Matt Bors Quits Political Cartooning

The news that Matt Bors is quitting political cartooning (though he will continue to work as a comics editor and cartoon in other formats) is a sad statement about the state of editorial journalism. In his mid-30s, a great draftsman who has received some of the profession’s top prizes, including a Pulitzer finalistship, Bors represented a possible future for American political cartooning. The fact that he decided drawing political cartoons was no longer worth his time — it’s not hard to guess that, like the rest of us, he watched his cartooning paycheck dwindle away to almost nothing — reflects poorly on the hundreds of editors at newspapers, magazines and websites who, day after day, choose not to run political cartoons at all, much less hire a staff political cartoonist to add to their stables of writers. Many of these editors are going to wake up someday, realize that editorial cartooning is dead and gone, and wonder what happened. They should look themselves in the mirror.

I was editor of acquisitions and development at United Media from 2006 to 2009. I signed Bors for syndication, we became friends, went to Afghanistan together in 2010. Things got fucked up between us when the LA Times targeted me for career termination in 2015. I miss talking to him about comics and politics. He is a smart guy.

Because he’s smart I’m sure he will go onto many bigger and better things. But I have to marvel at the fact that no editor at a newspaper, magazine or website ever called him to offer him enough money to keep a guy this smart and talented and passionate drawing political cartoons. That’s weird and one of the thousands of terrible decisions and non-decisions that have nearly destroyed journalism in this country.

My Predictions for Biden’s Probably-Truncated Presidency

            Beginning in March 2016 I repeatedly and almost famously warned overconfident Democrats—who ridiculed me for saying so—that Donald Trump would probably win the 2016 election. Days after Trump’s “softly sensuous” inauguration I accurately predicted the next four years: “Three scenarios show us what everyday life in Trumpian America will probably feel like: Third World dictatorships, prison and having an alcoholic parent.”

            “In a dictatorship,” I noted, “particularly where the despot is a megalomaniac in the vein of a Saddam Hussein or a Muammar Gaddafi, citizens obsess over the Great Leader’s every move.” Never have the American people obsessed for four exhausting years over a president as we did over Trump and his autocratic style.

“People who have done time will tell you that it’s important to study the guards, particularly the sadistic ones.” Like prison inmates, we studied Trump and his tweets and his strange corrupt family incessantly in a vain attempt to isolate the methods to his multiple madnesses.

            As I concluded in January 2017: “It’s never fun to be Cassandra.”

            Now it’s time to weigh in on what Joe Biden’s first — and despite his recent statement to the contrary, almost certainly only — term will probably look like.

            Spoiler alert: it probably won’t last four years.

            There’s a reason candidate Biden barely campaigned and almost never spoke extemporaneously, and that President Biden has only given one highly cringy press conference so far, a record low in the modern era. Biden, 78, is the oldest man to have taken the oath of office. And while a lot of 78-year-olds are physically vigorous and mentally sharp, Biden isn’t one of them.

Biden’s cabal of Obama-era handlers are doing their best to hide their fading commander-in-chief and his obvious-to-all-non-Democrats infirmities, running the country from behind the scenes. His media allies have sacrificed their last vestige of dignity in their heroic support for the Dems’ ridiculous “nothing to see here” narrative.

            As professional gamblers evaluate the president’s health and political performance, posted odds that he’ll remain in office through January 19, 2025—when he’ll be 82—have already plunged from 75% to 60%. My guess is that no one is more aware of Biden’s condition than DNC bosses. They would like Biden to hang on until after the November 2022 midterm elections, then step aside in order to allow Vice President Kamala Harris a year of incumbency, which could bolster her case for 2024.

Biden can still read a speech. But he is a husk, a placeholder leader like Pope Benedict XVI, who like Biden became pope at age 78. Benedict resigned at age 85, citing old age.

Following Trump’s bipolar rule and violent departure from office, Biden’s courtly elder-statesman style and successful passage of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill has him enjoying high approval ratings. But failures of commission and omission lie ahead. It’s mostly downhill from here.

The next major item on the Biden Administration’s legislative agenda is a $2.2 trillion infrastructure bill. Until recently building stuff seemed like one of the few areas in which a bipartisan grand bargain might be possible. Now, however, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has united the GOP in opposition. With DINOs like Joe Manchin of West Virginia going wobbly, it seems destined for outright defeat or, worse because it only pretends to fix the issue, severe dilution.

Voters judge presidential success and failure on two metrics. First, did the president correctly identify the problems people care about most? Second, did they fix those problems or at least do their best to try?

In part because they listened to progressives, Biden’s people wisely put money into people’s pockets to help them recover from the economic pain of the COVID-19 lockdown. As checks arrive this month, voters will feel warm fuzzies for the Democrats. But it wasn’t nearly enough. What happens in two or three months? Those single $1400 payments, a tiny fraction of a whole year of fiscal pain, will be spent and gone. The eviction and foreclosure moratorium ends June 30th. There is no indication that the White House plans another relief package.

Look for a long hot summer as complacency deteriorates into despair.

Biden’s presidency will likely crash on the shoals of the country’s numerous long-neglected problems. Legislation to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour will be tepid to nonexistent. The same goes for student loan debt relief. Biden promised to add a public option to the Affordable Care Act but there’s no sign of life there either. He talks a good game on racial justice yet offers nothing by way of forced federal reform of local policing.

If I’m right, the second two years of the Administration will belong to Kamala Harris as of 2023.

She is young, charismatic and relatively energetic. She will make the most of her historical moment as the first woman of color to hold the nation’s highest political office; the media will be on her side. But if history repeats itself by punishing the party in power Democrats will likely lose seats in the House and control of the Senate in the midterms, leaving her in an even worse position to get anything done in Congress. Nevertheless, she’ll be a formidable candidate in 2024.

As befitted him, Trump went out with a bang.

Biden will end with a whimper.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of the upcoming graphic novel about a journalist gone bad, “The Stringer.” Now available for pre-order. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

 

           

 

China stands accused of stuff the US does

A recent State Department report on human rights abuses by China is remarkable for how almost every item is something that the United States does.

I’m adding my specifics in [brackets]:

“Arbitrary or unlawful killings by the government [drone assassinations, hit jobs like bin Laden]; forced disappearances by the government [Gitmo, domestic policing in which suspects don’t get phone calls or lawyers]; torture by the government [still “legal” when done by the CIA at Gitmo and black sites]; harsh and life-threatening prison and detention conditions [every American jail and prison] . . . political prisoners [Chelsea Manning, 1960s radicals, Julian Assange, etc.]; politically motivated reprisal against individuals outside the country [yours truly by LAPD/LA Times, every leftist too] . . . arbitrary interference with privacy [NSA]; pervasive and intrusive technical surveillance and monitoring [Snowden told us all about it]; serious restrictions on free expression [crushing BLM and OWS], the press, and the internet [communications act, including physical attacks on and criminal prosecution of journalists, lawyers, writers, bloggers, dissidents, petitioners, and others as well as their family members, and censorship and site blocking [social media outlets do this sometimes]; . . . severe restrictions and suppression of religious freedom [talk to the Branch Davidians]; substantial restrictions on freedom of movement; . . . forced labor and trafficking in persons [prisoners are coerced and forced to work for slave wages]; severe restrictions on labor rights [Taft Harley Act, Right to Work laws], including a ban on workers organizing or joining unions of their own choosing; and child labor [kids under 18 work here].”

Demented Thinking About Joe Biden

Most Voters Believe Joe Biden in Early Stages of Dementia

            The president is suffering from dementia.

            I’m a cartoonist and a writer and I am most assuredly not a gerontologist. I did not go to medical school. If I am not an expert in aging and cognitive decline, how do I know Biden has dementia? The same way I and you and everyone else know things to be true despite our lack of credentials: experience and pattern recognition.

            I don’t need to be an ornithologist in order to identify a blue jay.

            I’m not a doctor yet I was right and my doctor was wrong when I told her I had a hernia and she said I didn’t; I’d had one on my left side in 1999 and this felt like that, but on my right. Knowing your own body sometimes counts for more than formal education.

            I didn’t go to NYU film school. Despite my lack of official accreditation in cinema I know, as do you, that Meryl Streep is a better actor than Brendan Fraser. We know this to be true because we have seen a lot of movies.

            When my car’s wheel well issues a rubbing sound that gets faster when I accelerate I know it’s probably an issue involving a) brake pads, (b) ball bearings (if the car has significant mileage) or (c) wheel alignment. I’m not a mechanic. But I’m 57, I’ve driven since I was 15 and had rubbing-something sounds enough to have learned what it probably means.

            When I watched Biden’s first presidential press conference last week I didn’t have to have an M.D. or Ph.D appended to my name to recognize the clear, painfully obvious signs of dementia. My mother died of Alzheimer’s a little over a year ago. The president looked and acted like my mom about two years before she died: valiantly struggling to hold it together, moments of lucidity and occasionally of brilliance alternating with terrifying brain freezes, random rambling in search of connection and reaction and cringy rhetorical crashes when the fremdschämen-o-meter shot to 11.

            It took five reporters a question and four follow-ups to make Biden understand that he was being asked whether he favored the elimination of the filibuster, a question at the top of political news since he came into office. Here’s what the commander-in-chief finally came up with: “If we could end it with 51 [votes], we would have no problem. You’re going to have to — the existing rule — it’s going to be hard to get a parliamentary ruling [my emphasis] that allows 50 votes to end the filibuster, the existence of a filibuster.”

            Abdicating journalism, corporate media outlets dutifully transcribed Biden’s response despite its glaring wrongness. Whether or not the filibuster-as-we-know it survives has nothing, nada, zip to do with a Senate Parliamentarian ruling. Paradoxically, a simple 51-vote majority could kill the filibuster.

Biden’s answer was, had to be—there’s no other possible explanation—the product of dementia. Pre-dementia, after all, Biden was as intimately knowledgeable about Senate rules and procedure as any human being on earth. He served 36 years as a senator and 8 years as vice president/president of the senate—a total of 44 years. Pre-dementia, there was no world in which Biden would have said anything so totally, crazily, amazingly incorrect. Not drunk, not asleep, not at all.

Dementia frustrates. As its victims’ inner life becomes harder to articulate to others, they occasionally lash out in disproportionate anger. We’ve seen this more and more with Biden, watching a famously affable guy with a patented aw-shucks grin deteriorate into nervous hardness and even rage.

            And dementia befuddles. It mixes your knowledge and memories and opinions into a blender; though you often sound OK what spews out of your mouth increasingly approaches randomness. That’s what happened to Biden during his presser. He obviously conflated two bits of news—the parliamentarian’s ruling that a proposed minimum wage increase be stripped from the coronavirus relief bill, which grabbed news attention, with the question about the filibuster. Vice President Biden would never have done that. Senator Biden wouldn’t have either. He knew/knows this stuff too well.

            Everyone forgets stuff. It happens more with age. What’s happening to Biden isn’t the occasional senior moment, nor is it stuttering—as Biden himself has said. Biden crashing and burning on a question about senate procedure would be like me messing up questions about Photoshop or Central Asia, two things that have been central to most of my life. If I start mixing up RGB and CMYK and Ashkabat and Astana, topics I know forward and backward and about which I am obsessed, that will point not to whatever-no-biggie but to worrisome cognitive decline.

Biden supporters who deny the visible signs of Biden’s mental deterioration are acting no more rationally than the Trumpies who made excuses for the former president’s crazy behavior. You can feel relief that Trump is gone and believe Biden to be an improvement while conceding that Biden isn’t up to the job and should step down in favor of Vice President Kamala Harris. This is the U.S. presidency. Good enough is anything but.

The fact that “Biden has dementia” is an RNC/Fox News talking point does not make it incorrect. Denying obvious truths—Trump is a racist jerk, climate change is real and caused by mankind, masks help fight COVID, Biden has dementia—makes you look stupid and silly and no one should listen to you.

Trump’s war against truth was toxic; his supporters and enablers undermined decency and logical rhetoric, essential foundations of civil discourse. Democrats who refuse to watch Biden’s dismal unscripted public appearances and who fail to question the president’s unwillingness to face the press at the same rate as his predecessors, and who omit mention of his frequent mental breakdowns, are no better than Trump and the Republicans.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of “Political Suicide: The Fight for the Soul of the Democratic Party.” You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

 

           

 

Order a Signed Copy of THE STRINGER Directly from Ted Rall

THE STRINGER is my new fiction graphic novel (“Breaking Bad” meets journalism). It’s getting a buzz and I’m pleasantly not surprised. I wrote a kickass story and Pablo Callejo’s artwork is awesome. The handsome full-color hardback book comes out April 21st. But my personal copies have arrived and I’m ready to sell autographed copies directly to you now. Simply click the link below and I’ll get your book out within days or a week or two! Thanks for your support!

A few things:

    1. Thanks to Trump’s idiot budget-slashing postmaster, the post office is fucked up. Expect delays in shipment. I use USPS Priority Mail within the United States.
    2. If you’re not in the U.S.: First, congrats. The US is fucked up too. Second: do NOT use the link below. Contact me directly. Include your address and I’ll quote a price for shipping. The book is big and heavy so it’s going to be expensive to send it overseas, especially countries other than Canada and Mexico.
    3. Shipping is expensive because the book is big and heavy.
    4. If you prefer not to use PayPal, there are two alternate forms of payment. You can mail me a check or money order, or if you’re JFK  on an atoll in the Pacific, you can write me an IOU on a coconut. Contact me directly for the mailing address. I also have Square, so we can arrange to text or talk on the phone and I’ll take your credit card number. (Visa, MC or Amex).
    5. Make sure to indicate to whom and how you’d like your book signed. I can’t read your mind! If you leave that question blank, I’ll just signed “To [You] —Best, Ted” or somesuch. Boring, but up to you.
    6. You will save money on shipping by ordering multiple copies. Contact me directly if you want more than one.

 Happy ordering and happy reading!

How would you like it signed?


What To Watch for in Biden’s First Press Conference Today

Joe Biden will be giving his first press conference as president today at 1:15 p.m. Eastern.  Though he has sometimes taken questions from reporters, he has not held a real press conference .

Here’s what I will be watching for.

First and foremost: mental acuity.

Will the president be able to remember the questions he was asked? At a CNN healthcare town hall last year, candidate Biden repeatedly forgot the numerous softball questions relayed by Anderson Cooper and babbled incoherently. The network purged this grim performance from its website so you can’t find it. While politicians routinely answer the questions they wish they were asked rather than the ones they actually were, forgetting softball questions seems to indicate that you are not all there.

Will he be spontaneous? One of the top signs of a politician’s mental acuity is the ability to roll with the punches, crack a joke when need be, deflect, turn on a dime. Joe Biden used to have this ability but it’s been a long time.

Why is this important? Throughout the campaign and since becoming president, Biden has not been subjected to the give-and-take of questioning in which he is not sure in advance what will be asked. That’s why, I suspect, he waited longer than any president in memory after taking office before holding his first presser. We know he can read a speech. But so could Reagan throughout his presidency, and we now know that he was probably suffering from Alzheimer’s by his second term.

Watch for flashes of anger. People with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia often, and understandably, feel frustrated by their inability to communicate clearly, and lash out with anger. We’ve seen that several times from the president.

In 2019 he called a voter on the campaign trail “a damned liar.” In 2020 he called a student “a lying dog-faced pony soldier.”

Later during the campaign he was asked by a journalist whether he had taken a cognitive test, a subject also posed to then-President Donald Trump. “No, I haven’t taken a test. Why the hell would I take a test? Come on, man,” Biden yelled. “That’s like saying to you, before you got on this program if you had taken a test were you taking cocaine or not. What do you think, huh? Are you a junkie?”

Anger doesn’t equal dementia but these episodes raised eyebrows because remaining cool calm and collected is not only a requirement to be a successful politician in America, where the culture values a steady John Wayne form of masculinity, but also to govern successfully as president.

With much of the corporate media in the bag for Biden, I would expect reporters to act as usual, in other words not pushing for straightforward answers to their questions.

But this event isn’t about the journalists, it’s about the president and his ability to think on his feet.

I Am a Victim of Republican Cancel Culture

 
 

The debate over “cancel culture” centers around how Democratic Party, “woke” activists and politically-correct “social justice warriors” expel people from social acceptability or force them into joblessness because something they said or did provoked an online mob.

But Republicans have been canceling people for much longer.

I am living proof.

My career grew to national prominence during the 1990s. By the time Bill Clinton left office, my cartoons and columns regularly appeared in well over 100 American newspapers and such magazines as Time, Fortune and Bloomberg. My editor at the New York Times added up the paychecks and calculated that his newspaper had published more cartoons by yours truly than by any other artist throughout the decade. I had a talk show on KFI radio, a 50,000-watt megastation in Los Angeles. I won major journalism awards, including two RFKs and a Pulitzer finalistship.

Because my cartoons and columns criticized Bill Clinton and the Democrats, the right-wing censorship squads let me be. They didn’t notice that I attacked Democrats from the left. My editor at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, a notorious right-wing rag owned by conservative billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, loved my stuff even though I raged against NAFTA. “You sure know how to stick it to Bill and Hillary!” he beamed. Mm-hm.

I didn’t change my politics or my style after Bush became president. After 9/11, however, I went after Republicans because they were in power. So right-wing cancel culture goons targeted me for elimination.

My website contained a list of newspapers that ran my cartoons. GOP chatrooms and so-called “warbloggers” reproduced my client list, urging Republicans from around the country to pose as angry local subscribers. Fake subscribers demanded that my work be canceled via cut-and-paste complaint email forms the bloggers and their bots helpfully provided. I took my client list offline after my cartoon syndicate figured out their scheme. But many naïve editors kowtowed to the fake readers and canceled me.

Corporate cancel culture was relatively cold, ruthless and willing to overlook the profit motive in order to promote right-wing propaganda. Radio insiders said that high ratings guaranteed your freedom of expression. Despite my strong ratings, however, I was fired after KFI got acquired by Clear Channel Communications, the right-wing home of Rush Limbaugh. “They don’t want lefties on the air,” my program manager explained. “They’re willing to lose money. Anything to censor liberals.” My replacement was unpopular; they didn’t mind.

Even liberal media outlets yielded to cancellation campaigns orchestrated by the extreme Right. Yielding to a chorus of outrage ginned up by Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity over a cartoon in which I lampooned the marketing of the war on terror, The New York Times canceled me in 2002. “We thought the subject matter was inappropriate, and do regret that it did run,” a sniveling spokesperson told the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post.

The Times’ regular subscribers hadn’t made a peep for a week before Hannity’s army of fools drowned the Grey Lady in cut-and-paste postcards mailed in from flyover country. But Times editors didn’t notice. Nor did they take responsibility for choosing to publish my work. I was memory-holed. The editor who approved my work remained.

In 2004 it was the Washington Post’s turn to throw me to the braying Republican hounds.

Throughout the Bush years my income shrank. No radio station would have me. I was no longer shortlisted for journalism prizes. It became increasingly difficult to get published. I received fewer invitations to speak in public.

You can easily check it out yourself, or you can take my word for it: it’s not like my work got worse. I write better now, I draw better, I speak better than I used to. What changed was that gatekeepers at American media outlets became gun-shy. They would rather publish bland material that doesn’t elicit a response than a strong opinion that generates controversy. Who can blame them? Right-wing cancel warriors, no longer content to get leftie content banned, harass and threaten editors who run it.

No account of a cartoonist’s shrinking client list over the past 20 years would be complete without noting the financial meltdown of print media in general, brutal budget cuts and a widespread practice of laying off the cartoonist first. That goes double for left-leaning commentators who have found themselves out in the cold as the 50-yard line of American politics steadily moved to the right under Republican and Democratic administrations alike.

The same thing happened on TV. ABC canceled Bill Maher; MSNBC fired Phil Donahue, Keith Olbermann and Ed Schultz, all for being too liberal.

Everyone in the media has suffered. But right-wing cancel culture accelerated both of those trends.

I have adjusted to the new media landscape. It’s tough going, but I still have a viable career.

But don’t let anyone think Republican cancel culture isn’t a thing. It is.

And it has won.

Even though there are more socialist voters than either Democrats or Republicans, the Left is out in the cold. 39% of American voters prefer socialism to capitalism. Bernie Sanders’ approval rating is 49%, which is ten points higher than Joe Biden or Kamala Harris. Yet no newspaper in the United States employs a columnist or a cartoonist who endorsed Sanders or admits to being a socialist. Nor does any cable news network employ such a host or frequent contributor. This is not normal or OK. A nation with a vibrant and free news media represents a diversity of opinion. In this respect American news outlets are more rigidly censored than those of authoritarian regimes with state-controlled media.

I oppose left-wing cancel culture. I spoke out against liberal boycotts of companies that advertised on Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura Schlesinger. Censorship is toxic whether it comes from the left or the right.

Mostly, though, it comes from the right, and liberals go along with it.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of the upcoming graphic novel about a journalist gone bad, “The Stringer.” Now available for pre-order. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

There Are More Socialists Than Democrats or Republicans. We Should Act like It.

The Many, Tangled American Definitions of Socialism | The New Yorker

            American leftists find themselves at a tactical crossroad. Will the 39% of Americans (and more than half of those under 30) who steadily oppose capitalism stand up for themselves? Will socialists, progressives, communists, left anarchists and left libertarians boldly fight to build a movement, thus inspiring other allies of the working class to join the struggle to abolish the vicious and vacuous capitalist system?

Or will leftists continue to tolerate and support a corporate Democratic Party that exploits them for their votes, financial contributions and labor while it contemptuously promotes everything they deplore?

Two out of five voters is a plurality. If the other three out of five split their votes between the Democrats and the Republicans, the Left wins. But those big numbers cannot win if they remain scattered. Tragically for workers and the environment, the Left has no organization. No party. No media. No voice inside the establishment.

Progressives and other leftists are powerless. The only “major” left party in the U.S., the Greens, received 0.2% of the vote in 2020. Celebrity-oriented Internet formations like the fake-progressive Movement for a People’s Party suck energy away from those who want to build a real grassroots party.

There isn’t a single newspaper, or even an op-ed columnist, or a television network, or a single commentator on a television network, that/who is a leftist.

The streets, churning with Black Lives Matter protests last summer, emptied after the defeat of Donald Trump.

Biden marks a new low for the post-1960s Left. Two months in, the new president has already abandoned the few progressive promises he made in order to con supporters of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren into supporting his regressive policies. The promised $15-an-hour minimum wage quickly plunged by a third to $9.50, scaling up to $15 over four years, and now appears to be a dead letter. Student loan forgiveness went from $50,000 to maybe $10,000. The administration has announced no plans to add a public option to the Affordable Care Act. The number of progressives in the Cabinet is zero.

Yet, even now at this darkest of bleak times, there is hope. Hope lies in the Left itself.

“The general sentiment of mankind,” Frederick Douglass observed, “is that a man who will not fight for himself, when he has the means of doing so, is not worth being fought for by others, and this sentiment is just.”

The political gains of American women over the last century offer a lesson for down-and-out leftists. Women convinced men to support equal rights. But first, women had to convince themselves that they deserved equality and that their cause was viable—that they could win after sustained struggle. As Douglass (who also supported suffrage) observed about the requirement that oppressed people fight first for themselves, women’s self-assuredness attracted male allies to their movement.

            It is time for the 39% of American voters who hate capitalism to step up, speak up for themselves openly and repeatedly, and refuse to be shouted down.

            I collect political buttons. I have one with a red dot in the middle surrounded by the words “against woman suffrage.” Think about it: Just over 100 years ago, not that long, men walked the streets of American cities wearing a pin that said they didn’t think women should be allowed to vote—yet they weren’t worried about being physically assaulted. Try doing that now! Now a woman is Vice President of the United States to the oldest president ever to be inaugurated, making it likely that she will become President.

            Although a quick glance at a joint session of Congress reminds us that this country still has a long way to go when it comes to equal opportunity, that’s a lot of progress.

            Most historians who analyze this cultural shift look at how and why the dominant white male power structure evolved during the 20th and early 21st centuries toward support for suffrage, women’s mass entry into the workplace, sexual liberation, the role of liberalized divorce in personal and financial emancipation, reducing discrimination by institutions like the military and corporate boardrooms and, after decades of resistance, women becoming viable candidates for the nation’s highest political office.

            At least as important, however, is the change over the last century in the way that women view themselves. A 1903 article in The Atlantic documents the remarkable scale of opposition to American women’s own enfranchisement: “In 1895 the women of Massachusetts were asked by the state whether they wished the suffrage,” the magazine noted. “Of the 575,000 voting women in the state, only 22,204 cared for it enough to deposit in a ballot box an affirmative answer to this question. That is, in round numbers, less than 4% wished to vote; about 96% were opposed to woman [sic] suffrage or indifferent to it.” If a woman had wound up on the presidential ballot, most women would have voted against her because she was female.

            In the early 1970s, just 40% of women told pollsters that they “favor most of the efforts to strengthen and change women’s status in society today.” 76% of women and 70% of men now support the Equal Rights Amendment.

            Why were there so many, to reference the comedy troupe, Ladies Against Women? Some women were worried that the feminist movement would burden them with obligations traditionally saddled upon men, like becoming subject to the military draft and paying child support. Others thought equal rights would destroy the traditional family. Over time, however, the advantages of equal pay for equal work and the desire for respect swept those worries aside. Women know they can do anything that a man can do. Most men, all those who are not stupid, see it too.

            American Leftists are in the same diminished psychological state as the women of the 19th century. We are marginalized from “mainstream” political debate in corporate media, whitewashed out of official histories, have few victories to celebrate and heroes whose lives are unknown to us. We have no self-confidence; how can we overthrow capitalism without believing in ourselves, our ideas, and our potential? When I tell people, including leftists, that 39% of Americans are leftists, that there are more leftists than Democrats, and more leftists than Republicans, they think I must be lying or mistaken.

            Few women who lived at the time that my anti-suffrage political button was printed imagined how radically things would change in their favor over the next 100 years. Patriarchy was a seemingly impregnable colossus until it wasn’t.

Capitalism is weak. The system is in a classic crisis of overproduction, unemployment and underemployment are out of control, for-profit healthcare continues despite a pandemic and consumerism-caused environmental collapse is in full swing. Socialists, communists, progressives and other leftists should emulate the example of American women, take confidence in their numbers and the viability of their cause, and get organized.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of the upcoming graphic novel about a journalist gone bad, “The Stringer.” Now available for pre-order. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

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