So, What's a Dem to Do?

>> Sunday, May 7, 2017

Last time I argued against letting outside radicals come in and tear the Democratic party apart in the name of unity. After all, they don't know jack about governance and the examples of full up socialism here in the Americas back that up. Extremists regimes end up corrupt. Alt-right is proving that right now with our own government.

But doing nothing won't work. We played by all the rules, took the high road, went high when they went low, showed them hard data, pointing out the issues and hatred on the other side, provided (on Hillary's part) reams of data on exactly what she wanted to do on a whole myriad of issues. And lost (though there were definitely some dark forces involved in that: the embrace of the Sanders' campaign of GOP and Russian misinformation, Russian misinformation bots throughout the campaign, the media gleefully pounding on perceived or trivial issues with Hillary while sexual molestation and criminal fraud were shrugged off on the Trump side, and, of course, Comey's poorly explained torpedoing of one campaign while silently deep in investigation of the other).

There are other factors outside the Dems and Hillary's control that were likely factors that don't get much play by pundits or the populace: name recognition (which is an amazingly big factor in voting and Trump made his name big among people who aren't politically savvy long before this election), the tendency of the dissatisfied populace to change leadership at least every eight years (even if they're better off than they were - they're rarely as well off as they'd like to be), and the fact that Hillary was (and the alt-left won't like this) one of the most left leaning candidates for president we ever had and far leftists don't do well in Presidential elections, per available data.

What the Dems are talking about includes courting the racists and sexists of this country (tossing aside the championship of civil rights) in the interest of winning (which I talked about last time), and rehashing the mistakes Hillary made: not going to enough states at the end, not a good enough ground game, not having a good message on economic issues, not having a catchy simple way of explaining the answers to complex problems (Apparently "Stronger Together" isn't unifying enough for some people).

But the truth is, none of this is really enough. Even with the dark forces in play, this election would have been something of a squeaker even though it should have been a landslide. The WORST they could come up with Hillary was that she used poor judgment setting up her server, but had an exemplary record of public service, including several key achievements like ChIPS, support for disabled students in schools, her acclaimed work as Secretary of State cleaning up after W, and a surprisingly transparent charity credited with helping people around the world. Trump was active in suits involving fraud, racketeering, and child rape, had a history of bankruptcy and destroying small businesses by not paying them, and bragged about assaulting women.  That's not even counting the ugly, hateful, malicious rhetoric of his campaign. Unless you were painfully naive, a Republican who wanted a free hand to rape and pillage the country for other wealthy bastards, or you wanted any possible excuse to not to vote for a woman, this was a no brainer. But, for someone who wasn't with him ideologically, there was no excuse, whether Hillary came to hold a rally in your town or someone came to knock on your door and beg you to vote for her pretty please.

People still bring up the email, and that shouldn't have even lasted through a 24 hour news cycle instead of being pounded daily for a year and a half.  It certainly shouldn't have been a factor that weighed anything next to what Trump stood for and his past. And I know that's true because Trump and half his staff do exactly the same thing now and the news on it didn't even make a 24 hours news cycle (nor should it) considering the heinous streak of horrible things they've done since coming into power. Which were entirely predictable.

Because tearing apart Hillary and the campaign again isn't going to address the problem. That was a solid campaign swimming upstream against a media onslaught of epic proportions and much of what people said she didn't say, she did say, in detail and at length. The problem was, no one was listening. Well, those of us staunchly behind her were listening, but we had to search it out between all the attack pieces.

I wish you folks could hear how it sounds from my perspective. Before you explain how it's not sexism, kindly find the footage where Bernie, who lost fair and square to Hillary by a huge margin by every metric, came on television and went painstakingly through every one of his missteps.

I saw this in 2008. Even though she had a MUCH closer loss with Obama, I heard for years a long litany of all her campaign failures. When McCain lost, other than his idiotic choice for VP, I didn't hear news and Republicans going on and on about his many failings that brought this to happen, even though they considered (and I saw this on actual campaign posters) Obama the anti-Christ. Maybe if he'd lost, they'd have done the same thing with him.

Hillary, unlike every other loser in the history of politics, will go into great detail again (and apologize) for her missteps because she knows that's a step required for her and her alone. She will acknowledge them just as she acknowledged mistakes during the campaign (and no one else did). And she'll be hounded for them forever anyway, because anything less than perfection must be castigated until the end of time, no matter how abjectly she acknowledges them or detailed her own analysis.

And not one other person will look closely at all the other missteps or take responsibility for them. All so we can pretend that the simplest Occam's razor answer isn't true, that as racist as this country is, it's even more sexist.

Bottom line, not just the right but the left was played, too. And, until we can convince us, the voters, not to be so easily played, until we can convince liberal voters that the rules have to be the same for everyone, the standards the same, not one set for the right and one for us or for blacks or for women (don't get me started on the brouhaha on President Obama's speeches - I wouldn't begrudge him if he'd demanded his weight in gold from the country as several for all the ugliness we put him through while he worked his heart out for us), we will lose over and over again.

Let me put it another way, even if you voted for her, if you're analyzing and the first and last answer to everything wrong has to do with some flaw in Clinton, step back and ask yourself, would you do the same, put 100% of the blame on another candidate the same way? If you're saying, "How dare she do anything less than take 100% of the blame for Trump being in the White House, I'll never respect her again," you've got more sexism in you than you thought.

We already know the conservatives will treat her differently because she's a woman. If you are using a different yardstick for Hillary Clinton than anyone else, it's sexist. And, if it's just as true on the left, that is probably the real problem.  But, by joining with them to flay Hillary again, we're reinforcing their wrong thinking, not correcting it. And we have to correct it, because the key to winning isn't to look like the other side but to note why we're different.

One reason the conservatives have so much power right now is that they've dominated the narrative. They first told us Hillary (and Obama) were the evil communists among their own adherents while feeding stories to leftist outlets that they were both closet Republicans indistinguishable from the Republicans (no matter how that was belied by facts). But the majority that put Obama in the White House, the majority that voted for Hillary, the tens of millions that believed in them, didn't scream about it. The screaming has been done by the extremists, such that Dem contenders in the midterms didn't embrace the good work that Obama was doing, but disavowed it (thereby losing and making Congress red), by not standing forward and shouting their love of Hillary (instead going into secret groups where they wouldn't be attacked). They aren't the ones who lost the election, but they seem to be the only ones doing the soul searching, wondering what they could do better.

What they need to do is educate those who are smugly proud of not voting or their third party vote or even voting for Trump while turning around and blaming Hillary (and company) for Trump's actions. That's the kind of nonsense that must be fought against. That's the narrative we need to kill right here and right now. Probably can't do it for the deeply red folks, but there are a lot of other people who are going to be facing some real appreciable harm who need to listen if they want the situation to get better. If you didn't vote for Hillary and you're bitching about Trump, you need to do some soul searching because YOU are a big part of the problem. And thinking the Dems need to change to fix it ain't the answer, because they aren't the problem. They voted for the answer. You didn't.

But what can the Democrats do? Well, you're doing it. You're reminding the Republican reps out there that you're watching and you hate what they're doing. Wish I could say that will stop 'em--it won't; they don't care what we think and they haven't for some time--but it does hearten the Dems. We need to back and support the Dems that are working for us. They did a great job trimming the worst of Trump's proposals for the budget and holding firm on that. They were staunch against the AHCA. Some of the Democratic Reps have offered to come to the town halls the Republicans are afraid to hold. That's a brilliant idea. Let the voters know who is really throwing them under the bus, who is standing for their rights and who isn't.

We need to change the narrative. Facts matter. Reality matters. People matter. The rules need to be the same for everyone or they are meaningless. We need to call out lies and keep calling them out. We need to mock the insane proposals as the garbage they are. We have to be noisy and scream that we're not going to be attacked without standing our ground, that we're proud of the people, often maligned and dismissed, who have been fighting for us for the past half century. We need to be the noisy majority and make the media do better, make the narrative truthful again.

We need to use that to build a better, smarter, less gullible electorate. In my opinion, that's the only way we win.


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