Open thread

Some thought-provoking commentary from Thomas Mills today about what the Democrats should be doing and thinking in the run up to the next election cycle. Talk among yourselves.


Thanks, James

Hope we can get a conversation going.


It's frustrating to be out

It's frustrating to be out here working hard in the blogosphere, with so little actual engagement happening. I don't honestly know what's going on. Are people just burned out? Fed up? Demoralized? Resigned? I can't figure it.

But I do know this. If leaders in the Democratic Party don't get their asses into gear soon, 2014 will be a rerun of 2010 ... and 2016 will be a rerun of 2012.

It has been said that we get the government we deserve. Looks like we don't deserve jack sh/t.

Teed off

To the article, I think people who ignore the influence of big money in politics do so at their own peril. That's not say anyone should view it in a fatalistic way and give up, but instead that should be an even greater impetus to fight the power of big money in our political system.

It's frustrating to be out here working hard in the blogosphere, with so little actual engagement happening. I don't honestly know what's going on. Are people just burned out? Fed up? Demoralized? Resigned?

To your question, I think people are angry. People whose energy rates are going up are angry. Environmentalists who see fracking coming are angry. LGBT folks who are living under amendment 1 and employment discrimination are angry. Immigrants going through fights to not have 2nd class licenses are angry. People of color who are being targeted for voter suppression are angry. Women who see their rights under attack are angry. College students who see higher education and their voting rights tied to poll taxes are angry. Those who live in municipalities that see their assets being seized are angry.

Every day the General Assembly tees off a new group. If someone can connect those many and growing pockets of anger into a coalition working in common cause, then that would be quite something to behold. I think the triple threat legislative advocacy day tomorrow with the HKonJ Coalition people of color legislative action day, the NCAAN legislative actions day, and the Women's United legislative action day all happening on the same day isn't a bad start.

Read the article....

...remarkable for what it was missing.

There was no discussion of the hijacking of the Democratic Party by President Obama's campaign organization OFA starting in June 2008. How OFA went from being a private business dedicated to electing Obama in 2008 to becoming a special project of the DNC in 2009, then back to being a campaign organization in 2011, then becomes a non-profit, corporately-funded, special-interest advocacy group after the 2012 election.

There was no discussion of how Obama won by a slim margin of 14K votes in 2008, but got his ass kicked by nearly 100K votes in 2012 even with OFA on the ground from late 2011 on. Basically - if OFA methods were so good from June through November 2008, why didn't they work even better (win by even more votes) with OFA being on the ground for nearly a year for the 2012 election?

There was no discussion of the failure of the OFA methods that were carried over to races in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. Nor why some of the same loser staffers, campaign workers and consultants who "screwed the pooch" in 2010 were still in positions to call the shots in 2011 and 2012?

There was no discussion of how candidates and electeds were doing "every man/woman for themselves" - starting with Bev Perdue! She waited till the last minute to declare she wasn't running, then selfishly kept her campaign fund to herself. Maybe it wasn't enough to win for Dalton, but it was assumed she was running up until she said she was not running. So after a lengthy campaign and primary - Dalton went on to lose by 500K votes. Linda Coleman lost by only 6K votes - but she had the unions behind her.

There was no discussion of party-building: organizing precincts; trying to get more people active in the Democratic Party where they will (or should) have a real voice in deciding the party platform; then electing Democrats who will (if they win back the majority) work to turn our party platform into public policy. If you want to know why many people are tired - it's not that they minded losing - I just mind it when candidates and electeds tell me how important my labor is, but they only seem to want to deliver to the folks who give them LOADS of money. Shouldn't labor and capital be rewarded equally by our elected public leaders?

I'll just say this - after the historic ass kicking we got in 2010 and 2012, along with the local races in 2009 and 2011, now is the time to rebuild the Democratic Party from the grassroots on up. Spend lots of time organizing precincts and building up networks of volunteers in each precinct that will go out and canvass for each and every Democratic candidate on the ballot. Canvass every Democratic and UNA voter in your precinct - get to know them personally. Use the "Constructing Victory" model - each volunteer commits to canvassing 20 voters 3 times before the elections. It will work better than phone banking through Votebuilder - I mean we can use VB data as a starting point for a census canvass where we go around to every door and validate the data and get to know our neighbors. Otherwise when we call a number that isn't working - how will we ever get a working number for that voter if we don't visit them?

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting

Protzman for Governor

Love the sound of that.

Burned out, fed up, demoralized, resigned...all of the above. I used to say that I would rather be kicked by a donkey than screwed by an elephant. It was meant as an either/or, not as both continuously.

I agree with Mr. Mills that we should organize not agonize but to call the ArtPopelina-ization of our state a myth is to ignore the elephant in the room (you know, that one that is doing the screwing). The Republicans have a policy juggernaut of myth-making proportion that is as fact-resistant as it is destructive. The very least we should do is to point that out repeatedly.

And just how did this all arise?

Well, of course by immaculate conception. To understand where we are and how it occurred, you have to know the following (if you do not know them, you are dumb):


Look up Lee Fang - his book The Machine is pertinent. Everyone has to stop acting like NC is the only screwee in this affair. Fetzer told us, loudly, in 2009 and on that the
Republicans were going after the legislature, only he did not say it would be a major political assault by billionaires and their organizations on ALL the states. So, poor ole NC Democrats have been simpering, thinking they were the only state so attacked, despite the examples of Wisconsin, Michigan and others.

So, I asked, in 2009, what a terribly senior elected pol thought of ALEC. To which that person said, "Who is he". Now friends, if the head of a major agency is that deprived of information and knowledge, no wonder we got whipped. Political malpractice and dumbness it is. So, when there is no where to go but up, we got to be an OPPOSITION party. A what, you say. The Democrats got to get smart and then tough. No one owes them a damned thing and they are still bleeding to Unaffiliated. Worse, they are down at the mouth. And worse yet, if a Democrat criticizes a Democrat, deservedly, all the fire is aimed at them, not the Republicans - oh, yeah that is real smart.

How to do opposition. First, Democrats got to get a hell of lot more information and education than I have seen in years - no coasting. Then, they got to get mean as hell
and track every small screw up by the Republicans. Figure this: How in 2011 did the Republicans dump 1800 bills into the hopper in less than 90 days? Stop and think. Think ALEC, which one of our illustrious leaders thought was a person. So, our people have to learn to track bills and understand the cumulative impacts of all this perverse legislation being jammed down our throat - understanding one item at a time is useless.

Then, Democrats have to self-identify - start wearing bumper stickers (oh no, my preacher and congregation may not like me, or my boss might object, ad nauseum), write scathing, accusatory letters to any paper or TV station you can regularly, stop being considerate and polite. They are playing rugby so far and we are playing badminton. Get with others and set up political discussion groups and avail yourselves of the mountains of information out there. Invite people into the Democratic Party. Invest in the Democratic Party and the candidates it supports. A VERY senior politician, mad at NCDP is alleged to have told the high rollers to NOT give to NCDP, but to candidates. That is flat outright disloyal and ignorant.

So educate yourselves, organize to advocate and strike back, expect a lot of defeats and put your money where your mouth is. I am a Democrat because we need a more equitable and egalitarian society, socially, economically and politically. We have to take care of one another, we must support communities of people. When you stop doing that, the trolls and jerks win.




Why did Democrats loose control of the NC state government?

The answer is quite simple: they didn't have the guts to do this when Jesse Helms died.

NC Democrats have been too complacent and too polite. Often I think the party establishment looks at the politics as some polite little game of checkers played among friends over sips from a mint julep.

To be fair, though, I think traditional Republicans in the state have fallen into the same trap. It's been surprising to me how many moderate Republicans, with a genuine concern for their local communities, have been pushed out of the party by Pope's hand-picked candidates and Tea Bagger party leadership at the local level.

You've heard the old saying "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" that Nixon and Kissinger turned into geopolitical triangulation?

I think the same thing applies here. Behind the scenes, Dems need to do some serious outreach to moderate Republican players at the local level that are just as appalled by Pope's Tea Bagger machine as they are. Pope's made quite a few enemies over the past couple of decades and those folks can be useful - they can organize, they can observe and leak information, and they can muddy the waters for the weak and inexperienced candidates that Pope is backing.

The other thing the Dems need to do is get the hell out of Raleigh-Durham and really pay attention to what's happening in rural North Carolina. In the sixties and seventies, you could see very clear signs of outreach by Dems to rural areas that promoted economic growth.

The big mistake of the party in the 90s and later was focusing so much on the urban areas of the state. I've seen so many vibrant rural areas of the state stagnate over the past couple of decades. They lost factories and jobs and the Dems weren't able to offer anything to replace them. Now, as young people move out of these areas to urban and suburban North Carolina areas, they leave these counties with populations that are much older - with average ages in the 50s and 60s, less educated and poor without a tax base to keep their infrastructure going.

In my home town in western NC, they're talking about closing up the county hospital because there's not enough people with insurance and too many patients on public assistance and Social Security to keep it going. Almost all the employers are gone except for Walmart, Rose's and seasonal jobs that attract tourists. The city council turned off all the traffic lights in town because they couldn't afford the electric bill. The roads, unpaved for years, continue to deteriorate each winter and, in some areas, are getting hazardous. My home town became a center for Tea Bagger politics, shifting the town and city elections towards ultra-conservative candidates and away from a small majority of moderate Republicans and a balance between liberal and conservative politicians that would work together to solve local problems.

Combined with the gerrymandering that Pope played a part in, I think the rural demographics are really working against the Democrats in the short term unless they can get voters in these areas angry enough with the way things are to dump the Tea Baggers. Their best bet is to focus on the few younger moderate voters in these areas to get active against Pope's machine.

Liked your link

someone down in the comments of it had a listing of Thatcher's devastating legacy of privatization and other neo-liberalisms that are rearing their ugly head in our state. My town in eastern NC has a new tea party group and they are plotting to take over the local GOP. This town wouldn't even exist without government money. We are so swamped with (oxymoronic) military intelligence and treasonous war profiteers that our little airport put in a direct flight to D.C. Outside of town the rural areas see the crime rate increasing due to high unemployment.

Our metaphorical ship of state is listing so far to the right that it is taking on water. We need an extreme push to left to even get back to the middle.

Perfectly put

Our metaphorical ship of state is listing so far to the right that it is taking on water. We need an extreme push to left to even get back to the middle.

To extend the metaphor, one might argue that our ship has sunk. The future is likely more about a full-court salvage operation than about finding an even keel.

May it R.I.P.

Forget the salvage, let's build a new ship.

The pirates have stolen the

The pirates have stolen the ship and are already gone. The Dems are going to have to build a new ship, but they need to make sure it's got some darn good cannons on deck to deal with the pirates.

Moderate Republicans

Are there any left? I have a sense that they've gone into hiding ... and are scared to death of the Pope machine.

I think the same thing applies here. Behind the scenes, Dems need to do some serious outreach to moderate Republican players at the local level that are just as appalled by Pope's Tea Bagger machine as they are. Pope's made quite a few enemies over the past couple of decades and those folks can be useful - they can organize, they can observe and leak information, and they can muddy the waters for the weak and inexperienced candidates that Pope is backing.

That article is not impressive.

One thing Dems in NC should do is quit listening to every political pundit with an opinion. The upshot of that article is that Dems need to do something more suited to the times we live in now. Wow, what an amazing revelation that is.
BTW, it is decidedly not a myth that Art Pope bought the NC GA. 2+ million dollars lends more than a "kernel of truth" to that reality. Bottom line is that the R's had leadership in 2010 and Dems did not.
NCDP should gather resources, prioritize statewide races, particularly for governor and judicial seats (because you can't gerrymander a state) and nip off a weak NC Senate or House seat should the opportunity appear. Shining a light on the filth spewing forth from Jones St. would be a good idea as well.

I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?

I wrote something similar on his FB page

In which my first sentence was "I couldn't disagree more."

There are lots of opinions about what to do to recover from the right-wing assault. Having a couple of awesome, inspiring progressive Democrats as candidates would be a good place to start. But it needs to happen soon.

Good idea to stop listening to all the pundits

many of them are just writing garbage to sell their services to the highest bidders. Some want to get back into the saddle as paid political operatives. And some of our new consultants function as pundits as well even though they don't know what the Hell they are doing.

Some of them confuse actions that should be taken by the Democratic Party with actions that they want non-partisan non-profits to engage in. And they don't seem to know what "operational security" is!

One even confused a "Board of Education" race with a "Board of Elections" race. At least 30K of precious resources were pissed-away on that fiasco. But people still listen to these blow-hards!

Certainly we must prioritize races on the election side, but we've also got to organize as many precincts as we can all over the state! That we have something like 5 counties that have no organized County Party, and that counties like Wake and Mecklenburg haven't done a better job of precinct organization in 2012 vs 2008 with Votebuilder access is amazing!

Of course there was also the 800 pound gorilla (the DNC Convention) sucking all the oxygen out of the room from January 2011 on. It's all anyone seemed to care about. I'd have told people if you don't have your precinct organized you can't even begin to think about going to Charlotte. And people who can't be bothered to even try and organize their own precinct have no business running for higher offices in the Party or auxiliaries.

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting