Monday, May 14, 2018

Should Party Leaders (And Schlemiel DCCC Staffers) Pick The Party's Candidates Or Should Local Democrats Decide?


Even though Bob Borosage is a Beltway person, he's a very smart guy. I know him from our work at the Progressive Majority Political Action Committee and I noticed that he always knew what he was talking about. He's a contributing editor at The Nation and he does an excellent job there. On Friday they published a piece by him, Why Primary Fights Are Good for the Democratic Party, that I'm hoping DCCC staffers decide to read. It's about them and the miserable disservice they are doing to the party, to the country and to democracy itself. "The DCCC," he writes, "shouldn't be pushing activists aside in key races." That tactic is only one that they've been using since Pelosi named Rahm Emanuel chair of the committee in 2006, to turn the Democratic House Conference away from progressivism and towards corruption.

Stenchy Hoyer, a very tired Pelosi, Joe Crowley, Ben Ray Luján and a raft of grotesquely and institutionally corrupt staffers, fanatically project a status quo that has been catastrophic for the Democrats and left them in a position where they can only win elections in wave cycles. in other words, they have to sit aroud waiting for the Republicans to screw up badly enough to win House majorities. The only operational strategy the DCCC has had in over a decade is... we're the lesser evil. They literally floated an idea recently that when something like this: "If you think we're bad, take a look at the other guys." Someone talked them out of it.

I actually found it. This isn't photo-shopped. DCCC staffers floated it

Too bad no one talked them out of savagely attacking Democratic candidates Laura Moser (TX-07), Levi Tillemann (CO-06) and Andy Thorburn (CA-39), each on behalf of demonstrably far more conservative candidates. Look at the trash they sent me to get out about poor Hans Keirstead (CA-48) yesterday. Pelosi, who has been losing control of her own faculties in recent years, even admitted the DCCC won't help legitimate Democratic candidates unless the DCCC approves of them.

We've gone over this again and again. Borosage's angle though was to point of right-of-center establishment journalists who defend the DCCC's position. Her wrote that "In separate op-eds, Jonathan Alter and longtime Democratic operative Elaine Kamarck argued that DCCC interference is essential if Democrats are to recapture a House majority in the fall. Both applauded the citizen mobilizations that could help generate a 'wave election,' but essentially want activists to line up, salute, and let the pros take care of candidate selection. They couldn’t be more wrong."And Borosage couldn't be more correct.
Alter’s argument is the more scabrous; it accused “remnants of lefties in Jill Steinland” of “moral vanity” for “indulging” in primary fights that drain resources over “minor policy differences.” (He didn’t bother to explain why a primary challenger is equivalent to a third-party candidate.) Alter fretted that more progressive candidates might actually beat “well-funded moderates with better chances of winning in November.” In this most important election, Democrats should put party and country over “personal preference,” he argued, and resist voting for the candidate whose views they support, and instead favor the one more likely to win in the general election. Built into this argument is the unquestioned assumption that the DCCC is best qualified to identify the right candidate.

Kamarck, an early champion of the New Democrats and a longtime DNC member, echoed Alter’s faith in the pros. She expressed regrets that the party has allowed candidates to be selected by voters in primaries rather than party officials in back rooms: She wants more, rather than fewer, superdelegates to help determine the party’s presidential nominee. The DCCC, she admitted, is “not always right,” but it is more concerned about “electability than ideological purity.” In her view, voters don’t understand that “not all congressional districts are Berkeley, California.“

It’s hard to be a weatherman if you can’t tell which way the wind is blowing. Alter and Kamarck have summarized the beliefs of a party establishment that doesn’t have a clue.

Even in traditional political terms, the argument is unconvincing. It doesn’t consider the Democratic establishment’s record of abysmal failure. Over the past decade, Democrats lost control of both houses of Congress, 1,000 seats in statehouses across the nation, and the presidency to the most reviled candidate in history. The party committees haven’t cleaned house or changed strategy. The same consultants, the same pollsters, the same operatives still are at the wheel. If they were mechanics, you would not keep hiring them to fix your car.

The DCCC’s strategy to pursue bland, “safe” candidates is particularly questionable in an off-year election; midterms are often marked by low turnout. Activist energy and base mobilization are critical. Democrats are talking about a wave election because the resistance to Trump is combining with momentum from the Sanders campaign along with movements like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter.

Candidates can help fuel that energy or depress it. The DCCC’s screen for candidates starts with those who can give or raise a lot of money. It favors “moderates” who might appeal to the center-- thus there is a preference for veterans and ex–intelligence officers, businesspeople and corporate lawyers, even for former Republicans. The theory goes that Trump will naturally mobilize the Democratic base to vote, and moderate candidates will have a better chance to attract independents.

But voters right, left, and center are increasingly suspicious of traditionally packaged, blow-dried candidates. Voters are looking for authentic leaders who will shake things up. The DCCC’s business-as-usual approach is increasingly out of step with the times.

Primary fights can help build energy, interest, and mobilization-- or they can be divisive. Part of that depends on how challengers are treated by the establishment. The DCCC’s heavy thumb on the scale-- particularly in the wake of the revelations about the DNC’s machinations in the 2016 presidential primaries-- is increasingly likely to backfire. When the DCCC unleashed a personal attack on Laura Moser in a Texas congressional race, the popular reaction in fund-raising and activism surely helped propel her into a runoff against the DCCC’s designated candidate. Worse, DCCC interference may well end up leaving activists embittered, which saps energy for the general election.

Alter believes there is a limited pool of money and energy that primaries needlessly squander. But energy and money in politics are a function of excitement and interest. Primary challenges-- particularly substantive ones-- can help build energy, capture interest, and generate more resources.
One of the worst of the DCCC candidates this cycle, a sure thing, was Jay Hulings in south Texas. He was endorsed by the DCCC, the Castro Machine, the Blue Dogs and the New Dems. Despite spending $554,903, Hulings was beaten in the first round of the primary by a Berniecrat who spent less than $30,000. Hulings, a slick attorney with virtually no connection to south Texas and with nothing to offer the people who live there but a list of endorsements from groups no one trusts, came in fourth.

And the DCCC's ruthless attacks against Laura Moser in the Houston area helped her raise around $100,000 in just a few days and catapulted her into into the May 22nd runoff over the head of the DCCC-preferred bland centrist Alex Triantaphyllis, who, like Hulings, came in an embarrassing fourth.

About a year ago the DCCC regional vice chair whose responsibility included Texas and Colorado, resigned. Pelosi and Luján pledged to replace him. They haven't, which has allowed DCCC political director Jason Bresler, widely considered one of the stupidest political operative in Washington, to call all the shots in the region. Every shot he's called has been disastrous.

There are countless districts in every part of the country where DCCC interference in primaries-- basically always on behalf of more conservative and more corrupt candidates-- has been a down right catastrophe. Here are the dozen worst, all but the 2 in North Carolina, still to come:
Ann Kirkpatrick (New Dem-AZ)
Gil "McSwampy" Cisneros (CA)
Jason Crow (New Dem-CO)
Paul Davis (Blue Dog-KS)
Gretchen Driskell (Blue Dog-MI)
Elissa Slotkin (New Dem-MI)
Dan McCready (Blue Dog-NC)
Kathy Manning (New Dem-NC)
Brad Ashford (Blue Dog-NE)
Jeff Van Drew (NRA-NJ)
Anthony Brindisi (Blue Dog-NY)
Ben McAdams (Blue Dog-UT)

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At 1:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your piece pointedly does NOT truthfully indicate why the DxCCs and DNC want/need to pick the candidates instead of the voters.

Voters tend to like candidates who state and/or prove that (progressive) principles are driving them.
The 'crap party NEEDS them to be servile to the money who owns and operates them.

If the party allows too many non-fascists, not servile to the money's issues and desires, the money may revert, again, to only funding the Nazi party. And the party, the Clintons, obamanations, pelosis, scummers, etc. cannot abide that or they lose power and future earning potential.

DWT does a nice job of pointing out that the party is shit, utterly corrupt and beyond rehabilitating; of mapping out how they goon primaries and elections; of who are the worst.
DWT pointedly evades the base motivation, which I've just laid out. It's trivial, so DWT's relentless avoidance of this truth is damning.


At 3:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would argue that there's no such thing as an "ex-intelligence officer." Like the Hotel California, you can check out but you can never leave. Alter is a giant douchebag and so is his charter school-loving sister.

Kim Kaufman

At 3:51 PM, Anonymous ap215 said...

"About a year ago the DCCC regional vice chair whose responsibility included Texas and Colorado, resigned. Pelosi and Luján pledged to replace him. They haven't, which has allowed DCCC political director Jason Bresler, widely considered one of the stupidest political operative in Washington, to call all the shots in the region. Every shot he's called has been disastrous."

The democratic leadership establishment brought to you by $$$$$$$$.


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