All Hands on Deck at The People’s Summit

The People's Summit
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) spoke and then posed for this photograph with the over 5,000 leaders, organizers, activists, and followers at the 2017 People’s Summit in Chicago.

You cannot build a movement for the common people if you hold the common people in contempt. — Thomas Frank at the 2017 People’s Summit

Chicago, IL — This past weekend Jered Weber and I attended the 2nd annual People’s Summit. The first one in 2016, was held shortly after Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), went from a little known and self-described democratic socialist to the brink of the Democratic Party nomination. Taking on Hillary Clinton (D-NY), former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State in the first Obama administration, who had nearly every endorsement from Democratic elected officials and party leaders, as well as the support of corporate America, Sanders received 46% of the primary vote.

Assembling a coalition of millennials who had previously helped put then-Senator Obama over the top in the 2008 presidential primary and general election, progressives, independents, and populists, Sanders shocked the country, especially the donor and billionaire class by proving that in the Age of Citizens United, there was another way forward. There was another way to run a viable national campaign without having to offer fealty to the Super PACS, corporate lobbyists, and special interests holding the country back in the 20th century.

And what was remarkable to so many who flocked to the campaign, new and old, of all different generations and backgrounds, was that it was the ideas and message that mattered. It was the positivity of the campaign and its focus on the issues, and it was the remarkable consistency and authenticity of the candidate throughout the years.

Sanders repeatedly explained that when the people come together in common effort, they win. It was never about him, it was about a “future to believe in.” And we now know it was never about him because the campaign never ended, because ultimately, it was more of a movement than a campaign to begin with.

And that is where the People’s Summit comes in.

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The People’s Summit is first and foremost, an Ideas Summit.

Not just ideas for the future of the country, but also ideas on how to fundamentally improve and outright save our democracy. Those critical of the People’s Summit only needed to give these ideas attention at the Center for American Progress and perhaps they would not have to get mad that not everyone is falling in line and “uniting.” Before moving on to an analogy for what to think about the People’s Summit, let me just say that no matter which route one prefers to moving this country forward, there is no need to come together on the issues, on party unity, or anything other than basic civility and decency because we still have three years to go. In other words–see you in 2020.

Bubbles need to be pierced, and introspection and national conversations must continue en masse.

Now onto how to think about the People’s Summit in terms of what it means for the future.

Each year movement conservatism (or what passes as that these days) has its annual ideas conference called the Conservative Political Action Conference, put on by the American Conservative Union. Think of it as a “State of the Movement” address to conservatives from all across the country. Upcoming elected officials and advocates often get heavily promoted and featured at the conference. In addition to think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and others, CPAC gathers all of the various grassroots conservative groups and organizations from around the country. Not being included almost serves as a statement that one is not “conservative” enough or not a “true conservative.”

CPAC operates very much like an ideas and state of the movement arm of the major American political party on the right–the Republican Party.

In 2003, recognizing the power think tanks, ideas conferences and so forth had in propelling the conservative movement to electoral victories through its political arm–the Republican Party, John Podesta founded the Center for American Progress, which is both a think tank and has an annual conference. There is no mystery that the annual CAP conference and its ideas are heavily attached to the Democratic Party. But while the Democratic Party was slow to jump on the think tank bandwagon and invest heavily in the think tank model in comparison to the GOP, its adoption of that model and investment in it represent the final shunning of its historical roots as the FDR “party of the people.” Consider this, CAP founder Podesta was national Chair of the Clinton campaign, Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton, and later counselor to President Barack Obama, made several versions of this sentiment throughout the 2016 election cycle:

For every working class voter we lose, we’ll pick up 2 or 3 professional class voters.

That’s the thing with the establishment or corporate Dems. I’m not much of an ideologue, I have a governing and leadership philosophy yes, but at the end of the day I have a healthy respect for facts. A respect that is lacking in so many political leaders and those who cover and follow our nation’s politics today. I’m fine with compromising. All democracies and constitutional systems require it. However, what incentive do people who do not like to compromise their belief systems have to follow a strategy that not only is not their views in key areas, but also does not and has not won? I submit these simple truths about where the party stands in terms of electoral strategy:

And I direct these six points of logic to the failed Podesta mentality from above and a similar mentality echoed by (permanent) Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), which stated that “for every working class vote we lose, we’ll pick up 2-3 moderate Republican voters.”

  1. There are not enough professional class voters to form the consensus.
  2. The ones who realigned from the GOP to the Democratic Party did so years ago.
  3. The ones still in the GOP are rich and unpersuadable.
  4. Working class voters are more numerous and more diverse than ever.
  5. Some of them are even organized already, through this thing called collective bargaining.
  6. You can’t build a party of the people if you have contempt for the people. You have to talk directly to the people about the issues, all the people.

Please note that when I say the working class I always mean that anyone who has to work for a living to keep existing. Many choose to work for a living and that is great, but their livelihood does not necessarily depend on it, and they likely have multiple streams of passive income.

Speaking of passive income, George Soros, a major funder of CAP and constant boogeyman that the right wing media likes to use to discredit policy agenda and goals, is not too different from the Koch brothers or any other member of the billionaire class engaged in electoral politics in the Citizens United age if one does not personally agree with George Soros. And that is the problem.

Neither party is seriously committed to taking on big, unaccountable, but organized money in politics.

If you are super-rich in America, or anyone really who can sit on their hands making millions in passive income revenue streams, and if your preferred party (whether Dems or GOP) does not win, you always have the other major party to protect your interests for the most part, with only a few exceptions.

It’s the same model. Controlled by the donor class, and dependent on the labor of others to keep itself in power both politically and economically.

And this is where the People’s Summit comes in. Ideas and voices, organizers and activists, leaders and followers that were shunned or not invited to CAP.

I would argue the People’s Summit is an ideas conference, that allows for networking, learning, and updating on the “state of the movement”, similar to CPAC. As of now, it is without a political party attached to it, but I have no doubt, shall a viable third party arise in the next few years, it will be called the People’s Party and it will have started and spear-headed by the 5,000 or so people that have attended the Summit, and those that followed along online, etc.

The central organizing goal of the movement, like the Republican Party, the last third party to replace a major party before in the 1850’s with slavery, is the biggest moral issue of our time — economic inequality and the forces that continue to make it worse, organized big money in politics and legalized bribery and corruption.

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A Future Beyond Party Labels and Endless Partisan and Media Sensationalism. A Future that is not just Resistance, but Beyond Resistance

In the weeks to come, this website will be recommitting itself to trying to churn out regular content the best we can. Apologies if we miss the mark on that front, as we all have busy lives in addition to written commentary, podcasting, etc.

This weekend the third season of the Agreeing Loudly podcast will be on just one topic and prompt: the Third Party option.

In addition, I’m hoping to finish up three articles in a “state of” series on the nation, the Democratic Party, and the Republican Party.

Bernie Poll
While we will never know for sure if “Bernie Would Have Won” — what we do know is that he is easily the most popular politician in America. And while there are loud voices among those 20% of self-identified Democrats that do not like him, especially in the media, corporate America, and on the Twitter-verse, the facts are that the “BernieBro” or lack of diversity myths do not hold up to scrutiny.

If this coalition translated to the electoral college, which I understand is a big leap of logic this far out, but bear with me here, if that DID happen, you would not just see a Sanders victory over the most unpopular presidential candidate of all time (candidate Trump) but you could possibly see the first genuine popular vote AND electoral college landslide since 1988 (and to a lesser extent 2008).

 

My Constructive Criticism of the Summit.

First of all, folks at the summit of all stripes were amazingly self-reflective of what could have gone better not just for the movement, but also for the 2016 Sanders campaign for President.

My two points for potential improvements to next years Summit.

  1. Get a vets or foreign policy-focused speaker to talk about and call for a national “Peace and Security” movement. There are massive levels of economic implications to our #ForeverWar policy that tie into the larger issues presented by the movement. The social and economic costs in caring for our veterans and veterans issues have been some of the best policy work that Senator Sanders has done, so it only makes sense to feature this going forward.
  2. Reach out to Republicans concerned with the direction of their party, big money in politics, and the growing, unsustainable levels of economic inequality. Perhaps this one will be more controversial, but if we’re truly to talk to everyone, we have to mean it. And we see evidence every day, not so much amongst Republican political leaders but we do see it amongst the rank and file and they are growing uncomfortable with the Trump-led GOP. The GOP is dominated by the interests of the donor and billionaire class even more so than the Democrats most years, and disillusioned Republicans becoming former Republicans would be a key feature of any future coalition, especially in current red to light-red states.

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The participants were divided on the question of a Third Party movement, but were engaged, passionate, and committed to the future no matter what — it’s an “All Hands on Deck” strategy for saving democracy for all and creating a 21st century economy that works for the many and not just the few. 

Division is nothing new in this political age. Like the rest of the country, there was a split in views at the Summit. Progressives and populists committed to taking on the corporate state are divided on how best to achieve the desired results of taking on big money in politics and tackling the moral issue of our time–the highest levels of economic inequality in a century. 

My unscientific observations of the sentiments is that the People’s Summit activists, organizers, leaders, and followers prefer starting a vital third party movement in this country. This is a sentiment I agree with more and more each day. However, for the time being, reforming the Democratic Party by taking it over seems to be the immediate goal and interest. A goal that has seen mixed results, winning some small battles early on, but losing the more high-profile battles like the DNC Chair election, California Democratic Party Chair election, etc. What is clear though is the ideas and message is winning over public opinion in America at-large. Significant portions of the speech last Saturday highlighted that.

And what is vitally true, is that we have now reached a 1955 William F. Buckley moment for progressives that this website had called for in 2015 and 2016 throughout the Presidential campaign as all of us ranted and raved about how badly the Democratic Party was going to bottom out in the coming years.

Progressives and populists have finally come to terms with the failure of the current model of the Democratic Party, and from this day forward–everyone knows that change will not come from the Democratic Party, change can only be brought to the Democratic Party. And the more and more party leadership grasps onto and protects their hold on power, even in the name of electoral viability (which is a ridiculous reason when you’ve lost nearly every election), the more and more power the movement, independent of any party control–will be. One way or another, the neoliberal and professional class consensus is over. And thank God for that.

I do not say these things lightly. After all, I am a member of the professional class in this country, but I also think that the younger cohorts of the professional class (Gen X and millennials, those under 45 or so) have far more in common (because of issues with student debt, broader acceptance of diversity, etc.) with the concerns of the working class (now more diverse than at any time in American history) than the concerns of the professional class consensus, whose obsession with incrementalism, education and innovation as a key to mitigating inequality (when in reality, it’s rationalizing it), and insistence that all problems can be solved from Harvard or Yale yard, Wall Street or Silicon Valley, New York City, Chicago, or Los Angeles, or by lawyers or financial service professionals, etc.

If the leadership of the party would rather go down on the Titanic, so long as they have a first class seat, then so be it. The overriding focus of the People’s Summit was not to re-litigate the 2016 election, but to move beyond just merely resisting what the Trump administration is doing, because guess what? That only goes so far, both in practical day-to-day terms and in electoral terms.

Folks, the only way out of this is to win elections, and to win elections you need a party willing to adopt a better message. A message capable of capturing a large majority of the nation and turning out and inspiring more voters than at any other point in modern U.S. history, because there are significant obstacles in gerrymandering and voter suppression to overcome.

The ideas and message of the folks who attended the People’s Summit were not welcome at the CAP conference this year, so we took them to our own conference, in the same state where the last successful third party movement in America took off from, Illinois.

The Republican Party was founded as an abolitionist party to end the immoral practice of slavery in this country. Similarly, if neither major party takes seriously the issue of big money in politics and the fact that we are in a 2nd Gilded Age, then it is highly likely that the movement makes a clean break. But as of now, in practical terms, the prevailing consensus was that there is not enough time for 2018, and undecided about 2020.

One of the conference speakers Thomas Frank (writer, historian, and co-founder of the Baffler), put it best at the end of his most recent book “Listen, Liberal!” which was written almost as if he already knew the 2016 electoral result, even though it was published in the summer.

Direct solutions are off the table for the moment… Democrats have no interest in reforming themselves in a more egalitarian way. There is little the rest of us can do, given the current legal arrangements of this country, to a build a vital third-party movement or to revive organized labor, the one social movement that is committed by its nature to pushing back against the inequality trend.

What we can do is strip away the Democrats’ precious sense of their own moral probity–to make liberals live without the comforting knowledge that righteousness is always on their side. It is that sensibility, after all, that prevents so many good-hearted rank-and-file Democrats from understanding how starkly and how deliberately their political leaders contradict their values. Once that contradiction has been made manifest–once that smooth, seamless sense of liberal virtue has been cracked, anything becomes possible. The course of the party and the course of the country can both be changed, but only after we understand that the problem is us.

Purely Satirical Country Announced as Finalist for 2017 Mark Twain Prize

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The United States of America, a country of about 320 million people, has become a finalist for the 2017 Mark Twain prize given to excellence in humor.

New York, NY —

Hoping to join the ranks of Richard Pryor, Tina Fey, George Carlin, and other luminaries and icons of comedy, America, under the title of “Murca” has enjoyed near-universal praise from humor and literary critics for its commitment to the unique brand of satire that has allowed brilliant deadpans such as Steve Martin, Bill Murray, and Lily Tomlin (who once endured an insane barrage of abuse on set from film director David O. Russell, seriously this happened) who also won the award.

No one is quite sure when this country, which began its history in 1776 and transformed into the United States of America after the Declaration of Independence, began its full performance piece, ranges estimate anywhere from 1966, to 1980, to 2015, when the most recent Presidential campaign began. Future cultural treasure Carson Starkey noted on Facebook in recent years that “all conservative policy solutions operate as high-brow, sophisticated satire.”

He definitely has a point that a country engaging in policies of forever war, tax giveaways to plutocrats, all in the midst of a second Gilded Age and increasingly unsustainable levels of economic inequality, couldn’t possibly be a “serious” country when the major policy proposals to combat these realities are more forever war, tax giveaways to plutocrats, corporate socialism, and now it appears, forced consumerism.

“Clearly, at some point probably in 1955, when William F. Buckley founded the National Review to, or perhaps 1966, when major U.S. states began electing actors as Governors, a long-game socio-cultural satire of performance art was planned to squander away the broadly shared wealth of the post-war economy and progress being made toward racial and class harmony”, Starkey explained.

The grand crescendo of the “Murca” performance piece was the entire 2016 election cycle up until present day, when a Macy’s Tie Salesman and professional con artist was elected as Head of State of this entirely satirical country, making the final plunge into irony, satire, and reality merging as one comic unit. Hoping to follow up the performance piece, the writers and planners of “Murca” are hoping to extend the high-brow satire all the way to “Earth” throughout the next four years.

The committee that hands out the award is a little confused on who exactly should be awarded it. “With 320 million people involved in what I think is the most brilliant and long-lasting performance art in human history, we’re not quite sure who should speak on behalf, but we’re leaning toward the Head of State and Government himself, President Donald Trump.”

The President tweeted out that he would be honored to receive the award on behalf of the United States of America for its performance piece: “Murca”

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Editorial clarification: “Murca” is merely nominated, but has not yet won. Getting information correct these days in an era where technology has made things so much easier is but one of the many reasons the committee saw fit to nominate the United States of America for the Mark Twain Prize in humor.

Very Serious Person Asserts That He Is Very Smart on Internet

Brainwashing Complete
Courtesy of Reddit: the source of approximately 32 percent of the youth vote coalition of President Trump, with the remainder mostly coming from 4chan.

A Dispatch from “Publius” in New York, NY–

Earlier today on the internet a “very serious person”, self-identified as a member of the alt-right, a species of super human beings who worship a God Emperor got into a conclusive argument with a mere regular human being.

Local “very serious person” objectively has the right answers, and can prove this empirically. #IAmVerySmart 

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–Story Update–

Agreeing Loudly “deep state” sources can confirm the identity of this very serious person as potentially this man:

paulryan
No matter where you sit on the health care debate, we can all agree that this man and other “very serious people” have better health care than you do.

From Natural to Political: What Weather Can Teach Us About Political Disasters

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Agreeing Loudly is thrilled to introduce you to Monica Powell; writer, proud public school educator, and a new contributor to the site. Check out her bio here and check out her writing below.

By Monica Powell

It was the middle of winter and I stood at the busstop, jacket-less. My teeth chattered violently as we waited for the bus to arrive. My best friend threw her scarf around my shoulders. “You’re like a pigeon,” she said. “You keep making the same mistakes over and over again.”

Though ten years have lapsed since a school bus was my primary mode of transportation, I have lost neither the nickname nor the habit of being consistently underprepared for the weather. This memory came flooding back to me during the Women’s March, when I relied on the densely packed bodies (as opposed to my pathetically thin coat and socks) to keep me warm.

In the days since our 45th president was elected, I have been thinking a lot about the concept of preparedness. I think of the nation’s shock on election night, how millions of people–regular citizens, news pundits, elected officials, were all completely dumbfounded by the results of the election. Despite all evidence pointing towards this impending disaster, what made us “forget our jacket,” so to speak? And more importantly, how can we prepare for future storms?  

According to the New York Times, in the wake of an impending natural disaster, “even after all of the best practices in emergency communications are exhausted, 5% of the population will remain in harm’s way.” Perhaps when we look closer at the belief systems that provide us reasons to ignore natural disasters, we can find insight into how an entire nation managed to come face-to face with this catastrophic social and political disaster.

Reason #1: Gauging Risk

“It can’t be that bad.” Researchers heard this type of response again and again from people who opted to defy mandatory evacuation notices during Sandy and Katrina. Speaking from my own experience with a politically conservative father, I heard this sort of rhetoric many times leading up to the election. “He can’t be that bad,” my dad would insist. “He won’t be able to do half of the stuff he’s claiming to do.” Like the Katrina victim dumbfounded by their destroyed house, my father shakes his head in disbelief as our president gets to work making good on each and every horrific campaign promise. And this is only week one.

Reason #2: Lack of Exposure

It is difficult to be afraid of what you don’t know. Many who defied evacuation orders did so because they had never been in a hurricane and they couldn’t imagine the extent of damage it could cause. When you have no frame of reference, how can you possibly imagine the power of a hurricane? Sandy and Katrina victims quickly learned that these storms were beyond anything they could have imagined. Politically speaking, this was the circumstance for millions of Americans during the 2016 election. Having lived the last quarter century under Clinton, Bush and Obama, it is difficult to imagine a President Trump. It was difficult to imagine (for both liberals and conservatives alike) the amount of damage one man could truly cause.

Reason #3: People Have Short Memories

Oddly enough, it wasn’t only people who had never experienced a hurricane who opted to stay behind in Sandy and Katrina. It was like how the moment I got inside that warm bus, memories of the jacket-less cold were soon forgotten. Or how the pain of childbirth doesn’t discourage women from their second or third pregnancy. Humans have short memories, particularly for uncomfortable, painful things that they’d sooner forget. Memories of past hurricanes fade into hazy memories. When the next time newscasters are predicting a storm, many hurricane survivors will revise history, insisting it wasn’t so bad the last time, that surely this one couldn’t be worse than storms survived in the past. Half of our country chose to ignore the historical parallels between President Trump and one German Fascist. They willfully refuse to see the parallels between these two men, both obsessed with making broken countries “great again” through increased government control and racial and religious purification.

The most troubling connection between these natural and political disasters are the populations who are impacted the worst. In the four years to come, the people who will be hit the hardest will be the elderly, the poor, and racial and ethnic minorities. It is our job to protect those who will have the hardest time protecting themselves. It is our responsibility to stay vigilant towards all policies that come out of this administration, particularly those that put the safety of marginalized populations at risk.

In the 2016 Presidential election, this storm caught us by surprise. It is a matter of national security for us to create a disaster relief plan for the 2018 election. So call your representatives. Check your sources. Peacefully protest and march. Let’s make sure we are prepared.

In Order to Win the Future — We Must Rediscover the Past

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The above photograph (courtesy of either Jacqueline Van Moer or myself…I don’t remember) is Alexander Hamilton’s “the Grange” homestead. Hamilton completed this home a few years before he was famously shot by Aaron Burr, another New Yorker, in the famous duel just across the Hudson River from where we live. Hamilton, although born elsewhere, is the quintessential first generation American. Hard-working, enterprising, ambitious, and brilliant. He served as Aide-de-camp to General Washington during the American Revolution and was our nation’s first Treasury Secretary. You may recognize him from the ten dollar bill, and now Lin Manuel Miranda’s famous musical.

Full disclosure, I’m an amateur historian. But I’ve always read and loved history. Much of my private, personal (not academic or campaign experience) political education has been learned and read through a historical lens. I’ll do my best, but I’m no pro.

Agreeing Loudly dot com introduces you to two new historical series; one that will be locally-based, at least my version of local (New York), and the other a national story intended to give the read perspective on our ongoing, beleaguered, but bizarrely nonexistent national conversation.

I invite you all to help me out on this journey, and point things out that I am overlooking or may have missed. Give your thoughts and feedback and contribute, especially *actual* historian Allan Branstiter of “The Margin of Error” and a frequent “Agreeing Loudly” guest and contributor. As well as Justin Norris, especially for the latter half (discussed below).

Also, especially for longtime residents of NYC and NYS — feel free to join in on the conversation. Come one, come all, and bring friends.

For anyone friends, family, acquaintances, or readers that will be visiting the area — I’ll also try to use this space to recommend really good walking tours or double-decker bus tours that are affordable and valuable.

In the spirit of “piercing bubbles” I’d also like to invite any other amateur or professional historians to contribute to this site and explore their states in a similar or unique manner.

I’ll be covering the New York-focused series in two places: right here at AL.com in the form of longer articles and in more photographic and anecdotal form on Instagram @nycwalkinghistory – which will no doubt be changed to @nywalkingonhistory or @nyswalkingonhistory as goals are accomplished. What goals? Read below:

Double-decker bus tour in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn.

Goal — in the next three years (2017, 2018, and 2019) — my beautiful wife, Jacki, and I (and sometimes just me) will be doing a walking historical tour on the streets of every neighborhood in the five boroughs of New York City. We’ve already covered nearly every neighborhood in the Borough of Manhattan, and have been pretty decent progress in the Bronx and Brooklyn as well. In the years to come, we’ll be covering the rest of Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn, as well as venturing past CitiField (where the New York Mets, my National League loyalties lie there) in Queens and getting out to Staten Island.

Furthermore, and especially as we get closer to covering every neighborhood in New York City, we’ll be venturing Upstate via the Hudson Valley and into Long Island past JFK airport and be doing for the 62 Counties of New York State what we did for the neighborhoods of New York City.

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Unfortunately and unfairly, New York City hogs most of attention and spotlight in the public imagination (for understandable reasons). However, there is so much history in each and every county. A lot of it — I don’t even know yet, but I’m excited to find out. In addition to NYC, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley, you’ll find seven other main regions Upstate. I speculate (and we’ll see if I’m right) that the Finger Lakes area is not too different from the Lakes Area of Minnesota where I grew up. I’m also really excited to see Buffalo, NY — and see how similar it is to Duluth, MN, my only previous exposure to a Great Lakes city outside of Chicago, IL.

The second major historical running series that will begin relatively soon is the story of US History as told through Consequential Presidential Elections.

Ideally, I’ll get a bit of an assist from resident scholar Justin Norris, Carson Starkey, Allan Branstiter, etc. for this series. Once again, I’m an amateur historian. And I’ll do my best.

There will be no schedule and the new articles will be published as they are researched, completed, and edited. No time-table and no promises. But I promise this won’t become like Aaron Gleeman’s top 40 Twins of all time series.

A brief rundown of what elections and the time periods around them that I will be researching and writing on:

1800

(Jefferson v. Adams, and the first peaceful transfer of power)

1828

(Jackson v. Quincy Adams, and beginnings of the rural Democratic Party tradition)

1860

(Lincoln v. Douglass v. Breckenridge v. Bell, and the Civil War)

1896

(McKinley v. Jennings Bryan, and Populism on the Prairie)

1912

(Wilson v. Roosevelt v. Taft, the two party system holds, and the Grand Ole Party rejects progressivism for good)

1932

(FDR vs. Hoover, the New Deal, the new policy consensus, and the leader that history called for)

1960-1964-1968

(JFK v. Nixon, LBJ v. Goldwater, Humphrey v. Nixon, a New Generation, a second New Deal, the tumultuous year that was 1968, and the beginnings of the break-up of the New Deal coalition and the New Deal itself)

1980

(Reagan vs. Carter, American Optimism, the opening of an era of boomer short-sightedness, and the beginning of the end for the New Deal)

1992

(Clinton v. H.W. Bush v. Perot, the Democratic Party sells its soul to win back the White House, betrays working people and families, and the boomer Clinton Party triumphant)

2008

(Obama vs. McCain, History made, Opportunities Missed, and the first Information Age election)

 

The Greater Recession: Party’s End and A New Beginning.

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Generational change, or the lack thereof, proved to be a chief driving force of the “bottoming out” of the Democratic Party this year. This is not news to “Agreeing Loudly.”  We’ve predicted this and built a site partly on this fact for 16 months. The early returns are not good — Democratic Party leadership is not reading enough Thomas Frank.

New York, NY — (the capital of national Democratic Party incompetence, cluelessness, and cultural excess).

The beating heart of America and the state of New York (like every state) is the people. And the people have been betrayed. While the GOP celebrates, and all Americans should be protective of those most vulnerable and commit themselves to being the best person they can be, it is time for the Democratic Party to take these next six weeks and actually do some introspection. I have no doubt that introspection is going on in the hearts and minds of voters and supporters. However, it is rarely going on in the minds of boomer-heavy Democratic Party leaders. And that will not change until we demand that it changes.

Permanent Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is not going to suddenly discover his populist voice at the age of 65. Permanent Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is not going to suddenly discover her populist voice at the age of 76. I do not bring up their ages to be an agist. Far from it. Because the war on the young and the war on the middle and working class has been going on ever since their generation came to power via Watergate in the mid-70s. I bring up, what in the end are mere numbers to highlight the concept of subsidiarity: let those that are closest to the problem, and are more likely to know the problem — solve the problem.

The problem with the party is neoliberalism and corporatism. The problem is empty and soulless “high society” and “status” liberalism. The problem is an irrational appeal to moderation, compromise, incrementalism, and the idea that leaders (and especially the President) can just solve anything. They can’t and they won’t. We must do it. We the people. Welcome to the third and final part of the story of the future Greater Recession: Party’s End and a New Beginning.

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In 18 to 36 months, because it is a fact of the business cycle, and for reasons cited in Parts One and Two, this country will be in another “bubble” recession. The recession is inevitable. The pain caused to human beings because of short-sightenedness, corporate greed and grift, and government sponsorship of it, is completely avoidable. Were it not for the fact that elections, a lack of vision for the future and a good message, and voter apathy having consequences.

It would have happened if Hillary Clinton had won too. Don’t forget that former incoming Majority Leader Schumer had a stated top legislative goal of corporate tax cuts to get after overseas tax shelter-corporate profit dollars in the coming session. Now that Donald Trump has won, it will still happen. In some ways it’ll be the same, in others worse. The difference now is how the powers that be will react to it, and how we the people will react to it. Life is ten percent what happens to you, ninety percent how you react to what happens to you.

The big financial institutions and investment banks are already lining up and betting for the market to fail. Hiring freezes have commenced. All the indicators are there.

Despite all of his populist rhetoric, and many commentators citing that it was a farce and fraudulent in advance, the incoming Trump administration has already tapped a Goldman Sachs banker as the next Treasury Secretary. It might as well be enshrined into the Constitution at this point. Doesn’t matter who wins–there’s going to be a GS Treasury Secretary.

Bizarrely, this Greater Recession will not feel greater than the great one. Why? Because working families and working people have not made up what was lost economically for them in 2007-09. My ancestors barely felt the Great Depression in the 1930s–why? Because they were already poor to begin with. If/when the market fails and there are more bail outs of banks, but not people–get ready for the student loan “bubble” to burst too. Mr. Pres.-elect, it’s up to you what you want to do–I recommend doing the right thing.

For anyone who thinks the intra-party civil war within the Democratic Party can save us all from this fate, or if you think there will be an inevitable electoral backlash, think again. And then read Thomas Frank. Then get back to me. Then go read Thomas Frank again. Then listen to the “Margin of Error”, then branch out from there.

**********

After the 2016 Election — the two party power structure in this country looks like this:

Presidency: GOP (the first elected President in American history without any political or military experience prior to the Presidency)

US Senate: 52 GOP, 48 DEM (+2 DEM)

US House: 238 GOP, 194 DEM (+6 DEM)

US State Governors: 34 GOP, 15 DEM, 1 IND (Alaska) (+3 GOP)

US State Legislatures: 36 GOP/GOP-caucusing, 14 DEM/DEM caucusing in State Senates | 32 GOP/GOP-leaning, 17 DEM, 1 IND (Alaska) in State Houses.

After 2018 Midterm Elections — this is a realistic possibility:

The GOP faces a very favorable Senate map in 2018. 2016 was actually the last time in a long time the Democrats had a realistic chance to pick up the Senate absent a wave and a complete re-organization of the Democratic Party. Now we have the following seats that will still likely fall, or very well could.

GOP gains: IN, MO, MT, ND, (Joe Manchin holds on, but switches parties), 59 seats.

The situation will not improve much in the US House in an era of gerrymandering, voter ID, and key provisions of the Voting Rights Act gone.

Therefore, the next two years should be a legal battle in key states and 2017 should be about actually voting in progressive major US city Mayors so we can stop looking so hypocritical when corporate Democratic Mayors engage in tax giveaways to subsidize sports stadiums, and real estate projects, etc. We can stop looking so hypocritical when it comes to education achievement gaps, etc.

Lessons have not been learned and the liberal boomer establishment is mostly not getting it.

The Democratic Party will still have a DCCC that dictates to local units their “expert” opinions and sophisticated numbers over the local knowledge of people who have lived most, if not all, of their lives in their communities.

Most of the chairs and public elected officials of the Democratic Party remain unchanged. And already the Keith Ellison for DNC Chair (which I support, with some small reservations) momentum is slowing down because the “donor class” doesn’t want him and mostly, doesn’t like him.

We have no evidence since the year 2006 that Dems will magically turn out in a midterm when they do not hold the White House. 2006 was certainly a wave, but it was a wave that was created by the Iraq War and the Bush Administration being historically unpopular. It is likely that Trump will be unpopular, but when you have Democratic leaders like (permanent) Minority Leader Schumer in the Senate, and (permanent) Minority Leader Pelosi in the House vowing to make Donald Trump more popular, and vowing to work with him on some things, in stark contrast to how the GOP leadership behaved after an *actual* landslide in 2008, the jury is very much still out on the so-called coming 2018 Democratic wave.

2018 should be focused on the states and localities. Gubernatorial and state legislative campaigns. Party-building begins locally and it begins personally. Think local.

If the GOP maintains most of what they hold or even slightly improve (via winning the MN and PA gubernatorial races, a distinct possibility if nothing changes), not only are they knocking on the door of a filibuster-proof Senate, but they are also knocking on the door of a Constitutional amendment proof majority in the states (3/4ths, 37 states needed to pass and ratify proposed Constitutional amendments).

Not only will there be no wave if things do not change in a hurry for the party, but there are many areas past the above mentioned Senate map looking brutal, where we could lose ground further.

New York Democrats are currently prepping Chelsea Clinton to run for Congress in a long-held but only slight Democratic district in the New York-17th. I predict the GOP goes out and gets an Iraq Veteran who delivers lines like this across the district:

“While Chelsea Clinton was getting groomed to run for Congress and join the family business someday, I was dodging bullets in the Middle East.” – the Eric Greitens of the New York 17th. 

I’m sure Chelsea is nice, this is not personal. But I ask our readership to please get an early start in starting the human rights watch campaign to free Chelsea Clinton from what Democratic Party insiders and the Clinton cabal of advisors keep asking her to do. Go into careers that she does not want to do and is not a natural at doing. It’s insulting to her humanity, it’s insulting to the electorate, and I can only hope that she does not run. Enough with the Dukes and Earls, whether political or economic.

The 2020 Presidential Election — here are the early, talked about candidates:

One of the Reagan-baby Gen-X heavy GOP deep benchers (Rubio, Sasse, Cotton, Haley, although probably not Speaker Ryan as he’ll be too politicized) wins the Presidency, replacing Trump, who limits himself to one term citing political success and victories, or because he is impeached by a GOP congress, bringing us briefly, a President Glen Allen Walken…I mean Mike Pence.

Meanwhile, here is what the Democratic Party is countering with as of now, or at least this is what the early chatter is in the Beltway.

Sen. Cory Booker (NJ).

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY).

Sen-elect Kamala Harris (CA).

Gov. John Hickenlooper (CO).

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (MN).

First Lady Michelle Obama (Will reside in Washington D.C.).

I wanted to give everyone the proper amount of time away but now it is time to be honest.

Michelle, I have no doubt would be great. But she has stated many times that she has no interest in electoral politics. The Obama family has served their country enough. Leave them alone.

Sen-elect Harris will not run, and while she has a bright future, she is also from California, which has never produced a Democratic President and looks unlikely to do so in this current climate. Lets see what kind of Senator she is going to be first. I have high hopes that at the very least she’d make an excellent AG or VP candidate, then perhaps President after that.

Furthermore, every- single-talked-about candidate was only analyzed in terms of fundraising abilities, not potential message or vision for the future. The amount of people who do not get it in the political, media, and intellectual elite is alarming. For the most part, only the folks and their supporters are getting it. A quick note on the rest: Booker and Gillibrand (as well as Cuomo) may very well run, but they won’t win. If Sen. Klobuchar or Gov. Hickenlooper run, see Tim Pawlenty.

Thanks for sticking with us. Let’s get organized team future, we’re the last, best hope and it’s time to accept that. 

Cat President.

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Harrison “Harry” Potter, Cat President of the United States. Official portrait to come… as Mr. Cat President had trouble sitting still for it. We’ll get there.

Our new President is known by many names, Harold, Harry, Harrison, Mr. Potter, and now he is known as — Mr. Cat President. “Give ‘Em Hell” Harry (furry version) rode a similar wave of populist appeal and active (albeit sporadic and at times nonsensical) campaigning to come from behind and shock the political world a la President Truman decades earlier. Had Mr. Cat President the thumbs to hold up his version of the “Dewey Defeats Truman” paper, he would have. Perhaps it is fitting that he instead slept on it while an excited but exhausted campaign worker tried to read it.

Cat President’s meteoric rise to the Presidency captivated the nation. Cat President was born in a rain-filled barn in rural America, now he lives on a high-rise, swanky Manhattan apartment. The late, great Bert Cooper (of Sterling Cooper), were he alive today, might remark that Cat President is an “astronaut.”  While many thought he would be vulnerable to attacks from opponents, citing elitism, Cat President never forgot his roots and was driven by fundamental life changing moments early in life which led to some amazing speeches, namely — the fact that he was abandoned shortly after birth. The outpouring of sympathy from the electorate and his “bootstraps” story was a spectacle to behold.

The details of the campaign, and his subsequent term, were driven by his fundamental unreasonableness and lack of respect for anyone. Many were often offended. However, people respected that Cat President was not a sell out. He didn’t beg you for votes. He demanded them. And then he demanded more from you. Campaign donations. A bizarre amount of food donations, etc. And he drove his field team to the point of exhaustion and never seemed to allow them to fall asleep for more than a few hours. He claims he was just “making sure they were alive.” When campaign insiders drifted too far into the “bubble” of campaign-world, staring directly at computer screens, or “light-boxes” as he so bluntly called them, Cat President demanded the attention from those on the campaign. The same attention he demanded from the nation.

There is no doubt the media is baffled by this development. There is no denying the inaction of Cat President in his first term. There have been no new laws. But the trains are still running on time because of the rest of the executive branch having opposable thumbs. There is one thing you can say about the mixed first term of Cat President, he does well with appointments. Except for visits to the vet… which lead him to hair loss, which could help him politically. Gee… that Cat President sure is working hard. He’s working for all of us.

Cat President didn’t get much done this term, but sometimes… no decisions are better than bad ones. You know what I mean, and if you do not you will soon.

Piercing the Bubble: Reflections on Tuesday

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If there is a universal lesson to be learned from Tuesday, November 8th, 2016 — it’s that we should avoid painting people with too broad of a brush. We must work to get out of our own (often) self-imposed “bubbles” and pierce other ones, to remind your neighbor and fellow American that you’re still here too.

First off, I apologize. We got it wrong. But then again, so did everyone. While Agreeing Loudly got the numbers at the Presidential level wrong, if you look at our back catalogue of podcasts and articles, a lot of the analysis was there all year, serving as a caution and a warning that hard times and danger was ahead for the Democratic Party. Ultimately, I followed Nate Silver and the previously reliable polling aggregations. I said we’d barely hold out in 2016 and then 2018 and 2020 would be rough, which would then lead to rock bottom. 2016–meet rock bottom. 

We do this site because we care about the future. We all get busy at times and have things get in the way but at the end of the day — I am incredibly proud of our first year-plus content. I want to encourage listenership to the back catalogue and readership of previous articles. I think it will help provide context to what was driving the decline of the Democratic Party.

I’d also like to point to a few of my favorite “Agreeing Loudly” contributor inventions:

Satire Is Pointless by Carson Starkey.

This is more true than ever now. I struggle to come up with the words of a great dark comedy that would equal this. Satire and reality truly have merged these past few years and AL.com contributor and MoE co-host Carson Starkey was right on top of that development. Which led us to…

Sadly, not satire.

I’d also like to call attention to the name of the site: Agreeing Loudly.

Intended or not, for me the namesake of this site is a reference to the “bubble.” We’ve all been in them. We’ve all lost sight of reality before because we were so focused on improving  things and accomplishing the task at hand, surrounded by like-minded people.

The brilliant and nuanced podcast the “Margin of Error”, an essential listen featuring nearly weekly guests with co-hosts Allan Branstiter and Carson Starkey. The podcast manages to be simultaneously succinct and in-depth. I cannot help but think of the refrain I repeated all year about the ultimate 2016 result. Hillary Clinton will win by the margin of error. However, the funny thing about the margin of error is that by definition, the other candidate can win.

The Greater Recession: Party’s End (pre-written, now being slightly readjusted for the final result) was mentioned during the first and second parts to The Greater Recession article series. Party’s End of course refers to the Democratic Party. So while we missed the final numbers, I cannot say that I am overly surprised by what happened on November 8th.

Even if Hillary Clinton won on Tuesday, the problems of the Democratic Party existed and every contributor here at Agreeing Loudly ultimately believed some version of Tuesday was eventually going to happen, and it would happen no later than 2020. It looks like it has happened in 2016. We now know that the Obama coalition is entirely dependent on Obama (shocker… I know, something named after a person needs that person).

So where do we go from here? Ruminate on some of these themes I plan on discussing in the coming year.

The Political Spectrum doesn’t exist.

“We Are The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For.”

Please Join Us and Please Disagree Respectfully. Reach Out and Ask To Come On The Show. We want to hear from you, learn from you, and do everything in our power to help you all through this and build this site into something that you can take solace and ideas from as we prepare to exit into the long night that is the political wilderness.

Winston Churchill spent time in the wilderness. William F. Buckley created an intellectual movement of conservative principles while in the long political wilderness. It took him twenty five years to see the President that he had dreamed of. Something tells me that if Buckley were still alive, he would be mostly horrified by what just happened even though the movement he created now has more power than at any time since the 1920’s (which of course led to good things right… right?)

President-elect Trump is now mere months away from taking the Oath of Office. He is our President, but that doesn’t mean he is a good man. Because he is not. And if he wants me to change my mind on that he will have to show me something dramatically different.

We must pierce the bubble and learn. We must seek common and mutual understanding and stop speaking past one another if this country is to ever be united again in any meaningful way. I hope for the sake of all of us that President-elect Trump succeeds. I have my doubts. I strongly believe that you have to spend time in the batting cage to get a .300 batting average. Donald Trump has maybe watched some baseball games. Clearly he understands now what people like about it. But it will be very, very hard for him to hit .300 or even .200 or .100. Instead what we are seeing so far is hired guns on steroids, intent on threatening hundreds of years of our traditions and social contract. In these times, here is another thing to bring back: constitutionalist liberals.

Make no mistake the game will get played. And now more than ever, it must be a sell out crowd. Because the whole world is watching and worrying just like us.

Lets go to the ballgame. Lets sing the national anthem still. The team might finish in last place, but we have to show the world that we still care.

In the mean time and in the immediate term, lets take care of one another. We still have strength in numbers.

I ask those that will be vulnerable to be careful, be smart, be brave, and resilient. And I ask those who have privilege to love and support the vulnerable and the hated. It’s not just the bare minimum we can do right now and the right thing to do, but it is the only thing to do.

Call out hatred when you see it and stand up next to the hated. Not because you are trying to persuade the hater, but because we must show solidarity, love, and support for those that are hated.

 

 

Election Postmortem by Justin Norris

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Justin Norris holds an undergraduate degree in Political Science from Minnesota State University Moorhead and a MA in Political Science from the University of Georgia. He is currently completing his PhD there.

When I was a teenager I enjoyed reading the historical fiction of authors like James Clavell. In one of his stories, Tai-Pan I believe, there was supposedly an old Chinese curse that went like this: May you live in interesting times. I have no idea if such a curse exists, but if it doesn’t it certainly should, because we are certainly cursed to live in interesting times.

 
Many have asked me to write a postmortem of sorts for the 2016 presidential election. As to oblige, the following is a list (in no particular order) explaining what I believe led to the outcome in the 2016 Presidential election. Many of the items on this list bleed together and intensify the impact of one another.

 
Word of warning, this is a long list for this kind of format, and I’m not going to put together a tl; dr version. These assessments come from a combination of expertise, the publicly available information released up to this point, and some of the semi-inside info I’ve received from several people who were in the field during the campaign. Since it is still early, some of these assessments may change as new information emerges. That being said, here’s what I think happened.

 
1. Social desirability bias is alive and well. Many people, especially college educated voters (both men and women), did not want to fess up to pollsters that they supported Trump. Of course, in hindsight this is not surprising, and I had concerns about this problem early on, but there was little good evidence to suggest it was a factor during the primaries (and what evidence that did exist was mixed). Moreover, the classic examples for social desirability bias in surveys occurred when white people would lie about supporting African American candidates for political office. The incredible accuracy of the overall polling environment during the 2008 and 2012 elections led many to believe that social desirability bias was no longer as major a problem as it was in the past. We were lulled into a false sense of security, and the consequences were both great and terrible.

 

The bad polling data led to bad polling aggregates and bad models. Or as many methodologists like to joke about these kinds of situations: garbage in, garbage out. Faulty data leads to faulty decisions. This led many within both campaigns to make faulty decisions about vote targets, potentially effective messaging, canvassing goals, targeting areas, etc. It also helped fuel a lot of confirmation bias across the board (myself included). Though to be clear on this point, damn near everyone was fooled by this. There are several reports originating from within the Trump campaign that suggest that they expected to get no more than 240 Electoral Votes on election night. They were caught flat footed by this as much as everyone else.

 
Similarly, most pollsters used faulty assumptions for the population weights they used in their survey results. They assumed that the election would look like 2012. This turned out to be wrong. Some pollsters released multiple findings for their polls using different weights. I think this should become the norm.

 
2. Sexism is alive and well. I have had people (who I thought were smart, until they said this) tell me that Clinton was nominated solely because she has a vagina. Period. The exit polls are suggestive on this matter. Damn near 80% of males overall voted for Trump. Moreover, the large number of sexual harassment stories in the days since Trump’s victory makes it clear that it may be debatable as to whether sexism was the most important factor for deciding this race, but you cannot deny that it was a factor, and likely an important one.

 
3. Racism and bigotry are alive and well. The exit polls and on-site interviews are suggestive on this point. People who care deeply about illegal immigration overwhelmingly went for Trump. And they were very vocal about it. We are talking about a winning candidate endorsed by both Neo-Nazis and the KKK. Moreover, many hate groups bussed ‘their’ voters to the polls in several important states. On a personal (albeit anecdotal) level, I know many of us have had to look no further than our own social media environments to see the role bigotry played in this race. I also know many people who have already had to deal with this in the real world. It is unclear at this juncture how important this was for the outcome, but it’s pretty clear that it was part of the equation.

 
4. White working class/white rural rage is real, and Democrats need to ditch the corporatists that moved the party away from the working class in general when it comes to economics. When it comes to economics, Trump ran as an old-school Democrat in many ways (at least rhetorically). Superficially, much of what Trump said on corporate greed, the system being rigged, etc. is similar enough to what Bernie Sanders said that many voters would not be able to tell the difference. And the Democrats let him get away with it. Instead of showing how full of shit Trump is on these issues the Democrats largely ceded the ground. This had consequences which are now plainly seen.

 
5. I’m sorry, but Clinton was a terrible candidate. I know I’m going to get heat for saying it, but it’s true. To be fair, it’s not entirely her fault. Her enemies have been very effective in painting her in the worst possible terms for decades, and the aforementioned problems with sexism make the impact of these attacks even worse. However, she ran a terrible campaign (especially considering who she was running against).

 
Many of us hoped that the Clinton camp learned from 2008, but as of right now that does not appear to be the case. It appears that they still valued loyalty over competence, and suffered from group think to the extreme. For example, I’ve gotten both inside accounts and read media reports stating that the Clinton campaign did not try to mobilize support or persuade voters in rural areas. Nor did they try to target working class whites.

 

 

Moreover, there are media accounts suggesting that this decision was made over the loud objections of Bill Clinton (who knows a few things about this subject). Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama made plays for these constituencies. Even if you don’t win them over, you must try to counteract your opponent’s efforts in trying to win the day with these voters. The Hillary Clinton campaign ignored these constituencies almost entirely. The damage on this point is evident.

 
Similarly, insiders have told me, and media accounts now confirm that the Clinton campaign overly relied on simulations for determining messaging, canvassing maps, GOTV priorities, and other matters. In and of itself heavy use of data analytics isn’t necessarily bad. If you do it right I believe it can pay dividends. However, it’s what happened next that makes me want to scream. After putting their plans into effect for messaging, canvassing, etc. the people on the ground reported that it wasn’t working.

 

This went on for months in both critical and noncritical states where people on the ground warned the campaign brass that it wasn’t working. Messages were falling flat. They couldn’t build enthusiasm or get voter commitments. Targets were not being met. The brass in Brooklyn told them to stay the course. That is political malpractice, and whoever was in charge of making that decision should never get paid to work in politics ever again. Ever. In general, using data and running simulations to help make strategic decisions is a good thing, but once you’ve tried to implement those plans and the evidence suggests it’s not working then you need to rethink what you are doing. You need to challenge your assumptions, question the data, and listen to the people you have entrusted to put your plans into effect. Ugh. And again, you can’t just focus on minority populations, young voters, and women, and you certainly can’t just focus on the urban and suburban areas. This is a recipe for disaster.

 
6. I am certain I’m going to get heat for this too, but the evidence is already mounting that it’s true. Third Party support did constitute a spoiler effect for both Clinton and Trump. Exit polls suggest that roughly a third of Johnson voters in critical states, states decided by less than one percent were self-identified Democrats. Moreover, nearly all of Stein voters were self-identified Democrats. If these people had voted for Clinton in places like FL, WI, PA, or MI it could have swung the election. That’s a textbook spoiler effect. Though I of course concede that this, and all the other factors identified in this dissection do not exist in a vacuum. Regardless, that is all I’m going to say on this subject.

 
7. The media dropped the ball. In the attempt to adhere to the ‘balanced coverage’ approach to covering campaigns many in the media pursued a false dichotomy that led many to believe that the campaigns were comparable in many ways. This is nonsense. Yes, the media covered the ‘Grab them by the pu**y’ video, but they also dedicated a ridiculous amount of coverage to the email story, even though it was a nonstory compared to everything else going on in the campaigns. For example, even now the majority of voters are unaware that there are around 75 pending lawsuits against Trump, many involving allegations of serious crimes. Similarly, the media gave Trump so much free uncontested air time it was insane. Not to mention that issues were generally ignored. Yes, the media always focuses more on the horse race, but not to the exclusion of damn near everything else.

 
To be fair, television and cable are dying platforms, with fewer viewers by the day. Similarly, much of the traditional print media did a fantastic job, but fewer and fewer people read their content. Instead we get the vacuous nonsense that passes for discourse in social media. And most of what gets circulated in social media comes perilously close to rank propaganda or are downright hoaxes. I had a conversation post-Election Day with a family member and Trump voter where they listed a litany of well-known hoaxes to help justify their vote. To hammer the point home that these stories were false I read them the top Google search results for each story. In each case, the second Google result was the Snopes story explaining that the story was a hoax. I suspect many people have had similar conversations in the wake of this election. It’s has gotten to the point where Silicon Valley elites are starting to ask if Facebook has too much influence over American political discourse, especially given that most of what gets disseminated is patently false.

 
8. The Clinton campaign is arguing that the Comey letter is to blame for their loss. Given all the other problems I believe this is suspect as the sole cause. However, it undoubtedly played an important role. The media jumped on this story, and though they quickly dialed back the more explosive aspects because they were entirely unfounded the damage had already been done. And to add insult to injury the second statement from Comey stating that the new investigation was already over and had found nothing was nowhere near as widely circulated.

 
As for the impact of the FBI putting its finger on the scale, the best evidence at this point suggests that it influenced voter behavior in a number of ways. The exit polls and a lot survey data suggest that the Comey letter had a profound impact on late-deciders, with the majority of them breaking for Trump. This makes the scant coverage of Comey’s retraction all the more damning. Moreover, there is evidence that the Comey letter demoralized a significant number of Democratic leaning voters, and helped bring a lot of wavering Republicans back into the fold. Though I think Harry Reid goes too far in arguing that Comey violated the Hatch Act, his behavior came perilously close, and I believe the Justice dept. should have ordered him to not send the letter.

 
9. There could be many culprits as to why, but this was a low turnout election, especially compared to the two previous elections. This hurts Democrats for a number of reasons, but I will focus on what I think is the most damning reason that has the farthest reaching consequences for future races. This was the first presidential election in 50 years that was not conducted under the most important provisions of the Voting Rights Act. After testing the waters in the 2014 midterms the Republican Party pushed for measures in many Republican controlled states that depress turnout, and focused these efforts in traditionally Democratic leaning areas or targeted Democratic leaning constituencies. Unless stopped by the courts, Republican controlled states cut polling places in Democratic leaning areas, reduced the number of days for early voting, reduced the number of early voting locations, and passed voter ID laws purposely designed to make it harder for Democratic leaning constituencies to get lawful IDs.

 
We know that the goal was to target Democratic leaning constituencies because the GOP admitted it through the evidence presented in federal court, and both federal and state rulings were supposed to stop both NC and WI from implementing these laws. Both NC and WI ignored these rulings and did it anyway. In WI this likely threw the election to Trump given that over 300,000 voters were turned away for not having IDs (that the courts said they didn’t need to have), and as of now, Trumps vote margin is around 27,000 votes. Voter suppression (and that is what it was) likely played a critical role in the results for FL, NC, WI, and MI.

 

 

I could go into greater detail and deeper in the weeds for every single one of these points, but this is already longer than I wanted to make it, and I have other work to do.
I hope this clarifies things for many of you or at least gives you something to think about. If anyone wants them I can provide links to support every single one of these points.
I have been getting a lot of questions about what I think the Democratic Party should do or what liberals/progressives should do about all of this. I have a lot of thoughts on this matter, but I am unsure if I will put them out into the ether.

 

 

Though I will say this, when there is no hope there is no fear. For years now the left has allowed the more conservative factions to govern the Democratic Party because many believed the stakes were too high (protecting existing gains, the Supreme Court, etc.). Well, that’s over now. The right now controls all three branches of government, and they are already making plans to do what many have feared. So now I suggest that the left should fight back. Band together and fight for what you actually believe in, and don’t be afraid to lose. When the conservatives were out in the wilderness for decades they were not afraid to lose, and it helped them immensely. Democrats can’t just be the ‘not crazy’ party anymore. The party needs to actually stand for what its voters believe in. Enough is enough.

 

 

2016 Election Preview & Predictions: Part Three – State Elections

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What we often forget is  ultimately the U.S. Presidential Election is a series of state elections. In the final part of our election series, lets take a look at the 50 states (Gubernatorial elections and state legislative elections).

I have no doubt that these will be the hardest predictions to nail down for two reasons: one, the lack of available polling for many state legislative races and even many gubernatorial races (in safe D or safe R states), and two, given the historically high unfavorable ratings at the top of each ticket, it is harder to predict any sort of down ballot affect that usually is in play. Traditionally, for reasons of higher name ID and concentration of media coverage on the top ticket races, Presidential candidates and statewide candidates get more votes and a higher percentage than their down ballot counterparts. At least in theory. Local candidates who have a special relationship with their constituents often do much better than the top of the ticket, but I digress. Let’s start with the statewide races, then state legislative control in all 50 states, and end with going specific in the three states that I have been a resident in at some point in my life (Minnesota, North Dakota, and now New York).

General predictions for the makeup of gubernatorial power in the states.

Currently

GOP: 31 Governors, DEM: 18 Governors, Independent: 1 (in Alaska)

New (prediction)

 

GOP: 31 Governors, DEM: 18 Governors, Independent: 1 (in Alaska)

Overall, most gubernatorial races happen in midterm elections, which will give the GOP a strong advantage as long as the Democratic Party continues to win the White House. Of the few gubernatorial races this year (12 in total), I predict the Democrats easily retain Washington, Oregon, and Delaware, while the Republicans easily retain North Dakota and Utah, which leaves us with closer races in the New Hampshire, Vermont, North Carolina, West Virginia, Indiana, Missouri, and Montana.

Of those seven, the GOP will pick-up Vermont, West Virginia, and just narrowly miss out on picking up New Hampshire and Missouri. The Democrats will pick-up Indiana and North Carolina narrowly, retain Montana by at least 5 points, and  narrowly retain New Hampshire and Missouri (where GOP candidate Eric Greitens has ran a frightening campaign, foretelling things to come, stay tuned next week for more on that.)

In other words, no change in the gubernatorial makeup and control of the various executive branches in the states.

General predictions for the makeup of state legislative power in the states.

Currently

The GOP controls 68 out of the 98 chambers (higher chambers and lower chambers) at the state legislative level.

New (prediction)

The GOP controls 65 out of the 98 chambers, which means Democrats net a total of 3 state legislative chambers.

The GOP will pick-up the Kentucky House, a coda if you will to the past realignment and death of the old south where the Democrats were able to compete locally many cycles after they began losing the once solid south at the Presidential level.

The Democrats will pick-up the Colorado Senate (go Jered Weber!), Nevada Assembly, New Mexico House, and the biggest surprise and reach here, the Arizona Senate. In other words, continued signals of the longer term blue trend of the Mountain West and Southwest.

*Note: the state of Nebraska has a unicameral non-partisan state legislature, but let’s not kid ourselves here… that’s another one in the GOP column if we’re being honest.

Now for a spotlight on a few states.

First, the state of North Dakota, which has the honor of being the only state where a Democratic Party has promoted millennials and young people to positions of party and public leadership. Because when you are losing 45-0, why not just call up the farm system and start building…

NORTH DAKOTA

Senate: Current 32-15 Republican majority against the Democratic-NPL (Non-partisan league)

House: Current 71-23 Republican majority against the Dem-NPL

New (prediction), in solidly red North Dakota, which has gone even darker shades of red during the eight years of the Obama Administration (Obama won this state in the 2008 Democratic Primary and finished within 10 in the 2008 General Election), the Republicans easily hold on to their supermajorities in both houses. It’s hard to even imagine where the Dems would pick up seats here other than maybe a few seats out of Fargo. I expect Donald Trump to do better here than most states tomorrow and that could have its own wave effect on the few rural Dem-NPL legislators that still have seats. So I’ll call this one a wash, with virtually no change in either the state house or senate.

MINNESOTA

Senate: Current 38-28 DFL (Democrat-Farmer Labor) majority (or 39-28 if going by 2012 election)

House: Current 73-61 Republican majority

New (prediction)

Senate: 36-31 DFL (the GOP has a net pick-up of 3 seats)

House: 70-64 GOP (the DFL has a net pick-up of 3 seats)

Analysis: The changing demographics (featured earlier in this brilliant and illuminating podcast episode of “This American Life”) propel St. Cloud to deliver pick-ups for the DFL in Senate District 14 and House District 14B.

In general, the split in the DFL between metro-area environmentalists and rural labor unionists and farmers will continue to show up at the ballot box. Rural voters in CD8 and 7 have fewer reasons to vote for the DFL each cycle and that will show up most strikingly in Nolan’s close re-election to the House, a seat that looks to be in deep trouble for the ’18 midterms. The down ballot effects will be seen at the state legislative races while the DFL continues to recruit solid candidates, and party-build well in the suburban metro areas. In the Senate, the GOP will gain seats in SD 1, 17, 24, and 36 to cut in slightly to the overall DFL majority in the state senate. In the house, the DFL has a net-gain of 3 seats, with pick-ups in 21A, 24B, and a hold in 48A. Despite Trump and Jason Lewis on the ballot, the down-ballot MN-2 legislative races hold for the GOP in 56A, 56B, 57A, and 57B. If a few of these races however are called for the DFL, then the Republican majority in the state house is in jeopardy.

NEW YORK

We end with my home state of New York. The disfunction of corruption of both major parties here is seen even in their state legislative election tallies. Low turnout (bottom 5 in the nation usually), and tight election laws by blue state standards will make tomorrow frustrating. We’ve shined the spotlight on three states tonight, North Dakota, a red state trending further red. Minnesota, a blue state trending red. Now New York, a blue state trending further blue, but like another blue state, Illinois, embodies many of the problems with the modern day national Democratic Party.

Senate: Current 32-31 GOP majority

Assembly: Current 106-42 Dem majority

Analysis: The Assembly is safe Democratic hold, and the Senate is anyone’s guess and a true coin toss. Why? Let me explain first how the GOP even gets to their majority. In the New York State Senate, which as I pointed out in an earlier article, has had an unsurpassed string of public corruption and grift, has 29 elected Democrats (with five of them being considered Independents that caucus with the Democrats in Albany), 29 elected Republicans, with 1 Democrat who caucuses with the senate Republicans in Albany. Leaving us with 4 true toss-ups. I’m splitting the difference and saying that the NY State Senate ends up with 32 caucusing as Republicans to hold the majority (29 actually endorsed by the Republicans, and 3 Democrats who caucus with them), and 31 Democrats or elected state senators who end up caucusing with the Democrats.

In other words. Albany is a mess, folks like Andrew Cuomo are not the future of the party, but rather its extreme neoliberal past that ought to be in the rear view mirror as soon as possible. The best news to come out of New York state tomorrow night will hopefully be the election of Teachout in the New York 19th Congressional District.

Now go vote tomorrow if you haven’t already!