If Latinos and African-Americans Deliver the Election, What Will Change?

latino-vote-2New Orleans   Every current indication is that early voting from Latinos is soaring to unprecedented levels in Nevada, North Carolina, and Florida, while African-American early voting is significant, though lower than the record levels of participation achieved in the excitement of electing and retaining Barack Obama as the first African-American president. If the early trend manifests itself on Election Day, there will be political capital banked by both constituencies and debts owed to these blocks of voters. It’s fair to ask, will they be taken for granted, or will they see some payback on their issues and concerns? What’s the point of being a firewall, if there’s not a deep moat of benefits to come?

In 2008 after the Obama election, I can clearly remember the period between election and inauguration day when the sharp elbows of many constituencies and countless lobbyists tried to squeeze their priorities into the small handful of initiatives that would be prioritized in the first one-hundred days. I was giving a hand to the national immigration reform campaign and some of the larger state-based efforts in Maryland and Illinois. Tactically, we wanted to push Obama hard from the first day, including a mass mobilization on Inaugural Day to push immigration reform to the top of the agenda, but the action ended up being more modest with a bit over 1500 on the cold Washington, D.C. streets once the rug was pulled out from under some of the national groups, largely by funders pulling the strings and wanting to give Obama some time to set his pace before pushing. It took time, but Obama finally reversed his own course and delivered some relief though most of it is still contested by Republicans and the right, and tenuous as we face another term with millions hanging on the wire.

No one seems to think there is a honeymoon waiting for either candidate, and if Hillary Clinton wins, as is widely expected, there even seems to be a hard core group burrowing into their caves, Taliban-like, and preparing to resist Clinton on everything from Supreme Court appointments to all other policies, while threatening to convene more hearings and even making crazy talk about impeachment before she is even elected. Not only is this not a honeymoon, but it’s more like one of those never consummated marriages that ends up seeking annulment within weeks. Clinton’s notion that she will be able to wheel-and-deal with former Senate colleagues with some adult beverages after hours sure seems improbable.

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is now saying that Trump almost single-handedly is creating a voting block for Democrats in the Latino community. Is that a signal that there may be sufficient traction among Republicans to finally make a deal that has some value on immigration? There are bound to be right strategists and tacticians of the old Bush camps who understand that Republicans could lose Latino votes for a generation, without a positive initiative towards Latinos.

It sure seems unlikely given the way that Trump has drum beaten to build his base on the right based on immigration, but as the commentators keep saying, at least there’s a narrow path towards change. One thing is very clear. Attention must be paid, and there has to be debts settled to these major groups or, mark my words, there are days coming where this base will be as estranged from the Democrats as much of the Republican base is now alienated from their leadership and party.


Trump May Be Rebuilding the Women’s Movement

from bitchmedia.com

from bitchmedia.com

New Orleans    In spite of himself Donald Trump may launch a sea change in the way that American women are dealt with in both private and public by serving as a poster boy for how much American men say they have changed, and how little they have actually changed. He has made no special effort to make this huge contribution. He has just done what comes naturally to him.

I didn’t watch the debate. I saw a soundless minute or two changing airplanes around the world. Just enough to see Trump talking and Clinton grinning like the cat who had swallowed the canary. I have never seen the word “manterruption” before, and I may be misspelling it and not saying it correctly now, but thanks to thousands of stories about the most watched debate in US-history, all of us immediately know what it means and how it works. Women are rallying behind the banner of “I told you so,” with fingers pointed at Trump’s performance and his constant efforts to talk over Clinton, to interrupt her as she spoke, and uncontrollably feel driven to respond, even unwisely, to her points.

Single-handedly, Trump has proven why no amount of “leaning in” will ever work with many men, especially those with wealth and power, because they just don’t respect or care what women have say. Period. They like the eye candy, but such men don’t want a whole lot more than that.

And, as Trump has abundantly proven, such men and many, many like them it seems from the level of his continued support, will say they love women and shout down any naysayers, but when it comes right down to it they don’t know what to do with them or have much interest in figuring it out. For Trump and his team it’s still the 50’s, and it’s a man’s world. They never understood the rest of the James Brown line that “it would be nothing without a woman or a girl.”

In the same way that Black Lives Matter and the ruthlessness of police has grabbed the country by the shirt collar and shaken the pretense of progress on race to reveal how much systemic racism is still crippling the country, Trump will launch a million water cooler and kitchen table discussions about how deep seeded sexism remains throughout the country, high and low. In voices soft and loud, there will be tens of millions of women reminding men to not “go Trump” on them when they have something to say and need to be heard. Those women will find the opportunity to remind the men in their lives, sons, brothers, partners, and colleagues that they need to get right on this issue before they humiliate themselves and become pariahs among women. You know, like Trump did.

That’s the problem with this whole fake issue of “political correctness.” That’s camouflage being worn by Trump and some of his supporters as a claim that the problem is language, and not the beliefs themselves. No matter what lipstick you put on a pig, it’s still a pig. No matter how you dress up sexism and racism, these diseases are still viral it seems throughout our society, and Trump is proving in his candidacy and campaign that they are popular and pronounced. Every time he opens his mouth, interrupts, and spouts his “tell it like it is” racism and misogyny, he is also sending messages that repel good people everywhere and move them to recoil in horror and humiliation, and vow to change themselves and force others to do so as well.

When all of this is said and done, we may owe him some inadvertent and unearned thanks for showing all of us how we should never be and helping those silenced to raise their voices for change.


Thank You White People for Electing Obama in 2012!

 President Obama at a campaign event in Concord, N.H., shortly before the 2012 election. He performed better among white Northern voters than is generally assumed. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Obama at a campaign event in Concord, N.H., shortly before the 2012 election. He performed better among white Northern voters than is generally assumed. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

New Orleans   In the age of big data, one of the clear lessons, is that we need to be very, very careful about what we think we know, at least until we have asked all the right questions rather than just swallowing the headlines whole without examining the bottom lines. What am I talking about, you might ask? Well, how in the heck with all of the megadomes out there in the political world can we have undercounted white people? White people of all people! What were they? Were they translucent or something, like white walkers, and the quants and bean counters looked right past them because they looked like themselves in the mirror or what?

The New York Times statisticians dropped the bombshell on us that Trump wasn’t looking quite as bad while running a racist campaign, because there are more white people out there in the electorate than any of these folks had been reporting for years. Not only that but the all-important narrative about the Obama victory in 2012 was, well, how can we say this, wrong! Turns out Obama was rocking the white vote better than previously understood.

Here’s the new story, and maybe the true story,

“…new data from the census, voter registration files, polls and the finalized results tells a subtly different story of the 2012 election with potential consequences for the 2016 election. The data implies that Mr. Obama was not as weak among white voters as typically believed. He fared better than his predecessors among white voters outside the South. Demographic shifts weren’t so important: He would have been re-elected even with an electorate as old and white as it was in 2004. Latino voters did not put Mr. Obama over the top, as many argued in the days after Mr. Obama’s re-election. He would have won even if he had done as poorly among Latino voters as John Kerry.”

Of course Latino-based organizations and all of us who support them and work with them had a stake in the story that it was Hispanic votes that propelled Obama to victory in 2012, so spin or substance be damned, someone did a very good job on this for the last four years, and it mattered, true or not. What leverage would we have had talking about doing a big, fat thank you to all of the old, white people stepping up for Obama? Not that we won immigration reform, and not that the story won’t change in the future as demographic trends continue to move towards more, not less, diversity and dilute the white vote, but it wasn’t there in 2012, and it might not be in 2016.

Why did we get the news so late? What’s up, is this the same as Andrew Jackson, Jean Lafitte, and the gang fighting and winning the Battle of New Orleans after peace had already been signed in Paris? Hasn’t communication changed? Well, it seems that most of this incomplete narrative was based on exit polls, and the other data is stronger and better, but it’s not available the night of the election and the day after. We’re so committed to speed and “premature certainty,” that we would rather believe we know it all immediately and go from there, than wait until all of the information is sliced and diced.

What’s the lesson we need to take away for today? Talk to every white person you know! Tell them thanks for 2012, but we need them to do it again in 2016 as well, because if they couldn’t handle Romney then, they sure as heck don’t want to live through four years with King Trump trying to rule the country.


Clinton Wins, Sanders Sulks

Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 10.05.44 AMNew Orleans   In the last major bout of voting, Hillary Clinton decisively sewed up the Democratic nomination for President to become the first woman nominee of a major party, and making history in the bargain, 95 years after women first won the vote. She prevailed in indisputable fashion, winning the California primary decisively at 56% with 94% of the vote tallied, as well as primaries in New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota.

Furthermore for all of the carping, Clinton “succeeded in winning a majority of pledged delegates, a majority of the states that have held primaries, and the popular vote.” There will be a lot said, though I bet little in real terms that will be done, about the status of superdelegates in the future, but this was not a “rigged” victory. Clinton won fair and square and California was a stake through the heart of the Sanders campaign.

I interviewed Sanders organizer and longtime organizer and activist, Pat DeTemple, on Wade’s World last week about a paper he had been circulating around the Sanders camp that is part of the edition of Social Policy now at the presses. He had confidently predicted victory in California for Sanders, and was arguing that even so, it was time for Sanders to take the next step, organize an independent expenditure committee, start going after Trump, and make sure that Clinton, (gulp, sneeze, and cough) wins in November. Sanders winning North Dakota and Montana doesn’t do the job. California was his Battle on the Little Bighorn, and he was massacred. It’s time for him to shift to a new battlefield and leave this one. The nomination is Clinton’s.

Reportedly, President Obama called Sanders over the weekend. They are supposedly meeting on Thursday. It may be the White House, but it could be the woodshed. Obama is stepping up as the leader of his party to give Sanders a chance to exit on the lawn, arm in arm with the President, with a huge measure of the kind of grace that Obama can bring to such an event. The clock has wound down and the opportunity is now gone for a Sanders scowl and sulk. He’s had the opportunity to watch one Republican princeling after another walk the plank, so he knows the walk, and this is the best path for him – and the rest of us — to take.

Revolutions are about sacrifice, and they start with knowing that’s it’s not about you, but about the people. Senator Sanders fought the good fight and now there are other fights that wait for him, when he’s ready and willing, so he needs to help lead in that direction. In the meantime it’s worth remembering, that in this situation even the Beatles gave good advice, singing….

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out

You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We’re all doing what we can
But if you want money
For people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait
You say you’ll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it’s the institution
Well, you know
You better free you mind instead