Guest Appearance on Left Anchor podcast

I made a guest appearance on last week’s episode of the show “Left Anchor.” Listen here:

Episode 146 -American City Government with Bill Humphrey

Today we’ve got an interview with Bill Humphrey, a city councilor for Newton, Massachusetts. We ask him about how he got into politics, how he ran his successful campaign, and what it’s like being a leftist in government during pandemic times. Enjoy!

Sept 11, 2018 – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 241 Extended

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Topic: Lessons from the recent Massachusetts and Delaware primary elections. People: Bill, Jonathan Cohn, Paul Blest. Recorded: Sept 9th and 10th, 2018.

Episode 241 (34 min):
AFD 241

This version includes a longer discussion of Massachusetts than what we aired in Delaware.

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Music by friend of the show Stunt Bird.

For the many, not the few

An excerpt from the spring 2017 Labour Party manifesto


So yes, this election is about what sort of country we want to be after Brexit. Is it one where the majority are held back by the sheer struggle of getting by? That isn’t the Britain Labour is determined to create.

So let’s build a fairer Britain where no one is held back. A country where everybody is able to get on in life, to have security at work and at home, to be decently paid for the work they do, and to live their lives with the dignity they deserve.

Let’s build a country where we invest our wealth to give everyone the best chance. That means building the homes we need to rent and buy, keeping our communities safe with more police officers, giving our children’s schools the funding they badly need, and restoring the NHS to its place as the envy of the world.

Don’t let the Conservatives hold Britain back.

Let’s build a Britain that works for the many, not the few.

Creating An Economy That Works For All

Labour’s economic strategy is about delivering a fairer, more prosperous society for the many, not just the few.

We will measure our economic success not by the number of billionaires, but by the ability of our people to live richer lives.

Labour understands that the creation of wealth is a collective endeavour between workers, entrepreneurs, investors and government. Each contributes and each must share fairly in the rewards.

This manifesto sets out Labour’s plan to upgrade our economy and rewrite the rules of a rigged system, so that our economy really works for the many, and not only the few. Britain is the only major developed economy where earnings have fallen even as growth has returned after the financial crisis. Most working people in Britain today are earning less, after inflation, than they did ten years ago. Too many of us are in low-paid and insecure work. Too many of us fear our children will not enjoy the same opportunities that we have.

Labour will turn this around. We will upgrade our economy, breaking down the barriers that hold too many of us back, and tackling the gender pay gap. Our National Transformation Fund will deliver the investment that every part of Britain needs to meet its potential, overcoming years of neglect. Our industrial strategy will support businesses to create new, high- skilled, high-paid and secure work across the country, in the sectors of the future such as renewables. We will stop our financial system being rigged for the few, turning the power of finance to work for the public good. And we will put small businesses at the centre of our economic strategy.

The growth created by our national investment plan, underpinned by the responsible economic management embodied in our Fiscal Credibility Rule, will create good jobs, drive up living standards and improve the public finances.

It is a plan that will deliver Labour’s vision of an economy that works for the many, not just the few – a Britain in which no one is held back.

Jeremy-Corbyn

The Bill Humphrey Agenda

What I seek:
For democratic empowerment tools to be brought into existence or revived with an application toward social amelioration, social inclusion, and social justice along overlapping axes.

What I believe:
A. You have a right to housing, a right to food, a right to health, a right to clean water, a right to a clean & safe environment & biosphere, a right to a living wage & a living allowance if unable to work, right to organize the workplace, a right to free & fair elections, a right to free public education from pre-Kindergarten through university, and a right to regional and local public transportation where possible.

B. You have a right to freedom of expression & religion, a right to racial & gender equality, a right to live safely & equally as a gender or sexual minority, a right to reproductive freedom, and a right to participate equally & accessibly with a disability in society. These protections apply regardless of citizenship.

C. Systems of democracy and economics should be harnessed toward and subordinated to the advancement of these 15 social aims and more.

Every person has a part they can play to lift up, liberate, and defend a society that lifts up, liberates, and defends everyone.

The Battle of the Bulge in 2017

My theme this week, and especially today with the healthcare vote in the US House, is about late battles that went the opposite direction of an overall war.

History is written largely as a linear flow, and by the victors. Certain points of the US Civil War or World War II are declared to be the point at which it was “inevitable” that eventually the US would prevail, even if it took a while. But at the time, in the moment, you have no way to know.

Maybe the next big counteroffensive by the enemy will actually turn the tide in their favor and deprive you of victory that seemed inevitable so recently. Until it doesn’t — and you realize it was just the horrid last gasp. It is ferocious and massively fatal to those bearing the brunt of it, but then it’s over and the war winds down.

What if we’re currently experiencing our version of the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944? That was when the Nazis made one last overwhelming push with the possibility of encircling four Allied Armies and forcing an armistice on the Western Front (which might have allowed the Nazis to win the war at least as far as remaining in power within Germany, even if not all across Europe).

In 2017, it would be the Republicans making one last massive counteroffensive that will claim a lot of lives and cause immense damage but ultimately be defeated. Ideally also leading to their annihilation, aided by a resurgent left. Maybe that’s pure fantasy, but it’s a dark hope that is better than no hope.

During the Battle of the Bulge, many U.S. units sacrificed to the last man to block certain roads and critical access points that prevented the German armored divisions from making the planned rapid encirclement. Every point the Nazis failed to take immediately then stalled their advance on other points, saving lives there, and ultimately they failed completely.

Today it is our duty to hold every defensive point to the last person, knowing that even if it falls, that sacrifice will have stalled the Republican counteroffensive from advancing on five, ten, twenty, or fifty other points of policy by which they would kill millions if they ultimately prevail. Eventually, we will stall them long enough in enough places to break their final effort and turn the tide.

But let me be clear: This will come at a severe cost and it will not happen without a ferocious, pitched battle.

Allow Yourselves The Politics of No Course But The Good One

statue-of-liberty-Daniel-Schwen
I know things look really bleak and hopeless right now. But give me a few minutes – forgive me if you’ve heard the spiel already, but many of you are newer to me – to paint a different picture about the road ahead if we fight for it and keep our hope burning as we surge forward.

This alternative picture is about building a movement to articulate a bold, collective vision for our society. This is a vision where government is a force for good at every level. Where government represents all of us, not just some of us. Where government works to achieve three simple words: “Justice for all.”

That’s not just a slogan. That’s not a meaningless phrase. It’s the most profound notion in the lexicon of American politics.

Justice is a fascinating word, if you think about it, in the way it carries positives and negatives in a single word. It means fair treatment and restitution for mistreatment, but it also means appropriate and proportionate punishment where deserved.

The whole phrase taken together is a statement of principles, of values, and of society’s highest aspiration: Justice for all.

I’m asking all of us to dare to dream a little bit bigger about the meaning of justice. I’m asking all of us to lay out big ideas that can reform and transform our small corner of American governance on a fundamental level.

We are committing to the proposition that every branch or level of government affects every other branch or level of government, and touches the lives of all our people. Our elections – and our action between elections in the streets and in the halls of power – are the way we choose how this impact on people’s lives plays out.

Despite the devastating last gasp unfolding at the presidency and Congress and state governments right now, there is a sea change occurring in this country all the same.

There are movements for climate justice, for racial justice, for economic justice. There is a movement for clean and responsive government – a government that is neither our enemy, nor beholden to powerful individuals.

These new movements are led predominantly by young people, but they are supported by people from all ages and walks of life.

These movements are why still have a fighting chance today. It’s why we’re going to win in the end, and in our lifetime. We are a new generation for justice.

Nothing, I should stress, is automatic or guaranteed. This is not “the secret,” where visualization alone will deliver us our bright future. But it does help focus the mind and it does help dig in our last line, behind which we shall not voluntarily retreat.

We can see justice in our lifetimes, only if we fight for it every day. And we know, although it may be the hardest work we ever undertake, we have no other choice but to do just that.

Often, when I’m talking about the action required to stop climate change, I point out that it doesn’t matter if you think that action is too ambitious. The reality of the level of carbon emissions already in the atmosphere dictates that we have no other choice. You can’t compromise with 410 parts per million. You just have to do what has to be done. There is no course of action but the course that will actually fix this.

That attitude frames my approach to society and politics on the whole. Once you understand the stakes and the urgency and once you understand the body count associated with inaction or insufficient action, there is no alternative. So let me be plain:

Everyone deserves the right to a clean and healthy environment. Everyone deserves the right to healthcare. Everyone deserves the right to affordable quality food. Everyone deserves the right to housing. Everyone deserves the right to public pre-school, public K-12 education, and public higher education. Everyone deserves the right not to be condemned to a life of poverty. Everyone deserves the right not to be discriminated against because of their identity or their ability. Everyone deserves a democracy that cannot be bought by the wealthy. Everyone deserves the right to a living wage. Everyone deserves the right to organize for collective bargaining. Everyone deserves the right to break the cycle of incarceration. Everyone deserves the right to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions.

These things are universal human rights, and we can achieve them in our lifetime.

That’s not naive idealism but rather, they are morally required. We can and will make this a reality, because I know our society cannot afford not to make this a reality. Just as we cannot afford to compromise with the atmospheric carbon.

Every single level of government and every person in our government must fight for these principles every single day until we as a society are lifting up every person equally. Because our government is not “We The People,” until not one person is left behind by the promise of “justice for all.”

But we have to light this fire now. We have to send a signal that a new era is dawning, and that we are proud of and uncompromising in our bedrock, collective principles that can transcend and repair in solidarity the past errors and abuses and horrors.

This is a struggle once again, in the words of the Mayflower Compact, “to covenant and combine ourselves together – into a civil body politic – for our better ordering and preservation.”

This awful Syria escalation

It’s reckless and irresponsible for the United States to launch missiles at a Russian air base in Syria, as we did today on President Trump’s orders. That’s really an understatement, too. And it’s ridiculous that former Secretary of State Clinton endorsed this plan publicly earlier today.

There are three realities, beyond the risks of attacking Russia, that have to be acknowledged regardless of the use of chemical weapons:
1) The US does not have the capacity to lead a successful regime change in Syria and it’s wildly foolish to “Just Do Something” with zero plan and zero capacity to execute it beyond the opening shot.

2) Chemical weapons are repugnant, but it is not a “proportional response” to risk a war on this scale, particularly considering that far more people have been killed already (and will be killed by escalation) by conventional arms, which are also horrible. Dead is dead, as Stephen Walt said.

3) This war would have been over years ago (with far fewer deaths or calamities and without the use of chemical weapons) if the United States (and allies) had not supplied dangerous and deadly major conventional weapons systems and light arms to extremist insurgents, many if not most of whom are not Syrian, thereby keeping the war going but with no one able to prevail definitively.

Getting involved further in the Syrian war than we already are, instead of pulling back and cutting off aid to the insurgents, can only increase the catastrophe.