A radical proposal for the Democrats


I have this crazy idea that America really needs a political party that supports labor, women, and minorities, and that is dedicated to helping all people rise up. It should favor causes that improve civil rights and distributes power widely and works on making America better, rather than claiming it is already the best. It ought to have a platform that states clearly that it wants to promote the general welfare and strengthens every level of society, and that encourages greater autonomy of individuals, no matter how poor or wealthy they are.

Yeah, I’m a dreamer. I’d like to see the Democratic party become that party, rather than drifting away, because sure as hell the Republicans are its antithesis. Obviously, the Democrats are not that party right now. The Democrats just want to win by appealing to Republican voters. They don’t want reproductive rights to be an essential part of their platform.

Democrats will not withhold financial support for candidates who oppose abortion rights, the chairman of the party’s campaign arm in the House said in an interview with The Hill.

Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) said there will be no litmus tests for candidates as Democrats seek to find a winning roster to regain the House majority in 2018.

“There is not a litmus test for Democratic candidates,” said Luján, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman. “As we look at candidates across the country, you need to make sure you have candidates that fit the district, that can win in these districts across America.”

Litmus tests“? WTF? This is about standing for a principle that is supposedly represented by the party that wants our vote. You want your party to stand for nothing, nothing is what you’ll get. Writing off pro-choice candidates in particular districts because you’ve decided they can’t win there is an admission that you want to elect Republicans Lite — that you want to populate the party with people who will undermine the goals of the party even more.

I don’t want politicians who’ll accommodate lunacy, I want politicians who will stand up against it. We have precious few of them. And the crusade against allowing women to control their own organs is becoming evil and absurd, and they’re winning because of the craven politicians who are apparently in charge of policy for the Democrats.

Look at what’s going on in Kentucky: they’re trying to shut down the last abortion clinic in the state, and it’s getting militantly ugly. They’re going to wheel in a jumbotron and show graphic videos of abortions to passers-by. You know, if they had a jumbotron showing videos of cancer surgeries, it would be gross and horrific and bloody, too — but it wouldn’t be a good argument that we should stop treating cancer.

This has to be one of the top priorities for a party that I would support — it has to defy the religiously-motivated nonsense that is driving the defunding of Planned Parenthood, the closing of women’s health clinics, and the demonization of women who want to make their own choices about children. If the Democrats want to be the party that doesn’t give a fuck about any of that, good luck in the next election when they have to make a case that they’re different from the assholes now in power.

By the way, you know what else doesn’t work? Silicon Valley douchebro billionaires deciding that plutocrats like Bloomberg should be our next candidate. I am constantly horrified by the bad ideas people suggest to rejuvenate the party, when the real problem is that they’ve lost all connection to reality and the needs of the people they’re supposed to represent.

Comments

  1. says

    I agree that reproductive rights must be an inviolable principle for the Democratic party. It’s worth writing off a seat or two. The party wouldn’t endorse a candidate who condoned racial or gender discrimination in employment, education or housing; or wanted to abolish the income tax; or any number of positions. Many voters don’t know the difference between the two parties or don’t believe they really are all that different. (That would include Ralph Nader.) The party must make its core principles absolutely clear, and distinguish them from the Republicans. Right wing religious fanatics aren’t going to vote for Democrats anyway so why would you worry about them?

  2. Dunc says

    The party wouldn’t endorse a candidate who condoned racial or gender discrimination in employment, education or housing; or wanted to abolish the income tax; or any number of positions.

    I really wouldn’t bet on that at this stage.

  3. Siobhan says

    And of course, if us uppity minorities observe that it is always our rights that are the bargaining chips, we’ll be accused of being “divisive” and insisting on “purity” tests and how we need to be “unified” for the coming election. I daren’t say we ought to unify around something besides the single-issue huckabillies who have cooked up all manner of spectres for never voting Democrat anyway. That would be condescending, or reverse racism, or something.

  4. starfleetdude says

    As if Bernie Sanders didn’t endorse an anti-abortion candidate earlier this year. So spare me the moralizing, professor.

    Bernie Sanders stands by anti-abortion mayoral candidate

    Washington (CNN)Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday stood by his decision to back a Democratic candidate whose record on abortion has drawn fire from many in the party.

    Late last week, Sanders joined Omaha mayoral candidate Heath Mello for a rally supporting his bid to oust Republican incumbent Jean Stothert as leader of the largest city in Nebraska.

    Many Democrats expressed outrage over the endorsement, but in an interview Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” the Vermont senator and 2016 presidential hopeful made a case for pragmatism in a state with significant GOP control, saying it was the kind of thing Democrats needed to do “if we’re going to become a 50-state party.”

  5. blf says

    I have not read the column yet, but a very recent one in the Grauniad is perhaps relevant, What should the Democrats do now? Follow this mustachioed ironworker. A slightly older article about the gentleman is Can this progressive ironworker (and his mustache) swipe Paul Ryan’s seat?: “Randy Bryce’s campaign is offering a boots-and-denim alternative to Washington’s elite. Can he take on the most senior Republican in Congress?”

    Some older articles / columns, also (as it so happens) in the Granuiad, on the general subject are Democrats need to win over young voters. Here’s how they can do that (“The recent Labour surge in the UK provides some hints at a path to success for the Democrats”); and Kamala Harris: young, black, female — and the Democrats’ best bet for 2020? (“She has only been a senator since last January, but the presidential buzz is growing as the party debates the need for a radical edge”).

    (Allowing for me being behind on my own reading here, please note I am not, in this comment, offering either an opinion on, or endorsement of, the individuals or suggestions in the above links.)

  6. Siobhan says

    @cervantes

    The party wouldn’t endorse a candidate who condoned racial or gender discrimination in employment, education or housing; or wanted to abolish the income tax; or any number of positions.

    The Democrats engineered trans exclusion from several LGB public accommodations laws starting in 2007 and continuing since, so strictly speaking that’s not true. That’s not “both sides do it”–the GOP will always be worse for civil and human rights–but god damn is it uninspiring for the Democrats to cede that ground. It was depressing when it happened to us trans folk, and I do not relish that they’re apparently expanding their list of acceptable scapegoats.

  7. Akira MacKenzie says

    @starfleetdude,

    The only person who has mentioned Sanders was you. The desire for a more left-wing Democratic Party is not contingent upon supporting a particular candidate.

  8. says

    You do not need better Democratic party in USA. Your whole democracy is broken. As it is now you have two parties – one far-right and one right-of-center.

    As said multiple times, you need to abolish two party president centered system, because it is idiotic, and implement a multi-party parliamental democracy with proportional representation.

    Yeah, I know. It won’t happen. But that is what you need.

  9. starfleetdude says

    @7

    I’m pointing out the hypocrisy of slamming a centrist dudebro Democrat, but not the sainted Bernie, for saying that there shouldn’t be any compromise on abortion. Obviously, sometimes there is and there are reasons for it that trump purity politics.

  10. starfleetdude says

    As said multiple times, you need to abolish two party president centered system, because it is idiotic, and implement a multi-party parliamental democracy with proportional representation.

    As long as you have majority rule government, proportional representation doesn’t resolve contentious issues, it just postpones the fight over them. So rather than having it take place within a political party, you have it fought over on the parliament floor among all the various factions. It’s actually more messy and less able to come to an agreement than a two-party system since none of the elected members from said multiple parties have any incentive to compromise and risk pissing off their own voting base.

  11. Siobhan says

    purity politics.

    wow, I called that, didn’t I. yep, there I am, 6 comments above. it’s almost like I’ve hard this conversation before weeeeeeee

  12. literorrery says

    @6 Charly:

    The problem isn’t the two-party system; it’s the voting mechanic we use. First-past-the-post with winner-take-all guarantees that we’re going to inevitably end up with a two-party race, even if one party temporarily splinters or disappears. Duverger’s Law covers the math, but it’s fairly straightforward if you were curious. The real thing we need to fix is how we elect people. That, unfortunately, is a much harder problem than just forming a new party, and the Powers That Be have no incentive to yield power in any situation where they’re not forced to do so. So… don’t expect this one to be solved any time soon. Or cleanly.

  13. blf says

    Jamie Peck, writing in the Grauniad, is scathing, No ‘litmus test’ on abortion? Shame on the Democrats who support anti-choice candidates:

    [… T]he Democrats seem more determined than ever to bungle their comeback from 2016’s humiliating defeat.

    From small-thinking policy proposals (as outlined in Chuck Schumer’s NYT editorial last week) and slogans that read like satire (“I mean, have you seen the other guys?”) to their quixotic obsession with wooing “moderate” Republicans and the rich to the detriment of progressives and the poor, their strategy is, at best, a wet fart. At worst, it’s a plan to sell out everything they once stood for.

    The latest principle to be jettisoned like so much dead weight […]: a woman’s right to choose.

    [… T]he DCCC will support anti-choice candidates if it thinks they can win, despite a paucity of evidence that Republicans in 2017 can be convinced to switch their votes to “D”.

    This is hardly the first time Democrats have waffled on this issue. While Hillary Clinton stood firm on it during her 2016 election campaign, she said in an appearance on The View that “of course” you could be anti-abortion and a feminist. The man she chose as her running mate, Tim Kaine, has a severely mixed record on abortion. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said that “of course” candidates can be anti-choice and receive the support of the party (of course!), and that abortion was “kind of fading as an issue” for Democrats. And not because everyone who needs an abortion can now get one.

    In an epic flip-flop, DNC Chair Tom Perez said his party should be flexible in the name of the “big tent”, then turned around and said abortion rights were “not negotiable”. […]

    Perez then announced plans to meet with the anti-choice, junk-science-spreading group Democrats for Life, presumably to figure out how to woo pro-lifers’ support without upsetting his pro-choice base. (Spoiler alert: You can’t.)

    […]

    This is especially puzzling, considering support for abortion rights is about as high as it’s ever been. According to a 2017 Pew Research poll, 57% of Americans believe it should be legal in “all or most cases”, as well as 75% of Democrats. If you break it down by age, support for abortion rights increases with each subsequent generation. Not to mention it’s an issue that unites the centrist wing of the party with the progressive or “Bernie” wing, a unity the party sorely needs.

    In the 2016 postmortem, it seems Democrats came away believing “social issues” were their downfall and they should stick to a narrow economic message going forward. As if ignoring the needs of people who aren’t them is the key to winning back a relatively small number of white working class swing voters they’ve assigned inordinate importance to, and as if issues like abortion don’t have profound economic implications.

    What they fail to grasp is it wasn’t social issues or “identity politics” that many voters objected to, but the cynical way the party detached them from the many ways unfettered capitalism compounds the oppression of working class people. Not to mention, picking off Republicans is a failed strategy, but there’s reason to believe the 45% of Americans who don’t vote — a group that skews young, poor and non-white — will show up for Democrats if they offer them something to vote for.

    […]

    If this ostensibly progressive party wants to build that all-important “winning coalition”, they might consider standing for something, too. […]

    There’s a reason I refer to the Democrats as “dummies”…

  14. thirdmill says

    Actually, I would say the Democratic Party is a vast improvement over what it was 50 years ago. It’s still nowhere near what I would like it to be, but if you look at the Democratic Party of 1960 or 1970, or even 1980, it’s made great strides. Don’t forget that in 1972, George Wallace was a viable candidate for the Democratic nominee for president and might well have gotten it if he hadn’t been shot. It had virulent homophobes like Robert Byrd and Sam Nunn, virulent racists like James Eastland and John Stennis, and maybe 40% of Democratic members of Congress were anti-abortion (as opposed to trace numbers now). Today, those people would all be Republicans.

    So keep hounding the Democratic Party to get better, but don’t ignore the huge progress it’s already made. Especially when the mushy moderates in the party are still a night-and-day improvement over anything the Republicans have to offer.

  15. consciousness razor says

    It ought to have a platform that states clearly that it wants to promote the general welfare and strengthens every level of society, and that encourages greater autonomy of individuals, no matter how poor or wealthy they are.
    Yeah, I’m a dreamer. I’d like to see the Democratic party become that party, rather than drifting away, because sure as hell the Republicans are its antithesis. Obviously, the Democrats are not that party right now. The Democrats just want to win by appealing to Republican voters.

    It is just a dream to think you could strengthen every level of society. Indeed, that’s more or less how I’d describe a traditional Democrat’s dream. Or if it’s not really the dream, it’s how they pander to everyone … just getting elected is apparently the dream.

    Some need to become weaker in various senses, because they are too strong, so maybe you want to reconsider this position. A simple example is that wealthier people need to pay much higher taxes. This doesn’t “strengthen” them, and it shouldn’t. The fact that it doesn’t do that is not a serious problem.

    We should also try to structure things so that the wealthy (and whites, men, heterosexuals, Christians, assorted other privileged or high-status groups) no longer have a disproportionate amount of power and influence, as they currently do. Let me stick with class, just to say something concrete. Wealthy people go to Ivy league schools and are handed positions as business leaders, lobbyists, government officials, and so forth. Others do not have such opportunities. Suppose we ensured everyone is taxed fairly, got some sort of decent education, and can find work getting paid fair wages in good working conditions. That does not change whether or not we are saying you ought to be an Ivy league grad who rubs elbows with all of the other Ivy league grads, in order to be considered for a position like Supreme Court justice, for example. If that kind of old boys’ network is going to stick around after we’re done taxing the rich and insisting on a few basic minimal standards for everyone else, then we still haven’t done much to level the playing field. More should be done to make our system fairer, and making it so couldn’t consist of providing everyone all of the unfair advantages the most powerful currently have. That better not be the goal, first because it isn’t going to happen, and second because it’s not what anybody should want to happen.

    It would strengthen our society as a whole to have progressive taxation schemes and so on. But it doesn’t strengthen those very individuals (or those “levels”) who had some amount of wealth/power/influence before and less of it after. We ought to be totally honest and transparent about that. People should understand why that’s a good goal, and they should have that sort of thing clearly in their sights when deciding on specific policies, how our institutions should be structured, how our laws should be enforced, etc. They should not have it in the back of their heads that anything which “weakens” somebody somehow is off-limits, is too extreme, is some kind of a sign that we need to look for a compromise, is a serious threat to our country’s security or economy, etc.

    No, you just recognize that in all sorts of ways there are people who simply have too much, so we ought to do the best we can to change that, meaning they will have less than too much. Someone will lose something in this game. The rules had better not be that everybody wins every round, regardless of how fair things are. Sometimes that’s the lie Democrats will tell, so the rich will feel comfortable voting for them. Sometimes it isn’t a lie, since that’s actually how they want it to be (or how their donors want it to be). Perhaps sometimes they’re just confused. But it’s definitely not a radical position to say it can’t and shouldn’t work that way.

  16. says

    I’d like to see an equality party. Screw the Dems – they have demonstrated convincingly that they’re just about power power power power like the other deplorables. There is no way that half of the corrupt 2 party system is going to magically turn around and stop being part of the system they built for themselves.

  17. says

    You can’t reasoning with unreasonable people. We are at loggerheads. Any focus on electoral politics is pointless. Seperation, hopefully peacefully but violently if need be, is the only way forward. I do not trust anyone from the heartland without extraordinary evidence that they are not broken, amoral people.

  18. weylguy says

    It was a perfect storm in 2016 — the Republicans voted against their best interests, the Democrats stayed home and didn’t vote, and the crazies took over the country. In the end, I believe America was never about equality, justice, the Constitution and having an informed, democratic society, but an “I’m grabbing everything I can get and you can go fuck yerself” idiocracy.

    Is there any way to turn this around? I think not. Dems still come across as bleeding-heart idealists that the country as a whole has heartily rejected. Their only hope seems to be an invigorated fealty to Wall Street and the rich and the abandonment of their so-called “values,” at which point they become Republicans in everything but name. Meanwhile, the poor will get poorer, the rich will get richer, the environment is continue to degrade, and the military-industrial-commercial complex will start more wars.

  19. markbrown says

    The way I see it, the Democrats major failing is trying to appeal to the wrong voters. They should be actively chasing the black, latino, female and youth votes, instead of just middle-aged white males. Why concentrate on the tiny percentage of swing-voters that have been deciding your elections for the past few decades, when you have that huge 40-odd percent of voters who never vote? Give them a reason to vote Democrat and you’ll stomp all over the Republicans. The democrats should be building off of the various groups of activists that have formed to oppose Trump, instead of constantly looking to what worked in the past.

    Here in the UK voter turnout dropped drastically in the days of Tony Blair’s New Labour, which was pretty much just Conservative Lite. Just look what happened in respect to youth turnout in our last election when we were finally offered as real alternative to the Conservative party again. If there hadn’t been so much resistance to Jeremy Corbyn in the media, and from his own party, I think the election would have been a landslide for Labour… and I was one of those people who was dubious about him.

  20. says

    @starfleetdude

    It’s actually more messy and less able to come to an agreement than a two-party system since none of the elected members from said multiple parties have any incentive to compromise and risk pissing off their own voting base.

    That is not how I see it work in my homeland. Here I see new parties popping up, getting elected and then disappear because they do not deliver. I see big populist party with idiotic platform being at least somewhat held in check by smaller parties with whom it is forced to collaborate. I see opposing parties being forced to actually collaborate and give in on some of their fringe ideas. I see people voting for different parties throughout their life, because they do not vote for “their” or against “the other”, but for policies. I see the debates between parties being resolved quicker than debates within party, because the debates take place in the open, at the parliament, and not only by grassroot activism.

    Of course it is not perfect, because people are not perfect. For example the compromises sometimes stop regress, other times they come at the cost of progress. But in comparison to that apparent stupidity in USA it is golden and works like a charm.

    And I am very happy that in the forming days of our democracy the two party system ala USA was rejected as the shit it is.

    @literorrery

    First-past-the-post with winner-take-all guarantees that we’re going to inevitably end up with a two-party race, even if one party temporarily splinters or disappears.

    I know. That is what I meant by ” democracy with proportional representation”. A system where if in a given district X percent vote red and Y percent vote blue, they have X percent red and Y percent blue representatives in the parliament (rounded up of course).

  21. consciousness razor says

    Mike Smith:

    Seperation, hopefully peacefully but violently if need be, is the only way forward. I do not trust anyone from the heartland without extraordinary evidence that they are not broken, amoral people.

    Well, that’s awfully shitty of you.

    I’m mildly curious how many secessions you’re imagining with this preposterous suggestion. The always honorable and trustworthy East Coast will be one new state, and the West Coast will be another? Would they be a single state, with enemy territory in between? Which side do you expect that, let’s say, California’s central valley will be on? Will there be hundreds or thousands of scattered city-states, independently “separating” from the areas surrounding them, and how would that work?

    If a civil war is the way forward, which specific sort of wasteland are we aiming for here? I’m guessing you may not want to starve, you may want transportation networks and other kinds of infrastructure, maybe a military base or two, and perhaps a few other niceties like that. This is all of course supposing that you could somehow do anything of the sort, in a non-broken and non-amoral way.

    But before we get there, have you ever looked at any county-level electoral map, to get a sense of what the distribution of progressive/regressive voters is actually like in the US? What exactly makes you believe it’s so extraordinary that there are non-broken and non-amoral people in “the heartland,” aside from ignorance of course?

  22. says

    Mike Smith@#17:
    Seperation, hopefully peacefully but violently if need be

    How would dividing the country into two dictatorships help anyone but the dictators?

  23. Jado says

    The Silicon Valley douchebro billionaires ARE who they want to represent. Do you think there are a lot of politicians who would rather fight for the little guys than hang out on a yacht with lobster and bikini girls (yes, i am assuming the politicians are male and hetero – most of them seem to be, especially the ones courting the douchebro billionaires)?

  24. doublereed says

    I believe what you’re looking for is The Justice Democrats.

    @starfleetdude

    But Mello was a pro-choice candidate. He had a mixed record on abortion (just like Hillary’s VP Pick Tim Kaine did), but he ran on a platform of pro-choice. In recent years, he had 100% ratings from NARAL. To label him as anti-choice is wrong.

    If anything, that’s what platforms and “litmus tests” are supposed to do. It’s supposed to push weak candidates who have more mixed records onto the correct side of the issue. Sanders only endorsed him when he was pro-choice.

    The only reason people went after Mello was because they wanted to go after Sanders.

  25. starfleetdude says

    @24

    Unlike Kaine who is personally opposed to abortion but has never legislated against it, Mello did work to pass ultrasounds being required before abortions into law. So that comparison isn’t accurate.

    Omaha Mayoral Candidate Under Fire For Anti-Choice Past Vows To Protect Reproductive Rights

    Mello is a sponsor of the final version of a 20-week abortion ban approved by the governor in 2010, and cast anti-choice votes in favor of requiring physicians to be physically present for an abortion in order to impede access to telemedicine abortion care, and a law banning insurance plans in the state from covering abortions. He was endorsed in 2010 by anti-choice group Nebraska Right to Life.

    So it clear that there’s some room in the Democratic Party for candidates who are less than full supporters of choice, especially if they represent districts that have a majority of voters who are pro-life. Politics is messy like that sometimes.

  26. doublereed says

    @25 starfleetdude

    Tim Kaine has legislated against abortion. That is completely wrong.

    As Virginia Governor, he pushed for informed consent laws, partial-birth abortion bans, and funded Crisis Pregnancy Centers.
    One Article, but this info is not hard to find just through google.

    He changed his stance later to be “personally opposed to abortion” and has become a defender of reproductive rights since then. But before he was actively against it. Mello is in the same camp. Mixed record, but now pro-choice.

  27. consciousness razor says

    But Mello was a pro-choice candidate. He had a mixed record on abortion (just like Hillary’s VP Pick Tim Kaine did), but he ran on a platform of pro-choice.

    Which doesn’t mean a whole lot as a mere statement of a “platform,” since the mayor of Omaha isn’t in much of a position to undermine federal laws anyway. If one day Mello ends up back in the state legislature or anywhere else, as political critters are apt to do every now and then, I’d be a little more worried again about exactly what he does stand for, other than scrounging up voters and endorsements and so forth.

    It’s kind of weird that, as an independent senator from Vermont, Bernie’s working awfully hard to get votes for the Democrats in city-level elections in Nebraska. No telling what somebody had to dangle in front of him to get him to do that.

  28. starfleetdude says

    @26

    Thanks for enlightening me about Kaine’s past record, I see should have done some checking myself. I guess that leaves the point still standing though about Democrats being willing to accept candidates who aren’t 100% pro-choice. Maybe not for President, but for other offices in fairly Red states, maybe that’s worth settling for to get to a legislative majority.

    @27

    I don’t think it’s hard to understand what Sanders was looking for in Omaha. Endorsing Mello and then having him win the election would have been something he could crow about in his effort to pull Democrats further left. As it turned out, Bernie’s push for him may have hurt Mello more than helped him.

  29. doublereed says

    @28 starfleetdude

    I think the lesson is the opposite. Sure, it may have been politically acceptable to be a pro-life democrat a decade ago, but that shit doesn’t fly anymore. We need Democrats that will stand up for our rights. We need strong Democrats that will make the pro-choice case in red states. Previously pro-life Democrats like Kaine and Mello have to change or GTFO of the party. They chose to change. Fine with me.

  30. KG says

    markbrown@19,
    According to a new analysis, a considerable part of Labour’s unexpectedly strong showing was due to the Brexit issue – a lot of “Remain” voters switched to Labour from other parties (note that young people voted heavily for Remain). This switch is somewhat surprising, since the Labour leadership is scarcely distinguishable from the Tories on this issue, insisting that the UK should leave both the single market and the customs union – but Labour managed to avoid committing itself on the issue during the campaign, focusing on other things, and gained many more Remain voters than it lost Leave voters – the Tories were firmly fixed in the public mind as the party of “hard” Brexit; and shifting to Labour was indeed the best hope of depriving the Tories of a majority – as it did, although without actually getting them out of government. Corbyn’s strong campaign performance, and May’s abysmal one, were also important. But the prominence of the Brexit issue suggests trouble ahead for Corbyn: the overwhelming majority of Labour Party members, as well as the majority of its voters, are clearly at odds with him, on the issue that is bound to dominate UK politics at least until March 2019, and probably longer.

  31. starfleetdude says

    @29

    Previously pro-life Democrats like Kaine and Mello have to change or GTFO of the party. They chose to change. Fine with me.

    And some Democrats, like Colin Peterson in Minnesota, haven’t changed. But Peterson definitely beats the alternative in the meantime.

  32. consciousness razor says

    Maybe not for President, but for other offices in fairly Red states, maybe that’s worth settling for to get to a legislative majority.

    But you don’t have evidence of them doing it for a legislative majority: remember, mayor of Omaha. They didn’t accomplish that by doing this.

    And with their support, this D will probably show up on more ballots in the future, doing who knows what. Somebody else could’ve gotten their support this time, and for the ballots to come. But the Dems didn’t do that. Maybe the answer is just that he happened to be on somebody’s speed dial, since he had been one of their legislators before. Could they really not find anybody else who would do the job? What’s the unemployment rate like in Nebraska?

    I don’t think it’s hard to understand what Sanders was looking for in Omaha. Endorsing Mello and then having him win the election would have been something he could crow about in his effort to pull Democrats further left.

    What they definitely did was pull him to the right, when they got him to endorse a candidate who’s willing to support right-wing anti-choice bullshit.

    With “further left,” you may mean the kind of class-based leftist positions that Sanders occasionally seems to prioritize over many other things, including the rights and interests of women and minorities. They could somehow concede a minor thing like that to him, in exchange for this, if that’s where his priorities are. (No evidence of them actually doing that, but it’s conceivable.)

    I’m not going to consider that a situation in which Sanders has pulled Democrats “further left.” I’m not sure exactly what you think that phrase means, but it’s not the direction in which we should throw various sorts of people under a bus, in order to possibly get one mystery item that may or may not be any good for anyone.

  33. says

    @#4, starfleetdude:

    That was a very carefully-constructed half-true piece of slander put together by the anti-Sanders crowd as “revenge” for daring to challenge Hillary Clinton. Of the 3 abortion-related items which comprise Heath Mello’s record, he did nothing on one of them, and went with NARAL’s preferences on the other two. But doing nothing, you see, can be interpreted as being anti-abortion if you are desperately trying to make Bernie Sanders seem like a misogynist and need to smear a proxy. Squint your eyes hard and pretend you’re Donald Trump and you can see anything.

    Which is, of course, a massively hypocritical thing to do, considering that Clinton’s supporters were perfectly happy supporting Kaine as VP, who is personally anti-abortion, and as governor did nasty things to Planned Parenthood and pushed for abstinence-only education policy. But the right-of-center Clintonian segment (it’s wrong to call them a “wing” when they control the central committee and choose which candidates the party should financially support) of the Democratic Party is absolutely terrified that between popular outcry and Sanders’ increasing popularity (most popular politician in the country right now, according to polls) the party might actually have to take an active left-of-center stance for the first time in decades, which would cut off the corporate funds they’ve been collecting. They might actually have to work, and stand by principles which they don’t hold — no triangulating politician has real principles — and it’s much easier to just take cash from Wall Street and offer some hollow platitudes every few years.

  34. says

    @consciousness razor

    I’m not going to consider that a situation in which Sanders has pulled Democrats “further left.” I’m not sure exactly what you think that phrase means, but it’s not the direction in which we should throw various sorts of people under a bus, in order to possibly get one mystery item that may or may not be any good for anyone.

    Okay, then, what do we say about the Democratic Party leadership’s increasing hawkishness? You’re not okay with Democrats who want to help the working classes “instead of minorities” — which is pure bullshit on the part of people like you, since “the working classes” is disproportionately composed of minorities, but hey, anything to avoid admitting that the economic approach can actually unite people who would otherwise refuse to lift a finger to help “those people” — but are you okay with killing people? Particularly, as history shows, brown-skinned people?

    Quite frankly, if we’re going to start demanding certain positions, I think the Democrats should take at least as hard a line against war as they take on abortion. And that would, incidentally, exclude both Clinton — by about a million miles; since the election she has implicitly admitted that all the people who were worried she was going to start a war over Syria were right — and Sanders, who refused to even repudiate drones.

  35. doublereed says

    If we’re bringing in other positions into the conversation, I’m going to link again to The Justice Democrats Platform. In their words: “These ideas represent what the Democratic Party was supposed to represent all along.” They already have a few sitting Democrats, like Ro Khanna.

  36. consciousness razor says

    Vicar:

    Okay, then, what do we say about the Democratic Party leadership’s increasing hawkishness?

    I’m not sure if “we” say anything. Increasing hawkishness is bad, in my book.

    You’re not okay with Democrats who want to help the working classes “instead of minorities” — which is pure bullshit on the part of people like you, since “the working classes” is disproportionately composed of minorities, but hey, anything to avoid admitting that the economic approach can actually unite people who would otherwise refuse to lift a finger to help “those people”

    So what we get are representatives being told, by their united front of constituents, that we should refuse to lift a finger for “those people.” There are of course a lot of fucking people of all sorts, who don’t agree about who should be refused what, but this is apparently an approach that may work in the sense of getting some collection of them to vote for a candidate. It’s not clear what that would accomplish. If this is bullshit on my part, please explain. I’m happy to be corrected.

    Quite frankly, if we’re going to start demanding certain positions, I think the Democrats should take at least as hard a line against war as they take on abortion.

    Let’s do that. I’m all for demanding certain positions. But what do you know, the two of us aren’t the Democratic party. You must realize they won’t take a hard line on that. (If it’s being taken on abortion, which isn’t so clear sometimes, as was discussed earlier.)

    Next election, we’re going to be left with two (2) types of choices, with any chance of being elected and hence doing anything in the government. One type of choice is undoubtedly bad. They are known as “Democrats.”

    The other is to burn the whole fucker down, nuke it from orbit, etc. This one comes in a variety of exciting colors and flavors. One is Republican, one is Green, one is yellow or whatever the fuck Libertarians use, and one is not voting. To name just a few.

    All I’m saying here is that this is how awful our choices look for the foreseeable future, certainly fucking not that they aren’t awful. It’s shitty vs. unimaginably terrible. And we just have to do best we can with what we’ve got. Is that the bullshit, or is it something else that I said?

  37. consciousness razor says

    Maybe it’ll help to say this. Unless it’s a primary, I’m not deciding anything about who will be on the ballot. And when I do vote for them, I’m not sending them some kind of vague message or approving of everything they’ve ever done. They are applicants for a job, and as their employers, we pick which person will get that job. If a politician wants to decipher some kind of coded message about what I’m supposedly saying when I vote for them, that’s their fault for failing to understand the situation they’re in. I just expect them to do their jobs well, not read my mind or worry themselves at all about being rehired/promoted in a couple of years.

  38. Chakat Firepaw says

    @doublereed #29

    Previously pro-life Democrats like Kaine and Mello have to change or GTFO of the party. They chose to change. Fine with me.

    And this is the attitude to have if you want to win on an issue. If you insist on a rule of “you had to be right on this issue from the start and never faltered or we will oppose you forever,” you aren’t going to ever convince politicians to change. After all, given the choice of “be supported by voter block A and opposed by B,” and “be opposed by both A and B,” it doesn’t take a political genius to figure out what almost every candidate will pick.

  39. says

    @#37, consciousness razor

    Maybe it’ll help to say this. Unless it’s a primary, I’m not deciding anything about who will be on the ballot. And when I do vote for them, I’m not sending them some kind of vague message or approving of everything they’ve ever done. They are applicants for a job, and as their employers, we pick which person will get that job. If a politician wants to decipher some kind of coded message about what I’m supposedly saying when I vote for them, that’s their fault for failing to understand the situation they’re in. I just expect them to do their jobs well, not read my mind or worry themselves at all about being rehired/promoted in a couple of years.

    The problem with this is that in effect you are saying “whoever wins the primary automatically gets my support”. Even if you don’t buy the argument that the DNC rigged the primary in Clinton’s favor*, they consistently throw their support in primaries behind the most conservative candidate running. That means endorsements, a support network, experienced workers, and cash. In a Democratic primary race where there is a candidate who has the DNC’s nod, it is extremely rare for anyone else to win. (In fact, I don’t know of any candidates who got the nod and didn’t win, but there may be a few, so I’m qualifying the statement.) Which is to say: by saying you are willing to accept whatever the party selects, you are giving the party the ability to turn you into a de facto right-of-center voter on foreign policy and economics, because that’s what the DNC wants, and that’s what the candidates they choose will support.

    *There is a group which brought a suit against the DNC on this issue. Interestingly, the DNC’s argument in court has not been “no, we didn’t rig the primary in Clinton’s favor”, but rather “it was our legal right to rig the primary in Clinton’s favor, so you can’t find us guilty”. As with Hillary admitting in an interview, post-election, that the people who thought she would turn Syria into a hot war with Russia were correct about her intentions, it’s… well, it’s interesting.

  40. consciousness razor says

    The problem with this is that in effect you are saying “whoever wins the primary automatically gets my support”.

    Since we’ve been through this so many times before, I anticipated that you’d want to claim it sends a (bad) message, that I am “in effect” saying things similar to the words you predictably put into my mouth. I reject that, said as much in what you’re quoting, and all you’re doing here is contradicting me. Do you think I don’t reject that?

    I don’t know about you, but I mostly communicate through writing and speaking. (Sometimes it’s music, but even then it’s not always communicating.) I don’t go about saying things by pushing buttons or checking boxes in voting booths, because I have better ways of saying stuff. The point of pushing those buttons and checking those boxes is to pick a person for a job. It is a selection, not the kind of meaningful statement that you imagine it to be.

    If I wanted to send the Democratic party a pink and purple candygram with a note reading “whoever wins the primary automatically gets my support,” that would be a fancy way to make such a statement, which I might consider as an option if I had any intention of doing so. And in lots of other ways, I could say nice or nasty things to them any day of the week, since there are so many opportunities to do that so much more effectively, both for me and for the person who is attempting to listen what I’m attempting to say. There is other business to attend to when I’m inside of a voting booth. And of course there’s no need whatsoever for my interactions with their party or my political participation generally to start and stop whenever I enter and leave a particular booth. It’s out of my control whether you or they or anyone reads something into it which simply isn’t there. If they want to read entrails or get their horoscopes, they can do that too.

    Meanwhile, there’s nothing stopping me from actually telling them with words that I don’t support, much less automatically support, all of the things their candidates do. They’ve ended their campaign and gotten their job, since (according to voters) they were better than the alternatives, which is clearly a very long way from perfect or immune to criticism. If they’re confused in the way you seem to be, maybe they sincerely believe those are the same things. But the fact remains that the real communication and pressure from voters like me obviously doesn’t need to stop when we leave our voting booths. Why would it?

  41. bcwebb says

    How about they do a Jumbotron video in front of planned parenthood of a woman in the middle of giving birth? Or videos of infants vomiting in ER waiting rooms while screaming their heads off? Or a parent changing diapers at 4 oclock in the morning – with diaper images… in Jumbotron! But you really need smellvision.

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