The Democratic Party – An Identity Crisis

WTF
Sadly, this is not from the Onion. This was a genuine attempt at messaging from the DCCC. Folks, we’ve got some work to do….

An exchange I had on January 19th, 2017 in front of the Trump building where tens of thousands of New Yorkers gathered on the last night of the Obama Presidency and before the Trump Presidency began.

Me: No, no I’m not interested in the third party option, for a variety of reasons there are too many obstacles to that. We’ve gotta reform the Democratic Party from within and/or take it over.

Activist: Yeah, good luck with that…

When history is written, I’ll probably end up being on the wrong side of the argument, at least the had on January 19th. That is, I will be if things don’t change in a hurry.

While no analysis of how we got here is perfect (although the impeccable “Listen, Liberal!” by Thomas Frank gets close), here is my quick rundown of the top ten “Shatter-points” in the history of the Democratic Party that got them to this point. This is meant to be observational. I morally agree with a few of these developments (Civil Rights and Voting Rights, the need to protest and end the Vietnam War).

  1. Taft-Hartley (1948) | Right-to-work legislation is now on the table and begins in earnest.
  2. The Civil Rights and Voting Rights Act (LBJ’s quote: “we’ve just lost the south for a generation.” That proved to be mostly true, as no Democrat was able to win a national election without hailing from the south until Barack Obama won with parts of the “new south” like Virginia and North Carolina).
  3. Assassinations of 1960s political and moral leaders (JFK, Bobby, MLK Jr., Malcolm X, Fred Hampton).
  4. The Vietnam War (Considerable domestic unrest, a significant generational divide reared its head during 1968, not unlike what happened last year.  The ’68 campaign cycle is still above and beyond ’16, which was more so depressing because of most of the candidates, and the way the media covered the campaigns, etc.)
  5. Rejecting figures like Ralph Nader (who at one time was one of the most admired figures in America in the late 60’s/early 70’s) and small-d democracy in general. Not putting Nader on the ’72 ticket was but an illustration, the more precise problem was pushing his mindset out of the party in general. There is no doubt the ’72 defeat was crushing, but the Democratic Party overreacted to it. McGovern did not lose because he was too far left (political scientists keep telling the spectrum is real, but ask the average voter and they’ll look puzzled), he lost because he was not a good national candidate, ran a bad campaign, and was facing the best and most shrewd politician of his generation in Nixon. Did you see the GOP overreact and moderate themselves in the long run after Barry Goldwater was crushed in ’64? No. They stuck to their principles and in the long run were rewarded for it).
  6. Carter bailing on labor, Clinton bailing on labor. (Both post-New Deal-era Democratic Presidents hailed from the south, which was never a strong base for organized labor, but that doesn’t excuse the party becoming less and less friendly to one of its most reliable constituencies historically. Free trade policies like NAFTA ensured organized labor had no place to go in American politics and that their long decline would continue. Labor today stands at just over 11 percent (from a point where 1/3 of all workers belonged to a union, as high as 40% in the manufacturing belt of the Midwest and Great Lakes states at on time) and just like the post-NAFTA era, stands at a crossroads themselves.
  7. Clinton triangulating on a plethora of bad policies that directly punishes reliable democratic constituencies (NAFTA, Crime Bill, Ending Welfare as we know it, Financial De-Regulation, and Telecommunications De-Regulation all but ensuring the AM talk radio and cable news dominance for the next generation). At the end of the day, Bill Clinton (both his direct influence and mindset) deserves a lot of blame for some incredibly short-term thinking that may have benefited his popularity personally and politically at the time, but in the long run ruined the Democratic Party. There may be a lot of ink spent on how many seats were lost during the Obama years, but the damage was already done, and former President Barack Obama mostly inherited a Clintonian Democratic Party that was built around Bill and built around Hillary taking over the White House in a Clinton restoration in 2008…or 2016…or 2020?
  8. Doubling-down on the Corporate Alliance (Wall Street, Big Pharma, Big Auto, Big Tech, Big Everything, against the Little People) In the late 70s the Democratic Party began openly courting corporate sources for campaign funding. One of the key issues that gave Obama momentum during the ’08 primary was refusing Super-PAC money early on. The party itself ended its ban on corporate lobbyist and Super-PAC money late in the Obama years, in anticipation of President HRC.
  9. Failing to Cultivate the Young Talent and Build the Farm from the Obama years. Ultimately, it was the ground effort and labor of the millennial generation that put Obama over the top in Iowa in 2008 and then in the general election. The Democratic Party has failed to cultivate its young leaders, paying only lip service to this. “Lip service” is a continuing theme with the Democratic Party of the 21st century. Whether it is about the problems facing an indebted (both student and public) generation, ending forever war, the corporate takeover of the country, or racial equity. What strong talk there is on these issues is often not backed up by strong actions. The proof is in the outcomes.
  10. And finally, yes, I’m sorry, but going with Clinton over Sanders was a mistake. (It is my belief that Bernie Sanders, if nominated, would have won, and his coattails could have been substantial, perhaps saving the party from the rock bottom that this website has consistently predicted was around the corner. The Democratic Party should have listening to its younger members which overwhelming went with Sanders across-the-board, the members they have failed to cultivate, and in-fact are more likely to attack these days.)
Sigh...
What could have been.

And as a bonus: lets be honest — there simply is no “membership” in the Democratic Party.

Populism is associated with President Trump right now, and that is a shame. Because populism isn’t so much a political ideology, it is a mode and theory of who is going to be empowered and where influence will come from and be most respected.

The simplest explanation of how we got to where we are is the GOP embracing its populist movements, no matter how uncomfortable it may have made the GOP elites, and the Democratic Party refusing to embrace its own populist movements like Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter. Depressing turnout among the progressive base and youth, and running campaigns that are characterized more so by what you are not, rather than what you are and what you stand for, and will do, is what has created the current situation. The voices and so-called membership of the Democratic Party refuse to listen and simply do not get it. Anyone who has attended fundraisers or meetings knows what I’m talking about. It’s a very top-down led party that does not deal with criticism well and as is incredibly evident in 2017–refuses to do the soul searching that is necessary after historical defeats.

In addition to this top-down, failed strategy, the Democratic Party has become a “fundraising machine” of coastal elites.

If it wants to survive — it has to become a movement. It must embrace movement progressivism in the same way the GOP embraced movement conservatism.

If you think I’m being too harsh, come back next week as I take down the GOP from top to bottom. I’m writing these words out of love for my country and its people. Any political system that produces these results must be thoroughly analyzed and criticized across the board.

This is not about Hillary Clinton (who full disclosure, I fully expect will run again in 2020 because my wife has a bizarre track record of being right about these things). In a lot of ways and in some parts of the country, HRC is more popular than the party brand itself. Take a look at the 30 million dollar special election in Georgia. Jon Ossoff, a millennial, who ran on meaningless platitudes of everything being “connected”, the need cut wasteful spending, all while refusing to endorse popular policies progressives and other Americans support like single payer, tax hikes on the wealthy, and ending big money in politics. Ossoff, despite all of the money and the attention, lost by a larger margin than Hillary did in the district. The Democrats have tried to message these closer losses than before as “moral victories” rather than an indictment of establishment politics, corporate neoliberalism, or the generational and ruling class consensus. I’m sure Jon is a nice guy, but there will be no big millennial turnout to reverse the direction of the country if millennials are not allowed to run on what most millennials actually prefer. If young candidates run to please the establishment and status quo it won’t work.

But lets end with something productive — where do we go from here? There are two paths the progressive movement can go, and the answer can be BOTH.

 

Plan A: Take the grassroots movement, and eventually go through the Democratic Party as the vessel (50 states, 3000 counties, primary corporate Democrats, and don’t listen to the Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi’s of the world, etc.)

Plan B: The viable third party movement path (a combination of Draft Bernie for a People’s Party, adding and creating a coalition with WFP, who exist in 13 states, the Green Party, Progressive Democrats of America, and non-party affiliated issue-based movements, in addition to realizing the two fundamental loopholes the two party system has never covered up: 1. There is nothing that binds a state or local party org to its national organization. In other words, if progressives takeover the Wyoming Democratic Party, they can later attach themselves to the People’s Party AND 2. Just because a progressive candidate goes through the Democratic or Republican primaries to win, does not mean they have to continue to stay there. If turncoats like the IDC in New York state can block needed electoral and voting reforms, single-payer healthcare in NY State, why not just pull off the opposite?)

I’ll end with former Labor Secretary Robert Reich’s 8 point plan for a new Democratic Party (pay close attention to number 8)

1. Overhaul the DNC
2. Embrace populism
3. Mobilize, energize and educate the base
4. Expose Trump as a fraud
5. Focus on 2018 now
6. Look to the state and local level
7. Protect groups threatened by Trump
8. Failing all else, look outside the party

We will disagree in many measures, but one thing we all must agree on is this — “change will not come from the Democratic Party, change can only be brought to it.”

If we continue on the same path, if we listen to what Mark Penn wants to do (NY Times July 6th op-ed “Back to the Center, Democrats“), not only will Donald Trump be re-elected, but the incredibly deep bench of younger GOP national candidates could very well win in 2024.

This should go without saying but nobody should listen to Mark Penn, who is more interested in protecting his consultancy than improving outcomes for all Americans.

We should listen to the youth, and let them build a movement that has a realistic plan to deal with the dangers and realities of the 21st century.

Not just change we can believe in, but a future we can believe in.

Not just the Resistance, but Beyond Resistance.

Not just “mere politics”, but Beyond Politics, backed by a moral worldview and value-set that can then work its way toward the policies we’re fighting for and the change we need.

This Week on the Interwebs

The Controlled Burn
A lot happened this week, but I keep coming back to the Joker line in The Dark Knight, sometimes people just want to “watch the world burn.” Not much unites the country these days, but one thing nearly everyone under the age of 45 can agree on, the status quo has not been working for some time.

Beginning a new regular-to-semi-regular series on this website, an internet and news of the week round-up that will be graph-laden and told in a very ad-hoc manner. For the article and commentary news round-up, Pat Meacham has you covered.

Depending on your perspective, this week was either the beginning of Watergate Part II (dir. by Oliver Stone, I’m assuming….), or just another week of the “liberal conspiracy media” trying to ruin the Trump agenda. We’re not doing a very good job as a society of “piercing bubbles” so far, although I will continue nonetheless.

Approval 2 (Boomer Division)
We just crossed the 100 days marker not too long ago, here is where Trump stands, and keep in mind this was before the Comey firing. Most importantly, look at the general trend of the erosion of trust and support for Presidents (in line with eroding support for other American institutions) over the years. Post-Watergate I, partisanship was high but then confidence was briefly restored before returning with a vengeance as soon as the boomer generation assumed complete control of all elected branches of government (Fmr. President Clinton and onward).
Approval 1
Yes, President Trump is different than previous times of polarization and partisanship. He is the most polarizing President in the history of polling. This graph is from right after the inauguration. 
Russia GDP Growth Rate
I don’t pay much attention to the particulars of the Russia investigations. I have no doubt in my mind Putin and Russia wanted Trump elected. Why? 7 straight quarters of negative GDP growth. Russia under Putin has not thrived at all, just the opposite. And if our nation emulates their system we will suffer the same fate (minus differences in natural resources, etc.) and even more stagnant growth (more on this later).

….while we’re on the subject of the future of U.S. public policy…

And America
From the Willy Wonka Honest Trailer on YouTube–check it out if you have time. Hilarious and also this…
What Obesity Used to Look Like
More than 1/3 of U.S. adults are obese and 17.5% of children, couple this with the damning statistic of 20% of U.S. children being in poverty (obviously, through no fault of their own), compared to 4.8% for the Netherlands, there is a lot of room for improvement beyond meaningless and mostly symbolic statements like: “the children are our future.” The obesity crisis has gone under-reported in the U.S. media and has been but one of many reasons that there is no easy fix to the U.S. health care system.

Speaking of….

Fate of 18 Midterms on Older Boomers
If you think the impact of the AHCA passing will surely deliver both houses of Congress to the Democratic Party, think again. You’re counting on a demographic who has voted reliably Republican or Democrat for some time. 
Truth
Ain’t this the truth….
The Pre-existing condition
Please tell me again how the “children are our future?” And why did Hillary Clinton not run on ending child poverty? “It’s Time” to do X, Y, and Z would have been a far better appeal than “I’m With Her” or “Stronger Together”, but I digress. All of this assumes the elites of the Democratic Party knew what they were doing.
Math Is Hard For Fox News
Fox News has had cosmic justice enforced on them in abundance lately. Scandal after scandal, but they can still trot out their old reliable trademark of using accurate statistics to incredibly mislead people. Jeez… if only former President Obama had pressed the job creation button on January 21st…

While we’re on the subject of President Obama, the following undermine GOP arguments that he spent too much during his administration.

So it looks like it wasn’t wild spending, but rather something else that has caused the new normal of sluggish growth. It certainly isn’t sluggish for the wealthy and big corporations….ah, the “job creator” class, what an utter myth.

Consumers create jobs for the most part and workers create value. And until even the so-called “capitalists” of this country understand that, we’re going to suffer from stagnant growth because…. the masses are nearly out of money because…. see below.

Distribution of Income During Expansion
The story since the late 70’s has been unequal growth, wages not rising with productivity and inflation, and its starting to catch up with us no matter who is in charge. Why? Because Tom Frank is right–there is no “party of the people” right now and hasn’t been for some time (circa late 70’s, notice a trend here?)

This has led to a distribution that looks like this….

wealth in america
Clearly, something will have to give here.

There are some that will keep banging the drums for the “magic”, but most working people pounding pavement and trying to take care of their families know the truth–the link between effort and reward is gone and has been for some time.

Want to know what’s behind the actual American carnage and why none of 45’s and the far-right to Alt-Right cabal’s policies will work? Because there is a fundamental disconnect between the world that elites inhabit, and organized money protects, and the actual reality of what is going on and has been the trend in American life for some time.

And this is why the most relevant historical force in the 2016 Presidential election was not Donald Trump–but rather it was Bernie Sanders.

He has proven that small dollar donations can break the donor class monopoly of our political system, or at the very least has proven you can put up one hell of a fight and maybe next (demographically speaking) things will break your way. If it is not broken up, it’ll be hard for much of anything to be made “great”again, although I’d very much settle for “good” outcomes at this point.

Indeed, Mr. Norris was right. We are cursed to live (or fortunate to live?) in interesting times. Anyone who has been following developments between the Alt-Right and far-left clashing on college campuses lately, or developments like this can conclude that we are cursed to live in interesting times.

So I keep coming back to the Joker and “watching the world burn.”

There are those who have settled into the world as it is and those (overwhelmingly under 45) who are dreaming of the world as it should be. I think the common thread that binds a lot of millennials, most Gen-X’ers, and younger folks together will be our desire to “burn it down.”

The key difference will be what type of burn. At the outset I showed a “controlled burn” that farmers utilize to help the soil and rotate crops. I believe the controlled burn is far preferable to what the Alt-Right is and wants, which I will call the “moral hazard burn.”

The Moral Hazard Burn
That’s all for now, folks.

Take care of each out there. And stay tuned for Agreeing Loudly and the Margin of Error.

Mark Zuckerberg Practicing Folksiness for Inevitable 2020 and/or 2024 Presidential Election Loss

Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, seen here with Mayor Pete Buttigeg, is the subject of many speculative media articles, and is looking forward to making the Democratic Party look foolish in 2020, perhaps botching a second completely winnable election in a row.

Palo Alto, CA — Facebook CEO and future Democratic Party presidential loser Mark Zuckerberg has been busy lately, restructuring Facebook stock to ensure his control even after he plans to sell his stock, and also paving the way for a “leave of absence” in the event of government service. But the most telling sign Mark Zuckerberg plans to lose the 2020 or 2024 Presidential election is the above photo and this article which features videos of Mark, a Harvard drop-out who has become a billionaire getting people to willingly end all last vestiges of privacy in the 21st century, milking cows, riding tractors, talking to factory workers and veterans, and other faux-folksy things that such Presidential losers like Mitt Romney, John Kerry, and Michael Dukakis have done before him (who are all from Massachusetts as well by the way).

After an election cycle where an incredibly out-of-touch with the common people candidate was able to grab defeat from the jaws of victory against a reality T.V. star and professional grifter, the Democratic Party, currently desperately clawing to credibility, integrity, and backbone by hitching its expensive wagon to the citizen energy of the Resistance, Indivisible, and other grassroots organizing movements, is looking forward to nominating Mark Zuckerberg in either 2020 or 2024. It’s donor class is particularly fired up and ready to go! As long as they do not have to door knock and talk to a person.

Professional political liberal Alan Dershowitz, lawyer and current record-holder for the most number of times of publicly threatening to leave the party, is looking forward to fiercely advocating for Mr. Zuckerberg, before secretly voting for a Republican in the fall. Other establishment stalwarts like the 2008 architect and campaign manager for former President Obama, the eternally disappointing since 2014 David Plouffe, is looking forward to guiding the Facebook CEO, who was described in a Vanity Fair puff piece as wanting to be Emperor, to a landslide electoral defeat in either 2020 or 2024, ensuring continued one-party governance with Donald Trump or Mike Pence as head of state.

#CodingAndAlgorithmsWeCanBelieveIn

Episode 46: And the Award Goes to…

 

deadpool-considurbation-poster

On this month’s episode of Agreeing Loudly Coast to Coast, Bill Nentl makes his triumphant return from his multi-month suspension. In celebration of this momentous occasion, the Agreeing Loudly brain trust (minus one Pat Meacham) discuss their thoughts on who will win Best Picture at the upcoming Academy Awards, the latest Trumptastrophes, and some more public policy they think would make the world a better place.

Will Bill be able to make it through one episode without being suspended again? Tune in now to find out! Hate using your data for podcasts, then download it instead.

AL.com endorses Kurt Meyer for Iowa Democratic Party Chair

557a1c904bb17-imageOver the past month Kurt Meyer has been able to share his vision of the Iowa Democratic Party under his future leadership with his fellow Iowa Democrats. By and large, Agreeing Loudly is millennial, and we are progressive Democrats.

AL.com co-founder Pat Meacham is a former Iowa House Caucus staffer and said he “couldn’t be happier to give my wholehearted support to my friend and mentor.” Kurt understands and embraces Meacham’s 3-M’s of political campaigning – Message, Money and Machine and how each one will move the IDP and Iowa forward.

He understands that without a simple, forward-thinking message that reaches all 99 counties – you have no message at all. Since we met him nearly a decade ago, Kurt has preached a message of collaboration, inclusion and introspection. He has been an honest voice promoting Iowa politics and the First-in-the-Nation Caucus with some of the biggest media outlets in the country – New York Times, NPR and on MSNBC.

Furthermore, Meyer believes in the political machine. No, not the Tammany Hall version of yesteryear – but the vision of recruiting and training activists and potential candidates year-round, not just every two years. The idea of IDP field staffers living, working and engaging citizens in areas across the state every year not just when their local candidate is “targeted” by the party bosses – is innovative and refreshing. The Iowa Democratic Party needs to start building relationships again from Ottumwa to St. Ansgar and everywhere between – just like Kurt has by helping found the Tri-County Democrats in northern Iowa.

Kurt has a history of successfully raising money both in the political realm and in the private sector with multi-million dollar fund development. After the 2014 cycle, he headed an ad-hoc group that suggested ways the IDP fundraising could be expanded. Without successful fundraising he understands the other 2-M’s will not be successful.

Kurt Meyer is not running for IDP Chair to boost future personal political endeavors, he is not running as an insider, he is not running as a legacy candidate – he is running to be IDP Chair because as he says “I am proud, passionate, progressive Democrat from the marrow of my soul to the core of my being,” and progressive Democrats know that he’d be pretty good at the job too.

Agreeing Loudly Presents “The Lost Nixon Tapes”

nixon-richard-presidential-portrait
Portrait of President Richard M. Nixon

While we are awaiting the regular launch of the 2nd season of the Agreeing Loudly flagship “Coast to Coast” podcast with Pat, Bill, Jered, and various special guests — we thought we’d clue everyone in on some fantastic developments that our “Spotlight” team has been working on — the “Lost” Nixon Tapes. Like Presidents before him and some since, 37th President Richard M. Nixon taped nearly his entire Presidency. After the watergate scandal and being the first and only U.S. President to resign the office before his term was up, Nixon fought hard to protect the release of his tapes. Even today, not all of them have been released. Which brings us to now… our “Spotlight” team has discovered a cache of “Lost” Nixon White House tapes. Here is the first video below. For best results, since the audio is difficult to understand given that it was recorded decades ago, put your subtitles on.

 

The Gentrified Revolution

For all of Bernie Sanders’s rhetoric about the ills of income inequality and class warfare, in Los Angeles his message was most popular in gentrifying precincts. Dissecting the spacial aspects of why his presidential campaign failed offers important lessons as the movement he inspired looks to the future.

by Allan Branstiter

LA County

The Los Angeles Times published a fascinating and telling interactive map displaying how each of LA’s precincts voted during the Democratic Primary on June 7th. My first impression of the map was that of shock—Hillary Clinton absolutely dominated Bernie Sanders throughout the Los Angeles County. The map basically depicts a sea of blue swamping little boroughs of pinko insurgency.

Aside from the degree of Clinton’s victory in Los Angeles, a close look of the precinct results offers progressives a few important lessons as they plan for the future.

Progressives Still Need to Engage Racial Injustice

If you want to make a Sanders supporter bristle, just talk about the fact that the core of his support tends to be comfortable, highly educated, and white. While Sanders made several important (albeit uncomfortable) overtures towards racial injustice and won the support of high-profile African-American intellectuals and activists like Killer Mike and Ta-Nehisi Coates, black and brown folks still voted largely for Clinton. This holds true in LA, where Clinton did very well South Central cities like Compton, Carson, Inglewood, and West Adams.

Southcentral

White Sanders supporters have been struggling for months to understand why their message of economic and social justice is not resonating in non-white communities. While I have a few theories, I certainly don’t claim to have the answers to this problem; however, I am certain that Bernie and the vast majority of his supporters failed to engage racial problems in a way that convince minorities that they saw their issues (poverty, discrimination, segregation, crime, mass incarceration) as more than abstract political issues. White liberals are adept at talking about racial justice, but they’re not very good at engaging racial injustice.

This map can help us explore this issue from the perspective of racial spaces, and how the old adage “Pay attention to what white folks do, not what they say” might help nurture a truly biracial progressive movement in the future.

 

Sanders Won the Gentrification Vote

The second thing about this map was the fact that Sander’s core of support roughly mapped out the gentrified/gentrifying areas of Los Angeles. This is important to understand because—despite what well-meaning realtors, developers, independent book shop owners, and young urban professional sincerely believes—gentrification is economic and racial violence.

Sadly, where we see concentrations of Sanders supporters on this map, we also see areas of intensifying economic and geographic displacement on the ground. For example, check out the South Beach area:

SouthBeach

Lakewood and Long Beach (located southern of Signal Hill on the map) serve as somewhat affordable bedroom communities for white middle class entertainment, tech, and corporate professionals working north in Downtown and West LA. With this population comes good public services and commercial development. On June 7th, these communities were either evenly contested, with the trendier parts of town going for Sanders.

To the north and east are the communities of Carson and Compton, where precincts went solidly for Clinton. The fact that they are also largely African-American, poor, and neglected is a result of decades of urban redlining, economic predation, and systematic racism. In the past Long Beach and Lakewood worked endlessly to keep surrounding blacks out of their suburbs, but today the area is losing African-American residents due to poor economic opportunities, rising costs, crime, and persistent neglect. In their place are thousands of house flippers, land developers, and white middle class “settlers.”

The browns and blacks who remain face an increasingly precarious housing market, low paying service jobs, and heavy policing. Sure, they have a Trader Joe’s now, but their overall quality of life is stagnating. Considering these facts, it should come as no surprise that poor non-whites did not embrace the enthusiasm for Sanders displayed by their well-meaning but ultimately aloof white neighbors.

The South Beach phenomenon can be seen elsewhere in Los Angeles. For example, Sanders had a lot of support along the I-10 corridor in West LA, where a growing tech sector in “Silcon Beach” (Venice Beach) and the extension of the Metro Expo Line from Downtown to Santa Monica have fueled the displacement of poor Hispanics and blacks in the area:

WestLA

Then there’s ground-zero of LA gentrification—Silver Lake, Echo Park, Highland Park, and Eagle Rock are all hotly developing boroughs with large white populations that voted for Sanders. In fact, one of the most notorious instances of racial displacement occurred in Elysian Park when Chavez Ravine (a Hispanic community) was forcefully emptied and bulldozed to make way for Dodger Stadium:

SilverLake

Long story short, if we’re going to talk about why Sanders did poorly among racial minorities, we need to discuss the failings of white liberalism. We should first begin by dispelling the ideal that all forms of racism—be it segregation, discrimination, neglect, or gentrification—are implicitly motivated by racial malevolence. We need to acknowledge the fact that good “woke” people who espouse even the most inclusive notions of racial justice can also unthinkingly sustain a system of racial inequality. Doing so might alleviate the burden of whiteness felt by white Sanders supporters, and hasten the arrival of a more inclusive and productive progressive movement.

Parting Shot—Clinton Won the Rich and Older People Vote

As a true blue leftist with significant disdain for the outsized influence of wealthy people in the Democratic politics, I should also point out that Clinton won overwhelmingly in the enclaves of ca$h money in LA. Brentwood. Beverly Hills. Pacific Palisades. Westwood. Pasadena. All went for Clinton. Clinton also did well among older Democrats in the ‘burbs: Covina, Beverlywood, Studio City, Encino and the Valley more generally. On the other hand, Sanders did well in Hollywood, where he gummed up traffic and wooed the starry-eyed youths living along Sunset Strip.

“The Boomers Strike Back”, Clinton vs. Trump it is.

 

by Troy M. Olson

old-economy-steve2_0-1
Remember Old Economy Steve? Meme courtesy of those lazy millennials and their sarcasm-as-a-defense-mechanism mindset.

It’s settled folks. The 2016 Presidential Election is between Hillary Clinton (D) and Donald Trump (R). Yes, I’m aware that the Democratic Party still has two candidates vying for the nomination, while both Ted Cruz and John Kasich dropped out a few weeks ago. However, no matter how hard #BernieOrBust folks or other groups try to show you otherwise, the Democratic Primary has been over for some time. For me personally, it was over when Bernie Sanders did not win Iowa. He was over a little bit more when he could not delve into the Nevada unions enough to gain a victory there, although like Iowa, it was close. While admittedly, my Super Tuesday predictions were a little too pessimistic for Bernie, it was still under where he needed to be.

He and his supporters have ran a solid and mostly clean campaign that has focused on the issues, pulled Hillary to the left on many important issues facing the country, and in the process made her a better candidate. Unfortunately, all of the old rules of left-right-center are out this cycle. The Republican Party has decided to nominate real estate mogul, reality TV star, and professional bomb thrower, Donald Trump.

And when I say the Republican Party I mean the lower and medium income white working class voters of the Republican Party has chosen him. As Carson and others have stated all cycle, the establishment of the Republican Party laughs at most of their supporters behind closed doors and has since about 1981. What we did not know as a country is that the Democratic Party now does that too and has for the past twenty years or so. Citizens United, money corrupting our political process, redistribution of wealth and the concentration of it in the hands of the very, very few have not happened in a vacuum. I hate to break it to some party hacks, but the Democratic Party is responsible for these things too. They are responsible because they have endorsed it. You see, back in 1992 when Bill Clinton became the first Democratic President in twelve years, the party tacked to the center and rebranded themselves the “New Democrats.”

Continue reading

Conversations with the Ghost of America’s Future Past

by Carson Starkey and Troy M. Olson

America's Future Past

On a quiet park bench on Central Park West, merely hours after a 2018 GOP strategy conference on how to win back the White House got over, which Carson Starkey and Troy Olson, had just got done attending under the guise of being correspondents. The mood is somber. Not unlike this scene:

Carson

That was profoundly awkward, watching the Republican Party elites trying to win back white working class conservative and populist voters, after thoroughly sabotaging and trashing them during the 2016 “respectable conservative” plot to cheat.

Troy

We really missed the boat when we failed to cash-in on that verbiage via a book deal. “Exposed! The Respectable Conservative Plot to Cheat” by Carson Starkey, J.D.

Carson

Senate Majority Leader Tom Cotton (Gin) is going to relish his future role as Vice Presidential candidate. Julian Castro and Cory Booker are going to have tough sells on the Atlantic coast. Virginia and North Carolina might not remember that they voted for an unlikely candidate only a decade ago. Different times…

Troy

You speak of course of the upcoming ’24 and ’28 elections, they will not be pretty. It’s of course a foregone conclusion that 2020 will be both a blood path that was avoidable and a missed opportunity during a redistricting election. As the person who penned the “Case for Losing” back in early 2016, to the incredible enragement of many on the left, I take no pleasure in having been right. This was avoidable. It always has been. Nice things could be possible and would create nicer people.

Carson

I’ll be sad to see Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, SNPA, and the EPA disappear. But such are the misfortunate that follow a $12 trillion tax cut. Sure, the Iran War will be awful, but privatizing the VA will only add insults to actual injuries. I hope that Treasury Secretary Willard Romney has a plan to deal with the resulting 15 percent unemployment. The human misery will be severe.

Troy

Right. This would all be easier to swallow on our end if so-called “enlightened establishment” did not consistently tell Millennials we are all still too young to be Congressional candidates.

Carson

Now, now…the leadership will pick the right people. They know how to build majorities that last two to four years. So we’ll just accomplish everything that we want during any window where we have the majority.

Troy

Then blame losses on the only relatively popular member of the party (former President Obama).

Carson

Because pragmatism…or something. I’m not really sure about the specific strategy, you’ll have to ask Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin.

Troy

A strategy of protecting economic gains made fifty to sixty years ago is not exactly inspiring.

Carson

That’s just your unrealistic opinion in their eyes, they won’t return your phone calls because they’re fundraising with Jamie Dimon. So I suppose we can talk about what…. a minimum wage hike? Or is that already on the agenda? At the very least… let’s talk privatizing public schools. That has to be a popular idea with our voting base, at least that’s what they will presume.

Troy

This is too depressing. Let’s end by talking C-PAC and how profoundly awkward the atmosphere was in there. Did every working class Joe and Jane just conveniently forget about the fact that the GOP establishment called them a bunch of “slack jawed yokels” two years ago during the Trump fiasco?

Carson

Now to be fair… Jane and Joe have bigger problems than crushing poverty, stagnant wages, and drug (presumably meth) addiction. You’re not giving fair consideration to gay people getting married or the existence of the “hippity hop” music. Ask Ben Carson, he’ll tell you why both are causes for concern.

Troy

Sigh… By the way, we switched the metaphor to Joe because John died working the job because social security retirement is now 68 years old.

Carson

Well obviously. And thank God that his company replaced him with a teenager from Vietnam who’s working for 70 cents a day. The power of the free market.

Troy

But pay day loan company executives who enthusiastically supported Hillary in ’16 said people are living longer now… or something. Yeah, tell that to John’s kids.

Carson

At least you can get a slice of pizza for a dollar.

***Carson and Troy walk in to one of New York City’s fine pizza establishments***  

Troy

God bless New York City.

Carson

Amen.

What you just read may scare you, I know it scares me.

However, there is still something we can collectively do about it.

We can change the future…. if we try.

The Case for Losing in 2016

by Troy M. Olson and Carson StarkeyBrewster's Millions

Disclaimer! 

By no means am I saying that Democrats should throw the ’16 Presidential Election, I’m just making the argument for why losing wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Why it could speed up the rebuild efforts, and why they stand very little to gain from a 2016 victory because of historical factors, as well as contemporary political and election law factors.

You should always compete to win, no matter what. The reality is you cannot win them all and in the case of the Democratic Party the last six years, you cannot win half of them even. The following is a thought exercise that lays out the case for losing in 2016. The general gist of it: losing in 2016 is preferable to losing in 2020 and blowing a redistricting opportunity and the first real chance to begin rebuilding the Democratic Party.

Whether Bernie or Hillary wins the nomination, unless something drastically changes in the next nine months – very little will be accomplished with a third consecutive Democratic administration beyond the power of the executive order and commander-in-chief powers. We’ve seen in the Obama administration, who has issued fewer executive orders than his predecessor, how politically charged governing via executive order and via other explicit or implied constitutional powers can be. Even with the best of intentions, it is hard to avoid charges of an “Imperial Presidency.” Despite the partisan gridlock, complete ineptitude, and historically low approval ratings of Congress, it is always preferable to do the big things (and some of the small things) through the legislative branch, which is in theory, the most democratic branch of government under the Constitution. It is also better for the health of our Republic if the federal (and many states) legislative branch of government starts working a bit better again.

The President’s powers as commander-in-chief are vast and great, but are at their greatest when the country is at war, so it unlikely a President Hillary Clinton or President Sanders will be able to do much proactive good on this front. If a war of the size and mistaken purpose of Iraq or even Afghanistan materialized from 2017-21, the Democratic Party might as well fold up its tent because droves and droves of voters on the left would not turn out in 2020. However, it is unlikely either Democratic administration does that. More likely is a continuation of Obama’s foreign policy of retrenching and retooling. Getting out of pointless old conflicts, and avoiding new ones. A foreign policy led through the State Department rather than the Defense Department is inherently a reactive power, characterized as much by the Presidential powers you do not use as the ones you do.

Foreign policy has barely registered in the Democratic Primary so far, a testament to how well President Obama has scored in the field in comparison to his predecessors as well as a sign of how badly the base wants to move on from the era of perpetual engagement in costly, deadly, and abstract wars and conflicts. So that leaves the domestic agenda. Both Clinton and Sanders have certainly made some bold proposals. But guess what? Almost none of them have any chance of happening with the current make-up of Congress. And unless something changes, the current make-up of Congress will more or less be sizable GOP majorities in the House and anywhere from a 4 to 8 seat majority in the Senate. Currently, Democrats are at a 100-year low in terms of Congressional seats, Gubernatorial seats, and majorities in state legislatures nationwide. But we can change that right? Because demographics or something… Not exactly.

USA State Legislatures as of 2014

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The only real opportunity to change this trend is in 2016. Currently generic polling via RCP shows a 1.0 Democratic advantage. That is not a good year if it stays the same or goes into advantage-GOP territory.

In 2014, when the GOP took back the Senate and made gains in the House, the aggregate polling average was a lead of 2.4% by election day, and it ended up being 5.7% in the final results. Democrats have become an overly urban party and run up the scores in big and mid-sized cities. That works well for nationwide Presidential Elections and statewide elections in states that have vast urban areas, but it does not work well for party building across all 50 states and 435 districts throughout the country. Through gerrymandering, voter ID laws in many red and purple states, and the usual midterm turnout backlash against the party in the White House, Democrats have not had the results to show for it outside of winning the White House twice. Pretty pathetic results for a party that has policy positions that are far more preferable to the American people than the GOP.

In 2010, when the GOP won the House back and made historic gains, they won the overall vote by 6.8 percent, underperforming aggregate polling that had them leading the generic ballot by 9.8 percent. Compare this to congressional elections where Democrats did well, in 2006 and 2008, the Democrats won 7.9 and 10.7 percent of the overall congressional vote respectfully, off of aggregate polling that showed them up 11.5 and 9.0 percent. 2006 and 2008 were considered “wave” election years in the Democrats favor while the 2010 and 2014 midterms were generally considered “wave” election years in the Republicans favor. How many seats were gained/lost in those waves? Democrats gained 33 House seats and 6 Senate seats to take back Congress in 2006 and gained 28 more House seats and 8 Senate seats in 2008. Keep these numbers in mind because even though the GOP did not win the overall congressional vote by the same margins in the 2010 and 2014 midterms, they ended up winning more seats. In 2010, the GOP gained a whopping 63 House seats and 6 Senate seats while winning the vote by 6.8 percent. In 2014, the GOP gained 13 House seats and 9 Senate seats. It is important to note that in 2014, there were only so many more House seats they could have gained before they were reaching into un-winnable urban and entrenched incumbent seats. This was all accomplished off of a 5.7 percent overall congressional vote margin.

The moral of this story is that Republicans are strategically spread throughout districts to maximize their vote totals and the Democrats are not. In nearly every sizable state, rural districts are undersized congressional districts and urban seats are oversized congressional districts. Only certain suburban areas like Long Island are ideally sized via the U.S. Census. The politics of not only Voter I.D. in too many states and the politics of gerrymandering have put up considerable electoral obstacles for the Democratic Party.

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2006 proves the trite “Democrats do not show up in midterm elections” statement to be a myth. History shows Democrats show up quite a bit by midterm standards, especially if George W. Bush is President and the Iraq War is going poorly. What is more accurate about midterm elections are these three factors:

  1. Republicans also do not show up in midterm elections like they do in Presidential Elections. Both parties have the midterm drop-off problem.
  2. The Political Party that does not hold the White House is going to show up more often in midterm elections.
  3. Democrats, in the last few decades have slightly more voters that are no-shows at midterms compared to the GOP. But this turnout problem is irrelevant if the GOP holds the White House, because the party that does not hold the White House is more energized historically in midterm elections.

Which brings me back to the “Case for Losing in 2016.” If Hillary Clinton wins, and this is about a 50/50 proposition in November, it will be a close win and unlikely to have large coattails. 2018 will not be a good year either for most down-ballot races. One, the midterm backlash against the party that holds the White House. Two, a third straight Democratic administration will further energize the GOP base. Three, see the historic nature of Barack Obama’s Presidency, swap it out for the historic nature of Hillary Clinton’s Presidency, and then check out the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections. A third consecutive midterm disaster for the Democrats will sink the party to even lower lows. But wait… we turn out in Presidential years though so 2020 will be a good year! Not exactly.

Only once since the “Era of Good Feelings” has the United States elected the same political party to the White House for more than three consecutive terms. From 1932 to 1948 – Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman combined for five consecutive terms. This is an exception to the historical trend, brought on by major events like the Great Depression and World War II, which remade American life in nearly every conceivable way. While I think a major event like a deep recession or even a depression is possible in the next decade, a World War is less likely. If there is a war, it is more likely to resemble Iraq, which will be a political disaster for Hillary Clinton. Any war is likely to be smaller in comparison, and do Clinton more harm than good as she seeks re-election in 2020.

The far more likely scenario (with all due respect to Carson Starkey and the Iran War of 2017 to 2029), a recession in the economy-would sink the party to new lows I cannot even contemplate. But surely a recession is impossible, we just had one! The Great Recession of 2007-2009 occurred just 6-7 years after the previous one, which was more mild in comparison. While it is hard to imagine it due to Gilded Age levels of economic inequality, the stock market and labor markets have been gaining for years now. Business cycles are going to happen no matter what policies governments pursue. Where governments do have influence is mitigating the worst effects of a slow down in the economy. History tells us that a recession is far more likely during the 2017-21 Presidential administration than at any time after that. It is possible that it will be mild, but as I will go into in a later article, I fear that it will be another deep one. Very few meaningful changes in policy have been made since 2007-09, Dodd-Frank is an incredibly mild financial reform law, “too big too fail” is still likely to be the policy of the U.S. Government, and the 2nd largest generation in American history is lining up to cash in their 401k’s before they lose too much value. The mere mention of any recession and loss in value will deepen the effects of the recession further and the “Great Boomer 401k Cash-In” of circa 2019 or 2020 will all but guarantee a one-term Presidency for whoever wins the 2016 Presidential Election. I remember back in 2007, a wise man named Justin Norris said that whoever wins the 2008 Presidential Election will be a two-term President. Political economics and more importantly, history is strongly pointing toward the opposite for the 2016 winner.

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Party-building is far easier to do as the opposition party. Disastrous policy preferences and outcomes by the ruling party such as the Iraq War and short-sighted tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires that turn surpluses into deficits has a way of turning some instinctively conservative voters into temporary Democrats. 2020 is also a redistricting year, and blowing the chance to have a good turnout and a solid coattails election will not just hurt the Democratic Party for that election, but it will also put it at a further disadvantage for every election throughout the 2020’s. We are already at a disadvantage, there is no need to double down on it.

Losing sooner rather than later will also give Millennials and Gen-X pols a better argument to primary and changeover the Democratic Boomer establishment. If it is true that 2016 is the Millennial version of the Boomers’ 1968 “get clean for Gene” revolt, that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Lose in ’16, or lose even worse after winning and barely accomplishing anything in ’20. Like pulling off duct tape, I’d rather the inevitable happen sooner, so a better Democratic Party can emerge.

As mentioned at the outset, this is a thought experiment, play to win. So lets consider the reasons against briefly.

Reasons Against:

1. The Supreme Court.

2. A policy and political return of the #ForeverWar Consensus. And a potential War against Iran.

3. Preservation of the Obama-era policy legacy (especially the ACA)

4. More Rounds of Tax Cuts for Millionaires and Billionaires will be hard to swallow.

Why These Four Reasons May Not Come Into Play:

The Supreme Court

From Bush’s 2nd term through Obama’s 1st term, there were 4 Supreme Court Justices appointed (Chief Justice Roberts, Alito, Sotomayer, and Kagan), while it is very possible one of the nine Justice slots will open up, it’s unlikely that more than one will and not impossible that zero Justices will need to be appointed from Jan 20th of 2017 to 2021.

Return of the #ForeverWar Consensus

Hillary’s rather hawkish views anyway and inability to have any sort of domestic agenda with no congressional majorities leave only Foreign Policy open to make the sort of legacy that all Presidents want to leave. If Iran welches on the Deal, or there is another Paris-type attack, ISIS in Syria, Iraq, or an increasingly aggressive Russia, we may see a version of the return of the #ForeverWar Consensus anyway.

Also, the preferences of the American people are the best check on this possibility to begin with, no matter who sits in the Oval Office. It is vitally important that the American people stay vigilant and stand up earlier and often this time, if the banging on the “War Drums of Choice” return.

The Obama Policy Legacy

Even with completely GOP control of all levels and branches of Gov’t, a simple repeal of the ACA would not be politically popular or viable if not replaced with an alternative. What is likely to happen is some version of a partial repeal or a “repeal and replace.” Essentially, keeping the most popular parts of the ACA like “pre-existing conditions” while repealing the unpopular parts like the “individual mandate.” The bone thrown to hardcore conservatives, especially in deep red states or states under complete GOP control will be a repeal of the Medicaid expansion under the ACA.

But wouldn’t the ACA be unworkable without the mandate? Probably. But the effects of that would take a little bit of time and give them some political cover. Always playing in the GOP’s favor is the completely ineptitude and ineffectualness in the messaging and framing the debate arms of the establishment of the Democratic Party.

Tax Cuts

You got me there. This will happen and it won’t be a good thing. A President Hillary or Bernie could certainly veto such cuts until the end of time, but a President Rubio will likely be W. Bush on steroids. Imagine the tax cut Martin Shkreli will get? Welcome to the 2nd “Roaring Twenties” folks, it’s going to be a bumpy road. They will certainly be a roaring decade if you are a shill for the Republican Party, an advocate for book burning, reactionary and movement conservative ideologies, or are just incredibly rich. For everyone else, buckle up.

The Bottom Line:

What is the major plus side to all of this? For every historical action, there is a reaction. Party-building, true 21st century-style, party-building can begin again in the Democratic Party, within its establishment, and among the activist progressive base. Some of it will be new school and some of it will be a return to what is old, tried, and true.

A combination of looking in the mirror and doing some soul searching, as well as digging down deeper and fighting harder. But I see it as the only way forward for the Democratic Party at this point.

Chief Wiggum said it best during the great period of the “Simpsons“: “This is gonna get worse, before it gets better.”