Saturday Morning Open Thread: It’s Good to Be A Democrat

We fight the *good* fights!

Even when they’re not the easy fights…


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Deploraville Dispatch

Did you argue politics with relatives over the holiday weekend? My Trumpster kin had nothing to say about their orange idol. I suspect they’re ashamed of him but too stubborn to admit it.

I’d like to think that’s progress, but I know better; they still believe the same stupid shit that made them vote for a racist, sexist, xenophobic demagogue in the first place.

Over the weekend, I read a Washington Monthly piece by Daniel Block about Democrats in deep red areas — kinda the opposite of the Deploraville safari articles about “heartland” Trump voters.

There’s a lot of truth to it, IMO. Here’s an excerpt:

Reporters have descended on conservative bastions like Augusta, as well as counties that recently flipped from blue to red, in a bid to understand how a reality television star became president. They have spoken to longtime, working-class conservatives and ex-Democrats who, through Trump, finally found a vehicle through which to express their political frustrations. In doing so, they’ve routinely painted a picture of Trump-voting America so predictable that it has become a trope. Yet very few journalists have chosen to focus on the Democrats in Trump country who stayed Democrats…

But even in places like Augusta County, thousands of people voted for Hillary Clinton. No depiction of Trump country is complete without them. Most of their neighbors may be standing by the president, but if Augusta is any indication, Democrats in rural red counties are just as fired up and enthused as their counterparts in liberal cities. In Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District, which includes Augusta, no Democrat has mounted a midterm congressional campaign in twenty years. This year, four people ran…

As more activists come out of the woodwork, the Democratic Party gains more people like Frank Nolen: human faces who can make the party more accessible to residents with hidden liberal inclinations. This is critical for the party’s fortunes. Building a viable electoral infrastructure depends on making it socially acceptable to be a Democrat.

Ironic, isn’t it, that the people who belong to the party that opposes an abusive, corrupt, would-be authoritarian degenerate are the ones who suffer social consequences for that. But it’s a reality that many of us live on the daily. That’s part of the reason you won’t find me boo-hooing over Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ comped cheese plate or pitying Tucker Carlson for blowback to his hate-mongering.

Fox News feeds its viewers a steady diet of “oppressed conservatives in Hollywood” stories and plays up incidents where its wealthy hate-mongers are harassed by ordinary citizens. The Fox News audience eats that victimization shit up — all the while engaging in subtle and overt intimidation tactics against neighbors with different political views.

The Post has an article today by doctoral candidate Emily Van Duyn about Democratic women secretly organizing in a deep red part of Texas. Some of the women in the underground group she studied shared why they’re unwilling to “come out” as Democrats:

The existence of this group does more than tell us about 136 women in a small county in Texas. Their experience of fear and intimidation challenges assumptions about democracy in the United States. That is, in a truly liberal democracy, people should be able to voice their views without fear of retaliation.

These women’s choice to engage and persist underground also challenges us to reconsider the privilege of being publicly political and the possibility that the things we see on the surface in our communities, the yard signs, the bumper stickers, are not the whole story.

It’s not the whole story, and we can’t write off the folks in those places. I know it’s tempting to give up on red areas — I live in one, and sometimes I think the best solution is to re-stage Sherman’s march. In a post about radicalized rural kids earlier this week, Mistermix observed:

This is not to say that radicalized rural kids aren’t a problem – but the problem is bigger than that. The Senate and the Electoral College over-represent states that intelligent progressive kids want to leave. Maybe, as Deb and James Fallows have reported, some of these kids will stay and enlarge blue dots in otherwise conservative states. But why bother when you can just move a few hundred miles away and not have to deal with the narrow minds and poverty of spirit that infects rural America?

I don’t have a good answer to that dilemma for individuals. I fled my conservative home turf as a young person too, only to ultimately return. But as a society, if we want to have a functioning democracy (and maybe even avoid a second civil war), those of us who do choose to remain in red areas — people like Cole, some of you, and me — have to do the hard work of building an electoral infrastructure, as outlined in the Washington Monthly piece.

That’s the only way forward. I sure hope we can pull it off.



Thursday Morning Open Thread: Ratify the ERA

Back at the end of May, Illinois became the thirty-seventh state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. (Thirty-eight states are required for ratification.) Even though I didn’t post about it at the time, events of the past few weeks have confirmed my conviction that embedding the ERA in the Constitution is one of our best weapons against the creeping authoritarianism of the revanchist GOP and its dishonest brokers in all three branches of government. And I’m not alone!

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2014 remarks at the National Press Club said if she could choose any amendment to add to the US Constitution, it would be the Equal Rights Amendment. “I think we have achieved that through legislation, but legislation can be repealed, it can be altered,” Ginsburg continued. “So I would like my granddaughters, when they pick up the Constitution, to see that notion — that women and men are persons of equal stature — I’d like them to see that is a basic principle of our society.”

It will probably not come as a surprise that the states which have so far failed to ratify are those of the Confederacy, plus Utah and Arizona. That doesn’t mean any of these states are unflippable, not even Arkansas (hello, Senator Doug Jones) or Georgia. The original 1970s impetus to revive the ERA — which, it should be remembered, was first proposed in 1923 — was vitiated by a series of state-level legal and social changes. But Anthony Kennedy’s retirement, and the Reichtwing jubilation greeting the Oval Office Occupant’s chance to steal another seat on the Supreme Court, make it clear that the ERA is every bit as essential to our continued existence as a free nation as the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments. Without protection at the highest level, our rights to equal protection will never be more than provisional.



Thursday Morning Open Thread: The Joyful Battle

Bobby Kennedy was neither a plaster saint nor the potential savior-president that some have fantasized about since his assassination. But he surely did leave a legacy worth preserving!

(Although, given the political climate fifty years ago, I suspect he’d be astonished that a Cuban-American activist might be a “leftist”, like him. Things do change, sometimes for the better.)

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Alain has scheduled today’s “On the Road” post for 9am EDT, so I’ll share some more snippets from Tuesday’s primaries…


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Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Keep Fighting (It’s Worth It)

The first planks of the “A Better Deal” platform, released last year, focused on the party’s economic agenda. Now, with questions about pay-to-play politics swirling around President Trump and his current and former aides, Democrats introduced new anti-corruption proposals Monday billed as “A Better Deal for Our Democracy.”

“Instead of delivering on his promise to drain the swamp, President Trump has become the swamp,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) during a rollout event on the Capitol steps.

While the new agenda was only sketched out in broad terms Monday, it includes proposals that would eliminate loopholes that allow lobbyists and lawmakers to buy and sell influence without the public’s knowledge, allow big donors to influence the political process through unreported donations and to improve elections by eliminating partisan gerrymandering and implementing automatic voter registration.

The message, the Democrats said: Elect us in November to “clean up the chaos and corruption in Washington.”…

Several of the Democrats who spoke Monday attempted to connect the corruption allegations to a Republican governing agenda that has delivered outsize tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans and dismantled financial and environmental regulations that aimed to protect average taxpayers.

Democrats are also preparing to highlight an apparent atmosphere of rule-bending, if not rule-breaking, in the Trump administration. Several Trump Cabinet members — including Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, as well as former Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price and former Veterans Affairs secretary David Shulkin — have been subject to official investigations of questionable spending on travel and other expenses….



White Suburban College Educated Women Quietly Changing Politics

Lara Putnam and Theda Skocpol have a piece in Democracy about the anti-Trump forces being led in suburbs by white college-educated women:

[…] Nancy Reynolds, the retired librarian, worked throughout the fall of 2017 with a tight network of women (their partnership forged on a chartered bus to the January 2017 Women’s March) to coordinate phone canvassing and door-knocking across Hampton Township. They elected three Democrats to a five-person township council that had been all-Republican as long as anyone could remember. As Reynolds tried to explain to a party strategist aggrieved that the party’s online calling tools went unused, “My friends won’t make calls for you. They’ll make calls for me.” In this exchange, as in many others we have witnessed, we’ve seen to what extent the ones needing education in political organizing are actually the nominal political professionals. The “amateurs” already get it.

The whole thing is worth reading, but I want to add in my experience in the suburb where I live. Last fall, we elected the first two Democrats to serve on the town board in quite a while, one of whom was the first person of color to serve in the history of the town. The other night, I went to a meeting of the group principally responsible for getting those two elected. The leadership was almost all college-educated women ranging in age from around 30 to probably 60 or 70. They were goddam impressive. It was a specifically non-partisan event by an avowed non-partisan group, but it just so happens that Democrats are more in line with the goals of the group than Republicans. I met a candidate for another local office, and he gestured to a group of women and said “they are my campaign staff”. He said they had it all figured out – who to call, what to do. He was just taking orders.

These women are a juggernaut. Republicans have done a decent job running this town over the years, and the Democratic committee in town was almost inactive, even though Democrats have an advantage in registration. No more – having an “R” after your name here is now toxic. If, as the two authors of this piece argue, the experience in my town is replicated in many other suburbs, we are looking at a real change.

(via Kevin Drum)








More Amazing Stuff From Parkland

Emma González, who you’ll remember from the “we call BS” speech, has a piece in Harper’s Bazaar. It is really good:

Teachers do not need to be armed with guns to protect their classes, they need to be armed with a solid education in order to teach their classes. That’s the only thing that needs to be in their job description. People say metal detectors would help. Tell that to the kids who already have metal detectors at school and are still victims of gun violence. If you want to help arm the schools, arm them with school supplies, books, therapists, things they actually need and can make use of.

Read the whole thing, especially for the Lemony Snicket reference.