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Where realism and idealism meet Tony Brasunas, author of Double Happiness

A Sane Way to Choose Your 2020 Democratic Candidate

How to compare the candidates on consistent progressive criteria

When choosing a school, a restaurant, or a licensed contractor, most of us use criteria to make our choice. But very few people actually do this when choosing the candidates they vote for. The media doesn’t help with this either by asking nonsense questions like “who would you like to have a beer with?”

I offer here a set of criteria for progressives to use when choosing a candidate to support in our partly dysfunctional 2019 American political system. Having paid attention to this wild yet somehow predictable 2020 Democratic Primary over the past year, for your reading pleasure, I also score each candidate based on those criteria, although you are invited to tweak the criteria and score them differently if you would like.

There are a lot of candidates and a lot to examine, so this is not a short piece. Grab a coffee or tea and a comfortable chair.

Let’s get two things out of the way before jumping in:

First, basic terminology. I see essentially all politics, politicians, and movements as efforts to control the distribution of wealth and power, and each channels one of three forces:

Reactionary, seeking to concentrate wealth and power into fewer hands
Conservative, seeking to keep the distribution of wealth and power as it is
Progressive, seeking to spread wealth and power more broadly among people

If you consider these strands of political energy and find yourself instinctively reactionary, you might not find much of this article useful. I am a progressive at heart and believe that spreading wealth and power more broadly is beneficial to all and creates a stronger and healthier society, and I consider the grand arc of progressive politics stretching back to Magna Carta to be a good thing and something that I hope will continue. Today, with AI, nanotechnology, weather manipulation, and the rest of the next wave of technology arriving every day, we can and must distribute power (ie decision-making) more broadly throughout the population.

(more…)

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Posted in Peaceful Revolution | Politics
by Tony Brasunas on December 2, 2019

I Actually See Both Sides of this Brett Kavanaugh Confirmation Circus

Certainly it’s akin to political heresy, but I see both sides of this Supreme Court confirmation hearings brouhaha. If you’re horrified by this statement, you’re probably one of the approximately 43% of the country who remain emotionally invested in one of the mainstream political parties.

Brett Kavanaugh appears to be an aggressive man, a serial liar, an aloof product of privilege, and altogether far too authoritarian in his legal decisions to be a judge in this country, let alone to join the Supreme Court. His opinions on surveillance and torture, to name just two, are far out of step with what most Americans want and believe. Whether at the heart of your political sensibility you more highly value liberty or progress, you should see that this man has no business making final decisions about the laws of this land.

As for sexual assault, there is way way more unreported sexual violence in this country than there are false accusations. (more…)

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Posted in Politics
by Tony Brasunas on October 5, 2018

The DNC is Attempting to Kill Off Another Progressive Movement

Establishment candidate Tom Perez chosen to lead the DNC

Today the Democratic National Committee defeated, once again, even the possibility of the semblance of progressive leadership in the party.

Rather than let Keith Ellison win, the DNC chose Tom Perez, a man who entered the race recently at the behest of establishment leadership, to fill the corrupt shoes of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Donna Brazile.

It’s an awful move, but unfortunately at this point it’s hardly surprising.

This selection basically says to voters and rank-and-file Democrats that yes, the party will give you more of the same, more status quo Wall Street-driven decisions, more superdelegates choosing nominees before races even begin, more tone-deaf weak corporate politics at the top, and more losses and more excuses for the next four years.

The way this all went down — so similar to what I saw in Philadelphia last year at the convention — shows that the DNC is more determined to defeat progressives than to defeat Republicans. Think about that. (more…)

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Posted in Peaceful Revolution | Politics
by Tony Brasunas on February 27, 2017

Standing Rock Reveals the True Colors of Both the Media and the Democratic Party

standing-rock

Peaceful Water Protectors have been met time and again by militarized police.

The historic gathering of over two hundred Native American tribes and thousands of their allies at Standing Rock in North Dakota has put on stark display the state of this country’s corporate media and its nominally left-leaning party.

This is a massive movement that brings together virtually all the biggest issues of our day — from environmental justice and racial justice to climate change and corporate control of natural resources. Its treatment by the media and by our political parties is as instructive as any recent political event.

To begin, the media coverage of Standing Rock provides a nearly perfect picture of the current state of today’s media world, which is comprised of the “corporate media” and the “independent media.” There are those who trust “corporate media” more, and there are those who trust “independent media” more, but the balance has steadily been shifting in favor of “independent media” over the last 20 years. The term “corporate media,” refers to the big media news channels and publications funded and run by large corporations. “Independent media” essentially refers to everyone else: smaller publications, bloggers, and independent social media journalists.

The New York Times is the nation’s largest daily newspaper, the “paper of record,” and it is the corporate media publication trusted by many. The Times doesn’t actually have a single reporter in Standing Rock.

When one young woman, Sophia Wilansky, had her arm blown off by a police grenade, all the independent media and all the eye witnesses there in North Dakota confirmed that this (more…)

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Posted in Peaceful Revolution | Politics
by Tony Brasunas on December 4, 2016

For All Democrats to Ponder: The Real Reasons Hillary Clinton Lost

The Reasons Hillary Clinton Lost

Hillary Clinton and the Democrats lost an eminently winnable race for the White House

Beyond the media spin, the four reasons for this defeat.

As the aphorism goes, if we don’t learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it. While the corporate media continues to peddle hysteria, the most important thing right now is to rationally understand why Clinton and the Democrats lost this eminently winnable 2016 race for the White House.

Having taken some time to look back over the past six months, I list below what I believe are the four main underlying reasons for this defeat. As it turns out, none of the reasons is particularly complicated, but each will require consideration and systemic change by the party over the next two years.

1. The DNC subverted democracy. This was an anti-establishment year in politics, and there was an anti-establishment candidate running in both major parties. Trump was (barely) allowed to win the primary on the Republican side. On the Democratic side, despite Bernie’s obvious strength and the clear preference of the grassroots, the primary was rigged to put the less popular, establishment candidate forward. It was a colossal risk to take, but the party (more…)

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Posted in Peaceful Revolution | Politics
by Tony Brasunas on November 13, 2016

Ralph Nader, Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein: Progressives Have Been Helping Liberals Win Since 2000

Ralph Nader and other progressives have been helping Democrats win for decades.

Ralph Nader helped Al Gore win.

Calling progressives ‘spoilers’ not only gets history wrong but hampers future progressive campaigns.

Ralph Nader ran as the Green Party nominee in the 2000 presidential election, and while some claim that he hurt the campaign of Democrat Al Gore, an honest analysis shows that Nader’s campaign was in fact a primary reason that Gore won that election.

Here in 2016, with a wild and wildly consequential election winding to a close, it’s important to understand accurately the role Nader played in 2000 as well as to comprehend the role progressive candidates in general play in national elections.

To begin, Gore won the popular election in 2000. This isn’t contested. He received nearly a million more votes nationwide than did George W. Bush. It was clear that while the election was close, Gore was the nation’s popular choice for president.

No candidate since the 1800s has won the popular vote without also winning the electoral college, and Gore was winning the electoral college count, too.

But then, as thousands of Democrat-leaning votes were slowly being counted in Florida, the Supreme Court intervened and issued a bizarre and unconstitutional order — the least defensible decision in Supreme Court history, according to many legal scholars — to halt the vote count. This abortion of democracy took Florida’s electoral votes from Gore and made George W. Bush the next president.

Why the Democratic Party didn’t mount a more serious legal challenge to this fiasco in Florida is a true scandal, and movies have been made about it. But for whatever reason, they didn’t. They let the election slip away. It’s now history. (more…)

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Posted in Peaceful Revolution | Politics
by Tony Brasunas on November 1, 2016