We Need to Heal the Breach within the Dem. Party & Fast

Festering mistrust and resentment between DPNM newcomers and long-time Dems is perfectly understandable. But unless we want Pearce as Governor,  and another four years of Trump, we need to heal this breach and quickly. There is a path.

in 1968 the progressive wing of the Democratic Party had a good deal of momentum until Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. Mainstream Democrats resented the young, very liberal new blood in the Party and the 1968 Convention was a disaster. Resentment among young progressive Democrats and the continued war in Viet Nam fueled a progressive takeover of the Party in 1972, Labor abandoned the Party and the result was Nixon. THAT CANNOT HAPPEN AGAIN.

Here in NM in many counties, newcomers swept local Ward, county and state central committee elections  and there is considerable resentment among long-time Party activists who feel shunted aside by the new blood. This is entirely understandable, but we absolutely must find ways to heal the breach and form alliances or we will replicate 1972. We can’t afford to do that again.

Retake took a shot at trying to heal the breach in a Santa Fe Town Hall held last month with a panel that included Richard Ellenberg, DPNM Chair, Jon Hendry, Labor Council lead, and me (Paul) representing the new blood. Before we began the panel discussion, we brainstormed a number of key issues or policies and came up with a list that included:

  • Universal healthcare
  • $15 minimum wage
  • 80% renewables by 2035
  • expanded early childhood education
  • elimination of tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy from Richardson forward
  • pay day lending rate limit of 36%
  • getting money out of politics
  • opposition to Right to Work

There were more, but you get the idea. We then went through each policy and by a show of hands asked who supported each policy and it was very nearly unanimous on every single policy. I am guessing that most all of those reading this post support virtually all of these policies. What divides us is the 2016 primary and general election. But we are at a moment, not just in NM history, but in human history where we simply can’t afford to allow bitterness over the past to prevent achieving our shared goals in the future. Without mainstream Democratic activism, progressives will not win in 2018 or 2020. Without the new blood that has entered the Democratic Party, not just in NM but throughout the country, we will not win. Together, great things are possible.  

There is mounting evidence that together we can elect a Democrat as governor of NM, perhaps even elect a Democrat in District 2, and retake the House of Reps in Washington. Consider:

  • Colorado Springs, a Tea Party town until this spring when an alliance of moderates and progressives swept the City Council–again, that is moderates and progressives working together;
  • Jackson MS, where a very progressive candidate won 93% of the vote and is now Mayor;
  • A bit closer, but same results in Birmingham, AL with a very progressive Democrat winning for Mayor;
  • The special Senate election in Alabama is very tight, less than 8% difference in a state won by Trump by over 24%;
  • Dozens of Working Family Party and Our Revolution candidates are winning in state and local elections across the country and WFP has trained 500 candidates to run in 2018;
  • Tim Keller fought off dark money fueled misleading ads, ran a publicly funded campaign on a strongly progressive platform and is poised to become Albuquerque Mayor;
  • The 2018 Senate race in Texas with an unabashedly progressive candidate now tied with Ted Cruz who won his 2012 general election by over 16%.  Here we are talking about a very progressive Democratic candidate who is publicly proclaiming his support for $15 minimum wage, free college and single payer health care….IN TEXAS and he is tied with Ted Cruz.

Here in NM, we have at least three vital state races: the contest for District 1, District 2 and for Governor. In advance of them we have a chance to elect Tim Keller Mayor of Albuquerque. And if we can focus on issues and set aside resentment, together we can win these races and send the same kind of message we sent in 2016. NM is no longer purple, we are bold blue. 

But just as there is evidence that the Democrats could do well in 2018, Despite a State Central Committee meeting that was remarkably free of vitriol, with virtually every vote passing nearly unanimously, and a general feel-good atmosphere, at the social the night before and in conversations outside the meeting, I heard from SCC members from several counties, each saying that the newcomer-long time divide was festering.

I ask all of you to look at the list of policies listed above, take a look at the second set of bullets and the clear evidence that by working together we can win. Then take a look at the headlines from Washington on just about any day of the week and consider what 4 more years of Trump and four more years of the GOP as Governor would mean to our daily lives and to our planet’s future.

In unity there is strength. Let’s do this. Together.


In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

Categories: Election, Political Reform & National Politics

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8 replies

  1. Paul, Good sentiments. You explain why we need to come together, but not how. What’s the strategy? There needs to be more dialogue and understanding, I think. People are proud of their positions and loyalties. The threat of Nixon did not bring the Dems together. I don’t think the threat of Trump or Pearce will work either. Both the old timers and the new progressives need to acknowledge their differences, sit down together, and have a heart-to-heart talk, I believe, as a beginning to establishing common ground and agreeing on how they can work together on common goals. The town hall you mentioned really wasn’t that. Most, if not all the people there, were progressives. I think you need to start small with a private conversation and build up to a larger public meeting. And, it may not be easy, but certainly an important endeavor.
    Best of luck,
    Bruce Berlin

  2. The neo-conservative (neo-liberal is a misnomer) side of the DP is not going to change. Really, they are to the right of Eisenhower republicans. I have been dealing with them for nine years in San Juan County. Like republicans, they don’t hesitate to lie and cheat to win. I challenged two voters and their votes from our last County Central Committee meeting and I won because they cheated. What has been done in the past nine years has been a losing strategy losing us 1,000 state seats, Governorships, the Senate, the House, the Presidency, and the Supreme Court and more people are now registered as Independents than as Dems. And what you call the moderates don’t want to change a thing. The only time I could get Millennials to register to vote as Dems (I have registered over 400 voters!) was when Bernie was running and they asked what party he was in (Bernie is no longer in the DP).

    At the SCC meeting, they spoke against the Progressive Caucus and the organizers of this new caucus were told ahead of time that they would not get a vote on it at this SCC meeting. And changing just one of the very bad rules put into place one year ago by the Old Guard (making 5 of the 11 member of the Rules Committee be previous members, a rule meant to keep them in control of the Rules Committee) was not allowed to have a vote.

    When I took them on in San Juan County five years ago, I was told it would destroy our county party. None of the Old Guard are now even precinct members and our county party is stronger than ever! The “moderates” either need to embrace change or really they need to join the republican party and help pull it back to just right of center.

    Matt Dodson

  3. One way to get together on this is to start backing the People First campaign for Governor, Peter DeBenedittis

    • I agree with you, Brian. I’ve read DeBenedittis website and he has a very progressive agenda. I like what I’m reading, but I don’t know much about him, other than what is on his website.

  4. I’m not sure if my original comment actually posted. Apologies in advance if it did and I’m repeating myself: I agree wholeheartedly that we must come together. We all want the same thing – our Democracy to get back into the hands of the people! We all want the same things: healthcare for all, good wages, to save our world from climate disaster, tax reform, good education all, real science, and science in education (not creationism), etc., etc., etc. Why not hold a day-long meeting/event led by a conflict resolution management professional so we can get past the arguing and rhetoric and get to our common points and work from there to TAKE BACK OUR DEMOCRACY!

  5. The problem pointed out here stems from our natural tendency to argue with and fight against even those that may not stand that far from us. It is increasingly apparent that the Russians have played us by fueling divisiveness amongst all of us. The call for unity through compromise is right on. However as Bruce pointed out this is easier said than done.
    I think it is clear that all systems become moribund and corrupt with time. In addition, human nature is what it is and we must expect flaws. Renewal and change are essential for any system to remain healthy. Important for that renewal and change is maintenance of diversity.
    A constant theme found in many science fiction movies/books is that an outside (alien) threat unites even the most committed opponents. So focusing on the bigger threat is the unifying factor. The grown up thing to do is to focus on a common foe (currently the Republicans) and make alliances with those we do not fully trust, at least until the current crisis is mitigated. I, perhaps naively, look forward to the day where I can support the individual, regardless of party, who I think will best serve the people. Until that day, I am willing to walk with those that will stand against the bigger threat.

  6. I agree with amschiffer but we will need a series of meetings to address the conundrum created by our present capitalist-neoliberal economic model. Peter D seems to have the most complete platform I have seen. He really knows the issues. But most of the issues, or problems, progressives like him address are just symptoms of an economic system that has failed planet and people. So, even ‘progressives’ fall quite short of ‘truly’ solving the social, economic and environmental catastrophes we are facing. His approach will bring much needed ‘relief’ but no substantial change. We can not keep on making partial changes that only help New Mexicans marginally survive while remaining dependent on, and fully participating in, the same economic model that created and perpetuates our economic, intellectual and spiritual poverty (while keeping us unaware of our catastrophic path). For example, the Robert Reich video explaining what is wrong with our economic system and how to make it work better for ‘the middle class and the poor’, is a primary example of how we try to solve a problem with the same thinking that created it. His solution is no solution at all because his analysis does not even question the fact that we accept poverty as a a given. We all seem to accept our economic ‘class system’ without questioning the apparent ‘necessity’ of its existence. There are quite a few people and organizations dedicated to understanding our lives on this planet as part of a ‘system’. People have been talking for decades about ‘paradigm shift’. One person that has been working at it, also for for decades, is David Korten. People like Peter D may be closer to understand his analysis of our economic system than others. But, if we want ‘real’ change, everybody should explore his ideas and that of others who are looking for change that will align humanity with the biological system that sustain our ravenous and insatiable civilization.

  7. I appreciate this post, Paul. I am what you would call a moderate and have been watching your group’s efforts for some time. I am also on my ward committee, and I watched the hard work and dedication of your members running for the SCC. I would love to speak to you about this. I had planned to write you a letter soon on a different matter, and I will provide you all my contact info. — Heather

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