California Democratic Party Content to Lose in November
by Bob Brigham, Sat Jul 17, 2010 at 07:40:10 PM EDT
UPDATE: The fix was in, the vote wasn't even close. Sad day for California Democrats who value winning.
California is beyond crisis. Yet unfortunately, there has not been an appropriate effort by the California Democratic Party establishment to respond. The complete and total failure to respond to the budget crisis was malpractice, but now it seems the CDP doesn't even want to bother trying to win in November. The issue in question is California's Proposition 19, to tax and regulate marijuana, which has become the latest test of whether the CDP wants to win elections. A vote today by the state party Resolutions Committee showed the fix to be in against incorporating all of the new energy around Prop 19 into Democrats' GOTV program. When it came down to trying to win, or trying to be "very serious people" who are content to lose, they decided they value propping up Mexican drug cartels more than they value electing Jerry Brown.
As was mentioned during the debate by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, an unprecidented 21,038 California activists signed their name to a Courage Campaign petition reading:
We, the undersigned, urge the California Democratic Party Executive Board to reform our prisons, help fix the budget mess, and make our communities safer by endorsing Proposition 19.
We reject the arguments of Senator Dianne Feinstein and others who oppose Prop 19. Prop 19 will provide for more effective regulation of cannabis, including prohibitions on its sale to people under age 21. It will help reduce drug crime by legalizing the growth, sale, and possession of small, reasonable amounts of cannabis. And it allows local governments to generate badly needed revenue by taxing cannabis.
We urge the Executive Board to follow the lead of the majority of California Democrats who support Prop 19 by endorsing it at this weekend's meeting in San Jose. It is time to bring sensible, rational reform of cannabis laws to California.
Michael Whitney thoroughly debunked the arguments in opposition:
Let’s look at the first excuse. Democratic Prop 19 opponents say that they fear the initiative isn’t worded correctly, and that could present vulnerabilities in how the law is implemented. They say they prefer other methods of legalizing marijuana, either through a better-worded initiative in the next election cycle, or through a bill introduced in the state legislature. But this argument doesn’t hold water: if you actually support marijuana legalization, let voters in the state decide this November. If the initiative has problems with implementation, the legislature can easily fix it with legislation. If you really support legalization, support this legalization now in order to shift the conversation from prohibition to legalization.
The second excuse has its foundation in typical chickenshittery of the Democratic Party: by running away from the base and towards the mushy middle in fear of “political independents,” the party sacrifices its core beliefs for voters who might only marginally support the party’s platform. Instead, if the party votes to endorse legalization, you can flip that dynamic on its head. The CDP’s support for Prop 19 could lead to a new era of the Obama model of turning out new voters. By turning out new, young voters excited about marijuana legalization, you will inevitably drive more votes to Democratic candidates across the state.
Indeed, marijuana legalization may be the only hope for Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer.
The choice should be clear for the California Democratic Party. If the party votes to endorse Prop 19 and marijuana legalization, the state and the party can only gain from its benefits. If the party votes against endorsing Prop 19, it is embracing the same failed strategy of abandoning the base for the “political center,” and will have only itself to blame if its candidates lose in November. (emphasis in original)
As the Proposition 19 had qualified for the ballot before the full CDP Convention, it should have been endorsed back then. Instead of having the new energy around Proposition 19 as part of the Democratic coalition for the last few months, Prop 19 leaders decided not to rock the vote and trust that the CDP Executive Board would vote in the best interests of Democrats.
In fact, as recently as Tuesday, Robert Cruickshank wrote, "I'm confident the CDP E-Board will make the right decision this weekend - especially if we can get a lot of signatures in support." He excelled at getting signatures, 21,000 is a huge number even in California. But he made the mistake of assuming the California Democratic Party is a legitimate vehicle for electing Democrats.
That the fix is in against Prop 19 once again brings that into question. Tomorrow, the Executive Board is expected to rubber-stamp the move by the Resolutions Committee for the CDP to come out against supporting Proposition 19. While miracles are possible, the fix appears to be in. Which will be a sad day for California Democrats.