Rotten! Just rotten!!! That’s my short take on Tuesday. More thoughts:
- Talk About the Good Stuff. You’re a Democrat in 2014. You’re tied to President Obama, whether you like it or not, so tell people we’re better off than we were six years ago. Two years ago, too! Lots of stats show this, from unemployment to the stock market to the deficit, yada, yada, yada! And when people say “my life isn’t better,” ask them why they think that’s the case. Are Republicans concerned about the wealth gap? Do they support higher wages? Are they concerned about you, Mr. and Ms. Regular Person? No, no, and no! And what have Republicans in Congress done for you lately?
- Be Courageous … But Smart. You’re a Democrat in coal country, where people like coal, guns, and G-d. A smaller and smaller number of people work in the coal industry, and it’s on the wrong side of the growth curve. Tell people the truth. About guns? If you can’t stand up in front of a group of people whose culture includes guns and tell them we don’t need and should not have semi-automatic weapons, you don’t deserve the office you seek. And ditto if you can’t tell them President Obama is not coming for their guns! G-d? You’re a D, remember! You can’t out G-d your R opponent so don’t try.
- The Number of Votes You Get Is a Function of the Numbers of Your Voters Who Show Up. For many years I was involved with a $100 per ticket raffle. One of our elders always said “the number of tickets you sell is a function of the number of people you ask.” Good advice, transferable to elections! I won’t go deep into the woods, but this was another old white men’s election, so it’s no surprise that the party of old white men won, and won big. Yes, there is disenfranchisement in many states, but that mattered not at all. And true it is that old white people vote no matter what. (I speak with knowledge on this issue.) So why don’t younger people, women, and people of color show up? Too often, they don’t have the luxury of time to think about elections, when they’re worried about rent, food, safety, etc. Regardless, giving them a reason to vote increases the odds that they will show up. Clearly, the wishy-washy, vacuous campaigns that too many Democrats ran did not provide a reason. And is there any doubt about Senator Elizabeth Warren winning almost any race any Democrat had a fighting chance in? Any doubt at all? Be for something, strongly, and your people will show up to support you. Don’t and they won’t.
- Expecting Rational Action by Voters is a Fool’s Errand. Republicans told people President Obama was responsible for their plight. They bought it, clearly. The same people voted to raise the minimum wage in three states, though. Republicans who support personhood laws got elected, even though personhood propositions were defeated everywhere. Etc. People vote their feelings, and they vote anecdotes. In 2014 they did not feel good. And the anecdote that is Ebola—not nearly the public health crisis we have with flu, tuberculosis, or obesity, to name but three—mattered, and it mattered because it scared people. So stop talking about people voting against their interests. Like the scorpion to the frog in the middle of the river, “it’s who they are.”
The sun came up this past Wednesday morning. Always has, and it will for a long, long time. The traffic lights worked, the courthouse was open, and people had problems needing fixing. I’ve lived through four wars, impeachment talk involving four presidents, a recession worse than any since the Great Depression (and several earlier recessions that seemed pretty bad), and plenty more. Still, the country has rocked on.
I’m supposed to tell you, now, that the Republic will survive. And it probably will. However, serious people are saying the Republican Congress should not cooperate and compromise for the next two years, as it will make it harder to beat Hillary Clinton in 2016. For me, those comments are treasonous—yes, I said it—and the silence from Mitch McConnell and John Boehner about those comments tells me plenty. (Mitch and John, here’s your script: “2016 will take care of itself. We’re here to solve problems, and no one can wait two years.” Now, was that so difficult?)
We can argue about solutions, and people can disagree with Harry Reid’s tenure as majority leader, but Democrats show up, and they’ve been showing up since the party started. (Yes, some of them were as heinous as they come, but they showed up and filibustered.) Now, we have the likes of Ted Cruz and others (and Newt Gingrich before them), shutting down the government if they can’t have their way. That’s not the way things should be, and they’re getting worse, not better. So, I don’t know whether we’ll have a Republic ad infinitum. Really!