040.
For socialists, this may be a dystopian vision, but this is the future many liberals want or, at least, the future that professional Democrats have been aiming at for some time.
Chuck Schumers notorious boast about trading blue-collar Democrats for college-educated Republicans accurately captured the strategy that produced both the Democratic Partys disastrous 2016 defeat and its limited victory in 2018. But the comment was not just an unusually candid confession of the partys strategic priorities; it was also a neutral description of a much larger process that began long before Schumer reached the Senate.
Since the 1970s, parties of the left center have bled working-class support all over the industrialized world, with millions of blue-collar Democrats, Social Democrats, and Labor voters giving way to a new class of highly educated professionals. Schumers own political career, which began at age twenty-three, when he graduated from Harvard Law School and won election to the New York State Assembly in the same year (eat your heart out, Pete Buttigieg!) is just one illustration of this shift. In fact, Schumer-like politicians, and the professional-class voters they represent, have become the active leadership and core constituency within center-left parties from Brooklyn to Berlin to Sydney.
Thomas Piketty has dubbed this new configuration a clash between the Brahmin Left educated professionals, defined by their cosmopolitan virtues and the Merchant Right business leaders, committed to the ruthless maximization of profit. Under this arrangement of forces, working-class voters have either dwindled into quiescent adjuncts of the professional-class left, gravitated toward right-wing populism, or dropped out of politics altogether.
It wasnt always this way. Even in the United States, where racism and the two-party system have always sapped working-class solidarity, politics in the mid-twentieth century was polarized firmly along class lines. From the 1930s to the 1960s, if you were a working-class voter a mail carrier in Harlem, a miner in West Virginia, a farm laborer in New Mexico, a garment worker in Cleveland you were very likely to vote Democrat. If you were a manager or professional outside the Solid South from Vermont to California you were very likely to vote Republican. At its peak, in the era of Franklin D. Roosevelt, class voting was nearly as robust in the United States as anywhere in the industrialized world.
Across the twentieth century, it was this politics of class that structured the great and lasting achievements of European social democracy, from Britains National Health Service to the Scandinavian welfare state. In the United States, class voting produced the political coalitions that delivered the New Deal and the Civil Rights Acts. Here, as elsewhere, the decisive energy for reform came about through working-class organization, chiefly in labor and social movements.
But a key ingredient in the mix was a partisan alignment that allowed, and in some ways even encouraged, the success of class-based demands for economic redistribution and democratic equality. Unexceptional New Deal Democrats like Hubert Humphrey, pushed by organized labor and confident in the knowledge that they spoke as clear representatives of the working people, could denounce scabs and defend vigorous labor laws while calling for national health insurance, an end to Jim Crow, unprecedented mass transit and eldercare projects, and a stabilized economy of full employment.
There is no need to romanticize such mid-century Democrats, who also presided over the expansion of the security state and the murderous war in Vietnam. Yet neither can we afford to dismiss the victories in this era of class voting, which dwarf anything either Democrats or American leftists have won in the last fifty years. The Democratic Party was never truly a workers party, but its major achievements of the twentieth century were possible only because it was a party of workers.
This alignment has been under stress since the 1960s. Today, it is officially dead. The Democratic Party of our own decade, as New Americas Lee Drutman writes with palpable excitement, has become an unequal partnership between highly educated professional whites and minority voters, in which wealthy cosmopolitans play a role of increasing significance, not least as fundraisers and donors, but also in the party primaries, where the affluent disproportionately participate.
The Republican Party, meanwhile, has sharpened its identity as an alliance of bosses, cultural conservatives, and white nationalists. With a working class divided by race, and a managerial class divided by culture, more than ever it is education and moral values rather than material interests that form the battleground on which Americas two parties collide.
The causes of this broader shift, of course, transcend the conscious maneuvering of center-left party leaders. Racist backlash in the postcivil rights era served to undermine class solidarity everywhere. More broadly, globalization, financialization, automation above all, the political victories of capital over organized labor in the late twentieth century have combined to create a social reconstitution of the American working class. Its representative figure today is not a General Motors line-worker, close to the centers of power, but a home health aide (or atomized gig worker) whose labor, however necessary to society at large, does not always generate obvious leverage over capital or natural opportunities for collective action.
In the same decades, the rise of the knowledge economy swelled the numbers of credentialed professionals especially in law, medicine, education, and engineering and cemented their influence on American politics. With organized labor in decline, Democrats increasingly sought and often won this professional-class support, often clustered in affluent suburbs near universities, hospitals, and technology centers.
In the 1970s, the practitioners of the New Politics gave this process a progressive sheen, seeking to build a constituency of conscience in the era of George McGovern and Watergate. In the 1980s and 1990s, New Democrats in the mold of Michael Dukakis and Bill Clinton tacked to the right, promising to rein in big government, forge public-private partnerships, and get tough on crime. But what both party movements shared was a laser-like focus on white-collar voters, accelerating the decline of class voting and paving the way for todays even more comprehensive dealignment.
This fundamental shift from the party of Humphrey to the party of Schumer remains the most important American political development that confronts the Left today. It is no accident that the decline of class voting has corresponded with fifty years of retreat for American workers: stagnant wages, accumulating debt, and increasing precarity, even as corporate profits have soared. Nor is it a coincidence that even popular two-term Democratic presidents in this era, elected by such dealigned class coalitions, have proven unable or unwilling to push for structural reforms on anything like the scale of the New Deal era, even after facing the biggest economic crash since the Great Depression.
This is the heavy undertow that churns beneath the apparent rising tide of the American left. Yes, the 2016 Bernie Sanders campaign helped bring social-democratic ambition back to national politics, revealing mass support for once-marginalized ideas like single-payer health insurance and free public college. Yes, the overwhelming popularity of these and other proposals from debt cancellation to a Green New Deal has encouraged mainstream Democrats to ride the wave the best they can, accepting some limited demands (a $15 minimum wage) while attempting to dilute others (Medicare for All Who Want It). And yes, by appearing to embrace most of Sanderss platform, Elizabeth Warren has vaulted to the front of the 2020 primary race, leaving more cautious contenders like Kamala Harris and Beto ORourke far behind.
In one sense, these are cheering ideological victories, and a testament to the ongoing appeal of class-based politics. But the truth remains that all this has come about almost entirely within a political party whose own professional-class character, in the same years, has only grown stronger than ever. The 2018 midterms, after all, were won in the affluent suburbs; Democrats now control every single one of the countrys twenty richest congressional districts.
Warren, meanwhile, has broken away from the Democratic primary pack with the unmistakably enthusiastic support of voters making over $100,000 a year, among whom she leads in almost every poll. A recent California survey showed Warren winning more voters making over $200,000 than her next two rivals combined.
Is this a reliable base on which to challenge the power of capital or even to fight for basic social-democratic reforms? The experience of the last fifty years suggests otherwise.
For some liberal-left commentators, the decline of class voting and the rush of rich professionals into the Democratic Party is not a problem, but an opportunity. Matthew Yglesias and Eric Levitz, among others, have assembled all their cleverness to make the case that these new affluent voters so-called Patagonia Democrats are not an obstacle to economic populism, and may even be an asset.
As should be obvious, this is a deeply counterintuitive argument you see, wealthy people want to have their wealth redistributed! for which the burden of proof should be very high. Yglesias and Levitz do not reach it with either of the two major points they make.
First, they contend, the leftward shift within the professional class reflects a sincere ideological response to empirical reality that is, the shocking inequality of our era. Surveys show that upscale voters are increasingly willing to support redistributive ideas, including new taxes on the rich and increases in health-care spending. Even the professional establishment of the Democratic Party, Levitz notes, has moved dramatically leftward why else does the Center for American Progress now propose a federal job guarantee and a universal health-care plan?
Why now, indeed? Inequality yawned just as grotesquely ten years ago, under the presidency of Barack Obama and a filibuster-proof Senate, when the Center for American Progress supported no such things. The American health-care system was no less revolting in 2014, when the words Medicare for All did not appear in a single New York Times news article. Nor did this great leftward turn of the establishment make much of an impact on the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign, which won Patagonia Democrats in droves while fiercely resisting most of Bernie Sanderss social-democratic platform.
Might it be that the Democratic establishments recent leftward movement does not represent a sudden ideological conversion, but a tactical response to a rather different empirical reality the militant economic populism unleashed by the Sanders campaign, whose base was anything but Patagonia Democrats? In that case, the way to further advance the shift is not by congratulating professional-class elites on their progress much less building a political strategy centered around them but by making bolder and broader demands for change from outside the system.
Abstracted opinion polls, in any case, are an unreliable index of political behavior, especially when material interests become involved. After all, surveys show that most millionaires and tech CEOs also support various redistributive measures; a number of billionaires, including Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, have consistently expressed support for higher taxes on the rich. Does this mean that literal millionaires and billionaires are also not an obstacle to waging class war on millionaires and billionaires? Obviously not.
Yglesias and Levitzs second point is that the material interests of the professional class diverge sharply from the true 1 percent, which has hogged nearly all the economic growth of the last three decades. This is surely true, to an extent, and a major reason why many six-figure earners support taxes on seven-figure earners, while seven-figure earners support taxes on eight-figure earners, and so on and so on. But what does such modest and selective backing for redistribution look like in political practice?
One clue comes from Democratic governments in deep-blue states. Levitz optimistically cites Californias new bill to protect gig workers, but for every such example, there are several more discouraging ones, most of them concerned not with the regulation of a particular sector, but with the red meat of budgets and taxation. In New Jersey, new millionaire governor Phil Murphy failed to persuade a Democratic legislature to pass a millionaires tax. In Connecticut, governor Ned Lamont made good on his major campaign promise by passing a budget without any income tax raises. In Washington State, meanwhile, the new Democratic House speaker recently ruled out a new state income tax. This years California budget, purposefully light on tax increases, can hardly be considered a serious effort at economic redistribution.
Even New York, where a new progressive majority won a number of significant victories in the State Senate, the budget itself remained very much in Patagonia, prioritizing historic tax cuts on incomes up to $323,200 over urgently needed funding for education, public transit, and social programs. The New York Health Act, a single-payer bill that had passed the State Assembly in four straight sessions, was deemed untouchable in the Senate. New Yorks legislative session may suggest the arrival of a better Democratic Party, but it hardly suggests the second coming of social democracy or even the second coming of Hubert Humphrey.
At the national level, it may be that Patagonia Democrats prove more willing, as Levitz says, to pay modestly higher taxes for the sake of fortifying Americas social safety net. But this formula is neither new nor inspiring its a rerun of the Obama presidency, which let the Bush tax cuts expire, passed the stimulus, and expanded Medicaid, thus proving to captive observers like Paul Krugman that progressive policies have worked. Meanwhile, in the real world, the housing crisis destroyed working-class wealth, inequality kept soaring, and poverty remained entrenched.
Democrats should take the class warfare message to upscale suburbs Yglesiass argument is a sentence that makes sense only if your idea of class war is a few tweaks to the tax code, and your ultimate political horizon stretches no further than a third Obama administration.
Elizabeth Warren is the ideal general to fight just this kind of class war. A university law professor for forty years, thirty of them inside the Ivy League, Warren would be the most academic president since Woodrow Wilson, and she is already the most influential scholar to mount a serious presidential campaign. Her impressive credentials and technocratic sensibility have made her catnip for affluent professionals including, of course, some journalists who have become her most enthusiastic supporters.
Ideologically, Warren is no centrist New Democrat. Nor is she a lofty neoliberal triangulator in the mold of Obama or Pete Buttigieg. In her determination to fight corruption, and her fondness for clear rules and fair regulations, she may most resemble the progressive reformers of the McGovern era.
Yet while she is sometimes described as an economic populist, Warrens chief function in the primary race against Bernie Sanders has been to take the populism out of progressive economics. While formally embracing much of Sanderss 2016 platform, the Warren campaign distinguished itself not by underlining the necessity of popular struggle, but by advertising the comprehensive wonkery of her policy agenda: She has a plan for that! Warrens planfulness is Democratic savior politics in the style of Obama or Hillary Clinton. It does not summon the will of the masses; it says, Chill out, shes got this.
The emphasis here is on the reasonableness of the plans, not the boldness of the demands. Even Warrens most daring stroke on this front, a 2 percent tax on fortunes over $50 million,elicitschantsoftwo cents, two cents! withthe campaign and its supporters alike practically fetishizingthe modest limitsof the request.
When Warren does vow to challenge the power the wealthy, her rhetoric often works not to stoke the popular mind against Americas inequality but to naturalize it as a fact of national life: In America, there are gonna be people who are richer and people who are not so rich. And the rich are gonna own more shoes, and theyre gonna own more cars, and they may even own more houses. But they shouldnt own more of our democracy.
This isnt economic populism; its closer to a folksy progressive riff on there is no alternative. Nor does such a cabined understanding of democracy a question of fair procedures, walled off from the world of material goods open much room for questioning the tyranny of bosses under capitalism.
Having assembled a scrupulously conventional campaign staff, loaded with veterans of the DNC and Hillary for America, Warren has made it clear through careful primary endorsements that she remains an institutional player within the Democratic establishment, not an insurgent aiming to transform the party itself. Even in her scattered and vague references to the need for a grassroots movement, what she appears to mean, when she doesnt mean selfie lines, is nothing more revolutionary than electing more Democrats.
Rhetorically, Warrens stress on corruption the malfeasance of individual bad actors in Washington further channels legitimate complaints about a rigged system away from a confrontation with class power (as Sanders intends) and toward a search for better rules. It is perfectly suited to the spirit of todays proceduralist progressives Rachel Maddow Democrats whose first and strongest instincts are to outlaw, invalidate, or somehow disqualify their opponents rather than to defeat them in popular struggle.
In occasional populist moments, as in her recent speech at New York Citys Washington Square Park, Warren talks about the need to put economic and political power in the hands of the people. But the technocratic style of her politics hardly works to close the distance between political professionals and the people even her own supporters. I havent specifically pored through her policy proposals, said one New York University student in Washington Square Park, with what one imagines was a mixture of shame and awe, because there are a hundred thousand of them.
In fact, Warren lacks detailed plans for K12 education and health care. In Washington Square Park, while Warren talked about big structural change, comparing herself to the workers rights advocate Frances Perkins, she devoted just two formulaic sentences to contemporary labor politics. Although 2018 saw the most labor strife in over thirty years, with nearly half a million workers involved, Warrens speech barely mentioned the word strike.
The question here is not simply whether a Democratic candidate nominally supports unions, but where labor stands asa priority within the party. Memorably, Barack Obama supported the union-backed Employee Free Choice Act on the campaign trail, but after his election, he let the proposal die in Congress with barely a sound.
We may choose to regard this as a shameful presidential betrayal, but like many Obama-era failures, it revealed far less about Obamas personal views than about an institutional Democratic Party dominated not by labor advocates but by professional-class politicians highly attentive to their professional-class constituents. (The rise of the broader Patagonia left, as a study of fifteen European countries has found, tends to produce a less pro-worker welfare state.) As an individual Democrat, Warren may be to the left of Obama, but there is little reason to believe that she has the capacity to change this larger state of affairs.
Warrens most enthusiastic left-liberal supporters seem to regard her as a kind of sleeper agent within the system who can heroically cajole or hypnotize establishment Democrats into backing big, structural change, purely on the strength of professorial persuasion. Such faith, if sincere, is almost touching. But the record of Warrens own private battles with the Obama team hardly suggests that transformational change can be achieved through such a deeply institutional politics.
Warren will surely aim to craft better rules for Washington and Wall Street, but is this really structural reform? Her campaign has already announced that the first legislative priority of a Warren administration is nothing more architectural than a suite of strict lobbying regulations, most of them already passed by the Democratic House, along with the creation of a US Office of Public Integrity. Naturally, Vox calls this agenda ferocious.
Even in the best-case scenario, politics under a President Warren would almost surely resemble politics under Obama: careful negotiations between progressive professionals and stakeholders in Washington, in which the president seeks the least-worst outcome in a world of narrow and fixed constraints. An infinite variety of Yglesiases and Krugmans will luxuriate in the nuance, integrity, and ferocity of Warrens bold progressive agenda, even as fundamental economic structures remain unchanged. And then they will be shocked, just shocked, when the next Donald Trump swaggers into the White House and blows it all to bits.
Above all, it is hard to see how Warren can address the dealignment of class voting, or the ongoing evolution of the Democratic Party into the party of Fairfax County, USA. More than likely, Warrens nomination would only accelerate the trend. It is not a coincidence that by far her strongest support comes from Democrats with six-figure incomes and postgraduate degrees: in style and in substance alike, she offers a version of progressive politics as professional politics.
Theres a reason, as the journalist Krystal Ball has pointed out, why Warren and Buttigieg appeal to the same class of voters, despite the considerable differences in their platforms. Both candidates Harvard folk, of course rely heavily on individual stories of meritocratic achievement, along with an appeal to white papers, intellect, and resume items. This has worked and may continue to work wonders for Warren in a Democratic primary, where Patagonia Democrats predominate; how it would fare in a general election is much less clear.
In a campaign against Trump, of course, Warren would win many of the same votes that Hillary Clinton won, including black, Latino, and Asian workers who see no real alternative in the Republican Party. But a Warren nomination also clearly sets the stage for another dreary cultural clash between elite progressivism and Trumps fake populism. In such a battle, earnest liberal hymns to Warrens 100,000 plans no matter how many wealth taxes they propose are not likely to fare much better than 2016 pleas for voters to visit http://www.HillaryClinton.com/Issues.
Ultimately, there is little sign that a Warrenite politics of strict rules, detailed plans, and careful procedures can break the grip of this new cultural polarization never mind inspire the multiracial working-class coalition necessary for big, structural change, both inside and outside the Democratic Party.
More than a hundred years ago, Engels mocked the faddishness of elite interest in left-wing economics, and even socialism itself:
There is indeed Socialism again in England, and plenty of it Socialism of all shades: Socialism conscious and unconscious, Socialism prosaic and poetic, Socialism of the working class and of the middle class, for, verily, that abomination of abominations, Socialism, has not only become respectable, but has actually donned evening dress and lounges lazily on drawing-room causeuses. That shows the incurable fickleness of that terrible despot of society, middle-class public opinion, and once more justifies the contempt in which we Socialists of a past generation always held that public opinion.
In the last fifty years of American history, elite Democratic support for economic redistribution has proven no less fickle. The carousel of professional-class opinion spins on and on last week, McGovern; yesterday, Dukakis; today, Warren; tomorrow, Buttigieg? all while the right wing grows ever uglier and workers, as a class, drop ever further from view.
In a 2020 campaign against Donald Trump, a bet on Warren is a risky wager on its own terms. But over the next twenty years, the politics of Patagonia liberalism is not a bet at all its an unconditional surrender to class dealignment.
Bernie Sanders offers a fundamentally different path forward and not only due to his domestic, foreign, and planetary policy ideas, his ideological roots, his theory of change, or his relationship to the Democratic Party. All these differences are important, but Sanders also points to an alternate future for class politics itself.
To be sure, the Sanders campaign in the United States, like the Corbyn movement in Britain, has benefited, too, from the professional-class vogue for left-wing politics. (Thus Engels mocked the rise of respectable socialism, but admitted that we have no reason to grumble at the symptom itself.) Sanders supporters, much younger than average, are hardly a perfect cross section of Americas working class.
Yet neither is Sanders the creature of drawing-room progressives. From the beginning, Bernies campaign in 2015 attracted a coalition that looked very different from any primary insurgent in Democratic Party history. While McGovern, Gary Hart, Bill Bradley, Howard Dean, and now Elizabeth Warren won their first and fiercest support from wealthy professionals, Sanders in 2016 won more than 13 million votes from a much younger, less affluent, and less educated swath of the electorate.
In this years primary, the Sanders coalition remains young and relatively lower income, while it has grown more racially diverse. Bernies large, enthusiastic, and disproportionate support from Latino voters who form by far the fastest-growing segment of Americas working class must be one of the most underreported political stories of 2019.
The gaps between Warren and Sanders supporters are stark, especially considering their purported similarities in policy and ideology. According to Politicos September poll averages, Warren underperforms with voters making less than $50,000 by a greater margin than seven of the top eight Democrats in the race; Sanders overperforms with the same group by the highest margin the field.
When it comes to Patagonia Democrats, especially, the differences are unmistakable. A recent YouGov poll showed that just 13 percent of Democrats making $100,000 or more would be disappointed if Warren were nominated, the lowest share in the entire field, aside from Pete Buttigieg. Over a third of the same affluent group was opposed to Sanders, by far the highest of the top five leading Democrats.
In California, meanwhile, a UC Berkeley poll showed Warren far ahead of the pack among postgraduates (at 39 percent) and voters making over $200,000 (35 percent). Sanders, meanwhile, earned the backing of just 12 percent of postgrads and 9 percent of highest earners.
If the Sanders platform is in the objective self-interest of virtually all affluent suburbanites, as Eric Levitz argues, why do so few of them seem to know it?
The point is not thatSanders or his agenda is incapable of winning professional-class votes. In a general election, as dozens of polls have made clear since 2016, these affluent Democrats will almost certainly come around if the alternative is Trump. But while some upscale Democrats may benefit from Bernies platform, they are not drawn to his populism or his class politics. Sanders, unlike Warren, will never be their top choice.
In fact, the core of Bernies support comes from voters with a far more urgent material interest in the social-democratic programs he proposes, and a far clearer position in the class struggle that he has helped bring to the fore. Among California voters making under $40,000, Sanders had more support than Warren and Joe Biden combined; he also led both rivals among all voters who didnt go to college.
Bernies call for wealth taxes is not a modest plea for two pennies from Jeff Bezos, but a cry to abolish Jeff Bezos, and billionaires writ large. His support of Medicare for All is not a pledge to find the best policy framework, but a vow to fight the private insurance industry until every American has health care as a human right.
This is the kind of class politics that has won Sanders the support of 1 million small donors, faster than any candidate in history (and twice as many as the Warren campaign). An OpenSecrets review of campaign donations found that while Warren was naturally the top recipient among scientists and professors, Sanders led by far among teachers, nurses, servers, bartenders, social workers, retail workers, construction workers, truckers, and drivers. Of all the money going to 2020 Democrats from servers one of the lowest-paying jobs in the country more than half went to Sanders alone.
This is just what is required to challenge the power of the ultrarich: a politics that does not treat lower-income voters as a kind of passive supplement for professional liberals, but one that can put the new working class itself at the center of the action.
A professional-class left, as scholars of European politics have noted, may be trusted to safeguard the bare bones of existing welfare states programs that are themselves the legacy of much older working-class struggles. But in the United States, with our barbarously incomplete provision for basic social needs, the necessary struggle is not just to defend existing social democracy, but to build it from the ground up.
This is not the work of a single election cycle or a single presidential administration. Nor is it exclusively, or even primarily, the work of electoral struggle itself. But if we want to build anything like a halfway decent, free, or fair democracy, we should remember that the only politics that have ever achieved this or can ever achieve this are the politics of class voting, led by an organized working class. Bernie Sanders, all by himself, will hardly bring about the movement we need. But unlike every other Democrat in the field, at least he points in the right direction.
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Posted: at 4:59 pm
Carly Pildis is a progressive activist and writer who frequently speaks out about anti-Semitism on the left as well as the depredations of the right. Every day, she says, she gets messages from American Jewish women who tell her theyre scared of expressing their support for Israel, or even their Jewish identities, in progressive spaces.
She tried to support the women, advising them and amplifying their concerns in her writing , but there wasnt much more she could do.
Now Pildis, who worked on the 2012 Obama campaign, is taking action on the issue. She has joined the staff of a Jewish not-for-profit called Zioness as its director of organizing and second full-time employee.
I dont want people to feel afraid, said Pildis. I want them to know they are powerful, and I joined Zioness to teach them how to grab that power.
Zioness was founded in 2017 to serve people like Pildis - feminists and liberals who dont want to denounce the Jewish state as the price of entry among progressives. Now its expanding its staff and ambitions.
But as the group tries to grow, it is facing distrust from other liberal Jewish organizations that would presumably be its natural allies. The divide reflects the tension many American Jews face as they struggle to balance their liberal leanings with their desire to support what they see as an increasingly illiberal Israel.
The suspicion goes back to Zionesss founding two years ago. The group was born after employees of the Lawfare Project, which fights the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, learned in 2017 that the Chicago Slut Walk had banned Zionist symbols. Outraged, they flew from New York to Chicago to participate anyway, waving banners proclaiming themselves part of the Zioness movement.
The group reached its highest profile as a critic of anti-Semitism within the Womens March. Executive director Amanda Berman got invited to speak at synagogues. Chapters now more than 30 were formed across the country.
But many prominent Jewish progressives were skeptical, especially about the Lawfare connection. Berman worked there until this January, and Lawfare founder and executive director Brooke Goldstein, who went with Berman to Chicago, is a Trump supporter and a frequent Fox News guest.
Berman insisted at the time and maintains now that Zioness was independent from Lawfare.
Still, some on the Jewish left wondered if Zioness was a bid by right-wing Zionists to co-opt their movement, claiming to be progressive only to cover up their true goal of defending Israel.
Now it seems that IfNotNow and others were right to be skeptical.
Last month, Goldstein wrote on Facebook that Lawfare funded and incubated Zioness and that she had used [Berman] as the face of the movement as she wasnt a public figure and not identifiable as conservative. Goldstein did not respond to interview requests.
Whats more, Berman admits now that her Lawfare connections helped Zioness get right-wing funding. She secured a $25,000 donation when she spoke about Zioness in 2018 to the Merona Foundation, a Jewish donor network run by the wife of the controversial conservative Jewish philanthropist Adam Milstein.
Yet Zionesss relationship with Zionist conservatives soured after the group issued a statement calling Trumps policies of detaining migrant children and separating families heartless and contrary to Zionist values.
We felt betrayed, basically. And angry, said former donor Rita Emerson.
These days, Goldstein claims that Zioness is now too anti-Trump. Berman claimed that Milstein used to donate to them but no longer does because its actually progressive. A spokesperson for Milstein said that was not an accurate characterization but declined to say whether Milstein gave or is still giving to Zioness.
Support on the right has withered but will progressive groups step in as allies, given that their early suspicions seem to have been well-founded?
If the answer is no, Zioness work will be harder at the beginning, said Shaul Kelner, a professor at Vanderbilt University who studies social justice movements.
One such progressive Jewish group is Truah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. Truah is Zionist they support a Jewish state alongside a Palestinian one and also campaigns against mass incarceration and family separation, partnering with major organizations like the ACLU.
Truah executive director Rabbi Jill Jacobs said she was still skeptical of Zionesss strategy.
My perception of Zioness is about showing up at protests with the signs, not around long-term relationships, she told the Forward. Its those relationships that allow you to have complicated conversations around Israel.
Zionesss board features Jewish liberals, such as former Clinton White House communications director Ann Lewis and onetime Democratic congressional candidate Erin Schrode. But its impossible to know whos funding it now. Since its so new, its not yet required to share financial records.
Other progressive groups are going to be looking at [the funding,] and that will probably influence whether theyre going to work with them or not, Kelner predicted.
Berman said that the money to hire Pildis came from an anonymous liberal Jewish philanthropist. She refused to disclose their identity because she didnt want Pildis to find out. Pildis said she didnt know who it was.
Zionesss next stage, Berman said, involves helping members advocate for specific issues they care about - providing them with policy memos and campaign strategies.
Some chapters are already active. One has joined the Florida Hate Crime Coalition.
Pildis has been hired to train Zioness members to be activists on domestic issues like gun control and reproductive rights. She will teach them how to engage with elected officials and form partnerships with other advocacy groups.
But what Zioness wont do, say Pildis and Berman, is advocate for Israel unless someone else brings it up first.
Weve been really clear from day one we dont exist just to debate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Berman said.
Kelner said Zioness has a chance to be a long-term success even if other liberal groups keep their distance.
Its a matter of doing the hard organizing work to transform the base level of demand into people actually signing up, he said. Then it doesnt matter what the origin story is, because they have the power of numbers behind them.
Aiden Pink is the deputy news editor of the Forward. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @aidenpink
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Posted: at 4:59 pm
The Oldest Hatred
To the Editor:
It was with great interest that I read Hillel Halkins review of Bari Weisss How to Fight Anti-Semitism (Sept. 29). Halkin writes with characteristic clarity, force and knowledge, and I concur with his judgment that her book is a brave one in the current political and cultural climate. Her stance as a proud Jew and lover of Israel is one that I, like Halkin, applaud.
However, I find his disappointment and critique of Weisss identification with the liberal values that dominate the contemporary American Jewish community rather narrowly construed historically. The alliance between Jews in the modern Western world and political liberalism predates the 19th century and German reform and unquestionably has its origins in the writings of Baruch Spinoza and Moses Mendelssohn that called for separation between religion and state during the 17th and 18th centuries. These stances were part and parcel of Enlightenment thought and allowed for a neutral or at least semineutral public sphere to emerge that permitted the political emancipation of the Jews. Virtually all modern religious and secular Jews applauded this development. It was a stance that was born both out of one reading of a multivalent Jewish tradition that championed such values and of a self-interested Jewish judgment that such liberal values were in the best interests of the Jewish community. Many if not most American Jews including Weiss and myself still believe this to be the case.
Indeed, in championing a liberal reading of Jewish tradition, Weiss and other American Jews are allowing values of the larger culture to inform their reading of the tradition no less than Jews have for thousands of years. As the historian Gerson D. Cohen pointed out in his memorable 1966 commencement address, The Blessing of Assimilation in Jewish History, Jews throughout history have assimilated teachings from the surrounding world to inform their own understanding of an ever-evolving Judaism.
This was true when the Bible employed the political lexicon of the ancient Near East to describe the relationship between a sovereign and his subjects and transformed the Akkadian word biritu (clasp or fetter) into the Hebrew term berit (covenant) to describe the relationship between God and the Jewish people, or when the medieval philosopher Moses Maimonides internalized and applied the teachings of Aristotle to explicate the nature of Judaism to his contemporaries. I fail to see why modern Jews like Weiss should not possess the same right as their ancestors to interpret Jewish tradition through the wisdom and insights provided by a surrounding culture.
Halkin may not agree. Nevertheless, I do not see why Weiss has any need to apologize for her advocacy of a liberal stance or why such a stance is any less legitimate than a neoconservative reading of Jewish tradition.
David Ellenson New York
The writer is chancellor emeritus and former president of Hebrew Union College and professor emeritus of Near Eastern and Judaic studies at Brandeis University.
To the Editor:
In his review of Bari Weisss book, Hillel Halkin tries to deride the position of those who are liberal and pro-Israel as a seemingly contradictory notion in this day and age a position not unlike that of President Trump, who recently accused Jews who are Democrats of being disloyal. The question is not whether democracy is compatible with the stance of liberal Jewish Americans who are pro-Israel but whether social justice, which is the foundation of the Jewish religion, is compatible with being a Republican.
Diane Burstein Jamaica, Queens
To the Editor:
Has Judaism been influenced by the American milieu? Yes, of course. But Judaism has likewise been influenced by every diaspora Jews have lived in. Throughout its long history Judaism has evolved as it interpreted and reinterpreted its foundational sacred writings in light of the times and communities in which Jews have lived.
In his attempt to strip love and compassion from its rightful place in the Jewish tradition, Hillel Halkin seems to have forgotten about the teachings of the biblical prophets.
The lines from Isaiah, read in every synagogue on Yom Kippur, to let the oppressed go free share your bread with the hungry and take the wretched poor into your home, sound an awful lot like American liberalism to me.
Barry W. Holtz New York
The writer is Theodore and Florence Baumritter professor of Jewish education at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.
To the Editor:
Hillel Halkin asserts that the tradition of Judaism does not support democracy or gay rights. Apparently these were created by the deplorable Greeks and picked up by the Reform Jews.
Halkin, like Bari Weiss, is entitled to his interpretation of his religion. The problem arises when anyone asserts their right to rule a nation-state according to their religious interpretation. That is why the United States began with separation of church and state. There should be no Jewish state, no Christian state, no Muslim state, no Hindu state and not even an officially atheist state. If such a view leads to a rejection of Zionism, then so be it. Democratic anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitic.
Wayne Price Bronx
To the Editor:
The headline (The Oldest Hatred) on Hillel Halkins review of Bari Weisss book got it dead wrong.
The oldest hatred is of women. Period.
Caroline Gaudy Salt Lake City
Posted: at 4:59 pm
Medicare for All was a big flash-point between Senator Amy Klobuchar and Democratic rivals in last nights (Tues) fourth presidential debate:
Elizabeth Warren supports Medicare for All and was asked, will taxes go up:
Costs are gonna go up for the wealthy, theyre gonna go up for big corporations. They will not go up for middle-class families.
But Bernie Sanders acknowledged taxes would go up for more than just the wealthy however
For virtually everybody, the tax increase they pay will be substantially less than what they were paying for premiums and out-of-pocket.
At least Bernies being honest here and saying how hes gonna pay for this and that taxes are gonna go up. And Im sorry, Elizabeth, but you have not said that, and I think we owe it to the American people to tell them where were gonna send the invoice.
Klobuchar says let people keep their health insurance if they want, or give them a public option.
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Posted: at 4:59 pm
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau today acknowledged the Conservatives could win Monday's election and accused the party of winning support by running one of the "dirtiest, nastiest" election campaigns in Canadian history.
Surrounded by 29 Quebec candidates at an event at Montreal's Botanical Garden Wednesday, Trudeau appealed to Quebecers to support his party and elect a progressive government rather than a "progressive opposition." It's a pitch he's been making a lot lately a bid to beat downsurging support for the NDP and Bloc Qubcoisby arguing that voting for those parties could help elect a Conservative government.
Asked about a report in The Globe and Mailabout the Manning Centre refusing to disclose the source of donations to third parties for attack ads on the Liberals, Trudeau took the opportunity to take aim at Conservative tactics in the campaign.
"We know that the Conservative Party is running one of the dirtiest, nastiest campaigns based on disinformation that we've ever seen in this country," he said.
"And it's no surprise that they don't want to share whose deep pockets are funding their attacks on Canadians, on other parties and on the most important fight of our generation, the fight against climate change."
Trudeau said a Conservative government would be "truly unfortunate" for the fight against climate change. Calling it a "pivotal moment," Trudeau said the choice Canadians make on Monday could have consequences for generations to come.
"We could wake up next Tuesday with a government led by a new leader. And the only way to prevent that from happening is to vote for the Liberal Party, to elect our great Quebec team, from all regions of the province, who share your values and your priorities and who understand your issues," he said.
Pressed by reporters on whether he considers defeata distinct possibility, Trudeau said he was making it clear that this is an election that matters deeply to Canada and beyond, and that he is not taking any votes for granted.
He also was asked to defend his own party's campaign tactics.
A recent tweet from senior campaign adviser Gerry Butts used a photo of Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer shaking hands with a construction workerto try to tie Scheer to the "yellow vest" movement, which began in France and has spread to other parts of the world, including Canada. Movement participants in this country have protested against immigration policies, the carbon tax and the United Nations Migration Pact.
Trudeau dodged the question about the Butts tweetand accusedthe Conservatives of deployingthe politics of fear and division.
"I think Conservatives need to continue to be called out for the nasty negative campaign that they are running, because Canadians deserve better," he said.
Trudeau asked Quebecers to back the Liberal plan to fight climate change, and said Conservatives would rip up the only national climate plan Canada has ever had.
"Canadians get that, but Quebecers get that particularly well," he said. "For the past 10 years, Quebec and B.C. have had a price on pollution. They've done more than their share."
Scheer has said his first act, if elected, would be to table legislation to scrap the Liberal carbon tax.
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Posted: at 4:58 pm
The Liberals and the Bloc Qubcois are neck and neck in voting intention in Quebec, according to results of a poll of Quebec voters by Forum Research on Oct. 11, with the Conservatives a distant third. Voting Intention describes voters who say they are decided or leaning in a particular direction.
That the Liberals and the Bloc are tied in Quebec could negatively affect Liberal chances for re-election, said Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff.
In a random sampling among 1,001 Quebec voters aged 18 or older the day after the Oct. 10 French-language debate, 33 per cent said they plan to vote Liberal in the Oct. 21 federal election; 31 per cent said they plan to vote for the Bloc.
Those most likely to say theyll vote Liberal are 35 to 44, live in Montreal or northwestern Quebec and are anglophone; respondents most likely to say theyll vote Bloc are 65 or older, living in suburbs of Montreal and francophone.
Respondents named Bloc Qubcois leader Yves-Franois Blanchet the winner of the debate. Twenty-eight per cent of those surveyed said hed won and, among Quebecers aged 65 or older, the figure was 44 per cent.
Forum Research president Bozinoff said the fact that Blanchet was seen to have performed well in the debate may explain some of the Blocs recent gains in Quebec.
The most popular answer for who won the debate was nobody, but 18 per cent of respondents said it was Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. Respondents most likely to declare Trudeau the victor won include those who speak neither French nor English at home, are anglophones and plan to vote Liberal.
The performance of Conservative Andrew Scheer in the debate was ranked in the poll as worst among the candidates by 25 per cent of respondents.
Thirty-five per cent of the Quebecers polled said that, regardless of party affiliation, Trudeau would make Canadas best prime minister. This opinion was most prevalent among voters aged 35 to 44, women, Montrealers, anglophones and those who plan to vote Liberal.
By a wide margin, respondents said that Trudeau is best equipped to to represent Canada on the world stage.
The poll of Quebecers, conducted by telephone survey from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 11, is considered accurate to within three percentage points 19 times out of 20.
Support for federal political parties in Quebec, from a Forum Research poll taken Oct. 11. (Photos by Stephane Mahe/Reuters)Montreal Gazette
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Posted: at 4:58 pm
The Greens have intensified efforts ahead of the return of federal parliament next week to lobby moderate Liberals to break ranks and vote for a motion declaring a climate emergency.
With parliament set to resume on Monday, the lower house Greens MP Adam Bandt has written to all parliamentarians in the House urging them to support the climate emergency motion, which would be seconded by independent Zali Steggall, and has the support of most of the crossbench.
Every member of parliament is capable of supporting this motion, Bandt says in the letter. It does not condemn the government nor does it express support for any particular policy position.
It simply acknowledges the science and calls on the government to take urgent action. This motion is a statement that individual members of parliament recognise the seriousness of the challenge we face.
Once the declaration has been made, having recognised across the political spectrum that this is a challenge we all face together, the debate can begin in earnest about the best way to deal with the emergency.
Given that members of the Coalition have a free vote, I expect that government MPs will feel free to vote for the motion. On this issue, every individual parliamentarian has a duty to act.
Labor has discussed the proposal with the Greens but is yet to decide whether or not to back the motion, and the opposition has been publicly at odds over future emission reduction targets in the past week.
During the last parliamentary sitting in September, the shadow climate change minister, Mark Butler, told Guardian Australia it was abundantly clear there is a climate emergency. Ive said so in the parliament on a number of occasions.
But Butler said there was also little to no prospect of the Greens-led motion getting up in the current parliament, because Liberals would not break ranks. Liberals would need to vote in favour of the motion for it to have any prospect of success. In that context, Butler said he was not sure it is realistic to have a debate.
At the time the proposed motion was unveiled, the former Liberal leader John Hewson urged Scott Morrison to give his MPs a conscience vote. Hewson argued if it had been acceptable for Tony Abbott to declare a budget emergency in the run-up to the 2013 election, Liberals in 2019 should have no issue with adopting the language in the Greens motion, because declaring a climate emergency in Australia almost goes without saying.
An e-petition circulating calling on the House to immediately act and declare a climate emergency in Australia, and introduce legislation that will with immediacy and haste reduce the causes of anthropogenic climate change, has now reached 312,779 signatures which is a record for Australian parliamentary petitions.
The British parliament declared a climate emergency in May, endorsing a parliamentary motion moved by the Labour party. Conservative MPs in the UK were told to not oppose the Labour motion. A number of Australian councils have also declared a climate emergency.
The Australian Medical Association has formally declared climate change a health emergency, pointing to clear scientific evidence indicating severe impacts for our patients and communities now and into the future.
Several Liberal MPs have signed on to a crossbench-led climate action committee, as the parliaments independents attempt to take partisan politics out of the nations climate policies.
Tim Wilson, Dave Sharma, Jason Falinski, Katie Allen, Angie Bell and Trent Zimmerman are among the Liberal MPs to sign up to the Parliamentary Friends of Climate Action group, along with Labors Ged Kearney and Josh Burns as well as Adam Bandt from the Greens and Andrew Wilkie.
The importance of enhancing the relevance of the liberal arts to students today (opinion) – Inside Higher Ed
Posted: at 4:58 pm
Much of early American literature is intensely connected to its audience -- Native American creation myths, the Puritans thundering sermons to sinners in the pews, and enslaved Africans writing their lives to not only document their identity but also rally sympathetic readers. Thus, the relationship between speaker, subject and audience is a key discussion topic in early American literature classrooms. As Aristotle wrote in his 350 BCE Treatise on Rhetoric, it is the audience -- or as Aristotle called it, the hearer -- who must be either a judge or an observer, and who determines the speech's end and object.
Thinking about the rhetoric of early American texts made me realize just how quickly we can forget our audience when a viewpoint is one with which we already agree. Take the continuing national and strident calls to value the liberal arts. I realized that I had always assumed I knew who the audience was for the pleas to uphold liberal learning. And it was certainly not I, since my educational and professional bona fides as an English professor and chief academic officer at a liberal arts college clearly establish my commitments.
But what if I assumed that I, in fact, was the intended audience? What if I was the person who needed to hear that institutions of higher education should provide more than narrow vocational training and seek to enhance students capacities for lifelong learning? What if my own courses, not anonymous colleges and universities, need to be the sites of intended outcomes?
Asking myself those questions, I redesigned my early American literature survey. This is the literature of Native Americans, European explorers and colonists, enslaved Africans, and then, eventually, as the United States of America established itself, of writers many students recognize from high school: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass. I was interested in giving students the opportunity to see the relevance of studying early American literature, how it fosters intellectual inquiry about significant questions and issues confronting us now. Early American authors wrote profound ideas about issues of immigration, migration and family; borders, cultures and homelands; religious influences, commercial endeavors, race and ethnicity in American society, and political differences. They also tackled questions about the role of science and the presence of truth and falsehood. Those are, of course, issues we still think about today.
What I realized, however contradictory it sounds, is that I actually needed to redevelop my course to focus on contemporary early American literature, so that my current students could see themselves, their ideas and their world in readings that often seem so foreign and historically remote.
That happened in two ways. First, I assigned students to not only examine key concepts in the texts but also to make a connection to something else they were studying, reading or watching unfold in American life. Upon reflection, students saw the benefits to such an approach. One offered, If you understand what you can about the past, you see how the present comes to be. Maybe you can even see the future. Another student rhetorically asked, What is 2018 without 1492, 1630, 1776 or 1865?
Not surprisingly, connections to current news about immigration and migration dominated, as did seemingly inextricable connections between politics and religion at both the national and state level. My students were paying attention to the news, and they were seeing philosophical antecedents and approaches to current events in the literature of early America. Wed periodically interrupt our literature discussions to talk about the relationships they were seeing across the centuries and discuss how literature, and our theoretical approaches, offered a different perspective than history or political science.
My students were sometimes surprised that the antecedents of strongly held American opinions, including their own, were centuries old. They also appreciated hearing directly from the primary texts of people who actually lived through the times, noting that Its a lot easier to think of Ben Franklin as an actual person, rather than just a smart dude who owned a kite.
The second opportunity students had to consider the relevance of early American literature was in a writing assignment that came near the end of the course. I asked them to write a Dear American public manifesto. The prompt read, Weve spent a term studying American literature that was written by both U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens, texts that are hundreds of years old and generations removed from us today in terms of time and culture -- and perhaps even in philosophy and temperament. Weve also spent our time reading literature, what many pundits (and maybe even people you know) these days point to as a worthless endeavor, a quaint and archaic education, a privilege that doesnt pay off for the reader (you). Your task is to tell all of these pundits that theyre wrong. To do so, youll write a manifesto, your public declaration of why its relevant to study early American literature today.
Someone did ask to write a manifesto arguing that early American literature was not relevant, and I said that was fine if they strongly held that opinion. I was interested, I told the class, in their strength of argument as they connected early American literature to contemporary responses. Ultimately, perhaps not surprisingly, no student did argue for irrelevancy.
What was surprising, in delightful and affirming ways, were the reasons students gave in advocating for the contemporary relevance of early American literature. They made the requisite jokes about trivia contests but really just to set up the far more substantive reasons they wrote about. Many students talked about the importance of knowing whats come before, of seeing what each successive generation or period was responding to. One student argued that our country is full of ghosts before there even was an America, [people] fought disease and an unforgiving landscape and one another. Now, we fight viewpoints and ideas, and processes ingrained deeply in our society and government -- processes and ideas and views that may have existed ever since they were fighting disease and the land and each other.
Some students noted the clear ancestors of religious fervor in some political messages today; one even quoted a series of religio-political ads in her hometown that sounded remarkably similar to the messaging of Puritan sermons. Those students who were more widely read in 20th-century American literature saw how the Modernist period emerged from Hawthorne and Whitman. Others noted the introduction of industrial workers as mid-19th-century production developed. Many of my students were from towns and cities where certain factories had closed or production had moved elsewhere; they had family members affected by those economics and had stories of working conditions that were eerily familiar to their readings.
Power in the Grassroots
Like so many political movements -- and preserving and evolving the liberal arts is a vital political movement for higher education today -- theres power in the grassroots and local. My examples come from my own discipline, but every discipline and institution can offer to:
Its not enough to passively continue with the same curriculum and hope that students, their families, politicians and the public at large re-recognize the value in what we do. It is time to actively demonstrate how our disciplines have evolved to connect our students to the world of today and to identify other curricular and co-curricular areas on the campus that they enrich. Despite its grim title, Eric Hayot offers several ideas in Decline in the Humanities: The Sky Is Falling, published in the Modern Language Associations Profession.
Academic programs that can draw a solid line from their courses to knowledge, skills, competencies and other workforce measures now may be more indispensable than others. Likewise, academic departments that can draw a second solid line from their courses to knowledge, skills, competencies and other measures for lifelong learning and quality of intellectual and creative life also may now be more valuable than others. All liberal arts disciplines can rightfully claim these pathways, but some of us have not yet drawn the sharpest connections, and its the responsibility of both faculty members and academic administrators to do so.
National organizations have been actively assembling repositories of evidence in support of the liberal arts. The National Humanities Alliance, for example, has a tool kit, Studying the Humanities: Making the Case, that provides support for connections between the liberal arts and work and life. But in addition to this broader evidence, students should experience how the learning in our own courses transfers into their lives after college.
In lower-level courses that many students use to fulfill general education requirements, assignments should be relevant and contemporary. Podcasts, websites or grant proposals instead of an(other) essay of literary analysis, for example, offer students valuable experience with technological, visual, aural and written argument -- all skill areas theyll need after they graduate. A project that applies course readings to a contemporary social issue that students feel passionately about broadens their critical perspective of the issue and reinforces the validity of the disciplines voice. That makes the work for our courses applicable to something else in students lives, and they begin to see relevance instead of requirement.
If all of this seems like too much work or too much change -- if it seems like selling out, losing the purity of the liberal arts, diminishing the value of disciplines or capitulating to the whims of the marketplace -- then, clearly, other means of persuasion are needed. But to those of us who have heard the call to value the liberal arts and are energized by the responsibility to demonstrate that value to our students today, who are willing to consider that new relationships with our students can change the way we do our work in positive ways and who are willing to see possibility and promise ahead and have ideas about how we can connect at our local levels, I say lets get to work.
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Posted: at 4:58 pm
Liberal candidate Sandra Pupatello may have violated the Canada Elections Act by posting a photo of her ballot.
Pupatello, running in Windsor West, posted a photo of her completed ballot on Twitter Saturday, saying "I did it! I voted for me!" and tagging the Liberal Party of Canada in Ontario Twitter account.
About five minutes later, Pupatello deleted the tweet, apologizing.
The Commissioner of Canada Elections wouldn't confirm if the matter was being investigated, but referred CBC to Section 163 of the Canada Elections Act, which states that a person's vote is secret.
Other provisions under the Canada Elections Act prohibit "photographs, videos or copies of marked ballots," as excerpted below:
Photograph, video or copy of marked ballot
281.8 (1) No person shall
(a) take a photograph or make a video recording of a ballot or special ballot that has been marked, at an election, by an elector;
(b) make a copy, in any manner, of any ballot or special ballot that has been marked, at an election, by an elector; or
(c) distribute or show, in any manner, to one or more persons, a photograph, video recording or copy of a ballot or special ballot that has been marked, at an election, by an elector.
Should there be an investigation, the Commissioner's office said a fine of up to $5,000 may be imposed, or imprisonment of up to six months or both.
"That being said, the Commissioner has other means of ensuring compliance with, and enforcement of, the Act including compliance agreements and administrative monetary penalties," said Myriam Croussette for the Commissioner's office in an email.
A spokesperson for Pupatello declined to comment further, referring instead to the second tweet acknowledging the photo should not have been posted.
NDP candidate Brian Masse didn't see the photo.
"I don't follow her Twitter account but that's obviously that's not something you would do," said Masse. "I focus on our campaign ... I don't focus on the opponents. Obviously that's not something you should do."
Masse "couldn't say" if there should be any repercussions for Pupatello's photo.
"The vote in Canada in most places is secret," said Elections Canada regional media advisor Rejean Grenier.
Grenier said the issue isn't good for a lot of reasons it's not fair to other voters, or to the process itself.
"When a candidate does it ... it doesn't even really mean anything. We didn't think she was going to vote for someone else," said Grenier.
According to Grenier, people can tell their friends or family who they voted for, but generally speaking the vote should be secret. He also said the rules are "pretty simple."
"You can't take photos in a polling station. You can't take pictures of electors, except from the back. You can take pictures from the doorway," said Grenier.
Pupatello has years of experience in politics, havingserved as an MPP from 1995 to 2011 as a member of the Ontario Liberal Party under Dalton McGuinty.
During her first term as an MPP, she was the opposition critic for community and social services, children's issues, youth issues and the management board of cabinet.
Re-elected in 2003, Pupatellowas appointed as the minister of community and social services. In 2006, she was appointed the minister of education, but was reassigned a short time later as minister of economic development and trade.
In 2008, Pupatello took the role of the minister of international trade and development.
Pupatello was the co-manager of Dwight Duncan's 1996 campaign for the Ontario Liberal Party leadership.
In November of 2012, Pupatello announced her candidacy for the Liberal Party of Ontario leadershiprole, but lost to Kathleen Wynne in January 2013.
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