“Nothin from nothin leaves nothin”

November 5: Did Progressives self-destruct?

-Billy Preston (on keyboards), performing “My Sweet Lord,” at the Concert for Bangladesh, August 1, 1971, Madison Square Garden, New York City. Preston would record “Nothin from Nothin Leaves Nothin’ as a single in 1974. Photo image courtesy Wikipedia. (1)

My ‘conservative Congressman,’ Fred Upton, Michigan 6th, just voted for the “bi-partisan Senate Infrastructure bill” on Friday, November 5. His was one of 13 Republican votes who reinvoked bi-partisan-hood and “crossed the aisle” of ‘fake American politics.

Put another way, Upton and the twelve other Republicans whom we are told will face “backlash” for deserting party/tribe, were simply “acting bi-partisan.”

In the new GOP, ‘down is up,’ and acting bi-partisan is subversive:

“Nothin from nothin leaves nothin”

“You gotta have somethin if you wanna be with me.”

Surfacing over the weekend was the media’s false reckoning of the Democrats losses in Virginia, New Jersey and Seattle for ‘no help from the Progressives’ and the ensuing delay on giving the White House a much vaunted win.


The lengths Democrat moderate militants will go to blame poor messaging — a party epithet — on Progressive organizing across the Potomac! One would think Biden’s deference to Progressives in Congress was like Upton’s vote, subversive. What really burns is the corporate media howling, adopting a self-righteous “why don’t they do the right thing” tone, reminiscent of my fourth grade home room teacher, Ms. McQueen.

The House ‘bi-partisan’ Senate infrastructure vote was meant to derail Biden’s ‘whatever trillion’ “soft infrastructure bill” because the middle class could still be lulled into thinking that they are not footing the bill. But they are. And this is why ‘The Squad’ voted against it: “Not in the interests of our constituents.”

Consider their position: ‘we have patiently attended bi-partisan existential handwringing and will not let our vote foster abandonment of social legislation our voters demand.’

We will not misappropriate their tax dollars.

That’s good ‘messaging.’

Upton, whose district includes the county in which I live, went for Biden by a slim margin in 2020, reversing 45’s victory in 2016. Like other counties in Michigan, Berrien County is divided between rich and poor, well-documented in the Kotlowitz profile.

On this vote Upton is listening to his constituents, reflecting his vote — not listening to and reflecting his party’s whims. Upton has survived sixteen terms in Congress and will retire after this term ends. Many of us ‘woolies’ in the 6th district are eager to see him go. But seriously? One wonders what odd bedfellow the Kalamazoo Republican party regs will prop up to replace Upton: a former sheriff perhaps. Or a school board candidate — one who will take orders.

Since the Reagan-Clinton-Bush years helped wealthy donors ‘wink and nod’ their way through splitting the country into the 1/99 percenters, Democrat strategists have jumped on the ‘restore the middle class’ message. This strategy survived Obama’s election and failed with HRC.

Nowadays the ‘save the middle class’ gets a big yawn. Who cares? At ‘issue’ are two observations: the middle income earners are footing the bill — what Sen. Bernie Sanders calls “Socialism for the Rich,” and ‘trickle up’ requires ‘big government.’

Try threading that needle.

‘Trickle up’ is not building anything. In Upton’s district is Michigan’s poorest community, Benton Harbor. In early October Benton Harbor, located less than two miles from North America’s largest fresh water lake, had a water problem. The community water distribution system was failing lead particulate tests. Like Flint, a three hours northeast drive, Benton Harbor needed bottled water. Staring into this debacle Upton had no choice except to vote for federal programs which could restore Benton Harbor’s pipes.

But restoring Benton Harbor’s pipes won’t salvage the community Day Care Centers which have been closed since the pandemic.

Better, safer pipes a future doesn’t insure. Because the ROI on a black child’s future in Benton Harbor is negligible, it make fiscal sense, doesn’t it, to pull the plug on propping a “failed endeavor,” like a poverty-stricken community day care center? Or a community mental health center?

Consider that no one in the US. Senate was willing to insist on more social programs — not less — to address America’s social and economic divide. We can see bridges and airports and rails because we can’t see poverty (2)… until ‘poverty’ comes our way, penetrates our communities and families and then the damage has been done.

“Nothin from nothin leaves nothin”

“You gotta have somethin if you wanna be with me.”

What emerges from the House November 5 vote is a perverse equivalency: the Squad’s votes against (6) the bi-partisan infrastructure bill almost filled the spaces of the Republican defectors (13), who voted for the bill.

No, Progressives didn’t self-destruct.

Like Upton, Progressives survived.

November 8


1-Song and lyrics by Fisher Bruce and Billy Preston

2-Michael Harrington, The Other America

https://www.google.com/search?q=Other+America&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-us&client=safa ri

Writer, essayist, dreamer.