The Democratic Party is in deep trouble
October 19, 2015 1:14 PM   Subscribe

At all levels of government, (except the presidency) the republican party is arguably in a stronger position. than it has been since the reconstruction. Matt Yeglesias argues that the democratic party is in deep trouble.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory (120 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
Democrats, and other left-leaning people don't show up for local and state elections.

And this is what happens.
posted by SansPoint at 1:19 PM on October 19, 2015 [45 favorites]


Don't get it twisted. We think the Koch's and their ilk wasted a lot of money on the last presidential election and that might be true. But they also spent a lot of money getting conservatives elected up and down the line, and that wasn't wasted. You just have to look at Michigan or Kansas to see where things are going.
posted by Caduceus at 1:22 PM on October 19, 2015 [10 favorites]




Democrats, and other left-leaning people don't show up for local and state elections.

Old people show up, because old people don't have to take times off their jobs or deal with stashing the kids somewhere for an hour. So a four-point swing among old people outweighs a sixteen-point swing among young people.
posted by Etrigan at 1:27 PM on October 19, 2015 [38 favorites]


I strongly disagree with his argument that the Democrats need to pull rightward to fix it, but his diagnosis of the problem is dead-on -- the Republicans have a farm team and the Democrats have fuck-all.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:27 PM on October 19, 2015 [34 favorites]


Part of me thinks of the old saw, "I don't belong to any organized political party, I am a Democrat."

And then I look at the way that the GOP has thrown their money at controlling state legislatures, which in turn control things like access to health care, redistricting, and a host of other things. Then I no longer wonder how a party whose main constituency is dying off still has a death grip on most of the nation—they've been building a farm team to do just that for years.

Who are the up-and comers in the Democratic party? I have a friend who worked in the Obama administration early on, and the burnout is palpable.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 1:27 PM on October 19, 2015 [12 favorites]


The electorate is shifting long-term, and the regressives will be rightfully left behind in the end, but they've rigged things sufficiently (and still have the most reliable voting bloc) that it will be some time before demographics alone salvage things.

For me, though, it's not enough to know that they will *eventually* lose; I worry about the very real damage they continue to do right now -- in schools, to the environment, to people's lives, and in the enduring effect of staffing the court with zealots (and their resulting legal precedents). This is a moral outrage, and if we don't do something about it sooner rather than later then progressives will be left to inherit a ruined earth.
posted by mystyk at 1:33 PM on October 19, 2015 [16 favorites]


Living in the district where Marcy Kaptur was thrown into a fighting pit with Dennis Kucinich for the amusement of Republicans, I'm very well aware of this.
posted by charred husk at 1:35 PM on October 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


I strongly disagree with his argument that the Democrats need to pull rightward to fix it

This is such a common sentiment (seen with regard to Labour in the UK as well) which completely baffles me, given that the most common complaint I see from traditional Democrat/Labour supporters is that they've abandoned what they stood for in favour of aping the Republicans/Tories. I mean, you could try and be a carbon copy of the other party, and maybe get their votes and voters, or you could actually meaningfully stand for something different, give people some degree of choice (even if both systems are hopelessly binary) and democracy, and maybe get votes from all the people who don't vote Republican, or would prefer not to.
posted by Dysk at 1:36 PM on October 19, 2015 [30 favorites]


I don't think centrism is the answer. We have a ton of anodyne middle of the road Democrats up where I live and they spend the majority of their time having personality conflicts with one another and doing... I don't know actually! Their campaigns always seem to be centered around the idea "Hi, I'm a Democrat."

I mean, for the love of God we just had two straight gubernatorial elections where pointless, personality based infighting let a lunatic become our governor. And we're talking about personality/ego infighting between two really uninspiring candidates with no energy and no galvanizing ideas.

Maybe the Democrats are in trouble because they suck.
posted by selfnoise at 1:38 PM on October 19, 2015 [9 favorites]


Permanent Democratic Majority?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:39 PM on October 19, 2015


I think it's time to start shining the light of hate and shame on conservatives. We all agreed Bush was a war criminal but didn't assign the level of vitriol to the people who voted him in because we felt culpable with Ralph Nader and the bazillion Democrats that voted for the Iraq war. I think it's time to make independent voters feel stupid for leaning right and for right leaning voters to realize they are up against the wall. Force their hand, watch them continue to flounder about and pour on the intense hatred about their basic worldview with a level that exceeds any of their bullshit moral panic from the eighties onward.

Fuck conservatism. Gloves off, eyes on the prize. America was a progressive experiment for all its faults and it's time to take it back and take the fight to the godawful know nothings.
posted by aydeejones at 1:40 PM on October 19, 2015 [66 favorites]


Without organized labor to hold their feet to the fire, the Democratic Party serves no purpose. The only real power now is in the corporate sphere, so Democrats can basically go to corporate donors and say "hey, I'll back pro-capital policies too, but without all the embarrassing lunacy you've been getting splashed with from your Republican candidates."
posted by Naberius at 1:41 PM on October 19, 2015 [29 favorites]


We let the narrative in the bush years be about foreign policy for the most part. Time for progressives to start looking inward at America and to show that we care about fixing this country than they do. Obama played the magnanimity card and it got him far but I don't think it will percolate downward enough without some serious vitriol at the lowest levels. Gloves off.
posted by aydeejones at 1:42 PM on October 19, 2015


And yes start with labor. It's time for people to stop taking the remaining crumbs of decades of labor efforts and countless deaths and misery for granted and to demand the whole fucking loaf.
posted by aydeejones at 1:44 PM on October 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


his diagnosis of the problem is dead-on -- the Republicans have a farm team and the Democrats have fuck-all.

I'd modify that slightly. The Democrats have a farm team, but it's only good at developing superstars. If elections were about voting for just a single slate of 5-10 politicians for the whole nation, the Democratic Party could put up Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Bernie, Nancy Pelosi etc., and I think that group would easily beat the Republican Party's offerings of Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, uh, John McCain, I guess, and whoever else is still wandering around in the primary and top levels of party leadership. So at the very top level, they have a decent bench. It's just that beyond the top, say, 25 Democratic Party stars, there's basically no one, and, worse, no enthusiasm for finding candidates who can't/won't be thrust immediately into the spotlight to be the next superstar or for the downballot races that can help you find them.

To start wildly speculating, it almost seems like the Democratic Party leadership bought too much into the idea that FDR saved the world singlehandedly and has doubled down on cranking out politicians who can come close to replicating his electoral success without delving too deeply into his actual politics or the conditions that were necessary for him to have made use of that electoral success. They see controlling the Presidency as the only worthwhile goal and have run their party with pretty much just that goal for quite a while now.
posted by Copronymus at 1:57 PM on October 19, 2015 [15 favorites]


I find this piece really frustrating. On the one hand, Yglesias isn't wrong. Those are the facts. But the way in which they're presented is so click-baity that it makes me want to scream. It's a structural problem, exacerbated by Republican partisan maneuvering, but it isn't due to Democratic smugness.

Yglesias also fails to note that Massachusetts and Maryland have veto-proof Democratic majorities in their state legislatures, so the damage a Republican governor there can do is fairly limited.
posted by Bromius at 1:59 PM on October 19, 2015 [22 favorites]


people in general overrate the importance of the Presidential election, compared to Congressional and State and local races....it's like we all retreat to this fantasy world where a new President can enact their "plan" to handle every issue under the sun, and the only difficulty is selecting and electing that President.
posted by thelonius at 1:59 PM on October 19, 2015 [13 favorites]


34 is the magic number and according to the graph they're one off.
posted by Talez at 2:02 PM on October 19, 2015


Yes, the argument that centrism is the way to go fails, partially because the center has shifted noticeably to the right. If you look at the graphs here that compare the House of today vs that of 40 years ago, you'll see that while there has been a narrowing off the Democratic members' views (possibly due to the demise of the blue dogs), the relative position of those views has changed little. On the GOP side, however, there has been a huge shot to the right.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 2:03 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


There's some weird geography/math involved too -- because Dems are heavily concentrated in cities, we end up with states like mine, Virginia, where we can sweep the state-wide, essentially at-large votes for Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, and both Senate seats, but have only 3 out of 11 House seats, and only 32 out of 100 State House of Delegates seats.

This isn't (just) gerrymandering, but the real result of having district elections, even though these are population weighted -- if there are 10,000 Dems, and 10,000 Reps, but the Dems are packed 2-1 into one district, and the R's have a slim majority in all the others, then by district you can easily end up with the observed 2-1 R (super)majority.

Put on top of that the Koch money, the ALEC agenda, gerrymandering, the lack of viable down-ballot candidates in rural parts of the state....I really don't know where we go from here.
posted by PandaMomentum at 2:04 PM on October 19, 2015 [14 favorites]


The Dems may be in "deep trouble" but Republicans cannot put coherent policy together, at all, so nothing's ever going to get done.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:05 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think at least part of the problem is the distribution of the talent pool. The smartest and most ambitious left-leaning young people from red-states and purple states are likely to leave for major blue-state cities for school, early career, etc, and a ton of them never go back. So while there are certainly still smart, ambitious leftists in those places, the pool is a lot smaller, and the pool of supporters to potentially get things going monumentally smaller. Meanwhile the pools in NY, SF, DC, Chicago, LA, Boston and Seattle just get more needlessly deep.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:05 PM on October 19, 2015 [19 favorites]


At the local level, there has been no real penalty for GOP candidates who accept support from lunatics, who will do lots of dirty work and personal attacking and doxxing for them; Democrats can't engage with the fringe the same way without consequences (often friendly fire from other Dems who rightly don't want the lunatic fringe legitimated).

As a consequence, moderate Republicans are afraid to speak up against these local loonies for fear of the consequences, and Democrats who try get eviscerated and all their embarrassing personal history put on display. Everyone sympathizes with the victim in private, but in public no one wants to risk the wrath of the insane and uncontrolled. So slowly all the local moderates with families are leaving politics, leaving fringe nutters on either end, fire-starters who just like a fight and don't much care what it's about, and people who've made uneasy bargains with the devil. What's missing is businessmen, moms, accountants, doctors, bus drivers ... people with an actual stake in keeping their reputation relatively clean. The Chamber of Commerce has been unable to make endorsements in recent local races because they can't get anyone with a job to run who doesn't have huge negatives like open racism or wearing armor in public (really) or a domestic abuse conviction or an underage prostitution case pending.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:07 PM on October 19, 2015 [16 favorites]


Fuck conservatism. Gloves off, eyes on the prize. America was a progressive experiment for all its faults and it's time to take it back and take the fight to the godawful know nothings.

This gets to the heart of something I've been thinking about; I've spent some time wondering if people like me are part of the problem/solution.

I spend a lot of time - a lot of time - being outraged, mostly on the internet, but some pacing around the kitchen or yelling at the newspaper. Or deploring the state of things with friends over bars and dinner. There's a lot of energy there.

But it's a lot of energy being wasted. It's not doing anything. I donate money and I vote, which are important, but it's obvious that with no kids and a flexible job, I do have some energy to actually throw at working to change things, and I waste it being outraged on the internet instead of actually being out there. I have no idea how much work energy it takes to match a corporate donation but I could contribute some of that work energy if I got off my butt. And surely I'm not the only one out there like this? What if people like me stepped up more?

I can say "I don't have time" or be all cynical about it (it won't change anything) but um, I have the time and energy and idealism to be mad. Maybe it's time to fucking apply to doing instead of yelling. To yelling AT foes instead of yelling among friends. To fighting instead of yelling.
posted by barchan at 2:11 PM on October 19, 2015 [22 favorites]


When the people in this country re-elected Bush after his first term, I lost hope.

I gained a bit back when I thought Obama would get us out of the Middle East quagmire, then lost it again.

I have surmised that the majority are one-issue voters. That is, don't want some people to be able to marry? Vote for whomever is against it! Don't want the poor to have medical insurance? Vote for the person who agrees with you. Don't favor immigration? There's a candidate with that view too!

Democrats don't push those buttons....
posted by CrowGoat at 2:18 PM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Democrats can't engage with the fringe the same way without consequences

True. The Republican establishment has been getting beat up by the Tea Party movement.

And when Democrats challenge the fringe of their party you have Bernie Sanders - who is so fringe he isn't even a Democrat - making campaign commercials for the establishment candidate.
posted by three blind mice at 2:19 PM on October 19, 2015


I'd modify that slightly. The Democrats have a farm team, but it's only good at developing superstars. If elections were about voting for just a single slate of 5-10 politicians for the whole nation, the Democratic Party could put up Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Bernie, Nancy Pelosi etc., and I think that group would easily beat the Republican Party's offerings of Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, uh, John McCain, I guess, and whoever else is still wandering around in the primary and top levels of party leadership. So at the very top level, they have a decent bench.

Well, yeah, but those guys are already there, at the top levels of government, and have been there for quite a while. A "farm team" is the state and local levels, where Clinton, Biden, Sanders, Pelosi, etc., haven't been for quite some time. Even setting aside the role of state politics in making big policy decisions (like abortion laws, labor issues, etc) and swinging federal elections, it's a much more reliable way to build up future governors, senators, representatives and presidents. And there just aren't a lot of Democrats winning state elections these days, which leads to a situation where the Democratic counterpart to Ted Cruz/Marco Rubio/etc. is Elizabeth Warren, who never held elective office before the Senate.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:21 PM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Even what Democratic candidates there are on the "farm team" are still running desperately away from ostensible Democratic priorities on the State level.
posted by T.D. Strange at 2:27 PM on October 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


Anybody can set down and think up a lot of pretty things and all but that dont count no more than a sneeze in a cyclone. It's the same way tith voting. Most folks dont realize that your vote is about the best thing you got in the world because it is the best thing you can use to change the world and make it better. The trouble is that you just go down and vote and shoot your wad, and you do it this time just like you been a doing it all of your life and maybe that's just what's wrong with your life, unless you happen to be a living one of them lives that there aint nothing wrong with. Well there's a few little things wrong with mine and I'll keep a voting till I fix it — and if I dont fix it by a voting one way, I'll vote another way, and finally, I'll find out the right way, and then maybe somebody else will, and somebody else, until we'll have the right fellers a holding down them easy chairs, but not a taking it so dadgum easy. And when I say taking it I really mean a taking it. They been a taking it just as fast as you can rake and scrape and they can carry more out the front door with a fountain pen than you can carry in with a ten ton truck.

[Essay from Woody Guthrie to Alan Lomax, ca. November 1940]
posted by entropicamericana at 2:27 PM on October 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


The Dems may be in "deep trouble" but Republicans cannot put coherent policy together, at all, so nothing's ever going to get done.

Or worse, incoherent policy gets enacted.
posted by Dysk at 2:31 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Part of me thinks that Obama's first-two-years majority would have been better spent on strategic electoral issues: An "Everyone Votes Act" that set strong national standards for voting machines, nonpartisan districting, automatic voter registration, removing electoral control from elected positions like secretary of state, etc.

If he could have abolished mid term elections entirely (4 year term for the house, 8 for the senate, always with a presidential election) that would have been great too, but required a constitutional amendment.
posted by Oktober at 2:31 PM on October 19, 2015 [9 favorites]


Oh and now Jim Webb wants to run independent, GoGoGadget Circular Firing Squad!
posted by T.D. Strange at 2:38 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Perhaps it would make sense to give up on the Donkey and work on the inside to rebuild a better Elephant? Parties have morphed and changed over the years. Bring back the older traditional Republicans that cared about the electorate.
posted by sammyo at 2:43 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Iglesias writes
Not only have Republicans won most elections, but they have a perfectly reasonable plan for trying to recapture the White House.
Really?
The GOP, by contrast, has basically two perfectly plausible plans for moving its agenda forward. One is to basically change nothing and just hope for slightly better luck from the economic fundamentals or in terms of Democratic Party scandals. The other is to shift left on immigration and gain some Latino votes while retaining the core of the party's commitments.
As to the first, I seem to recall a Republican once saying "Hope is not a plan." As to the second, that is ridiculous because the GOP's appeal is based on fear of dark-skinned people. They can't have their cake and eat it too.
posted by adamrice at 2:45 PM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


So at the very top level, they have a decent bench. It's just that beyond the top, say, 25 Democratic Party stars, there's basically no one, and, worse, no enthusiasm for finding candidates who can't/won't be thrust immediately into the spotlight to be the next superstar or for the downballot races that can help you find them.

----

I think at least part of the problem is the distribution of the talent pool.

A writer at Huffington Post blames this on the Reagan years. I think Thatcher had a similar effect on British politics.
Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker -- all under 50. Rand Paul, just over 50. At 62, Jeb Bush is the old man in the field. Hillary Clinton will turn 68 later this year.

...

The party of angry old white guys have elected youngsters -- like Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley, both 43 -- while the party of youth and diversity has put Jerry Brown, 76, in the California Governor's office.

...

The rising stars of the Republican Party were in college when the Gipper was in the White House. For them he was and remains an inspirational, messianic figure[...] College students helped create the Cult of Reagan, and in this sense, what Kennedy was for Bill Clinton's generation, Reagan was for Scott Walker's.

Those junior Republicans in the 1980s then moved into electoral politics in the 1990s -- county commissioners races and state house contests -- and moved up into House and Senate seats and into governor's mansions.

Meanwhile, the effect of the Reagan years on progressive students was to drive many of them away from party politics altogether
posted by riruro at 2:47 PM on October 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


Unfortunately, the best, most reliable way to convince Americans to turn away from the Republican right, is probably to let the Republicans take over and subject the nation to about a decade or so of right-wing hell. The problem, of course, is that there's no guarantee there would be an America (or any other nation, for that matter) left standing after ten years of that. But, it would most certainly convince people to never do that again.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:57 PM on October 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


Bring back the older traditional Republicans that cared about the electorate.

Like Mitch McConnell, Antonin Scalia and Charles and David Koch? Those alleged "compassionate conservatives" never existed in the Republican party, they just knew better than to voice it in public.
posted by T.D. Strange at 2:59 PM on October 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


Perhaps it would make sense to give up on the Donkey and work on the inside to rebuild a better Elephant?

They don't want you. Seriously, the "moderate Republican" is a modern-day fiction. The "ideological flexibility" that Yglesias talks about is incredibly narrow -- the difference between a pro-business Republican who thinks gay marriage is a "states' rights" matter and a pro-business Republican who thinks gay marriage is an abomination. Republicans who agree that there's a place for unions and the EPA have been hounded out of office by well-funded primary challenges from the right. The few who are left are obscure back-benchers who have kept their heads down and voted with the Tea Partiers on the significant stuff.
posted by Etrigan at 3:00 PM on October 19, 2015 [15 favorites]


We think the Koch's and their ilk wasted a lot of money on the last presidential election

The Kochs aren't just spending money on elections-- they are spending money on the judiciary, in Law Schools, in education in general. There is a generation of conservative lawyers who attend Koch seminars and Koch-funded lectures. There is nothing on the left to counter balance even the non-electoral influence peddling the Kochs are involved with.
posted by cell divide at 3:03 PM on October 19, 2015 [25 favorites]


I blame a lot of this on the first Obama administration, specifically dlc stalwart Rahm Emmanual, who replaced Howard Dean as chairman of the Democratic National Committee and immediately quashed the 50 state strategy. Too many of the local candidates were running populist campaigns and the dlc could not let this stand or they'd might lose their corporate backing. That lost the state legislatures when it mattered for redistricting and allowed the ridiculous level of pro-republican gerrymandering that we have to deal with until 2020. So the deal effectively was to let the party fail on the state level so they'd get to keep their comfy corporate post-government parachutes.
posted by overhauser at 3:05 PM on October 19, 2015 [28 favorites]


"There is nothing on the left to counter balance even the non-electoral influence peddling the Kochs are involved with."

That does it, I'm calling Soros.
posted by clavdivs at 3:09 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think a majority of the country supports the Democratic position on most issues. But that support may not be very deep for a lot of economic issues, and it's not enough in many cases to counteract the forces favoring Republicans in state and local elections (districting, turnout, individual candidates). I think things would be different under a Parliamentary system, because as long as the Republican party is led by the extremists currently in charge, they wouldn't be able to get more than 47% of the vote.

Off-topic, but speaking of Parliamentary systems, I just heard that there is a national election in Canada today! The Guardian has a live-blog. Apparently the Blue Jays told everyone to go vote before watching the game tonight.
posted by Asparagus at 3:22 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


And there just aren't a lot of Democrats winning state elections these days, which leads to a situation where the Democratic counterpart to Ted Cruz/Marco Rubio/etc. is Elizabeth Warren, who never held elective office before the Senate.

Ted Cruz never held elective office before the Senate, either.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 3:38 PM on October 19, 2015


Who in their right mind would run for office?

On the Republican end, you have a huge clump of candidates who are true believers whom frequently don't understand how government works or don't care how it works. I mean, people who claim to worship the constitution but want to dismantle the 14th Amendment because its not *really* part of the constitution, being an amendment and all, not like the 2nd amendment which of course is. I mean genuine lunatics, morons and monsters. They run because they have unresolved ego issues or because they're so dumb they don't realize that eventually people are going to discover the skeleton in their closet or actually call them to task for the dumb shit they say.

I think young Democrats look at this shit and go "I'm going to be dragged through the dirt, my family is going to be dragged through the dirt, and for what? If I have a job, I'm going to have to put that on hold. If I don't have a job, how am I going to afford to run without sucking up to people with money? Besides, I've met some politicians and they're insane and out of touch."

So you have all of these psychopaths being funded by Americans for prosperity who are in favor of driving the government into the ground because that is what the framers wanted running for office against the few underfunded dems who were somehow able to overcome the rational part of their brain.

Bah, I can't even continue this rant. My essential point is just that running for office sucks and being a politician must be hell on Earth. It doesn't surprise me that the Democrats can't get more decent people to run at the state and local levels.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:45 PM on October 19, 2015 [16 favorites]


I personally think it's the Democrats themselves who aren't doing shit to nurture snake people. Many of my friends have applied to work at Congressional offices (for a chance at being paid!), only to be told to give up months of their lives to be burned out for political campaigns, working as volunteers/unpaid interns, if they want a chance at politics. I know someone who basically was homeless and broke for months in DC, before landing a policy position.

If you create such a huge barrier to political participation, for those who actually have the skills, education, and chops to become future leaders, then seriously, why be fucked? Why should I sacrifice my life for your political cause, when you won't financially support me and other people who are willing to do so? So many of us are just trying to land first jobs, and pay off our debts. This is especially if we keep seeing only people elected who have the ability to mobilize millions and millions of dollars from making deals with corporate sell-outs.

I'm someone who initially wanted to intern at Washington DC, except I got pushed out out of every place because of my overall major GPA was too low as a basic requirement, which was because I failed out of a major and switched to another one. It's probably better that way, because all of them were unpaid and I may as well have avoided thousands of dollars in debt. There are way too many barriers.

And out of those people who got in, how many of them can afford to stay in DC? I'm just infuriated at the lack of structures that are supportive of us, and how they expect any of us to take it on when they aren't even supporting handing the flame over.
posted by yueliang at 4:00 PM on October 19, 2015 [16 favorites]


On the Republican end, you have a huge clump of candidates who are true believers whom frequently don't understand how government works or don't care how it works. I mean, people who claim to worship the constitution but want to dismantle the 14th Amendment because its not *really* part of the constitution, being an amendment and all, not like the 2nd amendment which of course is. I mean genuine lunatics, morons and monsters. They run because they have unresolved ego issues or because they're so dumb they don't realize that eventually people are going to discover the skeleton in their closet or actually call them to task for the dumb shit they say.

You forgot the fact that the payoff on the Republican side is a lifetime subsidy from the billionare backed extended Right Wing Machine. It's not possible to run for office on the Koch ticket and walk away without a lifetime appointment to some part of the vast Wingnut Welfare underbelly. High achievers like Cantor saunter into Citibank with a million dollar a year payday, but even complete fuckups like Josh Duggar can kick around the subsurface of the grift machine more or less indefinitely.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:00 PM on October 19, 2015 [9 favorites]


Unfortunately, the best, most reliable way to convince Americans to turn away from the Republican right, is probably to let the Republicans take over and subject the nation to about a decade or so of right-wing hell. The problem, of course, is that there's no guarantee there would be an America (or any other nation, for that matter) left standing after ten years of that. But, it would most certainly convince people to never do that again.

If 9/11, the Iraq War, the botched response to Katrina, and the worst economy since the Depression didn't completely sour the populace on Republican governance, I'm awfully scared of what it would take to do so.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 4:02 PM on October 19, 2015 [54 favorites]


cell divide: "The Kochs aren't just spending money on elections-- they are spending money on the judiciary, in Law Schools, in education in general. There is a generation of conservative lawyers who attend Koch seminars and Koch-funded lectures. There is nothing on the left to counter balance even the non-electoral influence peddling the Kochs are involved with."

I see a LOT of this. When I started in local politics at 30, my GOP fresh-faced 30-year-old counterparts came up through college Republican systems where they graduated knowing how to run a really slick, professional local campaign. Democratic candidates don't have a similar background. For a long time, local campaigns were very grassroots and they were how you LEARNED to fundraise and canvass and campaign; now there are an awful lot of young Republicans appearing in their 20s who are slick and professional right off the bat -- disgraced Congressman Aaron Schock held my local elective office two people before me, he would be the paradigmatic case. You don't just appear in the statehouse at the age of 23 running incredibly professional, high-dollar campaigns because you are magically good at campaigning; that happens because there's an entire apparatus willing to teach you how and dump money into your local races. A well-funded school board race in a city of 100,000 will cost you about $2500. City council probably $4000. That's PEANUTS to these conservative groups developing farm team talent.

Joey Michaels: "I think young Democrats look at this shit and go "I'm going to be dragged through the dirt, my family is going to be dragged through the dirt, and for what? If I have a job, I'm going to have to put that on hold. If I don't have a job, how am I going to afford to run without sucking up to people with money? Besides, I've met some politicians and they're insane and out of touch.""

Yes. My second political campaign left me with PTSD, my children traumatized (death threats at school), and the insanity of the whole thing will follow me and my job prospects for decades -- not just locally where I now possess actual enemies, but because of Google being able to pull up all the insane, horrible things people said about me. (I think in the main I come across as the sane person in the mainstream media coverage and as more time goes by the effect of all the slander will wane, but boy did the local internet trolls poison my google results for a while, and I don't kid myself that I suffered reputational damage).

I cannot tell you the number of older professional politicians -- local, regional, and state -- who called me or e-mailed me in the aftermath and said things like, "You were really brave to run, I wouldn't run if I had kids at home in this current climate," or "I no longer advise young people to run to run for office unless they have an independent source of income, because the damage to your career from an ugly campaign is unrecoverable," or even "I advise people not to run until they retire, because at this point politics just destroys your working relationships."

And it all lives forever! It's all on the internet forever. I'm not sorry I ran or served or ran again, but the experience taken as a whole definitely left me with mixed feelings, and I can no longer unequivocally urge people to run -- you have to be ready for unreal quantities of damage to your reputation, earning potential, family, and health, if things take a bad turn. My opponent had to be hospitalized twice because of the stress from her own supporters (she had the crazies) and lost so much weight people thought she had cancer. And this was a local campaign for an unpaid position on a board controlling a budget of only $150 million, that got nasty after a principal got fired for cheating on standardized state tests (and lying about it). There wasn't any larger, foundational policy issue at stake; people were just pissed a guy they liked got fired for cheating. We weren't even fighting over anything that mattered, like funding inequalities for education, or class sizes, or the state's failure to pay its state aid obligations, or racial inequality in local education, or aging infrastructure ... just people pissed about one personnel decision.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:05 PM on October 19, 2015 [79 favorites]


PS, when people say they don't want any more of this local government that protects the good old boy network and lets incompetent people stay in high-paying public jobs for decades, and they want public officials who will impartially hold all employees to the same standards and take action to remediate or remove those who don't perform to a reasonable standard, they are LYING LIKE RUGS.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:09 PM on October 19, 2015 [23 favorites]


He lost me at the point he said the Republicans have a viable plan for taking the White House.
posted by corb at 4:22 PM on October 19, 2015




This point of view probably won't be popular here, but I want to share it to maybe bring another perspective to the table.

I'm someone who has generally identified as a democrat, and I at one time voted pretty strongly democractic. But at this point, I haven't voted in years, am not even registered to vote, and I doubt I'll ever vote again. Why? Two reasons. First, I lost faith that my vote actually made an impact, and indeed even that who was eventually elected would make any real difference in the outcome. And second, I found that in order to vote intelligently, I had to pay a lot of attention to politics, and the political scene is so toxic that paying close attention has a real material negative impact on my quality of life. Bottom line, when I asked why I'm subjecting myself to so much stress and negativity for something that I believe has virtually no impact on real life, I couldn't come up with an answer. So I unplugged from it, and my life got noticeably better. So subtract one from the democrats' vote, and I don't think I'm completely alone (though I'm not sure if this phenomenon is skewed leftward or affects both sides equally).
posted by primethyme at 4:27 PM on October 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


"Every nation gets the government it deserves."

From afar, the body politic accepts horse trading by wealthy entrenched interests on either side of the aisle. People complain about reproductive rights, and then vote for politicians against reproductive rights. People complain about wealth inequality, and then vote for politicians the perpetuate wealth inequality.

Governance is not a football game. It's a serious matter that shapes lives and the state of the country. Obama has done an exceptional job – he's done work far beyond the title of "Democrat" and much closer to "Nation-builder", but he will be pocketed as a "Democrat".

And you'll tell me, "Well, that's the way it is. I didn't make the system. I'm just a voter." Which is precisely the problem, and precisely what perpetuates a two-party system where the candidates are generally wealthy white people from wealthy white backgrounds.

"OMG the Republicans are buying state legislatures and the Democrats have no narrative!" sounds like "Chicken little the sky is falling, the sky is falling."

You have three choices now. A career politician, a populist politician, and Donald Trump. Call it what you want, but recognise that the two party system where you can choose this white guy or that white guy exists because the people of America perpetuate it.
posted by nickrussell at 4:34 PM on October 19, 2015


The only reason Republicans do so well at the State and Governor level is gerrymandering. The Dems' "big trouble" exists in being content to bring a knife to a gun fight. That, and the DNC and DCCC suck. Howard Dean's 50-state strategy worked, and they just abandoned it. The RNC saw success there, and adopted it. Here we are.

No normal citizen would want anything to do with the shit show that is politics. If you've ever had an indiscretion you don't want exposed to the world, used drugs recreationally or been averse to spending the majority of your time raising money instead of governing, then there's no place for you in politics.
posted by Chuffy at 4:38 PM on October 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


There was an interesting piece in Bloomberg called Two Simple Reasons a Republican is likely to win in 2016 that looks at the chances of the Democrats winning a third presidential term. It points out that the likelihood of winning a third term seems linked to the popularity of the current president and that Obama's numbers don't look good enough to make that happen.
posted by sien at 4:39 PM on October 19, 2015


There is another elephant in the room, so to speak:

Televangelists and the FCC. When Reagan did away with the Fairness Doctrine, the floodgates opened for all of the conservative quacks, fed by Evangelical Christians to take over the airwaves. They walked right on in and set up the infrastructure that changed the narrative and made room for articles like this one.
posted by Chuffy at 4:43 PM on October 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


I imagine there are a million reasons why all of this is bad for Democrats, sort of like how Mitt Romney was going to win in 2012 in a landslide. You can't find an article that speaks favorably of Hillary Clinton, despite her overwhelming lead.

No money in that. We need a horse race. Let's keep feeding the kitty.
posted by Chuffy at 4:45 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well, I wouldn't call within the margin of error against Donald Trump in the general "overwhelming", but yes, this is Vox, clickbait "explained to you by omniscient 24yr olds" is pretty much all they do.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:50 PM on October 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


No doubt, failures of campaign leadership are going to be blamed on anyone but the campaign: early Bernie supporters, same-sex marriage, and Moral Mondays is my bet.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 5:04 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sure, the Republicans have a foolproof plan for mobilizing the white middle class that will keep them in power forever. Unless, you know, the white middle class loses its demographic dominance. And you know, unless they knowingly dismantle the entire middle class in order to funnel wealth to their donors and masters in the top 0.1%. But you know, as long as neither of those two things happens, they're solid.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:05 PM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


this gives the Republicans an index score of 33.8... [their] best showing in the index since 1928

Yup, 1928. Or, you know, right before they caused a Depression and the nation ended up electing democratic socialist FDR four times in a row.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:07 PM on October 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


Ive volunteered to run in local races, well, I did at one point, and I'm about as left as Bernie Sanders, so you'd think the local Dems would be thrilled to have any candidate on a ballot that usually only has R and I as choices, but no. They wanted nothing to do with going outside Dallas proper into the rural areas. I told them then, and have been proven correct, that this area was going to explode in population, and we had a chance to build some incumbent love before the mansions went up...but they weren't interested.

Now, having seen what happened with Eyebrow McGee, and gamer gate, and the rise of the militant and armed Teahadists, there is zero chance I would subject my family, children, parents, friends to trying to run a campaign.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 5:10 PM on October 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


"they want public officials who will impartially hold all employees to the same standards and take action to remediate or remove those who don't perform to a reasonable standard, they are LYING LIKE RUGS."
posted by clavdivs at 5:12 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, I wouldn't call within the margin of error against Donald Trump in the general "overwhelming"

Oddly enough, by comparison, Bernie Sanders appears to beat Trump even more soundly in that CNN poll, by 53-44 (compared to Clinton's 50-45, pp. 17-18). Maybe "electability" isn't quite as much of a clear advantage for her as people think. They both do about the same against Ben Carson.
posted by dialetheia at 5:21 PM on October 19, 2015


I blame the Democratic leadership - by this I mean the DNC, the DSCC, the the DHCC, the state committees - I really wonder if they know what they are doing. They handed one of Pennsylvania's two Senate seats to Pat Toomey, only because they wanted to punish a strong candidate who disobeyed orders. They seem so tied up in their inner games and their networks, they ignore their constituency and their possibilities. They lose the Pa. 3rd. Congressional District and could have won it back, but for some reason, decided not to try. So Northwest PeeYay is stuck with Mike Kelly - a Tea Party wacko who now says he would like to House Speaker if Pat Ryan doesn't want it. All the Democrats had to do was call out Kelly for the Tea Party wacko his is, but they seem unable - too polite or something..

And the campaign committees keep calling me up and asking for money. No fucking way will I let them waste my money. I will donate only directly to candidates who act like they want to win.
posted by tommyD at 5:22 PM on October 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


This seems like a pretty natural outcome of Democrats deciding to cut the South off for a generation.

We decided the Democratic party shouldn't grant shelter to George Wallace, saying the right things on poverty and schools, and the Southern thing on race. And so the South has had nobody saying anything on poverty and school and labor and everything else. We have a generation of voters who were never exposed to those policies at the local level.

It's hard to try rebuild that relationship in a way that doesn't look like carpet-bagging. Which seems absurd on a gut level, except that the only thing all Americans agree on is that an outsider doesn't have the right to interfere in taxing their tea. Much less anything of importance.

Looking at it that way, it makes complete sense that the party of Lincoln couldn't be the party of the Civil Rights Act. Which is a depressing fact, since the Republicans will have to fight a pretty loud civil war in their ranks to pass any landmark legislation. But if LBJ can override Strom Thurmond's filibuster, maybe anything really is possible.
posted by politikitty at 5:38 PM on October 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


Like Chuffy and Overhauser, I mourn the 50 State Strategy. I'm not omniscient, so I can't promise things would have looked better at the state level if it had been continued, but really. Probably my first big disappointment with Obama.
posted by galaxy rise at 5:40 PM on October 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


I personally think it's the Democrats themselves who aren't doing shit to nurture snake people.

So, uh... has the "millennials to snake people" plugin escaped the Matrix, or what? Did I step into a reality where millennials actually are snake people? (I certainly hope so -- who else could contest the Lizard Person secret hegemony?)
posted by No-sword at 5:48 PM on October 19, 2015


I disagree. The GOP is in an existential crisis, whereas the Dems are in the same crisis everyone else is.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:03 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Every nation gets the government it deserves."

Horseshit.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:06 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I personally think it's the Democrats themselves who aren't doing shit to nurture snake people. Many of my friends have applied to work at Congressional offices (for a chance at being paid!), only to be told to give up months of their lives to be burned out for political campaigns, working as volunteers/unpaid interns, if they want a chance at politics.
This rings true and there's a related aspect: in general, the left-leaning organizations recruit heavily for volunteers and then waste those volunteers’ time on low-benefit, high-burnout activities. I never see conservative organizations telling their bright, motivated people that the best thing they can do is harass people on their way to work or by spamming their phones (dear old managers: people under around 40 will avoid going seeing the doctor about a problem if it requires a phone call. You need to learn how to use the internet). In DC, it's sad to see how downbeat the volunteers look at the end of the day – this is a fairly liberal city so they'll even get some positive feedback but they obviously know that they're not doing anything of value and the burnout rate shows how that unfolds. Nobody gets enthusiastic about getting ignored or told “I donate online” while their bosscoordinator is saying their numbers are too low.

NPR had a good interview with Dana Fisher, author of “Activism, Inc.” about her study of burnout rates. I think she makes a solid case that squandering so much enthusiasm is going to hurt the Democratic party at every level for at least a generation. It's much harder to get someone to care again than to avoid burning them out in the first place.
posted by adamsc at 6:07 PM on October 19, 2015 [21 favorites]


It isn't just the Democrats. Both parties are struggling. Look at the messy situation with Republican leadership in the House and Senate. Have a Majority Leader and Speaker ever been subject to such abuse by their own ranks?
posted by humanfont at 6:08 PM on October 19, 2015


primethyme,
voting is necessary but not sufficient for change. I get that it's difficult to see the impact of a single voter, but that's how it works. We're all in the same boat. We all have to vote, it's a duty, not a privilege.

I also get that paying attention to politics is depressing. Currently it's not actually that difficult to know how to vote. Things are so polarized that it is trivial to decide. But even if it did require some real effort to pay attention, that's the price of democracy. You don't get to enjoy the benefits without participating. Well, obviously you do, but that's one of the problems with democracy. And avoiding the awful circus that we have now will only lead to an even worse circus.
posted by sineater at 6:10 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


So, uh... has the "millennials to snake people" plugin escaped the Matrix, or what? Did I step into a reality where millennials actually are snake people? (I certainly hope so -- who else could contest the Lizard Person secret hegemony?)

I'm giggling, because I used snake people for that purpose. Considering many people seriously consider us as snake people, might as well reclaim it! (It's also because it's a MeFi joke I've picked up from watching many a thread about Millenials. I just think it's hilarious.)
posted by yueliang at 6:11 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


And second, I found that in order to vote intelligently, I had to pay a lot of attention to politics, and the political scene is so toxic that paying close attention has a real material negative impact on my quality of life. Bottom line, when I asked why I'm subjecting myself to so much stress and negativity for something that I believe has virtually no impact on real life, I couldn't come up with an answer.

If this keeps you from voting, that's fine. But I am completely incapable of ignoring politics because it is a 24-7 creeping carnival of insanity and hilarity and bile and sometimes IT AFFECTS YOU. You may not be able to vote the dingbats out of office, you may not be able to get the good ones to do the right thing, but by cracky there is nothing else quite like it in the world. Bible-thumpers and fruitcakes and philanderers and blowhards and moral crusaders and criminals and sleazeballs and self-promoters and the occasional good egg all wrestling for your vote and your money and your children and what you're allowed to do with your genitals.

Stunning lapses of judgment, ridiculous displays of hypocrisy, weapons-grade ineptitude and your tax dollars are paying for it, so you might as well enjoy the ride. As one of the great sages put it:

The thing is this: You got to have fun while you're fightin' for freedom, 'cause you don't always win.

So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was.

posted by delfin at 6:26 PM on October 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


Speaking as a conservative, I used to worry about not being politically involved enough. However in the past few years, my career is really starting to find its groove, the family is doing well, and we have found a nice stable community to live in. I find a wellspring of energy to devote to conservative causes both local and national that I didn't imagine I would have only a few years back. The years of hard work and sensible decisions are really staring to pay off, and I'm only in my early 30s...imagine how active I can become in the next 40 years. Continuing to have more children is somewhat stressful, but the investment now will pay off even more in the decades to come.
posted by fraxil at 6:34 PM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Democrats are in trouble because Republicans actually breed their replacements, because they need to: voting against their interests relies on brainwashing and childish mental framing. It's the real reason they hate abortion, and that's why they enjoy those contradictions, like forcing people to breed and then refusing to subsidize any of it. It's their favorite practical joke on people not like them.
posted by Brian B. at 6:44 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


If there's any major plank of the GOP platform that I believe Republicans sincerely believe through and through with moral passion, it's abortion. Which isn't to say that I agree with their moral reasoning there (I don't) but there's a reason that issue is such an intractable fundraising wedge-issue.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:48 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


They wanted nothing to do with going outside Dallas proper into the rural areas.

Quoted for truth. To be competitive at the state and Congressional levels, the Ds absolutely *must* find some way to reach out to the rural half of the country, including the far-flung exurbs who think/consider themselves rural.

Not only is it is solid 50% of the country (in round numbers) but due to the way our political system is set up BY DESIGN OF THE NATION'S FOUNDERS this rural part of the country has MORE POLITICAL POWER than the densely populated urban areas.

Rural states have (proportionately) more power. Rural parts of each state have (proportionately) more power.

This is a simple and unchangeable fact of U.S. political life and no political party can afford to ignore this fact and survive.

But from people who live in cities, I see little interest in reaching out to rural areas about anything. It's like rural people live on a different planet--one they want nothing to do with.

I really wouldn't take that much to develop some D policies and a political platform that would be very appealing to a large number of folks in rural areas, and make some truly competitive elections in those places.

The 50-state strategy writ large--don't take it just to every one of the 50 states, but to every Congressional District and every state legislative district.

It really wouldn't take much to make it a reality.
posted by flug at 6:51 PM on October 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


and make some truly competitive elections in those places.

And the flip side of Democrats districting problem/Gerrymandering is that most D congressional districts are super-strong D--which is bad for the Democrats in certain ways (a safe seat fosters a certain non-helpful mindset) but terrible for Republican's chances of ever winning such a district.

But many Republican Districts have a far more modest bias in the R direction--often just 5-10%. This is how they end up with far more offices held when they have fewer voters.

But it leaves these districts far more vulnerable. A nationwide shift of 5-10% and these Rs are suddenly losing.

That's the gamble of the Gerrymander--you have more seats but they are more tenuously held. A smart strategy would find ways to vigorously attack this weak point.
posted by flug at 6:57 PM on October 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


flug: taking what you're saying, the best Democratic activists I know are all about making Unions strong again. That works for urban areas; what's the equivalent leftist policy to drive support in Rural areas? (I'm not saying there isn't one, or many. I'm just not coming up with a sellable one off the top of my head.)
posted by Navelgazer at 7:02 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


You know fraxil, that's something I can really see. When I was a lefty in my 20s, I burned out pretty hard because I felt like it was life or death and how dare I not give my all? When I got more conservative I took a few years off from causes, gave money not time, and as a result I feel refreshed enough that I think of getting back involved every now and then. But I would never in a million years get involved even with a Dem cause I support - it always seems to require far greater levels of commitment, more than I have in me.
posted by corb at 7:05 PM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Just let the GOP keep bashing minorities. They may have had a wave in past years but the tsunami coming may wipe them out. The leading GOP candidate wants to round up 12 million people and ship them out of the country. Something tells me that this message doesn't have a rosy future for the Republicans.
posted by Muncle at 7:06 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


what's the equivalent leftist policy to drive support in Rural areas?

Farm bill (keep farm families working), drug policy reform (everyone knows someone who grows a little or who's fucked up their life because of bad meth), infrastructure investment (better roads and better jobs).
posted by Etrigan at 7:10 PM on October 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


what's the equivalent leftist policy to drive support in Rural areas?

Well, how about taking some strong stands on farm policy that would favor the little guys over big corporate interests?

And then there's a few basics, like you know, jobs, decent schools, access to health care. There is no reason on earth a Democrat couldn't be passionate about a few things rural Americans are very interested in, like the farm and agricultural economy, hunting, local control vs big government bureaucracy, economic development in smaller towns & rural areas, transportation, etc etc etc.
posted by flug at 7:12 PM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also, population decline in small towns/rural areas is at the root of many of the problems in such areas. Come up with a Big Picture, realistic, people-oriented way to maintain rural economies and lifestyle and you could really be tapping into something.

Near as I can tell, nobody in the Democratic Party is even making a case for why people in rural communities should be seriously considering them. Whatever the Republican policy/strategy is in these areas, make sure to have a D policy that is one step better.
posted by flug at 7:16 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


what's the equivalent leftist policy to drive support in Rural areas?

Union manufacturing jobs. But that ship sailed in the 70s, and here we are today.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:33 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thanks, all. I assumed that there's a good-seized group who feel trapped under the thumb of Monsanto, et. el. I figure union support could be popular in mining districts. But in my somewhat limited experience what most of these areas are looking for is jobs and opportunity, and that looks like a tougher sell when the businesses with the potential to come into town are so deeply in bed with republicans promising them zero oversight and near-zero taxes.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:42 PM on October 19, 2015


Centrism encourages voters to stay home. We can't get people out of their homes to vote if we actively diminish their policy options. The establishment left ignores the grassroots under this delusion that more votes for reactionaries = be more reactionary. I have no idea how many times ostensibly left-wing political parties in NA and Europe are going to keep making the centrism mistake before realizing this strategy is a failure. I guess the grassroots will have to overtake the effort to stop this regression.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:45 PM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Okay, so this is my Grand Unified Theory (tm) of American politics. I'm only gonna post it once, so it might as well be here. Let's call it the Old House Theory.

So, you've got this grand old house sitting up on a hill. A big, old rambling mansion. Everybody's got great memories of the elegant parties they hosted in days of yore. From the outside, it still looks beautiful (if a bit ramshackle), but anybody who's been inside lately knows it's in dire condition. The roof is about 10 years overdue for a replacement, the foundation is crumbling, the electricity is always shorting out, and the pipes are always leaking. Even worse, it's mortgaged to the hilt, and the family who lives there can't even agree on a budget from one year to the next.

The Democrats are the ones who try to keep the lights on. No long-term vision. No grand plans. No real solutions. They run around placing buckets underneath leaky pipes, patching holes with spackle, and jerry rigging the wires when the electricity shorts out. When something breaks, they put a patch on it and hope for the best. "We just need to make it through another year," they say, "if we can just keep things going for one more year, we can avert disaster." And in this manner, the house stays up, even as its condition steadily deteriorates.

The Republicans, on they other hand, are like, "Fuck it. Let's burn the place down! Yeah, people live here, but if they just buck up and tighten their belts a bit, surely they can find new homes!" Their message gets a lot of traction, for it's absolutely clear to everyone involved that the house is in terrible shape; the very prospect of fixing it seems like an exercise in wishful thinking. Furthermore, they Republicans come off as bold! Audacious! Maybe even a bit rakish! Think Alex P. Keaton from Family Ties. They're they ones charging in with the new ideas! Sure, they're bad ideas, and when push comes to shove, they don't really seem to care how people will find new homes once the mansion burns down. But all the Democrats have to offer is more of the same, and everybody agrees that the current situation sucks! Who in their right minds want more of that?

And that's where we've been ever since Reagan. The Tea Party is just the latest iteration of house-burners. The only way out of this is for the Democrats to steal the Republicans' thunder and become the party of bold, audacious ideas. And to be unapologetic about it. It's the only way we're going to win. We can no longer afford to be the party that just keeps the lights on. We need a plan for fixing the damn house. And this is an area where we really can win, because ultimately the Republicans will never have a plan to fix the house; after a few generations of pushing a house-burning agenda, it's not even clear they know how to fix houses anymore. And ultimately, if you take people aside and talk to them one-on-one about the things that really matter, you'll find they actually love the house. Can't imagine life without it. They're just tired of living in a broken-down mess of a house.

And that, my friends, is the Old House Theory of American Politics.
posted by panama joe at 8:00 PM on October 19, 2015 [22 favorites]


Sounds like the proper authorities should condemn the unsafe structure!
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 8:08 PM on October 19, 2015


Okay, so putting these ideas into, well, something closer to practice, let's start with Wisconsin. Seems like a no-brainer place to start: decent population, a solid mix of industrial and rural economies with a hell of a lot of tradition and pride behind them. Walker's anti-union tyranny has probably generated enough backlash by now for a real pro-union sentiment to flourish. How do we foster that, and what do the dairy farmers need? If we're playing Fantasy Party-Chair, what do we do to bring in Wisconsin?
posted by Navelgazer at 8:22 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Very loud rock and roll music to scare away all of the old people.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:24 PM on October 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


The answer is to wait for the old people to die. That's how change happens.
posted by Justinian at 9:21 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Uh, I realize that's kind of morbid. Sorry.
posted by Justinian at 9:21 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


He lists a bunch of structural problems that are either inherently pro-Republican (geography, money, the Senate) or inherently resistant to change (incumbent advantage, gerrymandering), and then somehow argues that the Republican advantage is due to their "flexible" moderate candidates and that Democrats need to stop "marching steadily to the left" and start "nominating unusually conservative candidates to run in unusually conservative states." It's one thing to mis-disagnose the problem, but to make policy conclusions that completely contradict your first 1000 words suggests something more malign, especially when that policy advice just happens to be the usual trolling suggestion that party X shift towards party Y for its own good. The whole point of these structural issues, and the increased partisanship that goes with them, is that minor shifts in ideological position make almost no electoral difference anymore. The idea that this time, finally, a few more Blue Dog local Dems will save the party is perverse to the point of pathological. It's bizarre even for Yglesias.
posted by chortly at 9:34 PM on October 19, 2015 [12 favorites]


Okay, so putting these ideas into, well, something closer to practice, let's start with Wisconsin. Seems like a no-brainer place to start: decent population, a solid mix of industrial and rural economies with a hell of a lot of tradition and pride behind them. Walker's anti-union tyranny has probably generated enough backlash by now for a real pro-union sentiment to flourish.

Doubtful. Walker is now unpopular here, but the reason his anti-union campaign was successful is that unions are just not that popular. I live in the most liberal part of the state and I don't see a lot of backlash against Act 10 apart from people who are actually in unions, which -- and this is kind of the point -- is not that many people anymore. Dissatisfaction with Walker is much more tied to his embrace of national GOP planks that don't play well here: stringent abortion restrictions, guns everywhere, stripping away good government protections, etc.

How do we foster that, and what do the dairy farmers need? If we're playing Fantasy Party-Chair, what do we do to bring in Wisconsin?

I don't want to be a jerk about this, but what we don't need is people from the coasts asking what the "dairy farmers" -- at this point, not that huge a portion of our economy -- need.

What's more, the rural parts of Wisconsin are not strongly Republican. Maybe slightly Republican at most, and it depends which part of the state. The GOP power base here isn't farm country; it's the suburbs of Milwaukee. That's where GOP money comes from, that's where GOP votes come from.
posted by escabeche at 9:59 PM on October 19, 2015 [12 favorites]


adamsc, I deeply appreciate your comment, especially because I've worked as a canvasser, and a campaigner (for my own campus campaign, as well as having to turn down offers for being recruited to work for other political campaigns). Activism, inc REEKS. I have routinely warned many of my friends against burnout culture, and have told them that no political cause is worth their terrible health, even if we are passionate about it. If I have to say such a message, then many things are explicitly broken with the system of institutional burnout. I have also voiced my opinions and made suggestions for change, only to be met with "well, we can't do that right now. That's just how things are and have been, and I guess you may want to find a different place. It's difficult!" Really? It's so difficult that you are failing to see how it's connected to your own membership retention rates? I may not have the entire picture, but I think I've been burned enough.

The Democrats always shit on the conservatives for all their practices, but as a person with leftist politics, I'm actually very impressed with the dedication that the Republicans and conservatives do to mobilize their base. I also deeply appreciate the intense difficulty that all of my leftist union worker and activist friends do, to stay committed to their message even when Democrats are not truly protecting worker's rights and eroding housing laws.

I appreciate how both of these political constituent groups actually stick to an agenda, know their audience, get to know their needs, and then don't ever flinch or move from that position. It's quite masterful.
posted by yueliang at 10:20 PM on October 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


The GOP power base here isn't farm country; it's the suburbs of Milwaukee. That's where GOP money comes from, that's where GOP votes come from.

Brilliant point - I've always thought suburbia was a potent place for political campaigns - how exactly do you get people with such insular communities to get out and participate for the Democratic causes? I mean, the GOP is all about protecting wealth, which echoes to me the purpose of suburbia - a peaceful respite from the world of work, with your children, and protecting so called American values. I've lived in both liberal and conservative suburbia, but I'm trying to figure out how campaigning in those areas would work.
posted by yueliang at 10:27 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Joey Michaels: I think young Democrats look at this shit and go "I'm going to be dragged through the dirt, my family is going to be dragged through the dirt, and for what? If I have a job, I'm going to have to put that on hold. If I don't have a job, how am I going to afford to run without sucking up to people with money? Besides, I've met some politicians and they're insane and out of touch."

This is a big part of what has kept me out of politics (though my story can’t touch what Eyebrows McGee suffered). For a few years, I was a Democratic precinct committeeman -- the lowest level of elected political participation -- in a red county. It didn't take meeting too many people to show me that politicians and their sycophants are among the scum of the earth, not worthy of being pissed on if they were on fire.

At one point, I was the treasurer for a brother-in-law’s run for a county commission seat. My BIL was well-known and well-liked in the county, but the Republican won despite being known far and wide as someone who had trouble summoning the brainpower to tie his shoes each morning. It was strictly a matter of the R and the D next to the names. So stupid people got the county government they deserved. And so it is all over Kansas.

Eisenhower famously did not “want to get in the gutter with” McCarthy, and the result was a reign of terror by a moral midget. My refusal to get involved makes me culpable in my day. I apologize to posterity, but I just don’t have it in me to fight.
posted by bryon at 11:57 PM on October 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


I think a great deal has to be done with confronting racism as the elephant in the room. The standard left-center prescription for failed Democratic Party strategy is typically to be more forthright in embracing populist economics that attacks how we are all screwed by economic elites. The problem is that "populist economics plus heavy side order of racism" (Donald Trump) is much more popular unfiltered populist economics (Bernie Sanders). Democrats might try to come up with some version of "populist economics plus culturally conservative branding that's not quite as racist" (say, Jim Webb), but that completely kills the enthusiasm of the Democratic base and the branding doesn't fool the Trump voters who want the real thing. In addition, a major reason why the media voter is tolerating voter ID, evisceration of the Voter Rights Act, and disenfranchisement (which, in turn, shoves the median voter to the right after the "undesirable" votes are screened out) is that a lot of right-leaning whites don't want to see their vote "diluted" by what they see as greedy nonwhite people wanting "free stuff" they didn't earn. This has to be confronted head on.
posted by jonp72 at 2:29 AM on October 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


what's the equivalent leftist policy to drive support in Rural areas?

I can't point to a specific policy, but I do think that this is an area that Bernie has an advantage over other Democratic candidates - he was governor of one of the more rural states (it's largest city barely qualifies as an actual city; it's closer to town sized). He's spent his entire political career winning over rural voters (other than when he was mayor of Burlington).

His nuanced stance on gun ownership is a reflection of this rural constituency.
posted by el io at 4:08 AM on October 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


And that, my friends, is the Old House Theory of American Politics.

That's a very neat and tidy theory. But there's a couple problems with it. First, it's a near certainty that GOP voters see the Democrats as the ones who are objectively burning everything down, but their candidates are the noble saviors come to "make America great again". Second, while the majority of voters may or may not universally agree that the country is in rough shape, they disagree sharply on what exactly is wrong, what needs to be fixed, in what scale of priorities, and how. Third, and most importantly, a great many (far too many) voters are being actively lied to about what needs fixing or redoing, if they even have access to that kind of information in the first place. And that's before we take into account that we're talking about human voters here, who will often vote against their own interests out of spite for other groups, because their parents, friends or region are voting a particular way, and because of aforementioned lying and misinformation. I think it would be a mistake to think that there's this universally-agreed upon objective reality about the state of the country, what needs to be addressed most and how, and what either party are doing for (or to) the country.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 4:36 AM on October 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think she makes a solid case that squandering so much enthusiasm is going to hurt the Democratic party at every level for at least a generation.

I know most of the post this quote was pulled from was about burn out, but I think "squandering so much enthusiasm" is where the democrats have failed. Candidate Obama did so much to inspire people to get involved, but, at least in my state, the party machine didn't really seem to know what to do with all of these new people.
posted by missmerrymack at 5:24 AM on October 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


I do think that this is an area that Bernie has an advantage over other Democratic candidates - he was governor of one of the more rural states

You may be thinking of Howard Dean. Sanders was never Governor of Vermont -- he ran several times and never placed higher than third.
posted by Etrigan at 5:57 AM on October 20, 2015


Everybody keeps harping on the Reagan era and the (what I call) resultant Cartooning of America, but to my mind the end of a liberal and progressive politic happened in McGovern's devastating loss in '72. In my opinion that was the watershed moment when voters exhibited their terror of the exhilarating (but chaotic) changes wrought in the 60's. I can't stress how important it was at the time to pin and cement in place a Democratic presidency at that exact moment, just to keep our options wide enough to hope that voting, voting!, that simple act, could evince actual change when and where needed.

As many younger people posting above have noted, that belief doesn't seem to have any legs anymore.
posted by Chitownfats at 6:49 AM on October 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Bernie Sanders' problem is that he strategically embraced the epithet "socialist" to label and brand himself, which was never true. Although perhaps shrewd in the Northeast, it doesn't work anywhere else. He doesn't even take the available teaching moment to nail the difference between socialism and communism (such as state distribution of services versus state production of services) which should make anyone pause. But he's definitely holding up Denmark, a form of populism that appeals to idealists who cherry-pick Europe as a model, but Europe has a very different political structure where the winner does not take all, which makes ours a pragmatist's game to lose, not an idealist's game to win.
posted by Brian B. at 7:26 AM on October 20, 2015


Conservative's Guy Giorno: The NDP underperformed and that hurt us.

"We couldn't split the liberals and 2/3 of the country fucking hates us."
posted by Talez at 8:45 AM on October 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Candidate Obama did so much to inspire people to get involved, but, at least in my state, the party machine didn't really seem to know what to do with all of these new people.

I suspect the problem was really that the people in the party machine might have lost influence if the machine expanded so rapidly. So they ignored them as best they could, while making fun of them if forced to acknowledge their existence.

You can see pretty obvious version of that with the reaction of the old British Labour Party to the groundswell of support that Jeremy Corbyn brought in.
posted by overhauser at 9:29 AM on October 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


Bernie Sanders' problem is that he strategically embraced the epithet "socialist" to label and brand himself, which was never true.

I'm vaguely sympathetic to the argument, but this article comes down to hair splitting between "democratic socialist" and "social democrat". That can be a real distinction, but it's an awful fine line to draw for your "not really a socialist" tear-down.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:01 AM on October 20, 2015


in terms of demographics consider this...
posted by judson at 10:05 AM on October 20, 2015


Obama The Candidate had a major disconnect from Obama the newly elected POTUS. He pissed off his base immediately.

America had just endured 6 years of complete Republican control of both houses, the presidency and the Supreme Court. The Democratic Party took over control of Congress, and the first thing Obama did 2 years later, in the eyes of many of the people who took to the streets to get him elected, was flip Progressives the bird. People wanted blood, but Chimpeachment was already off the table, the economic disaster was in full swing, and Obama seemed intent on extending an olive branch to the rabid right-wing instead of fighting them.

In his early years, he basically extended the Republican agenda on almost everything - education, LGBT issues, economic issues, refusing to hold the Bush Admin responsible for anything...there is a long list. People wanted action, and he lost a LOT of good will from his base at the time. Then they lost seats to the Teabaggers and here we are.

The Party Machine has done next to nothing to inspire anyone in their ranks, and the Democratic Party has done quite a bit to stifle or subdue their Progressive base. The base that was ignored, marginalized and told they weren't playing nice, so they didn't have a seat at the table. Like I said earlier, bring a knife to a gun fight and see what happens. Piss off your backup, and this is what we wound up with.

People in the Democratic establishment have been tacking center-right for so long, and they've been letting the Republican Party dictate the terms and conditions for so long, that they can't even see the forest for the trees.
posted by Chuffy at 10:18 AM on October 20, 2015 [9 favorites]


Why the raging dysfunction in Washington is the new normal
A paradox of the American separation-of-powers system is that actions like a government shutdown can hurt the reputation of Congress as a whole without threatening the electability of most individual members, a paradox Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has exploited brilliantly. Whereas congressional leaders in the opposition used to think that they had to collaborate on at least some issues with a president to avoid being punished, McConnell and other contemporary leaders have recognized that denying the president accomplishments hurts the president more than it hurts them. And lest any Republican member of Congress consider returning to the old norms for the good of the country — I know, but let's pretend for a second — they're likely to face a viable primary challenge.

Does this mean, as Yglesias argues, that American democracy is "doomed"? This is unclear. But it does mean that the dysfunction in Washington, D.C., is likely to get worse before it gets better. And pretending that any single reform — no matter how worthy in itself — can solve these deeper problems is whistling past the graveyard.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:38 AM on October 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Like a doctor who diagnoses your cancer then tells you to eat peach pits, this article is half-educated horseshit.

The central problem is that the moderate voter is a fantasy. Voters are a mishmosh of various extreme positions, and tend to vote for people who project the closest match on their most extreme issues. Someone who is pro-life, an environmentalist and cares about labor solidarity will still pull the lever for a lunatic neo-fascist so long as they promise to end abortion; otherwise reliable Democrats will vote for a Republican if they think "illegals" are the reason the mill closed. The catch is that almost all voters want to see themselves as moderates.

Which is why Yglesias is worse than useless on this.

"Who are the up-and comers in the Democratic party? I have a friend who worked in the Obama administration early on, and the burnout is palpable."

Hi, I'm in California. We're gonna have at least one great new Senator coming up: Kamala Harris. If Gavin isn't our new governor, he'll probably look to take the second senate seat. The LA area has a ton of charismatic Latina/os that will be looking to move up soon, including our mayor. There are more candidates than there are offices.

Unfortunately, the best, most reliable way to convince Americans to turn away from the Republican right, is probably to let the Republicans take over and subject the nation to about a decade or so of right-wing hell. The problem, of course, is that there's no guarantee there would be an America (or any other nation, for that matter) left standing after ten years of that. But, it would most certainly convince people to never do that again.

Doesn't work. Never works. This is one of those zombie memes that needs a railroad spike to its head. The result of a shitty party making everything worse is that there's just not much short of apocalyptic nuclear war that voters immediately connect with the ruling party that the party actually controls. Like, they'll blame a president for the economy of the guy before him, credit their local rep with federal programs, etc. etc. All getting a shitty party in does is fuck over people lowest on the ladder. This idea would work if the world was just, but if we had a just world we'd never need anything as clumsy as voting.

I think a majority of the country supports the Democratic position on most issues. But that support may not be very deep for a lot of economic issues, and it's not enough in many cases to counteract the forces favoring Republicans in state and local elections (districting, turnout, individual candidates). I think things would be different under a Parliamentary system, because as long as the Republican party is led by the extremists currently in charge, they wouldn't be able to get more than 47% of the vote.

Going with a hunch because it makes a snappy slogan: Americans agree with the Democratic position on most of the things that it wants to have happen, but Americans also agree with the Republican position on most of the things they don't want to happen. They do want a humane immigration policy, but they don't want a bunch of $foreigners taking their jobs. They do care about civil liberties, but they don't want a bunch of $foreigners blowing them up.

I'm someone who has generally identified as a democrat, and I at one time voted pretty strongly democractic. But at this point, I haven't voted in years, am not even registered to vote, and I doubt I'll ever vote again. Why? Two reasons. First, I lost faith that my vote actually made an impact, and indeed even that who was eventually elected would make any real difference in the outcome.

One of the perverse things about voting is that you're right that your vote is very unlikely to actually make THE difference — the efficacy of any given vote is very low, especially in e.g. presidential contests. But by talking about how you're going to vote, you make people in your social network more likely to vote themselves, if I recall correctly something on the order of 10 percent each for first level, then like one percent for second level contacts. My hunch is that part of that is based on the relative credibility of you voting — you would likely be less credible if you didn't go down to the polls. I don't think it scales linearly — it's not 10 percent for each friend in the network, e.g. two of their friends saying they'd vote makes them 20 percent more likely — but it does have a real effect, and that network effect is almost certainly more effective (if more than 10 people know you're going to vote) than your actual vote. The actual vote is less effective for getting policies passed that you like than saying you're going to vote and following through with it.

And second, I found that in order to vote intelligently, I had to pay a lot of attention to politics, and the political scene is so toxic that paying close attention has a real material negative impact on my quality of life. Bottom line, when I asked why I'm subjecting myself to so much stress and negativity for something that I believe has virtually no impact on real life, I couldn't come up with an answer. So I unplugged from it, and my life got noticeably better. So subtract one from the democrats' vote, and I don't think I'm completely alone (though I'm not sure if this phenomenon is skewed leftward or affects both sides equally).

Kinda. I mean, for local politics, which is often a one-party gig, you do have to pay attention and it's often pretty damn toxic — c.f. Eyebrows. But for higher level politics? It's rare that you're going to end up worse for voting for the Democrat. You need to pay attention if you want to do things like lobby your representatives for specific policies or legislation, or if you want to call attention to the shady shit that even good politicians get up to when they think nobody's looking, but for the basic level of civic engagement — just fucking vote straight ticket Dem. From a game theory perspective, that's the least likely to fuck you in the longterm. If you decide you want to get back into caring, sure, put in the research, vote in primaries, even vote for a Green or a Republican or two. (Back to local one-party politics, I used to date a girl whose father was a county supervisor. He was left of Bernie Sanders and his biggest issue was legalizing weed. He also won year in and year out as a Republican because the district's been straight-ticket GOP since basically the Civil War.)

Okay, so putting these ideas into, well, something closer to practice, let's start with Wisconsin. Seems like a no-brainer place to start: decent population, a solid mix of industrial and rural economies with a hell of a lot of tradition and pride behind them. Walker's anti-union tyranny has probably generated enough backlash by now for a real pro-union sentiment to flourish. How do we foster that, and what do the dairy farmers need? If we're playing Fantasy Party-Chair, what do we do to bring in Wisconsin?

As other people mentioned, the suburbs and exurbs are the real problem in Wisconsin, not the rural areas. My family's up outside of Soldiers Grove on the west side of the state, and the area's pretty liberal — Soldiers Grove was the first solar city in America, rebuilt under Carter after the floods of '78. Viroqua, the "big city" that people go to, is known as "the town that beat Walmart" by having specific local business programs that kept their retail going after the vampire squid moved in.

But for rural America generally, the message I'd go with is that we can make America great again by investing in America, especially rural America. Demographics mean that yeah, some small towns are going to die off. But there's no reason that we can't make sure that small towns and small cities can't flourish by emphasizing what does make them great — everything from local food traditions to creating small business centers. In order to do that, we need to make sure that people in rural America have access to the sorts of infrastructure that can really help them, especially broadband internet. The REA became a joke by the end of its life, but with a bit of fiber, there's no reason that small mechanics can't be using 3d printers to innovate on agricultural machinery, just like there's no reason why our agricultural incentives have to be set up to favor massive industrial agriculture instead of letting small farmers collaborate with an emphasis on developing new varietals and making sure that they're recognized for the unique things they can grow.

I know that European comparisons are problematic — everyone thinks it's a socialist hellhole — but you go to Italy, you see villages and towns that have survived for over a thousand years in much the same rural atmosphere, and it's by getting good at something local and being known for it — whether it's grapes, olives, pottery, whatever.

I'd also really emphasize the difference between rural firearms ownership and urban. I know what sheep look like when the neighbor lets a pack of dogs roam — I know that it takes too long to get the sheriff out there, and sometimes you gotta shoot to protect a herd. I know that having a pistol for that and a long gun to hunt isn't really a problem in a rural area. Gun control isn't about rural life, by and large. It's about the goddamn lunatic that's stockpiling shit and driving in to a suburban school. I also know that by and large, people keep tabs on each other in rural areas — in suburbs and cities, there's too many people to do that effectively. We do need more gun control to deal with urban and suburban mass shooters, but too many of the policies forget that rural areas have different needs and different norms. And even with all the mass shootings in the news, overall firearms deaths are down and have been trending down for over a decade.

Getting back to the thrust of this article, Yglesias is too far up his own ass to recognize that the Democrat platform is pretty damn easy to articulate: Jobs and sticking up for the little guy. Rural areas need well paid, fulfilling jobs, jobs that aren't going to ask you to trade your hand for a minimum wage shift at a slaughterhouse, jobs that are going to support a family, jobs that are going to let people afford a weekend off on a ski-doo or jetski, jobs that are going to let people own their home and keep it. Jobs are what keep people off meth and oxy, jobs are what keeps kids in the towns they grew up. But the old manufacturing base (while it isn't as rotted as you'd think from mainstream rhetoric) isn't going to be the road to a future. And shifting to an economy that can support everyone, including rural areas, means that we are going to have to raise taxes on the rich. You want the short version of why family farms are failing? Because rich sons of bitches are sucking all the money out of the economy and leaving none for rural America. You might get a few kingshits out in the sticks, but the Koch Brothers are spending money that could be going to your farm on two things: New York opera and paying people to come up with new ways to rip you off. Without making sure that some of their obscene wealth goes back to the land, they'll suck it dry like corn sucks nitrogen — taxes are the soybeans of society. Hardly anybody really likes 'em, but they're necessary for the longterm sustainability of America.
posted by klangklangston at 10:42 AM on October 20, 2015 [22 favorites]


I mean, if "let's just let the GOP shit all over the country for about 10 years" worked, eight years of one of the worst administrations in history would have left us with a Dem majority in both houses. What happened instead was - surprise! - it actually emboldened the party and its voters to get more power. Imagine that.

Plus I'm not really willing to throw women and minorities under the bus in the vain hope that the left will mobilize in the next decade or so out of sheer altruistic outrage.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 11:39 AM on October 20, 2015 [9 favorites]


It did leave us with a D majority in both houses, the Dems just demonstrated very quickly how good they are at staying in power.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:14 PM on October 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


How do we foster that, and what do the dairy farmers need? If we're playing Fantasy Party-Chair, what do we do to bring in Wisconsin?

I thought I'd chime in with some insights: My father in law is a Wisconsin dairy farmer. He's educated (with a degree in biochemistry from U Wisconsin in Madison), very intelligent and kind and I respect him a lot. He's also a long time member of the Republican party and has been on his county board for 30+ years. (I'm strongly left-leaning; we essentially don't discuss politics.) From what I've gathered, his main reasons are the traditionally farmer-friendly policies in the Republican party and the issue of abortion. (He's a Catholic very much involved with his church.) He's decidedly not friendly with the tea part; they seem indeed largely suburb-based and he doesn't share their anti-government stance (having been in government offices for decades). He's a strong supporter of local public libraries, for example. He's also introduced initiatives against urban spawl encroaching on farmland. These were opposed by the tea party faction (as that would have meant substantial government expenses, for once) and defeated in a public referendum.

Could you bring him over to the Democrats? Not without substantially strengthening the pro-life faction in the party, I believe.
posted by tecg at 12:57 PM on October 20, 2015 [3 favorites]




Obama the candidate was pretty clear about what he'd be. At least mostly. I was in Sweden in 08, and people were asking me what he stood for. I told them he was roughly like their Moderate Party, and no social democrat. If people thought he was Bernie Sanders, well, that's at least partly their own fault for not looking at his policy papers, votes, etc.

I think he's been a very good president, fwiw. And in some ways I was disappointed. Mostly he was was I expected.
posted by persona au gratin at 1:21 AM on October 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


« Older Archive.org, WHOIS Lookups, & Facebook >> WaPo...   |   I Thought I Told You To Shut Up Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments