By The Numbers, Part 1: How Democrats Continue To Lose

eeyore

(This is the first of three posts regarding Democratic attitudes and performance, both in the election and at present. I think it’s vital that the party recognize what really went wrong, and where they continue to fail. There will be some overlap in my references to certain data through the three posts.)

Some interesting polling figures from Gallup:

Since the election, national party affiliation for Republicans has gone up slightly, from 27% to 28%.

National party affiliation for Democrats has gone down more significantly, from 31% to 25%. This is a record low in the past seventy-five years.

National party affiliation for Independents has gone up even more significantly, from 36% to 44%.

I suspect that the tiny bump for the GOP is more from the excitement of retaking power from the other party (or, in this case, pretty much nearly obliterating the other party) than it is a referendum on Trump. For comparison, Democrats jumped from 33% to 36% between Obama’s initial election and his inauguration.

But the Democrats have lost FOURTEEN MILLION members since the election. To get a sense of this number, in the Democratic primaries last year just under thirty million votes were cast; the Democratic party has lost nearly half as many voters as participated in its primaries. This is pretty fucking incredible considering how appalled, enraged, and terrified the left has been about Trump’s victory over Clinton. The left may be woke, but it ain’t happy with its presumptive champions, at all.

Meanwhile, establishment Democrats seem largely committed to falling in line behind, rather than challenging, the existing power structure. Nancy Pelosi’s declaration “I don’t think people want a new direction” is their guiding star.

Progressive Democrats, and left-leaning independents, want to seize the energy of the populist wave that formed around Bernie Sanders and reform the party or, failing that, to topple it and replace it with an actual progressive party. In spite of establishment resistance, they are making some progress. For instance, Bernie Sanders is now part of Democratic leadership (a nice gift to all those who keep saying that the DNC was justified in unfairly favored Clinton, in spite of its own regulations and public declarations to the contrary, because Bernie isn’t a Democrat) and is in many very visible ways leading the charge for the party against Trump. And the Democratic party in California was recently taken over by progressives inspired by and endorsed by Sanders, with similar battles being waged across the country.

Whatever side folks fall on, it’s clear that the Democratic party isn’t doing itself any favors with its strategy of general capitulation to Trump with intermittent bits of ineffectual political theater to show how tough they are. If they stood united and uncompromising, even as they inevitably lose the fights because they lack the numbers, they would probably at least slow the emaciation of their party. And if they started making more sincere moves away from corporatism and toward progressivism, they’d likely start regaining some of those lefty independents they’ve lost.

Some other interesting numbers, these from a recent poll by YouGov and The Economist, give us an idea how our leaders are perceived:

BARACK OBAMA
Favorable: 53% Unfavorable: 43% Net: +10%

NANCY PELOSI
Favorable: 25% Unfavorable: 47% Net: -22%
(Yep, the party figured someone with numbers like that should be in charge of the minority in the House. “I don’t think people want a new direction” indeed.)

CHUCK SCHUMER
Favorable: 23% Unfavorable: 29% Net: -6%
(Better than Pelosi, at least. And he’s been making some statements in support of Bernie Sanders and a more progressive direction for the party, but time will tell how sincere he is…)

DONALD TRUMP
Favorable: 42% Unfavorable: 50% Net: -8%
(and his numbers are, of course, falling. Because fascist shitbag.)

PAUL RYAN
Favorable: 33% Unfavorable: 41% Net: -8%

MITCH McCONNELL
Favorable: 20% Unfavorable:42% Net: -22%

BERNIE SANDERS
Favorable: 56% Unfavorable: 32% Net: +24%
(Bernie’s numbers have always been great in his state, and by the end of the primaries he was, and remains, the single most popular politician in the country. His favorability among registered Democrats is 80%. The only other member of our little group who has majority favorability is Obama, and he has both a lower favorable score and an 11% higher unfavorable score than Bernie.)

ELIZABETH WARREN
Favorable: 34% Unfavorable: 34% Net: 0%
(Warren’s numbers will likely spike, at least for a short time, due to her capitalization of Mitch McConnell’s tactically stupid dis of her this week. But as progressive warriors go, she’s still far behind Bernie, likely because of her sitting out the primaries and then boldly endorsing the winner. That wasn’t exactly a profile in courage or principle and it really pissed off a lot of people.)

HILLARY CLINTON
Favorable: 40% Unfavorable: 54% Net: -14%
(This, of course, is largely how Hillary did from the time she entered the race to today. There are lots of things that contributed to her loss, but no one can honestly deny that her historic unpopularity was one of the biggest. She had been “tested,” we were told, but all that ultimately meant was that she was so deeply flawed that she had no business at the top of a national campaign. I mean, c’mon, Trump is a monstrous buffoon crapping all over the world and she’s still less liked than he is.)

So, make of all that what you will. To me, it all points to a Democratic party that does indeed desperately need to go all in both on solid obstructionism (at least symbolically) toward Trump and on the pursuit of truly progressive policies. And they need to look to progressive leaders like Bernie Sanders to lead them back out of the wilderness instead of maintaining a status quo that is just running them deeper and deeper into oblivion.

By The Numbers, Part 2: Who’s Our Champion Now?

By The Numbers, Part 3: Election 2016: How We Really Lost

Tim Fixes America: GUNS

Minute Man

I believe in the Second Amendment, and it is long past time we set up that “well-regulated militia.” Here is  my proposal:

If you want a gun, you become a citizen soldier. You undergo a full background check to enlist and a gun training course before getting your weapon. You are required to report on one day every three months for target practice and gun safety refreshers. Your weapon is kept, by law, under lock and key in a proper container, and all ammo is allotted and accounted for. Any misuse of your weapon, or lack of care in securing it, will be grounds for suspension from duty and confiscation of all weapons.

Possession of an unlicensed firearm is a crime with a mandatory one year sentence in prison, with escalating higher sentences for military grade weaponry. Convicted criminals in general receive an additional ten years in prison, on top of their sentence,  if firearms are involved in their crimes.

For your service, you are authorized one sidearm and/or one single action rifle, which you will buy with your own funds. Further weapon authorizations may be allowed for sporting or collecting purposes, though responsibility for gun and ammo security and accountability will be the same as for your primary weapons, and further training may be required. You are required to keep an established minimum amount of ammunition in your possession for preparedness purposes, with a maximum amount of ammunition allowed. You are responsible for providing your own ammunition, both for training and purposes of readiness.

In the event your service is needed for public safety, law enforcement backup, or domestic military purposes, you can be called up at any time by your militia superiors. Employers are required to honor your militia commitment just as they would were you serving in the National Guard. During training, and when called up, you will be paid a stipend based on the current minimum wage, with additional bonuses for hazardous duty.

The militia, being constitutionally mandated, will be a federal organization.

Long Distance Dedication

Dear Casey,

A couple of days ago, Barack Obama won his second term as President of the United States, bringing a welcome end to an interminable campaign season, allowing those of us who supported him to relax and breathe easy for a while.

I’m happy things turned out as they did, because overall Obama has been a good president. He might already be a great one had he not been constantly, stupidly obstructed by the most disloyal opposition in American history, had he aimed higher on the things he did manage like healthcare reform, and had he the spine and integrity to actually disavow the more fascistic tendencies of the Bush administration rather than embracing and exceeding them.

I hope now, with the need to worry about the next election out of the way, President Obama will step us his game and act boldly and decisively to make the changes we need as a country. I don’t doubt his ability to do so, only his resolve. He has greatness in him, now he must cultivate it.

After winning like this, it’s easy to gloat. Schadenfreude is a wickedly tasty treat, especially when the other side has relentlessly attacked your freedoms, your patriotism, even your value as a human being. I have literally seen some folks turn on a dime, going from “You are a stupid, ungodly, un-American, traitorous abomination” to “It’s not classy to gloat like that.” So if my relief at winning over people like that is a bit high-handed at times, I can forgive myself.

But my thoughts turn to my many friends, and even my enemies, on the right. I’m glad they lost, certainly, but it’s not entirely for my own benefit. I’m glad they lost for their benefit as well, though they won’t agree, and many of them won’t even be able to see through their grotty filters well enough to understand that I wish them well and hope for the best for all of us. I care about them. I respect them, or at least those who haven’t thrown away any right to respect (like any of them who calls Barack Obama a nigger, for example). And I, and most of us progressives, actually want to work with them towards the common good. Obama wants to, and last time they turned his sincere desire to reach across the aisle into a tactical failing. I hope, after the message they were  just sent by the American people, the conservatives in congress accept a working relationship with the president this time instead of holding their breath until, as it turns out, the country turns blue.

So, Casey, could you please play “Land of Hope and Dreams” by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for my friends on the right? I hope they’ll leave behind their sorrows, let this day be the last, tomorrow there’ll be sunshine, and all this darkness past…big wheels roll through fields, where sunlight streams, and we can all meet in a land of hope and dreams…

Sincerely,

Tim in Decatur

Tim, here’s your song. I hope your friends take this opportunity to reevaluate things, and that for the next four years and beyond, all of us can start actually working together toward solutions that help us all. And remember, we all need to keep our feet on the ground, but keep reaching for the stars…

Crazy Harpy Tells It Like It Is [UPDATED]

Don’t you wish you knew this woman personally?

She’s upset that people don’t share her videos, so here you go. Depending on how you voted, you may enjoy this as schadenfreude (I certainly do) or you may find it cathartic. Or appalling.

UPDATE: Apparently, the crazy harpy is Shelly Dankert of Nebraska. Read more here, I highly recommend it.  She spends a great deal of time on the internet railing against socialist Obama, but also has financial problems and begs for donations “to buy food” on her blog. As commenter “pdxwhy” on Gawker put it:

What really gets me is that she says she got a computer only 4 years ago, and it took her a while to use it. So she put all her considerable energy into developing blog sites and videos…against President Obama. Not starting her business, not making money (like many of bootstrapping conservatives that I happen to know) not doing anything particularly constructive for the conservative movement, like networking with other conservative women and helping her community. How sad is she. Sad.

The embedding is disabled, so to watch it you’ll need to click through and watch it on YouTube.

We Take Care Of Our Own (Song of the Week, Election Day 2012)

There’s a sickness creeping up on us. Grab your brain, your heart, your soul, and help us beat it back.

Vote Obama. Vote Democrat. Give in to your higher angels, not your petty demons.

I Don’t Want To Be A Member Of A Political Party (My final political post before I vote…)

I don’t want to be a member of a political party.

I don’t like political parties. I don’t like group think. I don’t like homogenization of the idea pool. I don’t like the us vs. them mentality.

If we must have parties, I’d like more of them, so more views can be represented. The either/or dynamics of American politics are a travesty and a crime against our country and its people.

This doesn’t mean, however, that I think there is no meaningful difference between the parties. On the contrary, there are huge fucking differences between them, staggering differences, life and death differences.

There are foundational things that are similar between the parties, of course. Both are beholden to big monied interests, because we have allowed the system to mutate into a black hole of cash, and to attain and hold power in the current political ecosystem, you need a hell of a lot of money. The Democrats, at least, try to wean us from the teat. The Republicans insist that money should flow freely in all directions, that money is speech and  corporations are people, that even foreign cash from anonymous donors should be allowed into our elections. If it pulls in money for them or their masters, the GOP doesn’t care what the source is.

In my younger days, I used to nobly proclaim that I would always disregard party politics and vote for the “best man.” But you just can’t do that. It’s not that there are no best men or women, it’s that they are still so much a part of the current ecosystem that even they are ultimately soldiers for their parties. You cannot disregard the fact that every member of a party who holds office boosts the power of the party as an organism. Your congressperson may be Thomas Jefferson by way of Clark Kent, but if his winning his seat helps put a maleficent party in control of Congress, he should not win.

The sad truth of the moment is that in any race I can vote on, I will vote for the Democrat. This is not because I consider myself a Democrat, though my personal values don’t diverge hugely from the general Democratic views. It is because I am most devotedly not a Republican. That party has become such a corruption of everything our country is supposed to stand for that I have to vote for whatever stands in its way most effectively. In our binary party system, that means voting Democrat.

That said…

I generally like Barack Obama. I have huge issues with him on some things, and even in areas I agree with him, like healthcare, I’m disappointed in the way he has often started the fight by jettisoning options before they can be debated, thus giving in to resistance from the right before it even manifests. But, still, I think he’s a good man, a well-meaning man, and in this instance indisputably the “best” man of the two with a shot at the title.

I see nothing to admire or like about Mitt Romney. He is as politically craven as any politician I have ever seen, standing for nothing but whatever makes him look good to whoever is standing right in front of him right this second. He has no actual ideas, no solutions. He makes promises, then refuses to even make an effort to at least look like he has any specific ideas about how to fulfill them. This is the guy who has actually said “ask me how I’ll do it after the election.” And his running mate has explained that their plan would take too much time to explain. How anyone can see leadership in this protean, compassionless, power-hungry android is beyond me.

Last week, I shared a series of excerpts from an exceptional blog post by “David,” no last name offered, a political historian. It’s called “Why I Will Not Be Voting Republican For The Foreseeable Future,” and David writes intelligently, at length, offering point after point of solid reasons for not supporting any GOP candidate, for any office, in the current political ecosystem.  I agree with pretty much everything he says, and when I posted the bits I posted, I got absolutely no feedback from my Republican friends (and I have many, who are not slow to pick at my political posts). I think that’s because David presents his argument so well that they had nothing to offer against it. So they retreated into the cognitive dissonance which allows them to continue supporting this festering infection of a party and let my posts sit unassailed.

And I do think that it’s cognitive dissonance, because many of these people are quite intelligent and thoughtful. I think they just have their issues, economic or social, and they have traditionally supported the GOP, and still see it as their team, even though it really does not actually stand for the things it claims, and which they still value. Of course, that may be my particular cognitive dissonance, that I give them credit enough that I think they’re deluding themselves. Maybe they really recognize what their party is now, and they support it. I don’t like that thought, because I don’t like what it makes me think of them.

I highly recommend reading David’s post, whether you are on the left or the right. And I welcome any dissenting commentary, because I’m interested in seeing if any of you on the right can actually offer a good rebuttal to the things he has to say.