Working From Within
August 26, 2017 11:08 AM   Subscribe

While the DSA National Convention (previously) made headlines, another political convention met in Chicago - The People's Summit - a Bernie Sanders headlined, multiple group organized, 4,000 strong meeting of American Progressives. The Katie Halper Show interviews several uo and coming candidates looking to turn the Democratic Party left. Larry Krasner, civil rights attorney running for Philadelphia DA; Paula Jean Swearengin, a coal miner's daughter running against Senator Joe Manchin to represent West Virginia; Stephen Jaffe running against Nancy Pelosi; Ginger Jentzen, running for Minneapolis City Council Ward 3, and Andre Vasquez, executive director of Reclaim Chicago/Chicago Progress.
posted by The Whelk (52 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
Stephen Jaffe running against Nancy Pelosi

Because why stop at undermining and helping destroy one powerful older, seasoned, accomplished female progressive? Worked so well in 2016.
posted by tully_monster at 11:26 AM on August 26, 2017 [33 favorites]


I recommend skipping ahead to 14:29 here to hear Paula Jean Swearengin, running to represent West Virginia cause she's god damned inspiring.
posted by The Whelk at 11:27 AM on August 26, 2017 [7 favorites]


Oh, and I love this bit from the article about Jaffe:
The plight of the elderly white male may not have been top of the mind for King when he spoke on the Washington Mall, or for the gay rioters outside New York City’s Stonewall Inn, but the country has come a long way since then.
The problem, it seems to me, is not that Pelosi is "not liberal enough," but that she's the wrong kind of liberal, the kind who has moved beyond pandering to those who have lost their entitled status and are demanding it back and instead focuses on helping people survive who never had it in the first place.
posted by tully_monster at 11:39 AM on August 26, 2017 [10 favorites]


[One comment deleted. If people want to talk about what's interesting/worthwhile in these links, great. Let's not kick off a whole thread of "Sanders supporters bad" or whatever very general negative primary-relitigating thing comes to mind; if you don't want to read about what these people are doing, please just skip it.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:52 AM on August 26, 2017 [15 favorites]


Because why stop at undermining and helping destroy one powerful older, seasoned, accomplished female progressive? Worked so well in 2016.

I don't think Pelosi is the right target, but you can't say that primarying safe officeholders from farther out on the wing is a bad strategy, based on the last decade of American politics.
posted by Etrigan at 12:12 PM on August 26, 2017 [9 favorites]


I don't think Pelosi is the right target, but you can't say that primarying safe officeholders from farther out on the wing is a bad strategy, based on the last decade of American politics.

Given that the result for the GOP is a losely federated caucus that their ostensible leaders are struggling to organize to actually do things like keep the fucking lights on, yeah, I'd say it's a bad strategy.

And no, you can't just ignore that they're looking to primary an effective legislative leader who has repeatedly shown her acumen and skill, because they feel that she's not paying enough attention to the most privileged group in America today. That's a bad position, and they should be made to feel bad for holding it.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:28 PM on August 26, 2017 [25 favorites]




Given that the result for the GOP is a losely federated caucus that their ostensible leaders are struggling to organize to actually do things like keep the fucking lights on, yeah, I'd say it's a bad strategy.

That's because they're fanatics, not because the political strategy is poor

They dominate national, state, and local government
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:35 PM on August 26, 2017 [7 favorites]


They dominate national, state, and local government

Because they actually realize the value of those tiers of government and treat gaining and maintaining power at those levels as important. Meanwhile, the left has for a long time practiced something I call the "brass ring" theory, placing an overemphasis on higher positions like the Presidency.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:42 PM on August 26, 2017 [12 favorites]


"Because why stop at undermining and helping destroy one powerful older, seasoned, accomplished female progressive? Worked so well in 2016."

Since it's nowhere near a solid candidate running against Pelosi, and there's zero chance of her losing in the general (after our jungle primary), this should be an opportunity for Pelosi to remind everyone that she's pretty fucking progressive, thank you very much. Unfortunately, I think her biggest "liability" is that, like many congressional Dems, she's terrible on television despite being really good at her actual job.

It highlights something that I think is a bit of a mistake in left election strategy: I don't think there's as much benefit in going after reliable but imperfect progressives in sure-win districts as there is in going after middling Dems in right-leaning districts, where a progressive alternative is really necessary and feels like something that is often stymied by the lack of local fundraising (i.e. Dems have to kowtow to local business more in areas where the voters are more progressive than their representatives), and is a place where the DSA should be able to see some actual leverage.

I mean, learn from the Tea Party, for chrissakes: taking Canter and Boehner out made the GOP-controlled house less effective, as opposed to the purges of actually (relatively) moderate GOP members, which drove the whole caucus further to the right. To shift Dems left, it seems like the target shouldn't be Pelosi, they should be targeting Jim Costa and Collin Peterson.
posted by klangklangston at 12:55 PM on August 26, 2017 [13 favorites]


The plight of the elderly white male may not have been top of the mind for King when he spoke on the Washington Mall, or for the gay rioters outside New York City’s Stonewall Inn, but the country has come a long way since then.

I don't think Jaffe sounds that great, but that article is kind of terrible, and that's not actually a quote from Jaffe. It's a characterization of what he said in an article that says the political spectrum in SF "runs along a sliver of bandwidth from left to far left to kerplop!, off the continent’s edge into the Pacific Ocean." I mean, give me a fucking break.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:00 PM on August 26, 2017 [7 favorites]


"So You Think You Can Take Over The Democratic Party?"

Great article in a lot of ways, but fails on a couple counts:

First, it ignores the option to both work within the Dems and without — DSA won't be able to win without getting a significant number of current Democrats to vote for them. To achieve that, both working with the Dems and independently seems pretty necessary.

Second, it uses an appeal to immediacy that's not persuasive: People say they want a third party, but people say a lot of things and then don't vote for them. Arguing that taking over the Dem party internally is too long of a project both supposes that the polling supporting an immediate third party is indicative of voter support (and even then, it's only at spoiler, not plurality or majority levels), and ignores how the ultra-right took over the GOP: through a deliberate 50-year program.

Seriously, it started after Goldwater lost, and has involved billions of dollars, and multiple long-term campaigns that started to bear real fruit after about 20 years, and after 50, have captured the country in a lot of ways. If part of the DSA platform is that we deserve better, they have to recognize that many of the policy initiatives that they prefer will also take generations to fully enact, and they have to plan for the long game. Because of that, saying that it may take 20 years to get DSA members elected as Democrats (which seems pretty pessimistic, honestly, because you would assume that as DSA gets some victories, it will become more popular and acceptable to more Dems, accelerating the process).
posted by klangklangston at 1:11 PM on August 26, 2017 [11 favorites]


The only thing that will make a third party viable on a national level in the US is to move from First Past the Post voting to a Ranked Voting system. We might see some viable Third Party candidates on a local and state level, but as long as we have First Past the Post, we're stuck with a two party system.

Naturally, it's in neither party's interest to change that. Only by taking one party and moving it towards the left can we get enough progressive voices in state and local government to change the voting system... though doing so risks putting that party at an electoral disadvantage.
posted by SansPoint at 3:21 PM on August 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


That article recommending not trying to take over the Democratic Party is largely based on timeframes and difficulty. A viable, functional third party (Greens need not apply) with even a proportion of the electoral control of the Democrats almost certainly would take as long. Sure go ahead. But please don't sneer at people who think for local issues it's easier to dominate an existing local party. It's what the Tea Party did, if we want to continue the question about whether the Tea Party formed an effective coalition. I'd argue they did on some axes (controlling the agenda of the party apparatus, winning elections and influencing elected officials) but a failure on others (the previously mentioned incompetence of national republicans).
posted by R343L at 4:58 PM on August 26, 2017 [3 favorites]


("Full disclosure": I'm a newly involved member of my local Democratic Party orgs and there are a lot of us that decided we'd just co-opt the "establishment" and become it because we want it to work better.)
posted by R343L at 5:00 PM on August 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


So You Think You Can Take Over The Democratic Party?

I can't believe I read that whole article and
Because if the Bernie campaign has taught the American Left anything, it is that Democratic partisans and their allies in the media will work hand-in-hand to snuff out any challenge that could threaten the dominance of neoliberalism within the party.
neoliberalism turns out to be the true enemy. I feel like I just got snookered by a shaggy dog story.

Only by taking one party and moving it towards the left can we get enough progressive voices in state and local government to change the voting system...

Probably true, though it should be noted that parties have completely collapsed and been replaced by a different major party in the past. So while having a major third party is likely impossible, it is certainly possible the Ds or Rs aren't going to be around forever.
posted by Justinian at 5:32 PM on August 26, 2017 [6 favorites]


Christ, "neoliberal" is now the Left's version of RINO, isn't it?
posted by schroedinger at 5:41 PM on August 26, 2017 [12 favorites]


No, I think it's their version of "neoliberal".
posted by edeezy at 5:46 PM on August 26, 2017 [7 favorites]


I would believe that if there weren't a chunk of progressives who were now using it as a catch-all term for anyone who proposes any type of policy deemed insufficiently pure.
posted by schroedinger at 5:53 PM on August 26, 2017 [15 favorites]


If part of the DSA platform is that we deserve better, they have to recognize that many of the policy initiatives that they prefer will also take generations to fully enact, and they have to plan for the long game.

I think there are a lot of people who envision a NEW New Deal, creating a bunch of new programs and reorganizing the economy and expanding the government with a stroke of a pen. Which requires one to completely ignore the economic and political climate in which it happened, as well as the people involved in its passing. But then again, I think the people who advocate this are also sneer about "incrementalism", effectively shitting on the First Civil Rights movement and basically every civil rights movement in this country ever.
posted by schroedinger at 6:48 PM on August 26, 2017 [5 favorites]


Swearengin is great! I really hope we see more campaigns like hers: members of the community who are deeply aware of the problems at hand, using individual donations to run campaigns against people like Manchin. I'm hoping this is the start of a bigger trend, and that we'll see more campaigns like these in the future. If nothing else, I'm glad that the Bernie campaign showed how far you can get with small donations, without corporate backing. Realistically, I'm not sure how many of these candidates will win, but I think they, and hopefully future candidates, will drive home that left-wing ideals are not totally outside the mainstream, and I hope that means we'll see fewer Democrats playing to the center in the future.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 7:36 PM on August 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


Problem is, if we primary people like Manchin, we're more likely to get a Republican than someone more progressive in a district like that. Had that happened in 2016, the skinny repeal would be the law of the land right now. Is Joe Manchin who I'd most like to have? Certainly not, there are many things we disagree on. However, having folks like that in the tent is fine if they hold the line when they could be the deciding vote.

Where I am in complete agreement with the "primary the fucker" attitude is with the yellow dogs we used to have that were..less than reliable..when it really mattered. Then there really is nothing to lose by primarying them.
posted by wierdo at 7:48 PM on August 26, 2017 [4 favorites]


Has anyone in their movement offered a theory on why shifting left would generally work any better when both houses of Congress are Republican controlled?
posted by Brian B. at 8:16 PM on August 26, 2017 [3 favorites]


Has anyone in their movement offered a theory on why shifting left would generally work any better when both houses of Congress are Republican controlled?

They believe that it will energize people on the left who currently don't vote because "They're all the same, man."
posted by Etrigan at 8:35 PM on August 26, 2017 [3 favorites]


They also don't vote cause they feel completely removed from the system or hopeless or disenfranchised officially or effectively by time constraints/access or voter suppression or a lack of outreach or they're sure it won't matter cause everything just gets worse anyway.

You know, the vast majority of Americans who don't vote at all.
posted by The Whelk at 8:39 PM on August 26, 2017 [4 favorites]


They also don't vote cause they feel completely removed from the system or hopeless or disenfranchised officially or effectively by time constraints/access or voter suppression or a lack of outreach or they're sure it won't matter cause everything just gets worse anyway.

Sorry, I didn't mean to intimate that everyone who doesn't vote is a both-sides-suck type. But the both-sides-suck types are the ones that people are trying to attract by moving the Democratic Party leftward.
posted by Etrigan at 8:48 PM on August 26, 2017 [2 favorites]


There's a lot more to gain from moving left than there is from continuing to move to the center with watered-down policies. I'm a lot more confident about elections when I can see people voting for something rather than against the Republicans. Besides that, if the Republicans are going to shoot down everything anyway, I'd rather have us putting forward better policies, rather than preemptively capitulating. And then if or when we do retake either chamber of Congress, we'll have more to show for it.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 8:51 PM on August 26, 2017 [14 favorites]


Well right now both sides suck, it's naked fascists on one side and people whose policies directly and indirectly hurt the poor and working class, polling consistently said Americans think the GOP are cravenous power mad idiots and the DNC are ineffective, out of touch paper dolls.

If the dems adopted even the mildest of progressive light policies and pushed for them hard they'd stay in power for five generations. But the leadership has to be pushed by literally calling every single day and showing up in mass rallies to get them to even pay lip service do it.

It feels willfully perverse. Esp. When given , in the current admistration, the excuse to be the most firebrand barn stormers ever
posted by The Whelk at 8:53 PM on August 26, 2017 [9 favorites]


If the dems adopted even the mildest of progressive light policies and pushed for them hard they'd stay in power for five generations.

The assault rifle ban cost nearly 70 Democratic seats in '94, and the ban was only temporary. This article also disagrees, suggesting that Obamacare was costly in more ways than one.

Just how big was that backlash? By constructing a counterfactual in which all House Democrats voted against health care, and those House Democrats representing districts in which less than 60 percent of voters supported Obama in 2008 also voted against the cap-and-trade climate bill (another controversial piece of legislation) rather than for it, the authors conclude that “about 40 of these incumbents would have increased their margins from losing to winning, easily enough to save the Democratic majority.” As it was, however, most Democrats supported both pieces of legislation which clearly contributed to the “shellacking” they received in the 2010 midterms.
posted by Brian B. at 9:18 PM on August 26, 2017 [7 favorites]


I dunno man I was a different penson 24 years ago maybe the country is too
posted by The Whelk at 9:20 PM on August 26, 2017


The ACA is a great example of something that could have been great, that was watered down in the name of "bipartisanship" and by influence from lobbyists. It ended up being a huge boon for the private insurance industry. The best thing about it was the expansion of Medicaid, but other aspects were hugely problematic.

What's really lousy is that any criticism of it is now treated as a Republican talking point. There were economists warning that the ACA had its problems, and they were shrugged off. Some of the same people who were criticizing it while it was being put together, like Paul Krugman, ended up becoming its staunchest defenders when the conversation turned to single-payer. It's infuriating.

What I'm saying is, I don't think the ACA is a great example of the consequences of adopting left-wing policies.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 9:37 PM on August 26, 2017 [5 favorites]


Can you make a case that the ACA would have passed in another form? As it was, it took nearly a year, no?
posted by schroedinger at 9:44 PM on August 26, 2017 [4 favorites]


I'm not looking forward to 2018. Seems to me that the two wings of the party have simply taken away the lessons from November 2016 that they wanted to take. No one (or at least no more than a few scattered voices) actually learned anything, or seem to have found any room for self-reflection there.
posted by AdamCSnider at 10:12 PM on August 26, 2017 [3 favorites]


Can you make a case that the ACA would have passed in another form? As it was, it took nearly a year, no?

I mean, I'm not sure what I could say that would be convincing. I've had more or less this exact conversation several times in the last year and a half, and it's never been resolved. I've never been convinced that it was necessary to make huge concessions in order to pass the bill, and other people have never been convinced it could have passed any other way. This isn't something I want to revisit. I'm sorry to be backing out like this, and I don't mean to come across as a jerk, but I regret that I said anything in the first place. I just wanted to talk about why these candidates are exciting to me, and it gets frustrating when I feel like I have to defend my views, on a basic level, any time I open my digital mouth about politics.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:16 PM on August 26, 2017 [4 favorites]


Politicians think American voters are more conservative than they really are. When Democrats assume their voters don't want to hear progressive ideas and try to sound like Republican-lite, no one votes for them and no one gets enthusiastic campaigning for them. If a candidate actually says 'hey we should help people' and is earnest about putting forward solid ideas to do so, people start to pay attention.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:22 PM on August 26, 2017 [9 favorites]


Making a bill like the ACA more progressive and running on a more progressive platform to win elections are two very different things, because the number of people in Congress is fixed, while the number of voters who decide elections isn't. There weren't a couple hundred Democratic congresspeople cryogenically frozen underneath the House chamber that could be thawed out to vote for single payer in 2009, while there are actually millions of idle voters out there who could turn out for Democrats if they have the right message.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:22 PM on August 26, 2017 [5 favorites]


It ended up being a huge boon for the private insurance industry. The best thing about it was the expansion of Medicaid, but other aspects were hugely problematic.... What I'm saying is, I don't think the ACA is a great example of the consequences of adopting left-wing policies.

I question the boon to insurance companies and the medicaid expansion rejected by so many red states, as those seem to be current problems requiring other players to play nice. I would suggest that the tax to pay for the subsidies was a liberal slam dunk, because it doesn't require permission from states. A public option was left in the wings to improve passage, and can always be added now or later. But we seem to keep returning to the position that left-wing purists boycott elections because the offerings are compromised, which may be true, but also suggests some magical thinking about the opposition, as if conservatives are also more repulsed by centrism than by progressive politics (a psychological projection). And polls, for the record:

As recently as 2013, during the flawed rollout of health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, just 42% said the government was responsible for providing health coverage, while a majority (56%) said it did not have this responsibility.
posted by Brian B. at 10:22 PM on August 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


As recently as 2013, during the flawed rollout of health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, just 42% said the government was responsible for providing health coverage, while a majority (56%) said it did not have this responsibility.

There's already a party that represents the no-healthcare position.
posted by Pyry at 11:05 PM on August 26, 2017 [2 favorites]


First, it ignores the option to both work within the Dems and without — DSA won't be able to win without getting a significant number of current Democrats to vote for them. To achieve that, both working with the Dems and independently seems pretty necessary.

Really? In my view, the next Presidential election is the Democrats' to lose. Hillary Clinton, whether correctly or not, was seen as a controversial figure, and yet she won the popular vote, while Donald Trump is absolutely correctly seen by anyone not high on Kool-Aid as the worst president our nation has ever had. A legion of young people right now are reacting with dismay at a President taking the side of white supremacists, AND not being held to meaningful account to it by a Republican-dominated Congress. This load, this gilt weight must be tied around the leg of the Republican party forever.

All the Democrats have to do is find someone less controversial than Hillary Clinton, which is not a difficult task. (I am not fond of the fact that she is so controversial, but that's the result of the Republicans basically demonizing her since Bill was elected.)
posted by JHarris at 11:59 PM on August 26, 2017 [8 favorites]


I think you underestimate our ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, JHarris. We're already seeing splits over the 2020 election show up in left-leaning circles. I have little doubt we can find a way to mess this up if we work at it.
posted by Justinian at 12:04 AM on August 27, 2017 [6 favorites]


It's always important to raise the white banner high and sing Nihilism forever
posted by The Whelk at 12:34 AM on August 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


Darrin Bell nails it.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:34 AM on August 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


The President is Donald Trump.

The Democratic Party got its collective butt handed to it by Donald Trump.

We've got a shitload of excuses for it, some of them pretty good, none of them as good as being able to win an election against Donald Trump.

Maybe the problem isn't shifty leftists.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 2:05 AM on August 27, 2017 [7 favorites]


I'm a proud supporter of the DFL candidate for Minneapolis Ward 3- Steve Fletcher- and he's about as liberal and lefty as they come. Really excited about him being in that role, and I'm a socialist voter.
posted by EricGjerde at 4:30 AM on August 27, 2017


I'm probably a DSA-style lefty in my personal politics, but I'm also a professional Democrat who does a lot of incumbent protection work. People like Paula Jean Swearingen frustrate the living daylights out of me. I have seen her speak and she's got tons of passion and potential, but why is she shooting for the moon on her first campaign? She's very unlikely to succeed in defeating Manchin and if she did she would likely get stomped by whoever emerges from the Morrissey/Jenkins clusterfuck on the Republican side. West Virginia has an open House seat this cycle as well and a hell of a lot of work to be done at the state leg level, but you don't get invited to get cheered by adoring crowds at Netroots by running for state legislature.

I'm by no means a Joe Manchin apologist either. He's certainly not my preferred style of Democrat, but he knows his state and he wins there for a reason. He's also been a mostly stand up guy during this administration. He rebuffed Trump's transparent attempts to get his hands on that Senate seat by appointing him to something and he didn't play ball at all on repealing the ACA. The left (inasmuch as there is much "left" in West Virginia and it's not national people projecting their hopes and dreams onto the state) eating itself in this primary for a seat that we desperately need to hold next year is a nightmare.
posted by fancypants at 6:32 AM on August 27, 2017 [10 favorites]


I think a lot of my frustration with the discussion about "How can the Democrats win?" is that most of it seems to focus on arguments over policy positions and being "exciting", without considering whether voters can vote if they wanted to.

I made a post back in December tracing the history of Black representation in Congress in relation to the Voting Rights Act. I don't think it is deflection or ignoring evidence to point out that voter suppression and manipulation is a serious issue, perhaps the most serious issue, particularly since some of the most regulatory parts of the VRA were struck down. There is a reason Republicans have been so damn aggressive across the country with various voter suppression tactics, and that's because it works.

And yet everyone is sniping at each other over whether this politician or that is liberal enough, whether Joe Manchin is worth keeping, whether it's a good idea to primary Nancy Pelosi, and Clinton vs Bernie vs Clinton vs Bernie vs Clinton vs Bernie. I would rather leftist groups and Democrats start full-throatedly advocating for this issue rather than leaving it to a few lawyers working for this non-profit or that, putting it at the forefront.

I mean, self-flagellation and the circular firing squad feels good because it's a lot easier to have a bunch of arguments and vent frustration over this big stuff rather than get into the nitty-gritty, often legally esoteric suppression laws out there. But nothing is going to help us if our base is eroded through the death of a thousand cuts.
posted by schroedinger at 8:54 AM on August 27, 2017 [8 favorites]


"Where I am in complete agreement with the "primary the fucker" attitude is with the yellow dogs we used to have that were..less than reliable..when it really mattered. Then there really is nothing to lose by primarying them."

Manchin voted for Gorsuch.

But what I worry about with Swearingen is that she'll make the mistake that many Bernie supporters do in misunderstanding "identity politics." To win, she's got to win through convincing a sufficient number of West Virginians to identify with her, and that's much more important than leaning on the sort of economic message that she's touting. More "coal-miner's daughter," less boilerplate about the problems of corporate Democrats.

And it's also good to remember the long game: Part of the Dems' problem is a thin bench. If Swearingen wins, well, time to pump a shit-ton of outside progressive money into West Virginia (progressives often forget the power of pork, too, especially to historical Dem strategy) and give her a fighting shot. If she doesn't, then it's time to use her run to build her state-wide name recognition, then get her into state office. The Senate isn't the only place in West Virginia that Dems need help, and she has a good story so far.

"Has anyone in their movement offered a theory on why shifting left would generally work any better when both houses of Congress are Republican controlled?"

That seems like a good question until you realize you can just as easily phrase it as 'why would shifting right work any better when both houses of Congress are Republican controlled?'

But beyond that, a better answer is that the median voter is a myth, and that voters tend to be most likely to actually vote for the person that matches their strongest opinion in direction and relative intensity. It's more complicated than that, but most voters aren't particularly well versed in more than a couple issues (and often, not even then, really), which is why those "more Americans prefer progressive policies!" polls are worth taking with a grain of salt — people don't actually vote with the person that's the best match in distance from their opinions on every issue, and since voters tend to hold a set of extreme views on a handful of subjects (e.g. roving bands of immigration enforcement officers to round up undocumented workers, or abolish borders altogether; abolish taxes, or confiscate all corporate property; global warming is a hoax, or vaccines cause autism), that means that the candidate that best matches their more extreme opinions is viewed as more credible on the rest versus a candidate that more closely matches all of the voter's preferences but isn't as extreme on the few favored metrics of the voter.

Because of all that, Dems that shift right on issues don't actually gain very much in voters, especially in mythical "independents" and "moderates."

From there, districts that are more competitive actually give more leverage to more extreme positions, not moderates, because the ability to mobilize enthusiastic voters is more important than reliable voters with more median preferences, because they tend to come out unless there's a huge gaffe (e.g. crazy rape comments from GOP incumbents).

All that means that tacking to the left is more risky in terms of arousing the ire of the business community, but that's a separate constituency from voters, and with more independent small-donor funding, you're more likely to see candidates able to take positions that are more economically populist with less cost than they would have experienced in the past, with more of a tightly-funneled funding stream.

(Part of the problem is more that a bunch of popular positions that are coded as economically populist are really dumb and counterproductive to enact, like increasing tariffs instead of adopting a more redistributionist approach to the benefits of trade. That was one of the more frustrating things about Bernie — a lot of his manufacturing and trade rhetoric was dumb pandering. But because of the power of party elites to influence preferences, his dumb pandering reinforced bad ideas as important solutions to those who supported him.)
posted by klangklangston at 11:37 AM on August 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


"Really? In my view, the next Presidential election is the Democrats' to lose. Hillary Clinton, whether correctly or not, was seen as a controversial figure, and yet she won the popular vote, while Donald Trump is absolutely correctly seen by anyone not high on Kool-Aid as the worst president our nation has ever had. A legion of young people right now are reacting with dismay at a President taking the side of white supremacists, AND not being held to meaningful account to it by a Republican-dominated Congress. This load, this gilt weight must be tied around the leg of the Republican party forever.

All the Democrats have to do is find someone less controversial than Hillary Clinton, which is not a difficult task. (I am not fond of the fact that she is so controversial, but that's the result of the Republicans basically demonizing her since Bill was elected.)
"

DSA isn't going to win the presidency any time soon. What the DSA can do is:

1) Win lower tier elections with credible candidates and build a bench and infrastructure, in part by allying with the Dems.

2) Achieve policy victories by shifting the Overton window left.

For me, I tend to see elected officials as a way to achieve policy outcomes. To that extent, I don't care as much if DSA candidates get elected versus getting actually socialist policies enacted, and a lot of that work can be done through much lower level offices — and that's also how you build an effective movement.

There's also the weird tension, which I think was highlighted by Clinton vs. Sanders, of rhetoric versus policy. On a policy basis, I think it's pretty reasonable to make an argument that Clinton had a more progressive platform in a lot of ways than Sanders did, but she did a much worse job of articulating progressive values, and people vote more on the idea of shared values than they do on actual policy evaluation. At the very least, Clinton was by far the most progressive candidate any major party has ever run, and she's still pilloried as being a "paper doll," in part because people don't believe that she represents their values. For example, looking at the very popular Sanders stumps for free college, it's worth noting that this policy would disproportionately benefit the better off, even as it would also benefit the poor. But if you think about the cost and whether that money would be better spent on expanded health care access or, as one of Clinton's proposals did, earlier education and anti-poverty measures (including expanded childcare access), those would have disproportionately more impact on lower income Americans. Because of the popularity of Sanders' proposal, especially with the college-educated scions of the petit bourgeoisie, Clinton was forced to adopt a version of it, but that didn't actually mollify people who saw her as inauthentic, because, again, she made a poor appeal to those values. (And, unfortunately, a lot of people value the idea of being independent of politics, and Sanders articulated that while Clinton is entirely a creature of politics. It's a naive view, but it's a popular value.)
posted by klangklangston at 11:56 AM on August 27, 2017 [7 favorites]


Manchin voted for Gorsuch.

As did Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Donnelly. They also voted against changing the Senate rules to require only a bare majority to confirm Supreme Court nominees, which was the only vote that really mattered since confirmation was a foregone conclusion once the rules were changed. And he voted against Obamacare repeal... another Capito and it would have passed.

But that's not really material anymore. Polling this far out is questionable at best obviously but it shows Manchin retaining his seat for the Democrats in the reddest of Trump states by margins of 10-25 points. Show me some polling with Swearingen having a lead over potential opponents much less 10-25 point leads and I'll feel differently, but handing the seat to the Republicans is not something I'm on board for.

If a more progressive candidate can win in WV then I'm all for it. I don't see any evidence of that yet.
posted by Justinian at 1:17 PM on August 27, 2017 [5 favorites]


That seems like a good question until you realize you can just as easily phrase it as 'why would shifting right work any better when both houses of Congress are Republican controlled?'

I wasn't proposing any shift, just checking to see if anyone was holding the monkey wrench besides perhaps Putin. Seems like if the Democratic party were to win 65% of the House, up from 45%, then they would be from conservative-leaning districts and those candidates would likely be shifting right, dooming any notion of national policies suddenly shifting radically left, making it a tolerable stalemate again. After watching it go back and forth for the last few decades, there doesn't seem to be any mystery to it, least of all a counter-intuitive one, especially any notions that the elderly are joy bent on sharing the Medicare gravy. Before Democrats lost the South after civil rights, and their longtime House control, conservative Democratic membership was a reality, because conservatives always vote, which underscores this entire discussion. If we're trying to bring in the brand new people who won't for yardage, but only for touchdowns, then I suggest their high-minded rebellion is really about their conservative parents, not the blood sport of politics.
posted by Brian B. at 3:28 PM on August 27, 2017


Jeezo beezo, there is a lot of naval gazing and wishful thinking in this thread. The Democratic Party will always be the party of center-left to leftist politics as long as the Republican Party is on the right. It's just the way it is and it won't change until you fix the first-past-the-post problem. There will be no third party springing from the left or the right.

Now, should the Democratic Party move further to the left? Depends. Can they produce politicians who sincerely believe in leftist policies? If so, then I say go for it. Because that focus-grouped, soulless, transactional piece of garbage that is the "Better Deal" sure as shit ain't gonna win over any voters.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 7:57 PM on August 27, 2017


The Democratic Party got its collective butt handed to it by Donald Trump.

If you're going to put a huge collection of people and forces on one side of the equation, you should maybe account for the two generations of media ratfuckery, gerrymandering, and organization that Trump grabbed hold of on the other.

The Democratic Party and its messaging apparatus and its backers and its members and its candidates up and down the ballot, including Hillary Clinton, got its collective butt handed to it by the Republican Party and its messaging apparatus and its backers and its members and its candidates up and down the ballot, including Donald Trump.
posted by Etrigan at 3:32 AM on August 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


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