Thursday, June 22, 2017

What Should Democrats DO?

Tuesday night the Democrats failed to flip GA-06 by 4pts. It's a +20 Republican district--but nevertheless, Democrats are crying into their lattes because (a) they spent 28 million bucks (to the Republican's 25mm), (b) they thought they had a chance--Ossoff came within 2pts of winning the seat outright during the runoff election, and (c) HOW THE HELL COULD ANYONE VOTE FOR A REPUBLICAN WITH TRUMP IN THE WHITE HOUSE!?? HOW??

Here's how:
A Cato institute study identified five basic kinds of Trump Voters.

  1. Free Marketeers - Think Republican wall-street guys
  2. Anti-Elites - think guys who hate the system but don't markedly hate immigrants or blacks
  3. American Preservationists - They hate brown and black people and want to Make America White Again
  4. Staunch Conservatives - Think Rince Priebus
  5. The Disengaged - Mostly young, largely women, either don't know (or won't say) about most big issues (like whether global warming is caused by human activity)
This, it turns out, is actually a winning collation when you add in the Bannon Wing at about 20% of Trump's electorate.

Furthermore, when  Trump loses some from one, he can gain some from another (Preservationists may not like bombing Syria--but Staunch Conservatives could).

See also: He's enabling racists--but hey, TAX CUTS!

One Point On A Line

This is a Reddit Post where the poster says (claims) her boyfriend is a left-type bro who uses the fucked-up-itude of the system to avoid responsibility for doing anything. We know from the popularity of the podcast Chapo Trap House that there are enough of these guys to be a populist force. Chapo Trap House, in case you don't know, is a podcast that describes its listeners as "The Dirtbag Left."
“Chapo Trap House” has embraced this mission. “If you sleep on a mattress on the floor and fuck in a sleeping bag, then you just might be the dirtbag left!” Menaker told Paste. “If you’re the only dude at a function not wearing a pocket square in a linen blazer and adulting like a boss, then you’re in the dirtbag left!” People who belong to the Dirtbag Left, Christman said, aren’t afraid “to offend the sensibilities of ‘leftist’ language police whose only goal is sabotaging social solidarity in order to maintain their brands as arbiters of good taste and acceptable speech.”
The Dirtbag Left is what could also be called Bernie Bros--but, really, the idea that these people are uncultured, "not afraid to be racist or misogynist" (which is what 'unafraid to offend the sensibilities of leftist language police' generally means), and looking for change that doesn't really involve much heavy-lifting seems to be a real thing.

At least on Twitter.

They are also, a lot of people seem to think, the future of the Democratic party. This is to say that a lot of people seem to think that the Democrats should go hard-left and ditch the centrist candidates, scorch Republican outreach, and adopt universal health care as the entry point for running for office.

Oh, and they should go full open-primary so that people who aren't registered as Democrats should be allowed to vote for their candidates. It's only fair.

A Second Point On The Same Line

In GA-06, Ossoff ran as a moderate centrist. He didn't talk much about Trump. He didn't hammer Trump on Health Care. He talked about lowering taxes and smaller government. Some of the attack ads against him featured the Kathy Griffin severed Trump-Head and . . . Nancy Pelosi with her "San Francisco Values." One ad even featured the Alexandria shooting.

Basically he was attacked as a Democratic gay barbarian and linked to Pelosi for no really good reason and Griffin because of one tweet she made supporting him.

So, in the words of our President, "a lot of people are saying" that the Democrats should ditch Pelosi and reconfigure themselves to have "a message" (other than good governance) like . . . universal health care.

Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio, who tried to unseat Ms. Pelosi as House minority leader late last fall, said she remained a political millstone for Democrats. But Mr. Ryan said the Democratic brand had also become “toxic” in much of the country because voters saw Democrats as “not being able to connect with the issues they care about.”
Our brand is worse than Trump,” he said.

Where That Line Is Pointing

When a party is out of power there are no shortage of voices saying that its salvation is based on it acquiring the politics of the speaker. In the case of Ossoff, Sanders supporters were actively hoping for him to lose--and cheered when he did--because they felt it would increase their power.

So should the Democrats fire Pelosi? Should they embrace Medicare For All?

The answer to both questions is: "Not without a really good reason." The loss in GA-06--and even the loss of Hillary to Trump is not a really good reason.

There is a lie that people will tell you about political choices. That lie sometimes sounds like some of these:

  1. "I voted for Trump--but if Biden had run, I'd have voted for him." This is a lie.
  2. "I voted Republican--but that's because the Democrats have become ultra-leftist under Obama and Hillary would have continued that." This is a lie.
  3. "I'm an Independent and I wish I could vote Democrat--but they've given themselves over to diversity and immigration so I have to vote Republican to try to keep America like it used to be for my children." This is a lie.
The lie is, in all cases, that if the other-team just did this or that they could possibly win "your vote." It's never true. It's an excuse for a raw partisanship the speaker knows is bad but can't break themselves of. 

Firing Nancy Pelosi because GA-06 Republican voters didn't like her wouldn't win one of them back. They'd move on to the next Democrat in line and dislike them.

In other words, the future of the Democratic party isn't--cannot be--the "Dirt Bag Left" or a revision of the Democrat's identity around some "crystal clear" (meaning radical) message of economic empowerment. That won't win you voters. If they put Sanders on the ticket they'll lose older voters who find Sander's message of empty revolution a non-starter.

Like with Trump's coalition: if you increase one circle you will decrease another. The slice of the pie--determined mostly by identity politics and candidate-charisma--stays mostly the same.

(a hint: The minority vote would have plunged under a Sanders candidacy)

So What Should They Do?

This is analysis of the Cook Political Report showing how the Democrats have (over)performed in the last 4 special elections--now, remember--they won none of them: These are all areas that would, in any normal election, be non-starters.

Basically, the Democrats are over-performing by like 8% across the board. If they can win GOP +7 or better districts they don't need to change a thing for 2018.


  1. BTW, this is the guy you're citing from Twitter.

    1. Yeah--I'm not *citing* him, exactly--I have no idea who he is--but the Reddit he links to seems to be a real Reddit post (and, as I say, we don't know if THAT'S true--but we do know that SORT of thing is true).

      I don't think who Twitter-Rando is is especially relevant.
      -The Omnivore