Yesterday the effort to repeal the Ranked Choice Voting referendum was killed in the legislature. The House had voted to stop the repeal. The Senate voted for the repeal. These were party line votes. R's of course voted to repeal the will of the voters. So what happens is the repeal effort dies in non-concurrance. The R's refused to come to a conference committee to strike a compromise on this which is what the Dems wanted and begged them to do.
Hundreds of us lobbied to stop the repeal and for the constitutional fix which would have fixed the referendum law to allow for state elections to be included in the law. The problem there was the state supreme court issued an opinion saying that state elections could be won with a mere plurality on the first count and therefore the ranked choice process conflicted with the constitution but ONLY for those three state races of state house, state senate, and governor. All other races covered under the ranked choice voting law are entirely constitutional. These include primary elections for state and federal offices and the federal offices for congress in general elections. Traditional first-past-the-post elections will remain for local and county level elections. So we had the vote on making the small fix to the constitution, and the R's of course refused that so we couldn't get the 2/3 majority needed to make that happen.
The compromise would have been to suspend ranked choice voting for the three races with constitutional problems and allow it to go forward for the other races thereby following the will of the voters while respecting the court's advisory opinion. Again, the Dems begged the Republicans to compromise and they totally refused.
What this means is that the referendum law will go into effect for the 2018 elections, and, if there is still no constitutional fix by that time, there will likely be a lawsuit challenging the results of some of the three state races found to be constitutionally problematic. Then the court will strike those results and officially strike the state races from the law, and we will need to have re-votes for those races.
All that had to happen here is for the Republicans to stop being totally RADICAL and either agree to the constitutional fix or agree to a compromise to suspend the state races from the law while allowing Ranked Choice Voting for the remaining races under the law. Easy. But do you think they would do this? Of course not. Why? Because they are indeed RADICAL IDEOLOGUES who on this referendum and others are trying to overturn the will of the voters just because they don't like it. They are doing the same thing on the education funding law passed by voters in November. Disgusting.
Imagine if Democrats were trying to repeal referendums that were particularly conservative in nature. The Republicans would be screaming bloody murder. They need to stop their typical hypocrisy. Completely overturning referendums is virtually unprecedented. It has only happened once, and that was on something found ENTIRELY unconstitutional, not just partially.
Let me also say for the record that the leaders of the Ranked Choice Voting campaign vetted the referendum question on this, and constitutional scholars did advise that they thought it would not conflict with the state constitution mainly because any reading of the term "plurality" must also include a majority which is the goal of Ranked Choice Voting. However, the state supreme court opined that under the language of our constitution a MERE plurality on a first vote was sufficient for the three state level elections. Leaders of the ranked choice voting campaign were honestly surprised by the ruling. However, they respect it and were entirely willing to accept a modification of the law because of it.
But thank you Democrats and Independents in the Maine legislature for standing strong on Ranked Choice Voting. It is the will of the voters. !!!
Ossoff was damn smart not to make the race about Trump and instead to make it about the lives of the people in the district, and a Dem further to the left sure as hell would never have come as close to winning that seat as Ossoff because that Dem would not have fit the district and would not have been able to put the coalition together that damn near won the seat.
Ossoff knew the district and played it just about right as a fiscal moderate to conservative and a social moderate to progressive. That is an affluent fiscally conservative district. He focused on the message of being a fresh outsider and economic development tailored to the district.
No Dem was ever EXPECTED to win that DEEP RED district. It was possible, but not probable. A strong Dem campaign was expected to get close, and the expectation was met. And it was damn right to try hard because THAT is the 50 state strategy and we need to compete everywhere.
This is a big country, and one-size-fits-all-ism does not work. If you want to be competitive in some of these purple and redder districts, you need candidates suited to the district. That doesn't mean Republican Lite, but it does mean Democratic Different. Core populist principles of an economy and government that work for ALL the people should be a commonality, but beyond that there has to be some flexibility. For example, John Bel Edwards in Louisiana is a social conservative and an economic moderate to progressive. And THAT is the kind of candidate that can win the governorship of Louisiana. A social liberal would never stand a chance in Louisiana. But Edwards is not Republican lite. He is far more progressive on the economic issues than the Republicans. He is a Democrat who fits that state.
Here's the brand:
"We are the champions of the middle class and everyone trying to get into it. We believe in a government and an economy that works for everyone, where everyone can achieve the middle class American dream, period. The people own the government, and it needs to work for them, not just the privileged few. And we believe in capitalism that works as it should by providing all people the American dream, again, not just the privileged few. That means campaign finance reform and not a government that can be sold to the highest bidder, livable wages and fair taxation, affordable education and training, investing in infrastructure and small and medium sized business development, and retirement security through Medicare and Social Security. We believe if you work hard and play by the rules, you have earned the great middle class American dream, and we exist to help you get it."
What is so damn hard about that? Joe Manchin can run on it. John Bel Edwards can run on it. Nancy Pelosi can run on it. Elizabeth Warren can run on it.
Now, three things.
First, this leaves room for differences on social issues. I myself am pro-gun with a long tradition of hunting in my family going back to the 1700's where gun ownership means needed meat in the freezer. It is just fine to be a strong believer is second amendment rights but also a strong populist Democrat. We have to be a big tent party on the social issues and run candidates that fit the districts they are running in in this large diverse country.
Next, it is important to live up to these populist ideals and tell the corporate Democrats to tell their corporate donors to go screw themselves and that we don't need their corrupt corporate toady donations. If they want to be corporate toadies, then go be Republicans. One corporate toady party is enough. We don't need two of them. We need to be a strong grassroots populist party and champions for working and middle class Americans. That is our tradition and who we are supposed to be.
Finally, we can not be a party just about government programs. Some government programs are good and very needed, but it can't stop there. That is NOT the middle class American dream. A good job that provides enough money for you to buy two cars and a home, send your kids college, take a vacation every year, and have a good retirement IS the American dream. And we have to clearly say how our brand of economics gets people there. This is what they aspire to, and we have to clearly speak to their aspirations. And we haven't been and so we have been demolished all over the country.
So there it is.
It was conceivable but NOT PROBABLE to have won one or two of those special elections. Let's get real. NO ONE with any brain actually EXPECTED the Dems to win. What actually happened in every single one of them was EXACTLY what was EXPECTED: that the Dem would be competitive and get much more of the vote share, but the R would most likely eke out a win.
So for Mark Halperin or any other talking head to say "This is a disaster for the Dems." is a total crock of shit. If anything, it spells DOOM for the R's in 2018 because the vote shifts were huge. They had to work like hell to defend areas they should have won very easily.
Democrats put the 50 state strategy into action knowing how hard it would be, became much more competitive, and ALL Dems should be VERY HAPPY about that. But to actually flip these DEEP RED seats, of course that most likely was not going to happen.
If you want a 50 state strategy, expect to LOSE many elections, but expect to get closer and make them work for it. And that must be done.
Even in Georgia, almost NO ONE actually thought Ossoff had a large chance to win. A chance, yes, but not a very big chance. I expected Handel to win by a small margin, and that is just what happened.
So enough of the nonsense from the talking head blowhards, and enough of the Democratic dooming and glooming. Dems should be HAPPY AS HELL for having closed gaps bigtime and run hard in VERY TOUGH areas.
Repulicans won these DEEP RED Republican districts that have been Republican for DECADES, including Georgia-6 which has been very red since 1978. And Dems showed they could compete in them even if they could not yet flip them. And that is what happened.
A Philly write-in candidate back in March won a PA House special election seat over the R and a Green Party candidate both of whom campaigned quite a bit. That is how hard it is for an R to win in a deep blue area. Same thing in these specials in deep red areas. Our candidates were trying to win in very red districts. It is HARD. Good that our candidates made up a lot of ground over last November with very large vote shifts in their direction. But just not enough to entirely change these deep red districts with huge R registration advantages and long traditions of voting for R's.
I know there was bad weather, and I know it was a special election run-off. And as I have said I know it was a very red district making it very hard to win. However, at the end of the day there was 40% turnout across the board as I understand it. So, once again, not enough Dems/Progressives/Moderates who would have voted for Ossoff came out to actually vote.
The couch sitters need to take some serious responsibility here. There was a very vigorous campaign. MASSIVE communication effort. Everyone knew they had to vote. There were weeks to vote early. They had a good candidate. To the Dems/Progressives/Moderates who would have been for Ossoff but didn't come out and vote, you defeated yourselves yet again. Another 2.5% shift would have done it. I believe about 9000 votes. It is like 2016. Too many Dems simply refused to vote. Big drop from 2008 and 2012. So if you don't like Republicans and if you don't like Trump, then get off the couch once and for all and go vote.
No Dems/Progressives in this district can say they didn't have the time or opportunity. The couch potatoes have no excuse at all. At some point some blame has to rest with the LAZY non-voters. Don't say they weren't inspired. This was a good candidate. Young, smart, qualified, energetic, on point with the economy, progressive on social issues and the environment,...what more could they want in this particular district? People need to get off their butts!
If we are going to have a 50 state strategy, there are going to be losses. Focus on the big picture.
Kansas, Montana, Georgia, and South Carolina. All DEEP RED districts. But we fought. We contested. Of course it was going to be VERY hard to win these. But we did our job. This is the 50 state strategy. We were very competitive in all of them. We shifted the vote substantially. We over-performed. We made them fight for it and spend lots of money on these.
Everyone wants the 50 state strategy, right? Well, this is it. It is very hard to win these, but we should definitely be fighting for them. It bodes very well in the big picture.
No it was not an inexcusable loss, and this was always going to be very hard and everyone knew it. Let's not kid ourselves.
This is a deep red district where the R won in November by 23 points. McCain and Romney both won by LARGE margins in this district. It has been held by the R's since 1978, nearly 30 years. An 18 point shift is great news in a very real sense, as are all the deep red districts where R's have now found themselves having to spend many millions and actually have to fight for them. None of these should have been this close. We are doing the right thing with a 50 state strategy and strongly contesting even these deep red seats, win or lose.
It is easy to be disappointed even though we got much closer in the these races but were not quite able to win. That's natural. But please, understand that pesky little thing called math. When they have a huge registration advantage, tons of outside dark money, and long traditions of winning these seats, then it is very tough to flip them. Cutting their margins down substantially is real progress. Just imagine what will happen with this continued effort in 2018 to seats R's won in districts that Clinton actually won or which they won by ten points or less?
Always see the BIG picture.
We all knew it would be VERY hard for a Dem to win this seat. Remember, this is NOT a purple district. It is a RELIABLY RED district that R's have won BIG since the late 70's. The R won it by 23 points in November. This time they had to fight like hell to keep it. See the big picture. These Democratic over-performances and Republican under-performances in these deep red reliable Republican districts DO bode well for the party.
As to immediate factors that hurt Ossoff: not living exactly inside the district hurt, the fact the R's nationalized it and called him a Nancy Pelosi Liberal over and over again, and the weather seemed to have hurt D's more than R's. Still, a damn good big picture showing all things considered.
Don't be too disappointed. Keep reforming the party, keep organizing, keep strong, keep fighting. It is HARD to flip deep red reliably Republican seats with large Republican registration advantages.
Here is why the Bill Maher issue has touched a nerve. We obviously are still struggling with matters around race in this country, and people are very sensitive to racially charged language as they should be. At the same time, we are also a people who believe in putting things in context, using reason and fairness, looking at the whole picture, and forgiveness. We tend not to condemn a person's entire life and character over a verbal slip. Bill Maher is a strong progressive and satirical comedian who for many years has had very important discussions, has confronted right wingers very strongly, has brought light to many issues, who brings a variety of opinions to his show, and who ridicules Trump continually. What happened in this incident, if you watch the clip, was an off the cuff satirical joke that went over the top with the language. He has apologized publicly.
More context and a fair point here is that racially charged language appears and has appeared in song lyrics, poetry, dramatizations in many forms, etc. Tough as it is to see and hear, it is used in those specific media as it is about confronting the social issues around the language. Racially and ethnically charged language, moreso in the past, has also been used in satirical and other forms of comedy from the All in the Family TV Show to Richard Pryor's stand up comedy to Don Rickles routines and many others. These people were not racists but were rather the opposite, ridiculing and making fun of racial and ethnic stereotypes through comedy even to the point of invoking their own racial and ethnic backgrounds.
And verbal slips happen. For example, remember when President Obama was poking fun at himself by saying he couldn't even get into the Special Olympics? Oops! He very soon apologized for the slip and even called Arnold Schwarzenegger who was a longtime leader in the Special Olympics organization to apologize. Of course he didn't mean to make fun of disabled people. It was a joke gone bad. These slips happen. We have probably all done it in some way in our lives.
So in the larger picture this is a healthy conversation that requires mutual understanding. In my view Maher went over the top using the N-word in his off the cuff satirical joke and he should have apologized and he has. At the same time, he is certainly not a racist, we must keep things in context, and we should not condemn a person's entire life and character over this kind of slip. There is a lot to be said for forgiveness. That is a Christian value, a progressive value, an American value, and a human value.
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