The Soul of a Party

There are those who still believe that the Democratic party can represent the liberal positions in America.  In fact, there are still those who still somehow believe that the current Democratic party does actually represent the liberal positions in America today.  This is really ludicrous.  There are the occasional positions which do qualify as center-left which the Democrats loosely support, but there are very few, if any, which the party has supported broadly and seriously which actually qualify as liberal in the last 30 or so years.

Any party will have some variation.  That is to be expected, of course.  It is normal and healthy even.  But, when a party ranges from center to center-right, and then the far right tries to label it as liberal, well, “Houston, we have a problem.”  Of course, it’s only a problem when the public buys in.  And, that is precisely what the public has done, because the media has been complicit in the game.  Whether that is through laziness or ignorance, I honestly don’t know, but the impact has been the same.

There are a few candidates out there though who cast themselves in with one party or the other only because they know that the majority of the voters firmly believe that any vote for a “third party” is a wasted vote.  The majority of voters have not yet recognized that the true wasted vote, and the wasted political dollar, is the one cast to the “two major parties.”  These are candidates, like Ron Paul on the far right, who still maintains that he is a Libertarian (the refuge of the truly far right and a few extremely socially liberal and otherwise politically ignorant persons, or socially liberal and extremely far right fiscally, which is a cop out position), but run under a party banner in order to try to take advantage of the machine and to not lose voters who automatically dismiss the “third party” candidates.

Today though, let’s take a look at two candidates that are running under the Democratic banner.  One that actually qualifies as a progressive liberal and one that is clearly not.  Our regressive candidate is Nathan Russo, running for U.S. House of Representatives Georgia District 1.  Our progressive candidate is Nicholas Ruiz, III, running for U.S. House of Representatives Florida District 7.

This is not about personality, education, or even experience.  However, should you wish to compare those things you can find that information on their sites, linked above.  This is strictly about comparing their platforms and positions as staked out on their sites.  Russo’s platform is found here and  here, and all quotes below are taken directly from there.  Ruiz’ platform is found here, and likewise all quotes below are taken directly from there.

And I would take our National Guard soldiers and put them on the boarders until we could approach a near 100% closure for illegal aliens.

Curtail use of National Guard troops in Ongoing Military Actions by increasing army size through draft initiative.

Promote the introduction of a bill to reintroduce the draft for all men (after they have completed high school or are over the age of 18-whichever come first by lottery) to increase size of army and let National Guard patrol our boarders.

(I am going to leave aside the need for spelling education.)

These are not liberal, or even center-right positions.  These are dangerously right positions.  These are taken directly from Nathan Russo’s platform.  Reinstate the national draft?  Excuse me?  First, the draft is still in place.  That is why all young men are required to sign up with selective service at 18.  So, we’ll ignore the ignorance of the law for the moment.  Second though, and more importantly, because I understand what he actually means, which is that he wants to actually start reimplementing the draft.  And, why?  To INCREASE the size of the military.  Increase it?  Really?

Now, look just a wee bit closer.  What did he say?  “after they have completed high school or are over the age of 18-whichever come first by lottery”  Whichever comes first?  So, first, we’re throwing back to excluding women from this requirement.  So, apparently this policy will remain sexist.  Second, if a young man turns 18 but hasn’t graduated high school and his number comes up, too damn bad.  Get your ass in the military, boy!  *sigh*  Has this man thought through what he’s saying?

Even a self-described “progressive Republican” in his final address as president in 1960 warned against this kind of foolishness:

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

Now, to attempt to seal the borders in this way is not only not a liberal approach to the situation, but it is a laughably ineffective solution.  And, then what?  Are we going to keep these troops on the border forever?  It’s not an actual solution.  It is a dog and pony show of epic proportions.

Another example from Russo:

We need to review the loop holes that allow American companies to move their headquarters offshore to avoid paying taxes i.e Transfere Pricing Arrangements through offshore subsidiaries. Most corporations in America never pay the 35% corporate tax but somewhere in the range of 20-25% which is similar to rates of other western countries and China. So if we remove the loopholes and return the corporate tax rates to this range maybe we can get the Corporations to bring the jobs back to America.

Okay.  This starts off center-right.  Closing loopholes seems pretty reasonable, but then he starts showing that far right leaning again.  Reducing the rate even further?  So, the net effect is to leave it precisely where it is.  What then is the point?  I am really not sure.  I know though what the effect would be.  The effect would be to actually cut jobs.  It would cut accountant and tax lawyers.  I am not a fan of tax lawyers, necessarily, but unless there is a reason to cut jobs, there is no benefit to this position, and what it appears to be is a sneaky presentation of a far right position.

While Liberals and Conservatives agree that there is fat in the Federal budget, that Russo would reference:

Ask Tom Coburn- Senate Republican

Tom Coburn well known for his fiscal and social conservatism is an odd choice.  See where we often disagree is where the bloat is.  It is clear from the parts of Russo’s platform above that he doesn’t see any bloat in the military and, in fact, wants to increase it.  That, my friends, regardless of whether you agree with it or not, is nothing but a conservative, and a very far right conservative position.

In fairness, Russo does have some interesting and center-left ideas in his platform, as well.
But real immigration reform means redlining the bureaucratic paperwork in Washington to make it easier for our farmers to bring foreign field workers to this country and develop a healthcare fund for them that both the worker and the farmer would contribute to. The farmer could take a 1 and ½ time tax credit for his contribution and the foreign worker would not be a burden on our healthcare system any more.

This is an interesting idea.  It is not a truly liberal idea, but it is not the far right ideas that we’ve seen above.

Another good idea that Russo has on his platform and that mainly I put here because I think it should be shared, is:

Introduce a bill eleminating Presidential Signing Statements

I am not sure that counts as a liberal idea, because to me it is just a good idea.  However, as I said, I think it needs to be spread around!

Now, let’s look at our other Democratic candidate’s platform.

I’ll start a New Deal Caucus in our U.S. House of Representatives – The New Deal Caucus will embody every successful aspect of FDR’s New Deal, with upgrades for the 21st century circumstances that we face. A primary component of the New Deal Caucus agenda, would be to implement a new Works Progress Administration, that puts people to work doing jobs they can do, to help our country and to help one another to survive, prosper and move ahead in these difficult times.

That’s a big claim.  To start a New Deal Caucus would require others to join in.  We’ll leave that aside for the moment, because what matters to this discussion is that his platform is the claim that he will!  This is progressive.  This is Liberal.  Even though it is a throw back to an earlier time, it is still a progressive solution to our current issues.  To create a new Works Progress Administration is an idea that should have been done already.  That is precisely what should have been done with the stimulus package.  America has a crumbling infrastructure.  Our bridges and roads are falling to pieces.  We could have put people to work rebuilding  these.  This is a liberal idea.  This is problem solving rather than sticking one’s head in the sand.

We need to harness the power of the financial Market (i.e. Wall Street) for the Public – I will support and/or sponsor legislation for the creation of a Public Trust, that is, a 10% issuance of public shares of all publicly traded companies, and a 10% issuance of all tradable derivatives (e.g. crude oil, gold, etc.) for the financing of public interests (e.g. healthcare, education, social security, etc.). The financial bailouts of 2008-2009 have proven that we have the political will to connect the Market sphere to the Public sphere in ways previously unimaginable, for the benefit of financial stability and reinvestment in American interests. If the American government (i.e. public) can help to support the financial markets, the financial markets can reciprocate the favor. The Market should work for the Public, as well as the reverse.

This is both brilliant and liberal.  If we can bail out the markets, then we can make the markets work for us.  We have been investing in the markets for years.  All of our 401(k)s, money markets, pensions, etc are invested in the markets.  We bought into Detroit, the banks etc when we bailed them out.  Now, why wouldn’t we do this?

Equality – I am absolutely in favor of equality for same sex marriage rights in every conceivable fashion. It’s one of the great civil rights questions of our era – and like other civil rights battles before it, total equality is the only answer.

There is no more liberal position.  Every movement towards equality has been brought to you by liberals.  It has been fought against by conservatives.  This is not an attack.  It is simply a statement of fact.

Every single position on Ruiz’s platform is actually a liberal position. It is a position that I can whole-heartedly support.  My one regret is that I neither get to vote for Ruiz, nor against Russo.  They are simply two candidates that have come to my attention for various reasons.  However, should you be in their districts, I do hope you will take these facts into consideration.


About Just Torch

Author of the SCIAMAGE column a space devoted to American political and social commentary and analysis. It is unabashedly liberal, but makes every effort to present clear, verifiable facts and sound reasoning. It also makes a commitment to clearly distinguish between facts and opinions. View all posts by Just Torch

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