By Peter Dreier
As we celebrate his birthday, it is easy to forget that Rev. Martin Luther King was a democratic socialist.
In 1964, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, he observed that the United States could learn much from Scandinavian “democratic socialism.” He often talked about the need to confront “class issues,” which he described as “the gulf between the haves and the have-nots.”
In 1966, King confided to his staff:
“You can’t talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can’t talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You’re really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry. Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong with capitalism. There must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.”
Book review by Ryan Haney, first published by Talking Union.
Steve Early’s Refinery Town is a compelling read on multiple levels. It paints an interesting portrait of Richmond, CA (pop. 110,000), a Bay Area city that is home to a massive Chevron refinery. It also works as a journalistic deep dive into contemporary municipal politics, with a cast of reformers and establishment actors clashing over approaches to problems in a city wracked by disinvestment, toxic waste, corruption, and crime.
In November 2016, the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) won a majority on the City Council, overcoming massive campaign funding for their opponents by Chevron. Continue reading
Reblogged from Talking Union. Written by Steve Early and Rand Wilson.
Bernie Sanders’ segue from presidential candidate to barnstorming author was seamless. In between the Democratic National Convention in July and hitting the stump this fall to boost Hillary Clinton’s stock in battleground states, Sanders cranked out a 450-page book, which hit bookstores November 15. The author was not far behind, with sold-out appearances from Boston to San Francisco.
Jill Stein blew $3.5 million failing to even come close to winning 5% of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election — as predicted — but she has a new scampaign: election integrity. In a few days, she raised over $3 million for vote recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan fueled by baseless rumors that Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in these states had something to do with hacking. Continue reading
By Lisa Kaiser
Local historian John Gurda is slated to give the second annual Frank P. Zeidler Memorial Lecture tonight on Milwaukee’s Socialist legacy. But he spoke with the Shepherd last week about his thoughts on how the Socialists saved Milwaukee. Here are some of his observations:
Shepherd: What was going on in Milwaukee when the Socialists emerged?
Gurda: They began to run candidates for office in 1898. That was the first year that David Rose was in office [as mayor]. Milwaukee was thoroughly corrupt. It was as bad as Chicago on a bad day. Everything was for sale, which was not atypical. That was the pattern in American politics back in what was called the Gilded Age. Milwaukee was also very heavily industrialized. This was a working-class town. More than half of the male working population would have been engaged in manufacturing of some sort. It was a visibly dirtier city than it is today with coal smoke and just incredible pollution in the rivers. It was also very compact and congested. When you look at the older part of town today there are a lot of open spaces, there has been renewal or removal of some kind. That was not true then. It was cheek by jowl.
Hillary Clinton’s surprise defeat in the 2016 presidential election at the hands of Donald Trump has led to much weeping and gnashing of teeth among liberals and progressives alike. Arguments that 60 million Trump voters are deplorables — irredeemable racists, misogynists, pussy-grabbing Muslim-hating fascist bigots — are really a back-handed way of saying two things:
- Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party establishment that anointed her — over the vigorous objections of Bernie Sanders’ insurgency — are blameless for this unparalleled historic defeat. (Nevermind the fact that Bill Clinton encouraged Trump to run.)
- There is no conceivable way Sanders could have won the election if had been the Democratic Party’s nominee. After all, if Hillary Clinton was too ‘left-wing’ for the general electorate, surely Bernie Sanders wouldn’t have stood a chance.
Such arguments ignore the mountain of evidence that it was Barack Obama voters who elected Trump. Just look at these maps.