Signs Of Democratic Party Aristocracy

In the spirit of Joe Klein's piece where he defines left-wing extremism, I would like to write about another political type who actually has a significant amount of power in this country: the Democratic Party Aristocrat. Such a person exhibits many, but not necessarily all, of the following characteristics:
  • Views primaries against incumbents as "purges," especially when they come from the left. All Democratic Party officeholders should receive their party's nomination by right of possession.
  • Thinks the war in Iraq was managed badly, but ultimately wasn't a bad idea.
  • After reading one too many Mark Penn polls, makes up imaginary friends like the Baileys as the gold standard for the average American voter.
  • Constantly argues that we should end the circular firing squad and focus our efforts at Republicans, while simultaneously triangulating against left-wing strawmen.
  • Believes in concepts like the "radical middle," or that American is fundamentally a moderate country, even though most people who consider themselves moderates are actually just low information voters and non-ideological.
  • Considers Fox News to be a conservative, but still legitimate, news outlet. Will gladly go on Fox News to reach out to new voters.
  • Believes cutting the defense budget is political suicide, and should not even be discussed lest Democrats look weak.
  • Finds GLBT issues to unbelievably radioactive, and tries to steer the most cautious course possible in this area.
  • In terms of cults of personality, hates Howard Dean and joined the efforts to derail his presidential campaign / try and push him out of the DNC; loves Joe Lieberman and decried the efforts to try and knock him off; is interested in Michael Bloomberg's potential presidential run and subscribes to his newsletter.
  • Thinks that the blogosphere, You Tube, MoveOn and other netroots developments are fundamentally negative for the Democratic Party. Such institutions are filled with a new generation of dirty fucking hippies who will lead the Democratic Party over the cliff of unelectablility due to our ignorance, foul mouths and unwavering adherence to a far-left ideology.
  • Thinks that dissenting from the great, all-powerful left makes you a rebellious, cool "outsider."
  • Considers the conservative rise in elected power from 1978-2006 to be a natural result of the country turning to the right and which can be countered by turning to the right ourselves. Does not believe that the massive conservative political machinery constructed over the past few decades played a major role, or that progressive political machinery must be constructed to counter it.
  • Thinks that all options must remain on the table against Iran, including the use of nuclear weapons, because threatening a pre-emptive nuclear strike against a relatively powerless country you are not at war with makes you look tough on national security issues rather than absolutely insane.
  • Argued for censuring Bill Clinton as a political necessity despite his 60%+ approval rating, and against censuring George Bush, Jr. as a political necessity, despite his 35% approval rating.
  • Considers those who oppose completely unregulated trade to simply be rubes, even if they are also part of the "radical middle" that must be courted at all costs.
  • Speaking to the Democratic rank and file, rather than to swing voters, is fundamentally a waste of resources.
  • Running a fifty state strategy and spending money on field or internet instead of only and ever focusing on TV ads in swing districts is a waste of resources.
  • Even though he lost an open seat in an overwhelmingly Democratic year, believes that Harold Ford Jr. is the model for the future of the Democratic Party.
  • Won't read this post, or catch The Simpson's reference in the Michael Bloomberg joke above.
Anyway, those are a few of the many characteristics that are often found within the aristocratic wing of the Democratic Party. I am sure there are more. Fundamentally, these are people who believe that they saved the Democratic Party from itself in the 1990's and early part of this decade, even though outside of presidential elections it was the worst electoral run for Democrats in seventy years. Still, as saviors of the party, that anyone would dare challenge their supremacy is, in and of itself, offensive and destructive. The dirty fucking hippies need to all shut up, serve as useful strawmen in triangulation formulas, and do as they are told. The last thing we need is a repeat of 1972, which will undoubtedly happen if they are not in charge of the Democratic Party anymore.

Philly Mayor: Knox Pulls Ahead (Updated)

Survey USA has the latest poll on the Democratic primary for Philadelphia mayor (3/9-3/12, 442 LVs, MoE 4.8, previous numbers in parenthesis):

Knox: 25 (22)
Fattah: 22 (32)
Brady: 17 (18)
Evans: 13 (10)
Nutter: 11 (8)
Other: 5 (5)
Undecided: 8 (4)

Tom Knox is almost certainly going to win this campaign (in Philadelphia, despite the 1999 fluke when it was close, the Democratic primary is the same thing as the general election). The money he is spending on television and a large ground game play an important role, but it is just as important that he is not an elected official from the city of Philadelphia at this time. People hate the administration in City Hall right now. Brady is stagnant and trailing in third place even though he has been an elected congressman from nearly half of the city for eight years, recently had 85% of the ward leaders give him their public endorsement, and is running several hundred thousand dollars worth of television every week (my ward was one of the few places where he did not receive the endorsement). Brady pulls virtually none of the black vote, literally no Asian vote, and trails Knox among white voters. This is important, because in Philadelphia race is by far the clearest determining factor in how someone votes in a primary. It is not really a surprise, since Brady campaign is being run largely by the same Fumo machine whose leader was recently indicted, and which is well known to generally oppose African-American leadership of the city.

Between now and Election Day, I do not expect any non-Knox candidate to show any substantial upward movement in this campaign. Just five months ago, Knox was at about 0% or 1% in the polls, and he just keeps rising. There just isn't any message any currently or previously elected official can use in Philadelphia to improve their standing at this point. Whatever flaws Knox may have, the reformer candidates for city council (virtually every incumbent has a challenger from the reform movement) would be smart to get on his slate, and even possibly endorse Knox, for mayor. I know that won't sit well with my friends at Young Philly Politics, given Knox's past connections to pay day lending, but he is going to win. Further, the machine hates Knox in a way they just do not hate or fear any other candidate (loathing toward Knox was quite palpable at the Philadelphia caucus at the last state committee meeting), which is a big plus for Knox in my book. I know that this is at least partially because urban machines still view themselves as defenders of the working class against powerful moneyed interests, but it is also because he poses a much more significant threat to the machine status quo than anyone else around. The machine does not defend anyone against powerful moneyed interests anymore. Hell, it can't even defend itself against Knox, and for all of its supposed on the ground prowess, Brady might not even be on the ballot.

As is also the case with quite a few of my progressive friends, I like Michael Nutter quite a bit, and I like Chaka Fattah too (I don't really know anything about Dwight Evans, and I have made my opinion of Bob Brady clear). However, in the short term, only Tom Knox can bring the Philadelphia machine down. So far, the reform movement has consistently run up against a very slight electoral deficit (see Seth Williams and Anne Dicker--Tony Payton Jr. won because of unusual circumstances in his district). If the reform movement wants to get over the hump and make its way into local government, right now I think Knox is the path. At least a temporary alliance can change this city for the better for a long time to come. The primary is quite close now--only nine weeks away. Quite frankly, our chances to win in Philadelphia might be now or never.

Update: I just received some information that causes me to retract much of what I said in this post. Specifically, Knox is endorsing at least one of the worst incumbents on city council. So, forget all of that. I am looking for a mayoral candidate with the guts to endorse, and help out, city council reform challengers. When I find a mayoral candidate who does that, then I have found the mayoral candidate I will support, whether it is Nutter, Fattah, Evans, Brady or Knox. Anyone who is willing to do that is someone I am willing to get behind. Right now, I only have enough patience, energy and time to work on campaigns that are larger than trying to get a single person elected.

Media, Republicans Finally Waking Up To Giuliani As Frontrunner

Pollster.com has a great piece showing media myopia on the horserace for Republicans. The media establishment has long labeled McCain as the Republican frontrunner, even though the facts have consistently shown otherwise:
Since November 2004, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has consistently lead Arizona Senator John McCain for the Republican presidential nomination. Giuliani has lead in 46 of 57 national polls since then, with 5 more polls tied. McCain has lead in only 10.5% of all polls. In the last two months, the size of that lead has increased substantially.

Despite this consistent polling result, newspaper stories have overwhelmingly referred to McCain as the "front runner", while seldom saying the same about Giuliani. Sine May 1, 2005, 555 articles in Lexis/Nexus's database of US News have mentioned "front runner" and McCain, Giuliani or both in the same sentence. In 65% of these article, McCain is connected to front runner, while Giuliani's name has not appeared. Only 10% of articles mentioned Giuliani but not McCain, while 25% of articles mentioned both.
And that's not all. Here are the facts of the Republican horserace:
  • As already noted, Giuliani has consistently led in national polls, and his lead has increased substantially of late.
  • Giuliani has also consistently led the Republican field in polls of Iowa, holding increasingly larger leads in the last five polls from the state.
  • Giuliani has pulled ahead in New Hampshire, after McCain led the state by nearly thirty points as recently as ten months ago.
  • Giuliani crushes McCain in terms of insider support, as does Romney. McCain's favorables among Republican insiders is actually a paltry 56-38.
  • Giuliani is far ahead of McCain in terms of favorability ratings among the Republican rank and file, according to Gallup.
  • Giuliani crushes McCain among the Republican netroots, for whatever that is worth (struggling to find a good link to an online straw poll for Republicans).
  • The long-term trends for McCain in primary states he won in 2000 are horrendous.
  • After consistently holding large leads for nearly two years, McCain has fallen behind Edwards, Clinton and Obama in terms of head to head national poll trends. By way of contrast, Giuliani still leads all Democrats. (source).
Now, you may ask, why do I care that the media has been reporting McCain as the frontrunner when Giuliani is actually ahead? Who gives a rat's butt if the National Journal still mystifyingly has McCain at the top of their 2008 Republican rankings? I care for two reasons. First, as an election analyst, I despise inaccuracy in the horserace narrative within the media. Second, as a progressive political activist, it has not been hard to miss that the media establishment has raised McCain onto a cult of bi-partisanship pedestal, much like they did for Joe Lieberman. That John McCain is the most popular Sunday talk show guest shows just how much the punditry elite loves the guy. Conservative faux mavericks like Lieberman and McCain are the ideal politicians for many uber-rich donors and members of the punditry elite, even tough neither politician has no actual base of support among anyone except for the most low information voters. This is going to sound out of character for me, but the truth is that I just hate these politicians, hate these pundits, hate their coded language, hate their faux rebellion, hate their entire political machinery, and want to see their golden boys exposed for the frauds that they actually are.

And now, for McCain, it has finally happened. While there was a tremendous media will to deny the obvious fact that he is not the Republican frontrunner, and to deny that his campaign is not actually seriously crashing, people are finally waking up to it. The time to take down Rudy Giuliani instead is finally among us, but before that was done is was necessary to crush McCain first. The way the media elite loved this guy and set him up as a populist champion even though he was anything but, made him far more dangerous to a actual people-powered movement than any other candidate. But that is all over now--McCain has been exposed. This guy is not going to win the Republican nomination, and when he retires in a few years we won't have to put up with him anymore.

John McCain is a faux independent who panders to conservatives to increase his political standing, and never really stands against Republicans and conservatives when it counts. However, because he talks a good game along these lines, he has been held up as a DLC-nexus Golden Boy, as the last vestige of a now long gone era. The time for politicians like McCain was in the 1990's and earlier, back when low information voters ruled and back before the people-powered movement. That time is over now. It has been a pleasure to help take McCain down a couple of pegs, and I am glad that someone else is going to be the Republican nominee. Whether that person is Giuliani, Romney, or Fred Thompson, we have a lot of work to do altering the public image of each of those candidates now. When it comes to defeating McCain, as far as I am concerned it is time to declare victory and move on.

Update: Republicans feel pretty much the same way.

Second Report From The Pennsylvania State Democratic Committee

I had a great experience at the Pennsylvania State Democratic Committee meeting this past Saturday, which was a dramatic turnaround from my previous experiences. In the extended entry, you will find my promised write-up of the events that transpired. Check it out--I really think it is worth the read. Local activism really can make a big difference, as well as make you feel pretty damn good. This meeting was better than previous meetings in four key ways:

There's more...

Campaign Finance Victory In Philadelphia

Two weeks ago, I told you how the Philadelphia City Council introduced a bill to repeal campaign donation limits in municipal elections. As if eliminating campaign finance reform wasn't bad enough, the particularly egregious part about this action was that it was a major setback for a city still heavily struggling with pay to play government (another major local politician was recently indicted, for example), and that it was introduced within hours of a poll showing self-financed, "outsider," candidate Tom Know pulling into a close second in the upcoming election for Mayor. It was, in short, a naked power play that strongly suggested our elected officials here have no principles except staying in power and closing ranks around "their own."

Today, I am pleased to report that the concerted efforts of activists in the city have managed to get the machine to reverse course, and withdraw attempts to rescind Philadelphia's new campaign finance laws. Young Philly Politics writes:
Last night, Jim Kenney did what we wanted him to do all along: He pulled his two bills that would effectively eliminate the donation limits for the Mayoral race. I will get to Kenney in a second, but, let's just talk about this for a second:

When the first bill was announced, it already had enough SPONSORS to give it a majority of votes to fly through the Council chamber, and on to Mayor Street (who said he would sign it.) So, you know, people could have argued that we were tilting at windmills and all that.

But, then something happened. People were outraged. Groups and associations were outraged. Through emails, phone calls, posts on blogs, statements from candidates, statements from groups like Philly Forward, Kenney being a part of this community, and an election for City Council being 90 days away, the bill will not even be heard.

That, my friends, is a big deal.

Does anyone think that if this law came up in February of 1999 or 2003 that it would have been pulled? A lot of things are changing in the City these days. I am not so egotistical as to claim that this blog is about to magically change Philly. But the ability of concerned citizens, all over Philly, to connect using technology is starting to have real, measured effects in the City. That ability, and a real sense that people in Philly are ready for a Government that they believe in, gives me hope.
This is a surprising and remarkable victory. It isn't the only positive development out of Philadelphia this week, either.. On Saturday, there was another state committee meeting in Harrisburg. It was entirely unlike the previous meetings I had attended, which you can read about here. I'll have more on that later on today.

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