Saturday, February 27, 2010

The one in which I have a polite disagreement with my friend

Steve Ross makes wonderful arguments at STP today why those of us who supported Jim Kyle should not be wailing and gnashing our teeth at the Senator's departure from the Democratic race for Governor.

He notes the following about Jim Kyle:
For Kyle, the reality is that he simply couldn’t raise enough money fast enough. Sure, he raised a sight more than most, but even back when he visited Drinking Liberally in the summer there were questions about his ability to raise money, or have a big enough stockpile to last through session. That’s just reality.
Yes, that's true, but I agree with Kleinheider here:
I must say, I don’t really see why. He has as good a chance at the nomination now as he did when he got in — maybe more. Nothing has really changed. Everything he cited in his press release he knew long ago.
So, I'm not necessarily buying this. You see, I personally like all of the candidates, they have been gracious and kind and nicer to this crazy blogger than I had any right to expect.

My problem is that the primary is BIG for people like me. HERE, and not in the general, is where we get to have our voices heard, where we can determine which candidate is closer to our liberal line than the others, which one we can truly support before they have to go all mealy-mouthed in the general. (Note to Goopers, Haslam is going to do you like Bredesen did Democrats, now's your chance to do something about it).

Kyle gave us RED MEAT, not inoffensive, aw-shucks patter. He would have been a LEADER, not a manager, as Steve Cohen once said of Phil Bredesen (and was he ever right about that). While I will vote for whomever comes out of the Primary, unless they show me something between now and August, I'm not too damned excited about it.

And, as President Obama could tell you from last year (but, due to his botching of things, will likely never see again), EXCITEMENT MATTERS AND DRIVES TURNOUT.

Now, Ross drills home the point that our problems are Party-wide:

Do we face a lot of challenges going into November? Absolutely. Republican candidates have raised a lot more money than the Democrats. The state is teetering further and further to the right as the Democratic Party becomes more fractured on many levels, one of the biggest of these being the rural/urban divide, which is second only to a lack of a clear and concisely stated Democratic vision and leadership from all quarters within the party establishment.

There’s a lot of suffering out there in the state, and while Tennesseans are a proud, stubborn people, the overriding sentiment is that our government has forgotten about the regular folk out there just trying to make a life in this crazy world of ours. In order to win, we have to demonstrate how we intend to positively impact their lives and instill hope in them that this is not only possible, but our number one priority.

If we can do this, we have a damn good shot at winning in November, but we all have to quit with the pity party, and get to work. Use whatever metric you want to choose your preferred candidate, but remember, at the end of the day, our job is to elect A DEMOCRAT, because as Democrats we believe that ANY Democrat is a sight better than even the most moderate Republican.

Go back and read that part about "a clear and concisely stated Democratic vision and leadership from all quarters within the party establishment." BINGO. These folks are still living off 1992 when it's 2010. They cannot figure out that a clear message defining who we are and what we're about can win, because, in their hearts, I don't think they believe it themselves, and that's the damn problem.

Yet, when those of us in the blogosphere, who have been on the ground for campaigns, suggest something new, they recoil from us and call us a bunch of dirty f-ing hippies. When we can solve THAT problem, I'll feel better about things, and not before.

Rant over.


john said...


I do not know you, so I don't know what campaigns you've worked on in the past. However I do know bloggers and their fans who choose to only work in races that are totally lopsided(either some memphis or nashville race that couldn't be lost, or some pie in sky type race which couldn't be won). I think this is why many of those "party establishment" types distrust bloggers. If there were an understanding that blogosphere types really wanted to elect a democratic majority instead of just cherry picking their favorite candidates regardless of the race's importance, then I think y'alls imput would be more readily accepted

GoldnI said...

I posted about this over at my place. I understand why you're mad about Kyle, but I do think it comes down to money in the end. Kyle got in later than the others and then couldn't raise enough before bumping up against the ban on in-session fundraising. Even if the conventional wisdom is saying that "it's not a Democratic year," a good candidate who can raise enough money can always buck that trend. I don't like that it comes down to $$$ in the end, but it usually does.

Wintermute said...

I tried to leave a comment on this at your new place, but it wanted yet another registration to that software, and I declined.

Jim Kyle never caught fire because he is one of the least charismatic politicians in Tennessee. I've known him for decades but never really gotten to be friends with him, and that is not all my fault.

Politicians are always asking for help, and there are differences in how much help they can get people to give. Ergo, there are differences in what they raise, but that follows from their personality, ideology, and track record. None of these factors boosts Jim enough to run statewide; and it was dignified of him to get out after giving it the old college try.

thememphisliberal said...

Well, we can't just give up!
I mean, we could, I guess, technically, but that seems inferior to not giving up.

autoegocrat said...

John, can you give specific examples of what you're talking about? I've never seen any evidence of what you're saying. In fact, I've seen the exact opposite.

When Steve Cohen was running against Jake Ford, a high-ranking state Democratic Party official told us they wouldn't help because a Ford would win and there was nothing anyone could do about it. Mind you, this was when Steve Cohen was the Democratic Party nominee, and Jake Ford was running as an independent.

And again, regarding the campaign I have the most direct experience with, i.e., the one I ran, it was considered one of those "pie in the sky" liberal causes that could never be won: instant runoff voting. I was even told to my face by several party insiders something along the lines of, "I support you, but you're not going to win." I'm not even going to mention the shenanigans I had to deal with from a certain entrenched local insider, but you can Google "Ballotgate" if you want to learn about that.

We won both of those races with impressive margins. Those are the two most visible examples, but I could give more. Of course, they are all in Memphis, which, according to the same chorus of naysayers who thought we were tilting at windmills in the first place, doesn't count.

john said...


I am afraid that I am one of those people who think that Memphis(or Nashville or any safe district), to some degree "doesn't count", at least on the state level.

Taking your example of Cohen, lets pretend that he was running for the state house against an incumbent moderate Democrat and won. That is good, but if the work spent doing that could have helped turn an R seat D and instead we have Republican majority in the house, then our progressive friend will be in the minority party and have shit all to show for his efforts to pass good bills.

When many of the bloggers were mad and said the party didnt help Pakis Gillon enough, I thought it was stupid because the district was created by Democrats to be Republican and there was not one shred of evidence that she(or any candidate) could win.

If the situation arises again this fall, will the same people choose the windmills, or try to win back a Democratic majority.

Steve Steffens said...


It never seems to count until you need us to provide enough margin for a statewide victory, then y'all forget about Shelby County for four years.

The problem is that there is NO coherent Democratic message, other than "we're not as bad as the Republicans say we are".

As the quote at the top of the page notes, if people only have tp choose between a real Republican and a pseudo-Republican, they'll take the real one every time. Ask Pat Marsh.

We have to turn the wedge issues around on the GOP and ask people point blank how many jobs were lost due to an abortion or by making people get gun permits.

We will never win on culture, so we have to stop it from being a wedge issue.

We also have to STOP running against liberals, because you cannot win without us state-wide, ask Junior how that worked out for him.

john said...


First off, you didn't vote for Ford? Wow, that's terible. If you did then explain how his moderate campaign stances hurt him with voters like you, who voted for him.

As far as the rest, I completely agree that we shouldn't run as Republican lite. Our candidates should be running on a platform of good jobs, good schools, clean drinking water... etc. This, I believe is where some of the divide is, progressives recoil from a pro life democrat who is good on those I listed above and so the moderate Dems get pissed off with the progs. The key is to realize we need to run on economy, and education and environment and if don't agree on abortion or guns it's okay.

I think we both see the solution it's just a matter of accepting that if a candidate shouldn't run on wedge issues then their stance on those issues shouldn't make much difference.

Steve Steffens said...

That's not quite what I said, as being anti-choice IS a problem. However, if that's all we can get for a certain district, that's all we can get.

My problem is that it doesn't seem like we recruit anyone in the rural areas who will carry the Democratic message, such as it is.

Stop trying to please the preachers, because we CAN'T and it is not important, any way.

autoegocrat said...

Okay, I asked for examples and the only one you could come up with was Pakis-Gillon. Additionally, your little thought experiment with Cohen doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, because you're talking about a progressive primarying a moderate, which almost never happens in Tennessee.

Really, I'd just like to know why you have the impression of bloggers that you do, because again, it doesn't reflect the reality I'm familiar with.

john said...


How about all the work people did for Obama in Tennessee, or the current efforts for Steve Turner and Jeff Yarbro in Nashville. Again, I do think the world is/would be better with them in, but with redistricting at stake it is a massive waste of time and resources.
I guess the best way to settle this would be to think about what candidates you and your friends volunteered/worked for and how that list relates to races that were heavily contested.


I agree with you about recruiting candidates and getting them to run on solid Democratic issues(jobs, education, so on) and not on wedge issues, the problem is that there isn't yet a successful messaging framework to move our issues in the rural areas(coupled with the dominance of Fletcher Rowley shitty negative campaigning). Could you respond to my question about HaFo?

callmeishmael said...

As Mr. Spock might say, "fascinating." I mean the comments are wonderfully engaging and rhetorically balanced. As a Recovering Democrat, I would offer a bit of an outsiders/insiders perspective. Democrats tend to win Southern elections when the overall national climate supercedes the evangelical Protestant culture that's been with us since at least the early 1800s. It also helps your cause when the candidate is someone who genuinely speaks the language of evangelical Protestantism, a la Jimmy Carter, Brother Bill (God bless him)and President Obama. Al Gore, conversely, knew the evangelical words, but, as Mark Twain once said in response to his wife's cursing at him, he didn't have the rythym.
In the sense of "knowing the rythym," when larger issues seem either too overwhelming (today's enviornment)or not overly worrisome (1988, 1994, 2000), issues of "culture" become more prominent. Abortion and gun ownership tend to be the most publicized, but others such as--for Democrats anyway--military service, gay rights and education policy are on the same level. They are also, in my view, not easily resolved and people who think differently than how left wingers believe they "should," do not take kindly to being told, in essence, that anyone who doesn't reach, for example, the "pro choice" position is either misogynistic, foolish or just waiting to be corrected. I do not mean to imply that either the Cracker believes in that sort of ideological authoritarianism or that I am rigidly pro-life. I do not think, however, that Democrats can pretend that a large segment of Southerners can be avoided through the banner of secular self-righteousness. These evangelical conservatives people have shown repeatedly that "attention must be paid" (as Arthur Miller put it) to all of their concerns, not just those deemed by someone else to be "in their best interests."
I think, in that sense, the currently tenuous enviornment will make it much more difficult for Democrats to win statewide elections in the South. You will hold your safe House seats and probably those un-term limited Gubernatorial and Senate seats you already have. As far as winning a occupied GOP Governor's Chair or Senate seat, I doubt it.

Jim Maynard said...

The TNDP is a joke and like many "progressives" I could care less if the TN Dinos (Dem.s in Name Only) win any race since they are either as bad or worse than the Republicans they run against...

Jim Maynard
Memphis Socialist Party