Archive for Democrats

May
30

Whither the Democrats?

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A story about California Governor Jerry Brown in the New York Times comes as friends ponder just where the Democratic Party goes in the wake of the 2016 presidential primary. (I’m not the one here to comment on California politics, but I’ve got the 3-hour news jump.)

Whether a hard rain is gonna fall or not this year will depend on how the party appeals to the wave of energized voters who support Bernie Sanders and whether it can energize those who support Hillary Clinton. Putting aside arguments about the process, it is undeniable that there are broad bases in the party for both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Party leadership that is typically ham-fisted about finding any kind of message would be foolish not to take to heart themes that have energized Sanders’ base and led to his strong showing nationwide. Adam Nagourney suggests Jerry Brown can show them how it’s done:

Mr. Brown is in many ways a blend of these two very different candidates, having created a style that has made him an enduringly popular and successful California governor. And it is not only Mr. Brown: The California Democratic Party stands as a model of electoral success and cohesion, in contrast to national Democrats struggling through a divisive primary and debate about an uncertain future.

California is one of the few states in the country, and easily the largest, where Democrats are completely in control, holding every statewide office as well as overwhelming majorities in the Assembly and the Senate, not to mention both United States Senate seats. Mr. Brown and his party are using that power to try to enact legislation — on guns, tobacco, the environment, the minimum wage and immigrant rights — that suggest the kind of agenda that has eluded national Democrats.

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Categories : Democrats, National, Parties
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May
24

Not a good look

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Social media has largely taken over the family-and-friends propaganda market from email. I’ve mentioned my collection of over 200 specimens of right-wing “pass-it-on” emails. You know the ones: the lies, smears and disinformation we all have received from fathers and T-party uncles, the kind with large, colored type and maybe a gif of praying hands above the exhortation to “pass it on.” But in-box Izvestia pretty much tailed off as Facebook, Reddit, etc. gained market share. Sadly, what with email was overwhelmingly a phenomenon of the right has shifted left with social media. Not a good thing. We should be better than this.

In the misty past before the dawn of the internet (1980?), I was visiting the home of a friend who told me with some alarm that I should never buy any more products from the Procter & Gamble company of Cincinnati, Ohio. Its president, she said, was on the Phil Donahue Show and said the company gave money to the Church of Satan. As proof she told me, you could look on their packaging and see a small crescent moon and stars symbol, a “satanic symbol.”

“When did you see this?” I asked.

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May
21

Standing Ovation

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Photo by TJ Amos

Photo by TJ Amos

I’m an inside/outside player. On the outside, I get to throw stones at the Democratic Party on national blogs when I get a bug up my ass. On the inside, as someone who helps get local and statewide candidates elected, people think I bring something valuable to the table and they listen to me. And I have a national platform to take them to task if they don’t. But if I were on the outside completely, I’d just be another harping lefty activist who’s all sticks and no carrots. But since I’ve been doing field successfully for 7 cycles, I’m now an old guy and maybe even The Establishment. When George W. Bush arrived, I knew I needed allies to fight back, so I went to where I could find them in bulk in one convenient location. Do I agree with all of them on everything? Hell, no. But that was never the point. Strength in numbers was. When I got there, local politics was still a southern old-boys club. Now, I’m one of the people in charge. My chair and I and my “Moral Monday” arrestee state senator are from Chicago.

I do not understand the need among many progressives to bet it all on one spin of the roulette wheel with everything bet on black, or on the long bomb with time running out, or on who’s running at the top of the ticket in a presidential year. My job description doesn’t change depending on who’s at the top of the ticket. As long as someone from our side of the aisle wins and gives me the next three SCOTUS picks, I’m good. Some coattails would be nice as well. That’s just a part of why I don’t much care about the Bernie v. Hillary thing.

Last week I went to the funeral of a friend of mine who was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer just weeks before. People said he was too focused on helping the community to look after himself. Isaac Coleman was a Freedom Rider and a member of SNCC. Two years ago he was declared a local “Living Treasure.” The church was packed. They started the “service” by naming off groups he had worked with and asked people from those groups to stand. Some got to stand multiple times. The largest group was the local Democratic Party. Isaac was a fierce advocate for the right to vote. “Take five,” he would say, “and if you can’t take five, take ten.”

The very idea that as an activist you would bet so much on a single, big political race would have seemed alien to him. It is to me. The local needs are too great.

I live in a state taken over by a T-party legislature that has passed one of the worst voter ID bills in the country, drafted absolutely diabolical redistricting maps, passed HB2 as a get-out-the-vote tool, and launches regular legislative attacks against our cities where the largest block of blue votes are. President Bernie isn’t going to fix that for me. Neither is President Hillary. And not in Michigan or Wisconsin either. We have to beat them ourselves. Here, not in the Electoral College.

But friends on the left now talk about the Democratic Party the way conservatives talk about “the gummint,” as though it is some sort of monolithic beast with agency of its own apart from that of its voters and activists. I get it. That’s how it looks if your focus is Washington. It looks a mite different out here in the provinces where we’re fighting the border wars. Sometimes out here — and more regularly than every four years — we get to win. That’s what keeps us going. Because the battle never ends.

I work with some very good people and some very good Democrats. But I’m seeing smart, good-hearted (many new) activists who didn’t learn from 2008. They think ideology is what’s most important. Talk the nuts and bolts of winning — practical politics — and they see you as gutless, cautious, calcified, afraid to bet it all on black and lose dramatically, because grinding out yardage on the ground is selling out. (A Princeton historian addressed that in part on air last week.) Their focus is the Big Enchilada (the presidency) when the fights that have more immediate impact on their lives are more local. That’s not to say global warming and national issues are not important. But if you want to sustain yourself for the Long March, you need to drink in some local victories or you’ll burn out before getting there.

Isaac never did. At then end of the service, we all gave him a long, standing ovation.

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May
11

I’d buy that for a dollar

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Department of Health and Human Services headquarters by the National Mall. Photo by Matthew G. Bisanz via Wikimedia Commons.

Moving left again:

[A]s she tries to clinch the nomination, Mrs. Clinton is moving to the left on health care and this week took a significant step in her opponent’s direction, suggesting she would like to give people the option to buy into Medicare.

“I’m also in favor of what’s called the public option, so that people can buy into Medicare at a certain age,” Mrs. Clinton said on Monday at a campaign event in Virginia.

Mr. Sanders calls his single-payer health care plan “Medicare for all.” What Mrs. Clinton proposed was a sort of Medicare for more.

Clinton was replying to a woman who as a small-business owner is contending with the cost of health insurance. The Wall Street Journal:

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At Political Animal, Nancy LeTourneau comments on Rebecca Solnit’s essay on cynicism in Harpers. She writes that when Barack Obama entered the White House riding on a message of hope and change, that “the Republican strategy of total obstruction was designed to dampen all that with cynicism about the political process.” Cynicism about the political process is not in short supply in 2016. Hope is. But let’s not give Republicans too much credit.

Solnit writes:

Cynicism is first of all a style of presenting oneself, and it takes pride more than anything in not being fooled and not being foolish. But in the forms in which I encounter it, cynicism is frequently both these things. That the attitude that prides itself on world-weary experience is often so naïve says much about the triumph of style over substance, attitude over analysis.

Anyone who dares venture onto Facebook or Twitter these days knows the posture. Solnit continues:

If you set purity and perfection as your goals, you have an almost foolproof system according to which everything will necessarily fall short. But expecting perfection is naïve; failing to perceive value by using an impossible standard of measure is even more so. Cynics are often disappointed idealists and upholders of unrealistic standards. They are uncomfortable with victories, because victories are almost always temporary, incomplete, and compromised — but also because the openness of hope is dangerous, and in war, self-defense comes first. Naïve cynicism is absolutist; its practitioners assume that anything you don’t deplore you wholeheartedly endorse. But denouncing anything less than perfection as morally compromising means pursuing aggrandizement of the self, not engagement with a place or system or community, as the highest priority.

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Apr
29

Weak tea

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It will take more than fear of Donald Trump for Democrats to win this fall. They need a message. This article from Harold Meyerson after monumental losses in 2014 summed it up:

What, besides raising the minimum wage, do the Democrats propose to do about the shift in income from wages to profits, from labor to capital, from the 99 percent to the 1 percent? How do they deliver for an embattled middle class in a globalized, de-unionized, far-from-full-employment economy, where workers have lost the power they once wielded to ensure a more equitable distribution of income and wealth? What Democrat, besides Elizabeth Warren, campaigned this year to diminish the sway of the banks? Who proposed policies that would give workers the power to win more stable employment and higher incomes, not just at the level of the minimum wage but across the economic spectrum?

Bernie Sanders has focused on the banks this year, but Democrats as a party have failed so far to send a message to families working without a net that their concerns and anxieties have been both heard and felt, and that Democrats have a plan to address them. They need to forcefully answer the “cares about people like me” question.

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Mar
11

Short Attention Span Theater

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After several years of delays, Short Attention Span Theater will again resume production on Repatriation Tax Holiday 2.

Robert Reich flagged District Studios’ announcement yesterday on Facebook:

I’ve spent the last day in Washington, where Democrats are quietly gearing up to negotiate a “tax amnesty” for American-based global corporations that have parked some $2.1 trillion in untaxed profits abroad (mostly in tax havens) to avoid paying their U.S. taxes. The U.S. corporate tax rate is 35 percent, but Obama is ready to offer 14 percent if they’ll bring the profits home; Republicans want 10 percent; some Democratic senators are willing to go even lower (Barbara Boxer is teaming up with Rand Paul to offer 6.5 percent). Corporate lobbyists are swarming over Capitol Hill, suggesting if they don’t get a great deal they might not just keep the profits abroad but even move their corporations abroad (like Pfizer is doing).
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Mar
02

The GOP’s reckoning

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"What does not kill me, makes me stronger." - Friedrich Nietzsche (By Hartmann, Basel. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

“What does not kill me, makes me stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
(By Hartmann, Basel. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Much digital ink has been spread about how Republicans created Donald Trump and now are paying the price for it. But Trump is not the only nemesis they helped create.

First, writing yesterday from Chattanooga, Tennessee, Charlie Pierce spoke of the Super Tuesday reckoning facing the Republican party:

The facts are as stark as the slopes of Lookout Mountain in the early morning light. It is a consummation devoutly to be wished, especially by those of us who see the Republicans as having been cruising for this particular bruising ever since it so greedily ate the monkeybrains in the 1980s. But, from the people who make their living at being Republicans, we are seeing the kind of existential panic that you only see once or twice in a century. It’s Watership Down, with Super PACs and Mitch McConnell.

Indeed, this morning’s online headline at the Washington Post described it as a “nightmarish Super Tuesday” for the GOP establishment. Trump won seven of the states in play. Hillary Clinton also won seven Super Tuesday states.

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Feb
27

Primarily Al Jazeera

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Al Jazeera America Digital takes a bow

Al Jazeera America Digital takes a bow

South Carolina Democrats hold their primary today. There were neither Bernie nor Hillary campaigners hanging around my Greenville, SC hotel like Ted Cruz supporters last week. It seems Clinton spent more of her time doing small-town, retail politics in downstate, rural areas where she has connections going back years. Sanders campaigned more via arena and college events and phone banks. There will be more to say after the hand-clapping and the shouting are over.

Al Jazeera America is going away soon and will be missed. Tony Karon posted a “valedictory note” about the service yesterday. A sample:

The core principle driving the journalism that distinguished Al Jazeera America online as a unique voice in a cluttered news landscape was the simple — yet radical — proposition that no single human life is worth less than any other.

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Feb
25

Saturday! Saturday! Saturday!

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Want the skinny on how the fall elections go down in Buncombe Co., NC?

Precinct Meeting/Volunteer Recruitment Event

precinct-cluster-infopage.png

An organized and functional precinct is the foundation of the Democratic Party. The BCDP Strategic Plan is based on the DNC’s 50-State Strategy which is “an ambitious effort to build the Democratic Party from the ground up in every single precinct…” Every precinct matters! Every vote counts! In Buncombe County we will “continue an aggressive and forward-looking effort based on the belief that if we invest in people and invest in our party, we can continue to turn once-red districts and states blue in elections to come.”*

To reinforce our efforts, the BCDP established 11 clusters of precincts to further strengthen Get Out The Vote efforts, provide mentors to new leadership, coordinate volunteer efforts and facilitate communication and fund raising efforts. Clusters build camaraderie, friendship and make electing Democrats a lot of FUN!

Every election year is the most important, and 2016 is no different. Democrats need only 4 more seats in the North Carolina House to overcome a veto-proof majority. Now, more than ever, Democrats need to elect a Democratic Governor who will bring respect back to the great State of North Carolina.

That’s why our 2016 Annual Precinct Meetings are Volunteer Recruitment Events! Plan to attend and bring your Democratic neighbors and friends. Volunteer! Vote! ELECT DEMOCRATS!

Agenda for all clusters is as follows:

  1. Message from the State Party Chair
  2. Discussion of Responsibilities and Expectations of Precinct
  3. Election of Precinct Officers ONLY if vacancies exist
  4. Elect Delegates to the County Convention
  5. Collect Sustaining Fund donations  – Checks should be made payable to BCDP
  6. Hot 100 Membership
  7. Volunteer Sign-Up
  8. Proposing and adopting resolutions for consideration at the county convention

Find your neighborhood meeting HERE

Please RSVP To the appropriate Cluster Leader/Precinct Chair found in the PDF.

Categories : Democrats, Local
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