Watch the F-Word: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIF5HBuZ49Y
Excited by the last elections? Relieved to see Democrats clean up? A year after the election of Donald Trump and the Republican sweep, progressives won from Maine to Minnesota. Election night was a cheery occasion for people on the progressive flank of the ever-fractious Democratic Party. Cheery - except for one terrifying moment.
Just before Virginia’s governor-elect Ralph Northam took the stage, a man took the microphone who is uniquely qualified to seize from the jaws of victory yet more defeat for Democrats. Terry McAuliffe: the former Democratic Governor and party consigliere, has spent his career shoving the Democratic Party to the Right, creating exactly the party profile that’s turned off at least a generation of voters. At the Democratic Leadership Council, he never saw a lobbyist whose dollars were too blood soaked to accept: Chevron Enron, Philip Morris, Monsanto, McAuliffe found them all a place. When Donna Brazile’s wrote that the Democratic National Committee was run as a slush fund for the most powerful politicians, she was hardly breaking news. The DNC’s run that way for decades, and McAuliffe’s been a central part of that.
Whose party is it? Wall Street’s or your street’s? That was the central question of my 2006 book Blue Grit and it’s as relevant today. Who and what won in 2017? You can credit moderate GOP light candidates like establishment fave Northrup, and believe their win trickled support to candidates lower down the ticket. Or you can look at the base and see enthusiasm and energy spill up. But here’s a hint: As even Brazile admits, the DNC’s not a bottom-up operation. Every year, the party depends on activists from social movements to do what it doesn’t. This year, even after 18 months of being bad-mouthed by Clinton crusaders, Bernie Sanders supporters and the groups they tend to be part of, raised money, knocked doors, made calls and did the work local party outfits would do - if they had the funds or encouragement.
The progressive flank helped elect not just Democrats but outspoken progressives - candidates who defied the McAuliffe/Clinton wisdom - and didn’t t shy away from humane positions on radical things like war, taxes, and monopoly capitalism’s sickness.
Frankly, Democrats should have cleaned up this season. For a year, the President’s disapproval ratings have stayed well over 60%. The off-season victories could signal more success in the midterms and 2020. But not if McAuliffe and his ilk are allowed to interpret the results. Luckily, on election night, the reporter I was watching was young and real enough not to listen to McAuliffe’s speech about Northrup as a moderate model. He was more interested in the exciting down-ticket victories.