Naked Opportunism

Jim Justice, a lifelong Republican, switched to a Democratic affiliation to run for governor of West Virginia, a state that usually elects Democratic governors. Then once he’d safely secured office, he almost immediately switched back to being a Republican. Clearly he was never a real Democrat to begin with, he just lied to the people of West Virginia to get elected. I encourage West Virginians to elect an honest governor in 2020, rather than reelect someone who has betrayed and deceived them.

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Really?

There are many important issues in the Cincinnati mayoral race. Jobs, heroin, violence, transportation, poverty, and more. Yet for some people, the top issue in this election is that Yvette Simpson disapproves of stripping. The Bockfest incident has no effect on Cincinnati, but people are still talking about it almost five months later. Is Yvette’s personal opinion on strippers at all relevant to the issues? No. Is it at all shocking that a professional woman in her late thirties doesn’t enjoy striptease? No. Her reaction was maybe a bit rude, but she has since apologized and both she and the dancer have moved on.

For many people, saying the right thing is more important than doing the right thing. They care more that politicians spout all the preapproved talking points than if they can solve the issues facing our city, state, or nation. Simpson is usually great at this, but in a moment of weakness she dared to deviate on strippers. But she knows the language police are part of her base, so she made sure to say the right buzzwords in her apology statement, where she said she “unintentionally hurt the feelings of a woman who was empowered in her performance.”

With a heroin crisis and high rates of poverty, dealing with these pressing problems is more important than soothing the hurt feelings of oversensitive whiners. Let’s focus on what the candidates plan to do about these problems, and most importantly what they’ve been doing in their time in Cincinnati government, and vote accordingly. There’s plenty of valid arguments about why Simpson is the wrong choice for mayor, but Bockfest shouldn’t affect anyone’s vote.

Rob Richardson Jr. Enters Ohio Treasurer Race

This apparently happened in late June, but apparently the Ohio Democratic Party approached him and asked him to run, which I find interesting. I wonder why he stood out to them. He hasn’t ever held office, he only has a failed mayoral run under his belt. But hey, nobody else was stepping up to the plate. And while he’s new to running for office, Richardson has been active in politics for years, and his work on the UC Board of Trustees is good preparation for being treasurer.

It’s also promising that he realizes he made mistakes in his mayoral run. Some people, like P.G. Sittenfeld, want to blame everyone but themselves when they lose a race, but Richardson realized after losing that he’d gotten in over his head and started reflecting on what he could’ve done better. His biggest mistake was jumping in the race too late, and he’s already making sure not to make that mistake again.

Richardson may not have my vote depending on who else ends up running, but he certainly has my consideration. And if it’s Richardson vs. Sittenfeld, you can bet I’ll vote for someone who’s willing to learn and improve over someone who tried to run on gun control in a statewide race in Ohio. Seriously, what was he thinking?

Deters Dynasty Won’t Die

Back in November, Hamilton county residents achieved victory when they ousted Dennis Deters, a man whose success is entirely due to his family name, out of the Hamilton County Commission. Unfortunately, Deters ain’t gone yet. I googled his name to see what he’s up to nowadays and it turns out Kasich appointed him to the First District Court of Appeals back in March. Will we ever be rid of the Deters family? At least Tracy Winkler still seems to be out of the picture.

Distractions

The GOP almost passed an Obamacare repeal. What did I hear about most on facebook? Whether Pelosi should be minority leader. People are still arguing about that now and saying we should call up Tim Ryan and tell him he’s an asshole. How about we leave the infighting to members of the House and focus on more important things? Rule of thumb, when Trump tweets about something, it means there’s something else more important going on that you should be focusing on.

Enough About “The Base!”

So often I hear from my fellow Democrats that the way to win elections is just to “turn out the base.” What counts as “the base” is completely different depending who you ask. To far left progressives, the base is far left progressives. To Hillary supporters, the base is black people and women. In other words, the base is whatever group of Democratic voters is most like the person talking (or whoever they think they’re most like, anyway.) And apparently all we have to do is focus on these people exclusively and we’ll win.

Well, that was our strategy in 2016 and look where that got us. We can’t win the presidency on “the base” alone. The “women and minorities are the base” crowd thinks we need to just keep doing the exact same thing and we’ll magically get different results. The progressive crowd thinks that we should drop everyone else and suck them off, just like we did in the ‘80s (because that was totally an effective strategy.) That’s what this whole nonsense about the base is, people want the party to cater to their entitled asses and refuse to compromise on the tiniest thing.

In reality, elections are won by coalitions. Obama didn’t win by only talking to young people and minorities, he tried to reach out to everyone, and he was rewarded with overwhelming victory. You don’t win in Indiana by only talking to “the base.” More importantly, you don’t win in Ohio with that strategy. If we’re going to do well, we’re going to have to respect people who aren’t like us, even if we don’t agree with them. And we’re going to have to compromise on some things, especially in our messaging but sometimes also on policy.

People also need to keep in mind even “the base” is not homogeneous. It’s progressives, it’s minorities, and until the last election it was also factory workers in the Rust Belt. Northeast Ohio used to be solidly blue even in years the Democrat lost in Ohio, but Hillary’s win there was narrow, and in some counties like Trumbull she lost (they voted for Obama in a landslide in 2012.) Hillary lost by over 8%, the worst a Democrat has done here since the ‘80s. There are people who have voted for Democrats their whole lives who voted for Trump. We cannot win in Ohio without getting those voters back, and we’re not going to do that by continuing to ignore them.

Georgia and South Carolina

In the election Democrats had the highest hopes for, Jon Ossoff lost to Handel in GA-6. Out of all the special elections, this one had the least impressive result for Democrats. Meanwhile, in strongly Republican SC-5, Archie Parnell did incredibly well. He did slightly better than Ossoff in a race that nobody was paying attention to.

There are a few important things to consider in light of all this. We can’t just dump money and media attention onto a race, we have to be strategic. Increasing turnout is good in a district that’s majority Democrat, but when we increased overall turnout in GA-6, that helped the Republicans because it’s a Republican district. We need to increase Democratic turnout as much as we can without attracting Republicans’ attention. Of course, no race will get as much attention as GA-6 did in 2018. But maybe we should avoid celebrity endorsements.

It’s also time to give up on this pipe dream that bougie Republican suburbanites will come flocking to the Democratic party. These people don’t have to worry about healthcare, education, or anything else because they don’t have any real problems. All they care about is “do I get my tax cut?” and Republicans are always going to be better when it comes to helping the rich. Some of them will (and did) cross the aisle because of someone as uncouth as Trump, but Trump’s not on the ballot in 2018, normal Republicans are. Even for Trump, Romney voters mostly just complained they didn’t like him and voted for him anyway. There were way more Obama-Trump voters than Romney-Clinton voters. We should campaign hard in Romney-Clinton districts, of course, but we shouldn’t count on them. There’s plenty of Trump districts which are just as winnable or more winnable and we need to focus on them too.

As for Archie Parnell, I was originally surprised he did so well because he seemed boring and he used to work for Goldman Sachs. But then I watched some of his ads. He disses typical Washington politicians, playing to the anti-politician populism that’s so popular with working class voters. He talks about how his history in business prepares him for politics, just like Trump did, just like Governor Wolf of Pennsylvania did. I may not like the trend of businessmen going into politics, but that isn’t true of the people who voted for Trump, for Bruce Rauner in Illinois, or for Matt Bevin in Kentucky. This is a pattern and SC-5 Democrats decided to capitalize on it. Of course, the main reason he came so close to winning is that he flew under the radar and turnout was low. But all those other things are worth pondering.