Looking for the Wrong Revolution

Delaware progressives didn’t get their revolution. What happens now? That’s the title of a piece that Matthew Albright from the NJ posted up yesterday responding the Thursday’s primaries.

It’s worth reading in its entirety. He has a few good observations here, plenty I disagree with and one big observation missing — that Delaware’s General Assembly will be more progressive next year. It won’t be *perfectly* progressive, and anyone who knows me here will know that I am not concerned about that. What does concern me is that we have more people in Dover who will be interested in and who will try to get work done on some of Delaware’s bigger issues. We’ll have to get behind them in a serious way, so that leadership takes them seriously, but there’s progress here. We need to help make the case that leadership needs to support addressing the big issues because the folks we are sending them to represent us need to be successful. That success is crucial not just to the folks who just won, but to the State Dems in general.

The biggest story in this year’s election cycle is that local issues are winning the day. If you are watching the news, though, we have an entire media apparatus that is waiting for the next “socialist” to break through.

Kerri Evelyn Harris ran a great campaign and got one of the biggest margins I’ve seen against Carper. Still, it *is* a Blue Wave year (history-making turnout here) and it is normal for incumbents of a party to be re-elected when that party is experiencing a wave year. The difference in money between the two was mostly the difference in name recognition. Harris’ campaign started to get some real air after ACO was elected and threw some light here. Which was also when the media was interested in her and this race. People have to know you to vote for you, especially when you could count on one hand the voters who don’t know Carper. Better and earlier funding would have been useful to her for exactly this name recognition.

Here’s where I really want to push back:

But I think the left in Delaware needs to grapple with the possibility that this is about more than structural advantages. Maybe most Delawareans just aren’t buying what they’re selling.

If Delawareans didn’t know who Harris was, they certainly didn’t know much about what was being “sold”, either. I did a quick search in the NJ this morning and couldn’t find any reporting by the NJ about Harris’s platform and what that might mean for Delaware. I couldn’t find that kind of reporting for Carper either, to be fair. Which cycles us back to name recognition. More Democrats knew who Carper was, and what he stood for than knew who Harris was much less what she stood for or what it might mean for them) and voted for who they knew.

So this is me asking the NJ (not just Matthew Albright, because he does not run the paper) to up its coverage of candidates and what they stand for and what that might mean for communities. And not just at the end of the cycle. The whole state could use the additional sunshine. And we could all use the marker for future accountability.

Progressives likely did better than labor did this past Thursday. (I think women did better than everybody.) If you widen that out and look at the competitive field, progressives stepped up in a big way at all levels of government. They didn’t all make it, (and some need to get past the General) but they are a new bench of candidates. Which did not exist this time last year. Progressive organizations found their groove and a place to move forward — Delaware United was a superstar here, canvassing, lit dropping and otherwise volunteering for progressive candidates. They made themselves into a credible force multiplier for progressive campaigns and were the group you wanted to work with this year. Many of the progressives who ran found key support from Network Delaware-trained campaign management, strategists and volunteers. Progressives earned their way into Delaware’s political conversation this year and that is what the beginning of revolution — American political process-style — really looks like.

You don't make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas. -- Shirley Chisolm

8 comments on “Looking for the Wrong Revolution

  1. I’d like to see the state assert public domain over the NJ. Local newspapers should be locally owned and managed.

  2. frank sims

    244,00 did not vote!

    • cassandram

      244,000, if that’s the correct number. So what will you do to help fix that?

  3. Steve Newton

    It’s interesting: mostly the local newspaper doesn’t cover the issues in these races, leaving you to homegrown talk radio, social media, or the campaigns themselves to find out what you need to know. New progressive organizations like Delaware United may or may not be making much of a difference outside the immediate area of the City of Wilmington–I’ll take your word for it.

    But the Delaware Democratic Party strikes me as being pretty much a total mess these days, being held up at this point by the big money that the corporatists can bring in (Carper), the attention that a few truly outstanding candidates can attract (Tizzy Lockman), the best that the “it’s your turn” network can do (McGuiness), and the ineptitude of a state GOP that is dysfunctional enough to make a Trump cabinet member blush (Scott Walker?).

    Is there an actual unified Democratic message besides “we aren’t Trump”?

    Maybe I’m missing it, but I just don’t see it. There’s a progressive wing of the party, no doubt, and even several liberal/progressive legislators, but they don’t hold leadership positions in the GA.

    Our last Democratic governor produced a plan to make revenues more “predictable” by cutting corporate tax rates and balancing the revenues lost there by eliminating middle-class withholding, raising taxes on seniors, and increasing fees for local businesses.

    Every time I’ve seen the issue of expanding Medicaid or bringing the Earned Income Tax credit to bear on State Income Taxes, I can’t find more than a couple Democrats to rub together who support it.

    Other massive Democratic triumphs over the past several years: a tiny raise in the minimum wage, a change in Workers’ Comp Laws to favor the employers, and the failure to support the WEIC recommendations with the money to make something happen (finally!) for Wilmington schools.

    The Coastal Zone Act? Gas tax money for improving infrastructure? Environmental clean-up?

    All of this with complete control of the Executive and impressive majorities in both houses of the General Assembly.

    I admire what you’re personally trying to accomplish, and I know the things I’ve pointed out are not new, and that they are in large measure what you’re fighting against (or for–whichever works there grammatically). But unless you’re going the “tea party” route with respect to the Delaware Democratic Party, I’m not sure exactly what’s moving forward.

    And as for candidates–in my district we have one Democrat running for the House whose platform includes “One of the most common concerns I hear from residents in the district is that they feel their families have no choice but to send their children to private school or move to Pennsylvania to get the education they deserve.” [And this was the candidate who defeated the current RD Chair by a 2-1 margin while only spending 1/10 as much money.]

    Then there’s the one running for Senate whose platform includes this: “I will support efforts to ban assault weapons, limit the maximum magazine size available in Delaware, and require a state permit to purchase and own firearms.” (It’s that last clause you should be paying attention to–I didn’t want to use … )

    It’s difficult to win when you literally join in public education-bashing to the point where DSEA actually takes notice of it, and you give gun rights folks the freebie of actually (really, substantively) wanting to repeal the entire 2nd Amendment within the State of Delaware.

    It’s also difficult to win when candidates running for public office have literally no history of community service or engagement within their own districts.

    • I’m not quite certain what the point of this really is. A recitation of the usual issues (some of which are being chipped away at) just comes across as trying to denigrate the day’s gains. I think that we are aware that you don’t know much about the day to day operation of the Party or even some of the groups who were born to try to get more and better Democrats. There’s no doubt that we aren’t perfect and nor will we be. But there’s also no doubt that we ran serious and credible candidates. And we still are contesting the vast majority of seats on Delaware this cycle. I think that there might be 6 or 7 not contested. ut every Senate seat is contested and 37 of the 41 House seats are contested. There’s plenty of energy and evidence of that energy every day in the party.

      We get that there are issues and some of us are here to address those. But those issues were years in the making and don’t resolve themselves in a year and a half.

  4. Cassandram: This is what I found (see below). I’m not supporting the NJ, by any means. It’s the biggest rag and it does not support local news, very well at all. For local High school sports, they force you to pay for it. It’s a joke….but I guess we’re stuck with it!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: