Amerika wählt Teil 1: Was sagen Iowa und New Hampshire bereits aus und was nicht?

Ich bin Student der Amerikanistik und beschäftige mich seit einigen Jahren mit der amerikanischen Kultur, Politik und Gesellschaft. Wie viele andere bin ich darüber verunsichert, wie die USA sich weiter entwickeln könnten. Die Wahl 2020 wird zeigen, ob und wie Donald Trump geschlagen werden kann. Die Demokraten werden klären müssen, wie sie einen effektiveren Kampf gegen ihn führen können, als 2016. Die Richtung der liberalen Opposition gegen Donald Trump zeigt sich dann (liberal ist hier im amerikanischen Sinn gemeint, nicht im europäischen Verständnis). Donald Trump ist ein hochgefährlicher Rechtspopulist, der nicht einfach zu schlagen sein wird.
So wichtig wie das Rennen der Demokraten gegen Trump ist, so wenig wird in der deutschen Berichterstattung detailliert darüber geschrieben. Der Fokus liegt häufig auf einem Vorteil, den Trump aus subjektiven oder objektiven Fehlern der Demokraten ziehen könnte. Außerdem werden Unterschiede zwischen den Kandidaten mit dem Blick auf eine Mitte eingeordnet, die es nur als Begriff Washingtons gibt. Dabei werden zutiefst problematische Beschreibungen von teils deutlich rechts der Mitte einzuordnenden Politikern und Gruppen unkritisch übernommen. Ideologie wird hier als Gegenteil von Pragmatismus gesehen, egal um welche Ideologie es geht. Dabei war es eine nach US-Begriffen mittige Kandidatin, gegen die Trump gewonnen hat. Es gibt Fehler in der Berichterstattung über die Kampagne und die Chancen, sowohl von Trump, als auch von den gegnerischen Demokraten.
In regelmäßigen Abständen will ich das Rennen begleiten und bewerten, welche Auf- oder Abstiege der Kandidaten in der Vorwahl was bedeuten könnte. Die wichtigsten Kandidaten will ich so herausarbeiten.

Der Anfang ist eine Beurteilung der Wahl in Iowa, die unverständlich verlaufen ist. Man muss jedoch mit dieser Feststellung beginnen: Pete Buttigieg und Bernie Sanders werden die weitere Kampagne gestalten. Das ist aus dem Ergebnis in Iowa hervorgegangen und hat sich in New Hampshire bestätigt. Das ist ein Hinweis für das Rennen um die demokratische Kandidatur für den Präsidentschaftswahlkampf 2020, dass ich in den folgenden Wochen und Monaten betrachten will. 

Als erstes will ich die teils als chaotisch gewertete Auszählung der Stimmen einordnen. Es ist nicht so schlimm, wie in vielen Zeitungen beschrieben. Das liegt am Verfahren selbst. Die erste Wahl in Iowa war keine Vorwahl, sondern ein Caucus. Caucuses sind große Volksbefragungen, deren Ergebnisse zusammengetragen werden. Das ermittelt deren Sieger. Alle Staaten außer Nevada führen stattdessen Vorwahlen durch. Ein Problem ist, dass der Prozess veraltet ist. Er wird etwa von Dick Durbin, der Nummer 2 der Senatsdemokraten, als solches bezeichnet, dass es schwerer macht, seine Stimme abzugeben (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iowa_caucuses#Criticisms). Der Caucus ist als System auf deutlich weniger Wähler vorbereitet. Caucuses benachteiligen außerdem Wähler, die nicht die Zeit haben, an langen Auszählungen teilzunehmen. Auch ist Iowa als zu 93 % weißer Flächenstaat in seiner Führungsrolle nicht unumstritten, da dies nicht mehr charakteristisch für die demokratische Partei ist. Damit gibt es schon zwei Probleme mit den ersten Ergebnissen, die also nicht unbedingt als vollständig indikativ gesehen werden sollten. Es gibt aber ein paar Hinweise:

Der erste ist, dass die Kampagne von Joe Biden, auch nach der ersten Vorwahl in New Hampshire, sehr stark angeschlagen ist. Er muss im Süden siegen (Super Tuesday, 3. März), um das Argument der Wählbarkeit zurück zu gewinnen. Er hat mit sehr wahrscheinlich einige Stimmen an Pete Buttigieg verloren, der als neue mittige Hoffnung gehandelt wird und in der Presse viel gelobt wurde.
Der zweite ist, dass Bernie Sanders der Favorit ist, da er einen Stimmenvorsprung in Iowa erreicht und die Vorwahl in New Hampshire gewonnen hat. Diese Favoritenrolle sehe ich äußerst positiv, da Umfragen zeigen, dass er Trump schlagen würde und seine Popularität inzwischen als Argument für ihn ins Feld geführt wird. (https://eu.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/02/09/bernie-sanders-could-beat-donald-trump-2020-column/4694526002/)
Der dritte ist: Pete Buttigieg, der ehemalige Bürgermeister von South Bend wird jetzt wichtiger, was auch ein zweiter Platz in New Hampshire unterstreicht. Ich sehe ihn als den stärksten moderaten Kandidaten. Der 38-jährige ist nicht übermäßig bekannt, auch wenn er 2017 versucht hatte, Vorsitzender des Democratic National Committee (DNC) zu werden. Als Bürgermeister wurde er in den Medien teils als innovativer Politiker gelobt (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2014/03/10/the-most-interesting-mayor-youve-never-heard-of/?arc404=true), aber auch von linken Zeitungen kritisiert. Sie warfen ihm Gentrifizierung zu Ungunsten von Afroamerikanern und sozial Schwachen vor (https://jacobinmag.com/2019/06/mayor-petes-war-on-the-homeless).
Ich sehe Pete Buttigieg als Kandidaten einer kosmetisch veränderten Kontinuität (ein Konzept von TYT-Gründer Cenk Uygur). Damit meine ich, dass er sich vor allem durch seine Jugend von Joe Biden abhebt. Politisch ist er der konservativen Seite der Partei zuzurechnen, so schlägt er zum Beispiel statt einer allgemeinen Krankenversicherung eine sog. Public Option (Dual-System bei der Krankenversorgung) vor. Das macht ihn für ältere Wähler attraktiv, die in früheren Rennen Biden wählten. Er hat jedoch kaum Unterstützung unter Minderheiten, da sein Umgang mit Polizeibrutalität kritisiert wurde (https://tyt.com/stories/4vZLCHuQrYE4uKagy0oyMA/22kkCiHxZkbeKfsQZwkvIm).

Iowa war kein funktionierender Prozess, aber keine gescheiterte Abstimmung. Es haben sich etwas über 176.000 Wähler am Caucus beteiligt und es wurde korrekt abgestimmt. Die App “Shadow” war das Problem. Die Schreckensszenarios über fehlende Motivation von Wählern und eine Stärkung von Donald Trump durch Iowa ist fehl am Platz. New Hampshire wird das erste Signal geben, wie bei Vorwahlen gewählt werden wird, wenn es um den Kampf gegen Donald Trumps zweite Amtszeit geht. Ein Caucus sagt noch nicht viel aus, die Vorwahlen werden mehr sagen und ich werde mehr über die Vorwahlen sagen.

Nightmare on Kinnock Street: The Destruction of a Labour Leader

Nightmare on Kinnock Street: The Destruction of a Labour Leader

Great article about how to destroy a good politician with innuendo and hate.

Tides Of History

I’m putting this here as a resource for any students interested in Labour’s relationship with the media

The 1992 general election was so tight that The Sun claimed their coverage ‘won it’ for the Tories.

A reminder of the bizarre lengths the paper went to in portraying the ‘Nightmare on Kinnock Street’…

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They claimed planning applications – including loft conversions – would have to be approved by gay & lesbian groups

‘What are they trying to do, build a gay world?’

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‘Lefties put boy in care of Lesbian Crook’ in a ‘loony bid to woo gay voters’
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‘Its MAO or Never for Neil’ – Kinnock won the votes of Stalin, Trotsky and Marx from the grave.

The Tories had the votes of Churchill, Elvis Presley and Sid James.

Hitler spoiled his ballot…

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‘How Page 3 would look under Kinnock – Fat Chance of fun’
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‘I’m a miner but I can’t…

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Sanders or Warren? Populist-Progressivism or New Deal? Take Your Pick!

Working-Class Perspectives

Despite their general agreement on specific issues, the two most left-wing candidates for the 2020 Democratic Party nomination, Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have embraced different ideological markers.  Sanders calls himself a “democratic socialist” and his near-miss 2016 primary campaign against Hillary Clinton helped spike the ranks of the Democratic Socialists of America (though he is not formally a member) to upwards of 50,000 members, including firebrand Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  Warren calls herself a “capitalist to my bones” but one who recognizes that “markets need rules.”  Despite this distinction, both advocate for a single-payer (or socialized) health insurance system, stronger labor unions, a Green New Deal, $15 an hour minimum wage, free public college tuition, and extended childcare and family leave policies, not to mention sweeping immigration reform and gun control legislation.

As Warren demonstrates, one obviously does not need to don the ‘socialist’ mantle to compete for the…

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Cold War Liberalism and Neoconservatism

This is a brief historical analysis of the relationship between Cold War Liberalism and Neoconservatism. To discuss this connection in a meaningful manner, one has to first explore, what Cold War Liberalism was and how it manifested itself in the political positions of those described with this designation. I want to analyze this connection, because of a perceived necessity to go into the roots of many on the Anti-Trump right.
Cold War Liberalism was a momentary position of a group of intellectuals and political actors, who combined the support of the New Deal programs with a hawkish position on foreign policy and anticommunism. This group of actors included the historian Arthur Schlesinger, the senators Henry “Scoop” Jackson and Hubert Humphrey and the presidents Truman, Johnson and Kennedy. Most national Republicans were supportive of this ideal, as well.

This position, comparable to a Washington consensus in the 1950s and 1960s became strained with the emergence of both the New Left and the New Right. The New Left confused this group of liberal thinkers with then-radical positions and a libertinism uncomfortable to most of these political minds while confronting them on their support for the Vietnam War. On the other hand, the New Right attacked republican supporters of this consensus for their “Me-Too”-conservatism, which did not campaign on getting rid of the welfare state, but rather on a more professional way of handling these new programs. This was seen as a betrayal and led to a rightward march of the Republican Party after the lost 1964 election. The republican party began running on racially tinged anti-welfare and “Law & order” positions in the 1968 election, while the demise of the 1950s and 1960s  Cold War Liberalism showed itself in the chaotic 1968 democratic campaign and primary elections, which ended with an unelected, but rather appointed candidate, Hubert Humphrey. The Republicans won and Richard Nixon became US president.

This schism between old-guard Democrats and New Left manifested itself most radically in the 1972 election when the Democrats chose a figure connected to the New Left on policy grounds, George McGovern over the reservations of Cold War Liberals. A group of former Trotskyists, who turned to the right of the Anti-Stalinist Left in the Social Democratic party or the center of the Democratic party broke off and continued to support Washington State Senator Henry Jackson, the so-called Senator from Boeing. This group, part of the New York Intellectuals criticized the anti-interventionist positions of McGovern and the more expansive welfare state of the New Society programs.
The most important figures in this turn to the democratic right against the main party were Irving Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, and Nathan Glazer.

They were influenced by figures such as labor policy expert Daniel Patrick Moynihan and saw the new welfare system as irresponsible and as a counter to the policies of personal responsibility. Over the course of the 1970s, they began looking for a new group for their kind of politics, ultimately leaving for the republican party, centering around former California governor and movie actor Ronald Reagan.
The modern Neoconservatism, as explained in the article linked here, was born thus of a mixture of disaffected Cold War Liberalism and opposition to a growing welfare state. The policies of the Bush White House in the 2000s can be seen as a continuation of this distinctly American theory of politics and the criticism of the Trump White House as an understandable mechanism of a movement intent of having an intellectual facade to republican governance.

“The Benedict Option” by Rod Dreher–Reflections

“The Benedict Option” by Rod Dreher–Reflections

Raising Lazarus

Rod Dreher’s new book, The Benedict Option, has been something of a lightning rod (pun intended) in current discussion. Some have taken an enthusiastic liking to it, while others have not been so favorable towards it. Much of the concern seems to cluster around the idea that Dreher is advocating for Christians to withdraw from the wider culture. To some, it sounds like old-school fundamentalism: “Leave the corrupt world behind and only spend time with Christians!”

I think such a reading misses Dreher’s point. Dreher acknowledges that the Benedict Option is really about the church being the church. The church must stop compromising with the world and be a distinctive community: “A church that looks and talks and sounds just like the world has no reason to exist” (121).

Dreher’s strongest points come when he addresses the internal life of the church. He calls for the church to hold the line on sound doctrine and…

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Review: Foucault and the Iranian Revolution

Notes toward an International Libertarian Eco-Socialism

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Copyright, Truthout.org. Reprinted with permission. Originally published on Sept. 13th, 2016

Janet Afary and Kevin B. Anderson’s Foucault and the Iranian Revolution presents a fascinating historical account of the process whereby the despotic Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi was overthrown by the Iranian masses in 1978-79, only to yield a dictatorial Islamist regime led by reactionary clerics. The transition to the Islamic Republic, ruled over by Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ruhollah Mūsavi Khomeini, found the unlikely support of Michel Foucault, the French philosopher well-known for his anti-authoritarian critique of Western modernity, who expressed great enthusiasm for the Shi’ite Islamist elements of the Revolution in a number of public articles he wrote about the fall of the Shah, as based on the two visits he made to Iran in 1978.

Afary and Anderson observe that, while many progressives and leftists — both in Iran and elsewhere — favored the Revolution against the Shah…

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The Hard Hat Riots and Donald Trump

At face value, the Hard Hat riots were an event in 1970, where construction workers attacked Anti-Vietnam War protestors on Wall Street. The event served as one of the reasons for Democrats to distance themselves from unions, thereby beginning a process that is still relevant today. I also see the event as an example of the distance between a young and old generation that also still affects political decisions in the US. The truth is that there was always a generation gap that existed and the other truth is that is an international phenomenon. Popular culture would not exist in her current form if there hadn’t been a group of young filmmakers, authors, and musicians telling their stories in ways that were unknown to an older group of performers and intellectuals. The same flow can be seen in politics, where a generational gap can lead to policies that reflect changing attitudes towards a multitude of issues from consumer protection to unionization, from financial reform to civil rights.

My basic assumption of the event itself has nothing to do with a generational gap though but is much rather connected to the idea that followers of Donald Trump are the spiritual descendants of this angry group of workers.

The notion that I want to express is that Donald Trump’s followers are homogenous in their anger over people, who have metaphorically left them standing in the rain by either exploiting social conservatism to pass tax cuts or who have abandoned them for a rainbow coalition. Both parties are partially at fault for the Donald Trump presidential campaign, even if the GOP is much more guilty than the Democrats.

The abandonment of the working class and it’s issues by democrats was combined with a mixture of neoliberal free-market ideology and right-wing Christian zealotry on the side of republicans, thereby leading to a loss of an actual voice for the middle class, as both parties took their base for granted, without actually delivering to them. There was never an actual plan to enforce rightwing policies like overturning Roe vs. Wade or banning Gay marriage completely, as business groups would never allow it, fearing financial losses. The journalist Thomas Friedman said it best, when he explained that conservative blue-collar Americans would for example “vote to ban abortion” and “receive a rollback in capital gains taxes”(Frank, Thomas. What’s the Matter with Kansas ? {S.7}, New York 2004.).
This betrayed structure of promising the fulfillment of personally held social wishes was one of the key factors that drove a wedge between the GOP leadership and the GOP base. The Tea party was a way of the base to tell their leaders to remember the idea of small government and responsible spending, which was swiftly co-opted by insiders in order to destroy a newly elected democratic president and make his plans impossible. This establishment manipulated their base to form as a barrier to tax increases and sane regulation, especially in the energy industry. The blue-collar base turned to the republicans twice, the first time in the Vietnam war era, the second time in the 80s, when  Reagan was their candidate. The relationship between base and leadership was always flimsy, but the pure partisan style of corrupt and out-of-touch politicians like Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and John Boehner, deeply divided by their actual adherence to forces like the Business Roundtable and the Chamber of Commerce, and the newly formed angry voters demanding opposition and radicalism on  a level that was deeply uncomfortable to corporate financiers, drove the party and their two most powerful inside groups over the edge in terms of their unity and willingness to respect each other’s political positions and metaphorical realm of action. The Christian right and Tea Party are no longer content with operating on local levels, hogtied by the local Chamber of Commerce, when it came to social policy, while the business wing lost their patience with the anger they had unleashed.

Donald Trump is a candidate prospected and strengthened by pure despair of many on the right, a candidate meant to explain that a bone once in a while in terms of populist or Christian conservative policies is no longer enough. The populism of Trump is fake, the populist sentiments of his base are not though. They would love to get rid of corporate control and turn to anybody, who seems willing or capable of giving them their dream government. This is the basic story of this campaign and this problem has to be solved, in order to return political culture to something seaming reasonable and functional enough to govern as the most powerful democracy again.

Jefferson Cowie Staying Alive – The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class A Book recommendation

This is the first entry in a planned blog on both US politics and related culture.
To begin with my work, I would like to recommend a book that served as a fascinating introduction to some of the historic events of the 1970s and 1980s and to the question, how those events helped create the current state of affairs in the US, with regard to labour and welfare policy. The book I want to recommend was published in 2010 by the historian Jefferson Cowie and tries to analyze, how the political environment of the 1970s created a framework for the almost complete destruction of organized labor and the effect of this on politics and culture. In his work, Jefferson Cowie provides a step-by-step explanation and exploration of working-class America, by discussing not only unions themselves but also cultural products that talked about or to this audience.

In the introductory essay, Cowie familiarizes the reader with a Detroit autoworker named Dewey Burton and his family, and by explaining Burton’s thoughts throughout the decade, he already explains the changing state of mind in working-class America. It is explained that Burton went from voting for George McGovern in 1972 to vote for Ronald Reagan in 1980, as did many Blue Collar voters.

In the following chapters of his work, the historian provides us with a multitude of reasons for the disillusionment in America and for the anger that made Reagan president. Cowie explains, how labour leadership was considered as old, conservative and largely out of touch with the base, they were supposedly representing. He makes this clear, by explaining how AFL-CIO leader George Meany reacted to criticism from within the labour movement and how both his cultural conservatism and pro-war stance in the Vietnam war era alienated younger union members.
The cultural conservatism is made clear in his attacks on the opening of the democratic party for anti-war liberals, homosexuals and feminists. This explanation leads to Cowie explaining, how Richard Nixon tapped into this cultural resentment by embracing pro-war midwestern and southern values and their cultural products, most notably the Country Music of Merle Haggard. This is contrasted by explaining, how the love for working-class and southern culture in the form of  “Nashville” (1976) “Smokey and the Bandit” (1977), “Five Easy Pieces” (1970), Western movies and Country Rock came to define anti-establishment 1970s culture.

In the second part of his book, Cowie explains, how the behavior of labor unions and the society’s stance towards them came to a point that made the election of an anti-union president like Ronald Reagan possible. He explores in great detail, how organized labor both were diminished and destroyed themselves by a wrong-headed approach toward the huge issues and problems after the 1973 Oil Crisis and how the traditional industries that depended on unionized workforces went under after the crisis made their operations more costly and more difficult, than they had ever been before. This state is called, quoting the social scientist Michael Harrington, as a “collective sadness”, thus referencing to this not only as a problem for labour unions, but as a problem of the society as a whole, as all parts of the US had to suffer under conditions created by he plight of the car or steel industry and the despair of the laid-off workforce. The energy problems proved to be a burden to Nixon, Ford and especially Carter, who had to abandon the Keynesian consensus, even if he unsuccessfully tried to protect organized labour. His abandonment of them in a state of crisis led to their support for his foe in 1980. The unwinding (Packer) of working-class America is also exemplified in an analysis of culture, especially music by both Bruce Springsteen and more unlikely bands like the Ramones and Devo, but also through films like “Blue Collar”(1978), “Rocky”(1976), “Saturday Night Fever” (1977) and “Taxi Driver” (1975), and series like “All in the Family” (1971-1979). The book closes with the election of Reagan and the preview of the vastly different democratic party in 2008 when the next crisis came to haunt the working class.

To summarize, “Stayin’ Alive” is a beautiful and detailed analysis of the changes in the  USA of the 1970s and how those changes helped to create the current US society.