Keith Ellison and the Difficult Path Forward

Keith EllisonWe are less than two months away from the election for the DNC chairmanship. This year, it has taken on an over-sized importance among American liberals. The front-runner is Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison. And you would think his election would be a sure thing. He’s been endorsed by Elizabeth Warren on the economic left and Chuck Schumer on the economic right. But the whole thing has unfortunately turned into a proxy war between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton — as if we need to run the presidential primary all over again.

Jeff Stein wrote a very good overview of what’s going on, The DNC Race Has Become Another Fight Over Bernie Sanders When Dems Need It Least. As he indicates, the push to get Thomas Perez in the position shows how stupid this all is. The two men are pretty much identical ideologically. I certainly admire them both. But why is it that Ellison is not acceptable? The best example of this was how Ellison was unacceptable because the job should be full-time. But as soon as Keith Ellison said he would step down as Representative if elected, new reasons to be against him popped up. There’s clearly a more fundamental reason that Ellison is unacceptable — just not one that Democratic Party elites want to talk about openly.

Elites Don’t Like Keith Ellison

The truth is that political parties are the way that their elites want them to be. And those elites don’t want things to change. And this was always my biggest concern about Bernie Sanders winning the Democratic primary. I voted for him, of course. But I saw the complaints that Sanders supporters wouldn’t support Clinton as being more projection than anything else. That is to say: there were far more Clinton supporters who would never have voted for Sanders than their were Sanders voters who didn’t vote for Clinton.

We’ve seen this same kind of thing in the UK Labour Party. Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader of the party has been met with extreme hostility. There is a huge part of the Labour Party elite that would rather see the Tories in power than Labour in power if it were led by Corbyn. And I think we would have seen the same thing with Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Party if he had won the primary.

Trump and the Republicans Are Different

And note: this is not equivalent to Donald Trump and the Republican Party. In as much as the Republican elite was ever really against Trump, it was because he was seen as (1) personally offensive and (2) unelectable. The issue was never ideological. Yes, there was a little ideological heterodoxy at first. But as soon as Trump came out with his tax plan that was a huge giveaway to the rich, the Republicans knew they had nothing to fear from Trump. The issue with Corbyn and Sanders (And Keith Ellison!) is different. In each of these cases, the liberal party is afraid that it will have leaders that are ideologically in sync with their voters. That is to say: they are afraid that the liberal party will be run by actual liberals.

The Democratic Party Is Moving Forward — Regardless

It doesn’t matter to me if Ellison or Perez become DNC chair. Actually, I’d kind of like to see Perez in the position because I want them both fighting for us in high profile positions. But it’s clear that the push for Perez is not about that. The push for him is about telling the base of the party that it isn’t in charge. Yes, Perez is as liberal as Ellison, but the more conservative elites can ignore that. Allowing Keith Ellison to become chair would be an unmistakable indication that the Democratic Party has changed and that the New Democrats are dead, after doing so much damage to the nation and the party.

But like most fearful efforts to hang onto what little power you have, the anti-Ellison campaign will likely fail. I find it annoying that we are even having this fight. Part of being a liberal is believing in democracy. So there really shouldn’t be a big effort to stop the Democratic party from representing the base. But it’s okay. I think the Democratic Party will get to where it needs to go. Eventually. Despite the wishes of too many in the party elite who represent the past and not the present (much less the future).

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

29 thoughts on “Keith Ellison and the Difficult Path Forward

  1. I like your take on Perez. Let’s have both. We need all the help we can get.

    This fight in the party makes me frustrated. It’s so wrong. Love Hillary or think she wasn’t a great choice (given the decades of right-wing smearing against her), her adoption of a more progressive platform — that was pushed by Sanders voters — was a good thing! She was moving in the direction we need the party to go! Stop fighting, mummy and daddy!

    • They fight because a great deal of the people who are fighting are saying “You will accept who we say you want or else.”

      And it isn’t Frank so he can calm down. It is the people I run into who claim they are the base of the Democratic Party while having very pale skin and the distinct lack of ability to carry a fetus for nine months. The base of the Democratic Party-the ones who show up time and again-are Black women. When they don’t show up thanks to things like voter suppression we lose.

      That is kind of why these types of articles drive me nuts-the base of the Democratic Party isn’t white men and to be honest, it isn’t union type workers. It is Black women. But to hear the ones throwing a fit over someone other than the guy that Sanders picked talk, the base of the Democratic Party is lefty white guys who disappear faster than water in a desert. Which means that if they want Ellison, anyone who isn’t a supporter needs to sit down and shut the hell up.

      • That was a real awakening for me in my 20s. All my friends were white college liberals. They graduated and got swanky jobs; I did not. Suddenly, lo and behold, they all became far less liberal. My floor-cleaning, body-lifting, socialist-spouting ass was no longer welcome at their parties. Or, if it was, it was because I was an an amusing trained monkey. I could do pretty amazing ad-libbed prank calls on speakerphone. Everyone would laugh.

        During the warmup session of those parties, the successful people would all network. “What do you do?” “I do such, what do you do?” And they’d trade business cards, and promise to “hook up” one another if need be. Eventually someone would ask me “what do you do?” With all the enthusiasm and naïveté of youth, I’d start talking about how much I loved my low-paying, zero-status job, how fulfilling I thought it was. And every time, it felt like shit mist was sprayed into the room.

        I mistook their bragging about their incomes for effervescence. I shared mine. Whoops! I stopped being included in that social circle. What’s the Sondheim line? “You are young … you will learn.”

        So I’m no big fan of college radicals, either. I don’t trust them. However, a college diploma isn’t the passkey to success it was 20 years ago. We can work with that. It’s all a process. How do we make this party stronger? All suggestions are welcome, IMO. Which ones should we act on? That’s for you political wizards to figure out. I’ll still be hiding in my hole, watching science videos.

        • I believe that for my age group, our liberal alignment is permanent. I’m white, I’m a college graduate and I was born in the 1980’s as were most of my friends.

          When we graduated, all of use hustled, scrambled and waded through the gig economy and that really will shatter any illusions that one might have had about capitalism. I see some of peers now getting good jobs and buying houses and yet their liberalism has not waned. For many white millennials, the socialist genie is out of the bottle and it isn’t going back in.

          When you have a bunch of upper middle class folks, sitting around one of their newly purchased beach side home, talking about how we can help Bernie Sanders, it is clear that progressive thought is not some passing fad for my cohort.

          • Right! Right! RIGHT!

            That betrayal by my college-age friends was tough. It hurt, hard. But it made perfect sense. Part of being among the “winners” is adopting their social values. You can’t make small talk with somebody you hope to “network” with, and casually mention your beverage of choice is Olde English 800. (In case you’ve never been super poor, that’s a brand of beer, available in convenience stores, which tastes like sugary roach poison and gets you fucked up fast.)

            Well, my college-age friends may have had every reason to buy into the “we’re social liberals, but we hate corporate taxes on our nifty new jobs” thing. And every good reason to reject poor schlubs like me.

            Something my wife said, when we were talking about the New Democrats and their strategy to abandon labor for college subsidies, so workers of The Future could all get Cool Jobs — “well, how many Cool Jobs are there to go around?” Yeah. That’s exactly it.

            If today’s college students realize it’s all pretty much a racket, we’re in good shape going forward. It’s not in my nature to trust chic young people. But I could well be wrong. I want, in this case, to be wrong. I hope you’re right. And I have a little glimmer of hope that you will prove me wrong.

            Go younglings, go!

            • In some ways, the upper middle class should be the much easier group to turn leftward than the white working class. The UMC all go to college and many go to grad school so if you have three kids, free tuition at Berkeley or UCLA is a great deal. The UMC knows that the rich (those who live off of investments) pay a low capital gains rate which is offset by the UMC paying higher income tax. The UMC own the type of businesses that are responsive to consumer demand and benefit the most from fiscal stimulus. Most importantly, familiarity breeds contempt. In my experience it is working class and lower middle class whites who get the most upset about poor folks who use food stamps. Meanwhile, the UMC doesn’t see poor people and people of color as the enemy, we see Wall Street and the very rich as the major rivals.

              In short, I am cautiously optimistic that the liberal class might finally be reconstituting itself.

              • You could be onto something. A very old friend of mine (we’re talking 1990-old) is very UMC, has been a lifelong Republican, and now realizes the modern GOP is an anti-American organization. Huzzah! Shaka, when the walls fell!

                Needless to say, it was my writing and conversation which converted him to the light. Except that’s completely a lie. I had nothing the fuck to do with it. Pretty much he went through the same process we all do, where it’s one step after another. We all have our own mental itineraries.

                Here’s a funny thing, and it’s only funny because I think it’s an experience many of us have had. There’s finally something that pushes us over the ropes and into the ring. For my friend, it wasn’t Trump’s sexism, racism, or stupidity. It’s the Trump Tower. My friend lives in New York, and Trump is going to live there as well, at least fairly often. So that means entire blocks of Manhattan cordoned off by police. On and off again. For four years. This would be a big hassle in any city. In New York, it’s a fucking nightmare.

                My friend isn’t a liberal or Democrat, not yet. But man, is he open to slagging on Republicans, now. This is progress! One voter at a time. It’s such hard work, though …

            • I live in Central California and I can tell, both anecdotally and from county exit polling, that we are definitely voting down ballot and we vote in the midterms as well.

              My little corner of the World is a Democratic Party success story. A decade ago our US Congressman, State Senator and State Assemblyman were Republicans and now our those three seats are occupied by Democrats.

              In 2004, Bush won my County. While Obama did win in 2008 and 2012 it was this election, 2016, where I finally felt like I lived in a deep blue State. I have voted at the same precinct since 2002 and when I saw all the young people and people of color showing up to vote last fall, I knew that Clinton had this precinct in the bag and precinct level data proved me right. Clinton and Democrats dominated a town that just a decade or two ago felt like Texas by the Pacific Ocean.

              While Democrats struggled in other parts of the Country, my County posted Bay Area margins. I think that Colin Woodard needs to redraw his map because the “Left Coast” is encroaching on “Del Norte.”

      • The Democratic Party is missing a huge opportunity here. We have millions of younger white folks who went to college and now are saddled with debt and poor job prospects and they are suddenly feeling very liberal. How does the Democratic party respond? Do they address those concerns and capture millions of voters that historically would be Republican votes or do they pit minorities against these younger white guys? Well, Democrats being Democrats, they largely chose the latter.

        It really shouldn’t be that hard to address the needs of more than one constituency at a time and the idea that economic populism must come at the expense of social justice is a false choice designed to alienate new and potential white voters, scare and temper the expectations of people of color and keep neoliberals firmly in charge of the Democratic Party.

        • I don’t believe that. Especially since the Party and their Presidential candidate went out of their way to address both. If you don’t think that is the case, I really don’t know what to tell you since Clinton brought it up in all of her speeches, tried to put the word out and the Party had a solid left wing platform.

          There is only so much you can do to reach out to those who don’t want to listen.

          • If you are a high information voter, you couldn’t help but conclude that Clinton’s economic plan was clearly better, relative to Trump’s plan.

            If you are a low information voter, you go by the feel of the campaign and through that lens you here Trump saying that things are rigged and Clinton is saying that “America is Already Great” and white guys have it too good. If you are poor white person, who doesn’t follow politics closely, you are going to vote for Trump.

            Now to be clear, most of Trump’s support came to him because he was a bigot. At the same time, we should not dismiss the fact that Clinton’s campaign style lost her the Mid West. She lost trade unionists to Trump (it doesn’t help that her VP was “right to work”), she lost indebted young, white people to Stein (yes, it is white privilege to be able to defect from the Democratic Party but Democrats should have dealt with that reality) and her race and gender themed campaign failed to drive turnout among people of color (even in States with no voter suppression laws) and it failed to flip suburban white women (it’s funny how people shame white students for voting for Stein but not rich women who voted for Trump).

            It’s not good enough to be better than Republicans on the Economy, you have to better by a huge and unambiguous margin. We live in a racist and patriarchal society and we need to offer generous economic incentives in order to in over white students, Trade Unionists and seniors. If we do that, we can start winning elections.

            • I have been shaming plenty of them. Caused more than one fight and nearly got me thrown out of the house on Thanksgiving.

              Also, people don’t always vote with their pocketbooks. If they did, Clinton would have won every state.

              In fact, Clinton did win the voters who cited the economy as their reason. It is why ignoring that she did is a bad idea.

              As the article states: it is about the fact that racism is a problem. Take welfare. Welfare used to be considered a great thing-the white women who received it were considered to be elite. They were the ones who needed to stay home to raise good white American children after losing their husbands through mischance. Then there was the decades long effort to expand it to include all Americans. Once that happened, it got tagged with being a program for deadbeat black women (despite the fact that usually it was around 70/30 for whites/minorities and most used it like it was intended, for a couple of years then moved off after picking themselves back up post divorce.)

              Saying “we just have to be really really good on economics” means we have to ignore the problem of racism (and sexism too because that won’t stop but it has a different impact on how voters vote.) And we can’t do that anymore.

          • What we can do for those “who don’t want to listen” is actually deliver for them. On the local level. Show that the Democratic party stands for something besides fundraising. Make America believe in good government again. It’s not gonna be easy. It’ll take years, if not decades. The partnership with corporations was an understandable misstep in the 1990s, and now it’s bit us on the ass. Let’s pick ourselves up and fix the damage. As long as it takes.

            I’m not over the election. I can’t fucking believe it. Reagan and Bush II were stone dipshits, but both had gubernatorial experience. America chose a 1980s has-been whose pathetic celebrity was rekindled by his TV show, “The Apprentice.” So many voters were so fed up with politics, they picked this proudly misogynistic, bigoted idiot. I’m still in shock.

            My only silver lining is that his Cabinet, to date, seems like a bunch of toady dingbats. They’ll try to dismantle every government agency they run. I’m hoping the employees respond to this the same way I always did when horrible new bosses told me to ruin my job. You say, “yes, sir!” And you promptly ignore every dumbass thing you were ordered to do.

  2. Who is the elite of the Democratic Party at this point? Obama is on his way out so it is the members of Congress. Which would be Senators Schumer (Senate Minority Leader), Dick Durbin (Senate Minority Whip), Elizabeth Warren (Beloved Figure), apparently non-Democrat (and yes, this is kind of important) Bernie Sanders who only caucuses with the Democrats but staunchly refuses to be one. There is outgoing Senator Reid as well.

    Over in the House you have Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer mainly.
    And I guess if you want to you can throw in the Mayor of New York and the heads of the labor unions.

    Of the elites-most of them have already endorsed Ellison. It would appear this time that Ellison is the choice of the elites.

    I am on #TeamPerez because I like what I have been hearing and Hogue dropped out. However I don’t get a say and to be honest, none of the people reading this blog do either. The reason I don’t get a say is because I never made an effort to run for the positions I would need to in order to be in place to vote on this.

    And I am still hearing policy over party building. The Chair doesn’t set policy. The Chair sets party building. This is why I don’t like Ellison because he doesn’t get that and it seems at least Perez dimly does.

    • That’s a really limited take on “elites.” And I mentioned Schumer. It is much easier for a a Schumer or a Pelosi to go along with this. It’s exactly the same as if Sanders had won the primary. I have no doubt at all that Hillary Clinton would have backed him forcefully. That’s not the level of elite I’m talking about. (Although maybe. Look at the Labour Party.) It wouldn’t have been Hillary Clinton refusing to vote for Sanders.

      Party building is a good idea. God knows the people don’t give two fucks about policy. And that makes me question why I even pay attention to politics. If under the “leadership” of Trump, the Republican Party becomes slightly more liberal than the Democratic Party, I’ll become a Republican. I’m a Democrat because of policy. For something in excess of 100 million Americans, policy means nothing.

      I really have reached the point of political nihilism. Nothing matters. If the people of the United States can continue to vote for Republicans after decades of failure, what is there to be done? We could get to the point of us living in grass huts and shitting in outhouses and the people would still believe the Republicans when they say that just one more tax cut for the rich will make their lives great.

      And if it is just about party building and winning elections, then what is the point? Win elections calling for equality is a hell of a lot harder than winning elections calling for genocide. See, for example, the history of the United States.

      • Your last paragraph was striking to me.

        In 2016 race and gender politics were very effective, for Republicans.

        It turned out that white identity politics is more potent than black or Latino identity politics.

        It turned out that while there no such thing as a sisterhood that transcends race and socioeconomic status (see the mythical suburban white women who was supposed to vote for Clinton). There was, however, a brotherhood of men who had issues with women. That brotherhood transcended race (Trump got an eighth of the black vote and nearly half of the non Mexican Hispanic vote and they were mostly men) and socioeconomic status (notice how so many economic discussions are based on a masculine and lean private sector versus a feminine and “bloated” public sector. This brotherhood united the 19k a year truck driver with the hedge fund manager in their shared “struggle” against teachers and civil servants).

        So it seems like there is an asymmetry of urgency where white and male issues dive strong and consistent turnout in a way that issue for women and persons of color simply do not.

        • The reason for that is power. White men see themselves as losing power. And if you look at married women — especially older married women — they see the same thing. People who are used to getting the shaft don’t get so upset when facing the shaft yet again.

          I get a lot of questions from people about what my replacement for capitalism is. I don’t have one. But the issue is really that I don’t have one for humans. Humans suck. So what is politics all about? It’s about tricking people into doing the right thing.

          I’m in a really bad mood, so don’t take anything I write today that seriously. But humans are horrible — by the criteria that they themselves suggest. Every kindergartener is taught moral lessons that, if followed, will assure their defeat by the very same society’s standards. If you want your children to be successful, hope that they are born psychopaths. That’s the real American Dream: that your children are born psychopaths.

        • There is ample evidence of this with the firefighters who went for Obama somewhat narrowly but were reliably Democratic down ticket.

          Well thanks to having a woman at the top of the ticket, the support cratered. They absolutely refuse to admit that it is sexism that caused it. Because that has incredibly ugly implications for women who want to run for that particular office-men will refuse to vote for you and punish others for the fact you ran. Firefighters are already well known for their problem with sexism

          Racism played a second part in why the Democrats lost at the top of the ticket (we did pick up four seats each in the Houses of Congress.)

          A lot of takes are saying “oh it was economics.” No, no it wasn’t. The firefighters haven’t been left behind by the lack of focus on unionization by Democrats. They were left behind by a changing electorate that is browner and more feminine. They are angry that the country is moving away from being white and male centered. And they decided to vote for the guy who said things would be restored towards white and male power. (Which is true, since most of Trump’s picks are white and male.)

          But blaming it on the economy and Democrats not being laser focused on blue collar male workers is useful because the media never questions it. Even when it is kind of obvious to those of us not white or male.

          • I seems like we need to bifurcate election analysis and look at totals and look at margins and do so separately.

            At the margins, you just cannot convince me that Bernie Sanders does any worse than Clinton at getting those 80 thousand votes in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Picking “right to work” Tim Kaine probably tipped a few thousand white and male trade unionists in those States from Clinton over to Trump. If Clinton had a more aggressive Student loan forgiveness-Tuition Free College message, she gets more votes out of Madison and Ann Arbor. If she had a much more robust jobs program, she gets more black men in Detroit, who are desperate for dignified and remunerative jobs, to get out and vote.

            Those margins matter and they decided the election. Where the media usually goes wrong is that they confuse and conflate the margins with the totals. The Democratic Party should continue to be a Party for women and minorities. In fact they should be more aggressively feminist and anti racist and those two things are not at all at odds with economic populism. In fact, genuine economic populism needs to be intersectional. Unfortunately, a lot of whites (especially but not exclusively white men) will never vote for Democrats but we can keep our colored and feminine base and win over more white men at the same time.

            • The margins always ignore the two big elephants in the room: sexism and racism.

              Clinton had to win despite the massive sexism that exists still in this country. Especially in the rural areas where she was hit hard despite the fact that she was and is way more lefty then anyone has given her credit for (except Frank.) Sexism explains why she wasn’t trusted to keep her promises despite having a clear record of doing exactly that. Sexism also explains why the charge of “Crooked Hillary” worked pretty well against her-it taps into a long history of claiming women are simply deceivers at heart. Racism-or more correctly being told to stop being racist-did the rest. I cannot tell you how many people I had tell me they thought she was talking about them when she said deplorable despite her being very clear who she meant. People were quick to assume it was about them even if they thought they weren’t racist, sexist, etc. (Reminds me of the reaction men had to the hashtag #YesAllWomen-they were like “but I am not like that!” Then why’d you assume we were talking about you?)

              At this point though I think we are just hashing over stuff that doesn’t matter any more. She lost for lots of reasons but the Party didn’t lose everything. I don’t think a populist message is going to win over many white voters though-because if that was the case, this wouldn’t have happened.

              We need to focus on expanding the party towards capturing those who don’t vote for various reasons-not in going for people who vote for the guy who beats his chest in a manly way.

              • There’s two things, here. There’s Democratic Party electoral strategy, which I’m sure you are smarter about than I. Then there’s public policy, which I believe hugely, hugely needs to shift leftward if we’re going to stop the worldwide turn towards totalitarianism.

                Of course, voters who know a damn thing about how the economy works voted for Hillary. Voters with the faintest clue how the economy works always vote Democrat. The question is, why are so many voters (here and in Europe) convinced that women or brown-skinned folks or Muslims are a bigger threat than economic mismanagement?

                I can’t answer for all of them. But I can speak of my dad. In the 60s and 70s, he was a liberal. Then he failed at every business venture he tried (the apple doesn’t fall from from the tree, in that matter). He fell into crazy fundamentalism, conspiracy theories about lesbian socialist Negroes taking control of ‘Murica, the whole shebang.

                He was a man in his 40s with a wife and three kids, living in public housing. When he’d slide into paralyzingly depression (more apple/tree), his family would rely on welfare and food stamps.

                When he was functioning, was he broke? Heck, no! He worked at the Post Office. They had a good union. The VA paid for his doctor bills. But it sure wasn’t the proud breadwinner role he’d imagined for himself.

                When he voted for Reagan in 80 and 84, he wasn’t voting economics. He wanted that public housing, union job, VA care, welfare, and food stamps. All things Reagan assaulted. Nor was my dad a huge racist, so far as I know. (Huge sexist, yeah, I think so — I think my mom’s brain intimidated him a little.) No, he was voting for Christ the Redeemer to take back America. But it’s highly likely that if one of his business ventures had succeeded, he wouldn’t have been as susceptible to crazy logic.

                What’s driving the rise of totalitarianism isn’t straight economics, IMO. And it’s not straight bigotry, either. It’s economic insecurity. Which easily opens the door for irrational other-blaming. The policies of the Left here and in Europe have created great wealth, but also exacerbated insecurity. (Naturally, the Right has done much worse, but that’s for them to discuss.) We need to push our politicians away from this corporate-friendly model. Or the fallout will continue getting more hideous.

  3. Putting aside ideology, I support Ellison simply because of his views on Democratic Party tactics. Ellison favors mobilization over persuasion and IMO he is right. A lot of the older Democrats are acting like this is still the 1980’s and most of the electorate is white, middle class and persuadable. Most voters are inframarginal (they are R or D no matter what)/ The next largest group chooses between one of the major parties and not voting. After that, we have those who will choose third party or one major Party (Green or Dem), (Libertarian or GOP). The smallest group are those who choose between the two major parties.

    Ellison has implied that with a “ground game” we can get the no shows and the green voters over to the Democratic side. Just for that alone, I favor Ellison.

  4. There is one other reason that some people might not want Ellison, a very ugly one. Ellison is a Muslim. I don’t think there are many anti-Islamic feelings among Democrats themselves; the Dems may have a problem with being too corporate and conservative on economic issues, but these days they’re pretty solid on discrimination. However, I do think it’s possible people are saying “we just got off eight years with a president who was accused of being a Muslim, should we put an actual Muslim in charge now? Will that scare potential voters too much?” I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s certainly possible.

    • I’ve read it from time to time; I can’t say my experience is any indication of how widespread that sentiment is.

      We read a lot about the “two sides” in the Democratic Party, but I think there’s a third. There’s the more centrist wing, the folks who backed Hillary, and the center-left wing, the ones who backed Sanders. Both want more people to engage in local politics, which to me is the most important strategic goal.

      But there is another wing out there, one more center-right. Which wants to go after that fabled “white working class” by downplaying social justice issues. Don’t hammer so hard on racial inequality, stop fighting for LGTBQ rights. That makes the honkies mad. So, a Muslim guy? Who’s Black? Nope!

      This to me is not a winning strategy. We need to combat fascist fear-stoking by allaying those fears, not catering to them. It’s the old “Sesame Street” message we need to send — people who look or talk different aren’t that scary, and everybody loves ice cream.*

      The mean people who lust for dominance are never gonna vote Democrat. Neither are gated-community types. That’s wasted energy, pursuing those folks. I think there are voters we could peel away, especially among Christians. We’re not gonna agree on abortion, and to me that’s a moral absolute. But not all Christians are cut from the same cloth. We tend to win Catholic votes, because Catholics value helping the poor more than the church’s teachings on sexuality. 60% of Mormons refused the Trump abomination. There’s opportunities open.

      It doesn’t even have to be openly religious candidates. What it has to be is candidates, of any faith (or none), who are comfortable around churchgoers. Who know the essential Bible stories. (BOM stories, in Utah.) Who’ll talk about the moral righteousness of helping our fellow humans.

      A lot of poor white Christians support, through their churches, anti-poverty missions in desperate countries worldwide. Let’s talk to them. Agree to disagree on certain issues, focus on helping poor families. I think we can make some progress there.

      * — (Not me. I fucking hate ice cream. Sugar is good for one thing and one thing only; for yeast to eat so they can metabolize it into CO2 to rise bread, and alcohol for beverages. Curse you, ice cream!)

      • My first suggestion would be not to refer to “us” reaching out to “them,” as it suggests that Christians and Democrats are disjoint sets. I’m in the intersection of the two sets, as are many others I know. When I moved, I specifically looked for a church that was LGBT-affirming. The one I’m at has a lesbian Democrat as deacon and a pastor who shares Bernie memes on Facebook.

        • My apologies. By “us” and “them” I meant people who vote Democratic and people who vote Republican, and I did not intend to dehumanize those who vote Republican. Only to say that churches are places I don’t think Democrats spend enough time canvassing in. I believe there’s more potential Democratic voters among churchgoers than most people suspect. The prosperity gospel crowd, they’re probably not going to switch sides. Lots of churchgoers, though, want above all peace on Earth and goodwill to humankind. The Democratic Party is largely ignoring these churchgoers. It shouldn’t. I suspect you agree!

          FWIW, while I am not a churchgoer myself, my mom was a devout Catholic and my dad an evangelical. Both very politically conservative. My dad still is. After she lost a close friend to AIDS, my mom was less conservative. After one of my brothers ended up in Gulf War II because of lies, she went full-bore Democrat. (He’s fine, didn’t get a scratch, although he saw some horrible stuff no-one should see.) So I’m not coming from an arrogant, dismissive-of-faith place, here. I do mock dogma at times. I don’t mock faith. Faith comes from a hope that there’s a higher meaning to existence. I’d never mock that.

          (Ya gotta admit, some dogma is silly. But half, if not 90%, of what I believe is silly, too.)

    • Wow. I hadn’t ever seen Bernie on the Senate floor before. I’m used to him from way back on talk shows, and of course this last year at rallies. He’s much more genial in those appearances. This is Angry Bernie. I like it. Doesn’t hurt that it’s on the issue which gets me angriest, too.

      He’s such a goofy nerd. He starts off the speech scratching his belly, and the mic picks up every scratch. Midway, he shuffles through papers — I half expected them to fly up in the air and he’d have to chase them around. Not knocking the guy! But being nerdy is part of his charm.

      He reminds me of an old history teacher I had in high school. This teacher was such a colossal nerd. All the cool kids made fun of him, sometimes in class. He’d get into some detail about ancient Phonecians and be super-excitable. For those of us who weren’t the cool kids, though, his enthusiasm about history was contagious.

      Hillary reminds me more of a college professor. One you really like, and really want to impress. Who’s a bit stern when you turn in a lazy paper. Obama’s got a kind of psychiatrist vibe. He’ll listen, but when he raises an eyebrow, you know he disapproves. And Trump, naturally, is the mean gym teacher who laughs when jocks beat up on wimpy kids.

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