After Another Demoralizing Loss To A Monstrous Candidate, Democrats Desperately Need A Reboot

By Matt Taibbi
Rolling Stone (5/26/17)

The story of Greg Gianforte, a fiend who just wiped out a Democrat in a congressional race about ten minutes after being charged with assaulting a reporter, is déjà vu all over again.

How low do you have to sink to lose an election in this country? Republicans have been trying to answer that question for years. But they’ve been unable to find out, because Democrats somehow keep failing to beat them.

There is now a sizable list of election results involving Republican candidates who survived seemingly unsurvivable scandals to win higher office.

The lesson in almost all of these instances seems to be that enormous numbers of voters would rather elect an openly corrupt or mentally deranged Republican than vote for a Democrat. But nobody in the Democratic Party seems terribly worried about this.

Gianforte is a loon with a questionable mustache who body-slammed Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs for asking a question about the Republican health care bill. He’s the villain du jour, but far from the worst exemplar of the genre.

New Yorkers might remember a similar congressional race from a few years ago involving a Staten Island nutjob named Michael Grimm. The aptly named Grimm won an election against a heavily funded Democrat despite being under a 20-count federal corruption indictment. Grimm had threatened on camera to throw a TV reporter “off a fucking balcony” and “break [him] in half … like a boy.” He still beat the Democrat by 13 points.

People need a reason to be excited by politics, and not just disgusted with the other side. Until the Democrats figure that out, these improbable losses will keep piling up. 

The standard-bearer for unelectable candidates who were elected anyway will likely always be Donald Trump. Trump was caught admitting to sexual assault on tape and openly insulted almost every conceivable demographic, from Mexicans to menstruating women to POWs to the disabled; he even pulled out a half-baked open-mic-night version of a Chinese accent. And still won.

Gianforte, Trump and Grimm are not exceptions. They’re the rule in modern America, which in recent years has repeatedly demonstrated its willingness to vote for just about anybody not currently under indictment for serial murder, so long as that person is not a Democrat.

The list of winners includes Tennessee congressman Scott Desjarlais, a would-be “family values” advocate. Desjarlais, a self-styled pious abortion opponent, was busted sleeping with his patients and even urging a mistress to get an abortion. He still won his last race in Bible country by 30 points.

The electoral results last November have been repeated enough that most people in politics know them by heart. Republicans now control 68 state legislative chambers, while Democrats only control 31. Republicans flipped three more governors’ seats last year and now control an incredible 33 of those offices. Since 2008, when Barack Obama first took office, Republicans have gained somewhere around 900 to 1,000 seats overall.

There are a lot of reasons for this. But there’s no way to spin some of these numbers in a way that doesn’t speak to the awesome unpopularity of the blue party. A recent series of Gallup polls is the most frightening example.

Unsurprisingly, the disintegrating Trump bears a historically low approval rating. But polls also show that the Democratic Party has lost five percentage points in its own approval rating dating back to November, when it was at 45 percent.

The Democrats are now hovering around 40 percent, just a hair over the Trump-tarnished Republicans, at 39 percent. Similar surveys have shown that despite the near daily barrage of news stories pegging the president as a bumbling incompetent in the employ of a hostile foreign power, Trump, incredibly, would still beat Hillary Clinton in a rematch today, and perhaps even by a larger margin than before.

If you look in the press for explanations for news items like this, you will find a lot of them. Democrats may have some difficulty winning elections, but they’ve become quite adept at explaining their losses.

According to legend, Democrats lose because of media bias, because of racism, because of gerrymandering, because of James Comey and because of Russia (an amazing 59 percent of Democrats still believe Russians hacked vote totals).

Third-party candidates are said to be another implacable obstacle to Democratic success, as is unhelpful dissension within the Democrats’ own ranks. There have even been whispers that last year’s presidential loss was Obama’s fault, because he didn’t campaign hard enough for Clinton.

The early spin on the Gianforte election is that the Democrats never had a chance in Montana because of corporate cash, as outside groups are said to have “drowned” opponent Rob Quist in PAC money. There are corresponding complaints that national Democrats didn’t do enough to back Quist.

A lot of these things are true. America is obviously a deeply racist and paranoid country. Gerrymandering is a serious problem. Unscrupulous, truth-averse right-wing media has indeed spent decades bending the brains of huge pluralities of voters, particularly the elderly. And Republicans have often, but not always, had fundraising advantages in key races.

But the explanations themselves speak to a larger problem. …

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(The Commoner Call photo by Mark L. Taylor, 2017. Open source and free to use with link to )


Lessons Of Montana: There’s No Quick Fix For Trump Or Our Damaged Democracy As The Democrats Flounder

By Andrew O’Hehir
Salon (5/27/17)

We received a message from the future this week, directed to the outraged liberals of the so-called anti-Trump resistance. It was delivered by an unlikely intermediary, Greg Gianforte, the Republican who won a special election on Thursday and will soon take his seat in Congress as Montana’s lone representative. (Here’s a trivia question to distract you from the doom and gloom: Without recourse to Google, how many other states can you name that have only one House seat?)

The Democratic Party has no clear sense of mission and no coherent national message, except that it is not the party of Donald Trump.

If you found yourself ashen-faced and dismayed on Friday morning, because you really believed the Montana election would bring a sign of hope and mark the beginning of a return to sanity in American politics, then the message encoded in Gianforte’s victory is for you. It goes something like this:

Get over Montana already — and stop trolling yourself with that stupid special election in Georgia too. They don’t mean anything, and anyway — that dude Jon Ossoff? He’s about the lamest excuse for a national progressive hero in the entire history of Democratic Party milquetoast triangulation. Oh, and since we’re on the subject: Forget about the “blue wave” of 2018. Forget about the Democratic majority of 2019. Forget about the impeachment of President Donald Trump. Have you even been paying attention? Because none of that stuff is happening and it’s all a massive distraction.

A distraction from what, you ask? Well, that’s a good question without a clear answer, and the message gets pretty fuzzy after that. I would suggest that rebuilding American politics and indeed all of American public discourse, now that they’ve been Trumpified, is not about the next electoral cycle or the one after that. It’s going to take a while, and I’m not sure how much the Democratic Party will have to do with it, or what it will look like. …

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A Montana Professor Explains What Happened In Special Election

By Lee Banville
The Conversation (5/26/17)

Until just about 24 hours before the polls closed, the race for Montana’s sole congressional seat seemed to be focused on health care, Donald Trump and gun rights. Republican businessman Greg Gianforte appeared to be headed for a likely victory in the race against another political newcomer, musician and Democrat Rob Quist.

Then came Wednesday night.

As most people seem to now know, Gianforte lashed out at Ben Jacobs of the Guardian when the reporter pressed him for his stand on the House Republican health care proposal. Jacobs’ phone was recording audio that has since ricocheted around the internet.

Within 24 hours nearly one million people had watched the YouTube video posted of the audio – a total about equal to the entire population of Montana.

The result was a firestorm of media coverage and social media bile. And yet Thursday night Montana elected the millionaire software entrepreneur and the nation was left to ask: Why?

Well, as a former political reporter and someone who wrote an encyclopedia about the media and politics (and, yes, I didn’t know people did that, either), I will try to explain what happened under the Big Sky. …

(Republish The Conversation articles for free, online or in print, under Creative Commons license.)

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We’re Not Asking For Much: Here’s Why We Progressives Can’t Stand The Current National Democratic Party

By Mark L. Taylor
The Commoner Call (5/25/17)

The above quote was taken from the story below regarding the recent contentious California State Democratic Convention. Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez made his frantic plea as he was trying to tamp down a raucous crowd giving voice to the growing discontent of the progressive wing of the party. After a primary season of DNC deceit, duplicity and double-dealing progressives are no longer buying what the corporate democrats are selling.

We’re not asking for much.

We just want the same kind of universal single-payer health care for all that other western industrialized nations manage to provide for their citizens. We want what the children in those nations receive: free public education from pre-K to graduate school. We want public wealth redirected from ugly military adventures and tax breaks for the already grotesquely wealthy. The truth is, there is plenty of money. It’s just in the wrong hands.

We want environmental and workplace protections that ensure a decent quality of life. We want meaningful banking reform and oversight that begins – begins – with a whole gang of criminal Wall Street grifters, thieves and bunko artists prosecuted and contemplating their sociopathic ways in federal penitentiaries.

We want a justice system unlike the rich man’s “Just-Us” system that condemns a poor shoplifter to incarceration while letting crooked corporate executives – and their entitled, pricky little criminal children – left free to prey on new victims. We want the cap on the Social Security income investment lifted – completely. In fact, you bastards, we want the rich taxed until their teeth ache as they return the national wealth and profit the working people of this nation have produced and they have stolen. …

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