Friday, April 1, 2011

The Confessions of a Homeless California Lifelong Democrat

No, I'm not literally homeless, far from it. But I always tried to be "at home" in the Democratic Party of the 20th Century.

It's the 21st Century.

I'm no longer comfortable in the state party of U.S. Senators James D. Phelan, William Gibbs McAdoo, Clair Engle, Pierre Salinger, and Alan Cranston.

I'm no longer comfortable in the state party of Governor Culbert Olson and Edmund G. "Pat" Brown. (I'm willing to be associated with the Progressive Party's Hiram Johnson also.)

I'm just no longer comfortable here in the national party of Presidents Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, and Carter. (I'm willing to be associated with the Progressive Party's Teddy Roosevelt, also.)

Don't get me wrong. The Republican Party hasn't been an option since they threw out Teddy Roosevelt and Hiram Johnson. And it isn't that I have a problem because Democrats make mistakes, for if that were the case there would have been no politician to support at any time.

No. The problem is I'm old. I don't understand what happened to the "political spectrum" that was easily understood in 1955. That spectrum was simple. Fear of the other party really wasn't part of the ordinary  American's political passion. That spectrum looked like this:

Rather than using the now meaningless terms "left" and "right," I've used the color spectrum which permits a blending of governing and economic systems.

Color is the visual perceptual property corresponding in humans to the primary colors called red, green, blue.

Along the inner edge of the circle, at the top middle is the color "violet" which is a mixture of red and blue while at the bottom middle is the color green which is a mixture of yellow and blue.

The top outer edge represents totalitarian government associated with those holding economic power distinguished only by the color bluish violet representing state ownership of the means of economic production and the color redish violet representing corporate ownership of the means of economic production.

The bottom outer edge represents direct democracy government associated with those who participate in the process distinguished only by the color blueish green representing greater economic regulations and more state-owned enterprises and yellowish green representing lesser economic regulation and fewer state-owned enterprises.

As used here, the three primary colors represent economic systems.

The primary color red represents Capitalism which refers to a politically established economic system in which the means of production are privately owned and operated for net income. Net income is either retained by the business enterprise or distributed to the owners for private use.

The primary color blue represents Socialism, which refers to a politically established economic system in which the means of production are state owned and operated for net income. Net income is either retained by the business enterprise or distributed to the state for public use.

The primary color green represents Social Marketism, which refers to a politically fluctuating economic system in which ownership of the means of production can shift between private and state ownership and back, following proper compensation. Government through democracy establishes the mix of ownership.

President Barack Obama and California Senator Diane Feinstein clearly are politicans of the 2011 National Democratic Party. Governor Jerry Brown and California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg clearly are politicans of the 2011 California Democratic Party. And therein lies the rub.

I know there are very few people who even know who James D. Phelan, Hiram Johnson, William Gibbs McAdoo, Clair Engle, Pierre Salinger, Alan Cranston, Culbert Olson, and Edmund G. "Pat" Brown were. And there are even fewer who know what social, economic, and international policies they advocated. All of these politicians fell somewhere near the 1955 Democratic Party in the spectrum outlined below:

As you can see from the spectrum graphic, it does not allow for someone to call their views "centrist" unless you mean you have no opinions about the governing system or the economic system. Your opinions mean you could live up near the outer top or outer bottom or any place within the spectrum. It doesn't matter to you.

If you have preferences about form of the governing system you wish to live under ranging from totalitarian to direct democracy, you fall somewhere between the top and bottom. If you have beliefs about the form of the economic system you wish to use to create your economic wealth, you fall somewhere between red, green, and blue.

I, for instance, have little enthusiasm for the extensive use of ballot measures and other forms of direct democracy. So I'm located below but near the middle vertically, colorwise about a teal.

And so when Governor Jerry Brown advocated voting on a tax increase extension which could be done by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature as it was done under Arnold, he placed himself directly at the bottom in terms of a governing system, almost as far away from ME as a totalitarian dictator.

And as President Barack Obama gives us no public option in health insurance with no restrictions on the profits of pharmaceutical corporations and appoints advisers from international banking and multinational corporations, he places himself in a nice persimmon shade with no tint of blue.

Back in 1955, everyone but the kooks would locate themselves on the lower half of that spectrum wheel, in colors that were green tinted by red or blue. Oh how times have changed!

Now, the color is red tinted by green or blue. Someone rotated the spectrum wheel when I wasn't looking so now in our political discourse it looks like this:

Whoever did this is now attempting to make everyone above the middle feel they are somehow radical and un-American.

By rotating the chart, virtually all colors containing green through blue appear to be beyond the generally accepted economic options.

The problem is you can't rotate the wheel because by definition the governing system is the vertical axis.

As seen in this case, totalitarian government appears to have ended up within a politically acceptable range.

Oddly, in last November's California gubernatorial race, one candidate advocated polices that appeared to be consistent with the 1955 California Democratic Party, Laura Wells of the Green Party. Check out her platform planks for education, for the economy (particularly her tax policy proposals and a proposal for a state bank like North Dakota's), for water policy, and health care.

The problem is the Green Party is further to the blue than Wells. And both are very popular democracy oriented. But when I add them to the spectrum, they tend to appear closer to the old Progressive and the 1955 Democratic Party than any other.

As the two parties in the Legislature and the two parties in Congress bicker and talk past each other and generally act in the best interest of the dominant international corporations, it is easy to wish for a political home.

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