Everyone Is Joining the Resistance

by Bob Roman

Everyone is joining the resistance to the Trump agenda, whatever that may be, for we all fear the worst and anything less than that is still pretty bad. Everyone is joining, including what passes for the Democratic Party in Chicago’s 48th Ward, where U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky held her “Anger to Action” community forum on Saturday, January 7. All the local politicians were on the program: 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman, State Representative Kelly Cassidy, State Senator Heather Steans, and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. Appropriately, 48th Ward Committeewoman Carol Ronen served as the master of ceremonies.

The event was held at the old Broadway Armory on Broadway near Thorndale. It drew somewhere between 1,200 and 1,400 people (estimates vary). It was standing room only for a crowd that was largely older and white. The people of color in the audience were mostly not African-American.

Had this rally been held in a January prior to an election, it would not have been all that unusual and it would have had a fairly tight focus on mobilizing election volunteers to action and on getting money to flowing. But without an election, having Democratic politicians organize such an event is decidedly unusual. It was one of several rabble rousing events that Representative Schakowsky appeared at between the New Year and the Inauguration.

While the rally had some ordinary organizational aspects (list building, for example), the emphasis was very much on getting attendees active in non-electoral politics, of which the Women’s March on Washington was the headliner yet but one of several options presented. There was even an organization fair after the rally and a promise of follow-up emails with more activism opportunities. Senator Steans attempted to incite a Twitter bomb, though I’m inclined to think it fizzled, and there was a social media workshop after the rally as well.

The rally did not get much coverage in the media. Indeed, it did not seem to be designed as journalist bait. Among other things, the politicians actually gave speeches rather than providing the strings of sound bites that, in the worst cases, become one non sequitur after another. The speeches were largely what you would expect from a Democratic Party gathering: reproductive rights, LBGT rights, the Illinois budget impasse, education, Obamacare (most especially Obamacare), Social Security…. What is missing from this list? Labor. The labor movement was mentioned precisely three times. The first time was not by a politician but by an activist thanking SEIU for their assistance with the Women’s March on Chicago. The next two times were by Representative Jan Schakowsky who mentioned the need to defend labor rights and, later, the need for $15 / hour and a union.

The point is not to beat up on clueless liberal politicians (though if you wish to do so, dear reader, be my guest). The fact is, having a tin ear is not a survival trait for professional politicians, and this was not a largely union audience. Yet despite the audience, Schakowsky touted the labor movement. That labor was not an automatic inclusion for the others suggests that the labor movement is becoming, even in the minds of liberal Democratic politicians, what conservatives have always accused it of being: a special interest, supportive mentions optional. Friends like these do not have your back; labor has gone from having a seat at the table to being on the table.

Representative Schakowsky, at least, gets this. Even supportive mentions in passing are important. Liberal non-union audiences need to understand that the success of their agenda depends on the health of the labor movement, that there is a considerable overlap between the agendas, that the people who oppose labor’s agenda are largely the people who oppose theirs. All politicians who profess themselves to be friends of labor need to take part in this public education else they are not really friends.

The complete video of the forum is available via the Women’s March on Washington – Illinois Facebook page.

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Oak Park as a Sanctuary City?

According to the newsletter of the Oak Park Democratic Party, there’s a move afoot to make Oak Park a Sanctuary Village, where the village would not cooperate with ICE regarding undocumented migrants. This would be considered at the Oak Park Village Board meeting, to be held at 7:30 PM on Tuesday, January 17, at the Village Hall, 123 Madison in Oak Park. As details become available, we’ll post the event on the Chicago DSA Events Page as this is something folks should attend.

The Economy We Have

Largely based on research and policy papers issued during 2016, the Economic Policy Institute has put together 13 charts that “show the difference between the economy we have now and the economy we could have.” It’s worth a look (and easy to spread via social media) HERE.

Keith for DNC

The Illinois Rally / Fundraiser for Keith Ellison has moved from the Logan Square Auditorium to the Wild Hare Restaurant, 2610 N. Halsted in Chicago. It’s Sunday, January 8, 3 PM to 5 PM. You can get in for as little as $50. MORE INFORMATION.

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Tea Part(ies) of the Left?

Former Congressional staffers have distilled their observations on the techniques used by the Tea Party and they have compiled them in a document, Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda. Your editor thinks it’s worth reading, though it leaves out money and is focused almost entirely on Congress. Even if most Tea Party groups operated on a potluck basis, you can assume that they brought more money and access to the table than most lefty groups would be able to scrape up: Political outsiders, maybe, but with more ammunition. Likewise, there were several reasonably well-monied national groups that were able to finance Tea Party events around which local groups could organize or otherwise use for networking. These national centers led many lefties to dismiss the Tea Party as an astroturf phenomenon when in fact it may have been better described as “sod.” National centers with some money are not totally absent on the left (think People’s Summit, for example), but this lack will require some experimentation. Nonetheless, this is a good guide to self-organizing. You can read the document HERE.

Welcome to the Second Redemption

In the first of a 3 part series at Mayoral Tutorial, Jack Knight writes:

Our first foray into multiracial democracy did not go well. The words “ended in tears” would not begin to cover the bitter racist reality that asserted itself in the wake of our first failed experiment with hope and change. Right from the start white Americans in the “reconstructed” states resisted with communal, legislative, judicial and economic violence and would only move as far as the federal government was willing to take them. When and wherever white citizens took control of their states their laws reflected their views and they fought federal law very hard in ways that actually did damage to not only their interests but those of their children. Reconstructed states rejected everything from education to infrastructure to deny them to freed slaves. If this sounds like the refusal to take Obamacare and federal infrastructure money and looks like what the GOP is doing in every state where they hold control the legislature, judiciary and/or the executive branch then it should.

Here’s how things went down. From 1865 to 1877 the feds made an attempt to create a multiracial democracy. The states resisted. The white citizens resisted federal legislation from Congressional Bills to Constitutional Amendments and did not just roll back local and state laws that protected the rights of newly freed slaves they eradicated them. Communities were terrorized by first random individuals, then by organized groups of angry white citizens, then by legislation and social norms of the most strident white citizens and finally by full force of state sanctioned violence carried out by white citizens. America went from being on the path to multiracial democracy to spending from 1877 to the Civil Rights era creating Jim Crow and its attendant horrors. From the occasional pogrom like the destruction of Greenwood/Tulsa and/or the more personal carnival like lynchings to the creation of public policy designed to bar Black Americans from not just public services but from private participation in economy and wealth creation, the new status quo severely limited the freedoms and safety of Black Americans.


Lobby the Electoral College

Demonstrations are being organized in every state capitol on December 19 to call on electors to vote their conscience. MORE INFORMATION.

Women’s March on Washington

In addition to counter-inaugural demonstrations on January 20, there will be a Women’s March on Washington on January 21. You can get information on Chicago participants HERE. A good article on the organizing effort was posted at DNA Info.

Keith for DNC

For those interested in intervening in the affairs of Democratic Party Inc, Congressman Keith Ellison’s campaign to become Chair of the Democratic National Committee is coming to Chicago for a rally fundraiser. This will be on Sunday, January 8, 3 PM to 5 PM at the Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie Blvd in Chicago. The campaign is asking $100 for tickets, and you can obtain tickets HERE.

Time Limits to Housing Assistance?

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Housing Authority have come up with the brilliantly stupid idea of reducing the size of the waiting list for housing vouchers (now up to 43,000) by limiting the length of time families can collect housing assistance. The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability has a reality check HERE.

Meanwhile, Emanuel and his City Hall Disciples have been setting up slush funds that are not especially transparent or accountable, and TIFs are only one of several varieties. Curtis Black at Chicago Reporter has a good survey of the goodies. It’s a bit outside the scope of the article, but Black misses one cute aspect. Intended to finance capital improvements to the CTA Red Line, the new transit TIFs represent a dedicated revenue stream that ought to increase from the improved CTA service. That revenue stream could be borrowed against or even sold (as part of a “public / private partnership”) should the Federal money not come through… or even if it does.

Menu Money

At the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability:

Every year, Chicago divvies up $65 million among its 50 aldermen — or about $1.3 million per ward — as “menu money,” which each alderman gets to spend however they choose. According to PB Chicago, at least nine wards use “participatory budgeting” to assign menu money to local projects, bringing together constituents to suggest, debate, and vote on a particular road resurfacing project, park rehabilitation, or mural they’d like to see completed.

But how do all of these decisions — made at a participatory budgeting hearing or in a ward office — add up? What’s the big picture on what Chicagoans are getting for this $65 million?


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DSA in the News

compiled by Bob Roman

DSA member Jeffrey Durand was interviewed on Dan Yorke’s “State of Mind” program on FOX Providence. Seth Goldstein explained why he joined DSA at Raging Chicken Press.

Conservative post-election gloating featured DSA in a piece by Joshua Alvarez at The Swanee Purple.

A lefty post-election dismay piece by Alex Payne included DSA at Medium.

It’s difficult to profile Cornel West without at least mentioning DSA, and Connor Kilpatrick is no exception at Jacobin.

Fidel Castro, Ed Sullivan, Jack Paar and… DSA? in a piece by Jesse Walker at Reason.

The Washington Standard reposted a blog item that mixes Barack Obama, Frances Fox Piven, DSA, and professional anti-Communist Manning Johnson for a predictable stew, worth noting not so much for the venue but that the item has had multiple postings on right-wing blogs.

We Fight for Socialism Over Barbarism

A 11/13/2016 statement by DSA’s National Political Committee begins:

On November 8, voters in the United States narrowly elected an openly racist, misogynist and nativist candidate for president. Donald Trump succeeded in defining himself as an anti-establishment candidate who will end dynastic rule in Washington, D.C., by elites who care little for “forgotten Americans.” The grain of truth in this rhetoric masked an ideological appeal to a “white identity” that Republicans have long cultivated — in this instance, focusing on fear of immigrants, Muslims and people of color. The facts go against the liberal media’s narrative that “poor white people” were the primary force behind Trump’s rise. We must understand “Trumpism” as a cross-class white nativist alliance; the median family income of the 62 percent of white voters who supported Trump was higher than that of Hillary Clinton voters and wealthier than Bernie Sanders’ primary base.


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Changing the “Free Trade” Consensus in Europe

At Democratic Left, Tom Ladendorf begins:

In the not-too-distant past, support for so-called “free trade” from the mainstream of the Democratic and Republican parties was a foregone conclusion. But this year, the free-trade consensus has come into serious question. Both “outsider” candidates in the U.S. presidential election made a major point of opposing free trade because of its effects on the working class, driving this issue into the national debate in a way no one would have predicted. Following Trump’s election, many are presuming the much-discussed Trans-Pacific Partnership dead — although it remains to be seen whether Trump will actually deliver on any of his supposed “economic populism.”

In Europe, too, the consensus on free trade is facing serious challenges. Massive political pressure has been building in opposition to three trade deals, respectively known as TTIP, Ceta, and TISA. Actually, with the help of the organized opposition, that number appears to have fallen to just two. TTIP, which seeks to harmonize regulations between the US and EU, has “de facto failed,” according to German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel. In the end, the two parties couldn’t unite on what the transatlantic standard of regulation would be, apparently because Europe refused to submit to lower American standards of regulation.


Free Oscar Lopez Rivera

Oscar López Rivera is the longest-held Puerto Rican political prisoner in U.S. history. Supporters are petitioning President Obama for his release:

President Obama, Throughout your presidential term, the people of Puerto Rico, our politicians, political parties, media, celebrities, teachers, writers, journalists, workers, have united behind one common cause: the freedom of Oscar López Rivera. Rivera has been imprisoned for more than 34 years, many of those years in solitary confinement. Whatever your stance into his wrongdoing, we can safely conclude he has done his time. He does not pose a threat, and he deserves to be home with his family to live in peace the rest of his years.

Please, President Obama, do what is right and release Oscar López Rivera before your term ends. With the election results, now more than ever, we need you to hear the voice and plead of the Puerto Rican people.


Misgivings at Thanksgiving: Standing with Standing Rock

At Religious Socialism, Rev. M. Lara Hoke writes:

…Once again, federal authorities are treating the Sioux as a people who need to be subdued and conquered.

The pipeline that threatens to go through the Standing Rock Sioux’s heritage lands, endangering their water supply, was originally supposed to go through Bismarck, ND. Bismarck residents were not happy and had it rerouted because of the potential danger that it posed to that city’s water supply. This clear case of environmental racism poses danger to the Standing Rock Sioux.


What Women Used Before They Could Use the Law

At N+1 Magazine, Alex Ronan provides:

…an incomplete inventory of methods and means to abortion — undertaken with varying levels of success and the ever-present possibility of death — in America before the passage of Roe v. Wade.


Night of the Living Trumps

by Bob Roman

I missed the slow agony of election night, having gone to bed early, but arose in the wee hours from an uneasy sleep. Coffee! And the first thing I hear from the nattering pundits on the BBC is, “President Trump.” Say again? They did. It was a deep dismay yet not much of a surprise. After all, the Cubs had won the World Series. Clearly it was a very… seriously… cold season in Hell and demons are loose upon the land.

I had been joking that Trump would win. It was inspired by a spooky memory of a science fiction novel, title and author forgotten, that used a scenario out of Arthur Clarke’s Childhood’s End: The orderly and irresistible end of the human species by an alien power, but in this account, in the final World Series a few months before the end, the Cubs are allowed to win.

A geezer I am. I have lived through Nixon, Reagan and Dubya. Should I mention LBJ? One might think of this as yet another spell of really bad weather and verily the sun also rises. But there is a stink of existential threat from Trump that hasn’t been so strong in the air since Nixon.

Part of it is Trump’s so nakedly disordered personality. Nearly everyone who aspires to be President is likely to be a bit insane, but until now most have been able to simulate normality. Part of it is the enthusiastic bigotry used to motivate Trump’s electorate; there’s no putting that back in the bottle while Trump holds office and the Republican caucuses control the legislature. Part of it is the solid wall of chaotic uncertainty about just what a governing Trump actually means in terms of policy.

President Trump is not totally unknowable, of course. We can expect a proactively hostile labor policy rather like Wisconsin’s Scott Walker. (Worst case: Chile’s labor movement survived Pinochet but not by much.) And to the extent it can be accomplished administratively (and that’s a lot), we can expect a full-throated and nearly immediate gutting of environmental, consumer, civil rights, occupational health protections. It may be a very bad time to be an undocumented migrant. We may see an end to the filibuster in the Senate, a very bad and a very good thing indeed.

Beyond that, the Congress was intended to function largely by consensus. How much of a spine will the Democratic caucuses display? Will the Republican caucuses remain united? What of the economy? And what will be the implications of the continued devolution of what passes for political parties in the U.S.? Will the left (including DSA) fight back, fight forward, or fight each other? Are there enough question marks to continue discussing a Trump Presidency?

Remember: That which doesn’t kill you… doesn’t kill you.

CDSA’s Anti-TPP Campaign

by Tom Broderick

Chicago DSA printed post cards urging our elected federal representatives to vote against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). We asked folk to sign them on the spot so that we could hold them for a later delivery to these representatives. There were cases where the signer was from out of state. Those we just stamped and mailed.

Over the summer, we gathered these signatures at various farmers’ markets and events like The People’s Summit at McCormick Place. A vast majority of the cards were signed by folk from the Chicago area. As the gathering process tapered off, several comrades made appointments to drop the cards at the various legislative offices in the area. With each delivery of cards, we included a sheet of quotes stating opposition to the TPP from groups as varied as the CATO Institute and Physicians Without Borders. I’d like to thank those who agreed to deliver the cards:

• Peg Strobel and Bill Barclay delivered cards to the office of Senator Richard J. Durbin, where they were accepted without comment.

• Hilda Schlatter and Paul Sakol delivered the cards to the office of Senator Mark Kirk, where they were accepted with scant response.

• Jacqueline P. Kirley and Charles Nissim-Sabat agreed to deliver the cards to the office of Rep. Bobby Rush (1st CD), where they were accepted, again without comment.

• I was unable to find any DSA member in Rep. Robin Kelly’s district (2nd CD) to make the delivery, so we bundled them together with the list of oppositional quotes and mailed them to her office.

• Cards for Rep. William Lipinski (3rd CD) were mailed to his office as well. Rep. Lipinski is a leader in the fight against the TPP.

• Sheilah Garland and Alec Hudson agreed to deliver cards to the office of Rep. Luis Gutierrez (4th CD). This office also refused to have a conversation, saying they don’t meet with constituents on issues like the TPP.

• Lisa Wallis and Bill Bianchi agreed to deliver the cards to the office of Rep. Mike Quigley (5th CD). Rep. Quigley is the only Democrat from Illinois in the U.S. House who has consistently stated support for the TPP. Upon receipt of the cards, Mary Ann Levar stated that the Congressman was “listening carefully to what his constituents were saying on this issue.”

• Gary Harper and Alex Franklin met with a staff member of Rep. Peter Roskam (6th CD) at his office. The cards and oppositional quote sheet were accepted without comment.

• I met with Ira Cohen from Rep. Danny K. Davis’ (7th CD) office. Cohen said the Congressman always appreciates it when constituents do the kind of community outreach that our post card project entailed. He said that Rep. Davis is under pressure to vote in favor of the TPP, but Cohen had no indication that he was going to succumb.

• The post cards for Rep. Tammy Duckworth (8th CD) were mailed to her office along with the oppositional quote sheet.

• Susan E. Hirsch and Ian Hartman met with an aide to Rep. Jan Schakowsky (9th CD), who is another leader from Illinois in the fight against the TPP. The aide was pleased to hear that our post card effort was city-wide and affirmed Rep. Schakowsky’s commitment to vote against the TPP.

• The post cards for Rep. Bob Dold (10th CD) were mailed to his office along with the oppositional quote sheet.

• Nancy Tuggle, Roger McReynolds and Patricia McReynolds delivered the material to the office of Rep. Bill Foster (11th CD). They were told that the cards would be forwarded to the DC office.

• Vince Hardt along with Alison Squires and Lyndon Squires met with an aide to Rep. Randy Hultgren (14th CD). The aide stated that Rep. Hultgren has indicated his opposition to the TPP in various public appearances. In an article in the Northwest Herald, Rep. Hultgren is quoted saying “he doesn’t foresee the issue being addressed or voted on, or being passed, during the lame duck session.” I believe this makes Rep. Hultgren the second Illinois Republican in Congress to oppose the TPP. He joins Rep. Mike Bost (12th CD)

• Post cards for Rep. Adam Kinzinger (16th CD) were mailed to his office, with the oppositional quote sheet.

Chicago DSA was a member of a coalition of groups that organized Chicago demonstrations as part of the National Day of Action Against the TPP. This was aimed specifically at Rep. Quigley, and with the election of The Donald, modified to encourage the growth of a spine.

It appears that our work, along with the work of many others and the election of The Donald, has killed the passing of the TPP during the lame duck session. This according to folk connected to the White House, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Majority Leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell. However, the TPP is not finished. We need to keep our focus on this undemocratic deal and the others that are in the works and stop them cold: democratic trade deals, not secret trade deals.

Anti-TPP Demonstration
Which side are you on, Congressman Quigley? 11/17/2016 Anti-TPP Demo, cosponsored by Chicago DSA.