Wed, Jun

May Day, Memorial Day, and Political Chaos - What’s New?


EASTSIDER-The world seems upside down to me and sinking fast. Just look what’s happened to our celebration of May Day, Memorial Day, and the ever so lame latest contretemps from the Democratic National Committee (read establishment Dems).

May Day 

As I wrote a couple of years ago in CityWatch, 

“Since the union movement has been seriously undermined by generations of attack, most people do not belong to a union and very few know the history of unions in the U.S. Truth is, although May Day is celebrated internationally as an international workers day, May Day actually originated here in the U.S.” 

This year I didn’t see squat in the News Media at all about workers, including if I remember right, CityWatch itself. Yet the issues are especially critical today: 

“Instead of attacking what’s left of unionization, we should be celebrating the idea of workers organizing and collectively bargaining. We should be talking about restoring the pension plans and benefits that public-sector employees still have to all workers in America, instead of dividing people and taking away these fundamental safety nets.”  

One can hope. 

Memorial Day 

Aside from some token lip service, this Memorial Day also felt more like a continuation of the 24/7 food fight between President Trump, COVID-19, and our upcoming election, than a celebration of our veterans. More pictures of Trump golfing while Rome burns, and minimal mere media optics about our precious actual Veterans. 

As Marine Veteran Sonia Fernandez put it (courtesy of a 2017 Beth Cone Kramer post) noted: 

“How does Sonia (photo left) see the status of Veterans’ Affairs in the current administration? “I think, especially with the last administration, we made lots of progress but for the current president, Veterans’ Affairs are not a priority. We don’t know his plan but we are not hearing his plan to change and create opportunities,” she worries. “We have to rely on community-based organizations to make a difference, groups like Truman National Security Project, to bring veterans’ issues to the forefront. We need dialogue and discussion about vets. We need to know who to turn to as a guide-- who will lift up the issue and carry it. We don’t have anyone truly making veterans a priority.”  

Unfortunately, from 2017 to 2020 nothing seems to have changed. It’s weird, particularly since most of us either have had a family member, relative or friend who is a veteran of the United States’ endless wars. C’mon, we can do better.  

Even though I am personally anti-war, that has nothing to do with honoring the men and women who have literally risked their lives in the service of our Country. My dad was in the Korean war, and on Memorial Day, I honor his memory and his service, as well as all the others. It’s important. 

And Of Course, Politics 

Used to be that unions and vets held massive celebrations across the United States to mark May Day and Memorial Day, marked by a huge political presence of whatever your party. Nowadays, we seem to get high tech electronic horsepuckey, which changes how elections work. 

Note the recent loss of Christy Smith (D) to Mike Garcia (R) in the 25th AD, which runs from Simi Valley to Santa Clarita to Palmdale. You know, the one Katie Hill won and before imploding her way to resignation. 

Buried in the election data is the fact that a Republican, even in California, can beat a decent Democrat, if the vote count is low enough. And in this race, a mostly vote-by-mail special election, the combination of the usual low voter turnout typical for a Special Election, plus mostly mail balloting, did the trick for Mike Garcia, an ex-fighter pilot and Duncan Hunter wannabe. By 8%, no less.   

The good news is that the seat is back for a rematch vote in November. Mike Garcia is only finishing out the expiring term of Katie Hill 

The bad news is that Katie Hill’s win was largely fueled by grassroots bottom-up work by groups like the East Area Progressive Democrats (EAPD), who had volunteers bussing into the District for over a year in advance of her election victory. With COVID-19, face-to-face door knocking, and the like is going to be very difficult. 

I guess we’ll see if the Dems can make peace between the Bernie/Warren progressives they seem to hate so much yet produce the enthusiasm and people-to-people outreach which is sorely needed. Of course, history would argue that the DNC is more afraid of “socialism” than the Republicans, as they split the Party allowing a megalomaniac President to pull out a win. 


A significant political problem is that we are eliminating traditional newspapers, which have reporters, fact-checkers, and a printed product that can be verified. These enterprises are expensive and are being driven out of business with amazing rapidity. 

Instead, we are increasingly captive to our “wonderful”’ tech companies, like Facebook, Twitter, Google/Alphabet and Amazon. They have no interest in truth, just in how many people are interacting with their platforms. Click, click. 

Having no responsibility for their actions and no real regulation, you and I are simply living dollar signs whose data can be harvested, manipulated, and sold to the highest bidder. Any bidder. The buyer can then use the information any way they want to manipulate us, with no legal repercussions. 

Truth or lies, makes no difference, and the new Tech oligarchs showing up in TV appearances dressed in high-end t-shirts, simply deflects the truth that these people are not “cool,” or like us. They are beyond politics, just juiced on money, and they have more information on you and me than the IRS, CIA, FBI, etc., combined. For sale. 

So far, the Dems strategy (if it is one) of keeping Joe Biden in the basement is both sound and productive. The President doesn’t have anyone to fight or bully one-on-one, which drives him crazy, and the likely Democratic nominee avoids most missteps. 

However, the game this time is different from anything we’ve seen in my lifetime. We may or may not have conventions, and it seems likely in a COVID-19 environment that the face-to-face, one-on-one method of getting out the vote is in peril. Think mail ballots and wild, wild west social media battles.  Scary stuff. 

We know this election will be incredibly nasty and dirty; it already is. My take is that if we want to win an election in November with Joe Biden as President, it’s time for the Dems to heal the party, make Elizabeth Warren the Vice-Presidential nominee, and get going.


(Tony Butka is an Eastside community activist, who has served on a neighborhood council, has a background in government and is a contributor to CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.


Tags: Tony Butka, Eastsider, 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden, Donald Trump, East Area Progressive Democrats, Christy Smith, Mike Garcia

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