One of the most well known contemporary political scientists attempted to provide a practical guide to rebuilding the Democratic Party on Vox over the weekend. As these Vox-style wank pieces go it's not bad, and does indeed deliver on what the title promises – a guide with some specific recommendations for action.

For that reason alone it's a useful piece, since the liberal tendency is to make an argument and assume that its logic or fundamental correctness will win over hearts and minds if repeated enough. The author correctly points out that a big part of the success that groups like the Tea Party have had is the less glamorous stuff. Here's a spoiler: it involves showing up to a lot of meetings.

Does that paragraph read like a setup for a "But,"? I guess I hide my cards poorly.

Two statements in the article, when taken together, point to a flaw in the underlying logic.

Compared with previous presidential contests, the partisan gap between big-city and non-big-city voting patterns widened. Trump won because he rang up unusually high margins (although not unusually high turnouts) among voters across all social strata in suburban, small-city, and semi-rural counties, especially in the Midwest. In many of those places, Democrats are not an organized presence at all.


On the left, labor unions used to be the most far-reaching federated organizations cooperating with and bolstering the Democratic Party. But both private and public sector unions are now in sharp decline after years of conservative attacks — and their current dues-collecting arrangements face legal deathblows under the incoming regime. Unions aside, most center-left organizations are professionally run advocacy groups headquartered in New York, DC, or California and devoted to many separate causes and constituencies. Democrats tend to organize across the entire country only temporarily for presidential campaigns.

Neither statement is false, but the problem of the second is embedded in the first.

We've talked to death the fact that America's rural areas have been emptying out and filling up the big urban areas across the country.
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Within those urban areas, liberals are not well represented in the suburbs in most cases; voters there tend to be older, married, white homeowners of a distinctly reactionary bent. In other words, the author is right that there is little organized liberal presence in a lot of these places…because most of the liberals are gone.

Where, then, are these liberal ground-up organizations supposed to come from? As the second quote reveals, Democratic campaigns have a kind of "surge and recede" dynamic; they fan out across the country for election years and then pack up and return to California and the East Coast until the next election. That's ineffective. The problem is that there's a reason all of those people live in California, New York, Boston, and DC – they're probably from the Muncies and Rockfords of the world and they got out the second they could. Going back simply reminds them of why they left.

Not to make the author personally responsible for solving this problem, but there must be some reason she's at Harvard. Certainly University of Illinois would be equally happy to have her. Oh, right, I forgot: central Illinois sucks. That's why she's not there.

Who's left on the liberal side of the spectrum in these unorganized places where the Democratic presence has atrophied? You've got younger people who are itching to get out and generally do so at the earliest opportunity. Then you have the 30-55 aged liberals who are living in a sea of red for job-related or personal reasons.
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Most of them are pretty tired of showing up to school board meetings in Keokuk, being outnumbered 25 to 1 and ostracized for suggesting that maybe the Bible isn't a science textbook. If you've never had the experience of being in a small town and being one of a small percentage of educated liberals, you very well might believe that it's possible to rally these people into action. But if you've had that experience, you're probably not eager for more of it.

In short, none of the logic of this argument can deal with the fact that the problem of the collapse of Democratic ground organization in the rural and suburban South and Midwest is a natural outgrowth of the lack of liberals living there in critical masses. Democratic campaigns function as temporary affairs manned by staffers who fan out from the Beltway and Bay Area and Chicago and Brooklyn and then retreat to their safe spaces because that's where Democratic campaign and liberal group operatives live. It makes sense for political groups to headquarter in DC, but when they try to establish a nationwide network of local orgs FreedomWorks is a going to have a vastly easier time than (insert liberal org here) setting up the local chapter in Paducah. The reasons for that reality are not necessarily a failure of liberal / Democratic organization. It's hard to build a base of support in a place your most likely supporters want nothing to do with for good reason.

73 thoughts on “INTO THE VOID”

  • What about the poor, nonwhite people who live in at least some of these places with no role in local organizing? Maybe if the white upper class bicoastal didn't parachute in but instead helped the remaining natural democratic constituencies to organize themselves we could see a more sustainable organization? I mean, I know or can guess many of the reasons, but the post you're discussing and therefore the discussion seems to presuppose white bicoastal elites as the only directors of the party machinery. Wonder why that might be?

  • I grew up in a town of 3,500 people in central Illinois. I went to college in the area, and I worked for 30 years in a rust belt small city in Indiana. It is impossible to persuade anything like a majority of the people in these areas on any of the liberal social issues. I think the only hope is to stress economic issues. These people are possibly reachable on New Deal, pro-worker arguments if you can ever talk to them for ten seconds without the "what about burning the flag" shit getting in the way. It's practically unbelievable how much they'll worry about crap like that which has almost no effect on their day-to-day lives while their ability to make a decent living gets evaporated by Republican economic policies all the time and forever over the past 40 fucking years. Not much hope, I know, because we've made sure that everyone is "educated" to a level of utter ignorance; but it is the only possible way to win them back.

  • Lets face the facts. There is an overwhelming majority of citizens in this country that are too poor to be of any benefit to the economy as it is currently structured. Their health is poor, their health care is poor, their housing is poor, their education is poor, their public services are poor. They don't have the living systems in place of their own that would even support them to holding a job even if they could find a good one. The USA is a 'third' world country and will sink further into poverty as these factors continue to roll together. Got news for you, the president elect and his cabal of billionaires are only going to hasten the slide into chaos. When you get this many poor people collected together in one place, either you have violence from the bottom up and chaos revolution, or heavy handed violence from the top down to keep the lid on the stew. The stew has to be stirred up one way or another, otherwise the scum rises to the top. See y'all out on the garbage dumps and recycling heaps.

  • @Ed

    Chris Reeves, who I believe is an outreach co-ordinator for the DNC, has posted a number of diaries on DKos detailing the Dems' modest successes in Kansas in the Trump era:
    (and others)

    The takeaway is twofold:

    1. You don't need to win, you just need to change the margins. Given the recent propensity of rural/exurban voters to vote in higher percentages than urban voters, the margin of defeat in a rural county can make a more significant impact on the votes in urban areas. Basically, if 80% of rural voters turn out (as opposed to say less than 60% for urban voters), but the Democrats lose 60/40 instead of 80/20, the urban votes have a chance to push through (losing 60/40 as opposed to 80/20 is viable in many areas. Winning… not so much).*

    2. The DNC has in the past done a terrible job of reaching out to actual, registered Democrats in many of these areas. Due in part to abandoning the 50-State strategy, the DNC routinely ignored Democrats at all levels in areas that are deemed "too red" to run in. This demoralizes the people on the ground and provides no functioning counterweight to whatever random talking points the Republican party runs on in that area.

    Basically, you may not even need to convince the Trumpers in rural/exurban areas to switch sides. You may just need to convince Dems/Progressives and some independents to come out and vote for their own fucking party. That requires work. Let's hope Ellison is up for it.

    *Progressives' strategy in urban areas also needs to change, but in a different way altogether. Winning in urban areas is more than possible, but requires the party to field candidates who may have a track record less predisposed to getting twisted by a media chasing ratings.

  • In the rural South, Democrats face the additional problem of racial divisions. AIUI, in these areas "the Democrat vote" is synonymous with "the black vote". Attracting white people to join them is difficult.

    @jcdenton: Yes, exactly.

    Ed may have a point about critical mass. However scanning the election results for Illinois (a sea of red counterbalanced by Chicago), we have plenty of counties which were something like 60% Trump, 40% Clinton. If 40% of your neighbours are voting Democrat, then trying to build a local organisation for them is not an obviously insane thing to do.

    Then come election time, voters in Deep Red County might be more amenable to persuasion by volunteers from neighbouring Purple County, instead of ones parachuted in from Chicago.

  • Droppy said, " I think the only hope is to stress economic issues. These people are possibly reachable on New Deal, pro-worker arguments if you can ever talk to them for ten seconds without the "what about burning the flag" shit getting in the way."

    I think that's why the Bernie/Warren approach is the future. Avoid the culture war bullshit, which regardless of the progress liberals have made on the ground, is pure poison electorally (which is why the Republicans won't ever stop talking about it).

  • Havin met Theda Skocpol, I can tell you that she is arrogant, unpleasant and shows little acquaintance with how human beings actually think and live. That's why she is at Harvard and why she's got nothing to offer but cliches. Democrats have been saying for years that they need to organize, organize etc etc. Everyone agrees and vows to do better. At which point everyone feels so moved by their own self-sacrificing brilliance that they have to lie down and recover and somehow that's where it all ends. Fix that last bit and maybe you've got something, but how you change the habits of people who like talking a good game much more than actually working for their goals, heaven only knows.

  • What Hoosier Poli says. Advertising works, and works at a 5th-grade level. The Orange One speaks in simple slogans that people hear and understand, while educated liberals earnestly try to explain things.

  • I had a nightmare not too long ago…what with the total disintegration of the country under cheeto and his ilk, the majority of the country moves to the coasts, leaving like 10 people each in the red states. What with the EC, that would mean 100 people scattered across the vast plains and south would control the country forever.

    I couldn't wake up fast enough. Moral of the story – we HAVE to get rid of the EC.

  • I think almost constantly where I will go when I have saved enough money to be able to get the hell out of China. My idea place is Seattle – absolute best city on earth. But I may not be able to afford it.

    Having spent half of my life in the Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, MI and Oh – PS, Ed, are you at WIU? First three years of my undergrad life) I can fit in with those people on some level. Chicago, of course, but Ohio is purple. It has occurred to me that the best thing to do might be to go somewhere like that and work for the cause where I could be effective (unlike my influence in a place like Seattle.)

  • @April

    Columbus Ohio is actually pretty nice.

    No beach or mountains, but Ohio has a huge network of bike paths plus a large number of lakes. In the summer I'm usually cycling or kayaking.

    Median home price here is around $125K

    Median home price in Seattle is… gotta be shitting me!…..$612K!!!!

    I love the West Coast too, but dang that's a lot of money. I think I might be able to afford a double-wide just outside of Renton.

  • Favorite line from that article: "Campaigns for legal or judicial fixes to US politics overall amount to elitist insider games that drain élan from popular engagement."

    It's like a walking caricature of every reason the Dems lost.

  • @ April
    Of all the places I've travelled to, Columbus, OH is pretty high on the list.

    Also, to get rid of the Electoral College we have to win first.

    If you're up before dawn and listening to the radio while you're driving to work, there will be half a dozen right wing shows telling you that the Mexicans are the reason your coffee is cold, and one station with NPR, which will be talking about the latest composer out of Siberia. The attitude that the deep red states don't matter (no messaging) pisses people off like nothing else.

  • Hate to break it to y'all, but you're crazy. No, more outreach in red states won't help; because the only thing red staters hate more then being ignored is being preached to by liberals. No, abandoning "identity politics" aka "civil fucking rights" will not help, because it will depress turnout among minority voters, many of whom are very conservative and would be Republicans if not for the whole white supremacy thing.

    Democrats are simply not going to win in the dying states, full stop. Get over it. We can swing the presidency when the candidate isn't Hillary, but the state governments and Congress are lost forever. Find a job in a blue state, or a blue city if you can't get that far, and move on.

  • I agree with safety man, but this radio nonsense continues all day long once you leave the city. Your only radio choices are an announcer reading the garage sale ads out of the local paper, the Perry Como channel and right wing hate radio. Country people have been absolutely brainwashed because of right wing hate radio and Fox news after only listening to this for the last thirty years. Once the jobs and the smart people moved away, there is nothing left but a bunch of crazy and anger and fear.

  • The reason these suburban and rural places are voting against their own interests is the massive influence of right wing propaganda. They are bathed in it constantly. There are no liberal or progressive news organizations that have the resources to penetrate the right wing propaganda machine. People hear the propaganda in their churches, the workplaces, and the media, radio, TV and most newspapers are owned by right wingers or right wing corporations from Pennsyvania through the Rockies with a couple of oasis in between.

    The small town newspapers have almost all been bought up by a couple right wing corporations. Adams Publishing owns an incredible number of small town newspapers and they are not friendly to progressive ideals. This is just one example.

    Hate radio is a brilliant propaganda ploy that has worked incredible well. This blends in with the religious radio very nicely. WOSU,820 on the dial, was an AM radio station owned by Ohio State University. It reached almost the entire state. It was sold off a few years ago in another GOP theft of public resources, aka, privatization. It is now owned by the Catholic Church and runs anti-women and anti-progressive propaganda nonstop.

    Please note, for the most part, the suburban and rural types do not read anything other than the local newspaper or the passages in the Bible they are told to read in church and they mostly have the right wing radio and right wing owned local TV news on to "stay informed".

    @Safety Man! Hit the nail on the head.

  • Seems to me like President Obama had built a very impressive grassroots(ish) type organization by the time he entered the White House in 2009. Whatever happened to that? Hmmm.

    It's not entirely his fault, but Barry bears a lot of responsibility for where the Party finds itself today: at its lowest ebb since the 1920s. If Obama and the Dems had delivered ANYTHING to ordinary "folks" other than their Rube Goldberg healthcare "fix"*, like say an effective mortgage relief plan instead of slow walks to foreclosure, we might not be having this conversation today.

    Sorry if I sound like a broken record.

    *The ACA has worked out ok for me so far, but I'm poor.

  • @rustonite

    The numbers and some on-the-ground feedback shows that "reaching out to Red States" helps organize existing Democrats, Progressives and some independents, who do in fact exist in these states and counties. If you can convince them to turn out, you can get better margins. I don't think I'm making the argument to jettison progressive policy and civil rights in favour of WWC voters… but even showing up on someone's doorstep and countering some of propaganda they're bathed in has more of an effect than not showing up at all.

  • @GreatLaurel, certainly agree with your overall point, and hell, Fox News and ClearChannel have got to be among the greatest "achievements" of the massive Corporate/ Right Wing backlash to the '60s (Lewis Powell is surely smiling in Hell), but imo a lot of their "success" springs from the Telecommunications Act of 1996, brought to us by Bubba his own self.

  • It's funny because I'm a southside born, rural Indiana raised, Master of Urban Planning from a public university in Muncie holding…

    Resident of Rhode Island.

  • @jcdenton: Yes. It makes no sense to write off Trump-voting areas as not worth bothering with, when many of those same areas voted for Obama four years ago.

  • Having helped run several statewide campaigns in Minnesota, I can assure you that, hands down, the best organizers for progressives in a rural area is the 16-20 year old kid of the one professional still in the county.

    They stay there for one campaign. Organizing gives them the references they need to go to a decent school in the Twin Cities, Chicago, or the Coasts,, and they always plan on going back home one day…

  • "gets evaporated by Republican economic policies all the time and forever over the past 40 fucking years."

    Republic economic policies? Yeah, right. Neoliberalism is bipartisan and absolute. The Dems may throw a few minor crumbs to the poors, but otherwise it's "free trade" and "save the banks" and "don't worry about the past, hey, here's another bonus Mr. Goldman Sachs".

  • How to gentrify the dead towns, that is the question? The real estate is cheap, yes? Renewable energy industry? Boutique farms and retirement communities?

    I recollect Adam Smith saying somewhere in Wealth of Nations that the ambition of many urban profiteer is to make their pile in the dirty city and then retire and become a gentleman in the country.

    Move in and take over. Maybe a Tiny Homes mass migration movement?

  • My opinion is two-fold:

    @geoff: Rube Goldberg or not, it got plenty of people healthcare. At the time, the conventional wisdom was 'we have to run from the unpopular ACA' when running in the midterms. If it's good policy, own it. Even if it's unpopular. I saw an old piece of political propaganda where the Dems had a bullet-pointed list of stuff they had done FOR PEOPLE that cycle. We turned to the R's version of 'identity politics' and then noticed that they've done a better job of creating the identities. Maybe just do good stuff, let others know, and then let the chips fall where they may? I could certainly be wrong, much ink has been spilled and many studies done opposing this belief.

    Point 2: Not everything needs to be national. Green Energy is a 'liberal' cause that all rednecks hate because they hate liberals. But solar, and especially wind, cut down farming costs tremendously. Pointing this out to farmers, as well as maybe a farm bill that isn't a big Ag giveaway, is an example of local action that Dems can take. There is plenty of space available for a party that will rally candidates on regional causes based on actual concerns. As far as I can tell, all Dem messaging is essentially national at this point. I don't know that we should continue to do that.

  • @NegativeOne, I kind of agree on the ACA. Imo the real haters are people who have decent employer-provided healthcare and have been told by Rush and Fox that IT'S BAD 'COS ZOMG OBAMA SOCIALISM. They have no direct experience of the program. Sure makes me mad when people say we "can't afford" Medicare for all, though. We can afford to militarily occupy half the fucking planet, but God forbid our government pay for the poors' doctor visits.

    I'm starting to think the Democratic Party as it's currently composed needs to be nuked from orbit; it's the only way to be sure. Rip it up and start again.

    (@Michael and Brian M, I was trying to be POLITE : ) )

  • @geoff: Reg Obama's OFA/grassroots. That was a campaign born of necessity. The DNC had pretty much nominated Hillary as the candidate at the time and the only way Obama managed to pull it off was to bypass it with the much better organized OFA.

    It's a pity he let it wither when he wasn't running for election but then again it's not like he owed the DNC who had it out for him anything.

  • Elliot Rodger says:

    The left used to have such an outreach organization in the mid-west. They were called trade unions and they were gutted by both parties over the past thirty years.

  • @bg, thanks, i was unable to come up with that (OFA) from my feeble memory. That's part of why I'm so down on the Party: the DLC/ Clintonistas have taken over to the extent that they essentially let OFA wither on the vine (or actively killed it), and O did nothing to stop them. The Center For American Progress and The Brookings Institution are not going to win elections, but as long as the corporate contributions keep rolling in I guess it's all good!!

  • @Talisker
    However scanning the election results for Illinois (a sea of red counterbalanced by Chicago), we have plenty of counties which were
    something like 60% Drumpf, 40% Clinton.

    I wonder what happens in these places. Taking one at random Fulton county has 37k people — the largest city Canton has 15k and the others listed on Wikipedia were under 2.5k. My guess is that Clinton was 60/40 in the 'big city' and Trump was 80/20 everywhere else (actually the math on that almost works perfectly).

    I have 1 suggestion for 2020: My vote is up for trade. I will gladly trade my presidential vote in to vote for a green candidate, libertarian, flying spaghetti monster, etc. in exchange for a vote for a Democrat in one of ~6 states to be named closer to election time. I'm also willing to negotiate for group votes — say I trade you 100 votes in exchange for 70 in return.

    Jill Stein and Gary Johnson could have won tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of more votes in IL — but those 270k votes in Florida bit us all in the ass.

    I'm thinking about trying to make this an App. Obviously there's a limitation because you can't take a photo of your ballot for proof (in many places / maybe the 1st step is getting that thrown out…) but I think if framed as a 'the 2 party system sucks, but we can't afford voting for a 3rd party and ending up with our 3rd choice — trade your vote so you can vote your conscience but still end up with your 2nd choice instead of armageddon' this could catch on.

  • Also, to summarize today's comments: Democrats need to go into midwest states as outreach. Democrats from the coasts need to stay the hell out of the midwest because how dare they presume they have anything in common with midwesterners.

    Okay, then.

  • I love when people complain about electoral organizations going away after the election. I'll give you a little hint about how organizing works. Its not sustainable past the initial goal. You have to build it for each new goal. And not enough people give a shit about the democratic party to build an organization for the general election of democrats. They care about Barack Obama or a popular senator or other person. People don't come out in numbers for the local judge.

    I worked on Obama's 2012 campaign and knew people who signed up for OFA and worked on that. It was a hell of a lot of work for not much success.

    One other thing. Rural organizing can be a lot of fun. But it will wear you out. Every small town has its, we were the awesome back when, story. Every small town is sure that the slightly larger or largest town in the state or area is messing with them on purpose (sometimes true, sometimes not). After the third or fourth one it all starts to run together.

  • @Katydid: If some enthusiastic Californians want to go and campaign in Kansas, more power to them. But it will help if there are *also* some locals alongside them, no?

    Also, the Californians aren't likely to show up to campaign for the state legislature, town mayor, and the like. But these offices matter too.

  • Okay, everybody, I apologize for the salty language. That wasn't called for and I am sorry I used it.

    @MajorKong: I never heard that one, LOL

    @Talisker: two major problems with (say) Californians travelling en masse to Kansas. 1) Who has the money and the vacation time for the sustained effort that would take? The airfare, the hotel, eating out, etc.? 2) So many people in the midwest have a huge freakin' potato patch on their shoulder (not just a little chip) about anybody from the coasts that really, what would be the point to spend all that money and time and just get abused because you're not from there?

  • Also @Talisker; I can certainly appreciate midwestern progressives wanting some outside help, and I agree that it's going to be hard to get someone in Connecticut to fly to Colorado for to campaign for a school board election.

  • @Katydid, maybe I DO need to grow the fuck up, as I was a little stung (really!). Point taken and apology accepted : )

    @MK, nice to see you back here.

  • @Major Kong:

    I think it's more like "The Hardon Land", as in having a hardon for anyone that isn't in their WhiteKKKristianist tribe.

    I think that the only way for the DNC to succeed is to return to the high standards it held in the Traitor States from, say, 1866 through July 1, 1964. Other than that I can't think of any way to have a conversation with shitheads who would slit their own economic throats to (maybe) hurt "the other". I've never been much for arguing with morons–of any stripe.

  • Mississippi is as red a state as they come, but it's got 37% black population. Louisiana is 32%, GA 31%, MD 30%. SC, AL, NC, DE are all above 20%. If Democrats made meaningful efforts to protect black voters when they could, and did things that encouraged large black turnout, several Republican states would at least require Republican spending/effort to stay Republican. But Democrats didn't and won't.

  • Ohio is nice in places, and many of the people are lovely. I don't think we can write off the whole middle of the country, especially as long as the EC exists. Did you see what happened in Kentucky? Thousands of protesters against the actions of the repug government. I don't think most of these places are completely lost…they just need to hear alternative voices.

    Then again, I still believe in Sandy Claws, so what do I know?

  • PhoenixRising says:

    @Chicagojon, do it. I am so old, I was online-organized via a chat board into Nader's Traders in summer 2000. Gore wasn't gonna win Texas, but a lot of Democrats in TX didn't want to risk him losing Ohio (where I lived then). So I coordinated with an Austin hippie who voted for Nader on my behalf, while I voted for Gore on his (because the first time this whole theme came around on the guitar, 16.5 years ago, I was so stupid I bought the 'third party is the only way to send the Democratic Party a message to move left').

    As to why I live at the PO, I mean why I live where I live…guess what? I'm one of the 2 of the 3 kids raised in the same 1500 sq ft house in small-town Ohio who live in the blue archipelago (NM and CA). We are very lucky indeed to have a third sister who is willing to throw herself on the grenade to support our parents as they age in place. If she weren't there, we'd have to move our aging parents, because my brown-skinned immigrant daughter with two moms wasn't going to grow up there, and her white US-born cousin whose father is here on a green card wasn't either.

    Same is true of my wife's family; one of the 4 adult children stayed, but the other 3 ran like hell and make enough money to fly home when there's a health crisis.

    As far as what we need to do to win a national election: the point that MS, GA, NC, FL and LA could be effectively swayed by the turnout rate Obama earned among voters of color PLUS the 25% of voters who are white liberals is well taken. How about our white liberals show a bit of goddam self-discipline and do some indentity policing based on owning the county Democratic party in even-numbered years?

    Black folks are going to vote against white supremacy, to the extent they are not disenfranchised on purpose, whether or not there is a cookie in it. Maybe red state remainders could try investing their precious liberal self-esteem in, I dunno, making the county and therefore state party that little bit more effective instead of debating the merits of Green spoilers to send a message?

  • Richard Lachmann says:

    Skocpol's main suggestion is that the Democrats spend their money on resident organizers living full-time and long-term in Red states and counties rather than waste money on consultants and TV ads. Such organizers could bring down the Republican margins and they would be able to develop and test out approaches that focus on economic rather than social or identity issues.If they had success, they would be a source of pressure on the Democratic Party to shift to a more class-based platform and self-presentation. Obviously it owed be better if liberals moved en masse to rural shitholes, but paid organizers are something. Poor slobs in rural areas didn't care about the inheritance tax, the 'war on coal,' right to work, or any of the issues so dear to the rich until the Kochs and others sent their paid organizers to the hinterlands.

  • @April, you're far more optimistic than I am. Holidays with the extended family make me cynical. For example, there's the mother who never worked a day in her life but as a military wife had many years of maids, housekeepers, and gardeners doing the work for her, who moans about "takers" who want more than $5/hr to do menial jobs; the same woman who brags about her $400/year military retiree medical care *and* Medicare that pay for things like pedicures because she's got diabetes and something-something-footcare…yet rants about Obamacare and "people wanting free stuff." The stay-at-home wife of a police officer who got 10 rounds of IVF paid for through his insurance yet screams about Obamacare offering "free" birth control. The uncle who's been on SSD for 30 years yet won't shut up about "gummint handouts".

    I've been trying for decades to get them to see another side, and their minds are firmly shut to reality. It's all what Fox News (for the older folks) and Breitbart (for the younger) say.

  • Katydid – I confess I haven't had much contact with them….an ex bf contacted me a couple of years ago gloating about how O care had problems…when I asked him what value insurance companies provide to health care he told me "you wouldn't understand " and then refused all further contact. During the election I chatted with a cousin – who worked for Atena for 20 years – and asked her the same question. She also couldn't tell me what the value was in having insurance companies between patients and doctors.

    So, you're probably right. As I have said before we may have to hit rock bottom before anything changes, but then again, hasn't Kansas done that already? And still, they vote repug.

    Yeah, I don't know.

  • @Talisker

    When white people sign up for minority causes, they should be there primarily to support, not to try to usurp leadership. In a similar vein, coastal progressives that bus into Middle Earth should probably be there to support and help local Democrats and let them do the majority of the outreach.

  • Phoneix Rising: My family is facing this situation. The three of us are all on the coasts, but mom remains in the house in Fort Wayne she bought with my deceased dad in 1957. She is in her mid 80s, had kness surgery from a hack doctor who should have been sued. Broken hip a few years ago, so altogether not that mobile. Which means a DVT incident, a fall, etc. Third husband is pretty sharp, but he is 90!

    Siblings have spouses and houses and lives. I, as the family failure, do not. So, guess who is beginning to think reluctantly about moving back? Not sure I can handle Fort Wayne (I hated my youth and childhood-faggy nerd bookworms from a poor family don't do well in upper middle class schools obsessed with sports). am thinking that TOLEDO, a somewhat bigger city with a beautiful river, a lakefront shoreline, a university and culture and blue collar gritty charm (1920s Toledo suburbia blows away horrible 1960s California snout house ranchers at 3x the cost).

    I am ready to retire anyway, but I love California, even the less "exciting" suburban county I live in now.

  • One big problem is that the Democrats don't want liberals or working class people. Oh, they want them on election day to pull the lever for "D," but in between election days, they're just Republican-lite. They say a few nice things about social issues, but they are pro-big bank, pro-Wall Street, pro-war, pro-TPP, pro-fracking.

    Everyone needs to stop buying into all this shit about Russia stealing the election. You can also forget your spreadsheets, population shifts, standard deviations, and margins of error. That's just JO material for ivory-tower political nerds.

    The reasons the Democrats took a bath is just street-level, retail politics — in no particular order:

    — People wanted change. It was so obvious it could have been written on the wall in two-foot letters. Bernie offered change. Trump offered change. Hillary offered "More of the same, suckers, get used to it." So the DNC and the Clintonists sabotaged Bernie, who probably could have beaten Trump easily.

    — Hillary has no message. She. Had. No. Message. In the weeks before the election, every time I met a Hillary supporter, I would ask them what her message was. They would start ragging on Trump. No. What's her message? Go to her website. Bullshit. Tell me. Crickets. Love it or hate it, Trump had a message. You could put it on a hat. You could put it on a mug. The best we got from Hillary was "Put my name in the history books." That doesn't get people off the couch.

    — The Clintonists and Hillary herself shit on voters heads. That's Politics 101. You don't do that, even if what you're saying is true. She shit on all Trump supporters. Clintonists will claim that she meant only certain voters were deplorable, but I can guarantee you that everyone who was even slightly attracted to Trump took it personally. The Clintonists spent an inordinate amount of time shitting on Bernie supporters. Just a bunch of scurrilous Bernie Bros or naive dreamers who were living in their parents' basement looking for free stuff. I watched this with horror. WTF are you doing? These are people you're going to need in the general election not only to vote, but also to GOTV, do phone banks, donate, etc. I'm sure many Bernie supporters ended up voting for Hillary, but I'll bet very few of them went down to Dem headquarters to help out the people who spent months belittling and insulting them.

    — They wrote off working class voters. Podesta even said so in one of his emails. They didn't care, he said. They'd pick up suburban voters. They didn't. Oops.

    So, forget about Russia, forget about Wikileaks, forget about the emails, forget about Comey. Those are just screen stories invented by the losers. Hillary and the DNC lost it for themselves because of their short-sightedness and arrogance. She was a terrible, terrible candidate who ran a horrible campaign. And she and the DNC went out of their way to alienate voters.

  • But there is another reality that will be increasingly true: California is just too expensive. I know of the cultural benefits etc. etc., but the cost of living is so unsustainable for all except the rock stars. And, let's be honest, not everyone in the Midwest is a reactionary Trumpalo. Not everyone in California is an educated programming star. If I were young and not pushing mid 50s and not a Google executive, it might be hard to justify California.

    There is a middle ground between the Bay Area and, say, Decatur, Illinois. There are midsized cities with some charm and character….if they boomed during the early industrial era, some of them have a cultural legacy a Santa Rosa, CA cannot even match.

  • schmitt trigger says:

    Totally agree. Skipper is dead-on correct.
    I specifically identified with HRC's no message, no catchy phrase, no slogan.

    The only thing that she uttered and became viral was the "deplorables" meme, but it was actually used quite successfully by Trump's supporters.

  • Gerald McGrew says:

    The DNC has one big problem….their base is largely a coalition of young people, latinos, and blacks. All three groups have been, and continue to be, low-turnout populations. Meanwhile the GOP base (older whites) turns out consistently.

    That means to win presidential elections, Democrats have to nominate someone who will inspire their base to turn out. Obama did that (twice), Hillary didn't. Obama was an inspirational candidate who was very charismatic. Hillary was well qualified, but not at all charismatic or inspirational. Throw in the Clintons' history with blacks (crack cocaine laws, "superpredators") and you end up with the 2016 election.

  • I closely followed the whole damn thing. Hillary was a poor speaker. When she raised her voice, it GRATED. She was incredibly wonkish. Has she read NOTHING of current psychology of decision-making?

    To me, it comes down to the "deplorable" remark. Catastrophic. Insulting, especially to the Dunning-Kreuger types. Snotty, arrogant, and as Sheldon's mother says "They may be dumber than you, but you CAN'T be saying that!"

    This applies to many of the discussants here, also.

  • Not entirely in agreement with what Skipper said. The change thing, yeah – that's what discontented voters always go for, they are ignorant of actual issues and don't really give a crap about becoming informed, just parroting the party line so theycan feel like they're actually thinking. Democracy for Realists, bitches

    As to Clinton shitting on all Trump supporters, good for her; I can think of no other class of American so deserving of contempt and opposition. Fuck those white, racist, misogynist morons.

    Tell me, now that we have a single-party Republican oligarchy right down to local levels, how do you plan to revive the Democratic party as a countervailing force? Or do we just throw up our hands and turn into a Chinese totalitarian controlocracy?

  • @Skipper

    It doesn't have to be only one thing. If you fumble the ball and the other team cheats, the other team still cheated.

    If we let them get away with cheating this time, they'll do it next time and maybe we won't win even if we don't fumble.

    There were an awful lot of thumbs on the scale during this election: Comey, the Russians, voter suppression, the media. Would we still have lost without that? Maybe. We'll never know.

  • I feel ya, Brian. I lived in Wabash, In for seven years. Yeah, Ohio. Much of it is quite pretty and there are sensible people there, amongst the deplorables.

    Mo and MK, exactly.

  • Skipper. Amen brother. I read that some of HRC GOTV targeted likely Trump voters WTF???

    The DNC just blows my mind. Every election I hear this statement on the news: NO REPUBLICAN HAS EVER WON THE WHITE HOUSE WITHOUT WINNING OHIO. No kidding, throw everything and the damn kitchen sink at Ohio, duh!!!!

    BTW, HRC, won the election by 3 million votes but Trump is President only because of a technicality. That's my story and I am sticking to it.

  • Hey, Major Kong, welcome back!

    April, I agree with you and the folks you cited. ZOMG, someone didn't like Hillary Clinton's speaking voice! She was SHRILL! She GRATED! So much better to elect the man who just dumped the guys in charge of the country's nukes…yeah, that'll do.

  • Katydid – yeah, and she didn't have policies? *I* knew what her policies were…anyone who was paying attention knew what her policies were…she needed a fucking catchphrase?? What are we, kindergarteners? (Um, apparently so…) Idiots. Like I told my bio class just now (we will be starting evolution after CNY) 40% of Americans are idiots.

    And Sluggo – I'll keep saying that forever. HILLARY WON!

  • @Major Kong, Like Katydid said, Welcome back.

    @April and @Katydid The consistent sexism of repeating the same right wing lies about Hillary Clinton is getting tiresome, but sexists and racists are tiresome and unimaginative. Trying to disguise it by claiming Clinton somehow showed disdain for working people when her policy proposals were all about helping working people evidently works well in the sexist and racist echo chambers. People who bothered to listen to Clinton's speeches, look at her policy statements or read anything about her plans are not fooled. Saying Hillary Clinton was mean to Bernie is classic gaslighting.

    Anyone who claims the Clinton campaign did not go full out in rural communities, in particular Ohio, is a flat out liar. As a volunteer, I was privileged to see what was done, work with the terrific staffers, see the information that was used(which was far better than the Obama data in 2012), how many rural, white, working class people worked countless hours to phone bank, knock on the doors of every potential Democratic Party supporter in our rural communities, and help get out the vote in any way possible. The enthusiasm for Clinton was real. Dozens of ordinary working men and women volunteered in these rural counties. One man carried a picture of his daughter with him when he canvassed to remind people why he was volunteering.

    Clinton won the national election. Why were the GOP thugs so desperate to stop the recount in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin? If the results were legit, the GOP would relish humiliating Clinton in the recount. Clinton won Ohio. The Ohio election was stolen by voter suppression and voter intimidation by the GOP Secretary of State to suppress turn out in communities of color as camouflage for the very real vote theft by the easily hacked and outdated electronic voting machines used in Ohio. The lying about the campaign is a pathetic attempt to give cover for the theft of the election.

    @Katydid I think your language was not nearly salty enough.

  • A major fucking problem is that progressives are operating under the assumption that one person equals one vote, which doesn't take into account how fucking oppressive the system is. Why should we give a fuck about the 500 people in Bunghole, IL when we could be talking to much larger populations in coastal "liberal" centers? We've got numbers on our side! Bottom line is, it's because liberal votes are basically 3/5ths of a conservative vote, son. Between the weighting of rural (white, Christian) votes, gerrymandering, and voter suppression, we're going to have to work twice as hard to get half as far and learn to speak their language.

    People criticized the shit out of Bernie Sanders for not mentioning civil rights and particularly racism enough, but can anyone see what he was doing now? America is waaaaaay more racist that it cared to believe it was. Of course, after this past election, we got to really see the nasty underbelly of America right out in the open. America is racist as fuck. White America does not want to hear about or acknowledge anything that does not affect White America specifically, and White America is statistically most of America. Rural voters are even whiter and preserving Whiteness (as we have learned this election cycle) is of utmost importance to them, even allowing things like their health insurance, their kids' education, and the safety of their air and water fall by the wayside. Since rural votes are weighted more heavily than urban votes (the fact that the Electoral College still exists is probably NOT just an issue of "tradition" or "laziness"), and white feelings are delicate, tiptoeing around the issue of racism and focusing on the economy was pragmatic. If you can address the socioeconomic effects of racism without calling it "racism", white people are more likely to listen. And, you will be more likely to win as a candidate. He knew which side his bread was buttered on.

    Is that fucked up? Of course it is. It should not be this way. But that's pragmatism. Social change is happening faster than the culture can absorb it. We're running into this issue where the President-elect isn't actually elected by the majority, because white, Christian, Republican votes are worth more. We pretend our system is one person, one vote, but in practice, it doesn't work out that way.

  • Aurora S; don't forget the sexism, either, particularly out of the red states where wimmin should know their place, dammit, and not demand to be treated like human beings. I was in a RL discussion yesterday about women in politics; before Hillary Clinton, we had Sarah Palin for VP–the consensus was that she wasn't threatening since she gave the conservative men tingles in their pants and "seeing stars" (also, she was stupid as a door post and obviously not interested in learning, so she wasn't a threat). Before that we had…Geraldine Ferraro in 1984. Attorney by education and practice, smart, focused…and ZOMG, she HIRED A NANNY TO WATCH HER KIDS, STONE THAT WITCH!

    Clinton and Ferrara were both

  • Ed: Bullshit. Of course this is a horrible crime. But, there is sickness in the human community. All kinds of human beings do nasty things to one another. Read a little European history-one reason Europe conquered the world is because they honed their war-making skills and technologies through generations of war crimes and slaughter. This kind of racist nonsense tying crimes to a particular race is criminal in itself.

    What about the multiple crimes in the name of racism and economic expediency against the black community by the white community? Are you going to pose some kind of "There is a sickness in the white community" meme?

    I know I should not be feeding the troll, but this is the latest alt-right meme spreading its poisonous contamination.

  • Well, dang. I have no idea what happened to the last sentence at 3:40 am. I also have absolutely no idea how I wanted to finish that sentence (jetlag is a bitch). I do know that her name is Ferraro, not Ferrara, and I suspect I wan't thinking in English when I was typing. Sorry, everyone.

  • @Ed

    Dylan Roof gunned down 9 black people while they were praying in a church and claimed during his trail that it was the right thing to do. There is a sickness in the White community.

  • Retired Labor Thug says:

    For 20 years I organized in California's (red) central valley. The union HQ folks from LA and SF thought we lived on Mars. They were fearful (though for organizers of color, there is reason to be in the Central Valley) but never figured out the message for poor whites who've lost lumber mill and tree faller jobs is different that what works with Pacific Islander home health workers in the East Bay. Clashed with them over the years about campaign focus and methods, almost never got through. Could never figure out if they were too fucking stupid or just didn't care.

  • @Retired Labor Thug:

    "Could never figure out if they were too fucking stupid or just didn't care."

    Cluelessness seems to be endemic in most ruling groups–it certainly was in the IBEW local that I belonged to. When we went on strike we got lotsa local and some national attention. We got solidarity from SIEU people who worked in the same buildings–some of whom were putting their jobs and their continued residency on the table to show that solidarity. We got a decent deal (the retirees got fucked but, hey, they're LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOZERS).

    When SIEU had their marches and whistles in Courthouse Square I didn't see more than a handful of people I worked with there–too busy or too white, I'm not sure which.

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