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What are we to make of AOC's recent legislative votes?

Sandra Lindberg

Moderator
This thread has been moved from the Organize list to the Forum so people can continue the discussion of a very important topic.


David Klein
Apr 7, 2019, 11:14 AM (1 day ago)

to M.D., erikrydberg34@gmail.com, System





Erik's post about AOC's votes is somewhat misleading. It leaves out significant context and information.

Regarding ICE, see this article: AOC Was the Only Democrat to Vote Against Bill to Reopen Government Because It Funded ICE. It is true that she voted for a temporary funding of Homeland Security only through (last) Feb 8, because the bill had no funding of a border wall. This was during the government shutdown, and Trump didn't sign it. The focus then was stopping the border wall.

AOC's so-called "Venezuela Coup vote" was for H.R.21 - Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019 which did in fact include a provision for $20,000,000 for the US imperialist puppets in Venezuela. However, the bill bundled funds for a long list of programs including several Medicaid provisions, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, the National Flood Insurance Program, national wildlife refuge fund, north american wetlands conservation fund ($43,000,000), state and tribal wildlife grants, Forest Service, and a long list of other things. So how does one evaluate a yes or no vote on this one bill?

AOC also voted for HR 1616, the “European Energy Security and Diversification Act of 2019”. The point of the bill is to shift control of energy policy of European countries away from Russian dependence toward European and US control. US control and influence is clearly part of the US imperial agenda and should be opposed, but OTOH, at the present time Russia is the largest exporter of oil and natural gas to the European Union. The volume of methane gas coming from Russia into Europe dwarfs any fracking in Europe that could possibly be facilitated by this bill (which includes possibe support for renewable energy and transmission). In 2017, energy products accounted around 60% of the total EU's import from Russia. Considering the relatively high climate activism in Europe compared to the dearth of it in Russia, doesn't it make sense to try to shift energy control toward the former away from the latter? Considering that several European countries have already banned fracking that is very unlikely to change, so it is a stretch to call this a fracking bill.

I'm not arguing that AOC is any kind of savior of the left or that these bills she voted for are in any way idea or even desirable. Obviously not. Black Rose's pronouncements against the Democrats are obviously right, though hardly a new discovery. The Democrats won't save us. But neither will the anacrchists. Neither can we vote our way out of the climate crisis nor garden our way out in isolated anarcho-enclaves populated by purists. It's going to require action on many fronts including support of the Green New Deal along with strident pressure to further radicalize it.

David
On Sat, Apr 6, 2019 at 9:47 PM Ehrman, Howard <hehrman@uic.edu> wrote:
Erik-​
Thank you​
Keep Speaking Truth to Power​
Keep exposing the Real AOC and all other “democratic socialists”​
and the social democrats who support them​
Howard Ehrman MD, MPH​
University of Illinois Chicago​
Assistant Professor​
College of Medicine​
School of Public Health​
On Apr 6, 2019, at 20:25, Erik <erikrydberg34@gmail.com> wrote:​
Just saw this vote. This comes in a string of votes from voting to fund ICE, to putting $20,000,000 towards regime change in Venezuela... why are leftists organizations not talking about the right wing votes of these newly elected so called "Democratic Socialists"?​
Fracking vote:​
ICE vote:​
Venezuela Coup vote:​
Roll Call:​
Bill text:​
Specifics:​
<Venezuela Bill 2019 Tulsi AOC.jpg>​
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Dennis Goldstein
Apr 7, 2019, 3:03 PM (21 hours ago)

to David, M.D., erikrydberg34@gmail.com, System





Hi,

Alexandra Ocasio Cortez is connected to Democratic Socialists of America and Bernie Sanders,
she is not a lone operator. These people are what they are which is FDR New Deal liberals basically under the cover of being socialist similar to W. European social democrats. Neither is against capitalism. FDR saved capitalism (in the U.S. anyway) as he defined his achievement overall. They want to reform a system that essentially cannot be reformed. We had the New Deal and the U.S. capitalist ruling class has turned
it around until the next time the social democrats take control of Congress. And the reactionaries will fight tooth and nail to turn the Green New Deal into its opposite if some rendition gets legislated.

We need an ongoing socialist revolutionary process into the long term future starting with a mass movement of movements on the left which still needs to be built. We also need a New International as both Meszaros and Amin have advocated. I suggest reading and re-reading Istvan Meszaros, Samir Amin and John Bellamy Foster for some guidelines to the struggle ahead of us. I am watching the Yellow Vests in France, the workers striking in Mexico, the teachers unions and others in the U.S. like Black Lives Matter, for example, and the First Nations pipeline struggles and so on. Anti war/anti imperialist activists are beginning to mobilize a movement. A lot of such activity is churning and needs to be supported on the whole.

Best,
Dennis





Sandra Lindberg
12:38 PM (1 minute ago)

to David, M.D., erikrydberg34@gmail.com, System





David, thanks for the attempt to provide context for the AOC votes. You wrote:

AOC's so-called "Venezuela Coup vote" was for H.R.21 - Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019 which did in fact include a provision for $20,000,000 for the US imperialist puppets in Venezuela. However, the bill bundled funds for a long list of programs including several Medicaid provisions, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, the National Flood Insurance Program, national wildlife refuge fund, north american wetlands conservation fund ($43,000,000), state and tribal wildlife grants, Forest Service, and a long list of other things. So how does one evaluate a yes or no vote on this one bill?​
AOC also voted for HR 1616, the “European Energy Security and Diversification Act of 2019”. The point of the bill is to shift control of energy policy of European countries away from Russian dependence toward European and US control. US control and influence is clearly part of the US imperial agenda and should be opposed, but OTOH, at the present time Russia is the largest exporter of oil and natural gas to the European Union. The volume of methane gas coming from Russia into Europe dwarfs any fracking in Europe that could possibly be facilitated by this bill (which includes possibe support for renewable energy and transmission). In 2017, energy products accounted around 60% of the total EU's import from Russia. Considering the relatively high climate activism in Europe compared to the dearth of it in Russia, doesn't it make sense to try to shift energy control toward the former away from the latter? Considering that several European countries have already banned fracking that is very unlikely to change, so it is a stretch to call this a fracking bill.​

A Calfornia legislator describes the debate associated with a bill before it comes up for a vote as follows:

Debate
  • House: Debate is limited by the rules formulated in the Rules Committee. The Committee of the Whole debates and amends the bill but cannot technically pass it. Debate is guided by the Sponsoring Committee and time is divided equally between proponents and opponents. The Committee decides how much time to allot to each person. Amendments must be germane to the subject of a bill - no riders are allowed. The bill is reported back to the House (to itself) and is voted on. A quorum call is a vote to make sure that there are enough members present (218) to have a final vote. If there is not a quorum, the House will adjourn or will send the Sergeant at Arms out to round up missing members.
I do not know what debate positions AOC took on H.R.21 - Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019 or HR 1616, the “European Energy Security and Diversification Act of 2019.” If anyone on this list has information about that, I think it would further the effectiveness of this discussion. I know that AOC was not shy about getting her congressional statements out to YouTube and other news sources. I listened to several of her early statements about the ridiculously designed rules she was encountering in Congress. Here's an example of one of them: "AOC on Republican Inaction on Climate Change." Sounds good, no? The problem is that she's talking about US citizens in that clip. But then she turns around and votes for some pretty crazy pieces of legislation. [Side note to David Klein, I am powerfully unconvinced that getting the US to control gas in Europe is going to somehow be a good thing. The strategy of making sure the Russians don't control gas, so we can control it instead, seems utterly specious.]​
Anya Parampil, a reporter in D.C. has taken a look at AOC's statements about Venezuela. I think she gets it right when she notes that AOC seems singularly misinformed about that country's struggles. You can check out her coverage of Venezuela during her recent two week visit here:​
I think all of us on SCNCC would be wise to have modest hopes for what this young woman can actually do. She is succumbing to the siren song of incremental change. A blog called Down With Tyranny describes AOC's statements on 60 Minutes this way:​
[On "60 Minutes"] Ocasio-Cortez positioned herself as a principled insider rather than a purist outsider. She articulated goals that fall within the mainstream of the post-2016 Democratic Party: “I want to be able to tell my grandchildren that we established a single-payer [health-care] system, tuition-free universities, and that we saved our climate for their future, because we decided to be courageous in the moment and make it happen.”​

I think it's great that AOC got elected, I'm happy to learn she is talking about many of the issues I greatly care about, but her notions of being able to tell her grandchildren that her generation succeeded in providing universal health care, free college education and an end to climate change are not going to happen through incremental change. Especially the last bit: we've got 10 years to turn off the fossil fuel spigot and cut way back on the amount of energy we use. Dribs and drabs of policy change, however well-meaning, will not give anyone's grandkids a livable planet.​
Building dual power is one way to address the shortcomings of insider strategies. Our systems are going to fall short--even of their ability to provide food and water for us. We're smartest when we work now to set up structures that will help us to take care of each other while the incrementalists catch up. And that is not to say that I, and others who share ideas like these, won't support candidates who want to take us further toward eco-justice and ecosocialism of all kinds. Dual power is, as the term suggest, two-pathed. Yes, a little energy goes toward the existing system to stave off the worst of its realities, but we also need a ruthless clear-sightedness about what lies before us, and the willingness to work toward caring for our immediate communities, too.​
Bottom line for me: I'll cheer for AOC when I think she's got it right. But I'm also going to yell when she's off the rails. If we don't push from the far left to urge her to adopt fewer and fewer centrist positions, we're failing ourselves and AOC. Our yelling is a kind of support. Ask any politician. They want loud voices that seem to force them to take positions that mainstream politics would ask them to avoid. We gotta yell. But we also gotta figure out how to feed each other and help each other in so many ways as current systems fall apart. And they're going to fall apart. That's unfortunately a given. My friends on this list, the systems are already falling apart for many, many people in this country and in other countries. We've got to keep that reality at the front of our thinking, too.​
One last thought: wanting to make change from the inside is in part about a politician's desire to survive within a corrupt political system--for a long time. It's about getting reelected. It's about attracting funding. And it often involves making compromises that will threaten the survival of all sorts of people. If only politicians who really understand the extent of the problems we face would accept that time is short. Political survival envisioned to last decades should take a back seat to survival that must be designed to get us past a single, terrifying decade.​
David Klein, go plant your garden. Then help someone else to plant one, too. That's not anarcho-syndalism, nor is it some sort of local never-never-land. That's about survival. And make sure you've got a good manual, portable typewriter, too. You may need it. (Please note I'm not going to label your position or call you names, either. But I am tired of being called out indirectly for my positions. Be honest and be direct. If you have a criticism of a person's position, just say so. It's really OK.)​
BTW, I'm moving all this to the Forum so we can go further with this discussion there. This is really important.​
Adelante,​
Sandra​

Preview YouTube video ‘This is not an elitist issue’: AOC on Republican inaction on climate change –video


‘This is not an elitist issue’: AOC on Republican inaction on climate change –video
 
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David J

Member
It must be very grim to discover how the sausage really gets made in our capitalist "democracy". All the procedural maneuvering and limited range of actual choice, all designed by some very clever fellows. She can't vote to give ownership of the means of production to the workers. That's something we have to take. But she can mess with the dominant narrative- and to do that she has to stop worrying about reputation or re-election. She can use a powerful bully-pulpit in ways Bernie never did cause he always wanted to be on the inside.

As for gardening, it is relaxing and provides some good food ( I've loved it for 40 years) but at 4C temp rise it won't help you survive. Holloway's "urban Zapatismo" and such forms of anarchist autonomy can only be partial and precarious at best, rarely contesting much less assuming any real power, in my experience.
 

Sandra Lindberg

Moderator
David, let's hope she keeps speaking up strongly.

Curious, though. Would you define "real power" for me? Last time I checked, even activists and politicians and revolutionaries have to eat! I hope you keep growing food in your garden. Socialist Cuba, blockaded by the country in which you and I live, pulled out the stops and found out its cities and countryside could grow an incredible amount of food. That kind of gardening is not a hobby, but about survival. When I talk about gardens, those are the kinds of efforts I'm talking about.

Sandra
 
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