#1032 Unconventional Conventions (RNC and DNC)

Air Date: 08-02-2016

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Today we take a look at the highlights and lowlights from both the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention

Show Notes

Ch. 1: Opening Theme: A Fond Farewell - From a Basement On the Hill

Ch. 2: Act 1: Republican National Convention - @LastWeekTonight with @iamjohnoliver - Air Date 07-25-16

Ch. 3: Song 1: Donald Trump "I'm The Dictator" Music Video (The Apprentice 2004)

Ch. 4: Act 2: Chaos on Convention Floor Protests, Boos and Chants of "Bernie" Mark Opening of DNC - @DemocracyNow - Air Date 07-26-16

Ch. 5: Song 2: Run On - Moby

Ch. 6: Act 3: John Nichols The GOP is More United in Disdain for Hillary Clinton Than in Support for Donald Trump - @DemocracyNow - Air Date 07-20-16

Ch. 7: Song 3: Last of Our Kind - The Darkness

Ch. 8: Act 4: DNC Speakers ROAST Donald Trump - @theyoungturks - Air Date: 07-29-16

Ch. 9: Song 4: Don't Believe a Word - Ivy

Ch. 10: Act 5: In a Speech Filled with Fear & Xenophobia Donald Trump Accepts Nomination - @DemocracyNow - Air Date 07-22-16

Ch. 11: Song 5: Postcards from Richard Nixon - Elton John

Ch. 12: Act 6: Hillary Clinton Accepts Historic Nomination, Says Election is a "Moment of Reckoning" - @DemocracyNow - Air Date: 07-29-16

Ch. 13: Song 6: Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger - Daft Punk

Ch. 14: Act 7: Democratic National Convention - @LastWeekTonight with @iamjohnoliver - Air Date 08-01-16

Ch. 15: Song 7: Promontory - Circa Paleo

Ch. 16: Act 8: President Obama Implores Nation to Vote for Hillary Clinton "Carry Her the Same Way You Carried Me" - @DemocracyNow - Air Date 07-28-16

Ch. 17: Song 8: President - Wyclef Jean

Ch. 18: Act 9: Hillary & J.F.K. Are More Alike Than You Think! - @Thom_Hartmann - Air Date 07-29-16

Ch. 19: Song 9: Lyndon Johnson Told the Nation - Tom Paxton

Ch. 20: Act 10: John Nichols describes the various aspects of a very interesting DNC - Start Making Sense from @TheNation - Air Date 7-29-16


Ch. 21: The need for community review boards to police the police - Ruben from Oakland

Ch. 22: Voting in this election is a binary choice - Ben in Minnesota

Voicemail Music: Loud Pipes - Classics

Ch. 23: Final comments on a theory of change for voting reform

Closing Music: Here We Are - Everyone's in Everyone

Produced by Jay! Tomlinson

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  • commented 2016-08-09 23:39:23 -0400
    The discontent is where the truth is! Imagine you’re in a prison cell, and you really want to be free, but you don’t see a way to break out at this moment in time. So at the very least you’re fighting for better food than the gruel they normally serve you. You really wanted some steak and potatoes, but after a year of fighting for this, your request was denied. Instead, your new options are gruel, or dogfood. Of course we prefer the gruel. But what we’re doing right now is that we’re hallucinating and we’re trying really hard to imagine that the gruel is just a little bit like the steak and potatoes we really wanted, so that we can work up the nerve to fight for it and avoid getting dogfood.

    I dunno, it’s a shitty situation. Maybe we’re just doing what we have to do at this moment in time. But maybe, on the other hand, we really can get the steak and potatoes, if we can overcome our defeatism. Maybe we can even break out of the prison. But regardless of what we do, we have to keep our eye on the prize. I’m not going to listen to anyone who’s trying to sell me gruel as if it’s filet mignon.
  • commented 2016-08-09 22:04:13 -0400
    No one I know or respect is content. Personally, I am in a perpetual state of discontent.
  • commented 2016-08-09 20:42:13 -0400

    Sorry I may have overreacted a bit. The second segment, at least, was critical. But I don’t think any of the other segments on the DNC were critical hardly at all, and in fact seem to minimize criticisms in order to make her look more palatable to progressives.

    In Segment 6, Amy Goodman calls her nomination “historic” but neglects to mention that some women might not feel that way about it. Was the election of Margaret Thatcher “historic” just because she was a woman? Then, Hillary is straight up pandering to her different constituencies, and this is not called out as such. She tries to draw a false equivalency between Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter. Then she talks about working people, as if she has ever had the concerns of working people in mind while she spent decades moving the Democrats to the Right.

    In the Thom Hartmann section, he had nothing but praise for her. He rebuked progressives who don’t believe she’s telling the truth with the argument, “you shouldn’t trust any politician.” So, it was a great speech despite being full of lies then? Progressives should not trust anything Hillary has said, if you look at her record she has sold us out at every opportunity. And to lionize her shows that Thom is drinking the Kool Aid, just like Amy Goodman and everyone at the DNC, except the Bernie protesters you featured in the second segment.

    Hillary is NOT a progressive, she is right-wing. She deploys Identity politics in order to win over progressives, but we have no reason to believe that she actually cares about any of those issues, except insofar as they help her advance her neoliberal agenda. The number one thing we can do to implement change is stop electing politicians who don’t represent our interests. How hard did we have to fight Obama just on the Keystone XL pipeline alone? Meanwhile he continued to expand capitalist imperialism.

    If you still think that we’re better off with a center-right politician who we can’t trust over an extreme right politician who we can’t trust, then okay, I get that. I can understand the argument that Trump sets us back more than Clinton would. But then let’s be clear that this is a defensive strategy that minimizes our losses, rather than going for any gains. And let’s also not lionize Clinton into something she’s not, and pretend like we can actually trust anything she says.

    I believe that the best defense is a good offense, and the right wing knows this. The right wing never stops attacking. It is attacking with Trump on one flank and Hillary on the other. We can’t win if we keep backing down and backing down.

    The so-called Left in this country is weak because its too afraid to stand up and demand the change we need, in the face of actual risk that it won’t work. It would rather kowtow to the lesser of two evils than have the audacity to say “No! Enough evil, we demand good!”

    If you compromise and compromise with an enemy who stands fast, then they win. That is not a strategy. Imagine Democrats are trying to buy a good from Republicans on the marketplace:

    Republicans: “That will be $100 please.”
    Democrats: “How about $50?”
    Republicans: “$100.”
    Democrats: “How about $60?”
    Republicans: “$110.”
    Democrats: “How about $70?”
    Republicans: “$120.”
    Democrats: “How about $80?”
    Republicans: “$130.”

    …and so on. If you compromise with evil then evil wins. Why do you think we’ve been moving steadily rightward over the last several decades? It used to be that the Left believed in something and stood for it. That’s how we won the New Deal, Civil Rights, environmental and labor protections, and so on. This is no longer the case. We’re content with a politician lying to us and dreaming that she’s telling us the truth.
  • commented 2016-08-09 16:43:34 -0400
    If Libertarians and/or Greens want to become a force, they nee to start small. I could begin my own party and run for President, too. My chances of winning are 0%. Dr. Stein’s chances are 0.001%. Much better. Here’s an idea, how about she run for Congress? How about she run for mayor or state legislator? Get Green party candidates on the ballot in places where they have a better chance of winning. That’s how you’ll get noticed – not by getting .36% of the vote as she did in 2012.
  • commented 2016-08-09 16:22:25 -0400
    Michael, those DNC email were discussed in the second segment of this episode. There was a lot to cover from both conventions but I made absolutely sure that that story was mentioned.

    As for comparing Hillary to JFK, I know the segment title is confusing because the Thom Hartmann show wrote that title and included JFK in the title but the content of the segment really compares her more to LBJ, a very conservative Democrat who activists managed to push to enact some progressive policies. That comparison was only made to highlight a major difference between Clinton and Trump regarding their movability, a very important factor for anyone critical of policies from both major parties. I promise, if Hartmann had really compared Clinton to JFK then it wouldn’t have been included in the show.

    You say you’ve been listening to the show for more than a year but if you think I’m uncritical of Clinton or her policies then you clearly haven’t been listening very well. I think I’ve been very clear on my theory of change which is that it’s better for progressives to have a Clinton presidency than a Trump presidency and that we should be utterly critical of Clinton and put pressure on her every step of the way starting before day one of her term in office.
  • commented 2016-08-09 16:01:12 -0400
    Ugh, I’ve been listening to Best of the Left for over a year but I will probably stop now. This episode was completely uncritical of Hillary and I can’t believe no mention was made of the hacked emails that reveal corruption at the highest levels in the DNC. Yet you want Bernie supporters to rally around Hillary, embracing her like she’s the next coming of JFK. Give me a freakin’ break. In the words of Cornel West, Hillary is a neoliberal disaster. And any podcast that emphasizes allegiance to the Democratic party ahead of critique of neoliberalism is not “Left” at all; it is the embodiment of the new alliance of Capitalism with Multiculturalism. Sorry but I reject that just as much as the anti-immigrant Right. In a historical context where the Right sets the terms of debate, being in the middle makes you center-Right, not center-Left like you think you are. The Left needs to oppose both the center-Right politics of Clinton and the extreme right politics of Trump.

    This podcast should rename itself “Best of the Center-Right.”
  • commented 2016-08-04 09:12:31 -0400
    Those are two different questions. If third parties received a record number of votes I think there is a 0% chance that it would cause the public to “realize that they can make a difference after all” and that would be a rational conclusion to reach. The public would see that all those third party votes didn’t make a difference and they would still be able to see that it’s the voting structure, not the enthusiasm of the supporters, that is making the third parties unviable.

    Secondly, would record third-party voting make the mainstream sit up and notice? The chance of that is slightly higher than 0% but it’s not the only way to push for that kind of reform and I don’t even think it’s the most effective way. So, one in a swing state (no one gives a shit what people do in safe states) has to weigh the relative value of using their vote to try to get the attention of the mainstream, which I think is incredibly unlikely to be successful, vs the relative value of putting their weight behind a lesser-of-two-evils candidate in order to try to end up with less evil after the election, something that a swing-state voter is guaranteed to be able to influence.

    The thing is, voting reform has more benefits than just being friendly to third parties and since the two major parties are invested in maintaining their power by keeping third parties sidelined I think the best way to push for those reforms is by focusing primarily on those other benefits rather on the benefits to third parties.

    Listen to this episode of Freakonomics for some examples:
  • commented 2016-08-04 05:03:26 -0400
    Suppose that the Libertarian and/or Green parties somehow get a larger percentage of the vote than they ever have before this election. Maybe not enough to win the election, but enough to break records. Do you think that the mainstream may sit up and take notice? Perhaps the public may realize that they can make a difference after all? It’s not a likely outcome, but I don’t think it’s an impossible one either. At the very least, it could potentially fuel interest in lobbying for voting reform. What better way to show interest in there being more than two parties than by putting your vote where your mouth is?
  • commented 2016-08-03 23:42:21 -0400
    Figuring out how to get voting reform is the real question that needs the focus and my point all along has been that no one has every explained to me how voting third party fits into a theory of change for getting such reforms passed. I explained in this episode that I think we would be much better off filling the Democratic party with thousands of reform-minded politicians at all levels of government who could help push through such reforms.

    It’s true that voting is not like betting, nor is it like your sacred honor that needs to be guarded like a delicate flower by only voting purely by your conscience. A vote is a tool, nothing more and nothing less. It is a tool like many other actions such as writing a letter to your representative, marching in a protest or signing a petition are all tools. We use these tools in the ways we think will most effectively push our government in the direction we want it to go. And still, no one has laid out a theory of change that explains why voting third party without first enacting voting reform does anything to move the country in any direction at all, much less the direction I want to push it.
  • commented 2016-08-03 21:20:05 -0400
    It’s also important to remember that voting is not like betting on a horse race; you don’t win a prize if your candidate is elected, and you don’t lose anything, not even your time waiting in line for the voting booth, if your candidate loses, because your vote still goes down in the record books. The only thing that matters is whether you did what you felt was personally the right thing to do, or if you were just following the bandwagon and didn’t want to feel left out by going against the proverbial grain.
  • commented 2016-08-03 21:12:13 -0400
    So the Libertarian and Green parties have only been around for 10 elections, tops, and in most of those elections at least one of the mainstream candidates had at least some redeeming features. I don’t think I can say the same for the current election; the third-party candidates look more attractive now than they ever did with Obama/Romney, Obama/McCain, Bush/Kerry, Bush/Gore, Clinton/Dole, etc. It’s also significant to remember that the modern Republican party also began as a humble third party, its first candidate being Abraham Lincoln.

    While the ability to vote for more than one candidate at a time would be ideal, how would one go about persuading the US government to adapt such a system?
  • commented 2016-08-03 09:59:23 -0400
    The green party is more than 30 years old, the libertarian party is more than 40 years old. How much longer do you think they have to keep doing the same thing before they make any progress? Bring me an actually theory of change, no third party advocate every has.
  • commented 2016-08-03 05:23:26 -0400
    A vote for a third party is not a “wasted vote” at all, especially not if it’s for a candidate you can actually believe in. A vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil nonetheless. The two-party false dichotomy is not going to change until people realize this and start voting for more third-party candidates. It doesn’t matter if Gary and Jill win this current election or if they even have a chance; if enough people actually vote for them, we can at least break some kind of record for third-party votes in an election season, people will start talking about it, and we will start to realize that we really do have more than just two choices after all.