Monday, March 20, 2017

2018 Is Lining Up Nicely For Democratic Congressional Candidates, Except For One Thing: The DCCC

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After it leaked out that Mark Foley (R-FL) was screwing underage boy pages, he resigned from Congress. That was September 29, 2006, just in time for the 2006 midterms. Rahm Emanuel was the devious head of the DCCC who timed it out perfectly-- even though boys were molested by Foley in between the time Emanuel found out what he was doing and the fatal Emanuel-inspired leak. Going into the midterms there were 232 Republicans and 202 Democrats in Congress. On election day, general revulsion with Republicans resulted in this national congressional vote:
Democrats- 42,338,795 (52.3%)
Republicans- 35,857,334 (44.3%)
The Republicans lost 30 seats and Pelosi replaced Hastert (who was also molesting under-age boys but that remained a "secret" for another decade) as Speaker. Emanuel claimed credit for the big win but most of the new Dems in Congress that year had nothing to do with him whatsoever and, in fact, several won despite his opposition! But, truth be told, Emanuel was responsible-- at least in part-- for the victories of several Democrats over Republicans.

In Foley's own district, Emanuel had timed the revelations about the child rapes to coincide with the day the GOP would be unable to get Foley's name off the ballot. Foley didn't run but his name was still in the GOP slot. Emanuel ran a corrupt conservative Republican, Tim Mahoney, who "switched" parties and ran as a Democrat, joined the Blue Dogs, voted with the GOP, got into a sex scandal immediately and was defeated 2 years later. That's the prototypical Rahm Emanuel "victory." It was all him from start to finish-- including the $810,685 the DCCC spent in 2006 to help him win the seat and the $440,076 the DCCC spent on his losing reelection campaign in 2008.

But Mahoney wasn't the only hideous conservative Emanuel recruited who won. He helped 2 Arizona Blue Dogs, Harry Mitchell and Gabby Giffords, replace 2 Republicans, respectively criminal, J.D. Hayworth, and another GOP molester of underage boys, Jim Kolbe. Three Blue Dogs won seats in Indiana-- Joe Donnelly, Brad Ellsworth and Baron Hill, all worthless. None are still in the House. Emanuel's candidate against extremist loon Jim Ryun in Kansas, conservaDem Nancy Boyda, won but was defeated 2 years later after voting with the GOP on virtually everything. I recall Emanuel involving himself in 4 upstate New York races. He was violently opposed to anti-war progressive John Hall and backed another of his Republicans-masquerading-as-a-Democrat, Judy Aydelott. Hall beat her in the primary and went on to beat the GOP incumbent, Sue Kelly, despite being outspent 2-1 and despite Emanuel only allocating a paltry $75,000 for the race. Two of Emanuel's Blue Dogs did win-- Kirsten Gillibrand and Mike Arcuri and the 4th-- a new Dem garbage candidate, Dan Maffei, lost. Emanuel also underfunded anti-war candidate Eric Massa ($58,500) who lost narrowly to incumbent Randy Kuhl. In North Carolina Emanuel's big coup was to recruit arch-conservative Heath Shuler (who the GOP was trying to recruit for a seat in Tennessee, where he lived) and who won and joined the Blue Dogs and voted with the GOP until he finally retired just as he was about to face certain defeat in 2012. Emanuel recruited 2 Blue Dogs in Ohio who won, Zack Space and Charlie Wilson. In Pennsylvania a bunch of crap conservatives were elected as Democrats and the one decent candidate who won-- Joe Sestak-- Rahm vehemently opposed.

Emanuel opposed Carol Shea-Porter as hard as he could and ran a crap nothing candidate against her, Jim Craig. She beat Craig 54-34% in a multi-candidate primary and then went on to beat Republican incumbent Jeb Bradley with not one nickel from the DCCC, Emanuel rooting for the Republican to be reelected.

Similarly in California, one of the biggest wins of the cycle was Jerry McNerney's win over powerful GOP incumbent Richard "Dirty Dick" Pombo. But Emanuel was anti-McNerney (too progressive for him) and backed some loser named Steve Filson. McNerney crushed Filson in the primary and went on to beat Pombo 53.2% to 46.8%. Unlike Emanuel's candidates, McNerney is still in Congress.

Most Democrats who won in 2006, from Yvette Clarke (NY) and Steve Cohen (TN) to Keith Ellison (MN) and Mazie Hirono (HI), had nothing to do with Emanuel or the DCCC. But he did back his disciple, Tammy Duckworth, against progressive Christine Cegelis in the IL-06 primary when Henry Hyde retired. Thanks to Emanuel, Duckworth won the primary and then was defeated by Peter Roskam in the general, someone the Democrats are still trying to evict from a seat he should never have won in the first place. And in Florida, Emanuel backed a Chamber of Commerce GOP-lite loser, Charlie Stuart in the primary instead of Alan Grayson. Stuart lost to weak GOP incumbent Ric Keller 52.8%-45.7% (Fortunately Grayson ran 2 years later, beat Stuart in the primary and then Keller in the general.)

So why bring this all up? This weekend the freshman class of 2006 had a reunion hosted by Ed Perlmutter (New Dem-CO), one of the only conservaDems elected that year still serving in the House. Most of the ConservaDems lost their seats in 2010, when many Democratic voters refused to turn out for the midterms to vote for what amounted to a bunch of careerist corporate conservatives. The Beltway conventional wisdom-- completely wrong as usual-- is that the Democrats lost because they veered too far left.

Over the weekend, Jennifer Bendery posted a piece to HuffPo announcing that Cheri Bustos (D-IL) "has a boot camp that’s training local progressives how to run for office." Bustos, one of the most right-wing Blue Dogs in Congress is another Rahm Emanuel protégée, who has been more responsible for Democratic recruitment failures than almost any other DCCC Dem. She doesn't help progressives; she sabotages them. She believes with all her heart and soul that what Congress needs is more conservative fake Democrats like herself.

Bustos doesn't understand that good candidates don't want to run for Congress because of the DCCC. She says she came up with the idea for Build the Bench last year, when, as vice chair of recruitment for the DCCC, she noticed the party was struggling to find good candidates. "I was like, how in the heck can we not find someone great to run when there’s 700,000 people who live here? But we couldn’t, in several areas." So now the losers who keep hemorrhaging seats and who send out the list-burning e-mails everyone HATES and who have made the people's party as remote from ordinary working families as the GOP is-- and as hated-- wants to teach candidates who to win? God save us!
She realized there may be lots of people interested in public service but they just don’t know how to get started, or they feel intimidated. She began personally recruiting people in her district ― sometimes just random people she met who impressed her ― for Build the Bench. She’s the only Democrat in Congress spearheading a program like this.

The boot camp is an intensive but casual affair. Bustos rented out a union hall in Peoria from 9 to 5 on a Saturday and provided granola bars, doughnuts and coffee. Turkey sandwiches arrived later for lunch. Campaign veterans rotated in throughout the day, giving crash courses on digital marketing and how to construct an effective stump speech. They gave insider tips on how to ask someone for $1,000 without making it totally awkward: Take a long sip of water immediately after asking, which seems bizarre (remember Marco Rubio’s swigs of water?) but apparently it keeps you from rambling. There were exercises, too, like writing a 30-second campaign pitch and practicing it in front of the room.

Prospective candidates cheered each other on throughout these exercises and offered advice on what worked and what didn’t. In between sessions, they mingled and traded stories about their political plans.

...Bustos is already planning her next Build the Bench boot camp in a different town in her district, and she’s hoping to franchise it for other Democrats. She’s been working with the DCCC to present a template to colleagues to roll out the program in their districts. She has also talked to newly elected Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez about it.

“This is not a major time commitment for anyone,” she said. “You just ask somebody to commit a full day, where they will walk away from that event and be prepared to run for office and to know what it takes to win.”
Counting on this trend to win back Congress is a bad idea from lazy operatives


There are two ways the Democrats will win back the House-- fate (like another Foley getting caught diddling children just before election day or... Trump and Ryan going so far overboard that people just can't take it anymore no matter how horrible the Democrats are) or blowing up the DCCC and starting over again with out idiots like Cheri Bustos imagining something can change without "a major time commitment for anyone." She can make the turkey sandwiches. I forgot to mention-- Bustos has an "F" from ProgressivePunch. Her lifetime crucial vote score is a horrid 48.35. In other words, on crucial matters she's more likely to vote conservative than progressive. And she's the teacher?


If the DCCC wants to actually win back Congress, maybe they should just e-mail the new issue of Jacobin to all the candidates and all the staffers at the DCCC itself-- or at least this post by Paul Heideman, Politicking Without Politics. "Democratic elites," he noted, are delusional-- you can't subdue the reactionary right without a robust alternative political vision." And that's always been the DCCC's weakest of their many weak spots. Heideman makes a lot of good points and plenty of lousy ones, but the basic premise is sterling and the Democrats will continue to struggle and flail until they get it.
For a distillation of the Democratic Party’s self-conception today, one could do worse than consult Nancy Pelosi’s recent pronouncement: “We don’t have a party orthodoxy-- they [the Republicans] are ideological.”

For some time now, this view of the political divide-- Democrats are consummate pragmatists, Republicans are rigid slaves to dogma-- has predominated in elite liberal circles. Hillary Clinton, after all, centered her campaign on competence and experience far more than any actual conception of politics.

And despite the resulting disaster, this desire to have a politics without politics-- this strategy to build a coalition bereft of any clear values or principles-- has continued to animate liberals’ opposition to Trump. Democrats really believe, it seems, that they can subdue the reactionary right without articulating any alternative political vision beyond prudent governance.

The irony here is twofold. First, in clinging to an obviously failing strategy, elite liberalism reveals itself to be an ideology every bit as impervious to contradictory evidence as the reactionary Republicans it defines itself against. And second, for all of the Democrats’ paeans to pragmatism, they are just as committed to their own version of neoliberal capitalism as the Republicans, and just as unwilling to brook dissent with it. In fact, only a few days before declaring the Democrats free of orthodoxy, Pelosi responded to a student’s question about socialism by effusing, “We’re capitalists. That’s just the way it is.”

When attacking the Right, the Democrats are non-ideological and pragmatic. As soon as a challenge from the Left is sighted, however, the party suddenly stops being coy, and declares itself forthrightly in favor of capitalism. The result is an ever-rightward-moving political landscape that ends up abetting the very forces and figures that Democrats oppose-- including Trump.

...While the liberal evasion of politics gives the impression that the Democrats have no ideas they are confident enough to defend, mobilizations like the refugee solidarity protests do the exact opposite. When thousands of people assemble with signs declaring “Refugees are Welcome Here,” they stake out a political ground that directly confronts Trump. They provide a political pole capable of further mobilization.

Ultimately, it is only mobilizations like these that can thwart Trump and the Republican Party. Left to their own devices, the Democrats will continue proffering anemic managerialism, punctuated by the occasional self-pitying snark (“but her emails”), all the while leading us down the road to defeat.

Instead, the anti-Trump movement will have to unabashedly voice the political principles, like equality and solidarity, that motivate it. This will mean both developing our own conceptions about what these principles look like today, and developing our own organizations capable of advancing them. While the Democrats seek to oust Trump and return the country to Obama’s status quo, our movement must base itself on a politics capable of confronting both Trump and the rotten elite liberalism that enabled his rise.

Inauguration Day-- real Democrats stayed away

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2 Comments:

At 3:48 PM, Blogger Elizabeth Burton said...

I had to tell Google the emails from DCCC and DSCC were spam and have them blocked before I finally got rid of them. This was after I used the provided link in their shock-doctrine emails to unsub from them twice each. To no avail.

I now warn everyone never to donate through them, for all the reasons cited here and previously. Biggest bunch of con artists on the planet, with the possible exception of the GOP.

 
At 3:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for you, EB. Sadly, they'll still get the billions from the big guys until the DNC and DxCCs are put down, burned and buried. Because those billions get results for them.

Only when voters stop voting for democraps in total will there be a vacuum created that can be filled with a truly left party. The vacuum is not in there being nobody in congress representing us. The vacuum is created only when we voters stop falling for the liars on the right claiming to be left.

Rahm once, famously, said "Fuck the UAW". But the UAW has supported that pos and his totally corrupt party since he said it in 2009.

I say Fuck Rahm Emmanuel and everyone he passes off as democrats. Never again.

 

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