Some People Are Idiots

If you agree with this, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore.

But! If Hillary lost because progressives abstained from voting, it’s possible that Republican incompetence would be laid bare, and that they’d run the country into the ground over the next four years. If that’s what it takes to show the people that a leftist political revolution is the only viable way forward, it will have been worth watching Hillary bite the political dust. Come 2020, we could be looking at a landscape where progressive politics can finally gather enough momentum to sweep the country, and usher in a new era of FDR-esque reforms.

And unicorns and puppies! And flowers! And candy! Somebody please help me stop banging my head against this brick wall, please? My head really hurts.

Several things. First, this is morally offensive. Losing is never good. But the only thing worse than losing is doing it on purpose and being morally superior about it. Which ignores the real imoacts to real people that a Republican presidency will necessarily entail. Explaining to poor people, to women, to children, how you did it for the long term good of all is obscene.

Second, politics is not static. A GOP win – on a laydown, no less – would embolden conservatives and move the goal posts even further to the right. In many respects, we’re nearing a tipping point, where many people are close to giving up on the entire process of voting because of discouragement and roadblocks from new laws designed to impede voting. What kind of example does it set for progressive leaders to proclaim that it’s actuslly strategically good not to vote? That way lies disaster.

Third, you may not be, but I’m old enough to remember 2000. I still won’t watch the movie about the recount – I lived it, in agony and horror, watching Democratic politicos and lawyers make mistake after mistake in the process. The argument was that it doesn’t make a difference. It was proved horribly and fatally wrong then – what makes today any different? In fact, today it’s even more stupid to claim “there’s no difference” between Democrats and Republicans. The GOP has moved enormously and distinctly to the right, while Democrats have moved decisively in the opposite direction. For the first time, we’ve moved on health care. Democrats. We acted to stave off a depression. Democrats. We’ve acted to regulate the worst of the financial sector’s abuses. Democrats. We’re at least talking about racial discrimination, police abuse, economic inequality. Real things. All of that will be off the table with a GOP win. How does that help?

You can say it wasn’t enough or we need more and better. Fine. So your solution is to walk off the field? How would you feel if your sports team did that? “Hey, we’ll be back next year and with better players and then you’ll see how good we are.” You’d be horrified, and there is no human or moral component to that decision.

Fourth, the author looks at conservatives with envy. How does he think hard core conservatives got power? It only happened when they began to take over the GOP from the inside, little by little, over many years. We don’t do that. Progressives want results now, they don’t want to wait, and they look for magic bullets. Here’s one: hard, sustained work to move the politics of the Democratic Party where we want them to be.  

People who espouse this kind of screwed up thinking are pie in the sky purists. They don’t want to get their hands dirty with compromise, with reality, with having to settle for half or a quarter or even a tiny piece of a loaf. News flash: politics is a constant struggle to move the ball forward (it’s Sunday during football season, sue me) an inch at a time, little by little, bit by bit. And its protecting your accomplishments from being rolled back, even as you try to move forward. It’s agonizing and painful and draining work sometimes, and it can be a decade or a generation before you look up and realize just how much you’ve accomplished. It’s not going to happen overnight, and heightening the contradictions or throwing bombs is not going to change the reality of the process.

A confession: I’ve never (really, never) voted for a presidential primary winner in my entire life. Here’s my tale of woe: Fritz Hollings (don’t ask, I can’t or won’t remember), Gary Hart, Paul Tsongas (he won the Maryland primary in ’92), Bill Bradley, a pre-shithead John Edwards, and Hillary Clinton. That’s a long time that I’ve been sucking it up and supporting a candidate who at least initially wasn’t mine. It’s not that hard. Do the right thing. Work your ass off. You won’t become infected with any disease other than the one that most people reading this hopefully already have: a burning, itching compulsion to make the world a better place. Moral superiority has no place in the treatment of this condition.

I’ve never considered taking the actions this article espouses. Never. Support your party, snd if you don’t like the candidate, work harder next time to get a better one. But if you walk out in 2016, as far as I’m concerned, don’t bother coming back. And if you intend to run for office someday, you might as well slit your political throat and save yourself the trouble. Loyalty matters – not to me, or some other individual person, but to the ideals and the people we claim to stand for, those who need our help and need someone to fight for them.

Rant over. Almost time for football.

On Running And Losing

Tom Coale of HoCoRising has a very good piece today on what it feels like to run for office, give it everything you have, and come up short. Read the whole thing, but this part deserves special mention:

Even still, in the days, weeks, and months after the election, I felt embarrassed. I think that is a fair emotion to feel, but looking back it was without merit. For all past and future candidates, successful or not, the result of the election is the same. The people that didn’t like you still don’t like you. The people that liked you still like you. Everyone else who never met you and never knew you still won’t care one way or the other. . . .

The only lasting pain is found in the inability to do the things that need to be done. The e-mails I still get from people who need help, but aren’t getting responses from Annapolis. It seems likely that three years from now the same issues I spent 18 months talking about will still be left to address. That may be a politician’s dream, but it is a community’s tragedy. That part still hurts.

I’d add a few other things to the mix, like finding out who your friends are – and aren’t – but overall I think Coale is right on the money. I spent a good bit of time last night thinking not about the winners, but about those who for one reason or another came up short. We don’t give people credit for throwing themselves heart and soul into campaigns, and we often decide them based on spurious and irrelevant reasons. It’s a huge risk to do what a Tom Coale or a Laurie Anne Sayles or a Brigitta Mullican or a Clark Reed or yes, a Jonathan Shurberg is willing to do to help make the world a better place.

One of the reasons I ended up far more engaged in the Rockville race this week was because certain parts of it trivialized and disrespected the process to such a degree that it offended me.

Winning at all costs, even at the expense of the truth and basic civility, is not acceptable. It cheapens the discourse and eventually weakens the democratic process. And it denigrates the efforts of good people to participate in that process. I believe we can and must do better than that. That goes for those who serve as campaign staff, volunteers, and yes, even bloggers. You must respect the process in which you participate – if you can’t, if you don’t show respect for the truth, you don’t belong here. Fight hard, but fight fair. It’s not asking for all that much, really.

I know that we are capable of better, and that’s why I’m still here, still willing, despite everything that has happened to me over the past several years, to stand and fight for what’s right and call out what’s wrong.

I know at least one person who would be very disappointed in me if I walked away. She never gave up on any fight, not when she believed she was right and she had something to say. As much as anything else, I am compelled forward by that example.

So here’s to every candidate who ran in elections this year, and last, and who are running now, those who win, and even more, those who won’t. What you’re doing is courageous and audacious, and I salute you.

Is The Absence Of News News?

For the day before the close of the third quarter campaign finance reporting period, there is suspiciously little conversation going on. Entirely too metaphysical of an analysis for my tastes, but hey, at some point you just gotta go with what you’ve got. Which is nothin’. Which might be something. Or not.

Gerrymandering In Two Photos

So I drove 60 miles, most of the way to Pennsylvania, to find myself near Thurmont – but still in CD8. Was trying to find some voters to chat with to see what they think about the state of Democratic politics, but I clearly took a wrong turn or something – there’s no voters anywhere near Chimney Rock. Beautiful day for a walk in the woods, though.



It’s kind of surreal when my Google Alert returns a hit of my own blog post. Sort of a weird feedback loop that demonstrates at least the virtual reality of my existence.

Screw Descartes, this is the modern version: “I show up on Google, therefore I am.” Boom.