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.
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.
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.
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.
Hard to believe it’s been a year since then. I won’t write a long post, I don’t have much to say about it that hasn’t already been said. But this was a big deal for me, I’m too young to remember 9/11 well so I never truly understood the emotional impact that had on people, so for me this was the biggest American tragedy that I remember. And the first time I ever really felt scared to be gay. I feel safe where I am, but I’m sure people felt safe in Orlando too.
I’m rooting for Theresa May in this one. Corbyn is lefty Trump. How does everyone else hope it turns out?
Vape culture is the ultimate example of consumerism. An entire culture based around a product. There isn’t even an attempt to pretend it’s about anything other than consumption.