Local Progressive Vein Entry: July 2020

The following are blog entries from fellow progressives in the area (NONA = Newark Ohio News Analysis by Stan Wrzyszczynski and WFI = Working Families First by Garry Goldsmith):

(NONA) “Days of Irony: Gaslighting For Beginners” (April 5th, 2020): Here, Stan discusses the prioritization of profits over people even in the wake of the coronavirus. He explores how obvious this is with how the presumptive Democratic and Republican Presidential nominees implore for action to save the market and in how Licking County, Ohio’s local leaders openly brace themselves for the impact of a recession on revenue.

(NONA) “And The Creep Goes On” (April 12th, 2020): Using an analogy about the hard-to-notice emergence of climate change, Stan points out that authoritarianism is beginning to rear its ugly head with the ongoing assault on our democracy by Trump and his allies in the Republican Party.

(NONA) “Return To Normalcy” (April 20th, 2020): Stan does a great job of tearing apart the notion that we can “return to normal” in the midst of a pandemic, no matter what our desires may be while trapped in our homes listening to the insane rantings of President Trump.

(NONA) “Death Cult For Cutie” (April 26th, 2020): Stan explores the gaslighting approach of Trump shortly after Trump distracts everyone from his previous absurdity with a new one (injecting light and disinfectant).

(NONA) “Why Mail In Voting Does Not Benefit Democrats” (April 28th, 2020): An excellent analysis by Stan wherein he points out the poor turnout for the presidential primary and hints at a warning of a depressed Democratic turnout come November.

(NONA) “If That Just Don’t Beat All” (May 5th, 2020): Stan assesses the absurdity of reopening the Ohio and national economy in the midst of a pandemic before the supposed peak, all for the sake of pleasing a select few.

(NONA) “Invisible and Contagious” (May 18th, 2020): Stan examines the detrimental effect of President Trump’s presidency on our collective mental health.

(NONA) “MIA” (May 22nd, 2020): Stan explains that only a portion of the community experienced a “shut down” thanks to the virus. Meanwhile, the few are still getting their billions and political leadership is “missing in action”.

(WF1) “Thoreau ‘Civil Disobedience’” (May 27th, 2020): In the midst of the then-rising mass movement in support of #BlackLivesMatter, Garry shares a video from YouTube which tells about how a man named Thoreau believed deeply in the obligation of every citizen to stand for what is right, even when it is deeply unpopular to do so.

(NONA) “Decision 2020” (May 28th, 2020): In this analysis, Stan looks at the real decision that the American people must weigh in November 2020, which pits reality versus the cult leader challenging reality.

(NONA) “Meanwhile” (June 5th, 2020): Stan tackles what State Republicans are up to in Ohio while the eyes of all are on the demonstrations and riots (it doesn’t look good for democracy, as you will see).

(NONA) “Official Apology from the Ministry of Information” (June 14th, 2020): Stan does an excellent job looking at the “privatized” relationship of the Trump White House with its de facto propaganda network, Fox News.

(NONA) “Newark Ohio Iconoclash” (June 21st, 2020): Stan observes the transformative moment which has beset the nation but which has yet to visit Newark in any significant fashion wherein the symbols of racism are compelled to come down either by mob force or legitimate preemptive means. He openly ponders the great and “uncomfortable conversation” that we need to have as a local community and as a global one: the cancer that is capitalism.

(WF1) “Father and Son, Freedom and Liberty” (July 4th, 2020): In this Independence Day special entry by Garry, he shares a photo of his son and grandson taken a few years ago during a little league ball game. He analyzes the hopes he has as a grandfather and father that his loved ones and their peers will live to enjoy the “American Dream” that we have all been fed and promised since birth.

Are you a cog in the machine? (Upcoming Podcast Episode to Address)

Are you a dehumanized tool for the production of wealth, or are you a person with real, intrinsic AND instrumental value?

This question is an important one that each of us needs to ponder in these times as our economic and political systems are tested like never before.

An upcoming podcast episode for the “The Inequality Chronicles” – hosted by Daniel Crawford – will help to trigger this discussion.

Are you ready to think like a person, or are you content with being a cog?

March 30th, 2020 Roundup

Your semi-regular round-up of local progressive blog posts which you may find worth your while to read. Here are some blogs posts (typically from Newark Ohio News Analysis or Working Families First or NONA and WF1st) which may be more than a couple weeks old, but they are still worthy of your attention.

 

Recent blog posts by fellow Licking County Progressives that you may have missed:

 

  • (NONA, “Food For Thought”, February 6th, 2020) Stan writes about the nationwide danger of voter enthusiasm declining, the loss of faith in our elections, and the reduced turnout in certain areas, the Democratic Party’s dilemma of corporate ties, and how all of that even impacts the conditions of a struggling democracy on a local level.
  • (NONA, “Whatever is good will appear”, February 9th, 2020) Stan delves deeper into the issue of voter suppression, but from a different angle. He explores how development for purposes of aiding the market always seems to supersede development for community benefit. In this message, he notes that the recent appointment of Newark Development Partners alum Spencer Barker to the Newark City Council has a hidden message for the downtrodden: “don’t bother voting, we’ve got this”. Part of this critique is in highlighting the slow crawl of development in helping local homeless via a former Family Dollar building as compared to the swift renovation of a market-based segment of town near the town Square.
  • (NONA, “American Factory”, February 15th, 2020) Stan discusses the importance of coming together and having community discussion about informative works, such as films and books.
  • (NONA, “Both Side-ism”, February 20th, 2020) Stan highlights the corruption of our for-profit media by noting its selective coverage of current events, and more specifically its intentional lack of coverage of local politics.
  • (NONA, “C U and US”, February 28th, 2020) Stan openly wonders about the potential benefits of having a campaign with two – instead of one – prominent Democratic Socialists running for president and how it would help expose the problems with our corporate-friendly system in the age of Citizens United.
  • (NONA, “How Bernie Sanders Has Already Won”, March 4th, 2020) Stan explores how the coronavirus outbreak is forcing the mainstream of American politics to seriously take a look at the numerous proposals offered by Bernie; especially Medicare for All.\
  • (NONA, “Trump Lite”, March 12th, 2020) Stan highlights the problematic contrast that the American people may soon face between the corrupt incumbent president and the lukewarm support for a “return to normalcy” as exhibited in the campaign of the former Vice President leading the charge to challenge him.
  • (NONA, “Reaching for the Impossible”, March 17th, 2020) Stan helps to explain why a candidate like Bernie Sanders doesn’t simply give up when the cards are stacked highly against him and why grassroots movements are so vital to change.
  • (NONA, “The Wartime President”, March 22nd, 2020) Stan excellently analyzes the seemingly perpetual feeling of being in a “State of War” against the invisible enemy of coronavirus. He underlines part of how the fear and the need for feeling safe is helping an authoritarian president exploit this moment to expand his reach and power.
  • (NONA, “Questions”, March 29th, 2020) Stan looks into what he says are questions for which there appear to be no answers. The main question in all of this seems to be that while former Vice President Joe Biden may have consolidated party support to stop the insurgency of Bernie Sanders, what does Joe have planned to wake up the base and defeat Trump?

Progressive Party or No?

A question that all progressives must ask themselves is: is it better that we continue to try and make the Democratic Party more progressive or would it be better to work towards creating a new (and VIABLE) Progressive Party to compete with the Democratic and Republican Parties?

This is a subject which was hinted at several times in 2016 and 2017 (and has been addressed several times throughout American history), but it may deserve a serious look in this moment.

More to come on this topic in the weeks and months ahead.

Onward.

February Progressive Meeting Update

Our official meetings have been changing over time. When we last met in October we openly discussed how we were going to have to consider a change of venue and even consider altering our presentation of the meetings. A few months earlier we started sharing our meetings via our Facebook page doing a “Live” video. This was meant to encourage participation from those who consider themselves to be local progressives. Moving forward, it is our hope to encourage more supporters to participate in this process.

Tonight was supposed to be the February Meeting, but a number of things have come up. Health issues and a slew of unforeseen crises for our core members have contributed to the fact that we did not secure a meeting spot tonight. I, Daniel, will record a video to provide any updates which come to mind within the next 24 hours and will share said video here on this website and on the facebook page. More updates to come soon.

In the meantime, enjoy your time with family.

Onward.

Local Progressive Input Round-Up

Here begins a new feature of this website, a semi-regular round-up of local progressive blog posts which you may find worth your while to read. This first installment consists of some blogs posts which extend back to November, but they are still worthy of your attention.

 

Recent blog posts by fellow Licking County Progressives that you may have missed:

 

  • Newark Ohio News Analysis (NONA from this point onward), November 1st, 2019: “Something for Something”. In this analysis, the author (Stan), assesses what was then the upcoming Mayoral Election in 2019 between Incumbent Mayor Hall and Challenger Jeremy Blake. He notes that Hall claims that he wants certain services but that we supposedly “can’t afford” them, that we must focus our expenditures on improving our downtown to attract businesses, and this analysis includes an interesting take on the issue of the Hotel-designated Longaberger Basket and how it connects with the East End Fire Station.
  • Working Families First Blog (WF1st), November 13th, 2019: “Talking Points that may come up on social media…know the truth”: Here, the author (Garry), offers some key pointers for how to respond to common critiques of the progressive viewpoint.
  • NONA, November 13th, 2019: “Free Exercise of Faith Democracy”. Stan looks at the appointment of State Representative Mark Fraizer after he was reelected to Council, but appointed and seated to the State House before even finishing his first term on Council. He asks an important question about how Fraizer will respond to the controversial bills on forcing doctors to reverse ecotopic pregnancy removals and forcing schools to accept science homework which is turned in with the wrong answers (due to religious influence).
  • WF1st, November 22nd, 2019: “Like it of not, we have to start talking about politics”: Here, Garry writes about the importance of getting over what divides us and talking about the issues which unite us. His major point here is that talking politics – while taboo – is crucial to save our democracy.
  • NONA, November 24th, 2019: “Under the Law Updated”: Stan analyzes the recent forced selling of the Arcade downtown, including all of its small businesses and the residential units. He connects this conspicuous sale with the equally conspicuous and curious appointment of a man named Spencer Barker to replace Mark Fraizer on City Council. As he points out, Barker is a key figure in development plans for the Newark Development Partners, which is the organization responsible for the Arcade sale.
  • NONA, November 28th, 2019: “Act Like An Owner”: An excellent analysis by Stan bemoaning the horrid and embarrassingly low turnout in Newark’s recent election and in elections overall.
  • NONA, December 1st, 2019: “Uncanny Prophet”: An interesting entry by Stan wherein he offers the words of some author about American prosperity back in the 1960s.
  • NONA, December 8th, 2019: “Framed, the Continual Sequel”: This, another excellent analysis by Stan, is a clever indictment of the way the City of Newark (and perhaps even the County and Country as a whole) approaches a whole host of problems. Here, the author assess a recent public forum on homelessness, the willingness of the City to spend money on consultants to “frame” the problem, and the equal unwillingness of the same City to spend money on addressing the root causes which we all know exist.
  • NONA, December 9th, 2019: “ALEC gets Religion”: Stan does a great job touching on the corrupt connection between the infamous lobbying organization and Ohio Elected Republicans.
  • WF1st, December 12th, 2019: “The Case for Impeachment is Overwhelming”: Garry asks readers to take the time and read a compelling case for Trump’s removal from office.
  • NONA, December 14th, 2019: “Culture of Denial”: As the title suggests, Stan delves into one of the premier hurdles we face as a society.
  • NONA, January 6th, 2020: “Remember the Alamo”: A stinging analysis of the downfall of print news, and particularly the plight of local newspapers like the Advocate and the Columbus Dispatch. Stan reminds readers that all printing for both papers will be outsourced, which is the reason for the delay in reporting local news…a delay which will only get worse.
  • NONA, January 18th, 2020: “Representation”: Stan looks at the erasure of history (including National Archives editing which edited photos of the 2017 Women’s March to erase images critical of Trump) while also delving into our creepy new facial recognition technology.
  • NONA, January 25th, 2020: “How It Starts”: Stan assesses the historic revisionism by Putin, his connection with Trump, and how Trump appears as willing as Putin to test our definition of “right v. wrong”.

August 2019 Meeting Minutes and Tentative Agenda for February 2020 Meeting

Agenda for Monthly Progressive Business Meeting

2/24/20

7-9pm

Location to be determined

Subject to Change

 

  • Introduction (5 Mins. 7:00-7:05)
  • Labor Education/Working Families First (10 Mins. 7:05-7:15)
  • Local Activism (5 Mins. 7:15-7:20)
  • Open Discussion (If Desired) (100 Mins. 7:20-9:00)
  • Adjourn (9:00)

 

 

Minutes for Progressive Meeting

8/26/19

 

  • We discussed changes to the meeting location and the presentation thereof, since we only met at the church to make attendance more convenient for a fellow member whom has now decided to virtually “attend” via the livestream.
  • We talked about the emphasis on local development and infrastructure was becoming a key focus of the local races for office.
  • We highlighted the then-upcoming Freedom School Picnic.
  • Councilman Blake’s fundraiser with Senator Sherrod Brown was noted.
  • We discussed plans for the Third Annual Democracy Day at the Library – which was held in Meeting Room B on Constitution Day -; mentioned the possibility of inviting “electronic testimonials”, noted how people get involved in politics when they feel threatened, brainstormed about a 2020 Democracy Day promotional effort, emphasized the importance of education on the issue and the link with the Koch Brothers, mentioned that Democracy is under attack from all end.
  • We highlighted the ongoing “Issues and Answers” Podcast with episodes available at workingfamiliesfirstohio.org and stated that labor ideas and contributions to the movement are welcome.
  • We talked about a recent City Council meeting in Newark where a noise ordinance change was discussed and how every government’s focus should be to balance the people’s collective interests with the interests of the economy. We, again, noted the lack of attention the homeless issue receives, and that transitional housing and the root causes of homelessness must be at the center.
  • In our open discussion, we talked about Universal Basic Income and discussed how the “UBI” is insufficient, we highlighted the real long-term dangers of automation, we touched base with the real world limitations of resources available and how that limits economic prospects, and (again) discussed how 2020’s election is the most important to date.

 

There was no October meeting on the 28th, despite us planning for such initially. A few members were unable to attend and there was nothing major to update via a livestream brief.

How Do We Escape Trumpism?

By Daniel Crawford

 

The following represents the opinion of Progressive member Daniel Crawford alone and does not represent the view of the larger Licking County Progressives.

 

 

How are we going to escape the madness of this era of Trump? I’m not just talking about Donald Trump himself, but rather I am talking about the despicable brand of politics he leaves behind: Trumpism, if you will. We can’t escape this unless we face our inner demons as a society which Trump has mastered the art of exploiting for his own gain, following the example of the Republican Party and their propaganda allies beyond the party. Bigotry is at the heart of this great weapon possessed and gleefully used by the Republican Party to conquer the working class and thus our democracy. Until we recognize and rectify the carnal things that our culture has instilled in us about our distaste for the “other” we can not remove the greatest and most easily accessible weapon in the arsenal of anti-democratic forces.

 

Here in Licking County, Ohio we unfortunately see the consequences of a sustained assault on our need for hope. While hate is the product of fear, hope is produced by love. In our little corner of the globe the remnants of hope are dwindling and hard to find, and that is by design. Cowardly politicians turn to the divisive brand of politicking when they know their message would otherwise fall flat, and Licking County has been a victim of this for quite some time. Once considered a stronghold of sorts for the Democratic Party, Licking County entered into a steady shift to the “right” as the working class here was left behind with the politics of neoliberalism and the economic consequences of de-unionization, de-industrialization, as well as outsourcing; all of which contributed to our rising poverty and the current upward trend of homelessness.

 

Not too long ago, Newark – our County Seat – was considered to be among Ohio’s fastest growing cities, and it was likewise defined by the numerous good paying jobs you could find here. As recent as the 1990s, a Democratic Mayor made history by winning three straight terms and was immediately succeeded by another Democratic Mayor. Yet, with the national political pushback against public investments – ranging from education spending to infrastructure spending -, Newark’s services began to experience some decay with the most obvious example being our roads and bridges. The story of Newark and Licking County is a tragedy in and of itself, but it is a microcosm of what the rest of this nation’s working class is experiencing.

 

What does one see now when entering Licking County? You see pockets of progress where the privileged few among us have been able to guarantee it thanks to their political connections. You see corruption in elective office with deals made in the dark between local government and contractors as they do the bidding of that same small group of citizens attempting to erect a society wherein the community is replaced by the consumer. You see citizens who’ve lost all hope increasingly forced to live on the streets, as some turn to drugs also in growing numbers to cope with their desperation, all the while our services continue to fail in addressing the root causes of this despair.

Licking County, Ohio is not just a tragedy because of the Democratic Party no longer having a stronghold here. Rather, the Democratic Party contributed to this tragedy by cowering in the proverbial corner decades ago as they permitted the Republican Party to steer this country down a path of deep income and wealth inequality. The working class of Licking County and of America was pushed out of the bus by the Democratic Party – fearing that they would be first cast out into the wilderness – and run over by the Republican Party…repeatedly. The average working family no longer had an ally that they could easily discern from our narrow selection of two major parties. Their desperation grew as they felt their voice become ever more faint, and that is when and where they became vulnerable to the Republican Party’s conquest.

 

Over the course of the past few decades, the Right Wing machine – consisting of the Republican Party and their allies – created a sustain narrative that only the individual could be trusted to his or her own fate. In this narrative, community was worthless because not everyone in your community was worthy of your trust or your time. The common struggle became your own struggle. As long as you are doing ok, who cares how your neighbor is doing. After all, if they are having a bad time, it is because they alone messed up along the way.

 

The icing on top of the cake came with the peddling of bigotry which taps into our primal sensitivity in fearing the unfamiliar. While racism was no longer as evident as it was prior to the civil rights era, it merely retreated into the corners of our mind, being fed by certain undertones in popular culture, and manipulated by crafty politicians who knew exactly what to say to trigger your nods of approval as they ranted on about those “illegals”, “terrorists”, and “welfare queens”. You may not go out and say the “N” word aloud, but you were likely to agree with the notion that there were certain traits and traditions which were reserved for and common among “the blacks”, “the browns”, etc.

 

Today, you see the lingering effects of this cultural angst which festers as the working class struggle continues and worsens. The somewhat hidden tolerance of bigotry was laid open for all to see as Trump came out and started saying everything that you had been secretly saying amongst others who looked and thought like you. He seemed like the champion for whom you had always been waiting as he didn’t hold back and thumbed his nose at “political correctness”. Here in Licking County, Ohio many of his fans became more public with their bigoted views and even one elected official – a Republican County Commissioner, in fact – suggested it might be best to see Trump’s 2016 opponent hang; a comment that was defended by the dominant Commissioner (who also controls local politics throughout the county) and which seemed to dismiss the racist connotations which accompanies such a comment. Worse yet was the lame response offered by the local Democratic Party, which merely condemned the statement instead of demanding the resignation of the two men around whom the controversy had focused.

 

Average working class citizens are not typically inclined to support candidates or parties which appear to be afraid of their own shadow. Actually, what they respect is the determination to stand up for one’s convictions as well as the consistency in doing so. Anything less than that stinks to high heaven of your quintessential politician acting like a snake oil salesman. This prolonged refusal to stand up for the working class while simultaneously pointing out what the Republican Party is doing to try and keep us divided is the reason the Democrats have lost so much ground in places like Licking County, Ohio.

 

It is reasonable for one to conclude that it may be too late to convince Licking County to oppose Trump in 2020 or to elect a Democratic slate in any other election in the near future. However, there is a pathway that we can undertake to rebuild the sense of hope and that path can not be built without a comprehensive plan to educate the working class of Licking County and communities like it around the country about the history of how we got here and how we can get to where we need to be. There are a variety of educational projects which exist at this moment, but their focus is not united. But, what if they were?

 

What if there was one easy recognizable source for working class citizens to learn about the power they have when we work as one? What if there was a single reliable source for keeping the people informed about the various actions of those in political and economic power; including the tendency of those in power to use bigotry against us? What if we had a viable means of getting the people’s message out to their neighbors so as to magnify our collective voice for those at the top to hear? Would it be crazy to suggest that this could reignite the hope within us and help revitalize the working class?

 

As I type this I stand as one of a few working class progressive activists who has been begging for an organized effort to reconnect our fellow citizens with the history and importance of organized labor – which is the foundation for the working class having true power in economics and politics -, and that ambition for reaching out to the people started with a grand goal of creating a “Summer of Labor” series of educational and community events. While I still yearn for that to come true I have been advocating for the creation of a “Labor Paper” or some periodical source of information free and accessible to all working class citizens.

 

Licking County, Ohio is deeply immersed in what I call “Trumpism” because ours is a community long abandoned by the established political and economic forces. This sense of abandonment was ripe for the picking for someone like Trump and the Republican Party. In my strong view, a “Labor Paper” – later with the addition of a “Summer of Labor” as well as some community events wherein people are encouraged to communicate our fears with a diverse group – can provide strong assistance in helping us rebuild a strong working class movement to push back against corruption, strengthen democracy, force the Democratic Party to regain a sense of purpose, and ultimately defeat Trumpism (which is basically neo-fascism by another name).

 

The problem is that I can’t take on this project alone, because I don’t have the resources to make it happen. That is where you come in. My plea to you as you read this is to help me make this come true. I’m largely trying to bring this vision to reality through the “Working Families First Initiative” which was founded by a good friend of mine and a stalwart progressive/working class champion (Garry Goldsmith). He and I started a blog about a year ago and an accompanying podcast earlier this year – which you can follow and register for over at www.workingfamiliesfirstohio.com – the combination of which we hope will help to influence the discussions and collective thinking we need to make a difference.

 

Escaping the madness of Trump and Trumpism is possible, but we didn’t fall into this abyss overnight on November 8th, 2016. As I illustrated throughout this entry – and at greater length in numerous other blog entries -, the conditions for this were set over an extended period of time. It will take time to claw our way back to sanity and back to a system that we can be confident represents and works for all of us. Still, we will not get there by electing candidates alone, but by creating the cultural conditions and political groundswell for compelling those elected officials to actually do something good with the power we bestow upon them. I believe this is possible, even in Licking County, Ohio, because if we can do it here then we can duplicate this model around the country (and maybe beyond) for a true people’s democratic revolution.

 

 

Onward.