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Saturday, July 23, 2016


Bookending the RNC convention

by Tom Sullivan

"He sounded like some two-bit dictator ..." — Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Friday morning I read through a Trump acceptance speech Facebook thread by Bernie Sanders supporters. Friends. There was a lot of gloom and doom, in some sense echoing the rhetoric coming from the RNC convention. Some were holding out hope for a Philadelphia miracle in which, somehow, Sanders would come out of the DNC convention as the Democratic nominee. Otherwise, we're doomed.

Some of that is because social media tends to sort us into our own Fox-like echo chambers where we reinforce each others' thoughts and opinions, cut off from outside voices. It happens in Washington, D.C. It happens in state capitols. It happens online.

Take heart. GOP strategist Nicole Wallace:

You know, listening to this, I was struck by two things that I always believed during my two decades in the Republican politics,” she explained to NBC’s Lester Holt. “One, the voters always get it right. And two, the Republican Party that I worked for for two decades died in this room tonight.”

“We are now represented as a party by a man who believes in protectionism, isolationism and nativism,” Wallace continued. “And those are the forces that George W. Bush and, I belive, John McCain were most worried about during their times as the leaders of the Republican Party.”

NBC’s Chuck Todd was stunned: “You believe the party died tonight?”

“Well, the voters picked this guy, this is where the Republican Party is now,” Wallace replied. “They now are attracted to those forces of isolationism and protectionism.”

“But the party I was part of for two decades is dead.”
A leading North Carolina Democratic politician called the other day to ask about the state of some down-ticket races here. The Republicans locally are in disarray. They have three empty slots on the fall ballot: one state House race and two county commission seats. As best we can tell, they have no one to fill them and can barely muster enough members for a meeting to appoint replacements before Labor Day.

Okay, your mileage will vary, but consider: The Trump disorganization that misled the RNC's nominating convention is now in charge of heading his party's national campaign effort. Good luck with that. Between a Trumpist base with little experience in organizing campaigns; national, state, and local Republicans who want nothing to do with their presidential candidate; and a presidential candidate with no interest or experience in supporting local efforts that are not all about HIM, Nicole Wallace has reason to despair. You do not.

That's not to say I won't be growing a second butt just so I can work that one off too. Thursday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren cautioned Stephen Colbert about Trump:

"What Donald Trump says is, "Turn on each other." And the consequence of that one is when you turn on each other, the same guys who are in power, the same guys who rigged the system get to stay in power." Don't fall for it.

As Warren said, "I like women who fight back." There's a lot to be said for that.

This election has never been about one man. (Or one woman.) But I have to admire what the Sanders campaign has brought to this race, and the promise his energized supporters represent for shifting the power leftward in the Democratic Party. If. They. Stay. Engaged. I don't begrudge overnight sensations, but that's not usually how it works. Sanders has been engaged his entire life. He's 74. It took him that long to get this kind of national recognition.

I spent seven months in the first congressional race I worked on (for a progressive woman). Five of that full time or more as an unpaid volunteer with no experience whatsoever. I got some. And we lost. It was the most fun I ever had losing.

Patsy stayed engaged. She now chairs a resurgent state party. Maybe it's the Irish in me, but being in the fight — even when you lose — is empowering, and far better than feeling like a victim. As I wrote here just a month ago, the upside of staying in the fight is you stop feeling like roadkill. I highly recommend it.