Keeping The Powder Dry

Five to ten years ago, it was all the rage among Democratic Party establishment types to tell the rank-and-file–a fair number of whom desperately needed better policies–to keep our powder dry. That is, don’t act like real Democrats so much right now, or else we won’t win elections. With that ‘logic’, it has never been clear to me when somewhat liberal-ish Democrats (never mind actual lefties) are supposed to push our agenda. With that as prelude, I turn it over to Maha (boldface mine):

I dimly remember, some eight or ten or so years ago, some progressive activists wanted LGTB activists to back off and wait for the “right time” to push their issues. We had the Iraq War and George W. Bush to focus on, after all. We don’t want to hand the Right more wedge issues. And the LGTB community said, bleep that, there’s no time but this one, and went on pushing.

And they were right….

Anyhoo, that’s the establishment thinking: We can’t take risks now. We have to stay in the comfort zone, or risk losing the election. Hillary Clinton is a known product; she is marketable.

So along comes Bernie Sanders, and no question Bernie has some obstacles. His age, his Jewishness, and his embrace of the word “socialist” are all huge factors against him in the general election. If he wins the nomination, could he win the White House? And I honestly don’t know. In some ways it does seem unlikely. But it’s not as if HRC doesn’t have negatives of her own, some self-inflicted.

And doesn’t this amount to letting the Right choose our candidates for us? We’re choosing the candidate we think we can slip past the Noise Machine, not the one we really want?

…My question to Joe Trippi et al. is, when do we get to stop finessing the right by settling for the most “marketable” candidate, who may or may not fight for what we want? When do we get to articulate what we actually want?

Elizabeth Warren caught fire with progressives not because she had “new ideas,” but because she spoke out loud what we already were thinking. She beautifully articulated the progressive position, in a way that signaled she really got it. It wasn’t just words and talking points. And Bernie Sanders is doing the same thing now. But we’re being told we have to kick him to the curb because the Right is really, really scary.

I’m not so sure that the Right is really the problem here, as much as it is ‘Third Way’ Democrats and the political pundit class (after all, the Right will hate whomever we nominate). But the point is quite valid: rank-and-file Democrats need to stop trying to play eleven-dimensional chess (our track record really sucks at that anyway) and support a candidate who supports us. If you believe that candidate is Clinton, fine. But negotiating against ourselves is a mug’s game, and it’s time to stop playing it.

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2 Responses to Keeping The Powder Dry

  1. Concerned Netizen says:

    The biggest problem with the Democrats is that they believe they are *entitled* to all the voters that are not right-wing. They’d prefer to run scare tactics on their own backers rather than put up candidates who actually support left wing politics. I’ve had this argument with someone I used to know who was a former aide to a US Senator numerous times in the past, and his stance was that it’s necessary to win elections by appealing to the masses. My stance is that it’s easier to win elections by being able to differentiate the two candidates on issues. The last presidential election was the farthest we’ve come in terms of differences of party ideology, but the Democratic leaders *still* think Republican-lite wins elections. One day they’ll figure it out, but probably not for a long time to come.

  2. AndrewD says:

    as someone involved in UK political party life, and as a voter in the labour party leadership election,the question I ask is “should we elect some one who will do anything for power or someone who is willing to put principle alongside the desire for power?”
    I suggest the same applies to selecting Democratic party leaders

    PS Vote Corbyn/Flint

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