Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Friday, February 24, 2017


Can yellow dogs learn new tricks?

by Tom Sullivan

Midtown Atlanta from Georgia Tech. Photo by Isawooty via Creative Commons.

Saturday, Democrats meeting in Atlanta choose a new chair for the Democratic National Committee. Handicapping seems to make it a tossup between Rep. Keith Ellison (the early favorite) and former labor secretary Tom Perez who entered the race a month after Ellison at the behest of the Obama White House. At the New Republic, Clio Chang quotes a Clinton ally who told The Hill, “Perez and Ellison are cut from the same progressive cloth. Either one would be a strong leader.” That sounds about right. So why urge him to run at all?

Because the difference that makes a difference is over who stands to lose influence inside party ranks:

As Jeff Stein points out at Vox, Sanders supporters are likely overstating the power of the DNC chair. But that is all the more reason to throw them a win. If an Ellison victory is a modest, symbolic concession, the upside is that Democrats will signal to progressive and younger voters, who Democrats will be desperate to turn out in 2018 and 2020, that they are on their side. It would be a choice of utmost pragmatism.

But members of the Democratic establishment don’t quite see it that way. The Hill reports, “Perez supporters have expressed concern about handing the party over to the Sanders wing of the party, arguing that Ellison would move the party too far to the left.” And the New York Times suggests that Democratic leaders pushed Perez to run because they viewed Ellison as too close to the Sanders wing.


And it’s not just Obama- and Clinton-ites that could see some power slip away with an Ellison-headed DNC. Paid DNC consultants also have a vested interest in maintaining the DNC status quo. Nomiki Konst, who has extensively covered the nuts and bolts of the DNC race, asked Perez how he felt about conflicts of interest within the committee—specifically, DNC members who also have contracts with the committee. Perez dodged the issue, advocating for a “big tent.” In contrast, in a forum last month, Ellison firmly stated, “We are battling the consultant-ocracy.”

These concerns about power, control, and money echo of the dismal failures of 2008, when top Democratic operatives decided to fold Obama’s online grassroots behemoth, Organizing for America, into the DNC. The story is infamous now: Party regulars wanted to ensure control of the group, rather than allowing it to flourish as an independent entity, one that could challenge the party itself. The muzzling of Obama’s grassroots support has been blamed for being partly responsible for the Democratic Party’s enormous losses in state and local seats over the past decade. Chris Edley, who pushed for OFA’s independence, told the New Republic recently about the choice, “If you’re not really that committed, as a matter of principle, to a bottom-up theory of change, then you will find it nonsensical to cede some control in order to gain more power.”
At issue now is whether party leaders who squandered the opportunity Obama's army of volunteers represented are the ones to fill in the hole they helped dig. A Republican operative quoted in "Crashing the Gate" said, "I don't get it. When a consultant on the Republican side loses, we take them out and shoot them. You guys -- keep hiring them." Killing off OFA, Micha Sifry wrote at New Republic, was "a sin of imagination, one that helped decimate the Democratic Party at the state and local level and turn over every branch of the federal government to the far right." Is it time to turn the page?

Fear of an emergent grassroots movement is a familiar story in North Carolina. This one goes back a dozen years, but could have been written yesterday.

Jerry Meek, a tall, unmarried attorney in his early thirties, won his race for state chair over the opposition of virtually the entire state party establishment. He told Markos Moulitsas and Jerome Armstrong what he did in "Crashing the Gate" (2006):
Meek had won an upset victory in early 2005 over Ed Turlington, the former state cochairman of local-boy John Edwards' presidential campaign with John Kerry. Turlington not only had Edwards' and the state's entire congressional delegation's blessing to become state party chairman, but also the governor's, the state legislative leaders', and all but one statewide elected official. "Pretty much every single elected Democrat in North Carolina supported my opponent," Meek told us. Yet he won by bringing together a coalition of party activists that had been ignored.

"It was a weird mixture. It was part conservative, rural, and part very liberal urban progressive, and both of them felt the state party had excluded them," Meek said. "The rural people felt like the state party was the party that just invested in the urban areas and had an interest in the urban areas. The urban progressives felt like the state party they ignored them because of their philosophical perspective on politics."

And echoing the same sentiment we find in most components of the new movement, Meek was more interested in building a big tent party than in ideology. "I put together really two coalitions that ordinarily could not coexist in the same room, which made it tricky because during the campaign I never talked about issues-I never talked about whether I'm liberal or moderate or conservative. I just talked about the insiders versus the outsiders. I talked about the need to have a party that embraced everybody and that included people in the decision-making process. And that's what both sides were looking for. And they came together and created a majority."
Meek mobilized the marginalized and out-organized the "power" players. Although he had served as a state party officer, party stalwarts were horrified at Meek's effrontery. How dare he run against the governor's choice? Why, he was too young. He was too liberal. It would be the end the Democratic Party in North Carolina. "And you know," one party doyen whispered to me, "he's gay." (Which today might make his wife and kids roll their eyes.) As candidate and as chair, the "too liberal" Meek worked the state in his pickup, delivering grassroots support and training to state counties. In 2008 with Meek at the helm, North Carolina went blue for the first time since 1976.

In 2016, as in 2008, the fate of another grassroots army hangs in the balance. Indivisible, Our Revolution, and other groups are looking beyond mere engagement. The DNC chair contest Saturday is about more than just control. It is about direction, conviction, and about courage. A skittish party establishment reflexively clutches ever harder at what control it thinks it still has rather than embrace new energy at a time when it has little left to lose. Since I've been involved, "savvy," centrist Democrats have perpetually second guessed themselves, asking, "But if we fight for [fill in your progressive policy here], what will the Republicans do (to hurt us) at election time?" As if Republicans would leave them alone if they don't stick their necks out. As if they would run out of lies to deploy and hit Democrats over the head with facts instead.

No guts is not a good look for a party asking to lead the last superpower. People aren't going to vote for the abused spouse party. Democrats need to be showing voters, including millions taking to the streets, that they have the courage of their convictions and will fight for them. Let Republicans worry about themselves.

I used to love when the small liberal arts school I attended played football against bigger teams like Clemson. They had nothing to prove. They were expected to lose. Yet they would play their hearts out, use their heads, rise to the challenge, and play above their usual level. Sometimes against opponents a full head taller. It was as glorious as cheering for Rocky that very first time. That's what American voters want to see. That's who they want to vote for. Recklessness is a fault, but always playing it safe is not what leadership and heart looks like. And it is not what the times call for now. Legacy Democrats who call themselves "yellow dogs" risk being seen as just yellow. The question tomorrow and going forward is whether they capitalize on and not squander the opportunity before them. Can their party still learn new tricks?