Dispatch from the US: While Sanders fights to gain momentum, Trump dominates Republican race
It’s been quite interesting to travel the US as the presidential primaries unfold, and with the race focusing in on a few remaining candidates, it’s worth noting some observations. First, during our trip, we have seen far more Sanders stickers and signs than all the other presidential candidates combined. While certainly a reflection of popularity, this is likely also a reflection of the passion and the pride that people take in embracing a campaign about strong, principled positions. But, aside from a group gathering to canvass for a local candidate in Santa Fe, we have yet to see any campaign in action on the ground.
While there has been a great deal of discussion about the dynamics and differences between Clinton and Sanders, much of that now revolves around which will be best positioned to defeat the surging Donald Trump. It’s hard to believe that Trump has continued to dominate the Republican race, but for those who followed Rob Ford’s victorious election in Toronto, or even George W. Bush’s two wins, Trump’s success should not be totally shocking.
There has been a lot of interesting analysis written about why Trump has been so successful. While much of the mainstream discussion concerns his hate-filled racist politics, there is a lot more to his success than that. It’s important to realize that he spends a lot of his time talking about issues that resonate with the public, including jobs, bad trade deals, and the incredible damage caused by money in politics. His touted independence from the large corporate donors most campaigns depend on, and his unwillingness to tow the Republican party line makes many of these statements possible. And he’s very successful at getting these messages across, as he’s spent years mastering and manipulating the media. To better understand his appeal to people and the media, here is a selection of some of the most thoughtful pieces of analysis:
Canada Revenue Agency offers amnesty to wealthy in secret agreement
In one of the more egregious examples of a tax system that is afraid of going after wealthy, repeat offenders, the Canada Revenue Agency offered secret amnesty to several high-level accountants and clients of corporate consulting giant KPMG if they agreed to pay taxes on earnings hidden in offshore accounts. As the CBC points out, the Agency prefers to go after the less wealthy, since they don’t have the resources to fight back in court.
Medical marijuana workers excluded from Ontario Labour Relations Act protections
Workers at the medical marijuana producer MedReleaf Corp were denied the right unionize with the United Food and Commercial Workers Canada. The Ontario Labour Relations Board agreed with the employer that the employees were “agricultural workers” and so fall under the Agricultural Employees Protection Act – an act written explicitly to exclude workers from industrial union representation.
Importantly, the labour board said it had no choice about the decision because of the language of the act – even though marijuana production happens in an obvious industrial setting, just like any other factory. It is clear that the labour movement needs to put pressure on the Liberal government to change these laws – everyone should have the right to unionize, regardless of industrial sector.
How and why we need to get ourselves out of the self care trap
Life under individualized capitalism is driving unhealthy lifestyles for working families. The constant pressure to work hard and conform are difficult to ignore. Sometimes we need to take care of ourselves and others. On her blog, Elizabeth Kessler provides an important piece of analysis distinguishing the concepts of self-care and coping within the current economy. It begins a discussion that activists should be having about taking responsibility for one’s self and for one’s community and why consumer-focused habits in the name of self care need to be challenged.
Debate over iPhone encryption a distraction from debate over gun regulation
Technology-focused media have been obsessed with the government’s demands for Apple to write special software that breaks the iPhone’s built-in encryption. While these pieces certainly touch on important issues and have merit, they unfortunately distract from the larger, and much more important discussion concerning the lack of rational gun laws in the United States. Having access to the private contents of someone’s phone wouldn’t have stopped the San Bernardino attack, but stronger gun laws might have.
How Canadians can support the Bernie Sanders campaign
It can sometimes be frustrating to watch US politics play out. Whether we like it or not, the outcome of the election south of the border will have a substantive impact on life north of the border. For those Canadians who support Bernie Sanders and want to see him become the Democratic nominee and President, there is work that can be done – and you don’t even have to leave the house.
Citizens’ Press contributor Alex Murphy has compiled a quick primer on how anyone can support the Sanders campaign by phone canvassing for supporters in important primary states. Phone canvassing is easy, and she provides an excellent summary of how to plug-in and what to expect.