DNC Day 2-3: Youth & the Left Shoved Aside to Embrace Moderation and Dissatisfied GOP Voters. Where Have We Seen This Before?

DNC finagling with elements of the party platform is being reported and the slate of speakers at the convention are indicators that the Party is using the same moderate strategy that worked so well in 2016. Are they risking the loss of young, enthusiastic voices?

We are seeing evidence of the Democratic Party adopting a decidedly moderate strategy in numerous behind the scenes and decidedly undemocratic maneuverings. After this discussion, we have included a fun math quiz that will take you about 10 seconds and will elicit a surprising result. After our News In Briefs and a couple of very brief announcements, we will discuss the implications of this shift to the right.

News in Brief:

We have three NIBs today:

Retake Conversations NM State Senate Candidate Harold Pope. on KSFR. Saturday, August 22, 8:30 am – 9 am on 101.1 FM or streaming at KSFR.org. Harold Pope is our endorsed candidate in our # 2 priority legislative race among our six MUST WIN races. Pope running for State Senate against incumbent GOP Senator Sander Rue in Senate District 23 in ABQ. There are very good reasons for our endorsing Pope. Listen in and find out what they are.

To Change the World You First Must Understand It

“There is a famous line by Karl Marx, which I am sure many of you know: the task is not just to understand the world, but to change it. And there is a variant of that which should also be kept in mind. If you want to change the world in a constructive direction, you better try to understand it first. And understanding it doesn’t mean just listening to a talk or reading a book, although that’s helpful sometimes. It means learning. And you learn through participation. You learn from others. You learn from the people you are trying to organize. And you have to gain the experience and understanding which will make it possible to maybe implement ideas like that as a tactic.”– Noam Chomsky

We offered this quote as it captures the purpose for Retake’s existence. We strongly believe that while it is important to seek out new information and new perspectives by reading pieces from Retake and other left-leaning journals, you learn still more and become even more inspired when you participate in the civic process. Hence our slogan: “Engage, Educate, Motivate, Organize, Activate.” And action is all. So, let’s stay active, my friends. Click here to review our constantly updated election strategy with information about how you can be involved in state and national elections and how you can engage your friends and family in the work, as well.

Democratic Party’s
Disturbing Move to the Right

With solid evidence that there are some moderate Republicans who are disaffected with Trump’s tone and COVID management, one might see the wisdom in the Democratic Party crafting a message designed to reassure those Republicans that the Democratic Party is not the party of Bernie Sanders, AOC, and a host of other new young Democrats who are thirsting for more substantive change. But this may be serious mistake and one we’ve seen before. Trump’s favorability numbers are rock solid among the GOP voters, his stalwart supporters are spoon-fed Fox News and not only do they buy what they are being sold, they are solidly committed to voting for Trump and in person, masks and safety be damned.

Isn’t this the same strategy employed in 2016, a strategy that left many Democrats uninspired, uninvolved and in far too many instances absent from the voting booth? Might it not be more sanguine for the Democratic Party to embrace at least some of the policies that for four years has been part of the Sanders wing of the party? There are troubling signs that the party has decided to do a redux of 2016 in the hopes that Trump’s performance has been so abysmal that sufficient Trump voters cross the aisle and vote for Biden.

Among the evidence that this is exactly the Biden strategy is the lineup of speakers, with more Republicans getting air time than any of the new, young House members. AOC, who should be viewed as one of the “Rising Stars” and a future presidential candidate, should be groomed and promoted as Obama was in 2004. However, AOC has been limited to one minute of air time over the four days and others among her posse are nowhere to be seen. Despite this, it is clear that Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and even AOC are toeing the line, buying into removing Trump as the only thing that matters. And so, with the party clearly more concerned with luring Republican voters than offering young communities of color something to be enthusiastic about, we are seeing speeches that reiterate the same theme over and over: Trump is not fit for office and Biden offers the steady hand the Nation needs. It appears that simply promoting a kind, steady man is enough. I fear this is a serious mistake in 2020 and a mistake that could have a lingering impact going forward.

“The Democrats are still (relative to Republicans) the party of the future, but now the vision belongs to the Parkland survivors and the Sunrise Movement and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—another generational talent who is seen by her opponents as a media persona and by her supporters as a serious policy entrepreneur, a preternaturally talented political figure who arrives with white papers and twelve-point plans.”

From The New Yorker: “Joe Biden, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and the Shaky Unity of the Democratic National Convention”

NBC has also noticed the snub:

“While Ocasio-Cortez can light a rhetorical blaze in 60 seconds, her short appearance formally seconding Sanders’ nomination felt like the equivalent of party table scraps. Meanwhile, former Gov. John Kasich, a white, 68-year-old onetime Republican presidential candidate and avowed anti-abortion politicianspoke for much longerColin Powell, who enabled the disastrous war in Iraq, also enjoyed a speaking slot, as did Cindy McCain. The comparison couldn’t be more stark — or worrying.”

From NBC News: “AOC’s DNC speech was 60 seconds. She made her point — but so did the establishment”

I think this is a very risky proposition, one that could lead many young people and those who are aligned with Sanders, Warren, AOC and others from the left to do what they did in 2016: not donate, not make calls, not make texts and then on election day vote for the party nominee, albeit reluctantly. But if the trend continues, I worry that too many will not only not vote, but will turn away from political engagement altogether. The left was told to wait in 2016 with disastrous results; we are being told to wait again and with Kamala Harris, a decided moderate, installed as VP, the writing is on the wall who the moderates will be promoting after Biden.

“The problem, though, is that the olive branch to moderates is coming at the expense of the people young Democratic voters believe in and are excited by. And that sets the party up for failure — not just in this election, but also in the long term.” 

From NBC: “AOC’s DNC speech was 60 seconds. She made her point — but so did the establishment. If Democrats want to move forward after this immediate emergency of an election, they need to radically reassess who holds the party’s power and who speaks on its platforms”

So, what other evidence is there of a drift to a more traditional centrist party? Well we’ve mentioned one, the lineup of speakers. But there is much more. From a Wednesday morning email from Sunrise Movement:

“On Tuesday, DNC bosses removed the democratically added language included in the final party platform which stated that “Democrats support eliminating tax breaks and subsidies for fossil fuels.” They removed this language behind closed doors with no explanation.

Sunrise Movement, August 19, 2020

Sunrise Movement goes on to point to who is advising the campaign.

It’s being reported that people like Ken Salazar are advising Joe Biden’s campaign. After leaving his position as Obama’s first-term Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar immediately joined the law firm that represented BP in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. He also defended Anadarko Petroleum, an oil and gas company that was responsible for a major gas explosion destroying homes and killing two people in Colorado. His views on fracking? “I would say to everybody that hydraulic fracking is safe.”

Sunrise Movement, August 19, 2020

Bringing gas and oil lobbyists into the Democratic Party “big tent” is not going to fly with the Sunrise movement or with any of the other environmental groups who have tremendous influence over their millions of members. And they are not amused.

“We are nearing global tipping points on climate, fires and extreme weather are killing people and devastating the economy, and the DNC can’t even accept an end to public subsidies for making it worse?”

Annie Leonard, Greenpeace USA

Leonard went on to describe the removal of language prohibiting gas and oil subsidies “immoral, criminal, inexcusable.” This is not the kind of rhetoric you want your allies using in describing Party actions.

Unfortunately, there is still more evidence that the Party has learned little from 2016. The DNC Rules Committee rejected a vote to use Ranked Choice Voting in voting to nominate a candidate at future conventions. Oddly, our own Teresa Leger Fernandez voted against the effort despite having served as the attorney that argued at the NM State Supreme Court, to force Santa Fe to implement Ranked Choice Voting. Still worse, Leger Fernandez joined other Rules Committee members to vote down a rule that would have prohibited the party from accepting donations from corporate PACs.

These are not signs of a party ready to create the kind of change that so many are thirsting for while in the mire of COVID. We will report more on the convention on Saturday. Last night’s speeches by Obama and Harris were both compelling, but they also lacked any indication of what the party and the candidates stand for besides not being Donald Trump.

To be fair, Donald Trump may be such a threat to our present and our future that his message may be enough, but I feel with COVID laying bare so many social, racial and economic injustices, many Americans see this moment in history as a time for tranformational change. It would be nice to hear a bit about what the Democratic Party thinks that change looks like. But I fear if the party is listening to the same corporate lobbyists, that change may be modest, at best. Stay tuned.

Fun math trick that appears to work.

It will take you approximately ten seconds and, amazingly, it will
reveal your all-time favorite movie.  I did it in my head, then on
paper, and finally on a calculator just to confirm my mathematical
calculations. Each time I got the same answer, and sure enough, it is
my very favorite movie…EVER!   DO NOT cheat. DO YOUR math, THEN
compare the results on the list of movies at the bottom. You will be
AMAZED at how scary true and accurate this test is:

1. Pick a number from 1-9.

2. Multiply that number by 3.

3. Add 3.

4. Multiply by 3 again.

5. Your total will be a two digit number. Add the first and second
digits together to find your favorite movie (of all time) in the list
of 17 Movies, below.

1. Gone With the Wind
2. ET.
3. Blazing Saddles
4. Star Wars
5. Forrest Gump
6. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
7. Jaws
8. Grease
9. The Donald Trump Resignation Speech
10. Casablanca
11. Jurassic Park
12. Shrek
13. Pirates of the Caribbean
14. Titanic
15. Raiders of the Lost Ark
16. Home Alone
17. Mrs. Doubtfire

In solidarity and hope,

Paul & Roxanne

Categories: Election, Political Reform & National Politics

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

18 replies

  1. I didn’t expect otherwise. Biden/Harris are “central right” Democrats. As my progressive friend told me this is ONLY about preserving the “old” Republic and has ZERO to do with moving forward progressively. It makes me infinitely sad to know that our children/grandchildren are likely not live to their old age because we cannot see beyond the end of our noses. It just means those of use who ARE progressive need to dig deep and DEMAND change NOW. I am so totally DONE with Democrats and Republicans. Just DONE.

  2. I am not sure that “young, enthusiastic voters” are sitting around watching convention speeches. But I agree it is shameful that the Dems are more concerned with highlighting Republicans than progressives. Same thing is playing out here in CD2 with Xoch.

    • but they read about it. My son watched the first night and even that, which I thought was pretty damned good, didn’t impress him at all. His comment: “politicians, blah, blah, blah.”

    • To the extent that the young and the suburbanites and the on-the-fence MidWesterners and MidAtlanticans are ideologues like me and Rick, then the NYorker hand wringing holds true. But I suspect there are many more non-fervant, go-with-the-crowd voters than there are engaged Progressives. Remember when reporters kept asking Bernie when the throngs of twenty somethings were going to show during the primaries? Colin Powell and Kasich were there not to attract Republicans, who don’t watch Democratic conventions. They were there to provide comfort for those moderate Democrats in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin. Come on, guys, this is about winning. The screen was full of fresh faces from every corner of America. There were more than nods to ensuring racial justice, saving the planet, ridding us of the scourge of a gun in every glove box, creating an equitable immigration system, and following science to save lives. For me, the perfect should not be the enemy of the good.

  3. We must defeat Trump, period.

  4. The gods have given us Biden as our nominee, who was seventh on my list of seven possible Democratic nominees. So we have to bloom where we are planted. Given that fact, I don’t see how the convention could go in any other direction, although we renegades would have preferred one in which Bernie, Warren, Castro, and AOC were the stars. Biden is simply our wedge for an imagined future in which the environment will be saved, the poor will have their own vine and olive tree, and capitalists will be boiled in the oil of their own extraction. Doesn’t that have a Dantean quality to it? A tenth circle of hell, in which oil barons complete the circle by drowning in oil. From my mouth to g-d’s ear!

  5. Our problem remains the same as always… Progressives complain but don’t vote. Did you count the votes? Bernie won 4 States (by slim margins) and got roughly 1/3 in all the others. Either we are not as numerous as we think or too many of us refuse to engage with the Democratic Party to make the changes stick. Southern NM Dems couldn’t even come up with the 10% in the Primary to get to vote for Bernie on our Convention ballot. Many refused to change their registration to even participate. With only 1/3 of the Delegates it is no wonder that the Centrists feel free to alter the Platform. Who is going to hold them accountable? Even Bernie’s speech was about we have to get rid of 45 and then work harder.

    As Charlie notes he is “Done” with the Parties would indicate there aren’t enough of us who will get inside and scrap for the changes. I know Paul is there, and Rick is there, but they do no fear us. Is it any wonder Xochi will “work with anyone including [T]” when the Progressives are not a guaranteed voting block. This election will come down to those 1/3 of registered but not voting Democrats who have been so indoctrinated by the right to not trust the process, again. Yes, Paul, we could still loose this but not because the center has the same power it has always had. While we are out in the streets battling illegal militias and demanding final equality, the center is in the meeting rooms making deals without us. It is not their fault we are not there.

    • You are 100% correct and as you wrote this comment, I am working on a post for Saturday that addresses precisely your point. Stay tuned and thanks for the comment.

      • Paul. Your Headline alone infuriated me today. I wrote a long angry screed and held back from posting it.

        I’ve aligned with and worked with Progressives in MN, CO and KS. I have never before run into this chip-on-shoulder, glass-is-half-full attitudes you have. It hinders Retake.

        You do so much good work but do you hang with Bernie Bros a bit much? It sounds like it. If it was a winning strategy it’d be one thing.
        I’ve had others say to me they cannot share Retake with friends because of it or your disdain for moderates.
        I don’t feel at home in Retake either, which makes me sad. Where to go?

        The Convention I observed last night began with Guns led by Parkland Youth. Then Climate Crisis, again led by youth. Then the top Gen Z musician, Billie Eilish. Young kids all.
        Then marvelous women, many, women of color. So few old white guys other than the token appearances of old presidents whose day is long gone.
        What You saw was Progressives (Warren?) and Youth pushed aside? Come on.

        (On Monday and Tuesday I for one enjoyed learning there were still a few moderate Republicans who see the light on this election and am hoping some of my many GOP relatives might have been influenced.)

        You do so much good work. I implore you Paul, in case you ever read this, to keep your eye on the goal of getting the GOP out of the WH and Senate. Biden is supporting $15 Min. Wage, Childcare and Pre-school, Gun Sanity, Green New Deal/Climate goals and much more that a Bernie Bro should be thrilled to see.

        Please do your part to get him elected, which is what Bernie said was the First Prong. Then we go for the Second Prong, reminding him and pushing him on all the progressive sounding promises being made.

      • Karen, please be sure to review Saturday’s post as it acknowledges much of what you’ve written. It is not Bernie Bros that drives Retake or a disdain for moderates, it is that we are facing existential crises on all fronts: COVID, racism, climate crisis, and while with some issues a measured, moderate approach is tolerable, in relation to climate change, the crisis is existential, immanent, and simply will not abide moderation. BUT, we on the left have not secured sufficient power and have not articulated a compelling enough vision to really expect to be driving policy. And lastly, at least some saw today’s post as retreating from support for Biden. Saturday’s post will clarify this as we are 100% on board to elect Biden and then do all we can to push him and others left. I hope that addresses your well articulated concerns. Hang with us. And thanks for the comment. We welcome push back.

  6. It seems pretty simple to me. Any moderate person from the “right” whose vote can be captured, either directly or by turning the voter from #45 is a 2 vote swing. Any “Progressive” voter who doesn’t see the imminent danger of not electing any / every Blue candidate needs to reexamine whatever logical process they think they have working in their minds. Progressive agendas are at least 40 million votes sort of an assured Presidential win. Best of luck with that. Great ideas require manifestation in the world of action, ideas are just the first step.

    Bernie and AOC were both on screen admonishing ALL voters to vote for Biden/Harris. Who are you all throwing under the bus next?

  7. I’m guardedly optimistic. I disagree with Charlie ^^ that Harris is center-right; https://voteview.com/congress/senate/115/text places Harris as 2nd most liberal person in Congress. Also note that MLG got 2:15 for her speech, in which she excoriated big oil & gas. Let’s hope that that translates into action in the 2021 NM legislative session.

  8. I hope that progressives, liberals, and lefties (like me) will not be prissy purists and disdain to take whole-hearted part in this election. For one thing, if we fight like hell to elect the moderate federal ticket, we will have more leverage to move them leftward after the election. Meanwhile, at local and state levels, there are some good progressive/left causes and candidates to support full-force.
    Let’s get this election DONE. Let’s keep in mind that the election is only a beginning!

  9. Hi Paul, Do you know if there is a protest at the Santa Fe Post Office this Saturday at 11am? Thanks, KateO

    • Very informative to see the energy in these comments, and good to hear both “sides.” However, I do wonder about the shorthand. Even the mention of “Bernie Bro’s” strikes me as a shorthand that puts people in boxes which absolutely stifles working together. I think Retake is wisely sincere in inviting honest rhetoric and open opinions. That helps me learn. Words matter. To describe and “understand” others with shorthand can be a significant obstacle to building the more unified Progressive Power and vision to prevail. After balanced consideration, Progressives must speak bold Truth to Power. I see Retake coming to grips with that dynamic, and sharing the forum with all of us, and am grateful.

  10. Frankly, the result of all the activism of recent years is that the DNC does the bidding of the 1% and always will. Our only option at the federal level is similar to the one Retake is employing at the state level. Up and down government, from local to statewide to federal, if we are serious, we must elect candidates who are not YES people and who are willing to fight for progressive causes.

    As I’ve mentioned here before, talk has not brought the needed change and never will. Studying the problem is a way of kicking the can down the road for long periods until people “forget” about the issue. All of this is subterfuge and will have no effect on the DNC. The idea that it represents the vast majority of Americans is simply a false narrative, in my opinion. Bernie and his folks who worked with the Biden campaign to create the Party Platform for 2020 have said – first elect Joe Biden on November 3rd. And on November 4th, the fight begins for the real change we must have. I agree with this approach.

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