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It's Time for Democrats to Stop Being Such Gormless Chumps


Warren has been too full-throated in her support for Israel’s bombing of Gazans.


It’s good to see that many of us will not buy into the false corporate narrative. That, even though the opposition has their defenders out on Common Dreams with their continual convoluted explanation.


Who can forget “Monkey Business”?


The world would be a different place if Wallace had been president rather than the fuckwit Truman.


I love Fred Harris, but no one seems to remember him or his quirky campaign.


Imagine a progressive like him being elected in a place like Oklahoma today.


My argument is that progressive leaders in the Fred Harris tradition are exactly who should be running in poor rural areas like those in Oklahoma. The debate we constantly see here on CD about whether progressive candidates will do better in elections than traditional moderate liberals does not necessarily have the same answer for every district. Give me a purple suburban district with high household income and I’d reluctantly have to agree that a “limousine liberal” may do better than a “no-bullshit progressive”. But give me a red district with low household income and you’d be crazy to run someone disconnected from the everyday lives of the poor.


You could say the same about Frank Church from Idaho, who lost reelection in 1980. Swept out in a big Republican year and Idaho hasn’t been the same since.


Except that Fred Harris did not get voted out of the Senate and Frank Church was no where near as progressive as Fred Harris and I wouldn’t call losing by 0.9% being “swept out”.


Church was not as progressive, but he was a strong union supporter who was backed by labor in his state and definitely occupied the liberal wing of the party when first elected in the 1950s. By “swept” I meant swept out in the Republican wave of 1980, not “he got swept.” My point is he was the old school type New Deal Democrat that progressives pine for but lost a seat in the Reagan era, sadly.

There was a great interview I listened to with the mayor of Boise who knew Church. He discussed exactly what you are talking about, the “type” of Democrat who could get elected in his state. He really puts the problem on right to work laws. He said after Idaho went that way, it became difficult for Democrats to raise money statewide, while Republicans got a constant steam of support. I wish I could find it right now because it gets to what you are getting at.


Idaho’s so called “right-to-work” law was adopted in 1985 so I don’t think that had a lot to do with Frank Church losing. Now - I don’t want to go out on a radical limb in chastising Frank Church - he took several progressive stands in his career that I admired (i.e. the following is not directed specifically at him).

However, I do want to point out that there is just as big of a difference between the establishment union leaders and the progressive union leaders as there is between the establishment Democrats and the progressive Democrats. I think you might be conflating things a bit in your assumptions about what progressive people “pine for”.


Oh, I wasn’t suggesting that right to work is why Church lost, just that in Boise’s mayor’s estimate, it made it very difficult to compete with Republicans in that state after it passed. He felt that’s why the transition in his rural state towards conservativism was so strong and lasting.

On the other issue, I really don’t know how you parse that. I didn’t always agree with my union leadership, but I typically vote in a pro-union manner. In the case of Church, historically he occupied the Left wing of the party and was supported by, and supported, labor in his state. If membership decided to go Republican in 1980 out of spite over its leadership, I can’t say. We can all point to candidates that we think are “progressive,” or our ideal. In 1957, Frank Church was one.

But I’ve seen plenty of pining for New Deal type progressives right here in variations usually accompanied by the idea that the party supposedly ditched them way back. My feeling is that’s a warped reading of history (I think T. Frank wanted to sell a book.). After the Reagan realignment, Democrats were on defensive, largely reactive, however progressive they were. But there was a reason for that and we need to credit the people who made that reason real. It’s not sellout Democrats, but Reagan Republicans who worked hard to realign politics.


I would say that if a progressive candidate is relying on a big source of money (like from unions) rather than grassroots fundraising and an army of volunteers - then they either aren’t really progressive or they don’t stand a chance in trying to compete on that basis.

Regarding labor unions - I have certainly always voted in what might be described as a pro-labor manner (not necessarily in the same way as advisees by specific unions). I meant that the politics of the unions themselves is sometimes progressive (as with he UFW generally) and sometimes more in line with traditional or even conservative Democrats. Thus, the fact that a traditional Democrat is in alignment with a traditional union is not a particular surprise and isn’t necessarily what pro-labor progressives pine for.


I think the mayor’s point is Democrats got their legs pulled out from under them both financially and volunteer wise in Idaho after right to work. With less membership came less support and ultimately, less exposure to progressive politics. Wish I could find that interview, but after the Supreme Court rules this year against public sector unions, the blue states will be immersed in that world too.

I just think money from unions and other organizations is important. Volunteers are nice–I am one–but money does matter and not everyone can give to every race. Not all candidates are exciting either. If just having an R next to your name earns you an automatic Koch funding cycle for an assembly seat, that already starts things tough for progressives (and centrists). I really like this take:



Prissy rule following is just an excuse to maintain the status quo, even as it slips further to the right.


I voted for Jackson even though I was from Massachusetts - couldn’t believe Dukakis though not a bad guy actually emerged a serious candidate (thanks NH primary). But I jumped off during Clinton’s first term. The health care proposal was a lie from what he promised on the campaign trail. And then the corporate handouts which - even those that require employers to provide benefits - promote a corporate world view instead of a small business one which is where economic equality resides. Now you have liberals working in corporate America that are happy with their health benefits and don’t see a crisis. And you seem similar mistakes now in Massachusetts with legal marijuana on its way. Like it or not, fact is you have a massively profitable industry about to emerge and instead of ensuring it is mom and pop oriented, they are placing barriers to ensure only millionaires run it.


I can’t understand why more corporations are not fighting for single payer medicare for all health care. To have health insurance now costs companies way more than it costs individuals. I pay more than 4K a year for health insurance, my employer pays at least double that. Is the Repugnant Ones’ idea to make us workers pay for all of our insurance? I know this is a different topic.


I agree with the importance of the courts in hurting the ability of progressive candidates to compete as relayed in the link. The Russ Feingold situation was a good example on that point. Clearly, the campaign finance side of things was pretty well decided by the Supreme Court’s 1-2 punch of Buckley v Valeo and Citizen’s United v FEC.

But does that really mean we have to find ways to scrounge to be effective or does it mean that we need to work to come up with alternative ways to be effective. Currently, the really big bucks go toward TV. The alternative is to get the free advertising that comes with doing media attention getting things and to run an effective internet based campaign. The second biggest expense is staff - and that’s where progressive candidates have to rely mainly on volunteers. But that doesn’t mean every candidate getting their own set of volunteers (as the article you linked to asserted) - the appropriate alternate is to work with groups like Our Revolution to provide a coordinated and targeted staffing across multiple progressive campaigns (plus the occasional spectacular candidate who draws their own group of enthusiastic support).



or this?


I’m in no way saying not to try different things and I don’t think the author of that piece is either. But money does matter in elections, especially now, and especially at the local level where name recognition can be the biggest factor. That’s why the Koch’s are committing $400 million again to local, state, and Congressional elections in 2018. If it was just volunteers and local money raised, progressives would hold a lot more seats I suspect. Indeed, I think that’s why we all hope to undo Citizens United etc.