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Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Trump focuses the Democratic mind

by digby

However you feel about the Democratic party, this is good news. Job one: put up a big Trump roadblock.

The Democratic Party Has Entered Its No Bullsh*t Phase

Two years ago, at the annual gathering of progressive activists dubbed Netroots Nation, then-presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was interrupted repeatedly by hecklers upset that his platform was so seemingly skimpy on racial justice. The incident left Sanders piqued and confused. He had, after all, been invited there to speak.

But he didn’t have it nearly as bad as former Governor Martin O’Malley. That same year, the Maryland Democrat boofed a question about Black Lives Matter. “White lives matter,” he pleaded, having clearly not been briefed by staff. “All lives matter.” His hecklers came up on the stage and literally took the microphone.

That was Netroots Nation then: less a conference than a public airing of political grievances.

Two years, later, at this year’s confab in New Orleans, there were no proxy wars over microphones or walks outs when headliners like Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) spoke. It was, instead, bizarrely civil and very much mission-oriented around a burning, almost existential, desire to win back power.

"All the chips are on the table,” said Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) during his Netroots panel. “We have never had a greater opportunity to enhance progressive values."

Later in the panel a middle-aged woman stood up to ask the governor a question. Only, as is often the case in these confabs, she prefaced it with a bit of biography. “I’m actually from Virginia,” she proclaimed. “And I can tell you, [Inslee] is correct. The number of people in Virginia, when I was out helping the campaign this last year who said, ‘I don’t care who is running for the Democrats, if he has the D, I’m voting,’ the number of people who said that was crazy.”

The notion that a political party is bound together by a hunger for electoral success may seem painfully obvious. Winning elections, after all, is their primary point of existence.

But those even remotely familiar with the Democratic id know that this hasn’t always the case. The party’s various factions are often in a perpetual state of annoyance with one another, over everything from ideology to strategy. ‘Dems in disarray’ may be an overused trope. But, like many tropes, it has an element of truth to it.

But the Trump era seems to have, at least momentarily, convinced Democrats to put grievances with party leadership over things like communication strategies and policy priorities on the backburner.

The agenda at Netroots was filled instead with strategy sessions geared towards getting out from under Trumpism: hyper-localized organizing of youth voters; elevating black women's groups; using peer-to-peer texting; optimizing earned media, tips on bird-dogging and building small donor fundraising networks; protecting campaigns from getting “rat**ked” and securing them from foreign infiltrators; utilizing digital tools to turn out voters; and so on.

There is a lot to fight about within the Democratic coalition and I have little doubt that there will be plenty of them going forward. But for the moment everyone is rowing in the same direction which shows strategic maturity. Thank God.

As Jason Robards famously said in All The President's Men :
Nothing's riding on this except the, uh, first amendment to the Constitution, freedom of the press, and maybe the future of the country.