Mind the Base

New Orleans   Something smells fishy to me. When George W. Bush’s former strategist, Karl Rove, as well an author on “Truthout” are both saying that the Democrats are wasting time and money in Georgia, I get suspicious. Rove’s advice is go Big Sky, spend your time and money in a statewide Congressional race in Montana, because in his words, “they vote for Democrats there.” Meanwhile despite a better than 48% showing in the first primary for the Democratic candidate, Ossoff, in Georgia, pundits are arguing this is just a hole where you pour money and Democrats have no chance to win, no matter how much they spend. What’s the skinny here?

Reading between the lines, sure, Georgia is an uphill fight. Democrats haven’t won in 40 years since the time of Jimmy Carter. The leading Republican candidate is a former Georgia Secretary of State who hardly polled 20% in the first round. Rove and the traditional bettors are believing, with good cause I’m sure, that at the end of the day the losing Republican candidates will coalesce around her despite her record as a poor fundraiser and someone who has lost one race after another recently.

On the other hand, the Democratic base in reaction to the Trump presidency sees every election as a plebiscite on Trump and his poor performance and reportedly is demanding that all races be contested and that the party once again put on its big boy pants and contend nationally rather than just in the blues. If you are going to build a party, how can you ignore the base, win, lose or draw? Isn’t that a lesson that Hillary Clinton just taught us all in a way we should never forget? We have to always privilege the base!

Furthermore, the notion of a money drain being advanced by Rove seems gratuitous and self-serving. Talking to a newly minted party activist several weeks ago, he described a growing coalition that was mobilizing in Georgia which had not been fighting in the lists previously. He described the amalgamation as having 100 million Twitter followers from Hollywood to Silicon Valley and back to the East Coast. His argument was that this was new money. It was money being activated to respond to the challenge of the moment.

The same activist would argue that the race in Montana is also important. He and some of his co-conspirators believed that the lightly populated Western states from Alaska to Wyoming should be front and center on any plan to turn the country around. He stood up straight when he realized I was born in Wyoming and detailed a plan a multi-year plan to repopulate the state. He felt that if 20,000 or so people, young and more progressive, could be convinced to move to Wyoming it would fall into the blue state column like Humpty-Dumpty coming off the wall.

Ok, maybe that seems a bit like taking people to live on Mars or the moon, but when the base has gone active and wants to fight, organizers need to run as fast as they can to catch up and feed the fire. New money and new support comes in and as even Rove argues, no one has a clue in either party yet about what it might take to win in the midterms in 2018. These early skirmishes might just provide the battle plan for those contests, but only if we mind the base.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Post-Mortem: Immigration Policy Lost in Politics

moz-screenshot

2008 Electoral Map

New Orleans The headline writers had it easy last night.  All they had to do was figure out different ways to say that the Republicans kicked Democrat butt last night, and, oh, yeah, don’t kid yourself, this was a referendum on the Obama presidency and politics, and voters were not happy campers on the economy.  Obama said that he can see several issues where there might be common ground with the Republicans to still move forward.

One of these issues was immigration.  Anyone believe that?   Please stand on your head and hold your breath.  This is all politics and no policy!

This is a minefield for both parties and for the President himself, and the risk of real legislation is higher than the advantages of simply playing “blame-the-other-guy” politics.  In looking at the 2012 election it is hard to see a single state that tilts decidedly one way or another on real reform.

Some might say, well, how about Nevada, and the narrow victory for Harry Reid in the Senate and the arguably role of Latino voters impressed with Reid’s sudden activism on this issue?  It’s just not enough to tilt.

There are only four states, all of which are in the West, where Latino voters might be pivotal:  Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico.  Nevada and New Mexico both went for Obama in 2008, but each are tiny in the scale of things with only 5 electoral votes each.  Colorado has 9, but immigration turns that state less than green and resource issues, ag, and education.  Arizona would be the biggest prize of this small litter with 10 electoral votes, but here the story goes bad.  Governor Brewer rode a regressive, anti-immigrant bill, which was declared unconstitutional before the election to a smashing defeat of a solid progressive Attorney General with a long history in the state and a deep base.  All of this despite her brain freeze in the first debate and the hard to shake impression that she was more tea than party.  The lesson strategists from both parties will take from Arizona is that anti-immigrant politics is a huge vote getter for the here and now, and the here and now is all that politicians care about on a two-year election drill in the red zone to the White House.

Continue reading

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail