The Sonoma Valley readers of this column have expressed appreciation for explanations of the deep structural politics behind the candidates and measures on the ballot. I make it my mission to conduct an excursion through the ballot every election cycle. The ballot is complex in presidential and midterm election years, but the ballot for June 5, 2018 has relatively fewer agenda items. I wrote last month about my unflagging support for John Mutz as County Sheriff.
The other big decision point locally on the June 5 ballot is the Democratic primary for 10th Assembly District. It is my civic duty to recommend Dan Monte as the progressive. I have exchanged ideas with Dan online for years, met Dan a few times since he started his campaign for the 10th AD, and sat in with him recently on Ken Brown’s show, “Hey Neighbor” on KSVY 91.3 FM.
The CA 10th AD is a relatively new district, created by a nonpartisan state commission in 2010, after being split between two other relatively stable districts for decades. The new district is mostly Marin County and about 40 percent of Sonoma County. The Sonoma County portion of the district includes most of the Valley outside the city of Sonoma, plus Oakmont and Bennett Valley. My regional political hero, Michael Allen, tragically lost the 10th AD in 2010, due to this unexpected redistricting. He would have been a great Speaker of the California Assembly.
California politics, in the highly populated blue coastal districts, is now an ongoing site of open contest for power between the progressive and the centrist factions within the California Democratic Party.
This is a natural and intended consequence of the unique California ‘top two’ primary, a budget blackmail deal done by the former Republican minority leader in concert with Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Democrats restored regular order and an on-time state budget by getting super-majorities and the governorship, ending decades of brinksmanship and stalemate caused by an unappeasable Republican minority in the state government.
The progressives are now the ascendant demographic in the broad center-Left Democratic coalition in the blue districts. If that is how you are keeping score, as I do, then Dan Monte is the real-deal progressive in the 10th AD primary. Dan stands for Medicare for All in California, humane treatment of immigrants and protection for DACA kids, and restoring the California Coastal Commission to its original mission of protecting our coasts. He is in favor of spending more state money on education than on incarceration. Dan supports de-militarizing law enforcement in the state and prison sentencing reform to reduce the size and cost of the carceral state.
Dan is a lifetime activist for social justice and environmental causes, and he is a solid union guy. Post-retirement, he bicycled across the United States with a green activist group on a rolling climate protection demo. This year he is running for State Assembly as a progressive Democrat and he has my vote. I want Dan to get into the primary by out-polling the Republican in the race. That would make for a far more constructive discussion in the general election. That’s doable.
Local politics is downright wholesome and inspiring slotted against national politics. Watching DC politics daily is surreal and stress-ridden. The basic sensation is that of a helpless passenger on a big bus driven by The Joker, the insane clown party MC, who has crashed through the political and social guardrails of the traditional American center-right political consensus. We are now spinning in mid-air, hopefully landing in the ocean and not on the rocks below. The devolution of the Republican Party into a cult (the white nationalist party of MAGA/Trump), has black-pilled my politics.
What does that mean, you might ask? As a student of the emergent webcast media domain, which is dominated by Millennials, I have observed that The Matrix movie series was a formative event for that generation. Here’s how it breaks down politically, per pervasive webcast alt-right meme:
The Blue Pill: ‘The 20th century liberal consensus culture.’ The Red Pill: ‘White nationalist MAGA world.’ The New Left has added to the lexicon:
The Black Pill: ‘Election 2016 as species extinction event.’
The webcast ‘Chapo Trap House’ coined the term ‘black-pilled.’ This may be just an allergic political reaction to the sudden onset of the ghastly Bush-era neo-con war-hawk John Bolton, in as National Security Adviser without even needing a vote, and the ascension of far-right former CIA chief Mike Pompeo to Secretary of State, with the NATO alliance weakened by feckless American leadership. The destabilization of the uneasy truce with Iran and North Korea is now a policy goal of the neo-conservative Bolton faction in the Trump Administration foreign policy apparatus.
God help us.