An Observation on the State of the Democratic Party

Isaac Chotiner has a podcast at Slate called “I Have to Ask,” and this week he interviewed Michelle Goldberg, now a New York Times columnist.  They cover lots of topics, including Omarosa and the Russia investigation.  But this bit caught my eye:

“Whenever I’m in New York, I can work myself into this state of really bleak despair, and then I go out and travel and meet … it’s not even necessarily Democratic Party activists as much as Indivisible activists or Democratic Socialists of America chapters or these sort of grass-roots groups that have sprung up since the election and are just doing so much work. And it always makes me feel so much more hopeful about the future.

You hear the same story over and over again of these kind of middle-aged women who, they voted, but they didn’t necessarily pay super close attention to primaries, maybe they had to look up what congressional district they were in, and who woke up the day after the election and were so shattered and looked around for somewhere they could go and found either an offshoot of Pantsuit Nation or a local Indivisible meeting.

And you meet these women, and they go to meetings now four or five nights a week. They have all new friends. They are just astonishing organizers, and they’re kind of using this intense local knowledge that they have. You can’t replicate that when it comes to canvassing, somebody who just knows everyone on the block. So you see that being deployed everywhere, and that I think is why you’re seeing these numbers in some of the special elections, these swings that are even bigger than the swings you see on the generic ballot.”

I can tell you that I saw the same thing all over Virginia’s First Congressional District during the primary campaign this spring, and these folks don’t seem to be tiring.  So I’m more optimistic than some of my fellow Progressives that we’re really about to see a Blue Wave in November.

Go listen to the podcast or read the transcript.  Lots of good stuff.

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Rob Wittman Pushes for Rural Broadband Internet Access – Except When He Doesn’t

Rob Wittman never had much to say about broadband internet access in the Congressional District he represents until the issue came up in the Democratic Primary this spring.  Much of the district is rural and without connection to the web services that stimulate economic development, support businesses and allow remote access to medical care.  They are without this connection because private markets do not provide what amounts to a public utility in remote areas, and no amount of deregulation will make them want to.  The return on investment simply isn’t there.

Back in the day, much of Tennessee had a similar problem with electricity.  The Federal Government, not private enterprise, solved the problem through the Tennessee Valley Authority, a New Deal Democrat effort to modernize rural areas of the state.  Could we learn something from this very successful effort? Continue reading

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What to Watch For: Corey Stewart and Virginia Republicans

Photo from Monthly Review Online

Last week, Corey Stewart won the Republican nomination to run against Senator Tim Kaine for US Senate this November.  This means that the de facto leader of the Virginia Republican Party is a white supremacist from Minnesota. We know he’s a white supremacist because he thinks monuments to men who committed treason against the United States in defense of slavery belong in the public square.  The guy made his bones harassing people of color and trying to cleanse Prince William County of immigrants.

Corey Stewart likes to pal around with people like Paul Nehlen and Jason Kessler.  Nehlen is an anti-Semite who jokes on Twitter about killing political opponents.  Kessler organized the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville last August.  A rally attendee and Kessler supporter killed Heather Heyerwith his car.  Two Virginia State Troopers, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, 48, of Midlothian, Virginia, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M. M. Bates, 40, of Quinton, Virginia, died when their observation helicopter crashed on their way to assist authorities on the ground.  Kessler plans a sequel, by the way.  Wonder if Stewart will attend. Continue reading

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Guns, the Second Amendment, and Politics in Virginia

It appears that guns and gun control could become a hot issue in next year’s state level elections here in Virginia.  Attorney General Mark Herring started the hue and cry when he ended concealed carry permit reciprocity with 25 states on the grounds that they don’t meet Virginia standards.  Gun rights activists objected one the grounds that it would hurt tourism and that no one can point out a case where someone from a state with lower standards had committed a crime in Virginia.  One blogger called it “slavery.”  They complained that Herring just wanted to go around the General Assembly to achieve a liberal result using an executive action.

This of course ignores the plain fact that Herring did nothing unilaterally. Virginia code – in a section passed by a Republican-controlled General Assembly – requires periodic State Police audits of concealed carry laws in other states. It then mandates an end to reciprocity with those states whose laws don’t include prohibitions Virginia’s law bans, or don’t have a system for rapid verification that an applicant should not be kept from carrying a concealed weapon.  Whether or not he liked the result, Herring had to take this action once the State Police reported that the laws in those 25 states don’t pass muster. Continue reading

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Gillespie challenges Warner

Washington lobbyist and Republican political operative Ed Gillespie made Virginia political news last week with this video announcement that he plans to challenge Mark Warner for Senate this year. This decision apparently pleases Virginia GOP political activists: state Republican Party Chairman Pat Mullins, for example, called Gillespie a “good candidate” in this Bearing Drift op-ed (intended more to frame Jeff Shapiro as a Warner supporter than to call for a Gillespie run).

Some think Governor McAuliffe’s success offers reasons for optimism despite Warner’s popularity (57% total approval rating according to this poll).  Bearing Drift columnists Norm Leahy and Paul Goldman argue in a Washington Post editorial that Gillespie’s lobbying background won’t hurt him given the way McAuliffe overcame his own political fundraiser history.  And Shaun Kenney, also at Bearing Drift, makes a case that Warner should fear Gillespie’s candidacy, mostly because he believes the challenger will be able to mobilize conservatives in the state while painting Warner as responsible for the Affordable Care Act. Continue reading

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