Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Is Bernie's Revolution Taking Over The California Democratic Party?


This past weekend, California Democrats turned out for the grassrootsiest of elections. The task was-- more or less-- to elect 14 party delegates (7 men and 7 women) for each of the state's 80 Assembly districts. As RL Miller, chair of the state's environmental caucus, described it, California Democrats engaged in "the most retail of all politics, i.e., rounding up 5 of your friends to vote for you and 13 of your friends in a library community room in an election receiving no publicity whatsoever. The winners get the right to travel to Sacramento on their own dime, participate in a statewide convention, and vote on resolutions and state party positions." Doesn't sound sexy? Dedicated progressives under Bernie's banner made it very sexy this time. And they won and won and won-- everywhere.

The state party officially explained it as "The Assembly District Election Meetings (ADEMs) are held every two years (Saturday, January 7 or Sunday, January 8 of 2017) to elect 7 women and 7 men to be Assembly District Delegates (ADDs) for their area. ADDs are responsible for planning and attending informational meetings throughout the region and working with other delegates to represent their community. They are also elected by voters in their district to vote on behalf of the community they represent at Regional Meetings, the California Democrats Convention, and those who are also elected to serve as an Executive Board member are responsible for voting and representing their community at the semi-annual E-Board meetings."

  On Monday, Christopher Cadelago, writing for the Sacramento Bee reported how it went. "It may be a stretch to call it a battle for the soul of the party, but last weekend, thousands of California Democrats filed into union halls and recreation centers to help choose some of their rank-and-file delegates. While the numbers are still being tallied, a group led by the California Nurses Association and other self-described Bernie Sanders-progressives are claiming it won a majority of the delegate slots chosen over the weekend, as well as the bulk of the 80 executive board seats up for renewal." And that includes dozens of nurses.

Not all the official results are in but it looks like statewide the Bernie slates plus the self-identified progressives who weren't running as Bernie delegates had a combined spate of victories that netted them almost 60% of the seats. In my own district, for example, AD-43-- Glendale, Burbank, La Canada Flintridge, Los Feliz, Atwater, East Hollywood-- the Bernie slate won all 14 delegate positions. Sure, it's a very progressive district BUT, in November the district elected a total DINO and chater school shill, Laura Friedman, to the Assembly over progressive Ardy Kassakhian. This time the progressives were well-organized and the bundles of cash from the Sacramento lobbyists weren't in play the way they had been on behalf of Friedman. The district right next door-- AD-51 (Silver Lake, Echo Park, Eagle Rock, Highland Park, Chinatown, East L.A.)-- Jimmy Gomez's district, Luis Lopez's slate won 11 of the seats, totally progressive and even Bernie-backing but not part of the "official" Bernie slate, which won the other 3 seats. A couple of districts over, AD-44-- Thousand Oaks, Moorpark, Camarillo, Oxnard and the coast between Port Hueneme and Malibu (Jacqui Irwin's district), the Berniecrat slate won just 8 out of 14 spots, and some of the remaining 6 people running on "an old guard slate" are just as progressive as the Berniecrats.

Where Berniecrats were well-organized, they did best-- like in much of the East Bay, Silicon Valley, Downtown L.A., San Luis Obispo, where turnout was generally through the roof, in some cases double what it was in 2015 and 2013. One thing the Berniecrats need to start understanding better is that "progressive" means more than a cult of personality. Bernie himself understands that even if many of his supporters don't. He backed Nanette Barragan in her congressional race-- and was key to her win against corrupt corporate hack Isadore Hall-- even though she had backed Hillary. She ran on a more Bernie-inspired platform though and without the last minute Bernie was able to raise for her field operation she might not have won. That's smart politics on Bernie's end.

One of the most hotly contested races was in the 30th Assembly District (Salinas, Soledad, Hollister, Gilroy, Watsonville-- Luis Alejo's old district, just won by Anna Caballero). Over 400 people showed up to pick between Caballero's slate and Alejo's slate. Caballero's late was a vibrant coalition of Berniecrats, Latino community activists, a chunk of Latino led unions, and the folks who just passed a Monterey County fracking ban. They won every one of the 14 seats. Luis Alejo, now a Monterey County Supervisor and his wife Karina who was badly beaten when she tried to succeed him in the Assembly are more in tune with Sacramento lobbyists than with party activists.

Last week we wrote about the sustained grassroots organizing in the Richmond area by the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) Steve Early described so eloquently in his book, Refinery Town-- Big Oil, Big Money and the Remaking Of an American City. AD-15 includes not just all of Richmond, but also Berkeley, Albany, Piedmont, El Cerrito, San Pablo, Pinole and Hercules. Somewhat shockingly the Berniecrats didn't win there-- although only lost by about a 100 vote margin out of a humongous 1,500 cast. Zak Wear, leader of successful rent control campaign in Richmond last year, and who was out on Saturday pumping Melvin, Ben, and rest of Bernie supporter delegate slate believes the non-Richmond assemblers of the Democrats Rising ticket made a big mistake not branding themselves more clearly. There was a lot of voter confusion about who "the Bernie people" running were... and many people are saying that had they been more identifiable they would have won. They got beaten by the California’s Future slate of centrists like city councilor Jael Myrick, State Senator Nancy Skinner and Assemblyman Tony Thurmond. Lessons learned? I think so and hope things will go from really good to even better for the revolution.

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At 2:07 PM, Anonymous Hone said...

Maybe I will move to California when it separates from the USA in the upcoming years of horror with the Trumpanzee at the helm. That is, if he lasts that long. His defiant attitude towards rules and laws and total lack of class, among many other things, should catch up with him very soon. Hoe long will his bullshit be tolerated?

At 2:34 PM, Blogger Elizabeth Burton said...

It's not going to be easy weaning several generations brainwashed by identity politics off the idea of a superhero saving them by telling them what to do. And not a few deeply resent Bernie's refusal to accept the laurel wreath. The education of the US public for the last forty to fifty years has been in American exceptionalism, with civics and history written to ensure that message is driven in deeply. In the last 20 years, there are more than a few who've had no civics and history that's been even more diluted, then reduced to an "elective" to ensure they could pass the standardized tests.

This round of activism is going to need educators as well as freedom fighters, and for those who have a solid background in history and civics and politics it's likely to be extremely frustrating. Still, their hearts are in the right place, so we shouldn't gripe that we have to work at ensuring their brain gets there as well.

At 3:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I stand by my opinion that the Democraps, as a party (extension of banking, corporations, plutocrats and oligarchs) are unworthy of even trying to take over. They need to die and there needs to be a true left party in that vacuum. But the vacuum needs to be created first.

Even if SOME small bodies in our largest state, even a blue one, can be usurped by prog-libs from the money, it still does not a national quorum make. They'll be TOLERATED as is the redheaded kid in a family gathering of latinos... and only as long as they don't try to make policy or anything.

The big money won't stand for any such insurgencies. Their tacit acceptance of the purging of 7 million mostly Ds, their fraud in selecting $hillbillary over Bernie and their slate of feces that they gave money to in 2016 (who lost) is proof that they will not stand for such things. Even if it's for their own good (from our perspective... their perspective is the only thing that's good for them is more money).

So I say to CA progressives, keep swinging. But don't expect the Democraps to be the answer, EVER. Be open to something else and when that presents itself, keep swinging in THAT NEW PARTY.

At 12:49 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

Good job by the Berniecrats & the grassroots out in CA i hope we'll see that spark here in NY soon.

At 2:52 PM, Blogger Glen Risdon said...

Kimberly Ells is running for Chair of the Ca Democratic Party. I heard her on a local radio program. I was impressed. Shouldn't she get our support?


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