Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON THE THOUGHT OF KARL MARX. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for Robert Paul Wolff Marx."




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Thursday, July 5, 2018

ALL POLITICS ARE LOCAL


When Susie and I moved south to Chapel Hill, NC, we found ourselves in a blue puddle surrounded by a red sea.  The fourth Congressional District of North Carolina is a safely Democratic enclave that has been represented for thirty years [save for a brief two year lapse] by David Price, a reliably liberal Democrat who holds a Yale doctorate in Political Science and taught at Duke before entering Congress.  He wins re-election each time he runs by anywhere from 15 to 30 points.  As a consequence, voting in Chapel Hill was pleasant but politically pointless.  I might just as well have stayed home.

A year ago, we moved again, this time five miles further south to Carolina Meadows, the continuing care retirement community that is now our home.  Thanks to the precise and thoughtful planning of the Republican majority in the state legislature, Carolina Meadows lies about four and a half feet inside the 6th CD, an equally reliable Republican stronghold.  The 6th CD is represented by the execrable Mark Walker, now in his second term.  Walker is an extreme right-wing member of the House Freedom caucus, briefly famous a short while ago for opining, after the Catholic House of Representatives Chaplain was abruptly fired by Paul Ryan, that the House needed a chaplain with a wife and children – which is to say, not a Catholic.  Walker, by the way, was a Baptist minister for twenty years.

The 6th CD is what the political insiders call an R +9 district, which is to say it usually goes for the Republicans by 18 points, more or less [+9 means 9 points over 50%, not 9 points over the Democrat.]  This year, Walker is being challenged by Ryan Watts, a 27 year old graduate of UNC Chapel Hill making his political debut.  Watts is no fire breathing liberal, but he has articulated a standard moderately progressive program, in hopes that a blue wave will carry him to D.C.  Manifestly, Watts has a big hill to climb, but after all, Conor Lamb eked out a win in a Pennsylvania R +10 district, so hope springs eternal.  I have volunteered to work for the Watts campaign, at least during the next eight weeks before the Fall Columbia semester begins.

In midterms, the whole game is turnout, of course.  The norm is for 35-40% of the eligible voters actually to go to the polls.  Carolina Meadows is in Chatham County, one of the few D-leaning counties of the 6th CD.  Carolina Meadows itself, as I have reported, is a hotbed of support for the Democratic Party, but getting people here to vote is not difficult.  Carolina Meadows is actually the voting location for our precinct, which means the my fellow old folks can vote on their way to the dining room or the library.  The rest of Chatham County, to our south, is mostly rural land with a few urban centers, such as Pittsboro and Siler City, and there ought to be some Democratic votes to harvest there.

I do not much enjoy politicking, if the truth be told, but I volunteered for Obama and walked door to door for Clinton, so while I diet, I will do what the Watts campaign wants me to do, and hope that I can bring a few lazy souls to the polls.  I think this is the most important election I have participated in since I first knocked on doors in East Cambridge for Adlai Stevenson in 1956.

All politics are local.

3 comments:

Jerry Fresia said...

Your talents are clearly needed but wasted on the knocking on doors/phone bank duties, however worthy tasks in themselves.

Chomsky points to the to the nature of our electoral system this way: "... what to do about the fact that we don’t live in a political democracy, that’s the real problem…about 70% of the population (lowest 70% on the income scale) is entirely disenfranchised; their opinions have zero impact on policy, they’re simply ignored….one of the reasons why they don’t vote….the real problem is the nature of the system."

Your insight as to why this particular election is important for the bottom 70% needs to be articulated. Is there a little of a Paul Revere pamphlet writing gene within you? Might the Dem pols in the 6th CD appreciate your ability to rouse the masses?

David Palmeter said...

Jerry Freisia,

You nailed it: They're ignored, so they don't vote; they don't vote, so they're ignored.

The challenge for the Democrats is to convince them that the only way they can stop being ignored is to vote. This has not proved to be an easy task so far.

s. wallerstein said...

I agree with Jerry Fresia.

I know that all of us are anti-elitist in theory and so instead of saying that one can write better than most, one prefers to knock on doorbells and hand out fliers in front of the supermarket, but really, I think that most of us are old enough and have done enough infantry work in previous political campaigns that we can and should make clear what our talents are and as Jerry Fresia points out, Professor Wolff is a very gifted political prose writer.

In the last election here I emailed the Giorgio Jackson congressional campaign (Jackson is an ex-radical student leader, now 30 and a leader of the left in congress, to the left of most U.S. Democrats) explaining that I'm an excellent interpreter and translator, offering my services free. I also donated some money, but handing out leaflets at subway stations is something the young can do better than I can and I surely no longer have the winning smile of an 18 year old, if I ever had one.