Don’t Fall In Love with a Dreamer

Reader J sent me a post on Facebook by Steve Hildebrand, which is a link to this piece at Down with Tyranny, with this gloss by Steve:

I don’t agree with some of the harsh language in this piece, but her votes are her votes – and I disagree with each of them. I want Democrats who stand up for gays and lesbians, for the environment and for health care for all. Sadly, that’s not Stephanie Herseth.

Down with Tyranny assumes, absent any evidence at all, that Brendan Johnson, Tim’s son and the only other candidate that’s being mentioned as a Democratic candidate for the seat, would have voted differently from Stephanie.

We’ve seen this play before, most recently in Montana with Jon Tester and Markos Moulitsas. Local Democrats saw immediately that Tester was a pretty garden-variety Blue Dog-ish candidate. Kos built him into Jesus H. McGovern and then had a hissy when Tester didn’t support the DREAM act. Given that Tester was re-elected, by 3% margin, in a race where a Libertarian took 4% of the vote, I’d say that Tester calibrated his positions on the knife edge of what’s acceptable to conservative Montanans who will consider voting for a Democrat. I know that my lifelong Democrat aunt was elated that Tester won against the reprehensible ass, Denny Rehberg, and oddly didn’t give a shit what the Daily Kos thought.

Now, in South Dakota, where a whopping 39.9% of the population voted for Obama in 2012 (versus his 41.8% Montana landslide), I’d say that whoever ends up running against Mike Rounds, a formidable candidate, is going to have to thread the same needle that Tester did twice. I respect Steve Hildebrand because he wins elections, as he did when he was campaign manager of Tim Johnson’s 2002 campaign, and deputy campaign manager of Obama’s 2008 campaign. But we all know Obama opposed gay marriage in 2008. And given Steve’s history, I’m going to have to assume he’s advising Brendan Johnson. So, yeah, Herseth’s votes are her votes, and maybe Brendan Johnson is a better candidate, but I’m not looking for anyone from that race to be on the cutting edge of progressivism.

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55 replies
  1. 1
    rachel says:

    Has someone complained about having no real choice and refusing to vote for the lesser evil yet?

  2. 2
    jayackroyd says:

    Markos will never stop believing in a libertarian/progressive alliance, an isolationist, rights oriented program with substantial investment in public infrastructure, broadly defined.

  3. 3
    gussie says:

    Is it just too painfully obvious that we need both people who’ll defend any level of Democratic shittiness with ‘the others guys are worse!’ AND people who’ll freak out every time a Dem isn’t ‘Jesus H. McGovern’?

    (Though in fairness to the actually world, I’ve gotta say that the former–among whom I count myself–have about a hundred-to-on edge on the latter.)

  4. 4
    patrick II says:

    Right now I would take anyone who would vote for the majority of Obama’s appointee’s, especially judicial.

  5. 5
    smintheus says:

    @jayackroyd: It’s astonishing the capacity of some people to believe what they want to believe, especially about candidates they idolize. I’ve even had discussions with some well connected people who simply refused to acknowledge clear evidence of corruption by their idols.

  6. 6
    amk says:

    howie klein’s (of dwt) tweet today.

    Anyone selling bumper stickers yet that say “I’m a proud progressive and I didn’t vote for Obama in 2012– and now you know why?

    says a lot about dwt’s political acumen.

  7. 7
    RepubAnon says:

    As the song in Evita notes: politics is the art of the possible. It’s also about the process of moving the “Overton Window” in the desired direction. We really need to be less surprised when other people don’t share our views, and start selling them the idea that maybe it’s better to keep women’s reproductive rights legal than to have to live under a bridge when you’re too old to work. The more we change people’s views, the fewer “Satan vs. Cthulu” choices we’ll face on election day.

  8. 8
    Davis X. Machina says:

    As the song in Evita notes: politics is the art of the possible.

    John Kenneth Galbraith’s formulation: “Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable”.

  9. 9
    Schlemizel says:

    I agree with the thought that we have to give space to Dems from the backward places. The bigger problem is that we often don’t demand nearly enough from Dems who represent more enlightened districts and states. It would be tough if they only drew 60% of the vote in winning reelection instead of 75%!

    Part of that is that these blewish dogs need to fear a challenge on the left, something the modern party does not encourage.

    If we don’t keep pushing left the result will be constantly fighting on ground of the wingnuts choosing and having to settle for ‘not as bad as it could have been’

  10. 10
    mistermix says:

    @Schlemizel:

    The bigger problem is that we often don’t demand nearly enough from Dems who represent more enlightened districts and states. It would be tough if they only drew 60% of the vote in winning reelection instead of 75%!

    This a thousand times.

  11. 11
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @mistermix: I could never figure out how Dianne Feinstein– pro-war, pro- Bush tax cuts round 1, unemployment insurance makes lazy poors– didn’t get primaried. She’s about the only Blue Dog in the Senate whose seat could go to a more progressive Dem.

    As to Tester, while I don’t love all his votes, he’s not like Nelson or Lieberman or Lincoln, chasing the spotlight to troll his party. Even Mark Pryor keeps his fool head down most of the time, frisking Blanche Lincoln has been on my TeeVee of late, scolding “extremists in both parties” for our current state of politics.

  12. 12
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @mistermix:

    The present political landscape is a story of the right’s success, and not the left’s failure.

    The DW-NOMINATE score for the median House Democrat hasn’t moved for a generation — and is about as liberal as it’s been in any of our lifetimes. Ditto the Senate.

    The right-ward drift of American institutional politics generally is almost entirely driven by a truly jaw-dropping rightward movement in the GOP.

  13. 13
    jefft452 says:

    “Tester was a pretty garden-variety Blue Dog-ish candidate”

    Disagree, Tester is way better than a garden-variety Blue Dog

    I reserve my purity troll tendencies for those who run against the party.

    If you are a Democrat with policy preferences to the right of the median Dem voter – well OK

    If you are a Democrat constantly trying to prove to Rep voters that you hate the Democratic Party and its voters as much as they do – well you are going to lose anyway, while the national party wastes resources and waters down its policies in a hopeless effort to prop you up

  14. 14
    Schlemizel says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    A good part of this is because we are always fighting under the rules the wingnuts have written

    THe goopers say 100% cuts 0% revenue – we need our own nut saying 100% revenue 0% cuts so that the middle is closer to the middle. There are so many more examples. I am more upset with Dems from California, Minnesota, New York, Connecticut etc and congressmen from deep blue districts who are not speaking more loudly for a more leftward policy to give cover for the party. We need Paul Wellstone, maybe 10 or 12 or more

  15. 15
    WereBear says:

    @jefft452: If you are a Democrat constantly trying to prove to Rep voters that you hate the Democratic Party and its voters as much as they do – well you are going to lose anyway, while the national party wastes resources and waters down its policies in a hopeless effort to prop you up

    Totally. Let’s take advantage of the sane, who are becoming wary of Republicans, yet are fearful to vote for those spineless liberals with their colorful clothing and atheist attitudes.

    Is it so difficult to look sensible and trustworthy, when the Republican candidate has a propeller on their head and believes in demons? Really?

  16. 16
    Cassidy says:

    Man, thrown under the bus and slapped in the face. Is it Sunday already?

  17. 17
    Chyron HR says:

    @amk:

    howie klein’s (of dwt) tweet today: Anyone selling bumper stickers yet that say “I’m a proud progressive and I didn’t vote for Obama in 2012– and now you know why?”

    Surely the Proud Progressives (formerly known as the “True Progressives”, one assumes) can recycle those “One Big Ass Mistake, America” and “NObama” stickers.

  18. 18
    Baud says:

    @amk:

    Maybe we should encourage them to form their own party. I’m wondering if they aren’t a net drag on ours.

  19. 19
    Mnemosyne (iPhone) says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    A few reasons:

    The California Democratic Party is, frankly, almost as fucked up as the California Republicans. Term limits here have encouraged a culture of “wait your turn” and no one wants to take on Feinstein and risk pissing off all of the other Democrats who will punish them for trying to jump the line and push ahead of everyone else.

    Also, DiFi’s power base is in Northern California and she still has a lot of people who owe their political careers to her, and they’re not going to jeopardize that.

    Add in the fact that California is a huge and very expensive media market that even multi-millionaires like Whitman and Fiorina couldn’t crack, and we’re stuck with DiFi until she dies or retires.

  20. 20
    Maude says:

    @Baud:
    I like this. Their attacks on Obama are worse that the Rightie Whities.

  21. 21
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Schlemizel:

    We need Paul Wellstone, maybe 10 or 12 or more.

    You’ve got as many Paul Wellstones as you’ve ever had, more perhaps than at any time in living memory, though.

    I think we’re looking at a situation where the politicians we have are a symptom of the problem, and not the problem. Ditto the media, which can shape, but does not create, the mind-scape in which it works.

  22. 22
    DougJ, Friend of Hamas says:

    Very good post title. You’ve been on a roll with these recently.

  23. 23

    @RepubAnon: You do know that South Dakota already tried to ban abortion, basically, and the voters rejected it at the ballot box, right? South Dakota!! You know why Obama did so poorly there? No resources were spent there!! Certainly not like they were in a “swing” state.

  24. 24
    Andrew long says:

    But standing up for gays and lesbians, for the environment and for health care for all is not the cutting edge of progressivism. It’s mainstream democratic ideology. Now of course that’s not the case in South Dakota, but maybe a very smart, committed, well respected operative and activist on the ground there has a little better handle on what’s possible in that environment than we do.

  25. 25
    Chris says:

    @smintheus:

    It’s astonishing the capacity of some people to believe what they want to believe, especially about candidates they idolize.

    Which is why it’s never a good idea to idolize a politician. Any politician. Even if he’s Abe Lincoln or FDR.

  26. 26
    Pooh says:

    We’d probably punch hippies less if they stopped blowing raspberries at us from 6 inches away.

  27. 27

    @mistermix: Then what about the primary challenge from the right being pushed by people like Jeremy Bird? You’ve heard of that, right?

  28. 28
    Yutsano says:

    @Phil Perspective: How many divisions electoral votes does South Dakota have? It’s a cheap media market in a low population state. I think a Dem could make it there, but expecting a firebranding liberal is a bit much.

  29. 29

    @Chris: Which is why it’s never a good idea to idolize a politician. Any politician. Even if he’s Abe Lincoln or FDR.

    Or the current resident of the WH!!

  30. 30
    Joey Maloney says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    “Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable”.

    I like that.

  31. 31

    @Yutsano: I don’t know how many EV’s it has. I’m just pointing out that the Democrats never spend any money there. It’s ground we cede to the GOP with out a fight. You know what they hear all day on the radio out there, if it’s not music)? Rusty Limpballs and Sean Insanity.

  32. 32
    Kathy says:

    My votes go to Democrats not “dogs.” I didn’t vote for Herseth-Sandlin (or Noem) last time and I won’t vote for her if she runs again. Her stand on ACA fouled the well for voters in this state.

    That said, I think Rounds is a sure thing if he runs. Brendan Johnson, though he is the son of our current Senator, does not have the familiarity with voters to beat him. In truth, I don’t know that Tim could beat him.

    This is a deep, deep red state. Democrats who have won in this state have done it by intensive campaigning. George McGovern and Tom Daschle probably knew every Democrat in every town. They put the miles on their cars and visited grain elevators and cafes and hardware stores. The Democrats who focus their campaigns on the people have a chance to win.

  33. 33
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    It all starts with the local races. You want better national pols, start finding, encouraging and running better state and local candidates.

  34. 34
    Chris says:

    @Schlemizel:

    A good part of this is because we are always fighting under the rules the wingnuts have written

    That’s the problem of reformists in every era and every country.

    We’ve got plenty of our own nuts, but they don’t come with media giants spreading their word as gospel faith, or think tanks spewing out piles phony studies to “confirm” it, or politicians enacting it as policy, or tycoons prepared to lavishly finance all of the above. It’s the normal state of affairs when you’re pushing against the interests of the elites, which we definitely are.

  35. 35
    brendancalling says:

    I think it was just last week I saw a post at GOS (perhaps front page? Too lazy to look) presenting Sandlin as the best thing since sliced bread.

    I kinda threw up in my mouth a little. It’s not so much due to HER politics, which I did not like, especially her anti-gay crapola. It was the way she was presented, by people who know better.

    Wanna support a Blue Dog, fine. But don’t bullshit me, especially when there’s a track record.

  36. 36
    Baud says:

    @Schlemizel:

    THe goopers say 100% cuts 0% revenue – we need our own nut saying 100% revenue 0% cuts so that the middle is closer to the middle.

    The House progressive budget kind of does this. The problem is that the whole “Overton Window” theory doesn’t really work in the real world.

  37. 37
    PsiFighter37 says:

    @Kathy: That sounds like pretty much the way Heidi Heitkamp managed to squeak past that odious turd Rick Berg in 2012.

    Whoever the Dems pick have got to be focused less on making nice in front of the Village and more on meeting people, mile by mile, in that kind of state.

  38. 38
    Yutsano says:

    @PsiFighter37: Heitkamp also had won a state election, so that helped. She has more name recognition than Brendan does as well. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it will be a slog.

  39. 39

    Jim DeMint, Ted Cruz and their allies are targeting South Dakota and are already calling the Republican candidate that’s in the race a liberal. After they “primary” him with a Ted Cruz clone, they’ll hope for a “moderate, blue-dog, Republicrat” to beat up on as a liberal in the general election.

    Brendan Johnson has a ton of retail, door-to-door campaign experience in South Dakota as a surrogate for Tim Johnson, is very likely to be more progressive than his father, and will be way more progressive than Herseth-Sandlin. This one is easy.

  40. 40
    Ruckus says:

    @Mnemosyne (iPhone):
    I had a grave moment of weakness, when I was trying to figure out my next move in life and I considered trying to primary her last time. The laughter at myself lasted far longer than the original idea. First of all I have zero money, second I’ve never run for office anywhere, third her machine is hugely strong considering her positions and the overall political direction of the state. I was sure I’d have a better chance of surviving running across the 405 during rush hour with my eyes closed.

  41. 41
    AxelFoley says:

    @Phil Perspective:

    Or the current resident of the WH!!

    Exposed yourself for the firebagger that you are. Thanks for saving me the effort.

  42. 42
    OzoneR says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    I could never figure out how Dianne Feinstein– pro-war, pro- Bush tax cuts round 1, unemployment insurance makes lazy poors– didn’t get primaried.

    DiFi is popular with California Democrats despite her positions on issues.

    In the end, most rank and file Dems don’t care about how strongly leftist their candidates are, just that they are at all. After all, 48% of Connecticut Dems voted for Joe Lieberman and like a third of them did in November anyway, even after he lost.

  43. 43
    OzoneR says:

    @Schlemizel:

    We need Paul Wellstone, maybe 10 or 12 or more

    Well, we had Russ Feingold and then Wisconsin liberals decided even he wasn’t worth getting off their asses and voting for.

  44. 44
    OzoneR says:

    @Kathy:

    Democrats who have won in this state have done it by intensive campaigning. George McGovern and Tom Daschle probably knew every Democrat in every town. They put the miles on their cars and visited grain elevators and cafes and hardware stores. The Democrats who focus their campaigns on the people have a chance to win.

    Isn’t that what Herseth Sandlin did?

  45. 45
    OzoneR says:

    @Schlemizel:

    Part of that is that these blewish dogs need to fear a challenge on the left, something the modern party does not encourage.

    Modern POLITICS doesn’t encourage that. Otherwise Ned Lamont would be in his second term as a Connecticut Senator.

    Democratic candidates know they can hang “Crazy hippies are out to get me” or “You’ll lose this seat without me” over the heads of any Democratic voter who even considers going further to the left…and win. That’s how a slew of candidates survived primaries from the left, from Blanche Lincoln to Jim Matheson.

    Anyone remember Allan Mollohan in West Virginia, the guy was successfully primaried FROM THE RIGHT.

  46. 46
    OzoneR says:

    @Phil Perspective:

    You do know that South Dakota already tried to ban abortion, basically, and the voters rejected it at the ballot box, right? South Dakota!!

    Yet 44% of the electorate supported it. 44%!

  47. 47
    OzoneR says:

    @Andrew long:

    But standing up for gays and lesbians, for the environment and for health care for all is not the cutting edge of progressivism. It’s mainstream democratic ideology. Now of course that’s not the case in South Dakota,

    and you just countered your own argument.

  48. 48
    David Koch says:

    and oddly didn’t give a shit what the Daily Kos thought.

    DKos is fucking joke. All the money they poured down the drain for the ridiculous Darcy Burner

  49. 49
    David Koch says:

    @Schlemizel:

    We need Paul Wellstone, maybe 10 or 12 or more

    careful. Wellstone would lose today’s purity test as he voted for DOMA.

  50. 50
    David Koch says:

    @jayackroyd:

    Markos will never stop believing in a libertarian/progressive alliance, an isolationist,

    Markos isn’t an isolationist. He was a loud and proud supporter of AUMF.

  51. 51
    David Koch says:

    also too, how many divisions does DWT have?

  52. 52
    fuckwit says:

    If you do not like the people you are governing, then you simply must get a new people.

    I forget who said it, but it perfectly sums up the kind of elitist, entitled bullshit I have been hearing from purity trolls for like ever.

    This is a fucking democracy. The representatives are elected by the people. If you don’t like who they elect, then what are you going to do? Get rid of them and replace them with a new people, who believe what you believe?

    Actually, yes, that’s exactly what you do: via EDUCATION AND OUTREACH.

    You have to educate people. You have to change their opinions. YOU have to do that, as activists; not the candidates, who are politicians.

    In a democracy, you get whatever representatives the ignorant majority of people who go to the polls are willing to vote for. If the majority of people are ignorant, it’s your job to educate them– they’re our friend, neighbors, and family, after all– and change their opinions.

    It’s our job to educate them, so we can be a better nation of smarter people. Not so we can acheive some particular policy goal or obtain some ivory-tower ideal.

    There’s no shortcut to this. All the supposed shortcuts have noxious and not-very-honorable side-effects. We simply have to pound the pavement talking to people who are WAY to the right of us, bombard the media with phone calls and letters, and generally try to make people just a little bit smarter.

    Nothing else will save us.

  53. 53
    joel hanes says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    DiFi ascended Olympus by accident of being in the right place at the time of the Milk Moscone murders. None of her later renegements and betrayals have made much difference in her appeal to California Democrats.

    Also, she’s reputedly shrewd, unforgiving, paranoid, very powerful, and eats the roasted hearts of little idealists for breakfast each morning. Also very very rich.

  54. 54
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    The more we change people’s views, the fewer “Satan vs. Cthulu” choices we’ll face on election day.

    I’m sorry, but Cthulhu could kick Satan’s Ass.

    Elder Party 2016: why choose the lesser evil?

  55. 55
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    @joel hanes:

    “DiFi ascended Olympus by accident of being in the right place at the time of the Milk Moscone murders. None of her later renegements and betrayals have made much difference in her appeal to California Democrats.”

    Also, when DiFi first ran for Senate, she took it from the GOP after 12 years of the GOP holding it, with a GOP governor (Wilson) in office. California wasn’t always the blue state it is . And it’s difficult to primary a sitting senator, especially in an expensive media market like CA.

    I remember Arriana Huffington’s husband giving DiFi a run for her money back when Arriana Huffington was a Gingrichite and her husband in the closet.

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