Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Democratic Party Brand Is So Fouled By Blue Dogs And New Dems That Voters Don't Know The Difference Between The 2 Parties


Tom Steyer

Yesterday, Greg Sargent reported on how climate change and the debate over the long-term fate of the planet might end up exerting a bit of influence over the political agenda in this election cycle. He interviewed climate activist Tom Steyer, a well-meaning but naive billionaire who wastes immense sums of money by strictly following wrong-headed Beltway conventional wisdom that he thinks is worthwhile because his sources are the "higher-ups."

The Beltway-centric thought-process is always to go after Republicans and leave the primaries to the Chuck Schumers, Steve Israels and Wasserman Schultzes. A few days ago I had a long talk with the political director of one of the most beloved and respected Beltway progressive outfits. He told me his group had decided to not endorse in primaries and just put their energy into defeating Republicans. Couldn't have been stated better by Schumer or Hoyer themselves. My argument to him-- as it would be to Steyer-- is that the problem that has to be dealt with first and foremost is the toxicity within the Democratic Party, where many of the worst Democrats leading the party to adopt conservative stands are in unaccountable deep blue districts where Republicans don't even run serious candidates. Think about Debbie Wasserman Schultz, sitting in a South Florida D+9 district she drew herself for herself (when she was a state senator) that Obama won with 62%. She has never had a plausible GOP challenger and, until this year, she has never had a primary opponent. (This year a reform-minded law professor, Tim Canova, is running against her and Blue America has endorsed him and we urge you to find out more about him and to contribute to his campaign here.) The point, of course, is that the only way to hold an arrogant and corrupt party boss like Wasserman Schultz (or Chuck Schumer) accountable is with primaries.

To Steyer's case in particular, according to the just-released League of Conservation Voters 2015 environmental scorecard, there are 3 Senate Democrats-- Joe Donnelly (IN), to whom Steyer has contributed substantial money, Heidi Heitkamp (ND) and Joe Manchin (WV)-- plus 14 House Democrats who, on environmental issues, are pretty much Republicans with blue jerseys.
Terri Sewell (New Dem-AL)- 71%
Gwen Graham (Blue Dog-FL)- 69%
Ted Deutch (FL)- 66%
Zoe Lofgren (CA)- 66%
Ann Kirkpatrick (New Dem-AZ)- 63%
Gene Green (TX)- 63%
Ruben Hinojosa (TX)- 60%
Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ)- 60%
Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR)- 57%
Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog-GA)- 54%
Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)- 43%
Brad Ashford (Blue Dog-NE)- 31%
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)- 20%
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)- 14%
The last I heard, the only Democrat on this list with a primary challenge is chief Blue Dog Kurt Schrader (whose opponent, Dave McTeague, Blue America is backing, and who can be contributed to here). Meanwhile, batty Bay Area Pollution Queen Zoe Lofgren brags to her colleagues that she controls Steyer. Sargent reports that Steyer's PAC-- NextGen Climate Action commissioned a poll of Ohio voters that found, in Steyer's own words, that voters "don’t recognize that Republicans are opposed to a transition to clean energy."
More than half of respondents either think Republicans would be inclined to support this general goal or don’t know either way. More than half don’t know-- and only 47 percent do know-- that Democrats are substantially more committed to this goal than Republicans are. (As for Steyer’s specific pledge, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have signed it; no GOP candidates have).
Steer has contributed nothing to Bernie and a quarter million dollars to one of the Hillary PACs, perhaps unaware that every concession she makes on his issues is like pulling teeth and that the minute Bernie is no longer a threat she will be back to being the old triangulating Hillary with the "for sale" sign prominently displayed at all policy discussions. Sargent is much more sympathetic to Steyer's plight:
A lot of voters may not know that there is a dramatic asymmetry between the two parties on climate and energy issues. Democratic lawmakers and candidates overwhelmingly acknowledge the science and favor specific action to do something about it. Republican lawmakers and candidates overwhelmingly either deny the science, act noncommittal about it (what I’ve called “Climate Non-Committalism“), or acknowledge the science but are evasive as to what specific actions they could support to address the problem.

Steyer’s new poll also found that in Ohio, very large majorities support transitioning to 50 percent clean energy by 2030. (The poll’s wording is generous to the proposal, but it mirrors other polls that have found national majorities support prioritizing the development of alternative energy sources.) However, Democrats and climate activists have struggled to make the issue into one that actually influences votes.

...[G]etting these issues to motivate voters will remain a major challenge. Despite Steyer’s massive expenditures in 2014, Republicans won nearly all of the seriously contested Senate contests. Asked if he was more optimistic this time, Steyer insisted that last cycle’s expenditures were nonetheless meaningful, because it kept opinion moving in the direction of action, and predicted this shift would continue.

“There is no way that American opinion has changed the way it has without people putting up a big fight on this,” Steyer said. “We absolutely care about wins and losses. But we strongly believe that the American people are going to be the determinants of what we do on this. So when we see these polls, we see that as critical. We feel like this is a long fight.”

One crucial challenge along the way may be to get voters to appreciate that on these issues, there are stark, deeply consequential differences between the two parties.

UPDATE: I should also add that Steyer sees an opportunity in the fact that a lot of voters don’t appear to fully appreciate the differences between the parties on energy and climate issues. Because transitioning to clean energy and acting on climate appear to be popular in many polls, that could mean that Republicans face a political danger in their current stance, if Democrats and climate activists can successfully inform voters of the actual asymmetry between the parties on these issues.

That will be one of the goals of Steyer’s activities in this cycle.
Easy for me to spend his money for him, but if Steyer wants to see Democrats take his issues seriously-- in a meaningful way-- he should fund Dave McTeague's campaign against Kurt Schrader in Oregon and defeat one of the worst of the anti-environmental Democrats in Congress. (Bonus: McTeague has dedicated his life to environmental activism.) Tom, if you see this, you can tap the thermometer and contribute to McTeague, who was just endorsed by the Working Families Party, below. Even $5 and $10 contributions are sincerely appreciated. But if you want to actually beat Schrader and your own PAC is too busy, send the Blue America I.E. Committee a check at P.O. Box 27201, Los Angeles, CA 90027.

Goal Thermometer

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At 3:39 PM, Anonymous OldVet said...

Just to provide clarification for all, I will explain the differences between the (R) and (D) branches of our one party corporate system.

They are allowed to argue about social issues like anti-choice and anti-gayness and the right to discriminate against whoever the hell they want to because of 'religious freedom' (for selected 'Christian' religions). They can go at each other and have the corporately owned media call it 'gridlock in DC' as long as they stick to the social issues and do not interrupt the progress that the 1/10th of 1%ers are making in dismantling the middle class and furthering the poverty of the poor and working poor.

Occasionally some outliers sneak thru and attempt to upset the one party corporate system and hijack one of the branches. It has been ages since that has been successful in the (D) branch and when it happens in the (R) branch the 1/10th of 1%ers will bite the bullet to reestablish corporate control. Sometimes the 1/10th'ers get carried away and create movements like the Teabaggers that they have trouble getting under control, but they can always count on the reliable (D) branch to keep the White House safe for them.

Fortunately, the corporately owned media can be reliably counted upon to help tamp down uprisings from 'populists'. It may take a tRump electoral disaster to do it, but that is acceptable to return control of the (R) wing to corporate control. The (D) branch of the party has been firmly under corporate control since Saint Ronald was president and the (D)'s acknowledged that they have to be subservient to their $$$ masters.


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