Wednesday, November 5, 2014

About Last Night . . .

So, Democrats managed to lose control of the Senate, and get our hats handed to us in lots of down-ticket races from governor to state-house reps.


The question is, what are we going to do about it?

27 comments:

  1. Thanks for starting this. Recommended reading?

    http://classics.mit.edu/Tzu/artwar.html

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    1. I'll have to pull my old hard-bound copy off the shelf.

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  2. Play dirty. Game the System. They've been doing it semi-openly since at least '72.

    To paraphrase Andy Dufresne, we need to find a middle ground between wallowing in the mud and shit and standing by, all saintly and clean, while we lose over and over and over and over...

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    1. The Teahadist tactic that allows them to game the system is attacking from the right and taking control of the primaries. Any ideas on how we make that work on the left?

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    2. We need to find candidates who are willing to say, openly and proudly, "I am a Liberal, its not a dirty word, and I stand for x,y,and z popular ideas, unlike the GOP and my establishment democrat opponent"

      Which is pretty much the Tea Party way, except we'd really mean it.

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    3. Prof. Senator Warren is good for the top of the ticket. Can we do our own search for prospects nationwide for down-ticket races?

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    4. We need to find candidates who are willing to say, openly and proudly, "I am a Liberal, its not a dirty word, and I stand for x,y,and z popular ideas, unlike the GOP and my establishment democrat opponent"

      Yes. At the very least the press will be attracted to something new and shiny and shows Disarray in the Democratic Party!?

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    5. I think you're hitting on at least one of the key elements: Finding liberals who are actually proud of being liberal. Among the terrible things that happened during Reagan's reign was turning the word "liberal" into an epithet. We need to reclaim it and be proud of what we've accomplished, what we stand for, and what we hope to accomplish.

      As for headlines about Democrats in disarray, I think most newspapers have that sitting around as a pre-set typestick in the composing room. It's been this way since the 1920s, and I don't see it changing any time soon.

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    6. As for headlines about Democrats in disarray, I think most newspapers have that sitting around as a pre-set typestick in the composing room. It's been this way since the 1920s, and I don't see it changing any time soon.
      ____

      Exactly, it would use their narrative (e.g. Dems Torn by Internal Strife!) as bait to get cameras in the room and various bobbleheads wittering.

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  3. Appeal to people directly; use populism. Make it clear who's screwing them and how and what their personal stake is. Like Joe Hill said - don't mourn, organize.

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    1. That's pretty much the approach Elizabeth Warren has taken. And polling shows that the liberal positions on most issues are perceived more favorably than the rightwing positions.

      So how do we get OUR politicians to stop running away from their own (at least notional) positions? And how do we counter the current conventional wisdom that populism is a bad thing?

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    2. What motivates them besides money? Embarrassment, pride, ego?

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    3. If we're talking corporations, money and power are the prime motivators. BP, for example, has no use for pride (if it did, the Gulf coast would be in much better shape today). So what you're selling to the corporation has to be something that furthers their aims of money, market share, or raw power.

      If we're talking individuals, it's generally a mix of money, ego, pet causes, and some other intangibles that will vary wildly from person to person. Perhaps the most important part of the equation is having some personal introduction/connection with the individual. And that's also the most difficult part. In my experience, the hyper-wealthy need to see you as one of their equals or superiors if you want to establish a personal connection. Otherwise, you're just one more piece of the scenery or, at best, a curiosity or nuisance that soon goes away.

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    4. That's right. Why should anyone listen to us? We don't have people, money, or clout. We have nothing to offer a candidate right now.

      We could attack the right but we've always done that to little effect. Their ability to attack back (and preemptively attack) is inexhaustible.

      Our goal is to take power from liberals, right? Make them move left. That will take power. We can't ask them to give us power; they ignore or squash dissent from progressives. So we take it.

      To take power from someone you must fight them for it. That means you go on the attack. We need to attack liberals, in public, for their failure to live up to liberal standards. (This is where our purpose, goals and standards come in--we must have them codified to hold people responsible for ignoring those standards.)

      This will set off a hideous stink. The media will love to cover liberal infighting; it is the only way to get them to pay attention to progressives. Use the media to spread the message. The media by definition give authority to anyone they cover. Use that too. Unashamedly take that authority and use it to threaten liberals with public censure. Then do it.

      Repeat your values at every opportunity. Do not equivocate, triangulate or prevaricate. Fight for them.


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    5. Ian Welsh points out that gay activists were successful in getting Obama to support gay marriage by withholding money and literally getting in his face. (Remember, Obama is a conventionally religious man and was not for gay marriage.)

      Although social issues are a bargaining chip in elections, not the core issue of money. Leaders want people to obey voluntarily; it's infinitely easier. They use social issues to manipulate people into obedience. Abortion, birth control and gay rights were held over our head during elections to get us to ignore the repercussions of Obama's economic decisions. Fighting economic inequality will be much harder.

      We have two great issues that affect us all and that we must make a priority: economic inequality and global warming. People want to belong to a group that gives them a purpose, a goal, and a sense of belonging to a community.

      Our purpose is to leave a better world for our children.
      Our goal is to solve our problems by working together for the better of all mankind.
      Our community has an open door. All you have to do to belong is step through it.

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    6. Our purpose is to leave a better world for our children.
      Our goal is to solve our problems by working together for the better of all mankind.
      Our community has an open door. All you have to do to belong is step through it.


      I like this as an excellent starting framework.

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    7. Thanks. I was afraid you'd say I was nuts.

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    8. Don't know if any of you read Jim Wright at Stonekettle.com but his latest post certainly provides good starting point for our efforts:

      http://www.stonekettle.com/2014/11/ted-nugent-is-just-fine-and-so-are-you.html

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    9. Wright is, well, right. But a lot of people (including me) have been saying this for the last 35 years. Ever since Reagan managed to make "liberal" an epithet, Democrats have been running away from everything the party stands for.

      This nonsense really picked up steam in the 1990s when Marshall Wittman and the rest of the DLC centrists started pushing the idea that the only way to beat Republicans was to BE Republicans. History has since shown that when Democrats run away from being Democrats, Republicans win. Whether it's Al Gore running away from his part in the presidency that brought about the longest, biggest peacetime economic expansion in history, or this year's crop running away from Obama and his successes, the result is always the same: Democrats lose.

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  4. I think Democrats need to tell a story that appeals to the positive emotions of their base. Rethugs are brilliant at using emotions and story to get people to the polls, but they pander to fear and hatred. Dems need to touch positive emotions and complement fact and reason based messages on why people need to get out and vote for them. I think Obama has done a masterful job doing that during his campaigns, and the Dems need to parlay that into a unified message.

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    1. So perhaps if we pursue this, our first task would be for us as a group to define the Democratic story. We don't need the DNC to tell us why we're Democrats. We have the power to do that on our own and bring other people along.

      We could then use satire as a way to lampoon Rethuglicans and the media instead of just being negative. Hell, the material writes itself.

      I'm assuming we would start with a Blog or web site?

      I'm just throwing stuff out here!

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    2. I'm liking the idea that we need a grassroots-up definition of what being a Democrat means. I think a big part of the current tapestry of trouble stems from the fact that most people are completely disconnected from government at every level. That's a situation that works very well for Republicans.

      So perhaps figuring out the Democratic narrative that works at all levels from town council to the Oval Office is a good first step. Kind of a first-principles foundation.

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    3. Maybe start with what it means to us, in a couple of words?

      If I was going to pick one positive word I'd say the Democratic party means opportunity. Ds help maintain a society where I can't legally be held back because of race or gender (or an unplanned pregnancy).

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  5. Opportunity is perfect because it encompasses so many values - living wage, safety nets, healthy environment, economic growth, health care. I'm also throwing out justice and fairness.

    Also, too, when Jerry Springer had a program on Air America he emphasized the need for progressives/Dems to focus on security, i.e., economic, environmental, etc.

    Hate to go all Frank Lutz and focus group-y, but I think we also need to be clear about who we are targeting.

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