Resisting the Resistance
January 24, 2018 11:21 PM   Subscribe

Candidates Who Signed Up to Battle Trump Must Get Past the Democratic Party First: "The group’s town halls and protests began to draw eye-popping numbers of people and even attracted national attention. With their newfound confidence, Lancaster progressives looked toward local and federal elections. The national press was captivated by the upsets across the state of Virginia in November, but that same night in Pennsylvania, Democrats across the state in local elections knocked Republicans out of seats they’d owned forever. In June, one of their own, Jess King, who heads a nonprofit that helps struggling women start and run small businesses in the area, announced that she would be running to take out Republican Rep. Lloyd Smucker in Pennsylvania’s 16th District... It turned out the Democratic Party had other ideas — or, at least, it had an old idea. As is happening in races across the country, party leaders in Washington and in the Pennsylvania district rallied, instead, around a candidate who, in 2016, had raised more money than a Democrat ever had in the district and suffered a humiliating loss anyway."

"In an era of regular wave elections — 2006, 2008, 2010, and onward — sustainable majorities may be elusive. The smartest play for the party that takes power, said Michael Podhorzer, political director for the labor federation AFL-CIO, is to seize the opportunity when a wave washes it into power, implement an aggressive agenda, and then defend it from the minority when the party is inevitably washed back out — much as Democrats did successfully with the Affordable Care Act, and as Republicans hope to do with tax cuts. It’s a strategy that means moving two or three steps forward and holding as many of those gains until power is reclaimed, then moving another two steps forward. But it’s only possible with candidates-turned-lawmakers ready to take bold action when they have the chance.

Prioritizing fundraising, as Democratic Party officials do, has a feedback effect that creates lawmakers who are further and further removed from the people they are elected to represent. In 2013, the DCCC offered a startling presentation for incoming lawmakers, telling them they would be expected to immediately begin four hours of “call time” every day they were in Washington. That’s time spent dialing for dollars from high-end donors."

"If money isn’t necessarily the best path to victory, that smart Washington-based operatives continue to make it the key variable regardless raises the question of what other motivations may be in play. For Lynch, the answer is simple: It’s a racket. 'The Democratic and Republican parties are commercial enterprises and they’re very much interested in their own survival,' Lynch said. 'The money race is probably more important to them than the issues race in some cases.'

The Intercept asked Lynch if the commercialization he referred to was for the benefit of the officials working in and around elections. 'How much of the focus on fundraising,' we asked, 'has to do with pumping money into this ecosystem of consultants and everybody else?'

'That’s what I mean,' Lynch said. 'It’s a commercial enterprise.'"

"Institutions do not change easily, but the DCCC, despite some of the outward appearances, is trying. Feeling the energy behind the resistance to Trump, the party committee this year made a radical move: The fundraising ability of a candidate with the proper profile for a district is no longer the only criteria it looks at when studying viability. Grassroots support now officially matters. The party still demands, according to the “majority maker” memo it sent to candidates in December, that at least 75 percent of the campaign budget be spent on paid advertising, so it is changing slowly.

James Thompson, who lost a close special election in Kansas and is again running for the Wichita seat in 2018, said the DCCC is specific about why it wants candidates to raise money. 'They want you to spend a certain amount of money on consultants, and it’s their list of consultants you have to choose from,' he said. Those consultants tend to be DCCC veterans. A memo the party committee sent to candidates in December lays out some of the demands the DCCC made around spending.

But the party now looks at whether a candidate has the backing of local Indivisible or other activist chapters when evaluating potential lawmakers. That is a significant change and suggests a tantalizing future for the party. The Citizens United decision may have opened the floodgates to unlimited spending by the wealthy, but its paradoxical long-term result could be the creation of a two-party system, in which one is fueled by millions of small dollars and the other is backed by a handful of billionaires. That, ironically, could even be a level playing field. And it is not an outcome the DCCC is necessarily opposed to as an institution, though the consultant factions that make a living off the current system would need to be overcome. If the Jess Kings swamp the Christina Hartmans in primary elections, the party will be under that much more pressure to embrace the new strategy."
posted by bookman117 (117 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
 
A solid chunk of Jess King's fund raising has come from Tech Solidarity's "Great Slate" of candidate fundraising, which is organized by Metafilter's own Maciej Cegłowski. I gave her money!
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:46 PM on January 24 [20 favorites]


The great slate fundraising also lead to the spectacle of David Simon writing personal apologies for the killing of Omar Little on the Wire, which was fun.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:51 PM on January 24 [12 favorites]


They can't even trot out the old canard about progressives not being "real Democrats", whatever that b.s. means. Those lies were done and over and dead after some candidate was put up who couldn't even beat the clown who won. Even at a state level, there was a Democratic woman and medical doctor running for office in Utah, who had great grassroots funding and support from individuals, but who was completely ignored by the DNC. In the age of dark money and Citizens United, individuals have to work harder to make their voices heard, not only with respect to one's vote but also regarding one's donations to campaigns.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 1:05 AM on January 25 [18 favorites]


I think we should totally trust the DNC to have progressives' best interests at heart.
posted by Optamystic at 2:09 AM on January 25 [11 favorites]


I think we should totally trust the DNC to have progressives' best interests at heart.

BBBBBEEEERRRRRRRRRNNNNNIIIIEEEEE!!!!!!
posted by Literaryhero at 2:16 AM on January 25 [4 favorites]


They can't even trot out the old canard about progressives not being "real Democrats", whatever that b.s. means.

It means Sanders was not a registered member of the Democratic Party until he ran. Don't be disingenuous.
posted by PMdixon at 2:16 AM on January 25 [61 favorites]


I participated for some years in Blue Mass Group, an avowed Democratic forum, which is now for all practical purposes dead. It was repeatedly demonstrated that the site and most of its active members cared about getting members of their party elected far more than they cared about who those members were, or about any progressive policies. This was in a state whose legislature is overwhelmingly -- ridiculously overwhelmingly -- Democratic. One result is that the Party leadership in the legislature is not at all progressive. DINOs, if you will. While MA is more progressive than most other states, many progressive policies are blocked, or are only enacted after popular ballot initiatives (the Dem-centric members of that forum typically bemoaned the existence of ballot initiatives.) My experience on that forum, and my observations of the DNC, leave me very cynical about the motives of the Party. There are elected Democrats who are active in promoting progressive polices, but they are a small minority. The leadership of the Party is not progressive, and frequently acts in an undemocratic manner.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:46 AM on January 25 [25 favorites]


The article is certainly inflammatory in its presentation, but there is a notable lack of discussion in it about why other groups like Emily's List end up endorsing other candidates as well, and a surprising lack of discussion of caucus and primary systems in which candidates are actually chosen.

The implication is that the endorsements decide the primary or the caucus, and that the DCCC decides all the endorsements -- even those made by groups that aren't actually part of it. But the article provides no explanation for why this would be so. Indeed, it presents evidence against that thesis:
Last cycle, the DCCC worked against Teachout, a progressive activist and law professor, in her primary campaign in New York. She went on to win it by 40 points anyway, pulling in 2 points more than Hillary Clinton, but still lost the general election.
What they don't note, of course, is that Teachout, despite a long and healthy list of endorsements -- Bernie Sanders, EMILY's List, Andrew Cuomo, Chuck Schumer (!), the NEA, and the Sierra Club, among many others -- lost the general election against John Faso by about 8 points in a district that went to Trump by only 6; she underperformed Hillary Clinton in the actual general election, making the article' use of primary numbers rather deceptive.

This is the same sort of election result that the article uses to support its argument against "establishment candidates," using vote totals to point out that, for example, Christina Hartman's loss was "humiliating" and that she therefore shouldn't be the Democratic candidate again. And of course, Hartmann ran unopposed in the 2016 Democratic primary, and Jess King was never even a declared primary candidate, something the article doesn't note or explain. '

when discussing another hopeful, Jeff Erdmann, the article notes briefly that he's supported by former Democratic Congressional candidate Krystal Ball and her People's House Project organization -- who herself had managed to lose in 2010 by 63.90% to 34.76% -- as his major backer. And it doesn't note that Ball supports education reform, like charter schools and alternative teacher certification and is an NRA member who supports strong gun rights. Nor does it note that 72% of her funding in 2010 came from out-of-state donors.

None of this means that Erdmann's own platform isn't quite progressive -- it is -- nor that Jess King is a bad candidate or person. But the article seems geared to inflame, leaving gaps in what it tells the reader so that the worst suspicions can be filled in where the evidence doesn't directly or clearly support them.

For example, the lynchpin of its argument is that the DCCC picks candidates on the basis of fundraising ability, which it suggests is really about being able to line up big donors. To make this case, it argues that dialing for dollars is wrong and that what it calls "aggressive solicitations" for campaign funds over e-mail are a hallmark of the DCCC -- the "big bad" of the article. So what fundraising strategies are suggested? Or is the article arguing that fundraising isn't important for political campaigns or parties? Or that it shouldn't be?

The argument in the article is that truly progressive candidates with real grassroots support are being blockaded by the DCCC. But without things like polling data, an explanation for what other metric should be used in place of fundraising in determining who the party should support, and clearer context about some of the specific examples the article discusses, the case it makes is long on suspicion and opinion but short on clearly presented evidence.

I think we should totally trust the DNC to have progressives' best interests at heart.

The article discusses the DCCC, a different party organization entirely, not the DNC, which has a different overall role. The DCCC is a "Hill committee," and it actually has two arms: one that coordinates campaigns, and another that is primarily focused on fundraising.

The fundraising arm is not allowed to coordinate with individual campaigns; the recruitment arm coordinates, offers advice, and provides oppo. research to candidates.

Here's a handy guide to keep it all straight.
posted by kewb at 3:58 AM on January 25 [104 favorites]


I don’t trust the intercept at all - for many reasons - and this article is another one aimed to divide the left. There’s going to be a primary. The voters will decide. I’m not that surprised that a democratic establishment committee would pick the candidate that already did a ton of work in the last election, and there’s no rule you can’t run again, is there? In our local area the democrats are working to take advantage of the new energy. That said, the democratic committee is made up of much older people who are probably mostly more conservative than the new younger people. To their credit, they recognize that the younger wave is the future of the party and they need to embrace it, but it doesn’t mean they are going to abandon all of the tactics they think worked for them.

I believe the party is supporting Beto O’Rourke, right? He’s pledged not to take PAC money, but he’s also crossing the state of Texas constantly raising money and name recognition.

We have candidates coming out of the woodwork to run this year, and mostly they are entirely embraced by the party. Especially in areas where there was no candidate last cycle. Using one specific candidate and race as an example is entirely disingenuous. As a progressive first and a democrat second, I don’t see the point in fighting over shades of blue when we are up against the reddest of governments. The goal is a blue wave.
posted by rainydayfilms at 4:23 AM on January 25 [59 favorites]


Ugh, somehow I don't really care what the Intercept has to say about the Democratic Party.
posted by octothorpe at 4:26 AM on January 25 [42 favorites]


I'm assuming one of the reasons The Intercept is publishing this is because Chelsea Manning continues to torpedo her own campaign and Greenwald needs someone to blame when she loses her primary.
posted by PenDevil at 4:31 AM on January 25 [37 favorites]


former Democratic Congressional candidate Krystal Ball

Sorry, what? *googles* Oh.

posted by pompomtom at 4:49 AM on January 25 [6 favorites]


DCCC = Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, for anyone else who had no idea what the ETLA meant
posted by thelonius at 5:19 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]


"Democratic leaders are getting the sense that 2018 could be a wave election..."

Hm, Democratic Party leadership's overweening confidence in an inevitable electoral victory while doing everything they can to combat left-wing members of their party... sounds all too familiar, and we know what the outcome was...
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 5:25 AM on January 25 [24 favorites]


You guys like Bernie Sanders, so you know who you'll love? John Kerry!
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 5:29 AM on January 25 [4 favorites]


I believe the party is supporting Beto O’Rourke, right? He’s pledged not to take PAC money, but he’s also crossing the state of Texas constantly raising money and name recognition.

My understanding is that the state Democratic party is enthusiastically behind him but that the national party is continuing to, frankly, ignore Texas. Completely. Again.

I have a whole lot of peeves about this, and may never donate nationally to the party as a result. I do have a recurring monthly donation but it goes to the state party specifically.
posted by sciatrix at 5:54 AM on January 25 [17 favorites]


But without things like polling data, an explanation for what other metric should be used in place of fundraising in determining who the party should support, and clearer context about some of the specific examples the article discusses, the case it makes is long on suspicion and opinion but short on clearly presented evidence.

Call me naive, but I consider that elected representatives should be decided based on the merits and importance of policy. I don’t support political causes because they’re popular or unpopular, but because I think they are just.

A party that looks to polling data to support candidates sounds similar to capitalism: a social system that values things based on economic viability, without any ethical backbone.
posted by suedehead at 5:54 AM on January 25 [11 favorites]


From the stories my wife tells me of the local Democrats, really all you need to do to effect change is to keep. showing. up. This doesn't mean show up for one meeting, make an impassioned plea, and then leave, but actually show up for all the meetings and volunteer for all the things. The local party tends to be made up of people who have plenty of time on their hands and they tend to try to twist things to their benefit - scheduling meetings that makes it hard for people who work 9-5 to attend, big chunks of time on weekends, and so forth. Don't let them jerk you around. Show up. Keep showing up. Do stuff. Don't get drawn into the local drama. The old guard will try to grind you down, whether intentionally or not, and you need to step beyond it.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:56 AM on January 25 [40 favorites]


In the case of Beto specifically, I should also note that he is getting a fuckton of individual donations because he's easily the most well known progressive Texan willing to run, after the Castro brothers chickened out again and Julian chose not to run for anything (as I understand it). Texan progressives are used to people even within our em damn party shaking their heads and saying Texas can't be won, so why bother--in fact, many of the best potential candidates we had refused to run this fall.

So Beto is also the recipient of a lot of very specific enthusiasm, which might have been more widely spread if he was competing with basically anyone who is established in state Democratic politics for a run. I love Lupe Valdez but she is nowhere near the Castros or Wendy Davis, say, in influence. And I'm a little peeved with Julian Castro in particular for not stepping up.
posted by sciatrix at 5:59 AM on January 25 [11 favorites]


From the stories my wife tells me of the local Democrats, really all you need to do to effect change is to keep. showing. up. This doesn't mean show up for one meeting, make an impassioned plea, and then leave, but actually show up for all the meetings and volunteer for all the things.

Yes! Please show up! I'm seeing a ton of progressive energy among the members of my local party, and my ward committee is actively working on a plan for actions we can take on the local level, but I still get the impression that the state party doesn't quite know what to do with all the post-Trump people who have gotten involved in the party. Our city committee meetings have featured shouting and storming out of the room when state party reps visit, and I think they need to hear a lot more shouting to move the needle. We need to join locally and then become the party. If you've ever found yourself saying or thinking "I wish the DNC/Democratic Party would do such-and-such" please start getting involved. You might be surprised how few people show up and how easy it is to make your voice heard, at least locally.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 6:17 AM on January 25 [23 favorites]


it goes to the state party specifically.

Georgia's gearing up for our gubernatorial and the white, established party Dems here are fucking infuriating. they're putting up a white woman, Stacey Evans, a relative newcomer to the scene because they don't believe that the inimitable Stacey Abrams can win, a black woman with ten years in the assembly including as leadership, a winner of dozens of awards including the JFK New Frontier Award, an Aspen Rodel Fellowship, and others, not to mention is also 1) a grand champion of the livestock showing competition at the Georgia National Fair and 2) the author of a swath of romance novels that were some of the first to be purposefully written for black women

their strategy thus far has been to blame every progressive action or personal misstep on Abrams - like how they blamed Abrams for organizing a protest of her speech by black progressive activists at NetRoots based on the fact that Abrams wouldn't denounce the act of protesting and is again blaming Abrams for the decidedly negative reaction to a political ad the Evans team released themselves which not only showed Evans awkwardly attending service at Ebenezer Baptist but also, tastelessly, superimposed Dr. King's face over her own

it's disgusting - and it's horribly reflective of the racist legacy that we just saw happen in the mayoral race where even ostensibly cosmopolitan white liberalish folks voted strictly along racial lines (yknow, in spite of the white candidate being a regular attendee of conservative watch parties and friends with that bunch too)

state Dems seem to love toeing the line and supporting white supremacist legacies, even the ones in California, so don't count them out as being at least as horrible as the national group

But the party now looks at whether a candidate has the backing of local Indivisible or other activist chapters when evaluating potential lawmakers.

Indivisble is locally known as the non-activist, do-nothing group that only acts when CNN starts regularly covering an issue and whose member demographic is startling white and middle-class even in a city as diverse as Atlanta. so of course the party Dems love em. from an article linked above: "Indivisible will stay on the sidelines of the race, as the fledgling group doesn’t endorse in primaries, but its passionate activists are expected to choose a candidate—and they don’t relish having to pick between a black woman and a white woman."

of course, why pick the far more qualified candidate when you can pick the white woman because she's white. what a difficult choice. please excuse me and my deep and unabiding cynicism towards establishment politics of any kind
posted by runt at 6:54 AM on January 25 [24 favorites]


From the stories my wife tells me of the local Democrats, really all you need to do to effect change is to keep. showing. up. This doesn't mean show up for one meeting, make an impassioned plea, and then leave, but actually show up for all the meetings and volunteer for all the things. The local party tends to be made up of people who have plenty of time on their hands and they tend to try to twist things to their benefit - scheduling meetings that makes it hard for people who work 9-5 to attend, big chunks of time on weekends, and so forth. Don't let them jerk you around. Show up. Keep showing up. Do stuff. Don't get drawn into the local drama. The old guard will try to grind you down, whether intentionally or not, and you need to step beyond it.

This is absolutely the way to Get Shit Done. It worked for the second-wave New Right against the GOP establishment in the 70s and 80s, and it's been working for the Tea Party against the Remnant Republicans. It has nothing to do with ideology. It's just. showing. up.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:58 AM on January 25 [21 favorites]


This is . . . not really a story. Surprise surprise, politics is another thing most people can't get up and decide they can do one morning, especially when there are other people already doing it.
posted by aspersioncast at 6:58 AM on January 25 [11 favorites]


A friend of mine joined a local Democratic Party somewhere in NC and since she is in her late 20s, they all fawn over her. She said that she is the only young person in that office and they do take what she says very seriously.

As robocopisbleeding and banjo_and_the_pork mention above, if you want to effect change within the party, you have to join, show up for all the meetings, and keep showing up. Otherwise, it's just slacktivism and that gets you nowhere.
posted by NoMich at 6:58 AM on January 25 [7 favorites]


Otherwise, it's just slacktivism

the opposite of not showing up to establishment party gatherings is not slacktivism, it's actual activism that sits down and protests at city council meetings and submits written policies that decriminalize drug offenses and remove Confederate monuments that are adopted wholesale by lazy municipal leaders who couldn't care less if they were actually dead

source: having actually done this for the last two years while watching establishment politicos accomplishing little to nothing even with their preferred progressive candidates
posted by runt at 7:04 AM on January 25 [10 favorites]


I remember attending a local Democratic party meeting in rural Ohio in 2015 where they were deciding whether to endorse Ted Strickland or P.G. Sittenfeld. The universal view was "We really like Sittenfeld, but Strickland can raise more money, so we'd better endorse him."

At least Strickland won the seat.
posted by Coventry at 7:06 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


I do wish people would not confuse the House Hill Committee with the entire Democratic party (not saying the Intercept does this).
posted by aspersioncast at 7:10 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]


the opposite of not showing up to establishment party gatherings is not slacktivism, it's actual activism that sits down and protests at city council meetings and submits written policies that decriminalize drug offenses and remove Confederate monuments that are adopted wholesale by lazy municipal leaders who couldn't care less if they were actually dead

I see your point and understand. It's been my observation* that people either join the mainstream organizations or they just complain about shit on Facebook or Twitter.



* - big mistake on my part to use anecdotal evidence in my previous post
posted by NoMich at 7:20 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]


I'm assuming one of the reasons The Intercept is publishing this is because Chelsea Manning continues to torpedo her own campaign and Greenwald needs someone to blame when she loses her primary.

Manning didn't even have a statement ready after she filed for candidacy. That's one way I know she's definitely not getting any help from any Russian conspiracy. I could find her better campaign talent passed out drunk at an Arlington Young Democrats meeting.
posted by jonp72 at 7:34 AM on January 25 [6 favorites]


> It means Sanders was not a registered member of the Democratic Party until he ran. Don't be disingenuous.

But there's the rub. Sanders did run as a Democrat. The rules allowed him to run as a Democrat. His voting record puts him to the left of most Democrats. He's caucused with Democrats for decades. I considered him a real Democrat. Or, if not, then I considered him to be someone that was more in line with my actual politics. I also have been a registered Independent for decades (or more accurately as “Not affiliated with any organization," since Iowa does not recognize Independents as a party). I've changed my affiliation exactly twice so I could caucus for Obama, then Sanders. I've only voted a straight ticket once in my life. So when a candidate is labeled and excluded because he's not a "true Democrat," the message that goes out is that his supporters aren't welcome either.

It's a difficult sell to marginalize an energized base (including the youth demographic) during the primary, by telling them they are unwelcome in your party, then turn around and expect their backing during the general. If you don't want someone who isn't a true Democrat running as a Democrat, then change your definition of a Democrat, and change the rules to reflect this definition. Don't disenfranchise voters, then argue "what did you expect, of course the party was going to be loyal to the candidate who was loyal to it!" and especially don't argue in court (successfully I might add), that the DNC isn't even under an obligation to follow it's own rules. This is no way to reclaim the support of those who felt cheated.

Talk about disingenuous.

The way I see it, the party with the biggest tent wins. If the Democrats want to exclude people, that's fine. I know I'm done with the party. I am back to a registered “Not affiliated with any organization," and I plan to stay here. Some small part of me is even considering registering as a Republican, so I can participate in their primaries, where I at least know my vote will count, and that they will follow their own rules. Maybe I can even influence the party to put forward a bit more rational candidate. I'll still vote for the most liberal person on the stage in the primary, and in the general, but I don't see an upside to joining a party that doesn't want me, and that is still arguing my preferred candidate shouldn't have run as a Democrat.

YMMV.

p.s. I also don't understand the argument that Sanders shouldn't have run as a Democrat. What should he have run as? An Independent? He would then have been a spoiler candidate, Trump would have won in a landslide, looking like he had a mandate from the people, and you people would still be bitching about Sanders. That sounds like a no-win situation to me, and exactly why the DNC can go fuck itself.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:37 AM on January 25 [27 favorites]


state Dems seem to love toeing the line and supporting white supremacist legacies, even the ones in California, so don't count them out as being at least as horrible as the national group

Does this have the correct link? You're saying that California Democrats support "white supremacist legacies," but the link is to an article on 538 about gerrymandering?
posted by jonp72 at 7:40 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


I've been a liberal since Doonesbury came out, and I love Bernie and Labor Unions, and joined the DSA.
I would not trust the current Democratic power structure to lead me across the street if I were drunk and needed to find a bathroom; nor would I cross that same street to pee on them if they were on fire.
Fuck them.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 7:42 AM on January 25 [7 favorites]


To misquote Shakespeare, something is rotten in a state when one only has the choice between two parties to get a real chance of being elected.

Why do Americans put up with such limited choice?
posted by Kwadeng at 7:42 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Call me naive, but I consider that elected representatives should be decided based on the merits and importance of policy. I don’t support political causes because they’re popular or unpopular, but because I think they are just.

How exactly does or should a political party determine which policies are meritorious and important? Whose ethical principles should they apply? If these thins were obvious, there would hardly be different political parties in the first place.

"My principles are the only correct principles" is a philosophy of voting choice for individuals, but it doesn't necessarily work as a way to run a political party, which also has to win elections. As a principle for organizing, it seems to assume one of two things: either that most people in a given district or state already agree with you about what is just and right; or that what is just and right will inherently appeal to most people. If either of those isn't true, then there will not be enough backing for a successful candidacy...or, in the end, a viable political party. A political party's goals will never be the same thing as an individual's ethical commitments unless the party is built around that person; but this is the stuff of personality cults and autocracies, not democracies.

Fundamentally, I think there's an odd perception that political parties should do the work of advocating ethical and policy goals, which runs up against the reality that political parties exist to the extent that their candidates and their officeholders reflect a set of ethical and policy goals that appeal to a wide enough constituency to keep the party both electorally and financially viable.

The question, then, is how to signal to the party that a candidate is viable. Right now, the parties use fundraising and endorsement-gathering as signals of viability. Mass participation in caucuses and vote totals in primaries -- and it would have to be heavy and targeted -- are stronger signals.

the opposite of not showing up to establishment party gatherings is not slacktivism, it's actual activism that sits down and protests at city council meetings and submits written policies that decriminalize drug offenses and remove Confederate monuments that are adopted wholesale by lazy municipal leaders who couldn't care less if they were actually dead

So in other words, you're showing up, joining the process, and providing specific policy recommendations that are taken up by the officeholders.

There are probably sound tactical reasons for choosing this method in your locale, and I'm curious about the situation where you are.

What are some of the structural reasons that the local political leadership is so moribund? What are the structural advantages keeping these awful folks in office? If these officeholders, albeit with extraordinary pushing, adopt these policies, do they do so in the face of resistance from other local constituencies?


To misquote Shakespeare, something is rotten in a state when one only has the choice between two parties to get a real chance of being elected.

Why do Americans put up with such limited choice?


Duverger's Law.

tl;dr: We're not a parliamentary system, so two-party dynamics are an unavoidable emergent property of the system that the authors of the Constitution probably couldn't have anticipated.
posted by kewb at 7:45 AM on January 25 [24 favorites]


You're saying that California Democrats support "white supremacist legacies," but the link is to an article on 538 about gerrymandering?

looks like the article doesn't cover it but the podcast episode on the California gerrymander did, the gist of it being that white, established Democrats gerrymandered PoC districts so they would stay in power for much longer and not have to run actual re-election campaigns (things like cutting Asian-American districts in three, that also resulted in proportionally more GOP legislators being elected)
posted by runt at 7:48 AM on January 25 [5 favorites]


What are some of the structural reasons that the local political leadership is so moribund? What are the structural advantages keeping these awful folks in office? If these officeholders, albeit with extraordinary pushing, adopt these policies, do they do so in the face of resistance from other local constituencies?

money, power, lots of it stemming from a history of white supremacy that's lasted for generations? they're in office because Georgia has one of the earliest forms of Voter ID laws and regularly remove voters from the rolls who haven't voted in 4ish years while also making registration an increasingly complicated and lengthy practice which effectively strip power away from marginalized communities? and no, they don't face resistance - the City of Decatur, purportedly the bluest spot in Georgia, was a stubborn ass about removing Confederate monuments and it took a march of a half thousand people, months of swamping city council meetings, letter writing campaigns, press releases, media coverage, and the jumping in by wealthy, middle-class residents before they considered a removal process which they only then later punted to the also 100% Democratic DeKalb county which restarted this process except in a much slower, bureaucratic fashion that only very recently passed a resolution to consider the removal

now let me tell you about the non-detainer policies that immigration activists have been trying to pass in the City of Atlanta / Fulton County, historically blue, apparently still cognizant of its legacy of Civil Rights, that has taken almost a decade to pass

the issue is complacency and power - the newest mayor of Atlanta, for ex, was an inhouse pick by outgoing mayor Reed to continue his legacy of displacement and buy-in with the good ol' boys running the Gold Dome (see all of the personal hires Nathan Deal has made of Reed staff). there aren't more complicated reasons than money and power here or anywhere else - other places just obscure it more artfully
posted by runt at 7:58 AM on January 25 [4 favorites]


*whistles* Well, that's some bullshit. I've been pushing specifically on behalf of Latina and other WoC candidates where I can spread my love around this cycle--my district is so safe it's honestly not worth poking at, and my rep's spot on the Ways and Means Committee means that shifting him is not worth losing to shake shit up. So I keep cheering on WoC running in other districts (as well as some white women) and trying to spread word and enthusiasm about their campaigns. Hopefully it will pay off elsewhere in Texas with their constituents.

Fulton County is of course also tricky because its weird-ass shape means that while it holds most of Atlanta proper, it also gets a fuckton of much-more-conservative suburbia out of Alpharetta and Roswell and I guess Milton, depending on how you count them. (I forget how they're incorporating these days; it's been a while.) And those are, I am going to 100% bet, going to be exerting some nasty bullshit pressure on immigration reform within the county. I lived up there for three years, and my expectations in those municipalities are not positive.
posted by sciatrix at 8:05 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]


What are some of the structural reasons that the local political leadership is so moribund?

One of Jerry Pournelle's useful observations: "...in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself. "

The balance of those working for the org's structure to those working for the org's goals is off. How to fix it? I have no idea.
posted by mikelieman at 8:06 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]


I don’t waste my time with Indivisible locally. It’s even more useless than Drinking Liberally. At least with Drining Liberally you might have fun drinking.
Indivisible is nothing but a bunch of boring meetings.
As for local Dems, we’ve managed to work together and get along. Sometimes it’s meant papering over an issue or two.
It frankly used to be a lot worse in the 1990s and even the early 2000s. We used to have a bad problem with infighting.
I don’t trust the DNC or the DCCC. I also don’t trust The Intercept.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 8:10 AM on January 25 [7 favorites]


@sciatrix yeah, anything north of Buckhead with the exception of the John's Creek Korean-American community is a wasteland of suburban, white middle and upper-middle class values

but that said, it's not just them - Eaves running for mayor in spite of his good standing is indicative of the kind of power hungry, amoral politicking that makes up politics in the South. the City of Atlanta, with the exception of Felicia Moore, have never ever taken the initiative on their own to pass progressive policies - they've all needed to be cajoled and talked to, patiently, for things to move and they only respect the voices that are already associated with an established, historical non-profits, none of any of those new upstarts like BLM-Atlanta or SONG or GLAHR. but United Way, with its 400k annual salary President, now that's a real voice
posted by runt at 8:16 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


How exactly does or should a political party determine which policies are meritorious and important? Whose ethical principles should they apply? If these thins were obvious, there would hardly be different political parties in the first place.

Your solution is that he who raises the money has the most right. Your solution is neoliberal bullshit. Of course the party must have a moral core that isn't determined by money, Jesus.
posted by TypographicalError at 8:25 AM on January 25 [9 favorites]


The Intercept has much to criticize, not least its recent frantic handwaving of Manning's deeply disappointing association with alt-right figures after her release - it should be easy, but apparently isn't, to celebrate her leaks, condemn her solitary confinement, and also condemn her new associations - but it's totally ludicrous to dismiss a news outlet as divisive for highlighting those acts of the Democratic Party which preserve it as an institution while dividing itself from its activist base. Don't kill the messenger.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:57 AM on January 25 [4 favorites]


Chelsea Manning continues to torpedo her own campaign and Greenwald needs someone to blame when she loses her primary.

Note that Chelsea Manning is technically still considered an active duty soldier and cannot legally run for office to begin with. I don't know what the fuck she thinks she's doing.
posted by Naberius at 8:58 AM on January 25 [7 favorites]


> the opposite of not showing up to establishment party gatherings is not slacktivism, it's actual activism [...]

I agree. There's a reason a lot of people believe the narrative of the "two parties are the same." Because on a lot of issues there is no daylight between them. I can give numerous examples, but when both sides are accepting funding from Wall Street, it's not really possible to distinguish which one is more likely to institute banking reform for example. When both candidates in the general are attacking the idea of encrypted data, and neither sounds like they know fuck-all about technology, what's the difference? When the Republican is the one fighting for jobs, and the Democrat is suggesting that some jobs just need to go away (even if she was correct), it sends a pretty mixed message. Which candidate is going to fight for common workers again? When did Democrats cede fighting for jobs? We can point out that Trump might not be effective at it (Carrier is still outsourcing for example), but at least he ran on the idea of getting this done.

I know, and you know, there's a huge difference between the two parties, but both do seem fairly corrupt. One isn't as corrupt as the other, isn't exactly a selling point in my mind. Both parties are moving further right.

So my take is that activism is often the most effective way to participate in Democracy. I used to believe that voting was the most important thing, but anymore I am becoming jaded and believe the choices between candidates is often like choosing between shit sandwiches, and that the best way to get anything to change is by protesting, or advocating. I used to think that if you didn't vote you were a hypocrite if you then complained, but anymore, seems like the pressure away from the polls is more effective. The #blacklivesmatter and #metoo movements and NFL players taking a knee has done a lot to effect change.

I also believe in opening up my wallet. I give to political causes, organizations that advocate, and to the candidates themselves. EFF, FIRE, Planned Parenthood. If only the wealthy and corporations make donations, only the wealthy and corporations will have their interests looked after.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:21 AM on January 25 [5 favorites]


Fundamentally, I think there's an odd perception that political parties should do the work of advocating ethical and policy goals, which runs up against the reality that political parties exist to the extent that their candidates and their officeholders reflect a set of ethical and policy goals that appeal to a wide enough constituency to keep the party both electorally and financially viable.

The question, then, is how to signal to the party that a candidate is viable. Right now, the parties use fundraising and endorsement-gathering as signals of viability. Mass participation in caucuses and vote totals in primaries -- and it would have to be heavy and targeted -- are stronger signals.


I read your first comment as a full throated defense of the status quo at the DCCC and it got me riled up so I closed the window rather than respond heatedly, but I think this point is a good one.

The problem highlighted by the Great Slate is that the party, and especially the DCCC, has a tendency to ignore candidates preemptively (based on assumptions about winnability that don't seem to have any current factual basis), and that this cycle is self-defeating. The Democrats have a motivation problem and a turnout problem, and they continue to fight the old battle of suburbanites and "swing voters" even though the current wisdom everywhere outside the DCCC is that truly independent swing voters no longer exist in meaningful numbers (upshot: people say they're independent but then mostly vote with a single party anyway).

Faced with higher turnout on the Republican side, instead of focusing on turnout and trying to encourage discouraged liberals (who register independent not because they think the Democratic Party is too far to the left, but too far to the right), the DCCC is still fighting by rules that haven't been true in at least 20 years. Right now their only recognized proxy to success is money, and that's a bad measure for a party with no ground operations. Especially when the same candidates who've lost before are the primary earners. Maybe this time will be different, the useless DCCC says, based on nothing.

So Texas is routinely ignored even though there are blue areas and some turning blue, and in other districts the Democrats don't even run a candidate at all, because they've given up before they've even started. Say all you want about The Information, but at least somebody besides a cynical bookmarking site on twitter is talking about the really obvious problem with the status quo at the DCCC. Money can't be the only measure of viability for Democratic candidates, but it's the only one being used by the same leadership that can only win Congress on the backs of a Democratic presidential candidate who encourages turnout the party can't maintain in off years, or even in presidential election years when the candidate doesn't have a halo.
posted by fedward at 9:38 AM on January 25 [8 favorites]


Voting is darn well the most effective way to have political power for your time. It's not a lot of power, but it doesn't take a lot of time.

But if you haven't put in the work to change things in the primaries, and you don't keep the pressure on, yes, all you're going to be able to do is hold the line against the really bad stuff.

Still, I cannot fathom how one can claim in the present era that both parties are the same and voting doesn't matter. Because too many people bought that line, America is now in a situation where the party in power don't even pretend to give much of a damn about democracy or the rule of law to the point of supporting a leader who attacked the legitimacy of America's elections, refused to state that he would abide by their outcome, and suggested the assassination of his political opponent. That's gonna make any positive change that much harder, when functioning democracy itself is under threat from within.
posted by Zalzidrax at 9:53 AM on January 25 [10 favorites]


The question, then, is how to signal to the party that a candidate is viable. Right now, the parties use fundraising and endorsement-gathering as signals of viability.

Granted, winning elections is important. And money is a needed to do that. I get that.

But you cant win any fight you don't show up for, and sometimes just having the fight is more important than winning it.

The DNC/DCCC/DSC/DABC/DETC whatevers need to get off the viability measures and start looking at running candidates in low odds districts as sunk cost advertising, market building, and candidate training.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:54 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]




Still, I cannot fathom how one can claim in the present era that both parties are the same and voting doesn't matter.

For offices below congress - state/county/local - there were 4 republicans and 0 democrats on my last ballot.

So, yeah. I guess voting really matters.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:57 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


We're not a parliamentary system, so two-party dynamics are an unavoidable emergent property of the system that the authors of the Constitution probably couldn't have anticipated.

The assumption is always that in a theoretical American parliamentary system that the parties would only break somewhere along the spectrum of left, center, and right. But, there are examples of political parties forming in other countries that are based on geography, ethnicity, religion, etc.
posted by FJT at 9:58 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]


Democracy for America endorses Jess King.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:58 AM on January 25


it's totally ludicrous to dismiss a news outlet as divisive for highlighting those acts of the Democratic Party which preserve it as an institution while dividing itself from its activist base. Don't kill the messenger.

I'm thinking back to the DNC email hack, which The Intercept covered extensively as I write this; I am very comfortable ignoring a news outlet whose consistent and repeated message is 'the Democratic Party is awful.' Mere accuracy is not a measure of importance, and a pattern of highlighting divisive issues while reporting far less often on important ones makes me inclined to disregard their reporting in total. There are a lot of facts that, in isolation, take on a kind of weight that disappears in context; The Intercept has a pattern of talking, too, about perceived problems in one party, like requiring time to be spend on fundraising that the GOP also requires of its candidates and officials as problems of the party, rather than as problems of the political system in which the party competes -- a lot of the criticisms being leveled here apply equally, if not more so, to the GOP, which has taken all sorts of steps to shut down its activist wing, as the activists have been winning seats and gaining increasing control of the GOP.

For example, look at Alabama deciding to end special elections for empty Senate seats: that wasn't because Doug Jones, Democrat, won the general election. It was because Roy Moore, unpopular extremist within his own party, won the primary.

By all means, activists should be invested in influencing the Democratic Party: they should be invested in supporting candidates and causes. And I am a lot more interested in hearing what progressive candidates and progressive activists have to say than I am in hearing The Intercept run their umpteenth variation of 'Are Democrats The Real Baddies?'
posted by cjelli at 10:00 AM on January 25 [32 favorites]


how one can claim in the present era that both parties are the same and voting doesn't matter. Because too many people bought that line

oh I thought Trump was elected because white people are still racist, Russia interfered with the election, gerrymandering has grown increasingly worse in the past two decades, corporate money is now an intrinsic part of politics, our news media is amoral and terrible because their bottomline is ad revenue, systemic sexism has haunted Hillary for literal decades, and our democratic system is still run on a slavery-justifying holdover called the Electoral College

but hey, maybe the real issue is as simple as people like me being jaded by an institution that has treated them like shit, repeatedly
posted by runt at 10:02 AM on January 25 [9 favorites]


Losing is the midterms is still a possibility , and entirely within the capacity of the DNC to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

It’s Important to separate out the leaders of the state and national Democratic party from its base. A leadership that has more interest in pulling big donors and hiring big consultant then it has in winning elections or governing. The base must seize power away from the people with no skin in the game - a rank and file revolt of the party is necessary to prevent the same people from making the same mistakes for the last 40 years.

And a lot of that is cutting the cord to Big Money and Big Donors.
posted by The Whelk at 10:05 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]


What they don't note, of course, is that Teachout, despite a long and healthy list of endorsements -- Bernie Sanders, EMILY's List, Andrew Cuomo, Chuck Schumer (!), the NEA, and the Sierra Club, among many others -- lost the general election against John Faso by about 8 points in a district that went to Trump by only 6; she underperformed Hillary Clinton in the actual general election, making the article' use of primary numbers rather deceptive.

Anecdotal, of course, but based on campaign signs we saw in yards in New Paltz, it's less that Teachout underperformed Clinton and more that Trump underperformed Faso. Confirming my hunch via NYT counts for the house race and Daily Kos for presidential votes broken out by house district, Clinton had 140,518 votes and Teachout had 141,224, so by number of votes and not percentage Teachout actually outperformed Clinton. Trump got only 162,265 votes to Faso's 166,171, in a conservative (-ly gerrymandered) district.
posted by fedward at 10:19 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Apologies if it's wrong of me to repost a comment I originally made in the latest general politics thread, but I feel like the ultimate question here is: how can we tell what actually works to get progressive candidates elected AND progressive policies enacted, so here's a brief excerpt from an article originally posted by Chrysostom in an earlier politics thread:


How to Turn a Red State Purple (Democrats Not Required) by Ash Adams for Politico
Not all of these newcomer state legislators are typical progressives ... but in defeating more conservative candidates, they accomplished something that didn’t happen anywhere else in November 2016: In a state that went for Trump by 15 points, they flipped a red legislative chamber to blue.

...

Alaska ... has two Republican senators and a Republican congressman. But the state is changing. In the past four years, Alaska has raised its minimum wage, legalized recreational marijuana and passed the strongest universal voter registration bill in the country. Governor Bill Walker—an ex-Republican who has the support of organized labor and most liberals—and the House majority coalition are publicly advocating the introduction of a statewide income tax, a move long thought impossible in Alaska’s notoriously libertarian political climate.

To be sure, this tectonic political shift would have been impossible without traditional Democratic players, like unions. But what’s been less noticed, even in Alaska, is the role played by millennials who, rather than spending years working their way up on the team, instead reinvented the playbook. Three men in particular ... have pointed the way to reviving progressivism in the state by recruiting new, outsider candidates, teaching them how to win, and connecting them with fellow travelers. In bypassing traditional channels—which in Alaska, as everywhere else, tend to elevate predictable, uninspiring pols who have paid their dues—they’ve propelled a wave of untested candidates with little experience and even less party identity, but who believe in the economic populist agenda shared by a coalition of labor, environmentalists and the state’s large, politically engaged Alaska Native population.

Their emerging coalition has been a boon for the Democratic Party, of course, but what’s remarkable is how little of this transformation has depended on the party. To the extent that the Democratic Party has helped in its own revival—and in transforming Alaska from deep red to a blue-ish purple—it was in part by getting out of the way. As progressives across the country try to pry Republicans out of power, they have important lessons to learn from a state where they are wrongly thought to have no power at all.
(Also, the first guy profiled in the article won his election by 32 votes. Every vote matters!)

The whole article is a really great read and seems germane to the discussion about what works, at least sometimes, and what we might learn from that. I am grateful to Chrysostom for posting it.
posted by kristi at 11:10 AM on January 25 [7 favorites]


The problem highlighted by the Great Slate is that the party, and especially the DCCC, has a tendency to ignore candidates preemptively (based on assumptions about winnability that don't seem to have any current factual basis), and that this cycle is self-defeating.

There's a bit on Silicon Valley where the CEO of the company has assembled a team comprised of allegedly the best IT sales people in the business. Another employee is arguing with him over a feature that the CEO believes will make the product harder to sell, and it goes along the lines of:

"Well, you've got the best sales people in the world in there! Can't we give them something that's a little harder to sell?"
"No, they'll just quit and go sell something easier."

And that's the national Democratic Party in a nutshell: if they're not already pretty sure you're a winner, they think it's a waste of time and money to help you. And if they're not already pretty sure they can easily win something, they think it's a waste of time and money to try and win it. They'd rather spend their time and money on races they think are easy to win. And so it's left to the state parties in places like Georgia and Texas to wither on the vine.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:16 AM on January 25 [6 favorites]


> but hey, maybe the real issue is as simple as people like me being jaded by an institution that has treated them like shit, repeatedly

Look, I am not blaming anyone here. Blame is a stupid business. Nor do I believe anything has one cause, much less the result of the last presidential election. There are many things to blame. Many things can make the differences.

And for all the reasons you list, we're fighting an uphill battle to make things less shitty for people. And for that reason it seems like madness to me to leave the slightest bit of influence on the table.

I was at the protests in Wisconsin to recall Scott Walker. And even though we got the recall election, and dare I say even most people wanted him out, the inability of the to coalesce around one opposition candidate means he's still in office, while things get worse and worse.

And since then I've just seen this happen in election after election after that And I just... I am so absolutely frustrated at this point. Teaching the moderate democrats a lesson by staying home for election day hasn't worked yet. It isn't going to work now. What is there to lose by going out and voting?

Voting is easy, maybe it doesn't do much, but for most people it doesn't take much either. Throwing up your hands and saying it doesn't matter, is a tragedy of the commons type deal. Someone has to get out there and vote in the election. Enough people do.

And even if you truly believe in an accounting where you have no responsibility for voting and your vote doesn't make a difference, announcing that, defending that... you are chipping away at that "enough voters" that are absolutely needed to keep a lot of people safe from some really terrible policies.

To reiterate: voting in the general is not going to change the parties. But at the absolute minimum it's going to slow things getting worse. And we need that. We need to buy time to make real, effective change by more involved activism.
posted by Zalzidrax at 11:25 AM on January 25 [15 favorites]


kristi: " I am grateful to Chrysostom for posting it."

Chrysostom is an example of somebody who's done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:31 AM on January 25 [17 favorites]


And a lot of that is cutting the cord to Big Money and Big Donors.

Serious question: what do you propose we replace them with?

If the answer is elbow grease and shoe leather and starting local...ok, but we have an ongoing national emergency now that requires both a national focus and a massive GOTV effort ahead of elections that are 9 months away, and I don’t know how you do that without obscene amounts of money.

I don’t know how to square this circle, but risking the midterms by going cold turkey seems like a nonstarter.
posted by schadenfrau at 11:35 AM on January 25 [11 favorites]


Voting is easy, maybe it doesn't do much, but for most people it doesn't take much either. Throwing up your hands and saying it doesn't matter, is a tragedy of the commons type deal. Someone has to get out there and vote in the election. Enough people do.

it doesn't do anything except in local elections on local issues and me expressing my cynicism about it on MetaFilter in order to make a point about how absolutely shitty establishment Democrats are, that voting on party lines doesn't mean anything in blue districts isn't going to suddenly change the way the masses of people are going to engage in democracy

you want to actually do something to make the world better? sustainable, ongoing organizing on issues at a local level, not for candidates, not just occasionally showing up at a march someone else put weeks into organizing is the most efficient bang for your disposable labor. until the point that you have determined that local elected officials won't budge on your issue, that's when you get into electoral politics and parties - and sometimes all it takes is the threat of dedicated opposition. but if the ends to your means is party and not policy or ideology then you aren't accomplishing anything but re-establishing the status quo
posted by runt at 11:51 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


I guess I don't see that it needs to be either/or. Organizing on issues and running better candidates are both paths to be pursuing.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:58 AM on January 25 [8 favorites]


[voting] doesn't do anything except in local elections on local issues...that voting on party lines doesn't mean anything in blue districts isn't going to suddenly change the way the masses of people are going to engage in democracy

Respectfully, had more people turned out to vote in the solidly blue districts of my solidly blue city and actually voted a straight-party-ticket in my solidly purple state, Pat Toomey would not be my Senator today. Turnout matters, even in blue districts, even in non-local elections. And gerrymandering matters, and voter suppression matters, but I know people who actively chose to not vote, and that did matter -- to a degree! I am merely saying that it did matter, not that it is the Single Most Important Thing, nor that we should ignore other things that also matter.

Sustainable, ongoing organizing at local levels for causes, in addition to candidates, is also great and is also needed and and is also critical. But that's a 'yes, and' to voting, not a replacement for it; both of them matter. Both of them help accomplish change. Vote in every election, and also organize for causes.
posted by cjelli at 12:00 PM on January 25 [17 favorites]




Virginia November 2017 showed how down ballot candidates brought out voters and those voters also voted for the top of the ticket. Local candidates bring people out because people know them personally. Where I was people didn't want to talk about the governor's race, they wanted to talk about the sheriff's race. Run a candidate in every race.
posted by jointhedance at 12:04 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


But that's a 'yes, and' to voting, not a replacement for it

I don't disagree with this. I disagree with the sentiment that the laurels of Democrats need to grow so large because there are occasionally contested areas. if it's purple, vote blue. if it's historically blue, the election isn't close, and some people are sitting it out because those historically blue candidates have never represented their interests, it's a good policy to get off your high horse about voting as a fundamental necessity in everybody's political life, how dare, etc

if you want people to vote, organize to make registrations easy and make all election days holidays. just don't organize for Democrats because they're Democrats
posted by runt at 12:14 PM on January 25


How exactly does or should a political party determine which policies are meritorious and important

From the outside, this is the stupidest question I’ve seen in this thread. In the rest of the world, we do this by developing actual party policies, which party members, both elected and rank-and-file, bring to party conferences and vote on and set in stone. You don’t just cross your fingers and hope that Democratic candidate is pro-choice; you make being pro-choice the official, set-in-stone policy of your party, and if someone wants to run as a candidate it’s expected they will support that, and vote that way, or they’re disendorsed. It’s not hard to figure out.
posted by Jimbob at 12:19 PM on January 25 [10 favorites]


> Still, I cannot fathom how one can claim in the present era that both parties are the same and voting doesn't matter.

On many issues they are the same. Or, gasp, on some the GOP are better. Now, I define better from a standpoint of what I believe makes good leadership and wise stewardship of the country.

But I didn't see the previous administration fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline or the Keystone XL pipeline. You literally had two candidates who both expressed a need for a mandate to break encryption and to give access to the government. Even though marijuana legalization is insanely popular and has a higher approval rating than any politician, you barely saw any handwaving from the Democrats toward giving the people what they want (at best Obama said the feds won't enforce federal law like this is a good thing). The Democrats lined up to lick Trump's ballsack by continuing unprecedented Orwellian powers through FISA. Ironically, the greatest criticism of FISA came from the man in the Oval Office. And which party has been advocating for a reduction in military spending? Or even fewer US military interventions? Which party stands against the use of unmanned drones to kill people extrajudicially? I'm trying to remember which of the final two candidates embraced a national minimum wage of $15? Which party was in power when income inequality and wealth disparity decreased?

And issues where Republicans are better? Advocating free speech at institutions of higher learning for one. And I like the idea of less national debt, less spending, tax cuts for people and corporations (if less taxes results in better global competition and a more viable domestic business market which increases worker demand and compensation).

And the problem isn't that the two parties are the same, it's that for a shitload of people neither party represents their interests nor beliefs.

Assuming other people's priorities align with your own is always going to end in disappointment.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:31 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


And issues where Republicans are better? Advocating free speech at institutions of higher learning for one.
You must be fucking kidding me. What planet are you living on?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:49 PM on January 25 [23 favorites]


I didn't see the previous administration fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline or the Keystone XL pipeline. Obama fought both. Even though marijuana legalization... Obama required a hands off policy towards mj enforcement in states which legalized it. Trump's policy is to allow federal enforcement. embraced a national minimum wage of $15 That was Hillary.

If your primary concern is Milo's ability to speak freely on campus, then you might be a republican.
posted by factory123 at 12:59 PM on January 25 [16 favorites]


My brother signed up to run in NY. I gave him money even though he was running as a dem. The party got behind somebody else, so he's out. Fuck the democratic party.
posted by spacewrench at 12:59 PM on January 25


And issues where Republicans are better? Advocating free speech at institutions of higher learning for one. And I like the idea of less national debt, less spending, tax cuts for people and corporations

this is just being a libertarian which, as they say, is just holding Republican values from the 1960s (ex McCain)

also, I mean, the free speech thing... really? that's literally a line from the Breitbart playbook and his name is Milo Yiannopoulous
posted by runt at 1:01 PM on January 25 [9 favorites]


In the rest of the world, we do this by developing actual party policies, which party members, both elected and rank-and-file, bring to party conferences and vote on and set in stone. You don’t just cross your fingers and hope that Democratic candidate is pro-choice; you make being pro-choice the official, set-in-stone policy of your party, and if someone wants to run as a candidate it’s expected they will support that, and vote that way, or they’re disendorsed. It’s not hard to figure out.

Oh, man, this this this. This is something that has been driving my Canadian spouse up the damn wall all year--everything in the US is about person, person, person, and the party is just a vague indicator that tells you nothing. Where is the coherent platform about what the Democratic Party stands for? I had to explain that the party platform even exists, because as far as they were concerned it mostly doesn't.
posted by sciatrix at 1:04 PM on January 25 [6 favorites]


A national party policy platform or manifesto would go a long way in just getting to to know what the hell yu even stand for. Hell yiu have big

Immigration reform, up to and including amnesty
Medicare for all
Marijuana legalization

You could throw some more in there, fighting Wall Street, ending nail, etc but those top three all poll Extremely Hugh and are popular. You won’t need the mega mega donors if people are actually excited by your campaign and ideas.
posted by The Whelk at 1:14 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]




> The base must seize power away from the people with no skin in the game - a rank and file revolt of the party is necessary to prevent the same people from making the same mistakes for the last 40 years.

Yeah, the way I saw the last election, and still see it, is that both parties were facing an anti-establishment rebellion from within. The Democrats managed to put their insurrection down, but at the cost of putting forward a candidate who couldn't win for a plethora of reasons (and that list is far from exhaustive). Then, after admitting to a flawed primary, and party bias, the DNC replaces Debbie Wasserman Schultz with an interim leader who leaked debate questions to a candidate, then they settle on Tom Perez over Keith Ellison. Not exactly reforming or throwing the progressives any kind of reconciliatory bone. And I get it, from the Democrat's perspective, they are the one who are owed the apology for an outsider fucking things up, but not if you ever want to reclaim the support of those outsiders. You can't have it both ways.

The GOP was way less successful in putting down their own uprising.

And yes, I do see the irony in portraying a career politician like Sanders as anti-establishment. But I guess that's what you get when you start with only four choices and only two parties.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:19 PM on January 25


Party platform like this?

no, more like this
posted by runt at 1:35 PM on January 25


runt, can you elaborate? That report card seems to just be a grouping of representatives based on how often they behave like others in their group, with the republican-leaning folks being labeled conservative and the reverse.

It doesn't really describe positions or ideology at all.
posted by factory123 at 1:39 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


In the rest of the world, we do this by developing actual party policies, which party members, both elected and rank-and-file, bring to party conferences and vote on and set in stone.

Right, and the US isn't a parliamentary democracy and for good or ill (mostly ill) we're locked into a broken two-party system where no one party will ever fit all. By all rights the Tea Party and House Freedom Caucus should have been kicked out of the Republican Party where they could wither on their own weaknesses without breaking the government, but Paul "Hastert Rule" Ryan would rather have a fucked up majority he only barely leads than have to rely on a single Democratic vote, much less a Coalition of the Sane. (Also, the conservatives who finance GOP candidates don't like it when those candidates compromise on anything, so Getting Primaried From The Right is a thing).

Our House isn't really big enough for coalition government anyway. We should have about 14 times as many representatives (one seat per 50,000 constituents) but that amendment was never ratified, and there's been a whole lot of fuckery ever since, with the last Reapportionment Act setting the size of the House at 435, apparently for good. Plus the President is elected separately from the Congress, not appointed as the leader of a platform. The two party system and the Electoral College mostly ensure that there's a "winner" and not just a plurality of votes, but even that is flawed.

But anyway, there's a Democratic Party Platform, as linked above, but see the whole mess about abortion rights as a litmus test for how having a platform doesn't ensure that candidates agree with it, or even that the party sees it as in party interest to try to ensure they do. (Muddle that with my previous link about the weakness of the party strategy of targeting suburban voters [who lean conservative anyway] for an understanding of just how messy this topic is).
posted by fedward at 1:41 PM on January 25 [3 favorites]


And I like the idea of less national debt, less spending,

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you might know that the Republicans just blew up the deficit a few weeks ago with their tax bill which is going to cause the debt to skyrocket. And "less spending"? When exactly have they ever actually cut spending? They talk about it a lot but they don't actually ever do that.
posted by octothorpe at 1:42 PM on January 25 [13 favorites]


On many issues they are the same. Or, gasp, on some the GOP are better. Now, I define better from a standpoint of what I believe makes good leadership and wise stewardship of the country.

There are many reasonable political discussions to be had. But those are currently a distraction. Trump has made statements advocating political violence, up to and including hinting at the assassination of his political opponent, and made unsubstantiated attacks on the legitimacy of the American electoral process. Letting those things slide gets us way too close where things end up getting settled with guns instead of votes.

And that's not even including the apparent collusion with a foreign power in attacking American democracy.

Pluralistic democracy, human rights, universal suffrage, they are under siege right now, and not just in the US. Unless we keep those, all those other things you mentioned, they will not matter.
posted by Zalzidrax at 1:44 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Party platform like this?

You will note that I said "I had to point out that it exists", right? Because two years of increasingly obsessive investment and involvement in American politics had not informed them of this fact, since the party platform appears to have approximately zero relationship to the actual policy standpoints of the candidates running under each platform?

Nice on the gotcha, though. Well done.
posted by sciatrix at 1:45 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


> Obama fought both.

Yeah, no. No one from the Obama administration was coming out in support of the Water Protectors at Standing Rock. You couldn't get Hillary to say she was against either. When she did it was too little, too late. And she stated her reason for not coming out against it sooner was because she didn't want to contravene the position of her boss.

Obama required a hands off policy towards mj enforcement in states which legalized it.

I believe I actually stated that, but from a policy position that's a fairly shitty one. We're not gonna enforce the law, we're just gonna ignore this one, isn't exactly good policy. Constituents are in favor of legalization. Neither party is giving that. Ignoring it is political masturbation at best.

embraced a national minimum wage of $15 That was Hillary.

Yeah, again, revisionist history. She was pressured into supporting it, but was only in favor of $15 for some areas of the country. That's no way to win over the wage slaves in rural America. But yes, her lukewarm endorsement of raising the wage was better than the GOP's position, but when it came to the narrative of fighting for jobs, Trump kicked her ass. While he and Pence were fighting to preserve jobs, the Democrats were arguing over exactly the number he'd actually be saving. They gave up.

If your primary concern is Milo's ability to speak freely on campus, then you might be a Republican.

My primary concern is that voices be heard.

If you think Milo Yiannopoulous is the only one shouted down or uninvited from college campuses in the last decade you're wrong. If you don't think there is anything to be learned by hosting people like Charles Murray for Ann Coulter you are wrong. Arnold Schwarzenegger, John McCain, Mitt Romney? Not exactly Milos there, but the fight for free speech doesn't occur at the line of popular speech. It occurs with unpopular speech. If you think this is an issue that only hits on conservative speakers, you are wrong. The left has actually seemed to have coopted this strategy from the right. Michael Moore, Chelsey Manning, Donna Brazile, and other lefties have been disinvited or shouted down.

I think Condoleezza Rice and Rudy Giuliani are pieces of shit, but I would still value hearing them speak.

Disinvitation Database
posted by cjorgensen at 1:47 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


but see the whole mess about abortion rights as a litmus test for how having a platform doesn't ensure that candidates agree with it, or even that the party sees it as in party interest to try to ensure they do.

But isn’t something like abortion rights, something real and crucial and life changing and potentially devastating, isn’t that something that should form the basis of a broad platform. It should be a litmus test. I don’t want any part of any organization where that is up in the air.

Cause that’s what makes you a member of a political party and have common cause and not a loose group of people in blazers who hope to get very very rich one day.

You can talk about blue waves and demographic change but as long as the same people are in power, as long as voting access withers and gerrymandering is allowed, as long as it’s still 1982 in the heads of the Democratic leadership and they still think they need suburban conservatives to win, then nothing will change.

And that is what makes people feel disconnected and alienated from politics. And that gives our enemies the power to do whatever they want.
posted by The Whelk at 1:52 PM on January 25 [8 favorites]


Lest we forget our Republican history, it used to be Ronald Reagan who was against free speech and the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley.
posted by puddledork at 1:53 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


I mean the worst thing about the national leadership isn’t that they might loose the midterms, it’s that if they do it really won’t effect them much.
posted by The Whelk at 1:55 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


sciatrix, I'm sincerely not trying to getcha - I was responding to the comment that followed yours. I agree with you, 100%, that there is too much focus on personality and not enough on policy.
posted by factory123 at 1:57 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Fundamentally, I think there's an odd perception that political parties should do the work of advocating ethical and policy goals,

This is bizarro talk. Like, completely outlandish.
What do you think democracy is for? Do you think voting is a popularity contest or something, devoid of any purpose or ethics or ideals around shaping policy?

which runs up against the reality that political parties exist to the extent that their candidates and their officeholders reflect a set of ethical and policy goals that appeal to a wide enough constituency to keep the party both electorally and financially viable.

That’s assuming that the goal of the party is to continue being a party, rather than being a vehicle to enable the democratic political representation of ideals and just policies.
posted by suedehead at 1:58 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


embraced a national minimum wage of $15 That was Hillary.

Yeah, again, revisionist history. She was pressured into supporting it


Yeah, you're citing an article from April 2016, before Clinton embraced the party platform that called for a $15/hour minimum wage. It's a problem she listened to activists and to what people wanted?

I'm just kind of sitting her flabbergasted that we had a candidate who was for raising the minimum wage, and one candidate who was for lowering or eliminating the minimum wage; that the candidate who talked about eliminating the minimum wage won the the election and has taken exactly zero steps in the last year -- zero -- toward raising the minimum wage; and yet you're complaining that the candidate who did talk about raising the minimum wage, and did sign onto raising it to $15 despite personal reservations is the problem for...reasons?

Respectfully, you're not operating off of facts, here.
posted by cjelli at 2:00 PM on January 25 [26 favorites]


> Letting those things slide gets us way too close where things end up getting settled with guns instead of votes.

No one is saying let these things slide. Most of what you cite is post election. Hopefully, and polls show this, his supporters will hold him accountable at the polls in 2018 and 2020.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:03 PM on January 25


Trump Revives Keystone Pipeline Rejected by Obama, on a similar note.
posted by factory123 at 2:03 PM on January 25


Right, and the US isn't a parliamentary democracy and for good or ill (mostly ill) we're locked into a broken two-party system where no one party will ever fit all.

So it’s fundamentally flawed and unfixable, why even bother working within the system?

I keep hearing “the US isn’t a parliamentary system” as if that just naturally explains why it’s fixed at two parties, not zero or seven. As if that explains why party discipline is unobtainable. It’s money that explains why arsehole self-funding candidates get endorsed, not any fundamental set-in-stone issue of constitutional law.
posted by Jimbob at 2:07 PM on January 25


Yeah, again, revisionist history. She was pressured into supporting it

So she listened to the peoples' opinions and changed her position for the better? How dare she!
posted by octothorpe at 2:09 PM on January 25 [16 favorites]


isn’t that something that should form the basis of a broad platform. It should be a litmus test.

For the record I agree with you.

I'm not sure it's helpful for one of two parties in a national system, though, and party leadership is clearly sure it's not helpful. There do exist people who are pro-life but anti-Trump. There's a real question about whether the Democratic Party can afford to alienate them, when that litmus test means potentially losing an otherwise winnable seat in the House for lack of a viable candidate in that district. That question, and others like it, is really at the heart of the Democratic crisis. Leadership has already made its choices, and so far the ground level organizing hasn't reached enough influence to swing the party away from mealymouthed pragmatism focused on suburban swing voters and toward the energy some of us realize is there, waiting for a cause to believe in.
posted by fedward at 2:12 PM on January 25


If you don't think there is anything to be learned by hosting people like Charles Murray for Ann Coulter you are wrong.

What benefits that are gained from hosting them are dwarfed by the impact of normalizing bigotry.

It occurs with unpopular speech.

Let me stop you here.

Hate speech and "unpopular speech" are not synonyms. In fact, a large part of the issue with hate speech is that it winds up being popular. Stop treating the two as such.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:27 PM on January 25 [11 favorites]


as if that just naturally explains why it’s fixed at two parties, not zero or seven

In short: the country found its level at two parties. Whenever there's a strong (ish) third party that lasts for a few election cycles, it either fades on its own or it results in the collapse of one of the previous two. The only thing that's set in law about any of this is whether a candidate qualifies for matching funds or whether a party qualifies for the ballot without petitioning, and even that is set at like 5% in the last election. The idea behind the Electoral College was that it would produce a president elected by majority and not just plurality. It wasn't even supposed to be a partisan system at all, but the nature of national campaigns meant that a party with only limited and/or regional power would never elect a president. Given that mechanic, it's unsurprising that a system of two national parties won out.

You could still try for some sort of coalition in the House, but outside a couple odd states (e.g. Vermont) the deck is stacked against a third party candidate for Senate. And because the weight of the House is mostly in the two parties anyway, your Green or Socialist or Whatever Party candidate, even if you elect him or her, will still have to caucus with one of the two parties and won't really have any influence anyway. They might get to sit on a committee if they're caucusing with the majority, but really they're off in a legislative backwater where they might as well be a member of a major party just to try to have any influence at all.

It's arguable that a significantly larger House would weaken the grip of the two parties currently in power, because regional parties or popular third parties could perhaps swing a large enough bloc in a coalition, but Senate races are fought (and largely decided) with national money and the seats are too valuable for moneyed interests to let them go.
posted by fedward at 2:36 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


My primary concern is that voices be heard.

Right now, that means hate speech and attempts to doxx leftist campus groups and individuals. Specifically, we're talking about enabling or even signal-boosting attacks on women, PoC, LGBTQ people (especially trans individuals, and double-especially trans women), immigrants, and survivors of sexual assault from faculty and fellow students. And that's just for starters. FIRE in particular tries to play the noble libertarian card, but it follows this extreme right-wing agenda 110%, and might as well largely be staffed by gamergaters and channers at this point.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:12 PM on January 25 [11 favorites]


I mean, yeah, groups like FIRE are really concerned about attempts to ban racist speakers but totally unconcerned with systematic campaigns to terrorize leftwing and pro-social-justice professors. But there are also serious threats to public higher ed that come from Republican state legislatures and the oversight boards that they appoint. For instance, a right-wing lawyer successfully lobbied the Republican-appointed Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina to stop a center at the UNC law school from engaging in civil rights litigation, even though the law school and many other legal educators thought the center's activities served a valid educational purpose. Conservatives also successfully pressed for the Board of Governors to shut down the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, the Institute for Civic Engagement and Social Change, and the Center for Biodiversity in North Carolina because conservatives objected to the research those units produced.

And look, I get it: some people think it's really important that white supremacists get to speak on campus but not as important that scholars at public institutions get to produce scholarship that pisses off conservatives. You can see things that way, but don't pretend that it's about academic freedom or free speech.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:08 PM on January 25 [9 favorites]


This is kind of out of the flow of the conversation here, but it keeps being relevant, so I think it's worth explicitly mentioning:

American political parties are not like parties in the rest of the world, in that, until very recently (specifically, the Civil Rights Act), they were, to borrow an anachronistic metaphor, the Red Team and the Blue Team*. It was part of American political culture that you might disagree with someone but acknowledge their skill as an administrator, and so you'd trust the process to hamstring their less likeable ideas. The parties did have different ideologies, sure, but those ideologies were not universally held, and people from one party would propose legislation that would find significant support amongst the other party. A liberal Republican was far, far more liberal than a conservative Democrat. (It mostly worked like this because of pork barrelling - when your side was in power, they'd come to you with buy-offs for your electorate first. America has a long, proud history of political corruption.)

In addition, the system is designed to make it deliberately very hard to change, so that when parties started organising explicitly in terms of ideology (and, specifically, tolerance for black people), it became very difficult to govern, and even more difficult to change so that governing was possible.

*I will get comments about this, so: Democrats weren't blue and Republicans weren't red until televised live election coverage, well after the parties had sorted themselves ideologically. They were never literally the Red Team and the Blue Team.
posted by Merus at 5:09 PM on January 25 [4 favorites]


In fact, a large part of the issue with hate speech is that it winds up being popular.

I want to hammer this point home: it's pretty solid science at this point that racists fear deviancy, and fear it in themselves as well as others. If they believe their views on any topic are in fact deviant, they will hurriedly move to abandon them. This is why we don't see a lot of racism against Irish these days, who were, for most of the 19th century, not considered white - it was politically useful for Britain in the Great War to not denigrate Irish allies.

Hate speech explicitly encourages racism. It's not a marketplace of ideas; hate speech gets handed out for free.
posted by Merus at 5:20 PM on January 25 [10 favorites]


This was familiar to me, with a little "both sides" consolation maybe - I've a friend who ran for local office some years ago, at a relatively young age, as a business-Republican appropriate to the NY metro. Hearing this, I was joking with mutual friends, "OK, we know ________ can be a little bit of a scumbag sometimes, but he's NOWHERE NEAR enough of a scumbag to actually go anywhere in politics."

The seat he was running for, he was doomed to lose, it's supposed to be building up his experience and name for future races, that sort of thing. So he runs, he gets his 30% whatever, and later on I see him. Among his complaints "to let you run they make you bribe all their useless 'consultant' buddies with do-nothing jobs". As I predicted, he was not enough of a scumbag - quit the party in disgust, ended his nascent political career.

It's a fucking grift, Republican or Democrat. A racket, a con. Trump is not aberration, he's apotheosis.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 7:11 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


Welp. Looks like the ratfucking started early this year. I guess some people out there really are scared of a Blue Wave election this year.

I expect to see a lot of articles like this in 2018. Articles about how corrupt and out of touch and anti-progressive and they screwed over Bernie the Democrats are. And on the other side, how crypto-racist and sexist and impractical and oh God why don't they grow up the Progressives are. It will filter out to the mainstream under the guise of covering the "controversy": NYT, CNN, NPR...

And the thing is, it will probably work. After all, it did in 2016. Put out articles to inflame the divisions and resentments still around from 2016, plant seeds that build on factions resentments of other factions, and voila! The opposition is too busy fighting each other to win.

The nice thing about ratfucking, is once someone's been ratfucked they'll deny it happened, and do their best to pass it on. After all, it's only confirming what they knew all along. And why resist? Don't we all want to feel righteous? We can take care of the Republicans, after we deal with the allies we hate. Right?
posted by happyroach at 7:19 PM on January 25 [11 favorites]


That, ironically, could even be a level playing field. And it is not an outcome the DCCC is necessarily opposed to as an institution

That, literally, is the exact opposite of a level playing field. Language matters; this statement is inaccurate, even if it is comprehensible.
posted by mwhybark at 7:29 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Man I don’t know it’s one thing to pose as a staffer and steal personal letterhead of a candidate to forge a letter saying they’re bigoted against Americans with French Canadian backgrounds and saying Manchin shouldn’t be in power based on his ....voting record.
posted by The Whelk at 8:22 PM on January 25


Constituents are in favor of legalization. Neither party is giving that. Ignoring it is political masturbation at best.

Not putting thousands of predominantly men of color into jail and giving them permanent felony records, which was the consequence of the federal nonenforcement policy set forth in the Cole Memorandum, is the exact opposite of a masturbatory gesture, unless your definition of "people worth caring about" is pretty much restricted to "dudes like me."

And issues where Republicans are better? Advocating free speech at institutions of higher learning for one.

Well, that's great. In the meantime, Betsy DeVos has refused to grant full debt discharges to thousands of students who were defrauded by for-profit schools and is seeking to cripple the whole process of seeking those discharges; reinstated the ability of student loan debt collectors to tack on 18% "collection costs" to a defaulted loan even if the borrower enters rehabilitation the very next day; argued in court (via DoJ) that state consumer protection laws are preempted by federal law when it comes to loan servicers like Navient, thereby giving them free rein to do things like lie to you about whether you're eligible for a plan that might reduce your staggering student loan payments if that would push their average call time per CSR too high; is out to abolish even modest requirements that graduate earnings bear some proportion to tuition in order for schools to be eligible for federal aid; and hired back a debt-collection company for student loans that was fired just in 2015 for making misrepresentations to debtors.

So, you know, I guess if you're a rich white boy whose biggest concern is whether he can hear campus speakers denounce some of his classmates as inferior or inhuman, then, yeah, the Republicans might look better than the Dems. If you're literally anybody else on campus, you have more compelling priorities.
posted by praemunire at 8:30 PM on January 25 [17 favorites]


Money can't be the only measure of viability for Democratic candidates, but it's the only one being used by the same leadership that can only win Congress on the backs of a Democratic presidential candidate who encourages turnout the party can't maintain in off years, or even in presidential election years when the candidate doesn't have a halo.

I think this is really the problem, the dilemma we're all grappling with. There has to be some realism about where to allocate funds, but that requires a thoughtful case-by-case analysis of which candidates stand the best chance (which, yes, does involve some consideration of fundraising capacity), not just sorting a list of candidates in Excel by funds raised and casting into oblivion everyone who doesn't meet a cutoff.

I saw Jess King speak at the Great Slate fundraiser in NYC. We cannot just hand districts like hers over to the Republicans in tumultous times like this.
posted by praemunire at 8:33 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


(I should add, the Obama Dept of Education, at least its post-secondary division, was NOT VERY GOOD, still regulatorily-captured deep into the Obama years. It had to be shamed and chivvied and slammed with entirely predictable crises into adopting better policies. But DeVos is already, one year in, an actual walking catastrophe for higher education. I have really lost all patience for people who claim they can't distinguish between "NOT VERY GOOD" and "an actual walking catastrophe" and so they needn't be concerned.)
posted by praemunire at 8:39 PM on January 25 [10 favorites]


    (All Italics posted by happyroach): Welp. Looks like the ratfucking started early this year. I guess some people out there really are scared of a Blue Wave election this year.
There is a lot of anger on the left. Left over anger from the election, anger about the last year, free form anger. Mostly that anger has been channeled really well, and productively. Without that anger, gods knows where we'd be now. But, if they can divide us, and we focus our anger on ourselves instead of them, well...
    I expect to see a lot of articles like this in 2018. Articles about how corrupt and out of touch and anti-progressive and they screwed over Bernie the Democrats are. And on the other side, how crypto-racist and sexist and impractical and oh God why don't they grow up the Progressives are. It will filter out to the mainstream under the guise of covering the "controversy": NYT, CNN, NPR...
Yep. Just like NPR is talking about the "memo". You know, the one that Nunes wrote himself, then classified, then leaked about how he wasn't allowed to release this bombshell, but it was totally a bombshell, if only you were allowed to see it. And NPR spent multiple mornings letting right wing lunatics paint that narrative as though Nunes were bravely defying the FBI, and not just making shit up to cover his treasonous ass?
    And the thing is, it will probably work. After all, it did in 2016. Put out articles to inflame the divisions and resentments still around from 2016, plant seeds that build on factions resentments of other factions, and voila! The opposition is too busy fighting each other to win.
We saw it roll into action with the govt shut down, we watched the bot armies spin up in real time for the "memo", big media "both sides" everything, even when there is no rational other side. One side wants to destroy everything that was ever good about this country, and the other side mostly does not.
    The nice thing about ratfucking, is once someone's been ratfucked they'll deny it happened, and do their best to pass it on. After all, it's only confirming what they knew all along. And why resist? Don't we all want to feel righteous? We can take care of the Republicans, after we deal with the allies we hate. Right?
We cannot allow ourselves to be divided against ourselves. As Benjamin Franklin is reported to have said, "We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately."

Most of us here have many common goals. There will never be complete unanimous agreement on all aspects of our gay space communist future. Let us remember to be kind to one another, even in difference. Everyone is touchy, here on the razor's edge of the future.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 12:18 AM on January 26 [9 favorites]


praemunire: "I saw Jess King speak at the Great Slate fundraiser in NYC. We cannot just hand districts like hers over to the Republicans in tumultous times like this."

This is pedantry, but the bulk of PA-16 is Lancaster County, which has never, ever, not once in the history of the United State,s been represented in Congress by a Democrat. Lancaster has been drifting left a bit over the years - when I lived there I sometimes felt like I was the only Democrat outside of Lancaster city, and the vote totals pretty much reflected that - but it's still not even purple.

The only reason the 16th is competitive is because the GOP gerrymandered a piece of Reading into it. It's likely that the map that comes out of the court ordered redistricting turns it redder again.

Your larger point is correct, of course, we have to fight in every district.
posted by Chrysostom at 4:59 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


I think that Alabama should have taught us that we need a Democratic candidate even in the most unwinnable districts just in case the Republican implodes spectacularly.
posted by octothorpe at 7:09 AM on January 26 [4 favorites]


Candidates Who Signed Up to Battle Trump Must Get Past the Democratic Party First:

Which is just a fancy way of saying "People who finally turn up for the first time need to demonstrate they are something other than all mouth and no trousers". Would be candidates are getting upset that they are actually being checked for competence. If they can't get past mediocre opposition to win a nomination from the Democratic Party how do they expect to win overall. And if the opposition isn't mediocre then they are losing to a stronger candidate.
posted by Francis at 7:25 AM on January 26 [4 favorites]


[Comment removed, yet another long-form argument about campus speech (a) is covering well-trod ground on the site already and (b) is digging in on what was in shorter form already kind of a derail in this thread. Please let that drop at this point.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:42 AM on January 26


This is pedantry, but the bulk of PA-16 is Lancaster County, which has never, ever, not once in the history of the United State,s been represented in Congress by a Democrat.

The last time Alabama had a Democratic senator before 2018 was 25 years ago. In these particularly chaotic times, just showing up is imperative. You're not going to win every time, but you're going to win zero of the districts where the R runs without any meaningful opposition. And you keep chipping away.
posted by praemunire at 10:59 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


It's even more important than just having a chance of winning during that one election. By fielding a candidate you show that the Democrats care about the district. What does it say to a voter if a party doesn't even think that your district or state is even worth trying to win? How would you feel if the Democrats had effectively written off your district as a bunch of rednecks not worthy of attention?
posted by octothorpe at 11:29 AM on January 26 [9 favorites]


I totally agree that we need to run in every election everywhere. No argument there. I just wanted to be clear on what's going on in this particular area.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:47 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Maybe some people think it's like "show up at Ellis Island and just state your name and you're a citizen"? It's hard to think like a totally ignorant person.
posted by Green With You at 12:50 PM on January 26


Bless y'all that are throwing some cold water on this incoherent, disingenuous and misleading article. That the rest of this thread is mostly opinions presented with vehemence inversely proportional to their fact content is one of the reasons why I don't really bother to participate here as much anymore. A lot of folks seem like they could really use the 200-level class on American politics that gets them beyond inchoate conspiracy theories and wishful thinking about how the mechanisms of government actually function.
posted by klangklangston at 4:33 PM on January 26 [6 favorites]


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