It’s My Party And I’ll Cry If I Want To.

February 25, 2017


It’s My Party And I’ll Cry If I Want To.

DAY 35.

Last night CNN hosted a debate consisting of eight rivals for the DNC chair.  I’m not exactly sure why this debate was needed, as no one in the viewing audience gets to vote on the outcome. It’s going to be decided by 447 DNC members, party insiders.  Nevertheless, it continues the spectacle of the election while encouraging the notion that what we think matters.  Trouble is, elections are not about what we think but how we feel.  If the last election proves anything, it’s that we don’t elect a president on his or her stand on issues but on personality. Do we like them?

Given even the least amount of thought, any analysis would have to conclude that the more a candidate defines themselves on issues, the less likely they are to win.  It’s simple math, really.  Let’s say a candidate supports one side of the right-to-life issue.  Doesn’t matter which side.  That effectively cuts the supporters roughly in half.  Now take that half and split them on gun rights issues and you have around 25% left who might just vote for you  Further split that group over other issues and it continues, so on and so on, until there is little support left in voters that will agree with them wholeheartedly.  That is why candidates try to stay in the middle of the road and talk broadly about patriotism, family values, the constitution, mumbo jumbo about the economy that neither they nor anyone else understand, the troops, veterans, terrorism and national security, defining problems not solutions, while remaining as vague as possible on all other issues that can split their voters.

Consider the optics.  Debbie Wasserman Schultz never had the kind of appeal that the DNC chairperson needed to project.  She looks too uptight and shifty with that overdone permed hair and beady eyes. Ultimately she proved herself shifty, reinforcing what we all believed and so it was “hasta la vista Debbie, baby”… whooooosh! 097-wass-up-450
On January 30th Nancy Pelosi took center stage at a rally on the Supreme Court steps protesting Trump’s travel ban. She fumbled helplessly with the microphone looking all the while like a grandparent with a new iPhone, totally befuddled. No one told Nancy that its one of those devices that has to be plugged in and turned on to work. So instead she chose to shift gears and lead those attending in a Woody Guthrie singalong.  Sorry Nancy, you just became yesterday’s news.  That ended it for you.  Not that your positions are what the party needs anyway, but as I have said, its not about issues.  It’s about optics.

Democrats protest Trump's travel ban outside Supreme Court

So that failed act was followed by Chuck Schumer, over compensating as always, with an abundance of fiery political zeal, a loud voice and exaggerated facial expressions, lecturing rather than engaging, a different case of bad optics, but sealing the failure of both personalities on national TV.  They just looked weak and incompetent.


So we left that story with the Democrats searching for leadership in the form of a new DNC chair and Trump supporters snickering over their chaos. The leading candidates are now Keith Ellison and Tom Perez.  Tom has a slight edge but Keith has the backing of Bernie Sanders, who, being an independent rather than a Democrat, is free of party restrictions, big money and big business, Wall Street connections and the like, free to push a truly progressive agenda.  I support Bernie and Keith over Tom, but not so much on the issues, although we are in total agreement, but on the optics.  I don’t like Tom Perez.  He comes across as a zealot in the style of Rudi Giuliani.

I hate Giuliani, an opportunist and hollow braggart, an empty ringing bell from 911 who mined that disaster for political gain, so it’s hard for me to even watch Perez.  He wants it too much. Bad optics again.  The other candidates include Jamie Harrison, Sally Boynton Brown, Peter Peckarsky, Jehmu Greene, Pete Buttigieg and Samuel Ronan, a USAF vet.  Ronan had some good things to say and Buttigieg presented himself well and made a lot of sense, but the star of the evening was Jehmu Greene.  She handled herself well, spoke with great clarity, ease and warmth and her ideas were right on. Her goal may be to change the party from within, but her success will be changing it from without because she presents well and people will like her.  I hope she gets it because I believe she will be effective and she is on the right side of political thought. She’s progressive.

So maybe now’s a good time to take a look at the terms “progressive” and “conservative”, how they have been defined for us and what they really mean.

“Progressive” has been defined for us by conservatives to mean free wheeling, free spending, uncontrollable big government. We are told that progressives are against our most basic American traditions by supporting gay marriage, abortion, gun control and a preference for diplomacy over conflict.  Progressives are regarded as weak.

In reality progressives are very traditional and quite conservative from a constitutional viewpoint.  They wish to protect our most basic civil rights for all people.  They support free speech.  They understand the need for social policies that protect all, including the least among us.  They demand a fair distribution of the tax burden to all classes.  They know that a country’s future lies in its educational system and that none of this matters if we do not protect the environment we live in by reducing pollution and shifting to green energy policies. Clean water is a right.  Clean air is a right.  Healthcare is a right. It’s called a “right to life” (liberty and the pursuit of happiness).  It’s in the constitution. Nowhere in the constitution does it say that coalminers have the right to mine polluting coal just to have a job.  Nor does it say that tobacco growers can continue to grow a plant that when smoked by millions of Americans causes cancer, burdens our insurance and fills our hospitals with cancer patients.  Thank you, Mitch McConnell for doing all you can for Kentucky at the expense of the nation. Ah, but I digress.

Conservatives would have us believe that they alone understand and respect the constitution.  They are against “big government.” That’s why they prefer the privatization of government agencies and natural resources moving more money into the hands of big business who maximize profits by doing less. They support freedom of choice in all things. Consequently, they decry regulations that restrict our freedom to act irresponsibly with negative impact on society. That is how they justify the right of mentally ill people to purchase firearms.  They don’t like to spend money on other people. Its part of their notion about “independence.”  “Let them spend their own money,” they say.  They are against social welfare but are for corporate welfare.  They believe in a strong military but spend money on veterans only when they are embarrassed into doing so. They believe in religion over science.  They deny climate change. They support torture and militarizing local police as a means of protecting our freedoms.  They believe in enforcing morality through inhumanity and brutality.  It makes us “strong.”

So in this polar climate of ideologies we have to ask “just what does it mean to be a Democrat?” because in choosing a new DNC chair, Democrats will be deciding the direction of the party for the immediate future.  Now that Republicans have embraced Trump as a means to pass their agenda into law, they have tacitly accepted his nationalist, anti-global, anti-social agenda and waded into the chaos of an administration determined to minimize government according to Steve Bannon’s Leninist philosophy demolishing the establishment and rebuilding something new and paradoxically, un-American.  Funny thing is, they are the establishment.  According to the populist view of government as the enemy, progressives might be the ultimate anti-establishment ideology as they sit in direct opposition to a Republican establishment.  The quandary they find themselves in is how to present that case in such a way as to build a consensus from a fractured electorate divided by ideologies along liberal versus conservative lines—way too hard.  Take a lesson from Trump.  It’s about optics not ideas.  It requires dominating the news.  PR is free.  Ads are not.  It’s about looking good.  It’s not about being good.  So Democrats must pick a new chair that can sell the idea that being a Democrat is somehow sexy in more than just an intellectual way, that being a voting Democrat is desirable not just needed.  It requires someone who is likable, level headed and speaks with clarity.  Dems, you’re already on the right side of the issues, just on the wrong side of the mirror.  “Talk to Alice, I think she’ll know.”


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