436 Comments

What is particularly sad to see in this country is how some citizens have through history worked diligently to deprive themselves the joy and wealth of Black talent, intelligence, courage, and endurance -- all gifts which enrich the quality of life for everyone. What horrible ignorance is it that creates such unforgivable waste?

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It's not so much depriving themselves, as it is exploiting Black contributions without properly compensating or respecting them. It's also true for Hispanics and AAPI people, expected to contribute value and shut up, while enduring perpetual discrimination, harassment, assaults. Then any excuse will do -- even with murder. At a Stop Asian Hate rally yesterday, the best sign said "Fvck Your Bad Day." It's past time to stop being polite in the face of endless injustice.

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Let's not forget in the process the average worker...of any colour or culture....who has not seen significant increase in standard of living for a long time while the 1% gets obscenely richer without seeming effort....never mind merit!

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Let's also mention that the "obscenely rich" have their economic status as a result of millions of American workers. The "obscenely rich" have also vigorously campaigned to kill workers unions throughout the land to assure the prevention of living wages and their own primacy.

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This is why we need more folk of the ilk of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Katie Tucker (and I would list others but just started on my coffee, and this group knows them anyway I’m sure), who understand what “real life” is like, and not the De Voses and Hawleys, and McConnells and how many like them, living in a cloud cuckoo land of their own self-interest of Wealth and Power. “Richer is better”, but you can only sit in one car at a time, sail one boat at a time. “Richer” puts food on the table, access to shelter, education, warmth, “pursuit of happiness”. Bottom line is “you cant take it with you”, so why not have some “joy” in sharing. Have you ever seen any one who looks as permanently miserable as McConnell, etc., etc. Biden smiles, Harris laughs. I am daily grateful I live comfortably, (hard scrabble times were long ago) and I am daily grateful that I can also share what small wealth I have, which I hope helps others lives a little. The clarity and importance of Heather’s work is sustenance and ammunition for the ongoing struggle for democracy, and I am daily grateful for her posts.

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What happens if the government taxes them and they don’t pay?

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In a country with a fully funded Internal Revenue Service and a functioning Justice Department, they pay a giant fine and go to jail.

At the moment we have a habitually underfunded IRS that cannot pay its teams enough to fight the corporatist law firms and a Justice Department that has been taken apart piece by piece.

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Traditionally, like Al Capone, they are sentenced to prison.

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Indeed!

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Yes, it matters not what we get out of it. The fact is, depriving any citizen of their inalienable rights is illegal and wrong, and can't be tolerated.

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Yet, Republicans tolerate, encourage, and require by law the depriving of citizens of their inalienable rights. One such law (voter suppression in Arizona) will almost certainly be upheld soon by six despicable Supreme Court justices.

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The Repug politicians have something to gain in that they continue their careers. The voters have been brainwashed. I hope you're wrong about the SCOTUS, although Alito and Thomas, at least will be all for whatever is proposed. Perhaps the rest will think twice, since the entire Dem party is infuriated, and they might be afraid of court packing or some other pushback. Makes you wonder how these virtuous "Christians" can sleep at night.

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I hope I’m wrong, too, but the smart money seems to be bet on the bad guys. On the issue of brainwashing, I think that’s the wrong term. The voters you’re talking about have deeply held commitments to the preservation of the advantages they have always held over Americans with non-European ancestors.

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I'm certainly not taking bets on the SCOTUS, and I agree that brainwashing isn't the appropriate term for the advantaged group, but the folks who've been displaced by obsolete jobs or industries that have gone off-shore should be angry with the right wing, but they have bought into the blame for their resentment as being caused by POC. Furthermore, they believe the rot about the right being better for the economy, and don't understand that tax cuts favor only the wealthy. It's easier to hate a race or gender than place the blame on greedy businessmen, where it belongs.

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And all the worse as they deprive not only themselves, but all of us. We need the diversity of perspective to survive as a species.

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I have said the same. The loss of talent of any group damages the whole of society. Thank you for sending this message. It is important!

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We can all hope the oligarchy inbreeds until they become such blithering idiots the government can finally

be free to do it’s job .

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That has been accomplished, and we're still suffering with this minority.

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Made me laugh. btw I live in WV

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I like what you said, janet, but if you don't mind, could we change that last word (species) to "people of decency"?

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That will work. better

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John, you have perfectly stated what I think about all the time! "Unforgivable waste" indeed! Wish I could "like" your comment a thousand times.

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Amen John. Perfectly put!!😊🤔💖💕

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The irony of the redistribution of wealth is that the unpaid labor of the enslaved built the white wealth. This was repeated when Reagan used the welfare queen example of fraud by an individual as an excuse to cut taxes for businesses, break unions and raid pension funds. IMHO, GOP manifest destiny that the powerful accumulate wealth by corruption and inequality. Meritocracy built a powerful Federal Government. Reagan used an example of wealth fraud to paint all beneficiaries as unworthy.

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I've been stuck on the word "Meritocracy" and what it means in this country for quite some time. I think that we've built kind of a false idea of Meritocracy here - not the concept that those who work hardest and earn their rewards will receive them, but the inside-out notion that you can tell the level of a person's worth or "merit" by how much they already have. Basically, if a person has been successful or had reward bestowed on them, that's proof that they deserved the reward and we should continue to reward them. And if someone has had everything taken away from them, it's a vivid sign if their lack of merit, and they should continue to be taken from.

Only under a system like that could we so consistently press the harmful fiction that an entire group, class or demographic of people who were actively robbed from and cheated in order to build this country (and there are many) are really the greedy ones. As you point out, it worked elegantly.

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A very perceptive and important comment, and one that highlights one of the main mechanisms by which privilege seems to be perpetuated in our society. This is particularly important as the grain of truth behind it, carefully dressed up in this moral disguise to enable continued exploitation, is that each economic activity requires a wealth of detailed knowledge, and the persistence to keep developing it, in order to become successful. In Britain today, and I think in the USA, we have lost the respect for expertise (explicitly denigrated by Boris Johnson and his cronies before the last election) while retaining the cloak of meritocracy to bolster privilege. We have a severe problem of explaining this subtle difference, and the fact that expertise in one area does not necessarily extend to others, to a public bombarded by superficial propaganda aiming to maintain the status quo.

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We seem to have gone back in Britain with Johnson to pre-thatcherite views of "society" valueing financial acumen and risk-taking over "getting your hands dirty (as a metaphore for making things); the City of London over factories.

The domination of the already wealthier classes of this source of wealth generation has been established for several centuries and they are being joined by the "newly educated elite" wishing to emulate the priviledges of those already established. Shortage of place is driving these new arrivals down the "feeding chain" to work in other parts of the economy bring their "finance-driven short termism" with them. These are the people who are now raking the benefit of being able to work from home much of the time. They are driving up the price of housing even further from their ostensible work-base to the detriment of those not so closely enmired in this "wealth creation and accumulation jungle" and are leaving the suburbs of the cities to the lower paid workers who must be present at the factory to make things happen. Those already priviledged in these terms then have the unhindered and unsullied possession of the best, often historic city quaters that they feel that they alone merit..

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Stuart, FWIW, I would add to your thoughts and those of Heather H. and Philip B. that when Michael Young coined the term “meritocracy” it was in a sociological satire predicting the replacement of aristocratic domination with a new elite determined by “IQ + effort = merit.” (Apparently he made his fictional narrator so persuasive that many readers thought he was in favor of such a new regime.) But every system of social ranking sets up a hierarchy of power that takes on a life of its own over time. And formal tests of intelligence, along with being easily gamed and overlooking wide realms of socially important smarts and skills, track to the birth lottery of resources even better than that of name. In the USA and, I believe, the UK intelligence + effort came to be equated with gaining university entry and graduation, solidifying a new income table and class structure. Changes in regulations and tax laws to “free up” capital and those with the smarts to manipulate it (e.g., enhancing “shareholder value”) potentiated greater intergenerational transfers of advantage. So while Melissa is right to complain of the personal costs of good old-fashioned “know a guy” cronyism, I think that the successful public selling of the endless opportunities for “merit” to rise has led to massive, unearned power and influence for a growing international class of cronies who revel in justifying how they deserve what they’ve got—and see the spiraling inequalities of the system as the problems of those who haven’t managed to be winners.

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Thank you for your insights on the origins of the term. I first heard the term circa 2004 from a colleague without the benefit of context. On the 'know a guy' comment, I have actually measured that in my previous consulting work with a cost containment company. I would send out RFPs on indirect expense categories and try to find the client better pricing. The firm didn't charge for the analysis, but the client agreed in the engagement letter, to 'share' the savings with us over a period of time ( a year or so) if they accepted the recommendation. Time after time, the firm found savings based on the independent RFP analysis. I once found a 46% savings on their $225k annual spend

on packaging costs. The 'I know a guy ' factor at the highest. Typical savings depending on the catagory not that high. That was the extreme example.

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Kentucky where GOP Senator MM campaigned for re-election is that his influence allowed Kentucky to "punch above its weight". This translates to more Federal dollars flow into the state than Kentucky citizens pay in taxes. How this plays out in one example Federal benefit programs for individuals. A minimum wage worker, working full time will qualify for Medicaid (health insurance for the poor) and food stamps. The profits from the sale "low costs" goods sold by a big box retailer subsidized by exploiting their underpaid work force and the Federal government - by not paying a living wage. Kentucky does have people who educate themselves and then move out of the state for opportunity. The opportunities that remain in the state are then distributed via "connections". No one in their right mind would move here. I failed to do enough leg work before I did 20+ years ago.

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Strongly agree, I would like to add two things: 1) that 'wealth creation' maybe a particularly apt term in an era of monetary expansion by virtue of both the ability to create loans and charge for them, and the overall rise in asset values as the result of falling interest rates. I think there would be a strong argument for 'capital gains tax' being levied every year whether or not the capital is sold to capture some of this, and to make 'death duties'/ inheritance tax both more rigorous by outlawing 'trusts' and more progressive to reduce the inheritance of wealth. It might also make the UK less attractive as a place in which to 'invest' in second homes by those from abroad whose money often comes from very dubious sources.

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The "Capital Gains Tax" thus defined is effectively a marginal wealth tax. The only country in Europe with anything like a Wealth Tax was France (since eviscerated by Macron). It was much liked by the left and as nobody else did it and capital flows freely it cost the French a great deal and made their wealthiest citizens set up residence for tax purposes in tax havens and/or neighbouring countries...who were delighted to ease their path. It produced very little money for the exchequer at the end of the day but managed to penalize those whose house in Paris had massively increased in price but not their often meagre revenues. Beware of what you ask for...people will always try to get round it if they can. This is of course expensive and favours again only the very rich!

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I always felt Thatcher was just a female Reagan.

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True in many ways....if considerably more intelligent....but her biggest contribution was to change the prevailing attitude in the UK. Pre-Thatcher the government was "managing the decline into relative poverty" . She championed the view that Britain had a place in the new world and by "working hard and getting your hands dirty" you could get a lot more out of life. Otherwise, she largely neutered the unions as "political" organizations of course but they were largely dominated by the Trotsky-ite part of the Communist party; strrikes were massive, constant and violent incited and agreed in small committee by the militant few. I worked in the City of London 1984-1986.

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My understanding of the term meritocracy is different than yours. Merit is the notion that one person is competent and and trained. My perspective comes after I moved from metro Atlanta. I had worked for large companies traded on the NYSE in accounting and audit roles. I was able to find professional employment because I had the training and professional certifications to do the work. Once I moved to Kentucky, it was a complete shift. Cronyism, "who" you know versus "what" you know gets you your next job/promotion. In pure competition, economic "rents" are created by those who truly innovate. In oligarchies, there is not a level playing field and the economic "rents", are gained by cronyism (knowing someone who gives your firm the contract).

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Thanks! It sounds like your understanding of the term meritocracy is the same as mine. What I aim to point out is how at least in the US we've perverted the idea into basically the opposite of what it ought to mean - very similar to how Dr. Richardson often points out "Movement Conservatives" have corrupted the term "conservative." This has been on my mind lately because I've heard people say verbatim that "we live in a meritocracy" as a shorthand for dismissing complaints of inequity, and yet what they are pointing to is definitely a system where those who already have wealth or resources are seen as the natural candidates for more, and less of it 'trickles down' every day. A cronyist oligarchy, or there may be better words that aren't coming to me.

Your firsthand experience is a great and terrible example, and it really goes all the way up to national government. There, I feel like we are seeing a very old war between those who are trying to "earn" their elected office by actually doing the work and representing their constituents, and those who see their office as post hoc proof that whatever they say or do is a mandate.

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Thanks

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Wonderful analysis Heather H. The Atlantic did an interesting piece on toxic Meritocracy in the 9/2019 issue:

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/09/meritocracys-miserable-winners/594760/

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Having read this article, I can see your objection to the term. I disagree with the author's suggestions to remedy the toxic effects. I believe that there needs to be a paradigm shift in measurement only in monetary terms. If there was a framework where our decision making process was driven by environmental impact, bargain hunting and other capitalist activities would shift.

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WOW! Thank you for this Diane. And Thank you Heather H. for your take on a false meritocracy. I may have to go out and sit on my deck all afternoon, watching the waves, while all those conflicting notions settle in...

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I had no idea the term "meritocracy" was a hot button term. In labor economics terms, workers move up to the next level of employment by qualifications. In my parents day, education was the great equalizer.

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It was--and is--but Black Americans were not eligible for the GI Bill; neither were women who had served in the armed forces. In addition, quotas and outright apartheid in state university systems often denied access to education not only to Black folks but also Indigenous, Latinx, Jews, and--especially in graduate programs--women. So the path toward the middle class was barricaded for all but working class white men who had served in the military and were rewarded for their service. My father was a beneficiary of this system. If he had been Jewish (my mother was Jewish but he was not) he would have had a much harder time of it.

These days, unequal access to education for generations has resulted in an enormous disparity between savings and property of white people and that of Black people. Black people seeking higher education pay more, owe more, and default more frequently on their loans because the employment situation is also rigged against them.

This is why meritocracy doesn't work: it is considered merited only for white men. This is also why reparations and equity-based solutions are the best means to level the playing field. But most white people find those ideas objectionable because it might mean they they are no longer privileged. And they usually are in denial about the actual people who built America: an enormous number of them were not white.

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GI bill benefits on the VA website says for 'qualifying personnel'. Since my dad was Korea era veteran and my mom a scholarship student, I never put 2 and 2 together. The discrimination details keep on coming. Thank you for setting me straight.

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Join with other veterans/families to file a class action suit.

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My parents were Holocaust victims. When my dad was admitted to this country in the 30’s, he didn’t speak a word of English. In 1941, he saw that “ “Uncle Sam Wants You” poster, he joined the Army. He wanted to go back to Europe but they sent him to the pacific Theater for 4 years. I am positive he was never aware of VA benefits for his children or himself.

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"The irony of the redistribution of wealth is that the unpaid labor of the enslaved built the white wealth." Full stop, Melissa.

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A Black Bostonian carried one of the best signs from 2020's summer protest season:

"We built this country for free, we can burn it down if we want to!"

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Well said.

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1871 South Carolina Taxpayers’ Convention. 1890 "Why the Solid South?" 1976, Ronald Reagan's "Welfare Queen." 2020 Trump's "Stop the Steal." 2021 Republican state legislatures' “election integrity."

Racist words fueled murderous ideology that caused untold suffering and terror.

When does rhetoric become disinformation? When does disinformation become an outright lie?

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Had a discussion with my brother last night. He is a Tea Party type conservative, an "originalist" in reading the Constitution. We love each other so we can agree to disagree even when our positions are in exact opposition. He is concerned that if the For the People Act is passed then the Democrats will become the single party and will establish totalitarism as the single party. Totalitarianism - a system of government that is centralized and dictatorial and requires complete subservience to the state. Socialism -- (in Marxist theory) a transitional social state between the overthrow of capitalism and the realization of Communism. I concerned that if the voter suppression laws proliferate that the Republican minority will have majority rule and take us into authoritarianism and America will no longer be a democracy even as imperfect as it has been. So, I have a similar question to Ellie. How did socialism become so bad, perhaps as a synonym for communism, and why is the fear of socialism moving to totalitarianism believable by the Republican electorate? Sounds bytes repeated do seem to make people start to believe in them. I find it ironic here in Texas which has no voter fraud can use the excuse that the "voter integrity" laws fix voter fraud. When the Republicans have been in control in Texas for so long shouldn't they be criticized for letting all this voter fraud happen on their watch and they've had years to "fix" it. How can they have it both ways so easily? The counter to "election integrity" is "limiting voting for everyone is not good .... Election security can be had without limiting voting for everyone" "Gun control" vs. "gun safety" is another one. My brother and I did find three things we agree on 1. Money controls too much of our politics. 2. We need term limits in Congress 3. The two-party system is inherently a major part of how we became so divided. (John Adams stated "the worst evil to befall the Constitution would be a two-party system" I agree with him...)

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"2. We need term limits in Congress"

We already have them. They're called elections.

Term limits are a way for some people to control who other people choose to represent them. I have a particular dislike for the idea of term limits. I am very happy with my congressional delegation from Connecticut, and do not want to be told I have to give them up by those who don't live in my state, or by a minority who do live in my state. Better to concentrate on making it easier for every citizen to vote. Do that and term limits take care of themselves.

"3. The two-party system is inherently a major part of how we became so divided"

Maybe so, but I think whatever you try to put in its place, it will naturally evolve/devolve into some kind of two party politics. The political problems we face today are about the vastly different ways people look at the world. Again, end voter suppression and the two party system starts to work again. (That's why one party is working so hard to suppress the vote.)

As to the money, I agree. The Citizens United decision has had a horrible effect. But I also wish to point out a lot of money was just spent in Georgia to defeat two Democratic Senate nominees and they won anyway, because of a concerted effort to get as many people as possible to the poles. Recently, in my home state of Connecticut, billionaire Linda McMahon spent $50 million of her own money, and probably twice that amount of other people's money, twice, to buy a Senate seat, and failed, by a lot, both times.

Still, it shouldn't be that legislators all over the country, state and federal, from both parties, have to spend half their time raising money.

But above all, if we work to make it easier to vote than to buy a gun, much that ails us will disappear, and American democracy can begin to work again.

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RE: term limits. Can we say that "Elections SHOULD be term limits"?

IMO, in order for elections to BE term limits, dark and dirty money needs to be vanquished so that the will of the people is heard once again. Right now, ordinary peoples' votes and voices are suppressed by more powerful, wealthy and controlling forces.

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It always comes back to money, doesn't it. With Citizens United we basically have legalized corruption.

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Well-put, Cathy.

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Yes, elections work as term limits in the abstract. But the power of incumbency, especially in fundraising, frequently makes a mockery of the electoral process. And too often, the only effective challenges come from ultra-rich plutocrats who can afford to outspend opponents.

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I think we could rely on "term limits" via the vote, if we could establish campaign finance reforms. Once a person gains office, there is so much money that is "donated" through PACs, Corporations, and lobbyists, that any opponent without their own wealth kicks-off far behind the entrenched incumbent.

Also, until we have an informed electorate, "name recognition" alone can defeat a newcomer. Add to that the new century's gluttony of voter suppression, and we have little chance of effecting "term limits." We have a meaningful electoral system if we can remove the money and voter suppression legislation, and we educated and honestly informed those who vote.

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This was especially noted when 45 jumped in to endorse a Republican. They lost most of the time. That backfired, and understandably Republican candidate were fearful of his endorsement.

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Thank you for this. I particularly agree that term limits are egregious and limit my choices for representation. I understand the impulse (entrenched power becomes toxic) but disagree with the solution proposed. I love my two Senators (well, one more than the other) and both have served over a decade. I would be upset if I was no longer able to vote for them and had to choose a possibly less capable and certainly less experienced person.

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Maybe you'd feel a bit different if you had Senator Cruz and Senator Cornyn "representing" you. Beto O'Rourke came very close to unseating Senator Cruz. Just looked up the percentage of incumbents that are reelected to the Senate. It is 98%. And they vote with their big donors 95% of the time even if that is against the prevailing polls of the voters.

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Term limits would not solve this problem.

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Not by itself, but with public campaign funding caps on election spending ( and no voter suppression), we could have a more open, representative political system.

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Worked in Michigan for state offices.

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I have to agree. Love my state senators, also. And, I don't feel power has corrupted them. But, many Republicans in my circle hate them. And, mostly point out their "liberal" decisions. But, most of my Republican friends do hold judgements on people of color and astonishingly, women.

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It stops us from having a monarchy with term limits on the President.... Although I think 2024 may be the last election if all goes well for the Republicans and For the People Act isn't passed. Vote as if it is the last election you'll be allowed to vote in. Recommend Tim Snyder's little book "On Tyranny"

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Agreed. The time has come to vote, always vote, even if you have to crawl over broken glass under the guns of Hawaiian-shirted thugs.

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Exactly. Glad to hear this sense of urgency. I see far too many on the left treating this like a little kitchen fire instead of the all-out five-alarm conflagration it is. Add the impending environmental catastrophe if the Rs are in power and we should be scared stiff and angry as hell.

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As long as our citizens allow the minority party to cheat to get power and win elections, we are doomed.

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I find myself perpetually gobsmacked that in 2021 we're still dealing with essentially the same racial and gender attitudes that have plagued us for centuries. Granted, things have gotten incrementally better over that time, but these ways of thinking are so clearly backward and ignorant I would think embarrassment alone would cause some of these Neanderthals to change. But no.

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Please stop insulting Neanderthals. All the evidence points to them as gentle, caring people. Thank you.

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I'm with you. Elections are term limits. As for the two-party system, if the Founders were against that, they should have given us a parliamentary system. The requirement to get a majority, not a plurality, of the Electoral votes ensured that the electorate would quickly devolve into a two-party system. In fact, I think it happened within the lifetimes of many of the FF, who could have moved to fix it right then and there, but didn't.

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I wonder if a mandatory retirement age would help? Various corporations have mandatory retirement ages for their top leadership.

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I don't think mandatory retirement works when people are living lucid lives for longer and longer. Retirement needs to be based on ability not age and still I would be leery of it. One TED talk speaker said the new middle age goes to 85 now.

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*Cough* Dianne Feinstein *cough*

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Moscow Mitch, Graham, Johnson, and more.

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Pelosi, Schumer, John Lewis. You can't eliminate the one without eliminating the other.

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I agree, but as you will no doubt have noticed, even in parliamentary systems there are usually two dominant parties and the others are more like gadflies, though the need to form coalition governments does give them more power than the zero power they have here.

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I'm undecided, but at least term limits would stop the massively-expensive permanent campaigns. They require constant fundraising and open the door to corruption by wealthy donors.

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TPJ, I agree with you on the obviously corrupting influences of big money in elections, and on the inherent powers of incumbency as well. But I am not for legally-specified term limits for two related reasons: 1) (without funding limits) sorting through slates of new candidates would in no way reduce the massive expenditures and backdoor pressures on candidates; and 2) the states I am familiar with that did institute term limits ran into the problems inherent in lots of inexperienced reps, who relied even more on outside guidance--i.e., direction from whoever backed them--and had few skills at compromise, building coalitions in their House, cooperating with community groups, etc. Such outcomes aren't inevitable, but given two-year cycles and the resultant inclinations for term-limited reps to look for up-or-out at the next one, there are tendencies toward loss of institutional knowledge and stability in the constant churning. So, as many others have said, we're back to the money.

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I was a lobbyist in Michigan when that happened in 1998 (who "provided outside guidance"). Term limits were a huge improvement, though, just should have been instituted gradually, not all at once. 78% of Michiganders like it better.

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Thanks for flagging your experience. My guess is that the gradual transition was probably important because the voting populace need to be educated as to how existing systems (polling, primaries, etc.) change shape and function--as well as how to winnow through who all these new candidates are. Is this right?

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Agreed, Tom. that's why many people are undecided. Oh, to have simple, easy solutions to intractable problems!

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That is definitely true here in Ohio.

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That's why people are supporting campaign finance reforms.

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I think corruption of inexperienced candidates would be simpler.

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We have had term limits in Michigan since 1998, and I for one, was SO grateful when it happened. Before that, as a lobbyist, I had to deal with 30+ year veterans who were just plain hateful and smug, their re-elections guaranteed every 2 or 4 years by constituents who benefited from their power. The only drawback I saw was, since such a large number of the legislators had to leave at the same time, we lost a great deal of historical and institutional knowledge. Which meant we lobbyists were often coaching new representatives - that's not how government is supposed to work. Now most Michiganders (78% in one study) approve of term limits. Reps serve max of 3 2-year terms (total 6 years possible), Senators max of 2 4-year terms (total 8 years possible). The only change I would suggest is another term for each. And I would recommend the same for the US Congress. By the way, our phenomenal governor, Gretchen Whitmer, was term limited as state rep, then as state senator, then took 2 years off to campaign in every county in the state to win the top seat. And that experience is why she is so successful, even with Republican gerrymandering and hijinks and the likes of Betsy Devos.

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I am also undecided about term limits because there plusses and minuses on both sides of the argument. I don't think there is more is more or less corruption on either side. Most importantly, knowing civics, democratic principles and about the roles of government have to be part of the education of children and adults. An educated citizenry is the first order of business. Gretchen Whitmer is a portrait of courage, and I take your word, MaryPat, that she an excellent governor as well.

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Ralph, I'll admit, I've gone back and forth on this in my head for years. But where I live, in NC, we're so heavily gerrymandered at the state and US House level that Dems don't even have the opportunity to elect anyone to a limited term! Unless you live in Raleigh or Durham, maybe Charlotte, you're toast.

On a related topic, The Guardian has a good piece by David Sirota on the tyranny of the minority (re: Senate and filibuster) here: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/26/just-how-severe-will-americas-minority-rule-become

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Term limits work in Michigan.

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The real problem with not having set term limits is that it discourages the sharing of both information and power in the political parties. A 7-term Senator may be a great person, receptive to and considerate of constituent needs, yet the longer that Senator holds the seat, the less likely that the Senator is doing anything to prepare the NEXT Senator, or spread the knowledge so that there won't be a stumble when the Senator retires.

Anyone who has ever held a management position in business understands that succession planning, preparing for the day you move on, is an absolute necessity -- without it, the manager is forever locked into a position, the organization moves farther and farther from benefitting from a depth of knowledge, and when the time comes for a replacement manager, without the benefit of having been properly prepared to hold the position, the performance of the organization as a whole decreases.

We see this all the time with the "I like my representatives" approach to voting. I'm never going to vote for a person who intends to make a career out of holding tight to an elective office. I want to vote for a person who is giving a leg up to the next person who will hold the office, and who is strengthening the party in the process.

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Well, and by doing so you are using your vote to enact de facto term limits, which is exactly what is being argued here. Why artificially enact removal when you could convince your fellow voters that it's in their best interest?

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Because you can't convince your fellow voters. Term limits work in Michigan. Not perfectly, but so much better than what we had before 1998.

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Per the two party system ... investigate ranked choice voting... this has the potential to eliminate the two party system while broadening the field. Making it possible for one to vote for someone who most closely aligns with one’s own ideas.

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I also agree. However, I asked my Texas state representative what he (Republican) thought of ranked choice voting. His reply was "not in my lifetime!" And, he's young! So lots of education needs to happen on that. Here's a fun teaching aid I like to recommend: https://www.cgpgrey.com/politics-in-the-animal-kingdom

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I feel for you. I grew up in Texas and have several friends and family members there.

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I agree. Ranked Choice Voting for congressional offices would be a huge step forward.

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I agree with you regarding term limits. It’s like throwing the baby out with the bath water. No matter how good a representative is, at the end of a certain span of time they’re out and can’t be reelected.

Our country has notoriously low voter turnout, if everyone turned out to vote that would take care of getting rid of bad representation or at least we would get who the actual majority wanted.

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"...if everyone turned out to vote..."

That is the point of my post. End voter suppression, make voting easy, and the other issues start to disappear.

Thank you.

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Term limits are the flat tax of election (non)solutions.

For both only simplicity makes them attractive, not their effectiveness.

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On your point about "term limits and elections". I would agree with you more wholeheartedly if in the elections "white" votes were tabulated as being an expression of voter disapproval of both candidates.That way if the "whites" form a majority, both contestants automatically become disqualified and the election rerun till one person can dominate the game....because the people want him/her and not just the party.

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I don't understand what you're saying. By "white votes" do you mean votes left blank? A "none of the above" vote?

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That's right. I was just translating literally from the French. I hadn't thought of possible racial overtones.

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Ah! That makes sense.

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You make some very good points Ralph. It would be great if our election laws were based on giving people easy access to secure voting. In the two party system the opposite is true as we are vividly seeing this year. The fallacy is that limiting voting is somehow less fraudulent. We can have both easy access to voting and voter integrity at the same time. The AND mentality versus the OR black or white mentality. On the two party system, I voted for Gary Johnson for President in 2016. It made me very aware of how many ways the two parties kept a lock on their power. It isn't democracy if the parties are not using democratic methods to choose the party candidates. Like the presidential debates are controlled by the two parties, for instance. And, super delegates could railroad in their choice. Democrats did get rid of a lot of the super delegate rules in recent elections. That's why so many of our elections have been voting for the lessor of two evils. Or now having the huge moderate middle having no representation. One way to help solve this is ranked choice voting. And, in Electoral College and Senate committee chairs the winner take all gets all the chairs even if the parties representation is 50/50! The two-party system leads to extreme candidates on the left and the right leaving the middle unrepresented IMO. My promise to myself in these next elections is to vote a straight NO to the Republicans as long as they are a party of lies, obstruction, insurrection, conspiracy theories, and supporting white nationalists. Even Republicans I like like my state representative will not get my vote in order to put pressure on the Republican Party to get back to decency and policies. And, I tell them that is why they are not getting my vote.

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I liked Gary Johnson, not least his honesty about smoking pot and MJ policy. Of course, I voted for Hillary because she was, um, more electable. Oops!

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I think the structure of our system with defined terms of office makes a multi-party system unwieldy. Agree whole-heartedly regarding term limits (a thoroughly bad idea!) and campaign finance.

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Surely undefined terms of office would be worse.

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I have to laugh as I read this. True to form, the Republicans describe democratic goals with the language of the totalitarian regime they actually long for — obedience without question to their twisted ideas of white supremacy and extremist religious views.

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Their accusations toward the Democratic party are always very telling of the actions and goals of the Republican party.

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They have mastered the "art" of projection.

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Often I don't think they mean to project. They just blurt out accusations that they are experiencing. It's crazy.

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Projection is an unconscious process. What Republicans and bullies do with what appears to be projection may also be a sort of pre-emptory "beat you to the punch" accusation to get traction as a disinformation tactic before it appropriately wielded against the perpetrator and/or as a distraction tactic.

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European democracy with multiple parties seems to be a better model. That would enable people to support their values/principles, while also enabling the coalitions needed to do the right thing.

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I've mentioned this before, based on the many years I lived in Europe, how multi-party democracies can/can't function. The ISSUES are what become important and each separate issue will then garner certain coalitions. Sometimes, though, it means the gears can grind to a halt with endless discussions that try to explore every possible facet of an issue. It could be maddening. (Y'all should sit in on any "vergadering" ("meeting") in The Netherlands and experience the mind-numbingly endless debates because EVERYBODY has to give their "mening", their "thoughts", and then everybody has to react to that...*sigh*) I always said, democratic socialism works really well when it works, but when it doesn't, oh Lord, it can be aggravating as hell. Stuff gets done, but that nasty spectre of "bureaucracy"--Europeans sometimes seem to thrive on it--can really gum up the works.

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With the alternative being GQP seditionists endlessly preening for cameras and mikes, vergadering doesn't sound so bad.

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Exactly. There seems to be a greater preponderance of politics wedded to personality in this country. It's all about a politician's image and how they come across. The priorities seem a bit screwed up. Europeans see this phenomenon in American politics and are a bit baffled by it, though it has existed to varying degrees in Europe too. Now that hearings and proceedings are broadcast, the "preening" aspect--"how is this playing to the folks back home?"--looms large. Gotta get re-elected, y'know...

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European history has its fair share of big personalities in politics, but in contrast to the US, they're often talented as well as colorful. Obviously Churchill, but also Disraeli, Gladstone, Lloyd George, De Gaulle, Mitterand, Chirac, Brandt, Kohl, etc. Berlusconi was an earlier example of the deplorable Trumpsky type.

Europe seems to have pretty good luck with colorless but highly capable leaders: Robert Peel, Clement Attlee, Angela Merkl (?). Many other figures, some more suitable, will occur to LFAA readers. Obama is an interesting case, a man of strong personality and character who sought to be as colorless as possible -- literally, to avoid being condemned as an Angry Black Man. He rarely showed anger but was condemned anyway.

NB, thanks to all for tolerating my rattling off names. It's a small but persistent pleasure.

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So sorry about your brother.

I have no answers. HCR describes the roots of the fear of socialism from sensationalized news reports of the Paris Commune. Then there were the global threats of expansions by the communist states of the Soviet Union and People's Republic of China, with any legitimacy exploited by the First Red Scare of the 1920s American labor movement, and by the Second Red Scare of the 1950s McCarthyism.

Propaganda belongs in the mix with rhetoric, disinformation, lie, and The Big Lie, and the distinctions between them.

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I always found it frightening the close tie between McCarthyism and Trumpism was one person - Roy Cohn who sat next to McCarthy in the 1952 hearings and was Trump's lawyer and mentor teaching him to double down for instance. What I see conservative Republicans like my brother doing is psychological projection. The fears I have of the Republican Trump controlled party is being projected back on the Democrats by those same Republicans. It is quite interesting that my brother and I both fear the loss of democracy but with opposite solutions. We each feel the other has been brainwashed by lies and the biased media. Could it be that we are both right and the culprit is really the behind the scenes big money donors taking autocratic control ... the oligarchic kleptocracy.

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You are more right and less brainwashed, Cathy.

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Just based on which party is supporting the inclusion and well being of all people I do feel correct (not right!). I'd like our country to have a GWI a Gross Well-being index at least as strong as the GDP. All policies would have to show how they improved the Well Being of all the citizens not just a privileged few. Cheers.

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Thanks C! I stand corrected, not "righted."

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GWI. Good Will Index, too.

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As to “socialism,” Heather has said the term used in this country means a social safety net ... because in true socialism the state owns the means of production, among other things.

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Frustratingly, Republican citizens don't see that if we keep allowing the wealthy to amass wealth, create laws to protect their interests, and allow their businesses to pollute and destroy our planet, we ARE creating that form of socialism. Soon the businesses are enmeshed with our governments.

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When businesses are enmeshed with our governments, it's not socialism. It's fascism.

I'm old school regarding socialism: "From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs." But I approve of a strong, vigorous, equitable welfare state.

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I agree, TPJ. And, we need to work to give those in need the support to use welfare temporarily if possible. Working on eliminating systemic racism is a great start.

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Christi 100%

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That is how the word was first used. Words change in meaning and implication over time. Most of the words we use don't mean exactly the same thing they did one or two centuries ago, nor do they have the same implications. "True socialism" doesn't really exist, any more than any philosophy that claims to to "true" compared to others.

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It seems that Republicans favor some socialism but not all. Here is a question to ask your Republican friends. What is the oldest and largest socialist program in the United States? Answer - public education. How many Republicans think we should abandon that program completely? Damn few. How about Social Security? How many Republicans think we should completely abandon Social Security? Still a program most would strongly support as a good idea. How about public infrastructure? You know, roads, bridges, rural electrification, public transport, ports, rail, and so much more. Shall we eliminate all of those as well as they are at least in part socialist? How about our military? Shall we return to a period of only private militias and gangs? How about police and fire departments? Those are all socialist as well. These are all considered by most essential government services and quite legitimate. So we see when social services are in the interest of public welfare, this is good socialism, but ... well, when those services seem to be available to a portion of the population some consider "undeserving," then socialism is bad. But, how do we decide who is deserving and who is not? Well, it seems Republicans will decide that question by identifying who is categorized as "the others." That smacks of being a caste system.

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Excellent talking points on socialism. I'd also like to point out the Social Security is a program we pay into specifically in order to get a return on that investment where we retire. It is NOT a hand-out. It's a government sponsored retirement plan.

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Since "Socialism" (the term) will not fly in the USA, think in terms of "Democracy Capitalism". With democracy, we the people establish a social baseline - the safety net (hhealthcare, social security, education...) and the infrastructure, and the rules (minimum wage...) and regulations (environment..). These apply to and benefit the people AND the businesses, paid for by fair taxes, with capitslism as the engine for the economy. We just need a rule that says capitalism cannot buy democracy.

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It’s ironic isn’t it, Cathy? Your brother worries that Democrats will become the majority and establish totalitarianism but isn’t that what we sort of have now with the Republicans being the single party in power and imposing their will on everyone?

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Yeah, when I read that I had to go back and reread to make sure I'd read it right. Dems establish totalitarianism? Based on which reality?

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We became divided because of wealthy powerful people intent on dividing us for their own benefit, spewing propaganda and division, but especially as Ellie notes, outright lies. These folks have been on a mission and social media has made the accomplishment of their goals easier. The fight of our lifetime is for the spread of #TRUTH. Thank our lucky stars for superhistorian, Heather, who has the best way with words for all of us. A multi party system, without Citizens United and with ranked choice voting, might give us half a chance of the survival of Mother Earth.

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I had just finished reading a book: Symphony for the City of the Dead that has a real good explanation of Socialism as it attends to the State. Republicans try to use this as a "fear" tactic, like much of what they do. However, they refuse to differentiate between State Socialism and socialistic programs that benefit all people, to include Republican deniers.

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Thanks for the rec, Roy. It looks compelling.

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1. "Socialism" got so bad when the Movement Conservatives dragged the word through the mud to counter FDR's success. And the MCs brilliantly, tenaciously planned this smear campaign since the 30s, like one would plan a new business or creed (also on board was/is "The Family", a religious money power cult). So the word "socialism" is dead in the water for even moderate voters. Plus, it is defined in some texts as government ownership of the means of production (technically that is communism, but the 2 overlap).

2. Capitalism, on the other hand, is an economic model, which requires Democracy, a government model, to regulate, support (e.g. infrastructure) and incentivize it (e.g. clean energy). What's wrong with the USA is not capitalism, it is that

3. Our democracy has been bought by oligarchs.

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And I agree with only one of the things you list. Indeed, we need, above all, election financing reform (starting with getting rid of "Citizens United"- that term is so offensive). But term limits will make things worse. It takes that long for a person to begin to gain some insight into working in a large collegiate body like Congress. Term limits will guarantee that we will have a revolving door on inexperienced people in Congress, and a total lack of the kind of institutional memory that keep us from repeating mistakes too many times. In addition, term-limited candidates are likely to be single issue candidates whose primary focus will be on that one issue- to the detriment of every thing else. We can see where that leads already. As for John Adams, remember that in his time there was still an idealistic view of candidates as individuals being considered for their merits. It has never really been that way. John Adams had both flaws and merits, and an inability to foresee consequences was definitely one of his flaws. Nominally speaking we have a two-party system, but functionally both parties are coalitions, and both have to court voters who are members of neither or of "third parties". The factors causing our divisions have little to do with parties, and a whole lot more with greed and lust for power on one end, along with powerlessness and poverty at the other- with a whole range of other things filling in the middle.

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Except...ever play Red Rover? You know how you try and run through those locked hands or arms? This is the GOP. They stand as one. So, yes, this is their party. One that is full of their lust for greed and control.

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Conservatives are those who want to preserve and manifest the ideal of one person-one vote. Those who think buying guns should be easier than voting should be happy to be called Radical.

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When we call out alternative facts as outright lies.

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"When does rhetoric become disinformation? When does disinformation become an outright lie?"

I think observant US citizens are keenly aware of how disinformation becomes an outright lie by remembering the Trump presidency. Faux Entertainment and willing GOP firmly repeated misinformation to make it a lie, but a lie that is believed by fearful and angry people. Why did Trump NEED his rallies? Remember that he filed to become a candidate for the 2020 election a few days after his inauguration. Rallies identified his supporters by their attendance and watchers on media. He was able to present huge amounts of disinformation at these rallies, and Trumpsters returned to their lives with the false ideas about Democrats, scary people of color at our southern borders, voter fraud before the election was held, etc. Also, rally participation responses filled the narcissistic ego of the 45th president entitling him to create and present many more false and manipulated information. For a lie to grow and spread, it must be believed by the recipient of that lie. Our nation has about 40% of its citizens willing and able to fill that role.

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Was this the precursor to today's phenomenon of "up is down, right is wrong, alternative facts, attacking Capitol Police = hugging and kissing them"? Did it begin with the KKK or has this occurred before?

"They organized as the Ku Klux Klan, saying they were 'an institution of chivalry, humanity, mercy, and patriotism” intended “to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States… [and] to aid and assist in the execution of all constitutional laws.'"

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I think disinformation goes hand in hand with manipulation to exercise power and control, going back through the ages and from rulers of countries to intimate partners. Think court secrets, rumors, domestic violence.

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It’s early in the day so I have been able to read the comments right through to the end (any later and I would have been here all day). What a remarkable group this is - so knowledgeable and so infinitely courteous. Watched from afar I despair about the way the USA is going. But like others I have growing admiration for the way Biden is grappling with the issues. Before the election I worried that the Democrats had not put up someone worth voting for (paraphrasing the tail end of Naked Gun 2 ½) but I now realise that they did! By the way efforts must be made to disabuse the public that the Democrats are “socialist” or “communist”. Here in the U.K. a Biden government would be considered more right wing than our Conservative government.

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Hi Richard, Robin (female) in Wales here. Nice to see someone in my time zone!

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It's always good to hear voices from across the puddle!

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Mutts are superior to purebreds. Lack of inbreeding.

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Hello, fellow Mutt. Though I'm mainly Gaelic (from my more recent immigrant ancestors) and have a fair bit of Native American thrown in. My family just keeps accumulating it, generation by generation, migration to migration.

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hybrid vigor

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I think most US residents have no idea how extremely right wing government and politics have become. Absurdly, they use "far left" to describe people like Bernie Sanders. But then again it can be argued that politics in the entire "white English-speaking world" have fallen into a terrible madness.

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Hi Richard! [and Robin from Wales]: I spend a lot of time in the UK and miss being able to be there! I agree: the Tory government resembles the Republicans from the 1980s (leftovers from the Thatcher era, but with a grudging acceptance of some levels of "difference") more than it does the insanities of the current "conservative" movement here in the USA. But even the execrable Ronald Reagan would not be able to gain any traction among Republicans were he to run on the same platform as he did back in 1980, despite the egregious "welfare queen" rhetoric. I loathed the man but at least he was predictable and not a proto-fascist.

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At least Reagan had some political principles, even though they were bad ones.

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Depends where you put the goalposts

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Again, a succinct accurate historical thumbnail that I was never taught in school. Thank you.

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Exactly my thought!

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I recommend the book FOUR HUNDRED SOULS, edited by Ibram X Kendi and Keisha N. Blain. It is a collection of 80 essays written in 2019 (the 400th year of slavery). They were written by 80 contemporary Black writers, historians, journalists, theologians and a plethora of other specialists as well as various men, women, younger, older, and all persuasions. Each essay chronicles a five-year period of the history of slavery beginning in 1619 through 2019. It is a treasure of a book. The essays are deliberately kept to only a few hundred words. It is a book you read, put down and think about what you have read, and come back later to read a few more essays. Highly recommend.

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Thank you for your comments on this book. I was looking at it the other day, today I’ll go back to my (indie) bookstore and get it.

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Also, many of the essays are well-researched stories of real people throughout the eras of slavery.

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I have read this book and agree it was amazing. I will reread also.

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As America's Time Of Troubles lengthens since Sept 11, 2001, scholars and journalists have resorted to comparisons to better understand the moment and our historical trajectory.

One way is to compare states across wide spaces and times, resulting in at least two books and various essays asking, Are We Rome? (The partial consensus is No, not fully or not yet.) Another is broad in space but more limited in time, e.g. Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers. Kennedy evinces complex and contingent reasons explaining their various fates from 1500-2000 (though published in 1988).

Dr Richardson's approach differs in comparing, or more precisely contrasting, the same American nation in two periods of its history. Both spatial and temporal scope is still more restricted, and in this case may be more helpful. Indeed, it isn't so much a contrast between parallel developments, but more an argument that recognizes continuity within one nation over parts of its own relatively shorter history.

What continues, what endures, unfortunately, is some of the worst traits in American history. Emancipation and Reconstruction succeeded by reunion and brutal reaction; but then later the Civil Rights era, the Second Reconstruction. And now, since we lost George Floyd last Memorial Day, a Third Reconstruction , this time global, is upon us. We should expect another wave of demonstrations accompanying that sad anniversary, but this time, in the aftermath of the Atlanta shootings, perhaps in closer alliance with AAPI people facing their common challenges.

Hopefully Dr Richardson will soon say more about how America also manages to achieve progress in the face of such historically intense opposition. I'm almost convinced by now that some form of the Confederacy will always be with us. But I'm definitely convinced that ultimately its historic role is always to be vanquished by the Better Angels of our Nature.

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As former Attorney General Eric Holder cautioned in commenting on Dr. King's famous quote, “the arc bends toward justice, but it only bends toward justice because people pull it towards justice. It doesn’t happen on its own.”

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That's what I've told countless people at dozens of rallies in the last year: we bend the moral arc ourselves.

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thank you

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Let’s see if that arc bends re: the George Floyd trial. I am hoping that justice will be served against Chauvin.

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I would add to this list Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America. It's a useful supplement to HCR's work. In addition, the investigation of the southern post-war strategy and its expansionists into the Midwest is an important component in understanding not just what is going on in GA and other "Old South" states, but also in MO, IA, AK, etc. Diane Mutti Burke is the historian of the civil war era in the Midwest everyone should read. Her book, On Slavery's Border: Missouri's Small Slaveholding Households, 1815-1865, shows that the values of the plantation class was shared by people far lower on the socioeconomic ladder, which means that they were more than willing to engage in acts of terrorism against BIPOC and freed people in order to promote their own whiteness and associate themselves with the plantation class. The mythology of the "nice" slaveholder is totally smashed by her work. She is a very important young voice in this discussion.

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Thomas Frank's book is a must-read to understand the tactics of subversion.

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WTMWK is an essential starting point, but Frank's thesis that culture wars are used to deflect voters from their real economic interests is becoming dated, though hardly irrelevant. It'd be good to see him write a new book on the current crisis, in which the forces of reaction make brazen, not coded, appeals to white supremacy, and foment lawbreaking and political violence.

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Agree, Linda. What’s the Matter with Kansas gave me nightmares. Because it all happened in plain open sight. While no one paid attention.

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You most eloquent and erudite person, gratitude for your thoughtfulness and presence. Feeling blessed.

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TPJ, A worldwide examination reveals the drastic lessening in rule of democratic and democratic leaning states. The USA's lack of support for democratic principles here and abroad in the past 41/2 years as well as its destabilizing actions in recent years is not a good story. The Democratic Party continues to be weak in terms of recent efforts at equity and support for the working class.

On the positive side, the demographics and positions of generations Y (Millenarians) and Z may provide the bulwark against the autocratic, anti-government and white supremacist movements prominent at this time. The links below are to a couple reports about generations Y and Z by the Pew Research Center, which I think are illuminating:

https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2020/05/14/on-the-cusp-of-adulthood-and-facing-an-uncertain-future-what-we-know-about-gen-z-so-far-2/

https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2019/01/17/generation-z-looks-a-lot-like-millennials-on-key-social-and-political-issues/

The social justice demonstrations last year may be considered 'the social justice movement of 2020'. It looked different than other Civil Rights protests because it was. The mix of Blacks, Whites and others made it unlike the past. There were so many participating Whites, even some old-time activists in the Civil Rights Movement gave up their doubts that anything could change.

The Democratic Party needs to be pushed and pushed much harder than the 'populists' are trying to force the Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and Asians back and back. The force forward cannot depend of Joe Manchin & Co.

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Thanks Fern. A couple of days ago someone (maybe you?) helpfully posted the Wikipedia classification of democracies. It generated good LFAA discussion and many opinions on which category best fits the US. Most states in western Europe are now "out-democratizing" America, which first set the example for the world. It is past time, in Dr DuBois's phrase, to "reconstruct democracy in America."

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TPJ, Please read my initial comment posted quite late for a link to article by Jane Mayer in this week's The New Yorker. I think that you find that comment, perhaps, near the top of New Comments.

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I'll look for it; appreciated, F.

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There is an argument to be made that the current Senate bears no resemblance to the one in which President Biden admirably served. It is broken, and was broken by one man: Mitch McConnell, who dedicated his last 12 years blocking anything Democrats put forward and promoting anything Trump espoused.

It is time for the Democrats to set the record straight, pass some logical and useful legislation, and if the Republicans don’t agree, let’s vote them the HELL out of office in two years. The House, too. If we want our legislators to power up, we’ve got to do the same thing.

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McMurderer is how I refer to this man now because everything he touches or doesn’t (re: House bills) seems to disappear. His statement, the other night, speaking about how the filibuster does not have a racist history, just enflamed me.

I assumed the hatred of freedom for slaves was started in the South but I did not know just how the KKK came about...white sheets resembling dead soldiers. Having seen them up close while growing up in the South, I can tell you it was frightening for this little Jewish girl.

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Don't forget your local legislatures--in many ways, as important as the Senate these days.

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I won’t take a reading of today’s post and the comments simply because I have a KEEN interest in the progressive agenda President Biden is attempting to forward. Such as a multi-trillion dollar investment in a social democracy here in the US. THAT is far bigger news, imho .....

And this focus on a Democracy Capitalism, which contains voting rights and an economic platform to insure "liberty and justice for all” could be so exciting and transformational - if dems get behind the effort and push, hard - a bit like, perhaps, giving birth, to a new brighter future, for all Americans. But firstly, we must recognize this perhaps greatest progressive initiative in America’s history! We can’t sleep through this!

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Thanks, Frederick. Biden has indeed armed himself with a powerful club for knocking down GQP obstruction.

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Spot on!

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Yes, Exciting and Transformational!! Thanks Frederick!! We just need someone to clearly define what " Democracy Capitalism" is for the American people. OH! You are!

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I wonder if it's even a good idea to try to define it. Let it simply stand- making too much of labels just starts contests about what they *really* mean. What's important is that the contents define it, and they are things that most Americans want.

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Wonderfully written, and now I’m adding another volume (Yours, Dr. Richardson) to Mount Bookpile 📚

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Higher than Chomolungma (Mount Everest), with no limit to the size and scope of ideas. Onward and upward, JJ.

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Perfect name for my backlog—Mt Bookpile!

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My Mount Bookpile is surrounded by dozens of Foothills Periodica.

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LOL. Same here. I was online with some friends not long ago complaining about all the books piled up on my worktable. They wanted to see it, so I turned my computer around to show them. Good friends: they orchestrated a scream of dismay that delighted me. Didn't help that the coffee table in between has several piles of said Foothills and two minor mounts. Fortunately the boxes of readable UNDER the table were hidden from view. They do rotate, but I never seem to have a place to put my feet.

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Love Mt. Bookpile! I had not thought to give it a name. The foothills seem to range throughout my home

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😄 I think my backlog also qualifies for this way to be referenced. Thanks for the chuckle this morning, JJ.

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🤣😅😂 Mounts and Foothills and Towers of them! Thank you for a great laugh!

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Just love “Mount Bookpile”. Bravo!

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So happy to no longer live in the South. It was eye opening with regard to racism. The Klan was alive and well where I lived. My father in-law at the time fully supported them along with some but not all in my family. It reminded me of my grandmother talking about how we had soldiers fighting on both sides of the Civil War.

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Sorry to hear about your father in law. Just thought I'd share that my father in law, in the west Atlanta metro, happily lives in a majority African American neighborhood, and has learned Spanish to better serve the members of his Catholic parish. (He is an unpaid Decon.)

So all is not lost in the South! It will only take mass action by faith communities to hand out water in the next election and dare to be arrested.

Speaking as a Unitarian who is confused about religion, and ok with that.

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The despicable section about water in Georgia’s new law is a shiny distraction from the section that says if the state legislature doesn’t like any election results, it can change them.

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Astute observation, Joan

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Exactly, it's not about the water.

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At this point, I'm guessing that many don't understand the implications of the elections offices. Stacey will have to spell that out for everyone.

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Thanks so much for this, Joan. I'll pass it on to friends, so that they'll fully understand all implications. GPB is wonderful!

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Yes, and as wonderful as Public Broadcasting is; we can thank the Republicans for trying their best to totally defund the system, i.e., Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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One of the reasons I don't think this will get past the courts.

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