tmccarthy0's picture

    What's Your Plan Progressives?

    Yeah this comes out of a comment yesterday and I want to know what the progressive plan is for getting more progressive legislators into the government, because that is the pertinent question here. So before I head out on a 50 miler today, I am going to ask the question, what is your plan to getting what you want?

    Let's revisit my first question and I will take out the part everyone keys on, about taking the President down, it's snarky I know and too easy to fight about.  I've conveniently reviewed some other primary challenges to sitting presidents in our more recent history, here it is again in case you missed it:

    "LBJ and Carter attracted powerful left-bent primary challenges."
    1968: Libs primary LBJ, lose general.
    1972: Libs go down to worst defeat in election history.
    1980: Libs primary Carter, lose general.
    1984: Libs loose 49 of 50 state
    2012: Libs: "Primarying Obama will make us stronger in 2016!"

    I will only ask you this: How do you plan to actually get what you want? Conservatives seem to have a reasonably good track record of doing that, they get droves of crazy folks elected to congress, to governorships and to statehouses. Liberals' track record on that is abysmal. I myself am not sure how liberals can do it, conservatives have worked for more than 30 years to convince the general public that taxes =evil=socialism=communisim=ungodly=democrats. But instead of counteracting that stuff, the consensus that seems to be building  is the best way to achieve liberal goals right now is to focus most of your energy on attacking the current President. Shades of 1968 indeed. I generally agree that the entire United States could use better politicians, (which is a pipe dream for sure)  I doubt that one can return to the heady days of the New Deal/Camelot/Great Society by ridding ourselves of this current President, but I could be wrong, stranger things have happened. However, I suspect the end result will be just another chapter in American Liberalism's melancholy history of setbacks and self-defeat.

    I say this because of the things I've seen in 25 years of participating in the process at the very smallest levels of government to our own statehouse where I was a Senate page.

    How do we attain the goal of good governance? Does it require a plan? And that is my question, in a nutshell.

    But what is true is there is no "progressive plan" to infiltrate the government at local levels on up which gets us on the road to forming a more progressive government. We are searching for a better way, democrats too, but we are fighting an uphill battle.  But the pertinent question is, how do you attain those goals? Don't you have to begin by educating the public, by infiltrating government at all levels including the School Board, the PTA, County and City Councils etc and so on. Doesn't it have to be done first from the micro level in order to impact the macro level which is the federal government.

    I don't know how much experience many of you have with school boards and PTA's but I have to tell you, some of the most ideological folks on the right turn out candidates and voters to be heard in school districts and I am of the opinion it all starts right there at the very bottom levels of government.

    I had the displeasure of having gone to school board and PTA meetings for years,  (3 children will do that to a person) and when I write displeasure, I mean displeasure emphasis on the dis. In general I would be there and one or two others more like me,  and a pack of conservative religious right wing, mom pants wearing wait I mean lovely women who spent their time hijacking entire meetings with nothing more accomplished than the third word of the mission statement because they are afraid everything written leaves out god and you actually argue about this for weeks on end! So I get why lots of regular people don't participate in this stuff, it's not fun, it's not a particularly productive thing to do with ones personal time. However the only way to be heard to effect change is to participate. I would occasionally force my husband to go with me, but he'd actually look for things to do at home to fix so he wouldn't have to attend those tedious meetings. People would cycle in and out, but those ideologues sent there presumably by their churches always showed up, to every.single.meeting. which gave them some defacto power.  One time we spent what seemed to be several meetings arguing about whether or not Senior English should allow their students to choose books by Sherman Alexie, who is a home town boy for gods sake!  (I am reliving those nightmares now, ugh.) Those meetings were nothing short of torture enough to scare the most civic minded away. But if we cannot even accomplish getting on school boards en masse or just participating at that level, in order to infiltrate the system, how will things ever change?

    When I worked for the local newspaper I covered county council meetings, another bastion of participation by the property rights crowd, at this time I was covering the GMA (growth management act, quite controversial among wingers) those people flooded meetings, what a nightmare, and of course later they were able to get people on the councils that were more amenable to their views... even though the GMA's requirements are pretty explicit in that a plan is required, but there is always wiggle room with implementation. They were then able to get more ideologues elected, and I see some of those people working their way up through the legislature now, and they began on the school board and then moved to the county council, and are now in the Washington State Legislature.

    And of course we saw that at work all over the nation with ACA, where senior citizens and angry white people came to protest government run health care... what???? But that is what happened and those actions by those people did damage to the bill, they did damage to what could have been more progressive legislation. I know you think the President is to blame, but politicians respond to those who show up to their town hall meetings.

    All snark aside, what is your plan to get more progressive legislators elected around the nation? It isn't as if almost everyone at DAG isn't interested in changing our polices and politics, but how can you accomplish these goals without a plan.

    I'll be back in around 5 hours to see if anyone has responded to my challenge.

    Cross posted at The AngriestLiberal



    I agree with the premise that beginning at the micro level is important, if not critical and necessary.  I would like to read about what folks have actually done to promote progressive policies at the local level, or at the state or national level for that matter.  Such an exchange of experiences couldn't hurt, and could help a great deal.

    1. Tmc, you're vacillating between two points here:
    2. Liberals should organize at the grassroots
    3. Liberals should support the President / Democratic Party

    The first is not controversial. The second obviously is.

    My two cents: you can't have your cake and eat it too. You would like a strong liberal grassroots movement in support of sitting a president who has repeatedly distanced himself from the liberal wing of the party. Not going to happen.

    A true grassroots movement is almost by definition outside of powerful political institutions. The leaders of such movements tend to be angry at the establishment and seek radical change.

    When the right wing built up its formidable grassroots machine--of which the Tea Parties are just the latest product--it did not do so by getting cozy the Republican Party. On the contrary, early leaders like Paul Weyrich and Richard Viguerie were furious at Republican president Gerald Ford for politicking to the middle. They plotted his downfall and were instrumental in primarying the conservative Ronald Reagan against him.

    Despite Reagan's famous 11th commandment, right-wing grassroots leaders not hesitate to speak ill of their fellow Republicans. In Kansas, there was an all out war between establishment moderates and conservative agitators. Guess who won. The same trash-talking conservatives knocked out moderate Republicans in the northeast while gradually taking over the south and the interior.

    So if you really want a liberal resurgence, take a lesson from the right, and let left-wing find its roar.

    Two comments then I turn into a pumpkin:

    1.  You need a roar plus a  real bite.  In Kansas they took things over and they made real right-wing type changes, no?

    2.   Didn't most of those folks still support Bush big time?  Or did they not and it didn't mean anything because it was Kansas (which hasn't gone Democrat in about a million years)?


    The war in Kansas was during Bush I and Dole, neither of whom were popular on the right. They went for Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanan.

    That's not to say that they didn't vote Republican in the general, but they surely weren't campaigning hard for those guys.

    Bush II was more successful in co-opting the right wing using Rove's wedge issue strategy.

    I don't know if we want to take a adversarial page out of the GOP playbook on this one.  Of course, we could go down this path, but I think unless one is solely looking at 30 or 40 years down the road, the results will not be good for the country.  The liberal/progressive wing can look at doing things differently, learning how to work in an effective coalition with the moderates.  This is, of course, part of the incremental approach, which tends not to get much support.  Like the tea party folks now, people tend to want what they want and they want it all now.  Which I guess is the fundamental issue around the liberals supporting Obama. 

    I've said before Obama is a transitional president from the liberal perspective.  The only way* the liberal agenda is going to take hold in my opinion is if a "liberal" (i.e. is portrayed as such in the media) President such as Obama is able to be successful. It allows for the moderates to be a little more open to taking that next step in liberal direction.  If Obama goes down in flames in 2012, the general meme will be: see the liberal agenda is a failure.  It will take many years to just get back to having a President in the mold of Obama.  In other words it is in the liberal wings best interest to support Obama at this time.

    So we need to have our cake and eat it, too.

    *The liberal could go down the path of the conservatives and attempt to drive their 3 or 4 bullet points to become the conventional wisdom, such as the Reaganism "less government is better government."  But then the liberals will be where the conservatives are now, constantly working to maintain the truisms and tidbits of wisdom rather than dealing with the real complexities of the problems and the shades of grey when it comes to implementing the solutions.

    Might work, but it's not the grassroots strategy that Tmc championed. She brought in a cake, but you're baking brownies.

    I was addressing your two points you made in comment to her blog, not specifically her strategy.  And while I spoke about the President, the same holds true down the line to local grassroots actions.  In most communities, if you don't build coalitions with those with those with whom you don't see eye to eye, you will never be successful.  Only in certain neighborhoods and regions are the liberals in numbers strong enough to discount the "moderates" and others.  Local politicians and power brokers in this phase of the game in 2011 rarely are going to be hardcore liberals.  But they can be allies.  Refusing to support them because they don't pass purity test means the liberals will be on the outside looking in when decisions are made, whether it is at the PTA meetings or state government. 

    I've said before Obama is a transitional president from the liberal perspective.  The only way* the liberal agenda is going to take hold in my opinion is if a "liberal" (i.e. is portrayed as such in the media) President such as Obama is able to be successful. It allows for the moderates to be a little more open to taking that next step in liberal direction.  If Obama goes down in flames in 2012, the general meme will be: see the liberal agenda is a failure.  It will take many years to just get back to having a President in the mold of Obama.  In other words it is in the liberal wings best interest to support Obama at this time.

    Great point.  I agree 100% (or more if it was possible)  IMO, it's the best and most obvious argument for a second Obama term.  Anything else will surely set us back when we need to concentrate on moving forward.

    @Trope: Some of what conservatives did is and should be very instructive to others who want to be able to share in influencing what goals the federal government pursues. It isn't all about Atwater and Rove's ability to have two or three successful talking points and driving those points home every hour on the hour on GfOxP News and talk radio etc. These people successfully infiltrated government at all  levels and this is why they seem to have undue influence on our politics.

    To me it isn't about getting anyone to vote for the President either, that is a personal thing people do and they need to be able to express themselves in that way, especially when they feel as though one politician might or might not be responding to their personal or esoteric "plight". I think this is a fair reaction, but my question is how to Progressives build influence over policy, clearly many people are seeking more progressive policies, but they must have a plan to build credibility so they can earn the influence they so desire.

    I don't think that Tmac is arguing that progressives should organize in favor of Obama, but that they should either organize to the point where they can influence elections or support Obama.  The influence of the most vocal of the representatives of the left (e.g., Jane Hamsher/FDL, or Glenn Greenwald (though GG may argue he is not a representative of the left) to this point has been almost exclusively to lessen support for the president.

    And, although it looks like another commenter has beat me to it, when have Republicans engaged in open revolt against a sitting president?  I don't think Ford is a great example, because he was always a pretender to the throne anyway by virtue of being appointed to the VP slot and then taking over after the (for right-wingers) bitter disappointment of Nixon's resignation.  Bush II?  Conservatives were lockstep behind him until he was already a defeated president late in his second term. 

    Bush I?  Close, but again, no cigar.  Opposition to Bush was primarily driven by opposition to taxes, which, of course, is priority Number One of "establishment" Republicans.

    So, at least at the national level, the interests of the conservative and establishment wings of the Republicans continue be very closely aligned.  I agree with Tmac's implicit point that you fight where you can win, or at least influence the debate, and support the person who more closely aligns with your policy preferences in the big contests. 

    I'm afraid that if you exclude two of the last four Republican presidents, which happened to be the ones that the right wing didn't like, then I can't give you any recent evidence of the right wing challenging a sitting president.

    But for the record, it wasn't the establishment that challenged Bush I. It was Pat Buchanan, icon of cultural conservatives, while the establishment fretted about the risk of a divided party. Buchanan also challenged Bob Dole, the establishment pick in 1996.

    Bush i didn't lose because of Pat Buchanan.  He lost because he raised taxes, which is the one sin that cannot be forgiven by both the Tea Party and the establishment types. 

    My point was not why Bush won or lost. It was that right-wing grassroots leaders have never hesitated to attack Republican leaders whom they deemed insufficiently conservative.

    Yeah, I remember all that conservative opposition to Reagan raising taxes multiple times, and all that conservative opposition to Bush starting a massive war in the Middle East on the flimsiest of pretexts, and all that conservative opposition to Bush passing a huge, unfunded mandate in the form of Medicare Part D.  I also remember all that conservative opposition to raising the debt ceiling under both of those insufficiently conservative presidents as well as the insufficiently conservative G.W. Bush. 

    Oh, wait a minute.  No, I don't.  

    Opposition to Bush was primarily driven by opposition to taxes, which, of course, is priority Number One of "establishment" Republicans.

    I'm primarily playing devil's advocate here, but isn't that an argument in favor of opposing Obama? I'm not actually supporting doing so, but if we take Bush and taxes as an example, it can be argued that the example made of Bush I succeeded in drilling the point into all Republicans - thou shalt not raise taxes. Ever.

    What issue unites progressives and moderate Dems/Independent-leaning Democrats on the left like tax hatred unites the various factions of the right?

    A very good question indeed.

    It should be sustainable-wage jobs and the building-up of the middle class.  It isn't. 

    It's probably legalizing weed.

    That is a great issue.  Sadly, IMO, as long as America is as racially polarized as it is today, programs to help the working-and-middle classes will continue to be easily demonized as welfare for the lazy, the entitled yet undeserving, the Black, the Mexican.  And appeals to racism to date have peeled off far too many whose interest would best be served by a progressive agenda.   

    In my experiences, it's in the nature of these kinds of discussions that rarely does one person agree more or less with any other single person, let alone is there any sense of consensus that emerges from such discussions.  These are just my two pennies offered with an invitation for others to improve upon them.  

    What unites us?, brew asks.  Well, 2 or maybe 3 of the following 6, I'd say.  Take these 6 and you'd have a major political party offering some choices to the voters.  None of the 6 is anywhere close to a hopeless cause with the public--in fact they all poll either pretty well (competitive) or very well.  Although several of them currently are a hopeless cause with self-described Democratic "centrist" and "moderate" elected officials.

    *Cap and trade or something, anything, to start to deal with carbon emissions.  Maybe. (can we agree on the need to press full bore on saving the planet? Hmmm...a puzzler...not sure.)

    *Moderate/centrist Dem elected officials actually favor austerity now whereas elected official progressive Dems were last Congress, and might be now with the White House taking a different stance (I know Pelosi just said we have to do deficit reduction now.  She is playing a short-term role to try to help avert a disaster.  If Obama were pushing for more stimulus she would be leading the charge rounding up the Democratic caucus to try to get that done.) So, nope, not that.

    *Further financial reform, including greater accountability for the big banks and their CEOs, favored by many progressives and generally opposed for now by elected official moderates/centrists: nope

    *Protecting Social Security and Medicare from attempted cuts by the GOP, the old standby: The answer used to be yes.  Some moderates and centrists look to have gone squishy on this.  

    *Do something intelligent that could have a meaningful impact on outsourcing, preferably something that is not too difficult to explain.  I don't know what that would be.  There are folks who've been working on this for awhile and I'm pretty sure there are some ideas worth trying out there. And, uh, no, this would be an area of major disagreement between wings in the party.

    *Allow the Bush tax cuts to expire, upping the cutoff point as I've advocated from $250K, perhaps to $500K as a smart political move.  probably yes  

    Progressives are right for the country on all 6 of these issues, I believe.  And progressive stances on all of these issues poll well, or at least competitively, with the general public.  So what is keeping more elected official "centrists" from openly supporting and advocating some of the above as a  core agenda or platform for what distinguishes the two major parties and as a guide to what Democrats, if they win the House and retain the Senate and WH, will pursue in 2013 and beyond?  (I have one, partial response to that on the financial reform issue.)

    The broad theme uniting these--saying what we are for--could be promoting shared and sustainable prosperity (to move America forward, or some phrase using the obligatory patriotic "America" language).  The phrase "shared prosperity" used to be used by some progressives to define a key part of their creed.  I always agreed with it and thought it was good--and also think it needs in our day to be supplemented with "sustainable" to highlight the need to address critical environmental and resource-constraint issues.

    If we have to, and we will when the interest groups and oligarchs attack it, make a virtue out of that by stressing that the Democratic party is America's party of the middle class, willing to stand up to the special interests and super-wealthy who have come to exert too much influence over decisions made in this country that belongs by right to all of us.

    I fully realize that the above isn't today's Obama, in any way, shape, or form and that for all I know he might strongly disagree with (or think irrelevant because undoable) all 6 of those items.  But that wasn't your question, brew.  You were trying to get people to offer their thoughts on what unites, or might unite, different parts of the party.  Not enough, is the short answer.  Which requires choices.  Which means pissing some people off, inevitably.  These will invite intense interest group opposition.  All granted.  To say the above agenda is somehow a nonstarter with the public is, however, I think flatly incorrect.

    Hey Genghis, But in actuality no where have I written in this piece for anyone to vote for "Democrats". I am asking the question, "how progressive are to get what they want".  So my question is what is the plan for getting those good policies in place?

    I did describe some of the ways conservatives have infiltrated the system from the ground level up.  I also spiced it up with my feelings about some of the things that take place when attending these tiniest levels of government. This is one of the methods used by conservatives to game the system in their favor. How do you think people like Katherine Harris get elected, you know that woman had to begin by going to PTA meetings and getting on the school board or some such thing.  I just think if you really want those progressive changes, you have to counteract the efforts of those very active conservatives. We can see what they do with their influence.

    I am exhausted.. I'll be back in the morning to read the entire thread and respond.

    There is no one answer, or "thing to be done" and none of us has the ability to do anything more than propose ideas on what might be done, and try to do them ourselves.

    Some elements of a "strategy" (all I've got time to put up right now) needed are:

    *a narrative/a message/one or more issues or 'buckets of issues' to talk about (backed up by a policy program, which is what I tried to lay out some thoughts on in re to brew's question of what unites--or might unite--wings of the party

    *messengers, helpful if there are people who already can command media attention and credibility on a large scale, but each of us is our own messenger as well

    *a strategy for attaining and building more influence.  this can be discussed, certainly, in advance of some event that galvanizes more people to act (Rosa Parks).  This includes but is hardly limited to specific events or activities, well-timed, that stand the best chance of creating a stir and attracting the attention of media and potential recruits.  There certainly needs to be a grassroots strategy.  As I wrote, I think there are different, potentially effective avenues.  One is building influence at the local and state party levels.  Another is contributing towards building a galvanizing progressive, but independent and nonpartisan, social movement.  Both of these can work, may be necessary, and are by no means mutually exclusive.  Different individuals can work different ends of this depending on preference and it's not time wasted.

    *a strategy for combating the bad guys as well as promoting our own better ideas for the country.  Media Matters has made some inroads on this.  I think David Brock, having set his mind to "kill wingers" instead of "kill liberals"  it, is doing a pretty good job of ruining Sarah Palin's chances for the presidency.  Efforts like that are not pretty but they are not necessary, I believe.

    The point is, there's more than plenty to do.  I don't think any of us has any practical authority or ability to develop some sort of "master plan" and in any case things never work according to plan.  The point is to start/build on what is already there, act, and move, and not let the absence of a master plan inhibit action.  Many of us may need to have a vision, at least, of where we are trying to go, that can help guide and inform what we do.  And some of us have the ability to influence the construction of micro, more local-level, or targeted plans.  But that's different from a grand.plan.


    You wrote :

    no one "thing to be done"?

    Is that part in quotes because you are quoting me or emphasizing that in  your response, because of course there is nowhere I've written "thing to be done". I am suggesting their are ways to gain influence in a system that people want to have influence over, what is the plan for gaining that influence, whether it is over Democrats, Republicans or in general the American public. In order to do this don't you have to find a way for gaining credibility among the population in order to influence policies.

    Let's take for example another organization I am familiar with, "The League of Women Voters", not only are we organized, we have meetings, make plans we do this on a local, regional and national level, with our dues and fund raisers we run voter registration events, we hire lobbyists, we have some credibility and have some influence in certain policies at all levels of government, micro to macro. Oh and we have excellent pot lucks, excellent, seriously.

    Isn't it always a problem to have to say, there is no real plan nor will anyone step  up to organize the group, use traditional methods and the new methods of communication to build credibility among voters. Isn't it a problem to say "I don't think any of us has any practical authority or ability to develop some sort of "master plan" and in any case things never work according to plan."

    "Things never work according to plan" Is kind of a cop out really. What are the existing systems you plan to use? Are they existing political parties, dem's, greens, workers of the world? Don't you need some plan to get involved to have the influence in the system you want.

    I wrote "no one thing to be done" because in what I have seen as your writings, I have interpreted them as advocating work within the Democratic party at the grassroots, local level as not just a set of activities you do, but as, in your view, superior to or preferred to, say, working with an independent, nonpartisan group such as LWV, or working at grassroots activism independent of a political party.  When I don't agree with that, and now know that neither do you.  I didn't know, for example, that you have worked with LWV, which doesn't have a substantive political agenda as part of its purpose but still helps to inform voters.

    So thank you for clearing that up.

    "Things never work according to plan" when it comes to political activism I wrote because I think it's true even at micro levels one can personally directly influence (adjustments are almost required to any plan of action) and more so at increasingly macro levels.  If one is the leader of some effort of more than one, it doesn't necessarily need to be written out or shared in all its details but of course in order to get somewhere you have to know where you are trying to go and how you intend to get there.  In terms of a grand, macro plan for how progressives can get much more influence in this country, I don't know of anyone here who has any authority to do more than offer their ideas on what that might look like and/or participate in putting their or someone else's plan or parts of it into effect. 

    I think on the GOP side, someone like Karl Rove has had his fingers in many pots, connections to people and organizations working different aspects of what together has functioned like a grand plan for Right influence, even if no one ever decreed it or put it down on paper anywhere and even if not everyone working in effect to advance it even had any idea what it was in any of its particulars.  Worker bees tend to hope "whoever is in charge of this operation" knows what they are doing and decide to pitch in.  

    I think the best thing for progressives to do is feel free to offer their thinking on what needs to be done here and elsewhere if they want to, and pick an organization or several or an activity or several activities that make sense to them in terms of their progressive commitments to try to strengthen progressive influence, and do what they can on that.  I don't think waiting until someone decrees some grand plan is helpful--it is passive and just results in inaction, paralysis even. 

    There may be much higher profile people who have followings and influence and access to resources I don't have access to, who could help initiate or support pieces of what would amount to a fairly comprehensive progressive resurgence strategy.  I could say that a group such as Media Matters, for example, is that--a piece, a necessary one, of what a large macro strategy for what would need to be done to bring about a progressive resurgence if someone were to put it down on paper. 

    Don't you need some plan to get involved to have the influence in the system you want.

    On a specific activity or initiative one has assumed lead responsibility for carrying out, yes, of course one has to have a "plan" in mind.  You're talking about the micro level.  My comments were about the macro level--at the level of whether some larger, comprehensive strategy for a progressive resurgence could draw support and investment of time and energy and effort.  Like I said, I certainly cannot make macro things of this sort happen in any way, only offer thinking or support and get involved to help carry out pieces of it if it makes sense to me.  I think choices and actions one makes that are not informed by some sort of a personal progressive vision or set of values or guideposts at least, can get off track or wind up in less productive or promising uses of a person's time.  At least I feel a need to have some sort of "where is this going?" notion in my head in making decisions about where I put my own limited time.

    I was reacting to the history of failed primary challenges and, I confess, to your past statements. I'm sorry if I misinterpreted. I hope that you had a nice ride.

    No biggie, but mostly I try to tell people what Dems are doing. I hope that it influences some people in that we are not the total failures people say we are. Mostly I realize it pisses people off that I have chosen a team and I defend that team to end. It's just my nature, if we are passing the ball  to the quarter back, I try not to tackle him myself and kick him in the balls before he tries to make a touchdown.

    Oh snap sports analogy! Woohoo  am  I ready for some football.

    And thank you my ride was excellent. 47.5 miles. I will be ready for August 20th.

    Good post, Tmac.  Everything has to start at the local level, but eventually the word has to get out.  That's where we come in.  We're in a position as bloggers to spread the word about what's happening locally.  Through blogging and social networking the word got out about the Wisconsin and Michigan protests and the numbers in the crowd grew because of it.

    Shannyn Moore wrote about Sarah Palin in Alaska and brought her to the public's attention all across the U.S.

    Eclectablog writes about politics in Michigan and gets in the trenches to give us the information we need to do more.

    Blogging Blue is local Wisconsin politics.

    Just to name a few. 

    But here's a local connection:  John Patterson (JEP07) just got himself elected chairman of the McPherson County Democrats in Kansas.  He's doing it for his kids and grandkids and in the end, for everyone else.

    It's important to remind everyone that they have to get out there and work harder, but I daresay on this site you're preaching to the choir.  We all know the drill here.  We have to work at it in order to make it happen.  The question always is, which direction do we go?  And the answer always is, do what your head and your heart tells you.

    I'd love to tell you I have a plan, but that wouldn't be the truth.  I live in an isolated all-white community of less than 1000, including children.  99.9% of the voting adults vote Republican.  I would be wasting my time trying to force a political turn here.  I've chosen blogging, instead.  So that's my plan.  Spreading the message and hoping someone is paying attention.

    I saw that John did that, I smiled for a long time after reading about his first meeting! It is awesome.

    Me too.  It's how it starts.

    My personal plan is just to write things about how desperately wrong our national direction is, and to look for ways of slipping the things I write into the debate somewhere.  I'll let people with a more practical and organizational bent worry about how to turn ideas into electoral victories.  I don't have much hope.  The intellectual and moral landscape in America is ghastly, and our current crop of leaders are worthless morons and servants of concentrated economic power.

    A better plan might be to take up woodworking instead.  Or writing poetry.  Or learning how to cook authentic Thai food.

    Great idea!  Maybe you could send that to the members of the house.

    Maybe.  But ideas matter.   Some people actually do succeed in changing the ideas of many people and effect change in that way.

    Politicians are mostly all the same.  They are just empty vessels - mediocrities who float with the intellectual tides.  I think which ones get elected matters much less than people think.  What matters is the intellectual and cultural milieu they are embedded in.

    Look at Obama.  He's just a cipher.  Somebody says "debt" and he's all over the "debt crisis".  If the atmosphere were dominated by concern over inequality and injustice, he would be all over those issues.  Romney's the same: a man in a suit who absorbs the norms of his time.

    Truman was primaried and survived.

    LBJ self-destructed from the war - especially the Tet offensive -  more than was primaried - he withdrew 2 weeks after a New Hampshire thrashing by little known Gene McCarthy. Nixon ran on withdrawing from Vietnam.

    McGovern ran a horrible campaign - with Eagleton especially, and driving away establishment Democrats - but also had Nixon breaking into his headquarters and pulling dirty tricks, and conservative John Connally (D) actively campaigning against him and for Nixon in the general election

    Carter was primaried by Ted Kennedy, who held back Carter's health reform, though Carter was damaged much more by inaction against the Afghanistan invasion, Iran hostage crisis and the poor economy. Ironically, that disastrous Afghanistan occupation helped end the Cold War.

    Mondale and Dukakis ran against a quite popular president & VP and weren't particularly exciting.

    Clinton had high popularity and a booming economy. Primarying him wouldn't have mattered.

    Gore was essentially primaried by Bradley, who had some pretty questionable allegations, but Gore was also stuck trying to separate himself from Clinton fatigue and a heavily anti-Gore media making up lies.

    Only with Bradley and partly Ted Kennedy and John Connally is it obvious opposition significantly hurt the incumbent's/nominee's chances, and in the case of Truman it likely made him stronger.

    Differences with Obama are that there aren't any Nixons, Reagans, Ross Perots to run against him, and there aren't any obvious Democratic superstars like Robert Kennedy or Ted Kennedy to counter him, and being a war president without the draft is not so damaging. It's unclear how Obama's popularity will look come January.


    Progressive Democrats did fairly well in 2010, while Blue Dogs were routed, with Grayson being one notable exception, even with most Democratic Party funding backing BlueDogs.

    This fact has been little acknowledged.

    Another way to read that is that Progressives held their ground in areas they had already won, whereas in the swing areas the conservative Dems were replaced with conservative Repubs.  There is almost no evidence to be gleaned from the outcomes of the election to say that there was a desire for Congress and the White House to go further to the left except in areas that were already dominated by liberal voters.

    There are numerous ways of analyzing this, discussing midterms, unemployment, Obama job performance, messaging, health care act, unemployment, Democratic Party strategy and financing, etc.

    But the Blue Dog caucus suffered a shellacking despite conservative positions on issues.

    How does the defeat of Russ Feingold fit into your take on the 2010 midterms?

    Johnson "loaned" himself $9 million that his company repaid, outside groups spent $5 million on ads slamming Feingold, and Feingold had the unpopular Health Care Reform Act and high unemployment wrapped around his neck.

    The Health Care act was a huge problem for many Democratic candidates.

    I thought progressives did great in 2010, per your earlier comment.  And Russ was the Progressives' progressive.  So, how could he lose?

    I said progressives did better than Blue Dogs. And I said Republicans put in $15 million towards defeating Russ Feingold. Think whatever you think.

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