Friday, May 20, 2016

Why me, why now

My name is Chad Lupkes, and I’m asking for your vote on May 21st, as well as your help over the next few years. This Political Revolution goes beyond 2016, and we’ve always known that.
I was born in Seattle and raised in Kent. I’ve lived in the Puget Sound my entire life, except while I was in the Navy. I owned a progressive bookstore and gift shop in Everett for three years in the 1990’s, and went to a private university to rack up school loan debt that I’m still paying off.
One of my classes was State and Local Government, and one of the assignments was to attend a meeting of a political organization. I had not been cognizant of how the party was structured, so I discovered that I lived in the 46th LD, and that the meeting of the 46th LD Democrats was the next night. I attended, and it was really, really “interesting”. Supporters of Lyndon Larouche were standing on chairs singing protest songs because their candidate wasn’t being taken seriously enough to be invited to the Democratic candidate debates. The police pulled them outside, and I volunteered with the party immediately. I started looking at how to improve, i.e. build from scratch, a website that would actually accomplish what they needed done during the run-up to a Presidential Caucus cycle. I had a lot to learn, so I started by transcribing the entire PCO Handbook into a website. You can still find that site on my Seattle Webcrafters domain.
Then my wife felt some lumps in my neck, and I went to get them checked out. The Nurse Practitioner at my doctor’s office told me to sit tight and she made my doctor drop everything. He then got on the phone and made an appointment for a CAT Scan across the highway, immediately. After a few days, I had a biopsy scheduled at Swedish Ballard. And a day or so later, I got a confirmation phone call saying that I had Stage II-B Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
I had started working for Nordstrom in 2000, and I had their health care insurance. I’m really glad that I did. When the EOB’s started coming in the mail, we realized that without that insurance, we would have had to sell our home to pay those bills. Then I heard someone talking about how 47 Million people in our country, in MY country, didn’t have any health insurance at all. They couldn’t even make an appointment with a doctor, let alone get anything else. That was Howard Dean, and that was my wake up call. I have been Single Payer or Bust ever since.
While going through chemotherapy and radiation treatments, I continued to build the website of the 46th, along with a few others. I started reading history about how the political evolution of the Democratic and Republican Parties have gone over the entire history of our country. I read about the Progressive Era and the Long Gilded Age, and started really putting the pieces together about what had gone wrong. And how to put it right. I got more involved.
I caucused for Howard Dean at the 2004 Precinct Caucuses. I ran for PCO. And lost, by 1 vote, to a supporter of Lyndon Larouche whom I actually never saw again. She moved away before the 2006 cycle and I was able to take the PCO position officially. In the meantime, I joined the executive board of the 46th LD as an At Large member in 2005, then became the King County Committeeman in 2007. I became the chair of the 46th in 2009, as well as vice chair of the King County Democrats, and vice chair of the Chair’s Organization.
I attended the Seattle launch of Howard Dean’s Democracy for America, and helped launch the state level organization, Democracy for Washington. After several years of work trying to keep the people who had been inspired by Howard to stay engaged with the party, we realized we had been successful and folded the organization into Progressive Majority Washington. All of our members were active officers within the Democratic Party.
I also helped form the Washington State Progressive Caucus, starting within the 46th LD where we had meetings the week before the district meetings in order to talk about the upcoming agenda and have a more in depth discussion about the issues, debates, votes, endorsements, and whatever else was happening in North Seattle. We actually held the first candidate forum for the position of State Party Chair in 2006 when Paul Berendt stepped down after 11 years. The members of the executive board were not sure what was happening until we invited the district chair to sit in at a meeting. He stopped worrying and started helping us.
I had caucused for someone in 2008 that I choose because of the message he had been putting out. I didn’t yet know that the Edwards campaign was defunct, although we on the state steering committee knew he wasn’t going to stick with it. I had watched both the Obama and Clinton campaigns through the summer and fall of 2007, and only the Obama campaign really built a grassroots organization that I could find. When we got to the precinct caucus, I switched to Obama. But I didn’t run for national seriously because many others had done the work over the previous year, and they needed to go.
After the success the Democratic Party had in 2006 in gaining back control over the US House and Senate, and the intense health care debates that seriously mirrored what had been seen in 1993, we saw 2010 coming and really couldn’t do much to stop it. Then the 46th had a shock. Our State Senator Scott White, who had been the district chair that attended the progressive caucus meeting in 2006, died suddenly in October, 2011. He was a good friend, mentor, former chair of the district, and someone I really wanted to see continue into higher and higher office. He had one of the largest hearts I knew, caring about everyone. His doctor never caught the fact that it was too large. The resulting contests within the 46th LD to fill his vacancy, and then the State House vacancy that came from David Frockt taking his place in the Senate, tore the district apart. At least that’s how I saw it. I didn’t have time to grieve. I ran the vacancy appointment meetings, and watched the executive board split down the middle. It burned me out. I started making mistakes during meetings, and it got to be too much. I resigned as chair, stepped away from the party, and focused on my family for a while.
During this whole time I had been listening and supporting Progressive Talk radio, especially Thom Hartmann. I loved Fridays, when “America’s Congressman”, who in 2006 became “America’s Senator” would give an hour of his time to tell the truth about how things were going in Congress. Bernie Sanders never strayed off message, never gave into despair, and always gave me hope that someone, at LEAST one person in DC had my back. I knew about the Congressional Progressive Caucus, one of my good friends had worked as the Executive Director of the Progressive Congress organization. (Darcy Burner is now running for the State House in the 5th LD.) In early 2015, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do during the next caucus cycle. I looked at Martin O’Malley, and mostly liked what I saw. I wasn’t thrilled with Hillary. I knew all about the Third Way Coalition, and I really didn’t want a repeat of the 1990’s.
Bernie Sanders announced his intention to run for the Democratic Nomination on April 28th. I announced on that same day that I was in. This was (is) a drop everything moment. I started the Facebook group “Washington for Bernie Sanders”. I brought in my best friend Mario Brown to start the Page and to help me build the organization. The mission was to maximize the number of delegates that Washington would send to the National Convention in Philadelphia.
I worked with grassroots leaders from all over the country setting the foundations for Bernie’s domination of social media. I worked with over the summer to capture and rebroadcast as many speeches as we could. Mario and I were asked to lead the volunteers when Bernie first came to Seattle in August. And Mario and I started doing caucus training sessions every weekend somewhere around the Puget Sound area, telling people how this could actually succeed. We were not selling the idea of Bernie Sanders as President, he was doing that just fine. What we were focused on is how the grassroots could actually win. And people responded. We have had people step up in all 10 Congressional Districts, and most counties and legislative districts. We got Votebuilder access in December, and started providing lists for people to canvass their neighborhoods. We started promoting the phone banks that were going into Iowa and New Hampshire.
When staff arrived in Washington, they met with us and our team. For the very first time, a presidential campaign came in and said they wanted to amplify and magnify what we were already doing, not take over or start over from scratch. Instead of giving orders, they asked us what we needed, and then made it happen. The closer we got, the more we all focused on phone banks going into our own state. We knew what could happen if we stayed focused on positive campaigning and empowering the grassroots. But what actually happened was far and away beyond our expectations.
Obama in 2008 got 67.56% at the precinct caucuses. On March 26, 2016, Bernie Sanders got 72.7%. We won every county. The lowest number was 60% in King County. We had done it. It had never been about what I could do on social media, or what Mario and I could do with trainings, it was about what everyone who was inspired could do when we worked together.
I have been trying to gather delegate lists and provide them to people who need them. We’ve been doing video calls so I can answer questions from all over the state, and joining in the campaign calls. Members of our team built the website which is promoting the idea of keeping the Political Revolution alive after the Convention and after November. We’ve done this before. We can do it again. We can built a better tomorrow.
I want to tell this story in Philadelphia. I want to listen and talk with people from all over the country, people given hope that if we work together we can really achieve a better tomorrow. People excited by the possibilities of political action, not disappointed by what the corporate media tells them to think. I need your vote to make that happen. I need your help to spread the word and tell people that this was never just about one candidate, one office, and one election cycle.
I know how to work within the Democratic Party to enact change. I’ve done it. I know how to build external party groups and use them to expand the outreach efforts of the party to the progressive movement as well as push issue positions and policy ideas from the larger movement into the party. I’ve done it. I know how to teach people to answer the three core questions of an activist: “What decision is being made?”, “Who is making that decision?”, and “How can I influence that decision?” Answers to those three questions are what drive change.
In 2008 the slogan was “Yes we can”. In 2016, it’s “Oh Yes We Will”. No matter what they say, we’re going to build a world that our children can grow up in. We’re going to build a future.
I ask for your vote on May 21st.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Socialism, the real history, the real definition, the real path, according to Professor Richard D. Wolff

I've posted my own views and articles about what Socialism means to me, trying to view things in a different way. I found these videos today that just blow me away. They're fantastic, both from the historical perspective and in their way of explaining the real difference between Private Capitalism, State Capitalism (Communism) and true Socialism. There are a few hours of watching here. Worth every second.

The Game is Rigged

Socialism for Dummies, Part I

Socialism for Dummies, Part II

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A wake up call, for me and many others

Bernie2016tv did a vigil on Tuesday, July 21st for Sandra Bland. After what happened at Netroots Nation, we started a specific project chatroom about how to reach out to the ‪#‎BLM‬ community and try to create a bridge between the grassroots activists trying to get Bernie the nomination and the activists trying to bring attention to the issue of police violence against the African American community in our country.
During the broadcast, I decided to try and post the names of those killed by police violence in the live video chat. So I looked for a website that would give me the names. I found one.
I started typing in the names, just copying and pasting. I figured 2008 onward would be good enough. There can't be that many, right? Our country is not THAT far gone, and our police aren't that bad. Right?
I ran out of time before I could even get to 2011.
Creating a memorial video is nice. But each individual tragedy deserves an hour. And such a vigil would take days. Weeks. Months.
This is not homicide. This is obscenity. The #BLM community ramps that up to genocide, and I can no longer disagree. I'm ashamed to say that I too thought this was a distraction from "larger issues". Thanks to this vigil, I've learned something today. The list, the sheer volume, is why it's important. That's why they climbed onto the stage. This is why they take the mic. Because there is no other way to get our attention to the issue. The issue of police violence is not a distraction.
I still believe that Climate Change is the "biggest" issue we face. Because it is going to kill us ALL if we don't deal with it. But I will never again consider the #BLM to be a distraction from "more important" issues. Because while some issues might be bigger than others, they are all equal in importance.
And thanks to these 76 names for teaching this to me. I hope this post helps to teach others.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Is our story a Comedy or a Tragedy?

In drama, I was taught that there are two main types of stories.  Comedy or Tragedy.  These two forms of story telling go back to the Ancient Greeks and were used by Shakespear and his contemporaries.

In a comedy, the characters are taken on an adventure, but the adventure does not fundamentally change who they are, how they think or how they feel.  When the adventure is over, life continues on, perhaps slightly changed but not fundamentally.

In a tragedy, the adventure fundamentally changes the characters, or in many cases ends the characters lives.  Having the characters die is what we are most familiar with.  Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Oedipus.

My question right now is this; Is the story of the United States of America a comedy or a tragedy?  Will we be fundamentally changed by being distracted by pretty baubles, or will we get ourselves back on track?

The answer really depends on what you see as the character of our people.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Can we please balance the budget?

The GDP of the United States was estimated to be $16.8 Trillion in 2014. The "GDP per capita" was $37,075.50. (Now, given that this calculates a total population of 316.1 million people, I'm guessing that some of that is business to business. We don't have that many wage-earners in the US yet. But I'll use the number anyway.)

The 2014 Federal expenditures were $3.7 Trillion. That included a $483 Billion deficit.

If every wage earner, both individual and business, paid the same flat tax rate to the Federal Government, that tax rate would need to be 22.44%, or an average of $11,927 out of that $37,075.50. (by the way, that doesn't take into account the number of actual wage earners, it's total population in including our kids and elders.)

Now, 22.44% is a slightly higher tax rate for Americans than we are used to.  Here's a graph showing what it has been over the last half-century:

If you consider that with a balanced budget we could really get serious at creating jobs, rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and actually start paying down the Debt, maybe this would be worth it.

But, nobody is talking about charging everyone $11,927.  Some people earn more, and they pay more.  Some people earn less, and they pay less.  But if we all paid our share, and we stayed focused on the idea that we need to pay enough to balance the budget, we could.

Do we want to?  I do.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Fixing our monetary system

Our current monetary system has three major flaws. What we have to do is find a way to manage these flaws.

The first problem is Fiat Currency. We need currency based on something tangible, not just promises to pay. But we can't go back to the gold 
standard, and the suggestion of sunshine that I saw in an earlier comment wouldn't work because it would give equatorial regions an advantage. My idea would be a currency based on carbon. Not carbon credits, but actual carbon pulled out of the atmosphere and stored in bulk. It's physical and measurable.

The second problem is Fractional Reserve Banking, where banks only have to maintain a fraction of their deposits in the central bank in order to give out loans. This is simply a matter of law. In the 1930's, with the bank reforms pushed through by FDR, the reserve requirement was pushed up. The higher the reserve requirement, the less money the private banks could just invent out of nowhere. This helped keep inflation under control, but I don't think it ever got above 26% in the US. It's much higher in some other countries.

The third problem is Compound Interest, where we pay interest upon interest upon interest again and again and again. I recently got a debt consolidation loan that had a fixed rate, without any compounding. It's wonderful. I think all loans and credit cards should be like that. Need a loan for 10K at 10%, you'll pay $1K in interest for a total of $11,000. That's it. This could be required by law.

The banks would fight these changes tooth and nail every step of the way, but if we made changes like these it would bring our monetary system to heel and make it a servant of the people instead of our money being our master and us being the slaves.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

From Washington State Democrats, how to help Oso

Like you, we are stunned and devastated by the destruction caused by the Oso mudslide.
We’ve already lost over a dozen Washingtonians. With many still missing, this could be one of the deadliest natural disasters in state history.
When one community in our state is hurt, it hurts us all. Our hearts are breaking for the victims taken by this disaster, their families, and all those affected.
With tragedies like this, heroes emerge. We learn about the strength in our communities that we didn’t know was there.
We thank and honor the first responders, relief organizations, civic and government leaders, volunteers, and all those who are working day and night to help those affected.
It’s hard not to feel powerless at times like this. But a donation to help the relief effort is one way that we can do our part.
In solidarity,
Jaxon Ravens
Washington State Democrats Chair