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Wednesday, April 12, 2017


Yesterday, the Democrats came within 7 points of winning an unwinnable deep red House seat in Kansas, despite the fact that the DNC did nothing to help the Democratic candidate.

Where is Howard Dean's fifty state strategy when we need it?


Unknown said...

That certainly was a missed opportunity. Somewhere (I don’t recall now) one of the commentators I read said that the DNC was not active because they didn’t want to “nationalize” the race. I’m not sure why they didn’t, particularly because it should have dawned on them that if it got close--which it did, the Republicans would nationalize it--which they did. The Democrats, apparently, decided to put all of their resources into the Ossoff campaign. I have no idea what kind of money the DNC had available. At the very least, they could have facilitated email fundraising for these individual campaigns.

In any event, looking at the positive side, the 27 point shift is very encouraging. I hope the DNC is on the ball for the other races--all of which are below the radar with the exception of Ossoff. They shouldn’t be below the radar. And if the Republicans can send Ted Cruz into a Kansas district, the Dems should consider getting some of their (mostly former) big guns into these other districts.

DML said...

There is currently a similarly competitive race in deep red Montana...that the national Dems are also ignoring. The complete incompetence of this party is astounding.

TheDudeDiogenes said...

The immediate, almost unanimous, cheerleading for Trump's missile strike in Syria even from the Dems has been revolting. What even do they want?! The Dem strategy seems to be the same as before Iraq - "CAPITULATE!"

Jerry Fresia said...

I don't think the failure of the Democratic Party is about incompetence. Keep in mind that the current leadership is wary of a progressive uprising within the party. (Check out any of Thomas Frank's talks on "Listen Liberal" on YouTube). They rather keep control of party and lose rather than see it taken over by smart, self-confident, progressive activists. Just look at what happened to Tusli Gabbard for asking for an investigation over the Syrian chem attack: Howard Dean wants her banished from Congress.
The Democratic Party leadership knows exactly what it is doing: putting out bottom-up, progressive grass fires wherever they appear.

Danny said...

was going to say that special elections are weird, and Kansas politics is particularly weird, and I'm not getting what exactly is most relevant, for the perspective of national Democrats, here. Shall tarry to say that Trump's decision to launch missiles at a Syrian air base seemed, to me, to have been, oh let's put it this way: strong, resolute, manly. It was, I guess we can agree on this much, that it was in order to punish Bashar al-Assad for a chemical weapon attack. As to 'cheerleading' for this, well, on the other hand, it was in direct contradiction to everything that he had said about Syria for years. I might agree to coldly analyze whether there's nothing the media love more than military action. And there are, surely, some pressing questions about this attack and its aftermath. Such as, does the administration have a coherent foreign policy in general? But I'm not *complaining* that it seemed to be in contradiction to Trump’s “America First” doctrine.

Unknown said...

The DNC has raised a lot of money for Ossoff in the Georgia election, and from what I've read about him, he seems very much a progressive. If he should win, though, it will be interesting to see how he votes in Congress. He certainly would not be able to hold so red a district in the absence of the anti-Trump vote if he is 100% progressive in his voting. The same is true of the Montana race and would have been true of Kansas.

I don't find the idea that an establishment DNC machine would rather lose to a Republican than win with a progressive plausible. If that were going on, we'd be hearing a lot more from people like Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown as well as Bernie who, though not formally a Democrat, would certainly not be shy on calling them out on anything like that.

Sometimes there is no evil conspiracy--sometimes there is just a blunder.

Chris said...

Professor Wolff,
Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, these people don't want what you keep thinking they want.


Jerry is right, and I've said this numerous times on this blog. THE DNC IS PROACTIVELY PURGING PROGRESSIVES.

Chris said...

We hear from Bernie all the time on this very issue....

"Sanders was asked what the party stands for. Here's his response:

You’re asking a good question, and I can’t give you a definitive answer. Certainly there are some people in the Democratic Party who want to maintain the status quo. They would rather go down with the Titanic so long as they have first-class seats."

Unknown said...

When you're in the minority, particularly in the House, you don't have a first class seat.

talha said...

I can't tell if you are being deliberately or inadvertently obtuse, David. The neoliberal leadership of the Democratic Party has "a first class seat" because, whatever their current political fortunes, their economic and cultural fortunes are firmly hitched to the corporate jet set benefiting from neoliberal "globalization" (read: selective deregulation of markets), with whom they summer in Martha's Vineyard. This is plain as day for anyone willing simply to open their eyes - unlike in yesteryear where perhaps you had to do some really empirical digging and socio-theoretical analysis. As Jerry says, Thomas Franks lay out pretty plainly. For more data and deeper analysis, see Tom Ferguson and Robert Brenner. To fail even to glimpse that this is *obviously* the point Sanders is making in the quote given by Chris takes a singular talent for denial.

Chris said...

I also don't know if he's a troll, obtuse, condescending, daft, vile, etc. But I'm starting to suspect he's not even worth responding to, given your keen observation that it takes EXTREME mental gymnastics (intentional or otherwise) to misread the Sanders quote.

Unknown said...

I’m not a troll. I use my real name and try to engage in a discussion that is, so far as possible, devoid of ad hominem.

We clearly have different views of politicians as a class. I believe that, in part, most of them are on an ego trip. They like holding the office and the fame that it provides. They’ll act in ways that they believe will keep them there. I don’t mean that they don’t have policy views and preferences. These too are part of their make-up. But there’s often a tension between their beliefs and their egos, and when there is serious conflict, egos usually win. Their primary goal, I believe, is to get elected and after that to get re-elected.

This is not necessarily bad. To get anything done that you think is worthwhile, you have to be in office. I know of one former liberal Democratic member of the House who had a very high NRA rating. He won his seat in a largely Republican district, in a good year for Democrats. My daughter, who was working for him at the time, complained to him about one of his gun votes. He replied that the Representative from that district would always vote that way on a gun matter, or that person wouldn’t the representative for long. That was the price he had to pay in order to cast many other votes for liberal legislation that a Republican would oppose.

He might have been wrong in his estimation of the need to please the NRA. (He lost his seat a few years later despite his NRA rating, and it’s been held by a Republican ever since.) But that’s the kind of calculation that elected officials make--and have to make--all of the time.

I don’t know what was going on in the DNC with regard to Kansas or Montana. However, they have made a major effort for Ossoff. Why they preferred him to the others, I don’t know, but my guess is that they decided, correctly or incorrectly, that he had the best chance. I do know that the coffers of a political party are usually at their lowest right after an election. And I’ve seen no evidence that shows the decision to be anything but a blunder.

talha said...

Ahh ok, so you are just someone with a standard-fare mainstream (mis)understanding of American politics, seen in terms of (a) individual-level motives (b) revolving around electoral success or "power grabs," etc. All in complete clueless isolation from the background structures of political-economy and ideology that form the entire context and purpose of the enterprise. Fair enough, you share that with basically the entire chattering class.

But for some of us on this blog, it is precisely the point of the tradition of social theoretical analysis Prof. Wolff's writings are associated with to move beyond the pablum that you dose out with such faux sophistication here.

Chris said...

There's no contradiction between saying the individuals are on an ego trip, and that their egos suggest quelling progressives, and exacerbating corporate donations as the (WRONG) path to victory. That is, you can hold your theory, but still 'see' what some of the rest of us see, no?

Danny said...

I am willing to be instructed further, on what is precisely the point of the tradition of social theoretical analysis Prof. Wolff's writings are associated with.

Unknown said...


I haven’t met anyone yet who is more opposed the “legality” of corporate donations than I am. But thanks to Citizens United, it is now the law that corporations can donate to political campaigns.

I doubt if the Democrats or any other party to the left of center can raise enough money from other sources to be able to match Republicans who are elated to get corporate donations--as well as the lion’s share from wealthy individuals and their PACs.

Bernie raised a lot of money from small donors, and that was encouraging, but it is an open question if that kind of small giving will continue. Unless it does, I don’t see any alternative to accepting corporate donations.

The all-out Democratic support of Ossoff, to me, belies the notion that the DNC’s ignoring Kansas for so long was dictated by corporate donors. But even if it was, the failure of the small donors to respond as they did for Bernie is the fault of potential small donors.

Chris said...

Uh, Bernie in all match up polls defeated Trump without Super PAC money. So yes it's possible to do well without being a corporate hack, shill, stooge, etc.

I can't find evidence that Ossoff is Bernie-Esque. Can you provide any? I'm not saying he isn't, but when I researched him last month it was usual vague political platitudes.

Danny said...

vague political platitudes is not Bernie-Esque, see..nvm.

Danny said...

Bernie's platitudes are not *usual* platitudes, I stand corrected.

Danny said...

Platitudes are geared towards presenting a overused and general, shallow, unifying wisdom over a difficult topic. It is what it is. Nobody's perfect. Enough is Enough. This great nation and its government belong to all of the people and not to a handful of billionaires, their super PACS and their lobbyists.

Unknown said...


Bernie indeed did magnificently both in the polls and in fund-raising, though he wasn't the only one to lead Trump in the polls. He showed the game could be played without SuperPac money. The question, though, is how sustainable is this, particularly without Bernie on the ticket? If it can be done, I'm all for it. If enough people can come up with $27 there probably wouldn't be any need for corporate money.

But as to Kansas--I have no idea what the DNC had in the bank to spend on it. Do you?

Ossoff strikes me as a 30-year-old idealist. He's not had a chance to show how liberal he is. But he was one of the first to step up and volunteer after Price vacated his seat. He's endorsed by John Lewis (that was enough for me) and I believe, but am not certain, by Bernie as well. Others on this blog seem to see it the same way if their donations are any indicator.