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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Don't Get Fooled By High Expectations - Stay On Course For 2018

Category: Congressional Races
Posted: 06/22/17 14:57

by Dave Mindeman

Democrats are always litigating themselves. They truly are their own worst enemy. I have been puzzled by the recent analysis of the special elections. Apparently, Democrats were supposed to win these all along?

What's the authority on that?

Yes, the Georgia race had a lot of attention and the Democrat had some moments that looked like a win was in the offing. But still - all this hand wringing is perplexing.

Let's look at the actual numbers....

Compare the 2016 election figures with the 2017 special elections...

Kansas-4: 2016 R+31 - 2017 R+7

Montana: 2016 R+16 - 2017 R+6

South Carolina-5: 2016 R+20 - 2017 R+3

Georgia-6: 2016 R+24 - 2017 - R+4

All four went from blowouts to single digit wins. These districts have never been close. They have been Republican dominated for a long time. And these Congressional members were selected because they essentially came from "safe" districts and would not weaken the House majority.

And the DCCC came a little late to the party in all of them except for the Georgia 6th District. They contested that one heavily - and the national Democrats stepped on the local message that Ossoff was trying to deliver.

The South Carolina district is especially galling because a good candidate ran without DCCC support and came within 3 points.

Now, the pundits have analyzed this as a Democratic failure. They seem to be assuming that these were wins that were out there for the taking. But when you have gerrymandered districts like these entrenched in place, they are not supposed to be contests. These are safe Republican zones and the GOP had to spend serious resources to keep them.

Yeah, maybe Democrats are still searching for a resonant message. Maybe they need to rethink how the Trump factor really fits in. But the idea that these could ALL be single digit contests has its own meaning.

First, red districts are not guaranteed to the GOP in 2018. It would be wise for the Democrats to put resources everywhere they can.

Second, this is not about ideologic purity. The standard axiom still applies. Support a candidate that fits the demographics of the district. Yes, it would be nice to have more progressive candidates, but too many times a progressive candidate cannot win in regions like the south. We profess to be a big tent...so our candidates need to look that way as well.

Third, although Trump has altered the landscape, standard practice still applies in most cases. We need to identify our voters and we also should be looking to expand beyond that in certain areas. Trump has a consolidated base but he has ignored the expansion of it. He only caters to his support - independents should be up for grabs.

2018 is still very much in play. Let's not reinvent the wheel just because we let our expectations get out of hand. The fact that these deep red districts ended up being contestable races means that less red places can be won.

Democrats are not the enemy or the problem - we need to stay on course.
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An Injustice

Category: Society
Posted: 06/16/17 22:12

by Dave Mindeman

I. Do. Not. Understand.

The police officer, Jeronimo Yanez, was acquitted in the shooting death of Philando Castile. I was stunned.

This was not a murder trial. The charge was involuntary manslaughter. An appropriate and just charge for the circumstances. But even with that, the officer was acquitted.

I have no personal grudge with Yanez. I am sure he is a decent officer who made a very bad mistake in judgment. But in another trial, in another state, a 17 year old girl was convicted on the same basic charge because she texted her boyfriend on a phone with a suggestion to get back in a carbon monoxide filled pickup and die. He still had a choice. She only made a suggestion. Philando Castile had no choice. He was shot by an officer of the law.

Make sense of any of that.

There is an assumption of innocence on the part of a police officer. I get that. I still believe that is probably appropriate. But maybe we need to take a serious look at what that means. Officers of the law go through years of training. They train for exact situations that Yanez faced. They are trained not to over react. To take everything into account.

And oddly enough, that all holds when an officer is involved with a white individual. Something goes terribly wrong, something changes, when an officer confronts a black person. I cannot look at these situations in any kind of denial. It is a truth. It happens. All too often.

And we have got to examine this for what it is. An inherent racism in our justice system. I don't think that police officers always have racism in their background. Many of them resist the temptation to treat races differently. I believe that. But working the streets of the cities...in urban settings...changes many of them. And we need to look at why that is.

Is it a cultural problem? Is it an urban concentration of black population? Is it a basic mistrust between the police and the black community that has developed over time? Do we have a community policing problem?

Those questions are basic to understanding all of this. But that does not change the injustice of this verdict. Of police shootings of black men (an occurrence which is much too common in this country), there are many degrees of culpability. But in the case of Philando Castile, justice was not served. Philando was an absolute victim. He deserved better than this.

Actually, we all deserved better than this. It was just wrong.
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The Common Denominator Is Guns

Category: Guns
Posted: 06/14/17 17:39

by Dave Mindeman

A disgruntled political madman shoots up a Republican sports practice, injuring 4 people. Jeronimo Yanez kills Philando Castile because he "saw" a gun and feared for his life?. Tamir Rice, a 12 year old boy, is killed by police because they thought a toy gun in the hands of a 12 year old could be real. In the Bay Area today, a disgruntled worker opens fire at this workplace and kills 4 people. At Sandy Hook school, 20 children and 6 adults were murdered randomly by a mentally ill individual. Three people killed and 9 wounded at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic by a deranged zealot. Nine people killed in Charleston, SC by a white supremacist. In 2011, 6 people died and 12 were injured, including Rep. Gabby Giffords, shot by a mentally ill paranoid-schizophrenic.

That is a lot of people involved. And if you noticed properly, none of that list involved our war on terrorism. None of it came from the Radical Extremists our President likes to point to.

No, there is only one common denominator in those tragedies.


Guns, most of them automatic weapons, in the hands of people who should not have them, caused this carnage. Yes, the people were definitely to blame. But we need to stop them. And we also need to stop the improper access of guns to people who kill.

Sure, people kill people. And if it wasn't guns it would be a knife, a rock, or a hammer. We cannot stop killers intent to kill. But why make it easier? Why should the sudden rage of a person be given an automatic weapon to wreak havoc on random, innocent people? Why should domestic abusers get access to a weapon that can kill quickly and efficiently? Why are background checks still not universal?

To be honest, I am not even sure if it is really physical guns that is the real problem. It is more the gun culture. The NRA keeps pushing for broader access to guns. Law abiding citizens should have access, but with the ever decreasing restrictions, the term law abiding itself becomes a loose definition. I mean people on the no fly list are guaranteed the right to purchase a gun. How crazy is that?

The common thread is guns...and the ever increasing access to guns and the incredible proliferation of guns. No other country on earth has such a love affair with weaponry. The gun culture is not satisfied with ease of access; the gun culture wants a gun on every street corner, in every church, every government building, ever bar and restaurant. Yes, we do have some restrictions in those places at the moment - but those restrictions are also only one Republican bill from termination.

Sure, we can talk about motivations. And the attack in DC has no justification. None. Politics in the US is not decided with bullets. It is what makes our democracy unique and why it works so well.

But this is another opportunity to examine the arsenals of guns in the private sector. Arsenals that cost us huge sums of money in law enforcement and security.

Let's talk about that as well.
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