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

A 2020 Voter’s Guide for Progressive Californians

The time is here to vote. For everyone in California — and in the rest of the Super Tuesday states —the primary is this coming Tuesday, March 3. Fortunately — perhaps amazingly — it’s not hard to pick the best candidate this time around, as one of them has both the most progressive policies and the best chance of winning the general election against Trump.

Do vote, wherever you are, as these primaries are not winner-take-all, like normal American elections, but rather proportional contests granting delegates based on vote totals. So every vote counts, regardless of where you live.

For Californians, for the first time in many years, we have a relatively short ballot. There’s really just the big primary and then a handful of local measures and central committee elections. So this guide is shorter than those I’ve written in the recent past. We’ll focus on the primary, appraising where the candidates are right now, whether they’re rising in the polls or losing support right now, what they’ve said and done recently, what they ultimately stand for, and their chances to defeat Trump in November. And then look briefly at one important race in San Francisco.


PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES — Bernie Sanders

What a campaign we are witnessing. The notion that a major politician in this country could forswear corporate and PAC contributions, provide a consistent and uncompromising critique of corporate control of our society, advocate an amazing suite of progressive reforms that would level the playing field a little for those with less income and wealth, and win major elections across this country — this was considered ridiculous and impossible as recently as 2015. Don’t vote for Bernie Sanders; vote as one small part of your participation in this peaceful revolution to take back the government from a corrupt political, media, and military industrial culture.

Bernie Sanders has won the most votes in each of the first three contests — Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada — something no one else has done in modern political history. And it’s not because of Bernie himself but because of the millions of everyday mechanics and janitors and teachers and Amazon workers and college students and truckers and soldiers and gig workers who have given a little bit of their blood, sweat, tears and funds to build a movement. The movement’s growing base of support and enthusiasm dwarfs that of any other campaign; it’s the campaign most popular with young people, union workers, and people of color. This is astounding and inspiring — a modern-day multi-racial, multi-generational movement — and it’s likely the only thing that can defeat Donald Trump and his MAGA enthusiasts in November. The “Stop Bernie” movement in the DNC and corporate media is intensifying by the day, which is why it is essential these days to balance your media diet.

Do not leave your polling place without casting a ballot for Bernie Sanders.

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Posted in Peaceful Revolution | Politics
by Tony Brasunas on February 28, 2020

The Complete Story: What Really Happened in Iowa

You’d be forgiven for feeling like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day right now. Not only is it early February, but it probably feels as if you lived through the 2016 primary, went to sleep for several years, and then woke up right back at the beginning of 2016.

As happened so many times during that primary, this past week a small state held an election that should have been efficient, clean, and fair, with a minimum of fuss and mistakes, but instead turned into a godawful “debacle” full of “irregularities” that mostly harmed the chances of one candidate, Bernie Sanders. And just like in that 2016 primary, some watchers of this new 2020 primary see that “debacle” as the result of incompetence, others see mere coincidences, and others see outright conspiracy and fraud.

What everyone agrees on is that this was a disaster for democracy that should never happen again.

Let’s break down this very first election of 2020 so we can determine whether it is fundamentally a conspiracy, gross incompetence, or coincidences that are to blame. We’ll begin with a list of everything we know, in chronological order. If you’re in a hurry, you can scroll down to the heading “Coincidence, Incompetence, or Conspiracy?” for my conclusions.

A Timeline of the Things We Know

2019

Spring 2019. The DNC and party upper establishment indicate for months that they would strongly prefer Bernie Sanders not be the nominee. (source, source)

Summer 2019. The Pete Buttigieg campaign participates in at least one of several “Stop Bernie” private meetings in the spring and summer of 2019. The Biden, Warren, and Klobuchar campaigns do not appear to participate in these meetings. (source, source)
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Posted in Manuscript Excerpts | Peaceful Revolution | Politics | Red, White & Blind
by Tony Brasunas on February 10, 2020

Who Can Beat Donald Trump

Putting ideals aside, who’s best positioned to beat Trump?

When looking at the 2020 candidates for the Democratic nomination, you might already know whom you want to support, based on your ideals. If not, I created a “potentially sane” guide for progressives that meticulously compares the candidates on issues, records, promises, and ethics.

But putting aside our ideals for a minute, which candidate is best positioned to actually win a general election against Donald Trump?

To answer this important question, I researched the general elections we’ve had so far in this century. Based on my findings, I assess each candidate below with a percentage chance of beating Trump in November.

If you’re in a hurry, you can skip the research and explanation of my criteria, and go straight to the assessments of the candidates.

HOW TO DETERMINE ELECTABILITY IN 2020

If you’ve paid a nonzero amount of attention to presidential races, you know there’s this thing called the Electoral College that ensures only a handful of “swing states” determine the winner. In essence, states rather than people vote, and since we already know today how 44 or so of the 50 states will vote based on a preponderance of voters of one or the other party, we really only have to look closely at a half-dozen or so “swing states” to know who will win the whole race.

As far as swing states go in 2020, based on current demographic trends, it’s Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, and Minnesota that will be the most momentous of these “undecided” states. What’s going on in these states? Well, the crux of it is this: roughly one-third of the voters in swing states are registered Democrats; one-third are registered Republicans; and the other third are independents who often don’t vote. Let me say that again, a third of voters in swing states are independents, and they often don’t vote. Basically, any candidate will get their party’s faithful third of the electorate. The question is: Who gets more independents off the couch to vote? That’s who wins.

The Electoral College isn’t quite the whole story, though. Voters outside of swing states do matter in presidential races. Several important things carry across state lines: Money, Movements, and Enthusiasm. To wit, just because in 2008 I lived in California, a “blue” state that was surely going for Obama, didn’t mean that I had no impact on that race. I donated money to the campaign, I wrote to friends and family about the movement to elect Obama, and I cared enough to travel to Nevada to knock on doors and convince voters to support Obama.

So if you combine an awareness of the Electoral College, research into independent voter statistics, and an assessment of each candidate’s ability to generate money, enthusiasm, and a political movement, you get a pretty good pragmatist’s sense of how strong a candidate will be in a presidential election.

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Posted in Peaceful Revolution | Politics
by Tony Brasunas on January 9, 2020

The Real Reason Democrats Keep Pursuing Self-Defeating Strategies Like Russiagate and Ukraine

They’re between a rock and a hard place of their own making

While Trump is thoroughly disliked by about forty percent of the country, the Democrats, as led by centrists Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), have not only done very little to build their own popularity, they’ve actually been pursuing strategies that erode their popularity.

Ever since their disastrous 2016 loss, the Democratic leadership has spent most of its energy pursuing conspiracy theories — first about Russia, and now about Ukraine. We’ll get to the specifics of each of these theories, but suffice it to say that both are unpopular, both are unproven, and both will, on balance, help Trump and Republicans in the 2020 elections.

Worse still, the Democrats are now impeaching Trump over one of them, the Ukraine dispute. Even if the charges in this conspiracy theory are true — and they haven’t been proven — here’s the thing: no one cares.

Everyday independent voters — the people who will decide the 2020 elections — don’t care about Ukraine. What they do care about are things that affect their everyday lives: healthcare, the economy, personal debt, the environment, equal rights, immigration, and income inequality.

So why are Democrats pursuing these conspiracy theories? Why are they taking the giant step to impeach? They know Trump will be acquitted in the Senate, as Bill Clinton was in 1999, and that this drive to impeach will result in nothing but a long-running, extensively-watched, widely-discussed movie that in the end will feature Donald Trump winning. This in turn will create a stronger, vindicated candidate in November who can decry a witch hunt (with some validity), ignore attacks on his real flaws and real corruption, and pretend to have integrity in ways he currently cannot.

The question is, why would the Democrats want to lose again?

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Posted in Peaceful Revolution | Politics | Red, White & Blind
by Tony Brasunas on January 7, 2020

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.

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