By Al Giordano
April 24, 2016
This is an essay I published last week exclusively for subscribers to my newsletter, Al Giordano’s América. Many of those subscribers have urged me to share it more publicly. It was an introduction to my projections for Tuesday’s New York primary results and tells the story of the South Bronx neighborhoods where I first learned, as a boy, about community organizing and politics.
Donors of $70 or more to the Fund for Authentic Journalism receive the irregular newsletter (four issues came out during 2015, but 14 have already been sent in 2016 in large part because, as in 2004 and 2008, I’m sharing mathematical projections before the vote on the results of the presidential primaries – Democratic and Republican – in the United States). The newsletter has brought hundreds of new supporters to our work at Narco News and the School of Authentic Journalism.
If during 2016 you’ve already donated $70 or more and have not yet requested the newsletter, simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll put you on the list in time for tomorrow’s issue with projections for the Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware primaries. It will include an essay that relates what I learned in my organizing days in Pennsylvania as a young organizer learning from Abbie Hoffman and others.
If you’ve not yet donated $70 you can do so via the authenticjournalism.org website.
Meanwhile, here’s an example of what subscribers are receiving. My NY projections – as with 30 of 32 Democratic primaries held so far – were accurate, including my claim that the Bronx would deliver the highest margin in the state to Secretary Clinton, largely for the reasons spelled out in this essay, which is made available free for all today.
NY Primary Projections Issue (April 18, 2016):
A Ten-Year-Old Takes Over this Issue & Says…
¡Bienvenidos al Bronx!
“Father Louis Gigante, the fighting priest of Saint Athanasius, had also joined the race. On a rotten, rainy day he staked himself out in front of a Hunt’s Point lot strewn with cannibalized cars and old garbage and declared his own candidacy, thereby becoming the first priest in New York State to run for Congress.”
- from South Bronx Rising: The Rise, Fall and Resurrection of an American City, by Jill Jonnes (Fordham University Press, 2002)
A couple of weeks ago the campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders called its supporters to a rally in the South Bronx.
Over the course of the afternoon reports cluttered social media that the 2, 5 and 6 trains on the New York City subway system were filled with people headed to the Sanders rally from outside the Bronx. “I’ve never seen so many white people on this train,” commented a friend.
Soon many of those folks posted photos of the mostly Caucasian Sanders fans streaming toward St. Mary’s Park in the Mott Haven neighborhood. Many posted photos of themselves with their homemade Bernie placards or performance art get-ups. And when a photo included maybe one or two or a lesser number of black or Latino people they’d exclaim that they’d never seen such “diversity!”
The Mott Haven neighborhood, according to the US Census, is only 1.7 percent white. Most of the residents are Hispanic, the bulk of them of Puerto Rican, which of course includes many afro-Latinos. I thought, well, maybe this could be a good thing. Maybe these Sanders fans will learn something of the story of these neighborhoods, and from how they organized and won.
From here in Mexico City I turned on the live stream to watch the rally via Internet. The warm-up speakers were a Coney Island-born Latina Hollywood actress, a Puerto Rico-born musical talent, and an African-American film director from Brooklyn. If any of them knew anything about the sacred ground they were standing upon they made no mention of it.
They were followed by a candidate who seemed equally oblivious that he was a visitor in a place of history: a collection of neighborhoods that pulled themselves out of ruin and forced the city, state and national governments to serve them instead of the same special interests that the candidate said he opposed.
Nobody from the South Bronx, or anywhere in Bronx, was passed the microphone to tell its story or their own to the visitors. And nothing of substance was mentioned about them.
I have long considered the credo that “All Politics is Local” to be the promise of democracy, and campaigns to be the best opportunity for people at the most grassroots level to be heard by political candidates.
Readers of this newsletter know that last spring I had warned that Sanders’ form of economic populism carried in its DNA a dangerous undertow of white supremacy. I’m not sure that many really “got” that at the time. But on March 31, as hipsters carried placards into the neighborhood more than a few of which proclaimed “the Bronx is Berning,” they unleashed in me a repressed memory from those streets associated with a smell: the suffocating odor of the burned out buildings in those same neighborhoods when I was a boy of nine and ten years old: the pestilent scent of arson, neglect born of racism, economic and physical violence and the misery imposed by them.
Before I give you my projections for tomorrow’s New York Primary, I want you to know the story about the South Bronx that nobody from that Sanders rally stage appeared to have a clue about as it used this proud Latino neighborhood as a prop.
The passage, above, about the 1970 announcement of a campaign for Congress in the South Bronx is not something I first read in a book. I was there that day on that vacant lot. I was ten. It was my first political campaign. The next stop that day was the steps of St. Athanasius parish for a campaign rally where schoolgirls a few years older than I in their plaid-skirted uniforms performed a cheerleading dance for Father Lou Gigante, the candidate. I stood next to Father G on those steps, along with his campaign manager, whose name you might know, Al Giordano: Not me, my dad.
Father G had been ordained into the priesthood in late 1959. I was born on the final day of that year. When I visited him in his South Bronx office three years ago to record his story, Father G told me that I was the first child he had baptized (something I never knew). He and my pop, two Italian guys from New York, had met in college and had organized together there to stop the practice of hazing by fraternities, a bond that continued when they returned to New York.
Two years later the Church assigned a 29-year-old Father G to St. Athanasius, first sending him to Puerto Rico to learn Spanish in an immersion program designed by the philosopher priest Ivan Illich. He had been thrown into a neighborhood – Longwood, next door to Mott Haven – that had been increasingly abandoned by the most basic public services and inflicted by absentee slumlords. The idealistic young cleric from Greenwich Village in Manhattan, a former basketball star at Georgetown University, plunged himself into the problems of his parishioners: buildings without heat in the winter, without water – not even in the fire hydrants – and with landlords who did not maintain them.
The South Bronx Rising book ably relates the details: Many buildings went up in smoke, displacing families, due to faulty wiring and firetrap construction, but a commission appointed by then Mayor John Lindsey found that many had also burned down due what it called a conspiracy to arson by landlords to collect on lucrative insurance policies.
The pitch smell wafted permanently into the apartments of the neighboring buildings that were still standing. When some of the blazed buildings were demolished the vacant lots became garbage dumps and breeding grounds for infestations of rats throughout Longwood, Mott Haven, Hunts Point and the rest of the South Bronx. The children of the neighborhood suffered high rates of illness, infection and asthma. In the cold weather months, the permanent smell of gas mixed in with that of charred wreckage, since the only heat that many apartments had came from the oven, door kept open, so as not to freeze.
Into this chaos drug dealing grew as an economic power in a place where few had money. Dealers formed gangs, who terrorized the neighbors in manifold ways. Members of the Latino middle class began to flee, leaving the poor to fend for themselves. “White” was not the only flight in the 1960s in New York.
By 1967 schoolteachers in Longwood were petitioning the city to fix the miserable conditions in which their students lived. Father G had seen enough, and one night organized the neighborhood residents to empty the burned-out buildings of anything flammable. They set fires in barrels in the middle of the street in protest.
These events soon pitted the upstart radical priest and his Simpson Street Development Association, run out of a storefront near to St. Athanasius, against the area’s rising political boss Ramon Velez. A neighborhood ally of Gigante was murdered, and most believed Velez had orchestrated it. Velez, who saw Father G as standing between him and political control of the neighborhood, taunted him as a carpetbagger and “missionary.” One night he called the priest a “maricón,” an anti-gay slur, and the people’s priest decked Ramon with a punch that remains legendary in New York political lore.
One had to be tough to survive in Longwood, and tougher to organize in it. That Gigante’s three brothers were notorious and reputed organized crime figures in Manhattan – his brother Vincent, known as “the Chin,” would rise to the highest rank in the Genovese crime organization – dogged Father G in the tabloid media but also gave him a street cred with local youths, the original authors of his “Father G” nickname.
Once when bringing South Bronx teens by subway to a basketball tournament in Brooklyn – Father G used his sports acumen effectively to organize – he told the kids, “If you cause any trouble where we’re going, I’ll kill you.” And the kids believed him! Eventually many of those same youths organized to kick the gangs out of the neighborhood because police would not or could not.
In 1969, Gigante organized a campaign called Summer in the City. If the government and landlords would not clean up the neighborhood, the people would do it themselves. He called on Catholic churches from outside the South Bronx, including in the suburbs, to send volunteers. St. Philip Neri parish, where he’d baptized me, in the Northwest Bronx, and Saints John & Paul in the Westchester County suburbs of Mamaroneck, where I then lived, were each well represented. Entire weekends were devoted to taking out the trash from the vacant lots, fencing them, painting and doing the overdue plumbing and electric work on apartment buildings. I was nine and these Summer in the City weekends were my introduction to organizing life.
Mainly I’d play with the other kids. One of the innovations of Summer in the City was the installation of water-conserving sprinklers on fire hydrants so on hot summer days when they were opened in lieu of swimming pools they wouldn’t deplete the area’s water supply. We laughed and played under their showers. I learned my first words in Spanish from kids named José and Diego. At the end of each day a gigantic chicken barbecue would feed the residents and volunteers alike. I ate rice and beans and fried platano tostitos, and was introduced to my lifelong love named hot sauce.
One vivid memory, hard to forget, was overturning a decayed piece of sheetrock in one of those lots to find a very large mama rat breastfeeding a litter of pink rodent babies. She jumped to her fours and snarled at us and we kids ran screaming from that lot!
Looking back, I really must credit my parents for letting this nine-year-old kid run free on those streets with the kids who lived there. They trusted in Father G – a regular guest in our home - and trusted the neighborhood residents. I was not micro-managed as a child, and I like to think that’s made all the difference in the world. My own trust in organized communities, born there, would define my entire life ahead of me. My first lessons in civics began there: on Fox Street, Simpson Street and Kelly Street. On 149th Street, where Longwood ended and Mott Haven began. Painting buildings alongside the kids who lived inside them, signing our names to the murals, it was the first time I tasted the ecstasy of being part of something bigger than myself, and with a ripping salsa soundtrack.
The following spring my pop would regularly bring me with him to the campaign headquarters and I’d run with the local kids while he managed the campaign. “Your dad did everything,” Father Lou later told me. “He ran it. He organized the petitions to get me on the ballot, made the strategy, told me where to go and who to see. I didn't understand politics. I was just using the gimmick of a priest running for Congress to bring attention to the South Bronx. Your dad understood it. And we almost won."
(Almost wasn’t enough: pop never did an electoral campaign again. He fell on some hard times – my folks became pioneers of the 1970s wave of divorce – and he moved back to the Bronx where he lived out the rest of his years, most of them driving a New York City taxi.)
In that June 1970 Democratic Primary that pitted two machine politicians – former Bronx Borough president Herman Badillo and Peter Vallone, a judge’s son from Queens – against aspiring boss Ramon Velez, Gigante came within 2,112 votes of winning, but Badillo triumphed. Significantly for the years to come was that Gigante got twice as many votes as Velez, who soon fell from grace and Father Lou filled the vacuum to become the undisputed political leader of the South Bronx. In the mid-70s he was elected to the New York City Council and he formed SEBCO – South Bronx Development, Inc. – which would change the trajectory of all the neighborhoods there.
During the Carter administration, Gigante organized South Bronx voters into a force to be reckoned with, and secured generous federal funds to build low-income housing for the largely Puerto Rican population. The middle class returned. They built thousands of housing units, many of them one- and two-family homes to be owned by their occupants. That concept was at odds back then with almost all existing projects of public housing.
Today, the South Bronx is a rarity: a peaceful, safe and thriving urban neighborhood that did not cave to gentrification in order to revive itself. It remains a Latino barrio with a thriving middle class. The streets are clean and tidy, much more so than in any gentrified neighborhood of New York. People who live there take pride in it. You might even call it “democratic socialism.”
As Father G and I strolled through the neighborhood three years ago, a man walking his dog told him that he has been offered “obscene” amounts of money for his home. “I’m never going to sell,” he said. “I will die here.” That guy had been one of the street kids in his youth who Father G organized to chase out the drug gangs. A land where people feel that kind of pride can never be sold or gentrified.
I honestly believe that had Father Lou not been tailgated by the media so constantly over his brother’s criminal activities he would have risen to become mayor or governor or US Senator. His political skills and instincts are that good. In the books, like the one quoted above, about this story, he is credited as the singular figure that through sheer force of will and insistence on building homes local residents could own saved the neighborhoods. I can identify. He shepherded my own life’s path, too.
So I beg, kind reader, your pardon when I tell you that an invading horde of day-tripping white hipsters from Williamsburg and the East Village came into the South Bronx last month with their disgusting “the Bronx is Berning” signs, taking selfies next to a black or Latino person here or there screeching that it’s the most “diverse” experience of their lives, yes, that does stick in my craw. (And if that’s their idea of “diversity,” they need to get out more.)
Sanders’ visit to the South Bronx was never about winning the votes in 98.3 percent nonwhite Mott Haven or the similar demographics of next-door Longwood. Local residents were not invited to tell their neighborhood story to the visitors. They were not even mentioned, not by the Hollywood starlet, not by the pop star, not even by the presidential candidate. The movie director urged the Sanders supporters to “register to vote,” five days after the deadline had passed. Nobody has to tell the people who live there to register and vote! They know from their own experience that it is what protects them from a return to the real “Bronx is burning” years.
The simulacrum of “diversity” served up by the Sanders campaign in Mott Haven, far from being an earnest attempt to dialogue – or even to “hispander!” - with its 68,000 residents, or the 40,000 in Longwood, or the 50,000 in Hunts Point. Sanders merely used their park as a prop to assuage his own overwhelmingly white supporters’ guilt and let them gullibly continue to ignore that the campaign is a dangerous exercise in white privilege wrapped in “progressive” or “socialist” costume. It wasn’t a campaign event. It was a field trip by people of privilege who felt cool “slumming it” for a day and headed back downtown. Most will never set foot there again.
My projections take into consideration the knowledge that my own feelings of pride for that corner of New York, though strong, don’t compare to those of its residents, those who raised families there and were raised by them, who are preparing a statement tomorrow to be made at the ballot box. The results in the Bronx and the South Bronx in particular are going to be brutal for the Sanders campaign and manna for that of Clinton. A good chunk of the delegate differential statewide is going to come out of the Bronx. The Mott Haven toe-touch rally was insulting to the people. And when you see the results tomorrow evening, I ask that you take this backstory to heart, on behalf of a ten-year-old boy whose memory I have tried to honor in all the years since.
By Al Giordano
111 Heroes Have Pledged to the Kickstarter Campaign but We're Running Out of Time
"In the New York Supreme Court in 2001 we invented an idea called the School of Authentic Journalism. Older, and hopefully wiser, I know now more than ever how important it is to pass these skills - and the power that comes with them - on to the next generations."
Fifteen years ago – after Narco News and its journalists won press freedom rights for the entire Internet in the New York Supreme Court – we created the School of Authentic Journalism to train new generations in the skills and strategies of communicating to change the world. If you’ve already pledged to make the 2016 school happen, thank you.
If you haven’t yet made a pledge we’re running out of time and I plead with you to do so right now at this link:
Last year hundreds of readers, graduates and supporters did rally in the last week to get us to the $25,000 goal. We held a great school in November, the best yet (every new school has been better than the previous ones). But it turned out to be a bit more expensive than we had budgeted which is why we’re forced to seek $30,000 for the 2016 school.
One need only look at how the news media has elevated Donald Trump to become the presumptive Republican nominee for president in the United States to be reminded how urgent it is to train better journalists. Commercial media’s constant search for “ratings” to be able to charge more money for advertising has been what made a monster out of Trump, a man who calls Mexicans “rapists” and promises to build a wall around the country. They’ve given the man hundreds of millions of dollars in free airtime because he brings them those ratings. Yet of more than 500 graduates of the School of Authentic Journalism not one that I know of has participated in that charade. Instead, they’re out there doing the work that reporters are supposed to do, bringing attention to corruption and voice to the voiceless.
It boggles the mind to think that in this media environment – in which everybody knows the media is at fault – it’s still so hard to persuade good people to make even a small pledge to the only project on earth that trains the kinds of journalists and communicators this world so desperately needs.
If we don’t make the goal by March 4, not only will that kill the 2016 school but could cripple it for years to come (remember we were unable to hold the school from 2005 to 2009: objects at rest tend to stay at rest). We’ll have to also seriously assess whether the project of Narco News and the other important projects of the authentic journalism renaissance will be able to continue at all.
I know you’re busy, that your time and resources are valuable. But I also know that you don’t want to wake up on March 5 to hear that this wonderful school – the most important and vital project of my lifetime and that of my colleagues – has ceased to exist because not enough of us made any pledge at all. Even if you have only a very small amount to spare the Kickstarter page lists the number of pledges and as that number grows it creates momentum and encourages others to do the same.
In eight days the School of Authentic Journalism will either march forward to meet the demand of young journalists and communicators who are thirsty for its knowledge and tools, or the school will die. The answer to whether something so extraordinary and necessary will live or die next week is literally in your hands.
It takes only a few seconds to click this link and make a pledge. If we don’t meet the goal your card won’t be charged. If we do succeed it will only be charged after March 4:
The School of Authentic Journalism tells the people who are the future, “Young people, do not give up hope. Here are the skills and the tools to make the world yours.”
I’ve devoted my life to them for the past thirteen years. Now that I’m older (and hopefully wiser) I know more than ever before how important it is to pass these skills and the power that comes with them on to them. I don’t believe you’ll let them down either.
From somewhere in a country called América,
By Al Giordano
Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 30 at 6 p.m. ET I'm going on the radio in the media capital of the world at the peak of afternoon drive time.
I've been asked to speak for Narco News and the nonprofit Fund for Authentic Journalism, and I'll announce that we're taking our 27,000+ Facebook users to Tsu as our response to Facebook and Instagram owner Mark Zuckerberg banning links to his upstart competitor last weekend.
And I'll invite all of New York City to join us in the exodus to our new social media home.
Just sign up and join via this link. It’s free. In fact it’s even better than free. Tsu is the first social network on the Internet that returns 90 percent of the ad revenues to the people and organizations that generated the content and the traffic. The Fund for Authentic Journalism has already received more than $1,200 in less than five months there. You have to be invited to join and this link serves as your invitation:
It's all going to happen on The Katie Halper Show, which is a popular Big Apple radio program y'all should be listening to anyway. Katie is a 2010 graduate of the School of Authentic Journalism, and has returned each year since as one of its professors. She's a social humorist, stand-up comic and authentic journalist. The Katie Halper show on 99.5 FM WBAI in New York, in her first few months on the air, has quickly become a “must listen” event each Wednesday afternoon.
(That’s Katie and I in the image, from a photo taken at the 2013 School of Authentic Journalism by Laura Garcia.)
Here’s the link through which you can listen live from anywhere in the world Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET:
Also on the show I'll also talk about the newly selected Class of 2015 for the School of Authentic Journalism, and offer some guidance on how to read what is really happening with the 2016 presidential campaign in the United States.
But the latest aggression by the censorious Facebook - banning links to works of authentic journalism on Tsu, even banning the sharing of such links in private conversation via its Messenger chat feature - is typical of a corporation whose consumer market has ceased to grow and begun to implode.
It was only eight years ago that Facebook told users of MySpace and other social media to come over to Facebook where, we were told, we could recruit our friends, where nonprofits like ours could build our networks, and always have direct, immediate access to our readers and supporters. In December 2012 that proved to be a lie, when Facebook imposed an algorithm limiting those views to just five percent of the people we organized and brought together. Facebook then held our own community hostage demanding we purchase advertisements to reach our own people.
The damage has not just been done to nonprofits, but also to artists, writers, musicians, independent journalists and creators of every stripe. The value of their relationship to their audience has been vacuumed up by one mega-monopoly of Facebook-Instagram-Messenger and a few other big social media sites out there. As a result, creative and inventive people are starving and Internet middlemen have made off with the value of their work.
Now when a new, improved social media has appeared in the form of Tsu - one that acts more like an agent or manager used to do, collecting a reasonable 10 percent off the value we all create on its platform - more than five million people have joined Tsu in what is not even yet its first year of existence (it took Facebook 18 months at first to grow to just one million users). As of last week, more than a million people had downloaded the mobile app for Tsu. This scared Facebook and so it not only banned all future links to your and our work on Tsu, it also erased all previous links! Facebook's censorious tantrum is the wail of a dying beast. We hope you will join us at what are now greener - and fairer - pastures, in the glorious valley of Tsu.
For readers, friends and supporters in or near New York City, I’m in town this week also to celebrate Narco News' 15th anniversary with readers, supporters and friends. If you’d like to join the party Saturday evening, send me an email at email@example.com for an invitation. We'll start at 8 p.m. And if you've attended any of our previous anniversary fetes, you know already it's an amazing, interesting crowd that includes graduates and professors from the School of Authentic Journalism, the best readers in the word, and artists and journalists of accomplishment in their own fields.
We’re holding the party to raise the modest resources we need to get our newsroom up to date, replace its dying laptop, and obtain additional hard drive storage space for our fifteen years of videos, images and stories (hard drives have to be replaced every five years or so or the data begins to disappear).
If you can't make the benefit celebration on Saturday we invite you to contribute from wherever you are to the Fund for Authentic Journalism via this link:
It’s great to be back in the Big Apple, the city where we won expanded press freedom rights for all Internet journalists once before, and are heading into battle this week to do it again.
Start spreadin' the news: In the immortal words of Victor Hugo, "There is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come."
(Five Excerpts from Issue #2 of the newsletter, Al Giordano’s América, which goes out to subscribers tonight.)
By Al Giordano
In the coming weeks more than a dozen candidates will officially launch their campaigns for president of the United States.
And just like eight years ago, the big media purveyors of “conventional wisdom” have their heads way up where the sun don’t shine.
If you haven’t already gotten yourself a gift subscription to my newsletter that goes exclusively to supporters of The Fund for Authentic Journalism, today is a good day to do that (scroll down to the end of this post for the link), because you’ll then instantly receive all 5,700+ words of my analysis outlining what is about to come in the 2016 presidential campaign.
I share with subscribers a little bit on what is about to happen in the Republican primaries but think the bigger surprise is brewing among Democrats: that the “frontrunner” Hillary Clinton should not be considered as such, because there is a Democrat with a clear shot to surpass her in the presidential nomination caucuses and primaries. He is the former governor of Maryland, and his name is Martin O’Malley.
Here is excerpt #1 from the newsletter:
What Walker is doing to Bush – boxing him in as the establishment candidate of the past for an electorate looking to the future – O’Malley is very well positioned to do to Clinton. Of course, Martin O’Malley would be up against the formidable Clinton treasury and political machine. But it is precisely the candidates who come out of nowhere who, time and again, surprise in the American presidential nomination contests.
O’Malley’s weakness – that he is virtually unknown nationwide – is more likely to become a strength in the same way it was for Barack Obama eight years ago.
“Who the hell is Martin O’Malley and why is he in my headline?” is a question I answer by telling his story: from a young field organizer to Baltimore city councilor, to mayor, to governor, and his unique emphasis on field organization including in parts of Maryland often ignored by Democrats. It’s also revealing that O’Malley is so far the only Democrat to have extensively visited the first caucus and primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
Here is excerpt #2:
Last year, O’Malley quietly installed a team of his own field organizers in Iowa – where the first presidential caucuses will be held in January 2016 – to help local Democrats win their races. He’s built relationships and loyalties in the process. He has not launched his candidacy, but the Des Moines Register notes that he has already held 30 events over nine days in the Hawkeye State. By comparison, Clinton has held just five events over two days in the state, and until last year she had not returned to Iowa since the 2008 caucuses.
In the other first primary state, New Hampshire, the Manchester Union-Leader reports that O’Malley is “the only potential Democratic candidate to make what had the feel of a campaign stop so far this season, visiting Concord earlier this month.”
Just showing up is of immense importance to Iowa and New Hampshire voters, who so often have winnowed the field and established the dynamics of presidential nomination battles…
The essay looks closely at how former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has already begun the kinds of missteps that characterized her 2008 presidential campaign.
A big part of the gap that divides new generation Democrats from their elders is that they are data-driven. We’re more likely to read Nate Silver’s projections than to take the cable TV and newspaper columnist pundits seriously. That generation gap is reflected in how O’Malley and Clinton approach campaigning, too.
Here’s is excerpt #3 from the newsletter:
The 2008 Obama campaign’s precise development of demographic data on potential voters took Clinton – and later John McCain – by storm. They did not know what was happening to them or why voters they had written off were suddenly flooding the polls. Still, data without people power is nothing: a successful campaign needs an army of volunteers trained to deploy that data – and the tailored pitches to the diverse demographic groups that the data reveals, known as micro-targeting – to be able to benefit from it. There have been a lot of signals sent from the Clinton organization that people should think they learned their lesson from the 2008 defeat, and Clinton has hired any former Obama operative willing to bite (obviously not those who signed an open letter to Elizabeth Warren urging her to challenge Clinton last November). But Clinton’s volunteer base remains largely over 50 years old, with most of them over 60, and while its not impossible for old folks to learn new tricks, we’ve yet to see any investment at all in training volunteers in the new campaign methods the way that Camp Obama was already starting to do at this time eight years ago.
The big game-changer - here, in the fourth excerpt - that has already happened to the 2016 presidential campaign has come from someone who insists she won’t be a candidate:
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren – who so many hope to draft into the presidential campaign – has already won, in a big way, without becoming a candidate. Her anti-corporate populism both rides and drives the emerging political zeitgeist in America, where everyday people see the stock market doubling in value over the past six years but, still struggling, haven’t shared in its success…
Warren has been exemplary in giving voice to a populism that rejects dividing white against black against Latino and so on. In that sense she embodies new generation Democrats more so than Webb or Sanders. Clinton, to her credit, supported Kennedy’s immigration reform bill and enjoys strong support among Latino voters in particular. But Clinton will continue to stumble badly on anti-corporate power, where her own record is woefully out of step.
Enter Martin O’Malley: Like Clinton and Warren, he’s a mainstream Democrat and liberal when it comes to social issues from abortion rights to same-sex marriage. Like Warren, Sanders and Webb, he plants his flag on the economic platform that all Americans should share in the largesse bestowed upon Wall Street: Increase the minimum wage and target income inequality, break up the “too big to fail” banks, and restore real competition to financial institutions. As Warren and other progressive populists like Robert Reich have argued, bringing back the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act could accomplish much of this in one fell swoop.
The enthusiasm of an organized “Draft Warren” movement has moved the earth under the 2016 campaign seismically, to the point that progressive economist Robert Reich, who 22 months ago voiced his support for Clinton saying “we need her” has recently stated publicly that if no one else challenges her candidacy with a populist economic platform, he just might.
Here is the fifth and final excerpt for non-subscribers:
O’Malley’s call to restore Glass-Steagall and define the 2016 campaign along such populist economic concerns places Secretary Clinton on the sharpest possible horns of a dilemma. After all, it was President Bill Clinton who repealed Franklin Roosevelt’s Glass-Steagall Act in 1995, opening the door to what became the 2007 financial crisis. For Clinton to say “me too” to Warren, Reich, Sanders, Webb, and O’Malley on that point, she’d have to do something she didn’t in 2008: put considerable distance between her and the first Clinton administration on that and on other defining economic issues.
O’Malley has deployed what we community organizers call a “Dilemma Action.” He has placed his major rival in a position in which she has no good options. If Secretary Clinton fails to break with Bill Clinton’s economic policies of the 1990s, she loses. If she does attempt to position herself as apart from that legacy, she also loses, in large part because her own entire political career has been as a corporate Democrat. Politicians can certainly evolve, but for people to believe it there has to be a compelling narrative – a personal story – that makes the shift credible.
The clock is ticking on Clinton’s ability to find that needle in the haystack, that “sweet spot” that would allow her emerge from the baggage of the last century into the zeitgeist of 2016…
Of course, I’ve saved the best parts for our supporters: You who generously support The Fund for Authentic Journalism, who keep the journalists at Narco News reporting, and who have so far made it possible for us to train more than 500 up-and-coming independent journalists, video makers and communicators so far at the School of Authentic Journalism. (Stay tuned very soon for news about the 2015 school.)
If you haven’t yet joined their ranks, today is an exciting day to do so, with a (tax-deductible) contribution of $70 or more, or by making a monthly pledge of $5 a month or more. That’s all you need to do receive the new issue of the newsletter immediately, and every issue for the next year. You can do so via this link:
It’s going to be fun election to cover, more fun than we’ve been told yet by the mass media, which too often acts as if the story is already decided. And that’s a big part of the fun: proving them wrong again and again.
Unlike them, we don’t sell ads to the same companies on the stock exchange that want to decide elections for us. That’s why we need your support. And that’s what makes us always free and independent from what they want us to say. This kind of journalism is only possible because you decide it to be so. A free press is the most essential building block of any society that wants to govern itself as a democracy. Vote with your wallet today: It will cost you a lot more money later on if you leave journalism in the hands of the advertisers. That’s their plan, after all. But we’ve wrecked their plans before. Ready, dear friends, to do it again?
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Al Giordano is a veteran political reporter who only covers politics when he sees an opportunity to make it count. In 2008, Vanity Fair called him “the prophet of the Obama paradigm shift.” He is the founder of Narco News, which turns 15 next month, and of the School of Authentic Journalism.