Is this graphic really all we need to know about American or Alabama politics?

Like many of you, I initially despaired when reading exit poll results from the Alabama senate election. It seemed unbelievable that over 63% of white women would vote for a man who was credibly accused of molesting young girls. My first reaction was, “we won this by a hair-breadth, but we have a lot of work to do”.

Then I realized that this not the whole story:

So white non-evangelical women went for Jones by 53%, that is a landslide. It suggests that Moore’s base (and Trump’s) is actually much narrower than some would have you believe.

I do want to note that the racial breakdown of the exit polls has been misread by many to suggest Democrats do not need white voters, or should ignore them. Far from it, there is no way we can be successful without white voters. Whatever you think the demographic destiny of this country might be, we cannot win elections solely as the party of minorities. Here’s why:

figure03.png

Over 73% of the 2016 electorate identified as “white, non-Hispanic”. Let’s set aside, for a moment, the fact that many Hispanic citizens would consider themselves to be white. What Donald Trump recognized and capitalized on, early and often, is the fact that it didn’t matter if he lost 3% of the non-white vote, all he needed was to improve turnout among white voters by 1% to make up for that loss.

I am going to stop here, because I’ve been doing something I actually hate, which is discussing “race” as if it were a real, rather than an imagined construct. But that is the world we live in.

Also noteworthy in the census figure is the fact that the share of white voters hardly moved from 2012 (73.7%) to 2016 (73.3%). This is partly down to Obama not being on the ticket. Whatever our demographic destiny may be, like all demographic changes, it will take a while to get there. So no, we cannot win purely as a party for racial minorities, and anyone who tells you that is being foolish.

I would go even further, and say we should not win elections if we are not run as as a broad based party that seeks to represent all Americas. If we do not stand for equality and equal representation, then we’ve betrayed our principles.

Obama recognized these facts, which is why he went to significant pains to emphasize his universal message (remember “there is no red or blue America…”).

Every part of our coalition is important, and that includes white people. And in fact, white non-evangelicals, even in Alabama, voted for Doug Jones, by enormous margins.

The same is true for the 2016 election. When you look at the exit poll results by race, Donald Trump won white voters 58-37:

Screenshot_from_2017-12-15_10-38-45.png

But his margin was enormous among white evangelicals, who were estimated to be 26% of the overall electorate in the exit polls.

Screenshot_from_2017-12-15_10-48-07.png

If you take out white evangelicals, Hillary Clinton won white voters by 5% (49.5-44.4).

It is important to recognize this fact, first because some have begun to doubt whether the left has a universal appeal. But also because it’s not smart politics to ignore the fact that we are winning  majorities among most white people (evangelicals are 36% of the white vote).

But here’s the really positive new, there are some signs of hope for us, even among the group that you may think Trump/Moore have an absolute lock on.

Many evangelicals recognize the madness among their congregations that Trump and now Moore have exposed. In an important article about the role the evangelical movement played in Roy Moore’s campaign, WaPo reported that younger evangelicals turned away from Moore somewhat, as they did from Trump.

Many evangelicals recognize the madness among their congregations that Trump and now Moore have exposed. In an important article about the role the evangelical movement played in Roy Moore’s campaign, WaPo reported that younger evangelicals turned away from Moore, as they had from Trump.

Some evangelicals fear the high support for Moore and Trump among white evangelicals exposes something deeper about the religious group that seems to vote predictably with the GOP. Political partisanship and a disdain for outsiders have become unifying driving factors for white evangelicals instead of the gospel of Jesus Christ, said Birmingham-based Collin Hansen, editorial director for the Gospel Coalition, a network popular among conservative evangelicals.

“You could preach almost any Trinitarian heresy and not one person is going to notice it,” Hansen said. “If you touch on the political things on things they care about like gun control or racism, they’ll have your head.”

Recent political changes, Hansen said, have exposed “the moral and theological rot” in the evangelical church. “There will not be a coherent evangelical movement to emerge from this political season,” Hansen said.

www.washingtonpost.com/…

So there are some signs of hope, even among the group that you may think Trump/Moore/Republicans have an absolute lock on.

The New York Times also covered the growing angst among evangelical leaders over the politicians so many evangelical Christians have chosen to tie themselves to:

“It grieves me,” said Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, a prominent evangelical school in Illinois. “I don’t want ‘evangelical’ to mean people who supported candidates with significant and credible accusations against them. If evangelical means that, it has serious ramifications for the work of Christians and churches.” […]

Jemar Tisby, president of “The Witness, a black Christian collective,” a faith-based media company that provides commentary on race, religion and culture, said in an interview that while Mr. Trump was running, “we were saying, this man is promoting bigotry, white supremacists find an ally in him and this is going to be bad for us. And not only did they vote for him, they voted for him in slightly higher numbers than they did for Mitt Romney. It was a sense of betrayal.” […]

“We’ve let evil overtake the entire reputation of Evangelicalism,” one prominent evangelical author, Beth Moore, wrote on Twitter the day before the election. “The lust for power is nauseating. Racism, appalling. The arrogance, terrifying. The misogyny so far from Christlikeness, it can’t be Christianity.”

— www.nytimes.com/…

The editor-in-chief of Christianity Today, Mark Galli, did not mince words about the impact Trump and Moore have had on the reputation of evangelicals:

No matter the outcome of today’s special election in Alabama for a coveted US Senate seat, there is already one loser: Christian faith. When it comes to either matters of life and death or personal commitments of the human heart, no one will believe a word we say, perhaps for a generation. Christianity’s integrity is severely tarnished. […]

As recently as 2011, PRRI found that only 30 percent of white evangelicals believed “an elected official who commits an immoral act in their personal life can still behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public and professional life.” But by late 2016, when Donald Trump was running for president, that number had risen sharply to 72 percent—the biggest shift of any US religious group. […]

Apparently yes. This is precisely why, when serious and substantial allegations of sexual abuse of minors were made against Roy Moore, many doubled down on their support for him. Within days of this news story in The Washington Post, polls indicated that not only would 57 percent of evangelicals continue to support him, another 37 percent said they were now more likely to vote for him. […]

What events of the last year and a half have shown once again is that when Christians immerse themselves in politics as Christians, for what they determine are Christian causes, touting their version of biblical morality in the public square—they will sooner or later (and often sooner) begin to compromise the very principles they champion and do so to such a degree that it blemishes the very faith they are most anxious to promote. […] No wonder few believe much of anything we say anymore.  — www.christianitytoday.com/…

Perhaps what is most important in Galli’s editorial is this line:

The gap between rich and poor, the number of abortions and fatherless children, the steady rise of drug addiction, the increasing sympathy with euthanasia—these are but a few indicators that something is deeply wrong.

There are a number of things we will disagree with, but we could conceivably make common cause on the one Galli places first, “the gap between rich and poor”.  We may not be able to persuade all evangelicals, but we may persuade some.

And before you jump up and say that’s not worth doing, remember this:

“[Moore] lost because so many evangelicals didn’t show up,” Mohler told CNN anchor Don Lemon. “That’s the big story … what didn’t happen. You didn’t have any major pastors or evangelical leaders [in Alabama], not a single one, willing to support Roy Moore.

“Given the percentage of evangelicals in Alabama, it’s inconceivable that a candidate supported by them could lose,” the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary continued. “They would not and could not vote for a pro-abortion candidate, and they would not and could not vote for Roy Moore.” (The Post examined why.) […]

While the exit polls don’t publicly release breakouts for blacks by religious affiliation or church attendance, LifeWay Research recently found that black Americans are almost three times more likely than white Americans to hold evangelical beliefs (30% vs. 13%), and twice as likely to self-identify as “born again” (49% vs. 27%). (At Ed Stetzer’s CT blog, the managing director of the Billy Graham Center makes the case for “how black women saved evangelicalism.”) — www.christianitytoday.com/…

— @subirgrewal | Cross-posted at NotMeUs.org and TheProgressiveWing.com

What will it take to defeat Ted Cruz in 2018?

Before last night, this is what the Senate looked like:

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Notice the sea of red stretching from North Carolina to Texas? It’s now got one unexpected kink in it, Alabama.

There are three senate seats that will be contested across that belt in 2018 (yes, I’m going to totally ignore Florida). An open seat in Tennessee (Bob Corker’s retiring), Mississippi (Roger Wicker) and Texas (Ted Cruz). A lot of attention will be focused on Tennessee, where Corker’s open seat creates a lot of possibilities. A Democrat has not represented Tennessee in the Senate since 1995. I’m going to ignore Mississippi

But I want to talk about another race, Ted Cruz’s run for reelection. Texas hasn’t had a Democrat in the Senate since 1993. But a Democratic candidate could carve a narrow path to victory in Texas. It would require a pretty flawless campaign and excellent execution on a number of fronts.

At first blush, it seems like an almost insurmountable task.

2012 Senate 2012 President 2014 Senate 2016 President
Cruz v Sadler Romney v. Obama Cornyn v. Alameel Trump v. Clinton
Democrat 40.5% 41.38% 34.36% 43.2%
Republican 56.6% 57.17% 61.55% 52.2%

Cruz tracked Romney’s share of the vote reasonably well in 2012. In 2016, Clinton lost the state by 9%. This was closer than Obama’s 16% though, and that’s partly due to demographic changes, and possibly due in part to Trump himself.

Still, 9% is a big gap to cover. Especially when you consider that the margin of victory for Cornyn in 2014’s off-year election was 25%.

But this is the thing, the only way a Democrat can win is by following the Alabama model, turning a weakness into a strength. The weakness is turnout. Here are the raw vote totals for these races.

2012 Senate 2012 President 2014 Senate 2016 President
Cruz v Sadler Romney v. Obama Cornyn v. Alameel Trump v. Clinton
Democrat 3,194,927 3,308,124 1,594,252 3,877,868
Republican 4,440,137 4,569,843 2,855,068 4,685,047

Notice that Alameel lost by that huge margin because the Democratic turnout in 2014 was 48% of that in 2012. In contrast, Republican turnout was 62% of 2014. To beat Cornyn’s 2014 vote tally, 74% of the people who turned out for Clinton in 2016 need to show up and vote for the Democrat.

All of a sudden, winning a Senate seat in Texas in 2014 doesn’t seem so outlandish. 3 out of 4 existing Democratic votes is what we need. If Republican turnout is depressed, that makes the task easier. And it might be. Donald Trump has a net -4% approval rating in Texas. Less than 80% of Republicans approve of the job he’s doing (October 2017).

TT-UT_Poll-101917_01-lead.png

To win, Democrats will need to do a number of things starting now.

  1. Register voters and organize starting now: The Jones campaign had a good ground game early.
  2. Cast your net wide when you’re trying to GotV: The texting team (which I participated in) sent out over 1.3 million texts by election day. That is about 2 texts per Democrat who voted. For Texas, that would mean we need to deliver 7 million GotV texts. It can be done, we know how to do it.
  3. Exploit Republican divisions relentlessly: Clearly, Roy Moore being a child molester helped drive down turnout. But equally important was the division within the Republican party. And Cruz is also a flash-point for such divisions, perhaps not as severe. For the Democrat to win, the campaign and allies will have to run a great advertising/social-media campaign that highlights distinctions and draws wedges between Republicans of various ilks. Jones campaign created ads based on Ivanka Trump’s denunciation of Moore, and Shelby’s. Cruz’s opponent will have to do the same. The Cruz/Trump dynamic is fertile ground for this. Trump has insulted Cruz on several occasions, including insults directed at this wife and father. All of these can be turned into ads that undermine Cruz and/or Trump or simply turn off Republicans by highlighting the factional infighting and the lengths that each have gone to in deriding the other.
  4. Excoriate Ted Cruz for supporting a child molester: Cruz initially withdrew his endorsement of Roy Moore in mid-November. By December 1st, he had this to say (paraphrasing):

To win, Democrats will need to rake Ted Cruz over the coals relentlessly, till people think “guy was okay working with a child molester” whenever they think of Ted Cruz.

Finally, there’s something we need to do that is only tangentially related to the Senate race in Texas. We must compete in state level races from now through 2020 aggressively. This is needed to reverse the partisan gerrymandering and voter-suppression that Republican legislatures have foisted on states across the south. Notably, Jones won the state, but only one congressional district in Alabama:


By the way, if you really want to see an interesting race where a small bump up in turnout might yield a Senate seat, here’s Mississippi:

2012 Senate 2012 President 2014 Senate 2016 President
Wickers v. Gore Romney v. Obama Cochran v. Childers Trump v. Clinton
Democrat 40.6% 43.79% 37.9% 40.1%
Republican 57.2% 55.29% 59.9% 57.9%
2012 Senate 2012 President 2014 Senate 2016 President
Wickers v. Gore Romney v. Obama Cochran v. Childers Trump v. Clinton
Democrat 503,467 562,949 239,439 485,131
Republican 709,626 710,746 378,481 700,714

Getting 67% of Obama’s voters to show up to an off-year senate election in Mississippi can yield a senate seat. If the Democratic party does not compete aggressively in Mississippi for the mere 140,000 votes that could lead to an additional senate seat, it does not deserve your support.

Every damn seat is in play, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

— @subirgrewal | Cross-posted at NotMeUs.org and TheProgressiveWing.com

Doug Jones won. But we can’t let Trump and the RNC get away with endorsing a child molester.

Moore, Trump and the RNC deserve to be tarred and feathered for what they tried to pull. They tried to send a child molester to the Senate.

The good people of Alabama saw the light, and with a heavy lift from many black voters, have decided to send a good man to the senate. But we cannot let this rest. I am seething, seething with anger at the people who allowed a f***ing child molester come within 10-20,000 votes of a Senate seat. They can never be allowed to live that down.

We cannot allow the country make the same mistake made after Trump’s election, where the media and too many ordinary Americans were allowed to forget Trump’s numerous sexual assaults.

We need to relentlessly push for a full investigation of Roy Moore’s sexual assaults and predation. We need media to dig in deeper and slam the door shut in the face of the people who claim these women are “liars” because reporters only went out and asked them what happened 6 weeks before an election, after years of sitting on rumors.

We need to slap upside the head people who tried to say “times were different” and “lots of 30 year olds dated 14 year olds back then”. Reporters should do their jobs and go interview the people in Gadsden who banned Roy from the mall and football games because he was trying to pick up teenage girls. We need to hear from them, so it can be clear to all that Moore’s predation was unacceptable even “back then”.

We need media to dig into the Bill Staehle comment at Roy Moore rally that they both went to a brothel engaged in child prostitution. Why didn’t they report the child prostitution? Why did they look the other way?

We need to do all this because we can’t let Roy Moore get away with it. We need to do it because we can’t let Donald Trump get away with it.

This is not the first time Donald Trump has fraternized with a child molester or child rapist. The notorious child rapist Jeffrey Epstein was tracked by police when he preyed on a child he met at Donald Trump Mar-A-Lago resort. Donald knew Epstein was raping children, and looked the other way:

And yet if you talk to Donald Trump, a different Epstein emerges. “I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy,” Trump booms from a speakerphone.  “He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life.” — nymag.com/…

This is Donald Trump, on the record, about a man he KNEW was preying on children. A man who was eventually convicted of raping children. He considered him a “terrific guy”.

This is the same Donald Trump who then went on to endorse an alleged child molester for senate. We cannot let Donald Trump get away with it.

And finally, we cannot let the Republican National Committee get away with endorsing and funding a child molester. Their corporate donors need to be hounded and asked them why they funded an organization that supports child molesters running for senate.

This should continue to be a major issue, it should be mined and repeated ad nauseam till American voters see Trump and the RNC for what they are. The RNC and Trump’s name should be tied to Moore’s forever, and their names should be mud.

— @subirgrewal

Roy Moore’s small hometown knew something the rest of us didn’t, in 2012.

In 2012, Bob Vance came within four points of beating Roy Moore in a state-wide race for an Alabama Supreme Court seat. Democrats didn’t run against four of the other judges on the ballot, but they did run against Roy Moore. Because he was considered beatable.

In an interview with POLITICO, Vance described how he almost toppled Moore five years ago: by combining strong turnout from African-Americans energized by President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign with aggressive outreach to what he called “reasonable conservatives” put off by Moore’s hard-line politics — outreach that was unusually successful in Alabama’s most-educated suburbs, according to a POLITICO analysis of the 2012 returns. […]

One of the counties where Vance did that best in 2012 was Moore’s home base, Etowah County, despite it being more blue-collar than other places where Vance ran ahead of Obama. “I just chalked that up to the old adage that familiarity breeds contempt,” said Vance, who now wonders if locals had some inkling about the allegations that women have aired against Moore since then. — www.politico.com/…

The county-seat in Etowah is Gadsden with a population of 35,000. Gadsden is where a number of women have come forward to say Roy Moore targeted them for “dates” when they were teenagers and he was twice their age.

These are the results for the 2012 general election in Etowah county (PDF link):

2012 Democrat Republican
Obama v Romney 12,803 (30.6%) 29,103 (69.4%)
Vance v Moore 19,054 (45.2%) 23,088 (54.8%)

Roy Moore ran almost 15% behind Romney in 2012 in Etowah county.

In Alabama overall, Moore ran less than 10% behind Romney:

2012 Democrat Republican
Obama v Romney 795,696 (38.8%) 1,255,925 (61.2%)
Vance v Moore 977,301 (48.2%) 1,051,627 (51.8%)

There’s an anti-hometown effect at play for Roy Moore. Alabamians like him less than an average run-of-the-mill, establishment, East-Coast, fat-cat Republican like Romney. The people he grew up with, people who knew him best, they liked him even less.

That’s most likely because they went shopping at the mall he was banned from, knew the football games he tried to pick-up high-schoolers at, and saw him creeping at high-school dances as a 32 year old,.

30+ years later, in 2012, 6,000 of those people decided they knew enough about Roy Moore to cross party lines and vote for a Democrat. At the time, Vance was perplexed at why he did so well in Moore’s hometown:

“I just chalked that up to the old adage that familiarity breeds contempt,” said Vance, who now wonders if locals had some inkling about the allegations that women have aired against Moore since then. — www.politico.com/…

Doug Jones has a real chance at beating Roy Moore. Do what you can to help.

doug_jones.png

— @subirgrewal

 

False claim that 3 million voted illegally was funded by Oxycontin drug kingpin Sackler’s foundation

You can find the Sackler family’s name on numerous museums and universities, they’ve bought naming rights to several. They also donate to conservative organizations.

Richard’s political contributions have gone mostly to Republicans—including Strom Thurmond and Herman Cain—though at times he has also given to Democrats. (His ex-wife, Beth Sackler, has given almost exclusively to Democrats.) In 2008, he wrote a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal denouncing Muslim support for suicide bombing, a concern that seems to persist: Since 2014, his charitable organization, the Richard and Beth Sackler Foundation, has donated to several anti-Muslim groups, including three organizations classified as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. (The family spokesperson said, “It was never Richard Sackler’s intention to donate to an anti-Muslim or hate group.”) The foundation has also donated to True the Vote, the “voter-fraud watchdog” that was the original source for Donald Trump’s inaccurate claim that three million illegal immigrants voted in the 2016 election. — www.esquire.com/…

But the family goes to great lengths to hide the source of their $15 billion dollar fortune. That’s because virtually all of it comes from duping doctors into prescribing opiods, and deluding patients into thinking they’re safe to consume. Their privately held company is called Purdue Pharma (the Los Pollos Hermanos of the legal drug world).

Andrew Kolodny, the co-director of the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative, at Brandeis University, has worked with hundreds of patients addicted to opioids. He told me that, though many fatal overdoses have resulted from opioids other than OxyContin, the crisis was initially precipitated by a shift in the culture of prescribing—a shift carefully engineered by Purdue. “If you look at the prescribing trends for all the different opioids, it’s in 1996 that prescribing really takes off,” Kolodny said. “It’s not a coincidence. That was the year Purdue launched a multifaceted campaign that misinformed the medical community about the risks.” When I asked Kolodny how much of the blame Purdue bears for the current public-health crisis, he responded, “The lion’s share.” — www.newyorker.com/…

The Sackler brothers discovered that they could best market drugs by targeting physicians directly. They made hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to FDA personnel and created revolving door jobs for others in return for favorable rulings. They created a system to pay doctors for delivering speeches. They took doctors on all expense paid golfing trips. They bought a medical journal, hired renowned doctors to promote their drugs. And in return, they received a steady stream of new “patients” addicted to their drugs. Including newborns.

Opioid withdrawal, which causes aches, vomiting, and restless anxiety, is a gruesome process to experience as an adult. It’s considerably worse for the twenty thousand or so American babies who emerge each year from opioid-soaked wombs. These infants, suddenly cut off from their supply, cry uncontrollably. Their skin is mottled. They cannot fall asleep. Their bodies are shaken by tremors and, in the worst cases, seizures. Bottles of milk leave them distraught, because they cannot maneuver their lips with enough precision to create suction. Treatment comes in the form of drops of morphine pushed from a syringe into the babies’ mouths. Weaning sometimes takes a week but can last as long as twelve. It’s a heartrending, expensive process, typically carried out in the neonatal ICU, where newborns have limited access to their mothers. — www.esquire.com/…

In 2007, the company plead guilty to a felony, admitting it had lied to doctors about Oxycontin’s addictive quality. Though the company paid hundreds of millions in fines, senior executives only had to return some pay and perform community service. Their team of lawyers managed to protect the Sacklers themselves from any charges, though Richard Sackler led the company for much of this period.

While Richard Sackler continued to scrub his family’s name by plastering it across museums and universities, thousands of infants continued to be born addicted to his drugs. And Sackler knew exactly what he was doing. He refined his methods of deception and persuasion by marketing Valium, then transferred the same methods to an even more addictive drug.

What is it with conservative donors, have they all made their fortunes from pain and suffering? The DeVos/Prince family operate a war-profiteering mercenary machine. The Kochs are actively engaged in destroying the environment. Trump’s family traces it’s fortune to brothels.

The Sacklers are now taking their pill-pushing operation global:

As OxyContin spread outside the U.S., the pattern of dysfunction repeated itself: to map the geographic distribution of the drug was also to map a rash of addiction, abuse, and death. But the Sackler family has only increased its efforts abroad, and is now pushing the drug, through a Purdue-related company called Mundipharma, into Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Part of Purdue’s strategy from the beginning has been to create a market for OxyContin—to instill a perceived need by making bold claims about the existence of large numbers of people suffering from untreated chronic pain. As Purdue moves into countries like China and Brazil, where opioids may still retain the kind of stigma that the company so assiduously broke down in the United States, its marketing approach has not changed. According to a Los Angeles Times report from 2016—well after the Sacklers’ playbook for OxyContin had been repudiated by the medical establishment as possibly the main driver of the opioid epidemic—Mundipharma commissioned studies showing that millions of people in these countries suffered from chronic pain. The company has organized junkets, and paid doctors to give presentations extolling OxyContin’s virtues. In fact, certain doctors who are currently flogging OxyContin abroad—“pain ambassadors,” they are called—used to be on Purdue’s payroll as advocates for the drug in the U.S. — www.newyorker.com/…

The Sacklers have paid no price for destroying the lives of millions. Just like the serial sexual abusers finally being brought to task, the Sacklers have relied on well-placed lobbyists and an army of lawyers to ensure the cost of their deceptive business is a 10-15% fine.

The descendants who inherited this enormous fortune built on destroyed lives have not chosen to help remedy the wrongs caused by their family’s company. Instead, they continue to try to burnish their name by giving to high-profile arts and education institutions. Shamefully, these institutions continue to accept the money. A Yale spokesperson told a journalist “Yale does not vet donors for controversies that may or may not arise.”

Now they’re directly attacking our democracy with their false claims about illegal voting. A claim President Trump has actively promoted.

— @subirgrewal | Cross-posted at NotMeUs.org & TheProgressiveWing.com

Doug Jones can win, but it requires reversing two decades of party decline in 4 weeks.

The polls are close, and Doug Jones has a real chance to win the Senate seat in Alabama. Most pollsters have the race tied or leaning towards Jones. Which means it’s now a turnout game.

Here’s the problem though. The Democratic party in Alabama is so weak, it doesn’t even know who to turn out. The senate campaign is trying to reverse decades of entropy within four weeks.

In recent decades, the state Democratic Party has been known more for its dysfunction than for decisive victories, with the party’s influence now mostly limited to some local governments, including mayor’s offices in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa.  […]  The party’s weakness has left the Jones campaign without some of the resources candidates in other states can take for granted. “There’s just no data in the database,” said Daniel Deriso, the former operations and field director for the campaign for Randall Woodfin, the mayor-elect of Birmingham. “They had to build it all from the ground up.” — www.nytimes.com/…

Jones has been touting a competitive race for months, and there’s good reason to believe Roy Moore’s support was already weak in Alabama prior to the recent revelations about his predatory behavior. The Jones campaign has seen a lot of money come in (250k per day recently, as per NBC), and it will likely end up outspending the Moore campaign. That money would be more effective though, if some basic infrastructure were in place.

But opportunity has knocked on the door of a Democratic operation with the lights out. With a fairly anemic state party, there is little existing infrastructure for routine campaign activities like phone banks or canvassing drives. National Democrats, while helping to pour in money, are taking pains to keep the race at arm’s length, figuring their presence could hurt rather than help Mr. Jones. There are no beloved statewide officeholders or popular party elders to rally the troops. — www.nytimes.com/…

That is one of the consequences of the national party short-changing or outright abandoning large swaths of the country. Yet again, a focus on Washington and blue strongholds has left the party unprepared to capitalize on opportunities. It’s also a disservice to the people of Alabama, and many other states besides that one of the two parties no longer bothers to really compete for their votes.

Republicans have begun to rally around the “we need to elect child molestors so billionaires can have tax cuts” platform. Other Republicans have presented a “he may molest children, but the other guy supports abortion, so it’s all the same thing” defense.

Thankfully, our candidate knows a thing or two. Doug’s campaign is currently running a series of ads featuring Republicans like Ivanka Trump, Jeff Sessions, Richard Shelby and others in campaign ads to keep Moore’s predatory behavior front and center.

You can donate to help air these ads:

PS. If you’re a small donor, make it a regular practice to give to candidates in states where your small donations go a long-way (cheaper media buys etc.)

— @subirgrewal

On Donna Brazile and moving progressive politics forward

I’m no fan of Donna Brazile. As vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) she violated her responsibility to run a fair process by leaking debate questions to the Clinton campaign. It is hard for me to escape the conclusion that Donna’s recent revelations are merely an attempt to curry favor with the newly ascendant lefty faction.

Nevertheless, there is substance to the information she’s provided.

First, you might want to refresh your memory about how the sham transfers between the Hillary Victory Fund (HVF), DNC and state parties worked to flout campaign finance laws. These shenanigans materially impacted state parties and their ability to support candidates. For a real-world example of opportunities lost, look no further than the James Thompson fracas.

As Democrats, we’re presumably committed to good politics and a defensible process. You’d expect us to deal seriously with well-founded claims that one favoured candidate secretly reached an agreement with the DNC (prior to the primaries) to control appointments to key positions. You would of course, be wrong.

There’s no denying that the secret side-letter the Clinton campaign reached with the DNC in August 2015 is problematic. Most defended of HVF’s agreement revolve around the presumption that Clinton was bound to be the nominee, but of course, this side letter is executed about six months before a single person had voted for Clinton to be the nominee. So even if you think Clinton was destined to win the nomination, the wholesale takeover of the DNC by the Clinton campaign. assumed and partially executed by the side-letter, is profoundly un-democratic, solely because it precedes the vote. And that’s before we get to the bit granting the Clinton campaign veto power all DNC communications about ANY primary candidate.

It’s been interesting to see the various dubious theories advanced to exonerate the side-agreement instituted between Hillary For America (HFA)f and the DNC a year before the primary was decided. These include:

  • There was no such agreement, Donna can’t make out 2015 from 2016. A patently false claim, but one made repeatedly.
  • There was a side-agreement but it really applied only to the general election. This claim is made over and over again, even though the secret aide-letter was inked 18 months prior to the election and gave HFA a say in DNC personnel decisions a year before th convention. The sole evidence presented is a transparently CYA clause in the secret side-letter itself.
  • Others have pointed to the fact that this side agreement explicitly permitted the DNC to reach similar agreements with other candidates as exculpatory. That’s a dubious claim since the Clinton campaign had already put its people in place by September 2015. Would this hypothetical other candidate have been allowed to fire these people? By the way, no other candidate (Chafee, O’Malley, Sanders or Webb) has come forward to say they were offered such a side-letter, or notified of its existence with the Clinton campaign.
  • The oft-heard defense that “loyalty” to the party is what drove various DNC staff to favor the Clinton campaign. Folks presenting this defense are applauding machine politics, perhaps unknowingly.
  • A corollary is the claim that the DNC owed nothing to Sen. Sanders because he “isn’t a Democrat”. First, this ignores the fact that he’s caucused with Democrats for decades in Congress and helped co-found the Progressive Caucus. Second, it doesn’t matter, you either run a fair process for all, or you don’t. Finally, the folks advancing this defense are hoping you’ve forgotten that the secret side-agreement also disadvantaged other candidates. Biden for example, did not conclusively rule out a run till October 2015.
  • A particularly pernicious defense is that the Clinton campaign was justified in imposing its will on the DNC because it directed large sums to it. This justification of donor-driven politics would be comical if it weren’t so dangerous. One shudders to think what demands these people believe high-dollar donors should are justified in making of politicians since apparently explicit quid pro quos are acceptable. If this is truly where we are as the “party of the people”, the sale of our democracy to the highest bidder is complete, we just don’t know it because the memorandum recording the sale was shredded.
  • Lastly, my personal favorite: Donna Brazile and Black Lives Matter were pawns in the hands of, you guessed it, the Russians.

There are several others, but time is short and there’s only so much you can do after you bring horses to water.

Here’s the thing, it’s not like the Clinton campaign even had to tilt the scales. They likely would have won anyway. The decision to twist arms at the DNC came from the same galactic brains who tried to run up the score in blue states for a popular vote margin but forgot to lock down the Electoral College. Donna Brazile advocated for such a popular vote focused strategy, which is another reason it makes no sense to throw yourself into the Brazile fan club.

Believe it or not, there’s a silver lining in all this for the left.

The 2016 election cycle and its aftermath make it abundantly clear that the Democratic party’s reigning centrist/third-way faction is in disarray. The DNC can’t seem to tie its own shoelaces, state parties have been intentionally starved of funds, candidates lack resources, and egos rule the roost.

All this disfunction makes the job of returning the party to it’s lefty roots that much easier, if we can provide the momentum forward.

All we have to do is keep working for progressive candidates, continue bringing more people to the party and stay focused on justice and equality.

There’s no reason to expend our considerably energy in futile arguments with defenders of the status-quo and mega-donor driven politics. Most voters have a healthy sense of fair play and respect for fairly run elections. They already know the score and have moved on to think about 2017 and 2018. That, is a winning strategy.

— @subirgrewal