Misconceptions About Electoralism

There is a sentiment shared by some leftists that if one participates in electoral politics then one is inherently counter revolutionary. Many have the idea in their heads that if one is in favor of organizing for electoral politics then that person must think electoral politics is the only answer. This idea in my opinion is shallow, insulting, and nearsighted.

I am pro electoral politics but I am not some naive fool who thinks that we can solve all of our problems simply with reforms and elections. I believe that in order to bring about total revolution we need to be organizing on all fronts relevant to the working class in the time we live in, and yes one of those fronts is electoral.

However, I believe we must also be constructing alternatives to capitalism through local acts of mutual aid and solidarity, that we must have an internationally focused analysis and support fights for liberation all over the globe, and that we must organize the workers, tenants, and patients of the world to overthrow the capitalist system.

I do not think electoral politics can solve much but I do believe that it can 1. Help with mass base building and 2. Can be used to put up resistance to right wing influence. While electoral politics will never bring about the totality of revolution it is a way to reach millions of people at once. Reaching this many people with a working class platform is essential to laying the foundation for revolution. Not only this but participating in elections inconveniences the right wing.

The system is inherently built to protect the right wing because the interests of the right are the interests of capital, however electing leftists to all ranks of public office puts up road blocks to right wing policies. The more we can make things harder for the right wing the better. I do not understand why some on the left forsake this!

For example when abortion bans are introduced to legislatures, the presence of leftists can offer open vocal challenges to these bills and even organize their defeat. This in the short term is a genuine material victory for the working class, their rights to reproductive health are safe for another day. In the long term, if organized properly, their campaign will have built a base that can be mobilized when needed. An example of how to properly utilize the base you have built is best personified in the Bernie campaign. Bernie has used his network to alert his base about ICE raids and strike actions, this is what elected officials should be doing!

The other thing to remember is that no leftist should view one single tactic as a panacea. No single tactic will bring revolution and revolution itself is not a panacea (remember, revolution is not the end but the means to an end!) This is why it is imperative that we be present on all fronts. The number of issues that are connected to the realities of capital create so many different fronts that need to be organized. The attacks on women’s choice, the attacks on sex workers, the attacks on black lives and immigrants, the attacks on unions, the attacks on tenants, and the attacks on genuinely democratic elections are all places where the left must be taking action.

I find it insulting and genuinely shallow that some people think because I am in favor of organizing for electoral politics that I must only believe in electoralism and reform as our means.

No, I believe in electoralism and reform as a tactic of base building, inconveniencing the right wing agenda, and winning short term material goals. I believe that true revolution can only be achieved when the left is built into a massive front united against capital! I do not see electoral politics as a panacea, nor do I fetishize the idea of spotenous revolution, as many leftists do.

Another thing to remember is that infiltration is a lost art to the left. Snu Tzus Art of War makes a clear argument that spies are a necessary tool to win any war, and make no mistake because we are in a class war. We on the left have no spies, no insiders, no informants. We constantly have to worry about the likes of the FBI or local police infiltrating our ranks, the agents of the state should be just as worried about us spying on them. Yet they are not, all because so many on the left do not touch electoralism and reform.

I am willing to concede that electoralism and reform is not sexy. It is not as romantic as ultra left reading groups larping about the russian revolution, it does not feel like as much of an immediate material gain when compared to local acts of mutual aid, it is not as cool to post on social media as a sit in or mass arrest is, but internal base building is essential and electoral work streamlines base building.

Yet once again I must reitierate, I do not see electoral gains as a panacea. I see them as a short term base building gain and a short term material gain when we use elections to put up blockades to right wing attacks on the working class. To act like I believe in no other tactic, no other hope for a massive revolution is insulting, gaslighting, nearsighted, shallow, and just over all counter revolutionary. We can never expect to defeat the right wing if we are still having trivial arugments about whether or not to vote! While we continue to have these conversations, the ice caps melt and all who are not white cis males are attacked by the day.

We cannot afford to reject any area where we can achieve a genuine material gain, be it in the short or long term. We must build our base, our platform, and mobilize. What many on the left forget, we are still in the phase of building our base.

So abandon this shallow outlook. I am not asking you to embrass electoralism, I am demanding you stop assuming that someone using one tactic means the only believe in that one tactic. We cannot afford to be nearsighted, we have too much work to do.

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The Sacramento Housing Crisis

Homelessness, Gentrification, and Rent control. One cannot live in Sacramento for three days without hearing these words or seeing them in the news. Especially not the Mayor.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg in a recent interview with NPR went so far as to say, “The G word [gentrification] is not allowed!” After being bombarded at several city council meetings by housing activists, he seems tired of getting called out for his lack of action on the Sacramento Housing Crisis.

Sacramento is in red alert when it comes to housing. Neighborhoods have become gentrified thanks to skyrocketing rent rates and frequent small business closures. Homelessness in the county has jumped by 85% since 2015 (19% in 2019 alone). Sacramento has the highest climbing rent rates in the nation. Most cities see rent increases per-year that average at around 4%, Sacramento has seen rent increase at a rate of 9% per-year since 2015. A single bedroom apartment averages at $1,110 per month. None of these things are coincidental.

Mayor Steinberg and the city council have supported a several band-aid measures to address the issue, all of them short of supporting comprehensive rent control for the city. There is a push for the construction of more “tiny homes” which are small single person homes built into little villages, and the constant opening, closing, and moving of homeless shelters.

However the tiny home solution is merely a transitional living space and does not give the homeless a permanent residence, and the opening of shelters has been difficult. Every neighborhood association in the city agrees that we need more shelters yet none of them are wanted in their perspective neighborhoods. Several business owners have pushed for an anti camping ordinance in the city, which was approved by city council and is now in full effect. Homeless camps are evicted and shut down frequently by the Sacramento Police and Sheriff’s departments. People caught sleeping on the street are hassled daily.

The city council has also responded with even harsher measures than that. The city council unanimously supported a ban on panhandling, which was overturned in federal court thanks to the ACLU and housing activists in Sacramento. Not only does the mayor think he can ban words, he thinks he can ban people begging for change to survive.

If the city had rent control, neighborhoods would not suffer from gentrification. People would not be priced out of their homes and would not be forced on the streets, so they would not have to panhandle to survive either.

Homelessness, Gentrification, and Rent Control. The three words you will never be able to escape while living in Sacramento, no matter how hard Darrell Steinberg tries.

Wanna Be Socrates, a poem

Dull, now babbles some

wanna-be Socrates.

A Plato of the non-

existent preverbal page.

An awkward stammer

and pause gone about

with forced emotion.

So forced that it has no force,

no power,

gone and now at rest,

deserving non of its fake praise.

Lofty lust, and more incoherent

babbles and rambles in the name

of some forgotten crackpot

pipe dream.

Again this “philosopher” speaks,

and the actual teacher wretches in the corner,

excess is the key word

of the wanna-be Socrates.

Leon

Leon sat on the porch as the sun set behind the red silhouetted hills off in the horizon. As it went down the sun turned the sky into a deep purple with streaks of orange drizzled throughout. The sun itself had shifted into a deep red hue, a red that reminded Leon of the flags he once raised over vanquished enemies. Even though the shadows of the mountains had swallowed the whole front of the compound, Leon could still see the shadows of his bodyguards patrolling the entrance, their rifles almost making it look like they were carrying crucifixes on their backs.

It had been years since Leon was forced to flee his homeland, and though he was gracious to his hosts and happy to be alive, he just never could get used to the climate. The desserts of Mexico were vastly different from the muddy winters and bright springs of home. Leon was glad to have found refuge in Mexico, but he always missed home.

Leon did find the sunsets in Mexico more beautiful though. They gave him something beautiful to look up at when he wanted to take a break from his notebooks and studies. Leon was a man of the pen, a day he did not write a letter, an article, or a chapter in his next book was always a bad day.

Today was shaping up to be a bad day, nothing could get him to work on his book, not even the strong coffee that his local comrades had gifted to him. Leon was not able to write anything that day, until he came out to the porch to watch the sunset. For some reason, the deep red sun shading the sky had inspired him, and he took advantage of the withering daylight to fill his notebook as much as possible.

After the last bit of sunlight had been swallowed into darkness, Leon grabbed his books and notes and moved inside into his study. He sat at his desk and tried to continue with his writing, but he was drained out. For some reason now that he was away from the sunset he could not think about his text, he could only think of the sunsets back home.

He was lost in his pondering when he was then jolted by a knock on the door. Leon got up to answer it an on the other end of the door was one of Leon’s guards and a young comrade, Franc. Franc was young and Leon admired the energy of young comrades like him. He had been to the compound several times before with articles for Leon to read and had earned a degree of respect for his candor from Leon’s other comrades.

“Mr. Franc calling on you, comrade.” Said the guard.

“Send him in send him in.” Said Leon, gesturing for the young man to come in, closing the door and leaving his guard in the hall to stand watch as he did every night.

“No doubt you have an article for me to look at Comrade Jacson?” Said Leon as he returned to his desk.

“Yes Comrade.” Franc said pulling a stack of papers from out of a whicker brief case. “I wrote about the syndicalists, and contextualize what happened to them in the wake of this new world war.”

“Ah yes, so many of our enemies are all at war at once and all with each other!” Leon gave a chuckle looking at the papers handed to him as he sat down.

Leon shuffled through the pages to count them quickly before he began to read.

Suddenly Leon felt like a thousand nails had been driven into his forehead. He felt the crack of his skull and the surge of torture that came flowing through his entire body from the corner of his shattered temple.

Leon looked up from the papers to see that Franc had struck him. He struck him with something both sharp and blunt at the same time somehow. As Leon screamed in pain Franc delivered another blow, adding a stabbing pain to the torturous throbbing and shattered bone that was now torturing Leon.

Franc raised his weapon for a third blow, but was stopped as Leon sprang up and grabbed France by his arm and laying a firm grasp on his weapon.

Leon screamed, “You traitor! You scum! Murderer! Help! Help!” The two danced around the room, their shoes scuffing the wood of the floors as each one dug their heals in to try and over power the other. Leon might have been older than Franc, but one does not run an entire army without learning hand to hand combat, “And be damned this Stalinist traitor!” Thought Leon as he struggled to overpower Franc, “I will not bow down to anyone without a fight!”

Leon continued to scream for help as blood from his wound pooled over his eye and lips and dripped into his long beard. The guard from outside burst in, they grabbed Franc and pulled him back, forcing him to drop his weapon. The guard blew his whistle and with in seconds the room was flooded with Leons guards, others went to handle Franc while two sought medical attention for Leon who had collapsed into a guards arms after Franc had been subdued.

The guards beat Franc senseless until he was a pile of mush on the floor, but they did beat him just short of beating him to death. They wanted the man alive for his trial.

Leon was rushed to the hospital. Blood dribbling from the top of his head and through his hands as he tried to use what little strength he had left to put pressure on the wound. Some of the blood on in his beard was beginning to dry and congeal.

By the time the doctors got to him Leon was a weak husk of himself. They managed to bandage the wound but the doctors saw little else that could be done.

At the hospital Leon lingered in and out of consciousness. He’d awake from the pain, then he would collapse into unconsciousness from the pain. The blood had been cleaned from his eye and beard, but Leon could feel more of it seep into his bandages as he lied in bed. All time was lost to the pain, Leon did not know if he had been their for hours or for days.

After what felt like days of torture Leo woke once more, he could see that the sun was setting through a nearby window, just before he closed his eyes for the last time.

Habit, a poem

Habit, my old friend,

Or are you my enemy?

You say habit

I hear “monotony.”

Someone else says it,

And I hear “addiction.”

Habit, you could make me a great man

Or you could cause me to self destruct.

Habit,

you are helpful,

But you can also be cruel.

Habit, you be what I tell you to be.

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda – A poem for a dying planet

Would have,

Could have,

Should have.

These words which only pay lip service

to memory and potential

and attribute cause to regret

Serve no purpose but to hinder us

As our world decays.

We owe it to ourselves,

To our living legacies still too young to fend for themselves,

We owe it to them to act.

To organize and hope.

Two words to embody and elevate,

While we smash the banks of marble,

And pine for the fjords of freedom.

Would have,

Could have,

Should have.

Nay.

Will have.

Can have.

Shall have.

The Exhibit, a short story about animatronic dinosaurs and mortality

The state fair always had some of the best attractions, new rides at the causeway, a different type of fried something dipped into something else, and exhibits of art and science from across the state. This year the fair managed to score one of the countries most popular touring attractions, WALK WITH THE DINOSAURS.

In a giant pop up tent, outside of the building with the prize farm animals, a series of animatronic dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures stood on display for people to see. The dinosaurs stood on mounds of astroturf next to plastic ferns, and all of them doing something to make it clear to the visitors and gawkers that they were indeed a dinosaur. The Brontosaurus would dip their heads to “take a bite” of the astro turf grass, pulling their heads back up to chew it and look out over the crowds. There were two and they would take turns doing this, so that when one dipped its head to “eat” the grass the other’s head would rise up and look out over the visitors. Then they’d switch, then they switch back and etc.

In a corner there were two walls of bushes opposite each other. Every few seconds a few of the raptor robots would burst out from both sides of the bushes and run to the other while shrieking. It was back and forth and a screech, their legs pumping and their heads bobbing “Just like in Jurassic World!” as the exhibit visitors and children would exclaim at least 200 times a day. In another side was a Stegosaurus. Big, fun to look at, but not very impressive to most of the onlookers. All it did was look up, turn it’s head to you, blink, turn its head back, then bend down to eat some of the astroturf. It would then look up again do the same thing.

In the middle of the exhibit was the main attraction, the one that everyone always comes to see when there is a dinosaur exhibit, the most popular dinosaur for any seven year old, the Tyrannosaurus Rex. It stood at a height where its head could almost scrape the top of the tent. Its jaws would move slowly because of all the wiring and gears that weighed it down. “The real T-rex’s bite would actually come down with a much faster weight…” said the Dad’s who wanted to pretend they were smart to show off in front of their families.

The state fair always happened in the middle of summer, so the managers of the exhibit always had to keep things in the tent cool enough for the robots to function. The state fair prepped and planned for all likely weather contingency, even a light rain since the tent was practically leak proof. No one could have expected such a big storm in the middle of summer.

The clouds could be seen developing in the sky from miles away but there speed was something to be marveled. It was not long before the dark grayness hungover the city, a freak storm that came from practically nowhere. It took just a few hours for these drifting thunder clouds to build and consume the sky, swallowing the tri-county area into a bubble of wind and rain. The harsh 50 mph winds stung first, dragging the thunderheads in across the sky from what felt like all directions. The rain started immediately after the clouds settled over head with the wind still gusting and cutting through anyone or anything unlucky enough to be outside that day, such as the workers at the state fair. They did everything in their power to disconnect the rides from the electric generators, and to keep everything in the fairgrounds buttoned down to the ground. The Dinosaur exhibit was the first thing to be shut down, but they didn’t do anything about the lightning. Soon after the gusts and the downpour came rumbles of thunder, and then the lightning, then more thunder. Bursts from the sky hit some of the rides like the giant swing ride which got zapped and fried immediately since it stood so tall It was practically a giant lightning rod, as were the support poles that propped up the Dinosaur tent.

With another crack of thunder came yet another bolt from the clouds, this time hitting the tent dead center which crawled down and into exhibit like a web of an electric wave. It branched out to each pillar and the current flowed through the tent, working its way into each piece of the exhibits wires and gears.

Each Dinobot shook with a jolt when the pulse came through. In a flash the current was gone while the rain and thunder still crashed outside. No electricity was flowing to the tent anymore, but each dinosaur began to blink and twitch, they were moving with no electricity flowing to them.

The Brontosaurus gave out it’s deep groan of a call as it began to slowly march from its place. The T Rex roared as it’s stomped off of it’s platform. The raptors burst forth and spread out through the tent, pouncing on any piece of their new bounty of prey. Everyone began moving about the tent amongst the astroturf grass and ferns, everyone except the stegosaurus. The Stegosaurus just stood there, looking at everyone move, wondering.

“Where am I?” Thought the Stegosaurus, until an even more important question arose, “What am I?” The Stegosaurus was scared, up until now he had no memory, no thoughts. The only thing the stegosaurus could remember was standing in this exact spot, eating the grass in front of it. “How long have I been here? Is this where I was born? What is going on?” The Stegosaurus looked around to see the T-rex stomping around and roaring, to see the raptors jumping around and biting the hides of the herbivores and knocking them over to feast. They tore at the insides of the creatures, which of course were just wires and gears, but the Stegosaurus was convinced they were the innards of his fellow dinosaurs.

The Stegosaurus looked at the Brontosaurus as they stomped around and bayed, still taking turns to bend down and sample the grass. Since the Stegosaurus could remember doing nothing else it thought, “Oh, this must be something I’m supposed to do.” And it chomped down again on the grass in front of it, but it wondered why the grass had no flavor or taste.

“Is this actually grass?” Wondered the Stegosaurus. It tried to swallow the mouthful of grass but it was stuck in its mouth, it wouldn’t go down, it wouldn’t go anywhere, and all the Stegosaurus could think is “What is happening?”

The Stegosaurus had no memories but eating the grass in this one spot, and for some reason it could not even do that. It looked around at the chaos caused by the raptors and the T Rex and it wondered why it had been trapped in this one spot and for how long. The Stegosaurus was also confused because it wondered what this white thing hanging over all of them was. It looked from side to side and to see what it was and it could tell that it had walled all of them into this place together. The Stegosaurus knew there was something outside, beyond these walls, and it wanted to see.

It began to step off its patch of platform, and slowly started to make it’s way to the wall, only to suddenly fall forward and to the side, in agony. It had never known pain before, it had never known any sensation, now the Stegosaurus was debilitated. It turned into a heap on the ground and could not budge because of a sharp pain in its side underbelly. When it crashed to the ground it looked where the pain came from and it could see that one of the raptors had made its way over to them and taken a bite out of its side. The Stegosaurus saw its own wires and gears popping up from the plaster skin, thinking it had brutally been mutilated. The Stegosaurus could feel its energy being drained, leaving it, it’s eyes began to close and it’s whole body began to shut down, as it did it wondered, “What was the point of it all?”