13 December 2017

Lessons from Alabama

On Tuesday, Alabama chose the man who avenged girls who had been murdered, over the man who (allegedly) molested girls. Let this be a reminder to the fatalists and defeatists that good can prevail when people are willing to work and fight for it.

And don't forget last month's elections in Virginia -- or Allison Ikley-Freeman, the avowed socialist and lesbian Democrat who won her race in an Oklahoma district that Trump carried by a two-to-one margin last year.

Meanwhile, the enemy is more divided than ever in the wake of the Alabama upset.  Establishment Republicans are really piling on Bannon now, while Breitbart's knuckle-dragging legions are doubling down on denouncing the establishment as traitors and promising to sweep away all the "RINOs" next November. With any luck they'll drown each other in their own bile.

The potential for a wave of victories next November is enormous, the potential consequences even more so.  With Jones's win having trimmed the Republicans' Senate majority to a bare 51-49, our chances of regaining control look better than ever.  The entire House will be up for election, with Republican members either weighed down by an unpopular President or facing a civil war among their voters in the aftermath of a Trump impeachment.

Control of the Senate would give us the power to block appointments, a power which must be used ruthlessly in the case of Supreme Court nominations.  By their stonewalling of Merrick Garland, Senate Republicans forfeited any right to be treated fairly or honorably.  If they could hold a seat vacant for ten months, we can hold one vacant for two years if need be, until a Democrat regains the White House.

State elections, too, will be important.  The state governments elected in 2018 will control Congressional redistricting after the 2020 census.  The more of these governments we win control of, the more we can finally get out from under the millstone of gerrymandering with which Republicans have so effectively weighted the system in their favor.

There are three lessons here.

First, let's be clear about what won Alabama for us.  The decisive factor was a massive turnout of black voters.  Set against the low turnout among divided and demoralized Republicans, this surge of black support (combined with the educated white urban vote, what Alabama has of that), carried Jones to victory.  And Jones got those votes by, very deliberately, working for them.  He made a systematic appeal to the black people of Alabama and gave them reasons to go out and vote for him.  It was just the opposite of what the Democratic party is sometimes accused of doing -- taking black voters for granted.  The party must continue to do this -- remember that one out of every eight Americans is black, and the proportion in most Southern states is even higher (Alabama is 27% black).  And the party must do more.  It must actually deliver on those voters' specific concerns, such as police violence and vote suppression.  A race-neutral message of economic justice such as Bernie Sanders offers does have its place, but the party must also work for the specific needs of its largest, most loyal, and most vital constituency.

Second, it's worth contesting races even in places which we're accustomed to considering hopeless.  It's not so long ago that some Democratic leaders wanted to write off Jones as a lost cause, because Alabama is so red.  The rise of Trump and the insurrection of Bannonite radicalism within the Republican party create tremendous opportunities for us because our opponents are so divided.  With a determined effort to boost our base turnout, and with Republicans so factionalized and, likely, demoralized in some cases by tainted or crackpot Bannon-supported candidates, we may find opportunities opening up across the South, Texas, Arizona, and other places normally considered long-shots or hopeless.

Third, just as divisions weaken the Republicans, unity strengthens us.  The reason the Republicans have failed to get initiatives like ACA repeal through Congress, despite their majorities, is that they are so factionalized in the House and keep suffering defections in the Senate.  But that wouldn't stop them if we couldn't count on our people sticking together.  Every Democrat in the Senate has been an unshakable "no" vote on ACA repeal, tax "reform", and whatever other nastiness the enemy comes up with.  Even conservative Democrats have been reliable.

As voters we need to show the same unity.  Remember, if you and others like you refuse to vote for a Democrat you don't think is good enough, and thus let a Republican win, the fact that you can stand around oozing virtue and ideological purity doesn't mean shit to the vulnerable person who loses his health insurance, food stamps, or whatever as a result of Republicans holding power.  If some people are irredeemably resistant to the unity message, write them off and focus on people who can be reached.  It's more important to get an extra 200 black voters to the polls than to win over 100 bloggers who insist on rehashing grudges from the 2016 primaries or demanding a laundry list of impossibilities (and who probably can't be won over, anyway).  Politics is about getting things done.

Finally, sexual harassment and the mass uprising of women against coddling of harassers is emerging as an issue whose time has come.  Democrats can win on that issue, simply by doing the right thing.

Last year's stolen election did not primarily rob Hillary; it robbed the country of what Hillary's Presidency could have been, and gave the party of kleptocrats, bigots, and lunatics full control.  Let us make the best of a bad situation, and give them a thrashing in November that they'll never forget.


Anonymous Marc McKenzie said...

Infidel, you are ON FIRE here. Excellent essay--and honestly, last night's win by Jones was much-needed and also bodes well for next year.

13 December, 2017 16:25  
Blogger W. Hackwhacker said...

Preach! I believe (knocking on wood) that 2018 will be a Democratic wave election, and that women will be powering that wave. They've proven in Alabama and elsewhere that their moral and political fortitude is stronger than (us) men. Proud to be a Democrat.

14 December, 2017 09:40  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Marc: Thanks! That means a lot coming from you.

Hackwhacker: Certainly looks that way, and having women energized will be a tremendous driving force. But remember a lot of men vote Democratic too.

16 December, 2017 09:21  

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