Daily Beast columnist Michael Tomasky has given up on the South after 2014 as far as Congress goes, and is tired of the Dems spending good money on races they will never, ever, ever be able to win. Yes, NC, VA, and Florida are necessary for the White House, but…
At the congressional level, and from there on down, the Democrats should just forget about the place. They should make no effort, except under extraordinary circumstances, to field competitive candidates. The national committees shouldn’t spend a red cent down there. This means every Senate seat will be Republican, and 80 percent of the House seats will be, too. The Democrats will retain their hold on the majority-black districts, and they’ll occasionally be competitive in a small number of other districts in cities and college towns. But they’re not going win Southern seats (I include here with some sadness my native West Virginia, which was not a Southern state when I was growing up but culturally is one now). And they shouldn’t try.
My friend the political scientist Tom Schaller said all this back in 2008, in his book Whistling Past Dixie. I didn’t want to agree with Schaller then, but now I throw in the towel. He was a man ahead of his time. Look west, Schaller advised the Democrats. And he was right. Now it’s true that many states in the nation’s heartland aren’t winnable for Democrats, either. Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah will never come anywhere close to being purple. But Colorado already is. Arizona can be. Missouri, it’s not crazy to think so. And Montana and South Dakota are basically red, of course, but are both elect Democrats sometimes. (Did you know that both of Montana’s senators right now are Democrats?!) In sum, between the solid-blue states in the North and on the West Coast, and the pockets of opportunity that exist in the states just mentioned (and tossing in the black Southern seats), the Democrats can cobble together congressional majorities in both houses, under the right circumstances.
This is the crucial argument that the Left has had on the future of the Democrats: which is better, more Democrats, or better Democrats? I’ve long been a proponent of more Democrats (Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy) but considering how quickly that has disintegrated in just 8 years, leaving the GOP with the biggest House majority they’ve had since Hoover, I’m going to say that “more Democrats” isn’t going to cut it. The 50 state strategy isn’t going to work anymore in Alabama or West Virginia or (and let’s face it) Kentucky.
But it’s not just a question of numbers. The main point is this: Trying to win Southern seats is not worth the ideological cost for Democrats. As Memphis Rep. Steve Cohen recently told my colleague Ben Jacobs, the Democratic Party cannot (and I’d say should not) try to calibrate its positions to placate Southern mores: “It’s come to pass, and really a lot of white Southerners vote on gays and guns and God, and we’re not going to ever be too good on gays and guns and God.”
Cohen thinks maybe some economic populism could work, and that could be true in limited circumstances. But I think even that is out the window now. In the old days, drenched in racism as the South was, it was economically populist. Glass and Steagall, those eponymous bank regulators, were both Southern members of Congress. But today, as we learned in Sunday’s Times, state attorneys general, many in the South, are colluding with energy companies to fight federal regulation of energy plants.
It’s lost. It’s gone. A different country. And maybe someday it really should be.
And that’s where Tomasky loses me.
Giving up on the South 100% is a recipe for repeating the last six years forever. It’s the ultimate emoprog copout, not to mention it erases the political power of millions of people of color and treats us as what, hostages with Stockholm Syndrome, not to mention that there are millions of poor white voters in the South too.
But we do need a new solution. We need better Democrats AND more Democrats, and giving up on the South and handing it over to the GOP for the next 20 years only assures more of the country-destroying insanity we’ve seen since 2009.
The Tea Party is not going to magically go away once Obama leaves office. We need to fight back on this crap and give people a reason to vote FOR Democrats and not just against the GOP. It’s hard to say “we can’t give up on the South” when Southern Democrats have given up on the Dems. But at the same time, running Republican-lite candidates to win Blue Dog seats only hurts the Dems across the board.
So is the fight now “Since Southern Democrats told Obama to go to hell, what should we do to keep them?” The answer will define the party for the next generation. In 2014, “They’re not Republicans!” was only good enough for what, 16% of the voting public to get off their asses and vote. We’ve got to try something else, and now.
Something like “Let’s run actual Democrats as candidates”.
Sorry. We gave the Alison Grimes and the Mary Landrieus a shot, and they failed miserably. They ran as Republicans and ran away from Obama and I spent months trying to convince anyone in earshot that this was the only way. The empirical evidence is in, and Blue Dogs are done for.
But that doesn’t mean “Dump the South” unless you want more years of wondering why a Democratic president can’t get anything done with a GOP Congress.
No, you do not dump the South.
50 state strategy.
It was a good idea then and it’s a good idea now.
Yes they will. Or more to the point, the instant a Republican president is elected, the Tea Party will vanish like frost on a sunny morning, never to be seen again.
Sure, if money were infinite then we should keep running people for southern seats without a hope of winning. But there is zero evidence that Grimes would have won if she had run to the left. Really. And ditto Landrieu. When the people are willing to vote for a populist candidate they will find one and come out and vote. But right now southern populism is definitionally anti democrat and will be for the foreseeable future. Trying to find and back exactly the right new Huey Long is complicated and expensive when republican white southern voters have the ability to buy one off the rack, as it were. The money could be better spent dominating the house and Senate in winnable races and then moving to create and enforce better voting laws at the federal level which will enable our voters to get out and vote *even* in southern states.
Why the fuck should we give up on Georgia? Despite the recent loss in 2014, 2016 could be a completely different tale. For one thing, THAT ONE is no longer on the ballot. For another, a strong Democratic presidential challenger (Hillary or whoever, still kinda hoping for whoever) could come in with huge coattails and change every dynamic here. So no, we shouldn’t just fucking give up on the South. Tomaskey is an idiot.
I was with you right up to the part about “actual Democrats.”
Where do you propose to find such people in the Once and Future Confederacy?”
Seriously? Fuck this guy.
@Yatsuno: Georgia and the Carolinas actually seem winnable. Florida is always in play and Texas may be someday in the next 10 years. So maybe we should say “give up on the parts of the South that are hopeless” Mississippi and Alabama, etc.
I think we are spending way too much effort into reading what the results of 2014 mean other than don’t be the party of the second term president. As was pointed out in an analysis I saw somewhere, Reagan was rather popular in 1986 and Republicans lost control of Congress.
I think we have to spend money in the South. I would argue that in places like Georgia, Texas, Floriday and North Carolina, they need to spend more money, specifically on GOTV. Midterms suck, and the party needs to figure out why. They need to get Latinos to vote in Texas.
The 50 state strategy gave us blue dogs with no staying power.
It was a temporary tactical success during the peak of Bush’s unpopularity, but failed utterly as a long-term strategy.
Only if they get their guy and their agenda. Chris Christie, for example, would be no more able to govern than Obama.
@Yatsuno: hmmm.. Money buys elections down here. Jason Carter ran strictly on education so was not necessarily a strong candidate and Michelle Nunn ran against outsourcing. If outsourcing were a major issue, Romney would not have carried the state. GA will turn blue when the democrats start whistling dixie.
Give up on the south running GOP-lite. If you run more progressive/populist dems on economics, then see where it goes. But I am tired of seeing dems run away from social justice (obamacare, gay rights) and then force us to accept as a reality. No, run on democratic values and see where it goes. You can run GOP-lite, but dont look for progressive money. This should be THE democratic message: OPPORTUNITY!. You should be free from physical and economic bullying because of your gender or sexual orientation. You should be affored an equal opportunity to make a life for yourself and your family, no matter where you live and what industry has cratered in your area. This means the government protects its citizens and interacts with the market to allow people the opportunity to help themselves. It is a simple message and one that most decent hearted people will embrace and it resets the narrative. The government will not lift you out of poverty by your bootstraps, but you will be able to because the government will help stabilize your life be mollifying the costs of education, health care, child care, and end of life care. It is not a nanny state, but it is a caring state that leaves the scope of indiviudal’s success up to the individual, while not writing off entire segments of the nation to generations of poverty. Run, true democrat, run!
don’t make presidential election cycle decisions on the basis of the mid-term electorate.
Do hunt for local candidates and situations to build a new party infrastructure and farm team in the south.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
I wouldn’t go that far, though I disagree with him here. Michelle Nunn lost by a large margin, but a small number of actual votes (about 200K); who knows what would have happened in a presidential year. And Kentucky does have a Democratic governor, Kay Hagan lost by a hair, I believe. Louisiana does seem to have taken a hard right turn, and Landrieu’s obnoxious and stupid campaign makes it hard to weep for her in any case. But “the South” is too big to give up on.
Catering to the South should be dumped from the menu probably. They should not be the top focus. As always, there is a wealth of options and opportunities between Pure 50-state and Outright Abandon, as hard as it is for the searchers of the one forever true, unique, infallible and simple marketing theory amen to swallow.
North Carolina, yes. South Carolina, not a chance.
@Yatsuno: When Jimmy Carter ran for Governor he beat a moderate Republican who helped desegregate schools. Carter called it the urban/rural vote though.
The South’s defining characteristic from the beginning has been an unshakeable commitment to white supremacy. There’s two ways to deal with this- ignore is, like early in FDR’s presidency, fight it or try to go around it. The country’s commitment to fighting white supremacy in the South hasn’t exactly been steadfast and I don’t see that happening. FDR ditching the Southern contingent made his presidency a lot tougher, but I don’t see how it was morally justifiable not to. In short I don’t see how we can do anything but write off the South and hope they see the improvements going on in the rest of the nation and decide to follow along. We’re not going to go in there like Sherman.
Frankly, given how thinly populated some of the Western states are, I’m suprised that no one has really made an effort to fill them with a more-Democratic voting base. Wyoming has only half a million people, for example — just how many voting-age adults would have to move there from so-called blue states to win that state and its two Senators? Given how much a US Senate seat is worth it seems like it would be to someone’s advantage to consider this strategy….
Wait, so this isn’t your scathing review of The Red Tent?
@Cacti: You’re probably right. I’m not that up on the particular difference between the two.
This. It’s pretty hard to win outside of majority-minority districts in the South without at least dog whistling to racism, and the Democrats started cutting those ties in 1964. Conservative southerners who were born into the Democratic party have died out, and the people running the Republican party now are the political heirs of the Democrats who strangled reconstruction in 1876. Unless you want to resurrect FDR’s coalition of working city people, farmers (not too many of those around these days – especially not independent ones), and racists, the South is a lost cause.
It’s not going to get any better in the South, either, as white people are voting with their feet and moving to states that support their views, whatever they may be.
Despite their recent bout of hard right lunacy, North Carolina is light red, with a Cook PVI of R+3. South Carolina on the other hand is R+10.
@burnspbesq: You’re funny. They don’t give a shit about policy.
@Rafer Janders: You’d have to pay me so much to leave Southern California for a Wyoming winter that it would add a perceptible amount to the deficit.
Those states are sparsely populated for a reason.
@aimai: I don’t disagree that there is 0 evidence THEY would have won, but at least the public debate would have had a different framework.
But how would you do this? Setting the aside the problem of coordinating enough people to go there, all of whom will have different priorities that might not match up with the strategy, people would need practical reasons, e.g., a job, to go there.
Republicans have basically given up in California. It’s leading to them losing power in even their strong holds (Orange County has basically turned purple and may go blue shortly). At this point, Republicans hope they can win enough seat to avoid a Democratic supermajority, they haven’t nominated a credible statewide candidate since I was in high school (Arnold would have never won a contested primary as a Republican). In fact, it’s gotten to lopsided that we had to go to the jungle primary system. Nationally, it’s given Republicans the ability to spend money on other seats.
At the end of the day, it’s a balancing act. It would be stupid to not run candidates in seats because you don’t think you can win (the proverbial “dead woman or live boy” is always in play). But if you’re looking at losing 60-40 (or worse) then it’s not illogical to decide to spend money elsewhere.
I like the idea of running progressives in the “un-winnable” campaigns because those sacrificial candidates can keep the message in the ears of the people we really need to be talking to: young voters. Most young people aren’t racist and could not care less if Adam and Steve get married, unless they’re friends and they didn’t get invited to the wedding. We have to wait for much of the Old South to literally die off, but if they’re only replaced by ignorant younger voters, it won’t help much.
shitty electorates beget shitty candidates beget shitty people in office.
(shrug) rest of us are moving on while southerners blame everybody but their own selves.
let em be as fucking shitty as they want to be – the rest of us are moving on. if they ever want better for themselves, their voting will reflect it, and they’ll be welcomed into civilization. until then, I hope blaming other people is satisfying for them; adieu.
I don’t think giving up on southern states is a good option – there’s just too many votes there. Maybe it’s a matter of Democrats refining their strategy there – concentrate on winnable districts and build a candidate bench in local and state-level races.
@Linnaeus: Let’s locate the FEMA camps there. Of course, the danger of them escaping still points to Alaska as the way to go, but maybe WY would be worth it for the extra senate seats.
That’s what I was thinking.
It wouldn’t be hard to alter the population of small state like Wyoming. But if you helicoptered in 50,000 new residents, what would they all do for a living? The largest city in the whole state only has about 62,000 people.
Let’s see… I’d go for a 42-state strategy. Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Louisiana look hopeless for Dems. Maybe Georgia, maybe not. Oklahoma and West Virginia are ‘honorary Southern’ and it’s hard to see Kentucky or Tennessee electing Dems. Sounds like common sense to me.
@scav: This I agree with. I also think a reexamination of transfer payments is in order.
As for where Dems can compete in the South in 2016, absent a black president, I think Georgia, North Carolina, Florida and Texas, for starters, are where significant inroads could be made.
As for South Carolina, forget it. I love that state but damn, it really is the only place where I’ve seen the actual Confederate flag (not the Stars and Bars battle standard, but the real CSA flag) hanging not just in the capital, but over hotels and restaurants. If there’s a US state that should qualify for foreign aid, it’s SC.
Don’t give up on the South.
Don’t do it.
@SatanicPanic: North Carolina had a HUGE influx of liberal voters because they invested in the Research Triangle around Raleigh. This helped bolster the Democratic vote there enough to make it winnable for Democrats, hence why Hagan’s loss there stings a bit because of the heinous voter ID laws. South Carolina is still this huge pocket of crazy that just seems to get worse every year. And no matter what Nikki tries, folks other than the idiots at Boeing just don’t want to invest much there. But they find it easier to blame browns and blahs over fixing their actual structural problems. So yeah, huge difference between the two right now.
Zandar, WTF are you typing about?
How to you associate the term ’emoprog’ (whatever that actually means) with the notion of writing off the South. If I missed the Emoprog convention which announced this as part of their platform, please let me know. Is there an Emoprog leader outlining this as a necessary strategy?
I would like to think that you are not just pulling observations like this out of your ass. Throw me a bone.
Villago Delenda Est
I agree that Dems need to be positive, to give people reasons to vote for them.
Right now, in the South, at least, many find a reason to vote against them.
They’re “ni*CLANG* lovers”.
This is all the “reason” that racist shitstains need.
Not *really*. You can win Georgia without winning Deliverance County, but you have to win the suburbs. Full stop. The problem with Democrats in the state is that they win Atlanta easily, lose Bumfuck Nowhere easily, and then lose the counties right outside the perimeter. I don’t think you have to whistle Dixie to win those counties.
Florida, thanks to the population centers of Miami-Dade, Broward (Fort Lauderdale), and Palm Beach Counties, and to a lesser extent Monroe County, which includes the Keys, will remain purple. It’s not unlike Michigan where you have a lot of GOP voters upstate that are outweighed by the Detroit metro area of Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, and Washtenaw Counties, which includes Ann Arbor. Without those pockets, both states would be hard-core red as in redneck. When I lived in northern Michigan, I heard the n-word and “colored” used as casually as when someone is describing their choice of beer, and upstate rural Florida is cut from the same cloth: the Stars and Bars.
The difference between Michigan and Florida is that Michigan actually has a Democratic party working to elect their candidates. They support them in the primaries, they pour money into the races for the general, and they kept the Senate seat Carl Levin occupied. Florida had to get a used Republican to run for governor this year, and I’m hard-pressed to think of who they’ll get to run against Marco Rubio in ’16. The congressional delegation is riddled with Tea Partiers, and Alan West got in on a fluke for two years in Broward County when Alan Grayson got voted out. The tables have since been turned in those two cases, but unless the state Democrats come up with a plan to get bigger wins in districts with large populations such as Tampa/St. Pete and Orlando, they’re going to be left with the likes of Bill Nelson, who can charitably be described as someone who is as boring as whale shit.
Obama won South Florida both times. He won among all demographics, including the elderly, the Hispanics, the younger Cubans, and the rest of the minorities that make up this melange down here. It’s going to interesting to see if there’s anyone in the state that can pull that off.
Interesting. So, a strategy which stops working once you stop using it is a “failed strategy.”
What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?
I kind of feel like the democrats right now are suffering more in the South than they would otherwise because there’s a blah guy in charge of their party. Once he rides off into the sunset I think a strong candidate with less melatonin could re-attract a lot of southern democratic votes.
The 50 state strategy worked incredibly well for 2 reasons:
1) It tried to run at least some one for every single seat – because you just never know, and they won more than a few of those.
2) It gave more control to local and state parties – and away from DC.
3) It just seemed less of an elitist strategy and thus made it a wee bit harder to paint the Dems as elitist.
And it was all purposefully taken apart – Rahm Emmanuel dismantled it, and the reverse of all the 3 advantages happened.
1) They didn’t run everyewhere and disappeared in huge parts of the country,
2) Power went back to DC.
3) And the Dems really looked elitist again.
It was a strategic blunder that could be easily repaired – if either (or both) Obama and Clinton chose. Just ask Howard Dean to come back. Symbolically it would be huge.
Probably won’t happen though – since too many syncophants surround both of them.
@CONGRATULATIONS!: I wouldn’t be so sure. Grifters gonna grift.
And yes, Ithought of a 3rd advantage while typing….
The problem is that although within tribes there are status distinctions, even those on the low rung of the tribe take comfort in the privilege of being the dominate tribe. And particularly in the South, but also in northern cities, a good part of the white working class take comfort and pride in that they are not “Black.” In the first 20 years after the Civil Rights revolution, in the 1970s and 80s, there was a period at least part of the Southern white elite was interested in “fusionist” politics, that the old segregation and racialist politics were bad for business. But starting with Lee Atwater, and then pursued by Karl Rove, a strategy of portraying activist Government programs as programs for taking from “hard working folks (Whites) and giving it to “people who won’t work (Blacks & Browns)” and the Democrats as the party out to protect “those people” from the consequences of their acts while exposing “hard working folks” to predatory crime from “those people.” This has worked so well that 90% of the white people in Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, and now Louisiana who vote, vote Republican, especially as this strategy went on hyper drive since a Black Democratic President has been elected and gets blamed for everything that goes wrong in those states (Sam Brownback and Scott Walker are skilled practitioners of this art). What Tomasky fails to understand that with Republican domination of the Great Plains penetrations of the Midwest, giving Republicans a 26 safe seats in the Senate means likely permanent Republican majorities for the next generation.
@What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?: We’ll see what happens when a Clinton runs for President. The crazy didn’t start with Obama.
@Keith G: Seriously?
Tomasky’s “Well the South doesn’t deserve liberalism, the bastards, we’ll keep it for ourselves and let the GOP burn them to the ground and then they’ll come crawling back to us” is classic, 100% emoprog bullshit.
This pattern is repeated in many, if not most, other states. My state, Washington, has a “blue” reputation, but the reason for that is that so much of the state’s population is concentrated in four counties (Snohomish, King, Pierce, and Kitsap) around Puget Sound. You start to move away from those counties in any direction, and the state gets quite red.
For reasons like this, I think the blue/red state model doesn’t work well. It’s more of an urban/suburban/rural divide.
Villago Delenda Est
Well, in order to address the actual structural problems, you have to address income inequality and the propensity to avoid infrastructure investment because, oh noes, you’ll actually have to tax the parasite overclass to do it.
Our single biggest problem in this country is the insane, immoral worship of wealth. It drives the income inequality that is degrading the overall quality of life of the nation. We’re surging forward in such areas as infant mortality because we refuse, fucking refuse, to address the issue with resources. No, what we do is enable the already obscenely rich to get richer, as if they need more money. The Koch brothers and the Waltons seem to have the goal of hoarding it all for the sole purpose of making others suffer.
Agreed. I just read Tomasky’s piece, and it’s really condescending.
Stopped using what?
The blue dogs that were elected by Howard Dean’s greatest idea in the history of anything anywhere all ran again and got kicked to the curb.
Who got rid of the 50 State Strategy?
Obama and Rahm.
What was is all about? Not really so much about the South. It was about using the money to support corporate Dems, whether Blue Dogs or “New Dems”.
And Obama’s pick for DNC chair after Tim Kaine, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, has been even worse than Rahmbo. This couldn’t be a surprise, given her past performance.
@D.N. Nation: My county tends to vote democratic. My son and girlfriend took me to a fair in Ellijay and on the way we each tried to guess how many Confederate flags we’d see. One was interesting. A large flag covering most of a trailer with a wreath in the middle.
Villago Delenda Est
@MattF: This is very true. A lot of it has to do with the fact that the “Republican” party is now made up of monarchists, who reminisce for the days of Ronaldus Maximus, shitty grade Z movie star, the tired old man we elected King, who set the pattern for fucking up this country but good.
Therefore, if someone with a D behind their name gets elected, it’s because the Democrats bussed in thousands of “illegals” to stuff ballot boxes and “untrue” the vote. No Democrat, regardless of skin color, can be the legitimate President of the United States. They’re usurpers. They’re not even from the wrong side of the blanket illegitimate…they’re more like Bonaparte who has risen far above his rightful station.
It’s a decidedly unenlightened point of view for a republic founded by a bunch of Enlightenment influenced revolutionaries who rejected their contemporary “Old Europe.” Now the GOP seeks to emulate the Ancien Régime and undo everything men like Washington and Jefferson established.
Which is why I’m so in favor of tumbrel rides to address this issue.
@Samuel Knight: The same strategy that Rahm used might lead to the undoing of the republican party. Unfortunately, if they elect a republican president Medicare will be gone.
I would say giving up on an entire region is not smart. As is drawing sweeping conclusions based on a historically low midterm election turnout.
This is a bad idea for a lot of reasons. You definitely do not want to give up on NC, and probably not GA. You need to develop Dem candidates in those states, and that won’t happen if the national party gives up, because the state parties are not up to it. Even if they lose, it can help keep the GOP from going even further right, especially for statewide offices. In addition, things may not be as bad as they seem. For example, you could significantly reduce GOP dominance in NC simply by redistricting reform. Ending the GOP supermajority in the statehouse would do wonders, even if the GOP still maintained control. I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case in some other states.
Mary Landrieu spent her entire career pandering to the people who voted her out of office, often to the detriment of those who voted for her. I agree with you Cole, more and better are needed.
Are they? Wouldn’t Obama have won in both 2008 and 2012 without all three of them?
If you want Dems to ever win there, you’re going to have to give up some of your Ideology and demands, purity angels.
You can’t win a Culture War waiting for the other side to surrender. They have to die. Either by force or by time.
I don’t see how you can claim that, since it wasn’t tried as a long-term strategy.
This is much too simplistic, in light of the fact that Tim Scott R-SC is that state’s first black senator ever, and Nikki Haley R-SC is a two-term governor from south Asia, and like wise departing two-term Gov. Bobby Jindall R-La, and there’s Marco Rubio R-Fla, latino (ok, Cuban variety) US Senator. However, what each of these figures (especially Haley and Scott from SC) have in common is that they are the sort of minorities (most esp. Scott) who fit so comfortably within dominant white culture that they’re regarded as essentially honorary whites willing to fully adopt the clothing of the conservative chamber-of-commerce white culture, and hence easily distinguished in white conservative minds from those very “other” sort of blacks or latinos or asian minorities. In short, they pass for white, despite their olive or black skin color. And their presence makes it so much easier for the latent racist conservative whites voting for them to distinguish themselves from the more overt (and embarrassing) open or virulent racists among them. The “others” they lump in with welfare queens or the looting rioters tarnishing the (what seem to us the legitimate overwhelming majority) of protesters in Ferguson etc.
Yeah, soft racism still prevails in SC – but it’s not so easily attacked as such now that SC has a black US Senator and a south Asian female governor.
Villago Delenda Est
@dp: Agreed. Good riddance to shitty rubbish.
Yeah, I agree mostly. I’d keep trying in Georgia and North Carolina, though. I think that they, along with Virginia and Florida, could be light blue/purple bastions. But the rest of the south is a lost cause as far as I can see. At least, it is if the idea is to keep the Dem base in line and wanting to support the party nationally. I also don’t think not having anyone running in the Dem column is a good idea anywhere. But I think in the places where we basically have no hope of a win, we should be running straight out, in-your-face populist Dems instead of these Republican lite people like Grimes and Landrieu. If you have to go down fighting (and will little financial help from the party, he or she will go down), go down with something and someone worth fighting for.
Ignorant racist Democrats who continued to vote for the party died. They were replaced by ignorant racist Republicans, a lot of whom weren’t born there.
Zander, Grimes was never going to win. Even normally reliable Democratic voters here in the People’s Democratic Republic of Louisville have fond memories of Turtle’s non-ideological stint in local government and voted for him, citing gripes against her dad.
Paul would have been a different story – she’d have beat his ass. The only reason Paul beat Conway was because off personal grudges keeping money and votes home.
Just One More Canuck
@Samuel Knight: It also makes the GOP have to play defense to some extent in some areas
I’m with those who think there’s a south and then there’s a south. Grimes probably could not have won that election under any circumstances. Nunn might have with the right mix of details. Florida and North Carolina aren’t Georgia and Louisiana, which in turn aren’t Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina. I don’t want to entirely give up on the south, but it would be helpful if we could more honestly prioritize there based on the relative insanity of each state’s electorate.
@cmorenc: I don’t think we’re really disagreeing all that much. You don’t have to be white to serve white supremacist ends.
“The South” keeps getting redefined around the edges. When people talk about “giving up on the South” they apparently don’t mean Virginia, which is now a competitive swing state leaning blue in presidential elections. But Virginia was definitely part of the political South when I lived there. Same deal for Florida and North Carolina, despite recent reactionary swings. Probably even Maryland, once upon a time.
Meanwhile, the border regions of Appalachia and the Ozarks seem to be if anything more Southern than they used to be.
Give up on the South too much and you lose the chance to affect the process one way or another.
@Linnaeus: That’s true, but I was talking about Florida being part of The South on the electoral map, which it is only because of geography.
Yes, he would have.
But it’s still important to contest them. Nationally, the GOP has painted itself into such a corner that if they don’t win all of the above, they don’t win the White House.
Villago Delenda Est
Counties in these areas that showed signs of turning blue in 2004 went full scale red in 2008.
Due to the near sheriff being in the race, of course.
That tent isn’t worth the cost and doesn’t keep out the rain, being made of bed sheets and all. White Southern Democrats have taken plenty of positions outside the mainstream – it doesn’t matter. Voters don’t make rational economic decisions.
I’m sure that Tomasky is having a minor temper tantrum and that he’ll rethink his position in a few months. There is no reasn to give up on the entire South. Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama and other deep deep blood red states – yes. However, why would the Dems give up on Florida, North Carolina and Virginia which are winnable? Perhaps even Texas may be winnable in 2016. That would be silly. Tailor our efforts to Southern States which are not so far gone that exerting energy and resources would be a waste of time – but don’t give up on the entire South.
@Linnaeus: It is a better model. Although it is funny how it devolves to the same underlying conflict when you realize that sundown towns and white flight are at play in the divide between urban/suburban/exurban.
Frankly, the distinction seems to be between hopelessly racist states and sorta-racist states (in which I would currently include Midwestern states like Wisconsin and Michigan). You are not going to get a modern-day Democrat as the governor of Mississippi. Ever. But you might be able to get a Blue Dog in Georgia.
Count me among those not willing to throw in the towel because of a bad showing in a mid-term in the 6th year of a democratic presidential term. The map for Dems looks bad, but the map for Republicans looks way worse – the only gains they’re making are in Appalachia and they’ve basically tapped out what they can get from there.
The republicans are one more presidential defeat away from splintering into a far, far right wing party and a far right wing party. At that point, the election math in the south changes considerably in the favor of a slightly left of center democratic candidatee. Not to mention the good demographic changes in states like Georgia and Texas.
@Botsplainer: Entirely fair analysis.
Grimes and Conway are still 12739817% better than Dan Effing Mongiardo though.
So the reason the state has a liberal reputation is that most of the people who live there are liberals?
The truth is that as you move outside of the cities that the state doesn’t get quite red — the acreage does. There are just not as many people who live out there.
@Gex: True. But the blue-red thing matters because it’s how states are branding themselves. The blues get bluer and the reds get redder.
@Gex: basically you have states that are more urban being blue and states that are more rural being red, so it’s kind of just a different way to refer to the same thing. I mean, I’m generalizing a lot, obviously.
True, that. It’s just that focusing at the right level, so to speak, makes an unmanageable situation more manageable.
A friend asked me if I ever considered moving back to OH, partially by noticing that rents were much cheaper. I replied that there is a reason rents are much cheaper. Not many want to live there and it fucking snows. Now I’d like to see some snow in CA, as in, look at the nice snow covered mountains miles and miles away. But live in it? Been there, done that. I have the memories, I don’t need to experience it again.
Oh, I understand. Just expanding on your point a bit.
Even in deep red states, there are areas of blue. Mary Landrieu is the senior Senator from Louisiana. She has been serving since 1997. She is not just some one-term official who came from out of state with a lot of federal dollars behind her.
You have to remember that a lot of the Southern states were heavily gerrymangled.
If you don’t invest in Southern states at all, you don’t get any good Southern politicians in the party. Declaring that your favorite flavor of Democrat is a “real” Democrat is offensive because the Democratic party is the big tent, and there are a lot of people in it.
There is room for people running on the “Don’t Blow Up God Damn Chemical Plants” platform in Texas, or “Hey, we like our seafood more without the added BP flavors” on the Gulf Coast.
It’s not just guns/God/gays.
It’s that Democratic messages are
1) TOO COMPLEX.
People are stupid and afraid. They want simple and calming solutions.
Sure, Democratic solutions need to [will] have the nuance that’s required of actual governance. But the main reason Republicans win is because their message of lies is much simpler.
2) Not using the sociopathic techniques of Republicans.
Republicans paint themselves as the defenders of Social Security, as the reducers of the deficit.. when in reality they are none of those things. Democrats need to accept the reality of the dogfight that is politics.
Democrats need to paint themselves the party of a large military, as the party of reduced taxes, as the party of peace and calm and jobs via energy. What to answer when pushed? Just say you’ll cut the budget somewhere else. Will that be true? Doesn’t matter, and won’t matter. It doesn’t matter to Republicans, so it shouldn’t matter to a Democrat who actually wants to get elected.
The chief weakness of the Democratic party is the refusal to accept that people do exist who only want power – and are willing to lie to their neighbors, to steal from their childhood friends – to achieve it. Time and again Democrats say “I think everyone’s a good person” – and indeed, MOST people are. But not Republican candidates for office.
As well, I think Democrats will be able to execute the Gish Gallop better than Republicans.
Eh, if I had to move out of Washington, Ohio wouldn’t be so bad. At least not for me.
Also, this link never stops being relevant:
@Bobby Thomson: That is one component of it. But even the red states experience population growth and if liberal policies fare better where population density is higher, that would be a trend in favor of the blues.
Nope, so long’s as you can do the huckabuck on demand. But don’t forget your place, lest Massa come get you straightened out (see Cain, Herman, and N*****head Ranch; Williams, Juan and the SC debate kerfluffle; the deposed and disappeared Michael Steele, and so on).
It may get ya money, it may get ya platitudes, but at the end of the day, ya still the help.
Billmon pointed this out long ago. States with growing urban populations vs rural states and those with cored out industrial cities.
Well, haven’t read any comments, but wanted to say I live in a red state that isn’t unremittingly red, although there are no state wide elected Democrats. We ran a good slate here in November and got in the mid 40’s of the turnout. Not as well as we hoped, but not fold up the tents and give up levels either.
The Democratic party cannot give up entirely on the South. It should work with the state parties to develop viable local and state candidates. Otherwise the nation is going to continue to be awash in Alec type policies making progressive policies even more difficult.
Plus Dems should work in support of less gerrymandered districts. Assigning a few districts to majority AA voter ones and ceding the rest of them to the GOP is not a long term winning strategy either. The GOP continues to chip away at a couple of the Dem held ones in the state. This is a growing part of the country, population wise, climate change or no.
When the DSCC called me yesterday for a contribution to help us win back control of the Senate in 2016, I scoffed and told them I’m not making any contributions for at least the next year. Also told them perhaps they needed to craft a more winning message,. And closed with the Truman quote about Republican versus Republican lite candidates and which the voters will choose each and every time.
I’d rather live in Ohio than the south. Any. day. of. the. year. You couldn’t pay me enough, the Waltons and Kochs combined don’t have enough money, to convince me to live in the south. NoVa is about as south as I ever plan to travel again, let alone live. Seen most of the south, don’t like it, any of it. I’ll take all four seasons any day of the week.
Take the money they were going to spend on congressional races and put it to party/issue/local and state candidate bench-building in the south.
There’s lots of ways to spend money :)
The first issue I would do would be voting rights. Pure issue advocacy. You could model it on what labor is doing with the minimum wage, where they’re pouring money into advocating for people who will never pay union dues. Make it about voting rights, instead of “Democrats terrified voter suppression will shave off two points in a swing state in a Presidential year”. Not so narrowly self-interested. Longer term. It’s somewhat complicated by campaign finance rules- I think it has to go thru state parties, but they have lots of lawyers to figure that out.
It doesn’t have to be dramatic, either/or. Congress is just one piece of a very big picture. I actually think taking Congress out of the equation will help them to focus on some other options- narrow, targeted, state-specific.
Grassroots. In the 80s the GOP concentrated on leadership building at the school board, county commission, city council level. This is the rock Sarah Palin, et al, crawled out from under. We need to stop putting all our efforts on the national level.
@Samuel Knight: This, a thousand times.
I got so sick of the flood of emails from Washington dems begging me for money that was NEVER reflected in my state. One candidate or his minions ran an ad nonstop that sneered out his opponent’s name like it was the first name of Obama, as in, “Smith Obama wants to do this that and the other to you.”. The ad ran for weeks with no answer to it at all. I can’t blame the candidate- he probably didn’t have the money to fight a carpetbomb and was probably trying to get the hell out of the state.
TN’s ex-(Dem) Gov. Bredesen weighed in on this with his usual Blue Dog pablum about Democrats needing to stop calling voters stupid and racist and yada yada. Buffoon. But one thing he did say was that we need to articulate a vision and that is definitely true.
I’m not shedding a tear for Mary Landrieu, indeed, I’m ecstatic that she lost. She’s proof positive that what “calibrating Dem positions to placate Southern mores” is just a waste of time and effort. You won’t please the white conservative voters and you sure as hell won’t energize the Yellow Dogs. So, fuck’em.
@dww44: This is a good point. If dems twiddle thumbs, it will lead to even more extreme gerrymanding in 2020. I don!’t understand why dems can’t take the long view.
Wasn’t the 50 state strategy abandoned at Rahm Emmanuel’s insistence as soon as the Obama organization gained operating control of the party? So don’t the last six years demonstrate that whatever strategy they were trying didn’t work, but nothing about 50 state? Maybe the successes of 50 state leading up to 2008 were a product of unusual circumstances, but the fact that abandoning it led to a mess hardly proves it.
“really a lot of white Southerners vote on gays and guns and God, and we’re not going to ever be too good on gays and guns and God.”
What a perfect example of letting the enemy set the rules. We have to give them something else to vote for! Like, as Zandar says, real Democratic policies.
@geg6: This is how I see it. Although I would out it a bit differently. There seems to be little point going after the votes of current voters. They want republicans.
But there seem to be a lot of people in the South who don’t vote. I’d be going after them, and that probably needs a different, most-likely populist, message.
Yes, NC, VA, and Florida are necessary for the White House, but…
Are they? Wouldn’t Obama have won in both 2008 and 2012 without all three of them?
yes. he would have gotten to 270 without all of them.
As a university instructor in a small midwestern town, I can personally testify that a lot of white millennials are in fact quite racist but cover it up with claims of color blindness. For these people, racism doesn’t exist until people start talking about it.
@What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?:
I think you mean “melanin.” Melatonin actually inhibits melanin production.
@aimai: But there is zero evidence that Grimes would have won if she had run to the left. Really.
Really? In a state where more folks saw immediate benefit from the ACA than perhaps any other?
It’s a failure of argument. The art of rhetoric: discovefre the most persuasuve argument to the particular audience under the particular circumstances. They never fashioned the argument. Too much emphasis is placed on so-called “facts” and not enough on what can make the “facts” change.
@Lurking Canadian: But there seem to be a lot of people in the South who don’t vote. I’d be going after them, and that probably needs a different, most-likely populist, message.
You are so right, my friend from the North.
What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?
@MattF: No, the crazy didn’t start with Obama, but the South wasn’t the political monolith it has become until him. Clinton won a few culturally southern states. It’s possible that the south has become so ideological that even a white democrat won’t have coat tails there – but I think we just don’t know that yet.
Late to the party…
I don’t think there’s been a Dem run as a Dem here in OK anytime I can remember.
It’s always Repub-lite. This probably worked sporadically, depending on how appalling/mediocre the Repub candidate, up till THAT ONE was elected. And now the die is cast…the same way no one here can remember voting for Bush II, they won’t remember hating the n’CLANG.
But they’ll vote Repub till they die.
Paul in KY
@Zandar: And not quite as good as Scotty Baesler was…
Paul in KY
@Starfish: Katrina hammered NOLA for Democrats, as much as for the actual residents.
Yeah, basically the same idea. Don’t disappear from those states. But don’t spend a lot of money on them either and quit trying to get the people there who are current voters because they don’t want a Dem, regardless of how far to the right that Dem may be. So run the most passionate, full-out populist liberals they have. The overall message is never muddied that way and maybe it inspires some of those non-voters to get out there and do their civic duty. And maybe even pull in some of the less-bigoted and stupid current voters with some economic populism. And give the poor liberals there something to live for and be proud of, even in the face of certain defeat.
and living in northern Virginia, you can experience all four seasons in a single week!
You and the Koch Bros. agree on one thing then. I don’t understand this attitude at all. I disagree with Landrieu on many things, but she did vote for healthcare reform and many other important Democratic initiatives during her time in the Senate. The teaturd who replaced her sure as hell won’t.
@Mnemosyne (iPhone): In Virginia it’s definitely a case of there being multiple populations: a large population of whites who are every bit as super-racist as whites in Alabama, a lot of black people and other minorities who currently swing Democratic, and a bunch of NPR-liberal whites concentrated in NoVa (though some also live elsewhere) who will go for the Obama ’08 platform, though, since they are relatively well-off, their economic leftism may not be very deep.
The coalition of the latter two populations can deliver the state in presidential elections, and can sometimes get the governorship, though they often don’t control the legislature. And their strength has slowly been growing.
If my choice was the “south” or 4 seasons, sure I’d take the 4 seasons in a heartbeat. Ten yrs ago I was in OH and looking to move and had my choice of anywhere. First thing I thought was, nowhere south of the Mason-Dixon line. Second was no regular snow. Third was blue state. Ended back in CA.
Gin & Tonic
@Betty Cracker: Sorry if this has been answered elsewhere, but how’s the dog?
@Samuel Knight: How true, as opposed to this year when the DCCC had clearly winnable districts and the decided to offer NO opposition, instead focusing on some districts that clearly were NOT winnable
The only flaw in running to lose is that it takes a warm body to do it. Who are you going to get that will spend a year or two of their lives with little to no reward? Sure you could consider it a crap shoot and worth the risk but you don’t get paid to run as a candidate for office. You have to have some way to eat, campaign, etc. From a practical side it takes bodies and money to run for office and very few are willing to stand in front of every one for that time and expect to lose. Even fewer are willing to stand in front of everyone with only the barest hope they might have a job if enough people like them.
Paul in KY
@Ruckus: Very good point.
@Paul in KY:
It gets worse.
In a more rural area you might know many of your neighbors, you do have to, in theory, live in the area to get elected. If you come out with policies that your neighbors are strongly against, not only will you probably lose but you still have to live there after the election and you’ve been routed. Takes a pretty strong person to stand up to that. Who here thinks they’d do that?
Paul in KY
@Ruckus: I would, for a shitton of money :-)
@Gin & Tonic: She’s fine, thanks for asking! She has a “sprained tail!” I didn’t know such a thing was possible, and I’ve had dogs all my life!
@Paul in KY:
Sort of the catch isn’t it?
If you had the shitton of money before, why run? If you don’t have it, you sure aren’t going to get it running for office, not without becoming best friends with the IRS and DOJ and a bunch of lawyers.
@Summer: This is precisely the point, I think. You can give up numerically right now, but if you just give up in the entire Confederacy rhetorically, you give up forever and spend the rest of your days having the emboldened crazy Southern teahadists moving your Overton Window ever rightward, until the point at which the fabric of the union is damaged beyond repair (again). You stop speaking any progressive in Virginia and Georgia and North Carolina and they’ll eventually turn pure blood red again, because all they’re hearing is resentment and seccess talk. I think the better course of action is don’t just stop trying in the South, but accept that you’re going to lose big for awhile while you groom some people who can form a new Southern progressivism and create a language that appeals to a significant enough number of people in Kentucky that they have a spitting chance. Hell, that could even help the remainder of the party forge an identity they could take forwards. You know, something other than “We’re not Republicans. No! No! Don’t get us wrong, we’re not ‘Liberals’ or ‘Progressives’ or anything like that, and we don’t like Obama, but we’re not as insane as Michelle Bachmann. Vote for us!”
I can’t disagree with burnspbesq.’s first comment here about there not being an obvious cluster of said people wandering around the ruined South right now. But there are some, and you need to create more somehow. Getting more of the bright young minds at his alma mater to go into politics and stay in NC might be a start.
Paul in KY
@Ruckus: I guess that was my smart-ass way of saying ‘Hell, no’. Obviously, getting lots of campaign contributions for main purpose of enriching one’s self is illegal (at least illegal when a Democrat does it).
You would need an unusual person to subject themselves to it.
@Yatsuno: Tomaskey needs to replace his diaper with big boy pants.
Progressive Firing Squad, atten-hut!
Circular firing formation, move.
Ready, aim, FIRE!!!!
Now fix bayonets, prepare to charge…
@burnspbesq: I know some white “actual Democrats” in South Carolina, interestingly enough in Clyburn’s district. They voted for Obama in the primary, too.
@Rafer Janders: That’s what the Libertarians tried to do to New Hampshire, populate it with them, yet the Dem candidates for governor and senator won last month.
@Ruckus: Unless you live north of Chico, you live south of the Mason-Dixon line. It’s the Maryland-Pennsylvania border.
Grumpy Code Monkey
Nobody’s going to move to frickin’ Wyoming just to help flip the goddamned Senate. Job, yes, family, yes. a desire for wide open spaces and brutal winters, yes. Flip the Senate? Fuck no.
Grumpy Code Monkey
Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m an Actual Democrat what was born, growed up, and still lives in Texas. You know, that state that gained 4 electoral votes in 2010 while NY lost 2? That state that has the second-highest number of electoral votes behind CA, just a hair over 7%? 38 electoral votes that Tomasky seems willing to spot the GOP into perpetuity?
We do have Actual Democrats in public office, just not any statewide office at the moment.
Tree With Water
It may have been in The Making of a President 1968 (Theodore White), but a prominent republican that year was quoted somewhere as saying, “This country is going so far right that you won’t recognize it”.
I didn’t understand the import of those words at the time (circa 1970, when I read whatever book it’s in), but I’ve remembered it to this day. I lived my life watching that scenario unfold. We’re losing big time. The GOP is a party of rule or ruin, and only democrats willing to acknowledge that fact are of any use from here on out. That said, to write off so much as an acre of American territory to the political nihilists of the republican party is to betray American democracy. People who counsel otherwise are the same people that ran the country into the ditch we find ourselves in today.
David in NY
“It’s the ultimate emoprog copout”
Do you have to say stupid stuff like this? Maybe he’s wrong, but that’s not why.
Otherwise, carry on.
The Dems are already viable in North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida. There is a medium/long term path to electoral success in Georgia and Texas so the party should definitely invest there.
The rest of the South (along with deep red plain states, and Appalachia ) are just too foregone (barring some realignment) to spend real capital in trying to win, especially if it means nominated longshots that end up hurting the party nationally be saying things like they didn’t vote for the sitting Democratic President.
If you thought zombie Reagan was bad imagine zombie John C Calhoun. He’s a’ comin’.
@JoyfulA: Of course there are some of us still living here in the south and we could use a pat on the back and encouragement to keep us going , but disparaging remarks seem easier to make and post.
The actual line doesn’t extend to the west coast. And was referring to the colloquial division in any case. IOW no state that had been in the confederacy. I’ve lived in, worked in or traveled in 46 of the states and haven’t figured out exactly where I’d like to live but I know where I don’t want to live. YMMV.
FYWP won’t let me edit.
Wanted to add that many of the states I don’t want to live in really are nice places and I have friends living in many of them but they just aren’t my cup of tea. There are a few that I just don’t understand why anyone lives in though.
@Cacti: Except it got us ARRA, Lilly Ledbetter, the ACA, student loan reform, saving auto manufacturing in the Rust Belt (and thus saving the UAW), CFPB, tax increases on the rich, and administering TARP in a way that got us ALL our money back.
What it got us was power. Which is the only point of politics. The rest is just jacking off for progressives who need something to replace going to church and they’ve fooled themselves into thinking politics is it.
“the instant a Republican president is elected, the Tea Party will vanish like frost on a sunny morning, never to be seen again.”
You mean never to be seen until another Democrat is elected president. Meaning the tea party will still be active come the 2017 inauguration of Hillary.
I thought this was the era of Big Data? Can’t we try and make sure that a) a Dem is at least on the ballot everywhere, every race, every time (including school board), b) that they run on whatever issues are important to the people in that locality/state/or the country, and c) every Dem candidate keeps Reagan’s 11th commandment in mind – the Dem version, that is?
What is with this wholesale writing off of entire regions, much less entire states? Even the director of the Oklahoma Democratic Party ought to have a budget (supported by the national party if necessary), voter target goals, and frankly, a frickin’ blast. I would!
Wayne Gretzky said “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” To paraphrase someone else, “You go to Election Day with the Democrats you have, not the Democrats you wish you had.” If we don’t run someone, we can’t win. Not ever. And once the momentum starts, you’ll win more and more offices. But only if you run.The Republicans started this in the 80’s and kept running until they won. If you think you write off the Confederacy and think they’ll stay inside the Mason-Dixon Line, you’re deluding yourself. They will work on expanding what they have until they get what they want.
@Southern Beale: ok, but still, don’t call your potential voters stupid or racist. Even when O talked about clinging to guns, it was in a more empathetic way – and that was to a private audience.
@Linnaeus: Actually, Washington state may have some secret that I’d like to replicate in other places. The counties to the west of the Seattle metro — Thurston, Mason, Grays Harbor, Pacific, Wahkiakum, and Jefferson — still vote Democratic despite 90+% white population, no major universities, and not a lot of urban centers — Aberdeen and Olympia notwithstanding. Granted these are historic Democratic areas, but we’re hanging on there.
Please export whatever’s in the (abundant) water out there!