Tag Archives: democracy

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Profs. Fox Piven and Bhargava on the Presidential Elections in the Intercept

The upcoming presidential elections could present a great test of American institutions. If the sitting US president loses the election and refuses to concede power — well, what happens? And how might he go about trying to pull it off?

SLU professors Frances Fox Piven and Deepak Barghava tackled these questions in a recent article on The Intercept. First, they describe the tactics Trump is already using to undermine the elections:

Trump is questioning the legitimacy of an election that will rely on mail-in ballots, even though he himself has often voted absentee. He has threatened to withhold funding from states that are trying to make it easier for people to vote, and he is undermining the U.S. Postal Service, both of which are essential, especially in a pandemic. His Republican allies around the country have been passing voter ID laws, purging voter rolls, and cutting the number of polling places in urban areas, forcing people to stand in line for hours to exercise their right to vote. 

Meanwhile, there’s plenty of evidence — from foreign interference to white nationalist “poll watchers” — that Trump and the Republican party are “already trying to steal the election.”

But if it doesn’t work, what tools could he trying to deploy? The authors have their suspicions:

To steal the election, we suspect he will adapt the standard playbook of authoritarians everywhere: cast doubt on the election results by filing numerous lawsuits and launching coordinated federal and state investigations, including into foreign interference; call on militia groups to intimidate election officials and instigate violence; rely on fringe social media to generate untraceable rumors, and on Fox News to amplify these messages as fact; and create a climate of confusion and chaos. He might ask the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security — which he has now weaponized against democracy — to deploy to big cities in swing states to stop the vote count or seize ballots. If he does all this right, he’ll be able to put soldiers on the streets, inflame his base, and convince millions of people that the election is being stolen from him. 

From there, could he create a “false justification” for right-wing state legislatures to appoint Trump-loyal electors? If so, the authors have a clear prescription: “take to the streets.” They go on to describe the fecklessness of institutions to beat back Trump on their own, making a strong case for why people power — and movements — will be the necessary ingredient for ensuring the transfer of power.  And, they argue, the work to build that power needs to start immediately.

Read the full chilling — and highly compelling — piece at The Intercept.

SLU Prof. Kafui Attoh on WNYC’s On the Media

Last week, SLU Urban Studies Professor Kafui Attoh made an appearance on WNYC’s On the Media to talk about the relationship between public transportation and democracy, closing out an hour that explores the injustices that undergird “feel good” stories about workers persevering through horrifying commutes and the perils of self-driving cars. From On the Media:

The lion’s share of our transit-oriented program this week has centered on the personal car and its infrastructure. This is no accident. The car speeds, stalls, thrills and kills us — all because we need a ride. But what if we’d really rather journey by bus? 

Brooke spoke with Kafui Attoh, professor of urban studies at the CUNY Graduate Center, about the deep political connotations of “transit rights.” Such rights, Attoh argues in his forthcoming book Rights in Transit, have roots in Marx, Engels and Lefebvre’s thinking on the radical nature of cities

Listen to the whole hour here or check out Prof. Attoh’s segment here.

Photo by Sergio SC via flickr (CC-BY-SA)

New Labor Forum Highlights, Labor Day Edition

The New Labor Forum has a bi-weekly newsletter on current topics in labor, curated by the some of the most insightful scholars and activists in the labor world today. Check out some highlights from the latest edition below.

New Labor Forum’s September 2018 print issue is rolling off the press now. It contains as good a reason as there is to subscribe now:  thoughtful analysis and lucid writing on a wide range of issues vital to anyone who cares about the prospects of workers and working-class communities in the U.S. and throughout the world. Articles in the new issue: assess the options available to blue collar women and female care workers seeking to combat sexual harassment; ask if there is a deep state and what interests it serves; argue that the labor of Palestinians in building the Israeli nation magnifies their claim for full citizenship rights; and trace the remarkable rise of Jeremy Corbyn, once a marginal figure, held in contempt by UK Labour Party elites, now leader of the party and with a chance to lead the country.

On this Labor Day, we highlight two proposals to organized labor. In the first, Larry Cohen argues for a new national system of collective bargaining, modeled on the sectoral bargaining that sets industry-wide wages and working conditions for workers from Norway to South Africa. Moshe Marvit and Shaun Richman make the case for new “Right to Your Job” legislation that would end our “at will” employment regime and force employers to prove that terminations are related to work-performance. Because this legislation stands a fair chance of passing in a number of municipal and state legislatures, Marvit and Richman insists it should become a policy priority for organized labor and its allies.

And we announce that the CUNY Board of Trustees has voted to establish the Murphy Institute, publisher of New Labor Forum, as the new CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies. The School’s inaugural round of fall public programming, begins with a public forum on September 14th, entitled A Failing Marriage: Democracy & Capitalism.


Table of Contents

  1. The Time Has Come for Sectoral Bargaining/ Larry Cohen, New Labor Forum
  2. The Case for “A Right to Your Job” Campaign/ Moshe Marvit and Shaun Richman, New Labor Forum
  3. Save the Date-Is A Democratic Capitalism Possible?/ Murphy Institute, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies

Photo by Garry Knight via flickr

Event: Is a Democratic Capitalism Possible (9/14)

Friday, Sept 14th, 8:30AM-10:30AM
CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies
25 W. 43rd Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY 10036

RSVP HERE

Inequality is accelerating at an alarming rate as corporate political power is expanding and worker rights and protections are shrinking. The hyper concentration of wealth in the hands of a financial elite has come to dominate politics and shape policy in a manner that has eroded democratic governance at the federal, state, and the municipal levels. Can democracy be saved from the grips of capitalism? What factors most threaten meaningful civic engagement and what changes are needed to bolster our democracy and create a more equitable society?

Speakers Include:

  • J. Phillip Thompson, NYC Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives, including the Mayor’s strategy to encourage greater voter participation and improve the way the city carries out elections, DemocracyNYC; and author of Double Trouble: Black Mayors, Black Communities and the Struggle for Deep Democracy
  • Kim Phillips Fein, Associate Professor, NYU Gallatin School, and author of Invisible Hands: The Businessmen’s Crusade Against the New Deal and Fear City: The New York City Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of the Age of Austerity
  • Maurice Weeks, Co-Executive Director of Action Center on Race & the Economy (ACRE)
  • Moderator: Frances Fox Piven, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology, CUNY Graduate School, Distinguished Lecturer in Labor Studies, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies

Event: Divided Results: Voting and Partisan Gerrymandering (9/15)

Update: missed the event and want to watch it online? Catch the video here.

Friday, September 15

8:30am-10:30am

Murphy Institute, 18 Floor

RSVP: https://the-politics-of-voting.eventbrite.com

In light of the Supreme Court’s decision to hear Gill v. Whitford, this panel will explore the history of gerrymandering and the effects of recent changes in technology, data mining, and dark money, to understand the implications of potential Supreme Court decisions.  Before this case made it to the Supreme Court, what work had been taking place on the ground to address the effects of gerrymandering? How has the US Census influenced redistricting?  What can we expect from the Supreme Court and how will this impact the future of electoral politics?

Speakers

  • David Daley, author, Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy and former Editor in chief of Salon.com
  • Lauren Jones, National Civil Rights Counsel, Anti-Defamation League
  • Michael Li, Senior Counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program
  • Deuel Ross, Assistant Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • Jerry G. Vattamala, Director, Democracy Program,  Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)
  • Moderator: John Mollenkopf, Distinguished Professor of Political Science, CUNY Graduate School and consortial faculty, Murphy Institute

Spain’s Municipal Elections and the Prospects for Radical Democracy

Photo from the 15M anniversary march in Madrid last week. (Credit: Robert Pluma)

With contributions from a New York City social movement delegation currently in Spain ahead of the country’s local elections on May 24th, which includes JSMI Part-Time Staff Member Tamara Shapiro. You can follow their trip on Twitter at @NYCtoSpain, and NYC to Spain on Facebook. This article originally appeared on Medium.com.

“Do you hear the buzz? The buzz says: let’s defend the common good.” These are the lyrics of the campaign song of Barcelona en Comú — one of the new “confluence” platforms of “popular unity” running in the May 24th municipal elections in Spain, sung (with the help of autotune) to the rhythm of a popular Catalán rumba by its candidate, Ada Colau. According to the polls, Colau is poised to win the mayoral election in Barcelona this Sunday. These electoral insurgencies across Spain are reimagining the promise of radical democracy, one that draws from social movements to define a new participatory style of “governance by listening.” Four years ago, the May 15 movement appeared precisely during the campaign for municipal and regional elections. Despite its undeniable questioning of electoral politics and representation, previous election cycles were too soon to measure the movement’s impact. Then, the characterization of the movement by many politicians and mainstream media oscillated between patronizing and condescending overtones: “If these kids want to achieve anything, they should organize a party, and run for elections.” Continue reading Spain’s Municipal Elections and the Prospects for Radical Democracy