Thursday, December 15, 2016

The DCCC And Identity Politics


Steve Israel, flanked by Steve Horsford & John Ewing, 2 politicians whose careers he ruined

Last week we talked about the experience recent congressional candidate-- and long-time North Carolina Democratic political operative-- Thomas Mills had when trying to deal with an imperious DCCC. Much of what the DCCC is crying about what went wrong for them this year are the things Mills was running on-- emphasizing rural working class issues; infrastructure, schools, jobs... a Marshall Plan to "connect small towns and counties to economic centers with pavement and rail as well as with fiber and cell towers." DCCC response: not interested. Yesterday Mario Solis-Marich reiterated his own experience trying to solicit help from the DCCC for a Latina candidate in defeating a crackpot Orange County Republican extremist, Bob Dornan. He wrote that the DCCC was dismissive and told him Latinos don't vote; go away. He did go away-- and his candidate beat Dornan while the DCCC sat watching, jaws agape, stunned. Solis-Marich's point, though, was that that is standard DCCC operating procedure and that they never learn-- not even when they have a Latino as the head of the committee! His story, he wrote, "is one that is experienced over and over again by consultants from African American and Latino communities every congressional election campaign cycle."
The current insular state of the DCCC (aka “the building”) should be no surprise to anyone. The nature of any insular organization is to become more so. The one thing that may come as a surprise to those mainstream political consultants who have suddenly found themselves outside the ever tightening DCCC circle this cycle is that it can get worse. The out-in-the-cold consultants only need ask their Latino and African American counterparts if they want an indication of how chilly it can get outside of 433 Capitol St.

Latino and African American Democratic consultants have had the now derided outsider experience for as long as any of us can remember. Just two years ago an independent group, Power Pac, conducted an analysis on the spending patterns at the DCCC and found that the organization that champions affirmative action at the policy level in Congress falls below the standards of vendor diversity met by most big box retailers. Progressives in DC don’t need to fly to the Silicon Valley to find a corporate culture that just can’t seem to find diverse partnerships. They can walk to one from any Capitol Hill office.

The DCCC has continually rejected offers from minority consultants to work with them and innovate the messages and manner they use to reach African American and Latino communities. While the internal excuses are that the vendors fall below the standards of those in their current stable, the committee has done little to nothing to develop minority consultants they are willing to work with.

The organization also suffers from real systemic problems in the bidding process that stymie diversity and are not in line with its own mission. One example is that the bidding process used by the national organization does not consider state-by-state political and economic differences. This lack of adaptability has created a situation where vendors from states with more progressive minimum wage policies are forced to compete without any special consideration against vendors from states with conservative minimum wage policies. The outcome is to penalize vendors who pay better wages to their employees, which is contrary to the basic philosophy of the Democratic party itself.

There is no no doubt that the DCCC must do better. Currently more and more Latinos are choosing to register as voters with no party preference in states where a serious investment of political and real capital could create a path to congressional relevancy by Democrats. This is not a short-term game. It is a mid-term play that if not taken can lead to all Democrats being left out in the cold.
Sinema-- terrible
If you're a regular reader here, you already know that we're not fans of identity politics. We hate everything about what EMILY's List, for example, has turned into but there's little doubt in my mind that if candidates were supported based on the quality of their ideas and strength of their character, at least half the members of Congress would be women-- maybe much more. As for the racial component, the DCCC didn't involve itself in the open seat races in CA-44 or CA-46 this year, CA-46, ironically, being the seat Solis-Marich's story was based on. One of the best candidates elected to Congress from anywhere in the country was a small-town mayor who took on Exxon-Mobil when they tried drilling off her city's beaches and she beat them. That was Nanette Barragan and her opponent was one of the bought-and-sold Exxon state legislators. Nanette's a woman and Nanette's a Latina and I'm sure there were people who voted for her because of those qualities. But it's her character, her vision and her experience that saw her peers elect her first freshman class co-president and then regional Democratic caucus whip for Southen California. Down the road in CA-46, Lou Correa is also Hispanic, but he's too busy on K Street trying to line up a flow of the kinds of bribes he got when he was in Sacramento to be worried about being part of a team to stand up for progressive values the way Nanette is. Correa, who immediately joined the Blue Dogs and New Dems and who is likely to quickly distinguish himself as the worst Democrat in Congress-- as he managed to be in Sacramento when he served in the legislature-- is what happens when identity politics goes awry.

Congress-- and the Democratic Party-- are filled with garbage politicians: men, women, white, black, Hispanic, gay, straight. In fact-- and this is literal-- among Dems, the very best voting record in Congress is held by a gay Democrat, Mark Pocan (98.95) and the very worst one is also held by a gay Democrat, Kyrsten Sinema (36.63).

Solis-Marich is right that the DCCC has been dismissive of the legitimate aspirations of Latino and African American politicians, especially, when notorious racist slime bag Steve Israel was running the show. Now that he's finally gone has he taken his rule of thumb that blacks can't run in white-majority districts with him? Let's hope so and let's hope we see the DCCC backing the best candidates, not the ones based on the identity politics that voters are sick and tired of.

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At 4:36 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

Let's hope the Dems have seen they light and are willing to support the best candidates, the progressive ones who will have broad appeal. This is the only hope for the party. But will old hacks still running the show, like Pelosi, this is unlikely.

Funny, I thought Trump would lose and the Republican Party would be wrecked, and it turns out Hillary lost and the Democratic Party is wrecked. All those algorithms and computer predictions need to be treated with much suspicion. Although actually, in terms of predictions, Hillary did win the popular vote, for the all of the good it did us.

Is there still the teeniest hope for the Electoral College to save us from the rotten tangerine, given that Trump is clearly unfit and there was foreign interference? The College does have the power to protect us from this. Hey, while the College should go down the drain of history, since the College giveth the election, surely the College can taketh away!

At 5:14 AM, Blogger Daro said...

Identity politics is the Jimmy Jones Kool-Aid of the left. As a progressive liberal who's spent decades advocating for economic fairness and social equality, I don't want to come home and see news implying I'm a racist because I'm white. That the main reason I don't watch The Young Turks anymore. Sick of Anna Kasparena starting her monologues with "Today, a WHITE MAN attacked a...". Jimmy Dore is the new voice. He's handling the issues and getting the crowds in.

At 6:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope Jimmy Dore likes the new supreme court he supported by his brand of politics.

At 6:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, Jimmy Dore selling the Clinton shit sandwich would have somehow attracted more middle class voters in the Rust Belt forced into poverty by the Dem's neolib economics.

At 12:54 PM, Blogger samuel glover said...

Is there still the teeniest hope for the Electoral College to save us from the rotten tangerine, given that Trump is clearly unfit and there was foreign interference?

Lunacy. Even if such a heinous "we know better than all you yokels" ploy didn't spark a (justifiable) civil war, do you really believe that right-wingers are incapable of taking the precedent established and really running with it?

Hint: Electors are state-level officeholders. Now -- at which level of government have Dems lost even more than the federal level?


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