Wednesday, March 08, 2006

beating our heads against a wall

So Ciro lost.  GOP-in-Dem clothing clothing Cuellar won.

And we put a lot of time, money, energy and emotion in to this race.  We cannot discount that.

And trolls would like to stick our faces in our supposed 0-19 track record in elections, as if it were a stain on our honor instead of a badge of courage to support candidates who were not given a bat's chance in hell of winning by the traditional pundits--and give them a fighting chance.

And sometimes we begin to doubt ourselves; naysayers right and left scream that our efforts are in vain, money down the drain, and a useless enterprise--essentially, that we are banging our heads against a brick wall.

What they fail to realize is that eventually the wall DOES BREAK.  And Republicans know it--it's part of how they got where they are today.

Allow me to tell a little story:

Once upon a time there was a moderate Republican named Marge Roukema who was elected to congress in New Jersey in the Reagan "Revolution" of 1980.  She was pro-choice, pushed for family leave bills, fiscally conservative Clinton-style, and generally sane.

The GOP, however, leaning ever rightward, funneled a ton of money (through the Club for Growth and other organizations) into Scott Garrett, an unabashed ideological wingnut.  And he came very close--twice.

Finally, after enduring horrific pressure from Tom Delay and with little money in her war chest, Roukema retired in 2002, and Garrett swept almost unopposed into power

To quote Hacker and Pierson's outstanding book Off Center: The Republican Revolution & The Erosion of American Democracy,

The first lesson is that preimaries matter.  Garrett softened up Roukema before her retirement with two near misses that forced the sitting congresswomen [sic] to spend all her campaign funds (thus angering the Republican House leadership, which criticized her for failing to give money to other GOP candidates).  Even though Roukema managed to hold him at bay, his challenges pushed her to the right during her time in office, and they were the key reason for herexit from Congress...

What Garrett knew, and her opponents underestimated, is that in primaries, the base rules.

Do you hear that, Democrats?  THIS IS HOW IT IS DONE.

You may not win the first time.  You may not win the second time.  BUT YOU DO WIN.

I guarantee you that, through this primary, you have affected Cuellar--greatly.  The bastard will be looking over his shoulder now EVERY TIME he votes with the GOP.  He'll be wondering what's going to get him in trouble, and he knows that judgment day is just a few years away, as Ciro Rodriguez spoils for another fight.

Allow me to quote again from their book:

The third lesson of Garrett's win in New Jersey is that in the electoral arena, parties matter in a way they did not in therecent past.  One big reason is money, or more precisely, the need  for candidates to raise huge sums of it.  Garrett won not becasuse he personally outspent his general election opponent--in fact, he was outpaced in the general election after focusing his spending on the primary--but because the Republican Party pulled out all the stops on his behalf.

As it turns out, ALL of Delay's PAC money went to Garrett.

And there's a lesson here for us: Garrett lost twice.  He was outspent twice.  But he made a big difference, and eventually made it to office.

Ciro Rodriguez has done the same--but without the Party pulling out all the stops for him.  Instead, the Democratic Party left this race alone, as a bellwether to see what grassroots support could do.

The end result: we accomplished for Rodriguez what the GOP base accomplished for Garrett--but WITHOUT THE PARTY'S HELP. And that is an amazing thing.

A final quote:

The crucial issue is where candidates see the greatest electroal threat arising: in their own party or outside it...When the greatest risk comes from within the party, the call of the swing voter is drowned out by the cries of the base.

Now, the authors decry this phenomenon.  And it IS bad for democracy--but we have no choiced but to fight fire with fire.

And we ARE the base.  Our power is going to grow ever stronger--and if we can ever get the mass of the party to be on our side, we will be as inexorable a machine as the GOP has been over the last long while.

It must also be remembered that the GOP rebuilt from the ground up starting in 1964 to get where they are--42 years.  It won't take us even a QUARTER of that time.


Allow me, finally, to close, let me remind everyone of few things:

1. Diebold didn't make a difference here.  I am as big a voting conspiracy theorist as anyone.  I am a member of Verified Voting, and I believe that there was widescale e-voting fraud throughout Ohio and Florida--enough to steal the election outright.  BUT THIS DISTRICT IS IN THE HANDS OF DEMOCRATS.  This was not thefted electronically, so stop kvetching!

2. We flexed our muscles.  Just like in the Hackett campaign.  And people are taking notice.  We turned what was a "one-day story" into a tight race.

3. Cuellar is still a Democrat.  Yes, he votes with the GOP most of the time, and yes, the GOP can use him to claim "bi-partisanship".  But in the end, the most important thing is that Cuellar votes for Democrats for committee chairmanships and leadership positions.  If we regain a majority in the House--and Cuellar is one of them--Boehner is out as Speaker.  And that's a good thing.


So, in sum Democrats, while today is not a day for rejoicing, it IS a day for confidence.  We are following the GOP playbook to victory--step by step.

It'l be a long slog, but victory is inevitable.  Don't lose hope, and don't let the naysayers get you down.


Post a Comment

<< Home