My father was an alcoholic, and he described for me once that moment of realization that things have gone completely wrong, and that the only alternatives are death or getting cleaned up.
The Democratic Party needs to get cleaned up.
Think of how utterly rock bottom they have hit. In November, a man who shouldn’t have been allowed anywhere near power was elected president, and has done nothing but alienate our allies, put other even more clueless people into power, and has set himself up for a major fall since he does not read briefings from the Defense Department, FBI, or CIA unless it is broken down into pictures (this isn’t my attempt at humor, his appears to be how he approaches briefings with his most important advisers).
Then, in Montana, a man who assaulted a member of the press is elected to Congress. Yeah, it was Montana, and yes, a significant percent of the voters had already cast early ballots, but in a sane world, that man would have been out on bond, not heading to Washington.
Finally, in a suburban Georgia special election, the democrats roll out a moderate, who was receiving a lot of outside money running against an opponent who unambiguously said that she doesn’t believe in a living wage.
The time has come. The Democratic Party has hit rock bottom. It is time to make a decision. The question is, what decision do you make??
There is still a great deal of uncertainty over what the fuck has actually happened in our country that convinced 60 million people that a possibly mentally unstable man, with a track record of bankruptcy, misogyny, racism, and xenophobia, was the best course of action for our country.
I think that there are several reasons for this. It isn’t one, but the Democratic Party needs to start thinking quick because it is June 2017, and that is 17 months from midterms, and roughly 8 months before primaries. Here are some thinking points:
- Pretty much abandon hope on major gains the 2018 midterms. The goal for the 2018 midterms should be to gain a few seats in the House, and lose none in the Senate. This is realistic. There is virtually no chance of flipping the House, or coming close. Don’t bother. The senate is close, but all of the GOP seats up for grabs are in safely red states. That is unlikely to happen either. Spend money wisely. Gaining a few seats in the House and not losing seats in the Senate is a moral win.
- Focus on gerrymandering issues and winning back state legislatures. At least some of the GOP victories have come from states that gerrymandered to give GOP House seats a virtual lock. The Democrats need to keep working on this with the courts, and then needs to sink money into getting those legislatures back. This will help increase gains in 2020. In fact, more than anything, this is where the party should be focusing its financial concerns.
- Start focusing on labor again. Especially in states where you have some control, you need to start focusing on getting people to work. In industries that are dying, this means retraining. Take my own Illinois for example … downstate Illinois has a dying coal industry. Even though finances are in dire straits, the Democrats would do very well to start some kind of retraining programs to get coal miners into new areas of employment. Even if it is not 100% successful, the publicity alone is great! A couple of thousand votes in Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania could have been huge, and that is why this is important. Those folks who feel disposed of need to be made to feel important again, and this is a way to do that.
- Pick a lane on charter schools. Just polling in my school, which as some of you know had ties to Hillary Clinton, quite a few teachers admitted that they either didn’t vote or voted for a third party candidate. I suspect a lot of teachers were turned off by her. The NEA was one of the first unions to endorse Hillary, but I suspect that this in no way lead to widespread support … and this against the single most anti-science, anti-education president we have had in forever! In short, neither Obama nor Hillary were seen as big backers of teachers and education. Obama’s Race for the Top was a disaster, and Hillary was seen as being far too chummy with the Wall Street people who were backers of Race for the Top, NCLB, and Common Core … none of which have shown many positive results, but have driven thousands from the profession and have kept a lot more from considering teaching as a path. If the Democrats want teachers on board, they need to pick a path, and this one should be clear: with the NAACP no longer backing charter schools, and with Betsy DeVos as their standard bearer, and with states like Indiana even voting out pro-charter people, the best bet is to walk away from supporting charters, and get behind really fixing public schools that need it.
- Come up with a new health care system that helps people. Obamacare clearly had something that was wrong with it … I don’t suspect it was a big deal, but I suspect it could have been fixed with a more agreeable Congress. Start putting together 2.0. There is no need to publicize it now, but get it ready so that the next presidential debate can involve some particulars that are favorable.
- Take a stand on free speech. This one is a toughy. What is happening on college campuses these days is really not a big deal. College kids protest all the time on a variety of issues, always have and always will. Certainly, I support people protesting the likes of Milo-whatever-the-hell-his-name-is … he’s scum in a suit. The problem is by shutting down his speech, he is now able to play the victim card, and while that shouldn’t work, I suspect it is working. Even when graduates turned their backs on Betsy Devos, far too many people got caught up on the “disrespect” shown to her. It sucks that someone like that has to ruin the students’ graduation, but in the end, actions like these are being effectively used to embolden conservative thinking that the left is a bunch of anarchists. Like I said, it is time to be pragmatic. Protest all you want, but shutting down speech on campus, and showing what some people see as “disrespect” is only hurting the cause.
- Lay low on the civil rights issues. I can’t believe I’m typing this. This one sucks the most. I think one of the prime reasons that a lot of people supported Trump had nothing to do with liking the man … but had a lot to do with fear. Quite a few older folks voted for Trump, and a whole lot of white people voted for Trump, and virtually all of the FRWEASPs voted for him. Why do old people vote for a party that has been talking about privatizing social security? Why do white people, particularly the far right wing evangelicals vote for a twice divorced casino magnate who is less Christian than Gandhi. It is out of fear. I think a lot of white people know that we are a scant few years away from white people being less than 50% of the population. Old people look around and see women kissing and transgendered guys showering with girls in gym class, and the evangelicals see their version of Christianity, which they have been able to enforce for so long, slipping away. I think the SCOTUS opening from
Alito’sScalia’s death was the last straw … when they saw that chance to get a grip on the Court and keep it conservative for perhaps the next 15-20 years or more, people saw a rallying cry. Even if the country goes brown and more atheist, the Supreme Court will act to put on the brakes, as they see it. The Democratic Party needs to put people at ease, and I don’t know how you do that. I think the only way they can do this heading into elections is to downplay the civil rights issues of the day, and that is terrible to do. However, I ma convinced that if this doesn’t change, and those fears remain prevalent among those populations, it will be a very long time before a more sensible group of individuals gets control of the government back, and I hate to think how much damage is going to be done before that.