Category: Sometimes Politics is Okay

Photo of a diagram of how grassroots organizing works drawn on large easel-size post-it notes at Howard Dean for President’s New Hampshire HQ in Manchester, January 24, 2004

On electability

Here’s another one of my topical reaction pieces—you could even call it a column—that originated as a comment or two on the Washington Post website. Edited 3/21/2020 because life.

Electability is specious and spurious. Many (maybe most?) candidates declared “electable” have gone on to lose – so what does it mean anyway? It’s a flawed second-level measure. It’s abstract, amorphous, and self-fulfilling. It’s entirely too cute.

Let’s keep it simple. Voters should feel free to judge the candidates on temperament, personality, platform, perceived effectiveness, and so on. (Maybe the media should encourage that.) True electability is only determined after the fact by the actual vote. The electability frame does not help us get the best candidate.

My suggestion to voters: Vote (and caucus) for who you most want to be President.

Electability will sort itself out.

Don’t overthink it. Vote for who you most like. The one with the most votes wins (your state’s nomination [probably]). It’s that easy.

The person who gets the most votes is the person who the most people want. That’s the only way to truly determine “electability.” It’s impossible to predict before the fact. Why else would so many “serious candidates” run?

Just vote for who you like best. Yes, there will be people who abdicate their responsibility to make a choice between bad and worse. That’s fine. As long as we end up with a candidate who is capable of turning out enough voters not only to vote against Trump but to vote for them in November, that’s all that matters.

I also wonder this. Why do people think that what would result from a Warren or a Sanders presidency would actually be what they plan? How has that worked for any President?

I’m irritated with the constructed narrative that the Democratic Party is driving people away because it’s too far left. It’s simply not true. In my lifetime, Democratic Presidents have ALWAYS governed from the middle. What is the middle, anyway? It’s moved farther and farther right as the Republicans have moved the Overton window over and over again. I’m thankful for our current crop of candidates and elected official who are proud social democrats or even (gasp) socialists. They’re moving us back in the right (er, left) direction. And, as polls have repeatedly shown, they are actually in the mainstream of public opinion.

People who subscribe to the electability argument apparently believe they can predict what is going to happen between now and November, or what the majority of the voters want, or who is going to actually turn out. They expect those of us who believe that there should be a social safety net and reasonably-priced health care (you know, like the rest of the civilized world) to settle for the “safe” moderate who will please no one and either lose or win and get nothing done. I reject that demand. How did being President work out for John Kerry? Or Hillary? The “safe” candidate is anything but.

We need someone who will inspire people, who people like. My belief is that most Americans don’t vote for President based on which candidate most closely matches their positions on all the issues of the day. They vote for who they like better.

Everything changes in the general election, of course. I don’t care if it’s Senator Warren or Bernie or Senator Klobuchar or Mike Bloomberg or Mayor Pete or Vice-President Biden. No matter what, I’m voting for (and getting completely behind) that person. Obviously I have a preference, but any of them would be better than the current occupant of the Oval Office.

The fact is that the Republican Party is going the way of the authoritarian and, regardless of who the Democratic nominee is, the only responsible thing to do if you are a citizen who values democracy is to vote for that person.

I can live with incrementalism if it’s going to replace insanity.

Giving it away for free

Hi there. Happy 2020, a year that promises to be filled with a great deal of change. For the better, I fervently hope.

I am back, very nearly a year after losing my mom (see prior post for a very personal avalanche of thoughts and feelings about the person who influenced me more than anyone else in my life).

That isn’t necessarily what I came here to write about, though.

I have mentioned previously on this site that I have cultivated a slightly lazy habit of commenting on articles on newspaper and other websites. I get a brief hit of gratification from responding to news with my own unique and well-thought-out opinion. But, eventually, it scrolls into the ether, and probably no one else goes deep enough into the comment thread to ever read it again, five minutes after I’ve written it. (Except when I go back through the links in my commenter profile to see how many likes I got. Yep, I do that. Another penny dropped in the slot, another tiny dopamine gumball.)

What is the point of giving it away for free like that without building it into something else? Sure, for a moment other people feel like they’re part of a community, or maybe they feel like they have another enemy to despise. But if I were to only expand those thoughts a little bit into reasonably cogent blog entries and tweets, there’d be a lot more content on this site and maybe a few more readers.

Do I care about having readers? In a broad sense, sure. My original audience was 80% my mom and 20% the people I left behind when I abruptly decided to leave Madison in 1999. My new #1 fan (2011 to present) got a bit of a glimpse into who I was by reading the archives of this site and luckily wanted more.

Anyway, here’s what you’ve all been missing.

I occupy Oakland every day

Upon reflection, I find it wonderful that a movement of people is growing around the concept that the rich don’t pay their fair share (they don’t) and that corporations have too much power (they do). The Occupy Wall Street movement in some ways is exactly what I think is necessary.

From my perspective, though, here’s the sad thing about today’s “general strike” in Oakland: I have over 150 hours of vacation time, over 100 hours of sick time, and a floating holiday available to me. And I agree with the reasons Occupy Oakland is doing it. However, I don’t feel comfortable taking a day off in what is invariably the busiest month of my job.

This is my dilemma with the Occupy movement right now: The vast majority of the 99%, like me, are living paycheck to paycheck. I don’t feel comfortable taking the day off — much less spending weeks protesting in Frank Ogawa Plaza. And there are many people in far worse situations than I who are going to be displaced today here in Oakland.

It’s not as if I’m sitting on the sidelines. The reason I’m going to work today is that I want to help ensure the California Environmental Scorecard is produced on time, containing as few errors as humanly possible. The Scorecard helps keep California legislators accountable to the public for their votes on environmental bills.

I’m not a fan of politics, especially as it’s practiced in this country right now. One day is not going to jeopardize my job, nor is it likely to significantly delay the Scorecard. But considering everything I have to do for basically the right reasons this month, I can’t afford to take a day off to occupy my own city.

Bernie Sanders’ 8 hour, 35 minute speech

Senator Bernie Sanders (Ind-VT):

We cannot give tax breaks to the rich when we already have the most unequal distribution of income of any major country on Earth. The top 1 percent earns 23 percent of all income in America, more than the bottom 50 percent. They don’t need more tax breaks to be paid for by our kids and grandchildren.

Read the whole 124-page transcript here.

walking precincts and taking off the pounds

Hey. I’ve been busy.

I’ve lost about 18 pounds or so in the last 3 months and one day that I’ve been doing the South Beach Diet thing. I have plateaued a little bit after some relatively rapid initial weight loss, but I’m keeping it all off. I think the key now is exercise. The trend overall for my health seems to be good.

recent photos

This guy is doing amazing work: Joshua Micah Marshall’s Talking Points Memo.

Cheesy but good: Visualize winning.

Later in this post: some photos. They’re nice. See them by following this link:

making the rounds

These are making the rounds:

Jon Stewart on Crossfire, if you haven’t seen it.

Must-read: Bush’s particular brand of faith and how it relates to the “reality-based community”. Frightening and compelling.

impending departures

Lots of good news today:

Not that Ventura being governor will matter much to me when I move out of Minnesota. At least my future former co-workers (?) won’t have to deal with such a hostile administration, assuming Pawlenty loses. [Update: Pawlenty won. Layoffs followed.] (And I hope not to be in a position again to be directly affected by Supreme Court decisions that protect canvassing.)

I won’t miss the way Minnesotans merge onto the freeway. Isn’t “acceleration ramp” another name for “on-ramp?” I don’t think they teach that here.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén